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Entries in Film Festival (9)

Wednesday
Mar062019

MONSTER FEST, EVENT CINEMAS AGREE TO SHARE MORE SHOCKS IN 2019

Monster Fest will expand their current arrangement with Australia’s largest exhibition chain Event Cinemas to bring a greater degree of horror film programming to key sites nationally it was announced today.

Since 2011, Monster Fest has been Melbourne’s leading genre festival event; in 2019, it returns to the Cinema Nova complex from October 11th to 13th for the 8th edition of the festival. This will be five full weeks ahead of the traditional late November dates usually occupied by Monster Fest, a move deemed necessary to accommodate the new national screening roster. It is anticipated that the first round of the Event Cinema sessions will coincide with the Halloween trading period before rolling out through November.

Monster Fest director Grant Hardie (pictured, right) has overseen successful ‘Travelling Roadshow’ events beyond the Melbourne base in recent years and views this new plan as the natural progression in the organisation’s relationship with exhibition giant. “Since we started the festival our plan has always been to take it nationally and make it the largest and best known genre festival in this part of the world,” Hardie said. “This continued partnership with Event Cinemas in 2019 makes this a reality.”

Claire Gandy (pictured, below), Event Cinema’s General Manager for Content, attended Monster Fest 2018 to discuss with Hardie his vision for a national horror festival rollout. “Having seen the continued growth of Monster Fest Melbourne in the last few years we at Event wanted to bring that experience to some of our major sites around the country,” said Gandy, “and we are very excited to see how we can work together to make that a reality.” In 2018, the 100 year-old cinema chain paired with the horror festival to turn a limited release run of the Nicholas Cage shocker Mandy into an old-fashioned late night cult movie smash. 

Last November, Monster Fest unveiled some of the most controversial genre titles of the year, including Craig Zahler’s Dragged Across Concrete with Mel Gibson, Jonas Akerlund’s Lords of Chaos and the latest provocation from Lars von Trier, the serial killer epic The House That Jack Built. The festival prides itself on supporting local talent, with Caitlin Stoller’s 30 Miles from Nowhere and Matthew Victor Pastor’s MAGANDA! Pinoy Boy vs Milkman having their World Premieres at Cinema Nova last year; it is envisioned these types of films will enjoy an unprecedented level of national exposure under the new initiative in large-scale auditoriums they may not otherwise occupy.

“In 2018 submissions increased by over 100%, and we had the strongest shorts program since the festival began,” says Hardie. “The interest internationally for Monster Fest is beyond our wildest dreams.” Submissions are now open for features, short films and expanded cinema projects for the expanded 2019 program.

Further information detailing the 2019 Monster Fest program and participating Event cinemas will be announced in the months ahead.

Friday
Nov162018

PREVIEW: MONSTER FEST VII: THE HOMECOMING

The 7th annual re-animating of Monster Fest, Australia’s premiere event for lovers of movies mean and macabre, has left no bloody stone unturned in its 2018 quest to disturb Australian audiences. Having rattled West Coast audiences with a Perth season in mid-October, the festival returns to its spiritual home - Cinema Nova, in the inner Melbourne suburb of Carlton - from November 22, with a schedule of shocking works that have stirred the cinematic pot around the world.

Of the 15 features to play the four-day event, two in particular arrive having stimulated some of the year’s most heated critical debate over the nature of violence in cinema. Monster Fest 2018 opens with Dragged Across Concrete, a bad cop/very bad cop thriller from writer/director S. Craig Zahler. The current enfant terrible of genre films, Zahler’s previous efforts Bone Tomahawk (2015) and Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017) reset the boundaries for on-screen violence; in his latest, Mel Gibson (pictured, top) and Vince Vaughan play disgraced cops who descend into society’s criminal sub-level to make end meets.

Critics have been largely on Zahler’s side; Dragged Across Concrete currently sits at 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, with BirthMoviesDeath.com calling it “outlaw cinema at its finest”. But left-leaning press have gone after it; The Daily Beast published an op-ed piece under the headline, “Mel Gibson’s New Police Brutality Movie is a Vile, Racist, Right-Wing Fantasy”. Zahler also penned Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, a resurrection of producer Charles Band’s killer puppet franchise of yore, its Nazi-themed nuttiness adding fuel to the ‘right/left’ debate (it screens November 24).  

The festival then doubles down on controversy with The House That Jack Built, an epic study in homicidal sociopathy from Lars von Trier. Matt Dillon is mesmerising as a 1970s serial killer (heading a cast that includes Uma Thurman, Bruno Ganz and Jeremy Davies) in the 2½-hour film, a typically divisive, discomfiting drama from the Danish provocateur that inspired derision and walkouts at Cannes in May yet has been lauded as, “art without the boundaries of morality and reason” (SlantMagazine.com).

