Friday, August 29, 2008

Do You Remember Back in Old L.A.? The Power Pop Genius of "Beach Baby"

Some songs you merely like for a long time. They're either hits or just songs you like and they're always there, be it on the radio or in your iPod or on CDs you listen to, and you know you like them, but you don't always give them much thought. You don't turn them off when they're on, but you don't hit the repeat button on them, either. But then at some point, something about you changes and all of a sudden that song that you'd always passed over in favor of other songs suddenly hits you as a masterpiece. It's not a matter of "Where has this song been all my life?" so much as, why haven't I noticed it's brilliance until now? So you spend a lot of time listen to this one song again and again, extolling its virtues to friends and enemies alike and, if you're anything like me (don't go there), you devote an entire blog posting to it. As if you haven't read the headline, such a song is The First Class's 1974 hit "Beach Baby" and as we reach the end of summer (for some of you - I live in Texas now, where it's going to remain in the 90s for the next two months or so), let's all take one last dip in the ocean of one of the best - if not the best - summer songs ever written.

I listened to the radio a lot as a kid, be it in the car as mom ran errands (we always insisted on 77 on the AM dial, WABC, NYC's pop station of choice in the 70s) or on my little clock radio, and I remember when this song was new, although I couldn't have told you who sang it or what most of the lyrics were because I was, like, 4 at the time. I'd hear it off and on throughout the years, a bit more so when I'd start listening the Glen Jones on WFMU, who would play it during summer shows (his archives - 8 years of them! - are available here). But it was in early '03, when I was working on a show on FMU and raiding the new bin by making burns of all the new CDs that I happened upon "Beach Baby" again on a compilation of the works of John Carter, the song's co-writer and producer (Tony Burrows sang lead vocals), called Measure for Measure: The John Carter Anthology, from the amazing RPM Records. Although you can constantly hear the inspirations (Spector, Brian Wilson, Roger McGuinn and The Beatles) throughout the compilation is one of my favorite CDs, since it's loaded with one brilliant pop ditty after another. When "Beach Baby" popped up during my first listen to this set I got very enthused, mainly because I'd never had a copy of the song before, and coupled with the rest of Carter's significant pop output my admiration of the song increased significantly. I can only assume that the Carter comp sold well for RPM, because two years later they released The First Class: Summer Sound Sensation, devoted to the best of Carter's group that recorded "Beach Baby", and I couldn't help but love that, too. Both albums have spent a significant amount of time in my CD players throughout this summer and I can't help but listen to each again and again and again. All of these songs are so sugary sweet that they'll give you cavities, but it doesn't matter one whiff because god dammit they're good, and I have declare "Beach Baby" as one of the all-time power pop greats.

One of the things that makes "Beach Baby" so incredibly fucking brilliant in my mind is that it builds. It starts at a high note (the perfectly harmonious opening crescendo), stays at an even level, goes down, then builds back up in a manner of pop genius that's rivaled only by "September Gurls" and "Hey Jude" in my mind. It's almost a pop opera in a way (it's 5 minutes long, for Christ sake!), just getter bigger and fuller, even more dramatic, as it reaches the climax. Carter had masterstrokes like this before (such as The Flower Pot Men's "Let Go to San Francisco" and Kincade's "Dreams Are Ten a Penny"), but "Beach Baby" is something truly transcendent. It's such a happy song, one that doesn't just give you happy memories of days gone by but it's also saying that today and tomorrow can be just as good as yesterday, if not better; "Beach Baby" is like happiness in a bottle, musical crack that's addictive but not destructive. In an odd way, it gives you false memories of California teenage years spent at the beach and even though it's totally phony and nothing more than a nostalgia piece (early 60s nostalgia was just starting to become big in '74) it feels like the real thing. "Beach Baby" is easily the best Brian Wilson song Brian Wilson never wrote, but more so than that, it's a great tribute, honoring Wilson and the California sound while completely being a song that can stand on its own. Sometimes the tribute can match the master, and "Beach Baby" is one of those rare occasions where that happens. It's a beautiful thing and I'll love it to the day I die.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Powder 2 The OVER THE TOP Sequels.

Well, POWDER 2: POWDER 2 THE PEOPLE wasn't enough to beat its rivals at this year's Unnecessary Sequels Filmmaking Frenzy, coming in third behind THE MONSTER SQUAD 2 and OVER THE TOP: THE RISE OF MIKE HAWK. I have to say that if POWDER had to lose to any of the other sequels then those two would be the ones, but POWDER 2 will always occupy a place in my heart that the others never could. No offense.

That said, who could have predicted that this year's competition would give us not one, but two excellent mini-sequels to Menahem Golan's arm wrestling epic of awfulness? THE RISE OF MIKE HAWK is the better of the two, no question, but I've got to hand it to the team behind OVER THE TOP 2: ARMAGEDDON for their brilliant Robert Loggia impression and superior subtitle. Looking at these two almost makes me want to revisit the 1987 Stallone original for shits and gigs, but I realize that I have much more important things to do with my time, like never watching OVER THE TOP again in my life. These sequels will do just fine:



Hey Gang, It's Gordon Liu!

