[Film Festival] Ithaca Fantastik Delivers an Incredible Array of International Genre Film Fare for Its November Festival

The sixth annual edition of Ithaca Fantastik (IF) film festival, which takes place from November 3—12 in Ithaca, New York, is loaded up with selections certain to make horror movie fans drool, and IF’s other genre offerings are just as stunning. With 37 films from 20 countries, IF boasts a retrospective theme of “Italiano Psichedeliko,” as well as many brand-new films, to boot.

The Endless

IF features seven of my favorite films so far of 2017, with the following three of them appearing as part of the festival’s International Competition section. Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s The Endless is another mind-bending excursion into the unknown from this highly talented filmmaking duo. Two brothers decide to visit the cult from which they had escaped years earlier and find themselves immersed in bizarre circumstances. You can listen to my spoiler-free Gruesome Magazine audio review here. Director Seth A. Smith’s Canadian film The Crescent is  a hypnotic meditation on grief that first builds an inescapable sense of dread and foreboding, and then launches into a third act that is an outright salvo on the senses as it unfolds its tale of a young mother trying to work out her grief over the recent death of her husband at an isolated beach house, with her toddler son along for the trip. Icelandic director Óskar Thór Axelsson’s I Remember You combines police procedural elements with a supernatural horror tale, as a psychologist’s search for his missing son and a young married couple’s attempt to move on after their baby is stillborn bring viewers into a dread-filled world of mystery.

Sequence Break

Graham Skipper, star of last year’s Beyond the Gates, wrote and directed the twisted, gooey science fiction/horror thriller Sequence Break, another of my 2017 favorites. It’s a bizzaro viewing experience about a hyperfocused, socially awkward arcade games repairman (Chase Williamson, who also starred in Beyond the Gates), his budding romance with a customer, and their descent into terror revolving around a mysterious video game. Dark comedy and crime caper aficionados attending IF should put the outrageous American film Lowlife high on their must-see lists. I caught it this summer, and it instantly became one of my top 10 favorites of this year. Director Ryan Prows’ violent tale of a masked luchador with heroic dreams, his organ-harvesting sex-trafficker boss, and other bizarre or downtrodden characters is a grindhouse/pulp wonder.


Another favorite of mine featured at IF is November, an Estonia/Netherlands/Poland co-production that is part hypnotic fever dream and part fairy tale. Filled with witchcraft, pagan imagery, and fears of the plague, director Rainer Sarnet’s wildly imaginative film is absolutely gorgeous. Another jaw-droppingly stunning supernatural foreign effort in the arena of the fantastical is German/Austrian folk horror offering Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse. Writer/director Lukas Feigelfeld’s movie is about a dark, supernatural force that haunts a reclusive young woman accused since childhood of being a witch. This motion picture blends breathtaking cinematography with harrowing, disturbing content.


Portuguese chiller Friendly Beast is a raw, visceral, bloody journey into the darkest depths of the human psyche in which a restaurant robbery attempt turns into a deadly power game. I highly recommend this movie because of its dangerous feeling throughout. Taiwanese shocker Mon Mon Mon Monster  combines social commentary on teenage bullying with supernatural terror and gory violence. I can attest that it is quite an unsettling experience. On a quieter, more meditative note, I was fortunate enough to see Brad Abrahams’ documentary Love and Saucers  recently, and the story of David Higgins’ intimate love for an alien and the art that has followed is gripping viewing, indeed.

Top Knot Detective

Here are some other offerings, as listed in the official IF6 press release: Moving from the documentary realm of Love and Saucers to mockumentary, IF presents Top Knot Detective, Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce’s madcap love letter to late-night Japanese television – from Lone Wolf and Cub and Mute Samurai to Message from Space and Space Sheriff Gavan. For undead action, Robin Aubert’s Les Affamés, an art house zombie film full of deep social commentary, is a brilliant homage to maestro George Romero’s ghoul metaphor.

Marc Meyers’s award-winning My Friend Dahmer, based on the graphic novel of the same name, follows the teenage years of the budding serial killer. Deborah Haywoods’s beautifully disturbing and deeply personal Pin Cushion explores intergenerational bullying in a small but toxic English town.

Let the Corpses Tan

​Playing to a full range of IF6’s Italiano Psichedeliko retrospective theme, but with a contemporary eye, Rupert Jones’s murder-mystery, Kaleidoscope, mesmerizes with lush visuals and amazing performances from Sinead Matthews and Toby Jones. In Let the Corpses Tan, Belgian duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani pay visual homage to Italian gangster films. German tale Freddy/Eddy ushers in a doubled and troubled soul from the mind of Tini Tüllmann.

IF completes this year’s smorgasbord with the crazies:  Adolfo Kolmerer and William James’s Snowflake, the prodigal son of Pulp Fiction and Synecdoche NY, with producer Eric Sonnenburg in attendance for the screening; Thomas Berg and Frederik Waldeland’s super-weird, laugh-out-loud Vampyr Vidar (AKA Vidar the Vampire); and Jimmy Henderson’s Jailbreak, with its roots in Hong Kong martial arts cinema, Jean Paul Ly’s choreography, dynamic camerawork, and the incisive power of a Tony Jaa elbow strike. These films will inspire guilty pleasure and deep love with their absolute audacity and inventiveness.

