Fantastic Fest

Monday, September 29, 2008

REPO! Soundtrack hits the streets and Darren is selling copies out of his trunk

I got this note from Director Darren Boseman about his film REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA today. I think it speaks volumes that the director himself (and a director of a string of hugely grossing SAW movies at that) is out there hustling and bootstrapping to get his film seen and heard. Color me charmed, so much so that I am immediately passing it on to you guys, many of whom were wooed by the sweet melodies of his soundtrack during the fest. The CD releases today and Darren points to three easy ways to purchase it. If you enjoyed REPO, please pick up your copy and tell your friends to do the same. I have a feeling that success with the soundtrack will translate to a wider release or bigger advertising budget for the film.

Here's Darren's note....

Hey all... Okay, sorry for the group email. I myself hate them, so it pains me to send one. I feel like a telemarketer. That being said. It's not going to stop me from pushing my new movie on you. REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA.

I wanted to make sure you all were aware that today the soundtrack became available. Come on, where else can you hear PARIS HILTON, singing a song with SARAH BRIGHTMAN where someone from SLIPKNOT is playing on the track? NOWHERE I tell you!

We also just updated our webpage so check it out! (

3 ways to get the album:

#2. (digitally download the album)
#3. Text 'REPOCD' to '262966' (that spells AMAZON on your keypad) to order the cd from your cell.

Thanks all, and I promise not to send another group email... Well, at least until the films release!!!!


the DONKEY PUNCH boat party report

So DONKEY PUNCH is a movie about some young Europeans who do drugs and have a dance party on a “borrowed” yacht off the coast of Spain. In the film, the hip kids take things a little too far, a literal donkey punch works its way into the plot, and things spiral out of control from there.

We wanted to see how far we could get things to spiral out of control here in Austin, so after the premiere screening of that film at Fantastic Fest on Saturday night, we took a group of festival badge-holders out to Capitol Cruises' big boat on Lady Bird Lake, met up with a large group of Austin’s best party scenesters (courtesy of, and set sail on a 4 hour dance party with vodka from 42Below, Red Bull to keep us going through the night, and of course some Fosters, the official beer of the festival.

Here’s a link to some photos from the night, but these four should really sum it up for you:

The dance party on the roof, with the skyline in the background.

The single best photo booth opportunity of all time - put your face into the donkey punch!

The people on the bridges we passed under were either jealous of our party, or scared.

And with pants like these on board, envy and fear are both understandable emotions.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Photos of the City of Ember Cave Party

Photographers Eugene Hsu and David Hill have posted their collections of City of Ember Cave Party photos. Following the closing night film, Gil Keenan's CITY OF EMBER, the audience boarded buses to head out to Longhorn Caverns for a late-night subterranean cave party.

In Fox Walden’s October 10 release of CITY OF EMBER, Bill Murray plays the Mayor of Ember, an underground city where the generations have lived for over 200 years to escape a ravaged surface. But on September 25, 2008, this legendary performer, along with CITY OF EMBER director Gil Kenan, traveled a mile and a half underground to announce his “candidacy” for Mayor of Ember and to kick off GET LIT: THE SUBTERRANEAN DANCE PARTY, the closing night event of Fantastic Fest 2008.

David Hill's photos.

Eugene Hsu's photos.

City of Ember opens in theaters on October 10.

Friday, September 26, 2008

SEVENTH MOON premiere pics! Roast pigs and buddhists and beers, oh my!

When the new Eduardo Sanchez Chinese horror epic SEVENTH MOON hit its premiere at FF, we decided to give it a little something special. And what better way to celebrate than with a whole roast pig and an "actual" Buddhist monk to bless the screening? The event went off without a hitch, and the photos are HERE!

Fantastic Fest Days 7 and 8: The Wrap-up

Well, the festival has drawn to a close and there was a lot of excitement rounding out the week.
First take a look at the guys from the alamo wiring the seats for the new William Castle documentary SPINE TINGLER.

and then check out the Q and A with David Wain and Paul Rudd after the secret screening of their film ROLE MODELS

and finally check out some scenes from the closing night film CITY OF EMBER with Bill Murray in attendance

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Best of Fantastic Fest, Sunday 9/28, free!

Fantastic Fest draws to a close tonight, but we are having such a good time, that we don't want to let it end!

On Sunday, September 28, Fantastic Fest is hosting the BEST OF FANTASTIC FEST at the Alamo South Lamar featuring screenings of three of the most popular films of the festival. These screenings are 100% free, first come, first serve. The shows are open to badge holders and the general public alike, badge holders do not get priority seating. They are truly first come, first serve.

Let the Right One In 9/28 4:05 PM
An awkward, introverted boy (Oskar) befriends a new neighbor girl (Eli) who helps him to confront the bullies at school. Eli, however, has a dark secret, and there are bodies piling up at the local morgue.

Chocolate 9/28 7:00 PM
The director of ONG BAK returns with his new protégé, who was in training for five years for this role. Jeeja Vismistananda portrays an autistic girl who learns martial arts from watching Tony Jaa and Bruce Lee films so as to exact revenge on those who bankrupted her mother.

Donkey Punch 9/28 10:00 PM
Seven sexy young Brits are hanging out on a "borrowed" yacht for a day of drugs, debauchery, and ultimately donkey punching. It's the last activity causes everything to unravel.

For more information about Fantastic Fest, check out the official website. Film Badges are currently on sale for Fantastic Fest 2009.

Details on the closing night cave party!

Right after the closing night film, we'll be checking IDs, wristbanding and handing out a goodie bag for everyone heading out to the City of Ember themed cave party. The cave is 63 miles away, so it's a bit of a bus ride to get out there, but I guarantee that the party will be well worth it. We allegedly will have video monitors on the bus and if that pans out, we'll have eye candy on screen for you. We will be providing a snack for everyone on the way back from the party, but not on the way out, so we highly recommend that you board the bus with your stomach full. If not, you might face a hungry night.

The party will be running to the wee hours of the night, but we will have an opportunity for some folks to return early if so desired. We'll make announcements in the cave at intervals with information about the bus departure schedule.

Thanks again everyone for making this year's festival such a blast. I'll see some of you in the cave, the rest, I hope enjoy Martyrs at the 9:30 PM round and everyone else... enjoy a well-deserved rest.


Tim League
Fantastic Fest

Fantastic Fest Video Coverage: Day 6

Today, 4 entries. Lots of excitement

First lets look at the 100 best kills party:

Next lets see the mystery surrounding one of fantastic fests' infamous secret screenings

also check out a conversation with the director of the award winning film TOKYO GORE POLICE

and finally, take a look at some scenes from the FANTASTIC DEBATES which took place next to the alamo south in the boxing gym

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fantastic Fest Video Coverage Day 5

Today we spoke with a few filmmakers.
First the guys from THE WRECK:

and then the director from I THINK WE'RE ALONE NOW

and finally we spoke with the Icelandic filmmakers behind ASTROPIA

and check out our recap of the festival awards show!:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oh Snap! One more late breaking secret screening!

Brace yourself folks, there's another secret screening in the mix. The curtain raises on what we are calling "Secret Screening - Late Addition" at 6:25 PM on Wednesday, September 24. We of course, can't tell you what the film is, but I for one am very excited!

