(from left to right) Fantastic Fest programmer Zack Carlson, Fantastic Feud co-hosts Devin Steuerwald and Scott Weinberg, and Not Quite Hollywood director Mark Hartley

With the weekend came no sure rest for Fantastic Fest attendees. Saturday kicked off with, among other things: a screening of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes shown from an HD master of a cut unseen in over thirty-five years; initial screenings of the very popular Tiffany stalker doc I Think We're Alone Now and the very anticipated Swedish vampire drama Let the Right One In (which can now fall firmly in the former category); and a boat party held in honor of Donkey Punch, in which several youthful types face some serious consequences after their high behavior on the high seas. Did life end up imitating art on that front...?



No, I'm (quite) relieved to reveal that the guests during the outing on Town Lake (a.k.a. Lady Bird Lake) did not come to resemble the antics of the film's ill-fated hipster lot, although the arrival of several 'scenesters' to the trip made things considerably more curious, as the purported idea behind it was for guests to willingly mock said personality types. Regardless, by my count, all hipsters and non-hipsters alike made it back to shore alive, and perhaps just a wee bit more spirit-ed than when they had left.

Sunday brought with it:

  • Zombie Girl!: The Movie -- a genuinely engaging documentary about local filmmaker Emily Hagins, who proceeded to make a feature-length zombie flick at the age of twelve.
  • JCVD -- a meta-tastic action-dramedy revolving around Jean-Claude Van Damme playing himself as he contends with a hostage stand-off, a custody crisis, and a withering image in the public eye.
  • The Burrowers -- a modest and effective piece of frontier horror from writer-director J.T. Petty.

The night was to then conclude with the return of the horror geek showdown known as Fantastic Feud (created the year before by our own Scott Weinberg) and its subsequent karaoke session, and so it did, with the Americans once again holding their own against the likes of international filmmakers and industry types. However, matters were soon cut short in lieu of an ensuing karaoke marathon, which very much lasted until the Monday morning light.

(And we wouldn't have had it any other way.)

Here's what Peter had to share: "Nacho Vigalando (last year's Timecrimes, which is about to see domestic release) presented a hilarious program of short films on Saturday afternoon. Ingenious and clever, they demonstrated that you don't need money to have imagination. The strongest piece on the program, for me, was Choque, a terrific, character-revealing film, in which a young couple's innocent encounter with bumper cars turns into a life and death match. Later, the world premiere of Seventh Moon, with stars Tim Chiou, Amy Smart and director Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project) in person, got a fitting start as a roasted pig was rolled out. Dressed in ceremonial robes, "Buddhist monk" Tim League (a.k.a. Fantastic Fest Director) proceeded to bless the evening with incense sticks and a can of beer.

On Sunday, the very good Danish family drama Fighter featured several strong martial arts training sequences, Mark Hartley's doc Not Quite Hollywood entertained with plenty of information on Australian exploitation flicks, weirdly appealing South of Heaven struck a note of total otherness, and the post-midnight Fantastic Feud, with host Scott Weinberg, described rational explanation. The Karaoke Party that followed was one of the best musical shows I've seen this decade, even before it descended into acts I best not try and describe for a public web site."

And now for Scott's say: "I didn't have much time for movies over the weekend, as I was simply having too much fun meeting people, seeing old friends, and arguing about genre flicks in amicable yet passionate fashion. (There's a guy here who thinks Alien: Resurrection is THE BEST OF THE SERIES!) One real highlight, however, was a wonderfully strange movie called South of Heaven, which is sort of a stew full of ingredients like this: The Coen Brothers, Samuel Fuller, "Looney Tunes," Depeche Mode, graphic violence, romance, horror, comedy, carnage, and (my favorite) big chunks of wonderfully weird dialog delivered by very funny actors. I absolutely love this movie.

Other cinematic standouts include: the stylishly nihilistic sea-bound thriller Donkey Punch (which I saw back at Sundance and definitely recommend), the Aussie chiller Acolytes (which starts out as slightly predictable and then explodes with unexpected plot contortions), the wonderfully awesomely mega-amazingly brilliant Let the Right One In (which everyone loved), and the "Tiffany documentary" I Think We're Alone Now, which is one of the most chatted-about flicks at the whole damn festival.

And then we had Fantastic Feud 2, complete with all-night lunatic Karaoke. And that was awesome."

CATEGORIES Cinematical