Fantastic Fest: A Look Back, Part 1

THURSDAY: “Frankenweenie,” “”The Final Member”

Consumed: A breaded veal testicle for phallocentric documentary, THE FINAL MEMBER, fed to a dog in honor of FRANKENWEENIE.

FRIDAY: Far East/Far Out

Films/Events: “The King of Pigs”, “The Warped Forest”, “Miami Connection”, “Doomsday Book”

Consumed: Strange juice (durian?) during THE WARPED FOREST, inspired by the opiate-like fruit consumed in the film.

Emerging Themes: Rotten fruit.

Standouts: Yim Pi-Sung’s “ A Brave New World”, the first and most entertaining of THE DOOMSDAY BOOK’s three end-of-the-world short films, merges biblical allegory, romantic comedy and media satire with a zombie apocalypse.

Kim Ji-Woon follows up with “The Heavenly Creature,” wherein a service android stationed at a Buddhist temple achieves enlightenment: after all, the elimination of human needs is at the heart of transcendence.


SATURDAY: Fistfights

Films/Events: “Wake in Fright” and the Fantastic Debates

Consumed: Half-price beer, in honor of the thousand pints downed by thirsty Outback laborers throughout WAKE IN FRIGHT.

Emerging Themes: Intellectuals with poor impulse control.

Standouts: Ted Kotcheff’s long-lost 1971 masterpiece, WAKE IN FRIGHT, follows an erudite schoolteacher, played by Gary Bond, who traps himself in the fringes of Bundanyabba, a mining town in the Australian outback.

The title suggests a horror movie, and it is; but only through the viewpoint of Bond’s teacher, who loses himself to impulse and gets literally stripped of his trappings and his educated veneer.

He finds himself cast to the outskirts of town, living in a hovel with a drunken doctor played brilliantly by Donald Pleasance.

This is a man’s movie, filled with gambling, beer, sex, beer, kangaroo fights and beer, beer, beer. It’s both visceral and literate, conjuring the harrowing spirit of Joseph Conrad’s novella, HEART OF DARKNESS.

Championed by Martin Scorsese, it’s also one of only two films to ever screen at the Cannes Film Festival twice.


This was chased with an epic beer-fueled debate/fistfight between mumblecore director, Joe Swanberg, and Badass Digest critic, Devin Faraci, who sought to determine whether mumblecore films were ‘catshit’ or not. It was a great debate, filled with verbal and physical jabs. The only thing this kangaroo court lacked was actual kangaroos…

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