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Fantasia Film Fest coming July 7th to the 24th

Posted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 8:09 pm
Its about that time of year again, so I checked the FanTasia web site to see that they posted the dates for the 2005 fest. It will start on July 7th and end on the 24th of that month. Thats about all they added on the main page, so I did some searching on Mitch Davis's Infliction Films web site to find out if Mitch had posted any news about the fest. I found no info on FanTasia, but I did find some interesting news bits.

One of them is that Subconscious Cruelty and Divided Into Zero has gotten a German 2 disc ultrabit DVD set, with a shitload of extras. Its being sold on the net, but I won't post any links until Mitch posts the North American release of said DVD. Also there is a good interview with Mitch Davis on Ikonen Magazine about the two above films. Following a link from that interview to David Kristian's site I learned that he will be opening or rather ending FanTasia's first day of films with his Electro-Disco alter-ego Gentle Bakemono at some place near the fest. David's site points out that he will provide music and sound design for Karim Hussain's La Belle Bȇte, which I hope to see at an up coming FanTasia. With that film to begin production in August, I hope we might get to see Karim Hussain's Ascension at this years fest.

Posted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 9:19 am
by Kimberly
Have the Jap disc of Subconcious Cruelty... still need to watch it

Posted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 2:12 pm
by Latte Thunder
Every year I say I'm going to make it to the show, and every year I fail to get there. So why should I stop now? The line up of this year's movies look better than any year prior. I'd love to see so many of them on the big screen.

Seeing Recon 2020 would make my day. I watched the trailer a little while ago and for all its direct to video cheesiness, it looks like a hell of a lot of fun. It's also thrilling to see them doing a Shaw Brothers marathon. I've seen all of them, but never on a big screen. There's also a couple of Korean flicks I'd love to see. Save The Green Planet is fucking sweet.

Posted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 5:44 pm
Latte the film list hasn't been posted for Fantasia 2005, what u are looking at is the film list from last years FanTasia. Thus u have missed all those films from last year, and the yet to be posted films of this year:) Like I've been saying for the past few FanTasia fests, If anyone comes I will pay for their tickets and food. When I say food, I mean real food not fast food.

Kim as for your Jap disc of Subconcious Cruelty, I suggest u read about it before u watch it. Its very much a film where the pacing and low budget will leave someone such as yourself feeling lack of interest. Much in the same way that Last House on Dead End Street made u feel, which was a film Mitch Davis (the collector) had given Barrel Entertainment to produce the DVD. U have to understand where the film is coming from, and what the film is about before u watch it.

I should say that Ascension is a 2003 film, and it already showed here in Montreal. I'm rather sure it won't be shown at FamTasia, but u never know. However the real question this year is if we will get to see Ataúdes de luz Karim Hussain's and Nacho Cerdà's (co-scripted) first feature film. As far as I know that film seems to be in limbo. I guess Mitch Davis's God's Little Girl might be shown this year, but my guess is it ain't ready yet.

Will Takashi Miike be a guest this year, I wouldn't think so.

I'll keep posting more as I get the info:)

Posted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 6:01 pm
Here is a link to another interview to help u out Kim.The film is what u make of it.

Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 4:16 pm
by Kimberly
PECKER{*x*}WOOD wrote:Here is a link to another interview to help u out Kim.The film is what u make of it.
Thanks :)

I haven't gotten around to watching it because my husband said that it's something that I'd probably hate...

One of these days I'll get around to it...

Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005 1:41 pm
by Latte Thunder
D'oh! That was the 2004 movie list that I was looking at. Great list. I always regret not getting out to these shows, and Montreal isn't THAT far a drive from New Hampshire, but married life puts the kibosh on any sort of road tripping.

Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2005 9:09 am
I just want to tell u guys that the list of films and guests for Fantasia 2005 is now up on the Web Site

The main guests this year will be Ray Harryhausen, Lloyd Kaufman, Joe Coleman, and Stephen R. Bissette

I have been looking over the films these past few days, and a lot of them look rather interesting. Films like "The Birthday" starring Corey Feldman just looks odd, and thats why its on my must see list. In fact, most of the horror films this year are odd in one way or another. The Asian stuff looks great to, with another 2 films by Takashi Miike this year. Anyway, I have to make my schedule, so I will be posting more on Fantasia later.

Also if anyone wants the Fantasia program+DVD with trailers, I'll mail it to u. Just send your real name and mailing address to I'll get them to u as soon as I can:)

Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2005 7:45 pm
I'll be posting the interesting films showing at Fantasia here, for those who want to know:

***2001 Maniacs***
Director: Tim Sullivan
Screenplay: Chris Kobin, Tim Sullivan
Cast: Robert Englund, Lin Shaye, Giuseppe Andrews, Jay Gillespie, Marla Malcolm
Producers: Brett W. Nemeroff, Eli Roth, Scott Spiegel, Christopher Tuffin, Boaz Yakin
Distributor: Lions Gate - Maple Pictures

" Raw Nerve, the new horror production company formed by the terrible trio of Eli (Cabin Fever) Roth, Scott (Intruder) Spiegel and Boaz (Remember The Titans) Yakin, has finally brought forth its first gorrific feature: 2001 Maniacs, director Tim Sullivan’s "re-imagining" of the 1964 Herschell Gordon Lewis classic Two Thousand Maniacs! Those already familiar with the original will know what they’ve gotten themselves into as our main characters follow a bogus Detour sign and arrive in the town of Pleasant Valley, whose residents are hard at work preparing for their weekend "Guts and Glory Jubilee." Soon the Confederate knife fodder arrive with Yankee good looks and are declared "guests of honour" by the one-eyed Mayor Buckman, played pitch-perfect by everybody’s favourite sadist, Robert (Freddy Krueger) Englund. But what else can you expect when there’s a population of, you guessed it, 2001… maniacs, that is!
What follows, surprisingly given our times and political climate, is refreshingly vulgar, completely un-PC and, much like the original, an expected excuse for extremely sadistic humour and gore. Many viewers may be offended by the black humour and straight-up racist jokes that pepper the film’s dialogue, but those of you can rest assured that everyone gets their due by the end. It’ll be interesting to see how the red states will react to such a searing and scabrous document of the South. Englund seems to imbue Mayor Buckman with a well-judged imitation of President Bush, and even the lives of his two sons in the film appear to closely ape those of the Bush daughters.
Longtime Lewis fans will be ecstatic that much, if not all, of his score from the original has been transferred to the new film by way of musical narrators Johnny Legend and his strumming sidekick Spiegel. The supporting cast is stocked with many fine new actors and veterans of the genre. Fans will enjoy the cool seething evil of Giuseppe Andrews (Fever’s Deputy Winston) and Lin Shaye (fast on her way to becoming a middle-aged scream queen after her role in the haunting Dead End). If you’re looking to get scared, this is not exactly the right film, but if you’re familiar with Lewis and his brand of goremongering, you’ll squirm, screech and then writhe with laughter. 2001 Maniacs has all the elements of a good time and still raises a dialogue among viewers that not many have had the balls to address in horror, or filmmaking in general, since the ’70s."

—Shane French, FANGORIA

Director: Christian Alvart
Screenplay: Christian Alvart
Cast: Wotan Wilke Möhring, André Hennicke, Heinz Hoenig
Producers: Christian Alvart, Susanne Kusche, Boris Schönfelder

" After shooting some cops and jumping out a window nude, serial killer/pederast/artist Gabriel Engel (André Hennicke) is apprehended. He readily admits to fourteen murders and the people of Germany breathe a collective sigh of relief. It's a great day for the German authorities. That is, everyone except Michael Martens (Wotan Wilke Möhring), a farmer and police officer from a quiet rural community not far from Berlin. While Engel has confessed to most of the charges against him, he won't confess to the murder of Lucia Flieder, a young girl from Martens' village. With the crime unsolved for over a year, the tight-knit locals have turned against Martens. But Engel claims to know who committed this heinous crime and he's willing to guide Martens to the answer. Before revealing anything, however, Engel will settle for nothing less than the complete psychological dissection of his interrogator. Simultaneously facing a convicted madman, a condescending urban police force and his own shaky family dynamic, Martens becomes something of a madman himself. To paraphrase Engel, evil is a virus and Martens is infected. Confounded by accusations that hit surprisingly close to home, Martens' mental health rapidly declines. Only one question remains: will he become a full-blown maniac or can he keep it together long enough to solve the crime, salvage some semblance of sanity and get his family back on track?

The third feature by German filmmaker Christian Alvart, Antibodies is well aware of its debt to Manhunter and The Silence of the Lambs. The killer even jokes about these parallels. But Gabriel Engel is no Hannibal Lecter. Presented with no evident charm or appeal, Engel is a sick, depraved and completely unsympathetic character. Alvart doesn't believe in lending credibility or reverence to serial killers. Instead, he creates a vivid picture of everything that is horrible about Engel. The result is a disturbing and uncompromising film that makes no effort to ingratiate itself to an audience. Alvart also avoids the most exploitative tendencies of the genre. This is not a traditional serial-killer movie. Rather than follow the murderer's crimes as they're committed, Alvart focusses entirely on the aftermath. The real subject of Antibodies is the importance of closure and the thin line between madness and normality, not murder. Made with impressive craft and polish, this troubling film should catapult Alvart to bigger things."

—Jonathan Doyle
Website with Trailer

***Atomik Circus***
Director: Les Frères Poiraud
Screenplay: Jean-Phillippe Dugand, Marie Garrel Weiss, Didier Poiraud, Thierry Poiraud, Vincent Tavier
Cast: Vanessa Paradis Jason Flemyng Benoît Poelvoorde Jean-Pierre Marielle
Producers: Nicolas Leclercq, Emanuelle Lepers
Distributor: TF1

" It’s party time in Skotlett City, a grimy, shabby village in the middle of swampland. But then suddenly the star of the day, the good-looking acrobat James Bataille, screws up and crashes embarrassingly in the middle of Sam Paradiso, the local bar run by the less than scrupulous Bosco. Quickly finding himself accused of a terrorist act, Bataille is slapped with a sentence of 133 years of hard labour. A year later, his love for the town’s young singer Concia (Bosco’s daughter) drives him to break out. He returns to Skotlett at the same time that the lecherous impresario Allan Chiasse arrives in town—and quickly turns a leering eye to the lovely Concia. The town’s eagerly awaited Cow Pie Festival is about to take place, but that’s not the only thing about to happen. There’s also the arrival of a horde of flying, tentacled extraterrestrial creatures with a thirst for splashing, spurting blood.

The very quintessence of the bizarre, deranged movie, a French farce informed by Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Jaws, David Lynch and the Coen Brothers, Planet of the Apes and the fixtures of the grand era of Z-movies (think B-movies, only with lower budgets and crazier ideas), the cinematic oddity that is Atomik Circus is less a radioactive sideshow than demented fun park devoted to the infernal, the absurd and the brilliantly stupid—check out the scene with the dog that sings when the pus ball on its paw is squeezed. After Blueberry, Atomik Circus is yet another French film to create panic among its investors and general confusion in the movie-going public. Imagine this—a Z-movie that cost tens of millions of euros, with a super-polished look (not far from Jeunet’s Amelie), with pop star Vanessa Paradis making her return to film alongside Benoît Poelvoorde (Man Bites Dog, Podium) and Jean-Pierre Marielle. The result is a chaotic, rock ’n’ roll kaleidoscope bursting with creative freedom and contagious laughs, like you might not have seen in some time!"

