Overlord
Photo: Fantastic Fest

Almost one year after a festival dominated by controversy, the Alamo Drafthouse’s flagship event, Fantastic Fest, has returned with a new code of conduct, a new board of directors, and a new slate of genre cinema from around the world. This morning, the festival announced its first wave of programming, and in keeping with the spirit of feminist reform it features six films with women in prominent creative roles: Directors Isabella Eklöf, Sonia Escolano, Sarah Jacobson (who’s the subject of a retrospective), Amanda Kramer, and Marysia Nikitiuk, and writer/producer Isa Mazzei, whose film Cam was a standout at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival.

It also presents a trio of buzzy world premieres: Apostle, the latest from The Raid director Gareth Edwards, described as a “folk horror” film in the style of blasphemous slow-burn ‘70s favorites like The Devils and The Wicker Man; The Night Comes For Us, the latest in an exciting wave of Indonesian genre films hitting the North American circuit this year co-starring Evans’ The Raid star Iko Uwais; and Overlord, the latest from the J.J. Abrams-produced family of high-concept sci-fi films about a group of American paratroopers who discover a lab full of horrifying Nazi medical experiments in the final days of WWII.

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Also featured in this first wave are: German art-horror freakout Luz, another of our favorites from Fantasia; two different films about scary things happening on the night shift at minimum-wage jobs, which tells you a lot about what the lives of indie film directors are like when they’re not on set; a delightful-sounding stop-motion animated alternate history of Laika, the first dog sent into space; the fantastically titled Murder Me, Monster; and a South Korean retrospective series that also inspired this year’s artwork, seen below.

Fantastic Fest takes place September 20-27 in Austin, Texas, where The A.V. Club will once again be in attendance. More film announcements—fingers crossed for Suspiria!—are to come. The full first wave lineup, with official summaries, is below.

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Fantastic Fest First Wave Lineup 2018

Apostle

United Kingdom, 2018

World Premiere, 129 min

Director - Gareth Evans

The year is 1905. Thomas Richardson travels to a remote island to rescue his sister after she’s kidnapped by a mysterious religious cult demanding a ransom for her safe return. It soon becomes clear that the cult will regret the day it baited this man, as he digs deeper and deeper into the secrets and lies upon which the commune is built.

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Ban Geum-Ryeon

South Korea, 1981

Regional Premiere, 90 min

Director - Kim Ki-young

From Park Chan-wook’s idol comes a twisted tale of lecherous lords and murderous mistresses. Presented outside of Korea for only the second time, Kim Ki-young’s masterpiece BAN GEUM-RYEON is a lush smorgasbord from Korea’s most demented cinematic mind.

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AGFA and Bleeding Skull Present: Blood Lake

USA, 1987

World Premiere of New Preservation, 82 min

Director - Tim Boggs

The finest vacation from hell ever captured on VHS, rescued from the original 1” master tapes!

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Burning

South Korea, 2018

Texas Premiere, 148 min

Director - Lee Chang-dong

Lee Chang-dong’s latest triumph weighs the delicate balance between creation and destruction as a writer runs into an old classmate who gets him caught up in a mystery bigger than both of them.

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Cam

USA, 2018

US Premiere, 94 min

Director - Daniel Goldhaber

In Attendance - Writer/Producer Isa Mazzei

Alice is a camgirl with principles. She doesn’t do public shows, she doesn’t tell her fans she loves them, and she doesn’t fake her orgasms. But when a mysterious lookalike takes over her channel, the rules no longer apply.

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Dog

France, 2017

US Premiere, 87 min

Director - Samuel Benchetrit

A dark fable about loneliness, perfectly illustrated by Jacques Blanchot’s loss of humanity and slow transformation into a dog. Director Samuel Benchetrit shares a subtle commentary on our current world, and its social, interpersonal, and political issues.

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An Evening With Beverly Luff Lin

USA, 2018

Texas Premiere, 108 min

Director - Jim Hosking

Fantastic Fest alumni director Jim Hosking (THE GREASY STRANGLER; RENEGADES) is back with a second feature as absurd, crazy, and funny as his first. Follow Lulu Danger’s very own revolution in a Lynch-meets-Waters run-down version of America.