IF also shines a spotlight on Blue Underground, Bill Lustig’s distribution company, with the 4K restoration of Gary Sherman’s Death Line (AKA Raw Meat), a direct transfer from the camera negative – as close as you can get to a director’s true vision! Another new 4K transfer, Bob Clark’s Dead by Night, offers a deep meditation on the effects of war – with a zombie trope. Gary Sherman and Bill Lustig will present these respective films to the audience.

Along with this incredible lineup, IF is excited to present its 2017 art show: The Strange Colors of Gilles Vranckx, featuring the work of the Belgian poster genius behind art for Amer, The Strange Colors of Your Body’s Tears, Let the Corpses Tan, and more. Vranckx will appear as an IF special guest at the show’s opening reception on Thursday, November 9.

Learn more at ithacafilmfestival.com and follow IF on twitter @IFantastikNY or Facebook and Instagram at Ithaca Fantastik. Following is a listing of all of the feature-length and short film scheduled for this year’s amazing IF festival.


THE ENDLESS (Ithaca Premiere)
Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson, USA

THE CRESCENT (Ithaca Premiere)
Seth A. Smith, Canada

I REMEMBER YOU (Ithaca Premiere)
Óskar Thór Axelsson, Iceland

PIN CUSHION (East Coast Premiere)
Deborah Haywood, UK

VAMPYR VIDAR (East Coast Premiere)
Thomas Aske Berg & Fredrik Waldeland, Norway

FREDDY/EDDY (East Coast Premiere)
Tini Tüllmann, Germany

Gabriela Amaral, Brazil

LES AFFAMÉS (East Coast Premiere)
Robin Aubert, Canada

SNOWFLAKE (East Coast Premiere) With producer Eric Sonnenburg in attendance
Adolfo J. Kolmerer, Germany

Opening & Closing

TRAGEDY GIRLS (Ithaca Premiere)
Tyler McIntyre, USA

A DAY (East Coast Premiere)
Sun-Ho Cho, South Korea

Cinema Pur

HAGAZUSSA: A Heathen’s Curse (Ithaca Premiere)
Lukas Feigelfeld, Germany

INFLAME (East Coast Premiere)
Ceylan Özgün Özçelik, Turkey

LET THE CORPSES TAN (East Coast Premiere)
Bruno Forzani/Hélène Cattet, Belgium

NOVEMBER (Ithaca Premiere)
Rainer Sarnet, Iceland/Estonia  

TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID (East Coast Premiere)
Issa López, Mexico

TOP KNOT DETECTIVE (Ithaca Premiere)
Aaron McCann & Dominic Pearce, Australia/Japan

Fantastik Documentary: FOREVER LOVE!

BIGHT OF THE TWIN (Ithaca Premiere)
Hazel Hill McCarthy III, USA

LOVE AND SAUCERS (East Coast Premiere)
Brad Abrahams, USA

BRAVESTORM (North American Premiere)
Junya Okabe, Japan

SAMURAI RAUNI (North American Premiere)
Mika Rättö, Finland

ZOMBIOLOGY (Ithaca Premiere)
Alan Lo, Hong Kong
Festival Favorite

KALEIDOSCOPE (East Coast Premiere)
Rupert Jones, UK

JAILBREAK (East Coast Premiere)
Jimmy Henderson, Cambodia

LOWLIFE (East Coast Premiere)
Ryan Prows, USA

SEQUENCE BREAK (Ithaca Premiere) With director Graham Skipper in attendance
Graham Skipper, USA

MY FRIEND DAHMER (Ithaca Premiere)
Marc Meyers, USA

BLUE UNDERGROUND PRESENTS with Bill Lustig in attendance

DEATHLINE (Ithaca Premiere) With director Gary Sherman in attendance
Gary Sherman, UK 1972

DEAD OF NIGHT 4K Restoration (North American Premiere)
Bob Clark, 1974


MON MON MON MONSTER (New York Premiere)
Giddens Ko, Taiwan


Armando Crispino, 1975

Corrado Farina, 1973

Tinto Brass, 1967

Luigi Bazzoni, Mario Fanelli 1975
Dario Argento, 1977

Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966

Mario Bava, 1968

Born of Sin
William Boodell – USA

Jenny Secoma In: The Blind Spot
Jack Warner – USA

No Man’s Land: A Folktale
Ty Turley – USA/Sierra Leone

Julien Homsy – France

Night Encounter
Ludovic de Gaillande – France

Gigi Saul Guerrero – Canada

Carlos G. Gananian – Brazil

Oh, Dear
Raquel Fogel – USA

Evocation of a Nightmare
Wally Chung – USA

Waiting for Pascale
Guillaume Harvey – Canada

Phillippe McKie – Japan

Bon Appétit
Erenik Beqiri – Albania

Zoey And The Wind-Up Boy
Marica Petrey – USA

I Am The Doorway
Robin Kasparik – Czech Republic

Miriam is Going to Mars
Michael Lippert – USA

Ashlea Wessel – Canada

It Began Without Warning
Jessica Curtright & Santiago C. Tapia – USA

L. Gustavo Cooper – USA

Killing Klaus Kinski
Spiros Stathoulopoulos – Colombia/Netherlands

What Comes From a Swamp
Tyler Macri – USA

Viola vs. The Vampire King
Kevin Fermini – USA

Daumon Khakpour & Travis Pulchinski – Canada

Eliane Lima – USA

Jules D.
Norma Vila – Spain

Signal to Noise
Jarret Blinkhorn – USA

Holiday Fear
Nicholas Santos – USA

A Father’s Day
Mat Johns – UK



Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.