Fantastic Fest – Movie Summary

I will endeavor to write a review for each one of these fine films.  But here’s a cheat sheet!  I’ve stack ranked all the movies I saw here, from the ones I liked best to the ones I liked least.  There are really only two movies I disliked enough that I regretted seeing them, and only one of those intensely.

Must See

These are all instant classics I’d like to own the DVD of.  You should see them – alternately,  some don’t have distribution, so if you’re in “the biz” you should get a piece of them and distribute them!

  • Fish Story, a Japanese movie about a punk song that saves the world.  It is beautiful.  10/10.
  • Dirty Mind, a Belgian drama about a stuntman who gets a frontal lobe injury and turns from zero into Rico Suave.  Funny and thought-provoking.  9/10.
  • Stingray Sam, a sci-fi Western musical and one of the most hilarious things I saw at the festival.  9/10.
  • Mandrill, a South American version of James Bond.  Just enough camp.  9/10.
  • Zombieland, the big star-studded zombie comedy.  Nut up or shut up!  9/10.
  • The Revenant, a very well done movie of modern undead life.  9/10.
  • Doghouse, British zombie survival horror comedy.  Like Shawn of the Dead but with a touch of Return of the Living Dead.  8/10.
  • Rampage, by infamous director Uwe Boll.  Columbine meets Die Hard.  8/10.
  • Merantau – Indonesian martial arts, but transcends the genre.  8/10.

Should See

When you go to see one of these in the theater, you come out feeling your money was well spent.  Much better than the stuff playing on “SyFy”.

  • Sweet Karma, a chick-revenge killing movie with great gratuitous nudity and good twist.  7/10.
  • Salvage, a British horror/thriller.  7/10, higher with a better editing job.
  • Metropia, a dystopian uniquely animated movie.  7/10.
  • Crazy Racer, an over the top Chinese version of a Guy Richie movie.  7/10.
  • Kamogawa Horumo aka “Battle League in Kyoto”, a Japanese movie with a funny supernatural twist.  7/10.
  • REC 2 – The first REC was the movie Quarantine was based on.  This is the sequel, which kicks off immediately after the events in the first one, Halloween 2 style.  7/10.
  • Krabat, a German movie based on a young adult novel called “The Satanic Mill” (yeah, that’s how the Germans roll).  6/10.
  • Hard Revenge Milly, a bloody Japanese chick-revenge actioner.  6/10.
  • Ninja Assassin – Rain is a ninja killing ninja!  An over the top ninja actioner.  Ninja!  6/10.
  • Buratino, Son of Pinnochio, a weird Estonian film that’s like a light-hearted and musical version of Clockwork Orange.  6/10.
  • House of the Devil, a movie trying to replicate in every detail the typical late ’70s/early ’80s horror movie.  6/10.
  • District 13: Ultimatum, a sequel to the first French parkour-and-martial-arts dystopian actioner.  Dumb but fun.  6/10.
  • First Squad – Russian anime.  Pretty good if not exceptional.  6/10.
  • House (Hausu), an older Japanese film I describe as “John Waters does Evil Dead.”  5/10.

Could See

About what you’d expect from a good day on SyFy/Chiller.

  • Survival of the Dead, George Romero’s newest zombie movie, somewhat disappointing.  5/10.
  • Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl, Japanese splatter comedy.  5/10.
  • Under the Mountain, a young adult movie from New Zealand; apparently based on some famous book/TV series and bearing some similarity to Escape to Witch Mountain.  5/10, higher if you’re a kid.
  • Yesterday, good old fashioned zombie survival horror on a super low budget.  4/10.
  • Cropsey, a documentary about an alleged child murderer from Staten Island named Andre Rand that just doesn’t deliver much.  4/10.


These movies made me sad.

Stuff I Didn’t See

All this is complete hearsay.  But I heard from many people about many movies, and here’s my summary of the buzz.

The Good

Love Exposure, a 4 hour long Japanese movie about upskirt photography (among other things) was rave reviewed by everyone I talked to who saw it. I just couldn’t fit in a 4 hour movie in my schedule.

Down Terrace was also very well reviewed, but I missed it.

The Mixed

Clive Barker’s Dread – very mixed.  Some people hated it and walked out, bored.  Others say if you stay for the end it’s a big twist and gory demented.

I did not hear good things about Paranormal Activity, a new major release that’s like Blair Witch in your bedroom.  Same with Antichrist, the Lars von Trier horror vehicle.

The Human Centipede, about a surgeon who nabs three people and sews them together ass to mouth  into a big human centipede.  It won an award, but I didn’t talk to a single person that liked it.

Random Thoughts

Shorts.  Shorts are good.  I wonder why genre channels like Chiller and SyFy don’t run more shorts just interspersed with their programs; there are a lot of good ones, they’re cheap…

This was a “genre” festival.  That’s code for “good stuff Hollywood doesn’t like”  It’s an odd mix – zombie movies, horror movies, martial arts movies, foreign movies, R rated movies, non-G rated animated movies…  In today’s studio system, films like Sweet Karma, a solid thriller that’s a solid R but not a “horror ghetto” movie like Saw, don’t have a place, sadly.  I was actually surprised at how many movies weren’t traditional horror/sci-fi/martial arts genre movies.

One response to “Fantastic Fest – Movie Summary

  1. Pingback: It’s Fantastic Fest Time Again! | Geek Related

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