FANTASIA 2011: Critic's Notebook
by Steve Dollar
Montreal's Fantasia Festival turns 15 this year, a sweet milestone for a grassroots event that now sprawls across three weeks every summer with an international array of horror, sci-fi, action, Asian, comedy and suspense flicks. There's a deep focus on the auteur, as well as the often cultish actors and crew behind fabled genre classics—oldies like The Wicker Man and Shivers were honored—plus guys like special-effects master Tom Savini hanging out, generating mayhem through their sheer badass aura. The festival, which runs through Aug. 7, is huge enough to practically consume a huge chunk of the recent New York Asian Film Festival, for instance, purely as one of its many sidebars. Taste-wise, it's also exceptionally catholic, embracing everything from mumblegore (Adam Wingard's A Horrible Way to Die and What Fun We Are Having: 4 Stories About Date Rape) to wildly out of print Oz-ploitation sagas like Ted Kotcheff's beer-drenched Outback insanity Wake in Fright. It's not just blood, beasts and babes with big boobs—although there's plenty of that, too, and not just at the celebrated strip clubs of Rue St. Catherine, conveniently around the corner from the festival venues at Concordia University.