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Sitges 2017: Lineup Announced for Fest’s 50th Anniversary

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This year the Sitges Film Festival celebrates its 50th anniversary with a lineup looking to the new millennium. It will open with Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water and close with Gothic horror The Lodgers, and there’s a ton of other exciting genre projects in between. Read on for the full details!

From the Press Release:
The Sitges Film Festival reaches its 50th year paying tribute to the classics, and it will be doing so accompanied by four important guests: Guillermo del Toro, Susan Sarandon, Dario Argento, and William Friedkin, who are all key for understanding the evolution that fantasy has experienced over the last few decades. To this end, its lineup is fueled by filmmakers, men and women, who are destined to become the fantastic genre leaders of the new millennium. In addition, the Festival will be entering headlong into the future of the universe of virtual reality screening, thanks to Samsung Sitges Cocoon, and of the new frontiers of distribution, where online platforms have a lot to say. This is the chronicle of Sitges 2017.

The Sitges Festival reaches its half-century mark, and it’s doing it staying true to its roots: remembering the fantastic film classics that have passed through its theaters since that first screening that took place in the Prado movie theater in 1968. To recall this milestone, this upcoming September 28th, the Prado will be welcoming the screening of Aelita (Yakov Protazanov, 1924), now a Soviet science fiction classic. But there will be more. Along with Guillermo del Toro, Dario Argento, and William Friedkin, Sitges will be rediscovering films like The Exorcist (1973), Suspiria (1977), and Crimson Peak (2015), key to understanding the evolution of fantastic genre from the late 20th century until reaching the new millennium. The Festival will also be paying tribute to actress Susan Sarandon, star of the cult movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and who would later become one of the great ladies of Hollywood.

Irish director Brian O’Malley will be closing Sitges’ 50th anniversary edition with The Lodgers, a Gothic horror story set in early 20th century rural Ireland, just recently presented at the Toronto Festival.

The framework behind the lineup that can be seen at the Festival, from October 5th to 15th, is made up of the work of young filmmakers from the United States, Latin America, Asia, and Europe who are destined to become the leaders of fantastic genre over the upcoming years. Brian Taylor, Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani, Emilio Portes, Cho Sun-ho, Andrés Goteira, among others, will be making their mark at a Festival that, far from conforming, searches for new talent capable of reinventing genre both in its language and its storylines.

Writer and director Brian Taylor directs Mom and Dad, his first solo film following the indispensable Crank. Mom and Dad’s hilarious storyline, a bizarre epidemic that causes lethally violent attacks of parents against their kids, stars Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair in a genre fan fest. Meanwhile, S. Craig Zahler–who dazzled us with his feature length debut, Bone Tomahawk–returns to Sitges with the brutal Brawl in Cell Block 99, where an ex-boxer turned drug dealer lands in a prison that will wind up becoming a genuine battlefield. Arriving from the United States we can also see Happy Death Day, an amusing horror comedy directed by Christopher Landon, which combines the storylines of Scream and Groundhog Day until it drives Jessica Rothe (La La Land) crazy, seeing a masked man kill her over and over again.

Time is also featured in the Korean film A Day, by newbie Cho Sun-ho, where a famous surgeon witnesses an accident during which he sees his daughter die. It’s a scene that will be repeated in an endless loop, with the father trying to change his daughter’s fate. Following 2016, when the big Asian authors cornered the Sitges Festival’s lineup, this year viewers will be able to confirm that there is life beyond great titles like The Handmaiden with films like, for example, the Taiwanese mon mon mon Monsters, by Giddens Ko, which combines high school bullying with supernatural horror in a film overflowing with talent and ingenuity. Other outstanding debuts in the Asian selection are a film by Jonathan Li (assistant director on the Infernal Affairs trilogy), who presents The Brink, a 100% made in Hong Kong thriller, starring Shawn Yue, that’s going to be a shocker; and the new film from Lee Sa-Rang who, with Real, achieves a cross between Nicolas Winding Refn and the best Korean thrillers.

The Canadian Les affamés, by Robin Aubert–known for the unsettling Saints-Martyrs-des-Damnés, reinvents the zombie genre with an intellectualized and now almost cult vision, after its screening at the Toronto and Austin festivals. Another one of this year’s big debuts, which consolidates the role of female filmmakers in genre film, is the one from French director Coralie Fargeat. Her debut feature Revenge exudes a violence with a nod to the 70s classics and contains a final climax that will be a dream for fantastic genre lovers. From Hungary comes Jupiter’s Moon, by Kornél Mundruczó–author of the extraordinary White God, a director who has always intelligently introduced the fantasy element in his films, making it a perfect visual mechanism. On the other hand, in The Ritual British David Bruckner plays with textures that go beyond Blair Witch or The Witch to achieve a horror movie that enjoyed an excellent reception in Toronto. More European talent this year in Sitges includes Thelma, by Norwegian Joachim Trier, who, from an auteur point of view, presents a supernatural thriller that examines human existence; the Russian blockbuster Salyut-7, a film that narrates the rescue of the Salyut 7 space station in 1985; and the spectacular Dutch western Brimstone, starring Dakota Fanning and Guy Pearce.

