Fantastic Fest 2022 recap

What an experience! I love Fantastic Fest and every year, while exhausting in the best of ways, the benefits of watching so many movies in so short a time always reminds me just how much I love writing and creating this site.

Here’s a list of what I watched this year. You can also check out the Letterboxd list.

Amazing Elisa

The Antares Paradox

Bad City

Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle

Chop And Steel

Country Gold

Deep Fear

Demigod: The Legend Begins

The Elderly

Everyone Will Burn


Gamera vs. Zigra

Give Me An A

Give Me Pity!

Joint Security Area

A Life On The Farm

Living With Chucky

Lynch / Oz

Mako: The Jaws of Death




Shin Ultraman

Solomon King

Something In the Dirt

The Stairway To Stardom Mixtape 

The Strange Case Of Jacky Caillou

Tintorera: Killer Shark

Unidentified Objects

Shorts With Legs
Short Fuse
Drawn And Quartered
Fantastic Shorts
Chaos Reigns Vol. 1, 2 & 3

Burnt Ends
Don’t Let The Riverbeast Get You!

Freaky Farley – 2k Restoration

Heard She Got Married

Local Legends

Magic Spot

Metal Detector Maniac

All Jacked Up And Full Of Worms

Barber Westchester

Brutal Season

Heroes Of Africa

Hundreds Of Beavers

Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters


The Third Saturday In October Part I

The Third Saturday In October Part V


Thanks for having me Fantastic Fest. I can’t wait until next year.

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Local Legends (2013)

Directed and written by its star, Matt Farley, Local Legends is a black and white loose adaption of, well, Matt Farley’s life. It’s probably the best explanation for why the films of Farley and Charlie Roxburgh work so well.

How can one man have seventy bands, make a movie or two a year, release 23,000 songs as of February 2022 and get so much done? Focus and drive.

This film features songs by Farley’s bands Moes Haven. The Toilet Bowl Cleaners, The Guy Who Sings Your Name Over and Over, The Hungry Food Band and Papa Razzi and the Photogs while the film takes a near commercial sell for everything Matt has made and will make. You get to watch him play basketball and impersonate famous players (and yes, he really did have someone do statistics for his one on one games). You see him walk all over town and interact with his friends, many of whom play his friends — and enemies — in his films. And you get real slices of life, like someone who wants to critique his movies and has better ideas, yet has never made a film of their own. Or the girl who has every Billy Joel album, but really just the greatest hits.

Look, Matt would rather have made some movies than had some cars. He walks just about everywhere, when you think about it.

I found this movie utterly charming and inspirational. I love when people are out there in the world making things and no one makes more things than Matt. He’s also willing to place his phone number into movies, so when I texted him mid-movie and we started chatting, it added a strange metatextural experience that I will never ever get from any other movie or filmmaker ever.

That blows my mind.

Just watch it on YouTube for yourself.

FANTASTIC FEST: Unidentified Objects (2022) and interview with director Juan Felipe Zuleta and musician Sebastian Zuleta

Peter (Matthew Jeffers) is an alien in so many worlds based on how people see both his dwarfism and sexual identity as a gay man. Therefore, he avoids nearly everyone. But his neighbor Winona (Sarah Hay, The Mortuary Collection) pushes past that and asks him for a ride to Canada to meet up with the aliens that abducted her in her teens and go back home with them. The money she offers helps.

Director Juan Felipe Zuleta and writer Leland Frankel have put together a film that defies expectations. Sure, it’s a road trip where two mismatched people come together and learn from each other, yet it’s so good as works its way to its conclusion, with strange moments out of reality as Peter meets an alien cop or how he comes to understand Winona’s sex work career.

Neither character is presented as perfect and that’s what’s perfect about this movie. And the audio atmosphere created by Zuleta’s brother Sebastian gives this a sound all its own in the same way that the film looks like nothing else. Jeffers and Hay are such a perfect match as two people who should not be. I wish I had more time to spend with their characters, which is the mark of a great movie.

I had the opportunity to speak to director andco-writer Juan Felipe Zuleta and Sebastian Zuleta, who scored the film. It really added a lot to my enjoyment of this film.

