What I’m Excited For at the 2023 Fantasia Film Festival

Fantasia is always home to B-movies, wonderful genre-benders, and gross-out oddities, and 2023 is no different.

by Nick Kush
2023 Fantasia Film Festival

Compared to other festivals, I’ve always had a loving appreciation for the Fantasia Film Festival as a platform for hard genre films from all over the globe. Chances are that if you watch enough films from the festival in a given year, you’re likely to see a few wholly unique films. Maybe even disgusting. Or, most likely, a combination of the two.

That possibility creates really special viewing experiences. You may not know what you’re in store for, but you won’t forget it. In 2021 — the last time I covered the festival — I had the opportunity to see Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, which was ambitiously billed as Shinichiro Ueda’s One Cut of the Dead meets Tenet. Amazingly, that film somehow manages to live up to that description. Fantasia has a strong feeling of “anything goes.” Not in terms of quality, but certainly in terms of content. And in the process, you’ll receive introductions to some extraordinary filmmakers.

As for 2023, here are a few films in the program that have caught my eye:


A Disturbance in the Force

One of the biggest running jokes in fandom is the Star Wars Holiday Special, arguably the most inexplicable use of significant IP. Frankly, it’s nearly as inexplicable that a documentary about its creation hasn’t been made, until now. A Disturbance in the Force chronicles the behind-the-scenes machinations of how the special came to be with the help of some talking heads like Seth Green, Weird Al, and Bruce Vilanch, all while putting it in context of the 70s TV landscape. While there are undoubtedly potshots at Life Day and Lumpy, the doc also celebrates when major film properties could be singularly weird, and not just blandly terrible. (Looking at you, Quantumania.)

Sympathy for the Devil

If Nic Cage is going to continue the self-reflexive meme stage of his career, wherein he takes on roles that seem finely crafted to capitalize on his meme icon status (The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent being the prime example), I’m more than happy for him to channel his memery into movies like Sympathy for the Devil, which has Cage star as the devil terrorizing a cab driver played by Joel Kinnaman. Think Collateral, except Tom Cruise’s grey-haired Vincent is actually a coked-out manifestation of the devil. Hopefully, Cage too says, “Yo homie, is that my briefcase?” One can only hope.

Late Night With the Devil

If you’re like me, you always let out an audible gasp of delight whenever David Dastmalchian shows up in a movie. He’s always a fantastic addition, whether he’s playing a weirdo in a movie you probably like, or another weirdo in another movie you probably like. In Light Night With the Devil, he has the lead role as the host of a late-night show that has a run-in with demonic forces in the quest for better ratings. Playing at festivals earlier this year, Late Night With the Devil has already received rave reviews.

The Primevals

A la Phil Tippet’s Mad God (which played at Fantasia a few years ago), David Allen’s The Primevals is decades in the making. Four and a half to be exact. Plagued by financial pitfalls and studio reshufflings, The Primevals was considered dead many different times.

Allen was a celebrated animator in his time, working on movies such as The Howling, Young Sherlock Holmes, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and many more. Although he died in 1999, colleagues and friends took up the mantle and, with the help of an Indiegogo campaign, raised enough money to bring this long-gestating project to fruition.


Few people are as vital to the current indie landscape as Larry Fessenden, who has created a wonderful career for himself as an actor, director, and producer/shepherd. He’s often mentioned that the classic monster movies are major influences on his work, as seen in his 2019 Depraved, a modern reinterpretation of Frankenstein. His latest film, Blackout, naturally moves onto The Wolf Man, as a binge-drinking artist suspects he turns into a werewolf when he drinks.

Eight Eyes

For genre enthusiasts, cult film lovers, and Red Letter Media fanatics, Vinegar Syndrome is beloved, restoring and unearthing once-forgotten and overlooked cinematic oddities. They’re as important to the preservation of cinema as Criterion.

With Eight Eyes, Vinegar Syndrome is jumping into film production. In it, a fraying couple takes a trip through former Yugoslavia, where they run into an odd local who wishes to be their guide. As you might expect, their trip descends into chaos from there. If the company’s track record is any indication, Eight Eyes is sure to be bizarre, disgusting, and singular.


I’m a sucker for a high-concept thriller. In #Manhole, a man falls into a manhole the night before his wedding. Crumbling infrastructure makes it impossible for him to get out easily. In desperation, he turns to Twitter and makes a profile with a girl avatar, reasoning that people “want to help girls.”

As is the case with most of these thrillers, not everything is as simple as it seems. #Manhole appears to get only more and more deranged from there.

Hundreds of Beavers

I think the title says it all.


The 2023 Fantasia Film Festival runs from July 20th-August 9th. For more information on tickets and this year’s program, visit Fantasia’s website.

My coverage of the festival — which will hopefully include some of the films mentioned above and many others — will begin later this week. Stay tuned!

Follow MovieBabble on Twitter @MovieBabble_ and follow Nick @nkush42.

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1 comment

Nick Kush July 24, 2023 - 7:34 pm

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