2015 Ithaca International Fantastic Film Festival Overview & Films Review (My Visit Friday November 13 – Sunday November 15)

11924535_996565347062877_5744737322306457635_nHugues Barbier and company are crafting something diverse, intelligent and special up in Ithaca, New York! Listening to industry peers and the dysfunctional family about the continued quality of the film lineup and the love put into it, I did not want to miss this year. Met with a big hug by film programmer Barbier and seeing such respected peers in horror like FANGORIA Editor-in-Chief Michael Gingold, The Palace Theatre’s Jeff Meyer, New England Writer and Filmmaker Izzy Lee and VULTRA VIDEO Founder Jason West, this was the place to be to see the different side of horror, film, culture and art.
Just a little background into IIFFF. It was formed four years ago by Barbier and has continued to grow in the film festival community hosting some of the most cutting edge film and programming in the country. Currently located in the incredible arthouse cinema complex known as the CINEMAPOLIS within the Commons area, IIFFF each year goes with a different programming theme and some of the most diverse films you find anywhere. As a part of year four, IIFFF featured over 50 short films, documentaries and features as part of the five day lineup. With so much going on, here’s a taste of this year’s IIFFF film programs that kicked off with the opening night film from Hungary the brilliantly crafted LIZA, THE FOX FAIRY and will close with the French film MOONWALKERS starring Ron Perlman (Hellboy 1 & 2) and Rupert Grint (Harry Potter series).

Delving deep into the arts of cinema, painting, music, film and more, IIFFF brought on the new horror film streaming platform SHUDDER to sponsor and curate a special film showcase highlighted by the celebration of body horror/alternation entitled ORGANIC HORROR: OBSESSION WITH BODY ALTERATIONS. This showcase presented five diverse tales of body horror with favorites like Takashi Miike AUDITION, Georges Franju’s EYE’S WITHOUT A FACE, Andrezej Zulawski’s POSESSION, David Cronenberg’s SHIVERS, and Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s TETSUO: THE IRON MAN.

12219395_719585908185533_1749754585641394906_nNot only a very welcoming crew at IIFFF, but a smart one also! IIFFF tapped the film festival circuit to host two of the biggest fan favorite film fest entries with Joe Begos’s latest telekinetic action thriller THE MIND’S EYE and Mickey Keating’s portrait of madness against the backdrop of New York City entitled DARLING. Going abroad, IIFFF had the pleasure to host many international dark gems like the dysfunctional comedy MEN & CHICKEN (Denmark), the Wes Anderson influenced bizarre tales of growing up in DER BUNKER (Germany), Sion Sono’s holiday tale of dreaming big entitled LOVE & PEACE (Japan), the very bizarre USE THE EYEBALLS (Japan), the very disturbing Turkish SICCIN 2, Swedish haunted house film SENSORIA, the DUEL meets MANIAC French New Wave Thriller NIGHT FARE plus many more!

On the domestic side, we saw New York based filmmakers showcase homegrown films like visually stunning H., the boundary pushing home invasion film with a twist of THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADDLE in EMELE plus first time filmmaker Perry Blackshear dark psychosis film THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE. Also, filmmaker Adrian Garcia Bogliano (Late Phases and Here Comes the Devil) delivers again with a story of twisted fortune and ambition gone to hell in the USA/Mexico crime thriller SCHERZO DIABOLICO plus the return to the TWILIGHT ZONE style horror with THE INVITATION to just name a few.
Part of the film and event programming, IIFFF screened great documentaries like the USA based fan films RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: THE ADAPTION and RAIDERS! THE STORY OF THE GREATEST FAN FILM EVER MADE highlighting the love and passion for the classic films recreated in these fan filmmakers images. IIFFF brings in the music and vocal talents of Anna Coogan and Tzar to perform the original score for the classic Edgar Allen Poe tale THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1928/France).