B&S About Movies: One of the things that was really striking in youyr film was that there’s a lot of ways to look at aliens, whether it’s people that are outsiders within their culture because of their bodies or their choices. Was that intentional?

Juan Felipe Zuleta: Yes, absolutely. It’s funny that you say that because Sebastian and I are from born and raised in Colombia and we both had green cards for some time that had a number that identified us as aliens. Official aliens of the United States. (laughs)

Since then, I’ve been incredibly interested in the word alien as away to categorize outsiders, misfits, people who don’t belong. People who are alien to a territory or a place and yet, there’s so many of them. Unidentified Objects is a about those aliens in the world, those on Earth and those out of Earth. It’s kind of like an exploration of that what that means.

B&S: There’s a real feeling of the other here. Some things are real or maybe not real. Like when the alien cop pulls them over, you wonder, did it happen?

Juan: That’s definitely a language that was initiated from the script. I wanted that ambiguity to reinforce the way we filmed it and also come through the music escape that my brother Sebastian created. It was the tone in general. I do feel I tend to love movies that have ambiguity and that manage to keep that tone throughout.

B&S: The music is perfect.

Sebastian Zuleta: It was all tailor made. The process was by far — I’ve worked with my brother on many, many projects since like his very first short film — and this is by far the best collaboration I’ve had with with with him. Just seeing him grow as a director, making a feature but also just the process. Since from the onset from when I got the script, I read it and I started already talking to my brother and brainstorming about sounds and where do we want to go. And then aliens!

I’ve never really worked with analog synthesizers so I just dove in and started getting a few. I was sending sounds to Juan and getting feedback during production. By the time they finished, we had a sizeable library of original sounds for the film. We had themes and ideas and figured out where they should go. This allowed my brother while he was working with the editor to place some things and have anchors throughout.

Then, I got some cuts and started writing to picture.

One of the things I enjoyed most was finding out whenever you’d use an adjective to describe music, everyone still intrerpreted it differently. Even though I’ve known my brother all my life, like how we see and hear music is different. Hwo can we fine tune and understand one anotehr better? So if he says,  I want it to be dark or emotional, what does that mean in music? What does cold mean? What chord progressions can do that?

It was fun to keep digging deeper into our relationship not only as brothers but as filmmakers.

B&S: You also have a famous song in the bar scene.

Juan: The surreal elements are inspired by David Lynch, like how he used music in Blue Velvet. I knew from the script that I wanted to use Roy Orbison, just as Lynch did in his films. “Crying” was actually the song we used on set. It’s just an emotion and yes, that’s the name of the song, but there are so many laters behind it. It was perfect for the tone we were trying to accomplish.

There are other songs that are alien-like. I wish we could have had some David Bowie in the film, but there is some Electric Light Orchestra.

B&S: Other than Lynch, who influences you?

Juan: So particularly in this film, I think Lynch obvious. A little bit of Luis Buñuel. There are a lot of movies in the road trip genre but I love Little Miss Sunshine and Y tu mamá también. They are two of my favorite movies ever, especially Y tu mamá también because it isn’t overdesigned or overedited.

To get an alien point of view or an elevated state, I decided to shoot with anamorphic lenses so then I started to stylize it a little bit more. That comes from influences like the Coen Brothers. If you look at The Big Lebowski there’s some sequences there that inspired me.

What I like about Lynch is the little messages, the dark comedy, the dry humor. The characters seem to be super self-conscious and self-aware about. their own circumstances. So it’s not always funny, but his movies seem to be more tragedies that just happen to be funny. (laughs)

Last, but not least, the ambiguity that we spoke about earlier, includingthe tone of the music there’s a lot of inspiration there from Jóhann Jóhannsson, like how you can allow the audience’s imagination to play detective and make the music part of the storytelling.

My brother went to the NASA library as well, so there are times in this movie when you are hearing what it sounds like to be in space. He processed the sounds of what it sounds like on Mars and they’re in the movie.

B&S: Have you guys ever taken a road trip together?

