SFFF Day 1 Report – Ghosts of SFFFs Past

The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival has reached its landmark tenth iteration this year and Festival Director John Allison and his team have ensured that this is the Fest’s biggest and brightest year yet by expanding it to six days, hosting a Drunken Cinema screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street, hosting another Saturday Morning All You Can Eat Cereal Cartoon Party, and bringing in as special guests director Joe Dante and actress Belinda Balaski for a three film retrospective. The SFFF kicked off with something of a soft-open with another new addition – a five film virtual reality experience held preceding the theatrical film program each weekday. Attendance was sparse on Day 1 so let this be a warning to those content to let the VR program pass them by – miss the SFFF’s Virtual Reality Experience section and you will certainly be missing out on some of the Fest’s most intriguing aspects.

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In Fabric (Peter Strickland, 2018) – Chattanooga Film Festival 2019

FIRST FLOOR: WOMEN’S FASHION, ACCESSORIES, TERROR

Writer-director Peter Strickland’s latest effort is his most demented vision to date, a bizarrely terrifying combination of Suspiria and Phantom Thread that is awash in blood (and other bodily fluids). Set in the world of 1970s fashion, In Fabric is a psychosexual phantasmagoria initiated by a murderous dress that is sold by an unusual department store and the hypnotic coven that runs it. Recently divorced bank clerk Sheila is the garment’s first victim, completely unaware that her purchase at Dentley & Soper’s will unleash the frock’s curse and set in motion an absurdly brutal chain of fashion related brutality.

With In Fabric, Peter Strickland blends Italian supernatural horror and Europudding erotica with corporate micromanagement and baroque customer service-speak, producing an incisive parody of consumer culture that still manages to feel legitimately unsettling and truly terrifying. In Fabric is a must sees for surreal fashion addicts and kinky horror fans alike!

Special Edition Comments:

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by horror film journalist Mark Kermode and excerpts from the Dentley & Soper store catalogue

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Chuffed for CUFF

The Calgary Underground Film Festival kicks off a week of cinematic goodness with tonight’s screening of Abe Forsythe’s zombie comedy Little Monsters and MMC! couldn’t be happier! CUFF 2019 looks stacked with great titles sure to satisfy cinephiles looking to scratch hard to reach places. Eccentric documentaries, up and coming indie mavericks, art house genre masterpieces, and all around weirdness are waiting to be discovered at Calgary’s Globe Cinema this week. MMC! has seen almost half of CUFF’s programmed features already and so we are happy to point the way for those looking to navigate this great roster of titles.

Knife + Heart (Yann Gonzalez)

Friday 9:30 p.m.

I’m not sure how many times MMC! can keep waving the flag for Yann Gonzalez’s Knife + Heart. It was our favourite film at the 2018 Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival and landed at #17 on MMC!‘s top 20 films of 2018. This sex-positive, queer riff on Italian giallo cinema is lushly sleazy in all the right ways, beautifully merging art cinema sophistication and exploitation sinema salaciousness. Set in the Parisian gay porn industry of 1979, Vanessa Paradis impresses as a third-tier production company’s matriarchal head struggling with the murders of her cast by a leather masked killer. Gonzalez makes no half-steps in Knife + Heart and viewers are rewarded with outlandish porn scenes, wild physical deformities, truly phallic murder weapons, and even a bizarre bear attack. This is a film that perfectly walks the line between creating a pastiche that respects its precedent and revising a familiar genre to reflect the diversity of people and stories that demand representation today. Knife + Heart should not be missed!

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My Chattanooga Top Ten!

The 2019 Chattanooga Film Festival is now done and dusted and its winners have been announced. Giovana Olmos won the Student Filmmaker Award for Sweet Tooth, Dylan Meyer took the prize for Best Short with Rock Bottom, Andi Morrow’s Pusher the Movie won for Tennessee Filmmaker, Bethany Brooke Anderson won Best Feature for Burning Kentucky, and the Audience Prize went to Billy Senese’s The Dead Center. Senese’s film, shot in Nashville, was the only award-winner that I saw and it was an enjoyable horror experience, featuring an ancient evil unexpectedly held in a hospital’s psychiatric ward and a frustrated doctor forced to face this unexpected threat. The filmmaker’s own experiences with mental illness obviously inform The Dead Center and the film finds legitimate scares in the friction between its institutional setting and its supernatural menace. Still, the movie fails to make the most of its concept by remaining too vague in its characters and its monster, missing opportunities to ratchet up its stakes and bring its audience even closer to The Dead Center‘s dark core. I would encourage horror fans to check out The Dead Center but MMC! had favourites of its own and the best of the best were found in the “CFFeatures” section.

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Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, 2012)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Berberian Sound Studio.

criterion logo1976.  A mild-mannered British sound engineer named Gilderoy (Toby Jones) arrives in Rome to work on the post-synchronized soundtrack to The Equestrian Vortex, a bloody tale of witchcraft and murder set inside an all-girls riding academy.  Thrown from the innocent world of English nature documentaries to the forbidding realm of exploitation cinema, he quickly finds his meek disposition clashing with the bitter actresses, capricious staff, and confounding bureaucracies of his Italian hosts.  Gilderoy’s simulated aural violence takes on a cruel edge in this environment, eventually revealing that it is his own mind that holds the real horrors.  As the line between film and reality blurs, is Gilderoy working on a film or in one?  A meta-horror tale that is equal parts paranoid thriller and loving tribute to the lost art of analog sound recording, Berberian Sound Studio is a spiraling dreamscape of personal and sonic mayhem.

Disc Features:

  • High-definition digital transfer, approved by director Peter Strickland, with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring Strickland
  • Interview with Strickland discussing the film’s production, the importance of sound to ’70s Italian genre cinema, and the impact of music on his work
  • Original Berberian Sound Studio short film starring The Bohemian Brothers
  • The Making of Berberian Sound Studio, a 47-minute documentary with Strickland and interviews with various cast and crew
  • Extended 1976 Box Hill documentary
  • Production design gallery reviewing the film’s dubbing charts with detailed director’s explanations
  • Deleted scenes with text descriptions and commentary by Strickland
  • What the Future Sounded Like, Matthew Bate’s 27-minute documentary on the Electronic Music Studio and the origins of experimental electronic music in England
  • A short video piece by Italy’s RAI television on the Milanese Studio di Fonologia Musicale
  • Trailer
  • Poster gallery
  • PLUS:  A booklet featuring new essays by critic Mark Kermode and music critic Alexis Petridis

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