The Nighthawks Fantastic Fest Compendium

Some call it a film festival, some call it a life-changing pilgrimage. Over the course of the Nighthawks Podcast, Matt and Trevor were blessed to be able attend and cover Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.

Trevor had been attending the festival for several years, Matt had never been. Over the course of several months, Trevor sold Matt on the idea of attending Fantastic Fest, and both of the guys reported back with gusto.

The Nighthawks Podcast hasn’t been able to attend the festival recently, as life has gotten in the way for both Nighthawks hosts. But this compendium has been put together by the Nighthawks Diner busboys, to assist anyone attending the festival in future and to allow for wistful recollection by veterans.

This journey will plumb the the very early years of the Nighthawks podcast, so you will have to forgive a few things for date and time. For instance, the Nighthawks Podcast is now a member of the Hello Sweetie Podcast Network, and is no longer partnered Fanboy-TV-dot-com (love, respect, R.I.P.), and some of the biographical data for our interviewees is no longer accurate. For the most up-to-date info on some of the folks you hear from, they are all easily found via Google.

Also, forgive us the occasional audio hiccup, as we were still pod-children learning our craft at the time.

Trevor and Matt love many of the attendees, volunteers and staff of Fantastic Fest like family, and hope to return some day. But in the meantime, take a walk down memory lane and remember Matt’s journey into Chaos…

Covering the Festival

Witness the temptation of Matt as he falls into a spiral of Chaos. It’s a transformative journey of before and after, as Matt becomes enlightened.


Ep. 7- Tim League and the History of Fantastic Fest

Content Warning: This episode was released in 2015. As such, it contains an archival interview with Harry Knowles, who has been accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo movement. Some accusations in the wake of #MeToo touched at the heart of Fantastic Fest and the Alamo Drafthouse, and especially Knowles’ involvement in both. This was later discussed by the Nighthawks Podcast, in Episode 49.

The interview with Knowles was recorded in 2010 and was included in this episode before we at the podcast were aware of the accusations. We leave the interview intact for sake of historical record, but listener discretion is advised.

Alamo Drafthouse Founder and C.E.O. Tim League drops into the Nighthawks diner as our first guest. The guys talk a little bit about what makes The Alamo Drafthouse theatre chain a household name among cinephiles and a pilgrimage destination for all true-blood movie fans.

Beyond that, Trevor whets Matt’s appetite for Fantastic Fest, the United States’ largest genre film festival. Tim is the festival’s co-founder, and he tells us what sets Fantastic Fest apart from other film festivals in the country.

So join us as we begin getting excited for this wonderful time of the year, at Ground-Zero Austin, TX.


Ep. 12- Fantastic Fest 2015: On Location Special

A very special episode recorded on location in the one-and-only Austin Texas, with audio from inside the Alamo Drafthouse, the epicenter of the nation’s largest genre film festival: Fantastic Fest.

Matt has made the perilous 20-hour journey cross-country from Utah to Central Texas to attend the 2015 Fantastic Fest with Trevor.

You’ll hear not only from the Nighthawks themselves, but also from Fantastic Fest regulars about the bonkers experience.


Ep. 13- Fantastic Fest 2015: The Morning After

The Nighthawks hit the cafe nursing their coffee and their hangovers following 8 days of film shenanigans at Fantastic Fest. Matt and Trevor give you some of the second-half highlights and keep you up to date on what movies to watch.


Ep. 41- Fantastic Fest 2016: Chaos Reigns Again

It’s our special two ‘hawks in one diner episode. We’ve been going through some Fantastic Fear and Loathing but, unlike Hunter Thompson, Matt and Trevor are actually covering the event.

We’re “live” on-tape from a Texas pillowfort, bringing you first half coverage from where our boots are on the ground (toes up much of the time) for week-one of Fantastic Fest, the nation’s largest genre film festival.

