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Securing the star of the scariest horror movie of all time has proved a major coup for Monster Fest 2013. Taking place in Melbourne from November 21, this relative newcomer to Australia’s film festival landscape is swiftly establishing a reputation as the thinking genre fan’s must-attend annual event.

Founded in November 2011, Monster Fest is the brainchild of Neil Foley, the passionate and respected head of Monster Pictures, Australia’s leading distributor of international cult titles. On the festival’s webpage, Foley states, “Monster Fest champions films that challenge our imaginations, films that confront our fears, films that twist our realities. These are the films that make us swoon and salivate and these are the films we try to program at Monster Fest.”

In 2013, Monster Fest can bost of the presence of Linda Blair, child-star of William Friedkin’s ground-breaking 1973 horror classic The Exorcist. A 40th anniversary celebration will open MonsterFest; on November 21st, Blair will be present for a screening of the film, followed by a Q&A and meet-&-greet function, before fronting a nationwide screening tour.

Blair’s presence will be one of several events that highlight the Festival’s commitment to fan passion and genre icons. Make-up great Tom Savini (pictured, right) will Skype-link a Q&A session that will accompany a screening of Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk ‘til Dawn; Nightmare on Elm Street’s 1 through 6 will fill a midnight-to-dawn pyjama’s marathon in the Lygon Street Cinema complex; and, tape aficionados will be catered for at the VHS Resurrection swap-meet event, a gathering of black-box collectors that will feature a screening of Jake West’s documentary, Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape.

Officially opening Monster Fest 2013 will be Melbourne indie film-maker Daniel Armstrong’s grindhouse roller-derby/slasher pic, Murderdrome (featured, below). It will be one of several locally-bred efforts screening as part of the ‘Terror Australis’ strand. These include Duncan Armstrong’s shocker Foresight Killer Instinct; Richard Wolstencroft’s porn industry expose, The Last Days of Joe Blow; Andrew Traucki’s follow-up to The Reef, The Jungle; Glenn Trigg’s found-footage thriller, Apocalyptic; the demonic-possession thriller Beckoning the Butcher, from Aussie duo Dale Tropp and Damien Lipp; and, Sam Barett’s nod to Italian giallo excess, Sororal.

Monster Fest continues its dedicated programming of international cinema in 2013. A selected range from the Fantastic Asia Film Festival will have their Australian premieres, including Yudai Yamaguchi’s Abductee; Norman England’s Tokyo-housewife horror, New Neighbour; the zombie anthology Zombie TV, from the director of Tokyo Gore Police, Yoshihiro Nishimura; and, Noboru Iguchi’s killer teddy-bear epic, Nuigurama Z.

From other continents, expect household demonic-possession (Robert Ben Garrant and Thomas Lennon’s Hellbaby,  starring Rob Cordry, US; pictured, right); religious-cult satire (JT Petty’s Hellbenders; US); no-budget bromance zom-com (Jeremy gardner’s The Battery; US); disease outbreak chills (Cody Callahan’s Antisocial; Canada); and, a slice of nightmarish parental destiny (Adrian Garcia Bogliano’s Here Comes the Devil; Mexico). The current rage for 3D frights will be represented by Blair Erickson’s Fright Fest honoured government-paranoia opus, The Banshee Chapter, and Italian horror great Dario Argento’s trashy masterpiece, Dracula.

Of particular interest will be the Monster Fest 2013 organizing committee’s focus on women filmmaker’s working within the edgiest realms of the horror genre. Dominating the closing day will be sessions inspired by Briony Kidd and Rebecca Thompson, curators of the femme-focussed Strangers With My Face horror festival. Kicking off with a presentation on lycanthropic femininity called ‘The Girlie Werewolf Hall of Fame’, audiences can then indulge in Kayoko Asakura’s Japanese road-trip bloodbath, It’s a Beautiful Day. Following will be a Special Presentation from Canadian author Kier-La Janisse, who will present a Mysery Screening’ of her favourite film. Finally, Monster Fest 2013 will close with the highly-anticipated Australian premiere of Xan Cassavetes critically-acclaimed vampire romance, Kiss of the Damned.

Monster Fest 2013 runs from November 21st to December 1st. Full session details can be found at the Festival website here.

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