Fantastic Fest

Thursday, September 13, 2007

FANTAVALANCHE !!! : How Fantastic Fest 2007 is Going to Destroy Me

Hello...this is Zack in the Alamo Drafthouse programming office.
My current FF schedule has me attending 40 screenings. To accomplish this, I will forgo sleep, normally scheduled meals and minimum required daily exposure to all natural elements. My friends and family will forget I was ever born and my dog will starve to death in the backyard. If I do emerge, it will be as something like this:

Needless to say, this is my favorite time of year.

The most anticipated highlights of my descent into subhumanism are:

DEVILS-HELPER: THE FOLK ART FILMS OF PHIL CHAMBLISS - Sure, I like devils, but I'm no fan of "folk art", "folk" or "art". And none of that matters, because this Chambliss guy is a damn genius. His short films, made entirely with sheer grit and bizarro innovative imagination, capture something uniquely discomforting and completely hilarious. There are no adjectives to describe the bold new style this Arkansas backyard filmmaker has created, but his work has stuck with me longer than anything else I've seen in preparation for this year's fest. Fifteen minutes with a Phil Chambliss movie and you'll never be able to look the world in the eye again.

One film in the line-up is a title I've been dreaming of seeing for almost a decade...Sogo Ishii's CRAZY THUNDER ROAD, which is supposed to be the most blast-slamming whiz-bang mayhem-laden bullet-burster in low-budget Japanese exploitation history. It was pretty much considered an inaccessibly lost movie (to Western audiences anyway) until a new print was recently struck and made a few appearances on the international festival circuit. As far as I know, this is the first screening anywhere near here...ever!

All right, it isn't a movie, but I'm definitely very excited to be witness to the most geeked-out-gonzo FF event: FANTASTIC FEUD, in which filmmakers and film nerds (and combinations thereof) will square off to take the crown as reigning HORROR SCHLUB!! This landmark competition will be hosted by famed movie maniac (and beloved ham) Scott Weinberg, and promises to give an information overload to even the most steeled genre enthusiast.

Sure, documentaries on filmmakers can sometimes be dry and indulgent, but it's quite the opposite with the excellent doc BLOOD, BOOBS AND BEAST on oughtta-be-legendary Baltimore no-budget auteur Don Dohler. The great unsung mastermind behind unwatched gems like ALIEN FACTOR, NIGHTBEAST and BLOOD MASSACRE, Dohler was a tireless penny-art pioneer that created the greatest genre films you've never seen. And if none of his titles are familiar to you, that's all the better reason for you to watch this film about a lone maverick fighting the world to create great films against all odds. Hilarious, sad and completely inspiring, this is the best horrormaker chronicle you'll ever see. Documentarian John Paul Kinhart will be in attendance to talk about Dohler, too.

The film I'm most plain curious about is actually a short. Festival programmers Tim and Kier-la were unable to stop talking about GARY'S TOUCH (playing with NEVER BELONGS TO ME) for months after watching it. Supposedly, it's quite literally the most perverse and disturbing film in this year's roster, which is saying a lot. I've only gotten bits and pieces of the plot and don't wanna spoil anything, but from what I hear, this stands to send half the audience running for the exits, the bathrooms or!

Speaking of severe theatrical experiences, TAXIDERMIA is another one I can't wait for. Consisting of three intertwining stories, each less digestable than the last, TAXIDERMIA is supposedly the most beautifully presented nauseator to come from the wilds of Europe in a loooong time.

Wheoooo...Honestly, there's a ton more stuff I could go on about but there's just no time: ALONE, THE LAST WINTER, the absolutely incredible-looking Nikkatsu series selected by my reliably discerning fellow Alamoid Lars of Weird Wednesdays...there's so much goodness that I think my teeth are gonna shatter, my skull's gonna split and my skin's going to go translucent like those eyeless albino fish that live at the bottom of caves.

- Z

NOTE: Due to a sequence of totally impossible events, our best pal and programmer Kier-la Janisse won't be in the country to attend the festival she helped to create. I just wanted to mention that she did an amazing job on this year's festival and we'll all wish she was here to take part. Kier-la, you are very dearly missed.


  • At 1:00 PM , Blogger Headquarters 10 said...

    I second your comments on Kier-La's absence from this year's fest. Hopefully, we will all see her soon.

  • At 7:45 PM , Blogger Lars Nilsen said...

    Hear, hear! Everyone who enjoys Fantastic Fest raise a glass to Kier-la Janisse. She worked incredibly hard day and night to help make FF what it is.


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