Fantastic Fest 2012: Day 6

Fernanda Urrejola and Ernesto Diaz Espinosa

Fernanda Urrejola and Ernesto Diaz Espinosa (lead actress and director, respectively, from Bring Me the Head of Machine Gun Woman)

Day 6 of Fantastic Fest was a light one for me. I deliberately skipped out on the first film timeslot of the day so I could get some PowerPoint Karaoke work done, and I split immediately after the final film. However, since the first two things I did see were a program of animated shorts and an anthology film in 26 parts, I felt like I’d somehow crammed about 40 movies into my head that day. Light, indeed!

DRAWN AND QUARTERED (animated shorts program)
I always love the animated films that are dug up by the Fantastic Fest folks, and this year was no different. Everyone loved one called “Attack of the Killer Mutant Chickens”, which was animated like a mid-1980s kids’ cartoon. “Tram” was also a favorite, a saucy and strangely cute short about a female tram driver fantasizes about the businessmen who board her vehicle. I was fond of “Bendito Machine IV”, which was a gorgeously animated, dialogue-free semi-fantasy about transportation and pollution. But everything paled against Disney’s “Paperman”, which will be screening soon in front of Wreck-It Ralph; it’s so gorgeous and sweet that your eyes will probably leak.

I love the concept of the ABCs of Death. The producers contacted 26 horror directors from around the globe, gave each one a letter of the alphabet, asked each director to choose a word starting with that letter, and then gave them a small budget to make a 5-minute film featuring a death related to that word. Thus, the film starts with a segment called “A is for Apocalypse” and goes from there. As you’d expect from a project of this nature, some shorts are better (and/or crazier) than others. However, the overall experience is a lot of fun, if your tastes bend in such a direction. I’m not sure what sort of release it will get, but it’s quite likely I’ll buy this one on DVD.

This was one of a trio of vintage horror films brought to the festival by Kier-La Janisse, author of House of Psychotic Women. I’ve always wanted to see The Mafu Cage, but never managed to get my hands on a copy. I’m pleased to say that it’s quite a film, and it’s worth some work to locate. The plot centers around two adult sisters, the older of whom is the caretaker for her younger, mentally unstable counterpart. The film focuses on the difficulty and pitfalls of being such a caretaker, as well as a powerhouse performance from Carol Kane, who plays the younger sister. The film is additionally interesting in that it was also directed and produced by women (Karen Arthur and Diana Young, respectively), which was kind of a novel thing in the late 1970s. Really good stuff.

Back in the 1980s, a tae kwon do grandmaster named Y. K. Kim decided to personally fund and direct a movie. The movie dropped quickly into obscurity until a print was unearthed by the Alamo Drafthouse, when they purchased a large collection of random film cannisters. The film is what you’d expect from a person who is not a filmmaker: filled to the brim with atrocious acting, writing, and excess. But what a failure! Miami Connection is one of the most deliciously awesome-bad films I’ve seen in a long time, and I want to show it to everyone. The plot somehow involves a cocaine-stealing ninja biker gang who have a vendetta against a goody-good synthpop band trained in tae kwon do (led by Y. K. Kim, of course). Despite the title, this all happens in Orlando. Seriously, if you love so-bad-they’re-great films, this is a gem.

The Alamo Drafthouse not only unearthed the film Miami Connection, they managed to re-unite the band featured in the film. Dragon Sound actually played live at one of the parties. WHOA.

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