FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Razzennest (2022)

The description for this movie is, of course, just to trick you into this surprising film: “South African enfant terrible filmmaker and artiste-cineaste Manus Oosthuizen (Michael Smulik) meets with Rotten Tomatoes-approved indie film critic Babette Cruickshank (Sophie Kathleen Kozeluh) in an Echo Park sound studio. With key members of Manus’s crew joining, they record an audio commentary track for his new elegiac feature documentary Razzennest. But the session goes down a different path. The ultimate elevation of arthouse horror, just not as you might expect.”

You can say that again.

Directed and written by Johannes Grenzfurthner, who also created the astounding Masking Threshold, this is a movie that literally plays with the way that we embrace physical media — commentary tracks if you need to be triggered by your love of being surrounded by stacks of plastic cases and disks — in an exciting and senses destroying way.

Grenzfurthner said of this film, “Razzennest not only gave me the unique opportunity to write a love letter to genre films and rain ridicule on pretentious arthouse films, but also to write a love letter to arthouse films and mock the inherent problems of genre films. It allowed me to realize my decades-old dream of making a film about the Thirty Years’ War and its endless atrocities without needing a budget of millions of dollars to depict the war’s bloody significance. Also, Razzennest provided an exciting chance to portray a fascinating landscape, the Rohrwald, which is only a few kilometers from where I grew up.

Razzennest is horror, satire, drama, a ghost story, and a tale of survival told on a very improbable cinematic canvas. Given the political climate in the United States and other Western societies, the film is a necessary reflection on the undead legacy of murderous Christianity.

Enjoy Razzennest while you still can.”

I really don’t want to spoil the surprises inside this movie, but suffice to say the exploration of the horrors of war in the movie within the movie soon spill into the movie we’re watching but yet because it’s a commentary track — again for a movie within the movie, but we’re watching it as a track for a film that could exist — we become more intimately involved, as if we were learning from it as we’ve come to expect. Yet when all hell — heaven? — breaks loose, the commentary becomes the narrative and the film becomes color commentary to what we are hearing.

Trust me. It works.

Now I want to see how Grenzfurthner pulls off a commentary track to this movie.

I watched Razzennest as part of the Burnt Ends films of Fantastic Fest. You can learn more about the movie at the official site.

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Amazing Elisa (2022)

Elisa is a 12-year-old girl who lives with her father after the death of her mother. She’s obsessed with a comic book superhero and thinks that she has the same powers, which finds her putting her life into danger at nearly every opportunity.

Meanwhile, a painter named Héctor and his wheelchair-bound wife Úrsula are engaged in a battle of wills over lack of emotional support and an upcoming gallery show.

How are they connected? And is that really Elisa’s hero Galerista wandering the alleys and streets at night with her gigantic canine Dante? Can Elisa really use her powers to bring the man who killed her mother to justice? Just how is she able to withstand blades and possess super strength? And how is this all connected?

Just as how the superhero violence in this movie feels distant and anything but the gaudy combat you expect, the sex scenes in this feel at once real and clinical, as if they are pushing you away for the prurient reasons why they usually happen in films. Similarly, while Úrsula has no feeling below her waist, she still has desires, yet the impotentcy of her husband Héctor causes him to seek release elsewhere. He has everything yet can’t figure it out.

Elisa may or may not be a superhero, but she’s grappling with trauma from the death of her mother that manifests itself through a retreat into fantasy and perhaps even self-harm. Her father begins to follow her down that same path; there are no easy answers because life, unlike cinematic universes, is messy and has no real ending.

Director and writer Sadrac González-Perellón has really crafted something special here, even if at times he’s working at pushing the audience away by keeping them at a calculated distance. Work your way through; there’s something wonderful at the heart of this.

If you’re attending Fantastic Fest in person, Amazing Elisa will play at the following times:
Thu, Sep 22nd, 8:30 PM @ Theater 7
Tue, Sep 27th, 8:15 PM @ Theater 2
Tue, Sep 27th, 8:15 PM @ Theater 5
Tue, Sep 27th, 8:15 PM @ Theater 8

You can also get a virtual badge here.

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Everyone Will Burn (2021)

María José’s (an incredible performance by Macarena Gómez) life has fallen apart. Nearly everyone in the small town of Leon, Spain could care less about the suicide of her bullied son years before. As she prepares to jump off a ridge, Lucía appears. She’s a strange little girl who might just be the prophecy of a local legend about stopping an impending apocalypse come true. Whoever she is, she holds hope for María José, who is now savoring the chance to be a mother again and, well, take horrific revenge on everyone that hurt her or her son.

Imagine if everyone that was wrong in a small town finally had to confront the wrath of God — or Satan — and the corrupt cops were set ablaze, the ineffectual church was decimated and the gossips were torn asunder. Imagine no longer, because this film is a delirious blast of red-hued style and violence.

Director David Hebrero, who wrote this film with Javier Kiran, this movie may not be set in America, but it reminds me of the small-town hypocrisy that I grew up in and takes things beyond that into its own out-of-reality world. This is Hebero’s second movie, which is quite frankly mind-blowing because this movie is absolutely overloaded with style, substance and just plain greatness.

