While we wait for the schedule for Fantasia 2009 to be finalized, we did receive a couple of press release announcing the fest’s line-up, and per usual, those of you who are planning to attend are in for one helluva genre extravaganza.
First up is a bit of news about the fest’s extended schedule: Due to a veritable deluge of feature presentations, Fantasia is extending its 13th edition for two extra days and will therefore be taking place from July 9th to the 29th at Concordia University’s Hall Theatre. As North America’s largest genre film festival, Fantasia will once again make good on its promise to deliver diversity, innovation, entertainment, food for thought and a good dose of eccentric and biting humour.
Next is a message from Fantasia’s Co-Director of International Programming, Mitch Davis, highlighting some of this year’s spotlights:
Here’s just a small sample of what awaits Fantasia-goers this year. Not all are horror oriented; a few sound just too intriguing to ignore, including the opening night offering, Takashi Miike’s Yatterman:
YATTERMAN – Opening film – Canadian Premiere, hosted by producer Yoshinori Chiba
Japan Dir: Takashi Miike
A Takashi Miike film is never banal. So when he adapted a children’s cartoon from the 70’s considered slightly risque and trashy, there was no doubt as to its irreverence and nonconformity. A true visual feast, YATTERMAN will transform the opening night of Fantasia 2009 into an unforgettable happening.
BEST WORST MOVIE – Montreal premiere, hosted by director Michael Paul Stephenson and actor George Hardy
Unbeknownst to him, a dentist living in a small town in Alabama has an army of fans who worship him. The reason behind his clandestine popularity? He was a one-time actor who played a lead role in a movie that is now widely regarded as being amongst the worst films of all time: TROLL 2. When he hears that the film was being shown at a rep cinema, he attends the screening. This decision leads him on a truly surprising and life-changing journey. Funny and moving, BEST WORST MOVIE is a great documentary on genre cinema on top of being an incredible quest into the heart of the mysterious phenomenon of cult films.
BLOOD RIVER – Canadian Premiere
England Dir : Adam Mason
After BROKEN and DEVIL’S CHAIR, Adam Mason is back with another outstanding entry, proving himself once again as a filmmaker with a unique voice and a truly original film whose power will be closely monitored. Lost in the desert with a broke down car, a newlywed couple meet a mysterious hitchhiker who could bring them either salvation or damnation. A nasty tale of crime and punishment that recalls the sinister verses of the Old Testament having previously inspired William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor.
THE CHASER – Canadian Premier
South Korea Dir: Na Hong-jin
An unclassifiable film which found itself categorized as “horror” at the latest Fantastic Fest and “action” at the Deauville Asian Film Festival, THE CHASER has no reason to envy the classics that sparked the new wave of Korean genre cinema. The script skilfully mixes dark humour, cruelty and social critique. Kim Yun-seok, as an ex-cop turned pimp, and Ha Jung-woo, as a blood-thirsty killer, deliver a most impressive actor’s duel. Na Hong-jin offers his captivating first feature, intense and deeply troubling.
THE CHILDREN – North American Premiere
UK Dir: Tom Shankland
A holiday weekend turns into a nightmarish battle for survival when children inexplicably begin to slaughter their parents. Far more frightening than CHILDREN OF THE CORN or the bulk part of other killer kids pics that have preceded it, this British powerhouse shocker ranks among the best horror film offerings of recent years. THE CHILDREN inverts unconditional love with an impact that will freeze your blood. Would you be able to protect yourself if the people you loved wanted to cut you to pieces without any sense or reason? The film’s terrors are character-driven, smart and served straight, using the naturally manipulative nature of children to terrifying effect, magnifying trace elements of cruelty into the unthinkable.
CRYPTIC – Canadian Premiere, hosted by directors Danny Kuchuck and John Weiner
USA Dirs: Danny Kuchuck and John Weiner
Imagine if you called your old phone number from childhood days.. . and your old self answered. Now imagine this happening on the anniversary of your mother’s accidental death. You’re speaking to your younger self and you realize that at this very moment in the past, your mother is still safe and alive. You need to convince your infant self to stop your mother from taking the steps that you know will lead to her death, and you have very little time to make that happen. This incredible, low-budget sci-fi thriller plays like a brilliant,character-driven TWILIGHT ZONE episode, and just landed an award at the Brooklyn International Film Festival.
