Monster Fest VII kicked off with grandeur in Melbourne last night with the festival returning to where it all began, Cinema Nova. I had come from a media screening of Creed II and with 90-minutes to spare I tucked myself down the back of a cafe and punched out a review. With caffeine in my system I was ready for launch.
When I arrived at Nova (still early) I decided to walk past the Monster Shop, which is a new feature at this year's event. The shop wasn't open for business yet, but the Monster crew were inside making some final arrangements. I popped my head in and hung out for a while. I cannot wait to share this cool little concept with you, and I will definitely post some photos throughout today's adventures. They have created a pop-up video store, complete with fully stocked shelves of VHS titles. The nerd in me geeked out as I browsed through their extensive collection of rarities and cult favourites. Sadly all of these VHS covers are for aesthetic purpose only and not for sale. But the good news is that there's an entire section chocked up with Monster releases on DVD and BD which are all available to purchase, including their latest release GLASS COFFIN.
Making my way upstairs to Nova's foyer I hit up the Monster table and secured my media pass. All media and VIP guests at this year's event were greeted with a special bag, the contents of which included a pass to the festival, GLASS COFFIN on DVD, a Cult of Monster sticker detail, and information about several of this year's major sponsors... they being Beserk, Roar Digital and Red Octopus.
The foyer filled up quickly and within minutes the room was a buzz with enthusiastic genre fans of every decree. Punks, Rockerbillys, Rockerchicks, and every other kind of movie geek was there for the occasion and to keep spirits high, Monster had arranged for discounted craft beer from Moon Dog Brewery (free to those with VIP passes). A media wall was put up and a roving photographer walked around snapping shots throughout the night, which I will no doubt ruin many of.
Before we knew it the cinema opened and we filed in like the cheeky horror fiends that we are. Monster Fest director (and owner of Monster Pictures) Grand Hardie took to the mic to welcome everyone to this year's festival. He introduced his loyal team, which includes FakeShemp's own Jarret Gahan as well as Kim Taylor and Ben Hellwig. Grant's proudest moment was declaring this year's festival to be the most successful yet, with ticket sales reaching record highs. A round of applause erupted from the crowd as Grant successfully set the tone. As well as giving kudos to the sponsors he gave a brief rundown of things to come over the course of the next 3 days and took the time to speak with Queensland filmmaker Drew MacDonald whose short film There Be Monsters took the honour of being this year's first cab off the rank.
MacDonald's film was an effective 14-minute monster movie, which told the story of a bullied girl trapped inside a school bus overnight. Stalked by a ghastly beast she must overcome her fear in order to defeat the monster. It was an unexpected film, which I found to be an engaging and allegorical exploit of topical themes. The crowd responded favourable and no sooner was it over, the main attraction took command of the screen.
The opening feature-length film for the festival was S Craig Zahler's highly anticipated DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE starring Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn. It was a provocative and curious film, which provided ample conversation at the after-party in Nova's main bar. You can click the link below to read my full review of the film.
Following the film everyone filed into the bar area where The Screaming Meanies produced incredible sounds, including their own twisted take on John Carpenter's Halloween theme. It's never a Monster Fest without The Screaming Meanies and with their strange and mesmerising music filling the room, the night came to an end in glorious style. Chins were wagging as everyone mingled. I caught up with old friends and was introduced to new people, some of whom have been long-time followers of our work here at FakeShemp.
And so it was a successful Day 1 as Monster Fest, and this is where I get some sleep and prepare to do it all over again. Be sure to keep an eye out for more photos on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, and feel free to drop us a line. If you see me walking around over the coming days, pull me up and say G'day. I'll be busting out the mic at some point to get some content for the podcast, so if you want to get yourself on to our show.... just ask!