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Fantastic Fest Goes for the Big 10

Kevin Smith's 'Tusk,' 'ABCs 2' and 'V/H/S 3' in first titles

By Richard Whittaker, 10:00AM, Tue. Aug. 5

The official Fantastic Fest 2014 poster from mighty comic maniac Geoff Darrow
The official Fantastic Fest 2014 poster from mighty comic maniac Geoff Darrow

Get giddy. Fantastic Fest, Austin's world-renowned celebration of all cinema geeky, strange, terrible and bizarre, has just announced its first round of brain-shredding titles.

First, the big news: After months of no confirmation, and a year at the Alamo Lakeline, the fest returns for its 10th birthday celebration, Sept. 18-25, at the newly renovated Alamo South Lamar and the relocated Highball (and when we chatted to FF founder Tim League last moth, he assured us that the parking is all built, so not worries there.)

Now, shush, here come the films. The most head-turning announcement may be the arrival of opening night headliner Tusk, the newest creation from Kevin Smith, with Justin Long being turned into a walrus to sate Michael Parks' loneliness. No, you read that right.

As always, there's a lot of continuity among titles from previous years, not least in the two anthology titles. The ABCs of Death 2 was a no-brainer selection (especially since it's produced by Drafthouse/Drafthouse Films head honcho League) and features a rogue's gallery of FF veterans, including Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado (Rabies, Big Bad Wolves), Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper (Vanishing Waves) and the Soska Twins (American Mary.)

Then there's the latest in the ever-growing V/H/S franchise, VHS: Viral: Not only did parts one and two screen at the fest, but two FF vets, Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl) and the festival's own imp of the perverse, Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes, Extraterrestrial, Open Windows), both contribute segments.

Of course, FF isn't just about the film, but the parties and madness. After the ABCs premier, there will be ‘A Bodacious Celebration: 26 Ways to Party’ culminating in an epic food fight curated by Thu Tran of Food Party. There will also be Maltin's Game Tournament, a devious puzzle created by Ant Timpson, where competitors have to guess the title just from the description in Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. And yes, Maltin will be there.

With plenty of titles yet to come, it's waaaaay too early to start handicapping the must-see releases: But expect a lot of buzz surrounding Australian horror The Babadook, which has been burning up the festival circuit: Norway, the latest from the team behind malicious cult fave Dogtooth; The return of TV's Danger 5, another insane antipodean creation, this time a spoof sci-fi sitcom from a parallel Cold War Russia; And some Ozploitation madness, the low-budget but high-splatter Wyrmwood.

Here's the full murderer's row of titles that made this first cut:

ABCs of Death 2

D: Larry Fessenden, Marvin Kren, Todd Rohal, Jim Hosking, Julien Maury and, Alexandre Bustillo, Julian Gilbey, Soichi Umezawa, Lancelot Imasuen, Jerome Sable, Robert Boocheck, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, Bill Plympton, Rodney Ascher, Erik Matti, Juan Moreno, Steven Kostanski, Alejandro Brugués, E.L. Katz, Julian Barratt, Hajime Ohata, Vincenzo Natali, Chris Nash, Jen and Sylvia Soska, Dennison Ramalho, Robert Morgan, Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper
Various, 2014, 125 min.
World Premiere
In 2013 the craziest anthology ever created was released to an unsuspecting public. It immediately divided audiences. Some claimed it was a much-needed adrenaline shot to the heart of genre film, while others claimed it was reprehensible and the death knell of cinema as we know it. In 2014 it’s happening again. This time with an all-new line-up of international directors.

Alleluia

D: Fabrice Du Welz France/Belgium, 2014, 95 min
US Premiere
A lonely woman and a psychotic gigolo find love through murder in the latest film from the director of Calvaire and Vinyan.

The Babadook

D: Jennifer Kent
Australia, 2014, 94 min
Texas Premiere
In this impressive horror debut, Amelia thought her biggest problems were her son’s violent behavioral problems and her own depression. That was before something came knocking at the door…

Bro's Before Ho's

D: Steffen Haars & Flip van der Kuil
Netherlands, 2013, 88 min
US Premiere
A unashamedly offensive bromance from the killer comedy team behind New Kids Turbo and News Kids Nitro.

Close to God

D: Billy Senese
United States, 2014, 81 min
Texas Premiere
Dr. Victor Reed finds himself in the middle of an ethical, legal and religious storm after conducting the first successful human cloning in this fiercely intelligent indie thriller.

