A friend of mine used to have a gig draining septic tanks and he told me once that it’s rare to get through a day without throwing up on the job. And it’s that sound of vomit that kicks off Septic Man, the new film from director Jesse T. Cook (Monster Brawl) and writer Tony Burgess (Pontypool). The vomit quickly leads to shit, piss, rotting skin, dead bodies, and a slew of other grotesqueness bubbling up in the sewers. Their fecal matter serves a purpose though, as the filmmakers ambitiously try to deliver a message about class struggle and how the well-to-dos make the working class eat shit. The subtext remains murky, however, as the story quickly starts to tread water.
In the Canadian town of Collinwood, a vicious stomach virus has made its way into the water supply. The town is evacuated, except for septic expert Jack – a self-proclaimed “civic-minded shit sucker.” He’s asked by a mysterious, vampiric G-man to stay behind and get to the bottom of the contaminated water. He’s reluctant at first, but he has a kid on the way and the hefty cash payoff for the job is too tempting. Jack is blue-collar through and through – like the living embodiment of a Springsteen song, but with more poop. It’s easy to root for him. READ MORE
The UFO mythology in the U.S. has a rich history dating back to the infamous Roswell incident of the late ’40s. What the documentary Mirage Men posits is that everything the public believes about UFOs was intentionally fabricated by the government. But why? What would be the purpose of this massive disinformation program? And why are UFO conventions always held in the most depressing hotel function halls? Mirage Men features tons of testimonies from UFO researchers, ex-government workers, and pilots – all focused not on whether UFOs are real or not, but if and why the U.S. government fed believers false information to draw attention away from their actual clandestine operations.
Taken from the 2010 book of the same name by Mark Pilkington, Mirage Men focuses essentially on one major player in the UFO disinformation program and the fallout from his actions: retired officer Richard Doty, who worked for the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). During the 1970s and 80s, Doty’s job was to deliver false information to UFO researchers and to what is largely referred to as the “UFO community.” He was basically a professional liar. He comes off nowadays like kind of a creep, but a charming one. Talking to the camera, you get the feeling he’s still not telling the truth about much of anything. He eerily refers to himself as a “private citizen” several times in the film. READ MORE
The night that Miller’s Comet passes over Earth, four couples who seem like they don’t really like each other that much get together for a dinner party. On her way to the gathering, Emily’s cell phone screen cracks as she’s talking on it. That’s Coherence‘s first warning sign, and one of its many recurring clues, that this comet is seriously going to screw up everyone’s dinner plans. Stupid outer space crap and its crummy orbital periods.
Co-written and directed by James Ward Byrkit, Coherence is a high-concept/low-budget sci-fi thriller that gets off to a shaky start. We’re introduced to eight characters rather quickly – none of them all too interesting or indelible. They convene at the home of struggling actor Mike, played by Nicholas Brendon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. Besides him and Emily, the rest of the characters are pretty unremarkable. The entire cast is uniformly excellent though and the urgent, hand-held camera work help make up for the underdeveloped characters. And honestly, who the hell cares about poorly fleshed-out pawns when you’re watching a genuine mind-bender like Coherence. Think Primer, only set in one night with more cheese and wine. READ MORE
School violence is always a sketchy subject in film. Before the tragic events at Columbine High in 1999, the majority of films that dealt with school violence tended to be gang- or minority-related. One huge exception is 1976′s Massacre at Central High, in which a new student already brimming with psychosis declares war on the reigning yuppie clique at school. Post-Columbine, the focus became school shootings performed by kids pushed too far. Some are miserably exploitative (Duck! The Carbine High Massacre) and others are preachy to the point of silliness, like Uwe Boll’s Heart of America. Yes, Uwe Boll directed a serious movie about school shootings.
