- Emily Quigley American-Statesman staff
Fantastic Fest -- the Alamo Drafthouse’s annual celebration of the weird, wild and wonderful of cinema -- will open this year with the U.S. premiere of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” from Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges,” “Seven Psychopaths”), a “darkly comic drama” starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell.
The genre-focused festival always shines a spotlight on foreign sci-fi, fantasy and horror films, and festival organizers are calling this, the festival’s 13th year, “a bizarre ride to the Arabic side,” with movies from Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan, including Egypt’s "Rocky Horror Picture Show” vampire adaptation "Anyab.”
“It’s truly a joy to be able to showcase a variety of Arabic genre films never before seen in the U.S. to shatter preconceptions,” Fantastic Fest creative director Evrim Ersoy said in a news release. “Cinema from this region is as exciting, inventive and as wild as anything we've ever seen, and we're here to prove it."
And continuing the trend of 2017 as the Year of Stephen King, the fest will screen two Netflix films based on works from the prolific horror author: “1922” and “Gerald’s Game.”
“The Killing of a Sacred Deer”: This thriller from Yorgos Lanthimos, starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell and Barry Keoghan, picked up a best screenplay award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
“My Friend Dahmer”: True-crime fanatics are looking forward to this take on the serial killer as a high school loner (isn’t that how they all start?).
“Brawl in Cell Block 99”: Vince Vaughn, Don Johnson and prison fighting. Brace yourself.
“Anna and the Apocalypse”: This entry from Scotland is billed as a “holiday horror musical.” That pretty much sums up the spirit of Fantastic Fest.
Fantastic Fest runs Sept. 21-28; buy badges at fantasticfest.com.
The full list of Fantastic Fest films announced so far:
World Premiere, 101 mins
Director - Zak Hilditch
“1922” is based on Stephen King's 131-page story telling of a man's confession of his wife's murder. The tale is told from from the perspective of Wilfred James, the story's unreliable narrator who admits to killing his wife, Arlette, in Nebraska. But after he buries her body, he finds himself terrorized by rats and, as his life begins to unravel, he becomes convinced his wife is haunting him.
Regional Premiere, 91 min
Director - Alexandre O. Philippe
This masterful documentary focuses on a single aspect of Hitchcock’s "Psycho” to demonstrate the master’s technical ability in storytelling. With expert interviews and rollicking analysis, “78/52” sets a new bar in how to examine film overall.
“ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE”
World Premiere, 107 min
Director - John McPhail
Anna’s life is dominated by the typical concerns of her youthful peers until the Christmas season in her small town brings not Santa, but an outbreak of the undead in this genre-mashing holiday horror musical. Yep. Musical.
Repertory, 100 min
Director - Mohammed Shebl
"Anyab (Fangs)” is an oddity worth rediscovering! An Egyptian take on “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” this eye-popping musical of madness manages to cram horror, science fiction and even social commentary together while charming with its outrageous costumes and action.
“BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL”
U.S. Premiere, 141 min
Director - Takashi Miike
Takashi Miike’s 100th journey is an adaptation of the “Blade of the Immortal” manga. Manji, a samurai who cannot die, crosses paths with Rin Asano, a young girl whose parents were killed. Manji swears to help Rin Asano avenge her parents' deaths.
“BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99”
U.S. Premiere, 132 min
Director - S. Craig Zahler
Craig Zahler (“Bone Tomahawk”) returns with his sophomore feature. An exhilarating exercise in analog violence, “Cell Block” follows the brutal exploits of a former boxer who finds himself incarcerated after a drug deal goes wrong. Trapped in a maximum security facility, he must fight to stay alive and to protect those he loves.
U.S. Premiere, 91 min
Director - Stefan Ruzowitzsky
A young Turkish woman living in Vienna feels increasingly lonely after she witnesses a murder and finds herself next on the killer’s agenda in this smart and gritty thriller from the director of “Anatomy” and the Oscar-winning “The Counterfeiters.”
U.S. Premiere, 97 min
Director - Jesper Rofelt
“Klown” duo Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam reunite for a true-life tale of epic failure. Witness the non-arrival of the Danish electric car!
Texas Premiere, 111 min
Directors - Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
When brothers Justin and Aaron return to the cult that they escaped from ten years ago, they encounter a web of secrets and mysteries that threatens to tear them apart.
