OK OK Im sorry I haven't said too much about the premiere of the movie here or any new WT2 updates (here's one...its kicking ass in sales and rentals, thanks guys!) and you'd think all Id want to talk about is the movie and blah blah blah...but honestly, this past week, I saw 3 of my favorite movies, and its hard for me to process all that cinematic splendor. Now, as of this writing none of these films have been released so Im not gonna say too much about them to avoid over-hyping, but when movies like these burrow into my brain and stick there, I can't contain it.
(NOTE: Im not a critic, so please dont go saying "Ooh here's an advanced review!" cause these are just the lowly opinion of a geek, so please dont repost thanks)
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: Right now my #1 movie of the year. I love the Coen's...they represent for me one of the first filmmakers that had a clear and defined "movie voice" when I got to see RAISING ARIZONA on HBO again and again when I was trying to do homework. It was such an amazing visual feat, and was a fan ever since. To me, from BLOOD SIMPLE to O BROTHER was a golden time in a movie lover's life, when you could ALWAYS count on Joel & Ethan to come up with something provocative, engaging, sometimes funny, sometimes emotional and always visually stunning. From MAN WHO WASNT THERE (which felt like it was just Creative Over-control) to LADYKILLERS, I started to get worried...what happened guys?
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN will challenge every viewer who sees it, especially it's climax (which I heard was faithful to the book) which had me both scooping my brains back into my head enough to scratch it, trying to figure it all out and see it it worked for me, and the more i thought about it, the more I thought it works perfectly. Some people will not agree with me, but then again, that's good cinema; not the type to cater to the broadest audience, but to make a visual statement and see where the audience takes it. Never should be the other way around, even though that's considered "risky business" to the money people.
But that aside, the story, the cinematography, the direction, the music and ESPECIALLY the acting is top notch here, a total return to BLOOD SIMPLE/FARGO form for the Brother's C. Josh Brolin is on a roll with his 'stache (he also sports one in PLANET TERROR & AMERICAN GANGSTER) and his performance is heroic, shady, sad, funny, macho and the kind of protagonist you WANT to follow, a la Kowalski in VANISHING POINT, no matter what his decisions may be. However....you will NEVER forget Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh, playing what could be the most quietly sadistic villain in cinema history, or at least since Hannibal Lector in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. The movie is fully ALIVE and bursting with tension every time he steps on screen with his Dutch Boy haircut, lopsided smile, warbling voice and a tank of compressed air, which could be the most deceptively creative murder weapon of the new Century.
The more I think about this movie (and my brain has been clocking quite a few hours on it), the more I think it might be their best film yet. Welcome back guys. We missed you.
THE MIST: OK, now this has, to me, been a LONG time coming; almost 21 years I've been waiting to see this movie on the big screen, and I got a call at the last second to attend a secret screening and I had to jump at the chance. The simple fact that Frank Darabont, one of my heroes, was making the film only made me more excited, and when i got to talk to him about it in length over the last few months, I felt like the story was in VERY good hands. Add Tom Jane, Marsha Gay Harden, Berni Wrightson designs, the DP from THE SHIELD and KNB? I was sold...
I had seen some footage at Comic-con and from that and the trailers, however, I was getting fearful that the film might not live up to my already skyrocketing expectations. The creatures looked half-finished, the lack of music was making scenes fall flat, and the trailers themselves seemed to be pushing more horror on us, which isn't what the book was. Sure it was frightening, but it was more about the people, not the monsters in the mist.
Well, quell your nerves, because Darabont's interpretation of STEPHEN KING'S THE MIST is a genre masterpiece, yet its not a horror film. It's a terrifying, disturbing and affecting drama. Because Darabont focuses on the inhabitants in The Food House as shit goes down, he allows us to connect with the characters more, and with the amazingly seductive verite look of the film (with its doc-like zooms and sloppy focus) that makes you feel like you are IN the store, mixed with some ingenious use of creature effects, this film floored me. Sure it was still not a final print, with some effects not looking too hot in this version (which I was told would be fixed) and the music seemed to be temp. Yet, up until the ending, it was totally fulfilling my 10 year old geek that was praying it would be at least SOMEWHAT like the book or even like the amazing audio performance that came out in 94 (where MIST cast member Bill Sadler played the lead! Small world in Castle Rock it seems), this film visualized the book in the only way it could, and I was hooked from frame ONE (with a clever nod to King and John Carpenter fans, which happens a few more times too, much to my smiling)....and then we come to the ending.
All I will say is that Darabont closes the open-ended climax that happens in the book (supposedly in he press notes King is quoted as saying that he approved the new ending and said if he thought of it, that would be the ending) but it is an ending that will sharply divide the audience. Personally, I fucking loved it, because in a way, deep down, it's what HAD to happen...or what we feared would, It was a ballsy decision, and one Im shocked made it past the Weinsteins, but then again, there was a time when Bob & Harvey actually had a pair, so maybe they're letting their new company's nuts drop. Where the film was satiating my inner geek and fulfilling expectation, the climax of the film EXCEEDED my hopes. This is a hard way to close the book on THE MIST, but I fucking loved it and it's now my #2 film of the year, which...who knows? When i see it again opening night (which I will be doing) it might just surpass NO COUNTRY. To me, its just that good, and the film has been disturbing me for days.
The monster movie genre, kicked off with THE HOST and now THE MIST, will hopefully be "back"...let's just hope people go out and see it.
Thank you Frank Darabont. I wanna kiss ya.
AMERICAN GANGSTER: I didn't have high hopes for this one, even though I love Ridley Scott, Steve Zallian and both Denzel and Russel as actors. This project just felt like "easy Oscar contender" for me since everyone involved had the pedigree (including producer Brian Grazer) but also just felt a little lazy..."Hey, who wants to go to the Oscars next year? I do! I do!"
