Fantastic Fest

Saturday, August 11, 2007

More Fantastic Fest titles announced!

The 2007 roster is starting to really take shape. Below is a list of another 14 features, 11 new shorts and a bunch of confirmed special guests. We'll have the complete roster up online by September 1 and there are still lots of titles yet to come.

1960s NIKKATSU ACTION CINEMA Retrospective

The label said it all: Nikkatsu akushon. Nikkatsu was a studio that had been around since the silent days and akushon was "action," written in the katakana alphabet for foreign words. During their peak, from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, Nikkatsu action films evoked a cinematic world neither foreign nor Japanese. It was a mix of the two, where Japanese tough guys had the swagger, moves, and even the long legs of Hollywood movie heroes. It was a place where the Tokyo streets, Yokohama docks, and Hokkaido hills took on an exciting, exotic aura, as though they were stand-ins for Manhattan, Marseilles, or the American West.

The aim of this retrospective series, first presented at the 2005 Udine Far East Film Festival, is not to challenge the critical consensus, but rather to broaden the discussion by presenting a representative non-Suzuki selection from all periods of Nikkatsu Action. And by doing so, we hope to provide an opportunity for Western audiences to discover some surprising new classics of Japanese genre cinema, and hope that these dramatic, stylish, and entertaining films might some day stand alongside those already enshrined in the critical canon and eventually be made available on home video for a new generation of enthusiastic fans.

With NO BORDERS, NO LIMITS: NIKKATSU ACTION CINEMA author Mark Schilling live in person to introduce each film.

1960s NIKKATSU ACTION CINEMA Retrospective
A Colt Is My Passport (Colt wa ore no passport)
Vicious Japanoir that cuts like a samurai sword dipped in gunpowder. When the most badass hired killer in Japan (genre icon Jo Shishido) takes down a rival boss, you better believe there's going to be a showdown - yakuza style. A hyper-stylish existential parable with an explosive climax on the beach as Shishido faces off against a bulletproof limo full of gangsters. This is Japanese crime at its most hardcore - lean, sparse and merciless. (Lars)

1960s NIKKATSU ACTION CINEMA Retrospective
Velvet Hustler (Kurenai no nagareboshi)
One of the reasons I watch gangster movies is to become cooler. And Tetsuya Watari's performance in the lead is like a master class on how to look totally unconcerned until it's time to take care of business. He's probably the laziest protaganist I can think of in any Yakuza movie. He takes frequent naps, with his slouch hat pulled over his eyes and a cigarette burning away on his lip. And when he hits the dance floor - you won't believe it. But when the fiancee of a missing millionaire (played by the
supernaturally ravishing actress Ruriko Asaoka) shows up playing detective, he totally loses his cool over her. This movie combines gorgeous new wave editing and cinematography with an unhurried, character-driven approach that's thoroughly appealing. (Lars)

1960s NIKKATSU ACTION CINEMA Retrospective
Warped Ones (Kyonetsu no kisetsu)
"An important rediscovery on many fronts." - Tim Lucas, VIDEO WATCHDOG.
This may be the first Japanese punk film. The aesthetic reflects the new freedom felt by many world film makers when the import of Godard's early films asserted itself. So you'll see a much more wide open approach to composition and editing, as classical modes are trampled. And onscreen, traditional relationships and social contracts are ripped apart and tossed to the wind. The story of three juvenile delinquents who transgress all legal moral and sexual codes jumps like the jazz beat that propels it. Released in the U.S. as WEIRD LOVEMAKERS! (Lars)

Death Note
Based on the wildly popular Manga, DEATH NOTE's plot is formulated on the somewhat dubious premise of a magical book that has the power to kill anyone who's name is written inside. The premise however merely serves to set up the tense psychological battle between Light, the owner of the book who has decided to use the strange power as a vigilante executioner; and "L," the enigmatic, incognito mastermind of the police dragnet. A smash hit in Japan, DEATH NOTE was quickly followed up with the continuation "DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME." Additional sequels are in the works.

Death Note: The Last Name
Without missing a beat, DEATH NOTE: THE LAST NAME picks up where its predecessor left off. Tatsuya Fujiwara, who splashed onto the Japanese genre-cinema map with his turns in the two BATTLE ROYALE movies, returns as the brainy but possibly power-mad Light Yagami. His campaign of extermination against the wicked has not been without consequences, and the careful game of cat-and-mouse using human lives as decoys has become increasingly complicated. Light recognizes that hiding in plain sight is the best tactic.

The Devil's Chair
From Adam Mason and Simon Boyes, creators of the 2006 Fantastic Fest fave BROKEN, comes a wildly inventive psychological horror/thriller that keeps you in suspense until the final turn. Nick West (Andrew Howard) has been imprisoned for the brutal murder of his girlfriend, despite his contention that there were supernatural factors at play. Released to the care of a research psychologist, Nick is taken back to the scene of the incident to face his demons, perhaps literally, perhaps figuratively. Is he a cold blooded killer or is does this location hold a phantasmagorical portal to an alternate universe? (Tim)

Dog Bite Dog
I first saw this film at the Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film this year and it struck me like a bludgeon to the face. THIS is the kind of action I wanted to see in Jet Li's UNLEASHED: white-hot, gruesome, bone-crunching animalistic fury. DOG BITE DOG delivers just that, and as a bonus, there's none of the Morgan Freeman sappy sentimental crap to temper it. From its beginning to the rIdiculously over-the-top finale, DOG BITE DOG plays it mean and strong. Fans of Hong Kong action will hardly recognize Edison Chan (GEN-Y COPS) as the feral killing machine; a far cry from the airbrushed teen-idol persona he's known for. (Tim)

The Girl Next Door
Summer, 1958. David, a 12-year-old boy living in the American suburbs, occupies his free time hanging around with three brothers living in a neighbouring house. When the trio of brothers learn that their recently orphaned cousins will be coming to live with them, they secretly hope that the prettier of the two girls will enlighten them about the mysteries of the human female. Her aunt Ruth seems to take perverse pleasure in humiliating the pretty teenager she has adopted, in full view of her three sons and of course David. But what begins as conventional if rather excessive domestic discipline rapidly becomes monstrous and sadistic torture. Discovering that his three friends have begun participating in the horrific acts of their mother, David comes to the realization that only he is in a position to save the poor girl from the clutches of her family.

