Tag Archives: Fantasia Film Festival

From Fantasia 2021 to Shudder, Spine of Night’s Reach Grows

25 Aug

The Spine of Night - Rotten TomatoesBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Fantasia Film Festival 
RJLE Films

Coming to Shudder Network
Limited Theatrical Screenings Q4

Usually wearing a twig or a leaf is not enough to protect a person from harm. But when you’re Tzod (Lucy Lawless, Xena: Warrior Princess), and you know this plant has mystical properties, I suppose it’s okay to wander the world mostly naked. Thankfully this animated movie inspired by Frank Frazetta and Ralph Bakshi takes its cues elsewhere as it’s very ambitious in its scope, and is not scared of getting bloody that’d make Conan the Barbarian mutter, “Crom,” as wannabe kings and corrupt soldiers of fortune seek out The Bloom. With this plant, they can rule the world.

The Spine of Night bestows untold power and protection. Not everyone can lay claim to it, and nor can just anyone wear it as a badge of honour than emblem of power. Tzod is trying to protect it, and is laying as low so nobody can track her. Perhaps that’s why we see her in some strange outback, climbing up hills and poking her head in places faraway from humanity until she can find shelter. However, there’s another resident in the cave she found. The Guardian (Richard E. Grant, Withnail & I), is inquisitive, and asks why she’s here. Tzod explains, and that’s where the real stories unfold.

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Closing out Fantasia 2021 with the Shorts Program

25 Aug

Death and the Winemaker (2021) — The Movie Database (TMDb)By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

No Fantasia Festival is ever considered complete without looking at the short films offered. When I can’t be in Montreal for the closing film, The Great Yokai War: Guardians, checking out these shorts collections is the next best thing! That way, I can see who are the up-and-coming talents and perhaps get a sense of what may get turned into feature length works. There was a lot I could have looked at, but decided to settle on two programming blocks. 

I looked at the Circo Animato 2021 and Things That Go Bump in the East selections. These had the overlap of pieces I was curious about, and the pieces that stood out for me are:

Death and the Winemaker
By Victor Jaquier

If Ingmar Bergman was alive, I’m sure he’d have praised this short. Not only does the titular character have to face Death, but also he’ll have to keep this figure happy! The artistic design behind this haunting animation is simply gorgeous and I’m sure there’s a bit of a The Legend of Sleepy Hollow vibe intentionally put into the direction. There’s no relation to this Disney work, but the ambience just felt familiar.

According to IMDB, this filmmaker hasn’t made a lot of works. I’m certainly wanting to track these other shorts down and hope they’re somewhere in the Internet.

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[Fantasia 2021] Dreaming About “Strawberry Mansion” and those Fields too…

23 Aug

Strawberry Mansion: A great sci-fi premise with trippy, arthouse execution  | Ars TechnicaBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Fantasia Film Festival 2021
Screening Online until end of event (Aug 25, 2021)
Tickets can be purchased here.

Writers/Directors Albert Birney and Kentucker Audley may well have been listening to The Beatles song, “Strawberry Fields Forever” when they came up with the story for Strawberry Mansion. There’s an 80s nostalgic quality in this film’s design. Part of it is because it was filmed that way, and the other with the set design. Another layer includes 50s style science fiction elements set against a 80s fantasy in a mostly character driven drama about what makes Arabella Isadora (Penny Fuller) tick.

She’s a widow, and all the dreams she’s catalogued are being audited. In the future, there’s technology which allows people to record their dreams. As for why anyone would want to, the reasons aren’t entirely clear. It’s definitely offered to those who want to look back at their lives. However, I don’t think she’s strapping the Doc Brown (Back to the Future) invention on just so she can collect all those subconscious thoughts. Neither has this film once said she’s using it herself to make sense of her past.

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[Fantasia 2021] Building a “Kratt” to Conquer Boredom

23 Aug

Kratt (2020) - IMDb

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Fantasia Film Festival 2021
Screening Online until end of event (Aug 25, 2021)
Tickets can be purchased here.

Kratt is one of those types of horror comedies that I can see underperforming because not everyone is familiar with Estonian folklore. Technically, there is no creature to fear. Instead, it’s what the kids fear as they spend a summer without technology, and at grandmother’s house! They can’t run away, but find friends to play with.

Writer/director Rasmus Merivoo crafted a wickedly funny fable which considers what tweens can do when left on their own. They’ll have to create their own entertainment and after making local friends, they find a spell book and make a golem. However, unlike the traditional Jewish servant of lore, who is inherently neutral, answering to their master’s commands, the Kratt will deviate when no further work is asked of it. It’ll turn on their master and kill. 

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[Fantasia 2021] The Sensory Experience that is Phil Tippett’s Mad God

23 Aug

Phil Tippett's 'Mad God' Finally Arrives | Animation World NetworkBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Fantasia Film Festival 2021
Available to Stream On Demand

Encore performance Aug 24th 9:00 AM (EST)
Tickets can be purchased here

Also playing at other regional Film Festivals, please check listings.

At a cursory glance, Phil Tippett’s Mad God looks like a product spat out of many creative minds. There that genre fans can recognize from the movies he’s worked on, namely Dragonslayer. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Robocop, but as for who produced this wild trip, the concept is 100% Phil.

The story came from a cumulation of experiences from this special effects maker’s life ever since he thought of it 30 years ago, and it took many more to realize. On this list includes the advice he was given from fellow filmmakers and also him reading a lot of Milton and Dante. The visuals are comparable to that of splicing all that’s creative from Tim Burton, Clive Barker, H.P. Lovecraft, Jan Švankmajer, Guillermo del Toro and Guy Maddin’s into a huge melting pot, and it works. This master of stop-motion animation crafted a movie that would’ve been shelved for good had it not been for his fans and colleagues who said, you gotta finish it.

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