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Australia’s latest genre sensation, Paul China’s Crawl, continues its Festival-conquering run with a prized slot in Fantaspoa 2012, currently unfolding in Porto Alegre in the country's south and running until May 20.

This 8th edition of the Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantastico will feature 5 international premieres amongst the 87 full-length works programmed for horror and fantasy fans. A total of 150 films will screen over the 17 days of the Festival, with opening night honours going to Paulo Biscaia Filho’s Nervo Craniano Zero; closing the event will be Todd E Freeman’s Cell Count.

Career achievement honours will be bestowed upon two of horror cinema’s most iconic filmmakers - Stuart Gordon, who will introduce a vast retrospective of his films, including the Australian-shot 1992 sci-fier Fortress and such classics as Re-Animator, Dolls, Dagon, Castle Freak, The Pit and The Pendulum, Robot Jox and From Beyond; and, David Schmoeller, whose cult-favourites Tourist Trap, Netherworld, Crawlspace, Space Truckers and Catacombs will screen in advance of his first work in 14 years, the already controversial Little Monsters.

Sidebar events will feature the cinema of the undead in the appropriately-titled Zombie Apocalypse, a competitive strand with eight films including Bing Bailey’s Irish entrant Portrait of a Zombie, genre favourite Stephen McHattie (Pontypool) in Casey Walker’s zom-com A Little Bit Zombies and Brandon Relucio & Ivan Zaldarriaga’s Phillipino-set Di Ingon ‘Nato. Also highlighted are the works of women directors in the horror and fantasy field, with a screening of Donna Davies documentary Pretty Bloody, Faye Jackson’s vampire-drama Strigoi and shorts by Bobbie Peers, Elisa Maria Dantas, Alicia Conway and Helge Balze.

Some titles have already screened for Australian audiences, amongst them Tom Six’s Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), John Geddes’ Exit Humanity (pictured, above) and Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado’s Israeli thriller Rabies. SCREEN-SPACE has cast an eye over the rest of the 2012 feature line-up and profile five films that immediately grabbed our attention. Also, follow the links to our reviews of two of the Festival's most anticipated titles - The Manetti Brother's sci-fi drama The Arrival of Wang and Evan Kelly's claustrophibic thriller The Corridor.

1. THALE (Dir: Aleksander Nordaas / Norway)
The Norwegian film industry follows its 2010 horror hit The Troll Hunter with another reworking of its folkloric past. In Thale, the legend of the Huldra – a woodland siren who lures travellers to their death with her seductive song – is explored in a contemporary context. “Thale is a rare thing, at times haunting, atmospheric, hilarious, violent and wholly beautiful,” said Badass Digest after the film’s recent SXSW showing

2. MASKS (Dir: Andreas Marschall / Germany)
Already drawing comparisons to the likes of Dario Argento and Mario Bava, Marschall’s creepy-old-estate horror film offers countless nods to the Euro-horror/Giallo classics of the genres heyday. “Masks knows what makes a giallo tick and gets the look, sound and overall feel of the genre spot on.” – Blue Print Reviews after the film’s UK premiere at Celluloid Screams, October 2011. 

3. 22nd OF MAY (Dir: Koen Mortier / Belgium)
A dreamlike study of the guilt one man experiences after having survived a shopping mall bomb attack. Has divided critics and audiences (Twitch’s Todd Brown called it, “A sort of dark cousin to Wings of Desire era Wim Wenders, a film in which the line between the physical and the spiritual are blurred to the point that they become meaningless.” Mortier last directed the ultra-confronting Ex Drummer, so his follow-up is a must-see.

4. HAPPILY NEVER AFTER (Dir: Jamie Heinrich / USA)
Led by Jason Carrougher’s edgy, ‘what’s he-up-to?’ performance, this lean (78 minutes), slightly mean, ultra-black comedy-of-sorts gives nothing away in its trailer but builds tension and intrigue. Heinrich’s barely-seen debut I Like You was raw, funny and truthful; Happily Never After looks same.

5. INVASION OF ALIEN BIKINI (Dir: Young-doo Oh / Korea)
Well, there’s the title for starters. Young-doo Oh’s warped sci-fi/skin-flick/comedy has found (some might say, surprising) favour amongst festival programmers. Described as ‘appealingly wacky’ and ‘nonsensically charming’, it may just be what the blood-splattered hordes at Fantasporia need to unwind.

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