Ring in 2017 With These TV Countdown Parties
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Director Robert Rodriguez's action sequel is the opening night film of this year's Fantastic Fest. Who's in it? Who's not in it! Joining franchise mainstay Danny Trejo are Mel Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara, Amber Heard, Charlie Sheen, Antonio Banderas, Jessica Alba, Vanessa Hudgens, Cuba Gooding Jr., The Bridge's Demián Bichir, and Lady Gaga. Rodriguez is also involved with curating Fantastic Market, a showcase for genre film projects looking to secure finance.
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Man of Tai Chi
Keanu Reeves directed this martial arts thriller about a young man (Tiger Chen) who starts competing in an underground fight club run by a psychotic baddie (Reeves). The filmmaker will also be on hand at the festival to debate Fantastic Fest co-founder Tim League as to whether ''Tai Chi is a martial art relegated to elderly Chinese women and is inferior in ever way to Tae Kwon Do.''
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Escape from Tomorrow
A family man played by Roy Abramsohn mentally unravels while on vacation in this horror-fantasy from first-time director Randy Moore which he filmed, without permission, at Disney theme parks and hotels. Moore will attend the festival, possibly being pursued by an angry, outsized mouse.
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Director Shaul Schwarz's film looks at how the Mexican musical genre known as narcorridos (''drug ballads'') glamorizes the acts of violence committed by the country's drug dealers and smugglers. (Those who prefer their rock movies to be ''heavy'' in a more volume-related sense may care to know that Fantastic Fest is also screening Metallica Through The Never.)
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Why Don?t You Play in Hell?
Fantastic Fest cofounder Tim League has said he is particularly proud of the slate of films from Japan showcased at this year's event. That lineup includes Kid's Police, about a crime task force who are turned into children, and this equally bizarre-sounding offering from director Sion Sono. An untalented group of wannabe filmmakers called The F--- Bombers collide with a yakuza boss who wants to make a movie with this daughter. But of course!
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A last minute addition to the Fantastic Fest line up, this tale of a Jonestown-type cult features three of the stars from the recent horror film You're Next — Amy Seimetz, AJ Bowen, and Joe Swanberg — and was written and directed by a fourth, House of the Devil filmmaker Ti West.
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Documentaries about movies which actually got made are so passé. This film from Frank Pavich tracks the ultimately doomed attempt by eccentric cult icon and El Topo director Alejandro Jodorowsky to bring Frank Herbert's epic science fiction novel Dune to the big screen.
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The darkly comic directorial debut of screenwriter E.L. Katz (Pop Skull) stars David Koechner and Sara Paxton as a pair of rich thrill-seekers who pay new acquaintances Pat Healy and Ethan Embry escalating amounts of money to complete increasingly strange dares.
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A Field in England
U.K. director Ben Wheatley firmly, and violently, established a cult rep with his first three, modern day-set movies: Down Terrace, Kill List, and the recent Sightseers. With A Field in England he travels back four centuries for an English Civil War-era tale which features Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen), Michael Smiley (Luther), and magic mushroom consumption.
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Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut
Director David Cronenberg has a major presence at Fantastic Fest 2013 — but not because of his directing. The Canadian narrates the documentary Tales from the Organ Trade (which concerns the clandestine world of, yes, organ harvesting) and appears in this new, 144-minute version of fellow horror legend Clive Barker's 1990 film Nightbreed.
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We don't know too much about this film from Monster Brawl director Jesse Cook and Pontypool screenwriter Tony Burgess except that it concerns a plumber who undergoes a hideous transformation while trapped inside a septic tank. But really what else do you need to know?
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Macon Blair plays a man who decides to take revenge on a killer being released from jail. Fantastic Fest cofounder Tim League says this film from writer-director Jeremy Saulnier was the best genre movie he saw at Cannes, which is high praise given he probably saw 2,088 genre movies at Cannes.
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We Are What We Are
Mexican director Jorge Michel Grau's tale of a cannibalistically inclined family is relocated to a rain-lashed upstate New York and heavily remodeled in this remake from Stake Land filmmaker Jim Mickle. The cast includes Bill Sage as the paterfamilias, Kelly McGillis, Michael Parks, and cowriter Nick Damici.
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So many mouth-watering narrative features are being shown at Fantastic Fest, from the horror film Almost Human — whose trailer strongly evokes John Carpenter's The Thing — to the Elijah Wood- and John Cusack-starring thriller Grand Piano to Journey to the West, the first film in five years from Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle). But in terms of sheer uniqueness (not to mention sheer ''What the hell?''-ness) this movie about a private eye with Down syndrome may well be the one to beat.
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The Zero Theorem
Fantastic Fest's closing night movie is the latest from the none-more-fantastical Terry Gilliam. Christoph Waltz and Matt Damon star in the very Gilliamesque-sounding story about a reclusive computer genius plagued with existential angst.
Ring in 2017 With These TV Countdown Parties