Fantastic Fest, the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and just plain fantastic movies from all around the world, starts here in Austin in just two days! Over the next several days, I’m previewing the movies I plan on seeing and blogging about over the course of the week long festival.
Plays with “Crown”: A gang of street kids turns an unassuming house into a haven for middle aged junkies hooked on a most bizarre narcotic. Doug, a habitual user, returns to experience a surreal high from which he may not return.
In 2005 a trio of directors combined to unleash one of the most deliriously silly, surreal, and psychedelic experiences ever witnessed on theater screens on to an unwitting audience. Loaded with absurdity and stylistic excess THE FUNKY FOREST was like a guided tour through the subconscious minds of its creators, a visual guide to the adolescent fantasies of a trio of immensely talented directors who refused to acknowledge any limitations whatsoever.
And now one of them is back to do it again.
Entirely self funded with money squirrelled away during a decade of directing high-end television commercials, Shunichiro Miki’s THE WARPED FOREST will delight and confuse – and delightfully confuse – fans of the esoteric and strange. Follow the adventures of a young girl tracking down the elusive Pinky-Panky with her trusty penis-rifle at her side! Marvel at the normal sized girl working in a Very Small Shop! Wonder at the psychic powers of the inverted pyramid hovering deep in the nearby forest, the strange pod-like growths that pop up throughout and the furry, nipple sucking creature on hire at the local brothel!
Just a touch less manic than its predecessor, THE WARPED FOREST is every bit as much a delicious sensory experience. There are narrative threads holding it all together, to be sure, but this is film as experience far more than film as story and what an experience it is. Fans of THE FUNKY FOREST will recognize Miki’s distinctive touch immediately while those walking into this bizarre world for the first time will want to seek out that earlier effort immediately. (Todd Brown)
Elena has always been a survivor. As a child, she and her father lived through a horrific car accident. That propensity toward survival may be what made her such an attractive specimen for the infamous serial killer known as The Collector. The Collector’s last find, a petty thief named Arkin, escapes during a massacre that lands Elena in his clutches. Arkin is then hired by a mysterious mercenary to return to the site of his captivity and save Elena. Will any of them make it out alive, or will they all become permanent fixtures in THE COLLECTION? (Brian Salisbury)
Mr. Oscar is a busy man. Obviously quite wealthy and important, he bids his young daughter good day while walking from his expansive home to his limousine to start the day’s appointments, as his bodyguards follow in a BMW. Seemingly exhausted already, he speaks with his driver, Celine, who informs him that he has 9 appointments scheduled for the day. But it quickly becomes apparent that these are not normal appointments and Mr. Oscar is not your normal businessman.
A film that’s far better to experience than to read about, Holy Motors is a wild ride down the proverbial rabbit hole. Directed by Leos Carax, a Frenchman perhaps best known for his 1999 film Pola X, and starring Denis Lavant in an unbelievably difficult and demanding role, Holy Motors is a film that is constantly changing and evolving into something different. Carax and Lavant previously collaborated on Merde, the triumphant centerpiece of the anthology film Tokyo!, a Fantastic Fest alum from 2008. Fans of that film will find an extra layer of appreciation for Holy Motors.
An absurdist adventure featuring everything from a random musical number to an impromptu fashion show in the Paris sewers, Holy Motors is crazy but not without purpose. It is hilarious and completely insane yet strangely brilliant at the same time. An incredibly astute and acute meditation on acting and identity and the needs we have as audience members as well as the increasingly blurry line between fantasy and reality, Holy Motors is exactly the type of film you hope to discover at Fantastic Fest. (Luke Mullen)
THE ULTIMATE ACHIEVEMENT IN TAE KWON DO ANTI-SANITY! The year is 1987. Motorcycle ninjas tighten their grip on Florida’s narcotics trade, viciously annihilating anyone who dares move in on their turf. Multi-national martial arts rock band Dragon Sound have had enough, and embark on a roundhouse wreck-wave of crime-crushing justice. When not chasing beach bunnies or performing their hit song “Against the Ninja,” Mark (kung-fu master/inspirational speaker Y.K. Kim) and the boys are kicking and chopping at the drug world’s smelliest underbelly. It’ll take every ounce of their blood and courage, but Dragon Sound can’t stop until they’ve completely destroyed the dealers, the drunk bikers, the kill-crazy ninjas, the middle-aged thugs, the “stupid cocaine”…and the entire MIAMI CONNECTION!!!
Real life martial arts grandmaster Y.K. Kim only made one film in his life, but it’s without a doubt the most rampaging crowd-pleaser of the ’80s, bursting with vibrance, violence, honor and hilarity. Completely lost for decades, a 35mm film print has been unearthed by the Alamo, and its first viewing opened a dimensional portal to pure, unstoppable FUN. After demolishing the crowd with it at select festivals, we’ve allied with writer/producer/star Y.K. Kim and the rest of the cast to detonate Fantastic Fest with the supreme synth-rock anti-ninja experience. Miss this epochal screening event and you’ll hate yourself for a thousand lifetimes…guaranteed!!! (Zack Carlson)
Dr. Danko Babić (Rene Bitorajac) is a studly gynecologist with a lust for life. Snorting drugs, having sex, and playing the drums are as routine for him as delivering babies or performing abortions. A crooked cop (Leon Lučev) introduces Babić to a crime boss (Emir Hadžihafizbegović) who offers him a sweet deal: perform illegal abortions to a stable of high-end prostitutes in exchange for fast cash. He accepts the offer and is soon faced with series of decisions that test the limits of his already questionable ethics.
Branko Schmidt’s VEGETARIAN CANNIBAL is an indictment of corruption in Croatian society. Babić, whose profession is supposedly one of health and healing, is used as a prism through which analyze the ills of the entire nation. Babić is a cocky manipulator with a complete disregard for laws and ethics. Babić blasts his way through a series of dilemmas and makes the bad choice every time. It is hard to fault him however, because his transgressions are continually rewarded with money, power, and sex. Despite the film’s focus on social ills, VEGETARIAN CANNIBAL isn’t simply dour agit-prop. It’s very affecting, albeit in an extremely negative way. What’s more, the film boasts some scenes that will test the tolerance of even the most hardened viewers. In other words, VEGETARIAN CANNIBAL is right at home at Fantastic Fest. (Rodney Perkins)