While Fantasia may be a great place to see all the newest offerings from national cinemas across the globe, the fest is also a great place to catch up on the classics. Each year, the programmers make sure to sprinkle in some films from yesteryear, often in newly restored prints or genuine 35mm, to delight audiences. Whether fans are seeing these films for the first time or know every line of the film by heart, these retro screenings are a blast for everyone involved. This year Fantasia has pulled out all the stops with their retro lineup, so let’s have a look at some of our most anticipated screenings.
11) Bastard Swordsman
Fantasia and Shaw Bros. Kung-fu movies, screened in glorious 35mm, go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Whether it’s The Demon of the Lute or Executioners from Shaolin, these screenings are always packed with kung-fu aficionados, many of them graduates and teachers from Concordia’s film studies department. Trust us, we know most of them personally and they’re gonna be there come hell or high water.
This year’s Fantasia Shaw offering is the delightfully titled Bastard Swordsman, a film from relatively late in the history of Shaw Bros. Studios when special visual effects were becoming more common. Can the down-but-not-out hero of Bastard Swordsman protect his school by learning the powerful ‘Silkworm technique’? Don’t miss the screening to find out.
If you run down a list of the all-time great horror directors, it shouldn’t take you long at all to run across the name Dario Argento. An Italian director known for his extensive work in the horror genre, Argento remains a massive influence in horror to this day. Among his most respected works towers Suspiria, the maestro’s 1977 horror opus about an American girl who arrives at a prestigious dance academy in Freiburg, Germany. But a series of bizarre deaths and other occurrences cause the girl to suspect that the school’s instructors are more than they seem. Suspiria is one of a handful of horror films that can rightfully be called legendary, from the iconic score by Goblin to Argento’s masterful use of color, framing, and atmosphere. Suspiria is being presented in a brand-new 4K restoration and with a sound mix not heard since the film’s original release in 1977.
13) The Man Who Saved the Earth
Turkish cinema from the 1970s and 80s is a whole wild, weird world in and of itself, and among that particular group of films, few are more notorious than The Man Who Saved the Earth, or as it’s perhaps better known Turkish Star Wars. Why is it called this? Go ahead and read out feature review to find out. The Man Who Saved the Earth is one of several Turkish classics to screen in 35mm this year at Fantasia and not even the only one to star Cüneyt Arkin. But if you’re only make it to one of them, by all means, make it this one. Turkish Star Wars is legendary among fans of strange, mind boggling cinematic esoterica, and the chance to see it on the big screen is not one to be passed up lightly.
14) Death Line
British horror movies often get overlooked in favor of their more sensationalist cousins from Italy and the US, but England is no slouch when it comes to horror. This is the same country that gave us Hammer Horror and the original Tales from the Crypt, after all. And among the treasure trove of Brit-horror just waiting to be rediscovered by mass audiences, there’s a special place for Death Line.
A strange, haunting precursor to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the film centers on a deranged cannibal living in the London underground, the descendant of workers trapped there during construction. On his trail is Donald Pleasance, having an absolutely whale of a time as police inspector Calhoun. There’s also a wonderful cameo by none other than Christopher Lee as a sinister government agent. But full credit should go to Hugh Armstrong, who crafts a wonderful and sympathetic performance as the cannibal – all with just grunts and a few stray words.
Try not to miss this one, and good luck if you have to take the metro home after. Oh, and if you do…..mind the doors.
15) The H-Man
When you bring a character as literally and figuratively big to the screen as Godzilla, it can be quite a task to subsequently escape his shadow. This is the conundrum that Japanese director Ishiro Honda found himself in after directing Gojira, the Big Guy’s debut, as well as many of the follow-ups. Honda was a complex, multifaceted and extraordinarily skilled director, something that can be seen across all his films, be they Godzilla films or otherwise. A terrific example of Honda’s skill for atmosphere and allegory is his 1958 film The H-Man, the story of a nuclear accident gone awry that turns the crew of a fishing boat into lethal hydrogen-based lifeforms. Deeply allegorical of the dangers of nuclear testing, and inspired by the notorious “Lucky Dragon incident”, The H-Man is an unsung great of Japanese sci-fi. Attendees will also be treated to an overview of Honda’s life and works by writer Ed Godziszewski, who co-authored a book on Honda.