Yet, the film worked. God damn did it ever. From the shocking opening scene, you'll know this aint yo' momma's Denzel Washington, yet he's not in full testosterone mode like he was in TRAINING DAY, chewing up every scene he could. Washington gives a great, if understated role as Frank Lucas, the "people's gangster", who in the 70's mounted a complex and, for a time, wildly successful drug trafficking binge that overwhelmed his streets or Harlem and beyond, and Crowe's character, a hardened cop who is not the department's best friend, tried to follow his trail of bread-crumbs. The most amazing thing in the film is how it FEELS like it was actually shot right after THE FRENCH CONNECTION (which, miraculously enough, it has actual ties to!) and Scott didn't overwhelm the story with lots of his usual bag of tricks, even though it's his brother who is usually the more flash of the lot. But also, how Zallian and Scott dwell not just on the primary players, but how the decisions, deals and drugs they make affect the neighborhood and the people living in there as well. This is a really well-rounded epic, giving all sides and perspectives to let the audience make its decision by the end, which also climaxes in an unconventional way (seems to be the motif of this blog...Joe likes odd endings! I mean, I like Happy Endings too...no, that's not what I mean-oh forget it) yet felt appropriate to the story. This will likely be a major contender for all the creative people involved, and all in all its a surprisingly solid crime thriller with some stunning performances and moments of shocking violence. Kudos, Sir Scott.
So, there you go...last week for me was a really inspiring one for me. Nothing like a great film to get you pumped for the next one!!!
Like the great Lloyd Kaufman says..."Lets make some art!"
Well, WRONG TURN 2 is out there like Dale Murphy on a blood hunt, and people are buying...and buying...and renting...and buying...it's just flooring me to think that Mutant Incest and bloody entrails are dripping in homes across america RIGHT NOW...how an idea spawned in Osaka Japan more than a year ago is actually infiltrating Home theaters an Bit Torrents the world over is a lot to digest, but damn if it aint cool!
As of right now, the film on DVD is doing VERY well, coming in at #9 in TOP U.S. DVD SALES and #10 in the TOP U.S. DVD RENTALS...holy schnikies! Even the WRONG TURN 2-PACK is selling like the cure for Ebola, coming in at #13 in DVD sales. This is amazing news, totally shocking to many, including Fox! Seriously, when was the last time a DIRECT-TO-DVD film, with no theatrical release and less marketing than usual releases debuts this high?? This is a testament to Horror fans...that we are still out there!
Hopefully it continues its great sales and rentals, but honestly, just seeing that my crazy ideas for getting the film out there, supported and fostered by the amazing PR team Fox put on the film (Dottie and Conor especially), who are the unsung heroes of this movie. They believed in it, believed in me, and hopefully Fox sees their hard work on a title that had no right to be where it is pay off.
I just wanted to say thank you so much from the bottom of my dark heart for all of your help, dedication and support on WRONG TURN 2, one of the greatest experiences of my life and hopefully just the beginning. We could not have been able to do it without the viral and online support from you guys, and I appreciate it so much. From the myspace page (Jeremy, you rock!) to the bulletin board postings, to the fans going on the message boards to spread the good word to the horror sites embracing the film and its twisted vision, to the awesome online campaign devised by Lesley and John at Fox (including the official site...Cannibal Baseball? and I thought I was sick) to the festivals we were accepted to and kicked ass in to just horror fans spreading the good word...all of this was so integral in getting the word out about our little flick and its paid off big time. So, to all of you, I toast a pint of blood in your honor.
Thank you. So much.
Now, lets keep things Scary!
Staying...well, you know, Joe
PS: I havent forgotten about the premiere week blog, Im just trying to find the time to finish it...you know me, Im writing a novel. Stay tuned!
Well, off to the races...the LA Premiere screening is in a few hours and Im excited. Nervous? Only a touch since so many friends and (gulp) industry people will be there and of course I want to put on the best impression on behalf of the movie (so dont expect any impromptu Shit Ghosts this time folks, sorry) so i hope it goes well, but Im more excited to see it for the last time on the big screen with a big crowd...feels like the home stretch. Even though today was a bitch and a half to get through to get to 20 minutes before we embark to the Chinese to see it with about 350+ people is fucking thrilling. It's just hitting me. Wow.
Top of the world, ma.
So as we depart, I wanted to send you all this little visual gem.
My good friend (and amazing music video DP I've worked with a bunch) Brett Juskalian, was in the Orient shooting a film when happened upon a peculiar title amongst the bootlegs being pushed on unsuspecting comsumers and tourists;
WRONG TURN 2!
Granted, this is almost a month ago, right around the time of the infamous "Bit Torrent Virtual Massacre" in fact, but he saw it and got me a copy. Oh, Brett...you hoot.
However when it came in the mail, I was shocked to see the credits...and actually, quite honored! Look closer or click on the above image and gander at the Special Features.
Looks like our good friend Darren (REPO! THE MUSICAL...some other flicks, oh what are they called...KNIFE? CLEAVER?) Lynn Bousman and some other Twisted Pictures All Stars are major contributors on the special features! Seriously guys, Im honored.
Well, we're off..lots of pictures and such to follow...See ya!
FuckingFan-tastic(Fest): A Comprehensive Guide of Joe's Trip to Austin
...It's been a week or so since Austin, and my body said "Hold the fucking phone". So, Im home sick today. Too bad it's a weekend, what a waste of a good sick day.
Ive been trying to formulate my thoughts from the amazing time I had at Austin's Fantastic Fest, but it's hard to put into words. It was much more of a blur than FrightFest, I dont quite know why (maybe all those damn Hard Ciders), but I'm gonna try to recount my time for you the best way I can; revolve it around the food.
