Tuesday night at Fantastic Fest was a virtual Lucky McKee… um… lovefest. The cult-horror director (May) came to Austin to present the U.S. Premiere of his sophomore directorial feature, The Woods. But, before that, he was onhand for the World Premiere of May star Angela Bettis’ film, Roman (in which he stars). The Woods will be out direct-to-DVD next week, but it was once bound for a theatrical release back when it was produced by the Bingham Ray-run United Artists.
After UA folded (and the Sony/MGM merger), The Woods was one of the ill-timed films to get shelved for over a year. Another victim of the UA fallout was Capote, but things worked out in the end for that one. You could sense at the screening last night that McKee was anxious and frustrated about the reality of his “new” film. When an audience member asked after why the film can’t get a theatrical release, McKee responded with, “Good question. I’d like to know.” It probably doesn’t help that a Woods web site still exists, dated 2004, and promising “In Theaters Soon.”
While I wasn’t blown away by the film, it’s a totally reliable homage to late 1970s and early 1980s supernatural horror (think Dario Argento or even John Hough). That’s probably a big reason why no one wanted to roll the dice, theatrically. It would be a tough sell: a horror movie stylized for a demographic that doesn’t really go to horror movies en masse, anymore. Meanwhile, Lucky has another new film he produced (besides Roman), called The Lost. This gothic and disturbing film premiered at SXSW 2006, and I know a few buyers personally that hope they can buy it. Hopefully, for theaters.
FURTHER READING: The Austinist chats with McKee, on the eve of his Austin visit.