—Raquel Tremblay (translated by Rupert Bottenberg)
Website and Trailers

***The Birthday***
Director: Eugenio Mira
Screenplay: Mikel Alvariño, Eugenio Mira
Cast: Corey Feldman, Erica Prior, Jack Taylor, Craig Stevenson
Producers: Ibón Cormenzana
Distributor: Arcadia Motion Pictures

" Socially awkward Norman Forrester (Corey Feldman, doing an odd, feature-length Jerry Lewis impersonation) is nervously walking on eggshells. It’s the night of his manipulative girlfriend’s birthday and to mark the event, her millionaire father (’70s Eurohorror icon Jack Taylor, in his best role since The Ninth Gate) has arranged an elaborate party in the lobby of his baroque Baltimore hotel. Forrester is terrified, but he is about to learn that this night offers much more to fear than the judgmental opinions of his potential in-laws. Something sinister is visibly amiss amongst the hotel’s staff. They seem to be in tense preparation for something much more significant than a bourgeois birthday. It’s almost as if they’re planning their own party for a very different and much darker birth occasion altogether. Situations get increasingly abnormal and people start to die until it becomes horrifically clear that Forrester better have his apocalypse shoes on, because this party might well be the last word in… human history!

A very unusual, real-time black comedy that only reveals its true horror-film colours after lulling the audience into a false state of comfort, The Birthday is a coolly distinctive feature debut for director Eugenio Mira. An odd bird indeed, Mira’s film opens with the tone of an ’80s comedy, introduces its horror aspects with a deliberately campy approach at the half-way mark then tears through the roof with a last act of nightmarish, Lovecraftian ferocity. Equally unusual is the fact that this is a Spanish horror film, shot in English, informed by the weirder U.S. films of the last generation and starring an international cast, yet it’s anything but the sell-out that these things sometimes imply. The narrative stands alone and Mira’s calculated, stylish direction infuses the film with a playful atmosphere that pivots gracefully between fun, freaky and frightening. Feldman’s performance, easily the strangest in his career, reaches surprising levels of intensity through its cartoonish surface and Second Name’s Erica Prior shines in a refreshingly lower-key role as Forrester’s domineering girlfriend. Evocatively photographed in cinemascope with award-winning art direction inspired equally by the universes of Barton Fink and Blue Velvet, super-theatrical lighting and an ingenious sound design geared for maximum discomfort when necessary, this is a film absolutely designed to be experienced on a big screen in a darkened hall. This birthday is one Pagan party you won’t want to miss."

—Mitch Davis
Website and Trailer

Director: Christopher Smith
Screenplay: Christopher Smith
Cast: Franka Potente, Jeremy Sheffield, Paul Rattray, Vas Blackwood
Producers: Julie Baines, Jason Newmark, Alexandra Ferguson

" So this is what happens when you fall asleep in a subway station. Kate (Run Lola Run’s Franka Potente) is a London party girl with big plans. Apparently, George Clooney's in town and, after knocking back a few drinks at a little soiree, she decides to seek him out. Unfortunately, by the end of the night, she finds herself with a far less attractive mate. Unable to find a cab in the West End of London, Kate decides to wait for the last subway of the night. Already intoxicated, she has a few more drinks and nods off in the station. When she awakes, the station is empty, the last train is gone, and Kate is locked in. Frustrated by the inconvenience, she soon learns that things are far worse than they seem. As it turns out, the subway is home to a sadistic, demonic creature with an appetite for human flesh. Stuck with only a homeless guy and a dog for protection, Kate must contend with rapists, rats, and even the occasional subway train as they join the beast in a night of torment that she will not soon forget.

Already a success in Europe, Creep is the feature writing-directing debut of Christopher Smith, a filmmaker who clearly appreciates horror films of the past. Made in the tradition of subway-beast movies like Gary Sherman’s Raw Meat (aka Death Line), Creep also recalls the isolated woman-against-a-monster milieu of the Alien films. There's even a nod to The Deer Hunter, as the beast traps his victims in disgusting underwater cages reminiscent of that late ’70s classic. Spanning a single night and roughly one location (a subway station), Creep demands that Franka Potente sustain the panic and desperation of Run Lola Run for another 90 minutes. With a breakneck pace and virtually no lulls, this is the kind of action-oriented horror that is all too rare these days. Dark, dirty and claustrophobic, the film has a bleak view of humanity that only serves to magnify the threat of its demented villain. The beast in question is unusually disgusting and vaguely resembles Sin City’s sadistic man-monster, Marv. He tears bodies apart and conducts himself with a minimum of moral rectitude, even by homicidal monster standards. While this diabolical fright fest won't wow you with its subtlety, if you’re looking for good old fashioned thrills and chills, Creep will definitely creep you out."

—Jonathan Doyle
Website and Trailer

***Cromartie High School***
Director: Yudai Yamaguchi
Screenplay: Shoichiro Matsumoto
Cast: Takamasa Suga, Mitsukii Koga, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Itsuji Itao, Tak Sakaguchi
Producers: Shin Torisawa, Chikako Nakabayashi
Distributor: Media Suits

" You’d probably have to look a long time before finding someone who speaks really highly of their high school. But there are crummy high schools, and then there’s Cromartie High. It’s a real slap in the face to the well-behaved, straight-A student Takashi Kamiyama when he finds himself, through a cruel twist of fate, enrolled at Cromartie. At the next desk over is a surly brute who eats the contents of Takashi’s pencil case. Partly to freak Takashi out, of course—but mostly because pencils are his favourite snack! But that menace is among the more normal of Takashi’s classmates, if the word "normal" even applies at Cromartie. Sneering thugs with mohawks are everywhere, but they’re nothing compared to the likes of Mechazawa, an overgrown coffee tin of a robot who’s as rude and obnoxious and any flesh and blood student. Then there’s Gorilla—they don’t call him that because he’s big, dumb and smells bad, though he is and does. No, he actually is a gorilla. That’s Cromartie High School for you—like a zoo crossed with a nuthouse, minus the cleanliness and sanity!

The live-action adaptation of the riotous, ridiculous and very popular manga of the same name by Eiji Nonaka, Cromartie High School shares the rough, absurdist teen spirit of Battlefield Baseball, director Yudai Yamaguchi’s earlier effort. In fact, it’s starting to look like Yamaguchi will singlehandedly establish a genre that can only be called Japanese teenage punk-rock slapstick. Imagine a cross between Archie comics and Ryuhei Kitamura’s Versus and you just might have a handle on this crazy rock ’n’ roll goof-off. In fact, not only did Yamaguchi co-write Versus, and handle second-unit direction, but Versus star Tak Sakaguchi (who was also in Battlefield Baseball) has a notable role. The report cards are in, class, and Cromartie High School gets great grades for good, not-quite-that-clean fun!"

—Rupert Bottenberg
Website and Trailer

***The Dark Hours***
Director: Paul Fox
Screenplay: Wil Zmak
Cast: Kate Greenhouse, Aidan Devine, Iris Graham, Dov Tiefenbach
Producers: Brent Barclay, Executive Producer: The Feature Film Project
Distributor: Capri Releasing

" Warning: This film will tear your heart out. Dr. Samantha Goodman is a psychiatrist in her late thirties, dealing with what could politely be described as a life-altering situation. Hoping to get her mind together, she decides to spend the weekend at a winter cottage with her husband and sister. All chances of healing are shattered when a brutal sex offender and former patient of Dr. Goodman’s arrives to take the group hostage in the center of oblivion. He is a hypodermic needle dripping with controlled hate, and together with his protégé, he will force the family to partake in a cruel series of "games." Games designed to punish… and reveal.

In spite of the genre reaching popular heights not seen in two decades, it has become increasingly rare to encounter a genuinely hard-edged horror film, let alone a Canadian one. WithThe Dark Hours, Paul Fox has brilliantly reworked a vicious horror subgenre that was a staple of the subversive ’70s, creating an engrossing film that is equally intelligent, moving and ferocious, almost like a Scott Reynolds’ interpretation of House By the Lake. It is a harrowing portrait of psychological mutation in the face of physical decay, anchored with strong, authentic characters and themes of conscience and ethics. Fox infuses the proceedings with a subtly surrealistic nightmare tone that gets increasingly distorted throughout the film’s duration, hitting the finale in a smoldering state of quiet, bloody dementia. The direction, writing, performances and use of sound are stellar. This film conveys a white-hot sense of trauma that few manage to achieve and, at times, it is almost unbearable in its intensity.

The Dark Hours came together when Fox and screenwriter Wil Zmak spent a night drinking whiskey, talking movies and working each other into a rage over how the modern horror film almost always lacks the danger and humanity of what they grew up on in the ’70s. Several weeks later, Fox, Zmak and producer Brent Barclay had a script so distressing it disturbed even them. Enter The Feature Film Project, a team which includes legendary Guy Maddin producer Greg Klymkiw and cult director John (Crimewave) Paizs. The FFP signed on and bravely helped get the film made in its purest form. Much like his idols Polanski and Roeg, Fox is a filmmaker unafraid of dark, atypical cinematic truths. Not since the arrivals of John Fawcett and Vincenzo Natali has there been such an exciting new voice in Canadian horror cinema."

—Mitch Davis

More coming soon...

Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2005 8:03 pm
***The Devil’s Rejects***
Director: Rob Zombie
Screenplay: Rob Zombie
Cast: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, William Forsythe
Producers: Peter Block, Mike Elliott, Andy Gould, Marco Melhitz, Brent Morris, Michael Oshoven, Michael Paseornek, Rob Zombie
Distributor: Lion’s Gate - Maple Pictures-Christal Films

"The Devil’s Rejects, Rob Zombie’s follow-up to House of 1000 Corpses, blasts out of the projector like a creature let loose after being entombed for three decades, out for blood and seriously pissed off. By accident of timing or by design, the movie lays waste to the recent trend toward "safe" scares and overproduced FX extravaganzas and gets back to the genre’s nitty-gritty. This is the Terminator of horror films… that rare piece of horror cinema where you truly can’t anticipate how bad things are going to get, and Zombie is not only merciless in his depiction of evil, he dares to empathize with the most heinous characters imaginable—and dares YOU to empathize with them as well. And this time, not just the material is informed by ’70s genre fare, the cinematic approach is as well. Zombie’s use of freeze-frames, handheld camera and choice songs on the soundtrack evokes that seminal decade like no movie since. And despite his stated intent to be nothing but dead serious, The Devil’s Rejects is often pretty damn funny too. Zombie evinces a talent for colorful language to rival Quentin Tarantino’s, as well as an even stronger penchant for casting exploitation cinema’s best character actors. Of these, only Dawn of the Dead’s Ken Foree has a significant part, but genre fans will find it entertaining to see supporting roles that could have been filled by Central Casting instead populated by the likes of Geoffrey Lewis, Danny Trejo, Steve Railsback, P.J. Soles and Michael Berryman.

