The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival’s second day was unusually specific in its program, devoting itself to short films that explored “innocence being encroached upon by outside forces” and a pair of horror-thriller features set around the sex industry. It was an impressive night of screenings, but also one that certainly made demands of its audience.
The “Paradise Lost” block of shorts was long on atmosphere and scares but slim on explication. Most films chose to grab their shocks and get out rather than flesh out their worlds. Faye Jackson’s The Old Woman Who Hid Her Fear Under the Stairs (2018) recalled Bobby Miller’s The Master Cleanse (part of SFFF’s program from 2016 and now titled simply The Cleanse). The short considers the situation of its title character who extracts her sense of anxiety of herself, hides it in a tin, and faces down some dark, ominous threat that stalks her outside her home. Jackson’s film is wonderfully constructed, full of humour and dreadful tension, and its quality therefore demands more of itself, needing to unpack its conflict and its resolution before letting its credits roll. And the same could be said of other shorts in the block. Milk (Santiago Menghini, 2018) is a chilling tale of a boy trapped between two unsettling maternal figures and choses aesthetics over explanation. Wild (Morgana McKenzie, 2018) is a pastoral fantasy about a girl’s encounter with a magical, deadly, and ultimately unresolved female figure in her uncle’s cornfield. Saturn Through the Telescope (Dídac Gimeno, 2018) follows a boy’s efforts to watch a scary movie at home and is a slickly made and energetic short, while Make a Stand (Camille Aigloz, Lucy Vallin, Michiru Baudet, Simon Anding Malandin, Diane Tran Duc, and Margo Roguelaure, 2017) is a gorgeously animated film set in pre-Columbian Mexico and that seems to tease a supernatural spectacle that never arrives. Uncertainty is a great tool of the macabre, but its best used as a lacuna where meaningful questions spring forth. These shorts are uniformly affective and expertly fashioned, sure to be enjoyed by viewers. My only wish is that these films more fully met their narrative challenges as well as the aesthetic ones.
The Buried Alive Film Festival’s program for Saturday, November 17, is STACKED with three new feature films, one rep-pick, two supporting features, the Eyeslicer short film program, nine more short films in the “It’s Never Too Early to Start Digging Graves” block, and one burlesque show compliments of Blast Off Burlesque. Now that’s a full day of entertainment!
Overwhelmed with a bounty of goodness, MMC!‘s previews can only be more important, pointing the path from mere goodness and toward greatness. Here, dear readers, are five MMC!-approved reasons (that are actually nine reasons) to BAFF this Saturday:
The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival went globe-trotting to start Day 2. The “Drawn from Around the World” block of animated shorts offered some enthralling works. Many conveyed a sad or lamenting poignancy. Keiro (Tatiana Jusewycz, Benoît Leloup, Franck Menigoz, Zoé Nérot, and Charlotte Poncin, 2016) traced a girl’s journey to adulthood and its effect on the giant creature that accompanies her, Beyond the Books (Jérôme Battistelli, Mathilde Cartigny, Nicolas Evain, Maéna Paillet, Robin Pelissier, and Judith Wahler, 2017) envisioned the highly detailed collapse of an impossibly immense library, the Spanish short Dead Horses (Marc Riba and Anna Solanas, 2016) revealed the brutality of war from a child’s perspective and amid fabric devastation, and the Indian film Schirkoa (Asian Shukla, 2017) imagined political strife in a world where citizens wear bags and boxes on their heads. Others brought the funny, like Daniel Sterlin-Altman’s Hi, It’s Your Mother (2017), about motherhood, blood loss, and middle class living told in crude claymation, and Deuspi (Megacomputer, 2017), a very short work about a pair of astonishingly inept stick-up men and their hilarious fates.
