After almost a month of the 15th Fantasia Film Festival, one weekend of thrills, chills and ills remains. The festival has included over 130 features from around the world and one world-premiere of a major Hollywood studio movie, a lifetime achievement award for the director of The Blues Brothers, and for its last weekend, focuses on Quebec-made horror movies. Don’t miss it!
Last night, Canadian star Jaqueline McInnes-Wood showed up for the world premiere (that’s right, before the red carpet in LA) of her Warner Bros film, Final Destination 5, which opens August 12. It was a special midnight screening of the popular franchise, about gory death and the kids who try to escape it, and the house was packed. McInnes-Wood was an amazing sport, autographing posters til her hand wore out (though she said it never does) and telling the crowd that while they may recognize her from her long-running role on soap The Bold and the Beautiful, they’d now remember her from Final Destination 5 as “the girl who has laser-eye surgery”.
Last week, John Landis, director of Groundhog Day, The Blues Brothers as well as several groundbreaking horror-comedy films of the ‘80s such as An American Werewolf in London, showed up to premiere his new film, Burke and Hare (based on the true story of Victorian-era Scottish body snatchers). The film stars Andy Serkis and Simon Pegg, as well as Isla Fisher, Sacha Baron Cohen’s wife, who is still best known from her breakout role in Wedding Crashers. Landis got a lifetime achievement award designed by Montreal special-effects maestro CJ Goldman and stuck around for an hour-long Q andA with the audience after the screening.
Not only is Fantasia a genre film festival that transcends genre, it is also one of the most beloved events of Montreal cinemaphiles—they routinely sell out their theatres with strange fruit from the horror-festival circuit, as well as a full program of films from Asian markets such as Thailand, Japan, and Korean. The other night, I spent a gloriously gory evening with Japanese new-wave horror master Sion Sono’s Cold Fish, a two-and-a-half hour freakshow based on a true story. (No matter: Sion Sono’s erotic epic Love Exposure, which screened at last year’s festival, was four hours long!). Because the programmers are prone to overkill (and we love them for it), the film, despite being overlong, is preceded by a Korean short, Night Fishing, by Korean master Park Chan-wook, which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival—and was shot entirely on an IPhone 4.
As a finale to their international section, the festival hosted a premiere of Guillermo Del Toro’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? Del Toro, director of Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy franchise, is considered the most innovative fantasy directors working today, and was set to make a repeat Fantasia visit, until he had to cancel and sent a personalized video greeting instead. The thing about Fantasia is that along with totally crazy programming of films you’ll likely never have the chance to see again, they are also locally-minded—the last weekend of the festival is devoted to locally-made genre film. Don’t miss out—you may be able to pick out the Del Toro of tomorrow.
This weekend, the festival will wrap-up with the most exciting Montreal-made weirdness of the whole fest. Tonight, a presentation by Claude Lalumiere and Rupert Bottenberg of their “cryptomythological fiction” Lost Myths– with stories by Lalumiere and illustrations by Bottenberg, a founder of the almost-famous En Masse collective that drew last weekend at Osheaga.
Other weekend highlights include a repeat screening of Burke and Hare, and the premiere of Karaoke Dreams, a 75-minute experiemental film directed by Jean Leclerc, aka Jean Leloup, Montreal’s beloved bohemian renaissance man. Saturday, a classic Fantasia double bill of sex and violence with Jun Tsugita’s Horny House of Horror and Underwater Love, a surreal romance by Shinji Imaoka.