The better ones leave judgement up to the audience. Films like Van Sant’s Elephant and Ben Coccio’s Zero Day parallel the Columbine tragedy without striving to provide any answers or shoving a message down your throat. But no matter how much weight a school violence film carries, they’re always inherently depressing. Walking the fence is director/writer/star Matthew Johnson’s film The Dirties – an unsettling film that feels fresh and compassionate, but also unfocused in its statement. Whatever the hell that statement is. READ MORE
The experience of watching Shion Sono’s Why Don’t You Play in Hell is probably a lot like snorting a bottle of 5 Hour Energy. Only the effect of the film lasts two and a half hours and you won’t be hospitalized afterwards. Maybe. During those two and a half hours, we follow a rabidly enthusiastic group of amateur filmmakers called “The Fuck Bombers” as they get mixed up with a rivalry between two Yakuza clans. The gangs are beefing over a young girl who used to be famous for her work in a strangely popular toothpaste commercial. And the girl’s mom is serving 10 years for slaughtering Yakuza members with a butcher knife around town. Yes, the plot itself is insane, but Sono manages to present this hodge-podge of material in a coherent manner – creating an unforgettable movie in the process.
Hirata is the leader of The Fuck Bombers (FBs). He’s a devout soldier of cinema and swears to the “Movie God” that he will die to make one masterpiece. He’s possessed with a powerful, but naive, determination. The other members of FBs are a giant lesbian who calls herself the Queen of the Handheld Shot and an overweight man perpetually on roller-skates so he can act as a human dolly. When we first meet them they’re out on the street, capturing a real life rumble between junior Yakuza members. One of the, Kitamura, joins FBs as their wannabe Bruce Lee action star. READ MORE
Mark Hartley’s Patrick remake premiered a week and half back at the Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, and Evan Dickson has delivered his thoughts on the psychic horror starring You’re Next star Sharni Vinson.
The redo is a re-imagining of Richard Franklin’s 1970s chiller, “For three years Patrick has been lying mute and immobile, a patient in Dr Roget’s clinic for the comatose. Dr Roget has been discharging increasingly large doses of electricity into Patrick’s brain, hoping for a sign of brain function. When young nurse Kathy starts working at the clinic, Patrick figures out how to utilize all that pent up power with deadly effect.”
You can read Evan’s review by clicking here, which states that film begins strong, only to devolve into chintziness… READ MORE
Wait a second…you’re trying to tell me that there is an American remake of a mildly successful foreign horror film?! WELL I NEVER! I didn’t actually see the original Mexican We Are What We Are until I had heard that a remake was on its way, and I wanted to get in on the ground floor. I wasn’t all that impressed with the film, other than it was interesting to see a modern day cannibal movie that didn’t involve hillbillies, rednecks, or some remote tribes. The remake of the film was directed by Jim Mickle, whose only previous work I had seen was Stake Land, which had a lot of potential in the director but felt had lacked a little bit in the story. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t expecting that much out of the film, especially after having seen The Green Inferno, but not only did I like this version of We Are What We Are, but I think it’s the best cannibal movie I’ve seen since Ravenous. READ MORE
We’re not all fortunate enough to be in situations where we can go into a movie completely blind, but that’s how I was able to go into Afflicted. After leaving the movie, I tried recommending it to other Fantastic Fest attendees and couldn’t stop myself from saying, “Well it’s a lot like (this movie), but instead of (this plot device), it’s (this other horror plot device).” Make sense? Probably not. All I’m trying to say is that Afflicted is a movie that I enjoyed but is very similar in tone and structure to another, more well-known film from the past few years, but I don’t want to do Afflicted a disservice by only comparing it to a movie I didn’t like all that much. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that eventually, but I’m sure once you read what the movie’s about, you’ll be able to figure out what movie I’m being so cryptic about. READ MORE
You know who’s awesome? John Carpenter. You know what’s awesome? Aliens. You know where’s awesome? New England. You know who knows all of these things? Writer/director Joe Begos and producer/actor/sound designer Josh Ethier. Well, obviously other people know how awesome all of those things are and knew how much a combination of all of these things would appeal to genre fans. It might be the Massachusetts in me, but seeing a big bearded guy roam around the woods and murdering people really made me feel homesick.
