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PiFan Uncooked

Wednesday, September 5, 2007
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ZAP!  Take that, zebra flower blob-thing!A ways back, I was fortunate enough to find myself at the 11th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, located in Bucheon (there’s that alternate romanization thing again), just west of Seoul. I was only there for four-and-a-wee-bit of its nine days, but I did those four-and-a-wee right. And I got plenty of sleep, to boot.

Some of the films I saw you’ll eventually get the chance to see for yourself, others you won’t; in some cases, the former is a good thing, in others, the latter. Since my time spent not watching movies was relatively uneventful (highlight: after almost three years of careful avoidance, I finally had no choice but to use a squatter), I’ll just be sticking to the meat. And since I saw so many movies, providing me with a surplus of meat, I’ll serve this meat lean. Rapid-fire, get in/get out you’re done style.

Ten Nights of Dreams is a random-anthology film. It’s Japanese, which in and of itself foreshadows cinematic fuckedupedness, and then since each segment is a different dream handled by a different creator, there’s no call for congruence among them. Which means just what you’d expect: some are good, some stink. The Elite Beat Agents dancing woodcarver dream was fun; the bizarre bandage ghosts from another dream were either: a) meant to be scary, and thus a horrible failure; or b) meant to be funny, and thus just a horrible idea.

Brick is an Encyclopedia-Brown-for-this-jaded-generation film. And it’s one we’ve all already seen, or should have seen, for fuck’s sake — should have seen multiple times, because it does get better with each. So I need not go on about its top-notch quality offerings.

Feed is a classically-styled romance film. Have you heard of Feederism? Oh my, is it ever charming. Feed is a terrible, shitty fucking movie, one of the worst I’ve seen in a long time, and not because of its shock-and-disgust tactics. In fact, if it provides anything positive at all, Feed serves as proof that simply loading up a film with repulsive images is not enough to satisfy we fans of good sick-shit movies. We also demand some level of competence.

Fido is a zombie-context film. It applies Shawn of the Dead tactics to a Douglas Sirk/Leave it to Beaver ’50s and pulls it off exceptionally. Definitely the best I saw at the festival, with great acting from Dylan Baker, Carrie Anne-Moss, and especially Billy Connolly as the titular zombie pet. And especially Henry Czerny, because we just don’t see enough of that guy.

Princess is not an animated-porn-orgy film, as I’d been led to believe. All is forgiven though, because its touching story of a man trying to comfort his sweet little niece, and shield her from the graphic life her dead porn star mother had already exposed her to, is as good as any cel-animated rimjob could ever be. It screws up in its last act, trying to achieve a spiritual poignancy and 100% happy ending when a simple sense of hope would’ve been much more powerful, but up until then, it earns more empathy for its characters than I’ve ever seen before in animation.

The Ebola Syndrome is an infectious-disease-comedy film. It’s inexplicable that I hadn’t heard of Herman Yau up to this point; fortunately PiFan had a 5-picture strong special program dedicated to this madman, so I got to make up for lost time. The main character of Ebola Syndrome is about as despicable, vile, evil a bastard as they get, played with lovable charm by Anthony Wong. When he’s not raping diseased tribal women, he’s jerking off into cuts of beef destined for the plates of the customers at his cousin’s restaurant.

Whipsers and Moans is a proof-of-versitility film. Herman Yau again, this time with a sober, intelligent look at the lives of a group of Hong Kong sex workers. After the fearless excess of Ebola Syndrome, the restraint of this movie nearly gave me whiplash. These women and are considered with the utmost respect, while still raising concerns about their own inability, or unwillingness, to fully understand their own situation. I mean, it’s a movie about hookers, and there isn’t even any nudity in it. Who is this Yau guy?

Black Sheep is a flock-gone-astray horror-comedy film. The New Zealanders who put this movie together ask a question I’ve asked myself many a time: what animal would be the funniest to see as a flesh-hungry beast? I tend to bounce between cow and chipmunk, but they went for sheep. I can appreciate that. The film isn’t really anything great, a few good gags here and there, a very clever angle for the climactic dick shot, some nice monster makeup/costumes/effects. I don’t think I need to see it ever again, but I’m not going to actively avoid it or anything.

