Fantastic Fest 2014 unveils wave one of programming with Kevin Smith and 'ABCs of Death 2'
Credit: Drafthouse Films

Fantastic Fest 2014 unveils wave one of programming with Kevin Smith and 'ABCs of Death 2'

Could the tenth anniversary fest be the best one yet?

It's that time of year again, isn't it?

There is no greater party on Earth for fans of genre films than Austin's annual Fantastic Fest, and ten years in, they just keep making it better.

"In 2014, we are taking no prisoners. This festival is going to set new boundaries of decadence, destruction and debauchery." - Tim League

As much as I love events like Cannes, Sundance, or Toronto, I can't imagine the directors of those festivals ever issuing that statement. The scary thing is that Tim League isn't kidding. Fantastic Fest is special because it's much more than just movies being screened. Every day is packed with events that elevate the entire festival, and with this year taking place at the new Alamo Drafthouse on S. Lamar, complete with the brand-new Highball, it feels like it's going to be a blow-out the likes of which even the most avid Fantastic Fest fan has never seen before.

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Megan Fox says she would have done anything to be in 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'
Credit: HitFix

Megan Fox says she would have done anything to be in 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'

She seems well aware of what people want from this movie

One of us burped during this interview. I'm not pointing any fingers but it wasn't me.

Before sitting down to talk to her about "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," I had interviewed Megan Fox two other times, and under very different circumstances.

The first time was at Toronto, where we spoke about the film "Jennifer's Body," and it was a zoo. It was one of the weirdest press days I've ever done. There was something in the air, some crazy energy, and by the time I got into the room, everyone was on edge, and it was really hard to get anything out of anyone. The second time was on the set of "This Is 40," and we just sat in a room off to the side of everything else and chatted for a half-hour. That conversation left me with a very different impression of Fox, and I felt like she is well aware of her image, both good and bad.

In this new incarnation of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," her character is essential to the creation of the Turtles in the first place, and we talked a bit about whether or not that was part of her decision to do the film.

"There was no script when I first attached myself to this movie. I just wanted to be in it because I was a fan as a kid. And I was like, 'I'll do anything to be in this movie. Put me in this movie. I'm a superfan. Please please please."

And then came a moment I've always had nightmares about, because if it was me this happened to, the video would be horrible. But Fox laughs her way through it, and damn it, she keeps going, just as poised as before.

"I'm really relieved to see how integrated she is into their story and how important she is to them now. As Jonathan describes it, April is 'our window into the Turtles,' and that was fun for me."

Look, anyone can memorize things for an interview and learn how to sell the product and put a good face on it… that's part of doing publicity for movies. You've got something to sell, and I'm well aware of what most of these interviews are. But listening to Fox talk about this, she seems to be fully aware of why kids are going to go see the film.

"The Turtles are where it's at, man."

Well-said, Miss Fox.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is in theaters everywhere on Friday.

Black Cat spin-off film? Sony expanding 'Spider-Man' universe with female lead
Credit: Marvel Comics

Black Cat spin-off film? Sony expanding 'Spider-Man' universe with female lead

We wouldn't discount the possibility of a 'Spider-Girl' movie, though

Sony's got a tough road ahead of them.

One of the most depressing but predictable things to happen this weekend was the backlash that has already begun regarding Sony's idea to possibly make a woman-driven "Ghostbusters." While I'm used to seeing knee-jerk reactionary responses from people who show up in comments sections, I was taken aback by Mike Fleming's response on Deadline. If he meant it as a joke, it's tone deaf, and if he's serious, then he's more of a caveman than I expected.

At this point, I feel like I've turned a corner in terms of my own feelings about casting, especially when it comes to these big fanboy properties. I am fully onboard at this point for disruption of the status quo. Female Thor? Great. Black Spider-Man? Bring it on. An all-female Ghostbusters team? Suit up, ladies, and let's see what you've got. If it makes white dudes angry because they feel like they're having to share their toys, then I'm all in.

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Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' gets the characters' relationships right at least
Credit: Paramount

Review: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' gets the characters' relationships right at least

HitFix
C+
Readers
n/a
It may just be for kids, but isn't that the point anyway?

Kids will have a good time.

Ultimately, if you're an adult who is upset about the finer details of a movie in which turtles do kung-fu and eat pizza and ride skateboards, you may want to take a step back and ask yourself why. Nostalgia? Sure, I know there is an entire generation that stubbornly wraps itself in the things they enjoyed as kids and believe that is what defines them, but at some point, don't you feel ridiculous about watching the same ridiculous story over and over?