FF 2008 Awards Ceremony photos are UP!

After much deliberation and consternation, the FF 08 juries and viewers made their voices heard at Monday night's majestic AWARDS CEREMONY! The raucous round of appreciation was helmed by one Tim League, FF founder and sharp-dressed man, and filmmakers from around the world received their proper due and drank a liquid ton of beer.

Memories are HERE!

The Art Of Shakey Face

Part of the fun at Fantastic Fest this year has been the Shakey Face badge photos. These are the photos taken with a bright flash when the subject is shaking his or her face violently.

We have a winner in our contest for the best shakey face. You'll see who it is at the end of this montage of all the best shakey faces:

Fantastic Debates Tonight! Starts at the podium, ends in the boxing ring!

Tonight at the South Austin Gym just three doors down from the Alamo South Lamar we will be joined by some of the brightest and best journalists, critics and film nuts to decide some very important resolutions.

The debates will be in the classical point-counterpoint format and the audience will vote on the passage of the resolution at hand. And that's about it. Except - oh yeah - if one debater or the other is unable to secure a 3/4 majority of the voters at hand the matter will be settled in the boxing ring. A qualified trainer and referee will be present and headgear and regulation gloves will be provided. The level of competition should be fairly strong. Most of these folks have been loading up on carbohydrate rich foods and beverages for the duration of the fest in preparation for this. I'm picturing action along the lines of the punishing Ali/Frazier Thrilla In Manila - possibly even greater. The boxing press has been notified to expect a total paradigm shift in their sport from the old days of fit, highly trained athletes to the more highly padded, short-burst equipped "fighters of tomorrow".

That said, here are the topics we will cover in the very first round of the Fantastic Debates.

Resolved: CGI is kicking our eyes in the nuts and should be abandoned in favor of practical special effects.

Resolved: The future of filmmaking belongs to those modern heroes of Hollywood whose numerous remakes have liberated us from those dusty old "classic" movies.

Resolved: DVD is dead.

Resolved: George Lucas has lost his fucking mind.

Debaters will include:
Nacho Vigalondo, Filmmaker
Todd Brown,
Devin Faraci,
Scott Weinberg, Critic
Jay Slater, Critic, Journalist
Owen Egerton, author of the forthcoming "The Force Is With Him: The Wonder Worlds Of George Lucas"
Les McGehee, President of the Pay Per View Initiative, author of "The Disc Is Dead: Long Live The Box"
Matt Kiernan, Headquarters 10, Fangoria, Fantastic Fest

So everyone either meet up in the lobby or come on over to South Austin Gym for the FANTASTIC DEBATES!!!!

Fantastic Fest 2008 Award Winners Announced!

Fantastic Fest is proud to announce the winning films of the 2008 festival. Taking top prize in the AMD Next Wave competition is the Japanese sci-fi horror film TOKYO GORE POLICE. The Audience Award goes to THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, stylized indie-noir SOUTH OF HEAVEN takes the AMD Fantastic Fest Online Award, and LET THE RIGHT ONE IN nabs the Best Horror Feature. Complete awards listings are below:

Bloodshots 48 Hour Filmmaking Contest:
Team: Scottish Rite Productions
Film: Meet the Maydays
Team Capt – Drew Thomas

Fantastic Fest Bumper Contest:
Team: Yer Dead
Film: Report Card
Team Capt – Jason Eisener

Animated Shorts:
First Place: Bernie's Doll
Second Place: Muto
Third Place: Violeta
Special Jury Award for Technical Merit: Facts In The Case Of Mr. Hollow

Fantastic Shorts:
First Place: The Object
Second Place: Spandex Man
Third Place: Stagman
Special Jury Award for Visual Invention: Rojo Red

Horror Shorts:
First Place:. Electric Fence
Second Place:. I Love Sarah Jane
Third Place: El Senor Puppe
Special Jury Award for sheer enjoyability: The Horribly Slow Murderer With The Extremely Inefficient Weapon

Fantastic Features:
Second Place: CARGO 200
Third Place: EX DRUMMER
Special Jury Award for originality and vision: SANTOS

Horror Features:
First Place: LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (surprise!)
Second Place: ACOLYTES
Special Jury Award for most politically incorrect gore: FEAST 2
Special Jury Award for best use of latex: JACK BROOKS MONSTER SLAYER

Audience Award:
First Place: The Good, The Bad and the Weird
Second Place: Chocolate
Third Place: JCVD

AMD Fantastic Fest Online:
Best Feature Film: South of Heaven
Best Short Film: Treevenge

AMD Next Wave:
Second Place: DEADGIRL
Third Place: LE CREME

For more information about Fantastic Fest, please visit our official website:

Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in the United States featuring over 100 films from over 30 countries. The event highlights the best new sci-fi, horror, fantasy and genre films, as well as choice classic and obscure cult titles from all over the world. The festival director and head programmer is Tim League (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema), with additional programming by Harry Knowles (Ain't It Cool News), Todd Brown (, Blake Ethridge (Cinema is Dope), Karrie League (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema), Zack Carlson (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema) and Lars Nilsen (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema). Fantastic Fest is a supporting member of the prestigious Melies European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation and a founding member of the North American Fantastic Festival Alliance. Fantastic Fest is sponsored in part by Gamecock Media, AMD, Fosters, Embassy Suites, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, CITY OF EMBER, DVD Empire, Best Buy, Dark Sky Films, Envy Magazine, Anchor Bay Entertainment, Texas Film Commission, Image Entertainment, Viz Pictures,, Book People, Room Service Vintage, Media Blasters, Big Top Candy, Austin Chronicle, The Onion, Fangoria Magazine, Rue Morgue Magazine,, Ain't It Cool News, Smitty's Market and Louie Mueller Barbecue.

Fantastic Fest Video Coverage: Day 4

Today we had a conversation J.T. Petty director and writer of THE BURROWERS:

We also caught up with some of the actors and creators of the film SOUTH OF HEAVEN at the filmmakers lunch:

While at the lunch we also managed to talk to the guys from DEADGIRL:

and later in the evening we got to check out the fantastic feud, the festivals yearly live trivia game:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fantastic Fest Day 3

Lots going on on the third day of Fantastic fest 2008.
First take a look at film bloggers and the role they play at fantatsic fest and in the world.

Then go on and leanr about some of the movies that played on day 3.
First we have the very animated Nick Lopez and his films SANTOS

Next we have the horror DONKEY PUNCH

and finally take a look at the film SEVENTH MOON

stay tuned for more!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fantastic Fest Behind The Scenes: Exploding Stress Ball

Fantastic Fest is a huge amount of fun but it's also a huge amount of work. Here's Alamo South Lamar General Manager Kristen working her therapeutic stress ball until it explodes, all caught by the security cam.

Watch how everyone rushes in to help, and busts a gut laughing.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fantastic Fest day 2 Coverage

A whole lot happened on Day 2 of Fantastic Fest 2008. Look at small sample of events.

In the afternoon there was an Eagle Eye scavenger hunt in honor of the film which played the night. It ended in an epic water balloon battle. see the highlights here:

While that was going on we caught up with Bill Pullman to talk about the two films he is screening during the festival.

We also managed to talk to the guys that brought us Repo: a Genetic Opera.

Stay tuned for more coverage as the festival rolls on!