Lucía (Sofía García) is Damian Thorn as protagonist instead of antagonist. That’s a bold step to take and this movie just keeps making bigger leaps throughout, starting with an astounding “Wish You Were Here”  inspired visual and then just getting even stranger from there. Consider this my highest recommendation.

Don’t leave at the end. Sure, we’re all conditioned to stay through the credits for surprises, but this time the wait pays off.

If you’re attending Fantastic Fest in person, Everyone Will Burn will play at the following times:

Fri, Sep 23rd, 11:55 PM @ Theater 9
Tue, Sep 27th, 11:35 AM @ Theater 1
Tue, Sep 27th, 11:35 AM @ Theater 2

You can also get a virtual badge here.

FANTASTIC FEST 2022 STARTS NOW

Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in the US, specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and just plain fantastic movies from all around the world. The festival is dedicated to championing challenging and thought-provoking cinema, celebrating new voices and new stories from around the world and supporting new filmmakers.

I’m so excited to be given the opportunity to watch and share so many of the films that are playing this year. Over the next week, look for movies from Fantastic Fest. My goal is to watch as many movies as I can and report back to you. Here are some of the films I’m most excited about:

Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle: James Nguyen is back and Severin paid for this movie. That’s really all I needed to know.

Chop and SteeleGrowing up in suburban Wisconsin, Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher didn’t have all that much to do. To bide their time, they started collecting castaway VHS tapes from thrift stores and playing increasingly elaborate pranks, eventually parlaying their passion for cringeworthy absurdity into The Found Footage Festival, a curated roadshow of bonkers obscurities from the annals of discarded VHS collections across the United States. Fueled by a desire to push the envelope of discomfort, they started pranking unsuspecting regional morning show hosts as Chop and Steele, a couple of schlubby strongmen whose specialty workouts include wicker basket stomping and bareback stick snapping. Unamused by their antics, a media conglomerate slaps them with a lawsuit, presenting a fork in the road for the best pals. Do they grow up and get real jobs, or do they double down and go all-in on their most elaborate prank yet?

Everyone Will BurnUnable to get over the death of her son, María José’s life has fallen apart. She lives in a small town where everyone knows and sees everything, and holds a grudge against the villagers who she feels are responsible for her son’s death. Little Lucía appears just as she’s about to step off a bridge, triggering strange events and a series of horrific deaths among the local population. The villagers immediately blame Lucía, who is busy putting her supernatural powers to good (or is it evil?) use. Meanwhile, María José finds new joy in motherhood and decides to protect her adopted daughter come what may, with the side perk that she can finally get a chance to take revenge on her son’s murderers.

Shin Ultraman: Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi’s Shin franchise began with Shin Godzilla, which updated the lizard’s nuclear metaphor for the 21st century. Now they’re making Ultraman new for 2022!  Higuchi directs while Anno takes on the daunting task of writer, editor, and embodying Japan’s large silver protector as Ultraman’s motion capture performer.

The Stairway to Stardom MixtapeSpeaking of the Found Footage Festival, that’s where I learned of this show, which was filmed on video in a Staten Island basement. Hosted by lounge singer Frank Masi and his wife Tillie from 1979 to the early 1990s, this show had everything from homemade R&B party hits to aggro stand-up comics, from interpretive dance by zombified children to amateur magicians. This is presented by AGFA and I cannot wait to watch it.

Unidentified ObjectsWow this movie is great. Spoiler warning, obviously. But this story of two mismatched neighbors on a roadtrip to be picked up by a UFO — and that’s a very simplified explanation — is something special.

Plus shorts, special secret showings and all sorts of other movie craziness. If you want to watch it for yourself, get your badge today!

What’s playing at Fantastic Fest 2022?

There’s only one place where you’ll find killer teddy bears, man-eating sharks, elderly zombies, cocktail-serving robots, and Park Chan-wook… all under one roof. That’s right, world-famous genre festival Fantastic Fest is back for its seventeenth edition featuring 21 world premieres, 14 North American premieres and 21 U.S premieres.

The festival will once again take over the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin, TX from September 22 – 29 and on the web via a virtual FF@Home experience from September 29 – October 4.

Badges are available now at FantasticFest.com.

The opening night film for Fantastic Fest 2022 is the world premiere of Paramount Pictures’ Smile. Plus, Fantastic Fest will honor Park Chan-wook (OldboySnowpiercerThe Handmaiden) and premiere his new movie, Decision to Leave. He will also be at Fantastic Fest 2022 in person to accept a lifetime achievement award from Fantastic Fest in celebration of his mind-bending, artfully-crafted body of work.

The closing night film at Fantastic Fest 2022 will be director Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or-winning pitch black comedy from Neon, Triangle of Sadness. Other major studio films include The MenuThe Banshees of Inisherin, Bones and AllMedusa Deuxe and Sick.

Other world premieres include Blood RelativesKids vs. Aliens and Satanic Hispanics.

If you’re not coming to Austin, FF@Home is how Fantastic Fest 2022 will be a hybrid festival that offers in-person and virtual screenings. The Burnt Ends lineup will headline the online festival, with programming that seeks to champion eccentric and obscure indie cinema. Two in-person screenings will introduce audiences at South Lamar to the new series The People’s Joker and All Jacked Up and Full of Worms. The rest of this virtual lineup will be announced at a later date, featuring a selection of films from this year’s in person fest and will also include virtual exclusives such as a retrospective of cult DIY filmmakers Matt Farley and Charles Roxburgh’s Motern Media movies.