Latin America continues banking on the fantastic genre with the Brazilian film As boas maneiras, a story halfway between real and oneiric about the power of motherly love, directed by Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas; El habitante, by Uruguayan Guillermo Amoedo, winner of the Award for Best Latin American Feature Film with The Stranger in 2014; and the terrifying Belzebuth, by Mexican Emilio Portes.

Once again, Catalan talent will be present at the Festival with several productions, including the latest work by Jaume Balagueró: Muse. Sitges will also be offering Sergio G. Sánchez’s debut feature with Marrowbone and programming films like Dhogs by Andrés Goteira, an independent production that tells the story of a chance meeting between a businessman and a mysterious woman, which leads us to a clandestine adventure, a desert, and a crime; and Black Hollow Cage, by Sadrac González-Perellón, a film that blends the horror genre with science fiction. Completing the Spanish scene are Errementari, the latest production by Álex de la Iglesia and Carolina Bang, directed by Paul Urkijo; Most Beautiful Island, directed by female filmmaker Ana Asensio, which will open the Noves Visions One section; and Arder, Compulsión, and The Biggest Thing That Ever Hit Broadway, three titles from the most contemporary Spanish independent cinema.

The documentary, always present in the Festival’s lineup, will be represented by films like 78/52, by Alexandre O. Philippe–who has presented several documentaries at previous Festival editions, which will be in the Official In-competition Selection. The piece closely analyzes the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Along with it, we can also see Caniba, following its screening at the Venice Mostra, a film directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel, which reflects the disconcerting importance of cannibalistic desire in human existence.

Samsung Sitges Cocoon, Series, Animation…

Also this year, on its 50th anniversary, the Sitges Festival is taking a step forward and reinforcing the presence of virtual reality through Samsung Sitges Cocoon, which is expanding its lineup with two new venues and now includes an Official In-competition Selection that will be evaluated by an official jury, presided over by Jaume Balagueró and Javier Olivares. French director Alexandre Aja (High Tension) will be presenting Campfire Creepers, the first virtual reality horror series with 360º vision; and Guy Shelmerdine, director of Catatonic, a stunning piece that could be seen in last year’s Samsung Sitges Cocoon, returns with Night, Night, a terrifying experience about children’s fears.

Genre series productions will also be playing an important role this year with screenings at the Auditori itself. Movistar+ premieres “La Zona”; and we can also see the presentation of the second season of “Stranger Things” attended by Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp, two of its stars, and the screening of the Korean Okja and What Happened to Monday?, made by a director who’s very well-known at the Festival, Norwegian Tommy Wirkola.

Since 1995, Sitges has dedicated a space to animation. This year it will be paying tribute to the hundred years of Japanese animation, and it will be doing it with the programming of five animated films from Japan in the Anima’t section, including the multi award-winning Lu Over the Wall, or A Silent Voice, which has enjoyed a spectacular run on Asian screens. Without forgetting European animation, gems like the French Loving Vincent will also be present.

The Festival takes place on the Catalan coast approximately 35 kilometers south of Barcelona, Spain. This upcoming Monday, September 18th (at 13:00), will be the start of the presale of tickets for ticket pack holders, and on Tuesday the 19th (at 13:00), general tickets will go on sale.

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Last Toys on the Left

Funko Giving Jurassic Park the Pop! Treatment as Only They Can

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It is no secret we’re BIG fans of Funko’s Pop! Vinyl line here at DC HQ, and now they’ve announced a new series that has made our hearts just about burst… read on for a look at Pop! Movies: Jurassic Park, heading our way in February. The regular figures are awesome on their own, but wait until you see the exclusives!

From the Funko Blog:
Jurassic Park fans, get excited! To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic film’s appearance on the silver screen, Jurassic Park is coming to Pop!

This series of Pop! features paleontologist Dr. Grant, Jurassic Park CEO John Hammond, mathematician Dr. Malcolm, and embryo-smuggler Dennis Nedry. (Keep an eye out for Dr. Ellie Sattler in Pop! Rides coming soon.)

We couldn’t forget the Jurassic Park dinosaurs! Featured in this line are the great T. rex, Velociraptor, and Dilophsaurus. Look for the Dilophosaurus chase, a rarity of 1-in-6.

Be on the lookout for exclusives. At Target you can find a wounded Dr. Malcolm, and the Dennis Nedry and Dilophosaurus 2-pack is available only at Entertainment Earth.

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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