Flashback – 2019 Fangoria Monster Fest VIII

The Melbourne programming for this year’s Monster Fest was delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions. The organisers have now announced the program schedule for Melbourne, which will run at Cinema Nova from 3-10 December. Personally, I’m just not ready to re-enter cinemas yet, so despite my interest in the programming I won’t be attending. (I expect I’ll be viewing most of the online content of the Japanese Film Festival instead.) But to acknowledge the occasion I’ve dug up my brief reviews of last year’s festival – which went pretty well, since out of the five sessions I attended (11-18 October 2019), I bought four of the films afterwards!

12/10/19: Since MIFF I’ve started paying attention to film festivals again, this time Fangoria Monster Fest VIII. Last night I saw the debut of Australian Mark Bakaitas’ Cult Girls (2019), about three sisters who were rescued from a pagan Lithuanian cult before something unspecified was going to happen to them. For me it was a mixed bag – some interesting imagery and ideas, but some of the dialogue and staging felt a bit forced and I’m not sure the overall story was sufficient clear in meaning or progression. I expect the filmmaker will continue to hone his craft if he makes more films. Just about to see Rabid now!

12/10/19: That was more like it! Rabid (2019) is the Soska sisters’ feminist black comedy reinterpretation of David Cronenberg’s 1977 body horror original. Experimental reconstructive surgery on an accident victim goes more than skin deep, while a fashion designer launches their new Schadenfreude range. Scattered references to other Cronenberg films, but more as tribute than pastiche. Loved it!

Supported by One Last Meal (2019), a lighthearted short film about a death row inmate’s last meal request for human flesh.

13/10/19: Finished the weekend with In Search of Darkness: A Journey into Iconic ‘80s Horror (2019), a talking heads documentary spanning the decade’s output chronologically and interspersed with segments on particular topics (eg VHS, music, gender representation). Lots of great interviewees and a good selection of films (of which I’ve seen roughly 70%). Followed by a trivia contest which I didn’t stay for, as it was over 4 hours long and I’m just about to get dinner now.

Update: I was able to purchase a special edition of the documentary including extended interviews with Elvira (Cassandra Peterson). Due to the documentary’s success, they released In Search of Darkness: Part II (2020) (as yet unwatched) – I once again purchased the Elvira edition, which supplements the extended interviews with an Elvira mini-documentary.

16/10/19: This is the film which I had to see. Color Out of Space (2019) is Richard Stanley’s adaptation of the Lovecraft short story, in which a meteorite emitting strange colours crashes on a remote property and gradually affects its surroundings. The director does an amazing job of depicting a colour outside of the normal spectrum, distortions of space and the underlying cosmic horror.

Supported by And So He Opens His Eyes (2019), a farcical short film about a dead man who is given the opportunity to decide the afterlife destination of his worst enemy.

18/10/19: A great end to the festival tonight with Ready or Not (2019), which I’d really been looking forward to. A woman marries into a family whose wealth is based on games… with perhaps a little bit of help from a familial satanic pact. All new members of the family must draw a card and play a game. Our unfortunate protagonist draws hide and seek, which has much more weaponry involved than normal. The family has until dawn to find and sacrifice her or…. Both thrilling and hilarious, so much fun!

Supported by Bedtime (2019), a short spooky story in which a child’s bedtime has an unexpected wrinkle.

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