Australia’s premier genre film festival Monster Fest is back November 24 to 27, 2016 and has just revealed this year’s mammoth selection of 49 short films, marking a significantly increased commitment to short films from previous years.
Monster Fest shorts programmers Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Catherine Seccombe and Hussein Khoder vetted hundreds of short films to bring you the most spellbinding, raucous and confronting shorts that coursed through the veins of the festival circuit this year, as well as several homegrown discoveries we can’t wait to unveil for you. Monster Fest offers three short film programs this year: Night Gallery (our horror program), We Walk Alone (our vanguard program) and – as always – the return of Dick Dale’s beloved Trasharama program!
“Short films are that most precious of cultural artefact,” says Heller-Nicholas, “bite sized pieces of art that reveal in mere minutes what a filmmaker is really made of. We have had the most extraordinary privilege this year of seeing some of the most creative, passionate, original and inventive films of the year from both established filmmakers and emerging new talents, the diversity of which proves once and for all that cinema is far from dead: it is thriving, alive, and ready to rip your exceptions apart limb from limb.”
All films making their World, International or Australian premieres at the festival are part of the Official Competition, and are eligible for multiple awards, including Best Victorian Short, which is awarded $10,000 in post-production prizes from Gearhead, Roar Digital and Backlot Studios. All shorts – regardless of premiere status – are eligible for the ‘Monster’s Choice’ Audience Award.
2016 shorts lineup and jury bios below.
PLAYING WITH FEATURES:
A HELL OF A DAY
Evan Hughes | Australia (VIC) 2016 | 12:00 | World Premiere
A lone survivor in a post-apocalyptic world, while seeking first aid finds herself trapped in a basement below a zombie-infested Inn. It is not the terror of stalking corpses that is the greatest challenge, but the grueling day by day battle of solitude she must endure to stay alive.
THE ABSENCE OF EDDY TABLE
Rune Spaans | Norway 2016 | 12:00 | Australian Premiere
Based on the popular comics by Canadian artist Dave Cooper, love and violence ensue when Eddy is lost in a dark forest and meets a girl who is infected by a mysterious parasite. (Hussein Khoder)
Maxwell McCabe-Lokos | Canada 2016 | 14:00 | Australian Premiere
Knocking audiences off their feet at the recent Toronto International Film Festival and Fantastic Fest, APE SODOM shoots down capitalism in a blaze of weirdness. Director Maxwell McCabe-Lokos has previously collaborated with Canadian genre luminary Bruce McDonald (PONTYPOOL, HELLIONS), and here enlists David Cronenberg for a brief (vocal) cameo. (Alexandra Heller-Nicholas)
Paul Anthony Nelson | Australia (VIC) 2016 | 9:00 | World Premiere
When a woman invites a man into her home after a date, she treats him to an impromptu striptease -but is this a seduction…or an evaluation? And will he fail horribly?
DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?
Serena Whitney and Justin McConnell | Canada 2016 | 14:00| Australian Premiere
Two sisters throw a Christmas house party, unaware that a deadly invader will be crashing the proceedings.
Riyana Kasmawan | Australia (VIC) 2015 | 12:28 | Victorian Premiere
Written and produced by Hannah Passmore and directed by Riyana Kasmawan, DUMMY is as devastating as it is urgent. A young boy escapes into a world of fantasy with his new best friend – an abandoned shop mannequin – with whom the dangerous lessons passed down from his older brother are revealed with ominous results. (Alexandra Heller-Nicholas)
Sam Chou | Canada 2016 | 3:00 | Australian Premiere
In a fierce snowstorm, two familiar foes stalk one another through the forest towards their final showdown. Rich in nostalgia, this genre blending and captivating animation is a treat for fans of anime and 80s kids cartoons alike. (Catherine Seccombe)
I am JUPITER I am the BIGGEST PLANET
Matthew Victor Pastor| Australia (VIC) 2016 | 15:00 | World Premiere
Silence in the Red Light District of Manila. (Hussein Khoder)
Ryan Paturzo-Polson | Australia (VIC) 2015 | 16:00 | World Premiere
Monsters don’t sleep under your bed, they sleep inside your head.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WITCHING HOUR
Tavarna Garvey | UK 2016 | 8:00 | International Premiere
A spellbinding journey into the mind of an insomniac, as she spends each night haunted by hallucinations from another world. First time filmmaker Tavarna Garvey wrote and directed this bewitching black and white dreamscape that channels Jean Rollin, Sergio Martino and a host of classic psychotic women films.
