It’s almost that time of year again, when Australia’s premier genre film festival, Monster Fest, brings you the latest and greatest in cinematic carnage over four days of mind-melting mayhem.
Now in its seventh year, Monster Fest is returning to Melbourne’s Cinema Nova where it all began – from 22–25 November 2018 – and celebrating its homecoming with one of the best program line-ups to date, featuring Australian premieres, short films, indies, 4K remastered classics, and a party or two.
Kicking off the Fest’s opening night is the highly anticipated third film from writer-director S. Craig Zahler, who made one hell of an entrance in 2015 with Bone Tomahawk, followed by Brawl in Cell Block 99 two years later.
Having wish-boned the western and crushed the skull of the prison film, Zahler’s latest, Dragged Across Concrete, scrapes away at the crime-thriller. “I just pursue what I’m interested in,” he says when asked how he chooses his projects, “and then I work out how I’m going to do it.”
Despite their pulpy, grindhouse titles, Zahler’s films are distinguished by careful attention to character building and dramatic impetus, which has invited comparisons with Quentin Tarantino. And his latest is no exception.
“I’ve heard the idea of the elevated B-movie or grindhouse movie, but it can also be the arthouse dragged into the gutter,” he astutely notes.
Dragged Across Concrete reunites Zahler with most of the cast of Brawl – Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Udo Kier and Don Johnson. Mel Gibson is also along for the ride, as a violent veteran cop who is suspended along with his partner (Vaughn) after their strong-arm tactics are caught on video. So what do they do? Descend into the criminal underworld, of course.
Tackling the issue of police brutality, you can be certain S. Craig Zahler’s take on a buddy cop movie is more likely to be a bloody cop movie.
Zahler is also involved in another Monster Fest VII highlight, having scripted Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich – the 13th film in the long-running franchise. This ultraviolent reboot sees the pernicious puppets reanimated during a small town convention celebrating the 30th anniversary of the infamous Toulon Murders.
The House That Jack Built, the new film from Danish provocateur Lars von Trier, is also one of the hottest tickets at this year’s Fest; the fact it triggered a mass walkout – and a standing ovation – at Cannes should be recommendation enough. Chronicling 12 years in the life of a serial killer (Matt Dillon), the graphic trailer alone will let you know in advance if you’ve got the guts to go the distance.
Also high on horror fans must-see list will be the new anthology film Nightmare Cinema, featuring stories from five celebrated genre directors – Joe Dante (The Howling), Mick Garris (Masters of Horror), David Slade (30 Days of Night), Ryuhei Kitamura (Midnight Meat Train) and Alejandro Brugúes (Juan of the Dead). As the title suggests, the five tales play out in a haunted movie theatre – run by Mickey Rourke, no less!
There’s also an All-Night Marathon of Nightmare Cinema featuring selected works from the aforementioned directors, but you’ll have to be there to find out which ones.
John Carpenter fans will be well catered for with screenings of the new 4K restorations of Escape from New York and The Fog, as well as a John Carpen-trivia quiz night. You can also catch Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 back on the big screen in a new 4K restoration. Groovy!
Closing the Fest is headbanger horror Lords of Chaos, an account of the notorious true story of Norwegian black-metal band Mayhem, followed by the Monster Fest awards ceremony in the Cinema Nova bar.
Check out the full line-up of films, events and ticketing information here.