That's Fan-tastic

5 Bizarre Fan Festivals You Can Actually Attend

Blonde Festival Latvia

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This week’s brand-new episode of Documentary Now! spotlights an Icelandic town with a serious Al Capone fetish. If the episode teaches us anything, it’s that people will take their obsessions to some bizarre lengths. If you’ve ever loved something so much that you’ve found yourself in a Holiday Inn banquet hall while dressed in a giant unicorn costume, then this just might be the list for you.

5. International UFO Congress

Ever been abducted by aliens? Or at least hope to be? Have we got a festival for you! For one week each year, like-minded enthusiasts gather with experts to break down the latest in Ufology, talk government conspiracies and attend a film festival with awards like Best Abductee/Contactee Documentary. A qualified therapist is even on hand to lead “Experiencer Sessions.” Who knows, a little green man himself might show up someday, if he can afford the ticket to Phoenix and enjoys a good cocktail party.

4. Go Blonde

20th Century Fox

When Latvia found their economy sagging in 2009, they consulted with top economists and came up with a pragmatic solution: A massive festival celebrating fair-haired ladies. The theory was that blondes have more fun, and hopefully more disposable income. The annual event, now the biggest “Blonde Fest” in the world, includes parades, Marilyn Monroe lookalike contests (much like Arborg, Iceland’s Al Capone-themed contest) and an all-night party. And it’s worked, becoming an economic booster similar to the Carnival celebration in Brazil, except with a lot less brunettes.

3. Anthrocon


Ah, Anthrocon, the convention that caters to people who enjoy spending their time in and around anthropomorphized animal costumes. Many wear full getups as they peruse the tables at the annual convention, which house a variety of furry-inspired art, before gathering in “The Zoo” to meet and party with like-minded people. Er, like-minded people dressed in six-foot purple cat costumes, that is.

2. Frozen Dead Guy Days


In the early ’90s, a Norwegian citizen named Trygve Bauge attempted to start his own cryogenics facility in Nederland, Colorado. Unfortunately, the business was dead on arrival, just like Bauge’s grandfather, Bredo Morstøl, the only person to actually get frozen before the whole thing went kaput. And remain on ice he has, for the last twenty odd years. The frosty fella’s popularity inspired a festival of course, complete with “Frozen Dead Guy” lookalike contests, coffin races and dips in the icy Colorado River.

1. Festival of the Steel Phallus

kanamara matsuri

Every year at the Kanayama Shrine in Japan, hundreds gather to honor the male member. Kanamara Matsuri, or “Festival of the Steel Phallus,” is based on an old legend about a demon that consumed male genitalia. (Seriously. Google it if you don’t believe us.) A blacksmith was tasked with building an iron phallus, which broke the demon’s teeth. Now, every year the metal phallus is honored with parades, and a variety of vegetables, candies and the like, all shaped like this popular part of the human anatomy. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

Think these festivals are strange? Check out Iceland’s Al Capone lookalike contest spotlighted on this week’s brand-new Documentary Now!

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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