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Just down the road from the theater within the commons area and throughout the downtown, Ithaca presented music performances all weekend long. Plus right next store to the CINEMAPOLIS in their old home contained the art expo presenting the works of artists Chet Zar and Paul Gerrard to go along with the documentary I LIKE TO PAINT MONSTERS focusing on Zarlife and career of painting the dark.

The IIFFF gang programmed two more midnight movies this year including the UK film oddity Aaaaaaaah! and the LoFi Midnight double bill entitled LAKE NOWHERE (USA) and IN SEARCH OF THE ULTRA SEX (France) along with very cool bridge to animation, video games and reality with films like ZOOM, POLDER and MAN VS SNAKE that is accompanied by the classic arcade game NIBBLER on site for fans to play at the film festival! Highest score gets a prize on this uber challenging classic!

To find out more about the ITHACA INTERNATIONAL FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL head over to http://ithacafilmfestival.com / Twitter @IIFFFNY / https://www.facebook.com/Ithacafilmfestival

TOP 5 FILMS OF THE 2015 ITHACA INTERNATIONAL FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL
Darling
Men & Chicken
Love & Peace
Der Bunker
Scherzo Diabolico
Favorite of Organic Horror Series by Shudder.com: Audition

der bunkerDay 1 Recap: Friday, November 13, 2015
Film Recap: DER BUNKER/Germany (Nikias Chryssos), THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER/France (Jean Epstein), DARLING/USA (Mickey Keating), First 30 Minutes of THE MIND’S EYE/US (Joe Begos) and AUDITION/Japan (Takashi Miike)

3 POINT FILM REVIEWS DAY 1 (Friday)

Film 1: DER BUNKER

Premises: In this weird tale of growing up by first time director Nikias Chryssos, a student who is just looking for peace and quiet place to work on his theories rents a room with an estranged family that stays secluded in their bunker mansion out in the middle of nowhere. During the student’s stay he becomes a tutor and friend to a home schooled man-child who is to become president according to an infamous possessive entity inside the mother. As the family unravels and choices are made, the student must decide if it is safe to stay in the bunker to help his student or escape with his life and theory.
DER BUNKER blended a variety of film styles with most notably Wes Anderson (settings, dress, movements…) you see first time director Chryssos present a claustrophobic tale that hints towards a blend of EX MACHINA and ALICE IN WONDERLAND.
A unique and very well rounded quartet of characters (plus an alien or demon maybe in the wife’s leg) with lots of depth showcasing great humor, intelligence, quirks and dark psychosis in the performances.
Chryssos never allows you to think you have handle on the reality of the story, Chryssos blends the surreal feel of most obscure dream with dazzling colors (especially in the final scenes), quirky dialogue and over the top performances.

Film 2: THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER with live original score performed by Anna Coogan and Tzar
Premises: A classic and timeless retelling of the Edgar Allen Poe story of loss, pain and more in the House of Usher.
Hats off to Barbier and the IIFFF crew for having this gem of performance flood the Cinemapolis with timeless storytelling on a bed of music. The entire 62 minute performance showcased great musical talent and emotion as the trio of Anna Coogan and Tzar blew away the crowd with this original score and angelic vocals by Coogan.
Hats off to the fans who came out and packed the theater to experience this timeless story of macabre love and the music that brought it to life.
Bravo to IIFFF and CINEMAPOLIS for hosting the screening and getting a print of THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER that looked like magic on the big screen.