The moments of black humor provide momentary relief and variation from the sustained tension and carnage. There’s nothing funny at all about the mayhem enacted by Spaulding (Sid Haig), Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), who take to the road after their house is raided by the cops in the movie’s opening setpiece. Leading the law-enforcement charge is Sheriff John Wydell (William Forsythe) whose brother fell victim to the brood and who has sworn vengeance upon them. Keeping an audience caring about what happens to people who clearly couldn’t care less about the lives of others is a difficult trick, even in a grueling horror tale, but Zombie pulls it off. That’s in large part due to the demented family camaraderie established by Haig, Moseley and Moon Zombie. The Devil’s Rejects demonstrates a commitment to horror that’s always welcome, and feels like such a pure and all-encompassing expression of what Zombie loves about the genre that it will be interesting—and likely harrowing—to see where he goes from here."

—Michael Gingold, FANGORIA

***El Lobo***
Director: Miguel Courtois
Screenplay: Antonio Onetti
Cast: Eduardo Noriega, José Coronado, Mélanie Doutey, Silvia Abascal
Producers: Melchor Miralles, Julio Fernández
Distributor: Filmax

"The history of the Basque nation is one of traitors. Basques who helped the Spaniards to rob us of what we are." This edgy period thriller, a megahit overseas, blasts cleansing light on the true story of Mikel Lejarza, a small-time felon who, under the code name Lobo ("wolf"), infiltrated the fierce Basque terrorist group ETA’s highest level and caused more damage to the outfit then the entire Spanish police force were ever capable of. To this day, ETA commandos each carry a single bullet designated for El Lobo.

The subject of terrorism remains one of the few standing taboos in contemporary Spanish cinema. Indeed, producer / journalist Melchor Miralles’s pitches for El Lobo were rejected by a good number of industry figures until Filmax’s Julio Fernández got behind the project and spent nearly five years pulling it into production with a respectable cast of stars. Interestingly, they chose a French filmmaker Miguel Courtois (who was famously threatened by right-wing maniac Jean-Marie Le Pen for his earlier production, Ferocious) as director. Courtois approached the project in the best Costa-Gavras vein. In his words, his utmost goal was to "make entertainment and reflection meet". Shot before Madrid’s March 11 train bombings, the film’s release proved to be both cathartic and urgently thought-provoking for local audiences, who turned it into the second-highest grossing Spanish production of last year.

El Lobo’s depiction of ETA members echoes with truth, delivering the troubling mix of personalities that one imagines would be found within such an organization—the frustrated idealists, the power trippers, the sadists, the pacifists and the just plain fed up. Indeed, more than a few of the Franco-era police are arguably a good deal closer to what can traditionally be called "evil" than the terrorists they hunt. While this point is made in the relatively safe context of an early ’70s period piece, its resonance in today’s world cannot be brushed off with ease. In a dictatorship, the definition of a freedom fighter can be cloudy at best, and the film touches on a number of questions relating to cultural identity, social justice, pride and patriotism, while remaining fairly objective. Eduardo Noriega, a familiar face for fans of intense Spanish cinema, with features like Thesis, Open Your Eyes and Devil’s Backbone under his belt, delivers a solid performance as the legendary ETA infiltrator of the film’s title."

—Mitch Davis

***The Eye 2***
Director: Oxide Pang Chun
Screenplay: Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, Jojo Hui
Cast: Shu Qi, Eugenia Yuan Lai-Kei, Jesdaporn Pholdee
Producers: Peter Chan Ho-Sun, Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, Jojo Hui
Distributor: Lions Gate - Maple Pictures

" Tourist Joey Cheng’s Bangkok vacation turns black when she is engulfed by the agony of a sudden breakup with her boyfriend. In an anguished moment of weakness, she attempts suicide in a lonely hotel room. On the edge of death, she is discovered by staff and, through a grueling procedure, resuscitated at a hospital. From this moment onwards, Joey Chang’s days of loneliness are very much a thing of the past. Indeed, she will never be alone again! As Buddhist beliefs have it, there are two points in life that allow people to gain limited access to the ghostly otherworld that shares our physical space—the process of giving birth, and the moment of death. Joey has now lived through one of these periods. And she is about to discover that she is pregnant.

Let there be no misunderstanding: The Eye 2 bears no direct relation to the Pang Brothers’ breakout 2002 blockbuster. Instead, their follow-up tells an altogether different tale, expanding the occult and Buddhist philosophies of the original in an eerie work that is overall more concise in its construction and tone, with dark splashes of morbid wit thrown in for good measure. The Pangs were adamant in not repeating themselves with a sequel and every choice they made, from the against-type casting of actress Shu Qi (So Close, The Transporter) in the lead to the film’s unconventional and often experimental moments of paranormal horror, make The Eye 2 a wholly unique work, sequel status be damned. Further playing against expectations, the implications of the film’s pregnancy aspects unfold into a revelation far more unusual than any of the cliches you might be expecting. The Eye 2 provocatively plays on themes of bodily horror and distressed spirituality to form a dream-like whirlpool of corrupting terror that takes low-key supernatural surrealism to chilling extremes. Unexpected spectral apparitions will blast your heart through your ribcage and—let’s just say that after viewing this film, there’s a good likelihood that you will find yourself nervously looking up for a few days. It is a film perhaps best avoided by the pregnant…unless they have a craving for intense pre-partum edgeplay. The Eye 2 amply delivers on freakish shock value while being an altogether more adult experience. Watch out for a surprise appearance by veteran Shaw Brothers icon Phillip Kwok Tsui (Five Deadly Venoms, Shaolin Temple) as a knowledgeable monk."

—Mitch Davis

***Eye of Cruelty***
Director: Christopher Hyatt
Screenplay: Christopher Hyatt
Cast: Christopher Maag, Kiersten Debrower, Art Golab, Mark Bello, Rob Olmstead
Producers: Rob Olmstead

" There's something very strange about the world of Edgar Bierce. Perpetually locked in a tiny one-room apartment, Edgar's carefully scheduled meals are delivered by a nun who knocks a cross-shaped pattern on his door. Suffering from a severe case of agoraphobia, he is abnormally preoccupied with horrific newspaper articles. Plagued by visions of this brutality, he tapes the headlines to his wall where they serve as a constant reminder of the danger and criminality found in the outside world. Right when it seems that Edgar's paranoia can get no worse, he witnesses the fatal beating of a man outside his apartment and an unbearable, hallucinogenic panic sets in.

Eye of Cruelty is the uniquely creepy, atmospheric directorial debut of Chicago filmmaker, Christopher Hyatt. A zero-budget DV homage to Eraserhead, as well as the surreal works of Ingmar Bergman and Luis Bunuel, this entirely wordless film suggests that dialogue may, in fact, be a liability. Hyatt's eerie sound design adds menace and, while budgetary limitations inevitably impair the film's surface, the underlying ideas are strong enough to withstand scrutiny. This isn't for everyone—those with a low tolerance for abstraction, beware—but, in a summer of massive blockbusters, Eye of Cruelty features a refreshingly single-minded focus on idiosyncratic artistic expression."

—Jonathan Doyle

Director: Steve Balderson
Screenplay: Steve Balderson
Cast: Karen Black, Mike Patton, Jak Kendall, Selene Luna, The Enigma
Producers: Clark Balderson

" In the small town of Wamego, Kansas, a murder has just thrown the town flat on its face, but in the events that took place beforehand, viewers will see that the murder is more or less a happy ending to a tragic story. As the film begins, a town is brought to life by children and adults running through the streets, and down the alley that lies behind the White family's tool shed, where David White's body is being uncovered. A closer inspection of the White family unfolds as the movie progresses. David White (Fantômas/Mr. Bungle frontman Mike Patton) pulls double duty around the White household, acting as a son and often times a father figure—a term I use loosely. Eleanor White (Karen Black) is a disillusioned religious fanatic that spends most of her time praying, in order to get away from the harsh reality of her son David's drinking and anger problems. All the while, the younger son Jimmy (Jak Kendall) is victim to David's binges and his mother's neglect. During a visit to the carnival, Jimmy manages to catch a brief glimpse of Sandra (Karen Black), the main attraction of the girly show. We soon find that Sandra too, is trapped in an abusive relationship of the sadistic and mental sort by her lover, the carnival owner Frank (Mike Patton)…

Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the film is Balderson's technique of extreme color saturation. Firecracker not only pits carefully plotted color amidst certain black and white scenes, but also uses the saturation technique in scenes already riddled with color. The resulting visuals are so extremely vibrant that they will remain in your head for weeks to come. The acting is stunning. Perhaps the most breathtaking is Mike Patton's portrayal of David. Patton's lines roar and elicit chills that most of today's horror movies can't even bring about. Karen Black's portrayals of Sandra and Eleanor are so far removed from each other that at times, I began to forget that she was playing the dual roles. You can be sure that when it lands in theaters, you'll want to cancel your plans after the film, go home, sit and try to regain any form of feeling you had when you first entered the theater. Firecracker will take a different toll on everyone. The true meaning doesn't just lie in the plot, and it doesn't reveal itself in the end, it's a film that leaves the discovery of the meaning to the viewer."

—Trevor Erb, DECOY
Website and Trailer

More Coming Soon...

Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2005 8:20 pm
Director: Takeshi Miyasaka
Screenplay: Nobuaki Kotani
Cast: Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi, Kimika Yoshino, Hitomi Miwa, Riki Takeuchi
Producers: Riki Takeuchi

" The yakuza gangster Tatsuya is ordered by his "big brother" Sejima to round up some help and take his boss’s girlfriend Kimiko to a secluded cottage deep in the woods, in order to undergo a cold-turkey treatment for her drug addiction. Sejima promises to show up in a week, and expects results. But Kimiko won’t be the only one suffering through cold sweats and the shakes. It’s quickly apparent that there’s something not quite right about the cottage and its surroundings. Frightening apparitions, psychological disturbances and, before long, sudden and inexplicable deaths beset the isolated criminal crew. Is the source of their woes chemical, supernatural or something else entirely?

Fans of Takashi Miike’s Dead or Alive series and Deadly Outlaw Rekka will immediately recognize the inimitable sneer of actor Riki Takeuchi, screen yakuza extraordinaire. But look closely—he’s the executive producer here, for his own company Riki Project. The company’s focus is the exploding "V-cine" genre—wildcat, low-budget indies shot on video (think of the first-generation Ju-on films). Takeuchi has made his mark in front of the cameras in this genre, and with this eerie, demented mix of the gangster and horror genres, he’s poised for big things in the producer’s chair as well."

—Rupert Bottenberg

Director: Takashi Miike
Screenplay: Shigenori Takechi
Cast: Kazuya Nakayama, Kaori Momoi, Ryuhei Matsuda, Takeshi Kitano, Ken Ogata, Bob Sapp, Susumu Terajima, Kenichi Endo
Producers: Taizô Fukumaki, Fujio Matsushima
Distributor: Media Blasters

" A merciless, bloodthirsty warrior is captured, crucified and cruelly killed by his enemies. Centuries later, in modern times, he rematerializes in a filthy alleyway. He has only one purpose in existence—vengeance. Ruthless, unstoppable vengeance. The mysterious powers that be are aware of his return, for somehow, they know that they are his ultimate target. All manner of ghosts and guardians are dispatched to destroy Izo before he can achieve his goal. Izo is beaten, slashed, stabbed and shot, but he cannot be destroyed. Hurtled with monstrous force through space and time, his soul in shreds and his appearance increasingly demonic, he slays all in his path with bitter, heartrending ferocity. By the time he has slain not only his own mother but himself, it is clear that Izo is no longer anything resembling human. His blind, irrational hunger for revenge has negated his humanity. Passively observed by a folk-punk troubadour, Izo’s confounding, abstract journey of endless slaughter progresses to its impossible conclusion…

Just as its central character is a paradox, so is this astounding offering from the brilliant bad boy of Japanese cinema, Takashi Miike. Izo is both a deliberate exercise in inhuman endurance, for its protagonist and audience alike, and a magnificently engaging piece of pop cinema that will hold your attention to its final moments. With a body count in the triple digits and gallons of blood, it’s a furious display of cinematic violence, and of cinematic inventiveness—with every fight, Izo finds himself suddenly tossed into a new and unfamiliar setting. He exists in a hyper-reality that changes drastically every few moments. But Izo’s headlong charge into an eternal hell is punctuated by delightful and maddening touches only Miike would throw our way. There are the musical interludes care of Kazuki Tomokawa, a radical ’60s folk singer. There are the subliminal images and flashes of found footage from sex-ed films and WWII newsreels. There are numerous cameos from Japanese stars, including the great Takeshi Kitano as a Prime Minister of sorts. And then there are those talking flowers… This is Miike’s most thorough rumination on the violent cycle of life and death, the unbreakable loop of creation and destruction from which our species, particularly the males, cannot remove ourselves. It’s also a mind-blowing, kick-ass fantasy fight-flick of unprecedented intensity."

—Rupert Bottenberg

***Ju-on: The Grudge 2***
Director: Takashi Shimizu
Screenplay: Takashi Shimizu
Cast: Noriko Sakai, Chiharu Niyama, Kei Horie, Yui Ichikawa, Shingo Katsurayama
Producers: Takashige Ichise
Distributor: Lions Gate - Maple Pictures

" The events of the first Ju-on are already urban legend and locker-room folktale fodder when this second movie begins. Horror actress Kyoko Harase is starring in a television show based on the Ju-on hauntings when she’s asked to be a guest on a television show being shot at the house itself. Pregnant, and tormented by visions, she miserably agrees to appear on the show, and the production team hits the Saeki home for a day’s shooting, but there’s already trouble—the show’s host, Tomoka, is hearing mysterious knockings inside her apartment walls. Emi, the wardrobe mistress, keeps finding stains, on her tatami mats, on her sweater and on the cover of her script. When they return to their homes that night, the ghosts of Toshio and his mother are already waiting for them. But the pale, bloody undead haven’t just invaded the crew’s homes. They’ve taken the liberty of invading Kyoko’s womb, as well.

"The theme of the first Ju-on is shadow and darkness. The theme of Ju-on 2 is motherhood," says director Takashi Shimizu, and sure enough, pregnant women should just stay away from this movie. While the first flick had its chronology hacked to pieces and stitched back together with rotten flesh, the second focuses more on the plot and goes to town with baroque set pieces involving oceans of black, greasy hair and the infamous Ju-on throat gargle. Producer Taka Ichise greenlit the filming of this sequel while the first Ju-on was still in post-production, and it went on to gross twice what the first film made. The first Ju-on has since seen a Hollywood remake, directed by Shimizu and starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. Taka Ichise is also involved, but besides those two, the only two people to make it through both straight-to-video Ju-on films, both Japanese theatrical Ju-on films, and the U.S. remake are Takako Fuji, who plays the horrifying, silent-screamed ghost girl, and Yuya Ozeki, who plays the little dead boy Toshio, whose face has become as common a sight in Japanese video stores as the big, hairy eyeball of Ring. Ju-on 2 isn’t just another sequel. Exhaustingly clever and self-referential, this flick drags the horrors of the first movie out into the toxic light of day to tell an all-new, all-disgusting story of reincarnation and possession."

—Grady Hendrix

***Karaoke Terror***
Director: Tetsuo Shinohara
Screenplay: Sumio Oomori
Cast: Ryuhei Matsuda, Kayoko Kishimoto, Masanobu Ando, Kanako Higuchi, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Yoshio Harada
Producers: Hikaru Suzuki
Distributor: Bandai Visuals

" Whatever you’re imagining when you hear the title Karaoke Terror, it isn’t that. A savage, straight-faced satire based on a novel by controversial author Ryu Murakami (director of Tokyo Decadence, writer of Audition), Japan’s latest cultural hand grenade is bound to cause tremendous distress if ever released in this part of the world. Karaoke Terror depicts a bloody, escalating street war between angry young "droogs" and wealthy, middle-aged women! It all begins when a young man tries to seduce an older, unknown woman as she’s walking home with bags of groceries. Offended, she rejects his advances and, seemingly for lack of any other retort coming to mind, he murders her where she stands. Her friends get a lead that points to his guilt and decide to drown their sorrows with a cold bucket of revenge. He dies in a very big way and the cycle of vengeance climbs to the next insane level. The title of the film relates to the fact that both groups on either end of this murderous generational gap are obsessed with music and love to sing karaoke. The film’s original and, perhaps, more appropriate title translates to "the complete Japanese showa songbook." Each death has its own chapter, christened after the Japanese pop song that plays over it.

If the outrageous premise sounds like a stage for a full-throttle exploitation epic, this too is incorrect. Everything about the film sets you up for one thing in order to deliver something altogether different. While hilarious in places and extreme in others, Karaoke Terror is a very smart, introspective and often whisper-quiet work. Its humour is tinged with melancholic poetry, its cruelest and most provocative blows are delivered in a tone of near-hypnotic tranquility. Just the same, the film is perfectly at ease with exploding into absurdist set-pieces and ultra-violence whenever it feels like it, making for a consistently surprising and ultimately apocalyptic viewing experience. It also boasts the most shockingly nihilistic ending of anything at this year’s fest, one that virtually guarantees it to be the rare popular Japanese film that no U.S. studio will ever dream of remaking!"

—Mitch Davis

More Coming Soon...

Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2005 8:46 pm
***Live Freaky! Die Freaky!***
Director: John Roecker
Screenplay: John Roecker
Cast: Billie Joe Armstrong, Theo Kogan, John Doe, Tim Armstrong, Asia Argento
Producers: Tim Armstrong, John Roecker
Distributor: Hellcat Films

"Because we love you, here is the Canadian premiere of John Roecker’s very X-rated Live Freaky! Die Freaky!, an ultra-twisted, two-years-in-the-making, pornographic, stop-motion animation musical comedy retelling of the Manson crimes (!), voiced by a legion of punk rock icons and featuring more assaulting bad taste than the entire John Waters canon! It’s the inaugural production of Rancid/Operation Ivy frontman Tim Armstrong’s Hellcat Films (Armstrong also narrates and composed part of the score) and given today’s climate, it certainly won’t be coming soon to a multiplex near you. So then, come along and witness the hellacious happenings of Charlie Hanson (Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong) and his stoned squad of psychedelic sociopaths Hadie (Lunachicks’ Theo Kogan), Hex (X’s John Doe), Squeeky (Jane Weidlin of The GoGo’s) and company as they have hardcore claysex (yes, we're talking puppet penetration shots!), raid bins and ultimately shock the plastic world with a brutal attack at the home of Sharon Hate (Kelly Osbourne under a pseudonym)! Other celebrity voices include Asia Argento, Nick 13, Lars Frederiksen, Jen Johnson, Matt Freeman, Kim Chi and Davey Havek!

Is it offensive? VERY. So much so that animators quit throughout the production when they saw how far this was going and one U.S. booking had its dates cancelled after the cinema’s owner attended a screening and went ballistic. Even the U.S. underground festival circuit has been running for cover. No joke, this film is inflammatory to an almost impossible degree. Sacred cows are torn limb from limb and virtually every line is calculated to outrage, sometimes with clever wit, often with the most volatile vulgarities imaginable. And of course, everything onscreen, from the trippy characters to the wicked-looking sets, is stylishly hand-sculpted the old-school way, giving the film the perverse feel of that early ’70s Rudolph Christmas special taken over by deviants who want to show you the funny side of necrophilic rape. Roecker and his punk-rock pals are going to creepy-crawl your value system, rearrange your furniture and leave you wondering what the hell just happened. Consider that a promise. And a warning."

—Mitch Davis

***Mind Game***
Director: Yuasa Masaaki
Screenplay: Yuasa Masaaki
Cast: Imada Koji, Shimaki Jouji, Chujou Kenichi, Nishi Rintarou, Maeda Sayaka, Takuma Seiko
Producers: Tanaka Eiko

" Nishi, an awkward young manga artist in Osaka, has had on longstanding crush on Myon. Thing is, Myon’s got a thing for rugged Ryo. Matters come to a head at her sister Yan’s yakitori restaurant, in the presence of the girl’s dissolute father—who happens to owe a bunch of money to a pair of creepy gangsters, who’ve come to collect. Things get ugly, and Nishi gets killed in a brutal, graphic fashion. End of the story? No way, that’s just the start. Pulling a fast one on God (in all his/her/its infinite manifestations), Nishi hightails it back to Earth, where he replays the crime to his advantage, steals a car and grabs the girls. Under a hail of yakuza gunfire, he bails off a bridge—and into the mouth of a whale. There, he and his two female companions encounter a tenacious and lively old man who has set up camp in the beast’s belly, longing to someday return to human company on dry land. With no immediate exit available, the quartet make do—fishing, fighting, making love, weaving tales of strange happenings on faraway planets and dreaming of life in the real world. Will they ever set foot there again?

Based on the underground cult manga series by Robin Nishi, from the magazine Comic Are!, Mind Game is the magnum opus from Koji Morimoto’s maverick anime outfit Studio 4?C and director Yuasa Masaaki. The studio’s staff has previously been responsible for contributions to Katsuhiro Otomo’s Memories and the Animatrix series, and of course the magnificent short Noiseman Sound Insect, but Mind Game is far more directly in line with Masaaki’s work on Cat Soup, the half-hour brain-bender which screened at Fantasia in 2001. Bearing little if any relation to the rigidly delineated aesthetics of anime, Mind Game is far closer to the kaleidoscopic psychedelia of Yellow Submarine and the philosophical freak-out Waking Life. It’s free-association storyline, using the most minor narrative fulcrum to spin off in the strangest directions, leaves one no choice but to expect the unexpected—and expect it to be bold, brilliantly realized and bursting with music, colour and creative ideas. Employing all manner of animation devices, from scratchy hand drawings and collage to complex CGI, rotoscoping and actual footage of the Japanese media personalities who provided the voices, Mind Game is nothing short of utterly unique and unprecedented in the field of animation."