While attending last month's Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, I had the pleasure of meeting Hong Kong film legend Gordon Liu at a special exhibt of original Hong Kong movie posters from the collection of HK film expert, Toronto International Film Festival Midnight Madness programmer and all-around good guy Colin Geddes, whom I'd traded various phone calls and e-mails with for years but never met before (and it turns out we had a lot more in common than I thought). Liu, a special guest of the festival, was also there for a screening of a newly restored print of DISCIPLES OF THE 36TH CHAMBER. This magic moment was recorded by good pal (and Fantasia programmer) King-Wei Chu and here it is for you to enjoy:

Look how excited we are to meet each other!

But seriously, Gordon Liu is total coolness. And I met him, which makes me cool by default.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

People I Know Make Videos

Filmmaking competitions are sweeping the globe these days, and I've got several friends taking part who are turning out fine little works. It seems as though all of my filmmaking friends are talented, which is truly no surprise to me since they are, after all, my friends.

I first met Montreal filmmaker Giulia Frati back in 2001 when her short MISTER E. screened at the (you guessed it) Fantasia Film Festival and we've remained friends ever since. Giulia divides her time between Paris and Montreal these days, but she's spending her summer in the latter city and took part in a 48 Hour competition back in July while I happened to be in town for this year's fest. We only got to see each other for a little bit before I had to catch my flight back, but our time together is always one of the highlights of my Montreal visits and she's one of those people I always wish I could see more often. Here's a lovely piece she made with filmmaking friend Ian Cameron that says a lot in a short period of time (that's Giulia handing the sparkler to the little girl at the beginning, by the way):

Something sparkly is in your future. from Ian Cameron on Vimeo.

I also want to mention that PUPA'S GARDEN, an excellent documentary Giulia made about her grandmother in Italy, will be screening on PBS some time soon. I'll keep you posted as to the dates.

Well, if the Alamo Drafthouse is having another filmmaking competition, expect Thomas Humphrys, Nick Robinson and the rest of the Black Magic Rollercoaster team to get involved. This time it's the 2008 edition of Unnecessary Sequels and the team now brings us the sequel no one really wanted: POWDER 2: POWDER 2 THE PEOPLE. Take it away, boys:


Love it (and not just because I'm in it)!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose...

Like most people, I like cars. I love the look of the great classic cars, from the mammoth Buicks of the 50s to the slick and stylish Corvettes of the 60s to the muscle cars of the 70s. I've never actually driven any of them, but when I see them out on the road - which is actually often on the streets of Austin - I turn to admire them, gazing at the tremendous workmanship that went into their design and the care that the current owners put into their upkeep. I occasionally gaze at classic auto mags and have wandered around one or two auto shows in my time, but also like most people I couldn't tell you the first things about most any of them or what the difference is between this make and model over another. My feelings for them are always of great respect and admiration, but they're not exactly where my passion lies. They're truly wonderful things, but I personally can't see myself devoting a lot of time and money to them. But I can, however, truly understand the passion.

I'm on this rant because I've had a lot of thinking about cars lately, pretty much since the beginning of the year, and I'm not done them yet. Back on June 19th, following a Weird Wednesdays screening of Franco's 99 WOMEN, I got into an accident that has left me without one. No one was hurt, thankfully, and the matter has just recently been settled (I've made out fine), but it's still not a fun experience by any means. I've been through it once before (only 18 months earlier) and it was worse then (though likewise not my fault), but I'm now going to have to go through the process of finding a new car, registering it, and all that other bullshit, and I'm not looking forward to it. Don't get me wrong; I love driving and get very, very restless without wheels, but this sure isn't the fun part of owning a car. That said, there is absolutely nothing compares with a great, long trip behind the wheel, despite all the occasional hassles, and it's something I try to do at least once a year if I can. When I made the drive from N.J. to Austin at the end of April, I did so not just because it was cheaper than flying (though not that cheap these days) but because I had to - the opportunity to see and experience America (at least half of it) was something I could not pass up and I'm glad I didn't. Seeing America from the behind the wheel of that somewhat crappy 1997 Toyota Corolla I had was wonderful, a reminder of a transition to a new life versus the one I was leaving behind and it was the only way to go. The open road is one of the most oft-used metaphors any writer can steal, and with that in mind the road movie has a great tradition in American cinema. It's certainly one of the finest contributions to culture America has given the world; there are definitely some great European road movies (Chris Petit's RADIO ON instantly comes to mind) but we own this genre, no question. Monte Hellman has been quoted as saying that all great movies are essentially road movies, and maybe he's right. But for as many great American road movies as there are (IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT; SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS; SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT) there is truly is none finer than Hellman's own TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, which I recently viewed again and found to be not just better than I remembered, but the genuine cinematic masterpiece that so many others have found it to be. Not that I didn't like the film, but after having gone through so much lately because of automobiles, I feel like I finally get it.