Danger 5 Season 2

D: Dario Russo
Australia, 2014, 75 min
World Premiere
When Adolf Hitler surfaces posing as a 1980s high school student, there can be only one response! The crack team of Danger 5 are pressed back into service to eliminate the Nazi threat once and for all!

High Five (Relocos y Repasados)

D: Manuel Facal
Uruguay/Brasil, 2013, 98 min
World Premiere
It's a stoner comedy from Uruguay. What else do you need to know?

Horsehead (Fievre)

D: Romain Basset
France, 2014, 89 min
World Premiere
A stunning exploration of a young woman’s nightmares.

The Incident (El Incidente)

D: Isaac Ezban
Mexico, 2014, 100 min
North American Premiere
A cosmic event disrupts life on Earth in this sci-fi mind-bender.

Jacky in the Kingdom of Women (Jacky au Royaume Des Femmes)

D: Riad Sattouf
France, 2013, 87 min
Texas Premiere
Women hold the power while men cower in this scathing dystopian satire starring Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Kung Fu Elliott

D: Jaret Belliveau & Matthew Bauckman
Canada, 2014, 88 min
Fantastic Fest Premiere
A hilarious and disturbing documentary about a man’s quest to become an international action star.

Maltin's Game Tournament

Created by Fantastic Fest alum and film producer, and self-described Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide convert, Ant Timpson circa the early 90s, Maltin's is a movie lover’s version of game night favorite Balderdash. Someone starts as “Maltin” and chooses a title from Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, a film that no one knows. The other players then all write down a fake synopsis based on the title. Players attempt to trick each other into believing that their synopsis is the real one while trying to decipher the true Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide synopsis.

Local God (Dios Local)

D: Gustavo Hernandez
Uruguay, 2014, 88 min
World Premiere
While filming music videos in an abandoned gold mine, a rock group is tormented by an evil spirit in this new film from the director of La Casa Muda.

The Man in the Orange Jacket

D: Aik Karapetian
Latvia/Estonia, 2014, 71 min
US Premiere, 71 min
A laid-off harbor worker wages a private war on the rich in this surrealistic Latvian horror film.

The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail

The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail hails all the way from the back of a comic book store in Los Angeles, where not only has it been crowned one of the best standup shows in LA by LA Weekly, LA Times, and Hollywood Reporter, but it's now a TV show! Comedy Central filmed eight documentary-style episodes of The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail for a brand new type of standup show that airs Wednesday nights starting July 2014. Come see why this is the only existing live standup show to get its own TV show as hosts Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani charm your pants off and welcome some very special guests!

Norway

D: Yiannis Veslemes
Greece, 2014, 72 min
US Premiere
A vampire dances his way through ‘80s era Athens in this fantastic film from the production team behind Dogtooth.

Still Life (Naturalez Muerta)

D: Gabriel Grieco
Argentina, 2014, 97 min
North American Premiere
Meat is murder in this brutal Argentinian slasher with an animal rights edge.

Tombville

D: Nikolas List
Belgium, 2014, 94 min
North American Premiere
Young David awakens battered and disoriented on the edge of town, knowing only one thing: He wants to get away. But no matter what he tries, he’s always led back to the same dark, disturbing place. Welcome to Tombville.

Tommy (TommyMer)

D: Tarik Saleh
Sweden, 2014, 95 min
North American Premiere
Tommy is coming home, or at least that’s what his wife Estelle desperately needs people to believe when she returns after a year in exile. And if he doesn’t get what’s his, there’s going to be hell to pay.

Tusk

D: Kevin Smith
United States, 2013, 102 min
US Premiere
From the singular mind of writer/director and podcaster Kevin Smith, and conceived from one of Smith’s own Smodcast’s, Tusk is a story unlike anything that has ever been committed to screen before. A tale that is equal parts hilarious and horrifying, Tusk will stay with you long after the credits roll. Starring: Justin Long, Michael Parks, Genesis Rodriguez, and Haley Joel Osment

V/H/S Viral

D: Marcel Sarmiento, Gregg Bishop, Nacho Vigalondo, Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
US, 2014, 98 min
US Premiere
Fantastic Fest alumni Nacho Vigalondo & Marcel Sarmiento join several other genre filmmaking greats in this 3rd installment of the twisted found footage horror anthology franchise.

Wyrmwood

D: Kiah Roache-Turner
Australia, 2014, 92 min
World Premiere
The undead rise again in this raucous feature debut from Australia’s Roache-Turner Brothers, who deliver one of the most balls-out, gonzo and just plain fun entries into the zombie canon in years.

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