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Entries in Melbourne (3)



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 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” (

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.



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.




The nation’s slickest and sickest celebration of visceral cinema kicks off on November 23, when the 7th annual Monster Fest launches its 4-day 2017 line-up at Melbourne's iconic Lido Cinema. Feature film programmers Grant Hardie and Neil Foley know that the loyal patrons who have helped establish the festival’s reputation as Australia’s premiere genre film event expect to be challenged; this year, offerings include a killer pig, a demonic unicorn, a haunted 80’s arcade game and a newborn harbinger of the Apocalypse.

The Opening Night audience can expect to be rattled by Chris Sun’s Boar (pictured, below), a blood-soaked reworking of the ‘killer feral pig’ myth made famous by Russell Mulcahy’s 1984 cult hit, Razorback. Starring a who’s-who of Aussie genre greats (John Jarratt, Chris Haywood, Steve Bisley, Roger Ward, Ernie Dingo) alongside US horror icon Bill Moseley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2; House of 1000 Corpses), the Queensland-based director’s fourth feature so impressed Universal Pictures local office that they picked up the project for an Australian theatrical season. Sun, producers Kris Maric and Christine Hulsby and key cast will front a post-screening Q&A.

True to its commitment to nurture Australian talent, Monster Fest 2017 will feature the World Premiere screening of five local films. Leigh Ormsby’s The Last Hope depicts a civilisation ravaged by a virus outbreak that mutates carriers into cannibalistic monsters; Tarnation, the latest tongue-in-cheek splatterfest from Murderdrome director Daniel Armstrong; Lost Gully Road, a moody haunted house story from Donna Mcrae; Travis Bain’s home invasion thriller, Landfall; and, from the directorial duo of Addison Heath and Jasmine Jakupi, the revenge-themed carnage of The Viper’s Hex.

Drawing from the organiser’s global festival and marketplace profile, six international productions will have their Australian premieres at The Lido. They are Can Evrenol’s brutal apocalyptic thriller Housewife, the Turkish filmmaker’s highly anticipated second feature after his 2015 shocker, Baskin; the German/Austrian co-production Cold Hell, from Stefan Ruzowitzky; Lowell Dean’s absurdist horror-comedy sequel, Another Wolfcop; Canadian Adam McDonald’s woodlands-set black magic thriller, Pyewacket; and, Purgatory Road, a rare foray into the international indie sector for local underground filmmaking hero, Mark Savage. Other countries represented at the event include Estonia (Rainer Sarnet’s November); Spain (Haritz Zubillaga’s The Glass Coffin); and, The USA (Graham Skipper’s Sequence Break).

Closing Night honours go to French director Coralie Fargeat’s brutal rape-retribution drama Revenge (pictured, top), a remarkable debut work that Variety called, “an exceptionally potent and sure-handed first feature… primed to rouse the self-selected few with the stomachs to handle it.” Last year, Monster Fest launched into the Australian marketplace the last great French horror film from a woman director, Julia Ducornau’s Raw. The teen-cannibal hit took the 2016 festival’s top competitive honour before endearing itself to a huge local fan base.

Shaping as arguably the highlight of Monster Fest 2017 will be the screening of King Cohen, director Steve Mitchell’s heartfelt tribute to guerrilla filmmaking great Larry Cohen (pictured, above right). Following the 11.00pm session, five of the legendary auteur’s works will screen in a midnight-to-dawn marathon. Monster Fest is keeping the titles in the all-night session a closely guarded secret, but fans are crossing fingers that ‘Cohen classics’ such as Black Caesar, Q The Winged Serpent and the rarely-seen God Told Me To feature in this exclusive festival event.

MONSTER FEST runs November 23-27 in Melbourne, with other states to follow. Full ticket and session details can be found at the event website.