—Rupert Bottenberg
Website and Trailer

***Neighbor No. 13***
Director: Yasuo Inoue
Screenplay: Hajime Kado, Santa Inoue
Cast: Shido Nakamura, Shun Oguri, Yumi Yoshimura, Takashi Miike
Producers: Yoshinori Chiba, Yuuji Ishida, Kumi Kobata, Hajime Kohama, Masayuki Miyashita
Distributor: Media Suits

" Kids can be really cruel and, if Neighbor No. 13 is any indication, Japanese kids are particularly harsh. Throughout his youth, Juzo Murasaki (Oguri Shun) is tormented and physically abused by his classmates. Lead by Tohru Akai (Hirofumi Arai), the abusers finally take this abuse way too far, pouring acid on Juzo's face in a science class. He is badly disfigured but his cold-blooded, unsympathetic attackers don't seem to mind. Years later, Juzo gets a job working alongside his childhood nemesis on a construction site and learns that Tohru's abusive ways remain intact. Around the same time, Juzo undergoes a surreal and radical split. No longer visibly scarred, he manufactures a demonic, bullying alter-ego (played by Japanese kabuki superstar Nakamura Shido) that appears to have inherited his formerly mangled face. Known as No. 13, this violent figure appears only when Juzo's rage reaches the boiling point. Seeking brutal vengeance for all the indignities committed against Juzo in childhood, No. 13 targets Tohru and anyone else who gets on Juzo's nerves. Needless to say, it's not a pretty sight.

Acclaimed Japanese music video director Yasuo Inoue makes his feature directorial debut with this terrific adaptation of Santa Inoue's celebrated manga from 1994. In spite of the manga's popularity, Santa resisted screen adaptation for almost a decade. Once he discovered Yasuo's work, however, Santa immediately changed his mind. So what exactly did he see? That becomes immediately apparent in the film's beautiful opening sequence. Yasuo is a gifted visual stylist with a refined, exacting precision that occasionally resembles anime—in fact, there's a violently grotesque animated sequence in the middle of the film—and there's plenty of over-the-top, music video flourishes, throughout. At the same time, Inoue is capable of carefully measured restraint. With some genuinely creepy imagery and a distinctive, unusual pace, it's almost impossible to relax while watching this troubling, atmospheric film. Takashi Miike fans should also take note. Look carefully for both his influence and a brief cameo as an angry, irritating neighbour who is attacked by the title character. In fact, like a lot of Takashi Miike's films, this feels like an art film trapped in a horror film's body. Fans of either should be pleasantly surprised."

—Jonathan Doyle
Website and Trailer

***Night of the Living Dorks***
Director: Matthias Dinter
Screenplay: Matthias Dinter
Cast: Tino Mewes, Thomas Schmieder, Manuel Cortéz, Collien Fernandes, Nadine Germann, Hendrik Borgmann
Producers: Philip Voges, Mischa Hofmann

" It’s not easy being a misfit at Fredrich Nietzsche High School. You’d think life would only be harsher if one were dead and somehow still in school. As three "nerds" discover, in many ways, it’s a hell of a better time! Our story begins "three months ago" out in Haiti, when a family is attacked by a vicious zombie that they efficiently burn to a crisp in abject frustration. Through the wonders of a global economy, the ghoul’s ashes end up on an eBay-like auction site and find their way into the hands of German teenagers, who use them for a hopeless love spell. After the ritual, a group of the teens drive off into the night, smoke a ton of hash and end up in a car crash. They wake up, not in a hospital but… well, okay, they’re in a hospital—a hospital morgue! Two have fractured skulls and one has a windshield wiper wedged through his heart, but they’ve never felt better. Not knowing what else to do, they continue to go to school. Now with superhuman strength and a total insensitivity to pain, they can stand up to the school’s worst bullies. They can even play football. Perhaps most exciting, with no livers to worry about, they can get trashed around the clock! Their social status becomes as cool as their slowly decomposing bodies. Of course, suppressed urges are growing increasingly difficult to control and appendages are starting to fall off, but… who needs stitches when you’ve got a staple gun?

If John Hughes made raunchier, Porky’s-style teen comedies in his ’80s heyday and had a distinctly Germanic sense of comedy… Writer/director Matthias Dinter, a self-admitted member of the un-cool in his own school years, has brought the world an unusual high school comedy that proudly stands its ground with equal helpings of crassness and sweetness. It’s a surprisingly endearing affair, with a starry-eyed love story at its centre, in the midst of some of the funniest doper gags in ages and nasty bodily humour that would make the American Pie people drop. Complete with a German pop-punk soundtrack, this film is a ton of fun, and not remotely the Shaun of the Dead cash-in you might suspect upon initially hearing its title. It’s also weirdly naïve, which adds considerably to the film’s goofball charm. An audience favourite wherever its been shown, Night of the Living Dorks is a whacked-out, feel-good flick that totally works."

—Mitch Davis
Website and Traler

***Night Watch***
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Screenplay: Timur Bekmambetov, Sergei Lukyanenko
Cast: Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Valeri Zolotukhin, Mariya Poroshina, Galina Tyunina, Yuri Kutsenko, Aleksei Chadov, Zhanna Friske, Ilya Lagutenko, Viktor Verzhbitsky
Producers: Konstantin Ernst, Anatoli Maksimov
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

" On a desolate bridge in medieval times, the forces of Light and Darkness collide. They are equal in strength, and so their respective leaders agree to a bitter bargain. This armistice, in which neither can move without the other’s consent (an arrangement policed by the Day Watch and the Night Watch), is fragile and by design temporary—the future will bring the Other, who will choose a side. Flash forward to Moscow, 1992: A young man’s sordid dealings with a magic-weaver are interrupted by agents of the Day Watch. Though he shouldn’t be able to, Anton can see the agents—could he be the Other? Now it is 2004, and Anton is an elite operative for the Day Watch. With a ravenous thirst for blood that links him with his foes, he lives on a twilight line between good and evil. He and his team are given an assignment—locate a young boy who’s fallen under the spell of a pair of vampires, follow him to their lair and lay down the law. But a chance encounter on the Moscow subway will drag not only Anton but indeed the very highest powers of Light and darkness into a collision with destiny!

Adapted from the popular novel by Sergei Lukyanenko, Night Watch is far and away the biggest domestic box-office success in post-Soviet Russia, having left even Spider-Man 2 in the dust on home turf, and was Russia’s 2004 contender for the Oscar. It boasts action, special effects and production values to match what Hollywood has to offer, a wicked streak of Russian black humour throughout, and moreover a cast of faces familiar across Russia, pop stars and Soviet-era icons alike—Vladimir Menshov, who in 1980 won an Oscar for his role in Moscow Doesn't Believe in Tears, plays the leader of the Light forces. Night Watch has also redefined the external possibilities of Russian cinema—picked up by Fox Searchlight, this is in fact the first part of an impressive trilogy, the final episode of which, Twilight Watch, will be co-produced by Fox. Beyond all that, it’s simply a rip-roaring nocturnal knockabout with a roguish streak of sarcasm. As director Timur Bekmambetov puts it, "We are using the same film language, we are using the same tricks, the same way to tell the story [as Hollywood]. But it’s a story about the Russian people, about Russian buildings, Russian chairs, Russian cars. It's a kind of joke because it's very funny—Russian reality transformed by a fantasy story."

—Rupert Bottenberg
Website and Trailer

More Coming Soon...

Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2005 11:31 pm
by steven_millan
Mike Patton(of Mr. Bungle,Fantamas,and Faith No More fame) in a Karen Black horror movie ?!

Now,that one sounds like a real must-see.

Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2005 5:26 pm
***One Missed Call 2***
Director: Renpei Tsukamoto
Screenplay: Minako Daira
Cast: Mimura, Yu Yoshizawa, Renji Ishibashi
Producers: Kadokawa Pictures Inc.
Distributor: Media Blasters

" If you ever move to Japan, do not get a phone, a VCR or any video equipment. They are dangerous. That strange, once-unfamiliar ring tone is back. Cell phone users beware! Calls from the future are predicting the deaths of young Japanese men and women all over again. If only weather forecasts were this accurate. This time we follow Kyoko (Japanese TV star Mimura)—a daycare teacher preoccupied with her child-therapist studies—and her photographer boyfriend Naoto (Yu Yoshizawa). One fateful evening, a friend joins Kyoko for dinner at the Chinese restaurant where Naoto works part-time. While enjoying a calm, quiet evening together, they receive the dreaded death forecast on Kyoko's cell phone. Understandably spooked, they recognize the ring from "that incident" last year when the girl died on TV. But, unlike last year's events, these deaths don't take three days to strike. With Kyoko and friends in a panic, they are joined by a reporter (Asaka Seto) and a veteran detective (series veteran Renji Ishibashi) in an effort to understand and contain this supernatural phenomenon before it's too late.

Following the enormous, unprecedented success of One Missed Call in Japan, a sequel was inevitable. But nobody expected it to be this good. Written by Minako Daira, co-author of the original, One Missed Call 2 brings together a largely new cast and crew for a sequel that succeeds admirably as a stand-alone work. Even if you missed One Missed Call, you won't want to miss this sequel as it builds upon the ideas of the original and arguably surpasses it, at least in terms of scares. This time, we get video phones, and characters who can pick up threatening rings in order to sacrifice themselves and save others. While Takashi Miike is invariably missed, TV veteran Renpei Tsukamoto is an alarmingly good, if slightly more restrained, replacement. Virtually every cut and camera movement feels carefully considered and correct. He also succeeds by recognizing what was compelling about the original. The ominous ring tone is back and it's fast-becoming a classic horror theme. Every time it's heard, we get the same sense of joyful terror. One Missed Call 2 also exaggerates the unstoppable nature of the series' technological threat. After all, even if you're an expert detective, how do you stop a ghost? Although a U.S. re-make is looming, this sequel is undoubtedly the safest and scariest complement to the latest phenomenon in Japanese horror."

—Jonathan Doyle

Director: Paul Spurrier
Screenplay: Paul Spurrier
Cast: Suangporn Jaturaphut, Opal, Paul Spurrier
Producers: Narongsak Vorraraitchagun, Panupong Dangdej
Distributor: Creative Films Siam Ltd.

" Khmer peasant girl Dau is an outsider in her rural Thai village. The locals whisper about the dark magic her grandmother weaves, magic passed on to Dau. But when the grandmother falls ill, Dau has little choice but to go to Bangkok and work in a go-go bar catering to "farangi"—foreigners. Only the tough, cynical Pookie seems in any way a friend here. Pressed into a life of sexual servitude, the shy but perceptive Dau uses her magic to gain the upper hand over the contemptuous city girls with whom she works. As the leering foreign men fall under Dau’s spell and she becomes a star attraction, jealousy poisons the workplace—but worse yet, Dau has neglected her grandmother’s stern warnings about her magic. Thoughtlessly breaking the sacred rules, Dau unleashes a dark spirit, one that takes refuge inside her by day and roams the alleys of Bangkok at night, slaking its thirst for blood. This vile spirit may well destroy not only Dau’s enemies, and even helpless strangers. It could claim Dau’s soul.