Like so many great films, TWO-LANE BLACKTOP is completely open to interpretation - it is whatever you want it to be - and my assessment of it isn't going to tell you anything new. What I can bring to the discussion is that in watching TWO-LANE BLACKTOP this time (at the Alamo Ritz, with Hellman in attendance) is that I feel like I understand the era in which I was born a little bit better now. BLACKTOP was filmed in the fall of 1970, 7 months after my birth, and released the following summer; though it's probably not 100% all of it, what I sense from the film now is that this was indeed America in 1970. The country had broken in two and these differing sides - the careless, free, zen-like, and liberal Driver, Mechanic, and the girl opposite the uptight, delusional (always pretending to be something he's not) and materialistic GTO - pretty much paint the proper picture. Not trying to get too deep here, TWO-LANE BLACKTOP is no more about cars than it is about life - the point of the journey is not to arrive - but what's also wonderful about it, at least to me, is that it also carries with it the feel and spirit of the low-budget genre cinema of the time, drive-in cinema, if you will. It's the greatest Roger Corman movie Corman never made; it's got all the elements - young people, fast cars, chases - while at the same time it's so much its own thing. The fact that Hellman got his start working for Corman shouldn't be forgotten, and while I'm sure that Hellman will deny it, I couldn't help but feel the Corman influence all over it. But that's probably just me.

More so than pretty much anything, the automobile and the open roads represents freedom for a lot of people, and I include myself in that list. Put yourself behind the wheel and just drive to where you need to be or want to be, in charge of your own destiny for the most part for however long you're out there. Some of us, like GTO, are out there because they have no home, while others, like myself, are just travelers, going from one place to another. The Driver and Mechanics of the world have achieved a kind of inner piece by simply staying on the road. What they need to get by the most is freedom and everything else - food, shelter, sex - are mere roadblocks to more freedom. I couldn't live like that myself, but I can respect those who take that route, and whenever I think of them, I will always have TWO-LANE BLACKTOP in mind.

I've got other reasons why cars, car lovers and TWO-LANE BLACKTOP have been on my brain as of late, but I'm not going to go into that here. I do, however, want to direct your attention to Kim Morgan's appreciation (a massive understatement - it's a fucking love letter) of the film that is unquestionably one of the best things this gifted writer has ever done. The film is obviously one of great importance to her and her passionate, perceptive and heartfelt piece is 100% spot-on, as always.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fuck Yeah! THE MAN FROM HONG KONG at Fantastic Fest 2008!

As I mentioned before, NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD, the new documentary about the Australian exploitation scene of the 70s and 80s, is playing Fantastic Fest and is a hell of a lot of fun, and now to add to the mix are six Aussie retrospective titles that will make you shit your pants with excitement - including Brian Trenchard-Smith's fantastic THE MAN FROM HONG KONG! I love this picture quite a bit, so the fact that others can finally see it (in a new 35mm print!) puts a big ol' smile on my face. To love THE MAN FROM HONG KONG is to love cinema, and no, I'm not on crack.

I don't know any of the Japanese Pink films, but I have no doubt they will be seriously deranged and likewise fun. Here's the latest press release:

While much of the attention of Fantastic Fest centers around the new discoveries and premiere feature films, each year we always present a new repertory retrospective. This year we are featuring two classic series: NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD: Ozsploitation Classics and BEHIND THE PINK CURTAIN: Japanese Pinku Films.

NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD: Ozsploitation Classics

In 2008, Fantastic Fest is dedicated to making everyone we know into giant, committed fans of Ozploitation cinema. That is - the peculiar brand of exploitation films that bubbled to the surface in Australia in the '70s and '80s. Certainly the best known are the MAD MAX films but those didn't emerge in a vacuum. The industry was already pumping out films as rude, tough and resourceful as the primal Aussie himself, kicked out of the British Isles for being ungovernable, forced to carve out a livelihood in the most hostile terrain on earth. While Australia has its share of classic arthouse-worthy fare in the manner of PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK and BREAKER MORANT, it was the cheap action, horror and titty films that really made the Fosters go down easy.


Friday, September 12, 8:30 PM, Republic Square Park Downtown, Free Admission!

Dir. George Miller, 1979, 35mm, 93 min, R

Mel Gibson plays a rogue officer bent on revenge in the most influential apocalyptic masterpiece in film history. Reckless, violent, morally corrupt and totally insane.


Friday, September 19, 8:30 PM, Republic Square Park Downtown, Free Admission!

Dir. George Miller, 1981, 35mm, 94 min, R

The sequel to MAD MAX puts the pedal to the metal, then both pedal and metal alike explode in a death-shower of indescribable awesomeness.

(Note: at both of these free outdoor screenings, in addition to the fun onscreen, Chef John Bullington will be serving up classic Australian meat pies, shrimp on the barby and there will be plenty of ice-cold Fosters oil cans to wash it down. Also, come prepared, we’re having a Vegemite sandwich eating contest before the film.)


