Fantasia 2007: Welcome to the Jungle

In Montreal, other festivals have made fools of themselves trying to hone in on Fantasia’s terrain. Last week, Dan Griffiths, a producer of Jeremy Kasten’s Wizard of Gore remake, starring Crispin Glover (see Splatsploitation feature, below), related a hairy story about a programmer from Serge Losique’s World Film Festival trying to poach a Fantasia movie.

“A month or so ago, we were contacted by a programmer at [Montreal’s World Film Festival] who had seen Wizard at a Cannes industry screening and who wanted to play Wizard of Gore,” said Griffiths. Soon it became clear that the WFF was attempting to use its hugely larger budget to get the film pulled last-minute from Fantasia, where it was already committed to play.

“Their pitch was that they would be able to bring up all the cast members,” confirmed Griffiths. “We told them that our commitment was already to Fantasia for two reasons: One, we’d given our word, and two, our feeling was that the film would have a great audience at Fantasia, which has programmers who love and know what they are doing and who operate in the world of genre cinema. That makes all the difference in the world, and it’s what matters to us – we want to be where the fans are, not where the fans’ grandparents are going to see our movie.” Enough said.


At Fantasia, on July 20, director Jeremy Kasten will present The Wizard of Gore, which he calls his “cover” of Lewis’s 1970 splatsploitation by the same name. Crispin Glover plays Montag, a magician whose acts prompt investigation after the illusionist’s “volunteers” wind up dead from the same brutal injuries they supposedly walked away from after the show. Aside from Glover, Kasten gathered his dream A-list B-movie cast, including Brad Dourif and Re-animator‘s Jeffrey Combs.

Weary of adding to the list of recent horror remakes, Kasten acknowledges the lure of garnering an established fan base to obtain financing, but he wanted to do more than make just another carbon copy.

“I’ve always wanted to remake this movie,” he says. “It is one of the weirdest, unusual, hypnotic films I’ve ever seen, and I fell in love with it when I was, like, 12 years old. Even at the time I thought it would be so cool to revisit, because at its core it’s got such a great story, but even Herschell Gordon Lewis himself admits that the [original] film is lacking in a lot of ways. It never quite makes sense… I wanted to try to build up and fortify the story and to bring something new to it.”

Kasten (whose favourite splatter flick is Dario Argento’s Suspiria) won’t point any fingers, but feels that many films currently being touted as grand spectacles of gore aren’t visceral enough to live up to the hype. Unlike the proclaimed “splat pack” directors (Eli Roth, Rob Zombie etc.), he confesses that his film may boast more realistic effects, but he doesn’t try to beat Lewis at his game.

“For real gore fans who are going to see Wizard of Gore because they’ve seen the original and want to see that movie again with better effects, they’re going to be disappointed in my film.”

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