Man, have I just had the experience of a lifetime! After years and years of festival programmer Mitch Davis hoping I would make it up, I finally made the trip to Montreal, mostly due to being involved with releasing Battlefield Baseball and promoting Living Hell, and boy was it worth it. And I really wonder where I’ve been all these years passing up the fest. Most of it had to do with the $300 plane ticket, then wondering what to do about hotels and all. I mean, even one weekend of movies comes to around $6-700 when all is said and done. Well, now I know what it’s all about!
Opening night was Ju-On: The Grudge. I hate spoiling movies for people so I won’t detail the film, but if you’re already a fan of Asian horror, it’s something you’ve pretty much seen before. If you’ve never seen Asian horror, you’ll probably be confused, but at least scared. The next night was the mostly incredible Haute Tension, which I just refuse to get into unless everyone has seen it. I just can’t.
After that was the screening of Battlefield Baseball, which was a tremendous success. Opening up was the effluvious Mitch Davis selling us in ways we hadn’t dreamed of, even referring to us as ‘superheroes,’ which is totally wild. I revved up the crowd, then passed out t-shirts and Living Hell DVDs to a ravenous crowd. I also ended up taking out a lighting fixture in the high ceiling, by some bizarre token of chance, and apparently pegged some guy in the face hard enough to make him bleed, which helped rev up the audience even more. The guy thought it was awesome and thanked me! By the time of the screening the crowd of 450–500 were so jazzed it was hard to hear the movie. A successful screening I would say. It was like a big family function.
Saturday I joined Nikola, John and Sara from the Fantasia office in picking up Mr. Udo Kier from the Montreal airport. It was great to reunite with Udo. I hadn’t seen him since we conducted an interview at a Fangoria convention in January 2000. We had a quick dinner then saw the premiere of Ginger Snaps 3 which isn’t really my kind of movie but obviously the film’s creators have their fan base.
Sunday, Udo and I went to Old Montreal and walked to the Village for some coffee and lunch before hitting the AMAZING Eight-Diagram Pole Fighter from Shaw Bros. This film ROCKED!!! The entire opening weekend of Fantasia was just mind-blowing. And that night the festival treated Udo to a dinner and just two blocks away my friend Robbie and his girlfriend were staying at another friend’s so I got to see them for a few minutes before we ran back for Kyoshi Kurosawa’s Doppelganger.
After that the gang ended up at a strip club called Cleopatra’s, but I had already asked around and found this wild multi-level club that really was just what I needed: dancing for a couple hours. Udo made his way over about 3 am and got a half hour in before finding me at a pizza place.
I actually ended up being a bit overwhelmed by all that was going on and didn’t see a complete film the entire rest of my visit. I saw part of One Point Zero, most of Blueberry, and most of Thundercrack! And also during the week I stayed at La Datcha bed and breakfast on De Maissoneuve which was just a bit too wonderful and hard to walk away from. I highly recommend checking them out if you’re ever travelling through Montreal. A very beautiful home and comfortable space await you.
I regret having booked my foot surgery for today, the 20th, because I was able to make great friends with the incredible Kim Bodnia, who I would not know if not for the great taste of Mr. Mitch Davis. After most of the Fantasia friends attended a rare screening of Friday the 13th 3-D at the remodeled Imperial theater, the former home of Fantasia, I was lucky enough to have spent a great night out on the town drinking, dancing and laughing. Sadly, tonight, the day of my surgery, is the North American premiere of The Good Cop, Kim’s latest film. I know I’ll be able to rent the damned thing on DVD, but projection is where it’s at. If I didn’t get along so well with my podiatrist I would’ve made that date change, but with the anesthesiologist arranged weeks in advance, I decided to not inconvenience others. Darn it.
A lot more happened, and I got to see a number of great friends including Marc Walkow of Criterion, along with his wife Jen, Don May from Synapse Films, Harvey Fenton from FAB Press, Mike Gingold from Fangoria, and got to meet some great new friends too like Marc Lemothe, Donato Totoro, Phil, Jocelyn, and more, but it’s all just too much to write it out in one lump, and it takes up a lot of the page.
Truly though, if you’re a fan of fantastic cinema at all, Fantasia is where you need to be.