Offscreen is a dance-bloodsoaked-and-naked-’cause-you’re-crazy film. It’s another descendant of Blair Witch, but an excellent one, as a big Danish film star (and a hell of an actor — Holy shit, this is a performance) decides to keep a video diary for a full year. But he becomes too obsessed with documenting everything, and it costs him work, friends, and his girlfriend; by the end (and the beginning, since we see the final shot right away) he’s certifiably nuts. It’s a hell of a descent to witness.

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is an on-the-shoulders-of-giants film. This one came out over where you all are a long time ago, but this was my first chance. Set in a world where Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, and all those slashers actually happened (though without magic or voodoo or whatever keeps those guys going), a student film crew documents Leslie Vernon as he plans, prepares for, and executes his own teenager massacre. It’s really a very clever take, right up there with Scream, though its production values could’ve benefited from a couple million dollars more. I’ve heard rumours of a Leslie Vernon sequel, and I’d accept one happily.

Resurrection of the Butterfly is a ‘C’-student film. Just cheap and amateurish across the board. It tells two separate stories, set in Korea some 500 years apart, but I couldn’t tell you why the two were brought together. They’re kinda the same genre, I guess, that being horror — though I only really say horror because there was some menacing wet hair in the first half, and let me tell you, Asians find hair fucking terrifying. I, however, don’t find hair all that scary, and even if I did, there wasn’t enough evil hair in this movie to make it any good.

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead is a Troma film. ‘Nuff said.

Vampire Diary is an as-conceived-by-those-SNL-“Goth Talk”-characters film. It’s like a group of goth friends, fresh from a night spent freaking on the conformists, sat down around their boysenberry-scented candles and started talking about how awesome it would be if they were to meet a real vampire. Pun time: Vampire Diary sucks.

Bakushi is an awkwardly-rope-burned-boobies movie. It’s a slow, gentle documentary about the Japanese … Art? Craft? Kink? … of sexual restraint. And by “restraint,” I mean tying up hot naked women. We’re introduced to a few masters of the form as well as a few of their subjects, and through interviews and lengthy, uncut footage of tying sessions, we learn something about what they do and why they do it. They never get as pretentious as you may fear they will, but then they never really say much of substance either. A few interesting anecdotes, combined with all sorts of typically-unfeasible camera angles of nudity, keep it enjoyable.

Gong Tau is a Rockman™ Voodoo Murder Police Procedural film. Of the three Herman Yau flicks I got to see, this is the least, but it’s still pretty darn solid. Someone’s using the ancient Chinese voodoo of Gong Tau to off some cops and terrorize the hell out of our lead cop’s poor wife. And that lead cop’s name? Rockman. That right there is more awesome than most people can handle, but for those who can, Gong Tau offers up a gross dish of freaks and fluids to accompany Mr. Rockman, and he does it with an eye for style and a fine mix of suspense and dread. Bonus points for sitting me next to that Korean girl who jumped and gasped quite amusingly at every little thing that happened, making an already fun movie all the better. laebmada

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. James17930 permalink
    Sunday, September 9, 2007 8:28 am

    Will I ever see any of these movies?

  2. Sunday, September 9, 2007 9:03 am

    Brick and Behind the Mask you already can at your local DVD store.

    Both Fido and Black Sheep were released here back in June, I think, and they both come out on DVD next month (so you missed’em by that much).

    Ebola Syndrome had a new DVD released this year in July; the other two Herman Yauses can likely be ordered at yesasia.com.

    Poultrygeist is guaranteed to get some screen time at the Bloor.

    Princess and Offscreen you may not, which is a shame.

    The rest who cares? Well, Bakushi’s interesting, but yeah, short of DVD import, that ain’t happening.

    On the other hand, they probably do have film festivals in Taiwan…

  3. James17930 permalink
    Sunday, September 9, 2007 12:50 pm

    Princess actually looked interesting — though when I first saw the picture I thought it was Persepolis, which, incidentally, screened the other night at TIFF, and which, I’ve been told, was very good.

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