Thursday November 21st
Monster Fest is upon us, and I've been lucky enough to prise myself away from the warm and tender clutches of my family and make the pilgrimage south to the vast, character-strewn expanse they call Melbourne to attend the first seven days of Monster Pictures' annual celebration of new, independent horror and exploitation, with as much cult appeal as they can slap you across the face with.
I arrive in time to find the Monster boys setting up in the Cinema Nova bar for the much-anticipated uber-exclusive Meet & Greet with Linda Blair, star of The Exorcist,(1973), but more importantly champion of lost dogs everywhere. Linda is Monster Fest's very special guest, and don't we know it! Despite her diminutive frame (I'm sure she's the same size as she was in The Exorcist!) Linda has a sturdy and charismatic presence and we're all looking forward to hearing her spew forth a pea soup of anecdotes from her time as Regan and beyond.
But no. Linda decides it would be more pertinent to talk about her role as founder of the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation, "a unique safe haven for animals providing top-quality, lifelong care to the animals it rescues." Now that's all well and good, but the ticket holders to this event probably wanted to hear more about working with special makeup effects extraordinaire Dick Smith, or director tyrant par excellence, Billy Friedkin.
Linda eventually gets to her time on The Exorcist, but not until she's in front of the packed cinema audiences for the two scheduled screenings. Before the screenings commence she dutifully obliges the signing of specially-prepared "lobby" cards and whatever other Linda Blair mementos the ticket holders brought with them.
There are some very serious Linda Blairists here; those wallflowers that only emerge from their cave shrines of obsession when the opportunity is a legitimate hot-under-the-collar up-close-and-personal with their idol. Most have brought DVDs and BDs of The Exorcist, although one guy has dusted off his VHS copy of Repossessed. Damn, why didn't I bring my DVD of Hell Night (1981)?!
While Linda's manager hovers with intent Ms. Blair enthusiastically poses for photos, one at a time, and chats about dogs. Then it's off to introduce the first screening of The Exorcist, it being the 40th anniversary and all. I attend the second screening, and Linda spends half and hour recalling her roundabout experience of working on the classic horror movie, repeatedly reminding us to pay attention to the dialogue and sound, and focus on the extraordinary work of all involved. Yup, gotcha.
At one point Linda makes a remark that has me rolling my eyes in quiet tenuous response; the topical relevance of The Exorcist because the movie begins - still the movie's most brilliant sequence - in the doom-shrouded, dust-laden archeological history of Iraq, and America is still at war with Iraq. Still, Linda is charming and funny, and despite the drunken antics of a couple in the middle of the auditorium, one whom stands to ask if Linda is okay. As in; she made a disturbing psychosexual horror movie at the age of thirteen, is she "OK" now? Everyone guffaws. But it isn't really that funny.
Linda talks about the fame game, but not nearly as much about her time on The Exorcist and other similar projects ... Hell Night, dammit, and disappointing no one mentions Exorcist II: The Heretic. Snigger. At the end of the long night, Linda was barely in her teens, and making such a special effects, drama-heavy movie as The Exorcist meant she was frequently bored to tears, desperately wanting to ride a pony instead.
She got the pony eventually. And the stables.
I watch The Exorcist with a focus on her performance, and it's very good. Always was. Linda exhibits a great set of adolescent nuances, most of which were natural expressions that William Friedkin cleverly elicited and captured. One could argue, just as Orson Welles did, that she started at the top ...
A movie is shot on location and on sets. But it's made in the editing suite. The Exorcist is a superb example of visual narrative editing from a director renowned for pulling great work from his actors.
Thank you Linda for sharing some insights into that time and space.
Friday, November 22nd
I am very hungover.
There, I've said it.
It's a wretched hive of scum and villainy at Cinema Nova for the official Opening Night of Monster Fest. Well, not really, but I wanted to use that line.
A second screening of local feature Murderdrome (2013) has been scheduled for 7pm, as the original session at 7.30 has sold out. I attend with Monster Pictures' notorious publicist and his lovely young lady, and the movie is introduced by the writer/director Daniel Armstrong, the producer, and also one of its stars Louise Monnington (who also contributed as script consultant).
Murderdrome took several years to make. Apparently they took a year off in the middle. So, like Peter Jackson's Bad Taste, it was a labour of love. And it shows on the screen. There is much love and enthusiasm, but also it's clunky as hell.