P, transliterated to "phii" and pronounced "pee," is the word for ghost among the Thai, whose Buddhist beliefs seems to co-exist comfortably with a deep sense of the supernatural. The first modern foreigner to make a Thai movie, English filmmaker Paul Spurrier spent several years mastering not only the Thai language and cultural specifics but, more than anything, the complex rules, rituals and nomenclatures of the Thai spirit world. He did so in order to make a genuinely Thai film, rather than a "farangi" film for which the mystery and exoticism of the land was merely a backdrop. He also made a point of showing the hidden workings of Bangkok’s notorious go-go bars, revealing for more than the dim lights and come-hither looks on the surface. A tip of the hat should go to lead actress Suangporn Jaturaphut, a determined and dedicated 17 year old from the Bangkok slums whose debut role was a demanding one—from social outcast to innocent naïf, sly temptress to unholy devil, she handles the multifaceted role of Dau more than capably."

—Rupert Bottenberg
Website and Trailer

***Popaganda: The Art and Crimes of Ron English***
Director: Pedro Carvajal
Cast: Ron English, Robert Williams, Slash, Morgan Spurlock, the Dandy Warhols
Producers: Pedro Carvajal
Distributor: Harvest Moon Productions

" "It takes people about four minutes to figure out they want to kill you." This engaging and often hilarious documentary on Ron English, celebrated prankster father of agit-pop, is a must-see for anyone who enjoys watching corporations’ carefully-sharpened iconography being used against them as a weapon of mass destruction. As an "illegal artist" whose main vocation is a second-degree felony in the U.S., English been arrested, harassed, threatened and chased. He’s been the proud recipient of flabbergasted legal letters from an odd A-list of corporate America, ranging from Disney to the Van Gogh estate and the members of Kiss! When not attacking corporations, English’s art goes straight for the jugular of mainstream social programming, with campaigns that are humorous yet provocatively disturbing. He gained notoriety as a leading "culture jammer" who hijacks commercial billboards to either alter or cover them with his own highly confrontational and brilliantly inventive work, often having a powerful real-world impact on many of his blue-chip targets. This was done with the philosophy that, if you alter one piece of a ubiquitous advertising campaign in a memorable and critical way, viewers will never again be able to see the other, unchanged images in the same light and the ad’s power will have been destroyed. It is believed that his widely-reproduced lampoonings of Joe Camel are the reason why Camel cigarettes abandoned their popular mascot. To date, English has pirated over one thousand (!) billboards. He eventually took his extraordinarily subversive work to a more visible level, becoming a gallery "name" and designing album covers for the Dandy Warhols and Moist Boys. Of course, by the end of this documentary, English is back in the urban trenches climbing billboards to destroy the influences of corporate America (and the Bush-Cheney administration), wherever they may rise!

While English’s name might not be instantly recognizable to everyone, you’re almost certainly familiar with his imagery. One example of many: English designed the morbidly obese Ronald McDonald art so memorably featured in Super Size Me. Shot, fittingly, guerilla-style over a span of nearly 10 years, Pedro Carvajal’s documentary covers all phases of English’s eccentric, ongoing career, including his early 8mm films, music work and brilliant experimental photography, and features appearances by Robert Williams, the Billboard Liberation Front, Morgan Spurlock, Daniel Johnston, the Dandy Warhols and Slash. Popaganda is an important look at corporate-imposed limitations of free speech, an inspiration to guerilla artists of all stripes and a memorable portrait of a genuine American revolutionary."

—Mitch Davis
Website and Trailer

***The Roost***
Director: Ti West
Screenplay: Ti West
Cast: Karl Jacob, Vanessa Horneff, Sean Reid, Tom Noonan, Wil Horneff
Producers: Larry Fessenden , Susan Leber, James Felix McKenny, Peter Phok
Distributor: Glass Eye Pix

" Four teens on their way to a Halloween wedding develop more than a little car trouble and are forced to spend the night at a distinctly unfriendly barn out in the middle of nowhere. They are trespassing, to be sure. Just the same, no owner will be coming to chase them off. But something else sure will. At first, our hapless teen heroes think that the inexplicably flesh-hungry bats of the area are to be the full scope of their troubles. Finding the odd bat-ravaged cadaver makes them less then happy campers, but if anyone told them what was actually in store for them…

25-year-old Ti West’s acclaimed feature debut is a spookshow love letter to yesterday’s American B-movie chillers, designed to play as if you tuned into it on a late night TV creature-feature broadcast, complete with charming horror host segments fronted by Tom Noonan (Manhunter) in full Zacherley/Crypt Keeper mode! The film’s campier moments are endearingly affectionate, but it takes its horror elements dead serious, creating a ghoulish universe where a bump in the night is never a welcomed sound and the moon always glows blood red. The movie came together when West was spitballing ideas with celebrated auteur Larry Fessenden (Habit, Wendigo), for whom the young filmmaker had done an apprenticeship. Fessenden was about to launch a low-budget horror leg of his production company Glass Eye Pix, and was looking for interesting projects to back. Hooked by West’s enthusiasm, he signed on to make The Roost. It is the second production of his new Scare Flix company, following last year’s The Off Season, and its world premiere screening at South By Southwest virtually blew the house down. Shot on Super16mm with coffin-loads of old dark house (old dark barn?) atmospherics and EC comics grue, The Roost is a retro funhouse ride through the shadows that will warm the heart of even the coldest creepshow cadaver. And here’s some tenebrous trivia: West shot much of his film in the same barn that Hitchcock used for Marnie!"

—Mitch Davis
Website and Trailer

***Shadow: Dead Riot***
Director: Derek Wan
Screenplay: Michael Gingold, Richard Siegal
Cast: Tony Todd, Carla Greene, Nina Hodoruk, Andrea Langi
Producers: Csaba Bereczki, Carl Morano, John Sirabella
Distributor: Media Blasters

" This heartwarming tale opens with mass murderer "Shadow" (Candyman’s Tony Todd) filing his teeth down to broken fangs and performing occult blood rituals in his cell as he patiently waits to be executed. When the hour comes, he is strapped to a table for lethal injection, shot up with toxic chemicals and dies. Sort of. It seems the state did him a favour. At the very least, it looks like they put their faith in the wrong god. Massive carnage ensues as Shadow’s blood snakes through the prison, possessing prisoners and leading to a savage, supernatural revolt. Hordes of rioting inmates are shot to pieces by guards and buried in a mass grave out by the prison yard. A good day for justice.

CUT TO: today. The prison has been turned into the Ellis Glen Experimental Correctional Facility for Women, an institution that believes in "spiritual rehabilitation through physical improvement," which means that many of the inmates work out around the clock and are absolutely gigantic! Enter sexy Solitaire ("because I don’t play well with others"), a street-fighting jail newbie with psychic abilities and a penchant for slamming the hell out of any girl who gets in her face. Her presence will blow the doors off clandestine medical experimentation and will ultimately lead to nothing less than Shadow’s undead return to earth!

A seedy, blood-spattered trash film and damn proud of it, Shadow: Dead Riot is the second 35mm feature production from John Sirabella and Carl Morano, patron saints behind the Media Blasters label. True to their obsessions, they hired noted HK cinematographer Derek Wan (Fist of Legend) to shoot and direct (this is his first U.S. film) and brought on stunt guru Tony Leung Siu-Hung (Drunken Master II) to choreograph the film’s kung-fu sequences. Living Color guitarist Vernon Reid composed the score. Fangoria managing editor Michael Gingold’s nasty script blends various retro exploitation genres (women-in-prison, slasher, blaxploitation, Ilsa and her ilk, American kung-fu, zombie, even the It’s Alive films…) and comes out the gate shrieking with gory, tongue-in-cheek thunder. Enthusiastically gratuitous shower scene? Check. Brutal prison riot? Check. Brutal prison riot with zombies? Check. Bare-behind-bars lesbian seduction? Check. Inappropriate use of a fetus? Check. Pervy male doctor sleazing up to inmates he probably should never be allowed near? Check. Nipple piercing via tooth? You bet, check. You get the drift. Suffice to say, Shadow: Dead Riot won’t be winning any humanitarian awards and it ain’t Tarkovsky, but it knows what it is and has lots of tasteless fun running with it."

—Mitch Davis
Website and Trailer

Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2005 5:43 pm
by Chris Slack
I saw a couple of those at the Seattle International Film Festival this year.

"Izo" - VERY repetitious and slow moving, I will not watch this again.

"Night of the Living Dorks" - Silly and cheesy but funny and highly entertaining.

Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2005 5:47 pm
Director: Lasse Spang Olsen
Screenplay: Nikolaj Peyk
Cast: Kim Bodnia, Iben Hjejle, Ole Ernst
Producers: Henrik Moller-Sorensen, Nina Lyng, Niels Bokkenheuser

" Klaus (Kim Bodnia) is a former boxing champion who now works as a trainer. He opens his own gym after borrowing the necessary funds from Holger (Ole Ernst), a local loan shark who is cutting Klaus slack because he's willing to use his imposing physique to help Holger collect debts. Eventually, Klaus crosses paths with Laura (Iben Hjejle), a troubled woman who has recently been fired for stealing from her company's expense account, in order to fuel her out-of-control gambling habit. This problem also causes her to borrow from Holger and, as a result, Klaus is on her trail. But much to Klaus' surprise, Laura is even more intimidating than he is and that completely wins him over. A romance soon blossoms, further complicating debt collection and Holger's frustration with both parties. Even as a middle-aged man, this is Klaus' first real love and it causes him to make several irrational decisions that place both him and Laura in terrible danger.

Fantasia regular Lasse Spang Olsen (The Good Cop, Old Men in New Cars) is back with his usual partners in crime, Kim Bodnia and Iben Hjejle (best know to North American audiences for her work in High Fidelity). Bodnia is his usual laid-back, charismatic self, while Hjejle's hyperactive, ill-tempered gambling addict proves to be the perfect foil. In this classic screwball odd couple, it’s not always clear who the hardened underworld figure is and who’s the struggling, unemployed civilian. In the past, Olsen has proven to be an expert purveyor of screen criminality and, with a wild assortment of criminal activity, Sharks cements that reputation. But what's most surprising about this film is Olsen's capable, unsentimental touch with romance. He has his hands full with all kinds of unexpected tone shifts—from lighthearted comedy to cold-blooded violence to tender, tearful drama—but he handles it all with the skill of a master entertainer. More character study than genre film, Sharks is nonetheless filled with classic crime-movie moments. A boxer deals with excessive nausea, dynamite finds its way into everyday life, and, in the film’s true highlight, a dog runs in front of a moving car and is launched through a second-floor window. Tough or weak, romantic or jaded, there's something for everyone in Lasse Spang Olsen's latest creation."

