Fantastic Fest Day 1 Recap: ‘Tusk’, ‘ABCs of Death 2’ & More

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Cole Clay // Critic

Fantastic Fest- Tusk

TUSK on the opening night of Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse- South Lamar in Austin, Texas on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Photo courtesy of Jack Plunkett.

This is the tenth year Fantastic Fest has showcased the best genre films from around the world. We are expected to have several guest appearances and a plethora of incredible films to cover over seven straight days of movie hopping, all taking place at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar.

Day one’s main attraction was TUSK, which marks Kevin Smith’s second plunge into horror. The reaction was mixed going into the Austin premiere, but that didn’t stop fans from selling out five massive theaters. However, this was a film that Fresh Fiction praised due to Justin Long’s daring performance (our review).

TUSK made a great pairing with Drafthouse Pictures’ horror anthology film ABCs OF DEATH 2, which has a different director for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet. This was a vast improvement on the original for having far more hits than misses. Notable shorts (roughly 4-6 min. long) were A is for Amateur, directed by E.L. Katz; the hilarious G is for Grandad by Jim Hosking; and M is for Masticate by Robert Boocheck. There was a vast variance in quality between several of the shorts, whether they were too campy, dark, or they just didn’t strike the same tone as the others.

Writer-director Kevin Smith and TUSK star Justin Long on the opening night of Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse- South Lamar in Austin, Texas on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Photo courtesy of Jack Plunkett.

Writer-director Kevin Smith and TUSK star Justin Long on the opening night of Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse- South Lamar in Austin, Texas on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Photo courtesy of Jack Plunkett.

Peripheral screenings for the night included a Polish film called HARDKORE DISCO, a classic case of substance over style. It tells the story of a misanthropic young man who delves into a relationship with the daughter of the couple he plans on killing. This film felt cold to the touch, and although director Krzysztof Skokieczny paints a stark portrait, no startling revelations rise to the surface.

Friday has a crowded schedule with scheduled appearances by directors James Gunn, (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) Eli Roth, (Hostel 1 & 2) and it’s rumored that Edgar Wright (THE WORLD’S END) is running around on the premises somewhere.

Notable screenings include the Swedish drama FORCE MAJEURE, the documentary about Canon filmmaking ELECTRIC BOOGALOO, the Keanu Reeves revenge flick JOHN WICK, and a viral epidemic film titled THE HIVE.

All ticket and screening information can be found at fantasticfest.com

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.

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