Fantastic Fest 2009–Drawn And Quartered (Animated Shorts) / Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl (2009)/Antichrist (2009)/K-20 (2008)/Cropsey (2009)/Yatterman (2009)/Survival Of The Dead (2009)
“He’s sweating like a rapist.”
I got a bit behind on my reviews, so I just jumbled all of them from the past couple of days onto one long mega-post. Hope ya don’t mind. And if ya do…deal.
DRAWN AND QUARTERED
Directed by: Rodrigo Blaas
Written by: Rodrigo Blaas
A little girl sees herself in a toy shop. How did that doll get there? And why can’t she get to it? And…why is it there in the first place? A pretty dark little short that never wears out its welcome. Nothing new, really, but still pretty good.
Directed by: Stephen Irwin
Written by: Stephen Irwin
I had no clue what was going on with this short until well into it’s 3 minute run. Finally I saw a spotlight on the bits we were supposed to be paying attention to. A little dog is born, given to a little boy and dies all in the space of a bunch of flip books that repeat. The problem, kinda, is that they’re all onscreen at the same time. It helps to add to the tension and dread, but it’s also pretty confusing. And it’s dark as hell. Not for the faint of heart.
Directed by: Marc Riba/Anna Solanas
Written by: Marc Riba/Anna Solanas
I’m still not sure how I felt about this film. It’s about a cabaret where the performers are towards the end of their lives. A little sad and pathetic until the final reveal. Then it just becomes sad. Not bad.
Directed by: Lasse Gjertsen
Written by: Lasse Gjertsen
Ever feel like you’re in a Nintendo game? Like, the classic system? Well, Lasse Gjertsen decided to show us what it would be like to live in an old school game…and it’s pretty hilarious. Maybe a little bit overlong at 12 minutes, but still kinda awesome.
Directed by: Run Wrake
Written by: Run Wrake
A woman has a powerful device that makes her grow to enormous sizes to defeat monsters. But when an evil doctor gets a hold of it and turns her into a dog, how will the town survive? Pretty good visuals (all taken from comic books).
Directed by: Philip Eddols
Written by: Philip Eddols
The two stupidest people in the world find a hole in the ground…or is it a hat? Two minutes of stupidity that’s pretty funny.
Directed by: Don Hertzfeldt
Written by: Don Hartzfeldt
Don Hertzfeldt’s second part of Everything Will Be OK is just as good. Gotta love this guy. 22 minutes and it never lets up with the funny. Little Don is pretty pathetic, but his life and the lives of his ancestors are hilarious.
Directed by: PES
Written by: PES
One minute of explosions animated with ordinary objects. Nothing to it, but it’s at least kind of interesting and very short.
Directed by: Riho Unt
Written by: Riho Unt
A soldier dies and a girl cries…and rats have a party. Why were the rats German? I dunno, but it was a pretty interesting short.
Directed by: Sebastien Petit
Written by: Sebastien Petit
My least favorite of the shorts because it was too long for its own good. It almost a remake of Melies’ A Trip To The Moon, but it’s not as interesting. If it had been made in 1902, it probably would have been better.
Directed by: David Green
Written by: David Green
David Cross voices a sandwich who is trying to save the other residents of the fridge from certain freezer burn. Funny stuff with some great voice acting.
Directed by: Lucas Martell
Written by: Lucas Martell
Based on play by: Johann Wolfgang Goethe
A secret agent is trying to transport a special weapon, but a pigeon keeps hindering him. This hometown crew tries hard to do a Pixar-like short and doesn’t quite make it, but it’s a pretty damn good try.
Directed by: Jake Armstrong
Written by: Jake Armstrong
A really funny short about a monster on an alien planet that has killed everyone who has tried to to fight it. But is it as vicious as everyone thinks it is?
Directed by: Yoshihiro Nishimura/Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Written by: Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Based on manga by: Shungiku Uchida
Director Yoshi Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police) is back with another Troma style gore-fest. This time, though, he seems to have a bit more of a story this time.
Two high school girls are vying for the attention of one boy. One girl, Monami, is a vampire. The other, Keiko, has an evil scientist for a father. Monami makes Mizushima into half a vampire. Will he choose her? Hopefully he doesn’t choose Keiko, ‘cause she’s pretty much a complete bitch.