—Jonathan Doyle
Website and Trailer

Director: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Parkpoom Wongpoom
Screenplay: Banjong Pisanthanakun, Sopon Sukdapisit, Parkpoom Wongpoom
Cast: Ananda Everingham, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, Achita Sikamana, Unnop Chanpaibool
Producers: Yodphet Sudsawad

" Notions of the photographic process being somehow able to capture imprints of spirit energy have crossed cultures in varying incarnations throughout the last century. Utilizing smart narrative sleight of hand and a poetic sense of the supernatural, this spectral Thai horror film, the number-one box-office hit in its country last year, takes photographic superstition to a surprising new place. Tun and his girlfriend Jane are driving home when they accidentally smash into a woman on an abandoned street. There is no trace of her body and they drive off panicked into the night, calling no one, yet torn with guilt. When the following days’ newspapers make no mention of a hit and run, they breathe sighs of relief. This mysterious person might somehow be alright after all. Tun, a working photographer, develops a roll of film he exposed earlier in the day. The negatives bear unnatural chemical smears. When enlarged, it almost appears that a face is visible within them. The face, needless to say, is not an unfamiliar one. Meanwhile, both lovers begin to have terrifying dreams. Tun’s weight has almost doubled, while his appearance remains physically unchanged. His photos are increasingly distorted with inexplicable patterns of light. Strange days are coming.

A breakout blockbuster in its homeland, Shutter is one of the most commercially successful productions in the history of Thai cinema. Fox-Regency have already signed up for a US remake. Co-directors Pisanthanakun and Wongpoom use familiar imagery as deliberate misdirection in order to reveal elements that are truly unexpected, keeping things several F-stops away from the norm before diving into dark, uncharted territories. They also use genuine examples of real-life spirit and ghost photography, lending a chilling sense of plausibility to some of the proceedings that follow. As its web broadens, it becomes clear that their film is as preoccupied with karma as it is with frightening audiences. Shutter works because it delivers genuine scares seeped in claustrophobic atmosphere (occasionally punctuated by jarring doses of grandioso freakishness). In many of these same moments, it rattles with vibrations of interpersonal disintegration. As the J-horror wave begins to break, Thailand is looking very likely to be joining South Korea as the new flashpoint in transcendental Asian genre filmmaking."

—Mitch Davis

Director: Jesse Heffring
Screenplay: Jesse Heffring
Cast: Colin Walsh, Marilyn Perreault, Frank Schorpion
Producers: Jesse Heffring, J.J. Heffring

" Youthful doctor Adam Lemay (Colin Walsh) is hanging out in a train station when a mysterious man hands him a small video monitor, puts a gun to his head, and commits suicide. In a complete state of shock, Lemay looks down at the monitor and sees his wife in a vertical, casket-like chamber that is rapidly filling with water. A nearby phone rings and Lemay answers. He is greeted by a demonic voice that explains the situation. As it turns out, Lemay is being watched and, unless he completes a series of elaborate tasks, his wife will die. So begins a breakneck night of running, driving and manic insanity monitored by bikers, the government and an endless supply of surveillance cameras. An exhausted Lemay desperately fights for his wife's life, committing one illegal act after another, including shady surgical procedures, identity theft and armed robbery. But this isn't your everyday abduction-bribery scenario. There's a larger conspiracy at work, one involving nanotechnology and, quite possibly, the end of the human race.

This is the second surveillance-intensive digital feature by Canadian filmmaker Jesse Heffring. Unable to finance a conventional feature in the late 90s, Heffring decided to assemble a film using surveillance footage alone. After successfully completing this mission with his award-winning 2000 debut, Coil, Heffring decided to try it again. Shot over the course of six weeks in August and September 2002, Sigma required the use of roughly 60 locations and over 100 actors. The result was 66 hours of DV footage—many scenes were shot from 10 angles or more—that took two full years to edit. In its finished form, Sigma is a chaotic and unusual movie experience. Like Cellular and numerous other phone-oriented suspense films, Sigma gets mileage out of its seemingly invisible villain and its utterly helpless, puppet-like protagonist. The film also grabs your attention with its unorthodox visual style. Heffring uses split screen and multi-screen techniques, as well as multiple aspect ratios and video formats, in order to create an energetic and hyperactive tribute to cyberpunk."

—Jonathan Doyle

***Straight Into Darkness***
Director: Jeff Burr
Screenplay: Jeff Burr
Cast: Ryan Francis, Scott MacDonald, James LeGros, David Warner, Linda Thorson
Producers: Mark Hannah, Will Huston, Chuck Williams, Chris Gore

" Just because you're AWOL, doesn't mean you're safe. Straight Into Darkness makes that point abundantly clear. Somewhere in Western Europe, toward the end of World War II, a pair of American soldiers have been arrested and court-martialed following some uncertain but clearly grotesque wrongdoing involving a flamethrower. When their captors' vehicle passes through a live mine field and explodes, the disgraced soldiers find themselves liberated, fugitives in a hostile, war-torn land. With pretty much everyone in the country against them, the soldiers seek refuge and clash over their dramatically different philosophies. One is a moral man, psychologically unable to accept war. The other is simply psychotic. After several close encounters, they find shelter in a dilapidated school for orphans. Trained by hawkish professors (David Warner and Linda Thorson), the wounded inhabitants of this makeshift orphanage behave like amputee commandos, fighting off anyone who threatens their legless way of life. Initially, the deserters and professors clash but, when the German army arrives on the scene, they're forced to join arms (those who have arms) in combat. A massive battle follows, pitting two incompetent soldiers, a pair of disgruntled professors and a gang of freakshow performers against the entire German army. Guess who wins.

Fans of horror sequel guru Jeff Burr (The Stepfather 2, Pumpkinhead 2, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3) should brace themselves for something utterly different. Moody, atmospheric, and completely enigmatic, Straight Into Darkness is a genre-bending work with tremendous conceptual audacity. From beginning to end, Burr walks the fine line between exploitation and art, a fact reflected by the varied cinematic influences evident in the film. At its best, Straight Into Darkness achieves an intensity reminiscent of war classics like Full Metal Jacket or The Big Red One and a poetry that recalls A Midnight Clear and even The Thin Red Line. But it's more than just a war film. In its grim atmosphere, this feels like classic horror and the almost too-weird-to-believe orphans bring to mind everything from Eyes Without a Face to Freaks (obviously). There's even a taste of Sam Peckinpah’s jagged editorial rhythms in the film's unexpectedly energized action sequences. Still, at the end of the day, this is a unique and astonishing achievement in its own right. Visually adventurous and almost experimental in spots, Burr’s film avoids all the conventions of war movie blandness. It's an original and surprising take on the genre, one made with refreshing intelligence and artistry."

Director of:
Straight Into Darkness (2004), Phantom Town (1999), Pumpkinhead 2 (1994), Puppetmaster 4 (1993), Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 (1990), The Offspring (1987)

—Jonathan Doyle

Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2005 6:23 pm
***Survive Style 5+***
Director: Gen Sekiguchi
Screenplay: Taku Tada
Cast: Tadanobu Asano, Reika Hashimoto, Vinnie Jones, Sonny Chiba, Kyoko Koizumi, Hiroshi Abe
Producers: Ryoichi Fukuyama, Hiroyuki Taniguchi
Distributor: Tohokushinsha

" Dilate your retinas and wire your jaw, because you are about to encounter the coolest, most inventively supercharged film of the year! Former cult advertisers Gen Sekiguchi & Taku Tada’s already-legendary feature debut slams home with five highly bent stories of rampant crime, undying love (in a most literal sense!), hypnotism gone wrong and failed body disposals, intertwined like a dosed nervous system on a free-association storytelling spree. It’s best not to divulge details on any of the brilliantly absurdist plots, but to give you a taste, one concerns a family struggling to readjust after an insane circumstance leaves the salaryman father convinced that he’s a bird!

A good film for jaded cinephiles who think they’ve seen it all, Survive Style 5+ is a hilarious thermonuclear blast of concepts and chaos with a killer rock soundtrack, wickedly witty dialogue, the most colour-drenched art direction this side of a melting Crayola factory and enough going on to fill several unhinged features. There are so many eclectic ingredients colliding in this film that it’s one of the only productions in recent memory that can genuinely claim to have "something for everyone." Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s a film for the multiplex masses, at least not on this planet, being as it plays like a brain-bruising blender crush between the sensibilities of Sabu, Todd Solondz, Takashi Miike, Monty Python, Vermillion Pleasure Night and Gregg Araki. But these comparisons, however pertinent, almost seem unfair to draw. Ultimately, traces of many underground and pop influences can be felt but like Uzumaki or Visitor Q, this hugely eccentric cultural cannon blast exists in a genre all of its own, and virtually no description will do it justice. Director Sekiguchi and writer Tada, who together also edited this bizarro masterpiece, managed to wrangle an incredible all-star cast that includes Tadanobu Asano (Ichi The Killer, Vital),YosiYosi Arakawa (Ping Pong), Ittoku Kishibe (Zatoichi, Séance), Sonny Chiba (bloody everything), even staple Guy Ritchie vetter Vinnie Jones (Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels)! A film for those who like their filmmaking to be brutally funny, aesthetically eye-popping, lurid, sweet,
violent, vulgar, poetic, dramatic and surreal—often all at once! If you take a chance on only one oddball wild card this year, make that ticketSurvive Style 5+"

—Mitch Davis
Website and Trailers

***The Taste of Tea***
Director: Katsuhito Ishii
Screenplay: Katsuhito Ishii
Cast: Tadanobu Asano, Maya Banno, Takahiro Sato, Tatsuya Gashuin, Satomi Tezuka, Anna Tsuchiya, Tomokazu Miura
Producers: Kazuto Takida, Kazutoshi Wadakura
Distributor: Klockworx

" The Harunos are a very normal family in every respect—well, almost every respect. Like many others, they live on the outskirts of Tokyo, in an almost rural suburb. Their life together is tranquil, passing with a natural calm that, from the outside, seems almost banal. But each member of the family hides in themselves a tiny touch of madness. Each has an inner world, a secret place to take shelter in the magic of a parallel reality. Among them is Sachiko, at six years the baby of the family. The little girl is having a hard time getting rid of the imaginary, giant twin she sees turning up at her side now and then. Her brother has a bad habit of becoming lovestruck, and to calm his youthful ardour, takes long, obsessive bike rides through the countryside. There’s also the mother of the family, who’s thrown herself into writing animes and constantly lives her stories out as she writes them. Then there’s the father, the older brother and the highly eccentric grandfather, a mysterious, bloodied yakuza who has returned from the dead, a baseball player with an inhuman swing and a whole gallery of characters, each one more bizarre than the next. But that’s another story, of course…

Who says reality can’t be fantastic? Certainly not Katsuhito Ishii (Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl, Party 7), responsible here for an outlandish and entirely unexpected work, a magical, mindbending auteur film that didn’t fail to stun and surprise when it opened the Quinzaine des Réalisateur at the prestigious Cannes festival in 2004. Somewhere between magic realism, an inspired humanism and unhinged comedy as funny as it is weird, The Taste of Tea is a strangely distracting film of such haunting tranquility that it succeeds in quickly hypnotizing its audiences, entrancing one in a masterfully sly manner. It has several times been compared to the films of France’s Jacques Tati and Jean Cocteau. It also sheds a spotlight on the leading star of current Japanese cinema, the always sublime actor Tadanobu Asano (Last Life in the Universe)."