Two films will have their world premieres at this year’s festival - 30 Miles from Nowhere, a stylish and creepy addition to the ‘cabin-in-the-woods’ sub-genre from Caitlin Stoller, and Matthew Victor Pastor’s MAGANDA! Pinoy Boy vs Milkman, which the director describes as, “a bloody, milky, balls out, castration revenge tale.”

The roster of nine Australian premieres in the feature film line-up includes Jason Stone’s At First Light, a thrilling drama that melds teen angst energy with alien abduction mythology (trailer, above); Daniel Goldhaber’s online-sex/stolen identity thriller, Cam; the psycho-sexual chiller Pimped, from David Barker and featuring a searing lead turn from actress Ella Scott Lynch; and, from producer Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator; Aliens), Gregory Plotkin’s theme-park set love letter to 80s slasher pics, Hell Fest, featuring Amy Forsyth (pictured, right). Closing out the festival will be the Oz debut of Jonas Åkerlund’s Norwegian death-metal horror/comedy, Lords of Chaos.

Monster Fest 2018 will also celebrate the works of those that helped define the horror genre with one of the most comprehensive retrospective strands in the event’s history. With the blockbuster sequel to his genre-defining classic Halloween still in cinemas, digitally-restored prints will be screened of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981) and The Fog (1980); star Nicholas Hope will be present for a Q&A following the 25th anniversary presentation of his cult shocker, Bad Boy Bubby; and, Sam Raimi’s masterwork Evil Dead 2 will come alive via a 4K restoration print (trailer, below).

Fred Dekker’s fan favourite The Monster Squad will screen ahead of Andre Gower’s documentary Wolfman’s Got Nards, a light-hearted examination of the cult following enjoyed by the 1987 creature feature. And the Australian premiere of the anthology pic Nightmare Cinema, featuring five films from directors (pictured, below; from left) David Slade, Mick Garris, Ryûhei Kitamura, Joe Dante and Alejandro Brugues, will be the inspiration for this years All-Night Marathon, with specially selected works (kept secret until the night) from the five filmmakers playing the popular midnight-to-dawn slot on Saturday November 24.

The invaluable contribution of the short film auteur to horror will be exalted, with 62 shorts programmed including four separate strands celebrating mini-features. The Saturday line-ups are bannered ‘After School’, with the best student works on offer, and ‘Final Girls’, showcasing the baddest of the genre’s femme fatales; then, on Sunday, the ‘Dead Things’ session presents a grab-bag of eclectic horror visions before the Southern capital’s off-kilter icon Dick Dale presents his revered, revolting potpourri of ‘cinematic atrocities and disasterpieces’, Trasharama A-Go-Go.

MONSTER FEST 2018 runs November 22-25 at Cinema Nova, Carlton. Full session and ticketing information can be found at the official website.

Saturday
Apr142018

PREVIEW: XV CINETERROR FILM FESTIVAL

The southern Chilean municipality of Valdivia represents a rich melding of geographic and historic influence that makes this small but vibrant city one of the most beautiful destinations in South America. The city, 45 square-kilometres and populated by a mere 160,000 residents, was colonized by Spanish, then German explorers; the river system that winds through the undulating coastal landscape on its way to the Pacific Ocean ensured this commune within the Los Rios Region had military and trade significance in the early days of settlement, over half a century ago.

Valdivia holds specific significance in the week ahead for Chilean horror fans determined to see local and global horror on the big screen. From Monday April 16, the city will stage the 15th CineTerror Film Festival, a celebration of modern genre cinema that presents dark visions of the imagination from Asia, Europe and, of course, South America. The six-day event, comprising 14 features and three short film strands, will screen at the Lord Cochrane Theatre in the city centre.

“This year, our program of films are absolutely independent,” says CineTerror producer Nino Bernucci, “and we hope that audiences support this decision. We have sought films that are currently travelling the international film festival circuit, works that we believe represent the essence of what we are trying to achieve.”

Opening night honours have been bestowed upon Javier Attridge’s Wekufe The Origins of Evil (pictured, right; star Paula Figueroa), a locally-shot effort that explores the relationship between the high rates of sexual assaults in southern Chile and the mythical spirits that are said to inhabit the region. In a statement released by the festival organisers, Atteridge says, “I felt fascinated by this universe of myths and legends, stories told by our grandparents for generations. As I grew older I questioned the real origin of these stories.”