See, The famous Alamo Drafthouse in Austin has many things, but one of Tim League's masterstrokes was the invention of a discreet food service in the theater that allows you to enjoy a great meal and even alcohol during the film. Each row of seats also has a handy table in front with a menu so you can pick from "5 Dollar Shakes" & "Royale w/ cheese" to a fine glass of wine or a microbrew with a Cobb Salad...or even pizza. I was floored at the concept...why hasn't this gone further? Maybe it's for the best, so more people actually come to THIS Alamo Drafthouse, which could be the best movie going exprience this side of The Arclight.
So, because I ate my mothafuckin' ass off the whole time (my gut still harboring a nice bump from their menu) I thought I'd use that to detail my day, in a similar way Rollins lists his food intake in his journal entries. Bon apetit.
Still recovering from the special "dinner" I got invited to last night. Not allowed to say much about it, aside from the fact that it was a "Masterful" time and got me jazzed for the weekend. I was supposed to go in Thursday night but because of this last minute dinner plan, I stayed behind while Green and The Schifrins left for Austin to see Romero's DIARY OF THE DEAD, which I've been (un)dying to see. I mean fuck, new Romero Zombies? I was in! Well...no because I didn't see it, but also, there was a tour of Robert Rodriguez's Troublemaker studios which was to me the holy grail (Rodriguez is a big influence on my work ethic and style and REBEL WITHOUT A CREW is my on-set bible) but due to my staying behind, that wasn't in the cards. However, when I get to the dinner, the first person I see is Rodriguez! I mention to him "Um, arent you supposed to be at the Tour tomorrow?" "Oh, that's tomorrow? Crap!" Luckily I got to talk with Rob Rod for a bit and give him a copy of the movie.
OH! I got a package in the mail on Thursday night too...my copies of the soundtrack to WRONG TURN 2! Holy shit. How crazy, right? I mean...when was the last time a Direct To Video movie had an actual soundtrack? Boo ya indeed. It looks gorgeous, and I finally got to hear Bear's "retelling" of the entire film in music form, and it sounds glorious, suspenseful, exciting....I can't believe Im listening to it in my car!!!!
So back to Friday...I get up at 5am, drive to LAX, park the car, get to the flight, JUST make it thanks to the parking lot shuttle driver's first day jitters (you CAN go faster than 5 miles, ese) and I'm off to Austin. I've wanted to go to the Alamo for YEARS, as long as they've had Butt-Numb-A-Thons there in December but could never go (or not invited), so it was only fitting that I get to go...WITH MY OWN FILM. I was excited to show it again, since it was playing at Midnight and from what Ryan and Adam have said, the Austin film crowd is a good one, so I'm confident they'll "get it". I mean, I hope they do! Gulp...
Off the flight in Austin, I meet up with MIke, one of the Alamo drafthouse staffers and all around cool dude, who picks me and informs me that the Troublemaker studios tour got CANCELLED...yet I was getting texts from Green saying:
"Holy shit, this is the most amazing tour EVER! We're all in Barbarella! Schifin got a line in it!"
What a prick.
So I went along with it all the way till we got to the Drafthouse, where I called Adam out on his salacious lies. (LIES!) and then they filled me in on hanging out with Romero (lucky bastards).
I met up with my good friends from the UK (and FrightFest programmers) Paul (with lovely girlfriend Jovanna) and Ian, who were here on my recommendation and so glad they came! More great people to enjoy the weekend...this was shaping up to be a classic.
Saw "The Mack" Tim League, who showed me around his masterwork for a moment before being whisked off again to handle 100 more tasks. The festival was in full swing, thursday being the opening night, and fims were unspooling from noon to midnight, so no time for love Dr. Lynch. so I had to just jump in feet first into the madness.
I had to jet over to a TV station first, where they were doing interviews with the directors, and where I met up with Green, the Schifrins, Weinberg and Joel Moore, who I met for the first time there. Did my interview, nothing special but fun nonetheless, but since we had time to kill, The Schifs took us to City Hall, where we took a gaggle of pics, got into trouble with the security guard (good going Scott) and let Joel literally JUMP over us in mid-air. I gotta get the pics from Theresa...
...you know the typical thing you do at the Capital building. After we went to a BBQ joint for a snack while the place was CRAWLING with dudes (there was a sausage convention in town) and then we got picked up by Mike at the Alamo and back to the Drafthouse in time to let Adam and Joel do their SPIRAL thing.
Back at the AD, we met up with the (in)famous Harry Knowles, off in a corner doing some updates with his lovely wife who I met at the BOOGIE NIGHTS screening. Now I've got nothing against Harry, and I had heard he saw WT2 and didn't like it, which hey, you can't please anyone so oh well, better luck next time I guess. But as someone who has enjoyed many of his past reviews and respect his site (I mean fuck , I click it every day), I was hoping he would either see it with a crowd and give it another shot or at least say what he didn't like about it, which I would have been fne with too. I mean, if he liked HATCHET & ABOMINABLE, how could you not at least give WRONG TURN 2 a chuckle or a gasp? But he never really acknowledged me at all until the other guys got taken to an interview, leaving us alone, and it seemed we were OK but nothing about the movie or even that he knew who i was really...until the interviewer guy came up to me and said "Um, Mr. Lynch..." Now Im the first person to laugh that formality off, yet Harry interrupts...""Mister Lynch'? Oh no, DAVID Lynch is Mr. Lynch...this guys is...oh I dunno...some guy..." Um....OK.
SO I walked away from the situation, but that wasn't very nice. Whatever...guess i gotta get used to people being assholes, even right in my face. Maybe he didn't mean ill by it, but people in the circle were also like "woah". Guess Im not "cool" enough for Sir Knowles. Oh well.
I did my outside interview with Henri at the Alamo (super cool guy), then we went into SPIRAL, which had a nice packed crowd, Adam did his intro, and then the group (including some FF people and the Brits) went to a mexican place up the block for beers. Joel went to a gas station and got Gummy Bears, which served as a nice ice-breaker for his Q&A.
Devin from the FF brought us back to the AD for Adam and Joel's Q&A which was hilarious, and then we killed time before the big premiere of WT2.