It's the bitchfest antics of a bunch of roller derby gals (strictly rollerskates) who are settling scores on the skating rink, whilst a masked slasher on rollerblades is carving up the teams. Vengeance is a dish best served with rock and roll.
The movie's best moments are technical achievements; the awesome opening title credits set over the main roller derby sequence and the classy special visual effects sequence at movie's end are the movie's highlights.
Virtually all the "actors" are roller derby grrls, so the performances are very much on the dodgy side. There's also a serious ADR issue, which gets annoying very quickly.
Still, I take my hat off to anyone who gets a feature made. It can be hell on wheels trying to get it to completion. And it's always fun to watch it with the cast and crew.
Afterward the opening night party swings hard into the night at LuWOW club in Fitzroy. A voodoo lounge with style to burn. La Bastard are the band, and they rock it with aplomb. It's surf and rockabilly music all night long with one of the proud club owners on DJ duties.
We end up at another club, Ding Dong, in the wee wee hours, but by that point the Pagan ciders and Polish brewskis are in a deep wrestle. I fail to make it on to the night's final destination, Cherry's. Apparently Linda Blair's special guest "DJ" set has been underwhelming. Damn, I wanted to catch her selection which I'm sure would've included The Runaways Cherry Bomb, Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty's Stop Draggin' My Heart Around, and Rick Springfield's Jessie's Girl. I'd have put money on it.
Saturday, November 23rd
After struggling with a cider/beer hangover for most of the late morning and early afternoon (I have to have a nap after my scrambled brain, er, eggs), I am coerced into joining my hosts for the first of the day's Monster Fest screenings at 3pm. I want to avoid this particular debut feature as a colleague of mine has warned me.
He is right. I hate it.
Foresight Killer Instinct (2013), made by two very enthusiastic brothers from Ipswich, Queensland, sports some of the worst acting I've seen in quite some time. It was made on the smell of an oily rag, and looks it. The script (what script?) is all over the place, and feels like a short that had been stretched to breaking point. The so-called ad-lib dialogue from the cast has resulted in the movie currently holding the #11 spot on the list of most sweariest movies ever.
It's a crime drama with a strange science fiction/horror bent. Another revenge tale with more pontificating and stewing than your average pot-boiler. Mind you, not many movies have a priest being crucified. The histrionic over-acting of Michael Edward Williams who plays the obnoxious Det. Lance Steel is something to behold, and keeps the movie buoyant, but really, it's all a hot mess.
Once again, I admire the tenacity and ambition in getting a feature made, but as both Murderdrome and Foresight Killer Instinct illustrate; if you're working with a micro-budget (ie low production values) then you must make sure you get killer performances from your cast. It's imperative. No ifs, or buts. Both these features fail in that respect.
The next movie on the roster is MUFF director and filmmaker Richard Wolstencroft's documentary The Last Days of Joe Blow (2013), a portrait of actor Micheal Tierney (the nephew of Hollywood B-legend Lawrence Tierney), whom decided to pursue a career as a porn star for several years.
Wolstencroft has made an affectionate and intriguing peek into the machismo and machinations of porndom a la male. As we all know it's ultimately not to do with how good looking you are, but whether you can crack and hold wood. Ron Jeremy, the Hedgehog, is one of the hard survivors. He offers a few tidbits, but apparently, according to Wolstencroft, there's nothing behind the eyes. As with the majority of porn stars, they lost their souls a long time ago.
Yup, it's ultimately a quiet tragedy. Joe Blow bows out, only to find he's got nothing to go to. The crossover (back) into the mainstream isn't that easy, and now he has numerous ghosts in the closet, and paranoia gnaws at his back. It probably didn't help maintaining a blog on Aleister Crowley for a while.
We could have done without the Wolstencroft mugging that rears its head from time to time, but The Last Days of Joe Blow is an enlightening cautionary tale told with entertainingly and with attention to colour and an upbeat soundtrack.
Next up is Andrew Truacki's The Jungle (2013), his anticipated follow-up to The Reef (2009), and the third installment in his "Trilogy of Terror". This is a disappointment. It feels like The Blair Witch Project (1999) meets Predator (1986). A thriller on serious slow burn, following a leopard conservationist in Indonesia whom finds himself, his cameraman and two Javanese trackers at the mercy of a jungle-dwelling creature.
The moneyshot at movie's very end is a major letdown. It isn't a badly made movie, and their are some tense moments, but it has none of the genuine terror of his first two features, probably because the first two used real footage of a crocodile and Great White, expertly composited and edited with the actors. Time to remake Razorback Andrew.
