By far the most eventful day at the FanTasia Fest so far as B-D reporter Dominic F. Marceau checked out the world premiere of Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (first ever review) and Dead and Breakfast. He interviewed Emily Perkins, Paula Devonshire, and Michael Marshall and saw the mighty Godzilla at its very best- what more could you want? Read on for Dom’s exciting report along with his review for Snaps 3…
By: Dominic F. Marceau
Today’s episode: The Wolf Reborn!
Ok. Sit tight kiddies, get comfy, this might take a while.
I made my way to downtown Montreal for 1 P.M. as I had an exclusive interview with Emily Perkins, Paula Devonshire, and Michael Marshall: star, producer, and cinematographer of “Ginger Snaps: the Beginning” to conduct. I will post this lengthy interview sometime very soon. I have a lot of tape to transcribe but I don’t mind though, as it was one of the greatest moments in this reporter’s life. So, I walk out of the Hotel and skip merrily towards Concordia University. It must have been hilarious for all of the foreigners here for the Jazz fest! Imagine if Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” was a 6’5″ man in a checkered shirt.
As I reached the corner of Maisonneuve Boulevard, the skipping stopped and my blood turned to ice water. An ungodly shriek was heard. Something I’ve never heard before. I looked around and noticed a newspaper stand on the corner. There, printed in big bold letters was: GODZILLA INVADES MONTREAL! I turned the corner and there he was, looking right at me. I thought to myself, “This dude’s much scarier than his CG counterpart Roland Emmerich and Dead Devlin came up with a few years back!” Panic-stricken, I dart towards the University entrance for shelter. People were running all over, sirens were blaring, and everybody’s lips didn’t match what was coming out of them! *
Finally safe from this big rubber bastard, I look at my FanTasia schedule. What’s next? Ooooh, how ironic! The 50th anniversary, digitally remastered edition of the original 1954 Godzilla, never before shown on North American soil! Something about me: I have never seen ANY of the “Godzilla” films. Blasphemy for some of you, but my only knowledge of this Japanese export was the God-awful American remake and the Mecha-Streisand episode of South Park (Baaaburah, Baaaburah!). I remember seeing clips from one of the now 27 “Godzilla” films where our guy in a suit was doing some cheese-ball kung fu fighting with another guy in a suit. When our hero defeated his nemesis, he then proceeded to do some type of horrendous go-go dancing moves. I remember thinking, “Ok, not for me, thanks!” So, I wasn’t going in there with a lot of expectations. I sat down and after a lengthy introduction, the lights dimmed and I finally popped my “Godzilla Cherry”. They say you never forget your first time. I sure hope not because I had so much fun! How surprised was I? This film was AMAZING! Having a profound love of all 50′s science fiction films, I don’t know why I waited until my 30th year on this planet to see this masterpiece. Well, maybe I’m better off. Gone are all of the American scenes with Raymond Burr, gone is the surreal dubbing, this was the “Godzilla” that made such a splash (no pun intended) in his native land all those years ago. First off, the print was astounding. We were informed that it came directly from Toho Studios, the studio that made all of these films. Secondly, there is a real heart in this film. You really care about what’s happening. When our buddy is wrecking havoc in downtown Tokyo, a woman and her two children are huddled in a building entrance. She tells her children, “We’re going to see daddy in Heaven!” As corny as it may sound to you, I got a mini-lump in my throat. Maybe I wasn’t digesting my pizza, maybe I was indeed moved by this thing. I don’t know. The acting IS over the top, the special effects, while still very impressive, are extremely dated but I still had an awesome time. The same way I felt after seeing “Earth vs. The flying saucers” or “War of the worlds”. This franchise definitely has a new fan in old Dom here.
After an interminable wait, it was finally time to see “Ginger Snaps: the Beginning”. Our three guests mentioned in my opening paragraph, sans Michael Marshall, were there to present the film. They said a few words, and then the lights dimmed once more.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I adored this film. It surpasses its two predecessors by leaps and bounds. Deeply rooted in Canadian history, it takes place at an almost abandoned trader’s fort in the Alberta wilderness. The fort is almost exclusively populated by men: their supplies are running low, as is their hope for survival. The fort is under constant attack from a pack of wild beasts. The Fitzgerald sisters take refuge there, safe from attacks and the inevitable doom that the forest and torturous Canadian winter can bring. Or are they? There they are, locked in with men who are desperate and all have something to hide. Some secrets can kill you. They will soon be aware of this.
