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August 29, 2020

Fantasia Fest 2020: ‘The Dark and the Wicked’ Gives the Creeps

Atmosphere and SOUND can make or break a horror film. You should be surrounded by dread and an impending sense of doom. Unlike a comedy or a drama, there should be that idea that just around the corner will be a scare or some insecurity of safety.

‘The Dark and the Wicked’ brings the slow burn of ‘The VVitch’ adds a haunted family dynamic of ‘Hereditary’ and the isolation of ‘The Strangers.’

Director Bryan Bertino, director of said ‘Strangers,’ sets the mood early with none other than a pack of goats, and something sinister within the flock. It’s little things like this throughout the film that give pause and make you re-think what you may have seen. The film certainly plays plenty of tricks on your senses.

I bring up SOUND again, because i can imagine what it would be like to experience ‘Wicked’ in a theater. With just some good headphones I was able to take in all the ambient noise, breathing, muttering, and every creak and groan of the old farmhouse and barn. It sent plenty of shivers up my spine.

Much like this year’s ‘Relic,’ which seems to be the closest comparison I’ve been seeing for far, ‘Wicked’ is the story of a family in peril and dealing with it’s own belief, or lack of belief. Aside from a slightly ‘meh’ end shot, Bertino has crafted a truly unsettling gothic family horror story with a creep factor that combines the recent creepiness of Ari Aster’s work, a the dread of madness of ‘The Shining.’

‘The Dark and the Wicked’ will have it’s International Premier at Fantasia Fest 2020. For more info on the film click HERE.

August 26, 2020

Fantasia Fest 2020: Dinner in America

An on-the-lam punk rocker and a young woman obsessed with his band unexpectedly fall in love and go on an epic journey together through America’s decaying Midwestern suburbs.

August 23, 2020

Fantasia Fest 2020: Tiny Tim: King for a Day

My earliest memory of the late Tiny Tim was seeing his ukulele smashed by wrestling great, Jerry “The King” Lawler during a segment of ‘The King’s Court’ during WWF Raw in the mid-90s. The segment is classic when Tim calls Lawler a ‘Dairy Queen’ instead of what he was already known as; ‘The Burger King.’ After Lawler smashes Tim’s beloved stringed instrument he begins to weep and dabs his tears away with a handkerchief while trying to collect the broken pieces.

Three years later, Tiny Tim would tiptoe through the tulips and leave this mortal plane.

“King for a Day” doesn’t touch on this extremely vivid memory for me, but it brings into focus the force of nature Tiny Tim was during the 60s and 70s. A CELESTIAL being that was brought into our lives, for better or worse, and created memories that would last what seems like a lifetime.

Johan Von Sydow paints a picture I’m sure many of us born in the 1980s and beyond can’t even comprehend; how could an oddball, with the highest of falsettos, playing a ukulele, have people eating out of the palm of his hand while people like Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson laud him with all the praise in the world? The 60s were a wild time my friends.

With “Weird” Al Yankovic narrating Tim’s diary, the curtain is pulled back on his deepest thoughts, yearning for acceptance, being a follower of Christ, and how he transcended gender norms.

But even with his child-like innocence and beloved public persona, a torture soul dwelled deep down inside, which Sydow is able to peel back the layers via interviews with family, friends, and his widow, ‘Miss Sue.’

Tiny Tim’s shadow loomed large, and his fall from grace is just as miraculous as his rise to the top.

“Tiny Tim: King for a Day” will have it’s World Premier at the 2020 Fantasia Film Festival. Find all the films and their schedule right HERE.

August 23, 2020

Fantasia Fest 2020: ‘Class Action Park’ is So Jersey

JERSEY stand up!

‘Class Action Park’ is one wild ride, and a story that many outside the Garden City Parkway, Manhattan, or around the Vernon, New Jersey area might know about.

Remember a couple of years ago when Johnny Knoxville created a little film called “Action Point?” Well, yeah, he created it, but who really cares at this point.

‘Park’ is in the same ilk as other HBO Documentary series like ‘McMillions’ where it shares little pieces of Americana that are almost too crazy to be true.

Well, when you hear it from the lips of comedians like Chris Gethard and Alison Becker, who have now qualms about how people in Jersey don’t five a single f*ck, you know it was real at Action Park.

While you get to see the insaneness of the former staff and their stories that would make the Marquis de Sade blush, you also peel back the curtain on the corruption, shady deals, death, and anguish the park caused over its almost 20-year history. It’s all fun and games until someone drowns in the wave pool or gets electrocuted, right?

The tale of Action Park is one of nostalgia. A tale of latch key kids in the 80s and how you would ride your bike until the moon was high in the sky. A time of parental neglect, essentially the complete opposite of how kids are raised now.

There will never be another Action Park. Is that good?

‘Class Action Park’ was screened on August 22nd, 2020, and will premier on HBO Max on August 28th, 2020. Check out the trailer HERE

August 22, 2020

Fantasia Fest 2020: Climate of the Hunter

Two sisters compete for the affections of a man who may be a vampire.

August 21, 2020

Fantasia Fest 2020: PVT CHAT

Jack is an internet gambler living in NYC who becomes fixated on Scarlet – a cam girl from San Francisco. His obsession reaches a boiling point when fantasy materializes in reality and Jack sees Scarlet on a rainy Chinatown street.