The evening's last two features, both debuts by next generation Australian filmmakers, are of a very high calibre. It's a further continuation of the found footage genre.
First is Apocalyptic (2013), written and directed by Glenn Triggs, the second is Beckoning the Butcher (2013), written and directed by Dale Trotts.
Apocalyptic follows an investigative journalist and her cameraman as they visit a remote compound in the wilderness where a cult have been living undisturbed for more than twenty years. Their leader, the reptilian Michael Godson (Michael Macrae), is one dodgy fellow. His clan of women, young and old, are completely in under his trance. There'll be tears before bedtime.
This is a slowburner, the dread creeping upon you like an ominous mist. By the final scenes you're on the edge of your seat.
And then there are those final moments of doom.
Apocalyptic is The Wicker Woman.
In Beckoning the Butcher a curious young dude Chris (Damian Lipp) has convinced his girlfriend Tara (Stephanie Mauro), best buddy Brent (Tristan Barr), and two other girls Lorraine (Tilly Legge) and Nicole (Sophie Wright), to join him in an isolated farmhouse on the rural plains of Victoria. It is there that they test the latest ghost-hunting ritual Chris is renowned for on the Internet.
I have goosebumps during a couple of scenes in Beckoning the Butcher. I have not felt these in a horror movie for a very long time. I can imagine watching the movie alone will be a terrifying experience. This is the scariest found footage movie I've seen since The Blair Witch Project.
Both Apocalyptic and Beckoning the Butcher make excellent use of location, use no music - only sound effects - to superb effect. Both have terrific casts who deliver convincingly.
Sure, both movies aren't telling us any new stories, or dealing with new horror tropes, but the stories they tell are spun with fantastic atmosphere and are very creepy, and in the case of the latter, genuinely frightening. I take my hat off to these director lads. They have big careers ahead of them.
Sunday, November 24th
It's time for the Monster Micro-Nasties Challenge: The Cannibal Project. The eight Grand Finalist teams have ten minutes to pitch their movie submission to a panel of judges and a live audience who will add their vote to the final score.
My mate Jack Sargeant is one of the finalists, so I'll be rooting for him.
First up is The Collective, and the two team members pitching this forest-bound nymphs with teeth tale have raised the bar high. I'm impressed with their delivery and the storyboards they exhibit are stylish and atmospheric. In fact, if it wasn't for my loyalty to Jack's project Eaters, an arty auto-cannibalistic tale designed to disgust, I would be voting for The Collective.
The other pitch that tickles my fancy is Devils, a horror-comedy set in a brothel with a porn star attached. It's probably the hilarious pitch approach that grabs my attention that the actual movie content; the producer has a bunch of sex toys (sponsors) to give away, and the guy next to me wins a Fleshlight for remembering the original title of the project (Gut-Munching Whores). He has the team sign the box and plans to not open it. Yeah, right.
The Collective wins the competition. Not that surprising really. The director is a buxom, statuesque blonde in a tight red dress and her producer is a short 1950s-clad hipster with a serious mustache. They were a shoe-in. Jack's project scores the lowest. I guess the judges, or audience, aren't that keen on watching a man eating his own cancerous bowels.
Neil Foley, the festival director, is over-the-moon at the event, feeling very confident it will become an annual fixture. Who knows what next year's project will be; rape-revenge? Nunsploitation? Lycanthropy? Perhaps, a creature feature!
Local legend Dick Dale's notorious celebration of all things trashy has his moment basking in the Monster Fest dark sun. It's time for Trasharama! Mostly it's the crudest and cheapest looking shorts out to (dis)please. Very much an acquired taste, and the cinema is packed, so it's obvious there are loyal supporters. Each to their own, but for the most part it's not my cup of vomit.
But there a couple of exceptions; Daniel Armstrong's elaborately-staged Alice in Zombieland which doubles as a kind of music video for hardcore industrial dubstep rapper Kidcrusher. The art direction, cinematography, and overall atmosphere of this chick-with-a-gun short is very impressive.
The other short that gets my nod of approval is a disturbing, but compelling piece of home-invasion torture-porn called POV (Point Of View) from Benjamin Morton, which follows cyber-snuffer The Cyclops in his pursuit. I wonder who'll win the Trasharama short film competition?
