SFFF Day 3 – Actually, They’re All Labyrinths

There’s a running joke in Bill Watterson’s Dave Made a Maze (2017), a film about a man who builds a massive cardboard maze (bigger inside than out) and then gets trapped within it. As Dave’s friend Gordon (Adam Busch) repeatedly points out, the maze is full of traps, making it, in fact, a labyrinth. Day 3 of the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival offered a disparate collection of films – a comedy recounting a slacker’s epic quest in a DIY fortress; a trippy, coming-of-age, prom night parable; a genre-mixing, science fiction blockbuster; and a dreamy descent into a housewife’s trauma and a cult’s terrifying prophecy. Each offers its own twists and turns, finding new dangers as they progress through corrugated caverns, genre conventions, and layered realities. In fact, they’re all labyrinths in their own ways.

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Hell (Rein Raamat, 1983)

Rein Raamat’s Hell (1983) adapts the engravings of Estonian graphic artist Eduard Wiiralt into a surreal, grotesque, and heavily sexual animated short. Wiiralt’s three source works, “The Preacher,” “Cabaret,” and “Hell,” date back to the early 1930s and portray a cacophony of bacchanalia, hysteria, and violence in the final years of Estonian independence amid the unrest of the Great Depression and European instability. Raamat’s Hell (Põrgu) was created in the comparably uncertain time of Soviet dismantling and collapse. The short is unsettling in its physical fluidity, like an Eastern European, art film prediction of the climax to Brian Yuzna’s Society (1989).

Night Swim (Rod Blackhurst and Bryce James McGuire, 2014)

Horror can be elegantly simple. Consider Rod Blackhurst and Bryce James McGuire’s Night Swim (2014), where a nighttime dip by Eve (Megalyn Echikunwoke) in a backyard pool results in an unexpected observer. Chills and scares are developed in the short’s brief four minutes using a novel idea and some carefully paced storytelling. Dive in, horror fans!

Snow-White (Dave Fleischer, 1933)

MMC! keeps our creepy October rolling with Dave Fleischer’s spook-errific animation classic, Snow-White (1933). This Betty Boop masterpiece was animated almost single-handed by Roland Crandall over six months, his reward for loyal service to Fleischer Studios. The short features an array of creepy gags and set-pieces, the highlight of which is the Mystery Cave portion where a rotoscoped Cab Calloway performs “St. James Infirmary Blues” as a ghostly Koko the Clown. I first saw Snow-White in a class on the Disney Company where the very knowledgeable professor cited the rotoscoped appearance of Cab Calloway as an introduction of realism into the film, something I never understood given the very fantastic animation applied to the phantom Koko transforms into and the almost unnatural, counter-intuitive physics of Calloway’s glides and moonwalks. Snow-White has been preserved by the National Film Registry and can be found on Blu-ray in Volume 4 of Olive Films’ Betty Boop: The Essential Collections.

Just Because It Has Tentacles, Doesn’t Mean It’s Lovecraftian

October is upon us and that means horror-themed shorts here at MMC!

We kick off our month with a trio of Lovecraftian parody films by Canadian writer-director Joseph Nanni. In the hustle and bustle of our workaday lives, it’s easy to forget the invisible world that exists alongside ours, abiding in slumber its fearsome indifference to our small place in an ancient multiverse. Thank goodness religion, medicine, and insurance are doing their parts to protect us!

Elder Sign (Joseph Nanni, 2009)

The Necronomicon (Joseph Nanni, 2009)

HP Lovecraft Insurance (Joseph Nanni, 2015)

Devilman: The Birth (Umanosuke Iida, 1987) and Devilman: Demon Bird Sirene (Umanosuke Iida, 1990)

TO FIGHT A DEMON, ONE MUST BECOME A DEMON!

Prehistoric demons, hideous and pitiless monsters that consume humans body and soul, secretly threaten mankind. Humanity’s only hope is to harness the demons’ power and turn it against them. With the help of his friend Ryo Asuka, the pure-hearted Akira Fudo merges with the demon Amon, God of War and Beast of Hell, to become Devilman, powerful defender of the human race with the strength and abilities of a demon! In Devilman: The Birth and Devilman: Demon Bird Sirène, this hellish anti-hero pits his infernal might against possessed party-goers, squid and spiders monsters, a sadistic turtle creature, and a beautiful and savage winged demoness.

Adapted from the 1972-1973 manga of visionary author and artist Go Nagai, Umanosuke Iida’s pair of original video animations faithfully represents the gory violence and incredible monstrosities that defined the series and made Devilman an iconic figure in Japanese popular culture. Arrow Video proudly presents these classic works of 1980s anime excess on high-definition Blu-ray with both their original Japanese audio and notorious English dub tracks.

Special Features:

  • New High Definition digital transfer
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original stereo audio for original Japanese and English dub tracks (uncompressed on the Blu-ray Disc)
  • Isolated music tracks featuring the compositions of Kenji Kawai
  • New optional English subtitle translation
  • New interview with acclaimed author and artist Go Nagai
  • “We All Steal from Go Nagai!” – Directors Guillermo del Toro, Rob Zombie, and Yoshihiro Nishimura on the legacy of Go Nagai and Devilman
  • Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Natsume Fusanosuke and Andrea Marinelli and an essay by creator Go Nagai written on the 30th anniversary of Devilman
  • Devilman: Tanjo Hen – the single volume novel that originally accompanied the OVA in 1987, newly translated and reprinted in its entirety
  • The Demon Bible – the original book published by Bandai in 1990 featuring artwork by Go Nagai, includes original Japanese and new English translations and reprinted in its entirety

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