There’s also a series called Shark Attack curated by American Genre Film Archive that will include the American premiere of Year of the Shark plus Tintorera (using Quentin Tarantino’s 35mm print!), AatankGamera vs. ZigraMako: The Jaws of Death and 12 Days of Terror.

In-person parties will also be back with a special performance in The Highball from the experiential sonic band Itchy-O, Roboexotica bringing their famous cocktail-concocting robots to astonish and amuse, live podcasts with Leonard Maltin, Scripts Gone Wild, The Kingcast and Screen Drafts, Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher of The Found Footage Festival fame perform a live show after their documentary Chop & Steele, as well as Fantastic Fest essentials like 100 Best Kills, the Fantastic Feud and the Fantastic Debates.

AGFA has gone all out for this year’s festival, with the debut of their theater takeover. For two days of the fest, AGFA has free reign and will play mind-melting films from morning to night, featuring premieres of new restorations the first day and a whiplash-inducing celluloid mystery marathon with five features and ten fingers on the trigger the second day. They will also debut Terminal USA and The Stairway to Stardom Mixtape.

Fantastic Fest 2022 will play 85 feature film titles and episodics, as well as a variety of short film selections to be announced at a later date showcasing World, North American, U.S. and regional premieres.

Here’s what’s playing:

12 Days of Terror (2004): During the record-breaking summer heat of 1916, beachgoers on the Jersey shore are threatened by a shark that has developed a taste for human flesh. Director Jack Sholder will be at Fantastic Fest 2022 live!

Aatank (1996): A gangster’s hunt for black pearls sparks a series of vicious shark attacks. No diver, boat, or helicopter is safe in this B-grade Bollywood oddity.

All Jacked Up and Full of Worms (2022): A psychedelic journey of self-discovery leads to romance when a man shares his addiction to psychotropic worms… and Chicago will never be the same.

Amazing Eliza (2022): In the aftermath of a horrific accident, Elisa believes that she’s been given super powers and will stop at nothing to avenge her mother’s death. Director Sadrac Gonzalez-Perellon will be in attendence.

The Antares Paradox (2022): An astrophysicist working for the SETI project risks her career and family to verify an extraterrestrial radio signal before her access is cut off. Director Luis Tinoco Pineda will be in attendence.

Attachment (2022): Maja and Leah’s relationship is off to a great start, but they face two perilous threats: the whims of a Jewish demon and Leah’s overbearing mother. Director Gabriel Bier Gislason will be in attendence.

Bad CIty (2022): A jailed cop is released to lead a crack unit against a corrupt businessman in this bone-crunching dust-up starring V-cinema legend Hitoshi Ozawa.

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022): Two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both of them. Director Martin McDonagh will be in attendence.

Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle (2022): The birds are back, and global warming has them roiled! James Nguyen returns with the director’s cut of his thrilling, romantic and worthy sequel. He will also attend Fantastic Fest 2022.

Blood Flower (2022): A psychic teenage boy battles a bloodthirsty, malevolent spirit in this gory Malaysian horror movie.

Blood Relatives (2022): A nomadic recluse living on the fringes of society reconsiders his bloodthirsty legacy when a teenage girl shows up claiming to be his daughter. Director Noah Segan will be in attendence.

Chop and Steele (2022): After pranking unsuspecting morning show hosts, the brains behind the beloved Found Footage Festival earn the ire of a major media conglomerate.Directors Ben Steinbauer and Berndt Mader and Found Footage Festival’s Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher wwill be in attendence; this is the movie I want to see the most from the fest!

Country Gold (2022): Mickey Reece is back at Fantastic Fest with this new movie, which has rising star Troyal Brux spending an evening with his idol George Jones, unaware that the country music legend has a rather cold deadline the following morning.

Decision to Leave (2022): Laced with wicked humor, master filmmaker Park Chan-wook — who will be at Fantastic Fest 2022 — has created a dazzlingly cinematic romantic thriller that surprises and delights to the very last.

Deep Fear (2022): Three friends are caught between a skinhead gang and an otherworldly enemy after discovering a forgotten secret in the depths of the Paris Catacombs.

Demigod: The Legend Begins (2022): Martial arts, magic, and marionettes collide in a dazzling kaleidoscope of blood-spattered puppetry in this one-of-a-kind wuxia spectacular.

Disappear Completely (2022): After sneaking onto a crime scene to snap pictures of a corpse, an ambitious photographer stumbles into a curse that takes away his senses one by one.

The Elderly (2022): An octogenarian starts behaving weirdly in the wake of his wife’s sudden suicide as he prepares for events leading up to a mysterious apocalypse.

Everyone Will Burn (2022):  Director David Hebrero will be in attendence to debut his new iflm in which a mysterious young girl interrupts María José’s suicide attempt, offering the power to take revenge on the villagers responsible for her son’s death.

Evil Eye (2022): Director Isaac Ezban and actor Paola Miguel bring this new movie to Fantastic Fest 2022. Left in the care of their eccentric grandmother, Nala discovers that the tough old lady has sinister plans for her chronically ill sister, Luna.

