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There are many things wrong with mega-conventions, and the team behind MondoCon is going to try and fix them. At many conventions the food sucks, it’s too crowded, and the lines are too long. These are problems Mondo knows about, and seeks to improve upon for the company’s first con. The stuff they won’t be able to fix — in fact, what Mondo might make worse — are the many geek Sophie’s Choices fans constantly have to make.

MondoCon, the first Mondo-centric pop culture convention, takes place September 20-21 in Austin, Texas. (That’s during the opening weekend of Fantastic Fest.) Tickets go on sale Wednesday June 4. An initial press release giving some general idea about the convention came online Monday but it raised many more questions than it answered. I got on the phone with Mondo’s Creative Director Justin Ishmael to get more answers. We talked about questions such as, how Mondo will handle the lines, what kind of events will be at the con, which artists are attending, and exactly how big the event will be.

Ishmael was able to answer some of those questions, as well as others. The prevailing feeling I got speaking to him is that, much like Comic-Con, MondoCon is going to have so much excellent stuff happening simultaneously that fans will have to make some really tough decisions on what they want to do over the course of the two days. Read more about MondoCon below. Read More »

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Alamo Drafthouse Takes Fantastic Fest 2013 On Tour

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The Alamo Drafthouse have announced they will be taking Austin’s Fantastic Fest on tour, showing movies from the festival at all Alamo Drafthouse markets over three weekends in November. Films include Big Bad Wolves, Borgman, Cheap Thrills, Confession of Murder, The Congress, Grand Piano, Journey to the West: Conquering The Demons, and Why Don’t You Play In Hell. Tickets are now available on the Alamo website. After the jump you can learn more and read the press release announcement.
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Machete Kills (10)

In Machete Kills, director Robert Rodriguez once again celebrates guns, babes, and manly men. This sequel to Machete finds many ways to combine those three factors, offering a new permutation every few minutes. The action is dumb and goofy and very self aware, and Machete Kills is occasionally kind of a blast. The cast is game for anything, and few actors stick around long enough to wear out their welcome.

If only the same could be said for the film, which is long, soggy, and distracted by it’s own excess. Machete Kills is a two-hour Robot Chicken special that features humans instead of action figures, and its schtick wears thin well before everyone runs out of energy.  Read More »

Escape From Tomorrow still

The first wave of films for Fantastic Fest 2013 was good. The second wave looked great. And now the third one proves why this little film festival in Austin is truly one of the best in the country.

Escape From Tomorrow (above), The Zero Theorem, Metallica Through The Never, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Gatchaman and Jodorowsky’s Dune are just a few of the new films announced for the festival, which takes place September 19 – 26 at Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline in Austin, Texas.

Below, check out the full list of the third wave as well as some new stills. Read More »

The Congress

“A middle school student prone to wild daydreams devotes his waking hours to stretching and flexibility exercises with the ultimate goal of one day being able to lick his own penis.” Yes, Fantastic Fest 2013 is quickly approaching and the second wave of programming has just been announced.

That graphic description is of a Japanese film called Maruyama The Middle Schooler and it’s a great example of the kind of madness audiences can expect to see on screen from September 19-26 at Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline in Austin, Texas. Other films announced in this second wave include Elijah Wood and John Cusack in Grand Piano, Ben Wheatley‘s A Field in England, Robin Wright in The Congress (above), the David Cronenberg-narrated documentary Tales From the Organ TradeAlex de la Iglesia‘s Witching and Bitching and many other potentially crazy genre films. Read the full list and see some images below. Read More »

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One of the best film events of the year is Fantastic Fest, which takes place at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX. The first wave of the 2013 fest has been announced, and it has some great stuff. There’s Keanu Reeves, who’ll appear with his directorial debut Man of Tai Chi (trailer); the Cannes weirdness of Borgman (trailer); the excellent SXSW thriller Cheap Thrills; and the restored Cabal Cut of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed.

The full list of first wave titles is below. Read More »

With Frankenweenie, Tim Burton goes back to a couple periods of his own history. One is his childhood, during which he was alienated from average school life, and found solace in monsters and movies. Another is his early career, when he created a short film for Disney that, creatively, was his first big success, and professionally his first major failure. Meant to run before the re-release of Pinocchio, the original Frankenweenie, about a boy who reanimates his dead dog, was deemed too dark and weird, and shelved for years.

Today Burton sees the release of a new, feature-length version of Frankenweenie in which the characters are gloriously rendered via stop-motion animation. The film is a nostalgia trip on many levels, but it is a loving one. Burton came to Fantastic Fest a couple weeks ago to present the film, and he and I sat down for a conversation about going back to your past, and the reliability of memory. Read More »

Michael Stephenson earned audience appreciation with his documentary Best Worst Movie, which chronicled the strange fandom evolved to celebrate the rather terrible film Troll 2. While Best Worst Movie was nominally about that 1990 release, one of the real thrusts of the film was obsession, articulated to us as Troll 2 actor George Hardy is introduced to the grinning, enthusiastic followers of his mostly forgotten starring role.

Now Stephenson returns with a new documentary focused on three families who spend months and precious funds assembling “home haunts,” which is insider jargon for backyard haunted houses. Though each builder has the same nominal goal — scare and entertain Halloween thrill-seekers — all approach the home haunt interest from a different angle. In The American Scream, Stephenson peers behind the taped-up curtain to find the driving interests for each family, and to celebrate the joy they find in delivering simple scares.

The subjects range from driven to eccentric, and a less humane film would might mock some of these Halloween enthusiasts. This doc edges right up to that line, but never crosses it. More so than the occasionally indulgent Best Worst Movie, The American Scream is a focused vision; it is a sweet, tender portrait of an odd American Dream. Read More »

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