The yearly Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, Quebec is Shangri-La for fans of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi cinema. 22 days of premieres, special screenings and tributes to luminaries, with rabid audiences of fans and potential distributors clamoring to coronate the next big thing(s) in genre cinema.
Last year’s festival knocked our socks off with premieres of Ryan Prows’s masterful Lowlife, Ted Geoghegan’s Mohawk, the Larry Cohen documentary King Cohen, and Josh and Benny Safdie’s Good Time. But there were also plenty of lesser known, but no less exciting, films, such as Giordano Giulivi’s mind-bending The Laplace’s Demon and the brilliant stop-motion cyber-horror Junkhead.
This year’s lineup looks as exciting and diverse as ever, so here’s 10 films we can’t wait to check out.
Mandy (dir: Panos Cosmatos)
Might as well start with the festival’s closer. Audiences have been clamoring for Panos Cosmatos’ follow up to his mind-melting Beyond the Black Rainbow, and the recent trailer for Mandy has horror (and Nicolas Cage!) fans foaming at the mouth to see what he’s cooked up. It’s already conquered Sundance and Cannes, so why not Fantasia?
Chained for Life (dir: Aaron Schimberg)
Starring Teeth’s Jess Weixler, Chained for Life examines the standards of beauty in hollywood (and elsewhere) in a darkly comedic look at the making of a horror film starring actors with real-life deformities.
One Cut of the Dead (dir: Shinichiro Ueda)
Speaking of movies within movies, here’s a horror-comedy about a director trying to shoot a live broadcast zombie movie in a single take. It’s a concept that could easily go sideways, but this low-budget Japanese flick promises plenty of meta fun.
Bodied (dir: Joseph Kahn)
Look, I’ll level with you. I didn’t enjoy Joseph Kahn’s ludicrous dark comedy Detention. But I’m still massively pumped for this rap battle-themed satire, after audiences went absolutely nuts for it at TIFF and Sundance. It’s already starting to appear on Best of 2018 lists, so here’s a chance to check it out early.
Anna and the Apocalypse (dir: John McPhail)
This Christmas-themed zombie musical started as a short film by the late Ryan McHenry (best known for his hilarious “Ryan Gosling won’t eat his cereal” vines), and received plenty of raves at 2017’s Fantastic Fest. Sounds fun as hell.
Boiled Angels: The Trial of Mike Diana (dir: Frank Henenlotter)
Any film directed by Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case, Brain Damage) is an automatic must-see, and this long-in-the-works documentary about ‘zine creator Mike Diana (the first American artist convicted of obscenity) is no exception. Featuring narration from Jello Biafra!
The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot (dir: Robert Krzykowski)
Frankly, it takes more than a ludicrous title to get my attention. What’s that? It stars Sam Elliot? And has effects by 2001/Blade Runner’s Douglas Trumbull? And it’s produced by John Sayles and Lucky McKee? I am ALL IN.
Bleach (dir: Shinsuke Sato)
Serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 2001 to 2016, Bleach is one of the best-selling manga in both Japan and the United States, and it – as well as its animated adaptation – has a wild fandom internationally. I don’t know much about the property, but everything I’ve read about it sounds like it could make for a heck of a movie, and director Shinsuke Sato (Inuyashiki) has experience adapting popular manga to the big screen.
Hanagatami (dir: Nobuhiko Obayashi)
The director of House (aka Hausu) adapts his very first screenplay in the style of his earlier masterpiece. What else is there to say? Made when Obayashi was battling potentially terminal cancer, Hanagatami sounds like a fascinating capper to a career that has only recently been celebrated in the west.
Mega Time Squad (dir: Tim Van Dammen)
Look, I’m a sucker for time travel. And, after Deathgasm and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, I’m also a sucker for eccentric New Zealand comedies. This one seems to have just the right mix of temporal hijinks and Kiwi wackiness to capture my heart.
Fantasia International Film Festival 2018 kicks off on July 12th and wraps August 2nd. The full festival lineup and all other details can be found at their website. We can’t wait to share our favorites from the festival with you!