The Fantastic Fest secret screenings always have folks on the edge of their seats, particularly when one is as hyped as the second secret film this year. After taking a day to sleep in, skipping the press screening and the first film of the day (I had to get my writing done at some point!) attendees filed into the theatres of the Alamo Drafthouse to be treated to DANGEROUS MEN.
DANGEROUS MEN began production around 1985, completed in 1995, and was finally released theatrically in Santa Monica in 2005. The film made $70, but it eventually became a midnight movie favorite.
DANGEROUS MEN is one of the most fun films of the festival. Low-budget revenge flicks are something that I enjoy quite a bit, and DANGEROUS MEN delivers the goods. Recounting the plot is difficult, as it is barely there, but there is action, sex, revenge, hammy acting and even more sex. It is quite impressive that an audience would barely be able to tell that the film was shot over a twenty-year period, or maybe there weren’t many advances in style from ’85 to ’95. Yes, the film is inept, but you can’t deny that the energy and passion of director/producer/writer/composer John Rad is present on screen in every shot. The plot is barely there and characters come and go, mainly due to shooting a film over the course of twenty years but also because Rad fired his lead actress halfway into production. DANGEROUS MEN is a rollicking good time in the tradition of MIAMI CONNECTION.
Drafthouse Films will be giving DANGEROUS MEN a proper theatrical release and the film will hit home video next year.
GREEN ROOM is the only film of Fantastic Fest that I sat down for twice. A full, more detailed review is coming, but while I can’t say that it is even better the second time around (much of the shock is gone), I will attest that it is still just as good. GREEN ROOM makes good on the promise of BLUE RUIN. I honestly see this being a breakthrough for Jeremy Saulnier, and judging by the crowd response here at the Fest, I’m not the only one.
My final film of the day is the much-hyped THE WITCH. Set in colonial America, THE WITCH plays like a smarter, darker Hammer film. The film creates a tone of fear, and dread with it’s use of natural lighting (and lack thereof) to recreate what it was like living on the East Coast long before electricity. The film plays up myths and tall tales, as those stories were the main entertainment of the day. THE WITCH utilizes the religious thinking of the time to create a new, creepy, piece of religious folklore that, despite the presence of an actual witch, feels very real and grounded at the same time. The performances and atmosphere are the heart of THE WITCH with very few big scare moments that will disappoint those audiences that read into the hype. Hyperbole is going to create a negative backlash to this film — THE WITCH is simply a really good ghost story with a new horror villain who could perhaps live alongside Jason, Freddy, and Michael… Black Phillip.
Even for a film lover, days upon days of movies can take its toll on you. Myself and fellow fans and writers who were attending the Fest ditched the last two screenings for a night on the town. Austin is a cool city with plenty to offer in food, drink, culture, and music. It’s nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Fest and sit down with friends old and new and talk about things other than movies, although being whom we are, conversation always turned to movies. We made a stop over at The Brixton near downtown. I make it a point to drop in on any bar I’ve seen Jon Taffer clean up on BAR RESCUE. The Brixton had a punk rock vibe and some pretty good old-fashioneds with really big ice cubes. From there, our heroes checked out some live music at the Continental Club before heading to the Magnolia Café for steak and eggs.
Coming up on Day 7: A Swedish ghost story, the devil himself, and Turkish HELLRAISER.