Fantastic Fest Day 6 Recap: ‘THE MARTIAN’, Secret Screening #2 and Encore Screenings

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fantastic-fest-2015-700x300Preston Barta // Editor

The Alamo Drafthouse on Lamar was relatively quiet throughout the morning and early afternoon yesterday. Most of the festivalgoers took the time off to relax in the Highball, or play arcade games in the theater hall. That was until 2 p.m. rolled around for Secret Screening #2 of Fantastic Fest.

This year’s Fantastic Fest saw two secret screenings. The first screening turned out to be the much anticipated CRIMSON PEAK, which packed three theaters full of eager attendees. One of those theaters had filmmaker Guillermo del Toro there in the flesh participating in a post-screening Q&A.

A still from DANGEROUS MEN. Photo courtesy of Drafthouse Films.

A still from DANGEROUS MEN. Photo courtesy of Drafthouse Films.

Geared for retro movie-lovers, the second secret screening was John Rad’s DANGEROUS MEN. You may be asking, “What the hell is that?” Drafthouse Films are experts when it comes to shining the light on the unknown and resurfacing lost gems. In the case of DANGEROUS MEN, well, it’s just a tasty slice of B-movie fun where the acting and visual-look are reminiscent of the worst After School Special ever made.

Rad, who passed away in 2007, came to the United States from Iran at the tail-end of the 70s to make his dream project– “a rampaging gutter epic of crime, revenge, cop sex and raw power.” But it wasn’t until three decades had past that he was able to complete his masterwork.

DANGEROUS MEN is every bit of ridiculous as you would hope. If you can push through the horrible dubbing, acting, and filming technique in general, then you will surrender to this absurd piece of work and wonder how they were able to get the people they did and do what they do in the film– the women, especially, as they take part in some droll and graphic sex scenes.

Sometimes filmmakers set out to make the worst movie of all-time and it winds up being gold. Just ask Tommy Wiseau. I’m willing to bet no one expected KUNG FURY and THE ROOM to be as wildly popular as they were, especially the filmmakers. But with movies like SHARKNADO, ZOMBEAVERS, and MACHETE, we’re more accepting of movies that are in on their own joke. Besides, the internet loves any chance of sharing absurdity with the world.

So with DANGEROUS MEN, you won’t be able to help yourself from snapping your fingers to its senseless rhythm.

The press release informed us that DANGEROUS MEN will hit theaters and VOD on November 13, and we’ll see a Blu-ray/DVD/VHS (yes, you read the latter correctly) release sometime in early 2016.

Matt Damon is Astronaut Mark Watney in THE MARTIAN. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Matt Damon is Astronaut Mark Watney in THE MARTIAN. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Aside from the encore screenings of THE WITCH (our review), GREEN ROOM (our review), DEMON, ANOMALISA and ZINZANA (RATTLE THE CAGE), the biggest pull-in was a special screening of Ridley Scott’s THE MARTIAN, the Matt Damon-starring space epic about an astronaut who is left behind and forced to survive on the isolated planet of Mars with limited supplies.

From a technical standpoint, THE MARTIAN is a marvel of scientific accuracy. From the shockingly realistic spacecraft Hermes, to equipment that looks half-a-step away from functional, to (I kid you not) actual hexadecimal coding on the computer screens, Scott (GLADIATOR) has single-handedly fended off a whole host of the worst Hollywood sci-fi clichés. Instead, the film delivers an accessible, relatable story that does the precise opposite of insulting your intelligence.

THE MARTIAN features a healthy mixture of the new and the old from other movies about realistic space travel. The grandiose visuals and sense of immense challenge from INTERSTELLAR comingle with the unbeatable sense of optimism in the face of adversity from the classic APOLLO 13. Space is hard, THE MARTIAN says, but it is worth the effort and humanity is up for the challenge (read the rest of Teddy Yan’s review here).

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

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About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.