Archive for the ‘2016 Fantasy FilmFest’ Category

Trash FireTrash Fire boasts a laugh-out-loud opening scene and a punch-to-the gut closing scene. The problem is what comes in between.

Writer/director Richard Bates Jr. third feature film occupies a strange limbo. Trash Fire is not conventional enough to generate empathy for its characters as they attempt to secure a viable future by coming to terms with past trauma. Nor is the movie outrageous enough to rank as a black comedy despite some genuinely funny moments. And while it can be identified as horror/comedy, each moment is one or the other or something closer to family drama. Genres here play like oil and water with no intermingling. (more…)

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another evilIt turns out that 2016 actually saw the release of two new Ghostbusters. The better known of the two was, of course, the all-female lead version that was met by controversy and misogyny from the time the first trailer dropper. The movie itself was amusing; the cameos from the original cast were terrific; and no tender fanboy egos were harmed in the making of the film.

The other Ghostbusters has flown under the radar since its premiere at SXSW in March. It could be because the word “Ghostbusters” does not appear in its title or any of its promotional material. The movie has none of the original cast or crew and makes no effort whatsoever to align itself with the 1984 comedy classic. But don’t be fooled by this. The little indie gem Another Evil is a spiritual sequel to the beloved Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd et al romp. (more…)

The Eyes of My MotherEvery year, we invariably hear of one or more movies that “redefine” or “reinvent” the horror genre. Most times, careful viewings of the films in question reveal a slick repackaging of familiar conventions. Often, the redefining is a twist on a twist; the reinvention is a reversal of expectations. Horror fans take these slight alterations in style in stride, noting the degree of success by the extent of the imitations they spawn. The new becomes the old within a relatively short period of time, and the genre is reset. (more…)

braqueursThe Crew (aka Braqueurs) is a phenomenon – an 80-minute, pure adrenaline, perfectly crafted exercise in action filmmaking. Writer/director Julien Leclercq has assembled a dragster built for speed and stripped of anything that would weigh the story down for even one beat. This movie is mandatory viewing for all would-be genre directors. Scratch that. The Crew should be studied in film schools or shown to anyone interested in a pure economy of storytelling. Of course, not every film should be be built according to these specifications, but given that too many movies are simply too damn long, Leclercq beautifully demonstrates the art of the possible. (more…)

The Greasy StranglerHow you feel about The Greasy Strangler coming out of the theater will be directly related to how you were feeling going into the theater. In other words, the more altered your perception of reality, the more likely you are to spend the 93 minutes giggling and gagging, while enjoying yourself immensely. The designated drivers among you will not be having the same experience. In the spirit of full disclosure, when seen at a 6:30 screening by a stone cold sober critic, The Greasy Strangler still provoked some laughter and absolutely no ill will. (more…)

Under the ShadowThe Iran-Iraq War was an interminable sequence of horrors, largely unseen by the West and then quickly overshadowed by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War. The conflict stretched from 1980-88 and featured some of the most brutal warfare since the First World War including child soldiers, chemical weapons, trench fighting, human wave offensives, and wide-scale civilian bombing. To set a fantastical horror movie within the horribleness of this conflict would seem to risk trivializing the tragedy, but the eloquent, understated film Under the Shadow amplifies the terrors of the war and the all too real consequences for the populace. (more…)

Train to BusanRap versus rock. The designated hitter or pitchers batting. And, of course, the most contentious of arguments pitting fans of a classic approach against a band of upstarts: slow-moving zombies or their quick-footed brethren.

These are the unresolvable debates of our time. And while the Korean horror action flick Train to Busan (aka Busanhaeng) will not end the vitriol, advocates for a more fleet flock of undead have received a major boost from writer/director Yeon Sang-ho. In his first live-action feature film, Yeon has crafted a thrilling ride through a society sliding into the zombie apocalypse, utilizing a passenger train as his literal and metaphorical vehicle. (more…)