Fantastic Fest 2011 Coverage Preview

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Last year’s Fantastic Fest was– as I’ve heard it always is– a complete blast, with Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse offering up all the food, booze, and genre movies that anyone could ever want over the course of seven glorious days.  The 2010 lineup was pretty awesome (films like I Saw The Devil, the “whatever happened to that movie?” horror flick Mother’s DayRubber, and many, many others), but the lineup for 2011′s Fantastic Fest is even more impressive:  Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, Tom Six’s The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence, (Edit: we’ve been asked to remove all references to Bobcat Goldthwait’s God Bless America in this article, as the film’s publicist tells us the film won’t be screening as part of Fantastic Fest), and a whole bunch of movies about hitmen are going to screen this year.  But that’s not all Fantastic Fest has on offer!  Read on to see the full list of awesome films headed our way at the end of the month…

fantastic-fest-2011-posterIn years past, I sat idly by and watched as people from all over the world swarmed Austin, TX at the end of September, descending upon the Alamo Drafthouse for the weeklong genre-film festival known as Fantastic Fest.  Though I’d lived in Dallas for two decades, I’d never bothered to make the trip myself, but last year I moved down to Austin just months before Fantastic Fest began, and the seven-day movie binge I experienced there immediately validated my decision to move to Austin:  I saw a slew of awesome films, drank a ton of booze, and ate the Drafthouse’s food several times a day.  For seven straight days.  By the time things wrapped up, I was exhausted, but breaking my Fantastic Fest cherry was an experience I’ll always cherish.

And now it appears that this year’s Fantastic Fest is going to be even bigger, even more awesome, even more hangover-inducing.  There are dozens of films screening at the Festival this year (there are, in fact, so many that I’m going to be unable to list every one of them here; you can head over to FantasticFest.com if you’d like to see the full list), but after pouring over the lineup several times, I think I’ve got my personal lineup narrowed down to a couple dozen films.  That’s reasonable, right?  Sleep?  Who needs sleep?  There are movies about zombies, pedophiles, hitmen, and monsters to see!

I’ll have that lineup for you a bit further down, but before we get to that, let’s talk a little more about what you can expect from us during this year’s Fantastic Fest.

From September 22nd until September 29th, Bill Graham and I should be delivering a small parade of interviews, reviews, and daily “journals” from the Festival, covering both Fantastic Fest‘s screenings and the many kick-ass, sideshow-like events that take place during that week (the Fantastic Debates, for instance; more on those in a minute).  In between the two of us, no stone (or genre film) should be left unturned (or reported on).

If you’ve paid attention to Fantastic Fest coverage in the past, then you already know that FF programmers don’t just schedule a bunch of genre flicks and call it a day:  this is a film festival created by the Alamo Drafthouse, people.  And as such, there’s no shortage of bonuses in store for those holding badges (both press and non-press alike).  For instance, there’s the aforementioned Fantastic Debates, where filmmakers, bloggers, and celebrities debate one another about film-related issues:  the usefulness of 3D, for instance, or the merits of Uwe Boll.  These debates take place inside a boxing ring, and– once the actual debate portion of the Fantastic Debate is concluded– the two debaters (is that a word?) fight one another in the ring.

In years past, the Fantastic Debates have always been capped by a fight between Tim League and someone with genuine fighting ability, and this year’s no different:  for Fantastic Fest 2011, League will fight Irish bareknuckle-boxing champion James McDonagh.  Here’s League announcing the fight:

And here’s McDonagh’s response:

Yes, League will probably be beaten into a coma, but Fantastic Fest wouldn’t be Fantastic Fest without a little blood spilled (League fought Michelle Rodriguez last year, and Uwe Boll before that).

alamo_drafthouse_marquee_01Meanwhile, it appears that the Fantastic Arcade is also making a comeback, though for the moment the final details are still being worked out, and it’s not known at present what games might be appearing.  Last year, Fantastic Fest introduced this side project, and the results were really cool:  next door to the Alamo Drafthouse’s South Lamar location, the Highball bar (really a bowling alley-slash-karaoke bar-slash-watering hole) transformed its private area into a full-blown, 80′s-style arcade.

Rather than Frogger and Centipede, though, the FF programmers got a bunch of indie game developers to install their wares into old-school game cabinets.  I didn’t spend nearly enough time in the Fantastic Arcade this year, but now that I know the score on attending FF, I imagine that I’ll have more time to poke around inside the place.  Again, details on this year’s Arcade are slim for the time being, but if you’re interested, one of FF’s programmers tells me that an announcement regarding the Arcade should arrive in the next week.

Anyway, let’s get to the main event, the thing you’re all wondering about:  the films of Fantastic Fest.  Again, there are so many films playing that it’d be absurd to list them all here (now I understand why they announce the lineup in three stages), but if you want to see the full list you can check out the official Fantastic Fest website.  If that’s too stressful for you, here’s a list of the films I’m most interested in checking out at this year’s FF:

- Nacho Vigalondo’s Extraterrestrial (he’s the guy that did the awesome Time Crimes), which is apparently not based on the Katy Perry song of the same name.

- Tom Six’s The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (this one’s opening the Festival, and Six will be in attendance).

- Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (shame that von Trier won’t be on hand to introduce the film, but I’m dying to see this one)

- A special Mondo screening of John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London (with an Olly Moss poster for attendees and Rick Baker in person)

- Elite Squad, which I’ve been led to believe is one of the best action films ever made.  It’s also directed by the dude that’s handling the Robocop remake, so I’m going to be paying close attention to his work here.

-  Panos Cosmatos’ Black Rainbow, which I’ve heard is just insane.  The teaser trailer looks bizarre.

fantastic-fest-logoThere are many, many more films that I’m interested in checking out (and we haven’t even scratched the surface of the shorts that Fantastic Fest is screening this year: there’s an assfull of ‘em), but those are the ones that I’m chomping at the bit to see.  Once again, my associate Bill Graham and I will be handling all of this, so feel free to check out the full lineup over at FantasticFest.com and let us know if there’s something in particular you’d really, really like to hear about.  If you’re going to be in Austin for this year’s Fantastic Fest, be sure to drop me and Bill a line and let us know where you’re at:  we’d be happy to grab a beer with a few of Collider’s readers, so much so that we’d even let you purchase these drinks for us if you insisted.

Stay tuned for more on this year’s Fantastic Fest as we get closer to Sept. 22nd, and check back in frequently after that to find out what’s happening in Austin this year!  If you’ve got anything you’d like to add to all this– going?  Not going?  Wish you could go but can’t afford it?  Wanna meet us in the Fantastic Arcade for Jaeger shots? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!




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  • Austin H

    I popping my Fantastic Fest cherry this year and I cannot wait.

  • Bill Graham

    I can’t wait to cover the festival again this year. Last year was a blast, despite my lack of sleep. If you are attending, don’t give up on screenings you don’t get tickets to. I was in stand-by for quite a few screenings and still got in.

    Also, for those that may be wondering, I have no early word on the Secret Screenings. I noticed they were missing from the schedule that was just released today.

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