The 20th anniversary of Montreal’s Fantasia Festival took over Concordia for three weeks last month, and what a glorious three weeks of cinematic goodness that was. A lot of these films should be hitting theatres, Blu Ray, or VOD in the near future, so keep an eye out for the amazing stuff you might have missed. I managed to see over 40 flicks this year, and here’s a small sampling of some of my faves…

Kickboxer: Vengeance

Director: John Stockwell
Screenplay: Dimitri Logothetis, Jim McGrath
Cast: Alain Moussi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dave Bautista, Georges St-Pierre
Country: U.S.A

What’s it about?

About 25 years ago, or so, a certain Muscle from Brussels, Jean-Claude Van Damme, took the  action genre by storm in a little film called “Kickboxer”. Today, in this age of reboots & remakes, we get a brand new Kickboxer film OM-20-friggin-G-16! What’s this one about? Do you REALLY need a story? It’s Kickboxer, dammit!  Well, you got your basic tale of brothers and vengeance, underground fight clubs, police corruption, and plenty of kicking and plenty of boxing. And that’s all you really need in a Kickboxer film. And this one is certainly the most kickboxiest one of the year.

Why should you watch it?

Do you want to see a talented, Canadian newcomer (Ottawa born Alain Moussi) take the lead and fight his way into our action genre hearts? Do you want ridiculously fun and well choreographed fight scenes, including the single greatest fight atop of a group of elephants in cinematic history? Do you want to see a film that feels like a long lost gem from the 90s VHS era? Do you want to see Jean-Claude Van Damme still manage to be very Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD) in 2016? Do you want to see former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista (and DRAX from GOTG!) PERFECTLY take the role of a villain and love every single minute of it? Do you want to see people have sword fights, fall through glass, rub their fists with glass, and fight with said bedazzled glass fists? Did I mention that fight atop of the elephants? Do you want to see Quebec’s very own GSP going toe-to-toe and knuckle-to-knuckle with JCVD? Do you want to see training montages and gratuitous love scenes that end quicker than they started? Do you want a weird use of subtitles for an ADHD generation? Do you want a film where people constantly get their ass beat, making things wonderfully believable and all the more satisfying during an epic final showdown? Do you want to see JCVD act through an entire movie without ever hardly taking off his shades?

If the answer to any of those is yes, definitely seek out “Kickboxer: Vengeance”. The Fantasia crowd had an absolute blast. Definitely see this with some friends and beer and/or your fave vice of choice.

 

Creature Designers: The Frankenstein Complex

 

Director: Gilles Penso, Alexandre Poncet
Featuring: Rick Baker, Joe Dante, John Landis, Guillermo del Toro, Kevin Smith
Country: France

What’s it about?

Creature Designers is a wonderful documentary about the people that create movie monsters. It goes all the way from the very beginning of makeup and practical effects to the current era of computerized wizardry. Everyone from Lon Chaney to Stan Winston to the brilliant folks at WETA are showcased in the wonderful tribute to a bygone era.

Why should you watch it?

If you are a movie geek or monster fiend, you will definitely love this film. You get to hear the stories of movie magic of such classics like “Gremlins”, “Alien”, “The Thing”, and “Jurassic Park.” It’s a feast for the eyes for any monster flick fan, or behind the scenes nut. You get to learn about the rockstars of this field, and the truly legendary impact they have had on genre films. You get to see why they love doing what they’re doing, and you’ll also find yourself getting a little angry that we will never quite see a level of creature designing as the heyday of the 1980s.

It truly is a bygone era, since that artistry is growing more and more sparse in the age of “cheap and easy” CG FX. That’s not to say there aren’t some heroes of the digital age, but the age of plaster and puppets is quickly becoming obsolete. Either way, this doc is a wonderful time-capsule of cinematic monster goodness. It’s like every making of DVD extra you ever wanted to see and more.
PARASYTE PART 1
PARASYTE PART 2

Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Screenplay: Ryota Kosawa, Takashi Yamazaki
Cast: Shota Sometani, Eri Fukatsu, Sadao Abe, Ai Hashimoto, Kimiko Yo
Country: Japan

What’s it about?

An alien parasite takes over the right hand of a teenage and together they must stop a murderous invasion. Based on the Manga of the same name, the Parasyte films are a very weird horror/sci-fi hybrid featuring a mixture of adorably cute and extremely unsettling. There are times these films feels like the grossness of John Carpenter’s Thing, with a dash of Tim Burton-esque Stop-Motion, a touch of Pixar squee, and the creepiness of David Cronenberg bodyhorror.

Why should you watch it?

If you like the bizarre and the wtf, with the ridiculously weird and gory, you’ll probably like these movies. But that’s just a gross oversimplification of these films.

There’s a lot of deep themes in this one. Themes of fitting in, themes of motherhood, themes of ecological damage to the environment. There’s some heavy duty thoughts about the state of the world and some very deep feels.

These two films goes thru every genre. At times it’s silly and funny, and other times it’s touching and melodramatic, and then there’s times it’s absolutely gut wrenchingly sad or even over the top violent. It runs the full gamut. It’s a very nuanced film with some incredible effects and some very memorable characters. And the monster work is pretty freaking spectacular. These films were definitely not what I was expecting, and I was pleasantly surprised by what a great well rounded series this was. If you like weird Japanese SciFi, you’ll need to check this out.

I wasn’t familiar with the original Manga, and I know some fans have nitpicked this one to death, but going in and not knowing anything, Parasyte really kept me thoroughly engaged and totally knocked me out, and that’s pretty hard to do at 11:00am. Great weird fun.

 

About The Author

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Mobster Blogger

When Theo isn't drawing weirdo art he's watching Films. Theo likes films. Theo likes all kinds of films. Sometimes we even get a coherent review out of him. Sometimes. Read his yearly coverage of the Fantasia Festival and you’ll see what we’re talking about.

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