The new documentary Fantasm is a love letter to the horror community, specifically the huge groups of dedicated fans who frequent conventions all over the country.
Begun as a student film project, director and ardent horror fan Kyle Kutchta has assembled a dedicated and loving look at the phenomenon of horror conventions and the people just like you and I who religiously attend them.
In an effort to understand his own fascination with the genre, the young director embarked on a journey to six horror conventions throughout the united states. Through interviews with actors, directors, horror experts and fellow fans at conventions, Kyle discovered that it’s not only the love of the genre that makes these gatherings so special, but it’s the sense of community.
Fantasm features insight from such notable names as Tom Atkins (Escape from New York), Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Lloyd Kaufman (The Toxic Avenger), Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2), Richard Johnson (The Haunting) and more, alongside the dedicated fans who attend horror conventions.
Clocking in at just under an hour, the documentary is a quick and fascinating look at the culture of weirdos and horror nerds and our connection through the love of horror on film. In fact, the entire show seems to be more of an introduction to the scene meant for outsiders and naysayers. Many of the interviewees try very hard to defend their love of the genre and prove that horror folk are just like everyone else. Obviously this could be a great help for any horror fans who have ever felt unjustly persecuted for their love of cinematic grue, as this film provides proof that young outsiders and misfits are being welcomed in and accepted to the fold.
Aside from the fascinating conversations with the aforementioned horror luminaries in defense of our beloved gore, which would make it well worth a watch, the film proves to be somewhat of an eye-opener to older more jaded fans like myself. With a director who is barely in his twenties, he has an entirely different perspective on horror culture than I do. For example, early on in the film he describes how first seeing the remake of “Dawn Of The Dead” in 2006 led to his fascination and eventual passion for the dark side. In a way, this makes the case for remakes, which us older fans tend to write off without merit. According to this young man, the remake led him to the original Romero films, and further down the rabbit hole of classic films that many of us know and love. In fact, the Dawn remake is mentioned fondly several times by younger horror fans, and it is interesting to think of that film a different way, through the eyes of a new horror watcher. The fact that it ignited love for the genre and created a whole new generation of horror geeks is wonderful, and it is a key to the effectiveness of this documentary that it inspires people (even us old guys) to look at the genre in entirely different ways.
Overall, Fantasm is a quick and fun watch which makes the viewer feel right at home among friends, which is the obvious legacy of the community of horror fans who frequent these conventions. It is the next best thing to being there, and will be fun to pop in and watch during the off seasons. It also serves as a great introduction for new and future generations to the whole culture and experience of the convention scene. While at times it seemed to be defending horror just a bit too much for my taste, it is good evidence to have the next time you feel ostracized or left out of something because of your infatuation with fictional evils.
Fantasm will be officially released on DVD on November 11th 2014, and anyone who pre-orders the film before then can get it for a discounted price of $13, also signed by the director.
The DVD will include such special features as the original student film, extended interviews, bloopers, trailers, and a special “Dinner at the Kuchta’s” featurette.
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