A Horrible Way to Die had its U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest on Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 6:30 pm at the Alamo Drafthouse Lamar in Austin, TX, which meant our audience could order and consume alcoholic beverages during the film. I don’t know if that helped, but both of our Fantastic Fest screenings sold out and included celebrity audience members such as Harry Knowles, Jeffrey Combs, Stuart Gordon and Elijah Wood, who was really cool about us all staring at him and loudly debating the relative merits of The Good Son before the screening started.
For those of you who’ve never been to Fantastic Fest, you need to go as soon as possible. It basically appears to be a festival that was designed specifically for me. They show insane movies, have festival ads deliberately conceived to be in the worst possible taste, stage target shooting events and boxing matches between filmmakers, and drink quantities of alcohol at a single festival party that exceed the amount consumed at most L.A. industry events in an entire year. They have premiered films ranging from There Will Be Blood to A Serbian Film, and even their most humble festival volunteers know more about cinema than tenured film theory professors. This was the first year I attended Fantastic Fest, but it will not be the last.
So, as has been already reported by various media outlets, A Horrible Way to Die actually won some awards at Fantastic Fest, to our vast delight and considerably more vast astonishment. In the horror category (we’re debatably a horror film, but we’ll take it), Amy Seimetz (in absentia) won best actress, which frankly seems about right, since I haven’t seen better acting in a film this year. AJ Bowen, who was at the festival, then won best actor, causing my heart to swell with joy like in the Grinch cartoon, only with slightly more pain and shoulder numbness. Then I won best screenplay. The less said about that decision, the better.
Appropriately enough, the Fantastic Fest trophy comes in the form of a beer stein that you receive onstage filled with beer (Dos Equis lager, if you’re curious). You then have 30 second to chug the beer in front of the audience or Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League will punch you in the solar plexus. I am not making this up, and it says absolutely everything you need to know about why Fantastic Fest is the best film festival in America.
I haven’t been able to find any photos online of us at the awards show. Oddly, present journalists seem to have been more concerned with photographing Messrs. League and Wood at the event. However, if you go to this link here, you can watch an indifferently shot video of the entire ceremony. At around 39:00, the apparently intoxicated announcer for our segment begins reading off the awards for our section. He somehow manages to pronounce all three of our names wrong, but he makes up for it by chugging a beer along with us on behalf of the absent Amy, which starts around 41:00. As you can see, AJ, who can drink a terrifying amount of whisky while remaining eerily lucid, actually loses the chugging contest, though a close-up photo would reveal that I am both weeping and trying not to vomit, having not chugged a stein of beer since high school. Fortunately, no such photos exist.
We then staggered back to our seats, grinning like fools.
Below are some photos of the Fantastic Fest award trophy taken by AJ. After the ceremony, we immediately went to the lobby bar, then did an interview for IFC on the red carpet while drinking more beer from our trophies. This interview has yet to surface, which should come as no surprise to anyone.
In all seriousness, we are all immensely thrilled and honored to have even played at Fantastic Fest, to say nothing of having received awards. It was an unexpectedly amazing experience that I will never forget.
Drinking excessive amounts of beer always makes me feel like a winner, but drinking excessive amounts of beer from my Fantastic Fest award trophy will make this feeling even more intense. Either that or it will somehow reverse it, in which case I can use the stein as a storage vessel for my tears of infinite regret and sadness. Either way, you can be certain it will receive some use in my household.