Fantastic Fest: Aphids in my shake and other stories

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BugEating and drinking at Alamo Drafthouse while watching movies, especially horror movies, can lead to some very weird moments. I ordered a chocolate shake during Bug, and it was the first time I'd had a shake at Alamo. The shake is one of the best I've had in Austin, rich and chocolate-y, and is served with a wide straw like the kind you get with bubble tea. It was dark in the theater when I got the shake, so I didn't get a close look -- I mean, shakes are shakes, right?

Turns out that Alamo's shakes are topped with these little chocolate/hazelnut candies, like M&Ms but smaller -- the size and shape of a sunflower seed, I think. I found this out by sucking a couple of them up in a straw ... at the precise moment in Bug when Michael Shannon's character held up his fingers, pinched together to trap a miniscule bug, and said, "Aphids!" Fortunately I quickly realized that aphids don't taste like hazelnut, or I would have sprayed shake all over Chris and Blake.

In other Fantastic Fest news, I've seen two films so far in which someone is impaled on a garden gnome, two in which someone gets stuck in a bear trap, and a surprising number of horror films with strong female leads who do more than merely scream a lot.

Cinematical has posted my reviews of Tideland, Frostbite (my favorite film so far), The Hamster Cage, and Gamerz. More reviews are coming soon, but in the meantime, here are some quick summaries:Bug -- Creepy and not at all what I thought it would be -- it's horror in the same way that Hard Candy is horror. Amazing lead performances. It gets a little too stagy near the end, but that's all right.

Blood Tea and Red String -- I thought the stop-motion animated/puppet film would be this year's Strings for me. It wasn't. The movie would have worked better as a short; the tea party sequence dragged interminably, and the guy sitting next to me kept sighing (poor Scott).

The Host -- When I heard "a Korean monster movie" I expected something like a cheesy Godzilla knockoff. However, it turned out to be an action film, with a pretty cool monster and some surprising plot twists. I'm waiting to hear about the inevitable American remake. (The dysfunctional family aspect makes me think it would work as a great double-feature with Little Miss Sunshine).

Shiva -- The Bollywood action film was too slow-paced for a midnight movie; I didn't nod off but I was worried I would, a few times. I'm not entirely sure how a movie about police corruption in Mumbai fits in the Fantastic Fest genres. Also, I wish it hadn't screened at midnight because the special Indian menu looked delicious, and I would have loved to try some of those dishes earlier in the evening.

Piano Tuner of Earthquakes -- I read a very compelling review on Twitch, so this was one of the films I was especially looking forward to seeing. I was disappointed; it didn't work for me at all.

Severance -- Another good horror-meets-comedy film, better than I expected. Magnolia plans to release the film early next year.

The Woods -- Screaming schoolgirls, scary trees, and Bruce Campbell in an uncharacteristically dorky role. A fun night out. The DVD will release on October 3.

Are you noticing a trend here? The movies I enjoyed most are not the ones I expected to like, and the ones I looked forward to seeing weren't as good as I wanted them to be. Perhaps that's the nature of film festivals.

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