far, A & O film critic Sylvain Richard has had time
to see the following films. Here are his ratings, always
out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film, 3.5
for an exceptional film, 4 for a classic.
Sylvain Richard's best ever genre films = (The Devils;UK
1971 by Ken Russell, The Eye; Thai 2002 by Oxide & Dany
Blood River; England 2008
by Adam Mason, Immortel; France 2004 by Enki Bilal, Natural
City; Korea 2003 by Byung - Chun Min, Behind The Mask; USA
2006 by Scott Glosserman, Good Cop Bad Cop; Canada 2006
by Eric Canuel , Wild Blue Yonder; Germany 2006 by Werner
Herzog, The Ferryman; New Zealand 2007 by Chris Graham,
L:Change the World; Japan 2008 by Hideo Nakata).
L'ENNEMI PUBLIC N° 1 (MESRINE: PUBLIC ENEMY NO. 1),
(Part two of a two part biography of Jacques Mesrine, 1936–1979,
legendary French criminal). This covers Mesrine’s (portrayed
with realistic charisma by Vincent Cassel) life from his return
to France in 1973 (when he was quickly declared public enemy
number one) until his death on Nov. 2nd 1979 when he was shot
down by the police led by Commissioner Broussard (Olivier
Gourmet). Part two deals with Mesrine’s nurturing of the legend
and myth behind the gangster and his desire for media attention.
Overall this two-part epic thriller is a remarkable portrayal
of the last of the old-school outlaws.
-- MESRINE: L'INSTINCT DE MORT (MESRINE: THE INSTINCT OF DEATH) ,
(Part one of a two part biography of Jacques Mesrine, 1936–1979,
legendary French criminal). This covers Mesrine’s (portrayed
with gripping intensity by Vincent Cassel) from his service
in Algeria (1959) to his stint in a Québec penitentiary
in 1969. In Algeria he was ordered to perpetuate all manner
of viciousness. In France he became acquainted with Guido
(Gerard Depardieu) who teaches him respect. When Mesrine runs
afoul of certain underworld heavies, he flees to Québec
with his companion Jeanne (Cécile de France) where he becomes
involved with the FLQ through Jean-Paul Mercier (Roy Dupuis).
After a daring escape from a Québec penitentiary he
returns to France.
This tale of incest, revenge, bondage and mental illness goes
nowhere and is just a series of jumbled images.
How far would you go to get your dream home. Chaing Lai-sheung
(played with a determined sense of eeriness by Josie Ho) has
had a dream of owning a home with a view of the sea. This
slasher film includes a satirical poke on the mortgage crisis.
A very important, fascinating and informative documentary
that deals with finding a permanent solution to safely disposing
of nuclear waste. One solution presented is the Onkalo Project
in Finland whereby the waste is buried deep underground until
the cavern is full, after which it will be sealed. The issue
that arise from this is how we warn our descendants 100,000
years from now about the dangers of releasing its contents.
Deals with a contemporary issue with a science-fiction approach.
A reconstruction of a tragic incident that took place early
in the Korean War; an incident that could have been avoided
and is unfortunately still denied. The residents of the quiet
small village of Nogunri are going about their day-to-day
activities seemingly untouched by the war; they fear the communists
might arrive but are confident that the Americans will protect
and rescue them. In late July of 1950, the Americans arrive
and order the villagers to evacuate. The villagers begin heading
south, but are intercepted by the Americans. Due to the confusion
in the early stages of the war and the fear that North Koreans
soldiers are passing themselves off as civilians, the order
is given that no refugees are allowed to pass. Thus the massacre
of innocent civilians -- men, women and children. This film
will shed a different light on American involvement in the
A deliciously tasty, dark comedy that progressively gets darker
with its totally unexpected twists. John Taylor (Clayne Crawford)
is bleeding profusely and is seeking a cover. He has just
robbed a bank and is trying to evade the law. Entering a posh
neighbourhood, he comes to the residence of Warwick Wilson
(David Hyde Pierce in a perfect performance). John alleges
that he is a friend of a friend. Warwick ‘naively’ takes the
bait and lets John enter and even invites him to stay for
a dinner party that he is hosting that evening. Now get ready
for a fun ride into a dark and absurd world that distorts
all conventions of a home-invasion thriller.
