Dedicated to the wacky, bloody and sexy aspects of cinema, the Golden Horse Fantastic Film Festival (金馬奇幻影展) returns for its fourth year with a lineup of more than 40 B movies, genre flicks and cult films as well as unorthodox works by some of the world’s best known cinema masters.
A spinoff of the established Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival (台北金馬影展), the Golden Horse Fantastic departed for new pastures and has quickly gained popularity among young audiences who descend on the Taipei Shin Kong Cineplex in Ximending, where the annual event is held every spring. Though flesh-eating zombies and mutants are absent from this year’s roster, the festival makes up for what is lacking with plenty of comedies, thrillers and wild sex.
Offbeat humor from Scandinavia finds its lively expression in Clown, an award-winning, box office-topping Danish flick in which two men embark on a canoe trip with an 11-year old boy. The men have conflicting goals in mind: one has to prove his worth as a father, while the other only wants to go on a sex spree. For a dose of British humor, horror-comedy A Fantastic Fear of Everything features Simon Pegg as a children’s author-turned-crime novelist who becomes paranoid about everything, especially launderettes, as he researches Victorian serial killers for a book.
For horror fans, Maniac gives a fresh, creepy twist to the slasher genre by shooting the entire film from the killer’s point of view. Elijah Wood is cast as the psycho killer who scalps the women he murders. Franck Khalfoun from France directs this update of the 1980 cult flick of the same title. Departing from his popular horror series Rec, Spanish director Jaume Balabuero turns to the realm of suspense with Sleep Tight, which effectively creates a morbid world of a psychopath inside an apartment house in Barcelona where a concierge slowly destroys the lives of the tenants.
Paying tribute to Japan’s iconoclastic maestro Nagisa Oshima, who passed away in January at the age of 80, the festival organizers arranged a couple of screenings of Oshima’s controversial In the Realm of the Senses (1976). Based on a true story in 1930s Japan, the film offers a subversive critique of Japanese militarism through a tale of destructive love between a maid and her employer, featuring explicit sex and graphically portrayed castration.
In a much lighter mood, My Awkward Sexual Adventure from Canada finds good-natured humor in copulation through a tale of a man seeking sex advice from a stripper after his girlfriend falls asleep during sex and leaves when he proposes marriage.
This year’s highlights also include a retrospective on David Lynch that reveals the American virtuoso‘s eccentric cinematic world with six films, including the director’s legendary debut feature Eraserhead (1977) and his first digital work Inland Empire (2006).
Film buffs who like to reminisce might want to check out the festival’s Fantastic Cult section, which features oldies including Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 Pulp Fiction and Lars von Trier’s nine-hour long diptych, The Kingdom.
For movie-goers looking for a more active participation, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a festival fixture, welcomes viewers to dance, use props and perform in costume. Singing along is also encouraged, if not required, during the screenings of The Sound of Music. The latest addition to the ruckus is The Love Eterne (梁山伯與祝英台), a 1963 musical and record-breaking blockbuster based on the Chinese classic story The Butterfly Lovers (梁祝).