Family Dinner (2022): In director Peter Hengl’s– who will be there in person — new movie, an insecure teenager begs her nutritionist aunt for help shedding weight over the Easter holiday, unaware of how extreme the diet plan will become.

Final Cut (2022): Oscar-winning French director Michel Hazanavicius’ meta-remake of the Japanese cult movie One Cut of the Dead manages a little tour de force. I can’t wait to see if this movie can pull off being as good — or even better — than the beloved original.

The Five Devils (2022): A young girl’s ability to smell and reproduce any scent transports her into her family’s troubled past in this gorgeous, magical realist drama.

Flesheater (1988): Pittsburgh represent! AGFA is bringing first zombie Bill Hinzman’s spiritual sequel to Night of the Living Dead to Fantastic Fest 2022, newly restored in 4K from the original 16mm camera negative by Vinegar Syndrome.

Flowing (2022): A broken family violently confronts their tragic past as the Roman sewers exhale a hallucinatory toxin that revives repressed memories and fears. Director Paolo Strippoli will be in attendence.

Gamera vs. Zigra (1971): A classic case of mutated, talking murdershark vs. nuclear turtlebeast when Japanese cinema’s second-most iconic reptile takes on an oceanic threat!

Garcia! (2022):  On the hunt for a scoop that could secure her a job, a journalist intern inadvertently awakens a superhuman agent created by Franco’s regime. Director Eugenio Mira will be in attendence.

Give Me Pity (2022): Sissy St. Clair’s debut television special, a variety show evening of music and laughter, quickly curdles into a psychedelic nightmare.

H4Z4RD (2022): When Noah Hazard volunteers to drive his beloved gold Lexus to help his jailbird cousin pick up a friend from prison, he doesn’t expect to be drawn into a murderous drug war.

Holy Spider (2022): A female journalist descends into an Iranian city’s underbelly to investigate a serial killer stalking sex workers to cleanse the streets of sinners.

Huesera (2022): An expectant young mother confronts her past demons in Michelle Garza Cervera’s — who will be at Fantastic Fest 2022 — creepy mash-up between a folk ghost story and an anxiety attack.

Hunt (2022): Rival KCIA agents hunt for an elusive North Korean spy in this ‘80s espionage thriller, the explosive directorial debut from Squid Game’s Lee Jung-jae.

Joint Secuity Area (2000): Presented by AGFA. Arrow Film’s new restoration of Park Chan-wook’s explosive exploration of the madness of war set in the DMZ between North and South Korea.

Kids vs. Aliens (2022): Jason Eisener will come to Fantastic Fest 2022 with his long-awaited follow-up to Canuxploitation classic Hobo With a Shotgun, which pits a group of moviemaking pals against sinister alien invaders.

King On Screen (2022): Director Daphné Baiwir brings a new documentary exploration of the many screen adaptations of the work of Stephen King to Fantastic Fest 2022.

La Pieta (2022): A terminal cancer diagnosis upends a claustrophobic mother-son relationship in Spain’s auteur of weirdness, Eduardo Casanova’s sophomore film. Casanova will be in attendence.

The Legacy of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre (2022): Fest alumnus Phillip Escott resturns to present a journey into The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, exploring the elements that garnered the film its cult status.

Leonor Will Never Die (2022): Director Martika Ramirez Escobar will be in attendence to present this film, which is the story of a falling TV that hits Leonor on the head and sends her in the action movie she’s writing. There’s just one problem: she hasn’t finished the script.

A Life on the Farm (2022): Director Oscar Harding and executive producers Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher will be on hand to show this often macabre deep dive into the inspiring legacy of the long-lost home movies of a filmmaking farmer’s life in rural Somerset, England.

Living With Chucky (2022): Director Kyra Gardner, the daughter of one of Chucky’s puppeteers, brings this doc to Fantastic Fest 2022, which examines the family relationships that contributed to the success of the queer camp classic Child’s Play.

Lynch/Oz (2022): Documentary filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe dissects director David Lynch’s lifelong obsession with The Wizard of Oz.

Mako: The Jaws of Death (1976): A rabidly anti-human Vietnam vet cranks his telepathic shark-bond to 11 in William Grefe’s lethally entertaining shipwreck of Jaws and Carrie.

Manticore (2022): Spanish cult director Carlos Vermut returns to the festival with an unsettling, intimate portrait of a real-life monster tortured by a grim secret.

Medusa Deluxe (2022): Director Thomas Hardiman brings this film to Fantastic Fest 2022 in which tensions and hairspray run high when a stylist is murdered at an elite hairdressing competition where a passion for extravagance borders on obsession.

The Menu (2022): Director Mark Mylod premieres this film at Fantastic Fest 2022! A couple (Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult) travels to a coastal island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef (Ralph Fiennes) has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.

Missing (2021): A distraught daughter searches for her widower father after he disappears while trying to collect the reward for capturing an unknown serial killer.

Mister Organ (2022): Director David Farrier brings this movie to Fantastic Fest, in which he pushed himself to the limit of sanity investigating fraudulent car clamping in Auckland.

