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Montreal’s Fantasia film festival wrapped up over a week ago, but we
still can’t stop thinking of all the fun we had, which you can read about in
Ariel Esteban Cayer’s awesome (and still running!) Fantasia Blog. After the jump, check out some exclusive pics by festival
programmer/photographer King-Wei Chu from the fest’s amazing 15th-anniversary
edition, which took in over 100,000 admissions, screened over 130 feature films
and played host to 150 directors from all over the world.
Opening weekend at Fantasia began with a bang, thanks to the
world premiere of THE THEATRE BIZARRE (see review here).
The bloody anthology’s seven (!) directors descended on the city from the four
corners of the globe (left to right: Tom Savini, Doug Buck, Karim Hussain,
Richard Stanley, David Gregory, Jeremy Kasten and Buddy Giovinazzo), in
addition to cast members Udo Kier (“I did seven films this year,” Kier
bragged), handsome newcomer James Gill and Lynn Lowry, plus Savini-segment
scripter John Esposito (to name a few). Watch for tons of ongoing THEATRE
BIZARRE coverage on this site and in the mag in the near future. The screening
marked a special homecoming for director/DP Hussain, who once toiled as a
programmer in Fantasia’s early days. And as the fest’s current international
co-programmer Mitch Davis noted, the THEATRE BIZARRE filmmakers themselves hatched
their joint omnibus while sharing brews at Fantasia over the years.
Enthusiasm for THE WICKER TREE ran high, as Fantasia fans
would be the first in the universe to set their eyes on the decades-gestating
WICKER MAN sort-of sequel. Though the film disappointed some (at least it’s
better than the remake!), everyone loved meeting the WICKER films’ director,
the charming 82-year-old Robin Hardy. Look for the Anchor Bay release of THE
WICKER TREE next year, and see our review here.
The audience flipped for the musical slasher send-up short
THE LEGEND OF BEAVER DAM (picture HATCHET meets GLEE), which preceded the
terrific crowd-pleaser ATTACK THE BLOCK (see it!). The antics of BEAVER DAM’s
Quebec director Jerome Sable (left) and co-writer Eli Batalion kept us in
stitches too. Expect a feature from these talented guys very soon.
The lovely Lowry wowed us in both THE THEATRE BIZARRE and a
revival screening of David Cronenberg’s SHIVERS (the latter part of a tribute
to Canadian horror mavericks André Link and John Dunning), but she really rang
our bells when she hit the karaoke stage after hours one night. The comeback
kid has several additional genre flicks on the horizon, including Dante
Tomaselli’s TORTURE CHAMBER, SCHISM and GEORGE: A ZOMBIE INTERVENTION.
TERMINATOR’s Michael Biehn, who toplines French helmer
Xavier Gens’ bomb-shelter nightmare THE DIVIDE, lent the Canadian event major
star power. Also due from Anchor Bay, THE DIVIDE plumbs the darkest depths of
human nature when survivors of a nuclear attack on New York City begin
viciously turning on each other while waiting for the (radioactive) dust to
settle. As much as we loved the film, we doubt we could make it through Gens’
promised, even longer director’s cut. This version was rough enough!
The Ontario-lensed MONSTER BRAWL, in which eight classic
monsters battle to the death in a Wrestlemania-style competition, enjoyed its
world debut at Fantasia. Just about everyone associated with the fun flick—from
actors to caterers—took the stage to talk up the prosthetics-heavy flick. Cast
on hand included SHERLOCK HOLMES’ towering thug Robert Maillet (second from left)
and THE BROOD’s Art Hindle (in white jacket, next to bearded writer/director
Jesses T. Cook).
Veteran Canadian director Ted Kotcheff (FIRST BLOOD, WEEKEND
AT BERNIE’S, UNCOMMON VALOR) never directed a horror film during his long
career (“They frighten me too much,” he said), but that didn’t stop audiences
from coming out to see his once-feared-lost 1971 Australian drama WAKE IN
FRIGHT, about a schoolteacher who loses everything during an alcohol-fueled
weekend in the Outback. Still working at a young 80, Kotcheff delivered a
fascinating Q&A about the film’s production, disappearance and rediscovery,
and even signed a few Rambo posters after the show.
During the fest’s latter days, genre great John Landis
provided a huge dose of hilarity and enthusiasm with the Canadian launch of his
period black comedy BURKE AND HARE. The AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON/ANIMAL
HOUSE director also accepted a Fantasia Lifetime Achievement Award at his
sold-out screening. Besides the U.S. release of his all-star (Simon Pegg, Andy
Serkis, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Curry and Christopher Lee!) film, Landis’ fall will
see the publication of his gargantuan coffee-table book MONSTERS IN THE MOVIES
from DK Publishing.
We still have a bunch of follow-up Fantasia 2011 news
stories and reviews to run, so keep perusing this site, and scope out our
magazine coverage later this fall. And start making plans for the fest’s 16th
edition next summer. We’ll save you a seat!
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