Some people go to film festivals to rub elbows with fancy folks; others go to see small foreign documentaries or glitzy Hollywood product. And others go just because their boss is paying for it. (These are the most annoying people of all.) But my main focus at any film festival is the scary stuff. Doesn't matter if it's a prestigious event like Toronto / Sundance or a down-home good time like SXSW, Philly or Fantastic Fest -- my eyeballs always search for the horror flicks first ... and rare is the genre film that can avoid my attention come festival time.

All of this explains why I've seen a whole lot of horror films that haven't been released yet. Over the course of this three-part series, I hope to give you a bunch of titles (21, to be precise) that have not hit the screens (or shelves) just yet. I'm not saying they're all classics, but on the other hand ... I wouldn't be throwing crap titles in there, now would I? In no particular order, let's start with...

Inside (A l'interieur) -- It stunned me at Toronto and it wormed its way into my heart at Fantastic Fest. It's the very simple story of a very pregnant woman, a very psycho bitch and a collection of very sharp weapons. NOT for the squeamish, the pregnant, the hemophobic or wimpy, but it's definitely a flick that'll keep the fans talking for a while. (Full review here.) Arrival: All I know is that the Weinsteins own it, which means it'll probably hit DVD (under the "Dimension Extreme" label) some time early next year.

Wrong Turn 2 -- Between my positions at FEARnet and DVDTalk, I see a whole bunch of 'direct-to-video' movies -- and the sequels are usually the worst. So imagine my surprise when this flick brought me back to my giddy days of Friday 2 and Chainsaw 2! (Full review here.) It lacks the seriousness of the first Wrong Turn, but it's pretty enthusiastically gory -- and it kills off a bunch of reality show contestants. Now that's fun. Arrival: The Fox DVD arrives this Tuesday.

S&Man -- "A darkly insightful and entirely fascinating study of the most disturbing material out there ... and why we like to watch it." That's what I said about this great little flick ... about two years ago! (Rocchi's review here.) Director JT Petty has The Burrowers and Goth on the way, but this dark little doco deserves to be seen already. Arrival: Word from Mr. Petty himself is that, well, release plans are still pending.


Five Across the Eyes -- Some folks are going to call me insane for hyping this one, but despite a lot of stumbling blocks (lighting, acting and pacing among them) the flick's still rattling around in my brain a full six days after watching it. It's a micro-budget gimmick flick that delivers a basic story (five lost teenagers are stalked by a psycho), but here's the twist: The camera never once leaves the girls' mini-van. A few trims would make it even better, but I can appreciate what these newcomers cooked up for the most part. Arrival: No idea. I just saw it at Fantastic Fest last week.

Mulberry Street -- Another indie that's got some real rough edges, but just enough craftsmanship and creativity to keep you watching. It's about a viral infection that hits Manhattan and turns normal people into ravenous rat-faced monsters. And it's done with a straight face! The flick's got a gritty and sweaty sheen to it that helps to up the atmosphere, plus it's got a good deal of energy once things get crazy. The SXSW attendees seemed to dig it! Arrival: Alleged to be one of the eight "movies to die for" on this year's After Dark Horrorfest slate. Those flicks open on November 9.

Them (Ils) -- It only opened in five theaters this past August, so I'm counting this as a movie most people haven't seen yet. (Plus with its sparse story and scant running time, it makes for a fine rental.) It's a standard-yet-creepy French tale of a couple in an isolated place who are terrorized by an unknown presence. Aside from the first twelve minutes, the whole movie is basically one long and kinetic chase sequence. Curious to hear your thoughts on the ending, too. Arrival: Slowhand Releasing owns it here, so let's hope they get the DVD out there soon. Or check your favorite DVD importer.

The Girl Next Door -- Based on the novel by Jack Ketchum, which was based on some very true (and very horrific) events. Without giving anything way to those who haven't read the book (or know the facts of the case), I can tell you that it's sort of like the darkest underbelly of Stand By Me. The film is chilling and powerful, but also surprisingly engaging and faithful to both the source material and the heinous true-crime events. Plus it's got one amazingly hateful performance by veteran actress Blanche Baker, which is meant as a compliment. (Jette's review here.) Arrival: Opening in New York this week. The Anchor Bay DVD hits shelves on December 3.

Coming soon: Part 2!