THE PAST INSIDE THE PRESENT
James Siewert | USA 2016 | 14:00 | Australian Premiere
A couple attempt to renew their dying relationship by plugging directly into recordings of their past memories. (Hussein Khoder)
Hudson Sowada | Australia (VIC) 2016 | 11:00 | World Premiere
A group of filmmakers need to escape the Lido after being trapped there by an insidious usher.
André Øvredal | Norway 2016 | 12:00 | Australian Premiere
In an overpopulated future, a family travels home from the beach in heavy traffic; between them and the gigantic city in which they live, is a tunnel with a horrifying purpose.
Briony Kidd | Australia 2016 | 8:00 | World Premiere
A glamorous, attention-seeking actress will do anything to make sure you never look away. (Hussein Khoder)
WHAT HAPPENED TO HER
Kristy Guevara-Flanagan | USA 2016 | 15:00 | Australian Premiere
In this “postmortem pageant”, women’s bodies are mangled, dissected, decaying and drowned through a catalogue of film and TV images as actress Danyi Deats – who played the corpse of a character based on real-life murder victim Marcy Conrad in Tim Hunter’ RIVER’S EDGE – talks about the somewhat traumatizing experience of playing dead. (Kier-La Janisse)
Monster Fest’s program of horror shorts, from the slightly sinister to the dastardly and demented!
L. Gustavo Cooper | USA/Ireland 2016 | 7:00 | Australian Premiere
In a snowbound church home run by an obsessive priest, a group of young pregnant women try to sleep on a bitter winter’s night. But something is roaming the stone halls, keeping them awake and drawing steadily closer. A truly creepy horror chiller to make your blood run cold. (Catherine Seccombe)
THE SUNKEN CONVENT (15:20)
Michael Panduro | Denmark 2016 | 15:20 | Australian Premiere
Based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen, THE SUNKEN CONVENT is a grotesque and surreal story of bad habits. (Hussein Khoder) Warning: Sexual Violence
Jacqueline Castel | USA 2015 | 9:00 | Australian Premiere
A group of friends seeking one last drink in an isolated bar get more than they bargained for in this ode to 70s horror. Featuring a stunning retro color palate and music by the legendary JOHN CARPENTER, this is a visual and aural treat for those who like their slashers with a little synth. (Catherine Seccombe)
Dionne Copland | Canada 2016 | 13:00 | Australian Premiere
Inspired as a girl by films like PRACTICAL MAGIC and THE CRAFT, director Dionne Copland’s INFERNO is a sexy neon-soaked wonderland of perversion, playfulness and girl power. Set in a strip club in the 1990s, nervous dancer Bambi meets Jason and his partying friends in an encounter that will change their lives forever. (Alexandra Heller-Nicholas)
Jordan Prosser | Australia 2016 | 13:40 | World Premiere
As the monstrous creatures in the forest draw closer, a couple who have survived in years of isolation drift apart. (Hussein Khoder)
Goran Spoljaric | Australia 2016 | 11:31 |World Premiere
When a visitor arrives to the basement where a mutant woman is being held captive, the latter sees an opportunity for escape. Created with assistance from the Monster Fest 2015 Best Victorian Short Award.
Antonio Padovan |USA 2016 | 6 mins. | Australian Premiere
A gritty, grotty dystopian nightmare world pits two men – played by Vin Kridakorn and Greg Engbrecht – in a battle against nature as they struggle to find to keep civilisation going on their own. Filmed in New York City, this confident, minimalist short packs an unforgettable punch. (Alexandra Heller-Nicholas)
THE MAN WHO CAUGHT A MERMAID
Kaitlin Tinker | Australia (VIC) 2016 | 15:55 | Australian Premiere
A senior fisherman is obsessed with capturing a mermaid and has been doing extensive training to be ready for a possible life in the sea. This puts considerable strain on his marriage, needless to say. One day, everything changes. Fantastical and hard-hitting, this enthralling breakout short was the winner of a Platinum Remi at Worldfest Houston. (Mitch Davis)
THE INCREDIBLE TALE OF THE INCREDIBLE WOMAN-SPIDER
Pablo Guirado | France 2015 | 17:00 | Australian Premiere
A young man, noose around his neck, prepares to hang himself. Bad luck? Fate? The rope breaks. As he wanders through the deserted streets, at night, he comes across a poster outside a bar that invites him to discover a strange show…
WE WALK ALONE
Adapting its name from a line in Shirley Jackson’s seminal book The Haunting of Hill House, We Walk Alone is Monster Fest’s program of vanguard, hybrid-genre short films.