Satirical science fiction animation focusing on a breakdown
of a worldwide network called Oz. Kenji, a college nerd, is
invited by Natsuki, the most popular girl in school, to go
with her to her family estate in Ueda. She declares to him
that it is to celebrate her grandmother’s 90th birthday, but
when she gets there she announces to the whole extended family,
of longstanding political and economic clout, that they are
a couple. The film just had too many things going on at the
same time resulting in considerable confusion and lack of
focus. The animation was colourful and the characters were
quirky and charming.
Rinco’s lifelong dream has been to open her own restaurant
using the recipes that were passed down to her from her grandmother.
It's about to happen until her boyfriend leaves without notice.
Due to the resulting sorrow, she loses her voice and needs
to return to live with her bitter mother who prefers the pet
pig to her own daughter. Helped by a neighbourhood friend,
she finally opens a small restaurant nearby -- so small in
fact that she can only serve one customer at a time. Doomed
to fail one may say, but for one important (magical) element
-- her dishes allow the customer to have his/her wishes come
true. A beautifully imaged film that is sure to strike a few
Mockumentary following an aristocratic Belgian family of Vampires.
A film crew follows them as they go about their day to day
routine. The family is composed of a Lugosi-esque father,
a demented mother, a rebellious son and a daughter who pine
to become human. Consequent to an indiscretion by the son,
the family is banished to Montreal, Québec. This is
an excellent exercise in providing a delightful and humouristic
insight into the social life of a vampire and the cultural
differences that exist even among different vampire societies.
Carmen is a journalist who craves for something more exciting
than just local news and events. Without her editor-in-chief’s
permission, she decides to investigate the disappearance of
a backpacker in a remote village in Poland. Along with her
assistant Sarah and her boyfriend/photographer Marcus, she
travels to the village of Alwaina. What they discover will
change their lives forever. Their presence unleashes a very
old and terrifying secret in the midst of a mysterious fog
that hangs frozen in the forest near the village. This is
a far cry from Jon Knautz’s previous film “Jack Brooks: Monster
Slayer.” It is darker and freakier and establishes the director
as a major player in Canadian genre cinema.
An apocalyptic survival animation involving a mysterious virus,
called Medusa, that suddenly petrifies its victims: a doomsday
cult and a powerful biochemical corporation. One hundred and
sixty individuals are selected to be sent to a cryogenic facility
and put to sleep for 100 years. The location is an ancient
castle in Scotland. When they awake (not knowing how long
they have been asleep) it is to a nightmare. Many perish,
leaving a few to try and escape the environs of the castle.
This animation is multilayered, dense, containing many twists
and turns that will make this an instant classic amongst fans
of the genre.
The Winners are a rock band that truly ‘suck.’ No one comes
to their gigs, no hits on their web site etc. That is until
the bass player gets turned into a vampire and the group starts
to buzz. But is it a good thing, since the female bassist
has developed somewhat of an appetite. In this film, vampirism
is an allegory for addiction. Malcolm McDowell as the Vampire
Hunter and David Foley as the band’s manager stand out in
their performances. An outstanding cast overall that includes
significant roles from the likes of Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop,
Alex Lifeson (of Rush) and many more resulting in a very funny
yet dark and entertaining film.
A goofy comedy that deals with the two sides of love -- the
beauty VS the darker pain of heartbreak. Sophie (a successful
comic artist) is preparing to marry Jeff (a prosperous surgeon).
Joanna (a venomous actress) steals Jeff away from Sophie.
Devastated, Sophie develops a plan not only to get Jeff back
but to also get revenge on Joanna. The story unfolds through
the comic imagery of her latest work. The template followed
is the classic genre formula.
A medieval war epic based on the myth of the Ninth Roman Legion
of the second century when Rome was conquering Britain. During
a campaign, the legion is ambushed by the Picts. The general
is captured and his fighters are devastated. Led by Quintas
Dias (Michael Fassbinder), they raid the Pict’s camp and rescue
the general. During the battle, they kill the leader’s son.
The Picts vow vengeance and the warriors relentlessly pursue
the Romans. Against the spectacular backdrop of the Scottish
Highlands is dark, atmospheric and violent mystical tale with
an element of horror. The Legion had disappeared into the
mists of Scotland without a trace. The lines between good
and evil are blurred.
An independent locally made documentary that explores the
backgrounds and ins and outs behind the makings of indie genre
films. Shot between 2006 and 2009 in many locations, film
includes clips from such films and interviews with many involved.
