Listen, I’m not going to sit here and pretend I wasn’t planning on doing these Fantastic Fest diaries each day, nor am I going to start posting day two here on day six like some kinda jerk. I'm not gonna disrespect you like that. The truth is my plan to provide daily coverage has fallen apart in a flurry of meetings, late-night hangs, impromptu COVID tests (get well soon, Wampler), and movie-watching. So pivot with me as I catch you up on the great opening weekend of Fantastic Fest. (Day 1 is covered here.)
For Team Fango, Day 2 was all about seeing our friend Noah Segan premiere his autobiographical informed vampire comedy Blood Relatives to the world. Full disclosure: I consider Noah a dear friend and I’d been in regular contact with him through the development, production, and post-production phases of this film, his directorial debut. It made the premiere that much sweeter, as he and his team (including co-star Victoria Moroles and producer Aaron B. Koontz) watched a crowd be completely won over by this unique, hilarious, heartfelt story - the seeds of which are in many ways tied to this festival in Texas. (Read more about Noah’s journey with Blood Relatives in the latest issue of FANGORIA.)
(photo by Heather Kennedy)
On the Fango front, the other biggie of the day was the live recording of the Kingcast, which presented not one but two guests. First, they chatted with the delighftul Josh Ruben, who shared his personal experience as a viewer with the legendarily terrible Stephen King adaptation Dreamcatcher. Ruben was charming and hilarious as he and hosts Scott Wampler and Eric Vespe discussed the film's many wrong turns.
Then in a shocking turn of events, Ruben departed and the Kingcast boys welcomed to the stage a man not only thought dead, but fictional: infamous King alter ego/pseudonym Richard Bachman. Taking the stage in a denim jacket, eyepatch, tangled nest of long hair and bare feet, the reclusive, previously believed to be made-up author (who was definitely not Josh Ruben in a wig) rambled about petty grudges, mused about his creative process, recounted his days as a knife-wielding schoolteacher, and confessed to running over Stephen King in his van. Something cursed was unleashed by the Kingcast this day, and all who witnessed it were forever changed.
(photo by Arnold Wells)
Only one thing could cleanse the palate after such an unholy display: Kids Vs. Aliens. Jason Eisener’s profane, gory paean to backyard moviemaking and that bittersweet twilight zone between childhood and adolescence was just the kind of raucous 70-minute midnight movie that Fantastic Festers have come to expect, and it delivered.
Saturday’s highlight for Fango readers had to be Sick, in which the dizzying, long-take action choreography of director John Hyams (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning) is mapped onto a slasher script by Kevin Williamson and Katelyn Crabb. That no one thought to combine these two vibes before is almost hard to believe, but it works perfectly in depicting two friends sheltering in place in early 2020, menaced by a home intruder who seems to have a very particular grudge against them. It gets ridiculous, in the best sense of the word.
Sunday’s offerings at FF were many: V/H/S/99 and Satanic Hispanics saw veteran Fantastic Festers bringing the most on-brand anthology mayhem imaginable. The Secret Screening audience was treated to an early look at Marvel’s Werewolf by Night, a 50-minute black-and-white monster mash from composer turned director Michael Giacchino that sketches in a dark new corner of the MCU. And Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All knocked us on our asses. A love story involving two youngsters (Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet) traversing 1980s America while navigating their particular need to feed on human flesh, the film creates a compelling (if occasionally horrifying) world in which to spend some time, full of exciting and colorful performances. Come for the love story, stay for the cameos by a VERY cast-against-type Michael Stuhlbarg and his sidekick… David Gordon Green.
The second half of Fantastic Fest promises another secret screening, a day of AGFA 35mm rarities, and Fango fam field trip. See you there!