Fantastic Fest Report: Mad Cows and Even Madder Slashers

Peter Martin, Managing Editor

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The first three are all highly recommended for different reasons: the first for its tight storytelling and dense, moody atmosphere, the latter two for their very different approaches to updating the slasher flicks so popular in the '80s. One-liners and links first:

Isolation: Mad cow disease takes on a whole new meaning. Screens again on Thursday, September 28 at 9:20 p.m.; will hopefully gain wider distribution.

Fantastic Fest info page (Includes embedded trailer)

Simon Says: Sample scene -- Crispin Glover fiendishly controlling a field of flying pickaxes. Sole festival screening, but horror fans should clamor for its release.

Official Web Site (Placeholder) | MySpace page
Fantastic Fest info page

Hatchet: Very funny comedy with extreme, non-CGI gore sure to please traditionalists. Screens again today (Monday), September 25 at 4:20 p.m. U.S. release in January 2007.

Official Web Site (Multiple trailers)
Fantastic Fest info page

After the jump, quick takes on Sunday's fare, including Starfish Hotel:

(Longer reviews will follow at the end of the week for the first three.)

Isolation
Todd wrote an excellent review recently, though I disagree with him on one point: I think the third act works very well indeed. The film proceeds at such a deliberate pace that I wondered if it would ever pay off, but it did. You might say this is a thinking man's mutant cow movie: the story takes precedence over everything. The rural atmosphere sets a proper mood of foreboding, especially for those of us raised in the city. Personally, I'm staying away from cows for a while.

Simon Says
Director Bill Dear (Harry and the Hendersons) dives into exploitation fare with relish, serving up a tasty treat featuring the divine Crispin Glover, plenty of character-based humor, and a number of outlandishly clever splatter scenes. The film looks ravishing and rocks along briskly; the characters get plenty of time to establish their various degrees of likability before being killed off one by one. Surprisingly enough, you start to care about them. It played extremely well with the audience.

Hatchet
Writer/director Adam Green replaces all the lame dialogue of the typical slasher flick with a ton of jokes that make the inevitable set-up scenes fly by. You almost forget what kind of movie you're watching until the Bad Guy makes his first over-the-top kill, and then the resoundingly excessive splatter splahes off the screen. But the jokes don't stop, so Green has hatched a clever, minor variation on what might be expected. Green said later that he wasn't trying to reinvent the wheel, but he sure did paint it red. And the audience in the sold-out house responded with great enthusiasm.

Starfish Hotel
All I wrote down in my notes is "arid." This Japanese film by UK director John Williams is meant to be a mystery with a bit of the supernatural and a fantasy world, but I could never engage with the material or the characters.

Fantastic Fest info page

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