Fantastic Fest 2023 – The Cinapse Team’s Most Anticipated Features

The piece below was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the art being covered in this piece wouldn't exist.

Chaos reigns! in Austin, TX, from September 21st – 28th

It’s that time of year again when the Alamo Drafthouse S Lamar gives itself over to the fiends of Fantastic Fest. The chaotic genre film festival that blends weird and wild films, with equally nutso parties and events. Sure we don’t have a lobby this year, but Chaos will find a way!

It’s not too late to get on over and secure one of the remaining badges. The 2023 lineup has already been announced, and after a digging into things, the Cinapse team attending this year, has gotten together to share their most anticipated features. Read on to see what stood out, and and check in with us next week, as we’ll be running full coverage from the festival.

Ed Travis

As is always the case for me, I plan to focus as much on the action cinema options as I possibly can. What’s different this year is that Fantastic Fest doesn’t seem to just have a smattering of a couple of action titles, but rather quite a few offerings from all across the world in my genre of choice. I couldn’t be more excited about this development and offer my sincerest thanks to the programmers. Here are the action films I plan to check out and potentially cover here at Cinapse!

Kill: Perhaps creeping into “my most anticipated” territory is Kill, an Indian action film that promises a more stripped down and grounded Raid-like approach than your average mega-amped, music-filled Indian blockbuster. Don’t get me wrong, India has been emerging for years as one of the most exciting hubs for action cinema, but I’m always a sucker for a stripped down hardcore brawler and the buzz on Kill is pretty electric.

One Percenter: Ever since the early 2000s when my young mind was blown by the cross-genre face-melter Versus… I’ve been a Tak Sakaguchi fan. So when a Tak action film hits Fantastic Fest, I’ll be there. He’s just got such an iconic screen presence and he also seems interested in pushing the envelope to bring us something new time and time again. From Crazy Samurai (which I didn’t care for but which is a feat of accomplishment) to Re:Born, the guy is innovating and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us here.

100 Yards: I am not super familiar with a lot of the talent behind the Chinese 1920 set martial arts epic 100 Yards. But, as an action and martial arts cinema fan, I’ve seen hundreds of these types of films and nobody does period martial arts like Chinese crews do. Fantastic Fest is one of the only places each year where I can see grand martial arts films on the big screen with a roaring crowd and I can’t wait to experience that again with this Game Of Thrones-sounding tale.

The Last Stop In Yuma County: I’m fascinated by actor and filmmaker Jim Cummings (The Beta Test, The Wolf Of Snow Hollow, Thunder Road) and his involvement in a project will immediately get my attention. Make it a modern slow burn western and you’ve got my butt in a seat.

The Creator: Look, I know this is a highly mainstream pick and the film will be hitting wide just days after it plays Fantastic Fest. But I’ve been a Gareth Edwards fan since his indie breakout Monsters and have enjoyed watching his meteoric rise to Godzilla and Rogue One. But somehow it seems he really has something to prove right now, and an original sci-fi epic like The Creator is catnip to me. I’m really hoping this is something special and proves Edwards has the chops to match his heart and ambition.

Honorary Mentions: I’ll Crush Y’all, Baby Assassins 2, Enter The Clones Of Bruce, Kennedy, Triggered

One Percenter

Dan Tabor

My top 3 most anticipated for this year’s Fantastic Fest in no particular order. 

CONANN, is the latest by Bertrand Mandico who previously brought the surreal masterwork After Blue to Fantastic Fest in 2021, taking home Best Film that year. That was easily one of my favorites that year with its visceral vision of pure decadence and splendor contained in a lesbian acid western. This year however, he’s tackling the myth of Conan the Barbarian with what promises to be “a gory time-traveling fantasy.” After that synopsis, I can’t even imagine what the transgressive auteur has in store for us this time around.

CALIGULA MMXX or CALIGULA THE ULTIMATE CUT – Nothing is going to be beat seeing one of my most anticipated films of the year (Read my post as to why,where I interviewed the editor of the project) with its target audience. I couldn’t be more excited for this screening, and the fact that its star Malcolm McDowell will be on hand, means it’s going to be one hell of a Q&A. I’ve seen that man speak before and can be hilariously poignant and sometimes a bit too candid. So I am counting down the days to see if it truly is the film they originally set out to make, or another glorious disaster. 

ONE – PERCENTER – Yûdai Yamaguchi (Deadball, Meatball Machine) is back at Fantastic Fest with one of the best Stuntmen in the business Tak Sakaguchi (Versus), who in his latest is playing a weathered stuntman who tussles with the Yakuza while making his latest actioner. Given Tak’s reputation, expect plenty of fights with a focus on frantic and fast paced choreography while he gazes off into the distance looking as badass as humanly possible. This also sounds like just the meta exercise that will give the seasoned genre veteran a moment for some real introspective moments as well the action he is known for.


