Getting Really Weird at Fantastic Fest: Two Gems from Weird Wednesday Archives Connect Gender Festival to Alamo Drafthouse’s Story

Snakes, one of Weird Wednesday’s favorite screenings at Fantastic Fest

Before Fantastic Fest and the American Genre Film Archive, there was Weird Wednesday. A weekly night dive into the 35mm vaults of the Alamo Drafthouse, the forgotten children of the cinema. Exploitation, sexploitation, blaxploitation, nunsploitation, forgotten family films, adding to a film school for those who had already burned by the cult cannon. Now, two of the craziest titles will be parading in the spotlight once again as part of this year’s Fantastic Fest lineup (September 23-30).

AFS Cinema booker Lars Nilsen, aka the Weird Wednesday Hunk, was the series’ first booker after Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League ran the show for a time. Or, as Nilsen described it, “I was a noodge on some things, like ‘Wow that really didn’t work out. People didn’t really like it. shady That, isn’t it, Tim? And I harangued him so much that he would end up asking me for advice. “

Originally paid for in pizza and free tickets, Nilsen used Wednesday’s nighttime screenings to go through all the ‘so bad is it good’ claptrap to highlight hidden classics, unpolished gems, and even hot rubbish. which were, in its own way, fascinating. Another former Drafthouse booker and film historian, Kier-La Janisse, said: “Some movies and some directors would get a fan base based on their screenings at Weird Wednesday, from people who came just for a free movie. . “

“Some movies and some directors would get a fan base based on their screenings at Weird Wednesday, from people who just came in for a free movie.” – Kier-La Janisse

The weekly series is on hiatus in person during the pandemic (although screenings now air via Alamo on Demand), making festival screenings both a return to theaters and a teaser for the upcoming release of Distorted and faded: strange wednesday and the birth of the American genre film library, a coffee table anthology (and the size of a coffee table) written by Nilsen and edited by Janisse, bringing together and contextualizing the blurbs of the Alamo guide for the more than 700 (and more) films released since The Clash of the underwater nazi zombies Shock waves stormed the very first Strange Wednesday (February 21, 2001).

The original bookers share the duties for the festival, and the League selection is The visitor, a deranged Italian scam of The omen which takes a sudden and savage turn into a New Age sci-fi quirk, which stars Franco Nero, Sam Peckinpah, Shelley Winters, a young Lance Henriksen and John Huston “as a cosmic child pimp for the Lord”. During its screening on December 7, 2005, Nilsen praised director Michael J. Paradise for “refusing to compromise their vision for anyone”, even though that vision was “intense, bizarre and almost incomprehensible”.

Nilsen admitted that, had he been able to fill both positions, he would have appointed Confessions of a Young American Housewife, The swinging sex comedy of Weird Wednesday Hall of Fame member Joe Sarno. (From the September 2003 Alamo guide, “Bring a date, a raincoat, or both.”) However, he still brings Snakes at the party. The sole directorial effort of Art Names (a go-to sound guy for anyone making films for the Southern Drive-In Circuit), it stars veteran radio actor Les Tremayne as Snakey. Bender, a deranged fan of swaying reptiles and the walking music of John Philippe Sousa. He performed twice in 2003 (February 26 and August 13), then retreated on June 20, 2007, for a Best of Weird Wednesday. Nilsen’s original blurb calls it “an extremely weird rural snake revenge film,” but the emphatic opening line of “Total Madness!” is probably more spot on. Of course, that would be Nilsen’s choice: “Everything is aesthetically so unusual and so perfect for Weird Wednesday. “


Snakes, Wednesday, September 29, 10:30 p.m. at the Alamo South Lamar.

The visitor, Thursday, September 23, 9:30 p.m. at the Alamo South Lamar.

Warped and Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archives will be out on Mondo in November and is available for pre-order now at mondoshop.com.


Fantastic Fest takes place September 23-30 at Alamo Drafthouse theaters around Austin. Badges and info on festivalfantastique.com, and follow all of our reviews, news and interviews at austinchronicle.com/fantastic-fest.


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