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Fantastic Fest 2023 – What to get excited about!

Fantastic Festival 2023

Another year, another onslaught of awesome films.  Yes, it’s that time of year again.  Fantastic Fest 2023 is just days away… Adam is with a breakdown of what’s cooler than cool at the festival this year! 

I feel like I’ve perfectly captured what makes Fantastic Fest such a big deal to many a film fan last year when I wrote this; 

Fantastic Fest is the Cannes Film Festival of Genre Film Festivals.  It’s the Standard that all other Genre Film Festivals strive to achieve.  Over the last two decades, it’s been the epicenter for all Genre Film Culture.  If there’s a smaller genre film you loved and adored since the early 00s, it’s a pretty good bet that it’s played at Fantastic Fest.

This hasn’t changed in a year.  Worries about the Strike and the level of quality, because creatives cannot attend, should be quelled right now.  The Festival and its amazing curation team have put together a truly wild varied and surprising group of films for 2023.  In short, they’ve still managed to get you all the quality and all the awesome.  Here is a look at some of the must-see films at the festival. 

The Toxic Avenger 

Let’s start off with the opening night film.  Macon Blair’s remake of The Toxic Avenger starring Peter Dinklage.  I can’t think of another film that feels like it was designed to premiere at Fantastic Fest rather than a remake of Uncle Lloyd’s most famous creation.  Blair’s work has been championed by the Festival since his starring role in Murder Party (a truly great wicked dark comedy).  One can only hope that it’s the kind of gory, gross-out, hyper-violent but super sincere update to the world of Tromaville of our wildest dreams.  Bonus points for the festival; they’re screening the new 4K restoration of the original Toxic Avenger!!! 

The Origin 

We are huge fans of the work of author Jean M. Auel and the deliriously dumb (in the best way possible) Roland Emmrich’s 10,000 B.C.  That is to say, anything set in the stone age has our attention.  So, you tell us this film’s a gritty grim take on this vastly underutilized (in film) era of history?  Yes, sign us up immediately.  


A film that took the midnight program at TIFF 2023 by storm is about to take Fantastic Fest 2023 by its throat and not let it go until they’ve been put through the meat grinder.   Everything that’s been talked about Kill, from the hushed comparisons to the jolt that The Raid has on its audience to the work of director Nikhil Nagesh Bhat (see his excellent Long Live Brij Mohan – it’s on Netflix) has us primed to see some truly elevated action.  


The biggest surprise out of Fantastic Fest 2022 was Bad City, a take-no-prisoners lean and mean Yakuza crime film with as much action as it had character.  One can hope that One-Percenter with its combination stuntman in the middle of a Yazuka war trying to prove his worth is the kind of smart storytelling that makes an action film an action classic.  Featuring the choreography by Kensuke Sonomura who did last year’s great Baby Assassins and starring Tak Sakaguchi the unstoppable Yazuka hitman from Bad City could be another winning combination.  


All someone had to say was the words “John” and “Woo” and we’d be there.  This action extravaganza from the Philippines has a story that would make Walter Hill proud with a trio of characters embroiled in a fight for their lives single night where police, drug dealers, and militant cult leaders all want them dead.  Did I mention they’re in a warehouse full of explosives?  

Wake Up 

The idea of Zenninals facing off against a Travis Bickle security guard in an Ikea-style store makes us giddy.  But the Filmmaking Collective known as RKSS is at the helm of this one sending us over-the-top fireworks celebration.  The Summer of ’84 was a great little film that vibed with 80s style but didn’t drown it gives us the proof that Wake Up could be something truly great and deliriously unhinged.  


No, it’s not a movie but the actual unknown.  The best part of any Film Festival, specifically Fantastic Fest, is the film that will sneak up and either destroy you (in the best way) or make you swoon.  You can never account for it and it happens but it is always the best thing to come out of any film festival.  

We will be back covering as much as we can as we head into the festival.  Stay tuned!!! 

Fantastic Fest 2023 runs from September 21st to September 28th

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