Fantastic Fest 2009 VIP Badges are SOLD OUT!

In less than 2 hours and a full year before the festival, VIP Badges for Fantastic Fest 2009 are SOLD OUT! Regular Film badges are still on sale at but judging by the speed of sales on the VIP badges, these may also not last long.

Fantastic Fest 2008 has posted record attendance this year, with an anticipated 16000 admissions over the eight day festival.

About Fantastic Fest
Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in the United States featuring over 100 films from over 30 countries. The event highlights the best new sci-fi, horror, fantasy and genre films, as well as choice classic and obscure cult titles from all over the world. The festival director and head programmer is Tim League (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema), with additional programming by Harry Knowles (Ain't It Cool News), Todd Brown (, Blake Ethridge (Cinema is Dope), Karrie League (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema), Zack Carlson (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema) and Lars Nilsen (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema). Fantastic Fest 2008 is a supporting member of the prestigious Melies European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation and a founding member of the North American Fantastic Festival Alliance. Fantastic Fest is sponsored in part by Gamecock Media, AMD, Fosters, Embassy Suites, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, CITY OF EMBER, DVD Empire, Best Buy, Dark Sky Films, Envy Magazine, Anchor Bay Entertainment, Texas Film Commission, Image Entertainment, Viz Pictures,, Book People, Room Service Vintage, Media Blasters, Big Top Candy, Austin Chronicle, The Onion, Fangoria Magazine, Rue Morgue Magazine,, Ain't It Cool News, Smitty's Market and Louie Mueller Barbecue.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fantastic Fest 2008 Day 1 Part 2

Check out The Q and A with director Kevin Smith after the screening of his film ZACH AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO.

and don't miss our coverage of the first ever Air Sex World Championship that followed the opening night film at the Paramount.

Kevin Smith + more photos from FF '08's "sexy" Opening Night Party are HERE!!

Call your lawyer. The photographic evidence is in and the Fantastic Fest audience has been caught having sex and watching porno!

Kevin Smith himself joined us for a bacchanalian celebration at Austin's historic Paramount Theater as we screened the premiere of ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO, followed by the WORLD FINALS of AIR SEX! Every window within 10 miles of the Paramount was fogged over with steam. Intrepid photographer Mary Sledd was on hand and these are the results of her sizzling visual expose of the FF crowd!


Select Photos from Fantastic Fest Day 1

We opened the festival for the first time at the majestic Paramount Theater for a raucous libido double bill of ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO and the AIR SEX WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS. Fantastic Fest photographer Mary Sledd was there to document all the unbridled action. Check out the hightlights of the day at the Fantastic Fest public Flickr page.

Big hearty congratulations go to Sad Larry for taking the gold in the Air Sex World Championships. He's the man shown here weeping while having sex with a photograph.

We'll be posting loads more photos and video as the festival progresses. Check back soon!

Fantastic Videos Day 1 Part 1

Here is a little introduction to fantastic fest and what its about.

And here is part one of our coverage of Kevin Smith's opening night film "Zach and Miri Make a Porno". Enjoy his bathroom anecdote during his introduction. Stay tuned for scenes from the Q and A!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sneak Preview clips and trailers

We've got some late breaking news about a sneak preview trailer and sneak preview exclusive footage from two hugely anticipated movies.

First, before both screenings of SANTOS, we will be watching a sneak preview exclusive first look at the new VALKYRIE trailer. VALKYRIE, set to open on Christmas, is Brian Singer's new film starring Tom Cruise. Based on actual events, Valkryie follows a plot to assassinate Hitler that is unfurled during the height of WWII. This is just one more reason to check out one of the most widely anticipated world premiere films of the festival, SANTOS.

Second, before both screenings of the animated film TERRA, we will be unveiling an exclusive sneak-preview look at two extended clips from the Disney Animated film BOLT.

For super-dog BOLT, every day is filled with adventure, danger and
intrigue-at least until the cameras stop rolling. When the star of a hit
TV show is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood soundstage to New
York City, he begins his biggest adventure yet-a cross-country journey
through the real world to get back to his owner and co-star, Penny.
Armed only with the delusions that all his amazing feats and powers are
real, and the help of two unlikely traveling companions-a jaded,
abandoned housecat named Mittens and a TV-obsessed hamster named Rhino
-- Bolt discovers he doesn't need superpowers to be a hero.

Fantastic Fest Quote of the Day for September 18

"This film is not P.C.; it's more P.B. - Pre-Brazilian, back when Aussie bush was up front and not out back".

NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD director Mark Hartley, describing his film before the Weird Wednesdays screening of DARK AGE. And if you don't know what he's talking about, then you'll just have to see NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD this week at Fantastic Fest!

Information about Fantastic Fest 2009 Badges

Hey folks, we've had on the website now for quite a while that 2009 Badges go on sale online on Saturday, September 20. Here's the scoop. At 10:00 AM on Saturday, we will be releasing for sale the 2009 VIP badges and a portion of the 2009 Regular Film badges. Last year the VIP Badges sold out in 24 hours. As the fest has grown significantly this year, we assume that this year it will be the same if not quicker.

Badges will be available via a link from the tickets page of the Fantastic Fest website, The link for badges is there now, but tickets are suspended, if you want to check it out in advance.

Ticket prices for 2009 are as follows:

VIP: $270
Film Badge $150

We have increased the price this year - mainly because our expenses went up dramatically this year, which is a good thing for you guys. We have over 300% more guests in 2008 than last year and we're going to keep up the work to make next year even better than 2008.

Dates for the Festival in 2009 are September 24-October 1, 2009.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cool new Feast 2 artwork

Just got this in from Weinstein Co. - cool new FEAST 2 box cover art. Check out the full resolution version here. If you don't already have it on your schedule, consider a screening of FEAST 2. The original was perfect popcorn fun and the ever-jovial director John Gulager and screenwriter Marcus Dunstan will be live in person to introduce the show at the festival. John and Marcus were two of our original guests from Fantastic Fest year one and we are incredibly pleased to have him with us again with their new project. I wonder as I scrutinize this poster, how is the midget with the soul patch gonna eat it, because you KNOW he's not alive at opening credits. It's like a red shirt on Star Trek, that poor guy is not long for the screen.

Martyrs to screen at Fantastic Fest!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I cannot tell you how long I have personally been laboring, whining and maneuvering to get this film secured for Fantastic Fest. I sat in the first public screening of the film at the Cannes Market back in May alongside Michael Lerman from Indiewire. We looked at each other during the closing credits and agreed without words or movement. We had been hit in the face with a heavy blunt object.

Since then MARTYRS has been causing fragile eggs who have unwittingly wandered into screenings to leave the theater in one of four conditions: fainting, shaking, vomiting or weeping, or some disgusting combination of all four. This movie is hard. That said, it's my favorite genre film of the year, hands down.

I don't want to talk about the film AT ALL, and I recommend that you don't read ANYTHING about it if possible. If your buddies have been trolling the net and start yammering about the plot points, stick your fingers in yours ears, yell "la-la-la-la-la-la" while running away dancing a funny jig. You will look stupid, but this mild humiliation will pay off in spades.