—Julien Fonfrède (translated by Rupert Bottenberg)
Website and Trailer

***Three… Extremes***
Director: Fruit Chan, Park Chan-wook, Takashi Miike
Screenplay: Park Chan-wook, Haruko Fukushima, Lilian Lee
Cast: Kyoko Hasegawa, Bai Ling, Tony Ka-Fai Leung, Lim Won-Hee, Gang Hye Jung
Producers: Peter Chan
Distributor: Lions Gate - Maple Pictures

"Three… Extremes is a shocking new powerhouse by Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy). And Takashi Miike (Gozu). And Fruit Chan (Made in Hong Kong). And Chan’s contribution features striking cinematography by staple Wong Kar-Wai lenser Christopher Doyle. Has your cerebellum stopped twitching yet? It will run liquefied out your nostrils once you actually see this film!

A popular horror filmmaker is held hostage in his home by a disgruntled extra. The broken actor will force the breaking director to make a spiritually agonizing choice amidst a tableau of cruelty.

An aging actress, terrified of losing her husband’s interest, seeks help from an eccentric naturopath known for cooking special dumplings that reverse time’s ravages. She has an inkling that at least one key ingredient is unspeakably hideous (whatever you’re thinking, it’s worse than that), but she’s willing to turn a blind eye to maintain her looks in this stunning portrait of human frailty’s relationship with atrocity.

A young novelist is haunted by memories of her childhood, when she was part of a magic act with her late sister. The children used to contort themselves into a minuscule box, an act designed to please their surrogate father even more so than their audiences. Memory and time melt into a disquieting haze of guilt that carries yesterday’s whispers into screams of the present.

Three… Extremes is a transgressive trilogy of medium-length short films from South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, each an assaulting exploration of egoism, with shared imagery revolving around destruction/rejuvenation of the flesh, and a shattered entertainer at its core. Chan-Wook’s Cut is pure Grand Guignol theatricality, highly stylized and laced with toxic does of acerbic wit, horrific violence and eye-bursting art direction. Miike’s Box is the dreamy, hypnotic entry—reflective, haunting and brimming with traces of corporeal corruption. It hits its mark with calm conviction—and isn’t afraid to leave bruises. The most disturbing entry is Fruit Chan’s Dumplings, which proved so strong that the filmmaker released a longer, feature-length version in his homeland. Hong Kong’s arthouse auteur has delivered what might well be the most confrontational and genuinely stomach-turning horror film in recent memory. People have fainted at screenings and it will doubtlessly leave a part of the audience outraged in virtually any country it is shown. Three… Extremes is a pan-Asian starburst of beauty, poetry, politics and revulsion, with fascinating sensibilities that contrast against one another to compose a pitch-black opera with a socially conscious soul."

—Mitch Davis

Director: Harry Cleven
Screenplay: Harry Cleven, Isabelle Coudrie, Sophie Hiet, Yann Le Nivet, Jerome Salle
Cast: Benoît Magimel, Natasha Régnier, Olivier Gourmet
Producers: Rosanne Van Haesebrouck, Laurent Brochand
Distributor: TF1 International

" Separation can be a terrifying thing. What would you do if you were informed out of the blue that you had a long-lost identical twin? This is the creepy situation that successful photographer Matyas (La Pianiste’s Benoît Magimel), freshly settled into a new family life, finds himself in. The mere revelation brings back uncomfortable childhood memories and cracks begin to form in his seemingly perfect home life. Upon meeting Thomas, his twin, Matyas becomes disoriented and slightly delusional. Thomas seems like a calmer, more perfected and much more controlled version of himself. As fate would have it, he too is a photographer, in a sense—he works in a hospital taking echograms. Thomas instantly wins over Matyas’ pregnant wife Claire (Criminal Lovers’s Natasha Régnier), and their son Pierre. When Matyas confesses a queasy unease with being present for Calire’s childbirth, Thomas even volunteers to secretly accompany her as him in his place. Matters gradually evolve into an understated dream tone. Identities begin to blur. A chilling series of events are set into motion. Matyas will have to go back… way back… in order to understand what is happening to him and his family. Meanwhile, Claire is, inexplicably, petrified of him…

Trouble’s opening titles play over quietly spectacular shots of glowing backlit water imagery that gradually reveal themselves to be of a fetus floating weightlessly inside a womb. Initially soothing in their ghostly tranquility, the images, once we grow accustomed to them, become strangely eerie in their effect. It is an ideal introduction to the inverting universe the film inhabits. Besides, disquieting natal motifs will be a recurring experience here. Bubbling with existential horror, Trouble’s black wit and even blacker perversions make for a… troubling… time in the dark. Director /co-writer Harry Cleven’s esteemed background as an actor is apparent in the masterful work he commands from his cast, Magimel’s dual performance being a particularly strong achievement (as is the imaginative blocking, cutting and optical work the filmmaker uses to sell it). Cleven’s love of cinema is evident throughout. His direction, calculated to the DNA and often quite brilliant, baroquely fishhooks the viewer through the twists and pulls of its mysterious construction. His use of the film’s widescreen frame is highly detailed with immersive close-ups and expansive edge-to-edge compositions. Rounding out the film’s many sharp choices, Trouble features unsettling sound design by experimental Belgian filmmaker Nicolas Provost (Bataile, Exoticore), whose distinctive work has been showcased for Montrealers at both Fantasia and Prends Ça Court."

—Mitch Davis

***Zombie Honeymoon***
Director: David Gebroe
Screenplay: David Gebroe
Cast: Tracy Coogan, Graham Sibley, Tonya Cornelisse, David M. Wallace, Neal Jones
Producers: David Gebroe, Christina Reilly, Steven Beer, Larry Fessenden

"They say "till death do us part" but, even then, you can stay together. At least, if there's an ongoing zombie epidemic. Almost immediately after tying the knot, Denise and Danny's wedded bliss is disrupted when a zombie stumbles out of the ocean and attacks Danny. Shortly thereafter, Danny is pronounced dead but, within minutes, he's back on his feet, good as new. At least that's what everybody thinks. The couple carries on as if nothing ever happened but their illusions of domestic bliss come crashing down when Denise returns home one day, only to discover her husband in the bathtub tearing a large man apart and eating him. Very few marriages survive this kind of faux pas, but the youthful newlyweds decide to give it a try. As you might expect, it's a struggle. For example, how do you explain to your dinner guests that blood all over your husband's face? Over time, Danny's condition deteriorates and it's unclear whether the marriage-—or neighbours—can survive his brutally insatiable appetite.

Believe it or not, this impressive "zombie romance" is loosely based on a true story involving the tragic honeymoon of writer-director David Gebroe’s sister. Using that incident as a jumping-off point, Gebroe conceives of a fascinating new take on zombie characterization: the zombie that looks like everyone else. Danny has a case of slow-onset zombitis, the symptoms showing themselves slowly as his condition worsens. By all appearances, Danny is a totally average, functioning person—except for that severed limb in his mouth. Initially avoiding the blue-green phase, and thus successfully co-exiting with non-zombies, Danny soon degenerates into a horrifically disfigured, decomposing, animated corpse. By redefining the zombie arc, Gebroe also redefines the emotional landscape of zombie cinema. Danny is far more tormented, emotional and expressive than your average zombie (take that, Bub!) and, by extension, we get a film that avoids easy jokes and credibly conveys genuine human (or is it post-human?) emotion. This is thanks, in large part, to the lively performances of Graham Sibley and Tracy Coogan as the doomed husband and wife. They have charisma and chemistry to spare, bringing life to a couple that is at least 50 percent dead. Unashamedly serious and romantic, Zombie Honeymoon is also brutally gory and full of genuine scares that will undoubtedly thrill fans of the genre. Be sure to bring a date but, if possible, please don't eat her."

—Jonathan Doyle
Website and Trailer

Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2005 6:40 pm
Mike Patton(of Mr. Bungle,Fantamas,and Faith No More fame) in a Karen Black horror movie ?!

Now,that one sounds like a real must-see.

Yeah, and thats why I'm going to skip work to watch it. Watch the trailer:)
I saw a couple of those at the Seattle International Film Festival this year.

"Izo" - VERY repetitious and slow moving, I will not watch this again.

"Night of the Living Dorks" - Silly and cheesy but funny and highly entertaining.
-Chris Slack

I rather like the slow pace Takashi Miike uses on some of his films, as for the repetition I'll have to see how that turns out. The fest starts tomorrow, and Izo plays on saturday. I'll have my comments up here, if I have time between work and the fest.

Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2005 6:46 pm
by Remo D
PECKER{*x*}WOOD wrote:-steven_millan
***Straight Into Darkness***
Director: Jeff Burr
Screenplay: Jeff Burr
Cast: Ryan Francis, Scott MacDonald, James LeGros, David Warner, Linda Thorson
Producers: Mark Hannah, Will Huston, Chuck Williams, Chris Gore

" Just because you're AWOL, doesn't mean you're safe. Straight Into Darkness makes that point abundantly clear. Somewhere in Western Europe, toward the end of World War II, a pair of American soldiers have been arrested and court-martialed following some uncertain but clearly grotesque wrongdoing involving a flamethrower. When their captors' vehicle passes through a live mine field and explodes, the disgraced soldiers find themselves liberated, fugitives in a hostile, war-torn land. With pretty much everyone in the country against them, the soldiers seek refuge and clash over their dramatically different philosophies. One is a moral man, psychologically unable to accept war. The other is simply psychotic. After several close encounters, they find shelter in a dilapidated school for orphans. Trained by hawkish professors (David Warner and Linda Thorson), the wounded inhabitants of this makeshift orphanage behave like amputee commandos, fighting off anyone who threatens their legless way of life. Initially, the deserters and professors clash but, when the German army arrives on the scene, they're forced to join arms (those who have arms) in combat. A massive battle follows, pitting two incompetent soldiers, a pair of disgruntled professors and a gang of freakshow performers against the entire German army. Guess who wins.

Fans of horror sequel guru Jeff Burr (The Stepfather 2, Pumpkinhead 2, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3) should brace themselves for something utterly different. Moody, atmospheric, and completely enigmatic, Straight Into Darkness is a genre-bending work with tremendous conceptual audacity. From beginning to end, Burr walks the fine line between exploitation and art, a fact reflected by the varied cinematic influences evident in the film. At its best, Straight Into Darkness achieves an intensity reminiscent of war classics like Full Metal Jacket or The Big Red One and a poetry that recalls A Midnight Clear and even The Thin Red Line. But it's more than just a war film. In its grim atmosphere, this feels like classic horror and the almost too-weird-to-believe orphans bring to mind everything from Eyes Without a Face to Freaks (obviously). There's even a taste of Sam Peckinpah’s jagged editorial rhythms in the film's unexpectedly energized action sequences. Still, at the end of the day, this is a unique and astonishing achievement in its own right. Visually adventurous and almost experimental in spots, Burr’s film avoids all the conventions of war movie blandness. It's an original and surprising take on the genre, one made with refreshing intelligence and artistry."

I have had the big-screen pleasure of STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS and it comes with my highest recommendation. This thing needs a proper RELEASE.


Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2005 8:27 pm
Ah, cool I was wondering about that film. The website seems to be dead, and I couldn't find a trailer for it. Lets hope Jeff Burr continues to make films like these, as he has been doing other peoples films for a while now. If I have the chance I'll ask Jeff what his next film will be.