Juan: I was probably like seven. Our parents had a 1994 Toyota and we drove from our hometown to the Colombian coast to a city called Santa Marta which is a fourteen hour frive. It was very much Y tu mamá también. (laughs)

Sebastian: All our luggage was on the top with the surfboards. (laughs)

Juan: I want to say that my brother is a genius. He would go off in his little world and then he would email me sounds at night and I would be like like a little kid opening a gift and Christmas.

(To Sebastian) Every time you send me stuff and that was so special.

We poured our hearts into it and I hope it comes through.

Sebastian: My brother is the best brother in the world. It really is a blessing to have such a talented brother. He’s a serious filmmaker and I get to work with him. I feel lucky.

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Unidentified (2022)

Thirty years ago, a spherical UFO appeared in the sky above several cities on Earth and then remained there, just floating. Some believe that the aliens that piloted them now live amongst us, which leads to unrest and outright violence among the inhabitants of Earth.

Directed and writer Jude Chun has created a series of vignettes that all add up to show us what this would be like and how it would feel to live on this version of our world. It seems like in this reality, everyone, no matter there they come from, has become an alien. Anyone younger than 29 is immediately considered by many to be an alien, even if they are from here all along.

Not all of the parts of this add up, but for those that do, it’s an incredible experience. Just the sight of those ships floating above cities is unnerving. I can’t imagine living in their shadow.


FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Drawn and Quartered

The animated shorts from Fantastic Fest that I got to see are here.

Drone (2022): In this film by Sean Buckelew, a malfunction at a CIA press event pushes a drone installed with an ethical AI personality to go off its mission as it attempts to understand its purpose. The animation in this short is astounding, rooted in reality yet having a cartoon look that’s really appealing. I loved how we saw not only the actions of the drone, but also the way it impacts the lives of the many people who were part of it. The world starts to follow the drone on its mission, but the government learns nothing, putting a smiley face on weapons of death even after the only machine — or soldier — with a heart is long gone. A sobering, realistic ending for a movie filled with sheer fantasy.

Goodbye Jerome! (2022): Directed and written by Chloé Farr, Gabrielle Selnet and Adam Sillard, Goodbye Jerome!, the protagonist tries to find his wife Maryline. In the course of his search, he gets lost within a surreal and colorful world in which no one seems to be able to help him.

With the voices of William Lebghil and Alma Jodorowsky, as well as a gorgeous art style that just guides you into a simple yet complicated and rewarding otherworld, this is a film that will stay in my brain for some time.

This film looked like the posters in Spencer’s in the 70s when I was too young to smoke marijuana. Ah, a wistful simpler time and man, I wish we still had Wicks ‘n Sticks.

The Grannies (2022): Director Marie Foulston relies on the imagery of the video game Red Dead Redemption 2 and the voices and experiences of players Marigold Bartlett, Andrew Brophy, Ian MacLarty and Kalonica Quigley as they explain what happened when they decided to go beyond the borders of the online version of the game and found places where reality broke, where they dropped for hours in endless chasms and were able to create shared moments despite not being actually together.

I also enjoyed that this group played as old women, as whenever they encountered other players, they found that others reacted strongly to how odd it was to have four old women attack them.

A Guitar in the Bucket (2021): Created by Boyoung Kim, this feels like the big problems with our world and the world that is to come, a place where push buttons and machines decide what we want and what’s good for us. Machines have everything that anyone could want, but when a young girl wants to be a guitar player — something that no one else wants but her — the world keeps that from happening. It reminds me of the fact that we can get any movie we want at any time and people choose to not challenge themselves with cinema but instead keep watching the same movies or worse, refuse to explore the films of other countries.

Happy New Year, Jim (2022): Morten Hakke and Jim Muzungu are playing video games all day just like every single day but today is New Year’s Eve and things feel different in this animated film by Andrea Gatopoulos. I feel this, as I sit here all night and try and fill my site with content that maybe nine people will read. Then again, if you can reach nine people, that’s more than you just experiencing things for yourself. So even if all you have is one friend playing video games with you, that’s something. I have to confess, I have spent hours in video games earning achievements and getting new clothes for a character that in days I won’t need or think of, but at the time, it feels like it means so much more than it eventually does. Also: are we all just in a video game instead of life?

