Saturday, 21 May 2011


Were at Nice airport, waiting to depart. The Cannes market is over, the festival closes today and the winners get announced tomorrow. Von Trier goes home in shame with a little black moustache and a greasy side parting, while we go home fatigued but happy! Saw some interesting movies, had some productive meetings and drunk a lot of free booze!   Just wanted to  mention the Friday highlights. We caught an unexpectedly sublime movie called THE ARTIST, directed by Michel Hazanavicius and starring Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, James Cromwell and Missi Pyle (With a cameo from Malcolm McDowell). It's essentially a silent movie about a silent movie star, George Valentine who's life falls apart as he fails to embrace the rise of the talkies. This is one of the best films I've seen in ages. It's perfection in everyway. It's not horror or scifi but it's something really special. We'll try hard to secure it for Grimm 2011 but if we don't you MUST seek this film out.   Speaking of Malcolm McDowell, we then caught a lecture from the man himself all about his career and his work with Kubrick (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE), Lindsey Anderson (IF, OH, LUCKY MAN) and Paul Schrader (CAT PEOPLE). Funny and informative, McDowell seemed very down to earth and revealed some fascinating insights into some of cinema's geniuses.   After a few drinks courtesy of the Bordeaux region of France we then caught our final film, Takashi Miike's HARA - KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI. If you are familiar with his work, you'll know that Miike is damn prolific and not afraid to go places other film makers fear to tread, with films like THE AUDITION and ICHI THE KILLER. His latest is actually in competition at Cannes (A surprise that such a maverick has made it to the Cannes pantheon of auteurs!) Strangely, the film is somewhat of a restrained affair. It's rather slow and melodramatic and so very different from much of his previous frenetic work. The film was presented in 3D and looked great but it's a slow burner. Don't expect too much blood and guts but it does hold a particularly nasty suicide scene.

Thursday, 19 May 2011


Monday was a busy, busy day on the hunt for GRIMMFEST content. Too many horror screenings in fact! I missed an early screening (Cos I'm rubbish at getting up early!) of THE WICKER TREE, the sequel to the original THE WICKERMAN and directed by Robin Hardy (The man behind the original). Although I've heard rumours it's not that hot!

I chose morning screening of new UK (Screen Yorkshire and Warp X) horror KILL LIST over Xavier Gens (FRONTIERS) new movie THE DIVIDE, which I hope to find out more about soon. KILL LIST is a really interesting movie with great naturalistic performances from its key cast which includes Myanna Buring (The DESCENT 1 +2), our guest at GRIMM UP NORTH 2009. As the plot unfolds we come to realise that our slightly unbalanced family man lead character is actually a contract killer with a list of victims he must take down for cash. As you might suspect, things don't go to plan and slowly we come to realise that something is very wrong in this world. The film takes an unexpected change of direction in the 3rd act (ala DUSK TILL DAWN) into classic horror territory which surprises shocks but also mystifies a little. I'm not sure the jarring plot totally adds up but it's certainly a visceral and involving watch, sometimes violently shocking, sometimes very funny! Definitely worth a watch. Think it's gonna screen at FRIGHTFEST later this year and if its not released by October, we'd be keen to screen at GRIMM.

THE SPEAK is an interesting little US supernatural thriller, cleverly utilising the one take visual style we saw in THE SILENT HOUSE recently.  Despite the restrictions you might associate with this technical and stylistic choice the film manages to remain atmospheric and at times pretty scary, it also has a cameo from Tom Sizemore.

Sacrificed screenings of Kevin Smith's RED STATE and new UK horror HOLLOW for the Screen international party. Was it a mistake? Well, the UK Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey and Gregg Dyke (head of BFI) talked to the crowd of UK film talent and expressed their political differences but also their joint commitment to British film. After the demise of the UK film council and the move of responsibilities to the BFI, it's not yet clear if anything has really changed? Here, I also bumped into Piers Tempest who produced new ghost thriller THE CALLER which stars Stephen Moyer of TRUE BLOOD fame and comes out later this year in the UK. The trailer looks intriguing.

