Fantasia: Days 8 Through 11
Last Thursday we caught Adam Mason’s ambitious indie film Blood River (review here). While I don’t fully agree with Butane (who saw it at the Boston Underground Film Festival), it is one of the better horror-y things we’ve seen so far. It’s extremely reminiscent of Richard Stanley’s Dust Devil, but no matter what you’re expecting, Blood River goes places you absolutely will not anticipate.
Friday was pretty light on horror fare as well. This gave us a much needed chance to catch up with our real lives, as the only "must see" was the midnight screening of Tokyo Gore Police director Yoshihiro Nishimura’s latest splat-tastic experiment: Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (review here).
At the post screening Q&A Nishimura teamed up with Alamo Draft House founder Tim League (standing in for co-director Naoyuki Tomomatsu), dressing up in sumo diapers and terrorizing the audience with their asses. Paul was in the front row taking photographs and almost got teabagged Eminem style.
While the movie wasn’t nearly as bad as a couple of fuzzy nuts settling down on your eyelids, it does have some problems. Nishimura is an incredibly likable guy, and his movies exude a manic energy that’s enjoyable in short doses, but next time I hope he starts with a better script as the shock value in his films is wearing thin.
Saturday we caught the Australian revenge movie The Horseman. The film bills itself as a dark and disturbing story about a man with nothing left to lose, seeking to exact revenge on the people who killed his daughter. I found the first third lived up to these claims, but the latter half exploded so far into cartoon violence that it ended up being a far more campy and fun film than we (and possibly the filmmakers) expected. Read Paul’s review here.
Afterwards we attended the midnight screening of Lee Demarbre’s Herschell Gordon Lewis homage, Smash Cut, starring Last House on the Left lead David Hess and porn-starlet-cum-serious-actress Sasha Grey.
On paper this could have been a travesty, but due to an incredible score, polished visuals, and an over-the-top performance from Hess, it turned out to be surprisingly entertaining. Read my Smash Cut review here.
Sunday we took in the director’s cut of Buddy G’s Combat Shock (see Rick Trembles' MPP review here). Both Paul and Mitch have been warning me about this film for years now, and so I was readying myself for the feel bad movie of the year. It is without question a powerful film in parts, but much of it has aged to the point of laughability now.
Combat Shock’s mood relies on an escalating sense of boredom and hopelessness, and so every time you see a street thug that looks like he escaped from The Warriors, there’s a jarring line of dialog (“Suck my ass!”), and especially every time you see "the baby", you’re humorously reminded that you’re watching a fabrication and that Frankie is a pastiche of newspaper articles and not a real guy. By the end I appreciated the idea behind the violent climax but wasn’t feeling it on an emotional level. In discussing the film afterwards, it seems like those who saw Combat Shock when they were younger still maintain that traumatic emotional connection to it, whereas new viewers like myself may find themselves getting caught up in the way the film has aged. You’ll be able to decide for yourselves soon as Troma is releasing the definitive version on DVD later this month.
Following Combat Shock was the official book launch of Montreal comic book movie reviewer Rick Trembles' new book Motion Picture Purgatory Volume 2 from FAB Press. The launch was at a local bar, and Trembles' band, The American Devices, played a set with Trembles decked out in the same zombie makeup that adorns the back flap of the hardcover edition (makeup by yours truly!). Check out our book preview here, and visit FAB Press to pick up your own copy.
We’re past the halfway mark now, and there are still quite a few things to look forward to, especially next weekend’s screening of the new Coffin Joe movie, Embodiment of Evil (early review here), and the Troll 2/Best Worst Movie double feature! Coming up we’ll be reporting on Fantasia’s always surprising "Small Gauge Trauma" shorts program and Grand Canyon survival film The Canyon.
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