Among them are Lloyd Kaufman, Maurice Deveraux and Hershel
Gordon Lewis. Plenty of knowledge packed into 80 min. A pleasure
to see a film that has many faces that one recognizes.
TO THE HEAD,
A witty comedy showing how peer pressure can really ruin one’s
evening. Trevor is trying to live a normal life with his wife.
During a dinner party with her boss and wife, Trevor receives
a call from Darren, his deadbeat cousin and former partner
in crime. Darren convinces Trevor to join him for a beer.
Darren then pressures Trevor to accompany him to complete
some dealing. What ensues is a comedy of errors as the situation
goes from bad to worse. The dialogue was a bit forced and
Corey Adams, Alex Craig
Skateboarding fantasy about Machotaildrop headed by the Baron
-- an eccentric man with sinister plans involving his star
skateboarders. This film has a somewhat allegorical message
regarding the conflict between commercial skateboarding and
that which is street-based.
IS NOT ROMANCE,
A minimalist , simply drawn animation about Mr. and Mrs. Hwang
spending their 27th anniversary at home on a rainy evening,
reminiscing on their marriage in the company of their four
children. An irresistible and touching picture of a domestic
life that was not so romantic.
-- [REC] 2,
Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plazawak
Picks up where the first left off. We are back in the same
building but this time a S.W.A.T. team has been sent in. Its
mission is to retrieve a blood sample of the girl who was
the first infected. Of course all is being documented on film.
The shock value that marked the first instalment (as with
Blair Witch) is not apparent in the second instalment. The
premise veers away from the virus that causes zombieism to
more of a possession concept that is passed on through a virus.
Six testosterone filled and never serious buddies plan a alcohol
filled weekend for a recently divorced pal to cheer him up.
They travel to a remote village where all of the women have
developed ‘voracious’ appetites. An over-the-top scream of
a film where “Happy Tree Friends” meet “Shaun of the Dead,”
before passing through a host of other films that have “dead”
in the title or that involve ‘male only’ getaways. Film gives
a new dimension to the battle between the sexes.
A fantasy that involves magic and goblins that begins during
the Chosun Dynasty and carries forth to modern times -- 500
years later. A well acted film that contains the right mix
of action and humour and plenty of fantastical special effects
that makes for quality entertainment.
A Sageuk (Korean historical drama) set in 1592, when Japan’s invasion of Korea was taking place. It is a common tale of political ambitions, revenge and mending broken hearts. Sweeping sword fights, lush landscapes, well-timed humour and exquisite costumes are off-set by poor subtitles and shoddy editing.
GAUGE TRAUMA 2010,
Fantasia’s annual collection of 11 edgy and outlandish international
shorts did not quite measure up to previous years in terms
of shock value. The main focus this year was humour with Alberto
González Vázquez’s “El fin del mondo” (a speech in Spanish
by Ronald Reagan) and Joseph Nanni’s “Necronomicon” (a spiel
for a book that is quite the opposite of the Bible). Overall
two of the 11 stood out. The first was “Ninjas” by Brazilian
director Dennison Ramalho, about a young police officer coming
to grips with shooting an innocent boy. Secondly “Alice Jacobs
is Dead” by Alex Horwitz and starring John Lazar and Adrienne
Barbeau, about a research scientist keeping his (un)dead wife
around in the hopes of developing a cure for the Zombie virus.
IN A PUFF,
During a smoking break, Cherie and Jimmy meet and in the course
of the next seven days develop a romantic relationship. Witty
banter, profanity and useless chit chat typical of those in
their 20s and 30s (and lots of smoking) fill up the time.
Interview segments interrupt the flow of the narrative.
This is an extremely disturbing, shocking and graphic film.
It is an expression of Srdjian’s vision of post-Milosevic
Serbia. Milos, a retired porno star, accepts an invitation
from ex-partner and friend Layla. He is to be the lead in
an ‘art porn’ film. The director, who seems intelligent, charming
and convincing, tells Milos that his instincts are more important
than the script. Milos, happily married and proud father of
a son, whose savings from his previous films running low,
signs the contract which is lucrative enough for all of his
financial needs. On the first day of shooting things seem
to be a little weird going on weirder. When he decides to
pull out, it's already too late and he descends into an unspeakable
level of depravity never witnessed before in the history of
cinema. Strictly adult viewing.
