Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fantasia 2011: My List of Films

Fantasia 2011
My List of Films

Fantasia 2011 began selling tickets for this year's Festival today. The opening and closing films: Kevin Smith's Red State and the Guillermo Del Toro written and produced Don't Be Afraid of the Dark sold out very, very quickly (i.e. before I got to the box office).

Fantasia 2011
Tickets are $9 or 10 for $80 so I picked 20 films. I may add on a few more as the Festival goes on.

Here is what I bought, along with the number of my ticket (indicating how many tickets for the screening by the time I bought a ticket at 5:30 PM).

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame aka Di Renjie (2010) Hong Kong imdb
***A Cerebus Suggestion***
Directed by Tsui Hark, Written by Kuo-fu Chen and Jialu Zhang, Based on a story by Lin Qianyu
First of Van Gulik's Judge Dee Novels

A film about the Chinese Sherlock Holmes (at least I assume that it is the same Judge Dee as the Van Gulik novels) investigating a plot against the Empress who threw him in prison to rot for eight years. I have never been a big fan of Tsui Hark, but I love the Judge Dee character.

Attack the Block (2011) United Kingdom imdb
Written and Directed by Joe Cornish
Nick Frost stars in what has been described as Aliens vs. Street Punks.

The Unjust aka Bu-dang-geo-rae (2010) South Korea imdb
Directed by Seung-wan Ryoo, Written by Hoon-jung Park
The director of City of Violence tackles police corruption.

Ninja Kids!!! aka Nintama Rantarô (2011) Japan imdb
Directed by Takashi Miike, Written by Yoshio Urasawa, Based on the manga by Soubee Amako
Miike doing kid's films is always fun interesting insane. Since he can't use sex or violence or some twisted deviant combination of the two, Miike seems to settle for making little children's heads explode out their ears using the staples and tropes of children's literature.

Another Earth

Another Earth (2011) USA imdb
Directed by Mike Cahill, Written by Mike Cahill and Brit Marling
A science fiction film that is about ideas more than explosions and the way that human relationships are affected by the universe changing. (In this case by a second Earth from a parallel dimension appearing in our solar system.)

The Troll Hunter aka Trolljegeren (2010) Norway imdb
***A Cerebus Suggestion***
Directed by André Øvredal, Written by André Øvredal and Håvard S. Johansen
The Troll Hunter

Norwegian POV horror about a documentary film crew that blunders into a story that is much bigger than they expected.

Hello Ghost aka Hellowoo Goseuteu (2010) South Korea imdb
Written and Directed by Young-Tak Kim
The film I am the most leery about of all my choices. About a withdrawn loser who tries to commit suicide, fails and then finds himself haunted by four ghosts who force him to do errands for them to help them rest. 

Super (2010) USA imdb
Written and Directed by James Gunn
My only regret is that this plays at the same time as a film from Halifax called The Corridor. So I was forced to choose between seeing a film by Haligonians or a film featuring a Haligonian (Ellen Page).

Bellflower (2011) USA imdb
Written and Directed by Evan Glodell
The Medusa from Bellflower

I am going to see it because of the car.

True Legend aka Su Qi-Er (2010) Hong Kong imdb
Directed by Woo-ping Yuen, Written by Chi-long To
The greatest martial arts choreographer of our time (perhaps all time) directs for the first time in years: a film about Beggar Su, the forgotten third man in the Wong Fei-Hong and Fong Sai-Yuk triptych.

Battle Royale aka Batoru Rowaiaru (2000) Japan imdb
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, Written by Kenta Fukasaku, Based on the novel by Koushun Takami
In many ways the quintessential Fantasia film finally plays the Festival in a midnight screening in a theatre than can fit 720 ghouls. Can't wait!

The Whisperer in Darkness (2011) USA imdb
Directed by Sean Branney, Written by Sean Branney and Andrew Leman, Based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft
The Whisperer in Darkness

Described as the most successful Lovecraft adaptation ever. Financed by a group of madmen who are doing lo-fi versions of the Lovecraft stories shot in the style of the Universal Monster Movies.

13 Assassins (Director's Cut) aka Jûsan-nin No Shikaku (2010) Japan imdb
Directed by Takashi Miike, Written by Daisuke Tengan, Based on a screenplay by Kaneo Ikegami Normally, I would be a little bit leery about Miike in gore mode because he sometimes has a tendency to let gore grind the gears of narrative, but I have been intrigued ever since Roger Ebert gave it a rave review. (The reason that I like Ebert as a reviewer is that he writes reviews that make me want to watch the films that he likes.)

