Fantastic Fest First Wave Announced
Miss Peregrine, Phantasm: Ravager, and more
By Richard Whittaker,
12:00PM, Tue. Aug. 2, 2016
Bite your nails in anticipation no more! Fantastic Fest, the Alamo Drafthouse's celebration of the weirdest corners of cinema, has just dropped its first wave of films, with peculiar children, a deep trip to India, VR craziness, and the return of the Tall Man.
First, the big names for the fest, which runs Sept. 22-29. Every year, it seems to grab a seasonal blockbuster, and this time it's the return of Tim Burton. He was here in 2012 with Frankenweenie, and now he's back with his adaptation of neo-Victoriana literary smash Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Providing slightly more highbrow fare, Werner Herzog has been getting career-high reviews for Salt and Fire (and this is Herzog we're talking about), so this could classify as unmissable.
Of course, every horror fan had been hoping that this would be the world premiere of Phantasm: Ravager, the fifth title in the bizarre and brilliant surrealist franchise, and yes, it's in here, as is a special screening of Phantasm: Remastered, the 4K restoration that screened during SXSW.
This being Fantastic Fest, there are inevitably films about films and film culture. This time around, it's S Is For Stanley, Alex Infascelli’s documentary about Emilio D’Alessandro, the man cursed/blessed with being Stanley Kubrick's assistant. There are even two about film posters: 24X36: A Movie About Movie Posters, charting four decades of poster art, and Original Copy, about Mumbai's last remaining poster artist.
Speaking of Mumbai, Fantastic Fest has always been an international affair (this wave is no exception, with films from Australia, Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Laos, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, and Switzerland), but this year there's a particular focus on India. Put aside preconceptions of Bollywood: This time, there's true-life serial killer tale and Cannes favorite Psycho Raman, historical epic/dirt-biking drama Magadheera; and Subhash Ghai's 1993 gangster clash Khal Nayak. Head of Programming Evrim Ersoy said, “We are celebrating not only Bollywood but also Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam cinema, highlighting the kaleidoscope of textures and content that is as wide and varied as the subcontinent itself."
FF has always provided a home base for friends and family, so also in this first round is a return to Austin for Jim Hosking's truly gonzo The Greasy Strangler (produced by Drafthouse Films, natch). Plus there is a special screening of Jungle Trap, one of the most bizarre VHS oddities to never make it to VHS, but now restored with the help of Bleeding Skull (aka Terror Tuesday host Joseph A. Ziemba, TT founder Zack Carlson, and author Annie Choi).
It's not all movies, either. LA-based VR studio Dark Corner (responsible for breakout 360 stunner Catatonic) will be immersing attendees in three projects: death trip Catatonic, plus two titles with film tie-ins, "Mule" and "Burlap." Oh, and if the words Everything Is Terrible! mean anything to you, buckle in for some found-footage brain scraping.
Fantastic Fest 2016 runs Sept. 22-29 at the Alamo South Lamar. Tickets and info at www.fantasticfest.com, and follow our ongoing coverage at austinchronicle.com/fantasticfest. And now, here's the full list of what was released today. Expect plenty more, including shorts and the opening and closing night escapades, to come:
24X36: A Movie About Movie Posters
Canada, 2016, World Premiere, 83 min
D: Kevin Burke
Through interviews with art personalities from the past four decades, 24X36 examines the birth, death, and resurrection of illustrated movie poster art.
A Dark Song
Ireland, 2016, World Premiere, 99 min
D: Liam Gavin
Sophia is a determined young woman who hires a weird occultist to perform a ritual which will risk not only their lives and souls, but also the very essence of their being.
Switzerland, France, 2016, U.S. Premiere, 91 min
D: Tobias Nölle
Aloys Adorn is a lonely private investigator who, after the death of his father, finds himself sucked into a mysterious “telephone walking” game with a mysterious woman who might be his only hope.
United States, 2016, Texas Premiere, 158 min
D: Andrea Arnold
Andrea Arnold’s first U.S. feature follows 18-year-old Star as she leaves her home in Oklahoma and goes in search of adventure, adulthood, and America.
Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses
New Zealand, 2015, U.S. Premiere, 89 min
D: David Stubbs
The true story of the Wainuiomata exorcism provides the basis for David Stubbs’ striking debut feature, a documentary exploring the tragic death of Janet Moses in a traditional Maori exorcism ceremony.
France, 2016, U.S. Premiere, 81 min
D: Julien Leclercq
It’s bad men vs. worse men as thieves face off against dealers in this super slick French heist thriller from the director of Chrysalis and The Assault.
Laos, France, Estonia, 2016, World Premiere, 100 min
D: Mattie Do
After moving to the city, a poor woman realizes her recently blinded cousin can not only commune with the dead, but they can provide a path to much-needed wealth.
Australia, 2016, North American Premiere, 87 min
D: Abraham Forsythe
In the aftermath of massive race riots, two carloads of dim-witted alpha males set off to defend their respective territory with outrageous results in this sharp-edged Australian satire.
