Morbidly Beautiful

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Fantastic Fest is back with Festival Opener “TITANE”, along with “BINGO HELL”, “LAMB”, and dozens of other Highly-Anticipated Mind-Benders.

After 18 months of isolation and uncertainty, things may not be completely back to normal; I’m not sure any of us even know what “normal” really means anymore. But there are welcome signs of life to remind us what the world was like before the apocalypse — back when we had movie theaters, festivals, the joy of communal celebration, and the chance to connect in a real way with others who share our passion and love for the genre.

Out of all those beautiful signs that a new day has dawned, none have thrilled and electrified me as much as the announcement that my beloved Fantastic Fest is returning in person this year.

This year’s festival theme is, appropriately enough, Post-Apocalyptic, and it promises to be a reminder of the joy of cinema, community, and weird and wonderful movies. I feel overwhelmed with emotion just writing this.

Not only did we just learn that Fantastic Fest is back, taking place September 23rd-30th in Austin, Texas, but we also got news of the festival’s first wave of films. And as to be expected, the lineup is completely killer.

The festival will be headlined by the truly extraordinary 2021 Palme D’Or winner TITANE from PARASITE distributor NEON.

“Titane” by Julia Ducournau (Opening Night Film)

It might not have seemed possible to top her staggering debut RAW (Fantastic Fest 2016), but Julia Ducournau has somehow done just that. A poignant study on loneliness, isolation, and gender identity wrapped in a constantly surprising world of body horror, muscle cars, violence, and disco-dancing firemen.

Fantastic Fest 2021’s opening night party will be dedicated to the instantly iconic visuals of TITANE. Muscle cars will be on hand, and metallic-themed or “French firefighter” costumes are highly encouraged. TITANE opens in US cinemas on October 1st.

Mondo Records, a company I am beyond obsessed with, is also celebrating its 10 year anniversary at Fantastic Fest this year and will be on-hand with a very special TITANE soundtrack giveaway ahead of the official Mondo vinyl release later this year. Additionally, on opening night there will also be a Mondo Records pop-up featuring rarities from the vault.

Additional studio premieres include A24’s hotly-anticipated LAMB, winner of the Un Certain Regard Prize of Originality at Cannes (opening in theaters on October 8); BINGO HELL, part of the Amazon Studios and Blumhouse Television “Welcome to the Blumhouse” series; and Netflix’s THE TRIP, starring Noomi Rapace in a delightfully twisted Norwegian mind-bender.

“We’re thrilled at how the program is coming together,” says Fantastic Fest Director of Programming Annick Mahnert.

“For this Post-Apocalyptic edition, we’ve scoured the four corners of the globe to find weird, silly, terrifying, entertaining, and fantastic movies directed by established and emerging filmmakers. This first wave is but the tip of the iceberg and we cannot wait to unveil the rest of the program to y’all!”

The first wave of Fantastic Fest films features 39 titles, showcasing world, US, and regional premieres, and two classic film sidebars presented by genre legends Lars Nilsen, Kier-La Janisse, Grady Hendrix, and Chris Poggiali.

FAN Badges, 2ND HALF Badges, and MIDNIGHT Badges for Fantastic Fest 2021 are available for purchase here. As to be expected from the amazing team behind Alama Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest, safety is the number one priority during this festival. Thus, attendees should take note of the following important precautions being taken:

  • All badge holders will be required to show proof of COVID vaccination.
  • Please bring physical or electronic proof of vaccination to check-in. No vaccine, no Fantastic Fest, no exceptions.
  • Additionally, masks must be worn at all times indoors when not eating or drinking.

For those unable to attend the festival in person, there is more great news: the return of FANTASTIC FEST @ HOME!

In an effort to build a more accessible festival for everyone, the festival organizers are making sure you can enjoy a virtual Fantastic Fest experience. Hot on the heels of the in-person Fest, the virtual Fest will run from Thursday, September 30th, through Monday, October 11th. A selection of titles from this year’s Fest will be dropping in waves every morning from Thursday through Sunday. The fest is also scouring the globe for underseen favorites and crowd-pleasing hits from Fantastic Fests of yore and will have those available to virtual badge holders throughout the entire festival.

Badges for the virtual Fest will also be available as an add-on for anyone who rolled over their badge from last year or anyone who buys a new badge for the in-person festival. SUPERFAN and FAN badge holders will get a virtual badge ABSOLUTELY FREE OF CHARGE! For SECOND-HALF badge holders, enjoy a 50% discount on the price of the virtual badge, while MIDNIGHT badge holders get a significant 25% discount.


“Lamb” by Valdimar Jóhannsson

France, 2021
US Premiere, 130 min
Director – Bertrand Mandico
On a mysterious new planet populated entirely by women, teenager Roxy and her mother undergo a fantastical journey in pursuit of a murderous criminal.

USA, 2021
Texas Premiere, 93 min
Director – Mickey Reece
Fantastic Fest favorite Mickey Reece is back with his most ambitious production yet, the story of a headstrong young nun accused of possession and her best friend who’s left to grapple with the aftermath.

USA, 2021
World Premiere, 83 min
Directors – Emily Bennett & Justin Brooks
As a young woman painstakingly prepares a romantic homecoming for her girlfriend, their apartment begins to feel more like a tomb when voices, shadows, and hallucinations reveal a truth she has been unwilling to face.

United Kingdom, 2021
World Premiere, 90 min
Director – Charles Dorfman
An alpha male social media influencer and his beta brother meet for an explosive dinner with their significant others – one where secrets are revealed, lives are ruined, and chaos reigns (fox included).

USA, 2021
Texas Premiere, 93 min
Directors – Jim Cummings & PJ McCabe
Jim Cummings is back as co-director and star in this pitch-black film biz satire. Cummings revels in the full spectrum of bad behavior, leaving you laughing and gasping in equal measure.