ON THE MOON,
Kim, whose life is in shambles, jumps off one of the bridges that crosses the Han River. He awakens to himself on Bam Island, unused and a repository for all the garbage thrown into the river. Though still able to see Seoul’s skyline, Kim must now learn to survive without the commodities of modern life. A young woman, who has locked herself in her bedroom (due to intense social anxiety -- a ‘Hikikomori’) is observing him. Thinking he is a lonely alien, she decides to risk venturing out of her room and throws a message in a bottle to communicate with him. This is one of main sources of humour in this urban vision of a modern Robinson Crusoe. Film has some memorable scenes but it is somewhat repetitious.
OF ALICE CREED
Vic (Eddie Marsan) and Danny (Martin Compson) with cold, brutal
precision plan to kidnap Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton), the
daughter of a billionaire. Every detail has been considered
so nothing can go wrong -- right? As the story line advances,
tensions rise and flaws in the master plan begin to appear.
Excellent performances and chemistry between the three raise
this kidnap thriller above others in the genre. Enough twists
keep the suspense active until the final scene.
A prison-death-sentence drama that focuses not on those condemned
but the officers assigned to carry out the executions. A potentially
powerful concept weakened by editing and less than credible
A cute and sentimental feature film with a touch of darkness
about an air doll and its owner named Nozemi, played with
off-beat beauty and ingenious wonderment by Bae Du-na. One
day when the owner leaves for work, Nozemi comes to life.
Stepping out into the real world, she desires to explore and
learn about life. She gets a job in a video store where the
two who work there are willing to answer even her most basic
questions. Dramatically impacting, open-hearted film that
looks poetically at the harsh realities of life through the
child-like eyes of an air doll.
An action fantasy about a flying car. Dima is an average Moscow
student. For his birthday, his tram driving and traditional-thinking
father gives him a beat up black Volga. When Dima discovers
that it can fly, he initially wants to junk it, but when his
father is murdered, he becomes a reluctant superhero going
by the name of ‘Black Lightning.’ Film leans heavily on special
effects which are at times blatantly obvious. The dialogue
and performances are somewhat over-the-top.
Oh Young-doo, Ryu Hoon, Jan Yoon-hung, Hong Yoon-geun
The premise of this anthology is a cure for AIDS has been
developed. Since it was so groundbreaking, no testing was
done and it was immediately put on the market. A short while
later, a mutated virus breaks out and turns many into flesh
eating Zombies. The six narratives cover different aspects
of the plague. This is South Korea’s first entry into the
genre. Despite being a blatantly low-budget affair, it qualifies
as a diversionary entertaining Zombie flick.
Soi Cheang Pou-Soi
A Johhnie To produced thriller about a group of four assassins with a novel approach. They evade detection and capture by conceiving and staging their executions to look like accidents. When a job goes wrong, the question arises ‘Who is out to get them?’ A complex and multi-layered thriller that keeps audience glued to the screen. With riveting performances and perfect direction, the result rises above a mere crime thriller to a psychological study of a descent into an obsessive paranoia.
ISLAND: HARUKA AND THE MAGIC MIRROR,
Animated whose central figure is Haruka, a teenage girl whose
mother passed away years ago and whose father is a workaholic.
She fondly remembers and longs to find a mirror that her mother
gave her. While giving an offering at a shrine deep in the
forest she spots a fox-like creature scurrying with certain
items. She follows it to a hidden nook which turns out to
be a gateway to his home -- Oblivion Island. All that has
been lost through neglect is there. And so begins an adventure
to retrieve her lost mirror and to save both the Island and
humanity from the Baron who has an evil plan. Film features
gorgeous imagery and memorable characters. Japan’s Production
I.G., the studio behind the success, is setting out to challenge
Pixar in the realm of family-oriented animation. The imagery
is both colourful and exquisitely detailed. We are literally
drawn into the world of Oblivion Island and its inhabitants.
VAN VON HUNTER,
Stu Levy, Steven Calcote
Mockumentary on the evil vanquishing hero (who put the ‘van’
in vanquishing) from the land of Dikay, Van Von Hunter. After
vanquishing all evil from Dikay, Hunter finds himself without
employment and decides to go to Hollywood. Tokyopop has decided
to do a screen version of their manga on Van Von Hunter. So
he is cast, of course, in the leading role. The project is
a fiasco so our hero travels to Japan to be a reporter. Surprisingly,
he rises to stardom but subsequently,
disappears. Done in a similar style to “Borat” and “Bruno”
yet not as vulgar, this film has many funny moments and a
credible performance by Yuri Lowenthal as Van Von Hunter.
