Welcome to the Friday Fright Fest, the only scary movie guide you will need for the next week. If you feel like you’ve watched too many comedy or action flicks lately and need a good scare, the following films will have you quivering like you never have done. Phil Robinson provides a round-up of all the best horror films in the week ahead.
Things are about to get a whole lot creepier…
Click on to the next slide for our Pick of the Week.
1Pick of the Week
Red Dragon (2002)
ITV2: Sunday 7th June, 12.10am
To say Hannibal Lecter is a horror icon is like saying Micky Mouse is known for his appearances in kids’ cartoons. The name is by now an institution, born in books, then films, and as of a few years ago one of the best TV shows you could be watching right now. So travel back in the timeline, before the lambs fell silent, to when the feast really began.
The FBI’s Will Graham is stumped. His attempts to track down a cannibal killer have proved fruitless, leaving him to seek guidance from Dr Lecter. You probably don’t need me to tell you where things go from here. But it is through this unsteady relationship between a good man and a psychopath that a new killer, known simply as The Tooth Fairy, must be tracked down before the body count grows higher. The real question: can Graham truly trust Lecter who, while incarcerated, surely has nothing left to lose.
A career best for director Brett Ratner, this sleek and stylish thrill ride sticks close to its source material, but is given all the space it needs to breathe thanks to an A+ cast including Edward Norton (Will Graham), Ralf Fiennes (The Tooth Fairy), Harvey Keitel, Philip Seymour Hoffman and of course Anthony Hopkin’s legendary final performance (to date) of the good doctor himself.
A solid story (currently being weaved and reworked throughout Hannibal the TV series), a cast who play off each other scene after scene and a heart-thumping-through-your-chest finale leave this firmly behind Silence Of The Lambs in order of Hannibal stories you need to see right now.
2Worth the Watch
As Above, So Below (2014)
Sky Movies Premiere: Friday 12th June, 10.00pm
It’s beginning to feel like these low budget found footage horror films are just being churned off some production line somewhere. After Paranormal Activity made a bazillion dollars at the box office (might need to fact check that) the formula for getting bums in seats for cheap scares was set; the same thing happened a few years back when Saw and Hostel kickstarted the wonderfully titled “torture porn” movement, before that we couldn’t get enough J-horror remakes and so on and so on.
But are these films, coming every six months like clockwork, any good? Mostly no. But look deep under the surface of As Above, So Below and you actually have a bit more substance than expected.
Beneath the streets of Paris, a group of hot young people explore the catacombs lined with the dead, only to be haunted by a supernatural presence that knows their deepest secrets and darkest fears. It’s time to insert a dated reference to that film Catacombs that stars Pink, of all people. Don’t worry, this is much better.
Finding an excuse to get said hot young people into the catacombs is easy enough, but it’s the disorientation and mind-melting events that follow that leave you feeling uneasy here. The fear creeps in as you don’t know what to expect in the next room, leaving the corners of the labyrinth largely unexplored thanks to the shaky cam.
This film may have its flaws, but has some good moments and honest intentions at its heart. Wanting another dose of found footage fun? Then get yourself below. If you’re done with unfocused shaky shenanigans then let this one rest in peace.
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Film4: Thursday 11th June, 1.15am
There was a boom around the late 90s into the early 00s of getting big name stars and directors to do films like Seven, The Sixth Sense and The Gift. Films that, without their star power, would probably end up as overlooked, kinda trashy horror flicks. Instead, for whatever reason, we sold them as thrillers. Films that were genuinely creepy, haunting or downright unnerving passed off as flavour of the week because horror just wasn’t the “in thing” at the time.
This is no exception. The Spencer’s (all-stars Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer) seem to have the perfect life together. As Claire begins to experience voices and delusions of a young woman, it begins to reveal the cracks in their perfection and leads her to believe that her husband is not the man she once thought, a man who is capable of so much more.
This is in many ways a relatively straight up ghost story, with a fair bit of mystery thrown in for good measure. Directed by Robert Zemeckis the same year he did Castaway, Ford’s mysterious did he/didn’t he role is minimal (classic Ford) compared to Pfeiffer’s far more over-the-top split personalities. Both are on top form.
Overlooked in today’s overstuffed haunting/possession market, take yourself back to when scares came from slow builds and tension, instead of shaky hand held cameras and cats jumping out of wardrobes.
3For the Diehards
Carry On Screaming (1966)
ITV: Tuesday 9th June, 12.05am
Let’s not beat around the bush here: you’re either nostalgic for the Carry On films, seen by some as an institution of swingin’ British comedy, or you flick the channel as far past these atrocities as your remote will let you. They’re not hard to miss as well. I don’t know how many times I’ve caught pieces of Carry On Screaming, but have only seen it through a handful of occasions.
Featuring a big screen movie monster, the usual Carry On wit, and more than a few familiar faces to fans of the franchise this was business as usual for the crew. A bumbling police investigation into the monster’s peeping tom antics leads Detective Sergeant Sidney Bung to the Hammer worthy abode of our rather Adams Family-like duo. Horror gags by the bucketful, the caper unfolds in classic over-the-top Carry On fashion, if not good for anything other than killing some time first thing on a Tuesday morning.
It’s campy, it’s kooky, it’s all together stupid but has serious charm and affection shown towards the Hammer/Universal horror films that it references to death. Today’s parody films could learn a lot.
Reign of Fire (2002)
BBC One: Tuesday 9th June, 11.50pm
Gerard Butler and Christian Bale team up with Matthew McConaughey to help defend the last of the human race against an army of pissed off fire breathing dragons.
Now that this one has your attention, the only thing left to do is buckle up for a fun action film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, doesn’t outstay its welcome and reminds you of a simpler time when McConaughey took whatever role he could get, and Bale wasn’t a total jackass.
The Ruins (2008)
BBC One: Friday 12th June, 11.50pm
So the notion of going to visit an ancient, abandoned Mayan temple is totally a great holiday plan, right? Nothing could possibly go wrong here…
Oh wait. It does. Fast. Trapped atop the temple, surrounded by angry Mayans and murderous shrubbery the group must find a way to escape all the clichés, including no phone signal, lack of verbal communication with the natives and arguing about the many silly ways to get out of this situation.
It’s not as bad as it seems. The film knows how to work tension and your fear of the big bad outside world against you. The paranoia and lack of patience that comes from these group survival situations keep you wondering just who will survive, and who will be left for compost.
Aside from the rather silly movie logic in nearly every decision this group of hot young people make, there are qualities to The Ruins that redeem it from the Avoid Like The Plague corner. Mainly, once it gets going, it’s pretty gross. Under the skin body horror, but built upon a foundation of tension and terror instead of going right away for the cheap pops. Not to be watched if you’re doing any gardening the next day.
4Avoid Like the Plague
Battle: Los Angeles (2011)
E4: Friday 12th June, 9.00pm
The aliens have landed… and from start to finish you’ll be wishing they hadn’t bothered.
Having a hard time remembering if you’ve actually seen this before, or if it was 2010’s contribution to the big LA alien invasion genre, Skyline? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. This is the one with Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez, not that it saves this movie in any way. Sluggish, overly long and underdeveloped in every way, go out and watch District 9 instead.