Wednesday, September 17, Midnight, Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz

Dir. Arch Nicholson, 1987, 35mm, 91 min, NR

The ultimate reptilesploitation movie from down under. As usual in animal attack films, the most dangerous creature ultimately is man. But the 40 foot long crocodile is a real close second. It's up to super cool ranger John Jarratt (WOLF CREEK) to track down the big croc, which is coincidentally venerated as sacred by the Aborigine populace, before a pack of scurvy poachers do. Seriously cool edge-of-your-seat excitement from beginning to end.


Thursday, September 18, Midnight, Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz

Dir. Russell Mulcahy, 1984, 35mm, 95 min, R

An enormous, thundering wild boar lays waste to the Australian outback in this bizarre and unexpectedly effective man VS. beast showdown.

MAN FROM HONG KONG with Brian Trenchard-Smith Live in person!

Wednesday, September 24, Midnight, Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz

Dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1975, 35mm, 111 min, R

Possibly the most berserk catalogue of action and violence ever placed on film. An all-out orgy of throat-ripping fights, explosions, car chases, crossbows, mustaches, hang-gliders and everything else good in life. Starring former James Bond seatwarmer George Lazenby and Shaw Brothers superstar Jimmy Wang Yu. Stunts by the madman from dingo-land Grant Page (of STUNT ROCK fame), who appears desperate to end it all in a progressively greater and greater aggregation of death-defiance.

TURKEY SHOOT a.k.a. ESCAPE 2000 with Brian Trenchard-Smith in person!

Thursday, September 25, Midnight, Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz

Dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1982, 35mm, 80 min, R

In a post-apocalyptic world gone wild, a handful of prison camp inmates must run for their life while being hunted for sport!

And of course, the inspiration for the series:


Sunday, September 21, 5:00PM, Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar

Thursday, September 25, 7:30PM, Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar

Dir. Mark Hartley, 2008, 35mm, 100 min, R

Probably the biggest concentration of explosions, nudity and blood at Fantastic Fest this year. A documentary that traces the secret and not-so-secret history of Ozsploitation.

The NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD Retrospective is sponsored by Magnet Releasing, producers of the NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD documentary, which will hit select theaters later this year. The series is also sponsored in part by Fosters, and the Austin Parks Foundation.


Almost everyone has the same tingling response to the bright, shiny world of Japanese pop entertainment. It tickles the roof of the mouth like ginger-ale. But for hardcore addicts, that's just the gateway stage. The terminal phase is the Japanese pink film. More than just sexploitation movies, they're like the entire culture's autoerotic asphyxiation reveries. Filled with crushing weirdness and experiments on the extreme edge of filmmaking, the pink films provide much greater insight into the nation's character than the mannered civilities of mainstream films, largely due to the fact that young film-makers are given the freedom to go as far out on the chain as they want to, provided they expose the requisite number of naked bodies onscreen. And they must strike a pretty resonant chord since they're still going strong, as evidenced by some of our favorite Fantastic Fest titles of the past few years like UNCLES PARADISE and THE GLAMOROUS LIFE OF SACHIKO HANAI. Noted Pinku film expert Jasper Sharp will be live in person and will be signing copies of his new comprehensive book on the subject of Pinku films entitled BEHIND THE PINK CURTAIN.


Monday, September 22, 10PM, Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar

Dir. Kan Mukai, 1969, New 35mm Print, 80 min, NR (Adults Only!)

A girl avenges her mother's death and family's disgrace by becoming a high class call girl who blackmails her nemesis with a secretly shot film of their encounter. A highly stylized wash of color, wild camera angles and sheer '60s style.


Tuesday, September 23, 10PM, Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar

Dir. Masao Adachi, 1971, New 35mm Print, 72 min, NR (Adults Only!)

A young woman, already a jaded sexual veteran, embarks on an odyssey of self-discovery to find out the true reasons for her dissatisfaction and total desensitization. This parable is told in a jagged avant-garde style that must have baffled the target audience of businessmen seeking cheap thrills on their lunch hours.


Wednesday, September 24, 10PM, Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar

Dir. Daisuke Goto, 2003, Digibeta, 65 min, NR (Adults Only!)

In the Japanese countryside, a young widow, Noriko, lives with her senile father-in-law, Shu, on a farm. He believes his favorite cow is still alive. Noriko pretends to be the cow and lets him milk her every day - a satisfying arrangement for both. Shu's daughter Mitsuko discovers this strange relationship and tries to end it. A very strange and kinky modern pink film from genre superstar Daisuke Goto.


Wednesday, September 24, 11PM, Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar

Dir. Shuji Kataoka, 1986, Digibeta, 59 min, NR (Adults Only!)

An exercise in manga-style outrageousness that is guaranteed to offend everybody. The black clad S&M Roper is a kind of bondage super hero who has a supernatural genius for tying women up in configurations that leave them helplessly aroused. When the all girl gang, The Bombers, kidnap a man for their personal sex toy S&M Hunter accepts a mission to infiltrate The Bombers' hideout and show them the ropes.