Seth (Graham Skipper) rushes over to his friend Mark’s (Ethier) house to tell him about seeing a friend of theirs vanish in front of him, only to have Mark disappear in a giant blue light as well. Two years later, Seth and Mark’s girlfriend Jen (Vanessa Leigh) are trying to move on with their lives with varying success. Jen has gotten engaged, but Seth still has nightmares and unexplainable nosebleeds. A group of hunters stumble across Mark’s body in the woods, naked, and full of life. Well, full of life might be an overstatement, but he’s not dead. When he comes to, he’s super pissed and starts blazing a trail of murder and bearded fury on his way back home. It’s unclear exactly what’s happened to Mark and where he’s been, other than aliens of course, but even the people closest to him are at risk. There’s blood, screams, aliens, parasitic incubations, and some hot alien tongue to bathing suit area action in this sci-fi/slasher mash up. READ MORE
Two of the bigger presences in horror in both mainstream and independent horror communities are Eli Roth and Ti West. Roth came made his mark with the humor and gore-filled Cabin Fever and subsequent Hostel films while West was cutting his teeth with indie horror movies like The Roost and Trigger Man. The Sacrament isn’t the first time these two have crossed paths, as West was tapped to direct the sequel to Cabin Fever, which West has all of disowned involvement in due to studio interference. Even if hearing Roth and West’s names together on a movie might initially cause assumptions on what happened when they get involved together, I can tell you that The Sacrament is nothing like what either have done before, and it’s incredibly unsettling.
Set up as a VICE style immersion documentary, our host Sam (AJ Bowen) tells our viewers that another staff member Patrick’s (Kentucker Audley) sister has gotten involved in “clean living” commune that has relocated to a foreign country. Both wanting to find out what kinds of things his sister is involved in and wanting to explore what kind of retreat would up and relocate from Mississippi to a foreign country, Sam takes the opportunity to explore the “Eden Parish”. Although initially met by armed guards, the vibe of the community shifts once Sam, Patrick, and cameraman Jake (Joe Swanberg) finally meet Patrick’s sister Caroline (Amy Seimetz). Even though the living conditions are barebones and the idea of this group of people abandoning their lives to live here, everyone the film crew talks to genuinely seem happy. The leader of the group, who is referred to as “Father” (Gene Jones), even grants Sam an interview. It’s easy to see how Father could convince a group of people to move to a foreign country with him, as he’s equal parts charismatic, mysterious, and intimidating. Just as Sam and Patrick start feeling like maybe Caroline is in good hands, the journalists learn that things aren’t quite as they seem, but just how accurate were their assumptions and just how much danger could the Eden Parish possibly cause? READ MORE
Admittedly, I’m not much of a cannibal person. I mean this both figuratively and literally, in the sense that cannibal movies have never really done much for me and I’ve never actually eaten a human being. I can appreciate how sleazy and filthy Deodato made me feel after watching Cannibal Holocaust, but I don’t think I’d actually call the film “good”. I’m much more into something like Ravenous that plays into the mythology of what consuming a person can do to you than thinking it’s gross to see one person eat another. Going into the film, I had pretty low standards, and those standards were definitely met, but that’s still not saying all that much.
After hearing a lecture about female genital mutilation, college freshman Justine (Lorenza Izzo) wants to take action to help. The leader of a student activist organization, Alejandro (Ariel Levy), approaches Justine and lets her know that there’s more ways to help the world that just protesting. Alejandro is organizing a trip to South America to prevent rainforests from being destroyed and local tribes being executed, and eager Justine is more than happy to help. Alejandro and Justine, along with a few other students, make their way to the Amazon and quickly learn the danger they are in. Sure, local demolition companies might have thugs with guns, but if that’s not enough, these young college kids realize that primitive tribes are just as capable of horrific violence as supposedly “civilized” populations. READ MORE
Shit Just Got Surreal.
What do you get when you mix Buried and The Toxic Avenger? The filthy, disturbing, chamber-pot play Septic Man – the latest horror feature from director Jesse T. Cook (Monster Brawl) and independent film studio Foresight Features.