We took a few days off from our rum-drenched movie bacchanal to catch you up on goings on in Austin – join us as we talk Texas, Tacos, Shiner Bock, BBQ, Fantastic Fest, and a years’ worth of movies in a week – including The Arrival, The Invisible Guest, Undisputed: Boyka, Morgan Spurlock’s Rats, and our personal dark horse pick, regional chart topper from Ireland called The Young Offenders.


Ep. 42- Fantastic Fest 2016: Asian Kaiju, Greasy Stranglers, and Ugandan Cinema

After successfully booting… Then booting… Then booting… Then rallying, we’re back with the second half of our FANTASTIC FEST coverage.

Today we discuss: M. Night Shyamalan’s newest film, SPLIT, featuring the talented James McEvoy and Anna Taylor Joy. THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS- A zombie movie that is a fresh take on the genre and got Trevor excited about zombies again. Bonus: Movie is positive for Glenn Close vs. Zombies.

BAD BLACK- A curiosity from the country of Uganda that takes your eyelids and staples them to the back wall, between fits of howling laughter. THE GREASY STRANGLER- Can a movie that was made to challenge the audience to hate it, find its audience? Evidently they did. The film’s star Michael St. Michaels gives us an exclusive interview.

SHIN GODZILLA (aka GODZILLA RESURGENCE)- The latest Toho adaptation of the giant screaming lizard, finds the focus not on the destructive beast, but on the government’s monstrous reactions. A MONSTER CALLS. Giant beasts, fanciful whimsy, a tale about growing up. Excuse us… there’s something in our eyes. COLOSSAL. An exciting new feature from Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo, starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. Is it a drama about love and redemption? Is it a Kaiju movie? Why not both?

Editor’s Note: After a rancid attack of illness following Fantastic Fest 2016, the planned third episode in this series was lost, and never made air. We sincerely apologize. But it wouldn’t be Fantastic Fest without losing some kind of data. Be it digital memory or literal human memory.

The Films as Episodes

Fantastic Fest films have also been grist for discussion. These include the following:


Episode 49- The Horror Queen of Laos: Mattie Do and Dearest Sister

Content Warning: In the beginning of this episode we discuss the effects of #MeToo on Fantastic Fest, which includes discussion of accusations made about people involved with the festival. While we felt it was important to address this controversy and discuss our feelings, we did want to avoid granular exploration of the details. Listener discretion is advised

In this episode Matt and Trevor wanted to give due attention to one of the shining lights of Fantastic Fest in years past. Mattie Do is not only remarkable for being the only female genre filmmaker in Laos, nor is she simply the only female filmmaker in Laos, period. Mattie is an effervescent tour de force of personality, who’s artistry and passion have treated her well as a filmmaker.

Mattie’s film DEAREST SISTER, played Fantastic Fest 2016. Following a release on the streaming service SHUDDER in early 2017, DEAREST SISTER was submitted by the country of Laos for consideration in the “Best Foreign Language Film” category at the Academy Awards. This was the first Lao submission in the country’s history.


Ep. 57- In Order of Disappearance

Come with us, across the Atlantic and into the Great White North, as the boys in the Nighthawks Diner explore the Norwegian black comedy IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE.


Ep 72- The Devil’s Candy

Doom chords, creeping voices, killer artwork, and heavy metal family values are deftly painted on the screen, in this sophomore effort from Tasmanian filmmaker Sean Byrne.


Ep 18- Blue Ruin and Winter’s Bone

In the early days of the Nighthawks Podcast, we used to try to cram two movies into one episode. Fantastic Fest veteran film BLUE RUIN is discussed in this Thanksgiving Special.

Blue Ruin is a tight, noir-ish thriller starring the talented Macon Blair. Also discussed: John Hawkes and Jennifer Lawrence team up in the Ozark Mountain sleuthing noir; WINTER’S BONE.


Ep 32- Julia’s Eyes and Hush

Up for discussion is the Spanish-Language mystery thriller JULIA’S EYES. Directed by Guillem Morales and produced by Guillermo del Toro, from Fantastic Fest 2010.

Also discussed: HUSH. Directed/co-written by GERALD’S GAME helmer Mike Flanagan, and co-written/starring Kate Siegel.

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