Other Worlds Austin is a dedicated science fiction film festival based in Austin, TX. A team of passionate scifi film makers, writers, and fans, they put together a curated collection of independent and classic science fiction movies, with a little horror thrown in. This was my first year to attend, and I am definitely part of the cult now.
I liked almost everything I saw this year, which is not a common experience at most festivals. The curation was films was very well done. They brought in some cool people, like Brian Narelle, who played Lt. Doolittle in Dark Star (1974) and has some of the weirdest stories about film making and fandom. There was a fascinating script writing class by Matt Lohr on Dan O’Bannon’s screen writing style, that dissected the original Alien to examine why it’s such a damn good movie.
Other Worlds is a great little festival, and I can’t wait to see what they put together next year.
I saw nine feature-length movies, and several short films. I’ll be writing proper reviews of my favorites over the next week, so here is a quick recap, in the order that I saw them:
- OMG, I’m a Robot! – a quirky Israeli comedy with robots and ridiculous giant guns. Lots of fun, probably hard to find. U.S. premier at the festival.
- The Axe Murders of Villisca – creepy, very creepy. The Villisca murders were a real historical event, and the house is supposedly haunted. The film makers explore what happens when bored teenagers break into the house one night.
- Blood Hunters – A cool concept, but my least favorite thing at the festival.
- Dark Star (1974) – The classic film school project by John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon that launched their careers.
- We Go On – One of my favorites, this unique ghost story puts plenty of ghost movie tropes in a blender and creates an interesting story that tackles some heavy philosophical questions.
- Bed of the Dead – As ridiculous as the title suggests. This weird little horror film came about in an effort to save money and film a movie almost entirely in one room. The constraint pays off, the movie is suspenseful, a good balance of gore to jump scares, with a few mysteries that keep the audience interested.
- Stille Reserven – Gorgeous, disturbing German about a dystopian future where our corporate masters have figured out how to stop people from escaping their debts even in death. Also a favorite.
- Island of Lost Souls (1932) – One of the best horror films of the 1930’s, but Paramount didn’t spend the money on a musical score, or even basic sound effects. Composer Jay Woelfel decided to fix that, composing, recording and editing an entire soundtrack that fills that gap in the emotional effects of the film. Good stuff.
- The Unseen – A cool, weird twist on the idea of the Invisible Man. This is a film worth seeing.