All I will say is that MARTYRS is a controversial film and the violence is very intense, so much so that it's easy to find traditional critics lumping this film in with the mindless "torture porn" aesthetic (a phrase I'm annoyed with myself for sporting). While the violence quotient does support that pigeon-holing, what allows MARTYRS to transcend is the amazingly pure and very inventive philosophical construct behind the film.

I don't know what the HELL they are putting in that fancypants French bottled water, but whatever it is, it's creating some genetically modified super-powered horror-directing mutants. With the likes of Fabrice Du Welz (VINYAN), Pascal Laugier (MARTYRS), Alexandre Bustillo (INSIDE) and Julien Maury (INSIDE) pumping out the French horror jams, there is no other explanation than a gene-modification conspiracy that goes all the way to prime minister François Fillon. To you sir, I say, "A votre santé!" Cheers, sir, and keep up the good work.

I was going to place this film into one of our secret screening spots, but we are not receiving the copy until the final day of the festival, which is already a very crowded day. Instead, we decided to schedule MARTYRS in a somewhat non-traditional fashion.

We're scheduling two screenings, both on the 25th of September. One - an early screening around 2 PM. The second at 9:30 PM that night. The closing night film is at 7:00 PM that evening. After that, some of you will be going to the all-night cave dance party. I recommend seeing the 2 PM screening if you want to see MARTYRS and are going to the cave. If you aren't going to the cave, stick around for the 9:30 show. This will be the only film playing at that time, and I can think of no better film than MARTYRS serve as the cherry on top of your festival sundae.

Second-half badge holders, this screening will either justify your purchase entirely, or make you wish you had never heard the seemingly innocuous pairing of "Fantastic" and "Fest." In either case, I will feel that my work is done.

I would like to raise a special Fantastic Fest toast to our friends at the Weinstein Company for making this truly eventful screening happen.

We're now 24 hours until kickoff, my own excitement is now palpable.

An electrifying double feature for all film fans - SPINE TINGLER and THE TINGLER!

Damn straight! A very special double feature celebrating one of our heroes, the great William Castle. For two nights only: Wednesday Sept 24 and Thursday Sept 25. Click here for details and to purchase tickets.

We will present the fascinating new documentary SPINE-TINGLER - THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY and then show Mr. Castle's magnum opus THE TINGLER in the miracle of Percepto, in which select seats are wired to give an (hopefully non-debilitating) electric "tingle" to the lucky persons sitting in them. If everything works out alright there won't be any serious injuries but we will require an audience waiver. And if you've got a pacemaker - stay home and take it easy for this one.

SPINE-TINGLER - THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY (2008, D. Jeffrey Schwartz, 84 min.)

There's no greater icon of showmanship than William Castle. When the rest of Hollywood was shivering in its boots over the impact of TV on the bottom line, Castle rolled up his sleeves and went to work. Not only did he make some of the best, wickedly funny horror films, he also jazzed them up with in-theater gimmicks that made moviegoing a truly multidimensional, interactive experience. Starting with 1958's MACABRE, whose viewers were insured against death by fright via a (probably pretty inexpensive) Lloyd's of London policy and continuing through to his masterpiece THE TINGLER, in which attendees were lightly shocked in their seats- Castle made sure his films were events, endlessly talked about on schoolyards and discussed in magazines like Famous Monsters Of Filmland. Along the way, a junior cognoscenti sprung up, hipped by Castle's winking approach to the underpinnings of media and entertainment manipulation. Many of those young fans grew up to take Castle's lessons to heart. In SPINE TINGLER you'll hear such luminaries as Roger Corman, John Waters, Joe Dante and others talking about Castle's legacy. You'll also find out more about the man himself, from his early years as a critically acclaimed director of B-Thrillers through the tumultuous roller-coaster '50s when he scored hit after hit and into the '60s when he made his mark in the New Hollywood, producing ROSEMARY'S BABY and achieving some measure of the respect from his peers that had long eluded him. His daughter Terry Castle provides personal glimpses of the great showman's family life and inner insecurities that his bombastic, self-mythologizing, though highly entertaining autobiography didn't even hint at. (Lars Nilsen)

THE TINGLER (1959, D. William Castle, 82 min. AUDIENCE WAIVER REQUIRED)

Master showman William Castle is synonymous with gimmicks - the "fright break" to give scared patrons a chance to vacate the theater; Emergo aka "giant inflatable skeleton hovers over theatergoers"; the "Punishment Poll" to determine whether the villain lives or dies and many more. But his greatest accomplishment, and the ultimate barrier-breaker - short of actually murdering audience members - was Percepto, in which an electrical device embedded in the theater seats emits a small shock at the crucial point of the film. It's a genius idea, and it would probably work well even with a badly constructed horror movie but the Tingler is anything but. The way Castle, an excellent and intelligent filmmaker, builds the suspense through surprising plot twists and pinpoint timing is, well, electric. In the lead, as a blithely mad scientist plagued by a hussy wife, Vincent Price is just the ticket - bringing just the right mix of arched-eyebrow humor to the role without tipping the coffin over. This is a film that has been read about and discussed endlessly; some of you may have even seen it. But how many people have actually seen it in the miracle of Percepto? This year, wear rubber pants, and don't get too attached to any of the hair on your ass-cheeks - because we're going to hook up a generator, hire a non-union electrician to wire select seats, and watch the fireworks. We will require all audience members to sign a waiver to attend this show. (Lars Nilsen)

You won't regret it. But we might.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

FF: Five Films You Shouldn't Miss

Like a kid who can't wait for Christmas, I'm all giddy these days at the thought of Fantastic Fest coming to town and sliding down the Alamo's chimney with its big bag of movies for all the good little boys and girls. Even though I work behind the scenes at the big show, I'm just as excited as everyone else is, if not more so, since I've seen some of this year's batch and I know how good the selection is. With this in mind, here are some of my suggestions of five films you must see at Fantastic Fest 2008:

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN - Saturday, Sept. 20, at 6:30pm and Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 1:15pm.

I'm sick to death of stupid vampire movies, but this is something completely different altogether, a remarkably moving look at childhood, loneliness and friendship, in addition to being an excellent horror film. Every so often someone comes along to re-invent the genre, and there's no question that Tomas Alfredson has done that here. This isn't just the best film of Fantastic Fest, it's the best film of the year.

LA CREME - Sunday, Sept. 21, at 4pm and Monday, Sept. 22, at 4:15pm

A big surprise for me when I saw it at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal this year,
Reynald Bertrand's comedy has a great premise and a superb execution, in addition to a shitload of laughs. It may only dabble in fantasy, but LA CREME deserves a spot at Fantastic Fest for being a fantastic movie.

TREEVENGE (running as part of SHORT FUSE) - Thursday, Sept. 18, at 4pm; Sunday, Sept. 21 at 9pm and Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 1:50pm.

Proof positive that HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN was no fluke,
TREEVENGE may only be 17 minutes long, but they may also be the most entertaining 17 minutes you will spend during all of Fantastic Fest - and that's saying something. It almost singlehandedly marks the return of the great gore comedy after too long an absence.

THE MAN FROM HONG KONG - Monday, Sept. 22, at 1:45pm and Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 11:59pm.

The centerpiece of our NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD Ozploitation retrospective this year, I've written about this one before, but suffice to say I think the film is a bit of a discovery, if only for it's incredible action scenes and perfect use of Jigsaw's #1 hit, "Sky High". Trust me when I tell you that Aussie action does not get more batshit insane than this.

