Fantastic Fest is upon us again and delta variant be damned, Austin City’s celebration of cinema kicks off this Thursday. COVID has once again put a wrench in the plans (surprise, surprise) but the festival still boasts one of the best lineups of the year. The programming at Fantastic Fest has always been the highlight of the festival, and they’ve got one hell of a lineup for you this year filled with blood, guts, and guns. Otherwise known as the holy trinity of genre film.
The 2021 selections are chockfull of bold, original cinema including advance screenings of Gigi Saul Guerrero’s Bingo Hell and Valdimar Jóhannsson’s Lamb. You’ll also find someone Nightmare on Film Street’s favourites of the festival circuit including Jean Luc Herbulot’s action-horror hybrid Saloum, as well as Harpo & Lenny Guit’s Belgian gonzo-comedy Mother Schmuckers. (And let’s not forget the new 4K restoration of Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession.)
Below are 5 films we think every horror fan should check out, but it really is just the tip of the iceberg. Fantastic Fest 2021 runs from September 23 – September 30th. Tickets, details, and full film writeups can be found HERE.
Hot at the Shop:
Directed by Rob Jabbaz
“The mysterious “Alvin Virus” is sweeping across the island of Taiwan, unleashing the most primal, lustful, murderous instincts of everyone in its path. Rape, murder, cannibalism, and copious gooey bloodletting threaten to wipe out humanity as we know it. Think Joe Lynch’s MAYHEM on the scale of Danny Boyle’s 28 DAYS LATER and you’re somewhere close to understanding the rollercoaster of exploitation entertainment that awaits.
Into this maelstrom wanders Jim (Berant Zhu) and Kat (newcomer Regina), a young couple embroiled in their own petty domestic disagreement on the morning all the shit hits all the fans. With Kat trapped on the subway and Jim isolated in the rural suburbs, the chance of a successful reunion seems almost impossible. But true love finds a way, even if that way sends our young heroes directly into the bowels of Hell.”
Read Nightmare on Film Street’s full review of The Sadness HERE.
“In HELLBENDER, Zelda and her parents start a heavy metal band (for which they wrote their own very catchy and well-produced songs) as a creative outlet for a strange fire brewing inside her. This fire seems to be rooted in something much deeper than the typical teenage angst, threatening danger for anyone who crosses Zelda if it’s left unchecked.
[…] HELLBENDER succeeds on multiple levels, exploring the occult and supernatural while simultaneously probing complex family dynamics. This filmmaking family is unlike any other team currently working, and watching their real-life bonds come alive on screen through boundless creativity and devotion to the craft is a singularly moving experience.”
Read Nightmare on Film Street’s full review of HellbenderHERE.
“As a young child, Alexia’s life is forever altered after a car accident necessitates a life-saving surgery to permanently screw a metal plate into her skull. The crash and resulting metal plate seem to have unlocked a deep desire within her: an all-consuming sexual attraction to cars, and with it, a deep alienation from her family and other people. Fast-forward years later, and she’s making a living as a stripper specializing in performing at car shows.
Her particularly enthusiastic dancing earns her plenty of unwelcome attention, but with the help of a metal rod she wears as a hairpin, Alexia has little problem taking care of any threat, each human more disposable than the last. Living a life dominated by lust and violence, Alexia drifts aimlessly from day to day, until she finds herself on the run from police after a particularly unhinged killing spree, with no friends or family to turn to. It’s at this point that what begins as a gory, serial killer case study morphs into a stunning meditation on grief, family, and love.”
Read Nightmare on Film Street’s full review of Titane HERE.
Directed by Chloe Okuno, Jennifer Reeder, Ryan Prows, Simon Barrett, and Timo Tjahjanto
“The first entry in the found-footage anthology series since 2014’s V/H/S: VIRAL, V/H/S/94 serves up four more horror story ragers and shows that there are still plenty of unique ideas left in the format. Shot entirely during the pandemic, V/H/S/94 uses its limited sets to its advantage, churning out clever shocks and scares from every location using a plethora of new camera tricks.”
The Black Phone
Directed by Scott Derrickson
“A kidnapper and suspected serial killer plagues a suburban Colorado town in the 1970s. Five boys have already gone missing by the time Finney becomes the latest victim, captured and left in a nondescript basement with no viable way to escape. What initially feels like a bleak situation shifts into something more hopeful when a disconnected black phone in the basement starts inexplicably ringing. Finney soon realizes he’s being contacted by the five previous victims and they have some very important messages to share.”
Fantastic Fest 2021 runs from September 23 – September 30th. Click HERE to follow out full festival coverage of the festival, and be sure to let us know which movies you’re most excited to check out over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord.