I started the day off with a much needed, cooked buffet breakfast at TGI Friday's, which was handily located within the hotel, before heading out to South Congress to check out what the local shops had to offer... I then went on to 6th Street (Austin's popular bar and club strip, where you can be guaranteed to sample the best live music in the world every night of the week) – as it was the middle of the day, I thought this would be a good time to get my bearings whilst it was light out.
Thursday 24th September:
I then passed a tattoo shop (one of about 20 along 6th street) and in a moment of madness decided to go in - after much umming and arring I thought it best not to get a tattoo on the 2nd day of my holiday in a foreign country and so went back to the Alamo Drafthouse cinema on South Lamar (the main location for the FantasticFest films) and bought 2 tshirts from the store within the cinema, Mondo T-Shirts – an official 2009 Fantastic Fest tshirt and a Zombie riddled Alamo Drafthouse T-shirt.
It was then time to go to the opening night film of Fantastic Fest, the World Premiere of Gentlemen Broncos, the new film from the makers of Napoleon Dynamite starring Jemaine Clement (ofFlight of the Conchords fame) and Sam Rockwell (Moon). The film was the first of several to be shown at a different location to the rest of the festival, the Paramount Cinema I was told is an old Opera house and has the same majestic feel to it as Notting Hill's Coronet Cinema. As I had only seen Napoleon Dynamite once (and didn't take much of it in at the time), I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised with the downbeat humour that this other-worldly sci-fi hero story had to offer. There are perhaps more moments that will have you cringing than laughing out loud, but anyone who liked Eagle vs Shark (also starring Jemaine Clement) will enjoy this as the humour and tone are very similar in both.
After the film I headed back across town to the Highball to attend the official opening night and the Brutus and Balzaak bash (to keep in theme with Gentlemen Broncos), with Jemaine Clement, Sam Rockwell and Mike White (School of Rock) there to party with the festival goers and enjoy the entertainment. One thing to remember is that the Highball is not just any old bar, oh no, it has 8 bowling lanes and skee ball machines, and on this occasion, a battle stag and a country ball popcorn making station - the staff at the Highball had already shown us how it was done with the masterpiece below, a model of the Fantastic Fest 2009 logo made out of popcorn!
On at the same time as the Gentlemen Broncos bash was Macabre, which I saw a few weeks earlier at FrightFest. If its brutal violence and endless gore that gets your pulse racing then this Indonesian bloodbath will tick all the boxes. A feature length version of the short film Dara (also shown at the festival), the story sees 6 friends pick up a helpless girl on the side of the road, who appears to have been robbed, and return her to her home. It is only when they go inside the house that the plot starts to unravel and you realise that the friends' good deed will come back to bite them in the arse. The friends were part of a trap, and the rescued girl's family are a twisted bunch with a dark secret which goes to explain their need for fresh meat. With the odd supernatural and occult reference thrown in, Macabre certainly isn't your average slasher movie, but a strong stomach is perhaps advised in order to see the film in full.
More Information For further information on FANTASTIC FEST 2009 visit the festival website: http://www.fantasticfest.com.