The Nightmare (2022): Mona’s domestic bliss with her devoted boyfriend unravels as her night terrors intensify, but attempts at lucid dreaming reveal something sinister.

Nightsiren (2022): Šarlota returns home decades after losing her sister in an accident, only to be faced by the brutal village patriarchy and accusations of witchcraft.

Nothing (2022): Directors Trine Piil and Seamus McNally will be at Fantastic Fest with the international premiere of their film in which a group of teenage classmates face an existential crisis, pushing them into darker and darker territory as they confront the meaninglessness of life.

The Offering (2022): Director Oliver Park brings this film to Fantastic Fest, in which a desperate man defends his unborn child from an ancient demon brought into their family-owned, Hasidic funeral home inside a mysterious corpse.

Oink (2022): A young girl suspects that her estranged butcher grandfather has sinister plans for the adorable piglet he has given her as a birthday gift.

One and Four (2021): A Tibetan forest ranger must deduce who among the three visitors seeking refuge in his cabin from a coming blizzard are poachers and who are cops.

The People’s Joker (2022): The Joker finds new purpose in Gotham City after transitioning and opening an illegal comedy club in Vera Drew’s handcrafted superhero genre parody.

Piggy (2022): Director Carlota Pereda brings this film to Fantastic Fest, which asks, when a bullied girl’s tormentors are kidnapped, she faces the ultimate moral test: Does she help or allow them to suffer as payback?

Project Wolf Hunting (2022): On the choppy seas between Manila and Busan, violent convicts run amok on a hellish cargo ship in this blood-soaked slice of maritime carnage.

Satanic Hispanics (2022): Directors Mike Mendez, Demian Rugna, Eduardo Sanchez, Gigi Saul Guerrero and Alejandro Brugues bring this anthology of five crazy and original shorts from five entertaining Hispanic directors to Fantastic Fest.

Shin Ultraman (2022): Ultraman descends from space after Japan suffers a devastating series of kaiju attacks in this homage to the classic, genre-defining TV series.

Sick (2022): As the pandemic steadily brings the world to a halt, Parker and her best friend Miri decide to quarantine at the family lake house alone – or so they think. Based on a story by Kevin Williamson.

Sick of Myself (2022): Fueled by a need for attention, Signe plays a perverse game of one-upmanship with her boyfriend, popping a drug that causes a painful skin condition.

Smile (2022): Director Parker Finn brings this new film to Fantastic Fest. After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can’t explain. As an overwhelming terror begins taking over her life, Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.

Smoking Causes Coughing (2022): Five anti-smoking avengers are forced to take a mandatory team-building retreat in Quentin Dupieux’s absurdist take on the superhero genre.

Solomon King (1974): Think twice before you mess with Solomon King! Deaf Crocodile’s meticulous restoration of Sal Watts’ ‘70s cult classic will soon be your new favorite.

Something In the Dirt (2022): Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are in person to show their film in which a pair of Los Angeles misfits’ investigation into the city’s occult history sends them down a rabbit hole that threatens their friendship and sanity.

Spoonful of Sugar (2022): Desperate for connection, Millicent enmeshes herself in the lives of a dysfunctional family as her disturbing, LSD-fueled hallucinations grow violent.

The Stairway to Stardom Mixtape (2022): Culled from more than 15 hours of footage, AGFA presents the definitive cut of public access TV’s most otherworldly show. I can’t wait for this!

The Strange Case of Jacky Calliou (2022): Jacky has his grandmother’s gift of healing, but when a woman turns up on his doorstep with an unusual problem, he must decide how far he’ll go for love.

Swallowed (2022): Director Carter Smith and actor Mark Patton bring this movie to Fantastic Fest. Forced to mule drugs on their crossing of the southern US border, two friends realize that the packages they ingested seem to be alive.

Terminal USA (1993): Jon Moritsugu’s genre-melting underground classic, newly restored from the original camera negative by AGFA.

Terrifier 2 (2022): Resurrected by occult forces, Art the Clown returns to wreak bloody havoc on the residents of Miles County, targeting a frazzled mother and her kids.

Tintorera! (1977): They say this is about “A tiger shark disrupts two best friends’ blissful plans to enjoy life in the Caribbean in this Mexican sharksploitation classic from 1977,” but we all know it’s about a British woman being the unicorn to two Mexican shark hunter’s forbidden love.

Triangle of Sadness (2022): In Ruben Östlund’s wickedly funny Palme d’Or winner, social hierarchy is turned upside down, revealing the tawdry relationship between power and beauty. Celebrity model couple, Carl and Yaya are invited on a luxury cruise for the uber-rich, helmed by an unhinged boat captain. What first appeared instagrammable ends catastrophically, leaving the survivors stranded on a desert island and fighting for survival.

Tropic (2022): Director Edouard Salier will be in attendance with this film about an extraterrestrial substance that cripples an aspiring young astronaut, forcing his twin brother out of his shadow to continue his training alone.

Ultraman 4K (1966): Four episodes from the brand new 4k restoration of the original Ultraman television series.

Unicorn Wars (2022): After a bloody defeat in their apocalyptic war against the Unicorns, the Teddy Bear army launches a desperate attack in the heart of the magic forest.