Important dates have been announced for the 4th Annual Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.

Thursday, August 21, 2008: Guests and juries announced

Thursday, September 4, 2008: Final content and schedule announced

Thursday, September 18, 2008: Festival begins

Saturday, September 20, 2008: 2009 Festival Badges go on sale

For more information about Fantastic Fest, please visit our official website:

Photo stills and press information about the festival is at:


Fantastic Fest is an eight-day festival of the best new sci-fi, horror, fantasy and genre films, as well as choice classic and obscure cult titles from all over the world. The festival director and head programmer is Tim League (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema), with additional programming by Harry Knowles (Ain't It Cool News), Blake Ethridge (Cinema is Dope), Todd Brown (, Zack Carlson (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema) and Lars Nilsen (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema). Fantastic Fest is a supporting member of the prestigious Melies European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation and a founding member of the North American Fantastic Festival Alliance. Fantastic Fest is sponsored in part by Gamecock, Ain’t It Cool News, Twitchfilm, DVD Empire, Best Buy, VIZ Pictures, Embassy Suites, Dark Sky Films, The Texas Film Commission, Room Service Vintage, Rue Morgue Magazine, Fangoria Magazine, The Austin Chronicle, The Onion, Anchor Bay Entertainment,, Big Top Candy Shop, Smitty's Market, Media Blasters, Long Center for the Performing Arts.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More Fantastic Fest Stuff!

As promised, the second wave of Fantastic Fest 2008 titles have been announced, and some of the juicier ones are on the list. Rest assured that the titles in the next announcement will have the star power that most folks are looking for, but what we've got here is pretty damn good.

I've seen NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD and it's quite enjoyable (next week's announcement of the Aussie retro titles will make a lot of folks happy, especially for those who want to see one particular "Forgotten Movie") and will most likely make Aussieploitation the next big thing in cult cinema; TREEVENGE, in the shorts program, is one of the most entertaining things I've seen all year and a beautiful gore epic; DEADGIRL is a pretty effective piece that stays with you and it's your typical horror film (which is a good thing), while I've heard great stuff about ACOLYTES, SANTOS, SEVENTH MOON and JCVD (everyone is raving about it and it seems like Jean Claude Van Damme's big comeback). But as far as I'm concerned the cream of the crop (no pun intended) is LA CREME, a wonderful French comedy that I saw at Fantasia that I just loved the hell out of. If you're attending Fantastic Fest this year, put that one on your "must see" list.

Anyways, here's the press release:

Date: Thursday, August 7, 2008

Subject: Second Wave of Fantastic Fest content announced

Where: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema South Lamar, Austin, TX

Fantastic Fest, September 18-25, 2008

Tim League

We are proud to announce the second wave of our feature film programming for the 2008 edition of Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. For the past 9 months, we have been scouring the globe for the strangest, the most heart-pounding and the most challenging new genre films. With over 100 films representing over 30 countries, Fantastic Fest is the largest festival of its kind in the United States. We are proud to announce our second announcement of 15 confirmed feature films as well as our first announcement of official short film selections and details on special “fantastic-fest-themed” Alamo signature events.


World Premiere / dir. Nicolás López / Chile / 2008 / 100 min.
Three years after his SXSW debut feature PROMEDIO ROJO, Chilean prodigy director Nicolás López returns with SANTOS, a wild, sweeping tale of comic book nerds versus superheroes in a battle for the future of mankind. Think Ultraman with a Latin American brain transplant. From the producers of SIN CITY and THE ORPHANAGE, visual effects by Troublemaker Studios. Director Nicolás López will be live in person to present the film and conduct a Q&A.

World Premiere / dir. Edward Sanchez / USA / 2008 / 90 min
While honeymooning in rural China during the “Hungry Ghost” Festival, newlyweds Melissa (Amy Smart) and Yul (Tim Chiou) find themselves stranded at night in the middle of a superstitious ritual that may be more real than folk legend. From the director of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Director Edward Sanchez and Producers Gregg Hale, Matt Compton and Robin Cowie will be live in person to present the film and conduct a Q&A.

US Premiere / dir. Jon Hewitt / Australia / 2008 / 91 min.
Three teens blackmail a killer into taking down the violent bully who has been making their lives hell. An explosive first feature from Australian Jon Hewitt who will be in attendance to present the film.

US Premiere / dir. Prachya Pinkaew / Thailand / 2008 / 110 min.
The director of ONG BAK returns with his new protégé, who was in training for five years for this role. Ammara Siripong portrays an autistic girl who learns martial arts from watching Tony Jaa and Bruce Lee films so as to exact revenge on those who bankrupted her mother.

US Premiere / dir. Gadi Harel and Marcel Sarmiento / USA / 2008 / 99 min.
Exploring an abandoned sanatorium while ditching school, two high school burnouts discover a girl strapped to a gurney in a secluded chamber. Debut directors Gadi Harel and Marcel Sarmiento craft a new breed of teen angst drama set against a backdrop of humor black enough to make John Hughes retreat to a fetal state. Both directors will be in attendance to present the film.

