Films screening at this year’s Austin Film Festival will include the Dakota Fanning and Toni Collette dramedy Please Stand By and the assassin tale 24 Hours to Live, with Ethan Hawke and Liam Cunningham, it was announced Tuesday. The festival will also premiere the season finale of HBO’s new show The Deuce. The latter is created by David Simon (The Wire) and author George Pelecanos and details the rise of the porn industry in New York’s Times Square during the ’70s and ’80s. The show’s cast includes James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
In addition, the AFF will premiere a remastered version of 1985 cult horror film Confessions of a Serial Killer, which was inspired by the crimes of real-life murderer Henry Lee Lucas. The movie was written and directed by John Dwyer (using the pseudonym Mark Blair) and starred the late Robert A. Burns, whose other film credits included working as art director on 1974’s original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The film was originally acquired for distribution by Roger Corman’s company Concorde-New Horizons but was never given a proper release in this country.
“Corman only released it theatrically in a few foreign markets,” says Dwyer. “It was basically direct-to-video. It was never put out on DVD except over in Europe, and at that point, it sort of disappeared into the vault at Corman studio. After several years, the option to renew came up and we said, ‘No, we want it back.’ We got the rights back to the film a little over a year ago.”
The new version of the film restores, as far as possible, both the original visual look of the film and scenes which were missing from various prior versions of the movie.
“Confessions did okay in international release,” says Jeff Brown, co-producer of the re-release. “But what happened, as it worked its way around the world, because of cultural sensitivities, they just chopped the hell out of it. So, there are copies floating around out there that don’t even resemble what the original film was like. One of the things we wanted to do in the restoration process was to get the film to the point where it was always meant to be. We’re giving the film its due.”
Dwyer admits he was surprised to discover the film had garnered a following, despite its limited availability. “I wasn’t even aware of the fact that it had become something of a cult film,” says the director. “Jeff put something out on a Facebook page and was inundated with requests. For a film that was so little known, we were shocked to find out that there was this awareness and interest in it.”
The Austin Film Festival runs Oct. 26-Nov. 2. You can learn more about Confessions of a Serial Killer at the film’s official website and you can watch a trailer for The Deuce, above.