DEAD SNOW – Canadian Premiere
Norway Dir : Tommy Wirkola
One of the most anticipated horror films of the year is making its Canadian premiere at Fantasia, after blowing minds at Sundance. Norwegian Nazi zombies! Students on holiday make the mistake of playing with lost Nazi gold, causing its owners to return from beyond the grave for it. Carnage in sight! With solid production chops, an inventive script and a savvy blend of humor and violence, DEAD SNOW is going to re-carve the way you think of Norwegian cinema.
DEADGIRL – Montreal Premiere
United States Dir : Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel
Two teenagers stumble upon the naked body of a woman in the middle of an abandoned asylum. She has apparently been left for dead at the back of a forgotten room. The woman however is not dead at all nor can she be killed. Unleashed, wild and displaying only aggression and animal instinct, she is difficult to imagine as human. Instead of alerting the authorities, the two friends decide to engage in sadistic games with their find. DEADGIRL will get people talking. Guaranteed. It is explicitly violent, filled with bursts of shocking gore, and equally explicit sexually. Is this what coming of age looks like in our commodofied times, when we think of everything – people included – as objects to be consumed and disposed of at will?
DREAM – North American Premiere
South Korea Dir: Kim Ki-duk
A man and a woman discover that they are united by their dreams. When one sleeps, the other, like a puppet, carries out the violent acts that occur in the dream. Only one solution seems to exist for this mysterious problem—no more sleep, by any means necessary. For his first venture into the fantastic, the masterful Kim Ki-duk follows the setbacks of a couple whose curse will lead them towards love. As always, the visuals are sumptuous and the performances are exemplary. Jô Odagiri, seen in last year’s ADRIFT IN TOKYO, gives one of the best performances of his career. Cinema on a big scale.
THE ECLIPSE – Canadian Premiere
Ireland Dir : Conor McPherson
While at a literary festival, Michael, a widower father falls for a writer of fantasy novels. Their stormy relationship becomes more complicated when Michael starts to become haunted by terrifying apparitions of ghosts. Like an Irish Kiyoshi Kurosawa, this touching and fantastical drama plunges us into an atmosphere where the daily dramas of the living are put up together with those of the dead. Ciarán Hinds ravages the screen as a man torn by his past and his beliefs, a performance that won him an award at the Tribeca Film Festival.
EMBODIMENT OF EVIL (Encarnação do Demônio) – Canadian Premiere
Brazil Dir: José Mojica Marins
“Higher than God. Lower than Satan.” José Mojica Marins’ demonically anticipated Zé do Caixão (Coffin Joe) comeback film is finally coming to Canada. EMBODIMENT cleverly explains Zé’s absence over the years by opening with the character being released from prison after serving decades of time for the crimes depicted in earlier films! Let loose in a very changed world, Zé immediately picks up where he left off, recruiting a legion of followers from Brazil’s disenfranchised masses. He may now be in his 70s, but Zé’s lifelong obsession to locate the perfect woman to continue his bloodline with has not faded in the slightest. Whether or not he’s killed by his enemies, time is running out for Zé, and he lives his life accordingly. Grotesquery and surrealism abound, drenched in sex, poetry, blasphemy and blood. You will not believe what you’re seeing.
EVIL SPIRIT: VIY – North American Premiere, hosted by director Park Jin-sung
South Korea Dir: Park Jin-sung
A South Korean had the temerity to freely adapt one of Gogol’s short stories for his first feature? Don’t be scandalized—EVIL SPIRIT: VIY is a staggering cinematic experience that even the great Russian author would have adored. There is something of Lars Von Trier in this crazy project, in which VIY’s story is told three times, each in a different setting. An impossible blend of art film and J-horror, EVIL SPIRIT: VIY frightens as much as it amazes.
GRACE – Montreal Premiere hosted by director Paul Solet
United States Dir : Paul Solet
Produced by Adam Green, director of HATCHET, this horrific tale evokes the mental collapse of REPULSION, the birthing body horror of both Cronenberg’s THE FLY and THE BROOD, and breaks its own ground in terms of its willingness to explore and depict postnatal horror. We’ll not spoil its subject, other than to tell you that it concerns pregnancy, motherhood and madness. Presented at Sundance where certain viewers fainted during the projection, Paul Solet’s first film, GRACE, is a morbid visual contraceptive for those wishing to have children!