It's time for a break. There's the screening of Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla, local filmmaker Stuart Simpson's excellent Taxi Driver-esque black comedy which I've already previewed. I FaceTime my lovely wife and mug for my gorgeous son, and after discover I've been abandoned by my fellow horrorphiles, so I am left to my own devices. My stomach grumbles, so I wander up Lygon and chow down on a bowl of pasta and meatballs with a glass of Sangiovese.
The Monster Fest evening finishes up with the much-anticipated screening of another of the next generation of super-talented young filmmakers. It's Sam Barrett's Sororal, an unashamed, ultra-impressive homage to the Italian giallo genre, so of course, it's dubbed a neo-giallo.
Cassandra (Amanda Woodhams) is a tortured young artist suffering from violent visions. People around her are being murdered and she is the suspect. But it's not that simple. In fact, in perfect giallo fashion its downright complicated and convoluted, but drenched in more visual splendour, flair, and artistic abandon than you shake a primary colour gel at.
Sororal is the most visually stunning Australian feature this year. It's a hypnotic descent into psychic mayhem. Admittedly it's overlong, but when was a giallo ever concise? Amanda Woodhams' mesmerising central performance(s) holds the movie in the glow of love's supernature, slow-burning into your cerebral cortex. It's her feature debut, and she be going places.
Co-writer and director Sam Barrett made a mediocre home-invasion flick a few years back called No Through Road (2008). But that's way behind him now. With a top-notch creative team behind him, his vision is one to behold. Big props to cinematographer Ivan Davidof, and to the absolutely amazing soundtrack from Christopher De Groot, who openly credits using only analogue synthesizers (Sequential Circuits, yes!) to create the superbly atmospheric score that even includes Goblin-esque moments of prog-rock.
This analogue realm is what Barrett has created for the movie's world as well; all the costumes are 70s fashion, and, rather wonderfully, the movie is devoid of mobile phones, the dearth of modern cinema narrative. He even had the movie's photography utilise on-set gels, rather than adding the primary colours in post. I admire his purist approach.
But enough gushing.
Definitely the three standouts for Monster Fest so far are the lovely young chaps behind Apocalyptic, Beckoning the Butcher, and Sororal. I feel inspired.
Monday, November 25th
Today is the Fantastic Asia section of Monster Fest. Three features. Well, actually, three features and a 40-minute short.
I love Asian cinema, but I'm not a fan of the ultra-schlock from the Sushi Typhoon canon. So I approach today's mini-programme with caution.
First up is American ex-pat Norman England's extended short, New Neighbor (2013), starring J-horror and sex starlet Asami. A young woman, sexually repressed, is both curious and annoyed by her new neighbour's noisy sexcapades. Her mother is pushing, very firmly, for her to find a suitor, and more importantly, to get laid.
Eventually curiousity gets the better of her and she ventures inside her neighbour's apartment (the door was left unlocked) and finds herself in a dangerously lascivious web of seduction. But as we know, there is no such thing as romance and adventure, only trouble and desire.
I really want this short to end on some kind of Lovecraftian excess, but it ends as limply as a flaccid dick on a porn set. No weird wood here. What a disappointment.
The feature, Zombie TV (2013) started as I feared it would; not my cup of puerile, juvenile sake. A magazine-style comedy of horrors made for adolescents and, worse, pre-pubescents it seemed! I last about fifteen minutes. It's doing my head in.
I make the decision to avoid the other two features, I need a break from the cinema.
I retire to my guest pad and end up watching The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) on DVD. This was the kind of deep trash I was in the mood for; Caroline Munro, Tom Baker and the work of the late, great Ray Harryhausen (RIP).
Tuesday, November 26th
A little Canadian fare this evening.
And some Euro deep trash.
First up on the platter is Antisocial (2013), a movie I missed at SUFF earlier in the year. It's a low-budget affair, but looks quite slick and sports decent acting from the young attractive cast. Shame then about the far-fetched screenplay.
It's New Year's Eve and Sam (Michelle Mylett) is feeling pretty sorry for herself. Things have gone pear-shaped on the romance front, and social media is not helping. She rendezvouses with a few friends at a house to gear up for a bit of a shindig. But there's a shitstorm brewing outside.
The Social Redroom (read: Facebook) is causing quite the international stir it seems. A virus is infecting all who use the site and smart phone app turning them into crazed killing machines. It isn't long before the Redroom is spraying red stuff across all the red cups.