Unidentified Objects (2022): Director Juan Felipe Zuleta brings this film to Fantastic Fest in which an internet sex worker convinces her reclusive neighbor to road-trip across North America for a rendezvous with visitors from a distant galaxy.

V/H/S/99 (2022): Directors Maggie Levin and Tyler MacIntyre bring the found footage anthology’s latest scare package to Fantastic Fest to rewind the tape back to 1999 with bloody tales set against the end of the millennium.

Venus (2022): Injured in an attempt to steal from her boss, Lucía hides with her sister, unaware that something’s very wrong with the rundown building’s residents. Director Jaume Balagueró will be at Fantastic Fest 2022.

Vesper (2022): Directors Kristina Buožytė and Bruno Samper bring this film to Fantastic Fest. In a post-apocalyptic world, a peasant girl’s encounter with an oligarch’s lost daughter leads to a discovery that could reverse ecological collapse.

Video Diary of a Lost Girl (2012): AGFA presents a new preservation of DIY filmmaker Lindsay Denniberg’s hypercolored, VHS-inspired horror valentine.

The Visitor from the Future (2022): A snarky time traveler from the year 2555 arrives to save the world from ecological disaster by attempting to assassinate a climate activist’s father.

We Might As Well Be Dead (2022): When a dog disappears from a secluded high-rise building, fear spreads among the residents, threatening to turn their utopia into Absurdistan.

A Wounded Fawn (2022): Director Travis Stevens and actors Sarah Lind and Josh Ruben are at Fantastic Fest 2022 with this film. Bruce is erudite, handsome, and charming… but he’s also a psychotic serial killer urged to violence by the gigantic red owl that lives in his head.

Year of the Shark (2022): A maritime police sergeant-major spends her last days before retirement in the relentless pursuit of the shark terrorizing her small beach town.

FANTASTIC FEST 2021 WRAP UP

We had a blast at Fantastic Fest, the largest genre film festival in the US, specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and just plain fantastic movies from all around the world. We were honored to be allowed to review so many great films and want to thank everyone that made it possible. we can’t wait until next year!

Here are the films that we watched. You can click on any title to see a more in-depth review.

AgnesA possession film until it isn’t.

Alone With YouWhen you’re all alone, your mind plays tricks on you.

Baby AssassinsWhat do killing machines do for part-time jobs?

BarbariansWell, no more dinner parties for me…

Beyond the Infinite 2 MinutesTime travel, endless shots and no small amount of absolutely endearing ideas.

Bloody OrangesStart with a dance contest, end in a suicide pact…and in the middle, everyone gets damaged.

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest: Can one man play the same video game for 100 hours?

Cop SecretA buddy cop comedy that goes all the way.

Dead & BeautifulSo were the rich kids vampires all along?

DealerKids dealing drugs, actors screwing up, a dark ending…

Devil StoryVinegar Syndrome’s new release of this French all over the place shockfest.

The Exorcism of GodCan you exorcise a priest?

Eyes of FireSeverin’s revised and cleaned-up print of this rare American folk horror classic.

The Found Footage PhenomenonA movie that changed my mind on found footage.

Glasshouse: Post-pandemic The Beguiled that’s still its own great movie.

HellbenderA mother and daughter metal band may also be witches in this family-made movie.

King CarPeople that can talk to cars and a car socialist uprising — all in the same movie!

KnockingOne woman, one apartment, all madness.

Last of the WolvesModern Yakuza blood and honor.

Let the Wrong One InA vampiric comedy with no small amount of viscera.

Luzifer: The world is about to change for a man child and the mother who has raised him alone in the forest.

Mad GodPhil Tippett’s life’s work. A must-see.

The Marco EffectThe next installment of the Chapter Q saga.

Masking ThresholdA complete blast of bonkers energy and rot.

Mlungu WamApartheid, old ghosts and family issues boil over.

Mother SchmuckersComedic grossout — I mean, really gross.

Name Above Title: Wordless giallo-infused film that starts with a woman leaping to her death near a killer who has just made love and strangled a woman. When they kidd, it goes viral.

Nr. 10: A movie that completely stunned me with its reveal. I won’t say much other than please see this.

Possession: The 4K version of one of the most masterful movies of all time, a video nasty and a movie that is pretty much the most accurate breakup film of all time.

PremanWhen your child goes against the gang, you either give in or start the fight.

RadYou can never have enough Helltrack in your life.

Saloum: Mercenaries suddenly come against the supernatural in this multi-lingual thrill ride.

Samuel’s TravelsWhat happens when you get lost in the woods and enslaved.

Some Like It RareVegans make the best ham.

Sweetie, You Won’t Believe ItA fishing trip goes way wrong.

There’s Someone Inside Your HouseA 90s throwback slasher that’s now running on Netflix.

This is GWARThe Scumdogs of the Universe, or at least Richmond, VA, have a crazy history. This is it.

The Timekeepers of EternityTake a Stephen King movie, print out every frame and make it so much better than it has any right to be.

The TripA married couple who wants to kill one another go on a cabin vacation and then…things get worse.

V/H/S/94: The first entry in the found footage anthology series since 2014’s V/H/S: VIRAL, V/H/S/94 brings the blood, brains, viscera, eyeball and tracking issues.

