This year the largest genre film festival in the U.S. celebrates its tenth year. Fantastic Fest specializes in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and "just plain fantastic" movies and is held yearly at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. With a variety of special events and famous guests, plenty of fantastic moments have come out of the festival. Here are ten, presented in no particular order.
The first edition of Fantastic Fest
The festival lineup was impressive from the start. For the 2005 Fantastic Fest, founders Paul Alvarado-Dykstra and Tim McCanlies put together an impressive bill loaded with American and regional premieres, including Jon Favreau's sci-fi kids' adventure 'Zathura, ' Mark Mylod's 'The Big White, ' starring Robin Williams and Holly Hunter, and Australian horror hit 'Wolf Creek.' The fest also featured sneak previews of Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's 'Sin City: Recut & Extended, ' Werner Herzog's sci-fi-fantasy 'The Wild Blue Yonder' and footage from Richard Linklater's 'A Scanner Darkly.'
Roger and Julie Corman win lifetime achievement awards
The legendary low-budget movie titan Roger Corman and his wife/production partner Julie Corman were in Austin to be honored with a lifetime achievement award at the fest in 2010. They've had a hand in hundreds of films and launched the careers of directors such as Francis Ford Coppola ('Dementia 13'), Martin Scorsese ('Boxcar Bertha') and Ron Howard ('Grand Theft Auto'). The fest featured the world premiere of their film 'Sharktopus' and screened cult classic 'X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes.' Read more about Corman in a 2010 article by Joe Gross. Did we miss your favorite moment? Let us know in the comments!
Yuen Woo-ping makes first U.S. festival appearance
The man behind fight sequences in 'The Matrix, 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' and the 'Kill Bill' movies, who made Jackie Chan a legend came to Fantastic Fest in 2010 to receive his lifetime achievement award. Two of his movies were screened: 'True Legend' and 'Snake in the Eagle's Shadow.'
Tim League boxes Michelle Rodriguez
The Fantastic Debates pit film lovers against each other on various questions. In 2010, Michelle Rodriguez ('Girlfight,' 'Avatar') took on Tim League on whether 'Avatar' should have won the Best Picture Oscar. After some words were exchanged, the two entered the boxing ring and exchanged a few good shots. After the final bell, Rodriguez pinned League to the mat.
Surprise! Bill Murray, Mel Gibson, Darren Aronofsky, Richard Kelly, Paul Thomas Anderson
Fantastic Fest has seen many surprise appearances: during a first look at the unfinished 'Apocalypto' in 2006, Mel Gibson appeared. That same year, Darren Aronofsky was on hand for a Q&A and advance screening of 'The Fountain.' Richard Kelly did a Q&A after the world premiere of 'Southland Tales' in 2007, the same year 'There Will Be Blood' had its world premiere followed by a Q&A with Paul Thomas Anderson. In 2008, Bill Murray came into a theater at Alamo South to introduce his new movie 'City of Ember.' He also attended that year's closing party.
Chaos Reigns Karaoke Party
Named after the famed line from Lars von Trier's 'Antichrist,' the karaoke party at Fantastic Fest 2010 featured a shirtless Tim League joining Wu-Tang Clan member RZA on the Highball's karaoke stage. Also on hand were Elijah Wood, Spanish directors Nacho Vigalondo and Eugenio Mira, and the Alamo's Henri Mazza. A highlight of the performances? The Black Eyed Peas' song, "I Gotta Feeling." Before it was over, most of the singers were lying in a heap on top of League, who was struggling to keep singing into his microphone.
Bring your dog to the movies!
Tim Burton walked the red carpet with Winona Ryder, Martin Landau and Charlie Rahan at Fantastic Fest 2012 for the world premiere screening of Frankenweenie 3D. Also on the red carpet? Furry friends. Tickets were distributed through the Statesman and KXAN and a special theater was reserved for dogs and dog owners to see the film on the opening night of the fest, after walking the red carpet. Owners and their dogs were asked to don black-and-white formal attire.
Samurai Gunn stars in the Fantastic Arcade
In 2010, Fantastic Fest premiered the Fantastic Arcade - a showcase of independent video games. In 2013, 'Samurai Gunn,' a four-player guns-and-swords game in 8-bit style was the hit of the fest, with a constant line of players in the lobby and a rowdy game tournament. The game won Audience and Most Fantastic awards.
Fantastic personalities abound at 'Horror High'
Certain folks have become known for their antics and apperances at Fantastic Fest over the years. In 2011, local contributor Anna Hanks explained the ecosystem of 'Horror High:' "It might sound farfetched, but in many ways Fantastic Fest resembles the ecosystem of an American high school." 'Principal' Tim League gives out rules and awards, and frequently appears in special outfits throughout the fest. 'Professor' Harry Knowles introduces screenings, 'exchange student' Nacho Vigalondo doubles as karaoke king and life of the party and Elijah Wood takes on the role of 'the coolest guy' in school, taking part in skits, boxing matches and karaoke.
The weird and wild moves to Alamo Lakeline (temporarily)
The recently reopened Alamo South Lamar was still under construction when time for Fantastic Fest came around in 2013. Maybe some did not find the new location at Alamo Lakeline 'fantastic,' but the fest was as weird and wild as ever, packed with fanboys and girls, movie stars and directors. Robert Rodriguez walked the red carpet before the world premiere of 'Machete Kills,' Tim League took on Keanu Reeves in Fantastic Debates, Elijah Wood presented the film 'Grand Piano' and the secret screenings continued with Eli Roth presenting 'The Green Inferno,' and screenings of 'Child of God' and 'Gravity.'
Stay tuned to austin360.com/movies for the latest on the fest, including reviews, scene reports, photos, and a wrap up.