Tonight, I saw two Hobbits fight in the name of World of Warcraft. I saw a giant, lanky astrophysicist pummel a short and nearly incoherent man who thinks that NASA is hiding the secret to free energy. But first, there were movies.
Karate Robo Zaborgar – I am a sucker for anything involving robots, karate-fighting super heroes who ride motorcycles, and giant monsters that stomp on Tokyo, so this was one of the movies I was looking forward to the most. I am generally skeptical of the recent wave of low-budget, fx-heavy films coming out of Japan, but somehow this seemed like it would be different and I’m happy to say that it is.
Karate Robo Zaborgar is a rebirth of an homage to a 70’s tokusatsu series called Denjin Zaborger. The fact that it’s both is incredibly weird. To pull that off, the film has to balance on the line of being a loving spoof and an entertaining modern tokusatsu film for adults. To that end, the film throws in a couple of jokes about the anachronistic hero and the changing times, but it also manages to pull off some pretty entertaining man-in-suit robot battles, including the first instance of Robot on Robot Muay Thai that I’ve ever seen. Zaborgar probably belongs with Black Dynamite in the category of films that recreate the look and tone of the earlier work they are riffing on without ever venturing into outright parody. If you grew up with Kamen Rider, Ultraman, or even Power Rangers, Karate Robo Zaborgar is probably going to make you smile at least a little.
An American Warewolf in London – Rick Baker in attendance for a lively Q&A, Olly Moss in attendance to deliver a brand new poster, and a Fantastic Fest audience that clearly love this movie all combined like Voltron lions to form the perfect way for me to see this film for the first time. Wait, wha? Yep, I had never seen this before and I’m glad that I waited until now. Of course I’d seen many clips of it as the transformation scene has been clipped to death, but I gotta admit that I was not a horror kid growing up and so this was never on my list of movies to track down.
Rick Baker is a badass, and I enjoyed hearing his stories even if he’s probably told them a thousand times since 1981. Olly Moss is a badass and I was glad to see that he dressed up as John Landis to attend the screening. The movie was terrific fun and I can see why it was so influential to so many people. But more than the makeup and fx, what I appreciated about American Warewolf the most was the structure of the story. It’s laid out pretty simply but it was just a perfect build up to the only reasonable ending and I loved that.
Still, My favorite moment of day two was meeting Underwater Love director Shinji Imaoka and getting to practice my Japanese by telling him that I liked his movies. I followed that up with a sentence that translated to “My Japanese is Broken” so I guess he got the point! He was super gracious and we bowed to each other a lot.