The Dwarves Must Be Crazy
Thailand, 2016, World Premiere, 92 min
D: Bhin Banloerit
A Thai village of little people is attacked by evil, butt-munching, fart-tracking Krause spirits - floating heads with attached intestines - in this slapstick horror-comedy.
France, 2016, North American Premiere, 103 min
D: Sébastien Marnier
After burning out in Paris, Constance returns to her home town only to find herself in lethal competition with a younger girl for her old job.
United States, 2016, Texas Premiere, 53 min
D: Dean Fleischer-Camp
A family’s home movies document a desperate crime and the subsequent bid to escape the consequences in this impressionistic meta-fiction born from the manipulation of hundreds of hours of innocuous uploads to YouTube. An extraordinary feat of editing, a provocative parable of the pursuit of happiness, and a disturbing demonstration of the mutability of the stories we share in the internet age.
The Greasy Strangler
United States, 2016, Special Screening, 93 min
D: Jim Hosking
Ronnie fears his first love affair is turning his father into a bloodthirsty monster who’s covered in grease and has an 18-inch penis that looks like a dead chicken.
Jungle Trap: Presented by Bleeding Skull
United States, 1990/2016, World Premiere, 80 min
D: James Bryan
Exploitation demigod James Bryan’s massively entertaining, decapitation-fueled shot-on-video horror masterpiece about a jungle hotel haunted by kill-crazy ghosts in loin cloths, shot in 1990 and unreleased until THIS VERY MOMENT.
India, 1993, Repertory Screening, 190 min
D: Subhash Ghai
Ballu is an unrepentant gangster who has dedicated his life to the celebration of villainy. He is a bad, bad man and not ashamed one bit. However, with the help of his mother and a sympathetic cop, Ballu will rise above his circumstances to gain satisfying redemption.
India, 2009, Repertory Screening, 157 min
D: S.S. Rajamouli
Harsha, a dirt bike racer, lives for thrills. One day he crosses paths with Indu, a girl with whom he feels strangely connected. Through this bond, Harsha discovers his hidden identity: a reincarnated warrior king.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
United States, 2016, Special Screening, 123 min
D: Tim Burton
From visionary director Tim Burton, and based upon the bestselling novel, comes an unforgettable motion picture experience. When Jake discovers clues to a mystery that spans alternate realities and times, he uncovers a secret refuge known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As he learns about the residents and their unusual abilities, Jake realizes that safety is an illusion, and danger lurks in the form of powerful, hidden enemies. Jake must figure out who is real, who can be trusted, and who he really is.
Germany, 2016, Texas Premiere, 95 min
D: Florian Heinzen-Ziob and Georg Heinzen
In the heart of Mumbai, behind the screen of one of the last Hindi Film cinemas, lives Sheik Rahman, the city’s last painter of film posters. This is his story.
United States, 1979, Special Screening, 88 min
D: Don Coscarelli
One of the most influential and important horror films of all time, Don Coscarelli's Phantasm returns to Alamo Drafthouse's screens in a gorgeous 4k remaster.
United States, 2016, World Premiere, 87 min
D: David Hartman
The fifth and final film in the classic Phantasm film series, Phantasm: Ravager follows our intrepid everyman hero Reggie on his quest across dark dimensions as he struggles to confront and vanquish the sinister Tall Man.
The Netherlands, 2015, International Premiere, 85 min
D: Erwin van de Eshof and Martijn Smits
Festival favorite Huub Smit (New Kids Nitro, New Kids Turbo, Bros Before Hos) stars as a Dutch cop raised on far too many American action films in this outrageous action comedy.
India, 2016, U.S. Premiere, 127 min
D: Anurag Kashyap
Raghavan is a cop: brutal, violent, and drug-addicted. Ramanna is a criminal: psychotic, unpredictable, and vicious. It’s only a matter of time before they meet and when they do, Mumbai's slums will be colored deep crimson.
Salt and Fire
Mexico, 2016, North American Premiere, 93 min
D: Werner Herzog
Herzog’s most wildly unpredictable film, Salt and Fire is a meticulously slow-burning, quasi-ecological thriller punctuated by moments of the lyrically poetic and the inexplicably, outrageously absurd.
S is For Stanley
Italy, 2016, North American Premiere, 82 min
D: Alex Infascelli
Alex Infascelli’s documentary about Emilio D’Alessandro, Stanley Kubrick’s personal assistant for more than thirty years, which provides never-before-seen insight into the private auteur.
Canada, 2016, World Premiere, 90 min
D: Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie
Trapped in a hospital with a handful of people, a small town sheriff finds himself caught up in the demented plot of a death-obsessed madman.
We Are the Flesh
Mexico, 2016, Texas Premiere, 80 min
D: Emiliano Rocha Minter
Somewhere within a ruined city, a man makes an offer to a pair of siblings who wander into his abandoned building: food and shelter in exchange for building a strange room …
Russia, France, Germany, 2016, U.S. Premiere, 87 min
D: Ivan I. Tverdovsky
Natasha is a lonely middle-aged woman who still lives with her mother and feels insecure about her tedious life … until she grows a tail.