Krasue (2022): The krasue may be best known to film fans from Mystics In Bali and Demonic Beauty.  This animated film by Ryo Hirano has a Yakuza encounter one of the creatures, which looks like a woman’s head with all of her organs hanging out as she flies around.

Everything in this movie is absolutely stunning, a neon-colored and blood-strewn romance that also looks like River City Ransom and I’m here for all of that. This whole thing would be pretty frightening if it were live action but seeing as how it’s animated, it’s really pretty whimsical.

More movies should have flying heads with guts hanging out floating all over the place.

Magnified City (2022): This movie makes me consider the fact that my love for cinema is often trapped in the past sometime around 1981. Those are the kind of thoughts that come into your head when you think over a movie about a human magnifying glass being kidnapped by a secret society of projector humans who want to use his lens to recapture the city’s greatness. Do I find too much joy in nostalgia? Am I doing enough to expand my influences?

Perfect City: The Mother (2022): A stop-motion story all about a wood monster giving birth to a child covered in ugly roots. A liquid with the brand name of Perfect is able to sculpt the wooden baby into a perfect human child, but should it? How wonderful that the child is CGI and it’s up against the real tactile traditional animation. This looks absolutely fantastic, a movie that blew my mind and that would make a great zone out movie if it wasn’t so sinister in parts, because I could see this taking me into some strange trips. It also makes me worried about having children any time soon. You can see more of this at official site of Shengwei Zhou, its creator.

Trichotillomania (2021): Trichotillomania is a disorder that is known to cause irresistible urges to pull out hair from the scalp, eyebrows or other areas of the body. Kate is someone suffering from it and she isn’t finding any of the answers as to why on the Internet. Man, I used to get so mad at myself in my thirties that I would just grab fistfuls of hair and yank them out. Just like cutting, the feeling of adrenaline would make me forget the mental pain that I was in, but then it gets really obvious when you have large chunks of hair missing. This short, directed and written by Anotai Pichayapatarakul, explores how this impacts people and how there are no simple solutions.

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: The Elderly (2022)

Directed by Fernando González Gómez and Raúl Cerezo, who wrote the script with Rubén Sánchez Trigos and Javier Trigales, The Elderly starts with an older woman falling off a balcony to her death and then deals with dementia, aging and the elderly telling their children that they plan on killing them.

Yeah. Get ready.

Manuel (Zorion Eguileor) is the grandfather who faces life without his wife of fifty years. His son Mario (Gustavo Salmerón) would rather his father stay with him than a home, no matter what his wife  Lena (Irene Anula) wants. Meanwhile, his teenage daughter Naia (Paula Gallego) starts to see the spirit of her grandmother. It starts slow, but by the time things increase in tension and the temperate increases in Madrid, every old person could be a threat.

What is it with everyone doing the Ari Aster thing where old people get naked and we’re supposed to be creeped out by it? Let me screw your head up. Your once supple skin and gorgeous looks will one day face aging and if you’re turned off now, you’ll be turned off then. Get over it. We are our souls, not this whole fiction suit we wear in this reality.

That said — this movie is gorgeous and freaked me out with its ever rising tides of fascism and high temperatures. It hits a lot close to home, as my father is currently suffering from early dementia, at times thinking he is sixteen and wondering how he has a son so old.


FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Give Me An A (2022)

In just two months after the announcement that Roe vs. Wade would be overturned, a group of female filmmakers gathered to create this anthology of short films. They are:

Hold Please: director Hannah Alline and writer Savannah Rose Scaffe

God’s Plan: director and writer Avital Ash

DTF: Director Bonnie Discepolo who co-wrote this short with Trevor Munson

The Last Store: Director and writer Loren Escandon

Crucible Island: Director Valerie Finkel and writers Laura Covelli and Danielle Aufiero