Equally challenging works across the 2018 program reinforce the belief that selection for CineTerror means the ‘horror’ in your horror film is legitimate. Also from Chile is Jorge Olguin's woodland-set chiller Gritos del Bosque; other works from Latin America include three features from Mexico - Juan de la Peña’s rural estate shocker Barrancas, the heightened pseudo-reality of Omar Jacobo’s La Puta es Ciega and the horror anthology México Bárbaro II (pictured, top); two Argentinian pics - the richly-coloured palette of the Giallo-inspired Mirada de Cristal, co-directed by Ezequiel Endelman and Leandro Montejano, and brothers Luciano and Nicolás Onetti’s Los Olvidados (a co-production with New Zealand); and, from Brazil, Samuel Galli’s demonic possession romp, Mal Nosso.

International works are flying in from France (Vincent Orst’s zom-com Le périple); Japan (Yoshihiro Nishimura’s mega-monster lark Tetsudon: The Kaiju Death Match); and Spain (Carles Jofre’s splatter epic Verano Rojo, bearing laurels from several festival triumphs including the Los Angeles Horror Competition).

Earning an honorary double-feature session at CineTerror is Indonesian genre master Joko Anwar. The prolific 42 year-old, who recently enjoyed blockbuster success in his homeland with Satan’s Slave, will be represented in Valdivia by his 2009 Puchon-honoured hit Pintu Terlarang (The Forbidden Door) and his blood-splattered 2012 jungle-set thriller Modus Anomali (Ritual).

The Closing Night film is the work of another local filmmaker made good, Chilean horror maestro Lucio A Rojas. His latest nightmare, Trauma (pictured, right), will screen to those brave enough to front a film that has been compared to Srdjan Spasojevic’s infamous A Serbian Film for its depiction of sexual violence and brutality in the service of political allegory (Screen Anarchy called it, “…one of the most savage and brutal horror films to debut in the recent era.”)

“It is not an easy film to watch,” understates Rojas, via the festival. “In fact, many of the crew could not watch it more than once, which may be how viewers react, too. We knew from the moment we wrote the script that it would be controversial.”

XV CINETERROR Festival Internacional de Cine de Terror de Valdivia is presented in conjunction with Corporacion Cultural Municipal Valdivia and Ilustre Municipalidad de Vadivia; it will run from April 16-21 at The Lord Cochrane Theatre. Tickets are available at the venue or via the events official website.

Monday
Jan082018

HAGSPLOITATION LEGENDS GET NEW FESTIVAL SPOTLIGHT

Though often derided as horror’s campiest subgenre, the Hagsploitation Film has undergone a critical re-appraisal in recent years. Once the starlets of Hollywood’s ‘Golden Years’, industry matriarchs such as Olivia de Havilland, Yvonne de Carlo, Shelley Winters and Myrna Loy did some of their most memorable work as ‘psycho-biddy’ anti-heroines, often caked in make-up, liquored up and swinging axes.

The Melbourne-based film society Cinemaniacs, long the champion of underappreciated genre works, launches a 2-day celebration of hags-cinema on January 12 under the moniker, ‘You’re A Vile, Sorry Little Bitch! A Celebration of Hagsploitation’. Four films that define the beautiful bravado of ‘Grand Dame Guignol’ will screen, programmed by passionate hags advocates Sally Christie and Lee Gambin. Of course, the Opening Night attraction could only be the spectacular 1962 psycho-thriller that dragged modern cinema kicking and screaming into the delirium of Hagsploitation… 

 

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (Director: Robert Aldrich; 1962)
Why is it HAGnificent? The majestic madness of Bette Davis, sparring with longtime industry rival Joan Crawford.
What is it about? In the 1920's, 6-year-old ‘Baby Jane’ Hudson was a huge vaudeville child star, her hit song “I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy” defining her young stardom. Older sister, Blanche, having lived in Jane’s shadow most of her life, develops into a famous film actress in her own right, all while Baby Jane’s celebrity fades. At the height of her career, Blanche is crippled in an automobile accident for which the alcoholic Jane is thought responsible. As the years pass, the two sisters become virtual recluses in an old mansion, where a bitter and increasingly unhinged Jane cares for the helpless Blanche. When she learns Blanche is planning to sell the house and perhaps place her in a home, Jane plots a diabolical revenge.
CINEMANIACS says, “Along with Sunset Boulevard, it exposed the ugly underbelly of the throwaway machine that is Hollywood. It one of the most important horror films of the sixties and Bette Davis and Joan Crawford should be up on the genre’s mantle alongside the likes of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.”

