It’s Christmas time for horror film lovers – MonsterFest, Australia’s premium celebration of genre cinema, is hitting Event Cinemas George Street this March. Run by the tireless workers over at Monster Pictures, distributors of some of the most exciting and extreme movies in recent memory, Monsterfest is a peerless event; a carefully curated, lovingly assembled gauntlet of blood, guts and spooks.
And yet this year, the folks at Monster have truly outdone themselves. Featuring everything from a kitsch ’80s classic to a tormented work of evil by a contemporary Turkish master, Monsterfest’s 2018 Travelling Sydney Sideshow is a three-day extravaganza that should test the mettle of both seasoned genre nuts and newcomers alike. To be honest, you would be well advised to head along to every single event in the program, but for ease of access, here’s a quick primer on all of the films booked to screen. And don’t forget, if anything takes your fancy, multi-passes and single tickets for the festival are available – just head over to monsterfest.com.au for more info, and to book. Enjoy!
The Strangers: Prey At Night
Screening: Friday March 9, at 7PM
For Fans Of: The Strangers, Don’t Breathe, Black Christmas
It’s been ten long years since Bryan Bertino’s contemporary horror classic The Strangers was unleashed into the world, and time has done nothing to diminish its sharp edges – it’s an ugly, glinting work of art, a film about senseless murder and pure survival that neatly sidesteps the clichés that sometimes come associated with big budget, studio-backed slasher film fare.
For that reason, it’s impossible not to be excited about the breakout hit’s long-gestating sequel, The Strangers: Prey At Night, which is finally set to drop in the states this Friday March 9, the same day that it plays at Monsterfest. Bertino has settled for writing duties this time, handing over the position of director to Johannes Roberts, perhaps best known for the “much better than it could have been” shark slasher surprise, 47 Metres Down. Lovers of elegant, thrilling horror fare, this one’s for you, particularly given the calibre of the cast: everyone from Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks to The Ring’s Martin Henderson is set to make an appearance. To be honest, we can’t wait.
Screening: Friday March 9, at 9:30PM
For Fans Of: The Witch, The Wicker Man, The Changeling
The set-up of Pyewacket is gorgeously simple: a young woman, seeking to rebel against her domineering and abusive mother, summons the film’s titular forest-dwelling beastie. What unfolds is horror of the most lean, eerie sort, with director Adam MacDonald doubling down on the tension and creature effects that made his debut, the elegant, grizzly bear starring Backcountry, such a delight.
The Monster Squad
Screening: Saturday March 10, at 2:30PM
For Fans Of: The Goonies, Krampus, Return Of The Living Dead
For a while there, Fred Dekker looked poised to become the future of horror cinema. The director and writer of Night Of The Creeps, a gorgeously gory, fraternity-set sci-fi horror, and The Monster Squad, a gleefully mean homage to Universal horror stars, had more wit, skill and intelligence than most of his peers. But after helming the disastrously received (and yet more impressive than some remember) Robocop 3, Dekker was thrown into a director’s jail– a fate he has only just now wriggled out of by writing the new, Shane Black-directed Predator film, heading our way in 2018.
So what better chance to celebrate the man’s work and legacy than with a screening of The Monster Squad, a Goonies on acid romp through the suburbs he co-wrote with Black? The film has aged like a fine wine – it’s more subversive, funny, and spirited than ever – making it a perfect throwback for a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Night Of The Living Dead
Screening: Saturday March 10, at 4:30PM
For Fans Of: Dawn Of The Dead, White Zombie, Zombi
2017 was a hard year for horror fans. We lost two pioneers of the genre – Tobe Hooper, the twisted mastermind behind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the ripe to be rediscovered Lifeforce, and George A. Romero, the veritable godfather of the zombie sub-genre, director of Martin, Dawn Of The Dead, and the jaw-droppingly underrated killer simian flick Monkey Shines.
Now, thanks to Monsterfest, horror fans can pay tribute to the latter genius by heading along to a new restoration of Night Of The Living Dead, the black and white chiller that kickstarted both Romero’s career and the American fascination with the undead. Cited by Jordan Peele as a key inspiration for Get Out, the film has never been more timely – its handling of racial politics remains blisteringly on-point.
Screening: Saturday March 10, at 7PM
For Fans Of: Red Snow, The Night Porter, Tombs Of The Blind Dead
The Nazisploitation horror sub-genre is ripe for reappraisal, which makes Living Space, an Aussie-produced chiller about a young couple who find themselves haunted by a fascist general, a very appealing proposition indeed. Even better still, the film’s writer and director Steven Spiel is set to attend the screening for an exclusive Q and A, alongside his producer, cinematographer, and one of the film’s stars, Emma Leonard, so you’ll have your chance to ask all your burning questions about the man’s assured debut.
Screening: Sunday March 11, at 2:15PM
For Fans Of: Evil Dead, Brain Damage, Long Weekend
Bizarre backwoods Aussie gorefest Tarnation boasts crossbows, penis critters, unicorns and possessed, foaming at the mouth kangaroos. I mean, what more could any self-serving horror fan possibly want?
Screening: Sunday March 11, at 4:30PM
For Fans Of: Baskin, Beyond The Black Rainbow, The Beyond
Can Evrenol’s Baskin was a shot in the arm for the slasher genre – a surreal, slow-burning nightmare that paid homage to everyone from Lucio Fulci, to Dario Argento, to Umberto Lenzi, while still maintaining an energy and a style entirely of its own.
That makes Evrenol’s follow-up film, Housewife, even more exciting. By all accounts, it is a similarly gruesome, similarly bizarre flick about a young woman named Holly who finds herself plagued by childhood traumas, not to mention the affections of a bizarre celebrity psychic and cult leader. If that sounds batshit crazy, that’s because the film is bound to be so – Evrenol does practical effects like almost no-one else working in horror, and is a master of keeping audiences pinned firmly to their seats while he ratchets up the tension. Get excited for this one: it’s going to be something special.
Screening: Sunday March 11, at 7PM
For Fans Of: I Saw The Devil, Only God Forgives, Bad Lieutenant Excitingly, Shudder, the American horror and genre streaming platform extraordinaire, has already picked up Cold Hell. Considering the hits that the service has dropped so far (everything from Flying Lotus’ queasy debut Kuso to the absolutely traumatising We Are The Flesh), that should be seen very much as a reason to get excited about the German-Turkish horror-thriller, a cat-and-mouse story about a serial killer, a police officer, and a young taxi driver who gets caught in the middle of the two.
MonsterFest Travelling Sideshow will screen at Event Cinemas, George Street on Friday March 9 – Sunday March 11.