When taking a second or five to recollect the third day of this year’s Fantastic Fest, the word that comes to mind is the overly used but in this case, very appropriate word EPIC. It was definitely one for the books, with impressive film premieres/screenings, and one odd yet absolutely amazing performance that I will get into below. Wow.
Day three saw a screening of the Turkish gore-fest BASKIN, which sees a group of police officers finding themselves in the wrong place and at the wrong time. It’s a film filled to the brim with enough gore, guts, blood and many other body parts/fluids to make the most devoted gorehound squeamish.
Longtime Fantastic Fest debates host Owen Egerton gave attendees quite the experience, when his feature directorial debut FOLLOW had its premiere during the festival’s third day extravaganza as well. The film that follows a painter hoping to relocate to art school (Noah Segan, who had two films making their debut during day three) and the accidental death of his girlfriend, was a big hit with audience members and was most definitely one the standout films of the festival thus far. It’s a story of a man losing his grip on reality, keeping the body of his deceased girlfriend around and an endearing and sometimes very funny story that features top notch acting from the always great Segan, HAPPY DAYS’ Don Most, Olivia Grace Applegate, Haley Lu Richardson and a standout performance from actor/singer Southern Longoria.
While those films were very enjoyable and will be surefire hits with genre fans, the two events that made the third day one to remember was the one-two punch of not only a performance by the weirdest and most amazing Satanic marching band around, ITCHY-O, but the world premiere of ALMOST HUMAN director Joe Begos’ telekinesis splatter film, THE MIND’S EYE. Both the performance that took place in the Drafthouse Highball bar and the midnight premiere of the Begos film jointly brought the house down and drove attendees crazy in the best of ways.
Imagine being involved in a cult ritual of sounds and lights, smoke and hoods and drumcore insanity and you might have a decent idea of the stylings of ITCHY-O and if you took the best entries from Charles Band’s Empire Pictures days and combined them with Cronenberg’s SCANNERS and a decent amount of Stephen King throw in for good measure, you’d have THE MIND’S EYE. It’s a film that features pretty much every up and coming horror notable, including ALMOST HUMAN’s Graham Skipper and Josh Ethier, DARLING’s Lauren Ashley Carter and Brian Morvant, Noah Segan, THE BATTERY’s Jeremy Gardner and the godfather of the Deathwave movement, the always great Larry Fessenden.
As if the film itself wasn’t crazy enough (it was), the Q&A that followed the film’s premiere was easily the most insane Q&A I have ever witnessed (with the exception of the 2013 Fantastic Fest Q&A for CHEAP THRILLS). Begos and pretty much every single person involved in the film (including former Fangoria/Shock Till You Drop mainstay Sam Zimmerman who has a small role in the film) storming the stage quite inebriated and giving a very memorable experience.
With three days of utter insanity, great films and memorable performances, this year is gearing up to be one of the best years of the Austin festival. Like every previous recap so far, I can’t see things getting crazier that this one, but something tells me it’s still only getting started. Stay tuned for day four!