What kinda sucked however, is that they programmed two fun splatter flicks at the same time on Friday night, both WT2 & FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, so I knew some people who might want to see both might not get to the Friday night one, but hey, I was thrilled to see a line out front for the flick, so I was getting jazzed. Once the line was released, people filled the theater and we ended up with a great crowd (about 2/3rds full) and finally, around 11:40, The formalities gotten out of the way...the film began with that fucking gorgeous Fox intro...
NOTE: To keep things dignified and swift, Im going to adopt the Henry Rollins patented Blog formula, where I'll keep things short, sweet, and with a detailed account of my food consumption...cause I did a lot of that.
WRONG TURN 2: I dig it. S'nuff said. CONSUMED: "Royale W/ Cheese", Fries (w/ ranch dressing) 2 Beers (bottled, Dos Equis).
PICTURES COMING, I SWEAR.
...and this is where things get interesting. So they wanted to do a Q&A afterwards and Scott, who I met in FearFest and has been another staunch supporter of the flick since he's seen it, was nice enough to serve as moderator for the Post-film festivities. So he goes up, saying "Does anyone want to meet the madman who made this fucking movie?" A smattering of applause is heard. So I go up, grab the microphone...
...and proceed to FART directly into the mic. Now, this wasn't a "one cheek sneak" or anything tame like that, mind you. This was a Class 5 Full Roaming Vapor (mind the GHOSTBUSTERS term), the kind of stinky rotten scoundrel that sits in your ass like virtual lead when the lights go down and sits in your color marinating, ARMING itself, waiting to be unleashed. So hey, I didn't want to be uncomfortable during the Q&A, so for the sake of it being 2am and people are a little drunk, it just felt right.
Well, this beast beared its beefy teeth in front of a full crowd of FantasticFest, this long winded bastard just kept going. I think people laughed (I was focused on the sibilance of the sonic blast from my ass) , but I was totally relieved and could continue the Q&A without the uncomfortability factor.
So the rest of the Q&A went along without a hitch really, Scott was a good moderator and we had a good back and forth, and I think the crowd was into it. Yet, when Scott asked "Are there any more questions?" I see Green's hand slowly raise...
FLASHBACK: Gas station. Gummy Bears. Joel and Adam talking about pulling a gag where someone asks a stupid question and the idea of storming off in mock anger. Funny idea, right?
CUT TO: Green's hand slowly raises, and I instantly remember... "Um, what does it feel like to make a sequel that is over shadowed by a superior first film?" I snapped. Or rather..."snapped".
"Fuck you Green! FUCK YOU!! THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER!!!!!" I drop the mic, storm off. Done right? Not a bad, Andy Kaufman-esque way to end the proceedings right?
Yet. No one left! Dammit.
I come back like "Um, guys that was your cue!" and everyone just stayed in their seats! So, I go back, answer 2-3 more questions and the experience was done.
All in all I think people really dug it. I was nervous since this was a different type of crowd than the UK folks at FrightFest...from what everyone was telling me, this was a great crowd, but no nonsense. If they dont like your flick, you'll know. So either I got off lightly, or WT2 did it's job in Austin.
Afterwards a bunch of us geeked out for a while till about 4am when Devin, who was celebrating his birthday and shouldn't have had to be stuck baby-sitting no filmmakers, drove me back to the room at the Extended Stay. Finally, it was done and I could sleep a bit and enjoy the rest of the weekend. Mission Accomplished in the great State of Texas.
If we wanted to make the shuttle to what was supposedly the "Best darn BBQ in the state" I had to be out the door by 10:30, giving me 4 hours of sleep. That's fine, because the room was like being in 1408 or BARTON FINK. Shit was peeling off the walls; a funky smell was permeating from behind the TV; the bathroom door handle flying off and delaying my morning deposit. I gotta get out of this room.
Meet up with the gang and all head in the van (Moore left early this morning but said he really enjoyed my flick before he left), where we travel about an hour outside Austin; us Blue Staters getting increasingly nervous the deeper we travel into the heartland. Jokes of TEXAS CHAINSAW keep us frosty in the van, although Adam keeps nodding off, which I wish I could do.
Once there, the aroma of burnt flesh was actually appealing, and we all shuffle into the BBQ place Smittys for an old-fashioned BBQ bonanza. Most of the filmmaker crew went, and Uwe Boll showed up too to join in the feast along with late Edition Richard (DONNIE DARKO) Kelly, giving is little doubt what the first "Secret Screening" would be. I plan on getting back and seeing a LOT of movies with my remaining time here while doing the media stuff; Im at the Alamo god dammit, so Im taking advantage of it.
Inside the place was literally smoking us out with a haze of white mist floating around the room. But the meat, oh the meat. Its powers even swayed fellow filmmaker (and co-writer of the awesome ABANDONED) Karim Hussain, who is a vegetarian and yet gave in (Man Bri would have NOT enjoyed this part). They're so old school at Smitty's that all you get is a piece of paper to put under the meat and a piece of bread to sop up the juices. Primitive bliss.
CONSUMED: Meat. Lots of Meat. 2 Beers (bottle). 2 waters (Bottled). 1 piece white bread.
So back to the Alamo after The Texas BBQ Massacre and we dive right into more flicks...when in Rome right?
...or rather, Austin...
ALONE: A Korean type J-Horror (K-Horror? Is that the evolutionary term?) that felt familiar in its story and pacing (twin feels her dead sister coming back from the grave for something) yet it was oddly haunting. What I love about Eastern Genre is that it doesn't placate to hollywood standards; it goes at its own pace, it's own beat. ALONE is similar in that and uses the stale quiet of the large house the main character is in (and being spooked in by her twin ghost) and then PUNCHES you with a scare that had a nodding off Green JUMP in his seat (hey, the guy was running on fumes, give him a break, look at that shot above). Overall, pretty effective K-Horror film with a solid performance by the lead Masha Wattanapanich, who played both twins and a twist that was predictable, but really worked for me by the end nonetheless.