The VisitorOne of my favorite movies of all time, even if I can’t explain what the hell is going on. And that’s what makes it awesome.

Who Killed the KLF?What kind of band would delete everything they ever made and then set millions of pounds on fire? The KLF.

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk HorrorThe world’s most passionate and knowledgeable genre film expert, Kier-La Janisse, joins up with an army of film experts to explain how folk horror isn’t just something that takes place in the British fields.

ZalavaWhen reports of demonic possessions arise in a remote village, a military officer must deal with an exorcist and a demon that may be inside a glass jar.

Silent FilmsFantastic Fest @ Home is featuring a series of silent films reimagined with the music of five artists from GroundUp music. Beyond this film, there’s also Aelita: Queen of Mars with a score by Snarky Puppy’s Chris Bullock, Sirintip rescoring The Lost World, PRD Mais taking on Waxworks, Bob Lanzetti covering Nosferantu and House of Waters playing music for MenilmontantLe Voyage dans la Lune and Ballet Mecanique.

Drawn and QuarteredFantastic Fest’s celebration of animated sgorts.

FANTASTIC FEST: V/H/S/ 94 (2021)

1994: A police S.W.A.T. team swoops in on a cult that trades in illegal VHS tapes that lull viewers into drug-like trances or death. As they make their way through their compound, the tapes begin to roll and show the full range of insanity that they trade in.

The fourth film in the V/H/S/ series is here — and the first I’ve seen — with each short film converging for the first time into a unified narrative. While David Bruckner wrote much of this, he couldn’t direct — he’s working on the new Hellraiser — and Radio Silence had limited involvement as they’re working on the Scream reimagining/reboot/sequel.

Made with older video equipment, physical tape transfers and digital effects so that each segment looks like 90s video, this film has a look much like our beloved Shot On Video 80s films like Boardinghouse, yet infused with the look of found footage. There’s also plenty of first-person shooter feel to a lot of the stories, which should be disorienting yet totally works.

How can this get even better? Tons of gore — seriously, it’s out of control in the best of ways — and a soundtrack by Greg Anderson — performing as The Lord — who is one of the hooded people behind SUNN O))).

“Holy Hell,” written and directed by Jennifer Reeder (Signature MoveKnives and Skin) is the connecting story that tells the tale of the cops finding all of the static, noise and eyeless bodies.

The first tape that they watch, written and directed by Chloe Okuno, is “Storm Drain,” which has a debt of gratitude to the WNUF Halloween Special. That said, it has its own energy and I love the reveal of the creatures, including the demonic rat god that lives in the sewer and the human rats that feel a lot like Giuliano Carnimeo’s Ratman.

Simon Barrett’s (who wrote The Guest and You’re Next) “The Empty Wake” has a mortician’s assistant alone — on a night with a tornado warning no less — with a dead body that may not stay dead. This reminded me of Silent Hill — the video game — in all the right ways.

Timo Tjahjanto (The Night Comes for Us) has the most technically advanced portion of the film, “The Subject,” in which a mad scientist has turned numerous human beings into mechanized killing machines. This sequence makes an inspired leap from video diary medical gore freakout to SWAT video game attack to realizing that S.A. is the victim and then it becomes her tale as she battles her way to freedom.

Ryan Prows (Lowlife) wrote and directed the last segment, “Terror,” which has a religious militia keeping a supernatural weapon guarded day and night, ready to unleash it to cleanse the world of sinners. This segment boasts an incredible idea and close, but may take a bit too long to get there.

There’s also a commercial for a Veggie Masher that looks about as real as a TV commercial as I’ve seen. It’s directed by Steven Kostanski, who made two of my favorite movies in recent years, Psycho Goreman and The Void.

The streaming world is filled with way too many horror anthologies. So many of them don’t understand the need to have a framing story and a unifying theme. That’s because so many are just shorts all jammed together to try and take your money. V/H/S/94 has the one thing those movies are missing — well, besides actual talent and artistry — and that’s fun. Everyone looks like they had an incredible time making these, filling the screen with big ideas and plenty of guts and fluids.

You can watch this on Shudder.

FANTASTIC FEST: Last of the Wolves (2021)

Three years after The Blood of WolvesKorô no chi: Level 2 (AKA The Blood of the Wolves 2 and Last of the Wolves) finds Shuichi Hioka taking over after the death of the corrupt Shōgo Ōgami and fulfilled his mentor police officer’s plan: a truce between the various gangs of Hiroshima. Yet when Shigehiro Uebayashi (Ryohei Suzuki, Tokyo Tribe) is released from prison, the Japanese-Korean criminal reunites his old gang with their old mission and reinvents the violence his yakuza brothers were once feared for.

Based on Yuko Yuzuki’s novel, this film — directed by Kazuya Shiraishi and written by Junya Ikegami — recalls the glory days of Japanese gangster cinema. There’s some gorgeous imagery — tattooed bodies in cages, for one — that pushes against the grime, blood and brutality on display here.

Both Hioka and Uebayashi have lost a boss and have something to prove to their fellow officers and gang members. The only questions are ones of moral principles and honor: will Hioka follow the path of Ōgami and accept that he must be tainted by corruption for even a small portion of justice to be delivered, while Uebayashi feels that loyalty must be followed even if it means that he must die.

