Fantastic Fest: second wave highlights

Two weeks ago, Fantastic Fest announced its second wave of films.  Having taken the time to digest a few of these, I’ve decided which flicks I plan to see.  As a service to you (and because I don’t have much else to blog about) I present my personal highlights from Fantastic Fest’s second wave.  Let the celebration of the horrific, gritty, hilarious, and just plain weird commence!

Daybreakers
(dir. Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig, 2009, USA)
The year is 2019. A mysterious plague has swept over the earth, transforming the majority of the world’s population into vampires. Humans are now an endangered, second-class species – forced into hiding as they are hunted and farmed for vampire consumption to the brink of extinction.  It’s all up to Edward Dalton, a vampire researcher who refuses to feed on human blood, to perfect a blood substitute that might sustain vampires and spare the few remaining humans.

Doghouse
(dir. Jake West, 2009, UK)
North American Premiere
Kicked out of the house and recently served with divorce papers, Vince (Stephen Graham, SNATCH) is at a low point in his life.  In an effort to rally their best mate’s spirits, his crew rents a charter bus for a country retreat of heavy drinking and womanizing.  The only problem is that the women in their idyllic country hideaway have been infested with the zombie plague, eaten every man in town and are now hungry for seconds.

Hard Revenge, Milly: Bloody Battle
Regional Premiere
(dir. Takanori Tsujimoto, 2009, Japan)
In a near-future post-apocalyptic bombed-out shell of Japan, lawless gangs roam the outskirts of the city, raping and pillaging with impunity.  Milly, left for dead by a particularly vicious gang, literally picks up the (her) pieces, bonds them with some truly inventive bio-weaponry and takes bloody revenge, one lowlife at a time.

Human Centipede
North American Premiere
(dir. Tom Six, 2009, Netherlands/UK)
Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser), a leering, sepulchral surgeon from Germany whose specialty is separating Siamese twins, evolves his craft by sewing together living beings together at the “mucous-cutaneous zone” (guess) in order to create Siamese triplets with a single digestive system.

Macabre
World Premiere
(dir. The Mo Brothers, 2009, Indonesia)
After just embarking on a roadtrip, six friends stop to pick up a girl who has just been robbed and return her to her home at the end of an isolated forest.   Their act of kindness ends up being repaid by a night of unspeakable horror and butchery.

Smash Cut
(dir. Lee Demarbre, 2009, Canada)
U.S. Premiere
When his latest film is panned for its sub-par effects work, veteran grindhouse filmmaker Able Whitman (David Hess, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK) is struck with inspiration: the most realistic gore effects will come from actual
dismemberment and corpses!

Survival of the Dead
U.S. Premiere
(dir. George A. Romero, 2009, US/Canada)
George Romero returns to the Alamo Drafthouse cinema for the U.S. premiere of his latest zombie opus.  The action centers on two warring clans of Plum Island; one wants to kill every zombie on the island, the other tries to protect their undead family members until a cure for “zombieism” is found.

Sweet Karma
US Premiere
(dir. Andrew Thomas Hunt, 2009, Canada)
When her sister disappears without a trace – the apparent victim in a Russian prostitution ring in Toronto – a shy, beautiful, mute woman sets off on a bloody, intercontinental
trail of revenge.

Van Diemen’s Land
U.S. Premiere
(dir. Jonathan Auf Der Heide, 2009, Australia)
When their guard is killed en route to prison in 19th-century Tasmania, eight prisoners escape through the dense rain forest.  Their poorly-conceived escape plans crumble, food runs out and the gang of prisoners engages in power struggles, psychological games and cannibalism in order to survive.  Based on the true-life story of Australian prisoner Alexander Pearce.

Yesterday
Regional Premiere
(Rob Grant, 2009, Canada)When a strange flulike virus starts killing people and turning them into flesh-eating zombies, an unlikely group of guys band together, grab an SUV and head for the woods to wait out the epidemic.  Shot in 16mm on a micro-budget of $25,000, YESTERDAY transcends its resources, filling every scene with great practical effects, car crashes, ballistics and, most importantly, cracklingly sharp dramatic and comedic performances by every single principal cast member.

Zombieland
(dir. Ruben Fleischer, 2009, US)
Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is a big wuss – but when you’re afraid of being eaten by zombies, fear can keep you alive.  Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) is an AK-totin’, zombie-slayin’ badass whose single determination is to get the last Twinkie on earth.
So there you have it, everybody.  Looks like it’s gonna be a busy week!