I THINK WE'RE ALONE NOW - Saturday, Sept. 20, at 1:50pm and Monday, Sept. 22, at 4:40pm.

This is unquestionably the creepiest, scariest film playing at Fantastic Fest, but by no means should that keep you away from it, because it stays with you for a very long time. You may think you're not anything like the two people featured in the film, but at some point you're going to see yourself in them and it's going to freak you the fuck out. Disturbing, but also pretty much unmissible.

See you at Fantastic Fest!

Seventh Moon...whole roasted suckling pigs.

A couple of months ago when we first booked Seventh Moon, I read the complete press kit which described in great detail both the filming method and inevitable anecdotes about their shoot in rural China. One story that particularly caught my fancy was on the first day of filming. The Chinese crew hosted a celebration with a Buddhist prayer wishing for a lucky, successful film shoot. This involved some manner of deep-voiced incantation by a bald man in a yellow robe, a methodical raising and lowering of incense sticks, (and here's where my eyebrow literally rose) the presentation and subsequent devouring of whole roasted suckling pigs by the cast and crew.

The shoot was lucky and successful, so clearly there is something to this pig business. I told the story to Alamo executive chef John Bullington, no stranger in the art of pig roasting, and he quickly volunteered. "If it will make for a lucky and successful film screening, it is then our moral imperative to roast pigs," said he. And so we are.

Buddhist incense masters are proving more challenging, but we will do our best. On the pig front, John Bullington will be preparing, specifically for the Seventh Moon audience the following special:

Chinese five spice roast suckling pig with mandarin pancakes, spicy Chinese barbecue sauce, steamed gai-lon and chinese forbidden black rice, which will be available for purchase by the audience at $9.99 while supplies last.

To the delight of the carnivores and the horror of the vegans, the roast pigs will be carved in the theater prior to the film.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Impossibly Entertaining Shorts of Nacho Vigalondo!

Last year, Spanish director/producer/actor/one-man karaoke assault squad Nacho Vigalondo made a seriously positive impact on FF. In fact, between the world premiere of his brilliant TIMECRIMES and his outrageous dance instruction, no attendee was left unsinged by his fire.

So when it came time to plan this year's FF program, we knew there had to be a way to bring Nacho and his hilarity, stamina and talent back to Austin. Thus was born the SHORTS OF NACHO VIGALONDO program, which will be playing not once, but TWICE at FF with both shows introduced and hosted by the dynamo himself!

Here's the showpage on the FF site!

And here's the breakdown of what cinematic mutations that Nacho will unleash!:

CHOQUE (11 min) - The follies of youth are lost on the old. Nacho stars as a man driven over the edge in a gaming arcade.

SUNDAY (4 min) - A young couple bicker while documenting the most important single occurrence in the history of mankind.

7:35 IN THE MORNING (8 min) - Some people will go to the greatest lengths in the name of romance. This musical short was nominated for a 2005 Academy Award!

CHANGING THE WORLD (4 min) - A man awakens several times at once and is forced to team up with several versions of himself to discover what's gone wrong.

CODE 7 (9 min) - A gripping tale of high-impact, two-fisted science fiction in the 25th Century!!! Kind of.

A LESSON IN FILMMAKING (3 min) - Nacho uses a cow and a rubber ball to instruct aspiring filmmakers on the finer points of cinematic subtlety.

THE GALACTIC ADVENTURES OF JAIME DE FUNES AND ARANCHA (Dir. Velasco Broca, 8 min) - Nacho portrays an interstellar superhero who, along with his sniveling sidekick, fearlessly battles evil throughout the universe!

Plus several other Vigalondolicious surprises like GREMLINS 3, BACK TO THE FUTURE 4, CHEAP SCIENCE FICTION and more, many of which are subtitled in English for the first time here, specifically for Fantastic Fest!

...So get this show on your calendar and join us in a near-fatal case of NACHO FEVERRRRRR.

FF: Why I can't wait.

There's a great big meteor storm fulla goodtimes that's about to strike our fair city. Sure there are some meteorites I'm watching for less closely than others, but -- to continue my analogy beyond all reason -- the bulk of this impending assault has me running in circles with an enormous target on my head.

What I'm trying to say here is: I'm very happy about Fantastic Fest 2008.

Yes, for 2008, we've upped the ante on parties and crazy events, but the main reason for my incessant drooling is of course THE MOVIES. Here are a few titles that I'm painfully impatient to ingest:

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN - I've heard nothing but raging praise for this Swedish coming-of-age vampire romance. Apparently it boasts the best child actors since NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. That's big talk. But even the haters I know swear up and down the block that this is the one that simply cannot be missed.

LATE BLOOMER - A little-known Japanese release about a disabled serial killer. Something avbout this one just looks like it might be the best and most unique film of the entire fest.

THE TINGLER in PERCEPTO! - This is arguably the true masterpiece from late, great horror producer William Castle, and we're going to be presenting it the way he did upon its initial release: with the jolting, jarring miracle of PERCEPTO! The audience will be terrified and electrified as Vincent Price battles an evil force of horror incarnate. Not for the squeamish, or pacemakered! A perfect companion film to the stunning William Castle documentary SPINE TINGLER!, also playing the fest.

I THINK WE'RE ALONE NOW - The most chilling film of the FF line-up is...a documentary? Well, that appears to be the case, as everyone who's seen this chronicle of two rampaging stalkers of '80s pop icon Tiffany says it's the most harrowing movie of the year, if not millennium.

Last but not least, all three of our shorts programs are in severely high gear: the blood-n-gristle-fueled SHORT FUSE, the ANIMATED SHORTS and the amazing SHORTS OF NACHO VIGALONDO (with the Spanish dancing machine himself in attendance!) are kicking beautiful new holes in art's face. far as the extra stuff goes, it's a fact that the 100 BEST KILLS PARTY, the face-shattering FANTASTIC DEBATES and (of course) the triumphant return of FANTASTIC FEUD are gonna blow the roof of this motherfuck.

Once things kick off on Thursday, my Alamo programming cohorts and I will be keeping a daily log of the rampant ridiculousness and rapturousness brought on by this year's FF. Stay tuned for made-up words and/or late night ramblings from the entire crew.

Until then, STAY POWERFUL.

- Z

Late film additions to the Fantastic Fest lineup!

Sure, we sent the festival guide to the printer, but for whatever reason, we just didn't stop working on getting more amazing films for you guys to watch.

Since the close of the printed guide, here are the late additions to the festival lineup:

Vinyan (dir. Fabrice du Welz, 2008, France)
Fabrice du Welz's follow up to the brutal Calvaire (Fantastic Fest official selection 2005) was one of the most wildly anticipated films in the genre fan community this year. The film just world-premiered at Venice and it's now heading to Austin for it's US Premiere. VINYAN is a controversial and harrowing journey into the spiritual darkness that envelops two grieving parents as they search Thailand and Burma against all hope for their son, whom they believe may have survived the giant Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.

YOUR NAME HERE (dir. Matthew Wilder, 2008, USA)
With actor Bill Pullman live in person!
A surreal fantasia -- part grindhouse mutant and part arthouse object -- that imagines a day in the summer of 1974 when America's greatest science-fiction writer, William J. Frick (inspired by the public life of Philip K. Dick and portrayed by Bill Pullman) wakes up to discover he is living inside his own paranoid science fiction.