“GENERATION B (GENERATIE B)”
Ep. 1-4, North American Premiere; ep. 5-6, World Premiere, 210 min
Director - Pieter Van Hees
The generation gap has never been wider than it is in Pieter Van Hees’ deliriously absurd satire, pitting old generation money against millennial apathy — and the occasional naked anarchist — following Belgium’s economic collapse.
U.S. Premiere, 103 mins
Director - Mike Flanagan
Flanagan unites with master of the macabre Stephen King for his cinematic interpretation of King's beloved “Gerald’s Game.” Starring Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood, “Gerald’s Game” delivers pitch-perfect performances in a faithful adaptation where the horrors of the mind are much worse than what’s in front of you.
“HAGAZUSSA - A HEATHEN’S CURSE”
World Premiere, 102 min
Director - Lukas Feigelfeld
Set in the 15th century in the Austrian Alps, Lukas Feigelfeld’s film takes us back to a dark period in which even the remotest parts of Europe suffered from the paranoia and superstition of the time.
U.S. Premiere, 92 min
Director - Jimmy Henderson
Cambodia’s traditional martial art of bokator is unleashed in all its bone crunching fury in this action-packed tale of police trapped in the midst of a raging prison riot.
World Premiere, 87 min
Director - Bradley Buecker
The emotionally powerful story of Billy, an angry youth who spends his evenings stealing cars with best friend Mikey while attempting to cultivate a stable relationship with his girlfriend Jules.
“THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER”
Ireland / United Kingdom, 2017
U.S. Premiere, 120 min
Director - Yorgos Lanthimos
The life of a brilliant surgeon is thrown into disarray when his friendship with a bizarre teenager threatens the lives of his entire family. Faced with a frightening choice, the man will be forced to assess all that he’s ever done.
U.S. Premiere, 104 min
Director - Steve Mitchell
Featuring interviews from some of the biggest names in genre cinema including Joe Dante, Robert Forster and Fred Williamson, this documentary tells the story of one of the best and hardest working exploitation filmmakers.
World Premiere, 90 min
Director - Yayo Herrero
Yayo Herrero’s directorial debut is a couple's nightmare journey into the heart of darkness. A superlative horror parable, this shocking film is an indictment of modern history, war and the difficulties of reconciliation. It is a story for our times.
“MY FRIEND DAHMER”
Texas Premiere, 107 min
Director - Marc Meyers
This is the story of Jeffrey Dahmer, a high school loner whose life would shape up to be something far more frightening than anyone could have imagined.
International Premiere, 125 mins
Director - Marwan Hamed
Samir works for a bank, provides for his ever-demanding family and dreams of being in an Egyptian talent show. When he’s unexpectedly fired, Samir finds himself recruited to be part of a secret society and finds a darker side to life in Egypt.
“RON GOOSSENS: LOW-BUDGET STUNTMAN”
The Netherlands, 2017
North American Premiere, 78 min
Directors - Steffen Haars & Flip van der Kuil
The latest from the comedic team behind the “New Kids” films and “Bros Before Hos.” Ron Goossens is totally shitfaced. Only by working as a movie stuntman and bedding the hottest actress in the Netherlands can Ron save his marriage.
U.S. Premiere, 150 min
Director - Ruben Östlund
An art museum director’s life becomes a comedy of errors when trying to put together his latest exhibit in “Force Majeure” director Ruben Ostlund’s latest, which won the Palme D’Or at this year’s Cannes.
“SUPER DARK TIMES”
Regional Premiere, 102 min
Director - Kevin Phillips
A split-second act of violence forever changes the lives of two ‘90s kids. Now they must cope with both the fallout of that moment and the pressures of high school in this clever and bloody coming-of-age thriller.
“THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI”
U.S. PREMIERE, 110 min
Director - Martin McDonagh
A grieving mother takes drastic measures in an attempt to catch her daughter's killer. Challenging the police to solve the case, she posts a series of billboards that threaten the fabric of rural, Missouri.
U.S. Premiere, 90 min
Director - Jakob Lass
Failing to crack the ranks as a would-be cop, Maggie begrudgingly settles for a security guard job until she encounters Tiger, a fierce young woman whose rebellious antics leave Maggie questioning which side of the law she truly belongs on.
“TOP KNOT DETECTIVE”
North American Premiere, 87 min
Directors - Aaron McCann & Dominic Pearce
Aliens! Ninjas! Robots! Enormous egos! Get ready to enter the world of “Top Knot Detective.” Possibly the greatest cult TV series you’ve never heard of, “Top Knot Detective” and its creator Takashi Tawagoto come to life in this gonzo documentary.