The annual Fantastic Fest film festival gets underway in Austin this week. It’s the largest genre-based film festival in the United States and was founded in 2005 by Tim League of Alamo Drafthouse and Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News. We sent special correspondent Brennan Foster on a quest to hunt down the weirdest films, the coolest parties and the biggest star sightings he could find. Here’s his first, pre-fest report. Be sure and check back throughout the week for more updates.
Thirty minutes across the Texas border, I get pulled over for speeding in a 70 MPH zone.
“Do you know how fast you were going?”
My father, a former police officer, taught me of an imaginary elastic barrier, a ne plus ultra for exceeding the speed limit.
“Nooo. No. You weren’t going that fast.”
That surprises me. “Seventy-six?”
The officer pauses, gives a slight smile. “Nope. Didn’t quite make it there.”
I begin to feel very inadequate for a scofflaw.
He changes the subject. “Where are you heading?”
He sees all the items stuffed into my cabin: bicycle, clothing rack, suitcase, freezer bag.
“No, I’m going to the Fantastic Fest. It’s a film festival held at the Alamo Drafthouse. They screen horror, fantasy, sci fi—all types of extreme movies from around the world. I’m there for about a week-and-a-half.”
“Sounds like fun. You a filmmaker?”
“Well, I’ll be blogging about it for a weekly paper in Albuquerque.”
But apparently, I’m not much of a speed-demon.
“Hold on while I get you your warning.”
Somehow, the way he’s strung the conversation together, it feels like he’s admonishing me for not going far enough over the limit. And I understand.
This is Texas, where in order to make any mark, you have to go BIG. And I’m headed to the largest genre film festival in the U.S., showcasing films that push all buttons, all extremes, all limits.
In years past, I’ve been privy to early screenings of truly fantastic films: Let the Right One In Ex-Drummer, Monsters, Trollhunter, 13 Assassins. (You can view films featured from past years on iTunes.)
Today, things kick off with a Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence-themed opening night party, where revelers will attempt to break the world record for the longest human centipede conga line.
And, um, good luck to them.
The week also promises bare-knuckle boxing, authentic Japanese karaoke and Kevin Sorbo in 3-D! I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to share my first thoughts of the featured films and relate some of the unique experiences proffered at this unique festival.
“Just a warning”? This week, I’ll do my best to push it waaaay past the limit.