Pulse 2 (dir. Joel Soisson, 2008, USA)
Jamie Bamber (Lee Adama from Battlestar Galactica!) plays Stephen, a survivor haunted by the ghosts of his past trying to find a safe haven for his daughter in a truly frightening world. In this post-apocalyptic sequel to PULSE, cities are deserted, technology has been destroyed and the few remaining human beings eschew anything electrical in order to avoid a confrontation with the soulless ghosts that now wander the planet.

Repo! The Genetic Opera (dir. Darren Bousman, 2008, USA)
No, this isn't a new title, but we've been so FLOODED with requests to see this film that the studio agreed to set up an extra screening for non-badgeholders at midnight on Friday for people who will be driving in from out of town to see it. Tickets are for sale now for non-badgeholders here.

Secret Screenings!
We've added Secret Screening B already at midnight on Wednesday, September 24. What isn't announced yet is 2 OTHER late festival secret screenings C and D! We expect those to fall into place in the next 24 hours, so check back soon! We've added a "Secret Screening" category to the drop down menu on the website for your convenience, so you can see them all.

The festival begins in a mere 4 days! We'll see you all very, very soon. In the meantime, make sure and sign up for your B-Side account so you can build your personal schedule with their very easy, intuitive scheduling tool. Share your B-Side
account name with your friends so you can compare schedules. To sign up for a B-Side Account, click here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Best Buy / Fantastic Fest DVDs

If you read this recent post, then you know there's a pretty nifty partnership going on between Best Buy and Fantastic Fest. (Besides a mutual affinity for alliteration, I mean.) So if you want to get your grubby little fingers on one helluva cool FF '08 souvenir, then you'll have to drop a few bucks at Big Blue. At first I thought the promotion was inclusive of ANY Fantastic Fest DVD, but I spoke to Fantastic Fest Sponsorship Master Matt Kiernan, and he clarified things for me: In order to snag the limited edition promo DVD, you gotta produce a recent receipt from one of these titles... ( ... must be purchased at an AUSTIN location!)

  • The Backwoods (Widescreen, $14.99)
  • Bug (Special Edition, $9.99)
  • Diary of the Dead (Unrated, $17.99)
  • Hatchet (Unrated, $14.99)
  • The Host (Widsescreen, $24.99) (Special Edition, $17.99) (Blu-Ray, $29.99)
  • Hostel (Widescreen, $24.99) (Director's Cut, $14.99) (Blu-Ray Director's Cut, $24.99)
  • Mad Max (Special Edition, $9.99)
  • The Road Warrior (Fullscreen (ick), $12.99) (Blu-Ray, $14.99)
  • Sex and Death 101 (Widescreen, $14.99) (Blu-Ray, $29.99)
  • Southland Tales (Widescreen, $19.99)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre '74 (Widescreen, $14.99) (Blu-Ray, $22.99)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (Rated, $14.99) (Unrated, $14.99)
  • There Will Be Blood (Widescreen, $19.99) (Collector's Edition, $22.99) (Blu-Ray, $34.99)
  • Zathura (Special Edition, $9.99)
Please note that these prices came from and may not represent the prices at your local Best Buy. Also PLEASE note that the standard (i.e. non-Blu-Ray) Road Warrior DVD is FULLSCREEN ONLY, which means you might want to buy a different disc -- or invest in a new DVD player. Although Matt tells me I'm crazy.

Bill Pullman coming to Fantastic Fest!

We just got confirmation that Bill Pullman will be coming to Fantastic Fest in support of two of his films in the 2008 Fantastic Fest lineup, YOUR NAME HERE and SURVEILLANCE.

YOUR NAME HERE, a late addition to the festival, is a surreal fantasia -- part grindhouse mutant and part arthouse object -- that imagines a day in the summer of 1974 when America's greatest science-fiction writer, William J. Frick (inspired by the public life of Philip K. Dick and portrayed by Bill Pullman) wakes up to discover he is living inside his own paranoid science fiction.

We're all fans of Bill Pullman up in the programming office and are really excited about this late breaking news. For me the fondness began with SPACEBALLS, for Henri, I feel safe to say it was NEWSIES. Anyway, film historians of the future will be calling 2008 the year of Bill Pullman with the one-two combination punch of these two outrageous movies. Mr. Pullman will introduce the films and be available to answer questions afterwards. One question that I hope is asked, what song is he going to sing at the Magnolia Karaoke Apocalypse afterparty.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Coming to Fantastic Fest 2008... Ads!

Hello, everyone, I'm Matthew Kiernan, sponsorship coordinator for Fantastic Fest and a new member to the Fantastic Fest team, although some of you may remember me from my triumphant appearance at last year's Fantastic Feud. Yes, I'm the guy who remembered all those sequel directors. In fact, that's why they hired me!

My responsibility is to find sponsors who will help fund this fine little film festival of ours; companies whose financial support allows us to bring in as many guests and films from all over the world as we possibly can. If you check out the sponsorship page on this here website, you'll see that we've got a lot of great sponsors - from such local pals as AMD, Gamecock, and the Embassy Suites downtown - along with such corporate juggernauts as Foster's, Fox Home Entertainment and DVD Empire. You'll see their ads in our mammoth 2008 program guide around town, in addition to their banners, posters and standees in the theater lobby during the festival. And there's no pussyfooting around this part, folks - you're going to see some of their ads on the big screen, too.

Up until now, the only type of ads you've ever seen on the Alamo screen have either been vintage spots or those marvelous monthly reels that Henri Mazza puts together. Now just so you know, there's not going to be any change to this - we're only talking about Fantastic Fest. However, the festival has a certain price tag that goes with it and you have to offer sponsors an incentive beyond just being part of the greatest film festival known to man. The idea that over 12,000 festival goers will see their products advertised over the course of a week helps to make the decision a bit easier for our sponsors. There will only be about 2 minutes of spots in front of each feature and, rest assured, you won't be seeing the same ads again and again. But they will be there, and since we understand that it might not be a popular addition to the festival we wanted you to know about it in advance. If it's any consolation, some of them feature real-life porn stars!

If you're peeved about all this, I'm the person to complain to. Take a number.

FF wants YOU for the 100 BEST KILLS PARTY!!!

No small number of FF films are infused with the cinematic magic of graphic extermination. The fest draws countless horror maniacs, all featuring several scenes of life being creatively, beautifully, inspiringly snuffed out. And we know that - like a butterfly collector or lover of classical music - you have your dearest favorite.

So this year, we invite YOU the FF badgeholder to bring along your # 1 selection in gratuitous silver screen homicide - on either DVD or VHS - to share with the crowd of rabid bloodmaniacs at the 100 BEST KILLS PARTY, to be held Monday, Sept 22 at Midnight at the Alamo South Lamar! Just mark the DVD case with a note saying where your chosen scene starts and ends (2 min or less, please)...and if you're bringing a VHS, make sure it's cued up to where things get good n' gristly!

The audience choice winner will receive a special FF gift package and the respect of his or her fellow flesh-haters!

Here's the 100 BEST KILLS PARTY page at! Add it to your calendar now, and when the night comes, don't forget to BRING THE PAIN!!!

