Fantastic Fest Report - 9/23

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2011-09-24 11:29
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Time moves so quickly here that I can almost feel yesterday’s events evaporating from my brain. I saw five movies, met more cool people, and slept very little. Festival life is tough on first timers like me, I suppose.

Anyway, I really can’t say enough good things about the Drafthouse. Their “no talking" PSAs are legendary, and I’ve seen some funny ones, but one thing I love is that you aren’t assaulted with obnoxious ads before movies. Instead, you get a weird grab-bag of stuff before the show starts. I saw trailers for stuff like Tombs of the Blind Dead and Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, which I never thought I’d see on a big screen. Some of the pre-show bumpers have been cool too, particularly one that spoofed Rick Perry by predicting that the state of Texas will eventually endure an Escape From New York-style fate under his tyrannical reign. If you know me, you won’t be surprised to know that hearing Carpenter’s EFNY theme has been a highlight so far.

Mirokurôze: A Love Story

There are few words in the English language to aptly describe this movie; basically, it’s like Scott Pilgrim on LSD by way of a Japanese game show aesthetic. Very weird, but very, very funny at times. It has everything from a 9 year old boy falling in love with a woman to a big, violent samurai hack-and-slash set piece in a brothel. Somewhere in between, a youth counselor gives some of the most outrageous advice to lovelorn guys…before he breaks into a song and dance routine. If you think my description of this movie is crappy and scatter-brained, it’s because the movie is just a total explosion of bonkers, colorful nonsense.

Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps

The second of two movies whose titles I continue to mangle (Mirokurôze being the first), this one is a horror flick from Switzerland that does some cool things. It feels a little long for the story that’s being told, especially when the narrative tries to pull one two many rugs (some of the late twists and turns feel Saw-inspired stylistically). Some of its strong points include the setting, as there’s an a great, rugged, rural Euro vibe, complete with a spooked village tucked away in the middle of some foreboding mountains. The thrust of the story involves a mysterious girl who wanders into the village; she may or may not be a ghost or a witch, but danger and destruction seem to follow her everywhere she goes. Part of my problem with this one stemmed from how ambiguous the it is--I’ve talked to three different people about it, and each had a different take on the entire movie (not just the ending). An interesting film, no doubt, particularly in the way it sometimes recalls the occult trappings of Hammer’s glory days.

The Corridor

I hope to find time to write more about The Corridor because it deserves it. A Canadian production, it involves five friends retreating to a cabin in the snowy woods. One of them has some traumatic psychiatric issues, and shit goes down. I know, I know--you’ve seen or heard this one before. You’re right, but, as the post-show Q&A revealed, writer Josh MacDonald also knows you have, which is why the film ultimately unravels quite unexpectedly. This is a characters-first horror flick; I felt like I could have just watched these guys hang out; MacDonald mentioned The Big Chill as an inspiration, and you can see it especially in the characters’ wistfulness for their youth and their current frustrations in life. The phenomena they stumble upon is a sci-fi conceit--it’s some weird energy corridor that wreaks havoc on everyone’s minds.

Really, this feels like a lo-fi version of The Thing with some pod movie stuff thrown in; however, it’s not apocalyptic in nature. Instead, it's more intimate, as it seems like the corridor exists to force the characters into facing their issues and reconciling with them somehow. As has been a trend here at Fantastic Fest, the ending is questionable and will leave people talking. Oh, and there’s a reference to Cheezies, which I understand is a fine Canadian delicacy due to Brett H’s repeated insistence that all other cheese-curl snacks pale in comparison.

I really enjoyed the aforementioned Q&A, which provided some insightful information on the state of Canadian film; joining MacDonald was director Evan Kelly and producer Mike Masters, who talked about how the film came together. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought the film recalled Stephen King, particularly Dreamcatcher, as the trio addressed that; MacDonald’s spec script for this was being developed before King ever wrote the novel, which was interesting. They also discussed the small-world aspect of the Canadian film community, as they’re all buddies with Jason Eisener, whose Hobo With a Shotgun has paved the way for the return of the Canadian grindhouse. MacDonald especially pledged his desire to return to the glory days of the tax shelter era, which is exciting.

Livid

You can read my full review of Bustillo and Muary’s follow-up to Inside here, but, rest assured, this one is pretty divisive. I liked it with a few reservations, and it’s a very different film from Inside.

Zombie

This was once my favorite Fulci movie before The Beyond passed it in stature a few years ago. Still, seeing this projected in glorious 2K is a far, far cry from the VHS tape I rented from a local video store over fifteen years ago. It expectedly plays well to a large, eager crowd, who obviously went nuts for the “zombie vs. shark” and explicit gore moments. However, it did strike me last night that this film might still contain my favorite Fulci moment: it’s the famous scene where all of De Rossi’s spectacularly designed undead begin to rise from their graves as Frizzi/Tucci’s epic main theme blares.

For further thoughts on Zombie, definitely hit up Brett H.’s review, which does far more justice to the flick than I can, especially in my sleep-deprived state.

Stay tuned for updates from day three, where I’ll be seeing Urban Explorer and A Lonely Place to Die. Expect a review of one or the other if sleep deprivation or heat exhaustion don’t claim me first.
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