Are you looking for something truly bizarre to watch this holiday season? Well you’ve definitely come to the right damn place, as I recently ran across a movie from 1998 that takes place on Christmas Eve and is just about as wildly perplexing and insane as they come!
‘Fantastic Games’ is a movie that’s passed through the years almost completely unwatched by anyone, save for a few die hards of weird-o cinema on Letterboxd! Director Alvaro Passeri crafted a cool little practical effects heavy monster flick from 1994 called ‘Creatures from the Abyss‘ AKA ‘Plankton’ that much like ‘Fantastic Games’ has also gone many years oddly without a cult following, it’s a pretty fun stupid little practical fx heavy creature feature that deserves a much wider audience in my opinion.
Fantastic Games (which is only available to watch on YouTube for some reason) revolves around a family during a snowy Christmas Eve trying to take care of their sick daughter. Her father on top of it all is missing, trapped out in the cold winter night somewhere and a weird family “friend” pops in during the snow storm with some clearly ulterior motives.
Her brother insists on reading her a crazy colorfully cosmic adventure story from a strange book that materializes on screen in all of it’s wacky epic glory & barely makes a lick of freakin’ sense. About 15 Minutes into this movie I didn’t know what the flying fuck was going on! However it’s such a delicious visual treat to lay your eyes upon it really doesn’t matter. Basically it involves a teenage girl who flies on a surfboard through space with her dog companion Toby. Sort of mirroring a “Dorothy and Toto” type a trope.
She gets mixed up in some sort of “live action” video game I guess you could refer to it as a “fantastic game” set forth by some weird ornery horned alien villain with a shiny plate glass face who loves to yell at people any chance he gets.
I’m guessing it’s trying to replicate the magic of ‘The Neverending Story’, to intensely up the ante with its cadre of creatures, satanic skeleton filled caverns, creepy puppet faced space wizards and just about any reason to display some sort of fever-dreamlike special fx sequence.
The amount of effort the director must have put in to this truly inventive yet incredibly incoherent little visual feast is really quite ambitious. Viewing this for the 1st time left me scratching my head on just how this strange psychotronic nineties oddity has passed everyone by for so many years without a peep from genre fanatics.
I’d say this one’s in desperate need of a blu ray restoration and a big modern day cult following. It’s the type of movie you wanna watch with a gang of cinema junkies & plenty of merry drinks during the holidays! It features more than enough Christmas visuals too to qualify as a bonafide holiday gem.
However it’s easily one of the most perplexing and confusing pieces of cinema I viewed in some time. Get ready to behold some weird shit, like the meek little dog companion Tony extinguish a raging fire in the pits of hell with his own pee! All bets are off on how these two are gonna survive and further to the finish line of the sinister “Fantastic” game. The events that happen in this creepy world also seem to be mirroring the fever of the sick girl and troubling family events on Christmas Eve.
It’s a pretty interesting to watch how this all unfolds- even though it doesn’t make really sense. Imagine a sort of D-list Terry Gilliam style wacko cinescape that thrives to be bigger and more boisterous visually but plotwise more incohesive while not giving a damn. Director Alvaro Passeri is either a madman or a incredibly underrated visionary waiting for a legion of fans who salivate for something straight out of a nightmare.
Check out his website and you tell me that this guy isn’t perhaps a secret genius: He’s clearly a master of practical effects and an inventor of some of the weirdest shit I’ve seen in a long time, check this out if you doubt me:
Clearly a Renaissance man of bizarre proportions, I see good things on the horizon for Paserri once word finally gets out about his unique secret cinematic achievements and oddball inventions. So this Christmas season why don’t you take a trippy trip into his strange holiday nightmare world of Fantastic Games. You can watch the whole movie right here!