At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we here at Film School Rejects are big sloppy fans of film festivals in general and Fantastic Fest in particular. It’s the premier genre fest in the United States, and each September it projects new cinematic wonders from around the world directly into our eye holes. 2019 is the fest’s 15th year — and it will be my 11th! — and we’re once again expecting another ridiculous week of films, friends, and fun.
“The fifteenth edition of Fantastic Fest blasts off with the widest selection of weird and wonderful films gathered from across the world to screen in Austin, TX, from September 19 – 26, 2019, featuring an opening night with the US Premiere of highly anticipated new Taika Waititi film JOJO RABBIT with the director in attendance plus the World Premieres of Netflix titles, including Jim Mickle’s brilliant new sci-fi thriller IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON, Vincenzo Natali’s adaptation of eponymous novella by Stephen King & Joe Hill IN THE TALL GRASS, Brad Anderson’s tense & unrelenting FRACTURED, Takashi Miike in person, and much, much more.”
That’s the intro to this year’s first wave title announcement, and if you’re like us you’re already salivating. Taika Waititi in person with his buddy comedy about a kid and his imaginary friend Adolph Hitler? A new Stephen King adaptation from the director of Cube? A new thriller from the maker of Session 9? Freaking Takashi Miike on hand with his critically acclaimed new film?!
Yes please… and that’s still only the tip of the first wave spear. The fest will also be home to a couple titles I can already vouch for as being great (Why Don’t You Just Die!, Come to Daddy), some new restorations of genre classics from the fine folks at the AGFA (including Bloody Birthday and The Peanut Butter Solution), and much, much more. Keep reading for a look at the entire first wave, and then hurry up and plan your trip to Austin this September!
Argentina, Spain, 2019
North American Premiere, 93 min
Director – Mariano Cohn
A 4×4 car will be the battleground between a brash thief trapped inside and the mysterious man who will do anything to keep him imprisoned.
BLOODY BIRTHDAY: Presented by AGFA + Arrow Films
World Premiere of Restoration, 85 min
Director – Ed Hunt
The classic Killer Kids slasher, newly restored by Arrow Films and presented by AGFA.
THE CLEANSING HOUR
World Premiere, 95 min
Director – Damien LeVeck
Reverend Max and his best friend Drew have a hit web show where they make a pretty good living faking exorcisms for hundreds of thousands of fans until the evening a real demon takes over and terrorizes their crew.
COME TO DADDY
New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, 2019
Texas Premiere, 94 min
Director – Ant Timpson
When 30-year-old Norval receives a letter from his estranged dad begging him to visit, he is set on a weird path of discovery, unusual encounters… and a lot of violence.
World Premiere, 95 min
Director – Rinio Dragasaki
Anna, an eccentric supermarket cashier with an obsessive taste for a trippy treat called Cosmic Candy, undergoes a quirky transformation when forced to care for a ten-year-old neighbor girl.
THE DEATH OF DICK LONG
Austin Premiere, 107 min
Director – Daniel Scheinert
Dick is dead but no one knows how, and Zeke and Earl are desperate enough to go to any lengths to stop anyone from finding out the reason… but a small town in Alabama is not the kind of place where secrets can stay buried for long. Soon all hell breaks loose, engulfing the two men in a reckoning they had never even considered.
North American Premiere, 77 min
Director – Quentin Dupieux
When Georges buys himself a deerskin jacket, he will find his life on a collision course with madness, crime, and the desire to be the only man wearing an overgarment.
DIE KINDER DER TOTEN
North American Premiere, 90 min
Directors – Kelly Copper & Pavol Liška
In this experimental adaptation of an epic Elfriede Jelinek novel, a group of Austrian tourists is killed in a traffic accident before reanimating as zombies and terrorizing a local pub.
DOGS DON’T WEAR PANTS
Finland, Latvia, 2019
US Premiere, 105 min
Director – Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää
A heartbroken heart surgeon is introduced to the dark and extreme when his daughter gets her tongue pierced, sending him down a path of pain, dreams, life, love, death, and awakenings.
