NEWSLETTER :: September 2 2010
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It Was A Good Week For... The horror winners at this week's FrightFest…

It Was A Bad Week For… The Daily Mirror, cutting one of the industry's most popular reviewers…

As the trade enjoyed the long Bank Holiday weekend – although not necessarily the weather – scores of horror fanatics, along with a few zombies and other spooky characters were wandering around Leicester Square for this year's Film4 FrightFest event. And, of course, there were a fair few industry types there, taking in retailers from HMV and others, through to a welter of people from distributors, especially the independent sector. So what were the winners and losers for this year's event, now stretched over five days? We asked some of the assorted retailers and distributors present and here's what they said: Momentum's Red Hill ("way out Western"); E1's The Tortured ("sick and gory"); Bedevilled, from Optimum ("total madness"); The Loved Ones from Optimum (" brilliant Australian horror film, should do really well from word of mouth"), Icon's Buried ("tense and so clever") Anchor Bay's I Spit On Your Grave ("grand exploitation"), the currently unsigned (unless someone's snapped it up subsequently) Red, White And Blue ("this film really does pack a punch"), The Pack (Icon), and Dream Home (Network). Optimum's The Last Exorcism, currently everywhere thanks to the high profile marketing for the theatrical release, was deemed to be arguably the most commercial offering of the week and very possibly the best DVD seller.

Most distributors were hugely pleased with the their films' showing. Momentum was highlighting, among other things, the likes of Dead Cert and Burning Bright. The company's Adam Eldrett said: "Burning Bright was a real winner for me in terms of the PR coverage we have gained pre and post-Frightfest. Despite not getting the most votes, there are plenty of kind words on the forums and I get the impression Burning Bright was a welcome surprise and a highlight of the opening day." High Fliers took along some horror creatures alongside the stars of its October 25 release 13 Hrs, Isabella Calthorpe and Gemma Atkinson (pic up on our website soon, but needless to say, the attendees got a little over-excited when they turned up). Our favourite comment came from one distributor who said: "It’s reassuring that an eclectic, eccentric bunch of titles have found homes at not only valiant indies like Network but bigger players like Momentum, Icon and Optimum. It’s reassuring for filmmakers who want to work outside the box to know that there’s the support out there for movies without roman numerals anywhere near the title."

Censorship was back on the agenda at this year's FrightFest, thanks to the assorted problems with A Serbian Film, which was pulled from the event following the BBFC's decision to ask for almost four minutes' worth of cuts, and Anchor Bay's I Spit On Your Grave, which still aired despite being trimmed, albeit less drastically. Anchor Bay turned round the cuts in the nick of time, but after the furore and horror fans' natural aversion to both films that have been cut and remakes, their hopes were not high. The company's Thom Leaman said: "A large proportion of the audience at FrightFest were watching I Spit… with very low expectations. We were always supremely confident that once people actually sat down and watched the film they might be pleasantly surprised (perhaps pleasant is the wrong adjective to use here). And funnily enough the vast majority were completely won over. It was voted second best film of the weekend (behind Monsters) and has garnered wide praise from press and fans on forums alike. Interestingly looking at the FrightFest forums some of the fans who were being so scathing of the film last week were then coming back and completely backtracking on everything they’d said. In short, despite all the difficulties we couldn’t have asked for a better UK launch." It was also a key talking point thanks to the airing of the documentary Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship And Videotape (as featured on here previously), which provoked a lively Q&A session and was hugely well received, said producer and Nucleus Films' Marc Morris.

Anchor Bay also had the honour of being the first distributor to show what is effectively a non-horror film at the event, airing Fanboys, its tale of geeks on a road trip (a film we at The Raygun watched this week and heartily enjoyed, mainly for its ridiculously high quotient of in-jokes). The company sponsored the goodie bags and had stormtroopers wandering around the event too. Leaman said: "The response was fantastic – particularly considering it was pretty much the antithesis of a lot of the other stuff showing over the weekend."

