With all eyes planted firmly on the San Diego Comic Con, the opening of this year's Fantasia Fest might get a little overlooked. That's a shame as this is one of the greatest genre fests in the world, a claim this year's lineup of over 120 films backs up with gusto.
I don't even know where to begin. The fest boasts world premiers of both Lloyd Kaufman's Return To Nuke 'Em Hight Volume One as well as Don Mancini's Curse of Chucky, both with directors in attendance. On top of that, they have all kinds of movies most of us have been hearing about. To list a very large handful, we have The Conjuring, Cheap Thrills, Bobcat Goldthwait's Bigfoot film - Willow Creek, two Takashi Miike films (Shield of Straw and Lesson of the Evil), The World's End (with Edgar Wright and Nick Frost in attendance), Big Ass Spider! (hosted by director Mike Mendez), the incredible new Johnnie To film - Drug War, Magic Magic, Hell Baby, Ip Man: The Final Fight, You're Next, and Zero Charisma.
This year also features a great selection of older film screenings such as Sleepaway Camp, Galaxy of Terror, and Polyester (these three are part of the special Doublages Insolites series, which means they will be shown in French, and yes, Polyester will utilize Odorama), the original Italian versions of My Name is Trinity and its sequel, Trinity is Still My Name, 1989's Samurai Cop, the Lucio Fulci - Franco Nero collaboration - Le Temps du Massacre, and others.
But aside from all those big marquee genre films, there are still tons of lesser known entries to enjoy. Just browsing through their massive list of choices, I've singled out the
ten fifteen I'd be most excited to see (not including those already listed above - I'd give an arm to see the new in-house Troma film with a crowd like this).
Zoë Bell wakes up in a strange female prison where she finds herself forced to take part in a bloody tournament in order to save her daughter. I've had my eye on this one for a while.
The Resurrection of a Bastard
A really, really bad guy almost dies and finds himself gifted with psychic abilities as a result. Maybe that doesn't sound great all by itself, but the title and trailer really sell this one.
I'm not absolutely sure what all's going on here, but the visuals look amazing, and I'm always game for high-minded science fiction films, which this looks to offer in great quantities.
Here is one that makes me super curious. The film takes place in an alternate reality where a literal Library War wages between those who seek to destroy literature and the ragtag rebels who fight to save it.
There are actually three Taiwanese entries this year (one of them, The Rooftop, was directed by and stars The Green Hornet's Jay Chou). I'd love to see them all, but if I had to choose, this is the one.
Machi Action is about a guy who plays an Ultraman esque action star on Taiwanese television. When a new executive takes over his show's network, he must stand his ground as Taiwan's leading Tokusatsu actor or get swept away by a younger, more marketable pop star who wants the role.
The Lady Assassin
Not much to say on this one. It's called The Lady Assassin, it's Vietnamese, and it looks great. Sold.
I Am Divine
I Am Divine is a documentary all about our favorite poop-eating drag queen. The cast list includes just about everyone you'd want a documentary on Divine to include.
I don't care what your name is. A film about a Japanese superhero who wears panties on his head is required viewing. If this looks familiar, it's because I've written about it before. Or you just have a very special person in your life.
The live-action version of Tatsuo Toshida's 1970s anime series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, aka Battle of the Planets. This looks amazing.
I posted a trailer for this a couple months ago and have been eager to see it ever since. Hopefully it's as good as it looks.
Commando: A One Man Army
I'm sort of sold by the name alone. But the fact that this Hindi film sounds a lot like First Blood but with tons of martial arts makes it a must see.
A samurai returns from a pilgrimage across Japan and tells his master the story of the seven epic battles he fought along the way. Sold. One of his battles was against a blind swordsman. Sold Sold. Another was against an American cowboy. Sold Sold Sold.
Big Bad Wolves
This Hebrew film seems to drip with menace despite marketing itself as kind of a black comedy. I'm not sure what to expect, but I find myself very eager to check this one out.
A sweet looking coming of age comedy about a guy (Freaks and Geeks' John Francis Daley) who makes sequels to his favorite '70s genre films in his back yard. There's a chance for pandering with this one, but the trailer truly looks sincere.
Ed Harris, Jason Isaacs, and January Jones star in this Western that appears to be quite a bit weirder than your average cowboy film (what few we get). I am dying to see this.
I could go all day. There are just too many exciting entries to highlight. Fantasia Fest runs from July 18 to August 7. If you find yourself in a position where you are able to attend, I will find myself in a position of extreme jealousy.