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The Horrors of Fantasia: Days Two and Three

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On Friday morning, my wife and I hit the road for the long, scenic trip up through New Hampshire and Vermont to the dull, flat lands of Quebec. Vermont is full of mountains and beatific landscapes, but as soon as you hit the Border, it’s like you’re driving through any nameless Midwestern town with nothing but flat farmlands as far as the eye can see. This incredible switch never fails to amaze me, no matter how many times I witness it.

We hit the gorgeous city of Montreal in just under five hours and met up with the man, the legend, Evil Andy (Mauro). Said legend was kind enough to offer to let us stay with him and his lady, the lovely Hazel, while we were in town to save us on hotel and perhaps perform unsavory experiments on us when we were asleep. It’s not the first time it’s happened to either my wife or me so we just rolled with it. If they have done any poking and prodding, it has thankfully not woken us up, and that’s really all you can ask for when someone opens their home to you. The bonus is that their place is really, really nice and close to everything we need.

One of the greatest things about Fantasia is its location. Not so much the J.A. De Seve or Concordia Hall Theater (the two theaters showing movies all day long) themselves, as the seats are too close together and older than my grandparents, but where it is in the city of Montreal. Essentially you go one block down and you hit St. Catherine, which is the main drag for the city full of bars, restaurants, and strip clubs the likes of which you have never seen. It sounds dodgy and sleazy, I know, but no matter where you go it never gets that way; the whole place is laid out with an overwhelming sense of fun, and that feeling is contagious from the moment you set foot in it. Don’t get me wrong, there are some less than desirable areas like in any city, but within walking distance of the Fantasia happenings you really couldn’t ask for a more celebratory environment, which always makes for fun nights out after the final movie shows.

Tokyo ZombieWe ate, relaxed, then headed out to the madness that is Fantasia to catch our first must-see movie of the weekend, Sakichi Sato’s Tokyo Zombie, based on the Japanese manga of the same name. It was quirky and fun but for me had some major issues with pacing, though Michelle enjoyed it more is more than happy to tell you why in her review.

Our resident flesh eater, Paul McCannibal, headed out to Feed for us, because none of us could really bring ourselves to sit through it, and turned in a more positive review for it than I expected. I guess it takes all kinds…

The next film we wanted to check out was a midnight screening of Forest of the Dead, but for reasons I can’t fully recall right now we all decided to hit Art of the Devil II instead. I’m glad we did, actually, because it sure was an enjoyable slice of gore from Thailand, though as you can see from my review it did have some issues.

Once that midnight showing was done Andy and I headed back to his place, wading through the crowds of revelers who were just let out of the strip clubs and bars, most of whom were the kinds of people who would assume that Fantasia was a stripper’s name.

The next day, Saturday, our first order of business was a Filipino film called Exodus, which was almost like a classic sword and sandal movie, or better yet an RPG, complete with conflicted hero, mythical beasts, and some pretty damn impressive CG for a film from a third world country. Of course, it’s not even close to horror so that’s the last I’ll say of it, but I have to admit it was a lot better than I expected.

After some quick lunch, Andy and I hit another Thai film, this one much easier on the ears than Art of the Devil II was, called Citizen Dog. Again, not a horror film, but definitely one worth watching for fans of comedies like My Sassy Girl or Amelie. Really, really well made and funny as hell.

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie VernonFinally it was the film we’d been most excited about for Saturday (tonight is The Woods); Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, which our man Nomad reviewed for us a while back. You can go read that review or check out the variety of things about it online, but really there’s no way you can convey a sense of just how goddamn good this movie is. Never stepping over the line and becoming an out-and-out parody, it takes the legends of our most favorite slashers very seriously, but makes the tale of the titular character hilarious in its acknowledgement of all the conventions of the slasher movies we grew up on. I’m afraid of saying too much about it for fear of either over-hyping or under-selling the movie, so I’ll just say this: Behind the Mask is fantastic. Make every effort you can to see it.

Afterwards director Scott Glosserman did a quick Q&A with the crowd, most of which were questions that would lead to spoilers so unfortunately I have to not mention pretty much any of them, but I can tell you this; it does have distribution in North America and will likely be heading out this year. Hopefully I’ll be able to chat further with Scott today, as I met him very briefly last night (though he did say he was a big fan of the site!), and be able to deliver more for you very soon!

Finally it was time for some serious drinking. The night before we had dabbled with the juice, but tonight just had the makings of a very long evening of fun and booze, especially since it was my wife’s birthday as of midnight, so we headed out with Sisters director Doug Buck, Abandoned screenwriter Karim Hussein, The Lost director Chris Severson, and were eventually joined by Fantasia co-director Mitch Davis and a host of other people who were just looking to unwind. A very good time was had by all, though the crowd narrowed down significantly by the end of our night out. Six of us managed to stay out until 5 this morning sobering up, eating, and marveling at the absolute obsession of soccer fans in this city. Even attempting to find a quiet place to eat at three in the morning was met with screaming sports fans with far more drink in each of their systems than we had combined.

So, needless to say it was fun evening, pretty much the pinnacle of the Fantasia experience; good movies, good friends, good conversations… I know that sounds a bit cheesy and Hallmark-y, but that really is what this Festival is about, and once again I’m very happy we were able to make it out for it.

Today we’ve got a few films to catch, including My Scary Girl and, later tonight, the North American premier of The Woods, so you’ll be hearing more from me very soon, and hopefully seeing some more photos, too! Be sure to hit the official Fantasia site to see what you’re missing!

Johnny Butane

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Jon Condit