We finished at the Finnish party! I wasn't sure I'd find much on the horror/fantasy side of things here until, of course, I remembered that Nazi Scifi movie IRON SKY is a Finnish film. The part crowd source financed movie revolves around WW2 style Nazi's who have hung out on the darkside of the moon until now. They mean to take back Western Europe and the rest of the world! It's a crazy concept, which looks visually spectacular; utilising major CGI effects work on a pretty limited budget. The film gets a UK release later this year. I talked to the producer and discussed the potential of bringing the movie to GRIMM this year. Watch the trailer here:


Last night was a real treat for me and probably my highlight of Cannes this year. I persuaded Rachel to join me for a screening of CORMAN'S WORLD, a new documentary about the king of exploitation movies, Roger Corman, not realising we were actually attending the official festival screening. The film is in competition and so Roger himself was in attendance along with sixties rebel rouser and icon, Peter Fonda. What a treat! The documentary was a fantastic insight into Corman's life and work and includes interviews from so many of the famous people whose careers he helped to kick start. Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Joe Dante, Martin Scorsese, etc, etc. A brilliant insight and also bloody funny in places! Were very keen to secure this for this year's GRIMM UP NORTH!!!

Desperate to blag our way into the Corman after party but failing miserably, we found ourselves at the 5 DAYS OF AUGUST after party. I haven't managed to catch this new offering from Action Maestro Renny Harlin yet but it looks more in the tradition of UNDER FIRE or THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY (Journos in a war zone). Great cast, Rupert Friend, Val Kilmer, Andy Garcia, etc. Unfortunately we didn't spot any of the cast at the party although Renny himself was in attendance. The cocktails flowed and the music kept us gyrating, somewhat precariously, courtesy of Val and co. Brilliant party and surprise meet up with the director and producer of Grimmfest 2009 movie, THE FALLOWFIELD. Leigh Dovey and Colin Arnold told us all about their current movie projects. Leigh has written a number of new horror screenplays and Colin has just completed a new music documentary, which is being compared in some quarters to RATTLE AND HUM! Nice work guys.



Sleep isn't something you do a lot of in Cannes! Drinking, yes, chatting, yes, Watch movies, yes but sleep....

Wednesday, I caught a screening of Honk Kong movie REVENGE: A LOVE STORY. A strong and violent crime thriller (of which this part of the world do so well).  It's bloody, very bloody! The initial plot revolves around the hunt for a serial killer who picks on pregnant mothers and cuts the unborn child from their wombs. Uncomfortable stuff! But, the film stays true to its title. What starts in slasher territory does manage to embrace not only bloody revenge but also a central love story between the killer and a young girl, whose violent treatment at the hands of the local police is what triggers the killers actions. A clever time shifting structure unravels a really interesting plot. Like SLICE that we screened last year, this film will undoubtedly divide audiences.

Also caught a little US teen scifi movie called RECREATOR, which drops three teenagers on a desolate island only to find that the scientist who once worked there had developed cloning technology. Essentially the film revolves around our hero's battle for supremacy against their cloned doppelgangers. Interesting concept, well made but could have pushed the concept further, I feel. RECREATOR'S sales company Cinemavault have also offered us a new movie called WARGAMES, which I'm yet to view but the trailer looks cool!

There's a lot of horror movies here in the market place and too many to mention here but a couple I've picked up on are: The new film from the Soska sisters AMERICAN MARY. I don't think it's finished yet but anticipation is growing already! Cuban zombie movie JUAN OF THE DEAD, franchise revival, THE HOWLING REBORN, US horror, THE TOOLBOX MURDERS and a new low budget UK psychological thriller from  Nick Lean (Grandson of David) called HARD SHOULDER. Female lead Angela Dixon shared dinner with us and told us all about the production, which sounds fascinating. Well be beckoning the movie for GRIMM this year.


