It’s that time of year again! No, not Comic Con- although you can expect plenty of coverage on that here on AITH- it’s the Fantasia Film Festival in my hometown, Montreal! Every year, programmer Mitch Davis helps put together an eclectic and awesome mix of some of the finest genre cinema from all around the world. I’ve been attending the festival since 2001, and this year is particularly exciting as for the first time since then they’ll be returning to their old stomping grounds, Montreal’s famous Imperial Theater!
Over the last five years or so, Fantasia’s reputation has grown and grown. It used to be a place where us Montrealers could see our favorite HK action movies projected on the big-screen, but now it’s grown into arguably the biggest and best genre film festival in the world. It’s like TIFF’s Midnight Madness, only all day, every day for three whole weeks! The fest kicks off Thursday the 18th of July and only ends August 7th. In the last few years, its premiered movies like SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD, INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, THE LOVED ONES, MESRINE, IP MAN 1 & 2, and much, much more. This is shaping up to be another amazing year, and the following are just a few of the titles you can expect us to review over the next few weeks.
The festival kicks off with an early (by 1 day) screening of James Wan’s THE CONJURING. Based on the lives of famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, anyone who’s listened to their (dubious) exploits on Coast-to-Coast AM can tell you that these two will no doubt lend themselves to one heck of a spooky movie. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play the Warrens as they examine (what else?) a “dark presence” that’s haunting a family. I fully expect this to be one of the year’s better horror movies.
BIG BAD WOLVES hails from Israel, which is quickly establishing itself as a burgeoning market for genre cinema, thanks in no small part to directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, who hit Fantasia in 2011 with their movie RABIES. While I missed that one, I’ve been assured that BIG BAD WOLVES, which is being billed (according to the Fantasia website ) as a “brutal comedy for a mad, mad, mad, mad world”, is the can’t miss title of the fest. We’ll see, but I’m very optimistic.
One of the most exciting events at this year’s festival is the premiere of Edgar Wright’s THE WORLD’S END. Wright’s SHAUN OF THE DEAD and SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD both screened at the Fantasia film festival, and were among the most memorable screenings I’ve ever attended. Wright’s a “can’t miss” kind of guy, and with this ending his “Three Flavors: Cornetto” trilogy along with stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, I have no doubt THE WORLD’S END will be another roof-raiser.
Normally, I wouldn't be too enthusiastic about a found-footage movie about Bigfoot, where it not for the fact that it's written and directed by none other than Bobcat Goldthwait. Formerly a mad-man comic figure from the eighties (POLICE ACADEMY 3 & 4) Goldthwait has long since re-established himself as a brilliant, and twisted writer-director (SHAKES THE CLOWN, WORLD'S GREATEST DAD, and GOD BLESS AMERICA). Watching him take on the found-footage horror genre will be a treat.
CHEAP THRILLS was one of the breakout hits of this year's edition of SXSW. Apparently, it's a dark (DARK) comedy about two down-on-their-luck guys persuaded by a wealthy couple into an escalating series of dares. Given that this is Fantasia, I suspect the dares involve more than just spin the bottle and ten minutes in heaven.
Sorry Jack! Chucky's back! Yes folks, Chucky is back for another go-round. Apparently, CURSE OF CHUCKY is a return to Chucky's more horrific, CHILD'S PLAY roots, although having loved BRIDE OF CHUCKY and SEED OF CHUCKY, I'm hoping for a good dose of knowingly self-conscious satire too. With this due to hit DVD/Blu-ray in the fall, Fantasia will be one of the few places where you'll be able to see Chucky on the big-screen in all his pint-sized glory.
BOUNTY KILLER is one of the lower-profile films at the fest, and I know nothing about it other than the fact that it seems to be inspired by MAD MAX/THE ROAD WARRIOR. The production still above is enough to put this on my must-see list, and I'd love to see Fantasia launch a gritty, low-budget actioner as there has got to be alternatives to the onslaught of clean PG-13 movies that hit the multiplexes every week.