The old ways and violence of the past are giving way to the politics and business of the future. Yet for these two men, they stand at the crossroads of history. Yet the desire for power and the need for violence forever remain constants.

I haven’t had the opportunity to see much modern Japanese gangster cinema and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I adored this. Near-constant rain, plentiful blood and violence, still photo history moments — it’s stylish and exciting. If you’re looking for something new, you should track this down once it comes to the United States.

Last of the Wolves is currently plating Fantastic Fest and is not otherwise streaming in the U.S. You can learn more about this feature at the official site.

FANTASTIC FEST: Waxworks (1924)

This silent German film is one of the first — if not the first anthology films, as it tells multiple stories comprising fantasy adventure, history and horror. The connecting story is about a writer accepting a job from a waxworks proprietor to write a series of tales about the exhibits in his wax museum, which include Harun al-Rashid, Ivan the Terrible and Jack the Ripper.

As a love of portmanteau, it’s a thrill to see this film, which influenced Dead of Night and Black Sabbath, two movies that are thought to be the start of the horror anthology genre. And in the words of someone who knows way more about movies than me — Troy Howarth — “Of all the later horror anthologies, it seems to have had the most direct effect on Amicus’ Torture Garden, which reused the waxworks motif.”

There’s also a moment in the Ivan the Terrible story where the writer claims that the conquerer turned cities into cemeteries, which made me smile and say, “They will make cemeteries their cathedrals and the cities will be your tombs.”

The film has a great cast with plenty of history, including:

Emil Jannings, the first — and only German — recipient of the Academy Award for Best Actor for his roles in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. A fictional version of him appears and dies in Inglourious Basterds, which is fitting as Jannings’ career ending after appearing in Axis propaganda films. He plays Harun al-Rashid from the Arabian Nights.

Conrad Veidt, who plays Ivan the Terrible, is probably best known for playing somnambulist Cesare in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and as the villain in The Man Who Laughs, which inspired the Joker. He was also a powerful medium and occultist in real life who finally went to Hollywood where he appeared in Whistling in the DarkAll Through the NIghtAbobe Suspicion and Casablanca.

Werner Krauss, who is both Jack the Ripper and — spoiler — Spring Heel Jack, was called the man of a thousand faces, the greatest actor of all time and a demonic genius, which is probably the most fitting description, as he was an unapologetic antisemite who supported the Nazi Party.

William Dieterle, who plays the writer, would come to America and make The Life of Emile Zola, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, as well as movies like the film noir films The Accused and Dark City.

John Gottowt, the waxworks owner, also played Professor Bulwer, the Van Helsing role in Nosferatu. As a Jewish man, he was kept from making movies when the Nazis took over. He was murdered in 1942 by an SS officer when his disguise as a Roman Catholic priest was discovered.

Speaking of Nosferantu, this movie has the same writer, Henrik Galeen.

Co-director Paul Leni would make it to Hollywood, where he’d direct the second Charlie Chan movie, The Chinese Parrot, as well as The Man Who Laughs. The other director, Leo Birinsky, would go on to write and direct Flirtation, a precode film about the romantic adventures of a burlesque dancer.

The version that played Fantastic Fest has the score interpreted by PRD Mais, “a collection of young and talented percussionists who combine the rich musical heritage of Brazil with an innovative mindset shaped by a limitless range of contemporary influences.”

Fantastic Fest @ Home is featuring a series of silent films reimagined with the music of five artists from GroundUp music. Beyond this film, there’s also Aelita: Queen of Mars with a score by Snarky Puppy’s Chris Bullock, Sirintip rescoring The Lost World, PRD Mais taking on Waxworks, Bob Lanzetti covering Nosferantu and House of Waters playing music for MenilmontantLe Voyage dans la Lune and Ballet Mecanique.

FANTASTIC FEST: Cop Secret (2021)

Leynilögga means Secret Log in Islandic, as far as Google tells me, which is a funny joke if true, as this film is all about a tough cop in denial of his own sexual orientation who falls in love with his new partner.

Directed by Hannes Þór Halldórsson, the goalie for Iceland’s national soccer team, it’s all about criminal mastermind Rikki Ferrari (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson), who was once a model before being disfigured. Now, he’s gone full Joker and is on a murder spree that can only be stopped by buddy cop — odd couple buddy cop at that — duo Bussi and Hörđur. Bussi is the tough guy who can barely keep his apartment clean and his face shaved, while Hörđur is a male model cop. Yet the longer they’re together, Hörđur’s looks and Bussi’s repressed homosexuality soon turn their partnership into more than a work relationship. And Rikki starts to blackmail them once he learns their cop secret.

Aren’t all buddy cop movies romcoms when you really get down to it? Instead of all that macho posturing and showing off guns, didn’t you ever wonder if they really just wanted to, well, show off their guns in private? I’ve never seen a coming out in the middle of a brutal gunfight, but hey — that’s the kind of ballistic buffoonery that Cop Secret has in store.

And if the end feels very Nolan Batman, well, director of photography Elli Cassata was a cameraman on Batman Begins.

Cop Secret is not streaming anywhere outside of festivals as of yet. We saw it as part of Fantastic Fest. Keep checking the official site for more information.