[Original show post below]

* * * * * *

Alamo South Lamar, Monday September 22, Midnight

The excitement inherent in the best horror and action movies can be boiled down to three main ingredients: VIOLENCE, VIOLENCE and VIOLENCE!!! From the golden age of goremaster Herschell Gordon Lewis to the innovative new fluid-spurting technologies of the modern effects masters, cold-blooded murder has become a legitimately appealing visual art that deserves it's very own fancy Louvre...and THIS IS IT! Yep, at this year's Fantastic Fest, we'll be celebrating the absolute finest in annihilation with an interactive celebration of on-screen intestine-ripping, headbursting and unrepentant baby-mashing!

Your faithful FF programmers will of course get the festivities underway started with some of their all-time favorite examples of cinematic savagery, but for the first time ever, we'll be opening things up so YOU can share your most beloved homicide as well. It's easy...just bring along anything good, goopy n' gory that can play on an all-region DVD player (or VCR!) and you'll be called on to nauseate the masses with your ultimate beloved gutblast!

Note: This show is intended for the most severe and ironstomached bloodhounds around, and we accept absolutely no responsibility for lost lunches. Wimps and weekend horrormeisters, leave the hall...if you can't stand the meat, stay out of the kitchen!! (Zack)

FF poster is here, and it's a BEAUT!!

How do you sum up a film festival as weird, wild and diverse as Fantastic Fest in one image?
Well, Jon Smith did it.
Jon Smith is the amazing artist behind Ghostland Observatory's best (in my opinion) gig posters, and he's worked his beautiful, subtle magic here.
This print is included with everyone's VIP badge, and will be ready for pick up at registration for Fantastic Fest.
If you're not a VIP badgeholder, or even if you're not attending and you want this work of beauty, just hop on over to and pick one up!

This is a silkscreen print, measuring 24x36, signed and numbered by hand by the artist, limited to approx 300 copies. (And 220 of them are already snapped up by VIP's!) The grey color above will actually be metallic silver on the paper!

If you plan on attending the Fest, just select 'in-store pick-up' for your shipping method, and it'll be here waiting for you!

This is in my opinion, the ultimate Fantastic Fest memento, other than the wicked hangovers and sensory overload. And that strange tattoo you're going to wake up with. That's going to be my fault.

Available now at!

Where to Get Your DVDs in Austin

Last year (and the year before that) I had the distinct pleasure of accompanying several of FF's international guests to some of the local DVD shoppes. Which store it was doesn't really matter at this point, but there's something really fun about watching Brits drool over cheap Chucky sequels, Aussies ogling the J-horror shelf, and the Finns fondling Freaks.

So as a service to this year's friends (both new and old), I thought it would be a good idea to point you in a few digital directions. Lord knows we'll probably have more than one road trip to some of these locations:

Waterloo (600 N. Lamar) -- Easily the closest option, cool staff, right next to a great ice cream place, and they sell music too!

Vulcan Video (609 W. 29th Street) -- Huge selection, late hours, opinionated employees who KNOW THEIR SHIZ Mostly rentals, but still worth a visit.

I Luv Video (2915 Guadalupe) -- My personal favorite, although all three are great options. All you need to do is pick through their website to see the kind of movie geeks we're dealing with. Plus how many DVD stores do you know that stay open till 3am? Exactly. AND they have a second location right near the airport -- just in case you forgot to do your shopping. Also mostly rentals, but these stores would LOVE to find and order you a copy of Humanoids from the Deep. That's just an example, but I would love a copy of that DVD, actually.

Best Buy (4970 W. Highway 290 -- aka "71 & Mopac") -- Nothing against Big Blue, but in a city like Austin I think it's a bit more appropriate to give your DVD dollars to the "smaller guys" -- though it's tough to ignore BB's new release specials. Either way you will want to visit BB to snag a few vintage Fantastic Fest titles, because that's the only way you can snag a free promo DVD that celebrates FF '08! (More info right here.) Plus, c'mon, Best Buy is like a wo/man-child's favorite toy store. You know you can't afford anything, so you just stare at all the shiny gizmos before dropping 12 bucks on the (excellent) new Child's Play DVD. And then maybe some ice cream on the way home.

And the Quint Special: Located right near the Best Buy is one friend's very favorite place to purchase the platters. It's called Buybacks and I certainly look forward to my first visit. Says AICN's Quint: "I owe at least a quarter of my DVD collection to Buybacks. Obscure, classics, cult, Criterion, they have them all at the best used prices I've ever seen."

So there you go. Nobody should leave Austin without a few good bargains under their arms. Bring an extra suitcase. And let me know when you're going shopping because I still need that new Pumpkinhead special edition.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Austin Shopping and Dining Guide for Fantastic Fest Newbies

One of the ways we assemble the Fantastic Fest roster is by attending other film festivals all around the world (what, do think these films just show up on our doorstep?). Cannes, Berlin, Pifan, Fantasia, Sundance, you name it, we've been there. Like a lot of other filmmakers and festival programmers and attendees, we love to go see new movies, but if we're in a new city then we also want to sample the goods of wherever we happen to be. We want to try local food, buy at local shops and return home with our bags (and stomachs) stuffed with crap that we couldn't find back home.

As you locals well know, Austin is one of those "You want it, we got it" kinda towns, filled with shops and restaurants unlike any to be found in New York, L.A. or any other major city is this big, wide world of ours. So with this in mind, Fantastic Fest presents our very own Austin Shopping & Dining Guide for all those who are here to not just see movies, but to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of a one-of-a-kind city. As most people will tell you, once you've gotten to know Austin, you'll have a hard time leaving.

Room Service Vintage - 107 E North Loop Blvd.
Hog Wild Vintage - 100 E North Loop Blvd.
Austin is a big vintage town, without question (we've even seen garage sales rechristened "Vintage Sales") but the two vintage shops in town that everyone bows in admiration of are Room Service Vintage and Hog Wild Vintage, across the street from each other. The things you'll find there really run the gamut - vintage clothes, furniture, toys, books, magazines, and on and on - and the only thing that beats the selection is the pricing, which is always fair and affordable. Looking for cool stuff? Look no further.

End of an Ear - 2209 South First Street
Waterloo Records - 600a North Lamar
Antone's Records - 2928 Guadalupe
As you probably know, Austin is a major music town, and there isn't a single record shop in town that we don't frequent at one time or another. But not to put the others down, it's End of an Ear, Antone's and Waterloo Records that earn our love the most. The selection in both is top-notch, vinyl is plentiful and both have excellent DVD selections, too. Knowledgeable staffs in both is a given. Antone's is filled with vinyl treasures, especially American roots music, great Texas and Louisiana regional blues, country and Cajun music.

Book People - 603 North Lamar (across the street from Waterloo)
One of the leading independent book stores in the country, Book People is Austin's haven for those who love to read but hate having Celine Dion CDs, Wiggles DVDs and lattes thrown in their face when they walk in the door. Book People sells books - lots of them, all different types - and that's all. Great selection and pricing and proud sponsors of Fantastic Fest 2008, too!

Toy Joy - 2900 Guadalupe
Word of warning: Toy Joy is not filled with the kind of toys that you never open so it doesn't ruin their value. No, it's filled with the kind of toys that you play with, toys that bounce and do silly things and make passing the time fun. Robots, puppets, bouncing balls, dolls, silly putty, water pistols - in other words, toys! Grownups not allowed without children (OK, we made that up, but it's the way it should be).

