By: ADAM FLEET
Curated by Monster Pictures, Monster Fest took place from November 23–26 at the Lido Cinema in Melbourne, Australia. Over the course of four days, Monster Fest premiered both domestic and foreign genre movies, pairing each with a short film. The 2017 roster included, among others, Lost Gully Road, The Last Hope, Cold Hell, Another Wolfcop, Horror Movie: A Low Budget Nightmare and the Larry Cohen documentary King Cohen, followed by an all-night Cohen movie marathon.
Monster Fest kicked off on the Thursday night with the world premiere screening of Chris Sun’s giant-pig-runs-amok feature Boar. It features a great cast that includes Nathan Jones (Mad Max: Fury Road), John Jarratt (Wolf Creek), Roger Ward (Turkey Shoot, Mad Max) and the excellent Bill Mosely (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Devil’s Rejects). Although Russell Mulcahy’s 1984 classic Razorback casts a long shadow over the concept, there’s absolutely no reason why the world shouldn’t have two options when it comes to porcine terror. Relying mostly on some great practical effects, with the odd CGI enhancement, Boar is a lot of fun and largely delivers everything you want from a giant pig movie. Sun and most of the cast took part in short, but entertaining post-movie Q&A, centring on the three-year process of bringing Boar to the big screen. Australian fans will also be able to get up close to the giant pig used in the movie, as it is due to appear at Supernova Pop Culture conventions in 2018.
The final day of the fest brought the Australian premiere of Housewife, Can Evrenol’s follow-up to his surreal, Fulci-loving, cops-vs-occult debut Baskin. He opts to deal with the occult once again in Housewife. As a child, Holly (Clémentine Poidatz) witnesses the murder of her sister and father, and her adult life is haunted by the experience. At the suggestion of an old friend, she attends a meeting of the ‘Umbrella of Love and Mind’, a strange cult-like group with a charismatic leader (David Sakurai). From then on, Housewife takes the dreamlike, surreal qualities of Evrenol’s debut and runs with it. Housewife channels classic Argento with it’s strange dialogue and black-gloved cult leader, and with its dream-within-a-dream structure, the film also brings Christopher Nolan’s Inception to mind. Sadly, Housewife doesn’t quite reach the heights of Baskin. It’s just a little too surreal, and often tips over the edge into incoherence. Nevertheless, those with a high tolerance for the weird might consider sticking with it, because the last 15 minutes are wild.
The festival rounded things off on the Sunday night with a screening of Coralie Fargeat’s blistering tale of bloody vengeance, aptly titled Revenge. Revenge doesn’t want to break the classic rape-revenge movie mould, so much as it wants to perfect it. The early, harrowing scenes of lead character Jen’s (Matilda Lutz) ordeal are unpleasant, but in her refusal to be silenced or yield to wealth, power and toxic masculinity, we get a timely parallel to the scandals currently engulfing Hollywood. This inexorably leads Jen down a much darker and brutal path. Left for dead in the beautiful, yet forbidding countryside of the game reserve, she decides to take… her revenge. Matilda Lutz is excellent, while Kevin Janssens, Guillaume Bouchède and Vincent Colombe make a perfect trio of bastards. Revenge is stylishly constructed, viscerally executed and ultimately very satisfying. It’s well worthy of the glowing festival circuit reviews, and when it receives a wider release in 2018 it should be considered essential viewing.
Immediately following the final movie, Monster Fest closed with its awards presentation. Winners included Revenge for the Best International Feature, Tarnation for the best Australian Feature and the ‘coveted’ Golden Monster award going to Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Cold Hell (Die Hölle).
At the end of Monster Fest 2017, it’s safe to say it was an excellent festival with a great, fun atmosphere at each screening, and a varied programme of both feature and short horror movies. It will be a lot of fun to see what 2018 brings.
To find out more about Monster Fest visit www.monsterfest.com.au/.