darlingFilm 3: DARLING
Premises: Featuring the acting talents of Lauren Ashley Carter (Jugface and The Woman), comes a tale in the dark mindset of new wave French horror, 1960’s & 70’s genre film with a splash of modern Asian horror cinema. A young woman takes on the duties of a mansion with an infamous history of occult and death. Slowly slipping into madness, the young woman may not be all she seems and the mansion may be so much more frightening then ever thought in the black and white tale of madness by brilliant filmmaker Mickey Keating and the minds at GLASS EYE PIX!
Incredible use of the framing, filters and filming technique that made DARLING seem surreal and dreamlike at times why visceral and dark at other times. With flowing shots of the mansion through the first part of the film, it is a featured character through the direction and cinematography until Carter takes more focus in the second part of the film with intimately framed shots of those big and expressive eyes. Plus, the feel of the world inside the mansion versus outside where anxiety, paranoia and terror flood your viewing experience literally turning it upside down.
The score and sound are so thought out and make this experience so sensory on every level. Keating talked during the Q&A that getting aspects like this right meant a lot of time in post-production. DARLING fucks with your mind on every level and makes you wonder where the line of madness and sanity meet.
Well-constructed and appropriate gore, practical FX and murder moments never overused or a saving grace for the film.

Film 4: THE MINDS EYE
Premises: Although I was only there for the first 30 minutes, the film revolves around a drifter name Zack who like many others have telekinetic powers. He is arrested, thrown into an institute and forced to help the institute’s director Slovak who holds the one he cares about Rachel. As unrest and emotion take over, Zack and the other members of the institute fight back in a kick ass and special FX driven battles and sequences!
Joe Begos is so good at what he does. Whether it is ALMOST HUMAN or now THE MIND’S EYE, he is such a student of great horror films which reflects in the portion of the film I saw and what others say about it.
Star studded cast in modern horror filmmaking circles with names like Lauren Ashley Carter, Jeremy Gardner (The Battery), Matt Mercer (Contracted) and the legend Larry Fessenden (Glass Eye Pix)!
The first 30 minutes reminded me of FIRESTARTER & SCANNERS… if this is the case it will be on the top list for 2016!

Film 5: AUDITION
Premises: Next to DARLING, AUDITION is the reason why I came to IIFFF… From one of the greatest filmmakers of my time Takashi Miike, comes the disturbing and diabolical tale of AUDITION. After many years of being a widow, television producer Aoyama is prompted by his teen son to remarry. Aoyama aided by his co-worker set up fake auditions to cast a project but also to find Aoyama a wife in the process. With dishonest intentions from the start and a slew of woman looking to make it big with this project, Aoyama comes across one enchanting face and story by young dancer named Asami. After making a move to get to know Asami, Aoyama begins a relationship that offers more than he expected and finds out he knows less about the young woman than he thought. Obsessed to find out who Asami is and her past, Aoyama finds out that there is a dark side to her, a sick past and lots of danger. Trying to move on with his life, Asami decides to turn the table on Aoyama for his deceit in arguable the roughest 25 minutes in modern film history.
Nothing like seeing the hell, torture and beauty of Miike’s work on the big screen! Watching Audition on the big screen is bucket list entry checked off. Plus, watching the crowd cringe and hide during the sack scenes, the final apartment sequence and the flashbacks is priceless.
This film stands the tests of time for the tension created, dark psychosis, powerful performances, twisted content and more…
The casting of Eihi Shina (Asami), is one of the greatest casting in modern horror filmmaking history. Miike is fearless in all he does and casting Shina in this role with the insanity, loneness and precision is a testament to the talent on both ends.
Day 2 Recap: Saturday, November 14, 2015
3 Point Film Recap Reviews: LOVE & PEACE/JAPAN (Shion Sono), MEN & CHICKEN/DENMARK (Anders Thomas Jensen), EMELIE/USA (Michael Thelin), SCHERZO DIABOLICO/USA & MEXICO (Adrian Garcia Bogliano) and POSESSION/GERMANY (Andrzej Zulawski)

love & PeaceFilm 1: LOVE & PEACE
Premise: With the holidays around the corner, a dreamer named Ryo is looking to just survive in world that treats him like nothing. After a rough day at work, Ryo buys a turtle that becomes his muse and friend deep in his apartment. With dreams as big as the stadium he wants to perform in, this aspiring rock musician flushes the turtle down the toilet throwing Ryo into an abyss of loss and depression. The turtle is found by a kind and drunk old man along with his underground town of lost toys and animals. The turtle is given a magic pill to speak but instead makes Ryo’s dreams come true and growing in the process! With big dreams comes not only new challenges for Ryo but a change in who he was as person. As Ryo’s star grows bigger and bigger, will those who care about Ryo be forgotten, lost in the shine of that star of selfishness? Filled with holiday care, humor, mystery, drama and more, “Love & Peace” shows us that all wishes no matter how big take care and responsibility to make fully come true.