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The Guilty

Denmark, 2018

Austin Premiere, 85 min

Director - Gustav Möller

A horrific crime; an emergency responder struggling to stay off the edge; a kidnapping victim calling in for help. This is all we’re going to tell you about first-time feature filmmaker Gustav Möller’s unmissable and gripping debut thriller.

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Holiday

Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden, Turkey, 2018

Texas Premiere, 93 min

Director - Isabella Eklöf

The sun-drenched dream of the eponymous summer vacation has its dark side revealed in Isabella Eklöf’s powerful debut feature HOLIDAY, an unforgettable exploration of the fraught, brutal experience of young womanhood.

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House Of Sweat And Tears

Spain, 2018

World Premiere, 104 min

Director - Sonia Escolano

In Attendance - Director Sonia Escolano

“She,” the leader of a violent cult, rules her flock with an iron fist to ensure they never stray from the path. But a series of events and a mysterious outsider threaten the pattern of their reality in this electrifying exploration of faith and belief. 

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AGFA Presents: I Was A Teenage Serial Killer

USA, 1993

World Premiere of New Restoration, 27 min

Director - Sarah Jacobson

Sarah Jacobson’s punk-spirited DIY films combine B-movie aesthetics and riot grrrl feminism in brand new 2K preservations.

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Keep An Eye Out

France, 2018

North American Premiere, 73 min

Director - Quentin Dupieux

An absurd all-night interrogation set in a camp ‘70s police station, Quentin Dupieux’s latest opus, KEEP AN EYE OUT, is a celebration of his own brand of quirky, offbeat humor, performed by France’s most refreshing comedic talents.

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Ladyworld

USA, 2018

US Premiere, 93 min

Director - Amanda Kramer

In Attendance - Director Amanda Kramer and Actor/Co-Editor/Production Designer Noel David Taylor

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In Amanda Kramer’s daring low-budget debut LADYWORLD, a birthday party quickly devolves into chaos when a mysterious earthquake traps eight teenage girls alone in a house, challenging their friendships, identities, and eventually their grip on reality.

Laika

Czech Republic, 2017

Regional Premiere, 88 min

Director - Aurel Klimt

In Attendance - Director Aurel Klimt

This is the story of Laïka the space dog who, unlike in real life, did not die aboard Sputnik 2 in 1957. In this bizarre and charming stop-motion musical, Laïka crashes on a peculiar planet where she meets new friends.

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Luz

Germany, 2018

US Premiere, 70 min

Director - Tilman Singer

In Attendance - Director Tilman Singer

Luz enters a police station at night to report an assault. As the interrogation progresses, it becomes clear a demonic entity wants to possess her in this audacious, psychotropic horror film shot on 16mm.

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Madam Yankelova’s Fine Literature Club

Israel, 2018

International Premiere, 90 min

Director - Guilhad Emilio Schenker

Desperate, aging, Sophie only needs to seduce one more handsome victim — excuse me, date — to become a worry-free Lordess in MADAM YANKELOVA’S FINE LITERATURE CLUB, Israeli director Guilhad Emilio Schenker’s delightfully twisted debut feature.

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Maniac

USA, 1980

World Premiere of New 4K Restoration, 88 min

Director - William Lustig

In Attendance - Director William Lustig

The 4K restoration of grindhouse auteur Bill Lustig’s 1980 slasher landmark features splatter SFX artist Tom Savini’s gnarliest work, as well as one of horror’s finest, sweatiest performances from legendary character actor/co-writer Joe Spinell.

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AGFA Presents: Mary Jane’s Not A Virgin Anymore

USA, 1997

World Premiere of New Restoration, 98 min

Director - Sarah Jacobson

Sarah Jacobson’s punk-spirited DIY films combine B-movie aesthetics and riot grrrl feminism in brand new 2K preservations.

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Murder Me, Monster

Argentina, France, Chile, 2018

North American Premiere, 109 min

Director - Alejandro Fadel

Visual horror masterpiece MURDER ME, MONSTER lures you into the fascinating and opaque underworld of serial murder, supernatural obsession, metaphysical hallucinations, forbidden love — and one nightmarishly gross monster.

