Day 1 (July 8) Opening Night — After some scrambling, I managed to locate fellow Film Threat Jeremy Knox as he chatted to Mitch Davis, one of the international programmers for the festival. I was graciously introduced and was immediately struck by Mitch’s exuberance and enthusiasm. This was good since it’s Mitch’s job to introduce the movies and boy did he do a good job of riling up the crowd. The opening night film was one that a lot of people seem divided on, the Korean Animated tour de force Wonderful Days. Some people loved the sweeping operatic story (like me), some people thought it was cliched and silly (everyone else around me). Most people agreed that the visuals were great, even if we couldn’t get together on the characters or the plot. The second film of the night was Ju-On: The Grudge which we’d actually had the pleasure of screening at the Den of Sin last month. Worth seeing again if only for the audience effect. Hearing the woman behind me chanting “s**t, s**t, s**t” in anticipation of the next scare brought a sadistic smile to my little face.
Day 2 (July 9) — After settling into our crash pad in Outremont (stupid Jazz Festival) we hurried down to Concordia just in time to meet up with Jeremy and catch the first film of the night: Macabre Case of Prom Piram. Although based on a horrible true story, the predictability of the process and the presence of too many cop clichés watered down the intended emotional impact. Needing something a little more uplifting I decided to skip seeing Gozu again and joined my Fiancé in witnessing a beautiful restored print of 8th Diagram Pole Fighter. Then it was time to scarf a quick dinner of pizza and pop and on to Haute Tension. It was a good lively crowd no doubt buoyed by the incredible buzz the film has been getting on the festival circuit. Reaction again was mixed, but it was a movie I was glad to have seen with a group of people cheering the gore and creative dismemberment.
Day 3 (July 10) — After a day of laundry and frantic review writing it was back to Concordia for the restored Japanese cut of Godzilla. To be honest, I hadn’t been that psyched about catching this one, but my Fiancé dragged me out and I’m glad I saw it. Not as big a crowd as we had predicted, probably owing to the fact that it is already in limited release, but again being able to view it with a bunch of hard core G-Fans made it an enjoyable experience. Afterwards I skipped off to finish some writing and snag some dinner (Mariko gets cranky when she doesn’t eat regularly) while my Fiancé treated himself to Azumi which he said he liked a lot more than he expected because he chose not to expect much. Once we met up again in the Hall theater it was time for the world premier of Canada’s own Ginger Snaps 3: Ginger Snaps Back (The Beginning). It was a full and enthusiastic house and predictably the Q&A with star Emily Perkins, producer Paula Devonshire and cinematographer Michael Marshall went seriously overtime. Then it was back into our seats for a midnight screening of Dead and Breakfast. This is a film that was obviously made for midnight screenings and although it’s more goofy than campy there were enough horror comedy homages (“Evil Dead 2” and the early films of Peter Jackson in particular) to keep everyone entertained. This was followed by probably the first Q&A via telephone I’d ever witnessed as producer Jun Tan relayed audience questions to director Matthew Leutwyler over his cell phone and then repeated his answers into the microphone.
Day 4 (July 11) — After getting settled at the hostel again we trundled downtown for what ended up as one of my favorite films of the festival. Because it was listed as a drama, the Japanese film 9 Souls failed to attract the same crowds that the blood and gore movies did and that was a real shame because this was a wonderful, powerful movie with it’s share of the old ultra-violence. Then we met up with our buddy Jeremy for the new Kiyoshi Kurosawa movie “Doppelganger”. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about this movie since it’s very unlike any of Kiyoshi’s previous efforts, it’s somewhat madcap and has a happy ending. Also, Koji Yakuso’s floppy hair and the waving arms on the robotic chair kept making me think of “Short Circuit”.
Get the rest of the story in part three of ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: FANTASIA, BABY!>>>