Many scenes are improvised as our hero appears in costume
in Hollywood and Tokyo.
A special evening to give a life-time achievement award to
Don Bluth and Gary Goldman ("American Tale" and
"The secret of Nimh") was highlighted by this classic
1988 animation about a group of orphaned dinosaurs trekking
to the legendary ‘Great Valley.’ When they arrive they will
be in complete safety and have plenty to eat. Yet along the
way they must face many dangers and tremendous challenges.
In the style of traditional animation where every image is
hand drawn, we mourn the bygone era when animation was a deep
expression of the complex range of human emotions.
A rock-against-all-odds ensemble comedy (This is "Spinal
Tap" and "Detroit Metal City") is about a has-been
Punk Band who performed their last concert in 1983. Twenty
five years later talent scout Kanna Kurita finds the concert
recorded on YouTube. She brings it to the attention of her
boss, Tokita, who reveals to her his past history with Punk.
To her surprise, he gives her the task of reuniting the band
(all of whom are middle-aged) and putting them on a national
tour after signing the band to a one record deal. With hilarious
gags, this is an average film that is sure to please but will
soon be forgotten.
From an explosion, the mad scientist Max Von Max is seriously
disfigured and his beautiful assistant Tatiana has been in
a coma for three years. When she awakes, she has lost all
of her memory and now works in a grocery store and goes by
the name of Jane. Obsessed to win back her love, Max creates
a remote-controlled cyborg. Juvenile, immature plot and performances
to match are what marks this film.
The story of a love triangle that develops between a young
man, his wife and his cooking teacher. He has quit his job
and wants to become a chef and owner of his own restaurant.
His cooking teacher is the man with whom she had just had
a torrid sexual encounter that afternoon. Now she is faced
with a dilemma: her childhood sweetheart and husband or the
handsome stranger who is living with them. She feels she can
love both. The resulting complications give rise to a very
funny film with the usual plot lines.
An unusual blend of the paranormal with science-fiction. Cody
is a young man who in the wake of the death of his parents
is now faced with the responsibility of taking care of his
younger brother. After reading up on the paranormal, Cody
becomes obsessed with building a machine that can bring back
his parents, but the results are not what he expects. A film
that effectively melds the scientific with the paranormal.
Seiji Chiba, Yuji Shimomura
Aliens (which are remarkably similar to those of Ridley Scott)
attack a group of Ninjas in this delightful crowd-pleasing
action comedy. The audience, depending on its orientation,
will cheer for one side or the other.
We follow the path of a vengeful serial killer, who also happens
to be in love, who coldly, telepathically blows his victims
heads off. Who or what is this vicious psycho-killer? Well
it’s a used car tire named Robert; an original concept that
quickly loses interest.
5 Thai Directors
Five of Thailand’s top genre film directors contribute their
own distinct vision of horror in this anthology sequel to
2008’s “4BIA.” Four of the tales presented are guaranteed
to terrify and the last is a parody. Paween Purvitpanya directs
“Novice,” a jungle psychological thriller about a young delinquent
sent to a Buddhist monastery. Visute Poolverlak’s “Ward” involves
a young man with broken legs being terrorised by a comatose
patient in the next bed. “Backpackers,” by Songyos Sugmakanan,
follows the fate of two Japanese hitchhikers being picked
up by a pair of truck drivers with a somewhat macabre cargo.
Parkpoom Wongpoom’s “Salvage” sends a strong message about
false advertising. A car saleswoman is terrorised by the ghosts
of the accident victims of the cars she is selling. Lastly
Banjong Pisankanum’s “In the End” is a fictitious sequel to
In April of 2000, Mark Hogancamp was attacked and beaten senseless
by five thugs just outside of a bar. After spending 9 days
in a coma, Mark had to relearn everything (he was 38) since
his memory was totally shattered. To help cope with this and
initially to relearn his motor skills, Mark set out (using
Barbie dolls and scale-model army toys) to create an elaborate,
wishful history of his life. This is a profile of an imaginary
world called Marencol.
AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG,
An original approach to the use of pornography. In this film
it is used as a vessel of rage against the political deception
of a post Milosevic Serbia. Marko desparately wants to make
a feature film but no producer wants to finance his artistic
ambitions. Finally a producer of porn agrees to finance him.