Shepler's Western Wear - 6001 Middle Fiskville Rd.
Allen's Boots - 1522 South Congress
Austin is not really like the rest of Texas (they kindly put up with us), so if you're looking for the kind of stuff that typifies the great state of Texas - cowboy hats, boots and the like - Shepler's and Allen's are the places to go. If you're in from overseas and figure that you can't leave Texas without a cowboy hat, now you know where to go.

Uncommon Objects - 1512 S. Congress Ave.
"Raw materials for creative living" is the slogan, and may we simply ad, "This place is as cool as hell"? Antique shops don't come any more unique.

Austin Books - 5002 North Lamar
Pretty much accepted as Austin's premiere comics shop. When Spanish filmmakers Nacho Vigalondo (TIMECRIMES) and Koldo Serra (THE BACKWOODS) got into town last year, it was the first place they wanted to go. And if Nacho likes it, you know you should, too.

Smitty's Market - 208 South Commerce, Lockhart, TX
Louie Mueller Barbecue - 206 W. 2nd St., Taylor, TX
Listen, there are a lot of great BBQ places throughout Austin and we love them all, but if you put a gun to our head (which has happened once before) our favorites are unquestionably Smitty's and Mueller's, so much so that we're planning trips to each for our out-of-town guests. We're not going to get into the specifics of what makes these two our favorites - just experience them for yourself.

El Regio6615 Berkman Dr.
They start smoking the chickens at about 7 AM, and by 11, those in the know are lined up for what I consider to be the best bird that has ever passed my lips. There are only two things on the menu: half chicken ($6) or whole chicken ($11). It comes with a stack of fresh corn tortillas, a roasted onion, rice, and the tastiest, creamy green tomatillo salsa on the planet. There are several stands now in Austin, but my favorite location is 6615 Berkman Dr.

Quality Seafood Market 5621 Airport Blvd, 512-454-5827
Until three years ago Quality Seafood was nothing more than a fine seafood shop, selling fish to restaurants and the public over their retail counter. Then the owner had the epiphany to build a bar in the center of the shop and start selling delectable fried and grilled seafood as finger food. Now it’s my personal favorite hangout in Austin. The raw oysters are terrific, as are the catfish beignets.

Parkside 301 e. 6th St
The newest fine dining joint on 6th Street, owned by Shawn Cirquel is a French Bistro inspired restaurant, always with a super-fresh rotating raw bar. Lots of oyster choices, inventive appetizers and desserts, AND it's across the street from the Ritz. Foodies should definitely check out this spot.

Olivia 2043 South Lamar Blvd.
Olivia is brand new and is just down the street to the south from the South Lamar theater. Co-owned and operated by former Alamo executive chef James Holmes, Olivia is warm and inviting, has a wonderful rotating selection of French inspired dishes. Every single dish in both of my long lingering visits has been outstanding. I particilarly recommend his baked oysters as well as the duck risotto. Again, a foodie heaven.

Uchi 801 S Lamar Blvd, 512-916-4808
Within walking distance of the Alamo South Lamar, Uchi is hands down our favorite restaurant in Austin. Executive Chef and co-owner Tyson Cole was named one of the top ten chefs in America by Food and Wine Magazine in 2005 and he was picked to battle Iron Chef Morimoto earlier this year. Uchi features an ever-changing menu of Japanese and fusion dishes; the fish is flown in daily from the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. Reservations are a must. I'm SUPER serious about my sushi, and Uchi rivals anything I've had in LA or NYC.

Whole Foods Flagship (525 N Lamar Blvd, 512-476-1206). Whole Foods started in Austin in 1980. Today, their flagship stands as perhaps the ultimate supermarket in the world. Not just a spot for groceries, Whole Foods features a dozen restaurants scattered throughout the store, and enormous specialty gourmet sections. We recommend trying out the cheese plate, hand selected by the Whole Foods Cheesemonger, or the seafood counter restaurant. Surprisingly, Whole Foods features some of the best in-town barbeque as well.

Magnolia Cafe - 1920 S. Congress Ave. and 2304 Lake Austin Blvd.
Kerby Lane Cafe - Multiple locations (click here)
Katz's Deli - 618 W. 6th Street
Thai Passion Downtown 620 Congress Avenue, 512-472-1244
La Mexicana Bakery 1924 S First St, 512-443-6369)
Let's say that it's 3am. The bars and clubs are closed, but you're still up and want to get something to eat. Well, you're in luck, because Austin has not one, not two, but three fine establishments for all-night dining, two of them with multiple locations. The menus are all diverse, but all three will satisfy those late night cravings much better than a microwave burrito from 7-11 ever will.

Jackalope - 404 E. 6th St.
Casino El Camino - 517 E. 6th St.
Like most cities, Austin is a town of many bars, so to stand out in a place like this must mean that you're something special. Jackalope and Casino El Camino stand out because they're both cool, unpretentious places to hang out, drink and smoke. The decors are bad ass, the food is damn good (there are some who say Casino has the best burgers in Austin) and the jukeboxes rock hard. Can't make it any simpler than that.

Big Top Candy Shop - 1706 S Congress Ave
Candy lovers (like our own Zack Carlson) will be in candy heaven when they step inside Austin's latest (and greatest) confectionery shop, filled with tasty treats both new and old served in a classic candy shoppe style. Big Top is also the proud sponsor of the Fantastic Fest feature CHOCOLATE and will be serving free chocolate to those lucky festival attendees who can make it in to this eagerly anticipated flick. For those who can't, all the more reason to visit Big Top!

Mangia Pizza - Several locations
Hoboken Pie - 718 Red River
Many east coasters will tell you that there's no decent pizza beyond Pennsylvania (with Chicago being the sole exception), but Austin has two top pizzerias to prove them wrong. Mangia is an Austin institution serving thick, delicious Chicago-style deep dish pizza for 20 years now with several locations throughout town. Hoboken Pie is new to Austin, but it passes the test of this New Jersey transplant with legit Jersey-style pizza, made (allegedly) using real NJ tap water. (oh, sweet NJ tap water, how I miss you!) Perfect for those 6th St. late night munchies.

Austin Java - Several locations
Spider House Cafe - 2908 Fruth Street
Coffee shops can be so routine, which is why we're pleased to recommend two Austin-centric locations, Austin Java and Spider House. Both offer more than just a cup of Joe - sandwiches, beer, live music - and each offer tranquil, non-corporate, cookie-cutter settings in which to enjoy your coffee. Spider House is also one of the coolest looking hang-out spots in town, but both are recommended if you're just looking to take it easy for a bit.

Tamale House - 5003 Airport Blvd.
They don't sell tamales for some reason, but if you want a real taco, here's where to go. 85 cent tacos that will make you better, stronger and wiser. But our personal favorite dish is the migas with cheese. Migas are a Tex Mex specialty that you don't want to miss and these are the best. If you can eat more than $6 worth of food at Tamale House you are a mighty bull.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Beer and burgers while watching movies? Imagine that!

We hope you enjoy your stay while in Austin and please remember that no matter where you go to always buy local!

Below is Google Map to all of these fine establishments:

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