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Fantastic Fest 2010 2nd Half Wrap-Up

by George Hickman on October 1, 2010

in Blogs

Well Fantastic Fest 2010 is now over. I saw about 30 movies, but there were quite a few I didn’t manage to see including many of the award winners. The more in-depth daily wrap ups and some more full length reviews are being worked on now, so keep watching Scene-Stealers for more articles on Fantastic Fest 2010.

Day 5 – Monday, 9/27/10

The second half of Fantastic Fest had a great start with my favorite day overall. I saw four movies I ended up loving, including the second secret screening, Mark Romanek‘s adaptation of “Never Let Me Go,” with him in attendance. I also saw the Alexander Payne-esque Norwegian comedy “A Somewhat Gentle Man” starring Stellan Skarsgard, the heart-warmingest movie ever made about the aftermath of an assassination “Golden Slumber,” and my overall favorite of the festival, the deconstructionist comedy about a psychokinetic spree killing tire, “Rubber.” I then closed the evening out by having a blast with this year’s Fantastic Feud.

somewhat-gentle-manElsewhere, there was the first of several events featuring director Stuart Gordon and actor Jeffrey Combs, a screening of cult horror favorite “Re-animator.” They were also present for screenings of “From Beyond” and performances of the one-man show about Edgar Allen Poe, “Nevermore.” Foolishly, I didn’t find time for any of those events.

The awards ceremony also took place. Honored films included “Bedevilled,” “We Are What We Are,” “Norwegian Ninja,” “Kidnapped,” “A Horrible Way to Die,” “Sound of Noise,” “Carancho,” “Cold Fish,” and “A Somewhat Gentle Man.” You can read the full list of award winners here.

Instead of seeing a film in the midnight slot, I decided instead to check out the Fantastic Feud. Launched in 2007 and hosted by noted online critic and horror junkie Scott Weinberg, the annual Feud has routinely made for one of the most lively events at Fantastic Fest. This year was no different. Inspired by a certain game show, two teams typically made up of critics, filmmakers, and Fantastic Fest programmers square off in a hardcore trivia battle. The two teams are divided up by nationality, with the USA team on one side and the Foreign devils on the other.

To date the International team has never won a Fantastic Feud and that streak was preserved again this year. The questions were a lot harder and the Feud overall was the most organized it’s ever been and I have a feeling the fifth one in 2011 will be the best one yet.

Here’s a rundown of the films I saw with a quick score and a haiku:

A Somewhat Gentle Man – rock fist way up
Fresh out of prison
He doesn’t want to murder
But what can you do?

golden-slumber-2010Golden Slumber – solid rock fist up
Accused Assassin
Gets by with a little help
From his oldest friends

Never Let Me Go – solid rock fist up
Y’all gon make me lose
My mind… and my kidneys, but
You can’t transplant souls

Rubber – rock fist way up
Gory comedy about
A killer tire

Day 6 – Tuesday, 9/28/10

Day six was kind of a wash-out. It started out great with two excellent films, the Finnish comedy treating the more sinister Santa myths as real “Rare Exports,” and the sweeping Spanish tragedy “Agnosia.” Unfortunately, I skipped my third film in order to write and the third secret screening turned out to be the just-finished “Hell Driver,” helmed by “Tokyo Gore Police” director Yoshihiro Nishimura. Though he’s been a regular Fantastic Fest guest since 2008, I have yet to see a film Nishimura has been involved with that I actually enjoyed on anything more than a “well… I’ve never seen that before” level. “Hell Driver” ending up falling flat with the audience and there was almost total silence for what was supposed to be a comedy. It completely sucked all the excitement and happiness from the theater, and for the first time I can ever remember, I actually walked out of a movie. I was so disappointed I couldn’t muster up any sense of objectivity or enthusiasm for the movie I was supposed to watch at midnight, so I called it a night early.

Interestingly enough, the secret screening was proceeded by a visit from Steve-O. He came with a preview of close to 10 minutes of “Jackass 3D.” The crowd seemed very resistant to him at first, but he won us over and we were all laughing. The footage itself was pretty hilarious as well and even though I’ve never been much of a fan of the show or the movies, but it was enough to sell me into giving it a shot. It definitely looks like a fun time.

Here’s some video of Steve-O’s appearance.

Elsewhere at the fest there was Karaoke Apocalypse at the adjacent Highball, which is karaoke but with a live band backing the singers. It always looks like fun, but I have yet to get a song request in early enough in the years its been available at Fantastic Fest. At midnight there was also the 100 Best Kills Party, now in its third year. 100 Best Kills celebrates some of the most visceral, brutal, or just plain odd death scenes in the history of cinema. Usually made up of submissions by festival goers, it always makes for a thrilling and sometimes disgusting time.