Austin Premiere / dir. Various / France / 2007 / 85 min.
An animated anthology of films by six of the world’s hottest graphic artists and cartoonists. All films are rendered in black and white, and all are based on their creators’ own nightmares and fears.

World Premiere / dir. John Gulager / USA / 2008 / 90 min.
John Gulager returns to the Alamo to premiere the second installment in his FEAST franchise. The original crowd-pleasing splatterfest FEAST world-premiered at Fantastic Fest in our first year.

US Premiere / dir. Mabrouk El Mechri / France / 2008 / 96 min.
Jean-Claude Van Damme portrays an aging action star whose career in Hollywood is all but washed up. Returning to his homeland in Brussels, he lands in the middle of a bank heist and may have to actually save the day.

Regional Premiere / dir. Reynald Bertrand / France / 2007 / 83 min.
Under the Christmas tree, unemployed loser François Margin mysteriously finds a jar of face cream that once applied, temporarily turns him into the most famous celebrity in France.

US Premiere / dir. Mark Hartley / Australia / 2008 / 102 min.
Probably the biggest concentration of explosions, nudity and blood at Fantastic Fest this year. A documentary that traces the secret and not so secret history of Ozploitation, Australian exploitation cinema.

US Premiere / dir. Eric Shapiro / USA / 2007 / 85 min.
Set in one night in a seedy hotel, cult Novelist Eric Shapiro’s debut feature intertwines two stories of sexual encounters gone horribly awry.

North American Premiere / dir. Jennifer Lynch / USA / 2008 / 98 min.
Jennifer Lynch (BOXING HELENA) helms a crime thriller with overtones of RASHOMON. None of the eyewitness accounts in a roadside serial killer massacre seem to match up. The FBI is called in to cut through the confusion before the killer can strike again.

Regional Premiere / dir. Joon-ho Bong, Leos Carax, Michel Gondry / 2008 / 90 min.
An anthology of three 30-minute short films, all reflections on Tokyo by three non-Japanese directors. Michel Gondry’s INTERIOR DESIGN, Bong Joon-Ho’s SHAKING TOKYO and Leos Carax’s MERDE.

Regional Premiere / dir. Zack Passero / USA / 2008 / 95 min.
Four buxom ladies head out to the country for some good old-fashioned naked lesbian Wiccan frolicking. The locals who bust in on their retreat quickly regret their imposition when the witching hour arrives.

World Premiere / dir. Aaron Marshall, Justin Johnson, Erik Mauck / USA / 2008 / 91 min.
A documentary covering the two years that it took 12-year-old Austinite Emily Hagins to write and direct the feature-length zombie movie PATHOGEN.

When we’re not producing Fantastic Fest, the Alamo programming team works year-round on a variety of screenings and events at the flagship downtown Alamo Ritz Theater. Recently remodeled in 2007, the historic Ritz Theater is home to all of the Alamo Signature shows. For the first time at Fantastic Fest, your badge grants you access to a sampling of this patented Austin-exclusive programming: Weird Wednesday, Terror Thursday, Sing-Alongs, Quote-Alongs and Master Pancake Theater.

Part of the Alamo Drafthouse’s patented signature show series, Quote-Alongs heighten the experience of watching your favorite films with props, subtitling of iconic lines of dialogue, pyrotechnics and confetti, always confetti.

Bad movies, live comedy! John Erler and his Master Pancake cohorts have been performing their live comedy stylings over top of Hollywood classics and stinkers alike at the Alamo Drafthouse for nearly 8 years.

In preparation for our world-record breaking attempt at the largest synchronized Michael Jackson Thriller dance, the Alamo hosts monthly MJ sing-alongs and dance lessons.

Since the fall of 2001, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has been hosting these free weekly series of 35mm screenings of exploitation classics, curated by our own exploitation gurus Lars Nilsen and Zack Carlson: from cheerleaders gone bad to blaxploitation to killer mutant animals to ‘80s slashers to women in prison. Many of these films are so obscure that little is known or has been written about them. Some of them are bad, most of them are enjoyable, and a rare few are mind-blowingly amazing. During Fantastic Fest, both Weird Wednesday and Terror Thursday will be showcasing features from the NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD Ozploitation canon. If you would like to attend any of these screenings with your Fantastic Fest badge, pick up tickets at the Fantastic Fest ticket counter and you will have prime reserve seats held for you at the show.

Below are the summary descriptions of the Fantastic Shorts currently selected for Fantastic Fest 2008. The final shorts lineup and schedule will be announced in the weeks to come.

A schizophrenically entertaining 90 minute compilation of the best of the best in worldwide genre animated shorts.

A veritable cinematic crackpipe, SHORT FUSE compiles the most intense and depraved of the entire Fantastic Fest competition shorts.

