ByDanni Winn, writer at
Lifelong lover of everything film. But Horror movies are my pride and joy
Danni Winn

Do you ever have to step back from an event to gain the full perspective and just sheer significance of it all? An event so meaningful to you, that to attempt to articulate in a short sentence, would do it an injustice? That is my dilemma with Fantastic Fest; a week of genre goodness and rubbing elbows with the horror entertainment elite. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema's South Lamar location in Austin, Texas is the home of this fanciful fright fest. Fantastic Fest has become the rambunctious offspring of the festival circuit, undoubtedly becoming a favorite among the industry. Genre gurus from far and wide travel to the Lone Star State to experience the stellar selection of films, diverse array of extra curricular activities, and to reconnect with friends.

The following is my experience at Fantastic Fest the last week of September, but I feel it necessary to relay a set of circumstances that were adversely affecting me while I attended Fest. I'm not proud of the fact I found myself without a home during this time, and the possibility of losing all my belongings was a very real fear. But I had some decisions to make, one of them being that either I stayed in San Antonio, having a place to crash at, or go to Austin and attend Fantastic Fest and have extremely limited funds and nowhere to stay. This is where I'd also like to point out that I am no one of significance. I work long shifts as a Service Industry worker doing everything from washing dishes to serving food to bartending. So to even have this opportunity which was so graciously accepted, was not taken lightly upon myself. I'm a HUGE fan of Art house Cinema and all types of passion runs deep and I couldn't give this up. Off to Austin I chose to go and my youthful years of juvenile delinquency and the lessons learned then now were fondly remembered and put to good use. Trying to find a safe place to rest, wash up, and collect my thoughts from the day sometimes became a precarious situation. I felt determined though, to at least try in this endeavor. And I felt like I was sincerely supposed to be there. Fantastic Fest was a marvelous distraction from the disarray my personal life was in, but I was not prepared for the glorious gathering I was about to be a part of.......


The day before Fantastic Fest officially started, I arrived in Austin with a few friends, bidding one farewell. Shannon was moving back to Chicago after a few years in San Antonio. We all went to the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse for a pint and for myself to pick up my Press Credentials. I suddenly became aware I was very anxious. My palms were beginning to sweat and my breathing had quickened. We parked on the top level of the parking garage so I could show them the rather beautiful view from there. It overlooked the neighboring community of well kept single story homes over to the nearby skyline of downtown Austin. Skyscrapers and luxury condominiums pierced the blue Texas sky. I was breathing it all in, or at least trying to, because my breathing hadn't returned to normal. The significance of the approaching moment was being felt.

We walked down to the front of the Alamo Drafthouse, where tents were set up, press and industry being able to use them. The sides of the adjoining Highball Karaoke Lounge, which is where Fantastic Arcade would later be housed, was open to accept registered guests. I noticed none other than Harry Knowles ( Ain't It Cool News ) was in front of me, accepting his passes for himself and his father. I met Knowles previously, at the same location, when director Adam Green and artist Alex Pardee did an exclusive mini tour across the U.S. for the film Digging Up the Marrow. I wondered if Knowles remembered chatting it up with me then, so I approached him, introduced myself and shook his hand. Know what? He did in fact remember me and our conversation. This meant a great deal to myself, because I mean, c'mon its Harry Knowles!!! We each sat and talked for what didn't seem long, but my friends insist it was 30-40 minutes. Extremely friendly, bright, and happy with movie wisdom off the freaking charts, Harry Knowles is a very easy gentleman to converse with. We parted ways and I said I hoped we ran into each other during the Fest, he agreed, I became giddy and worked my way over to the press sign in. I gave them my name and a woman began flipping through badges in a bin. My eyes became very wide. I was seeing who would also be in attendance. Ryan Turek, Josh Either, Mickey Keating, Heather Buckley........I mean these individuals are well known, successful, knowledgeable industry professionals. They have been involved in projects I greatly admire. I was almost in a daze when I noticed the smiling volunteer handing me my badge and Fest guide. I accepted them so gratefully and with a massive cheesey grin. I turned to my friends and cried a little bit.

I have much more to share from Fantastic Fest, including an interview with a friend from afar, my Amazing Amy & Michael experience, further conversations with the Legend Knowles, and film reviews!!!! Stay tuned, or tune in, turn on, and drop out. Whatever floats your boat. Also......MondoCon!!!!!


Latest from our Creators