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Texas Hall of Fame and SXSW Opening Day, from 'Rio Bravo' to 'Cabin in the Woods'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 10, 2012 at 7:15PM

I flew into Austin Thursday on Southwest and sat in the first row right next to Angie Dickinson, who was accepting a Texas Hall of Fame award that night for the cast and crew of Howard Hawks' 1959 western "Rio Bravo."

Yes, the movie is as funny, outrageous and genre-deconstructing as many critics had promised, and well worth waiting for. But Sami Raimi's "Drag Me to Hell" also played like gangbusters to this crowd. Is it too smart to be a hit? Lionsgate knows how to handle a movie like this, which allows the audience to enjoy its sexy, exploitative, subversive E-ride through horror monsters past (and some demented new creations as well) as it sends up all the cliches of the genre.

The archetypes are there: the athletic hunk, the blonde slut, the brainy academic, the pot head joker and the brunette virgin. Who gets killed off first? Who survives? Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins are part of a mad-scientist plot orchestrating the situation from afar. What the hell is going on? Whedon and co-writer and director Drew Goddard begged us all not to give too much away.

At the Q and A, Whedon said he and Goddard wrote together holed up in a cabin in the woods, basically, to write their fantasy horror send-up, 15 pages each a day, in three days of fevered creation that was joyous and fun. "It was not easy escept that it was the easiest thing I've ever done," said Whedon. "Clearly on one level it's about being a writer. We picked these two guys to be us, manipulating people. Write what you know." The movie itself "was hard to make, actually."

Goddard insists that the movie "comes from a place of love...and 'fuck it.' If we could do what we wanted to do, we prayed somebody would let us make it. We just enjoyed doing it. It seems to have worked out."

Next up was a screening packed with acquisitions executives of the slapstick comedy "The Babymakers," based on a promising premise of a guy with lazy sperm who wants to get back his once-potent donations to a sperm bank so he can impregnate his wife. Well, Paul Schneider is a gifted and likable actor and even though the movie was badly executed and reaction was tepid, someone will buy it. 

This article is related to: South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival (SXSW), SXSW, Festivals, Festivals

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.