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Paul Feig rumored to be taking the helms of a female-driven 'Ghostbusters' reboot
Credit: Sony Pictures

Paul Feig rumored to be taking the helms of a female-driven 'Ghostbusters' reboot

There are plenty of funny people ready to star if this happens

Paul Feig is a very funny man. First and foremost, before any further conversation about the merits of a possible female-driven "Ghostbusters," let's be very clear about that. You should read "Kick Me: Adventures In Adolescence" and "Superstud: Or How I Became A 24-Year-Old Virgin" immediately, especially if you're a fan of "Freaks & Geeks." You'll see how his writings evolved into that show, particularly in terms of the way he uses brutal truth to get his laughs.

When I visited him on the set of "Bridesmaids," he was confident about the film he was making, and he was over-the-moon in regards to his cast. His background is such that he really loves performers, and he knows how to create an amazing atmosphere for them to play together. I'm not a big fan of "The Heat," but the same skill set is on display, and it's obvious that he was able to build that space for Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.

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Philadelphia's The Awesome Festival becomes Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival
Credit: Universal Pictures

Philadelphia's The Awesome Festival becomes Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival

A line-up of indie horror like this worth way more than $50

Philadelphia's Awesome Fest sounds… well… awesome.

To be clear, though, it appears this is an evolution of the already-existent event, which is now being called The Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival. As you would expect with a name like that, Bruce Campbell will indeed be there as part of the four-day event in Rosemont, IL, where they'll also be screening a slate of horror titles curated by Scott Weinberg, horror maven and the resident critic at the just-killed FEARnet. They'll also have panels, and they've got some great ones planned. Overall, it looks like a really cool chance to see a fistful of the best of what indie horror has going on right now with bonuses that simply make the weekend better.

From August 21 to August 24, you'll be able to check out some great films. How? Well, here's how they put it:

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James Gunn on the tactile world of 'Guardians' and why they get to know the big secret
Credit: HitFix

James Gunn on the tactile world of 'Guardians' and why they get to know the big secret

This is a man who loves the characters he's writing and directing

My first interactions with James Gunn were, to put it lightly, awkward thanks to the particularly strident way in which Harry Knowles took him to task over his work on "Scooby-Doo." I respect the way Gunn has built a career out of a a start in the Troma factory, not a given by any means, and he's been true to his voice as he's worked on larger and larger films, something else that isn't easy.

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Guillermo Del Toro previews 'Crimson Peak' and calls Legendary 'a filmmaker's home'
Credit: HitFix

Guillermo Del Toro previews 'Crimson Peak' and calls Legendary 'a filmmaker's home'

Could 'Hellboy 3' happen after Comic-Con's surprise reaction?

If I were asked to make a list of my favorite people, I'm sure Guillermo Del Toro would take up at least three or four spots on the list all by himself.

Sure, he's an amazing visual artist, with a rich and detailed imagination that seems to have no limits in scope or variety, and that is something you have to value in an age where we finally have technology that can keep up with him.

And, yes, I think he's got a wicked sense of humor that comes out only in the overtly comic moments in his movies but also in the way he plays things straight. He's not above playing around with the audience and the way they expect things to unfold. He'll tell you a story and he'll stick it to you with some violation of convention, and if you're onboard, you'll laugh, and if you're not, you'll wonder what kind of madman has control of the camera.

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Dave Bautista on his daily transformation into Drax for 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'
Credit: HitFix

Dave Bautista on his daily transformation into Drax for 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'

One of the movie's biggest surprises is a soft-spoken giant

If there is any cast member in "Guardians Of The Galaxy" whose work can be categorized as a genuine surprise, it's Dave Bautista.

I've actually spoken to him before this film, when we talked about his work in "The Man With The Iron Fists," and he struck me there as a very thoughtful guy who has this warmth that may not be immediately apparent when his primary job is to beat the hell out of opponents in the wrestling ring.

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Toronto's Midnight Madness announces Kevin Smith, 'The Guest,' and a return to '[REC]'
Credit: Cannon Films

Toronto's Midnight Madness announces Kevin Smith, 'The Guest,' and a return to '[REC]'

It sounds like this is going to be one wild ride

Okay, I doubt Charles Bronson will be there, but if anyone could pull it off, Colin Geddes could.

There are few things I look forward to with more fervor each year than Toronto's Midnight Madness selection each year. Programmer Colin Geddes is not just a phenomenal ringleader, an instigator of a controlled cinema riot every single night of the festival, but he is also a tremendous friend, the sort of person who is a pleasure to bump into anywhere at any festival in the world.

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