Every year, Austin has become the nexus where the film savvy gather to have their senses pounded into the ground by the latest, greatest and some classic tales of the strange. Those tales can range from the pure action of a great martial arts film to the oddity of frantically animated Belgian toys to the pure joy of a 4-hour long movie about upskirt pictures.

Last year, we humbly brought you the most mind-bendingly thorough coverage of the event. However, we fell short of reviewing all the films there by four. As you can imagine, I was devastated, but I was also resolute in my new fervor for covering every damn nook and cranny of the event this year. Hear that, Fantastic Fest? We’re coming for you. And it’s not going to be pretty.

Beyond promising every film will be reviewed (and that I’ll chronicle my drinking habits at every party that features a flame thrower (read: all of them)), we’d like to get an early start by sharing some of the cool stuff that will hit the Fest this year.

The Films (So Far)

From Beyond – Stuart Gordon and Jeffrey Combs are going to be live and also in person for this special screening of the 1986 H.P. Lovecraft adaptation that will unleash it’s tentacle jaw and suck your face right off. For fans of the film, this is an incredible treat, and for those who haven’t seen it, they’ll be in for a disgusting ride.

Re-Animator – Could there be better news? Again, Stuart Gordon and Jeffrey Combs are on hand so you’ll be able to ask them all the questions you have about dismembered cunnilingus to your heart’s content, but you’ll have to beat me and Rob Hunter to the line because, holy hell, being able to see this film up on the big screen is going to be awesome beyond comprehension.

Joysticks – If you wondered what Napoleon Dynamite and “The Pretender” star Jon Gries looked like when he was younger, had hair, and was a baddie named King Vidiot, wonder no more! The same director that gave the world Black Shampoo delivered this 1983 flick about videogames and a rag tag bunch who have to save the rec center arcade from being shut down.

Nerdcore Rising – This new documentary focuses on MC Frontalot, the fans, and the current popularity of Nerdcore Hip Hop. It features talking heads of the Weird Al and Jello Biafra sort as well as some interviews with Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade. Music fans and nerds unite.

Nightmares – Four horror stories, and only one of them includes Emilio Estevez? This 1983 compilation of terror was originally slated for television but was deemed too inappropriate. If you’re keeping score, that’s what makes it appropriate for Fantastic Fest.

Playing Columbine – The school shooting massacre that set the country on edge gave enough discussion to Marilyn Manson and violent videogames, but then Super Columbine Massacre RPG! was made into 8-bit playability. The game sparks about a million questions, and this documentary seeks to answer at least a few of them (or at least make us think more about them).

Red vs Blue Revelation – If you ever played Halo, and I imagine there are one or two of you out there, then you undoubtedly caught up with “Red vs Blue.” Well, hold your frag grenades Master Chief, because September 23rd sees the world premiere of the new film with the gang from Rooster Teeth in attendance.

Reformat the Planet – This doc delves deep into the newest musical movement – a scene that sees music being born from the old tunes from 8-bit video games. I have to assume 8-Bit Weapon is involved somehow. Unplug that Dr. Mario you’re playing and come listen to more Dr. Mario music.

Events (So Far)

Fantastic Arcade – This is a new one, so I’ll let the press release gives us the score: “Designed as a games spin-off event from the main film festival, Fantastic Arcade will feature fresh, cutting-edge games designed by independent game developers.” Sound good. Plus, if you’re a badge holder for the Fest, you have access (or you can just buy a Fantastic Arcade only pass if you fancy).

Nevermore…An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe – The fine folks at Fantastic Fest have made a road trip to Baltimore to dig up the corpse of Edgar Allan Poe, attached a few strings, and plan on making him dance for you. Either that, or Re-Animator star Jeffrey Combs is playing him in a one-man show. I get confused.

100 Best Kills – Every year, the Fest looks to you to bring in your favorite kill scenes for a raunchy compilation of heads being blown off and acid burning off people’s sexual parts.

Fantastic Feud – Every year, Scott Weinberg from Cinematical and his infamous cat Jones storm into Austin to deliver a diabolical list of horror quiz questions to the brave souls who think they have what it takes. Fest Founders sit alongside movie critics to represent the US team, and the Foreign Team, I’m pretty sure, is made up of hobos that they pull off the street and offer a sandwich to.

Fantastic DebatesAlthough the Feud is a hell of a time, it’s lacking one crucial element: punching. The Debates pit directors, critics, and geeks against each other in a high school debate club style discussion and then a high school style boxing match. Who will Uwe Boll punch out this year?

We’ll See You There

No doubt you’ve already bought your plane tickets to come down. After reading even this brief outline of what’s been announced, how could you not? You have family commitments and a job? Leave them. They’ll be there when you get back, and if they aren’t, they never loved you in the first place. If worse comes to worst, you can always sleep outside in the alleyway behind the Alamo Drafthouse. It’s real warm in there, and once a year, Tim League comes out and offers you a sandwich if you’ll take part in a horror movie quiz.

So, over all, a pretty bitchin’ deal.

If this doesn’t sell you, then check out the full artwork created by Mike Saputo for this year’s Fest:

Go buy your tickets now.


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