August 21, 2020

Fantasia Fest 2020: Survival Skills

Survival Skills is a lost training video from the 1980s. In it, Jim, the perfect policeman, gets in over his head when he tries to resolve a domestic violence case outside the law.

August 20, 2020

Fantasia Fest 2020: ‘Fried Barry’ is E.T. on Drugs

What is it about aliens that love to beam us up, play with our orifices, feed us psychotic nightmare fuel and drop us back down on Earth to tell the story. I mean, we thought Randy Quaid had it bad in “Independence Day” or D.B Sweeney in “Fire in the Sky.”

Imagine all that, but also being high out of your mind on heroin and some mystery drug that a ‘friend’ just gave you after hearing a discourse on the racism of Disney and Mickey Mouse…oh, and said alien that was just probing you decided to hitch a ride and cruise the seedy side of Johannesburg for a couple of nights.

Well, first I’d say WOO! But after witnessing “Fried Barry” I might rethink that stance.

“Barry” is “Under the Skin” while both Richard Stanley and Gaspar Noe decided to combine their efforts to give us the alien film we not only deserve, but secretly want deep down. Throw in a little “E.T.” and you’re well on your way to understanding what you’re getting into with this wild, hallucinatory ride.

Director Ryan Kruger injects non-stop adrenaline directly into your eyeballs with sex, drugs, and techno (sorry rock and roll). Barry, when we meet him, is a deadbeat, drug addict, but with the help of some off-world visitors, changes the lives of anyone he meets, some more than others of course.

If you’re looking for an out-of-this-world experience, hitch a ride with “Fried Barry,” which is one you’ll soon not forget.

“Fried Barry” will have it’s World Premier at the 2020 Fantasia Film Festival. Find all the films and their schedule right HERE.

August 19, 2020

Fantasia Fest 2020: ‘Yummy’ Has Gore for Days

I’m always down for a zombie gore-fest. Sure it’s a genre that’s been done to death, and ‘The Walking Dead’ has pretty much buried it, but there is still room for some new ideas. Right?

Well, I won’t say “Yummy” is breaking any type of new ground. It’s a bloody, gory, sexual, gooey, sometimes problematic ( at least one of the characters) story of survival in Russian wellness/plastic surgery hospital where we find out that the doctors aren’t really practicing the Hippocratic Oath.

You could say ‘Yummy’ is STACKED with all the blood and guts you might need from a tale that takes some cues lead from films like ‘Dead Alive, and ‘Resident Evil.’

Director, Lars Damoiseaux, find a fun way to turn his 2016 short, ‘Patient Zero’ into a feature length film that holds your attention once the sh*t really hits the fan. The only time things slow down for me is schmaltzy love story between Alison, who is visiting the hospital to have a breast reduction, and her put-upon boyfriend, Michael. The connection never really worked for, but hey, I was just waiting for the zombies to show up and get the party started.

Overall, ‘Yummy’ has its moments, one in particular that involves some rubbing alcohol, fire, and and fire extinguisher is a stand-out for me, and gore-hounds will certainly find something to sink their teeth into. My gripes include a thin plot and some pacing issues, but these are quibbles considering my gore quota was fulfilled.

“Yummy” will be ON DEMAND at the 2020 Fantasia Film Festival. Find all the films and their schedule right HERE.

August 17, 2020

Fantasia Fest 2020: ‘The Mortuary Collection’ Has a Story to Tell

The horror sub-genre of anthologies has always been one of my favorite things. Normally, it’s full of actors looking to have a good time, take “Creepshow” and “Tales from the Darkside” as prime examples.

Usually there is a fun wrap around story that eventually works into the narrative of one of the stories, and you get your classic ‘be careful what you wish for’ or ‘the bad guy, or girl, gets their comeuppance’ it’s a formula that’s worked for decades.

However, Ryan Spindell ‘spins’ some truly nasty, and fun, little yarns in “The Mortuary Collection” that helps this tried and true formula stand out from the pack.

Ranging from anti-condom frat bros who learn things the hard way to monsters hiding in medicine cabinets, Spindell makes the town of Raven’s End a place that would make Stephen King’s Derry, MN an actual place I’d want to visit for a weekend. There is a certainly timeliness to these little tales, while also making it feel like I’m still flipping through my old EC Comics.

The world building is a highlight for me, as I mention Raven’s End. It feels lived in and has a PULSE. There are villains in the dark corners of the town and all the principle  characters, from a distraught husband taking care of his ailing wife and even the kid delivering newspapers, I feel invested and interested in knowing their backstories.

Adding Clancy Brown, who I grew up know as either the sadistic guard in “The Shawshank Redemption” or as the Lex Luthor in “The Adventures of Superman” cartoon, adds some extra value for me as he skirts the line between The Tall Man in the “Phantasm” series and Clarance Willams III in one of personal favorite anthologies, “Tales from the Hood.”

“The Mortuary Collection” might not break new ground in anthology horror, but damn is it a fun grouping of stories that I would love to see more of in the future.

“The Mortuary Collection” will be screening at the 2020 Fantasia Film Festival. Find all the films and their schedule right HERE.

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