STRAIT JACKET (Dir: William Castle; 1964)
Why is it HAGnificent? Having redefined her industry standing with …Baby Jane, Joan Crawford goes all in with some spectacular onscreen psychosis.
What is it about? With her 3 year-old daughter Carol looking on, Lucy Harbin offs her cheating husband with an axe. After twenty years locked in an asylum, Lucy is released and seeks out her daughter, now are famous sculptress with a loving beau. Carol wants her dowdy mother to look as she once did, persuading her to wear makeup, a wig and youthful clothing. But the horror of her upbringing soon begins to intrude on Carol’s new life, as it seems Mother is up to her old axe-wielding tricks when things don’t go her way. Yet, with that history of family violence, might Carol be playing a part in her mom’s re-emerging mania?
CINEMANIACS says, “Joan Crawford is on top of her game here, a performance that sings with nervous energy, relentless zeal and a “I will prove that I am the greatest and most hard working actress of the decade” vibe." 

THAT COLD DAY IN THE PARK (Dir: Robert Altman; 1969)
Why is it HAGnificent? After a career of sweet, cherubic ingénues, Sandy Dennis finds fresh acting reserves as lonely, possessive spinster Frances Austen.
What is it about? A wealthy thirty-something spinster takes pity on a young man huddled in the rain on a park bench. Strangely attracted to him, she invites the young man into her home and pampers him as he listens to her incessant chatter. Her sexual advances are spurned, however, with Frances instead providing a young prostitute for her guest’s pleasure. But after locking the two in a room, Frances unleashes her twisted possessiveness in all its grim fury.
CINEMANIACS says, “In the grand cinematic tradition of ‘the psychotic woman and the kept man syndrome’, That Cold Day in The Park shares wonderful thematic and narrative constructs with Sunset Boulevard, The Beguiled and Misery. It focuses on a young woman as its ‘gorgon’, but we decided to screen the film to examine the concept of the ‘hag-to-be’”.

FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC (Dir: Jeffery Bloom; 1987)
Why is it HAGnificent? Having won an Oscar as one of cinema’s rare A-list hags, Nurse Ratched, in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Louise Fletcher was primed for melodramatic hag infamy as ‘Grandmother’ in this adaptation of Victoria Andrew’s trashy family saga.
What is it about? When their father is killed, teenagers Cathy and Chris and young siblings Cory and Carrie are put in the care of their religious-zealot grandmother. Grandma has never approved of the kids' mother Corinne, who had the children with a blood relative, and her bitterness now extends to her grandkids. The four children are locked in their grandmother's attic, far from the view of their unforgiving grandfather, and begin a desperate life trying to cope with the cruel discipline and unforgiving matriarchy wrought by their nana.
CINEMANIACS says, “Relentlessly trashy and proud of it! Louise Fletcher came to represent stoic and unfeeling authority throughout her career. Flowers in The Attic permits her to overplay the monstrousness and she revels in doing so, with delectable and dedicated vehemence.”

'YOU'RE A VILE, SORRY LITTLE BITCH! A CELEBRATION OF HAGSPLOITATION' screens January 12-13 at Melbourne's Backlot Studios. Session and ticketing details can be found at the Cinemaniacs website and the venue.

 

Thursday
Nov302017

THE MARSHES: THE ROGER SCOTT INTERVIEW

Time spent deep in one of New South Wales’ most beautiful yet misunderstood eco-systems can mess with a young man’s mind, if Roger Scott’s debut film is any indication. The Marshes is a psychological eco-thriller, brought to malevolent life by a new kind of mythological Australian killer, The Swagman. Ahead of the World Premiere of The Marshes at A Night of Horror Film Festival, Scott (pictured, below) spoke at length to SCREEN-SPACE about conjuring menace and mayhem from Australia’s dark past and stunning landscapes…

SCREEN-SPACE: When did the mythology of The Swagman, Australia's most iconic bush figure, strike you as the inspiration for a horror film?

SCOTT: Ten years ago, I was working in the Macquarie Marshes as a research assistant.  I had been struck by the landscape’s filmic nature and that it was an Australian environment that audiences never see. I had a fair amount of discontent with how we manage our landscapes, which fed into the story process. From local level water resource management through to global level climate issues, you could say I was gripped by fatalistic sense of horror. [So] horror was the only genre in which the narrative symbolism would have the power and plasticity I desired. And the fact that it was a landscape of billabongs and Coolibah trees brought Waltzing Matilda to mind. Once those elements had come together the story took on a life of it’s own.

