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FEARNET's Fantestic Fest Recap!!!

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Over the past several days you've seen a bunch of reviews of the horror flicks that played Austin's Fantastic Fest. But since I only reviewed seven or eight titles, and there were certainly more than seven or eight good flicks at the festival, we decided to wrap things up neatly: Here are all the horror films that played Fantastic Fest, and what I thought of 'em.

 Acolytes (Jon Hewitt, Australia) -- A gritty thriller about three short-sighted teens who blackmail a killer into murdering the local bully. Only ... things don't go as smoothly as all that. Strong performances and a few cool twists.

Alien Raiders (Ben Rock, USA) -- Or, how to make a clever sci-fi horror flick on a tight budget in only two weeks. (Read the full 'Alien Raiders' review here.)

Art of the Devil 3 (various, Thailand) -- Well. Ouch. I still like Part 2 the best. But yeah: Owie.

The Burrowers (JT Petty, USA) -- 80% western, 20% horror, 100% cool. (Read the full The Burrowers review here.)

Cargo 200 (Aleksei Balabanov, Russia) -- More of a bleak crime story than an actual horror movie ... but it kinda freaked me out too. Kidnapping, rape, psycho cops, that sort of fun stuff.

Dark Floors (Pete Riski, Finland) -- A laughably familiar hospital-set horror story. If these guys are a rock band, they should stick with that gig.

Deadgirl (Marcel Carmiento, USA) -- I spoke to several fest-goers who disagreed rather vehemently, but here's the rare film I just couldn't stand. It's about a ridiculously un-scary bully and an annoyingly craven doormat who discover a "living / dead / undead" girl chained in an abandoned basement -- and commence doing terrible things to her / it. Just didn't work for me.

Donkey Punch (Oliver Blackburn, UK) -- Still packs a punch the second time around. (Full Donkey Punch review here.)

Fear(s) of the Dark (various, France) -- What got overlooked at Sundance was a big treat at Fantastic Fest. (Full Fear(s) of the Dark review here.)

Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds (Jon Gulager, USA) -- One of the splatteriest American monster movies I've ever seen. There's like buckets of goo. (Full Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds review here.)

The Good, The Bad, and The Weird (Ji-woon Kim, Korea) -- NOT a horror movie, but so amazingly cool I just have to include it. Spaghetti western homage that has some of the most dazzling action sequences I've ever seen. Yes, ever.

How to Get Rid of the Others (Anders Klarlund, Denmark) -- Also not horror, but genre fans often enjoy the DARK comedies, which means you'll want to know about this one: It's about a new directive in which all of Denmark's "unproductive" citizens are rounded up and forced to plead their case -- or be shot in the head. Smart, twisted, pointed social satire that actually has an interesting plot to go along with the politics. I'm not usually one for remakes, but somehow HAS to get this movie into the hands of George Clooney.

I Think We're Alone Now (Sean Donnelly, USA) -- A strange yet fascinating documentary about two (VERY) different men who still (after all these years) harbor some deep obsessions for Tiffany. Yes, Tiffany.

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (Jon Knautz, USA) -- All hail goop-covered latex! (Read the full Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer review here.)

Left Bank (Pieter Van Hees, Belgium) -- What begins as a dour but strangely interesting tale of romantic stress slowly turns into something like a Rosemary's Baby homage. Very well-acted, and if the movie takes just a bit too long to get to the payoff, well, at least the payoff is worth it.

Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, Sweden) -- I never get tired of telling people how awesome this film is. (Read the full Let the Right One In review here.)

Martyrs (Pascal Laugier, France) -- A big, sweaty slap in the face of a visceral experience -- but it's also got a cleverly twisted little sub-plot tucked in there. (Check out the full Martyrs review here.)

Not Quite Hollywood (Mark Hartley, Australia) -- If you're a fan of movies like Razorback, Patrick, Road Games, and Mad Max (and you oughtta be), then be sure to catch this very entertaining doco about the golden days of Aussie Exploitation Cinema.

Pulse 2 (Joel Soisson, USA) -- Points for trying to take a tired story in a darker new direction, but there's still not much of a series here. (Read the full Pulse 2 review here.)