Out of desperation he agrees and he gathers together a colourful
band of outcasts. Unable to come up with viable concepts for
his film, Marko takes the show on the road doing a live porno
cabaret. This attracts the attention of a wealthy financier
who agrees to finance them with one stipulation -- they film
consensual victims being snuffed out. The situation begins
A dark, witty and caustic comedy about a crime family trying
to maintain control and keep the ‘business’ going. Karl has
just been released from jail and so has his father Bill. Karl
returns to find that his girlfriend is pregnant, and along
with his father, is wondering who in the organization snitched.
Hair trigger tempers, paranoia and mutual suspicions flare
up and increasing blood pressures leads to an ever-mounting
-- SECRET REUNION ,
What begins as an espionage thriller turns into a buddy movie
with the right touch of humour. Lee (Song Kang-Ho) is an agent
for the South Korean Government, whose mission is to capture
North Korean spies. Song (Gang Dong-Wong) is a North Korean
spy who works for a ruthless assassin known as Shadow (Jeong
Gook-Hwong). After a disastrous and blood-soaked failure to
capture Shadow, Lee is fired from the Agency and Song is branded
as a traitor. Six years later they meet again . . . Excellent
performances in this somewhat complex, comedic-espionage-buddy
Animated centering on a nine-year-old girl named Shingo, who
has a vivid imagination which she attributes to a perpetual
cowlick (mai mai) in her hair. When her grandfather recounts
what life was like in the village 1,000 years ago, she imagines
an elaborate Land of Suo, including a strong willed yet lonely
princess named Nagiko. Meanwhile, Kiiko, an upper-class, kind-hearted
yet delicate girl, arrives in the village. Shingo and Kiiko
become instant friends and as the days go by the link to Nagiko
becomes stronger. Colourful imagery and the innocence of childhood
combine to make this a delight for the whole family.
Serbian version of classic gothic horror story “VIY” by Nikolai
Gogol. A reluctant theology student is forced to spend three
nights locked in a spooky church reciting the Psalms over
an (un)dead young woman. Terrified at the prospect of this,
he draws a circle of protection around him. Still the supernatural
is too strong. Erotically charged and terrifying, this obscure
genre gem from 1990 deserves wider recognition.
Urban legend based on Irish folklore yet anchored in modern times. This first feature involves an over protective mother on the run with her teenage son, a hunter with a tattoo that has ancient powers and a savage creature.
Action-fantasy animation set in Medieval Edo with an alternative
history. Alien space craft fill the sky and the city has a
futuristic look. The usual features of this genre are present:
frequent yelling, explosive flashes and an inconsistent plot
and editing. I found it be too self-absorbed.
Jamie Morgan was born with a disfigurement that covers one
side of his face -- a heart-shaped birthmark. Taunted and
branded a freak all his life, Jamie is a very lonely and sensitive
to the cruelty and ugliness that abound in the world. He is
approached by a Mephistophelian character named ‘Poppa B`
who in return for some grisly favours promises to remove the
birthmark. What could have been a powerful message about the
human condition turns out to be just an above average tale
of Satanic dealings.
David kidnaps Francesca and brings her to an abandoned warehouse.
The purpose: according to his scientific analysis they are
nearly perfectly compatible. Despite being a bit far-fetched
on top of which the emotional reactions are not credible,
the director and the two principles show strong potential.
A chilling yet routine horror about possession. Much religious overtones as Christian values collide with Asian spiritism.
-- T.T. SYNDROME,
Made on a shoe-string budget, this Serbian 2002 slasher film
contains a level of graphic horror and violence that would
make even the most violent equivalent from the West seem tame
by comparison. The hard-hitting score by Andrej Acin and the
decrepit setting in a Turkish Bath and Public Toilet heavily
contribute to the grim and foreboding atmosphere. Opens in
1958, when a woman gives birth and flushes her baby down the
toilet. In 1982 a young couple is brutally murdered and dismembered
with their body parts also flushed. In 2001 a group of youth
looking to score some dope meet at the Bath. Twists and turns
in abundance keep the audience glued an in suspense as to
what will happen next.
ACE AND GIANT,
This ‘really bad’ film shows that no matter how much lacking
in 'artistic quality’ any film can be noteworthy and become
a classic gem in its own way (ex “Plan 9 from Outer Space”).
