The feature film slate for Austin's South by Southwest festival (SXSW) was revealed last week, but as most genre fans know, the real cinematic treasures are lurking in the festival's midnight lineup. As SXSW Programmer Jarod Neece put it: "This year we scoured the globe and brought back a batch that we knew would truly satisfy the gore hounds of SXSW. Full of scares, sex, madness, laughs, chills and major mind f--ks, we hope there's a little something for everyone."
Browsing the titles, it's hard to tear our eyes away from a film called "Big Ass Spider" (directed by Mike Mendez of "The Gravedancers"), but the addition of Rob Zombie's "Lords of Salem," sequel "V/H/S/2," a movie from "Splice"'s Vincenzo Natali ("Haunter"), and vampire tale "Kiss of the Damned" from Xan Cassavetes certainly helps.
Earlier this week, a full trailer was released for Zombie's witchy opus, showing Sheri Moon Zombie exploring her new Salem, Massachusetts apartment. She stars as a DJ who has been called to the Halloween city by mysterious forces and a record that triggers dark memories. The vibe is "Rosemary's Baby" meets Dario Argento's "Inferno," and if the striking visuals on display are any indication of the kind of terror Zombie has created for us, then we're in for a treat.
Another SXSW midnighter most people haven't seen is Adam Wingard's "You're Next," written by frequent collaborator Simon Barrett. Both worked on serial killer indie "A Horrible Way to Die" and contributed to "V/H/S/2." "You're Next" premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival Midnight Madness program and played Austin's Fantastic Fest a few days later, but has been sitting on the shelf since then. The story follows a family who is attacked during their vacation by a gang of mysterious killers. Eventually the thugs realize one of the victims isn't going to be silenced without a fight.
Here are a few of the horror flicks screening at SXSW that will be coming to theaters soon. Check out the rest of the lineup over here.
"Big Ass Spider!"
Director: Mike Mendez, Screenwriter: Gregory Gieras
When a giant alien spider escapes from a military lab and rampages across the city of Los Angeles, it is up to one clever exterminator and his security guard sidekick to kill the creature before the city is destroyed.
Cast: Greg Grunberg, Lombardo Boyar, Clare Kramer, Ray Wise, Lin Shaye, Patrick Bauchau
Director: E.L. Katz, Screenwriters: Trent Haaga, David Chirchirillo
Recently fired and facing eviction, the married father of a newborn has his life turned upside down when he meets a wealthy couple who offer a path to financial security…but at a price.
Cast: Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, Sara Paxton, David Koechner, Amanda Fuller
Director: Vincenzo Natali, Screenwriter: Brian King
Lisa Johnson is one day shy of her 16th birthday and will be forever. She and her family are doomed to repeat the fateful day before they were all killed in 1985.
Cast: Abigail Breslin, Stephen McHattie, Peter Outerbridge, Michelle Nolden, David Hewlett
"Kiss of the Damned"
Director/Screenwriter: Xan Cassavetes
Beautiful vampire Djuna tries to resist the advances of human screenwriter Paolo, but eventually gives in to their passion. When her sister Mimi comes to visit, Djuna’s love story is threatened, and the whole vampire community becomes endangered…
Cast: Joséphine de la Baume, Milo Ventimiglia, Roxane Mesquida, Anna Mouglalis, Michael Rapaport, Riley Keough, Ching Valdes-Aran
"The Lords of Salem"
Director/Screenwriter: Rob Zombie
From the singular mind of horror maestro Rob Zombie comes a chilling plunge into a nightmare world where evil runs in the blood.
Cast: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Ken Foree, Patricia Quinn
Director: Dennis Iliadis, Screenwriter: Bill Gullo
When the party of the decade is disrupted by a supernatural phenomenon, the night soon descends in to chaos.
Cast: Rhys Wakefield, Logan Miller, Ashley Hinshaw, Natalie Hall
Director/Screenwriter: Calvin Lee Reeder
After being released from prison, a man known as The Rambler stumbles upon a strange mystery as he attempts a dangerous journey through treacherous back roads and small towns en route to reconnecting with his long lost brother.
Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Lindsay Pulsipher, Natasha Lyonne, James Cady, Scott Sharot
Directors: Adam Wingard, Gareth Evans, Screenwriters: Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Evans, Jamie Nash, Jason Eisener, John Davies
Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his abandoned house and find another collection of mysterious VHS tapes. In viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be terrifying motives behind the student’s disappearance.
Cast: Adam Wingard, Lawrence Levine, L. C. Holt, Kelsy Abbott, Hannah Hughes
Director: Adam Wingard, Screenwriter: Simon Barrett
A fresh twist on home-invasion horror. A gang of masked murderers descend upon a family reunion, and the victims seem trapped…until an unlikely guest proves to be the most talented killer of all.
Cast: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg