Terror Tuesday: Brian’s Picks For Fantastic Fest

If you’re in Austin for Fantastic Fest this weekend and want to stalk Brian Collins, we have his schedule for you.

Since last week’s column was about a movie I did NOT want to see at Fantastic Fest (well, technically I CAN’T, because it doesn’t play during the time that I am there, but that’s semantics), I figured I’d go the opposite route this week and discuss the movies I DO want to see while I’m there. I’m all about the love.

Usually I don’t bother to look at the descriptions of the movies when I attend a festival, preferring to go in as blind as possible. But most of the fests I attend are single-screen events where as long as I’m going every night, I won’t miss anything. Screamfest, for example (important to me as it’s how I met Mr. Disgusting and started my online writing career), covers about the same length of time as Fantastic Fest, but it only takes one screen (2 movies on weeknights, 4-6 movies on weekend days), so there’s no overlap or hard decisions when it comes to the festival. I just have to choose between another movie or going home and eating a real meal (note – I always choose the former).

But I don’t have that luxury at Fantastic Fest; not only am I only there for a little under half of the festival’s total run, but with the overlapping screenings I have to plan ahead, making sure I see the movies I knew about in advance, and finding the ones that sound the most interesting to me before working out a schedule to see them all. And thanks to the genius schedulers they have there, I’m happy to say that there are no sacrificial lambs; as long as I don’t oversleep and/or die, I should be able to see everything on the schedule that I wanted to, at least for horror. I’m even heavy one Cosmonaut (free drink to the first person who can decipher what that means in FULL).

So, if you’re interested in knowing what strikes my fancy, or are a stalker that wants to know where I’ll most likely be, here are my top picks for the four days I’m there (with a bonus extra for Monday).


Sad that my most desired screening is also the one I might not actually make. My flight gets in at 6:45 and the screening is at 8:45. Hopefully, wasting 6/8 seasons watching 24 (Seasons 1 and 5 were the only ones I liked) have instilled some Jack Bauer style time management skills that I didn’t know about and will allow me to get there, check in, and plop my ass down in time to see the long-awaited followup from Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, the possible geniuses behind Inside (aka À l’intérieur), one of my favorite horror films of the past decade. After a couple of years of false starts in the States (including a Halloween sequel, something I was very curious about), it seems the pair just went back home and got something going. Even if it’s not worth the wait, the fact that they actually got a film shot/finished is a win on its own, though the concept - a gory Grimm-esque fairy tale – definitely holds promise, and I appreciate that they aren’t just trying to duplicate Inside for their sophomore effort.


The Giallo genre has laid mostly dormant for quite some time, thanks mostly to the collapse of the Italian horror industry that produced them all. Every now and then someone will make a retro-Giallo of sorts, including Dario Argento himself with, er, Giallo, which was better than most of his recent work but hardly lived up to his golden era efforts. But Last Screening sounds like it just might work, depicting the tale of a repertory cinema owner who spends his days at his failing theater and his nights stalking/killing women and collecting their left ears. Perhaps a bit gruesome (this is our hero?), but as it comes from France, who have a pretty good track record when it comes to their horror output over the past few years, I expect there’s more to it than that (just like Martyrs isn’t just a torture fest), and it’s also the shortest movie I’m seeing (81 minutes!), which automatically makes it one of my favorites of the festival by default. Shorter movies = more movies.


I know little to nothing about this one, except that the plot sounds like that of Cabin In The Woods, a movie that was been delayed so long that even the Weinsteins probably find it ridiculous. Since we might never get to see that one (an April 2012 release is scheduled, but until I see the listing to buy tickets on Fandango I’m not believing a damn thing), let’s enjoy THIS movie about a group of friends traveling to a cabin in the woods and encounter a supernatural anomaly. The Fantastic Fest site also pegs it as Sci-Fi, and with a runtime of 100 minutes I expect a more interesting plot than the usual Evil Dead type movies (alternate theory - it’s a bigger budget remake of Things). I suppose I could take a look at the trailer and know more, but what’s the fun in that? Besides, this is one of only two horror films I’m seeing at the Fest that’s in English; I am quite excited about spending a movie looking at the entire frame, not the bottom of it*.


Full disclosure – I’m pals with a few folks on both sides of the camera, having contributed some end credits to the team’s previous effort, A Horrible Way To Die. But with a home invasion plot (I’ve heard favorable comparisons to The Strangers; another modern horror film that I really loved) and the return of Barbara Crampton to horror films, I’d be excited even if I didn’t have any connection to the production. Plus, I understand director Adam Wingard has toned down his shaky-cam obsession, something that kept me a bit at bay during AHWTD (trivia: part of the reason my end credits were still cards was because I figured the audience could use a break from motion of any kind). And it also features Ti West in an acting role, which is interesting on its own.


On Monday I will also be checking out The Squad, a South American effort with a vague plot synopsis that recalls the underrated Deathwatch, but what I’m most excited for is the short attached. My buddy BenDavid Grabinski has only let me see a few seconds (and the damn credits!) of his directorial debut Cost Of Living, but it’s got me intrigued. As he is the only person I know who loves Armageddon almost as much as I do, I expect something very much up my alley. Also, as I explained earlier, being able to see everything you want is not easy when you’re only there a couple days, so the fact that its attached to something that sounded cool anyway is just gravy. Plus it’s at 4 pm so I shouldn’t have to worry about falling asleep.

(Note - COL also shows on Thursday for folks who are better than me and thus will be there on opening night. )

Of course these aren’t ALL of the films I am seeing there (at least, I hope not), plus I hope to make a few of the events and find time to go stun the crowd with my rendition of “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” at the Highball (and no, I don’t do the “fucking” Dan Band version - I show some damn respect!). These are merely the ones I sort of planned the rest of my schedule around. Let’s hope they’re all worth the effort!

*I know dubbing is considered the lesser way of watching a foreign flick, but after Let The Right One In and several other films that were given dumbed down subtitles on their DVDs, I’ve grown to appreciate it. Yes it looks a bit silly when the mouth doesn’t match up, but the dialogue is 99% of the time more accurate than the subtitles, and also, again, I get to concentrate more on the image as a whole instead of focusing so much of my time at the bottom. We’ve come a long way since kung fu flicks, friends - don’t dismiss dubbing outright, as bad subtitles are just as common as bad dubbing.