Afterwards, Green left to catch up on some sleep while Scott, the Schifs and I got our seats to the "Secret Screening" which we kinda knew by now what it was with Richard Kelly's cameo at the BBQ joint....
"SECRET SCREENING #1" SOUTHLAND TALES: I was very excited to see this one, bad buzz be dammed. Bri and I saw DONNIE DARKO in New York City on Sept 15th, a few days after 9/11 and it floored us, really struck a nerve, and I've been a huge fan of it ever since. The performances, the music, the widescreen composition and mostly...the fucking storytelling is just so accomplished, so complex, surely this couldn't be the work of a first timer, right? Well, Richard Kelly, I believe 26 at the time when he wrote and directed DARKO, was one I was surely going to watch in the future and couldn't wait to see what he did next.
That time is over, and SOUTHLAND TALES is here.
Yet, I tried to like it. I did, I gave it every chance to sweep me away like DARKO did, and right up to the last shot, I was struggling to grasp what Kelly was going for. To me it felt very much like David Lynch's DUNE when it first came out, that it felt so "cult-y" already that it left the gen pop audience out of the loop. This is one fucking DENSE flick dealing with war, energy, drug addiction, time travel, conspiracy theories...and really I dont know WHAT the fuck else. It's a cornucopia of "faces", from Duane Johnson, Justin Timberlake, Sean William Scott (the true standout in the ensemble) & Sarah Michelle Gellar to late night comedy alumni Will Sasso, Nora Dunn, Sheri Oteri & Amy Pohler (Clearly Kelly likes his Saturday nights at home) to odd choices like Curtis "Booger" Armstrong and Zelda Rubenstein. Its set in the future, so you have a lot of "future is now" production and costume design that doesn't feel real, it feels "designed", and while I love near-future films, this film to me got lost in it's own menusha, the complexity of the script ends up disengaging the audience. There were numerous times we would turn to each other and mouth "what...the fuck...is going on?" but because the film is so packed with great actors and Kelly moves eye candy and warped concepts along at a brisk pace (this was supposedly recut from the Cannes print which was reviled by the critics last year) but in the end I was left very confused and kinda empty from the experience. The one scene that just WORKED (and boy did it ever) was one where Timberlake, playing a war vet now assigned to a sniper position on the coast of Venice Beach, shoots up on the new drug that is also the new source of energy our world is depending on, and suddenly falls into a hallucination where he sings The Killers "I Got Soul" directly to the camera as Busby Berkley-esque dancers cajole and writhe with him. Its a real music video moment, but its a great one and it had the whole audience smiling. It's a shame the rest of the film didn't for me, and the words "Beautiful Disaster" keeps popping up in my head when I think back on the film. This one will divide people, as Im sure many will dig it, it just didn't sit well with me. But I still can't wait to see what Kelly does next.
CONSUMED: Smokey and the Bacon burger, Hard Cider (bottled), cheese fries, 2 waters.
After the movie, I had to piss like a racehorse, and when I left they were giving out SOUTHLAND TALES graphic novels, which i of course grabbed. Supposedly the comics are going to explain a lot, so hopefully I get to them as I took as shit and kept scratching my head in confusion over TALES. I got a text then from Zach Ward, who just got into town and wanted to hook up, but I needed to see the next film, which was not only co-starring my buddy (and WT2 Cameo-ist) Patton, but it was from Daniel Waters, the brilliant writer of HEATHERS.
When we got in, Green came back to see the movie too, and we said hi to Patton (ever the debonair fellow) who introduced us to Waters, who I had NO CLUE was sitting in front of me during the midnight show of HATCHET a few weeks back, and I totally recognized him. Too funny.
SEX AND DEATH 101: This was one of my favorites of the festival, and there were many. A somewhat tonal "sequel" to HEATHERS, this is one dark fucking flick, yet has the same sunshine-y gloss of HEATHERS in that it seems bright and cheery, but like BLUE VELVET, something evil is under the surface level... I laughed with this movie. Hard. The rest of the audience did too. Its a sick flick but it has a heart, which is it's secret weapon. Long story short is when Roderick (Simon Baker from LAND OF THE DEAD, great here) is about to settle down, he happens upon a list of all the women he's slept with, past, present...and future? So while he figures out why the list is out there to begin with, he tears through the names of hotties hes supposed to bed, all the while knowing that when he ends the list, he too is ended. Its a brilliantly silly idea, and it works, thanks to the dark, deft script, great performances from Baker & Patton...and did I mention Winona Ryder looks amazing and gives one of her best performances...as a serial killer? Wonders never cease.
After the film, I went outside to greet Zach, who just got in. Ward is an atom bomb of energy and personality, and anyone who got to witness his Q&As will know it. So both Uwe and Zach were outside, already in the heat of discussion. Funny to see how Boll knows how to push Zach's buttons, so by the time the 11:30 POSTAL screening was about to begin, both Zach & Uwe were rearing to go. First, Uwe totally calls out Harry and the aintitcool guys for unfairly bashing him and his filmography...
...they pull out an Osama Bin Laden Pinata for the two to destroy (it's decimated in a few swipes) and then the movie unfolds. It was a great start to the film's tone.
POSTAL: As you might know I've seen the movie, this being my 3rd time, and sure the gags have staled a bit on me, its still a shotgun blast to watch the crowd react to it. Again, I LOVE seeing crowds react, so maybe that's why i stuck around to enjoy the madness. Scott next to me however, not so much.