Let’s kick off our month of horror shorts with a genuinely scary film from Spain. Horror films have always been preoccupied with point of view, and so it’s been natural that the trope of the I-camera (those POV shots locked into the perspective of the monster or killer) has led the horror film, above all other genres, to embrace digital media and personal recording capabilities. Few films utilize this technology more efficiently and more effectively than Alfonso García’s 2013 short La Boca Del León (The Lion’s Mouth). This FaceTime exorcism is a gripping 5 minute watch and a great start to MMC!‘s celebration of bite-sized terror.
“One of the best films of the year. I just hope the rest of America gets to see it.” — Ron Wells, FILM THREAT
Move over Bonnie and Clyde. Hold on Mickey and Mallory. Cult filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia brings an even wilder vision of outlaw love in his 1997 Tex-Mex tribute to sex and violence, Perdita Durango. Tough-as-nails Perdita (Rosie Pérez) falls for Romeo (Javier Bardem), a bank-robbing, corpse-stealing, coke-snorting sorcerer and Tihuana Brass enthusiast. Together, the pair kidnap a couple of American teens and drag them into a plan to smuggle a truckload of fetuses to a Las Vegas pharmaceutical company for a Mexican crime boss. Along the way, they are pursued by an unlucky DEA agent (James Gandolfini), a betrayed accomplice (Santiago Segura) and fated tragedy. Boasting supporting performances by filmmaker Alex Cox and musician Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Álex de la Iglesia’s English language début, seen here in its complete form for the first time, is an unrecognized classic of the new brutality cinema of the 1990s.
“Trust in Science” Edition – Package includes:
- Perdita Durango on Blu-ray or Standard DVD with reversible sleeve art by Mondo artist Phantom City Creative
- High quality 720p HD Digital Download of the film
- The 25-track Original Motion Picture Soundtrack including 10 original tracks composed by Simon Boswell in 320kpbs MP3 Audio
- de la Iglesia autographed 27″ x 40″ theatrical poster
- Barry Gifford’s novel 59° and Raining: The Story of Perdita Durango
- Limited Edition Happy Pet Dog Food flying disc
“If Mel Brooks had directed ‘The Omen’, it may have come out like this.” Ron Wells, FILM THREAT
Father Ángel Berriartúa (Álex Angulo) has discovered that the Antichrist will soon be born on Christmas Eve, but doesn’t know where. To meet the Devil himself and find out, Berriartúa becomes a sinner and enlists the aid of heavy metal fanatic José María (Santiago Segura) and occult TV host Professor Cavan (Armando De Razza). Together, this unlikely trio may be humanity’s last hope to save an already wretched world from demonic forces and prophecized annihilation. Nominated for 14 Goya Awards (the Spanish Oscars) and winner of 6 including Best Director, Álex de la Iglesia’s hilariously brutal and brutally hilarious sophomore feature is “nothing short of a hangman’s slapstick masterpiece” (Austin Chronicle).
- Introduction by Álex de la Iglesia
- Audio commentary with filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia
- Audio commentary with film scholars Núria Triana Toribio and Andrew Willis
- Making of The Day of the Beast: The 1995 Spanish Documentary Channel featurette
- Interviews with Álex de la Iglesia, Armando De Razza and Santiago Segura
- Theatrical teaser and trailer
- Gallery of posters, shooting photos and stills
- Cast and crew filmographies
- Killer Mirindas, de la Iglesia’s 1991 début short film
- Acceptance speeches and cast and crew interviews from the 1995 Goya Awards
- 36-page booklet including the original press book
“Clean Up Madrid” Edition – Package includes:
- The Day of the Beast on Blu-ray or Standard DVD with over 2 hours of bonus material
- High quality 720p HD Digital Download of the Film
- Instant Download of the 46-track The Day of the Beast Motion Picture Soundtrack including the 30-track Original Score of Battista Lena and 16 Satanic Themes selected by Álex de la Iglesia in 320kpbs MP3 Audio
- 27″ x 40″ Theatrical Poster autographed by de la Iglesia
- Limited Edition Professor Cavan Eye-in-Hand Amulet
- Limited Edition “Satannica” T-Shirt