WATCH SHION SONO’S BODY OF WORK! Sono is one of the most unique, versatile and fearless filmmakers worldwide. Never afraid to create memorable moments, Sono’s body of work branch out in to many different and strange places. Compared as this generations Takashi Miike, films like “Suicide Club” (2001), “Exte: Hair Extensions” (2007), “Why Don’t You Play in Hell?” (2013) and “Tag” (2015) shows great variety, visual power and diversity in scares and storytelling as a part of the fluid genre of horror. Sono’s depth in other genres like drama (Himizu and Cold Fish), musical (Tokyo Tribe), comedy/family (Love & Peace) make him a must for those who not only want a smart film but well constructed in every level of the process. Sono is a modern master and shows no signs of stopping or not creating film festival favorites!
I am not sure anybody in the theater (but devoted and stalkerish Sono fans) knew what to expect with “Love & Peace”… With that being said, it was worth the hype and the wait. I had never seen an Asian holiday comedy which as the foundation of it was exactly that. Embodying all that makes the classic holidays films great including feel good moments and storytelling, connecting characters, special FX, visuals, incredible music and an unlimited source of emotion, Sono harnessed it all and pleasantly surprised everyone.

It’s insane how well received and loved this film was at the IIFFF. By far the most fan approval out of all the screenings I attended with people tearing up, smiling, cheering and being so positive. Great selection by the IIFFF and the correct slotting at the start of Saturday’s schedule!

men & chickenFilm 2: MEN & CHICKEN
Premise: Looking to find out more about their real father, two brothers Gabriel and Elias go in search of answers small and secluded island. Discovering that they have three additional brothers as well as a mysterious past and a farm full of animals, Gabriel and Elias must discover the dark truth behind their very existence! Finding that family matters most all the brothers must reconnect a town and coming to grips with their place in the world no matter how much your family is dysfunctional.
Heartwarming as it weird, quirky as it smart, funny as it dramatic, “Men & Chicken” should have been the closing night film. This film was the most well round of the festival with laughs, remarkable and memorable characters and such well received developed black comedy. “Men & Chicken” was developed on every level with a heart and intelligence that keeps you hooked to the weird and dysfunctional side of family.
“Men & Chicken” had an intelligence to it, not only in the development of the screenplay and dialogue but using the concept of the mad scientist style horror appropriately. With a twisted science (genetics)/horror angle, it tied up the story together nicely and united the characters, think “The Island of Dr. Moreau” but more comedic and feel good.
Incredible performances across the board by a very talented and well casted group of Danish performers. I never had the privilege of viewing any of these performers before (except for Mads) in previous films but was so impressed by the range and immersion into each of these family characters. The reality, practical FX/makeup, emotion and creation of a dysfunctional family is what makes families so much fun to watch and grow with. I found this especially for “Hannibal” alum Mikkelsen who was so funny, had such depth and such a loving performance as Elias.