Abigail; The Cheerleaders: Director and writer Natasha Halevi

Sweetie: Director Caitlin Josephine Hargraves and writer Madison Hetfield

Good Girl: Director Danin Jacquay, who wrote this with Matthew Vorce

The Walk: Director and writer Sarah Kopkin

Traditional: Director Francesca Maldonado and writer Lexx Fusco

Vasectopia: Director Kelly Nygaard and writer Natasha Halevi

Plan C: Director and writer Megan Rosati

Crone: Director and writer Mary C. Russell

mediEVIL: Director Monica Suriyage and writers Rowan Fitzgibbon and Lexx Fusco

The Voiceless: Director and writer Megan Swertlow

Our Precious Babies: Director Erica Mary Wright and writer Anne Bond

There’s also plenty of talent on hand, including Alyssa Milano, Milana Vayntrub, Virginia Madson, Gina Tores, Jennifer Holland, Sean Gunn, Molly C. Quinn and many more.

Much like so many modern horror anthologies, this is somewhat of a mixed bag, but with its cause it nearly is critic proof. I did like the entry about sex contracts and in no way was I bored. But don’t go in expecting Amicus. Do expect to get upset. Instead of posting about it, do something about it.

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Barber Westchester (2022)

Created by Jonni Phillips, this movie is the first production produced by her independent animation studio Herbert Sorbet Studios. It’s a continuation of Jonni’s 2019-2020 series Secrets and Lies in a Town of Sinners which told the many stories if the town of Des Amato, California. One of the characters, Barber Westchester, was a young aspiring astronomer dealing with the death of her brother and her father’s religion The Cult of DACIA. That series ended when she got an invitation to intern for NASA.

Now, as this movie starts, Barber learns that space is a lie and NASA is a sham.

The movie features original score and songs by Dylan Kanner, as well as guest animation by Emily Martinez, Benni Quintero, Ian Worthington, Chris Kim, Yasmeen Abedifard, Mel Murakawa-White, Frankie Tamaru, Kelly Ficarra and Victoria Vincent with paintings by Tyrell Solomon, additional character animation by Maddie Brewer, Sidney Gale and Franky Wish, and additional character designs by Zaria Bohanon.

I really enjoyed this, as it has a fun animation style and tells a wild story. I never saw the original series, but in no way do you need to. I assume it would be a somewhat richer experience if you did, but I still had a great time.

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: The Antares Paradox (2022)

Directed, written and filmed by Luis Tinoco — his first full-length movie — this movie is anchored by Andrea Trepat, who plays astrophysicist Alexandra Baeza. The entire film is spent with her, all in one room, as she works for SETI to find intelligent life in the universe. When a signal comes in from the Antares system, she also gets another more earthbound signal that her father is dying. Where do her loyalties lie? Toward science or family?

Alexandra receives messages from co-workers, a boss, her sister and her father as she remains inside that one room in a storm, hoping that this will be the moment that all her work gives us proof of life on other planets. Meanwhile, her father’s life slips as he sends her messages that the understands her work.

SETI has a protocol that must be followed to ensure that the message from space isn’t something human. That means that our heroine must verify everything in a very short window because her project can only use the observatory for a limited amount of time. As the rain begins to fall and winds howl, that window grows tight and her sister can’t get to be with her father as he passes, so her life is hammering her from both sides.

This movie hit me directly in the heart. So much of my life has been devoted to my work and never to many people. My own father has been dealing with dementia for the last few years and often, I find myself bound by marital and work commitments and feel like Alexandra, in a cold war as everyone works so hard to be there and you have made yourself an undependable ghost. This movie has made me consider my place not just in my world, but in the worlds of so many others.

At no time does this give you any answers, easy or hard. You’re just like you are in life, lost and adrift amongst the dust of the stars.

FANTASTIC FEST 2022: Chaos Reigns volume 3

This is the last gasp of shorts from Fantastic Fest.

Night (2021): Ahmed Saleh’s Night is based on the true story of a Palestinian mother and took four years to make, which you will realize is true after seeing how detailed the stop motion animation is. Hiam Abbass is the voice of the mother, Salma Saleh is her daughter and Night is played by Rafia Oraidi.