US Premiere, 108 min
Director – Takashi Miike
When aspiring boxer Leo discovers that he may not have long to live, he goes all out to help drug-addicted call girl Monica, facing down gangsters, assassins, corrupt cops, and much more over the course of one long night.
World Premiere, 100 min
Director – Brad Anderson
An unfortunate accident at a truck stop means Ray has to rush his daughter to the nearest hospital for a broken arm, but when his family disappears, he soon finds himself in a frantic fight to discover what happened.
THE GOLDEN GLOVE
North American Premiere, 110 min
Director – Fatih Akin
Based on true events that transpired in the grimy slums of 1970s Hamburg, loner-turned-murderer Fritz Honka stalks his local drinking spot, The Golden Glove, in search of his next victim.
Texas Premiere, 97 min
Director – Alexandre Franchi
In Attendance – Director Alexandre Franchi and Actor E. R. Ruiz
An attractive teenager infiltrates a support group for those with facial differences in hopes of learning how to connect with his cancer-stricken mother in Alexandre Franchi’s (THE WILD HUNT) deeply personal, often hilarious, and powerfully inclusive sophomore feature.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON
USA, Canada, 2019
World Premiere, 115 min
Director – Jim Mickle
In 1988, a Philadelphia police officer doggedly hunts a serial killer whose crimes seemingly follow no pattern, but he hasn’t considered how far the repercussions of his hunt may go.
IN THE TALL GRASS
World Premiere, 90 min
Director – Vincenzo Natali
Adapted from the eponymous novella by Stephen King and Joe Hill, IN THE TALL GRASS follows siblings Cal and Becky who find themselves trapped within a vast field of tall grass when they venture in to answer the cries of a young boy.
US Premiere, 108 min
Director – Taika Waititi
In Attendance – Director Taika Waititi
Writer director Taika Waititi (THOR: RAGNAROK, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE), brings his signature style of humor and pathos to his latest film, JOJO RABBIT, a World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy (Roman Griffin Davis as JoJo) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.
KNIVES AND SKIN
Texas Premiere, 109 min
Director – Jennifer Reeder
The disappearance of popular teenager Carolyn Harper has a profound ripple effect across her small midwest town in Jennifer Reeder’s hypnotic musical mystery.
Sweden, Denmark, 2019
Texas Premiere, 86 min
Director – Johannes Nyholm
When a disconnected couple take a camping trip in an attempt to mend their marriage after tragedy, they find themselves tormented by a peculiar band of misfits.
THE LAST TO SEE THEM
Texas Premiere, 79 min
Director – Sara Summa
One summer evening in rural Italy, the Durati family is murdered during a home robbery. THE LAST TO SEE THEM chronicles the previous — and final — day of their lives.
LIMBO: Presented by AGFA + Bleeding Skull!
Texas Premiere of Restoration, 55 min
Director – Tina Krause
Tina Krause’s unseen and unreal shot-on-video horror movie, newly preserved by AGFA + Bleeding Skull!
THE MCPHERSON TAPE: Presented by AGFA + Bleeding Skull!
World Premiere of Restoration, 63 min
Director – Dean Alito
The world’s first found footage horror movie, newly preserved by AGFA + Bleeding Skull!
MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN
Texas Premiere, 93 min
Director – Alexandre O. Philippe
Following up his deconstruction of PSYCHO’s shower scene in 78/52, documentarian Alexandre O. Philippe is back with his analysis of ALIEN, its origins, and the impact of Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi shocker.
NAIL IN THE COFFIN: EL VAMPIRO CANADIENSE
World Premiere, 88 min
Director – Michael Paszt
In Attendance – Director Michael Paszt
An intimate and heartfelt look at professional wrestler Vampiro’s past, and his new life navigating the management of a lucha libre federation in Mexico, while raising his teenage daughter in Canada.