À l'intérieur (Inside)
Hailed by Fangoria horror film critic Alan Jones as “the goriest film since Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive,” À l'intérieur is a fresh work of Caesarean terror that reaches beyond the current American horror trend of Saw or Hostel. Maury and Bustillo, like Haute Tension’s director/writer team of Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur, are die-hard genre fans – and their passion shows. À l'intérieur also shares Haute Tension’s editor Baxter and composer François-Eudes Chanfrault, responsible respectively for jackknife edits and a pulsating score that hits nerve-shattering notes. Dalle’s insane menace and Paradis’s determined survival involve highly physical and exhausting performances. They drive the narrative forward with gut-wrenching force, tapping into a primal fright factor. (Colin Geddes, Toronto International Film Festival)

Maiko Haaaan!
From the screenwriter of Yaji and Kita and the absolutely sublime Ping Pong comes a manic, unhinged saga with enough plot twists and turns to fill out 3 or 4 Hollywood films. Maiko Haaaan manages to pack it all in by running at a manic, coke-fueled 78 rpm pace. Silly, electrifyingly, vibrant , manic and VERY Japanese, Maiko Haaaan! follows salaryman Kimihiko Onizuka (veteran comedian Sadao Abe) on his single-minded quest to experience the ultimate Maiko (apprentice Geisha) experience. (Tim)

Never Belong To Me
Here's a weird one for you. And with the vogue for Korean genre film at its apex it should be just a matter of time before we get an official Hollywood remake. It has all the elements that American mallgoers love: a woman getting raped by a tiger (and a dog for good measure), a sex-maniac murderous feral helf man/half tiger who spouts philosophical nonsense, a foxy reanimated cyborg streetwalker who's just out for a good time and a guy who shoots bullets out uf his robotic penis when he comes - which is pretty much whenever he sees a picture of a ballerina. There's not a major committment to realism at work here - but that's good. This violent, transgressive imaginary world is much better than the real world, if considerably more dangerous, particularly for anyone who has sex with Mr. Penis-gun, and he just gets hornier and hornier... (Lars)

Rug Cop
Director Minoru Kawasaki is no stranger to the absurd. His earlier comedies CALAMARI WRESTLER and EXECUTIVE KOALA both featured giant anthropomorphic creatures injected into straight-faced, real-world situations with a knowing wink to the audience. Tackling fresh territory, the Japanese director's latest oddball effort, THE RUG COP (Japanese title: Zura Deka), features a crack police detective who has harnessed the crime-fighting power of his ill-fitting toupee by using it as a projectile weapon. THE RUG COP is further proof that Kawasaki is one of the brightest comic filmmaking talents in Japanese cinema today.

Directed by Alan Moyle (Pump up the Volume), Weirdsville is set in the small prairie-town of Weedsville, crammed with freaky oddballs, strange occurrences, and not a lot of ambition. Dexter and Royce are your typical disaffected slackers. Chances are they would have continued to drift through life in a dope-filled haze if Matilda, Royce's girlfriend, hadn't O.D.'d on their stash. Knowing that calling the police will only land them in jail, Dexter and Royce decide the only thing to do is bury her in the basement of the drive-in theater that's closed for the winter. Their plan would have worked too, if they didn't happen to stumble upon a Satanic cult performing a ritual sacrifice and an angry mob of mace-wielding dwarves.

Confirmed Shorts:
Demonology of Desire
Gary's Touch
King in the Box
Monster Job Hunter
Tale of How

Confirmed Guests
Maurice Devereaux (End of the Line)
Damon Vignalle (The Entrance)
Phil Mucci (Far Out)
Greg Swinson (Five Across the Eyes)
Ryan Thiessen (Five Across the Eyes)
Sandra Paduch (Five Across the Eyes)
Mark Eberle (Flight of the Living Dead)
Gregory Wilson (Girl Next Door)
Mike Williamson (In the Wall)
Ryan Shifrin (King in the Box)
Karim Hussain (La Belle Bete)
Yehudi Mercado (Monster Job Hunter)
Uwe Boll (Postal)
Zack Ward (Postal)
Adam Green (Spiral)
Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2)
Mark Schilling (Author: No Borders; No Limits)
Harvey Fenton (founder Fab Press)
Todd Brown (founder, Twitchfilm)

Dorkbot Opening Party
We are also proud to announce that the opening night party will feature an electronic onslaught by Dorkbot Austin. This town is a hotbed for the crossover intersection of creativity and electronics/engineering professionals. What that means for us is a chance to sip cocktails while cheering on the loud, crazed and potentially dangerous robotic shenanigans of Austin's nerdcore elite. Tesla coil in attendance, no pacemakers allowed.

We've got LOTS more movies, special guests, parties and special events yet to confirm, so check back here often. Fantastic Fest will be here before you know it, and we'll be posting updates to this website with much greater regularity in the weeks to come.

We hope to see you in Austin on September 20!


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