Fantasia 2001 It's All About Inner Beauty By Pierre-Alexander Buisson. For film fans, the Fantasia festival needs no introduction. Currently in his sixth year, it has seen the best of Asian and international “genre” cinema and has received countless guests over the years...

For film fans, the Fantasia festival needs no introduction. Currently in his sixth year, it has seen the best of Asian and international “genre” cinema and has received countless guests over the years.

This year the festival seemed a bit disorganized. It’s been getting bigger with the years, making it one of Montreal’s most awaited event. Maybe the organizers wanted to keep the audience in high suspense as programs were out only two days before the screening of the opening film...

Seance, Kiyoshi Kurosawa 2000
A modern legend says that Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Hideo Nakata (Ring 1 & 2) once made a bet on who could frighten audiences the best. Although my vote would go to Nakada, I have to give a good applause to Kiyoshi. Seance is filled with slow but effective chills. It has an extremely “Japanese” atmosphere that makes us drift towards a hypnotic viewing trance.

Kurosawa calls Seance his “first horror movie.” While it could be seen as such, one could also find in this chilly and yet funny story elements of our fear of dying without leaving something behind.

Denti, Gabriele Salvatores 2000
While it may be presented as such in the guide, Denti is absolutely not a “gory” movie. Instead, it’s more an existential drama with fantastic touches. The film follows Sergio Rubini around a major crisis he experiences. He suspects his beautiful girlfriend (Anita Caprioli) of cheating with his dentist (Tom November) and his ex-wife is after him for some money. He will even meet an ancient childhood terror (Paolo Villagio) and his mother’s ghost (Anouk Grinberg, who sports a delicious accent).

While the movie is touching, most of the time very funny and quite enjoyable, I don’t think it fits the Fantasia mandate. The pop soundtrack and overall “feel good” vibe doesn’t add much to its defense. Still worth checking out, though.

Visitor Q, Takashi Miike 2000
Takashi Miike’s movie starts off on an uneasy note. A title asks “Did you ever have sex with your father?” And our hero, never to back up in front of danger, pays and lays his own daughter while taping it all on his handy cam. Later he meets with a young punk who hits him on the head with a rock, and who starts living at his place. The stranger, called Q will change the not-so-quiet family life forever, Theoremastyle.

Shot for Japanese television on digital video after Miike had been asked to represent his vision of the New Millennium Family, Visitor Q hits like a brick in the face. It brings a feeling of uneasiness and the situations it exposes aren’t very funny, yet you can’t help but laugh out loud at the absurdity of the character’s behaviors. Being of the trashiest film school, I don’t think I can be impressed by transgression anymore, but this incredible piece of art managed to highly amuse me from the opening to the closing credits. There were some nervous titters and some groans all the while it played, but you always have to count on the average audience to act... average. To whoever is planning to watch Visitor Q in the near future, be prepared for some extreme scatology, necrophilia, lactamania, incest, violence—of course!—and overall sick madness. Give me more!

Dead or Alive 2, Takashi Miike 2001
Once again, two of Miike’s movies were selected for Fantasia. While last year’s Audition and Dead or Alive double feature were successful (but attended mainly by curious souls), it was a real fan base that was eagerly waiting this year’s screenings. I could have mourned the absence of Ichi the Killer or City of Lost Souls, but I rejoiced in the Imperial theater that we were given the opportunity to see this incredible yakuza romp.

Dead or Alive 2 starts where the first film ended, in space. Humor is immediate here as we meet a suicidal hit man whose target gets killed by another assassin at the last minute! Being chased by badass yakuzas for taking his payment anyway, the hit man seeks refuge on the island he grew on, meeting with old acquaintances and recalling his happy childhood. He becomes a child once more, and the mood shifts from dramatic to funny, and from violent to poetic, all this without confusion or tone ruptures.

A “must see” movie for Miike’s fans, it ends on a sad note, but don’t they all? Miike does the “multiple moods” trick once again (which he less frantically in Audition) and it works perfectly. Humanist killers? Why not? There are many windfalls here; a widow crying at the loss of the GI-GAN-TIC cock belonging to her dead husband, the winged killers playing their angel games, the CGI used for the dwarf murder... Miike used similar techniques in City of Lost Souls, on a more parodic note, during the cockfight.

I can not recommend this movie enough, and it stands as one of the best the Fantasia festival has seen this year.

This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse
Awakening of the Beast
The Strange World of Jose Mojica Marins

Along with the DVD release of three Coffin Joe titles, old Joe was in town to present two of his best efforts on two separate nights. Followed everywhere he went by his interpret, biographer and very good friend André Barcinski, Mojica looked pleased to be there but tired by the trip.

“I want to thank you for your presence here tonight because I know Marilyn Manson is also in town,” said Mojica. “He will understand and accept your absence at his show, he’s a big fan of my works and he asked me for an autograph when he came to Brazil.” The tone was set; megalomaniacal, spectacular and grandiose, Mojica loves himself as much as we love him, if not more.

On a Saturday night midnight screening, This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse played to a packed theater. Mojica presented it and, after the movie, he got on stage wearing his Coffin Joe suit to a Misfits song. It was a tragic and strange moment, both a triumph of Mojica’s sick imagination and perseverance and a blast from a glorious past we’ll never get to live.

At the Q& A after the movie, Mojica spoke to a fascinated audience. After that, as I was fighting sleep, Barcinski presented his own The Strange World of Jose Mojica Marins, a hilarious and informative look at the life and times of Coffin Joe. Featuring lots of striking images from Mojica’s works through the ages and different interviews with members of his casts and crews (including a very amusing anecdote about a bestiality scene Marins shot for one of his porno flicks). The documentary is worth seeking out and is a fine complementary piece of Mojica’s work. Kudos to Barcinski for having the patience and faith to put it all together.

The following Monday, Mojica once again presented Awakening of the Beast, being screened for the first time ever in Canada, in glorious black & white and gorgeous, bleeding colors. The hysteric last part saw dozens of spectators leaving the place, but the ones who stayed were rewarded once again with an informative and funny Q&A where Mojica was told that the second part of the movie seemed a bit self-centered. He replied, after a short pause: “No!” to everyone’s delight.

We learned a lot about his fights with censorship, how he would shoot a movie to have it immediately banned, and how no one cared about his work. It’s great to have him discovered several years later, but it would have been greater to see him get all the credit and attention he deserved right away, during the sixties.

The fine dudes working in the shadow all year to bring us joy, hysteria and bloody sex on the Imperial’s giant screen, did it again. And they didn’t do just that; they also sold their souls to B-movies demons, the hungry and selective Montreal public. Which is a great, since I’m one of those. Be there next year, same place, probably not same time, and definitely not with the same socks.

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