Everything We Saw at Fantastic Fest 2016

fantastic-fest-2016

When the smoke cleared, I ended up seeing 27 movies over eight days at Fantastic Fest 2016. The Austin-based genre film festival always has a strong line-up of odd, unusual, and unique movies from around the world, but this year was truly exceptional – I saw very few movies I wouldn’t recommend in some capacity. I even saw a handful of movies that are in serious contention for my end-of-the-year top 10.

For the sake of completeness, I have compiled all of my Fantastic Fest coverage into one place, with links to my reviews and smaller capsule reviews for everything that didn’t get their own post. If you’re looking for a something terrifying or unique or action-packed or tear-jerking or just plain unusual, there is something here for you.

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phantasm remastered review

How does Phantasm exist?

That’s an odd rhetorical question to ask of a movie that has such a strong cult following, that has inspired four sequels over 37 years, and has inducted a genuine horror icon into the genre canon in the form of Angus Scrimm‘s The Tall Man. But revisiting the film in 2016 courtesy of a new 4K restoration that has the film looking better than ever, demands that this question be asked. Because Don Coscarelli‘s horror masterpiece isn’t just creepy, funny and wildly entertaining – it’s weird. Deeply weird. Endearingly weird. Weird on the kind of wavelength that you really don’t see very often. And it’s a wavelength that many horror fans seem to be right in tune with.

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phantasm ravager trailer

Don Coscarelli‘s Phantasm is one of my favorite horror movies, a dreamy, surreal, intentionally obtuse and beautifully frustrating gem that has developed a passionate cult following over the decades since its 1979 release. The first three sequels (which arrived in 1988, 1994, and 1998) are a more of a mixed bag, ranging wildly in quality even as they maintain the original’s lunatic ambition and imagination. I may not love the sequels as I love the original, but man, I’m sure glad they’re around.

That brings us to Phantasm: Ravager, the fifth and final film in the series that is set to make its world premiere at Fantastic Fest this weekend. The film’s trailer has arrived to celebrate its impending screening and…well, let’s just say that this looks like one for the fans.

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phantasm restoration

You wouldn’t expect a man who built his career on a horror franchise about a supernatural undertaker who plots to take over the world through a sinister plot that involves grave-robbing and weaponized metal spheres to be the nicest and most straightforward person in the world, but director Don Conscarelli fits the bill.

The director of Phantasm and its four sequels stopped by Austin for the 2016 SXSW Film Festival, where the new 4K restoration of the original 1979 horror classic is set to screen. It turns out that Mr. Coscarelli has fans in high places, namely J.J. Abrams and various employees of his Bad Robot production company, who have spent the past 18 months meticulously restoring this beloved cult classic. Now, after decades of being a cult gem appreciated by a small group of diehard fans, Phantasm is being re-introduced to the world with the help of one of the world’s biggest filmmakers.

In advance of tonight’s screening of the restored Phantasm, I sat down with Coscarelli to chat about how Bad Robot got involved, the legacy of the series, and how the landscape of indie horror filmmaking has changed.

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Phantasm (1)

J.J. Abrams is a big fan of Don Coscarelli‘s horror cult classic Phantasm. He’s such a big fan of it, in fact, that he even pays tribute to it in Star Wars: The Force Awakens — Phasma, the “Chrome Trooper” played by Gwendoline Christie, is named after the 1979 movie.

And his love for the film doesn’t stop there. We’ve now learned that Abrams’ company Bad Robot has secretly overseen a 4K restoration of Phantasm from the original camera negative. Noted Coscarelli: “Star Wars isn’t the only ’70s franchise he’s rejuvenating this year!” More on the Phantasm 4K restoration after the jump.  Read More »

New York Comic-Con has come and gone, bringing with it big movie news, TV news and lots and lots of collectibles. And while some booths chose to reveal their collectibles in advance, one that didn’t was the crew at Mondo. They preferred to keep their first trip to New York a well-kept secret until the convention opened on Thursday. Once that happened though, fans realized it was worth the wait as the famous poster boutique of the Alamo Drafthouse had brought posters from the Lord of the Rings, The Iron Giant, Shaun of the Dead, Kill Bill, Friday the 13th and more. That’s the good news. The better news is that not everything sold out so they’ll likely be online soon.

After the jump, check out all of Mondo’s New York Comic-Con offerings. Read More »