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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.