5. Rampage, Directed by Uwe Boll (Canada)
That's right, out of the 100+ films at Fantastic Fest, one of my top 5 is the latest from House of the Dead and Bloodrayne mastermind Uwe Boll. Never mind the fact that the notorious German is going to be present to do a Rampage Q&A (his appearances are, as legend tells, phenomenal, hilarious, maddening insights into his, uh, talents), I've actually heard very good things about the film.
Programming Description: "Fed up with his dead-end life, Bill constructs a full-body kevlar armor suit and rampages through the streets of his hometown killing everyone in sight, particularly the barista that failed to make him a proper macchiato."
Extent of Exposure: I've only read the description, seen the poster and heard a detail-less thumbs up.
4. [REC] 2, Directed by Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza (Spain)
I don't think this needs much explaining. Frankly, I thought about leaving this off a most anticipated list because it's such an obvious choice, but to leave it off would undercut just how much I'm looking forward to the sequel to one of the best horror films of the 2000s.
Programming Description: "In one of the most highly anticipated horror films of the year, the mysterious, rampaging outbreak of [REC] wreaks bloody havoc on the citizens of Madrid."
Extent of Exposure: Having covered [REC] 2 a good deal on HorrorSquad, I've seen the teasers and full trailer, as well as having read Weinberg's positive review.
3. Salvage, Directed by Lawrence Gough (UK)
Salvage is a British title I saw the trailer for months ago and filed it away in the depths of my brain as something to keep my eye out for. There are spots in the trailer that look to have the same low-budget, might-as-well-be-Syfy aesthetic that a lot of people rag on, but that doesn't bother me. I love the idea of a cargo container that washes ashore, bringing with it an unknown terror. It's a welcome variant on the "it fell from space" formula, and I think it looks like it has more than a few tricks up its deceptive sleeve.
Programming Description: "On Christmas eve in a sleepy Liverpudlian suburb, terror strikes without warning. Paramilitary forces start gunning down the residents, but it's unclear whether they are hunting the citizens or protecting them, and if protecting... from what?"
Extent of Exposure: A trailer once, months and months ago. No reviews, no buzz.
2. Trick 'r Treat, Directed by Michael Dougherty (USA)
Trick 'r Treat has been a white whale of mine for over two years, which is why I will gladly skip Secret Screening #2 in favor of Michael Dougherty's over-due directorial debut. I think the trailer looks absolutely, positively ripped from my VHS-watching, Halloween-loving childhood. I've never heard a bad thing spoken about it and I full expect it to rend the flesh from my face.
Programming Description: "Four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband."
Extent of Exposure: I've seen the first trailer enough times to burn an image of Anna Paquin dressed as Little Red Riding Hood into my corneal flap.
1. Van Diemen's Land, Directed by Jonathan Auf Der Heide (Australia)
I really can't explain why, but I have had very good feeling about this film since it was first put into the lineup; which is remarkably convenient considering this will be my first official Fantastic Fest screening. Perhaps it is because Van Diemen's Land has one of the few realistic premises of Fantastic Fest. Or, and this is more likely, perhaps its just because I love stories of cannibalism, I love period pieces, and I love what Australian has been doing genre-wise for the last few years. Plus, it reads like Ravenous without the Wendigo aspect.
Programming Description: "When their guard is killed en route to prison in 19th-century Tasmania, eight prisoners escape through the dense rain forest. Their poorly-conceived escape plans crumble, food runs out and the gang of prisoners engages in power struggles, psychological games and cannibalism in order to survive. Based on the true-life story of Australian prisoner Alexander Pearce."
Extent of Exposure: I've read the above programming description and skimmed the trailer. That's it.