Film 3: EMELIE
Premise: When the usual babysitter has called in busy and her replacement is has gone MIA, a couple of parents in a pinch must enlist a new babysitter Emelie to watch their three children. Shrouded in mystery, darkness and danger, the three children must stand together and survive the night in a deadly game of dare with the babysitter who is not what she seems in a very tense, uncomfortable, disturbing and fresh tale of home invasion.
For me, “Emelie” was the most dangerous film of the festival. One of the truly great aspects of indie horror filmmaking is the ability to push the boundaries to levels that big budget studios could never dream unless needed. Filmmaker Michael Thelin exploited this to an incredibly dangerous and tense level in this homage to the “babysitter/children in danger” sub-genre of horror filmmaking. Beginning with the first 20 minutes of “Emelie”, you realize that all bets are off everyone can be in danger, people are making rash decisions and you really can’t trust anyone.
In the lineage of great villain female leads like Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction), Rebecca DeMornay (The Hand That Rocks the Cradle), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Single White Female) and more recently Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan) comes a fresh femme fatale embodied in actress Sarah Bolger playing the lead role of Emelie. Never letting the crowd ever feel that she was safe or even trusting, Bolger’s performance is so sinister, seedy and downright nasty at times that you can’t help but love how vengeful and smart the character of Emelie is.
Both co-writer and director Michael Thelin as well as co-writer Richard Herbeck construct a narrative that builds like a tightening rope. Understanding the elements of tension, children at risk as well as the idea that you allow strangers into the most private and precious areas of your life, “Emelie” is that Pandora’s box that once opened, nothing but evil, malice and tension will slowly work it’s way out to all those who are forced to experience it and can’t let leave it.
I was literally uncomfortable from the first moment “Emelie” came on screen, Thelin and Herbeck enjoy making you squirm as this tale of home invasion comes to terrifying life. Just like any great thriller, dark drama or horror film, you find connection, invoke emotion and hope to god this never happens to you.

Scherzo DiabolicoFilm 4: SCHERZO DIABOLICO
Premise: Aram is overlooked at work, his marriage is falling apart and he is doubting who he is. Tired of taking it, Aram creates and executes a plan to gain all he wants in one fell swoop by abducting and kidnapping a young girl as well as manipulating those around him in his person and professional life. Just as Aram thinks he has gotten away with it and is celebrating all the rewards he has gained as a part of this deal with the devil, the victim and the predator swap roles in one of the most sinister and satisfying twists seen on film in a long time. Cultivating Adrian Garcia Bogliano signature dark humor, societal commentary and dark dramatic tension, “Scherzo Diabolico” will impact you and leave you thinking about what you would do to gain you all you want?
Adrian Garcia Bogliano never allows you to think that you to feel you have a grip on what he will be writing or directing. Each project is as unique on every level like a fingerprint. Continuing to build that reputation both in Mexico and now in the states (recently with the werewolf film Late Phases), Bogliano is at the top of the very fluid horror genre. “Scherzo Diabolico” is no exception as Bogliano takes a crime thriller story that usually is good for an episode of television and mutates it into a whirlwind tales of dreaming big, murder, sexuality and dark character driven horror.
The twist in “Scherzo Diabolico” takes most of the film to realize. Bogliano lets you feel comfortable in the sleazy and dark world of Aram as the seeds are planted in the first two acts of the film. When the twist happens with the lead characters, you never see it coming and the results are jaw dropping as the sound work that spawns it. Reminiscent of the transformation of Dae-su Oh (Min-sik Choi) in Chan-wook Park “Oldboy”, you see one of the victims turn a total 180 in every possible aspect swapping roles with the lead villain. This twist is so satisfying and powerful that you don’t care what will happen next but you know it will be a wave that destroys everything.
One thing that is forgotten at times with indie genre films is the soundtrack. Bogliano is such a smart and diverse filmmaker with an ear for incredible sound design and a truly haunting and lasting soundtrack. Like the title, like the plot, like the brutality of the film, “Scherzo Diabolico” score/soundtrack sticks with you on so many levels.

