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Threading Up Fantastic Fest Twenty Twelve Edition

Frankenweenie - Opens Fantastic Fest 2012!
by Jason Whyte

Claymation dogs, Canadian horror from the son of a Cronenberg, a documentary that can be best described as Kubrickian, an onslaught of extreme Asian horror, Nacho Vigolando grabbing his crotch for paparazzi, and Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League being beat up by someone three times his size. Oh, and all of this happening right now at a film festival in the middle of Texas. Mention this to anyone who attends a major city film festival and they may wince. For Fantastic Fest, it’s business as usual.

For 8 days in Austin, Texas, Fantastic Fest is like Christmas for genre movie-goers. A non-stop smorgasbord of everything that I love about film festivals partnered with the leading selection of genre films in North America creates a haven for film fans that simply can’t get enough. If you have read previous years of coverage you already know what to expect. If you are new to Fantastic Fest it is quite simply a glorious time of movies, parties and events that are unforgettable.

This year’s festival opens Thursday night with Tim Burton’s new film FRANKENWEENIE, which is a black-and-white animated film featuring Burton’s classic animated stylings and an all new story about a dog that is created by a kid with a possibly warped mind. (This is Tim Burton territory after all.) This is the world premiere of the movie and filmmakers Tim Burton, actors Martin Landau, Winona Ryder and many of the key talent will all be in attendance for this world premiere screening. This is one of the biggest films that Fantastic Fest has ever opened with (earlier festivals have opened with films like LET ME IN, THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 and GENTELMEN BRONCOS) and I am more than sure it will go over like wildfire.

Throughout the festival, viewers will be treated to local and international premieres. Among them include LOOPER, Rian Johnson’s futuristic thriller which just opened the Toronto International Film Festival, the documentary ROOM 237 which is a feature length look into Stanley Kubrick’s lengendary film THE SHINING, AMERICAN MARY which is a horror film directed by twin sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska out of Vancouver, ANTIVIRAL which is a freaky looking film from Brandon Cronenberg (son of David), DREDD which is a re-imagining of the classic comic book (not to be confused with the 1995 Sylvester Stallone movie) and THE AMERICAN SCREAM which is a much anticipated documentary from Michael Paul Stephenson, who directed the great doc BEST WORST MOVIE from 2009.

Closing the festival is a remake of the 80’s action movie RED DAWN, which is a picture -- like CABIN IN THE WOODS earlier this year -- that has had a long production history and is finally getting a release almost four years after filming wrapped. What this means is anyone’s guess, but Fantastic Fest audiences will be able to find out and whether they like it or not, get plastered at the Austin Legion afterwards. No, really.

This is only a small sampling of the many titles at the festival. Indie cinema, short films and animation are also very well represented here, and even for those who “don’t like scary movies” there is a great selection to choose from. Also throughout the festival are annual traditions like my former boss Scott Weinberg’s Fantastic Feud, a trivia game featuring Americans versus foreign visitors, the Fantastic Debates which has filmmakers and guests debating movies before boxing, the Fantastic Arcade event which features video game designs and artists, a crazy amount of karaoke contests, and as always a new themed party every night, which is a great way to unwind after a day of screenings.

The entire film festival takes place once again at the restaurant/cinema Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar location, which is just a short clip from the downtown core. Nearly the entirety of this festival takes place at this single location, making the festival very easy to get around to events and parties. And to make things bittersweet this year, the Lamar Plaza will be fully re-developed into an upscale mall in 2013 making this the last year of the South Lamar location in its current state. Plans are to expand the cinemas with three more screens, the adjacent Highball bar/party zone/post festival schmooze spot closer to the cinema and other alterations to make it the flagship location for the Drafthouse chain. I am excited to see where this takes Fantastic Fest in 2013, but for now we still have the small lobby and wonderful patio where all Fantastic Fest attendees famously mingle, trade movie recommendations, make new friends and rekindle old relationships. Let’s make this one count.

Watch this week and next for photos, filmmaker interviews and also a series on a group of people who are attending Fantastic Fest for the first time. What do they expect to see in Austin?

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @jasonwhyte for more up to date pictures, quick reviews and commentary, live from Austin Texas!

For more information on this year’s programming, showtime information and all that, point your browser to There are also apps available for Android and Iphone as well.

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 09/21/12 01:05:30
last updated: 09/21/12 02:48:47
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