Starring Jason Brown in the titular role, with Molly Dunsworth (Hobo with a Shotgun), Julian Richings (Cube), Robert Maillet (Pacific Rim), and Tim Burd.
“A transgressive creature feature mixed with the trappings of a super-hero origins story, the film focuses on an erstwhile plumber who undergoes a hideous transformation when trapped inside a septic tank.” It was written by award-winning PontyPool scribe Tony Burgess.
Septic Man is gearing up for its World Premiere on opening night at Fantastic Fest. READ MORE
Fantastic Fest is excited to announce its final wave of film programming, including Terry Gilliam’s unique dystopian vision of the future, The Zero Theorem, as the closing night film on September 26th.
The ninth edition of Fantastic Fest, will take place September 19 – 26 at Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline in Austin, Texas.
See below for descriptions of twenty-five new World, North American & US premiere films at this year’s festival. READ MORE
Fantastic Fest is tying on the black belt for the red carpet premiere of Man of Tai Chi and the festival’s initial lineup of incredible genre films. Fantastic Fest will take place September 19-26 in Austin, Texas at the Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline.
Keanu Reeves stars in and makes his directorial debut in the multi-lingual narrative, Man of Tai Chi. Partly inspired by the life of Reeves’ friend, stuntman Tiger Chen, Man of Tai Chi tells the story of a young martial artist whose unparalleled Tai Chi skills land him in a highly lucrative underground fight club. As the fights intensify so does his will to survive and his desire to protect his way of life.
See below for the initial lineup of films at this year’s festival. Stay tuned for more programming announcements in the near future. READ MORE
Fantastic Fest is excited to announce Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills will have its world premiere on September 19, 2013 as the opening night film for the 2013 festival, which will take place in Austin, Texas at the new Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline location from September 19-26, 2013. Talent from the film, including Danny Trejo, Alexa Vega and Robert Rodriguez, will be in attendance. Additional talent to be confirmed closer to festival. Check out a brand spanking new still of Danny Trejo as Machete and Michelle Rodriguez as She!
“Danny Trejo returns as ex-Federale agent Machete, who is recruited by the President of the United States (Charlie Sheen) for a mission which would be impossible for any mortal man – he must take down a madman revolutionary and an eccentric billionaire arms dealer (Mel Gibson) who has hatched a plan to spread war and anarchy across the planet.”
Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Demian Bichir, Amber Heard, Sofia Vergara, Zoe Saldana, Edward James Olmos, Elise Avellan, Electra Avellan, William Sadler, Lady Gaga, Alexa Vega, Vanessa Hudgens, Marko Zaror also star. READ MORE
In a short amount of time, British director Ben Wheatley has become one of the most renowned genre filmmakers alive. And the great thing is, he doesn’t seem to give a damn about breaking into the mainstream. Case in point: his new film, A Field in England, is his fourth film and easily his least accessible. It’s an experiment in mood and abstruse narrative that is probably a parable for…something. Much like his celebrated hitman-folk-horror success Kill List, A Field in England demands multiple viewings. It’s difficult to grasp after seeing only once, that’s for sure. What I can confidently say is that Ben Wheatley’s rabbit hole is an exhilarating and horrifying place that refuses to be easily pigeonholed – all reasons it should be seen and celebrated. Sober or on the hallucinogen of your choice.
On the surface, the story is about four people who decide to take a break from the 17th century English Civil War to go for a beer. They’re not cowards deserting the battlefield – no, they’re just thirsty. One of them, Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith) doesn’t even belong in battle. He’s an alchemist’s assistant who enjoys lace-making in his spare time. His “master” has tasked him to find a former partner who’s stolen some crucial documents. He’s joined by soldiers Cutler (Ryan Pope) and Jacob (Peter Ferdinando), and a nameless man with a penchant for singing and rising from the dead (Richard Glover). Together they travel across the eponymous field in search of a pub. READ MORE