Since its origins as a Japanese TV series, this film has gone
through many modifications, dubbings and renaming. Every country
that bought the rights for distribution applied its own culture
to the mix and much of it really bad. Basically it is an Ultra-man
copy of a giant robot designed to defend the Earth against
alien invaders and their invented monsters, who are increasingly
ridiculous. The version presented at Fantasia is a rare 35mm
copy of the film dubbed into French, where the resulting dialogue
contained no reference to original script and is utterly ridiculous
(one of aliens pleading says ‘Don’t kill me I am a Martian
with 12 children’). A noteworthy film, due to the fact that
it has survived for its pure enjoyment.
IN THE TIME OF HEROES,
Greece’s contribution to the Zombie genre. Athens has been
devastated by an epidemic that has transformed its inhabitants
into blood-thirsty monsters (is this a vague reference to
Greece’s current woes?). A group of blood-soaked survivors
defending themselves against infection look to antiquity that
suggests evil never really dies and must resurface. Outlandish
performances, failed gags and shoddy editing made me wish
for the final credits.
Derek Kwok, Clement Cheng
Martial arts comedy about a once glorious kung-fu school trying
to regain its former glory while defending itself against
unscrupulous developers. A wonderful mix of fight scenes with
the right touch of comedy and human drama combine to provide
a touching and heartfelt film. Credible performances by veterans
Bruce Leung, Teddy Robin and Chen Kuan Tai.
The village of Sanage is divided as to how to revive its sagging economy. The Mayor wants to build a factory to generate jobs whereas the top academic wants to bring in tourists by rebuilding a historic castle. Matters take a fantastic twist when three locals: an itinerant, an architect and a bumbling civil servant (nick-named Tofu-Head) fall into a well shaft on the site. When they are rescued their bodies have been taken over by the spirits of ancient Samurai. Their mission is to rebuild the castle in three days out of cardboard. What results is a zany hilarious comedy with a twist of fantasy, spiced with Kabuki theatre.
A Japanese gem of a film from 1968. The plot centers on two
vengeful spirits, a mother and daughter, who were brutally
raped and murdered by a group of marauding Samurai. They have
vowed to seduce and suck the blood of every Samurai in Japan.
When husband and son, now an honoured Samurai hero, returns
this becomes a classic tale of ‘Will love conquer these vengeful
spirits?’ Truly a sensory and hallucinogenic cinematic experience
that is unfortunately glossed over by today’s average (jaded)
Le Thanh Son
This action thriller is a runaway hit in its country of origin,
smashing box office records and revolutionizing its film industry.
Little wonder there is plenty of action; it depicts a modern
Vietnam that is corrupt and violent. Out of the loop are the
simple peasant farmers that sustained Vietnam before the war.
"The Clash" stars internationally known Johnny Nguyen
and Veronica Ngo in the lead roles. In order to pay off her
debt and get her daughter back, Trinh becomes a pawn in a
deadly chess game run by the cold blooded gangster known as
Black Dragon. Every mission he gives her is supposed to be
Ernesto Dias Espinozza
Chilean action thriller similar in plot to the slightly superior
Dominican Republic film “La Soga.” As a child, hit-man ‘Mandrill’
witnessed the murder of his parents. Now he seeks revenge
against the perpetrator, a feared mob leader known as Cyclops.
With forced martial arts and fight scenes and a dialogue so
bad that the result is hilarious, this is an entertaining
diversion for insomniacs.
A teen-oriented horror centered on a remote uncharted Japanese
island inhabited by an army of vicious and hungry vampires.
Akira`s brother and wife have been missing for two years.
After a bizarre encounter with Rae, she convinces Akira that
his brother is on the island. So Akira and his friends go
with Rae to the island to help his brother fight the vampires.
Little do they know the bloody hell that awaits them? The
screen quickly becomes soaked with blood. The film`s colour
was a bit off.
-- THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE ,
Walt Disney Studios’ latest brings to life an ancient struggle between good (Merlin) and evil (Morgana). Balthazar (Nicholas Cage) was one of Merlin’s apprentices. Since the murder of Merlin by Morgana, he has been searching for the one who has inherited Merlin’s powers -- the Prime Merliner. In Dave Stuttler (Jay Baruchel) he sees the potential. But he must hurry in training Dave the ins and outs of sorcery, as Horvath (Balthazar’s archenemy) wants to release Morgana into the modern world. The film is homage to the celebrated animated sequence in the classic Disney film “Fantasia.” A fine blend of fantasy, comedy and romance, with excellent performances throughout, resulting in a well rounded family film.
For 2008 Fantasia Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.
For 2009 Fantasia Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.