SCREEN-SPACE: You pull a skilful bait-&-switch on your audience; the film opens with familiar genre tropes but then begins to deconstruct its own reality. What influences and inspirations did you draw upon?

SCOTT: My observations of the difference between people’s perceptions of the world they inhabit and the reality helped form that structure. To capture that, I drew upon films such as The Cabin In The Woods, Deliverance, 12 Years A Slave, The Descent, Onibaba, The Shining, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Upstream Colour, Under the Skin, Walkabout and Sampson and Delilah. Also non-film sources such as the art of Alexis Rockman, The Yellow Wallpaper and Terra Incognita. (Pictured, above; the the three leads of The Marshes, on-set) 

SCREEN-SPACE: One way you defy horror traditions is by finding terror in broad daylight. What specific challenges did that hold?

SCOTT: Trying to create tension and horror without darkness meant we were relying more heavily on performance, pacing and psychology. Deliverance is a film that does this particularly well. Lighting was still an issue, of course. Giovanni (Lorusso, DOP) is experienced at shooting against the light, aided by Andy (Robertson, gaffer) who has decades of experience lighting in tricky locations, so he was able to create great images despite the limitations. Once the characters became lost in the reed beds I wanted the light to remain ‘mid-afternoon’ for the entire time they were lost. It reinforced that sense of being trapped in a maze-like timeless limbo. This added a scheduling headache for Elisa (Pascarel, 1st AD); there was a lot of ‘cheating’ of shoot times to achieve this. Going into the grade I was hoping for enough latitude in the images for our post team to balance. Thanks to Giovanni’s skills, we were able to balance them. (Pictured, above; Mathew Cooper, left, and Sam Delich)

SCREEN-SPACE: The Marshes continues our strong cinematic tradition of being fearful of the 'The Bush', of city folk being at the mercy of the mysteries of this huge land. How did the location influence your storytelling?

SCOTT: It is common for directors to say that the location was one of the characters in the film, but this is only true when changing locations changes the story. This landscape is entwined in the story. The physical features of the land effect the movements and decisions of the characters. It provides both ‘Pria’s world and the socio-political context for the story. It also gave us a beautiful sort of eerie Australian gothic. Audiences have come to expect that when characters in an Australian movie drive inland that they will arrive in a dry red environment, so being in the marshes immediately confounds those expectations. In some ways, the story continues the cinematic tradition you refer to, but in other ways, less so; it is more about being at the mercy of the mysteries of the mind. I hope that different audiences view it in different ways.

SCREEN-SPACE: Does The Marshes further demonise country types? That the 'hillbilly horror' genre takes a condescending 'city-vs-country' approach?  

SCOTT: The fact that The Swagman is a 19th century symbol makes it harder for audiences to draw parallels between him and country people today. A character such as [Wolf Creek’s ]Mick Taylor looks and sounds like people you can find in any small town. What is unavoidable is the idea that the bush is full of monsters, but then so too is the human mind. What is so great about The Swagman is that he is deeply ingrained in the national psyche. Demonising The Swagman makes it more difficult for people to use him as a lazy stereotype to refer to the bush or country people or nationalism or any of the purposes for which he is invoked. I wanted to disrupt the familiar symbols and structures people use to think about these things, to challenge their perceptions. (Pictured, above; Scott directing actress Dafna Kronental)

SCREEN-SPACE: 'Pria' is an unconventional female horror lead; from the first scene, she's a strong, determined, intelligent woman that clearly won't be a victim easily. Tell us about creating her and what Dafna Kronental brings to the role?  

SCOTT: I spoke to a lot of women in science to develop a character formed by the wealth of her experience, providing her with particular strengths and weaknesses. I was cautioned a number of times to maintain her likability in a way that doesn’t happen for male characters. I needed a very knowledgeable person at the heart of the story that wasn’t fearful of the bush. Dafna brought her own strength and intelligence to ‘Pria’ and worked hard to define the character’s vulnerability, because her failings and vulnerability are just as important to the narrative arc as her strength. And Dafna showed great physical aptitude, performing as she did day after day in the waders, the reeds and the cloying mud. Just traversing that landscape was no mean feat, let alone performing too. (Pictured, above; Kronental, as Pria)

SCREEN-SPACE: The opportunity exists for your villain to spawn a new horror franchise; were you conscious of the 'origins' factor in your narrative? 

SCOTT: We actually joked about it a bit as we were making the film, about what The Swagman’s next “adventure” might be but there was no grand plan in terms of a franchise. Telling this story well was my primary concern.

Read our review of The MARSHES here.

THE MARSHES will have its World Premiere at A Night of Horror Film Festival. Ticket and session details are available at the event's official website)