HARD REVENGE, MILLY / HARD REVENGE, MILLY: BLOODY BATTLE – Canadian Premiere, hosted by writer/director Takanori Tsujimoto
Japan Réal : Takanori Tsujimoto
Director Takanori Tsujimoto will host the two-part HARD REVENGE series. Bloody, violent with a strong, twisted sense of humor, it’s KILL BILL mixed with ROBOCOP and some TOKYO GORE POLICE. Leading lady Miki Mizuno is brilliantly spectacular in her fight scenes as she slices and dices those who killed her family using weapons that have become mechanically attached to her.
HELLS – North American Premiere
Japan Dir: Yoshiki Yamakawa
Following an accident, Linne goes to Hell where she encounters a cast of quirky characters, including an Elvis look-alike demon, an experience that changes their “lives” forever. With films like PAPRIKA and NINJA SCROLL to its credit, the latest Madhouse Studio production employs a raw style fused with staggering visuals and an extraordinary attention to details. It would be a pity for any animation enthusiast to miss out on this golden opportunity to see HELLS on the big screen.
THE HORSEMAN – Canadian Premiere
Australia Dir: Steven Kastrissios
After his addict daughter is found dead of an overdose following the shooting of an amateur skin film, a middle-aged exterminator embarks on a to-the-death mission of pure, blistering vengeance against Austalia’s underground porn community. A red-hot fire poker of a film, THE HORSEMAN is a modern incarnation of the classic revenge thriller stripped to its purest, most punishing elements. A meaner, less forgiving version of Paul Schrader’s HARDCORE, this is a film packed with many a cringe-inducing moment, but its stabs that cut the deepest are anchored in the almost animalistic fury of its grief. A caustic debut from 1st time filmmaker Steven Kastrissios, who, at the age of 26, wrote, co-produced, directed, edited and even colour-graded the film. A standout at this years’ SXSW.
I SELL THE DEAD – Montreal Premiere, hosted by Director Glenn McQuaid, Star/Co-Producer Larry Fessenden and Co-Producer Peter Phok
USA Dir: Glenn McQuaid
“Never, ever trust a corpse.” Cult filmmaker Larry Fessenden (THE LAST WINTER) and Dominic Monaghan (LOST) star as a pair of ambitious grave robbers who stumble face-first into one occult freak out after another in this Victorian-era thrill ride that’s been winning awards everywhere it’s been exhumed. A Gothic love letter to classic Hammer horror films and all the unnatural things that go bump in the night, I SELL is reminiscent of Tim Burton’s best work, powered with the passion of early Sam Raimi. Beautifully shot and always cleverly staged, this is a film packed to the bursting point with personality, wit and invention, not to mention phenomenally individualistic performances (watch out Ron Perlman and Angus Scrimm). A joy from start to finish, and one of the best horror/comedies we’ve seen in deathless ages.
THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF LITTLE DIZZLE – International Premiere, hosted by Director David Russo
USA Dir: David Russo
This ingenious outsider comedy that features pregnant male characters giving birth to marine creatures following their addiction to experimental cookies may very well turn out to be this generation’s REPO MAN! Decked wall to wall with unique performances from a cast that’s likely to attain immortality, LITTLE DIZZLE could almost be an unlikely 4-way love child between Richard Linklater, Judd Apatow, Dan Clowes and William S Burroughs, balancing toilet humour with spiritual ponderings, body horror/metamorphosis and explosive gender grenades. A quasi-intellectual gross-out youth comedy and one of the most refreshing films you’re going to see anywhere this year, DIZZLE is coming to Fantasia hot off flooring audiences at Sundance and SXSW.
KAIFECK MURDER –North American Premiere
Germany Dir : Esther Gronenborn
A photographer and his son visit the isolated village of Kaifeck, whose inhabitants celebrate a strange rite of After-Christmas where they dress up as monsters to keep demons from bothering their village. A mystery envelops this village of hostile inhabitants. Some twenty years ago, a family was massacred, and although the culprit was never found, there seems to be a connection with at least one of the village’s new visitors. A murder mystery embedded in supernatural thriller: hybridization succeeds like magic to create an atmospheric masterpiece.
LEFT BANK – Canadian Premiere
Belgium Dir: Pieter Van Hees
Suffering from chronic exhaustion, Mary, a young athlete, is forced to rest. Completely depressed, she finally finds happiness in the arms of Bob, a seductive young man who invites her to come live with him in his apartment. Mary would be floating on a cloud if it weren’t for the strange tenants living in her lover’s building. The director creates a familiar atmosphere that rocks slowly in a world of black magic. Mature fantasy drama tinged with witchcraft, LEFT BANK underlines the emergence of a new talent.
LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS – Canadian Premiere
UK Dir: Phil Claydon
UK comedy duo James Corden and Mat Horne (BBC TV’s GAVIN & STACEY) take the proverbial piss out of Britain’s esteemed horror heritage with this equally funny and raunchy blast that’s been bowling over audiences and angering critics across its homeland! Vulgar sight gags abound. Dialogue flies fast and furious. The laughs are wedged halfway between contemporary straight-faced BritCom and old school BENNY HILL. At once proudly unsophisticated and aesthetically slick, LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS gets mileage from the tradition of pitting ordinary shlubbs against ageless evil, with Horne & Corden bringing an incredulous energy to the proceedings that reinvent the familiar into a goofy fun time.
MUST LOVE DEATH – World Premiere, hosted by Director Andreas Schaap
Germany Dir: Andreas Schaap
The single most surprising film we’ve come across all year; an astounding freak fusion of romantic comedy and extreme horror that plays as if the Coen Brothers collaborated with Takashi Miike and MANHATTEN-era Woody Allen to make something in the median between FLIRTING WITH DISASTER and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. It shouldn’t work, but it does. Brilliantly. It begins as a tender, almost screwball romantic comedy before swerving straight into madness. From that point on, it could become anything at any time. Good-natured and mean-spirited in equal measure, the film is riotously funny, often downright adorable, but rest assured, you will be shocked. MUST LOVE DEATH will leave you with a smile on your face and a scar across your brain.
MUTANTS – International Premiere
France Dir: David Morley
Since the beginning of the summer, a virus has been turning its victims into cannibalistic creatures. It’s the middle of winter, Sonia and Marco seek refuge in a building with a serious problem. Marco is contaminated. His horrified girlfriend watches on as he slowly joins the ranks of the mutants. Reflecting upon many classics of the genre, this debut feature by David Morley exhibits an interesting variation by focusing on the moment when a man becomes transformed into the living-dead. With effective special effects and numerous bone-chilling scenes, MUTANTS underlines the importance that French New Wave horror films encompass on the festival circuit today.
NEIGHBOR – World Premiere, hosted by Director Robert Masciantonio
USA Dir: Robert Masciantonio
An unnamed girl (America Olivo, last seen in the FRIDAY THE 13th remake) wanders through a posh suburban neighbourhood, breaking into homes and… staying a while. Usually for just a couple of days, during which period she passes the time torturing and slaughtering anyone who happened to be home when she got there. Brimming with dark humour and pulverizing shock sequences, NEIGHBOR cleverly flips the gender roles of classic exploitation cinema staples, giving us a lone woman who terrorizes a series of mostly very frightened and defenceless men, and it is much smarter than a simple synopsis might imply. Think AUDITION with the psycho-sexual charge of IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES.
NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE 2 – Canadian Premiere
Japan Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto
If your dreams are haunted by ghosts, you call the “Nightmare Detective”, but if he is the one with the nocturnal visions, who does he call? As much a horror film as an introspective psychological drama, NIGHTMARE DETECTIVE 2 re-introduces his unlikely anti-hero with a new twist. Shinya Tsukamoto steps beyond the limits of the horror genre while remaining faithful to his own unique style.
USA and Canada Dir: Jaume Collet-Serra
With two children already, a couple wants to a have another, but cannot. Instead, they decide to adopt a little girl named Esther. At first glance she seems to be the perfect addition to the family, but once they arrive at home things start to take a turn for the worse. Esther is not the person she seemed to be and her dark side surfaces in no time. The director of ORPHAN, Jaume Collet-Serra, promises that his latest film offers more than just your average killer-child flick, and will not stop short of shocking and surprising you. ORPHAN has the strong conviction to stand out among the best films of the genre.
OROCHI – North American Premiere
Japan Dir: Norio Tsurata
The children of celebrities can have a hell of a time adjusting to the world. For Kazusa (Yoshino Kimura) and Risa Monzen (Noriko Nakagoshi), daughters of golden-era movie star Aoi Monzen (also played by Kimura), their neurotic maladjustment is skyrocketed by the fact that they’re living under a secret family curse that sees all Monzen women turn into tortured, deformed beasts at the age of 29! OROCHI is a compelling supernatural drama that takes a Japanese horror side route to SUNSET BOULEVARD through the backstreets of MULHOLLAND DRIVE. It’s a bizarre and rather Lynchian film that flows with shifting identities, liquefied chronology, surprising bursts of the absurd and high-tension melodrama. A sad, beautiful and chilling piece of work that washes over the viewer like a waking dream.
