Back again into the trenches (although a bit late today) with the fighting geek squads. I missed the planned screening of the animated film Terra
(although I hear it was “Ferngully in Space”
if that was a good thing. Instead, I walked in mid-afternoon to see…
Guess what country made one of the best martial arts films I’ve seen in some time AS WELL as one of the best film noirs? Both films are here at Fantastic Fest
so for those who haven’t been paying attention, it is the Danes. Yes, “Fighter”
is a Danish feature although it’s main characters are all Muslims from Turkey. Confused? Hunker down and sit a spell and let Uncle Cyrus
tell ya why you want to pay attention to this one.
is a teenage Turkish girl who has a hard time finding interest in the things young women in her culture are told they should be interested in. She’d rather study martial arts and in fact is really really good at it. Something about the Muslims though: they don’t like women who can kick their ass. Aicha
is trapped between her family’s expectations of her and her natural ability and love of the martial arts.
Ok go ahead and say it. It does indeed sound like a Kung-Fu “Bend it Like Beckham.”
The comparison is just too obvious. That being said, “Fighter”
is very much it’s own film and an incredible one at that. Most martial arts films you’re just waiting for the dialogue to be over so the ass-kicking can begin. Not so here. I found myself completely wrapped up in Aicha
’s story and on the edge of my seat rooting for her. Fuck tradition. Time to kick ass. My socks were officially rocked by “Fighter.”
It even gave me the damn chills at one point. Add it XIan Gao
from “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”
as her instructor and you’ve got a haunting meditation on discipline, honor and as Xian
says in the film, “We learn to fight so we don’t have to fight.”
I ran outside just so I could gush about this to anybody within hearing distance. Anytime something new and exciting happens in the world of Martial Arts films I get all squeeeeeeeeee
. After I calmed down, I went into the next theater to see…
Zombie Girl : The Movie
How do I review a film that I know almost everyone in? This one is my only scheduled documentary of the fest and I knew from the get go that it was gonna be hard to find an angle on it other than “whee, people I know.”
I’m gonna give it the ol’ Cyrus
is twelve (at the time of filming.) She’s a typical 12 year old except that SHE TOTALLY IS MAKING A FEATURE LENGTH ZOMBIE MOVIE
so not really a typical 12 year old at all, I don’t know why I even typed that. Officially she is beyond question in the very top tiers of the coolest teenagers who have ever lived.
Naturally, her mom has got to be about the best-est-est
mom in the history of the world. The two of them were mainstays at pretty much any Alamo event throughout her growing up and she even was accepted into Harry Knowles
’s exclusive birthday party, the 24 hour straight film fest “Buttnumbathon.”
She was admitted to see Peter Jackson
who was in attendance but what she got from it was a new found love for zombie films because of the awesome Australian zombie pic “Undead.”
So at ten, Emily
started writing her zombie movie, Pathogen
. Flash to two years later and Emily
has actually convinced a local production company to help her make and let her direct her film. The question lurks: Can a twelve year old stick in out and make a feature film? “Zombie Girl”
seeks to answer that question and more importantly, should Emily
’s mom get some sort of special humanitarian award or something for most patient and loving parent in history? (Except my Mom
of course: you know I love ya)
I had a hard time at first. Within the first few minutes there was a twenty foot tall Carlyle
looming in front of me which made me want to run screaming. Yes, Carlyle
is in the film. While “Zombie Girl”
details everything that went into the making of "Pathogen"
, it felt to me more like an argument to think VERY carefully before choosing to undertake something like this yourself. It’s a helluva lot more work and pain in the ass than you think it’s gonna be. More kudos yet to a twelve year old girl sticking it out, getting it done, and making a surprisingly entertaining horror movie. As Carlyle
suggests might happen in the film, I can’t wait to see the next Emily Hagins
Already things are running behind but that’s okay. I’m prepping for the big karaoke/trivia/bacchanalian geek fest later tonight and have in the interest of being extremely broke, brought along a flask of whiskey of which I pass around between my favored FF attendees and myself. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna need it for a Jean-Claude Van Damme
? Really? But yes, Van Damme
’s self-acronym-titled film is one of the hits of the fest. I thought the ‘playing yourself’
thing was played out but in all honesty, Van Damme
does find a new angle on it, sort of.
is having an awful time. His films aren’t the hits they used to be. Hollywood doesn’t really want him anymore. His wife has left him and gotten sole custody of his daughter. He’s broke. Life kind of sucks. He returns to his home city of Brussels and ends up accidentally a hostage at a local post office robbery (?) gone awry. Through a misunderstanding, the police think HE’S the one committing the crime which leads to much musings on the cult of celebrity.
Filmed in a washed-out grainy style, JCVD
looks exactly as a film about this level of exhaustion should. Make no mistake, this ain’t a martial arts movie. Barely any kicking of ass occurs. I found myself at points frustrated going, “You’re Jean Claude Van Damme and you know freaking Kung-Fu...kick these guys heads off their shoulders!”
