Fantastic Fest

Fantastic Fest Day 1: Pleasant surprises, small disappointments, and some nudity required


Charles Band makes me an executive producerAs with the inaugural event, Fantastic Fest is a test of the moviegoer's will and tolerance for sleep deprivation. There's no arguing that the second year of Austin's genre film blowout is bigger and badder, but some of the changes may not be as welcome as they were intended to be. More about that, however, after quick reviews of some of the flicks thus far. In this roundup of first-day films: Oculus, Haze, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, and the Full Moon Travelling Roadshow.

FF: Why I shouldn't work the celebrity beat


It's becoming obvious to me that I am terrible at spotting well-known faces in a crowd. Someone is always having to point them out to me: "Look, Bruce Willis is here!" (at a Guy Forsyth concert years ago) and "That was Eli Roth, didn't you realize?" I do pretty well with local film people -- I can spot Mike Judge and Richard Linklater, and anyone could spot Quentin Tarantino (okay, he's not "local" yet, but he's getting there). If you want a prime example of me not recognizing filmmakers, check out my Ann Richards story over at Celluloid Eyes. (Note that I recognized Richards.)

I was waiting in line last night for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning screening on the opening night of Fantastic Fest. The Alamo South Lamar lobby was decked out for the festival -- a coffin in one corner, various vendor tables around the room. Some people from a local haunted house, The Nightmare Factory, were passing out coupons and flyers. A few were in costume. A News 8 camera crew was there too, taking pictures of us in line. The Nightmare Factory brought in a guy dressed in an oversized demon costume with long, puppet-like hands, and the camera crew started shooting that.

Suddenly this older couple walked in -- looked very Texas, with the man in a gimme cap and the woman a little more dressed up than he was. They practically collided with the demon guy, and looked around the theater, seeming a bit disoriented. I felt terribly sorry for them. I figured they'd probably come to the Alamo to see Little Miss Sunshine, and had no idea that this whole weirdo festival was taking place. I wondered what they'd do next.

And then the News 8 camera crew rushed up to the guy, and he smiled at them and started talking to the reporter, and I realized that the man in the cap was R. Lee Ermey, one of the co-stars of the movie we were about to see. I wish I could have taken a photo, but I had to leave my camera in the car because there was security at the screening.

And damnit, I should have known Ermey, because back in 2003 during JournalCon Austin, which I helped organize, the big buzz among the conferencegoers was that Ermey was in the lobby of our hotel, and was the nicest guy in the world. You'd think that I'd done it on purpose and that he was one of the planned conference attractions.

But once again, I proved myself incapable of recognizing people I really ought to know. At least I recognized Jordanna Brewster at the Chainsaw after-party when she ended up inadvertantly standing about two feet away from me.

(I've got pictures from the after-party ... look for them this weekend sometime.)

Fantastic Fest survival guide


If you're like me you're going to be spending the next week haunting the halls of the Alamo South Lamar for the second-ever Fantastic Fest. Here are a few guidelines for making FF a better experience, formed from observations at last year's Fest.

Fantastic Fest starts today!


Fantastic Fest 2006 posterThe second annual Fantastic Fest starts today -- this year, it runs for a full week (Sept. 21-28), with movies playing in up to three theaters at a time at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. I attended the sf/fantasy/animated/horror film festival last year and had a great time.

I don't see any point in duplicating everyone else's efforts, so here's are a couple of local articles about Fantastic Fest:

VIP badges are sold out, and only a few of the regular badges are left. Tickets will be sold for individual screenings if seats are available. My guess is that you might be able to get tickets for the smaller films that are up against the big premieres ... just like other local film festivals.

I'm going to be covering the festival for Cinematical, with help from Scott Weinberg, so check out the site's Fantastic Fest category for full coverage. In the meantime, depending on how things go, Slackerwood may also have Fantastic Fest coverage, but not by me. All will be revealed in due course.

If you're attending any of the films and see someone you think is me, please stop me and say hi. (And if it's not me, well, at least you've made a new friend.)

Fantastic Fest updates lineup with The Fountain, Tideland

The second annual Fantastic Fest keeps looking better and better ... if you like sf/fantasy, horror, and animated films, that is. The festival updated its 2006 film lineup this week with a number of exciting features. The big news is that the closing night film will be The Fountain, Darren Aronofsky's latest film starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. Aronofsky will attend the Sept. 28 screening and hold a Q&A after the film. I'm pleased to see Tideland, Terry Gilliam's latest film, in the lineup even though I believe it has an October U.S. release slated. I've been dying to see this film for a year and I'm happy to learn that it will play in Austin at least once. (I may have made loud squeaky noises when I found out about this.) Even the panels and presentations look interesting -- last year's certainly were. I attended a demo of the rotoscoping software used for A Scanner Darkly, and a presentation about the creature costumes created for The Chronicles of Narnia. The festival runs a full week this year, so the badge is definitely worth purchasing if the programming sounds at all interesting to you.

Fantastic Fest posts confirmed titles


I attended Fantastic Fest in its first year last year and had a great time. (Well, except for the embarrassing moment where I almost fell asleep during Wild Blue Yonder.) This year, the Austin science-fiction/horror/fantasy film festival has expanded to one week and looks like it'll be bigger and better. An early list of confirmed films in the festival was released this week: I have been wanting to see The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes for some time, so I was especially glad to see it included. I'm also interested in the documentary Midnight Movies, which looks like it might have some good interviews with people like George A. Romero and Richard O'Brien. Festival badges are already on sale if you're interested.

In addition, Fantastic Fest is still taking submissions for short and feature films, through July 15. It would be wonderful to see a few local filmmakers and/or locally shot films included in this year's lineup.

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