CONSUMED: 2 Beers (bottled), 1 water
I walked out for a bit to see what Zach, Uwe and the others were up to (also to make sure those two weren't at each others throats), and after a rousing conversation with Tim and Zach, he and I went to piss before the Q&A, we walk into the men's bathroom (no this isn't QUITE going where you think) and hit the urinals when we hear something peculiar... PEOPLE FUCKING IN THE MEN'S STALL. Now I had no clue at first, but I heard all these moans and just thought someone was having a VERY satisfying withdrawal at the brown bank, but no...this was people fucking. Awesome. I love Austin...and THIS is a fucking film festival. Or a festival...with fucking.
After the flick was finished....this happened:
Afterwards Zach and a few friends went back to his room to chill out when we discovered that 2 of the people who tagged along...were the infamous "Men's Room Fuckers!" Funny enough, they said they saw me in the crack of the stall when I was in there, so it was fate that we all connected I guess. Glad they had such a good time at the festival that it inspired them to snog in the loo. Brilliant.
Back at Chez Cockarocha for 3 hours of sleep and back out. Man this shit gets exhausting, but Im loving it.
Up and out the door, we're shuttled to Tim & Karrie League's beautiful house down the street from the Alamo for a gourmet lunch for the filmmakers. Tim and Karrie are so amazingly down to earth that it only makes it more fun and exciting when they get all riled up from stuff. Watch any of the blog videos and see Tim hopping around like a giddy little kid over anything movie related. Believe me, I can relate.
Before the lunch begins, however, Tim invites me up to the middle of the crowd he's assembled to christen the lunch properly...with a sword. Because he said that WRONG TURN 2 had the best death of the festival (damn right!) he asked me to do the honors...here's what was captured.
Feeling like a Mifune badass, I sit down to eat and chat with a few of the cool filmmakers there like Maurice Deveraux, who made the one film I was dying to see and missed, END OF THE LINE. Great guy, really funny and personable...saw Bill Lustig again, and we discussed the short films that we had to judge for the festival. Some were Amazing, some were reall good, a few were stinkers, but I found love for them all in one way or another, so it was difficult for me to choose..hopefully Adam (who left this morning) and Bill will help put things into perspective. Also got to meet Greg Wilson, who directed the powerful JACK KETCHUM'S THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, who was also super nice and sweet and we had some great table conversation with the rest of the table, who consisted of the UK FrightFest chaps (who always make me feel better about my morning state after looking at Paul), Scott and Karrie at one point.
The food was amazing, of course. I've not had a bad meal here yet....meat sushi anyone?
We get shuttled back and end up in the same van as Grant ( THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, MELROSE PLACE) Show and Pollyanna ( SEX & DEATH 101) McIntosh both here with separate films but together in real life, what's the chances of that? Only Hollywood baby...they drove back with us to catch the 2nd secret screening that I had NO CLUE about (they hinted at a political animated film, which sounded cool) but decided to give it a shot. I was on a mission today....see as many movies as I could. That was the plan.
"SECRET SCREENING #2": PERSEPOLIS: Wow. Not since WATERSHIP DOWN have I seen such a mature and haunting piece of animation. The film is based on a graphic novel, which in itself is autobiographical (which I had no clue till the end) and we missed the first minute so it took a bit to play catch up but once I did, I was gripped for the entire duration. The film follows a young girl's childhood and maturation in the middle of a terse political climate in 80's & 90's Iran. It uses color vs. Black & White as a storytelling device that just worked so well to give you a glimpse into her life and struggles with her parent's beliefs, death, sex and Iron Maiden. This film is a must see, both for parents and children (when they are ready to open their eyes to such mature themes, similar to MAUS or again WATERSHIP DOWN).
CONSUMED: Popcorn, some of someone else's fries, 2 ciders (bottled), 2 waters.
After the film, we needed some air so we went out back and I got to meet Phillip Nutman, one of the original Literary "Splatterpunks" that I worshiped when I was a kid. He was there to show the film he co-wrote, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, and it was a great experience meeting someone I really admired as a kid. Great guy.
The film I was most excited about for the whole festival was SON OF RAMBOW, since Im a big fan of the directing duo Hammer & Tongs (look their work up, absolute genius) who also did HITCHHIKERS GUIDE which was OK...but this movie looked to me like a slice of fried gold (Sorry Edgar). So after a quick break and seeing Grant & Polly off while Zach played with a dragonfly, we went back in. Its a shame sometimes with the programming that you miss some stuff; I wasn't able to be here the whole festival for their encore showings, so if I see RAMBOW I miss out on the doc BLOOD, BOOBS AND BEAST which I hear is right up my poop chute. I'll have to see it another time, hopefully.
SON OF RAMBOW: Wow. Another fucking winner. Another coming of age in the 80's type story like PERSOPOLIS. Similar in plot as the true story of the ambitious kids in the 80's who made the RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK shot-for-shot homage with a VHS camera, RAMBOW pits two kids on different sides of the tracks who team up to make a pseudo-remake of the seminal action flick RAMBO using footage they took from a bootleg with new footage they (and eventually their friends) help shoot. The movie makes you feel like a kid again, or at least see life, and especially MOVIES, through the innocent, wide eyes of a child, and reminds you of a time before you picked a movie apart for its faults, or as a filmmaker, a time before you broke a film down into budget, technical schematics and other vapid production procedures. It reminds you of the magic of imagination, the thrill of seeing a movie that just kicks your ass or makes you grin wide, and the kids in the film are fucking superb. All in all, if you want to remind yourself of the joys of the cinema again (and more 80's music) , get a fresh start by watching SON OF RAMBOW...you might even want to watch Stallone again. Honestly, anyone smart enough to program this movie with the forthcoming JOHN RAMBO movie gets points in my book, they are the perfect combo.
CONSUMED: 1 Coke, 1 chicken sandwich (with funny name I can't remember), 2 waters
After the movie, Nacho Vigalondo who directed TIMECRIMES (which I missed, dammit!) stopped me for a moment and told me that in Spain, WRONG TURN was renamed KILOMETER 666, which I gotta admit, is pretty fucking cool. Well, what would the sequel be? KILOMETER 667? KILOMETER 666.2? KILOMETER 1212? Since we just got into Sitges, we're SO gonna make a promo poster with that on it. Thanks Nacho!