Right off the bat, what little of a fan club JC
has left stateside is gonna be scratching their heads and making confused monkey noises. Why even do this?
is no dummy. He’s really REALLY smart in fact (wanna bet Brussels has a much better education system than America does?) He’s just worn down, getting older and probably pretty sick of making the same type of action films as we are of seeing them. JCVD
is a simple story wrapped around an incredibly touching and applause-generating moment in the middle of the movie where the entire story stops, the set lifts away, and Jean-Claude
just talks straight up direct to the audience. In a soliloquy that’s brutally honest about who he is as a man and where he stands now in his life and as a movie actor, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t acting. That being said, JC
is actually really good in this and it appears that we all may need to redefine our opinions on who this guy is. FSM
help me, I’m actually looking forward to what Jean-Claude Van Damme
Forever and ever later, and well into the early stages of tipsiness, I was let in (as one of the last ticket holders) into a ridiculously crowded theater for a film I’d heard nothing about…
The old west. I love it. I don’t want to go back and time and live there or anything (anyplace with no internet is a completely unacceptable time travel destination for Cyrus
) but I do enjoy mah stories. “The Burrowers”
mixes a gritty western with a monster movie and ends up with a mildly awkward mix between the two.
) is planning on proposing marriage to his young and lovely sweetheart. Only problem is, the night before the plan, something has attacked her house, killed her family, and made off with her. What with this being the old west and all, the assumption is that it must be Indians. Coffey
and a scouting group are hot on the trail of the Indians only it seems more and more clear that the Indians they DO find are frightened of something they call ‘the burrowers’
which the stupid white man of course assumes must be some other rogue Indian tribe. People start disappearing, something is leaving big weird holes in the ground, and a victim with a weird slash on her neck is found almost completely buried in the ground, alive and paralyzed (and not looking at all well.)
Is this “Tremors”
in the old west? I must firmly say no. Other than both films having monsters that live underground, there really isn’t anything to compare. While “The Burrowers”
has moments of comedy, it’s NOT a horror comedy at all. Actually, it’s barely a horror really. I couldn’t help but feel that the director J.T. Petty
really just wanted to make a dark western, but those don’t sell as well at the pitch meetings these days so he wrote out a crazy rogue Indian tribe and changed them to burrowing monsters. It’s not that the horror stuff doesn’t work...the ending is SO tight...but that the Western part is so good that I found myself merely distracted by the creatures and wanted more shooting. A great cast consisting of the wonderful Clancy Brown
, William Mapother
, Sean Patrick Thomas
and the always dependably slimy and despicable Doug Hutchison
all add up to make “The Burrowers”
a worthwhile watch.
Oh man, oh man, oh man. This is the night and the time I’ve been waiting for. Last year, Fantastic Feud
was a last minute, hastily assembled affair that took place in a quarter full room of the smallest theater in the Alamo
. It was roundly voted as the most popular event of that year’s fest. I was there and while I don’t want to tell any tales out of school and get anybody else who attended in any trouble, I shall merely elucidate that it was, off the hook, as it were. So naturally I was curious as to what what happen this year. Would the buzz about it and overcrowding kill it? We were being put into the largest room this time which was sold out. I’m having my doubts but…
Fantastic Feud 2008
Wow. A giant projection of the “Fantastic Feud”
logo and a score chart (not that anyone really cared that much about the score), a packed house of drunk people who could all tell you trivia about horror movies that would deeply disturb anyone's mother to know people actually memorized (except maybe Emily Hagins
), prizes (of a sort) being handed out, and a promise of all-night long madness...that’s Fantastic Feud
and it lived up to the promise of inspired madness.
I don’t know what there really is to write about this except to say I was up way way too late. The game was set up with host Scott Weinberg
who had polled fifty horror people (I think the only name he admitted to was Eli Roth
) for Family Feud type game play questions: Who’s the best actor in a horror, best 80’s horror series, etc, etc.
I had a great time even though I didn’t sing any karaoke because the song list was a little too generic for my refined “Karaoke Underground”
loving ass. Yes, I’m a music snob too, what of it? If there had been so much as a single song by The Cure
even I woulda gotten up there, but the hippest thing on this list came out in the seventies. A lot of other people did though including quite a few of the filmmakers like Fantastic Fest
fave Nacho Vigalondo
(winner of the Grand Prize here in 2007 for his film "Timecrimes."
Thanks to ex-Reel Dealer Michelle Williams
from the site Austindaze.com
for providing this cool vid and many more interviews and behind the scenes videos from this year's Fantastic Fest
At the end of the night, I took home with me more than just a DVD copy of “Wrong Turn 2”
and “Child’s Play.”
I took home the knowledge that Fantastic Fest
is gonna keep being awesome, Alamo Drafthouse
and Fantastic Fest
head Tim League
is an outstanding and stand-up guy, and I’m gonna be hurting pretty bad in the morning. Vive le Fest!