Fantasia: Days 5 Through 7

Fantasia 2009 (click for larger image)The first full week of Fantasia kicked off with two highly anticipated Clive Barker adaptations, Book of Blood, directed by John Harrison, and Dread, directed by Anthony DiBlasi.

Both directors were on hand for their packed screenings and afterward answered questions both from the crowd and from Fantasia programmer and Fangoria editor Tony Timpone. As reported earlier, we learned during the Q&A that John Harrison has been tapped to direct a mini-series adaptation of Stephen King’s Cell. Given how faithful his interpretation of Book of Blood (review here) turned out to be, Harrison’s not likely to phone this one in!

Paul had this to say about the Dread screening:

Tuesday night a week of non-stop rain and super shitty weather was, er, “brightened” considerably by the world premiere of Dread, Anthony DiBlasi’s adaptation of the short story from Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. It was the second adaptation of said series in a row, following on the heels of John Harrison’s Book of Blood on Monday night. Of course there will be the whole “which one was better?” discussion in a scheduled pairing like that, and I would definitely say that Dread was the superior film. Book of Blood wasn’t bad, but it felt very traditional and restrained, just a good ol’ yarn at the end of the day. Dread was considerably more ambitious and definitely a lot more contemporary.

Fantasia 2009 (click for larger image)

DiBlasi hosted the screening and shared a few anecdotes and wisecracks with the crowd after the film (which was well received). The most interesting thing he spoke of was the extremely grueling method acting going on in the scene in Dread where Hanne Steen’s character, Cheryl, who faces quite a few brutal situations in this film, meets one particularly revolting demise. I don’t want to say anything more as it’ll be a spoiler, but apparently the footage of this method acting exercise might be edited together as a disturbing short that could end up as an extra on the DVD release of Dread. Remember those stylized weird snuff-porn transmissions in Videodrome? On its own, this footage from Dread might be a bit like that kind of thing minus the S&M sex factor … sounds good to me!

Read Paul’s Dread review here.

On Wednesday we took in the French zombie movie Mutants (review here). They don’t call it humpday for nothing folks; watching this one was like climbing a mound of crap, then having the film reward your efforts by allowing you to slide back down, face first. As we dropped on Twitter (follow @dreadfantasia) after the screening — “M.U.T.A.N.T.S: Most. Unoriginal. Tedious. And. Needless. Travesty. Seen-this-year”. This is a movie that so heedlessly wastes an interesting premise in favor of ripping off other recently successful horror movies that it had Paul and I seething for hours after the screening.

Fantasia 2009 (click for larger image)

In the last three days the most impressive thing we’ve seen is actually an 8-minute short directed by artist Wes Benscoter. Titled Hold Your Fire, this grim anti-war film depicting the isolation and horror of a four-limb amputee is genuinely disconcerting and oddly beautiful. Here’s hoping some of the upcoming features are at least this good.

Thursday and Friday we’ll be seeing Blood River and the insane looking Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (review here), hosted by the always unpredictable Yoshihiro Nishimura, who wore a diaper to his screening last year!

Fantasia 2009 (click for larger image)

Evil Andy

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