Many of the people I am friends with have been attending Fantastic Fest for years now. They know the drill; where to line up, which movies to see, who to challenge to a fight at 2am, etc ... Since this is my first Fantastic Fest, I figured I'd write a few posts while I'm in town chronicling my adventures as a Fantastic Fest Virgin, which is surprisingly not all that different from the experiences of the virgin in most horror films you watch. Either way you're going to see some f**ked up stuff, and will probably (hopefully) live to tell a wacky tale.
So here are my observations after day one ...
Austin is Hot: And I mean 100 degrees hot! Needless to say the humidity mixes quite well with the overweight genre nerd to form an odor that's comforting and horrific all in the same breath.
There's a Fantastic Fest Uniform: It consists of a short-sleeve plaid shirt and a beard for guys, while the ladies seem to prefer ponytails and cute glasses.
Before Some Films They're Showing Footage from a Live Vasectomy: For those who've always wondered what it actually looks like to get a vasectomy (and we know you're out there!), one of this year's bumpers (created by Nick Robinson) features footage from a vasectomy operation paired with the sweet sounds of a calming voiceover.
A Lot of People Die: In the films, that is. Wait till day four and it may be a different story in real life. But yeah, I watched two films yesterday and the total death count was up around 25. For two films.
Characters will Die in Creative Ways: During one film I watched, a character died by being shot and then impaled by a skeleton as he fell into an open grave. That's one way to go.
Food will Be Served in Creative Ways: Like the Human Centipede-inspired pig roast from the opening night party at The Highball, which featured three roasted pigs tied together ass-to-mouth right there in the center of the room. Yum.
There's Always Someone to Talk To: One of my favorite aspects of this fest so far is the intimate setting. Since it's located all in one strip mall (the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, where the movies are screened, and the Highball, where all the parties and events take place), there's nowhere else for folks to run off to. Thus, there's always someone to talk to outside the theater about which films they've seen, what they've liked or didn't like. Lots of great conversation to be had for sure.
And Everyone is Really Cool: One thing about genre nerds is that they're ridiculously passionate, yes, and into some weird sh*t no doubt, but they're also incredibly respectful of the moviegoing experience and of movies in general. No one will be texting in a screening, or blabbing to the person next to them. For as many people as there are here, this is a very calm environment full of folks who just want to love the hell out of everything they see and do.
Look Out for the Occasional Elijah Wood Appearance: The actor, who's a huge fan of Fantastic Fest and Austin in general, can usually be spotted roaming around, mingling with all the other festgoers between screenings. He's the nicest guy in the world (we had a fun chat yesterday), and for an extra bonus those attending the festival this year will get to see him fight Dominic Monaghan during the Fantastic Debates. First they'll engage in a movie-related debate before moving onto the main event, which includes the two Lord of the Rings actors duking it out to see which one Hobbit really rules them all. Check out pre-throw-down videos of the duo below ...
Tim League Plays a Great Host: One of the things that separates Fantastic Fest from other fests is that Alamo Drafthouse (and Fantastic Fest) founder Tim League somehow manages to be everywhere all the time. He's extremely approachable, a very kind-hearted, warm dude who will be down for some nerdy film talk in a corner even while the fest is at its most chaotic.
And that's only day one. Stay tuned for more, and please stop by to check out some of our Fantastic Fest coverage. We'll be kicking it up a notch soon, and the team is working real hard to bring this year's fest to your home (or work) computer in a fun, accessible way. Hope you enjoy our coverage ...