First of all, I don’t remember seeing a horror film being more beautifully shot. The interiors are all shades of brown and orange, all glowing with candlelight, while the exteriors are stark and white, almost surreal. On top of that, the film uses some very effective time-lapse photography that is used brilliantly and has a poetic sensibility I have not seen since Gus Van Sant’s “My own private Idaho”. Cinematographer Michael Marshall, who did the absolutely incredible opening credits for “Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed”, has done something here that rivals the work of John Toll, Dean Semler, and John Seale. You have to see it for yourself. You will be awestruck.
Next up are the performances. Our two leads do an extraordinary job of creating a whole other backstory for characters we already knew. We believe that they are indeed in the 19th Century from the get-go. We soon forget about Bailey Downs High School and the Happier times Care Center. This film, other than the relationship between the two leads, and the impending werewolf attack and infection has very few things in common with the two first films. When they say “Together, for ever.” In this one, you feel it isn’t just something teenage sisters say to one another. You feel as if it is for real. Their emotions are for real, their peril is for real, and their dilemmas are for real. Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle are for real as well. Their performances are exemplary. Ms. Perkins says more with just a look than many actresses say with their entire body of work. There is real depth and real humanity in her character, while being surrounded by characters that have depth, but no humanity whatsoever. Tom McCamus, who f*cked me up with his performance in “I love a man in uniform”, delivers here a very subtle and layered performance. There is a little bit of humanity left in his character but not enough to make a significant impact. Hugh Dillon, who was way too convincing in “Hard Core Logo”, shows us that he is more than a singer-turned-actor. I completely forgot about the Mohawk, about all of the cigarettes, all of the alcohol. He turns in a fabulous performance as the distinctively corrupt chaplain who does unspeakable acts, all in the name of God. Casting agents, listen up. Cast this man often. The world needs to see more of him.
Finally, Grant Harvey’s direction is a schizophrenic one, and I couldn’t ask for a better job. The direction is at times in your face and overwhelming, then lyrical, almost Kubrick-esque. There is ghastly horror and insane beauty. Chaos and poetry. It would be unsettling if it wasn’t for a very strong script that glues everything together into something I have never seen before.
Every facet of my personality was completely satisfied with this film: my visual side still can’t get over how beautiful the film looks, my screenwriter side got a script that challenged me and made me think, my sappy side got genuine emotion, my macho side got dizzying action, and my gorehound side got buckets of blood. I truly hope that this film will get a theatrical release because it is the equivalent of visual heroine: the bigger the fix, the bigger the buzz.
After a well-deserved standing ovation, Emily Perkins, Paula Devonshire, and cinematographer Michael Marshall answered a few questions from the audience. Most of them are covered in the interview I conducted so I won’t retype them. My fingers hurt and I’m not done yet!
After a little wait (One hour. FanTasia fans ARE dedicated, remember?), the lights dimmed and I was thrown into the smorgasbord of madness and mayhem that is Dead and Breakfast. This film is the ideal film to see at 1 A.M., in a room full of freaks. I laughed until I hurt and I was grossed out. The film makes no sense whatsoever but who cares! A group of obnoxious friends are on their way to a wedding when they get lost and decide to find some place to crash for the night. They eventually make their way to a bed and breakfast, run by Bill Himself, David Carradine, and Dietrich Bader of “The Drew Carey show” and the brilliant “Office Space”. People die, people become possessed, people kill, people’s graves get dug up, bodies are burned, chopped, shot, impaled… Imagine Peter Jackson’s “Dead Alive” meets “Chopper Chicks in Zombietown”. The film does have one fatal flaw: the songs. Let me explain. Throughout the film, we see a narrator sing songs about the plot, even after him and his band become possessed themselves! While the songs are entertaining, did any of you see a little film called “There’s something about Mary”? The narration/singing is used exactly the same way. It’s a shame because, without it, I would be praising this film endlessly. Oh well. Maybe “Ginger Snaps: the beginning” was TOO good to be followed by anything. I’ll try to see it again to give you a proper review of it.
Producer Jun Tan was there after the showing, with director Matthew Leutwyler on the phone, to answer some questions from the audience. It was nearing 3 A.M. and I was dead tired so I didn’t stick around for it. It was a long, eventful day for me and my pillow was calling me. The caffeine that kept me awake all this time had worn off. It was time for this reporter to make his way home and dream of a world where Japanese lizards, Canadian werewolves, and American rednecks can live in peace and harmony.
*The entire paragraph about my encounter with “Godzilla” is a figment of my imagination. It’s amazing what you can do with a 10-inch “Godzilla” doll, a camera, and a proper knowledge of depth of field! Call “Weekly World News”!
Freedom of the Press ROCKS!!!
Cut to credits.
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