Repo! The Genetic Opera (Darren Bousman, USA) -- This one sure seems to be a "love it or hate it" kind of movie -- so why am I still stuck somewhere in the middle? I'd definitely recommend it to genre fans who want to see an audacious project that clearly wants to be mentioned alongside The Rocky Horror Picture Show ... but it's just a really mixed bag. The look and sound of the film work -- but many of the songs seems pretty stilted. Several of the performances are quite broadly amusing -- but there's also way too many flashback sections that don't add a whole lot to the affair. Love the ambition, like the movie, curious to see what other folks think.

Role Models (David Wain, USA) -- Cute but very predictable comedy starring Paul Rudd, Stifler, and two goofy kids.

Rule of Three (Eric Shapiro, USA) -- A quiet little psycho-thriller that feels a lot like a stage play-turned-movie ... but it sucked me in pretty quickly. Aside from a few early (and overly-talky) scenes, this is a solid little indie that deals with a father's search for his missing daughter -- and a hotel room that's seen a lot of unpleasant activity.

Sauna (Antti-Jussi Annila, Finland) -- A crisp, creepy and very effective period-piece horror tale that deals with the demarcation of the national boundaries between Russia and Sweden. Yeah, so it's not exactly Scream 4. Damn good movie, though, even if I had to watch the ending twice to figure anything out.

Seventh Moon (Eduardo Sanchez, USA) -- A creepy little story about two newlyweds who get stranded in the Chinese countryside, only to come across a bunch of the undead. Some solid scares and a solid performance by Amy Smart help a lot.

South of Heaven (J.L. Vara, USA) -- Another NOT horror flick, although this is a really fantastic genre concoction that samples Tarantino, the Coen brothers, the classic film noir style, and a jazzy technicolor cartoon vibe that somehow ties it all together. Endlessly quotable, admirably weird. (Read the full South of Heaven review here.)

Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story (Jeffrey Schwarz, USA) -- This fine documentary has now played at about 532 film festivals. (Check out the full Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story review here.)

The Substitute (Ole Bornedal, Denmark) -- More of a twisted sci-fi movie (with horror leanings) combined with a surprisingly clever comedy, this one shows what happens when a love-starved alien becomes a substitute teacher to a bunch of Danish children. Fun stuff.

Surveillance (Jennifer Lynch, USA) -- Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond star as FBI agents trying to piece together a strange rash of murders -- only the witnesses are clearly hiding something. Or several somethings. Has a few surprises, and Pullman is quite good, but it feels like a solid cable flick more than anything else.

Tokyo Gore Police (Yoshia Nashamura, Japan) -- Enthusiastically creative and, yes, dripping with bodily fluids. Mostly blood. (Check out the full review here.)

Vinyan (Fabrice Du Welz, France) -- Rufus Sewell and Emmanuelle Beart (still amazingly gorgeous) play bereaved parents who become convinced that their missing son is in BURMA, of all places. So guess where they go. The flick definitely takes us to some grimly effective and unpleasant places -- but it also takes a bit too long to get there.

Wicked Lake (Zach Passero, USA) -- Wow. Just wow. And I don't mean that in a good way. Avoid.

The Wild Man of the Navidad (Justin Meeks, USA) -- Apparently the Tribeca version has been trimmed and tightened a bit. Cool.

The Wreck (James K. Jones, USA) -- An engaging but fairly obvious thriller about a man and a (very pregnant) woman who find themselves stuck and alone after suffering a nasty car accident. The third act surprises aren't all that surprising, but they are kinda cool.

 

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (Kevin Smith, USA) -- Obviously not horror (unless Seth Rogen without a shirt qualifies as horror), but if you like a comedy that delivers equal portions of sweetness and smut, then this is a good one for you. Rogen and Elizabeth Banks make for a great duo, and they're backed by a rascally raunchy ensemble. Don't see it with grandma.

 

Zombie Girl: The Movie (Aaron Marshall, USA) -- Not many first-time filmmakers would warrant their own behind-the-scenes documentary, but not many first-time filmmakers are 13-year-old girls who love zombies above all else. (Follow on for the full Zombie Girl: The Movie review here.)

 

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