Didn't catch many films on Tuesday but did manage to hook up with a number of sales companies to discuss potential movies for GRIMM UP NORTH 2011.  First off, It was great to catch up with an old friend of mine who works for IM Global a very large US sales company who brought us PARANORMAL ACTIVITY amongst other things. IM GLOBAL also sell all the AFTER DARK movies. I'm hoping I've secured a GRIMM screening of a new fantasy/action movie they have called BAKARU which stars Woody Harrelson, Demmi Moore, Josh Hartnet, etc. The film was shot in Eastern Europe and the trailer reveals a heady mix of martial arts, crazy futuristic cityscapes and violent action. Fascinating!

Bleiberg Entertainment  are selling  EPISODE 50, a supernatural found footage movie, that's getting some good coverage in the market as is Sundance selected THE WOMAN. Finally, CMG are plugging DEADHEADS a horror zombie comedy.

Our own movie SPLINTERED is being sold by Kaleidoscope distribution who also have a new UK comedy chiller called ELFIE HOPKINS which brings father and daughter Ray and Jaime Winstone together for the first time in a comic tale of small town cannibals.

I can also report that GRIMM friend and director of last year's golden scythe awarded 13 HOURS, Jonathan Glendening is also about to start lensing a new movie called STRIPPERS VS WEREWOLVES, which is also being handled by Kaleidoscope. One can only guess at the content!

To round off the day I caught a screening of THE HUNTERS a French psychological thriller by actor/director Chris Briant but with an English speaking cast. It's a contained and gory action thriller set primarily in an abandoned fort and delving into uncomfortable psychological territory as our hero (Briant) uncovers a group of very unsavoury characters, who hunt humans for pleasure. A well shot and at times gripping thriller that amongst others, stars UK actor Steven Waddington.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Greetings Grimmlins from the Cote D’azure.

Just grabbing a little moment between film screenings, drinks receptions and meetings (It’s a hard life but someone’s gotta do it!) to report on what I’ve seen so far here in Cannes 2011. What’s wonderful about coming to the Cannes film market is that I can discover new horror and scifi movies, often before they’ve even been picked up for distribution in the UK. The trick is to predict which ones are going to get UK films fans buzzing when released and secure them for premiere screenings at GRIMM UP NORTH. Never an easy prediction but our aim, as always to bring the best new movies to Manchester from all round the world. Stuff you won’t have seen yet cos it’s brand spanking new or stuff you are unlikely to see in your local multiplex cos it’s not a US studio picture.

So, what and who have I seen so far? If your into US independent horror movies, you are likely to know of AFTERDARK FILMS, who over the last few years have been running a horror label called ‘8 films to die for’. Originally they picked up completed films and distributed them in the US. They have expanded quickly and now they are producing their own genre features which are being distributed in the UK by G2 pictures. You may have noticed movies like HUSK and PROWL which are now out on DVD in the UK. I caught PROWL here last year, the film was directed by Norwegian Patrik Syversen who’s first feature, MANHUNT got strong international recognition. PROWL was edited by our very own Celia Haining (Who cut our movie SPLINTERED). PROWL is a strong visceral  vampire piece, well worth a look BUT I caught one of their other movies, 51 on Saturday. As the name suggests its about Area 51. It’s essentially a low budget monster movie which traps a bunch of military types inside a contained bunker with an alien threat. Very low budget, cardboard performances (Even Bruce Boxlighter from TRON) tries his best with wooden dialogue but fails. The concept is fine but the direction is pretty poor. Having worked as a production designer for years,  I was particularly aware of the shoddy sets! The prosthetics and alien effects are probably the best element. It’s essentially a low budget riff on ALIENS.

Ironically, as soon as I came out of the movie I was summoned to dinner and found myself sitting next to Courtney Solomon, the man behind AFTERDARK FILMS!!! Cannes is strange like that! I asked Courtney about the movie and tried not to be to negative about it, bigging up PROWL instead! He explained that 51 has been produced primarily for the Scyfy channel, which explains why its production values are very TV! While there Courtney showed us a trailer for a new apocalyptic zombie movie that he’s producing, which looks awesome! So watch this space for more on that.

