Can you hear it, the soft murmur heard in the rare cooling breezes in the summer glow? Sweet and promising, it lulls you to sleep and whispers in your ear, “By the power of SLASH…SLASH…SLASH….” Let this mantra carry you through the next eight weeks, because then it’s finally that time again:

Already for the 14th time, the SLASH Film Festival in Vienna presents itself from September 21 to October 1 as a pulsating nucleus of international genre film and invites you to shiver in ecstasy with the most infernal highlights and most extravagant excesses of fantastic contemporary cinema. With around 80 long and short films and complementary festival events, we serve you high doses of escapism in Filmcasino, Metro Kinokulturhaus and Gartenbaukino, risks and side effects guaranteed!

Here we present you a first insight into this year’s program with 10 films:

CONANN | D: Bertrand Mandico (c) Kinology

In his new visual artwork CONANN, Bertrand Mandico (AFTER BLUE, SLASH 2021) reimagines the Conan the Barbarian story: Rainer, the Hound of the Underworld, guides us through the six lives of the warrior Conann as she travels through cruel lands, myths and ages on her bloody quest for revenge. Disturbing, queer, outstanding!

The feature-length debut of Bishal Dutta IT LIVES INSIDE smartly combines American teenage horror with Hindu mythology: Sam just wants to belong and know nothing of her family’s Indian culture. But to get rid of an ancient demon that haunts her former best friend, she has to confront her cultural heritage.

Strange things start happening in RIVER at an old, traditional inn in wintry Kibune: an employee stands at the back of the house and is reminded of her work by her boss, only to find herself back in the exact same situation two minutes later. The culprit is a time loop in which the entire house seems to be trapped. Director Junta Yamaguchi, winner of the Best Feature Film award at SLASH in 2021 for his borderline brilliant film BEYOND THE INFINITE TWO MINUTES, once again thrusts the audience into the maelstrom of the time maze.


MAD FATE | D: Soi Cheang (c) Golden Scene

Director Soi Cheang delivers esoteric neo-noir from Hong Kong with MAD FATE. At the scene of a heinous crime, the paths of the serial killer and the detective who pursues him cross, as well as a delivery boy obsessed with blood and knives and an occultist feng shui master.

In MOON GARDEN by Ryan Stevens Harris, a little girl finds herself in a sinister, surreal dream world after an accident puts her in a coma. Haunted by a nightmarish specter that feeds on her tears, she must follow her mother’s voice to find her way back to the light. A visionary odyssey shot on expired 35mm film.

Director Jérôme Vandewattyne sends his protagonists Karen and Elzo on a psychedelic road trip in THE BELGIAN WAVE as they investigate a wave of UFO sightings in Belgium between 1989 and 1992. Along the way, they encounter not only quirky stuff, but also a mysterious cult that seems to be connected to the disappearance of a journalist at the time of the extraterrestrial phenomena.

HUNDREDS OF BEAVERS | D: Mike Cheslik (c) Trapper LLC

A superlative of absurdity is offered by Mike Cheslik’s HUNDREDS OF BEAVERS, shot in black and white and without dialogue, which makes The Revenant look like boring breakfast TV: A trapper fighting hundreds of beavers, staged as a completely crazy, wondrous and hilarious silent film sketch parade somewhere between Looney Tunes and Adult Swim. Great!

In HELLO DANKNESS, Australian artist:ing duo Soda Jerk remounts iconic scenes from pop culture classics, combining them with media images from the recent past to generate a wacky and highly entertaining fable about U.S. politics from 2016 to 2021.

Korean director Wonsuk Lee serves up a K-pop killer comedy with KILLING ROMANCE: ex-pop star Yeo-rae’s marriage turns into a disaster when her supposedly perfect husband turns out to be a toxic monster. With the help of a fan, she hatches a murderous plan to regain freedom and fame.

Away from the highlights of contemporary international genre film, among others, the queer classic THE DEVIL QUEEN (Brazil 1974) by Antonio Carlos da Fontoura, unknown in this country, will be shown for the first time in Austria at SLASH in a newly restored version, in which the titular devil queen rules over the garish underworld of Rio de Janeiro.

The retrospective also shines a spotlight, as it does every year, on one of the myriad dark corners of scary cinema, ferreting out 2023 nests where nightmares aren’t the only things that hatch. So much is promised: It will get beastly.