Fantasia: Days 16 Through 18
The final weekend of Fantasia delivered in spades. The screenings divided audiences, prompted walkouts, and had viewers rolling in the aisles and salting their popcorn with tears of joy celebrating the rebirth of Coffin Joe.
On Friday just about everyone was split in their opinions of The Children and Deadgirl, which led to a lot of hotheaded arguing over drinks. Some folks thought The Children (review here) was the best horror movie of the year; whereas others found it boring, unbelievable, and confusing. Paul and I fell into the latter camp.
Deadgirl was a lot less contentious, as just about everyone found it to be an unintelligent, misogynistic, and heavily watered down film. My assessment is slightly more forgiving, as I thought the premise was intriguing, even if it was mostly wasted. It’s a shame the directors decided to spend so much time on the more commercial, romance, and jokey bits, especially since they mostly don’t work. Had they decided to keep the focus on male sexuality and the extreme horror inherent in the movie’s effective set-up, Deadgirl (review here) could have been a very hard-hitting film.
The one thing no one is disputing is that José Mojica Marins has, along with the help of co-writer Dennison Ramalho, successfully resurrected Coffin Joe. Brazil’s superior being is back, more willing than ever, to violently test the limits of flesh in his search for the perfect woman. Easily the most interesting, entertaining, and shocking film of Fantasia 2009, Embodiment of Evil (review here) is the one recommendation readers should take away from this year's coverage. The lifetime achievement award presented by Fantasia to Marins is well deserved.
Prior to the cortex scrambling screening of Coffin Joe’s opus, we caught Best Worst Movie (review here), the much lauded documentary about the Troll 2 phenomenon. Directed by none other than little Joshua himself (Michael Stephenson), Best Worst Movie follows George “You don’t piss on hospitality” Hardy and the director as they travel around the world attending sold out screenings of Troll 2. The film transcends its subject matter, ultimately becoming a meditation on unfulfilled dreams, small-time fame, cult films, the directors that create them, the fans that love them, and, uh, dentistry. We had a blast at the screening despite never having sat through Troll 2 in its entirety.
On Sunday we checked out one of the late additions to the Fantasia lineup, House of the Devil (review here). Coming from someone that really, really disliked The Roost, I was not all that enthused to be sitting through another Ti West movie, but boy am I glad I did. His latest film rectifies every issue that plagued The Roost, and then some. House of the Devil is easily THE most successful 80’s horror homage film, ever! If you put this flick on TV, it would be indistinguishable from a real horror movie from 1982. The lone girl in a scary house is straight out of When A Stranger Calls (1979), the satanic family has echoes of Rosemary’s Baby (1968), and the left-field gore has flashes of Haute Tension (2003) but from the credits, the wardrobe, the hair and makeup, to the production design, the cinematography, and the pacing, everything else is absolutely believably 80’s. While not a lot happens up until the final fifteen minutes of the movie, the actors are so compelling and likable, that I was never bored. Jocelin Donahue, in the role of Samantha, reminded me of a more adorable, fully clothed version of Tanya Roberts. If that’s not 80’s, what is?
Up tonight we’ll be seeing I Sell the Dead, tomorrow is Neighbor, and then, we’ll finish ’er off with Inglorious Basterds!
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