Jon Partridge

Opening night of Fantastic Fest is always crackling with energy. This year even more so, as Fest-alum, and Austin-based filmmaker/actor Macon Blair (Blue Ruin, Green Room, I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore) kicks things off with his new film, The Toxic Avenger. Yep, Troma is back baby, and if it’s half as gnarly and blackly comedic as his previous projects, we’re in for a treat.

Like everyone else who saw it, I was fucking delighted by Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes. The team behind it is back with more time-bending shenanigans so you can bet I’ll be there for River.

I always feel a little weird picking something that’s getting a general release, but as an unabashed lover of Rogue One, I can’t wait to see The Creator, the new slice of dystopian sci-fi from Gareth Edwards, one that looks to set out a possible future as we collide with AI.

I always make time for a documentary at Fantastic Fest, it feels like a nice change of pace and a way to further my insights. From this year’s lineup, SCALA!!! is the standout. As a Brit, I had certainly heard of the (in)famous) London repertory theatre that courted controversy with it’s screenings of films such as The Clockwork Orange in the 70s/80s. It’ll be good to refresh and fill in the blanks on this one.

Finally, The Origin. The synopsis seems to distill into “stone age survival meets mystical monster”. Sold.

The Origin

Julian Singleton

River: Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes was one of the most surprising and joyful discoveries I’ve ever had at Fantastic Fest, so naturally Junta Yamaguchi’s follow-up tops my list for what I’m most anticipating at this year’s festival. Here, Yamaguchi swaps time-travel for time loops–with jaw-dropping camera trickery and smile-splitting zaniness surely to follow.

Cobweb: Beloved South Korean actor Song Kang-Ho reunites with the stellar director Kim Jee-Woon (A Tale of Two Sisters) in what appears to be a twisted black comedy about the 70s Korean film industry? Say no more, I’m sold.

Eileen: William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth wasn’t just my magnificent introduction to Florence Pugh–it was a nail-biting, gut-churning, venomous character study with crackling tension. I missed his long-awaited follow-up film, Eileen, at this year’s Sundance film fest–but I’m so excited to rectify that at this year’s festival, and to see what bewitching and sinister chemistry Oldroyd concocts between leads Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway.

UFO Sweden: The Vast of Night was one of my favorite out-of-nowhere titles from Fantastic Fest a few years ago–and UFO Sweden appears to capture a similar sense of suspenseful, wide-eyed wonder while boasting visuals that harken back to ET, Super 8, and other “kids on bikes” sci-fi classics.

Honorable Mention: Where The Devil Roams, When Evil Lurks, Sleep, The Fall of the House of Usher, Totally Killer, All 4 Secret Screenings


For the latest developments, visit the Fantastic Fest official site and follow the fest on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

About Fantastic Fest

Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and just plain fantastic movies from all around the world. In years past, the festival has been home to the world and US premieres of PARASITE, JOJO RABBIT, BONE TOMAHAWK, JOHN WICK, FRANKENWEENIE, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, APOCALYPTO, ZOMBIELAND, RED, SPLIT, HALLOWEEN, BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE, MID 90s, and SUSPIRIA while the guest roster has included such talent as Tim Burton, Nicolas Winding-Refn, Lilly and Lana Wachowski, Bong Joon-Ho, Taika Waititi, Robert Rodriguez, Rian Johnson, Bill Murray, Keanu Reeves, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder, Edward Norton, Ryan Reynolds, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Karl Urban, Josh Hartnett, The RZA, Dolph Lundgren, Paul Rudd, Bill Pullman, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kevin Smith, Jon Favreau, George Romero, Darren Aronofsky, Mike Judge, Karyn Kusama, M. Night Shyamalan, James McAvoy, Vince Vaughn, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jonah Hill, Barbara Crampton and Jessica Harper. Fantastic Fest also features world, national, and regional premieres of new, up-and-coming genre films. Fantastic Fest has seen the acquisition of many titles, including BULLHEAD, KILL LIST, MONSTERS, KLOWN, THE FP, PENUMBRA, HERE COMES THE DEVIL, NO REST FOR THE WICKED, VANISHING WAVES, COMBAT GIRLS, I DECLARE WAR, THE PERFECTION, and TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID. Fantastic Fest is held each year at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas. Alamo Drafthouse has been named the best theater in the country by Entertainment Weekly, Wired, and TIME. Variety included Fantastic Fest in a list of “10 Film Festivals We Love” and was also named one of the “25 coolest film festivals” by Moviemaker Magazine.

Previous post ONE PIECE Reviewed By Someone Who Knows Nothing About ONE PIECE
Next post THE BOXER’S OMEN: Shawscope Vol. 2 – Roundtable Reviews