Film 5: POSSESSION
Premise: Mark returns home after a mission to find that his marriage and relationship dynamic has changed in disturbing ways. His wife Anna is not the woman he once knew and their relationship has started to deteriorate into madness. Mark cannot let go of Anna as well as what they had. With each day and meeting, the relationship crumbles growing more intense, emotional and violent. As the madness and dark psychosis engulfs everyone around, Mark discovers Anna’s horrific belief and cravings that may be far more horrible than ever believed.
For me, I have been through a terrible divorce that had reached unhealthy levels. “Possession” connected with me in ways that most would not understand. Elements like the rollercoaster of emotion between Mark and Anna. Mark’s denial of Anna not wanting him anymore in her life as well as Mark slowly building acceptance and moving on in his life with a woman eerily similar. For those who have never been through an experience like that, it is hard to understand the reality that director Andrezej Zulawski unveils in “Possession”.
As much as this film connected with me it annoyed the hell out of me! Between the volume of sound during the screening of the film as well as the constant screaming dialogue between Mark and Anna, it turned me off to ever watching it again. Why the screaming bothered me, it was an effective and connecting tool for the viewer to enter the dark work of this couple dealing with loss.
The intensity and dream like feel of “Possession” starts from the first frame. Watching this film makes you feel like you can’t escape and that anything could happen. The camera angles used by Zulawski, the intensity and emotion that comes at you in waves, the visceral feel of the being that possesses Anna all build this nightmare world. So many aspects that make you feel that you entered a hallucination with the ending of “Possession” feeling like the next chapter in the bizarre cycle of hell.

Day 3 Recap: Sunday, November 15, 2015
Film Recap: THE INVITATION/USA (Karyn Kusama), THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE/USA (Perry Blackshear), SHIVERS/CANADA (David Cronenberg) and MOONWALKERS/FRANCE & USA (Antonie Bardou-Jaquet)

Film 1: THE INVITATION
Premise: A once close group of friends are invited to reconnect at a dinner party in the hills of California. Everyone has gone down their different paths in the last five years of love, loss and faith, now David, his ex-wife Eden plus their group of friends and acquaintances rekindle old emotions, friendships, grudges and sinister notions. This night may very well take this group of friends to unexpected and deadly actions in this thrilling, dark drama that makes you question what we are willing to do and follow to fill the void in ourselves deep inside.
“The Invitation” is a very paced thriller that takes time to present the human monster rather than deliver instant scares, violence and visuals throughout. Karyn Kusama takes the first half of the narrative building doubt and misdirection as well as fully establishing the characters, their connection and history to each other as well as their motives coming together. A lot of questions and responsibility are asked of the viewer who has to be patient and watch to earn that payoff. Kusama is a masterful director when it comes to patience character development and telling a story with a rich pay off.
“The Invitation” narrative focuses on one of my favorite styles of horror, the “cult/Jim Jones belief” troupe. Kusama does a tremendous job conducting Phil May and Matt Manfredi’s screen play showing the monster within all of us and what we would do to fill that void after an unforgivable loss. Not since Ti West’s “The Sacrament” have we seen this style of horror where people follow so blindly to their doom within a well-crafted dark drama structure.
The twist at the end of “The Invitation” for me was not expected at all but had a realistic feel on both a micro and macro storytelling level. It was smart, shocking and really made you think about how susceptible people are. Also, what people are willing to do when one voice and personality is strong enough to control the masses and fill that void in their lives.

Film 2: THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE
Premise: Wyatt and Christian are best friends and roommates in the city. Wyatt has always felt there was something different about himself in what seems like a normal world. He receives a message one day that things are not what they seem to be and that a war is coming with evil creatures hiding amongst the human race. This begins a fall slowly into madness as Wyatt goes into survivalist mode and wonders what and who are these creatures? With each breath, each moment, each thought that goes by, paranoia grows and Wyatt must take control of his mind as he battles with what is real and what is hiding behind the face of those he calls friends, family and enemies with the final moments ticking down to the end.
“They Look Like People” is about as streamlined a dark drama/horror film you will find and that I have seen in quite a while. The film gives you just enough to keep you intrigued whether it is the character development, the breadcrumbs offered by the voice that is manipulating Wyatt, Wyatt’s inner monologue or the growing paranoia as the lead character falls further into an unstable mental state.
Writer and director Perry Blackshear definitely made sure to build the full skeleton of each character in the film. Blackshear shows you the different sides of each characters personality, the normalcy of their lives together as well as the fear, failures and choices leading to the climax of the story. You can connect to each character seeing yourself at one point or another during the story.
Using all your senses against you, Blackshear creates a thick and potent mixture of tension and paranoia allowing you to see into the darkness of Wyatt’s mind and the crumbling world around him. A true sensory viewing experience including incredible sound design and use of light and shadow especially in the final moments. Not since “Jacob’s Ladder” has this been as effectively portrayed overall where you are not sure if you can trust yourself or the filmmaker or the lead character.