One film that made its reputation at Frightfest (or at least the Scottish version where it first aired) was Rec, and the sequel to that, Rec 2, is due on September 20. We wasted a load of time when we should have been writing this newsletter by making zombie versions of ourselves at this website – and you can check the trailer at its website – See also its facebook page here The film is being released by E1, or rather eOne (see story below), and viral marketing elements will be coming to the fore. Moreover, the company is also aiming to support the release with a "substantial" TV campaign as well as press and online activities.  
Talking of E1, or rather eOne, the company has now completed its rebranding as the latter, unveiling its brand spanking new logo. The move comes after the company went for listing on the main market of the London Stock Exchange and reflects its increasingly global outlook, which now takes in North America, the UK and Ireland, Benelux, France, Australia and New Zealand. The new name and logo will now be used across the board in the UK (and by us on The Raygun) and will appear on all the company's new releases. The logo takes in all the different arms of the company too – it now spans film and television, among other things. It also offers, eOne says, a more "contemporary look" for the company. You can see it here

More from eOne too, while we're at it, and the company has inked another deal, this time with former staffer Steven Silver and his Blue Ice Films company, giving it first look at the company's film and television programming with a view to releasing its wares. It's one of a number of similar deals the company is currently setting up and shows its hunger for content. 

We just mentioned our website, and it's worth reminding you there's a lot of new material gone up in the past week, even if it was a Bank Holiday weekend. There's our weekly round-up of the weekend's press, an interview with Dead Cert producer Jonathan Sothcott about the importance of DVD to British film-makers, some assorted bits and bobs (including a great bit of marketing from the US) and two new contributions to our regular My Inspiration feature, from Momentum's Neil Williams and Universal's Alex Coultate.  

Sad news from the Daily Mirror, where our favourite video reviewer, one of our earlier contributors to My Inspiration and a big supporter of our industry Jessica Mellor is being made redundant. Jessie, who has judged the BVA and other awards, as well as taking a turn editing on the trade press, has been handling the Mirror's reviews in The Ticket entertainment supplement on a Friday for almost 12 years and now plans to carry on writing, either as a freelance or staffer. In a message to the industry, Mellor said: "Thanks for all looking after me while I've been at the Mirror - it's been a privilege to work with some of the nicest PRs in the business."

While we've been busy adding our own contributions to our regular My Inspiration feature on the website, LOVEFiLM has been asking its assorted staffers to talk about their favourite films – we love this feature – see it here (Hey, if nothing else, it's good preparations for meetings with the online rentailer…)

We came across that while looking at LOVEFiLM's online LOVEFiLM player, which allows its customers to watch films online. Why? Well, the retailer has just inked a major UK distribution deal with MGM, which will take the legendary studio's offerings online for LOVEFiLM customers. The offering takes in such titles as West Side Story, The Taking Of Pelham One Two Thre and The Apartment. LOVEFiLM ceo Simon Calver said: "We're delighted to bring MGM's legendary content to LOVEFiLM. With over 85 years making top quality movies, the MGM stable will be a notable addition to our expanding 'Watch Online' service. With the digital revolution underway, our opportunity for growth is huge and the addition of MGM titles is a substantial development in enhancing our digital catalogue."

One of the best documentaries of the year, the boxing tale from one of the world's last remaining Communist countries (and also a bastion of amateur sport), Sons Of Cuba, is due on DVD shortly (September 20, to be precise), via Mr Bongo Films, and those of a Latin bent will be celebrating its launch with a special evening at the rather cool Rich Mix venue in London's East End a week on Friday (September 10). The event, co-hosted by Jungle Drums magazine, will see Havana Club drinks being dished out, a screening, Q&A with the director Andrew Lang and live Latin music and DJs… See you down the front.  

On last week's newsletter we looked closely at Tesco's forthcoming Jackie Collins adaptation Paris Connection, and Ms Collins, one of the bestselling authors ever, has been doing the rounds of the sofas this week, as well as appearing in Tesco stores themselves, to support the exclusive release out next week. And my word, she's been well briefed. Check this interview here, as featured on BBC's The One Show ( – we suggest you go from just over 13 minutes in, rather than sit through the rest of the programme). "You can only get it in Tesco," she said. "It's exclusive to Tesco, they put up all the money to make the movie, and this is revolutionary in the film industry, everyone's going to be doing this now. They can go into Tesco and for £10 can get the DVD, they don't have to go to the movies, they don't have to hire a babysitter…" Last weekend saw press coverage in the Mirror, Express and across radio stations, with Collins scheduled for more television on Monday.  

Talking of retailers moving into interesting areas, it's with some interest that we've seen HMV's news about its new move into fashionwear. A new range of clothing and accessories, taking in the likes of Boxfresh, Lee Jeans, FLY53 and Eastpak, as well as, in its flagship Oxford Circus store, Rocawear (that's Jay-Z's own label, for those that aren't either down with the kids or going through some prolonged mid-life crisis). The range will appear in new sections within 38 of its stores, known in each as The Studio, with a smaller selection of items appearing in many of the smaller stores. It follows on from HMV's aim (oft reported here) of turning into a fully-formed, broad-based entertainment brand. The clothes went on sale this week.

