Kevin Smith decided to turn away from the comedy films that made him famous (“Clerks,” “Zach and Miri Make a Porno”) to direct “Red State,” a horror movie based on the Westboro Baptist Church. It appears his intuition was right, because “Red State” has been selected to open the coveted genre-based Fantasia International Film Festival on July 17th, 2011.
Smith has stated that “Red State” will be his final film, as he intends to focus his time on his many podcasts and new Internet radio station. He made headlines when purchasing the rights to the movie from himself at the Sundance Film Festival for $20, with the intention of self-distributing.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Fantasia will be honoring “An American Werewolf in London” and “Kentucky Fried Movie” director John Landis with a Lifetime Achievement Award, followed by a screening of his latest film, “Burke & Hare.” The film marks Landis’s return to the director’s chair after a 12 year hiatus and stars Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis as 19th century grave-robbers.
“The Wicker Tree” Debut
Also opening at the festival is “The Wicker Tree,” which is the follow-up to director Robin Hardy’s 1977 cult classic horror tale “The Wicker Man.” While the film is not a direct sequel, it considered to be a “companion piece” and is based on Hardy’s novel “Cowboys for Christ.” Several key players from “The Wicker Man” have returned for “Tree,” including Christopher Lee and producer Peter Snell.
“The Theater Bizarre”
One of the most exciting pieces of the Fantasia line-up announcement for me was “The Theater Bizarre,” an anthology film featuring segments directed by Buddy Giovinazzo (“Combat Shock,” “Life is Hot in Cracktown”), Richard Stanley (“Hardware”), Tom Savini, Douglas Buck (“Sisters,” writer of “Terror Firmer”), David Gregory (founder of Severin Films), Karim Hussain (cinematographer of “Hobo with a Shotgun”) and Jeremy Kasten. The cast includes cult actors Udo Kier and Lynn Lowry.
Honestly, if you made if past the first two names and weren’t interested, I can’t imagine why you’d still be reading this article. “The Theater Bizarre” sounds like the collaboration that fans of subversive film have been waiting their entire lives to see.
All of the films and events I’ve listed are surely just the icing on the cake for the Fantasia Film Festival, which will likely continue in its esteemed tradition of programming during it’s 15th anniversary event.