Amanda Kramer | USA 2016 | 11:00 | Australian Premiere
Teen politics is fertile territory for darkness to blossom. In this perverse psychodrama, Gina Piersanti and Lucia Santina Ribisi are stuck in a power play that echoes The Duke of Burgundy and Dogtooth, while still its own beast. Both simple and complex, Bark is a foreboding delight. (Alexandra Heller-Nicholas)
Dianne Bellino | USA 2016 | 15:02 | Australian Premiere
A timid wolf tries to connect with a hard partying group of outgoing bunnies and finds her body overwhelmed with an unbearable itch that threatens to consume her. An unsettling and personal work, told via startling use of clay animation. (Mitch Davis)
Fabian Velasco & Milos Mitrovic | Canada 2016 | 10:00 | Australian Premiere
Introverted Arnold is pop star Austin Kelsey’s biggest fan and would do anything to be just like him, even if it means undergoing cut-rate cosmetic surgery in preparation for a local karaoke night. Hilarious, absurd and tragic, this blackly comic gem holds up a funhouse mirror to our obsession with youth and celebrity. (Catherine Seccombe)
Emilia Pedrazzoli |Argentina 2016 | 8:50 | Australian Premiere
Continuing to mark Argentina as one of the most vibrant contemporary genre-producing hotspots in the world, The Firstborns is a fairytale woodland adventure that cracks open to reveal an ominous neon wonderland inside. Stand By Me meets Beyond the Black Rainbow, this scifi/horror hybrid is wholly unique. (Alexandra Heller-Nicholas)
Kiefer Findlow | Australia (VIC) 2015 | 14:00 | World Premiere
A haunting and surreal journey into loss, grief and insomnia. Moving, hypnotic and awash with psychedelic color and imagery; this uniquely Australian trip worms its way into your brain and blooms there like an unfurling psychotropic flower. (Catherine Seccombe)
MOUNTAIN OF KNIVES
Nelson Yeo | Singapore 2015 | 10:00 | Australian Premiere
Guilt, punishment and memory collide as teenage Xiaowu is interrogated about the murder of a fellow student. Evoking Chinese traditions concerning the afterlife penalties for those who commit such crimes, this frames Xiaowu’s past, present and future in this beautiful, terrifying horror short. (Alexandra Heller-Nicholas)
Tomas Heidar Johannesson | Iceland 2016 | 6:00 | Australian Premiere
In Icelandic folklore, Grýla is the mother of Christmas, but you can forget about fluffy cardigans, eggnog and gingerbread; a standover man and his hostage encounter something far less domesticated in this darkly comic morality tale. (Catherine Seccombe)
Francisco Denis | Venezuela 2016 | 10:28 | Australian Premiere
A goat follows a toothy chef back to his restaurant and experiences his hospitality. (Hussein Khoder)
DAWN OF THE DEAF
Rob Savage | UK 2016 | 11:52 | Australian Premiere
If you think you’ve seen – or heard – every angle on the zombie subgenre, think again. When a mysterious sound fills the globe turning those who hear it into the flesh-eating undead, a group of deaf people suddenly find themselves in charge of human survival. Smart and profound, with just the right amount of silly. (Alexandra Heller-Nicholas)
SUFFER NOT A WITCH
Gabriel Ingersoll | USA 2016 | 5:00 | Australian Premiere
A woman fleeing superstition and persecution runs through the woods pursued by an angry mob intent on her destruction. Contrasting earthly brutality with the neon sublime; this hand drawn animation is a mesmerising flight into the dark forest of the soul. (Catherine Seccombe)
Alice Waddington | Spain 2015 | 11:22 | Australian Premiere
Garnering accolades at festivals around the globe, this exquisite film marks Alice Waddington as an emerging talent like no other. Shot in exquisite black and white, Disco Inferno is a baroque, feminist love letter to Georges Franju’s JUDEX and NUITS ROUGE with a demonic twist. (Alexandra Heller-Nicholas)
Adelaide’s #1 purveyor of trash, filth and utter sickness, the one and only Dick Dale is back with his notorious selection of onscreen abominations.
O CHRISTMAS TREE
Greg Kovacs | Canada 2016 | 13:52 | Australian Premiere
Carolers out to spread Christmas cheer get more than they bargained for at Mabel’s house.
Spencer Estabrooks | Canada 2015 | 8:00 | Melbourne Premiere
TREMORS meets JAWS. Acreationist vs Pathoeotologist. Faith, facts and fins.
Chris McInroy | USA 2016 | 4:46 | Victorian Premiere
A metalhead gets passed down a Satanic guitar that riffs to shreds.
BAD BAD BUNNY
Jamison Stalworth | USA 2016 | 4:07 | Australian Premiere
When a good egg goes rotten, no one will live to tell this cottony tale.
ACTION MAN BATTLEFIELD CASUALTIES
Price James | UK 2015 | 2:55 | Melbourne Premiere
A Veterans for Peace UK film challenging the British Army’s policy of recruiting 16 year olds into the most dangerous Army jobs.
MAUL MY CHILDREN
Paul McAlarney | USA 2016 | 4:27 | Australian Premiere
A soap opera where a horny teenager eager for a blowjob from his step sister watches his family friends and his girlfriend fall apart right before his eyes…literally.
Frank Daft | Australia 2016 | 5:27 | World Premiere
A psychosexual drug-induced deathtrip.
Clint Cure | Australia 2016 | 12:00 | World Premiere
When a robotic fun park goes haywire, a class of teenagers must outwit an android Ned Kelly to survive.
WHEN SUSURRUS STIRS
Anthony Cousins | USA 2016 | 9:46 | Australian Premiere
A man finds purpose in his meaningless life when he becomes host to an ancient creature named Susurrus.
Chrzu Lindstrom | Finland 2016 | 6:35 | Australian Premiere
A day in the life of a cocaine-peddling cross dresser.
Jill Gevargizian | USA 2016 | 14:58 | Australian Premiere
Claire is a lonely hairstylist with an unnerving desire to escape her disappointing reality. When her final client of the evening arrives with the request to look perfect, Claire has plans of her own.
Stu Simpson | Australia 2016 | 10:00 | World Premiere
A washed up Kung Fu master takes on super natural forces in Vietnam.
Brian Lonano | USA 2016 | 5.45 | Victorian Premiere
A recently released criminal is looking for a good time. He can forget his sins but he can never forget… Gwilliam.
Vanessa Gudgeon | Australia 2016 | 1:00 | World Premiere
A young woman in peril soon discovers that in the midst of unspeakable horrors, nothing flashes before your eyes.
FEATURE FILM JURY:
Evrim Ersoy is a director, screenwriter and festival programmer. He is currently the head programmer for Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX. He is one half of the Duke Mitchell Film Club in London and has programmed films for Beyond Fest in LA, Motel X in Lisbon and the Boston Underground Film Festival.
A 30-year veteran of the Australasian film sector, Simon experienced the VHS boom years in the sales and marketing teams at Village Roadshow, Columbia Tri-Star Films and 20th Century Fox before becoming Asia Pacific Sales Manager for ‘The Showbusiness Bible’, Variety. After 4 years as film reviewer at SBS Movies and contributor to Empire, Inside Film and Screen Hub, he launched SCREEN-SPACE in 2012. He currently reviews for Fairfax Media and ABC-FM Statewide (NSW). He has served on juries and panels at The Sydney Underground Film Festival, Sydney’s A Night of Horror/Fantastic Planet Film Festival, the MIFF sidebar Telescope, The South Australian Screen Awards and The Byron Bay Film Festival.
Donna McRae’s first micro-budget feature film Johnny Ghost (2012) was selected into numerous film festivals, winning 7 awards including Best Female Director, Best Feature and two Special Jury Prizes. Currently she is involved in a female horror anthology film, in post production on a feature documentary about a chimpanzee called Cobby: The Dark Side of Cute and in development for her next feature film Kate Kelly, a ghost western about Ned Kelly’s sister. She holds a PhD and is a Lecturer in Film & Television at Deakin University, Melbourne.
SHORT FILM JURY:
Barbara Creed is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of five books in feminist film theory, horror, gender and media including The Monstrous-Feminine (1993) and Phallic Panic (2005) which explore gender and the horror film. She is a founding member of ‘Savage Sisters’, has written numerous articles on horror and probably seen far too many horror films for comfort. Her recent research is in animal studies, ethics in the anthropocene and the inhuman. Her new book, Stray: Human/Animal ethics in the Anthropocene will be published in April next year. She is the director of the Human Rights and Animal Ethics Research Network at Melbourne University.
Amanda is a published author and podcaster. She has written for Film Threat, Spectacular Optical, Retro Slashers, Pretty Scary, The Hysteria Lives, Entertainment Today and Sirens of Cinema. As well as contributing to the books Butcher Knives and Body Counts and The Movie that Changed My Life. Although she enjoys writing and talking about the horror genre, Amanda’s heart really belongs to the small screen. Her blog, Made for TV Mayhem and its companion podcast celebrate the history of classic television, focusing on the made-for-TV movie, which led to her editing the forthcoming Headpress book Are You in the House Alone? A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999.
Heidi Lee Douglas
Writer/Director Heidi Lee Douglas came to genre film production with a wealth of hands on practical production expertise and rich life experience gained through a career in documentary filmmaking. Her gothic thriller LITTLE LAMB screened at festivals worldwide, picking up awards and a broadcast deal; and has been selected for a “Women in Horror” anthology feature. Heidi is developing a feature set in the same world which was recently shortlisted for the elite Sundance Screenwriters Lab.