Fantastic Fest

Friday, April 18, 2008

Exte: Fantastic Fest Favorite returns Alamo 4/30

The most audience-pleasing and talked about Japanese film of Fantastic Fest 2007 is back in a special limited engagement at The Ritz! But just don't listen to the audience, Exte also won the gold medal in the 2007 Fantastic Fest Horror Features competition.

"Customs agents stumble across a giant crate of human hair, destined to be used as extensions for trendy Japanese civilians. They are disgusted, but revulsion is eclipsed by horror when they discover, in the center of this mountain of hair, a single dead girl, whose organs and even an eye have been removed, presumably for black market sale. A girl whose broken body has been harvested in every conceivable way. Meanwhile, at the hip Gilles De Rais hair salon, an apprentice stylist named Yuko (the stunning Chiaki Kuriyama, best known to Western viewers as KILL BILL’s Gogo Yubari) is living an all-hair all-the-time existence, practicing on friends, wigs, anything. Over the ensuing days, her salon is turned upside-down as clients are found dead, inexplicably and very violently murdered by...their own hair! And not in any subtle, symbolic sense either. No, in spectacular setpieces that recall the psychotropic mania of Higuchinsky’s UZUMAKI, strands of hair tear out from body cavities, wounds, eyeballs, mouths and fingertips, often fastening to immovable objects and utterly obliterating the people they happen to be connected to!

EXTE is transgressive art/horror genius Sion Sono’s entry into bigger-budget, star-fronted Japanese studio filmmaking, and neither his signature nor his spirit have been washed away by the influx of yen. Grand Guignol surrealism burrows through the façade of normalcy, S&M undertones abound in circumstances and dialogue, absurdist comedy sprouts from the most unexpected places and stunning set pieces of body-horror are often a saliva-swallow away. Sono takes the Japanese supernatural horror genre’s now-well-past-done flowing hair iconography to levels so uncharted they tear straight off the chart. He not only turns hair itself into his narrative’s central threat, he anchors it back to his filmography’s continuing exploration of the natures of abuse and accountability, the hyper-destructive strands functioning in part as a metaphor for internal horrors impacting external realities, unstoppably brutalizing their “owners” in ways that must be seen to be believed. It’s outrageous, it’s gruesome as hell, it’s darkly comical and it works fantastically. Beloved character actor Ren Osugi (AUDITION, ZEBRAMAN, CURE and, interestingly, UZUMAKI, among many others) a Kitano/Kurosawa/Miike regular, co-stars as a morgue attendant with some very peculiar fetishes and delivers the downright freakiest performance of his 145-film career." - Mitch Davis, Fantasia Film Festival

2008 Fantastic Fest badge holders get Free Admission to this screening, non-badge holders, it's $5 (we'll have a list at the door of current badge holders. For those who had the pleasure of seeing this show at Fantastic Fest, please tell your friends. For the rest of you, just read the post above. We're not steering you wrong here.

Tickets and info here.


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