SMASH CUT – World Premiere, hosted by Director Lee Demarbre and Stars Sasha Grey and David Hess
Canada Dir: Lee Demarbre
What do you get when the director of JESUS CHRIST VAMPIRE HUNTER teams up with Sasha Grey, David Hess and Michael Berryman to shoot a wacked-out tribute to ‘60s splatter pioneer HG Lewis? You get SMASH CUT, baby! Yes, Lee Demarbre, Canada’s contemporary King of the B’s has just completed his biggest film to date, and we’re tickled blood red to be presenting its world premiere at Fantasia. Notorious grindhouse heavy David Hess (LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, HITCH HIKE) stars as notorious grindhouse filmmaker Able Whitman, who realizes that the most cost-effective way to have convincing effects in a low-budget production is to use the real thing.
STOIC – North American premiere
USA Dir: Uwe Boll
An inmate is found dead in his cell. An inquiry is opened to unmask the perpetrators and learn all the ins and outs of the affair. Through a series a flashbacks, we relive the last twenty-four hours of the dead man’s life. At first glance, what seems like a honest friendship between convicts is revealed as being much more horrifying. Film’s bad-boy, Uwe Boll, is back with a film that knocks out its viewers like a punch in the gut. Starring Edward Furlong and based on a true story, STOIC is both a fascinating and sinister film with a simple straight-forward narrative, albeit a deadly one.
THIRST – North American Premiere
South Korea Dir: Park Chan-wook
Park Chan-wook has proven his reputation as a member of the world’s cinematographic elite once again with his latest Jury Prize winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for THIRST. Inspired by Émile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin, this audacious masterpiece, a fusion of forbidden love, moral predicaments… and vampires, has generated many reactions and debates wherever it’s been screened. Fantasia is proud to present the North American premiere of one of the year’s most anticipated films.
TRICK ’R TREAT
USA Dir: Michael Dougherty
You’ve already heard this one before, but this time, it’s for real: TRICK ‘R TREAT is the horror film fans have been waiting for. It’s the cure to all the tasteless remakes, sequels and excessively praised “Holy Grails” that we have had to suffer through for years. Told over the span of one Halloween night, the story encompasses a wide range of characters (teenagers, parents, children, and a grumpy old man) whose stories intertwine across a series of four narratives. The director, Dougherty, knows all tricks to keep us hooked and presents them to us with an array of well-known actors such as Brian Cox, Anna Paquin and Dylan Baker.
VAMPIRE GIRL VS. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL – Canadian Premiere, hosted by director Yoshihiro Nishimura
Japan Dir: Naoyuki Tomomatsu, Yoshihiro Nishimura
After welcoming the New Flesh in TOKYO GORE POLICE, special effects genius and director Yoshihiro Nishimura goes for something decidedly more slapstick with VAMPIRE GIRL VS. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL, which he co-directs with Naoyuki Tomomatsu of STACY fame. Destined to become the best kind of cult classic, you need to come on down, buy a ticket, sit very quietly and let it touch you in a freaky way. Fresh from its world premiere at the New York Asian Film Festival, this gory and twisted opus promises to floor the Fantasia audience!
With over 115 feature-length films from Asia, Europe, the United States, Canada and beyond; an impressive selection of short medium and feature-length movies from Quebec; documentaries; panel discussions; outdoor screenings and much more … this marathon of events will indulge everyone from the most demanding film enthusiast to the novelty starved neophyte. All this in the warm and exuberant atmosphere that has become synonymous with Fantasia.
In addition to the prizes awarded by the bright lights of the artistic community (Best Feature Film, Best First Feature, Best International Short Film, Best Quebec Short Film, Best DIY Short Film), the publications Écran Fantastique and Séquences, long-time partners of the festival, will give prizes for Best Fantasy Feature and Best Asian Film. Of course, the much coveted Public’s Choice Award will be once again presented to the movie that garnered to most votes during all three weeks of the festival.
And really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Visit the official Fantasia 2009 website for the rest.
Lastly, keep your eyeballs here for near daily updates from the festival from our intrepid team of Evil Andy and Paul McCannibal beginning July 9th!
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