Redline (2009) Japan imdb
Directed by Takeshi Koike, Written by Katsuhito Ishii and Yoji Enokido and Yoshiki Sakurai, Based on a story by Katsuhito Ishii
Every year, I try to find the next Perfect Blue. Very few anime come close to that great film, but I keep trying. This year's candidate is a futuristic tale about a group of racers who use antique technology (i.e. 20th century race cars) I am intrigued especially by the hand-drawn art esthetic.

Stake Land (2010) USA imdb
Directed by Jim Mickle, Written by Jim Mickle and Nick Damici
Stake Land

At the risk of a huge disappointment, this is the film that I am most excited to see. By the same creative team as Mulberry Street, a film that I am flat out obsessed with.  I can't wait to see their follow-up film.

Rabies aka Kalevet (2010) Israel imdb
Written and Directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
Supposedly the first horror film from Israel and/or shot in Hebrew. I am intrigued by the description which suggests that the serial killer is the least dangerous person in the film.

Burke and Hare (2010) United Kingdom imdb
Directed by John Landis, Written by Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft
John Landis directs his first film in years and it stars Simon Pegg as Burke and Andy Serkis as Hare!
(Hopefully it will be better than I Sell the Dead, a 2009 Fantasia title that covered similar territory.)

The Devil's Double (2011) Belgium imdb
Directed by Lee Tamahori, Written by Michael Thomas and Latif Yahia, Based on the novel by Latif Yahia
Devil's Double

Based on the true story of the body double for Sadaam Hussein's crazy son Uday.
Ticket Number#143

The Devil's Rock (2011) New Zealand imdb
Directed by Paul Campion, Written by Paul Finch and Paul Campion and Brett Ihaka, Based on a story by Paul Campion
Paul Campion has a slew of credits working on the special effects of fantasy and science fiction films including the Lord of the Rings trilogy, two of the Narnia films, a Fantastic Four film, an X-men film and so on. What is interesting is that for his feature film debut, Campion has decided to tell a horror story that is all about atmosphere, claustrophobia and emotion - the story of a New Zealand commando in the dying days of World War II who stumbles into a Nazi occult experiment and must deal with the supernatural force they have unleashed who has taken the form of the commando's ex-wife.
Ticket Number#62

Exit (2011) Australia imdb
Directed by Marek Polgar, Written by Martyn Pedler
Comparing this film to Stalker is not a guaranteed way to get me on board, but I do love science fiction and fantasy films that rely on good ideas rather than huge special effects budget. The synopsis (which describes a group of citizens trying to escape a city with many doors but no exits) reminds me of the great Canadian film Cube as well as the Neil Gaiman/Alec Stevens story A Tale of Two Cities, from the Sandman: World's End series of stories.


Cerebus is an online friend of mine that I annually let pick a Fantasia film for me to go, watch and bring back a report on. Cerebus has a tendency to pick films that don't fit into neat little boxes like "good' and "bad" and then he gets confused when I report back when he can't tell if I liked the film or not. Previously he has sent me to see Embodiment of Evil and We Are What We Are.

In addition to  Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame and The Troll Hunter, Cerebus suggested that I watch What Fun We Were Having: 4 Stories About Date Rape (never in a million years), Shivers (They Came From Within) (no), Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (no), Morituris (maybe), Tomorrow Never Comes (possibly), Captain America (1990) – Director's Cut presented by the director Albert Pyun (very tempting) or The Wicker Man (except if I saw that I would have to see The Wicker Tree too)

On my own, I have been thinking of adding El Sol, Blackthorn, Wake in Fright, Bangkok Knockout and Haunters to my Fantasia list this year.

I usually try to write about at least half of the films and I do take requests.


  1. Hey Michael - hope to see you at my screening of Captain America and Tales of an Ancient Empire. Think you will enjoy both. They are sort of throwbacks to the 1980's cinema and I think a lot of fun and laughs.

    Albert Pyun
    Facebook / Albert Pyun Movies

  2. Well, when the director of The Sword and the Sorcerer and Cyborg (not to mention the underrated Mean Guns) invites me, who am I to say no?

  3. And I really want to read your reviews of both movies here! Look forward to seeing you in the flesh, Michael! Think you'll have a good time, if nothing else you'll be able trash my films with me present. That opportunity has to be worth something.

    Albert Pyun

  4. Hey Michael, as one of the Haligonian cast members of THE CORRIDOR, I can also fully appreciate the allure of Ms. Ellen Page being an absolute badass psycho in SUPER. No bad feelings: she's a hottie.

    If your intense, intense schedule allows, I hope you'll consider checking out our flick on the 25th at 1:00pm at the J.A. De Seve Theater!

    All the best!