This year’s Fantastic Fest was packed with documentaries and even threw in a few mockumentaries into the mix. As I’ve begun to cover more festivals, I’ve grown to understand that the documentary categories are where it is at! Where else can you learn so much about the world in such a damned entertaining fashion? Thankfully, the folks programming this year didn’t let us down!
Growing up in my house, I quickly learned to appreciate stand up comedy. It was an art that my father loved with a passion, yet I’m not 100% sure he’d ever seen a live act in person. That being said, when Gilbert Gottfried showed up in PROBLEM CHILD, I was already aware of the comedian, his shrill voice, and witty delivery style. I’ve grown up with him in movies, watched the roasts he’s participated in, yet I realized that I knew nothing about him. That was intentional as he purposely led a private life and decided just now to tell his story. With his warped view on stage, you’d expect raucous adventures. Instead we get a sweet look at a family man with an hoarding problem when it comes to hotel toiletries. Hilarious and heart felt, this one will leave you feeling great afterward.
Starting off with a writing gig on a Western TV show at the age of 17, Larry Cohen went on to have an extremely prolific writing, and later directing, career. Always an entertainer, the man knows how to tell a story. And thankfully the director of this doc knows that and utilizes it! We get some pretty terrific tales both from the man himself, as well as from family, co-workers, and fans. As his career was so long, this doc clocks in at almost 2 hours. Had we gotten the opportunity to split it up a bit more and maybe allow some sections to breath more, it would have really flowed well. Definitely worth seeing if you’re a fan of Cohen’s or even how the 60’s TV/film studios worked.
HAUNTERS: THE ART OF THE SCARE
HAUNTERS does not fuck around. Opening loud and bombastic, we are thrust into the screams and thrills of people getting the literal piss scared out of them. Following the stories of a scare actor, a more traditional haunt maker and his disapproving wife, and the warped minds behind the only extreme haunt without a safe word, HAUNTERS lays all its cards on the table, allowing the viewer to make their decision on what is the best way for them. When real life scares such as potential divorce, serious injury, and government enforced shutdowns come along, you can root for your favorite participants, or even all of them. The last third of the film feels a bit bloated, but it doesn’t bring the spooky festivities to a close.