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The Horrors of Fantasia: Day Fourteen





Day 14 of Fantasia was officially dedicated to meat -- animated, pulsating, stinking, and disemboweled, meat was on the menu throughout.

First up was Jan Svankmajer’s Lunacy. Despite Svankmajer’s introduction to the film, “Ladies and gentleman, what you are about to see is a horror film…it is not a work of art,” the film really isn’t all that horrific though I tend to agree that artistically, Lunacy isn’t one of Svankmajer’s strongest efforts.

The film presents a binary morality where absolute liberalism is contrasted against rigid conservatism with a surprisingly slim grey zone between them. The stop-motion component consists almost solely of animated meat and, while not anything we haven’t already seen before, continues to be impressively gruesome. But it doesn’t contribute greatly to the story and feels more like it’s there to fulfill the audience’s stop-motion expectations of a Svankmajer film. That said, Lunacy does contain one of the most sacrilegious sequences ever committed to film: chocolate cake and fellatio, crucifix abuse, bareback communion, and rape -- all in a Church. If challenging religious doctrine is your thing, you’ll likely be a big fan of Svankmajer’s message.

Fortunately, the second film of the night, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher 3 (click here for Paul's review), had a slightly more ambiguous moral stance, concerned as it is with neutrally documenting really bad people doing even worse things. I continue to be surprised at how Refn is able to illicit so much sympathy for his main character, Milo, despite this being a guy who is able to murder, disembowel, grind, and chop up another human being, in-between attending to his daughter’s birthday party. Again, the Pusher films are not horror movies, but this body disposal scene is so gritty and realistic it feels more like Cannibal Holocaust than it does The Sopranos.

While we’re on the topic of difficult to categorize genre films, I should mention The Living and the Dead. Paul and I missed the scheduled Fantasia screenings but tracked down a DVD copy after we caught wind of the positive buzz surrounding the film. I’m glad we did because this naturalistic tale of disease and decay turned out to be one of the highlights of the festival. Check out my review here.

I thought/hoped J-Horror was dead, but Thursday we’ll be checking out Ju-On director Takashi Shimizu’s latest film, Reincarnation to see if long wet hair and glassy black eyes can scare us again. Afterwards will see the premiere of local filmmaker Philippe Spurrell’s “based on a true story” small town tingler The Descendant.

- Evil Andy

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