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The Night Comes For Us

Indonesia, 2018

World Premiere, 121 min

Director - Timo Tjahjanto

A former triad enforcer must protect a young girl while trying to escape his former gang, setting off a violent battle on the streets of Jakarta.

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The Night Shifter

Brazil, 2018

US Premiere, 110 min

Director - Dennison Ramalho

An attendant at a busy morgue who can also converse with the dead puts his loved ones in peril using his forbidden knowledge for vengeance in Dennison Ramalho’s (NINJAS; ABCS OF DEATH 2) twisted and gleefully icky feature debut.

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One Cut Of The Dead

Japan, 2018

Texas Premiere, 96 min

Director - Shinichiro Ueda

A filmmaker sets out to shoot a zombie film in an abandoned factory, but something is lurking on the outside. Is it a zombie apocalypse or just another shoot gone wrong?

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Open 24 Hours

USA, Serbia, 2018

North American Premiere, 100 min

Director - Padraig Reynolds

In Attendance - Director Padraig Reynolds

A young woman who had previously set her serial killer boyfriend on fire is now seeking normalcy by getting a job working the overnight shift at a 24-hour convenience store, where things are most definitely not going to be normal.

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Overlord

USA, 2018

World Premiere, TBD min

Director - Julius Avery

In Attendance - Director Julius Avery and cast including Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Pilou Asbaek, John Magaro, and Mathilde Ollivier

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In the upcoming WWII horror-thriller OVERLORD, a group of American paratroopers drop into Nazi-occupied France on the eve of D-Day. As they struggle to carry out their seemingly impossible mission, they discover a secret Nazi lab carrying out terrifying and bizarre supernatural experiments.

Piercing

USA, 2018

Texas Premiere, 81 min

Director - Nicolas Pesce

From the twisted mind of Nicolas Pesce (THE EYES OF MY MOTHER) comes a provocative two-hander chamberpiece — a tense battle of wits and desire between prostitute and trick, predator and prey.

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Quit Your Life

South Korea, 1971

North American Premiere, 82 min

Director - Park Nou-sik

Presented in English for the first time, actor-director Park Nou-sik balances the scales of justice as he stalks around Korea with his noose of judgment in the relentless revenge drama QUIT YOUR LIFE.

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School’s Out

France, 2018

North American Premiere, 103 min

Director - Sébastien Marnier

In this dread-soaked cerebral thriller, a handsome young substitute teacher gets in over his head when taking on a class of gifted students after their former teacher’s dramatic in-class suicide.

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Terrified

Argentina, 2017

US Premiere, 87 min

Director - Demián Rugna

In Attendance - Director Demián Rugna

Strange things are going on in a Buenos Aires neighborhood. Demián Rugna’s constantly surprising and truly spine-chilling horror film has one goal: to scare the shit out of everyone.

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The Unthinkable

Sweden, 2018

World Premiere, 129 min

Director - Crazy Pictures

Something unthinkable is happening in Sweden. It starts with a few isolated incidents but suddenly, it’s all over the country. There are some who were prepared and others who weren’t. Ready or not, things will go out with a bang!

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Violence Voyager

Japan, 2018

Regional Premiere, 83 min

Director - Ujicha

En route to visit a friend in another village, two kids go looking for a fabled shortcut through the mountain. Instead, they stumble upon an amusement park called Violence Voyager, and that’s when everything goes to shit.

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When The Trees Fall

Ukraine, Poland, Macedonia, 2018

North American Premiere, 88 min

Director - Marysia Nikitiuk

In Attendance - Director Marysia Nikitiuk

Scar and Larysa are desperately in love and suffocating under the tradition and archaic demands of their Ukrainian village. When the frustrations of each finally detonate, their world and the lives of those surrounding them are tragically shattered.

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The Wolf House

Chile, 2018

North American Premiere, 73 min

Directors - Cristóbal León & Joaquín Cociña

In Attendance - Director Cristóbal León

An animated tale, supposedly restored from the archives of a German colony by the Chilean government, THE WOLF HOUSE is the unsettling story of Maria, punished with a hundred nights alone in a cabin in the woods.

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