The idea of this film is that Night has to fool the Mother into sleeping to save her soul as war rages all around. This lives up to its title — it’s very dark in tone — and the music is beyond sumptuous. It’s haunting throughout and tells its story in an incredibly effective way.

I’d love to see a behind the scenes to learn how this was made.

O, Glory! (2022): Directed and written by Joe Williams and Charlie Edwards-Moss, this is the story of a psychiatric doctor and his assistant who have been summoned to an isolated country house to examine Deborah (Emily Stott), whose brother believes is losing her mind.

The three men find themselves in the grip of her psychosis — or is it theirs? — as they try to help her. Shot in rural England and infused with folk horror, this shot on 35mm short is gorgeous, this could — and should — be a full length movie.

Return to Sender (2022): Director and writer Russell Goldman and producer Jamie Lee Curtis were inspired by things ordered from Amazon that didn’t arrive or the wrong thing came instead. Goldman based Julia, the hero of this story, on his family’s history of addiction. She gets no support from customer service as her orders fail and ends up ruining not just her life, but someone else’s as well when she doesn’t get what she wanted.

Allison Tolman plays Julia and she’s great, just falling to pieces as she keeps getting the wrong packages which must be some grand conspiracy against her. This looks incredible and is better than most major movies I’ve seen this year.

Seafoam (2022): Directed, written by and starring Izzy Stevens, Seafoam explores a waking nightmare as Billy keeps seeing the same man (Jae Kim) after visiting her mother in a psychiatric health ward. By the end of the film, this descends into madness.

What it gets right is a really hard thing: the hours that seem to crawl by as you watch someone you love who is no longer there, telling you things that may not exist, as you keep watching their face for any inkling that they know who you are. And you know where they are now is where you will be someday very soon. This movie hit me a bit too hard.

Sucks to Be the Moon (2022): Creators Tyler March, Eric Paperth and Rob Tanchum have created an animated short in which the moon, tired of being lonely and in the shadow of the sun, decides to escape to meet other planets and falls in which a bad crowd — Pluto — and somehow comes back together to be friends with the Sun, only for both to realize just how important they are — were — to Earth.

This is a movie that has taught me that the universe is basically a club where all the planets hang out.

What have you been up to, Moon? “Hard drugs and crime.”

I’d say this was perfect for kids, but man, in no way should you let your kids watch it.

Tank Fairy (2021): In this short film by Erich Rettstadt, Marian Mesula plays the Tank Fairy, a magical woman who delivers tanks of gas with plenty of sass) to Jojo (Ryan Lin), a young man with a dream and the need for someone exactly like the Tank Fairy in his life.

This movie looks like foreign commercials or a strange TV show from a country you can’t place and you watch it while you eat and watch those wild music videos that some restaurants still play and I say that as a supreme compliment. Shot in Taiwan, it has energy, verve and, yes, sass. Also gas.

This movie feels like it could give someone that needs hope some hope.

Vertical Valor (2022): Directed and written by Alex Kavutskiy, Vertical Valor celebrates the lost heroes of World War 3: the skaters who stayed home and keep working on their ollie while delivering bad news to, well, the same dad over and over and over yet again. Man, I never knew I could have served in this unit, because I could rail grind and get some limited air even as a fat teenager. Perhaps my knowledge of sponsored riders and Misfits lyrics could have been put to service for my country. I could have read old issues of Thrasher to blind vets. Man, while I’m glad that we haven’t had a major world war — I mean, give 2022 time — I do know that I could have been part of the effort.

Zombie Meteor (2022):  Co-directors and writers José Luis Farias and Alfonso Fulgencio have taken the boredom I feel about zombies and made them fun again. Mar (Coral Balas) and Petrov (Iván Muelas) are in orbit on a space station when — you guessed it from the title — a meteor filled with zombies adds so much danger to their regular day.

I had no expectations about this. In fact, I thought from the description I’d not enjoy it. I will admit it. I was wrong, this was great and I’ll watch anything these creative forces make. You won me over, even if I’m still sick of zombies.

Keep your mind open and allow the living dead inside, I guess.