Fantastic Fest 2012 Preview

This will be my fifth year attending Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX, and as always, I eagerly anticipate the latest delights in action, sci-fi, fantasy and horror, along with anything else wonderful and odd. There are titles that have already been well-received -- "Looper," "Sinister," "Dredd" -- and some secret screenings bound to knock audiences on their collective ass. Why, we're even in for a work-in-progress peek at next month's "Paranormal Activity 4." Specifically, here are ten movies that have us excited for what the following week has in store.

1. "The ABCs of Death" - This 26-part anthology project has long sounded like a greatest hits of depravity from the minds responsible for past Fantastic Fest favorites like "Timecrimes," "You're Next," "Kill List," "The House of the Devil" and "A Serbian Film." When this sees a proper release in 2013, let it never be said that we didn't warn you...

Frankenweenie2. "Frankenweenie" - I'm not going to pretend this isn't something of an odd choice for Opening Night, but hope springs eternal. Those behind-the-scenes at FF might know that, in returning to his original short film, Tim Burton has created something more enjoyable and resonant than the hollow digital parades that were "Dark Shadows" and "Alice in Wonderland." Maybe this could be a return to form, or maybe it's just ripe placement for a studio title. All will become clear by week's end.

3. "Antiviral" - Just as David Cronenberg appears to be aging away from the body horror with which he once made his name, so arrives his son, Brandon, making his directorial debut with this tale of a future where clients can pay to share the same diseases as their favorite celebrities and the consequences of such infectious behavior.

4. "Holy Motors" - Few titles earned such an instantly ecstatic consensus at Cannes last May as Leo Carax's latest curio did. As for a plot, well... a man (Denis Levant) in a limo reportedly keeps an odd series of appointments. Apparently, a madman -- maybe even the same man -- eats flowers and Eva Mendes shows up at some point. Need I say more?

5. "Doomsday Book" - If you've seen any of Kim Ji-woon's films -- "The Good, The Bad, The Weird," "I Saw the Devil," "A Tale of Two Sisters" -- then you know why his involvement in a post-apocalyptic omnibus film is exciting news. If you don't, I'll be waiting right here for you to finish watching any or all of those.

6. "The History of Future Folk" - If there's one film that's earned legitimate pre-fest buzz around Austin, it's this fictitious origin story for real-life band Future Folk as they set about saving the world. Fantastic Fest has a solid batting average for quirky comedies ("Sound of Noise," "A Town Called Panic"), so consider us pumped.

7. "Berberian Sound Studio" - Word out of the UK has been strong for this giallo riff, in which a sound engineer (Toby Jones) working on an Italian horror film in the '70s begins to have trouble distinguishing between his work and reality.

Red Dawn8. "Two Rabbits"- Look, if Hollywood is already set on remaking this darkly comedic revenge thriller from Brazil, then it's worth a watch now before they go and screw it up.

9. "Cold Blooded" - From the sound of things, this Canadian thriller about a policewoman cornered in a hospital with her comatose suspect could be this year's answer to the single-setting suspense of "Sleepless Night."

10. "Red Dawn" - When MGM went bankrupt in 2010, this remake of 1984's exceedingly jingoistic Commie invasion picture found itself stranded in legal limbo alongside "The Cabin in the Woods." Now, stars Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson are bigger than before, and the film will finally hit theaters this Thanksgiving. The way I see it, the programmers here have a pretty solid idea of whether or not a Fantastic Fest crowd will be on board with the end result; otherwise, the film's rough journey to release only becomes burdened with bad buzz two months out. After a very long wait, we shall see soon enough...

Fantastic Fest runs from September 20-27. Keep reading for our daily coverage.