Dir. Lewis Eizykman / France / 2008 / 3 min.
Even NeverNeverland has its ups and downs, as a slightly older Peter Pan and Wendy learn on the eve of their child's birth...

Dir. Geoff Redknap / Canada / 2008 / 13 min.
Sure, it's a fact that psychopaths love to torture and destroy innocent people. But what happens when your average suburban family gets their hands on a pack of sadistic cannibals?

Dir. Yann Jouette / UK, France / 2008 / 12 min.
A self-loathing cat food canner looks for happiness in all the wrong places, especially when he learns that a "female" companion can be ordered by mail. Beautifully animated in a style that proves to be less cute n' cuddly than first glance would have you believe.

Dir. Andrew McPhillips / Canada / 2007 / 4 min.
A uniquely animated nightmare that follows the beat of your pulse and unweaves the secret link between man and insect. Music by Sigur Ros.

Dir. Rory Kindersley / USA / 2007 / 9 min.
This Hansel and Gretel-esque fairytale may seem comfortably familiar at first, but as it unfolds, something unexpected takes over....

Dir. Kirk Woller / USA / 2008 / 6 min.
Sometimes there's just no way to remain safe...even in our secure homes. Quite possibly the most unexpected surprise in the fest!

Dir. Davy Sihali / France / 2008 / 26 min.
It's safe to say that technology and intimacy are at war. This movie is a genuinely creepy exploration of the casualties.

Dir. Stephan Wicki & Tod Steven / Switzerland, USA / 2007 / 6 min.
A man combs a semi-sentient metropolis to create his own personal symphonic Frankenstein! Live action animation combines with an arguably musical score to create a short that's guaranteed to be unlike anything you've ever seen.

Dir. Fernando Fidel Urdapilleta Jimenez / Mexico / 2007 / 20 min.
A young girl learns that when your mind and emotions have been pushed beyond their limits, you can count on your body in unexpected ways.

Dir. Hermann Karlsson / Scotland, Iceland / 2006 / 1 min.
A loving eulogy to man's best friend. This animated comedy features a canine skeleton and some goofy yet sincerely tearful memories.

Dir. Paul Campion / New Zealand / 2007 / 5 min.
A scientist with unusual taste in women learns that it's probably best to date outside the workplace. A funny and shocking short that whacks you across the skull before you know what happened.

Dir. Matt O'Mahoney / USA, Canada / 2007 / 19 min / 19 min.
A nebbish bachelor loses his penis in an incident involving an epileptic hooker and experiences newfound sexual urges with his freshly transplanted member.

Dir. Rodrigo Gudino / Canada / 2008 / 6 min.
A simple photograph becomes increasingly sinister upon closer scrutiny, until nearly every evil that lives in mankind's heart is unleashed upon the viewer. From the fiends at Rue Morgue!

Dir. Arthur Metcalf / USA / 2007 / 4 min.
You think it's hard being a human? Try living your life as a roll of bubble wrap! This semi-animated short follows the lives of several little poppable pals as they fall in love, question their existence and -- of course -- get fatally pinched by human fingers.

Dir. Osbert Parker / UK / 2006 / 4 min.
A senses-shaking tribute to the criminal acts of yesteryear, as traditional film noir elements are transformed through animation and bizarro artistry into a wholly original gripping thrillride.

Dir. Naoko Masuda and Max Margulies / USA / 2007 / 2 min.
The filmmaking team behind last year's FF hit THE BIRD, THE MOUSE AND THE SAUSAGE are back with a new stop-motion food tale that reveals the nature of pescatorial reproduction.

Dir. PES / USA / 2006 / 4 min.
We don't need no fancy arcade...we got an arcade RIGHT HERE! Mysterious innovative stop-motion wizard(s) PES bring the universal excitement of video games into the real world in bold, unnatural ways.

Dir. Boris Schaarschmidt / USA / 2007 / 15 min.
An elderly groundskeeper clashes with a football team who just don't show enough sensitivity to the wonders of their playing field.

Dir. Alberto Viavattene / Italy / 2008 / 2 min.
An adult film director coaches his new star on the subtleties of succeeding in the porn industry.

Dir. Ben Peters / Canada / 2007 / 4 min.
A Ferrari-fixated mad scientist devises the perfect heist. With a mastery of advanced super-technology, what could possibly go wrong?

Dir. Karl Tebbe / Germany / 2007 / 5 min.
Here at FF, we've always recognized karaoke as a true art. But filmmaker Karl Tebbe succeeds in turning up the karaoke insanity to visually deafening levels in this megashock of musical indulgence.

Dir. Benni Diez and Marinko Spahic / Germany / 2007 / 20 min.
A botched drug deal spirals out of control in a subterranean night club filled with unnameable evils. The action is furious and so are the villains, so be prepared for some whirlwind brutality!

Dir. Luis Berdejo & Borja Cobeaga & Jorge Dorado / Spain / 2007 / 22 min
A trio of surreal takes on the Spaghetti Western genre by three of Spain’s hottest young gun directors.

Dir. Blu / Argentina / 2008 / 8 min.
Street art taken to the illogical, beautiful maximum as an urban landscape is transformed into a moving palette of impossible creatures. Is this the most ambitious animation project of the century? Yes.

Dir. Leslie Ali / UK / 2007 / 6 min.
A strange family finds an even stranger singing cube that leads to an epic battle...kinda. In the tradition of FF feature FUNKY FOREST, this film uses brazen flat-out weirdness to mangle your brain into unstoppable confused laughter.

Dir. Jack Truman / USA / 2008 / 5 min.
A sophisticated older woman pontificates on the myriad pleasures of outdoor plumbing and the human digestive system.

Dir. Daniel Trezise / USA / 2007 / 12 min.
In a socially disconnected future, two people feel a spark, but they'll need to break modern laws to act on their rediscovered humanity.

Dir. Daniel Bruce / Netherlands / 2007 / 10 min.
A terrified young woman grips her steering wheel as she's pursued at high speed on a winding mountain road. A truly intense action mystery that'll burst at least three veins in your forehead.

Dir. Juan Manuel Betancourt / Colombia / 2007 / 13 min.
Some people complain about their life unraveling, but it's rarely as pronounced as in this whimsical, bizarre short from a young Colombian visualist already on par with mighty artists like Michel Gondry.

Dir. Carlos Crespo / Spain / 2006 / 15 min.
A lonesome, elderly ventriloquist is plagued by his ugly reality and his lil' wooden friend in this unexpectedly comic view of people at the very last rung of society's ladder.

Dir. Julien Zenier / France, Spain / 2008 / 11 min.
When you can't strike out against the world, that only leaves one option. This self-punishing short may very well have the audience running for air.

Dir. Burke Roberts / USA / 2007 / 8 min.
A jarring exploration of how everything you know can go horribly, irreversibly wrong in a matter of seconds.

Dir. Bobbie Peers / Norway / 2007 / 10 min.
A detached young man finds comfort in his old childhood superhero suit. But the real world isn't nearly as accepting of the powers it holds.

Dir. Carla Coma / Canada / 2007 / 2 min.
True love sees no barriers...including species. Taxidermy animation that will make you want to run out, kill things and use them to create great art.

Dir. John Crye / USA / 2008 / 10 min.
Cheap thrills come with a very high price as a fresh-faced young partygoer learns that there's more than one side to recreational fun.

Dir. Adam Green / USA / 2008 / 10 min.
What's more natural than a 32-year-old man (HATCHET's Joel David Moore) wanting to go out trick-or-treating with his friends? When the ol' ball and chain turns him down, things reach a serious boiling point.

Dir. Jason Eisener / Canada / 2008 / 15 min
HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN creators Jason Eisener and Rob Cotterill imagine a yuletide season where the Christmas trees finally even the score for decades of living under the axe of mankind.

Dir. Pascal Forney / Switzerland / 2008 / 22 min.
The tragically hilarious tale of a would-be magician that just can't seem to perfect his saw-the-lady-in-half illusion. In Vincent's world, success, dignity and willing female stage assistants are hard to come by.

Dir. Anna Solana & Marc Riva / Spain / 2007 / 9 min
Violeta makes a new friend and takes him back home to meet the folks. Too bad the depths of depravity of this family is unparalleled in the history of animation.

Dir. Timothy Cawley / USA / 2007 / 15 min.
A group of people who live in terror of the world reach out to one another when their greatest fears are realized. A quietly romantic look at the apocalypse.

Dir. Steve Callen / Australia / 2007 / 22 min.
A drunken department store Santa is kidnapped and tortured by two severely delusional hoods in this comedy that takes the magic of the holiday season and kicks its ass off.

Important dates have been announced for the 4thAnnual Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.

Thursday, August 14, 2008: Retrospective titles Announced
Thursday, August 21, 2008: Guests and juries announced
Thursday, September 4, 2008: Final content and schedule announced
Thursday, September 18, 2008: Festival begins
Saturday, September 20, 2008: 2009 Festival Badges go on sale

For more information about Fantastic Fest, please visit our official website:

Fantastic Fest is an eight-day festival of the best new sci-fi, horror, fantasy and genre films, as well as choice classic and obscure cult titles from all over the world. The festival director and head programmer is Tim League (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema), with additional programming by Harry Knowles (Ain't It Cool News), Blake Ethridge (Cinema is Dope), Todd Brown (, Zack Carlson (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema) and Lars Nilsen (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema). Fantastic Fest is a supporting member of the prestigious Melies European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation and a founding member of the North American Fantastic Festival Alliance. Fantastic Fest is sponsored in part by Ain’t It Cool News, Twitchfilm, Gamecock, DVD Empire, Best Buy, VIZ Pictures, Embassy Suites, Dark Sky Films, The Texas Film Commission, Room Service Vintage, Rue Morgue Magazine, Fangoria Magazine, The Austin Chronicle, The Onion and the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema South Lamar.