Japan, 2021
US Premiere, 70 min
Director – Junta Yamaguchi
Kato is a cafe owner in Kyoto who suddenly finds his bedroom computer screen linked to the one in his cafe, showing him exactly what’s going on downstairs – two minutes in the future. Things get really absurd when his friends find out and devise a way to go … BEYOND THE INFINITE 2 MINUTES.

USA, 2021
World Premiere, 85 min
Director – Gigi Saul Guerrero
The big, steel-toed boot of gentrification won’t stop one determined locally-grown advocate as a new building owner offers Bingo as a portal to financial prosperity – but the price is something far more sinister and much less liberating.

Denmark, 2021
US Premiere, 97 min
Director – Mads Hedegaard
Kim Cannon Arm sets out to shatter records by playing Gyruss for 100 hours straight on a single coin and he can’t do it on his own in this funny and philosophical documentary about the importance of friends and community.

Taiwan, Hong Kong, 1976
Repertory Screening, 90 min
Director – Chi-Hwa Chen
At the nexus point where Jackie Chan’s star began to rise and Angela Mao’s (ENTER THE DRAGON) was waning, they collaborated on this wild, rarely seen gem. Channeling Chan’s own acrobatic style, Mao avenges the defeat of her teachers using a powerful “dancing girl” kung fu style inspired by the gyrations of brothel attendants.

The Netherlands, Taiwan, 2021
North American Premiere, 98 min
Director – David Verbeek
Five wealthy, fashionable friends wake up from a wild night in Taipei to find they’ve become vampires in David Verbeek’s aesthetically gorgeous thriller.

Taiwan, Hong Kong, 1977
Repertory Screening, 92 min
Director – Chang Mei-chung
Now! DYNASTY! On the surface it looks like just another indie kung fu flick from Taiwan, but within minutes this crazy train has picked up a full head of steam and is on its way to a Never Never Land of wild weapons, mass mutilation, and major mayhem … all in 3-D!!!

USA, Mexico, Venezuela, 2021
World Premiere, 98 min
Director – Alejandro Hidalgo
When children in a small Mexican town start dying of demonic possession, the inhabitants seek the help of Father Peter Williams, a priest haunted by a past exorcism gone sinfully wrong. What follows is an epic battle between good and evil.

“Bingo Hell” by Gigi Saul Guerrero

United Kingdom, 2021
US Premiere, 102 min
Directors – Sarah Appleton & Phillip Escott
Whip out your phone cams and prepare to get immersive: Sarah Appleton and Phillip Escott’s THE FOUND FOOTAGE PHENOMENON is a documentary-shaped crash course on the wobbliest horror films out there.

USA, 2021
US Premiere, 82 min
Directors – Toby Poser, Zelda Adams & John Adams
Fantastic Fest favorite filmmaking family Toby Poser, John Adams, and Zelda Adams return with their newest creative endeavor HELLBENDER, a witchy, heavy metal coming-of-age thriller.

USA, 2021
World Premiere, 88 min
Director – Eric McEver
Two self-proclaimed geeks and a live-in Japanese foreign exchange student procure a long-lost anime classic that inadvertently turns them into superheroes … just in time for a Y2K-era Kaiju face-off!

Brazil, 2021
US Premiere, 97 min
Director – Renata Pinheiro
A young man’s ability to surreally “be one” with cars sparks a revolution that could save transport in his community. When his invention inadvertently accelerates the underlying problems, our hero’s quest must grow bigger than his own personal ambitions.

Sweden, 2021
Texas Premiere, 78 min
Director – Frida Kempff
Molly seems to be the only one who hears strange knocking day and night in her apartment. But she won’t be deterred by unbelievers until she’s discovered the cause of the noises tormenting her.

Iceland, Sweden, Poland, 2021
US Premiere, 107 min
Director – Valdimar Jóhannsson
On a remote farm in Iceland, a couple that experienced recent loss is caring for their flock of sheep. One day, one of their sheep gives birth to a very peculiar lamb that will change their lives forever.

Japan, 2021
Texas Premiere, 139 min
Director – Kazuya Shiraishi
A hard-won truce between rival yakuza gangs threatens to erupt into bloody violence when a psychopathic hoodlum is released from prison and vows to avenge the death of his boss.

Ireland, 2021
World Premiere, 97 min
Director – Conor McMahon
Sibling rivalry takes on a whole new meaning when one brother is turned into a vampire and has to rely on his younger brother to protect him. Will brotherly love win out or is someone getting staked?

Hong Kong, 2021
Texas Premiere, 118 min
Director – Soi Cheang
A burnt-out cop and a by-the-book young detective team up to catch a vicious serial killer lurking in the garbage-filled alleys of Hong Kong in Soi Cheang’s grimy monochrome masterpiece.

USA, 2021
US Premiere, 83 min
Director – Phil Tippett
An adventurer descends into a pit reaching the bowels of the Earth, searching for a spot on a crumbling map. On his journey in an apocalyptic world, he meets and fights monsters and creatures out of your worst nightmares in this passion project from stop-motion legend Phil Tippett.

Denmark, 2021
North American Premiere, 125 min
Director – Martin Zandlivet
When Marco, a Romani kid without papers, is caught at the Danish border with the passport of a man who went missing, Detective Carl Mørck from Department Q unknowingly opens Pandora’s Box on what was supposedly a simple case.

Taiwan, Hong Kong, 1975
Repertory Screening, 93 min
Director – Jimmy Wang Yu
A blind assassin armed with a vicious flying guillotine is out to kill the legendary one-armed boxer (martial arts superstar Jimmy Wang Yu). 36 Cinema presents MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE with live commentary by RZA!