Here is the teaser trailer for the 2008 edition of the event:

And here are the haikus for the films I saw:

Rare Exports – solid rock fist up
Santa Claus is real
Freed from his icy prison
You better watch out

Agnosia – solid rock fist up
One identity
But two men inhabit it
Which one does she love

Hell Driver – no rating
So so so boring
Sub-Troma unfunny crap
I am walking out

Day 7 – Wednesday, 9/29/10

My second favorite day overall, day seven brought some more of my favorites of the festival, including a very mainstream comedy that I think has the makings of a big hit and can see having a long afterlife on video and cable, the Bruce Willis vehicle “Red.”

Karl Urban was there to help present it, and he stuck around for a charming Q&A that diverted into talk about the upcoming “Judge Dredd,” and his previous work in “Star Trek” and “Lord of the Rings.” Here’s some footage of him as he arrived at Fantastic Fest:

Aside from “Red,” I saw two heart-wrenching Asian films. “Cold Fish,” inspired by one of Japan’s most notorious serial killers, and “Bedevilled,” the Korean revenge film and audience award winning favorite of the fest. “Legend of the Fist” is the second film starring Donnie Yen set in Hong Kong between WWI and WWII that I saw this year, the first being “Ip Man 2.” Interestingly enough both have ties to Bruce Lee as “Ip Man 2” is about the man who trained Bruce Lee, and “Legend of the Fist” is a reprisal of the Chen Zen character first brought to film by Bruce Lee with “Fist of Fury.”

The fourth secret screening was a total surprise for me, a Norwegian found-footage film following a man who hunts escaped trolls in other to prevent the public from discovering their existence. Its more comedic than scary, but its great seeing giant trolls presented as if they were completely real.

Going on at the same time as the secret screening was a visit from Alex de la Iglesia and his new film “The Last Circus: Balada Triste.” Word of mouth on the film about psychotic clowns was very positive, and its probably number one on my list of missed films I still want to see.

There was also a boat party with a viking theme, though I haven’t heard much about it so either it was a little disappointing or the party is actually still going on somewhere in the water right at this very moment.

And here are the haikus:

Cold Fish – solid rock fist up
Just shut up and watch
The person who pushes you
Needs an accomplice

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zen – solid rock fist up
The Chinese are not
The sick men of east Asia
And Chen Zen Proves it

Bedeviled – solid rock fist up
How can you stand there
Silence is complicity
You deserve to die

Red – rock fist way up
Retired killers
Are never quite retired
When it’s so much fun

The Troll Hunter – solid rock fist up
Not a bear poacher
He will help the students show
That trolls do exist

Day 8 – Thursday, 9/30/10

The final day of Fantastic Fest is always bittersweet. While its sad to see eight days of excitement and discovery come to an end, fantastic fatigue sets in for most people, and the enthusiasm deficit grows even larger. I saw three films, including the German science fiction film “Transfer,” Guillermo del Toro produced thriller “Julia’s Eyes,” and the official closing night film, Takashi Miike’s samurai opus “13 Assassins.” All three films were quite enjoyable and it was a great note to end the filmgoing portion of the festival.

Afterwards was the closing night party. Fantastic Fest has a history of throwing elaborate parties, and this year’s was a personal favorite. We were driven to a ghost town several miles out of town, where head Drafthouse chef John Bullington had been cooking an entire 500 pound cow for over 24 hours. The party also featured free beer, tequila, food, a fence maze, an outdoor screening of the “100 Best Kills,” a knife throwing demonstration, a self mutilation performance artist, a mariachi band, and most impressively a performance by the Tesla Coil powered music of ArcAttack.

Here are the haikus:

Transfer – minor rock fist up
Two minds, one body
Is it prolonging your life
Or just stealing theirs?

Woochi – minor rock fist up
Woochi the Wizard
Please forgive his vanity
He might save the world

Julia’s Eyes – solid rock fist up

Her sight is fading
But she’s not too blind to see
Her sister was killed

13 Assassins – solid rock fist up
They number thirteen
God’s will brought them together
They’re ready to die

Overall, the day was the perfect end to an amazing festival and I’m already counting down the days until Fantastic Fest 2011.

George Hickman

George Hickman is the first child conceived and raised by a sentient television and an anthropomorphic video store. He is a true Texan, in the sense that it is true that he lives in Texas. He spends his days making the Internet work and his nights surviving on the sustenance that only flickering lights and moving pictures can bring. There were no survivors.

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