Friday, December 16, 2011

You'd Better Watch Out: Volume 3


For the past couple of years I've posted lists of unconventional Christmas films around the holidays, to provide an alternative viewing roster for those inclined toward something off the beaten path. Titles have included such cheery favorites as 12 Monkeys, Brazil, Trancers, Die Hard, etc. This year I ended up watching a great one out of Finland called Rare Exports. The film tells the story of a small group of villagers in present day Finland, whose lives are upended when a mining company discovers the real Santa Claus buried deep within the heart of a local mountain. The problem is that this isn't the Santa we all know and love, but the Santa from myth and legend. This Santa does more than leave a lump of coal for those who are naughty, sees reindeer as a source of protein rather than a useful means of conveyance, and does not arrive with the charming red suit and hat.

Of course once Santa inevitably escapes the restraints the mining company attempts to impose, he runs loose and wreaks havoc in the village. A young boy, his father, and a couple of hapless locals manage to corral him, but intend to make the mining company pay top dollar due to all the reindeer Santa took out along the way. One of the most creative pieces of business is that everyone has to be careful not to swear or do anything naughty, or Santa will focus his radar on them. It's sort of like having to remain motionless to avoid the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, not feed Gremlins after midnight, etc. There a lots of little touches like this that make the film unique and fresh.

I went into this movie pretty much free of any expectations, and have to say it mostly was fantastic. What you have is a combination of the isolation and wintry chill of The Thing, mixed with "magic of childhood" vibe of 80's Spielberg, and a dash of overblown modern action. I could have probably done without the last element, because it somewhat diminished the wonderfully creepy atmosphere established in the first 2/3 of the film. Not a deal breaker though by any means, and when we finally see the true Santa it is truly a jaw dropper.

So if you're looking for an alternative to A Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story marathons, check out this daring little gem . . . and we'll see you all at Fantasmo in the coming New Year!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fantasmo Episode 68: Team Fantasmo Vs. Lovecraft


Hey Superfans!
Thanks to everyone who came out for our BIG holiday episode, and especially to Santa Claus himself who was on hand for picture taking and wish list hearing! It was truly a Fantasmo to always remember : ) Never ones to live in the past, we're already looking to the future and our groundbreaking first episode of 2012. For this very special Fantasmo we are paying tribute for the first time in our history to legendary horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Filmically adapted on numerous occasions over the years, Lovecraft's brand of fright involves creatures from another dimension trying to force their way back into our world . . . and in the process driving anyone they come into contact with totally insane.

Although Lovecraft was most famously essayed by horror director Stuart Gordon with the likes of Re-Animator and From Beyond, we have chosen to focus on some of the more obscure efforts: Die Monster Die! & The Dunwich Horror. These two come from the horror factory that was American International Pictures during their glory days of the late 60's and early 70's. It's drive-in schlock meets Lovecraftian terror, and the results are pure cinematic gold! Die Monster Die! features Boris Karloff delivering a trademark mad scientist role, squaring off against B-movie legend Nick Adams. Classic. The Dunwich Horror on the other hand is an exercise in pure weirdness, as Dean Stockwell turns in one of the most bizarre performances of his career. It's a really strange movie befitting the source material. So without any further ado, here are your full Episode 68 details:

When: Friday, January 6th @ 8:00 p.m.

Where: Chesapeake Central Library, 298 Cedar Road, Chesapeake, VA 23322

Films:

8:00 p.m.: Die Monster Die! (1965)

9:30 p.m.: The Dunwich Horror (1970)

So there you have it Superfans, another exercise in cinematic perfection to kick off the New Year! You dare not miss these creepy classics back on the big screen . . . THE WAY THEY WERE MEANT TO BE SEEN! See you there!