Fantastic Fest

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Zack goes to FF 2007: DAY FIVE

I type this from a shuttered Tijuana bunker, where I awoke after a lightning haze of shattered glass, karaoke and hyper-aggressive trivia warfare. Wait...let's start at the beginning...

Day 5 of Fantastic Fest started off as expected but escalated into a real humdinger. Though I'd already watched the incredible documentary BLOOD, BOOBS AND BEAST just the day before, I still felt the need for more and opted to sit in on today's screening. Director John Kinhart was there to answer questions, and word of mouth had apparently spread as the theater was well-attended for a Monday 1:30 show. It was my 3rd time through BB&B and it still managed to put my emotions in a headlock. Don Dohler...whatta man. If you somehow missed this one during the fest, do keep an eye out for it as it's one of the few recent movies I consider to be "important".

I'd heard word that the film OFFSCREEN was deeply unsettling and a convincing depiction of a man becoming unhinged. What I didn't know was how incredibly awkward and personal the film was. Before anything happens that would edge the title near the horror category, you become acutely involved in star Nicolas Bro's "personal life". Though the audience goes in with the understanding that the film is a work of fiction, the simmering build-up (which admittedly requires some audience fortitude) makes the events at the film's climax much more effective than in other mental meltdown films.

On the whole other end of the Fantastic Fest rainbow is Japanese comedy RUG COP, which really is just a feature length movie about a cop in a toupee. Like director Minoru Kawasaki's other films EXECUTIVE KOALA and THE CALAMARI WRESTLER, this movie takes its central premise and beats you in the funnybone with it until the skin splits. That's not necessarily a good terrible running joke, sometimes the humor comes from the fact that you can't believe they're still stuck on this goddamn wig issue. There were also moments of genuinely inspired humor, including the flashback in which the titular rug cop hones his toupee-throwing abilities, flinging his hairpiece against tin cans and shouting in victory. I recommend this movie to me and everyone else that wishes they were still 9 years old. Even though it has a boner joke in it.

I was lucky enough to catch the first entry in the Nikkatsu series, A COLT IS MY PASSPORT. This film is covered very well in an earlier post from Lars, but I do want to state that it was a gorgeous feature and I really felt grateful that we were able to see the Nikkatsu titles in the festival this year. These films may not be what modern moviegoers expect when they read the term "action cinema", and that in itself is a substantial reason to attend the next two screenings. If you want to see backflips and exploding tank-o-copters, there are plenty of new movies that fit the bill, but here's a very rare opportunity to view a too-often-overlooked faction of an underexplored genre, at least as far as us slow-ass westerners go. So quit snoozin'!

Last (but not least) was the most preposterously entertaining portion of the day...SCOTT WEINBERG'S FANTASTIC FEUD!

This was planned shortly before the fest and no one involved really knew if it was going to be good old-fashioned fun or a screeching, mangling car wreck. It turned out to be double of both. Alcohol flowed through the pulsing forehead veins of 16 fiercely pitted horror trivia contestants as the two teams (U.S.A. vs The Axis of Evil) went head-to-head in vicious verbal combat. The score was literally neck-and-neck until the sweeping heroics of red-blooded patriot Matthew Kiernan ushered in the New Dawn of Victory for the good guys (a.k.a. the team I was on). After this vulgar display of power, the event suddenly transformed into a raaaaaging karaoke maelstrom. Nacho (TIMECRIMES) Vigalondo was too sexy for his shirt and also taught us the swastika dance, Hasko (MOEBIUS REDUX) Baumann crooned us into submission with his Love Boat theme and Tim "Mondo" Doyle had money shoved into every available crack and crevice during his exotic dance workout.

I escaped at 3:30 AM but rumor has it that the party went off the rails far into the night. I'm sure that many of the attendees awoke with beer-soaked clothes, hairy tongues and misplaced wallets, but an immensely great time was had by all and if it happens again, I'm calling the police.


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