Sunday brought a whole bunch of interesting and varied horror movies as well as a few chance meetings with well known UK horror filmmakers. First up DARK SOULS from Norway, directed by two French men Mathieu Peteul and Cesar Ducasse. An interesting movie which is best described as a mix of DRILLER KILLER and THE STUFF. What starts out as a serial killer hunt evolves into an oil industry conspiracy thriller, in which comatosed drilled victims begin to puke up oily bile and come on like zombies. The plot doesn’t bare close inspection but it runs a fine line between uncomfortable, scary and funny! Certainly worth a watch. The film has screened at a few UK festival and hasn’t yet gained a UK release so we may look to screen at Grimm!

The latest from US (HOUSE OF THE DEVIL) maestro Ti West, THE INNKEEPERS was a spooky supernatural affair, with a cameo from Kelly McGillis. Like his previous HOUSE OF THE DEVIL it’s a slow burner with bags of atmosphere and a sense of directorial confidence. I really liked HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, which came on like a total seventies pastiche, even down to the title sequence. THE INNKEEPERS, although set in present day, also feels like it could have been made a few decades ago. It’s contained and low budget but it’s assured and gripping. Not a gorefest, more a gradual build of supernatural suspense which I admire. Not sure when its released in the UK but I’m keen to bring it to GRIMM this year!

Next up THE DEVILS ROCK a New Zealand movie from director Paul Campion, set on the Channel Islands on the brink of the D-Day landings, two NZ commandos are sent on a mission to destroy a German bunker on a small island only to find that Hitler’s SS have been busy summoning something horribly demonic from ancient local text (Apparently, witches were rife on the channel islands in the middle ages!). Again a very contained movie with limited cast and locations but despite this it’s an interesting ride. The film relies somewhat on its two central performances, a kiwi commando and an SS officer and their struggle for supremacy, while the real threat comes from the demon that, with echoes of SOLARIS, has the ability to take on human form in the image of victims loved ones.

Very good gore effects and creature design from WETA workshop.  Nice concept, strong performances, limited budget.

To top all that, I also bumped into Marc Price, director of the hugely popular ultra low budget zombie movie COLIN, who’s currently prepping his WW2 monster movie THUNDER CHILD. At the same event I managed to grab JAKE WEST, cult director of brit horror flicks such as DOGHOUSE. Jake has kindly agreed to come to GRIMM UP NORTH later this year as our special guest (Work permitting).

That’s about it for now. But watch this space for more over the next few days. I’ll be reporting on movies such as new BRIT horror KILL LIST and the latest from the totally cool Soska Sisters, makers of DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK!!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Grimm in 2011 and Submissions


We've got some big ideas for 2011 for Grimm Up North. We can't reveal too much right now as we're busy finalising and confirming the details, but announcements will follow soon, so stay tuned.

We will be opening the call for submissions very soon. As always we will be looking for horrific hits and sci-fi shockers in both short and feature length movies. So if you've got anything truly original in either the horror, sci-fi or fantasy genres that you're burning to show then keep an eye on the Grimm channels for news on this front.

So keep your ears to the ground Grimmlins. Grimm Up North is back and we'll be keeping you up to date with the plans for this year's festival as they unfold.

Prepare yourselves...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Grimm Knows Best

Last year our eagle-eyed team spotted the potential in the grindhouse gore-fest Dead Hooker in a Trunk and held its UK premiere at Grimm up North 2010. Since then Dead Hooker has become an underground hit, securing UK distribution with Bounty Films and due for release on May 23rd. The film has received praise from critics but has also courted controversy recently in Canada; the film was pulled from a screening after public outcry over its sensational title, but hey there's no such thing as bad publicity, right?

Other films gaining success since the festival include slowburning Mexican cannibal shocker We Are What We Are (Jorge Michel Grau), which achieved a nationwide cinema release and great critical acclaim. Praise for Amer (Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani), an homage to classic Italian masters like Argento, continues to pour in from numerous sources, including Mark Kermode's Movie Round-Up noting its "broiling visual style" and "splatter-tastic end".

We would also like to support Sushi Typhoon, the makers of the insanely hilarious Alien vs. Ninja (Seiji Chiba), screened at Grimm 2010, who are travelling the USA screening their back-catalogue of films in a campaign they've titled "Splatter Matters" to raise funds for the victims of the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami.