It's here! Fantastic Fest starts tomorrow! This is my favorite week of the year, the thing I wait for most of all. I see my friends, I have the most fun and, best of all, I see amazing movies. I pity the fool who messes with my Fantastic Fest experience, because this festival is to me what Liam Neesons' family is to him in Tooken.
We're going to have pretty much the whole Badass Digest team in Austin this week, and we're going to be blanketing you with coverage of the festival. Very often the real gems of Fantastic Fest are the movies nobody ever heard of, but that doesn't stop us all from walking in with certain films that have us psyched. I've asked the writers to share with you what they're most excited for this year; after the fest we'll do a wrap-up and find out what everybody liked the best.
Almost Human - As a slasher fan and an avowed student of John Carpenter's filmography, this debut from Joe Begos seems right up my alley, with some The Thing-style alien/body possession stuff going on and lots and lots of (practical) kills that harken back to the glory days of 80s horror. Word of mouth from TIFF was very good, and if the schedule is correct this will be my final viewing at FF before I head back home (I'm only there for 3 days - it pains me), so I am stoked that my time there will end on a movie that's sure to satisfy me.
Detective Downs- Yes, I want to see Detective Downs because it's about a private eye with Down Syndrome. But I feel I might fall in love with it because it appears to be a for real noir mystery which actually uses rather than exploits this strange hook. If it's good, it's going to be really, really good. If it's bad, it's still probably going to be pretty good.
Commando: A One Man Army - A 1980s meathead action throwback filtered through the Bollywood idiom. This played the Fantasia Film Festival this year, and I haven't even read any reviews for fear of having any big moments spoiled. I don't know that it's necessarily going to be all that great, but it's the kind of crazy sounding action film I can't resist, regardless of the massive number of cerebral big ticket films I could be watching instead.
Kid's Police - A criminal organization douses Tokyo's greatest police force with anti-aging gas, turning them all into children. How could a film possibly sound any better than that? If I knew, I'd be making the shit out of it right now. Seriously, out of the whole fest, this might be my number one ticket.
Phil Nobile Jr:
Is it a cop-out to say I'm most excited to see any movie that I don't even know about yet, and that I'll end up seeing purely by chance? I'm watching people work themselves into a panic on Twitter, trying to orchestrate ways to ensure they see their most anticipated films, and I think back to last year, where time and again I wandered into some random second or third choice title and was shaken right out of my comfort zone. Those were the best viewings last year, and that rush is frankly the reason I'm returning to the fest this year. That said, the titles that have me excited this year are Eega (Bollywood revenge flick where the hero is reincarnated as a housefly? Sign me up), the remake of 70s Aussie thriller Patrick (we get cranky about them, but remakes are always morbidly fascinating to me, and I'm pulling for the filmmaker on this one), and The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears, because there's something admirable about a filmmaking team that simply WILL NOT STOP making giallo homages.
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane: I've been waiting for this one for seven years, so even though it's now finally available on VOD, I'm saving myself for a rowdy Fantastic Fest crowd and a bucket of (512) Pecan Porter. I like Jonathan Levine's films quite a bit, and my anticipation always seems to be elevated exponentially when it comes to horror movies that I'm not allowed to watch for long periods of time - probably because it reminds me of my parentally oppressed adolescence.
Witching And Bitching: Alex de la Iglesia has a sensibility that I am super into, and I already know that Witching and Bitching will be right up my alley. The effects look nuts, the energy seems unhinged, and may it never be said that Meredith Borders is not utterly, 100% pro-witch movies.
Big Bad Wolves - It’s always scary when you hear that a film was first in some category. Generally a country’s first entry into a specific genre is derivative, the sad result of trying to be too much like the films that preceded it. Not so with Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado's debut film Rabies, which wasn’t only Israel's first horror film but one of the best of the last few years. Ostensibly a slasher flick but really so much more, it’s a perfect experience that’s already been copied in the few years since its release. If you haven’t seen it I recommend you grab it ASAP, because then you’ll understand how excited I am for this follow-up, a revenge thriller about a cop and a mourning father who capture and interrogate a serial killer. Tons of acclaim from Tribeca and Fantasia only make the anticipation worse.
Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons - Stephen Chow first punted a soccer ball into my heart (or was it those... ahem... sweet buns?) with 2001's Shaolin Soccer and followed it up with the best live-action Looney Tunes movie ever made, Kung Fu Hustle. Those two films alone should make a fan out of anyone, more so when you go back to his filmography and find comedy classics like The God of Cookery, King of Comedy, and All for the Winner. While Chow himself doesn’t appear in Journey to the West, it’s the first film he’s written and directed since 2008’s scifi comedy CJ7 . It’s a comedic retelling of the classic Chinese fable of the same name with demons and a monkey king and demon hunters and puppets and crazy kung fu action. It’s fucking thrilling to have Stephen Chow back and I’m not missing this on the big screen.
My most anticipated stuff is just all the bear hugs and good conversation!
I have to be honest, my most anticipated movie this year is one I've already seen because it's old: Ken Russell's The Devils/ One of the great semi-suppressed movies of all time, The Devils has been hugely unavailable in the United States forever. It's a totally blasphemous movie that sees Oliver Reed as a member of the Inquisition investigated a hyper-sexualized nunnery where Vanessa Redgrave lives. I don't know which version is showing - the one with the Rape of Christ (yes) or not - but whichever version it is, this is a movie that I have been waiting my whole life to see on the big screen.
As for new films: I'm excited about Mirage Men, a documentary that posits that all of our modern UFO theories are based on government disinformation. While we're on docs, I'll be seeing Jodorowsky's Dune, and not just because I'm in it - I'm honestly buzzed to see this exploration of one of the greatest unmade movies ever. I'm also really excited for Why Don't You Play In Hell?, the new Sion Sono film, which just blew everybody away at TIFF.
What movies are you looking forward to us covering? Check out the list of Fantastic Fest films and let us know below!