We've talked about Frightfest earlier and Nick Gibbs-McNeil, former HEW staffer and general gad about town, is closely involved with the event. Now that's out of the way, he's turning his attention to his new venture, which is somewhat at the opposite end of the spectrum from the horror festival. It's a children's website,, which aims to put children into the driving seat when it comes to talking about what DVD, films and entertainment stuff that they like. The reviews will be video-driven, and aimed at children aged from pre-school up to 12-years-old. Gibbs-McNeil's own offspring are the lead reviewers. He believes that the site will speak to children (and parents) about what they actually like, rather than what grown-ups think they might like. He said: "This is a very exciting project for me, a brainchild I've had for about 10 years. Seeing the recent reviews for The Last Airbender further confirms the need for some form of children's journalism. A sk any little boy the film they want to watch most right now and it's The Last Airbender. Why? Because they actually watch the TV series [Avatar The Last Airbender]  and enjoy the dialogue so vehemently criticised by every adult reviewer. Expect a great review for this film on the site when the DVD comes out in December. I think it's time children have their say on product made for them." The site is due to go live later this month.

The Expendables is still performing strongly at the box office (see below) and we've been meaning to stick this up for a while – if you haven't seen it yet, it's well worth a look as a strong piece of viral marketing And if you want to see Stallone in training for the film, check here: It somewhat reminds us at The Raygun of our own strict training regime…


"Users want Hollywood movies and TV shows when they want them. They don't want amateur hour. They want professional content. And they want everything in HD." Apple's Steve Jobs unveiling the company's new Apple TV service, offering (in the US, initially) a cheaper piece of hardware and new-look TV rentals (for 99 cents) and films ($4.99) both for rental rather than sale. The service is expected to launch in a month. Not all the major studios have signed up yet.


A clutch of new entries, including two, Grown Ups and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, in the top two slots (£2 million and £1.6 million respectively), followed lower down the order by Diary Of A Wimpy Kid ((£671,161). Over in the US, Takers and The Last Exorcism were pretty much neck and neck, with the latter exceeding a lot of expectations, its $20 million plus bodes well for the UK release.   

Mark Millar, creator of Kick-Ass for those that don't know, has been doing the rounds this week to mark the release on Monday of the film from Universal (one of the best we've seen this year, incidentally) and it's interesting to note that he announced that a sequel is on the way – thanks to the demand for the DVD, both here and in the US. No time frame was given, but this is surely good news for fans of the foul-mouthed comic book romp…  

It seems as if every week we have some story or another about a comic book being turned into a feature film. Well, not so this week. No, our newest comic update instead concerns not one but two graphic novel and comic book franchises that are heading instead for the small screen. First up is Locke & Key, a tale of a family with a dark secret who relocate to a spooky house, which is, according to reports this week, being turned into a TV series by Fox. And secondly – and this one will get the nerds' palms and brows all sweaty (sorry, sweatier) with anticipation but also tutting, shaking their heads and saying "it'll never work" – Sandman, Neil Gaiman's hugely popular cult fantasy tale, is also said to be making its way to television, this time via Warner Bros…  

Spat of the week award goes to Piranha 3D producer Mark Canton and James Cameron, who needs little or no introduction. The former responded with gusto when Cameron, fresh off the success of Avatar, had a dig at Piranha by saying it cheapened the medium of 3D and took it back to the old days. That response went on for some time, and really is worth reading (see here). Key quote? Try this: "Mr Cameron, who singles himself out to be a visionary of movie-making, seems to have a small vision regarding any motion pictures that are not his own. It is amazing that in the movie-making process - which is certainly a team sport - that Cameron consistently celebrates himself out as though he is a team of one. His comments are ridiculous, self-serving and insulting to those of us who are not caught up in serving his ego and his rhetoric."

Hey, why go to FrightFest, when you can sit around all weekend and read other people's reviews… That's what we did. Follow us at


More from eOne (see above). We've already featured its website work for Rec 2, now see what it's done for forthcoming Danny Dyer horror Devil's Playground, due in October. See here
It starts off a bit David Fincher credit-like, then livens up a bit:

As featured on our website, this is (kind of) not safe for work, but good fun:

Loads of new NSFW Red Band stuff gone up from Machete too:

It's been a slow week for trailers, but we loved leafing through this selection from Zach Galifianakis…


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