Fantastic Fest: Filmmakers face off in battle of with words,fists in Fantastic Debates

Alex Pelham

Every year, Fantastic Fest hosts an event that features movie fans literally battling over several cinematic topics. The Fantastic Debates feature select filmmakers arguing over certain topics involving movies. However, these aren’t normal high-school debates, as both opponents make their cases in a boxing ring. Each debater then engages in a two-round boxing match where the audience determines the victor. Hosted by filmmaker Owen Edgerton, this year’s debates featured several important issues that needed to be resolved.

Fight #1

The first bout of the night featured “ABCs of Death 2” producer Peter Kuplowsky against makeup effects artist Steve Kozanski. The debate was about whether the 2014 “Godzilla” remake was a good or bad film.

Kuplowsky, a fan of the film, opened up arguments by pointing out that the film was a straight-up Godzilla film to its core. He also claimed that the film understood fans’ desire to see Godzilla be both the hero of the film and battle multiple creatures. Kozanski, who disliked the new entry in the franchise, countered that the movie was boring, and the film barely featured Godzilla at all.

In his closing argument, Kuplowsky claimed Godzilla appeared more often than in the original 1954 film. He said the film kept him in suspense and contained multiple, exciting set-pieces. Kozanski countered by claiming the film tragically wasted Bryan Cranston’s character and, overall, the film’s obsession with effects and thrills took away from the actual story.

After the arguments, the two proceeded to duke it out in a destructive cage match. After two rounds, Kozanski trounced Kuplowsky when the audience voted against the Godzilla remake.

Fight #2

The second fight of the night had writer Brian Walton go toe-to-toe with producer Nick Robinson over whether Legendary Picture’s decision to name the upcoming Rocky spin-off “Creed” was disrespectful to the popular Christian-rock band Creed.

In Robinson’s opening statement he argued on the band’s behalf, playfully claiming the film’s use of the name was “cultural appropriation.” Walton responded by stating that the character of Apollo Creed came way before the band.

In Robinson’s closing argument, he mentioned Apollo Creed died in the series, while the band went multi-platinum and had a much better legacy. Walton cited the faults of lead vocalist Scott Stapp in his final argument against Creed.

During a violent two rounds of fighting, the audience decided the band deserved the rights to the name “Creed” more than the film.

Fight #3

The third fight saw horror producer Annick Mahnert take on actor Andre Gower over whether “The Goonies” or “Monster Squad” was the better ‘80s kid’s adventure film.

In her opening statement in support of “Goonies,” Mahnert asserted the film had the best characters. Gower, who starred in “Monster Squad,” stated the non-politically correct nature of the film made it more memorable.

During Mahnert’s rebuttal, she said “Goonies” left the better legacy and had a better ending scene. Gower shot back that “Monster Squad” had bigger stakes, better action and a number of fun, inappropriate scenes.

After the duo’s match, the audience decided that Gower’s argument for “Monster Squad” was much more compelling.

Fight #4

This debate had director and producer Joe Begos go head-to-head with horror director Mickey Keating as they battled over who the better master of horror was: David Lynch or David Cronenberg.

Begos opened by simply stating that Cronenberg was a name unto himself, and that he’s crafted some of the best horror films such as “Videodrome” and “Scanners.” Keating claimed that Croneneberg had no subtly, whereas Lynch was the opposite. He said Lynch was more of a “real artist.”

In Begos’ rebuttal, he pointed out that Cronenberg directed Oscar-worthy film “The Fly,” which received the award for Best Makeup. Keating countered that Lynch had managed to garner several nominations for his work on “Blue Velvet,” “The Elephant Man” and “Mulholland Drive.”

After a brutal fight in the ring, the audience stuck with Cronenberg all the way.

Fight #5

In a surprise twist, MC Owen Egerton, director of “Follow,” which premiered during the festival, was challenged by the film’s lead actor Noah Segan after Egerton claimed the director was more important to a film than an actor.

The two did not engage in a formal debate, but did offer a few reasons for their argument before beginning the fight. Egerton claimed the director is the true visionary of the film, while Segan claimed that films could never happen without actors.

After a particularly brutal fight the audience stuck with Egerton, thus cementing the director as the most important aspect of a film.

Fight #6

The final debate of the night featured Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League and actor and karate expert Cody Hackman. The debate was whether it should be illegal to hunt feral hogs from helicopters, a topic inspired from a recent similar Fantastic Fest debate which was canceled because of  “community outrage.”

Hackman opened by saying that the hog situation could be solved by hiring professional marksmen and accused League wanting to enable a “sick, twisted” sport. League countered by citing the damage the hogs do, saying that they damage sea turtle eggs and pollute Texas rivers. During Hackman’s counter, he simply restated that League was “sick and twisted.” League didn’t offer a counterargument, and the two went straight into the fight.

After an epic two rounds duking it out in the ring, the audience agreed with League, leaving him the champion of the night.