Film 3: SHIVERS
Premise: In the state of the art high rise living, a man has assaulted and killed a young woman and released something from her that looks for humans to bond with… Now the hip, rich and upscale housing within the Starliner complex is becoming infested and taken over by parasites that have turned the residents into primal sexual entities. No one can explain it, no one can contain it and of course no one can tell who is themselves anymore in this classic body horror tale by David Cronenberg.
To see “Shivers” on the big screen was incredible. After 40 years, the dark humor, the horror, the gore, the sexuality and more had such scope playing on the big screen at Ithaca.
David Cronenberg has very few peers who revival him for the film work he has done over the years and how he continues to evolve as a filmmaker. His maturity, personality and dark wit comes through in such a balance especially being such a piece of his early work.
This was one of my favorite film choices and a highlight of the special curated “Organic Horror” film showcase by Shudder.com for the Ithaca International Fantastic Film Festival this year. So many different sides to body horror with “Shivers” probably the most well represented of the five choices in this sub-genre of horror.

Film 4: MOONWALKERS
Premise: What if the famed 1969 moon walk was in jeopardy with an uncertainity tha tit may not happen? What if the race to be first to moon was so important and crucial that the United States created a plan B to make sure that USA got there first? What if the con was supposed to be directed by Stanley Kubrick but he was not around? What if it came down to a failure of band manager, a mercenary, an art house/experimental director, a stoner plus a far out acting troupe to bring the moon landing to life no matter what? Step into the dark, humorous world of “Moonwalkers” and ask yourself was the Apollo moon landing real or not?
I loved the castings for this film. Everyone casted was versatile and fit their roles so well especially Ron Perlman who does what he does so well… be a bad ass grumpy old man who has a buried deep soft side to him. I was glad to see Rupert Grint get a meaty role like this that lets him expand on the comic talent we saw as Ron Weasely in “Harry Potter”. Grint is funny, dramatic and at times steal the show in “Moonwalkers”. Hats off also to Robert Sheehan as the stoner and constant source of funny lines and delivery with Leon.
“Moonwalkers” on the surface looks like a straight up comedy on every level! However, the audience at Ithaca was shocked with the blood, gore and horror woven into the storyline punctuated by brilliant practical FX that caught many off guard. Think “Death Wish”, “Evil Dead” and “Dirty Harry” style violence and blood.
As much as I enjoyed this film, this was not worthy of the closing night slot. Well deserved to be selected at Ithaca but “Moonwalkers” would have fit better on the Saturday schedule. My choice would have been “Men & Chicken” with its quirkiness, wit and horror ties that would have ended the film festival perfectly culminating a tremendous weekend of film and more!
Wanted again to thank everyone at the Ithaca International Fantastic Film Festival including the man with the plan Hugues Barbier, the brilliant IIFFF staff, the group at the Cinemapolis, Kaila Sarah Hier for the kickass after party, the filmmakers (especially Mickey Keating), peers, fans, community of Ithaca, NY and the dysfunctional family… Look so forward to coming back next year and for your folks out there looking for a tremendous time in mid-November 2016, this is a weekend maybe more worthwhile experience of friends, film and frights! Listen Tues Dec 22nd and the 29th live starting at 430 PM EST on the Horror Happens Radio Show only on HGRNJ.org to the variety of chats from this year’s IIFFF and head over to Horrorhappens.com!

To find out more about the ITHACA INTERNATIONAL FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL head over to http://ithacafilmfestival.com / Twitter @IIFFFNY / https://www.facebook.com/Ithacafilmfestival

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