Right before KILTRO, I ran over to the T-shirt shoppe that was connected to the Alamo and got a Sparkle Motion shirt for Bri (I dont think there's any doubt of Bri's commitment to Sparke Motion!) and a sweet John Holmes shirt I was totally digging. Can't leave without the T-shirts now...
KILTRO: Right into the next movie, this was another one I heard so much about that I had to see. The Chilean filmmaker and star were here with TWO films, this and MIRAGEMAN, which wasn't playing again while I was here, so I had to at least see what the fuss was about. Holy shit, Im glad I did. KILTRO is 100% badass fun from top to tails, a good old fashioned matial arts movie infused with a new energy of street fighting with a splash of Spaghetti Western. It was a real blast, and reminded me of the great 80's action pot-boilers, but this one had the advantage of one hell of a charismatic star (and former stunt double to The Rock in THE RUNDOWN) Marko Zaror who not only can kick an ass like nobodies bid'ness, but also the film is directed by Ernesto Diaz Espinoza, another wild-haired helmer (what is it with us and hair???) who knows the mechanics of a good screen fight...then pushes it to the limit both in style and the emotions of the characters in the melee. But there's one scene, when our hero Zamir, who just wants a girl to love him but must fight through hundreds of men and an evil warrior bent on revenge to get her, gets denied love and walks away rejected as "Modern Love" from David Bowie plays (what? ANOTHER 80's song in a film this festival? Im in good company!) and the entire emotional gamut is (literally) run in one take as Zamir tears down the street in a fit of rage & rejection, a hint of the power he bottles up (and then unleashes on the bad guys by the end). It was an amazingly quirky scene to an amazingly quirky jung fu flick that I LOVED and cannot wait to see MIRAGEMAN and whatever these sickos do next.
CONSUMED: 1 water, 1 soda, 1 cider.
So the night was dying down, people were petering out a bit, but there was one more film I had to watch, one I've heard about in whispers, almost as if it were a cinematic "dare"...which to me is a call to arms.
TAXEDERMIA: Now Im a sick fuck, that's pretty much well stated. At least, my taste in film is so expansive that i can find artistic appreciation in the oddest of films, from SALO & NEKROMANTIK to SUICIDE CIRCLE & THE CREMASTER films...sometimes, the more fucked up and repellent, the more i want to see it. So i had heard that TAXEDERMIA is "vomit-inducing" so to me, that's an "Admit One" please. My friend John who i met through Scott came in before the film started to warn me a bit, but that was just stoking the flames. I was even going all out and getting FOOD during this bitch, so i was ready for anything. What did i see? Well...flaming penises, pig-fucking, wood fucking, ACTUAL fucking, Dog murder, vomit olympics (the kind that would make Lard Ass run in fear), babies with tails, entrail rolling and of course Self-Taxedermia to name a few choice moments of repugnancy. If you are easily offended, then TAXEDERMIA is the film for you....to watch before you kill yourself. Seriously, the movie played out like an even more demented DELICATESSEN, or as if Jean Pierre Jeneut had finally gone off the deep end and made a film to fuck with EVERYONE. This film fucks with you in spades, and its not until the quite of it's climax for you to realize that, like Heneke's FUNN Y GAMES, its not about the atrocities you are seeing unfolding on-screen, its about YOU, the audience, taking in and reacting to the atrocities and how they can be perceived as "art". Bri and I saw the crazed SENSATION museum exhibit in Brooklyn a few years back, the exhibit where they took objectionable art (slicing a cow into pieces behind glass, child mannequins fucking in a Cronenberg-like mass of fused flesh, the Queen of England painted with elephant dung, etc), and TAXEDERMIA felt like a twisted visual representation of that visit to the museum. It disgusts you, but if you look closer, you start to see where one would find beauty in entrails or vomit...lord knows I discovered that LONG ago. This film will fuck up even the most jaded viewer; it sure did put a damper on the Steak Sandwich I ordered.
CONSUMED: 1 Steak Sandwich (barely), fries w/ Ranch dressing (tried to avoid during the cumming scenes), 1 cider (bottled) 1 coke, 1 water.
So that was my last film of the festival, and one hell of a way to go I'd say. I had to get back to the room to pack up since I heard that at the last minute, they rescheduled TROUBLEMAKER's studio tour, and it would happen RIGHT before I left for home so I wasn't about to miss it.
But...in looking for my ride, i ended up in a van with a bunch who were looking for food...great. Im already a fatass and now Austin is pushing my gut over the limit (or the waistband). I was actually hoping the Thai food place that was our proposed destination would be closed ("oh well, crap...looks like we gotta hit the hay!") but it wasn't, so we dined on the finest Thai in Austin...at 2am. It was actually good, and i got to talk to the KILTRO guys (Marko & Ernesto) who were really funny and personable. We then finally got back to Chateau Moldmont for a quick 3 hours of sleep and packing. I was running on fumes, but smiling the whole time...
The big "Troublemaker" day. I was pumped, jumping out of bed like Lionel in DEAD ALIVE when Mum is oozing anguish in the next room, but a lot happier. Took a shit, packed my shit, got the hell out of that Shithole and got picked up by Jasmine, who was super nice and accommodating (she was also the driver for our Thai Quest the night before) and picked the lot of us up and off to Troublemaker.