NIGHT HAS COME
World Premiere, 56 min
Director – Peter Van Goethem
In Attendance – Director Peter Van Goethem
In a dystopian society, the population is threatened by a virus eating its way through the brain, erasing memories. After developing a treatment to store and classify memories, the State requires citizens to comply.
THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION: Presented by AGFA + Severin Films
World Premiere 2K Restoration, 93 min
Director – Michael Rubbo
The Canadian children’s oddity takes youthful fantasy to strange new places in a brand new 2K restoration.
Texas Premiere, 90 min
Director – Ping Lumprapleng
When a dog trainer and his pet finish their commercial gig, it’s time to head home and enjoy a lazy afternoon floating in the pool… until he wakes up to the pool being drained and no way out.
REFLECTIONS OF EVIL: Presented by AGFA
World Premiere of Restoration, 137 min
Director – Damon Packard
The new ground zero for gonzo horror surrealism in the 21st century, newly preserved by AGFA.
ROCK, PAPER, AND SCISSORS
North American Premiere, 83 min
Directors – Macarena García Lenzi & Martín Blousson
When Magdalena returns to Argentina to confront her half-siblings about her share of the inheritance, the stage is set for a family reunion both bloody and brilliant.
SHE MOB: Presented by AGFA + Something Weird
World Premiere 2K Restoration, 82 min
Director – Harry Wuest
A gang of lesbian prison escapees kidnaps a gigolo in a 2K preservation of this sexploitation classic.
Texas Premiere, 83 min
Directors – Jeremy Gardner & Christian Stella
In Attendance – Directors Jeremy Gardner & Christian Stella
When Hank’s longtime girlfriend Abby leaves him, he spirals into a cycle of drinking and depression. But it’s the monster that shows up every night that’s really driving him crazy.
SON OF THE WHITE MARE
US Premiere 4K Restoration, 81 min
Director – Marcell Jankovics
A psychedelic animated cult classic is back on the big screen in this brand-new restoration. Three brothers join forces to restore order in their kingdom, encountering bizarre and mind-bending challenges along the way.
Texas Premiere, 94 min
Directors – Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Beautiful newlywed Hunter has a perfect home, perfect life, and perfect husband. When the pressure to maintain that perfection builds after the announcement of her pregnancy, she develops an unusual craving: swallowing random household objects.
TAMMY AND THE T-REX: Presented by AGFA + Vinegar Syndrome
World Premiere of Restoration, 91 min
Directors – Stewart Raffill
Fully restored and ready to tear your head off. Literally.
United States, 2019
World Premiere, 87 min
Director – Gille Klabin
Frank (Justin Long), a bored corporate lawyer, decides to shake it up with a wild night out. In the process, he takes a mysterious drug that launches him into a mind-bending time travel adventure.
US Premiere, 97 min
Director – Corneliu Porumboiu
Corneliu Porumboiu mixes Romanian New Wave with Hollywood noir beats as he follows a corrupt detective who helps a wealthy criminal escape from jail by learning the ancient, secret language of silbo whistling.
WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE!
Texas Premiere, 100 min
Director – Kirill Sokolov
In Attendance – Director Kirill Sokolov
After agreeing to kill his girlfriend’s father, Matvei gets in way over his head when he arrives at her parents’ apartment to learn her dad’s a cop.
WRINKLES THE CLOWN
World Premiere, 78 min
Director – Michael Beach Nichols
In Attendance – Director Michael Beach Nichols
Pennywise isn’t real. But Wrinkles is. This documentary explores the story of the infamous freaky clown from Naples, Florida who makes a living being hired by parents to terrorize their naughty children.
YOU DON’T NOMI
Texas Premiere, 94 min
Director – Jeffrey McHale
In Attendance – Director Jeffrey McHale
Using cleverly edited clips of Paul Verhoeven’s genre-spanning filmography, Jeffrey McHale’s video essay explores the decidedly un-titillating and delightfully inexplicable SHOWGIRLS and its continued, ever-expanding legacy.