Lots and lots of blood and lots of social commentary in the background. I think Nishimura and his co-director, Naoyuki Tomomatsu, have obviously watched Citizen Toxie over and over again.
More fun than a box of organs. I kinda loved it. I don’t think it’s quite as good as Machine Girl, but still great.
Directed by: Lars von Trier
Written by: Lars von Trier
Lars Von Trier is a great filmmaker. Unfortunately, he’s prone to bouts of pretension. This film is one of the latter, I’m afraid.
Willem Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg are a couple who have lost a child and there’s no getting around the fact that it’s their fault. The first scene is of them having some pretty hardcore sex while the kid decides to take a dive out the window…complete with opera music and full penetration shot.
The rest of the film is Willem trying to psychoanalyze his wife’s grief pattern. He takes her out of therapy and takes her off of the medication they gave her. Instead, he takes her to their cabin in the woods (which she says that she is more afraid of than almost anything else) and gives her therapy…which includes copious amounts of unerotic sex.
And then things get REALLY dark. We’re talkin’ “genital trauma” dark.
A lot of people have been talking about the Jungian ramifications of the film, and that may be true. But that doesn’t make it a good film. It makes it a truly obscure film that only psychology majors will fully understand. I, on the other hand, was left with a feeling of, “Wuh?!?!”
I really felt like Von Trier was trying to give me a lesson in how evil a couple can be to each other, but I’ve seen War Of The Roses. It was actually enjoyable. This, on the other hand, was pretty boring with the occasional pretty/disturbing shot. Unless you just want to see a shot of Willem Defoe’s ass going up and down against a tree with lots of arms reaching out of it, you will probably want to avoid this one.
Directed by: Katia Olivier
Written by: Katia Olivier
I’m not entirely sure why this was attached to K-20, but it was. So, there you are.
A young lady goes to a sex shop for just the right sex toy. She’s a little embarrassed to be there…ok, a LOT embarrassed. She finally finds one. It’s a robot lover. And maybe it’s the answer to her wishes.
The short starts off pretty funny. (“If you wish me to touch your hand, Press 1. If you wish me to touch your cheek, Press 2.”) Eventually, though, things get pretty dark and you start to wonder if you wandered into the wrong short. If it had ended darkly, I think people would have thrown things at the screen. As it was, it was kind of cool even with all of the changes in mood.
Directed by: Shimako Sato
Written by: Shimako Sato
Based on book by: So Kitamura
I know it’s probably not cool to like cheesy superhero movies anymore, but I don’t really care. K-20 is a superhero origin story that I can get behind.
Heikichi Endo (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is a lowly circus performer in a world where WWII never happened. The rich are very rich and the poor are VERY poor. There is no changing occupation and no falling in love. It’s just not allowed.
Oh, and all of the signs are in Germen for some reason. That’s never really explained.
When a stranger comes to hire Heikichi to take some pictures of a wedding, his life changes forever. He is mistaken for the super-thief, K-20. Now, to clear his name, he has to become a thief himself.
Yeah, it’s been done before, but a lot has been done before. This is a really fun combination of Batman and Darkman that deserves an audience on all sides of the Pacific. It has maybe a few too many scenes in it (some reiterate what we’ve already heard), but it didn’t break the pace too badly.
My only real complaint is the very last scene. It’s a bit TOO close to cheese. But, whatever. The movie was a LOT of fun. Check it out. I can’t wait for K-20 2…or would it be K-21?
Directed by: Barbara Brancaccio/Joshua Zeman
Written by: Joshua Zeman
From the late 60s until the mid-80s, about half a dozen kids were kidnapped from Staten Island. The body of one was found, the others have never been seen again. Was it the work of Cropsey, the urban legend monster who lurks in the shadows of Staten Island? Or was it a former employee of the local abandoned mental hospital?
Directors Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman grew up on Staten Island and remember hearing the legend of Cropsey. When they started putting things together, though, they realized that Cropsey was real. That’s what spurred this though provoking and frightening documentary. A scarier movie I probably won’t see at Fantastic Fest this year.
The only problem I have with it is that I’m pretty sure some of it was done purely for effect. Why on EARTH would these people go into an abandoned mental hospital where they think children had been taken to be murdered AT FUCKING NIGHT?!?! No way in hell would you catch me there at night. It would probably be hard enough to get me there in the daytime, but night is an absolute no-go.
Otherwise, a very good doc that stayed with me all day long.
Directed by: Takashi Miike
Written by: Masashi Sogo
Based on tv series created by: Tatsuo Yoshida
Takashi Miike is not known for making children’s movies. In fact, he’s not known for making films that any child should ever see, no matter how well adjusted. Can you imagine what a kid would think about darts being shot out of a stripper’s vagina? Or a woman lactating all over her family?
But Miike has to do something different with almost every one of the 7 movies he makes ever year, so he decided to go for a kiddie movie…kinda.
Yatterman was an anime series made in the 70s that was, apparently, very popular in Japan. So much so that Miike wanted to remake it in his own weird way.
The story centers on Gan (Sho Sakurai) and Ai (Saki Fukuda), two superheroes who are constantly battling the Doronbo gang, led by Doronjo (Kyoko Fukada). They are after the pieces of a skull sculpture that will lead to some sort of power when it is put together.
Yatterman #1 and #2 (as Gan and Ai are known when they are in their superhero mode) have help on their missions from their mechanical friends, Yatterwoof (a giant dog shaped robot who gets destroyed every chance he gets) and Botty (a tiny robot that runs on AAA batteries).
This is just about as silly as it gets. The Yattermen are completely insane and do little dances all the time. But the movie calls attention to their weirdness. In fact, the girl who comes to them for help at one point looks at the camera and says, “They’re crazy!”
Basically, this is a live action anime. There’s no way around that. Miike didn’t change anything just because it would look silly in live action. It’s all here. And all of that makes for a very strange, but pretty fun couple of hours. If you’re up for that sort of thing, check it out. If not, then stay far, far away.
Another word of warning: The Japanese apparently have a really warped view of what a kid’s movie is. There’s some pretty crazy shit going on in this movie that is probably not so much what you want your kids to see. The least of which is a guy “accidentally” grabbing some boobs. Whatever. That’s a judgment call. I think it’s probably alright, but some parents would run screaming.
The one that really got me was the scene with two robots fucking. Uh…yeah. And one of them says “I’m coming!” Uh…double yeah. What the fuck?! I know the Japanese have a pretty weird relationship with sex (tentacle porn, anyone?), but seriously? Get the kids started early, huh?
One side note: the movie was about half an hour late because they had just gotten the HD video of it in not long before it was supposed to play. They popped it in and realized that there were no subtitles. They tried to get a translator who was at the festival to come in and translate the whole film live. Screw that!
Just to show how resourceful these guys are, they ended up finding a DVD copy of the movie, shrinking the size of the video projection and playing just the bottom section of the DVD under the video image so that we could have subtitles. It made for a pretty fucking surreal experience, but it worked surprisingly well! Good on you, Alamo staff!
Directed by: George A Romero
Written by: George A Romero
As we all know, George A Romero is a god among men. He basically created the modern horror film with Night Of The Living Dead and just made it better with Dawn Of The Dead.
A couple of years ago, he created a new world for his zombies with Diary Of The Dead. Now he’s taking one of the minor characters from that film (the military guy who robs the filmmakers) and follows him for the rest of his journey through The Dead.
What we end up with is not quite as good as Diary, but it’s better than Land Of The Dead. It’s more jokey than the other films, but is still definitely a Romero zombie film.
James O’Flynn (Julian Richings) and Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick) have been feuding all their lives. Their little island off the coast of Delaware has been stuck in the middle of that feud since it started. Now there are zombies around and things have only gotten worse. James realizes that the zombies need to be put down, but Seamus thinks that they can be rehabilitated. He wants to keep them with him.
Meanwhile, Crockett (Alan Van Sprang) and his crew are trying to find a safe place. They pick up a kid (Devon Bostick) who heard about the island. Let’s head there!
Things just go downhill from there.
Like I said, not the greatest movie, but it is fun and it’s a freakin’ Romero zombie movie. What’s not to like?! The zombies are still being used as a catalyst for showing us human behavior, and that’s what these movies are for. The humans are worse than the zombies.
George did an intro before the movie and said that he has two more zombie movies planned for this world, following two more characters from Diary. I’m for that, even if they’re not as good as the originals. They’re still better than most zombie flicks out there.