Billed as the “largest genre fest in L.A.,” Beyond Fest returns to the Egyptian Theater this month. Beginning today, October 1 and running through the 12, classic and contemporary horror, sci-fi, crime, and action films will be screened for throngs of eager fans. We’ve cobbled the highlights of this year’s program, which runs the gamut from the most elegant productions to the grittiest lo-fi indie efforts.
Comedians Kumail Nanjiani and Jonah Ray of Comedy Central’s The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail will be presenting a 30th anniversary screening of Better Off Dead starring John Cusack. Also celebrating a birthday is Dog Day Afternoon, which turns 40 this year. Brett Ratner will be in conversation with Al Pacino at the screening. Director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) will be hosting a double bill of Evil Dead and Evil Dead II as well as a conversation with the films’ lead, cult favorite Bruce Campbell. Additional repertory showings include giallo master Lucio Fulci’s unrated cut of The Beyond, the 1925 Phantom of the Opera, and Eraserhead (which will be presented by Ninja of Die Antwoord “and friends”).
But the real can’t-miss rep at the fest is Ken Russell’s transgressive classic The Devils. Slapped with an X rating and banned in multiple countries upon its opening in 1971, the film is difficult to find on home media even to this day. It’s never been officially released in its uncut form. An incredibly rare 35mm print of the X-rated American version will be on display at the fest.
Tom Hardy plays both Ronnie and Reggie Kray, twin gangsters who terrorized London in the ‘60s, in the crime biopic Legend. The anthology German Angst features the gut-churning efforts of three different Deutschland filmmakers. Girlfight and Jennifer’s Body director Karyn Kusama returns to L.A. with festival favorite The Invitation, one of the most anticipated new films at this year’s fest. Kiernan Shipka and Emma Roberts are left to explore a maybe-haunted boarding school in February. Henry Rollins finally has a leading role as a cannibal on a revenge kick in He Never Died. In fact, Beyond Fest is home to a lot of showcases for character actors, such as Kurt Russell putting his Hateful Eight beard to good use in Bone Tomahawk, John Hawkes in the L.A.-set Too Late (which is comprised of five, count ‘em, five long shots), and Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen in Men & Chicken.
Indonesian martial arts beast Yayan Ruhian, known stateside for The Raid series, stars in Yakuza Apocalypse, a yakuza vampire action/crime film. (All of those words together seem custom-designed to enrapture genre fans.) Likewise, SPL 2: A Time for Consequences brings together a murderer’s row of Hong Kong action talent, and it’s a sequel to 2005’s highly-acclaimed SPL: Sha Po Lang.
The popular Japanese comic book series Assassination Classroom has gotten a live-action adaptation. The plot concerns an unstoppable alien creature who gives a high school class a year to figure out how to kill him before he destroys the Earth. This is complicated by the fact that he’s the best teacher they’ve ever had. (Whether that description makes you scratch your head or inspires you to see the movie is a good indicator of whether Beyond Fest is “for” you.) And closing out the fest is The Assassin, the latest film from revered Taiwanese auteur Hou Hsiao-Hsien, which has been consistently lauded since premiering at Cannes this year.
A previous version of this article stated that The Devils would be shown in its uncut form. It has been updated to reflect that a rare 35mm print will be shown.