Antisocial gets sillier as it tumbles along. I keep thinking of a very similarly-themed, but awesome low-budget flick from 2007 called The Signal that kicks Antisocial's arse into the middle of next week. But that movie is an exception, because I'm not much of a fan of movies that use computers and mobile phones as the interactive vessel of evil. I find the concept dull and un-cinematic.
However I enjoy the pulsating electro-flavoured score, especially during the movie's ridiculous finale, and there is cool nightmarish imagery, washed in the movie's computer blue palette. I love the very last image, but is the Japanese flag reference (blood spot on a head bandage) intentional? I'm not sure.
The main course is Dario Argento's Dracula (2013) - in 3D - an Italian-French-Spanish co-pro, starring Thomas Kretschmann as the Count, Rutger Hauer as Van Helsing, and Dario's daughter Asia as Lucy.
This is a multi-million dollar production that has made about three grand in America. Yes, it has been a complete flop, panned by pretty much everyone. And it's easy to see why, but considering how bad the teaser trailer I saw a year ago, I am expecting something absolutely dire. Let's face it, Argento hasn't made a decent movie in twenty-five years!
I find myself pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy watching this most curious indulgence. Argento has made a movie that feels like a blend of Hammer Horror, Roman Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers, and those three-dimensional View-Master toys I used to look at as a child.
The acting is ropey-as-hell (when Asia's Lucy pulls a "menacing" face at Rutger's Van Helsing the audience burst into laughter - and that wasn't the only time chortles and sniggers were heard coursing through the cinema ... there's the praying mantis, but I'll come to that shortly!), and Rutger Hauer, despite the privilege of the first Dutch actor to play the Dutch character, seems to be bored to tears.
As per usual in an Argento movie, half the actors are Italians who speak marginal English, and as such their dialogue has been post-synched by another actor. This only accentuates the dodgy performances. I find myself distracted by the role of Tanja (Miriam Giovanelli), Dracula's voluptuous wench. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Argento has several of his old team on board; Luciano Tovoli (Suspiria) is the cinematographer, Claudio Simonetti (Goblin) is the composer, and Sergio Stivaletti is on special effects supervision (there are several decent gore gags). I wonder just how deliberate the old school 3D effect was, and I'm amused that the blood is Argento-typically too bright. It's a pity also that Simonetti's score is more beige wallpaper than memorably atmospheric.
I mentioned a praying mantis earlier. Yes, there is a scene where Dracula terrorises in the form of a giant praying mantis. Suddenly, nothing else matters. There is only the outlandish absurdity of Dracula as a giant CGI praying mantis. The audience guffaw. It's a giant praying mantis! What else is there to do?!
The night is capped off with the second Canadian feature, Evil Feed (2013), a bizarre mishmash of hardcore horror, brutal combat, schlock comedy, and sex farce. I've not seen anything quite like it. The tonal shifts are extreme, but it all seems to gel, like a lubricant from hell.
Director Kimani Ray Smith is a stuntman who has worked on dozens and dozens of big budget movies. This is his debut feature, and it kicks proverbial arse. But it is very much an acquired taste.
Speaking of taste, this is an action-horror-comedy about cannibalism, and vengeance is a dish best served hot. And yes, there is spice; Alyson Bath as Yuki.
The cinematography is fantastic; grimy, but lush, the special effects makeup is excellent, some great gore set-pieces, and the fight choreography is pretty cool too (obviously). The humour, much of it sex related, is crude, and while many of the jokes fall flat, many of them are filthy funny.
Evil Feed is a cheeky, violent, sexy, weird monkey indeed.
Walking out of the cinema I know that images from Dracula and Evil Feed will no doubt reverberate in my head for days to come, like the remnants of some strange, curious dream ... Tanja and Yuki beckoning to me like sirens.
Obviously I'm deranged.
I need a stiff drink.
A new friend, Cameron - Greg Mclean's personal assistant (yes, I grill him on Wolf Creek 2!)- invites me to join him and the talented Sororal director Sam Barrett for a nightcap at Naked For Satan, a rooftop bar on Brunswick Street. Unfortunately it's closed for the night. I suggest Black Pearl. Cam likes my style. And we meet Sam there, quickly finding ourselves ensconsed in ciné parlez. As you do.
Discussing silver screen art as movie war stories; Sam proclaiming the original theatrical release of Apocalypse Now as the definitive version, whilst Cam states emphatically that Pieces of April is brilliant. But isn't that the one with Katie Holmes, Sam and I reply.
I do love chewing the movie fat.