This was a big one for me. I was really disappointed at first when I was going to miss the first attempt of the tour, but going now felt like it was meant to happen for some reason, there was just this positive vibe in the air. Everyone in the van was really tingly with anticipation to see Indie Filmmaking Gone Good, since Rodriguez really started out as Indie, Do It Yourself as they come, and now has an Empire, a virtual Xanadu for filmmaking that has all his toys and staff in one location, ready to go. I was so jazzed, not only to see the place at work (rumor was that BARBARELLA was being shot there as we spoke) but to be in the world of a man I truly admired as a filmmaker, as someone who said "Fuck it Im making movies" and who inspired me to push myself into every facet of the craft to focus my ideas and bring them to life no matter what the cost or obstacle. Plus...I LOVE SIN CITY. I LOVE GRINDHOUSE...just to name the last films out. These films were shot in Troublemaker, so I couldn't wait to just take a peek behind the curtain.
We get to the massive warehouse-like compound, behind imposing gates, and meet Charlie, who was part of the AMD New Wave Filmmakers group and was sponsoring the tour (I think). Really nice guy, and then we were given badges (sweet) and ushered inside, where we met Eleneora, who runs the ship in the facility. Even though we were all armed and ready with our cameras, we were told we couldn't take any pictures since what was inside was Top Secret since there were in the middle of filming. Oh well, but at least i can tell you all the spoilers I saw!
So we walk inside the huge Green Screen room and see a massive-
THE FOLLOWING PASSAGE HAS BEEN REMOVED.
-swear the coolest fucking time I've ever had. Seeing Troublemaker was so inspiring, I couldn't wait to get back and get the shit into gear. I would kill to make a film there, from prep to shoot to post, all in one location. Plus, it would be a great excuse to be in Austin again. Fuck I'd get so fat. Ugh.
So unfortunately my flight was taking me away from the chance at group shot-gunning (fart) but I was also excited to get home. Devin and Scott drove me to the airport, they wished me well and off I was back home. It was such a vivid blur, this trip to Austin, but one hell of a blur that I'll never forget. Just another great, positive experience thanks to WRONG TURN 2.
Speaking of which, now to the thanks and there's so many Im sorry if I miss a few and screw up names...
Tim League & The Alamo Drafthouse Crew - Thank you for believing in the movie. I know some people there didn't want it in the fest, but you stuck to your sick, fucked up Cronenberg-like VIDEODDROME flesh pistols and let the film play, and I am so truly honored to have popped my first feature film's US cherry in the great Alamo Drafthouse, an institution I've wanted to visit since I rad about it countless times on Aintitcool. The place and the people you have working with you totally exceeded my every expectation I had for the place. I never once met a person there who didn't look like they enjoyed their job, loved being there, and it only made everyone there enjoy their time more. Thank you from the bottom of my black, diseased heart for being so welcoming to me and the other filmmakers; I know why everyone wants to be involved with and have their film shown at the Alamo...because its there, like the feeling i got while watching SON OF RAMBOW, that you remember what its like to love movies. Seeing films in LA is like seeing movies with a bunch of bitter old ladies watching 90210 in a nursing home: everyone is scowling at the screen because they didn't get the part or they didn't get to work on that and they're pissed they didn't get credit or hate that agent who reps this actor and hope the film fails so they can feel better about themselves or why they didn't think of that idea first...like the Arclight here, theres not too many places that remind you of what a great time at the movies is like, not like most theaters that make you wish you were home watching the movie on your Plasma screen in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Yet The Alamo could be my favorite theater not just for the programming, not just for the food (which was gut-achingly good) or the free pass to drink or the people or the cool geeky adverts before the film (seriously, some of the most clever promos are coming from the Alamo guys) but for the experience of loving movies with other fellow people who love movies and are there to capture some magic on a 2-D plane, and the programming of films and having festivals like FantasticFest show that Tim, his lovely family and his merry crew of cineasts, are keeping the love of the movie experience alive and well in Austin.
Thank you so much Tim & co for taking great care of us filmmakers and fans, giving us an opportunity to show our wares to a great audience of genre film lovers and allowing us to enjoy the newest in cinema from around the world...and best wishes on the new Alamo opening up. I hope one day to enjoy a movie and a 5 Dollar shake there.
Adam, Joel, Ryan, Theresa, Zach, Uwe, Nacho, Maurice, Mike W., Phil, Bill L., Phil N, Greg, Ian, Paul & Jovanna, Grant & Penelope, and all the other cool filmmakers I met at FantasticFest-Im so honored and pleased to have broken bread with such like minded and driven artists like yourselves. It was such a great celebration of film, and I hope you all had as good a time as I had, and it just fueled our engines to get back out there and create challenging genre films again. My very best on your films and your futures and hope our next films allow us to cross paths again. Viva Cinema!!!
Scott, Cargill, John, Tron, Henri, Zach, Devin, Jasmine, Mike, Karim, The AMD guys, those two people fucking in the bathroom, Ray, Lars and everyone else I met at the Fest that I can't remember cause Im bad with names- Thank you so much for being there for an outsider coming into your world of cool, and thanks for taking me out back and showing me a good time. No, its not as perverted as it sounds. Actually, it does sound a little "Blue Oyster" doesn't it? But seriously folks, thank you for being so hospitable and equally geeky when I wanted to talk about PIECES or THE HOST.
Conor & Dottie at Fox-Thanks so much for letting me go to the coolest fest in the US. Next year, you guys gotta bring something there to have an excuse to hang around the Alamo...and try the Cheese Fries! Thanks for believing in the film enough to let it screen there.
Here is a short video that gives you just a tiny tiny taste of the Fantastic Madness that occurred....look at the end for my "cameo". Ugh.
Also, click HERE to see the results in the awards show (including our picks for Best Horror Shorts-it was tough!) . All in all, a great selection of winners!
So, there you go. FantasticFest 2007. I think we did well there, and Im so glad to have gotten the chance to go. I can't wait to go back; my colon can.
Wow...3 more days till WRONG TURN 2 comes out. I can't believe it. The LA/NYC premieres are tomorrow night, then the Burbank signing, then Sitges...and then well...the rest is up to the fans I guess.
But its gonna be an exciting few days, I'll keep you posted.