Soon enough its 2am. Time to head back to my Coburg den for some shuteye and fever dream of lusty vampyres ...
Wednesday, November 27th
It's a hot day. The most consistent day of weather since I've been down here.
After sleeping in, and after two good coffees from across the road at the Post Office Hotel, I decide to stay indoors and watch a screener for one of the upcoming movies I'll be missing, since I fly back to Sydney tomorrow afternoon.
Across the River (Oltre il Guado, 2013), is an Italian production from director Lorenzo Bianchini (co-written with his wife) set on the wilderness border of Italy and Slovenia. A wildlife conservationist, played by Renzo Gariup, is the movie's lone, central character. A man dedicated to his work, tagging foxes and boar, and checking remote cameras.
He travels in his van, fords a river (and almost doesn't quite make it) and later comes across a derelict, ruined village. It is here that his loneliness will be challenged. The stone and wood remains of the settlement are haunted.
Very reminiscent of the chilling, minimalist vibe of Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker, Across the River is an eerie, deeply atmospheric, and damn creepy account of a man being slowly and steadily terrorised by ghosts. This tale is on serious slow burn, smoldering with coals of earthy, unctuous fear.
Beautifully shot and photographed, washed in stoney greys and soiled in a perpetual rain, almost entirely without dialogue, with a drifting, melancholy score, Across the River is a movie that creeps on you and plants its hand firmly on your shoulder with an icy grip.
Across the River screens on Saturday, November 30th, 11pm, at Cinema Nova.
At 7pm it's time for the Q&A via Skype with the special makeup effects legend that is Tom Savini. Originally Tom was to be one of Monster Fest's special international guests, but unfortunately due to a last minute conflict of work dates he was unable to leave the US. Thank Christ for Skype.
Zak Hepburn, host of Nova's Cultastrophe, is on moderating duties, and he is fully up for the position remarking on Facebook that if the thirteen-year-old version of himself knew this was going to happen ... I hear ya Zak.
It might be 3am or so in the States, but Tom is bright and cheery, and answers all of Zak's finely-honed questions wonderfully. I get to throw a couple at him, and his replies are gold: In what movie does he consider is his best work? Tom replies that From Dusk Till Dawn is his best performance (everyone cheers, as this is the movie we'll be watching straight after), but in terms of special effects makeup he reckons Creepshow (1982). He pauses, then corrects himself, "Actually, Day of the Dead" (1985). I nod with satisfaction, as rightly so, Romero's zombie masterpiece features Savini at his spectacular creative zenith.
Zak relays another question of mine, "Apart from your own amazing work, what other special effects makeup work do you consider to be the benchmarks of the art?" Savini is quick to respond, citing Rob Bottin's work on The Thing (1982), Dick Smith's work on The Exorcist (1973), and Alien (1979), which would mean the late, great, Carlo Rambaldi. I feel very good, as my two questions have elicited answers that include three of my all-time favourite horror movies.
Tom gets his Sydney girlfriend to fetch the infamous dick gun prop that his From Dusk Till Dawn character Sex Machine is equipped with. The audience roars with approval. He also admits he hasn't yet see the remake of Maniac (2012) yet. A few of us shout out that its awesome. Tom nods, "I know, so I've heard."
Time for the main feature, and Robert Rodriguez's action-horror-comedy From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) holds up very well for a movie getting close to twenty years old. Many of its stars look decidedly younger, especially Juliette Lewis, John Hawkes, Danny Trejo. The Tarantino-penned screenplay (from a story by KNB Effects Group's Robert Kurtzmann) is one of the cinephile's less obviously Tarantino-esque, and less pretentious and indulgent, and Rodriguez directs with zany, dynamic flair.
George Clooney delivers one of his finest portrayals, Tom Savini's vamp and Cheech Marin's Chet Pussy are both still hoots, but the movie's ultimate scene-stealer is still Salma Hayek as Santanico Pandemonium; her volupté immortalised.
And that's my One Week in the Jaws of the Monster Fest Beast blog wrapped up.
What have been my top five? Keeping mind I haven't seen several of the movies still to screen, and excluding the two cult classic screenings, my favourites would be, in no particular order: Sororal, Beckoning the Butcher, Apocalyptic, Contracted, and Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla.
Big props to the Monster Pictures crew; Neil, Grant, Leslie, and Ben, also to Zak, Cinema Nova, to Annabel and Tom, and to my other new Melbournian friends, it's been a blast!