Q&A with Kier-La Janisse, Festival Director of Monster Fest

Cult Projections: You’re a force to be reckoned with, a legend in your own time. You’ve been published, and been involved with genre film festivals for nearly twenty years, and no doubt a fan of horror and exploitation, in all its permutations, for a lot longer. You’ve been instrumental in various endeavours, launches, exhibitions, pet projects, programmes, productions, and publications, etc … You must have so many stories to tell. So, let me keep it simple, I’ll just grill you on a whole bunch of favourites or notables, so your answers can be short and sweet. So, to kick off, what publication, book or magazine, made you want to become a writer?

Kier-La: The Outsiders. As a kid when I read that she was only sixteen when she wrote it, I wanted to publish a novel by the time I was 16 too. Of course I ended up in reform school at sixteen so it took a little longer! 

CP: What film festival event has been the most memorable?

K: I really loved Flatpack in Birmingham, UK because every screening had something unusual about it, it was the most creatively-curated festival I’d ever been to.

CP: What director would you love to program a retrospective of?

K: Robert Downey Sr. Probably not at Monster Fest though!

CP: What’s your favourite vampire movie?

K: The Hunger. Or maybe Vampire’s Kiss with Nicholas Cage. Haha. 

CP: What’s your favourite zombie movie?

K: Messiah of Evil. Which is also just one of my favourite American films, period. [Ed: I love that movie too]

CP: What’s your favourite werewolf movie? 

K: The Company of Wolves.

CP: What’s your favourite stalk’n’slash movie?

K: Of that classic 80s era? April Fool’s Day, even though it pretty much fails as a slasher movie. But I just think it has such a believable, likeable ensemble cast, and I think Fred Walton is a really underrated director. I think his made-for-TV sequel to When a Stranger Calls is also amazing, but it’s more ‘stalk’ than ‘slash’.

CP: What’s your favourite giallo?

K: Probably Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion but hard to ignore the impact of the first ones I saw like Deep Red and Lizard in a Woman’s Skin.

CP: What’s your favourite ghost or supernatural movie?

K: Supernatural would be Carrie, but if we’re talking ghosts, then it would be Jack Clayton’s The Innocents.

CP: What’s your favourite Lovecraftian movie?

K: The Real Ghostbusters episode “The Collect Call of Cathulu”

CP: What’s your favourite score?

K: The Haunting of Julia composed by Colin Towns.

CP: What’s your favourite use of sourced music in a movie?

K: Radio On directed by Chris Petit.

CP: What’s your favourite gore gag or special effects sequence?

K: Girl vomiting up her intestinal tract in Gates of Hell will always be a fave.

CP: Who is your favourite psychotic woman?

K: The obvious one – Isabelle Adjani in Possession!

CP: Who is your favourite psycho/boogeyman?

K: The hearse driver in Burnt Offerings.

CP: What’s your favourite movie involving witchcraft?

K: I love all witches, so hard to pick. I love “The Dust Witch” in Something Wicked This Way Comes. But overall Witch movie? Suspiria is going to be hard to beat. Although a less obvious second choice would be Casting the Runes, the Lawrence Gordon Clark TV movie.

CP: What is your earliest memory of being frightened by a movie or television show?

K: Horror Express – I was three, saw it on a Saturday afternoon at my grandmother’s house and had nightmares about it for almost a decade.

CP: What was your first “adult” experience (sneaking into an R, X, or NC-17-rated movie, or renting an R-rated VHS when you were underage, etc)?

K: I saw restricted movies all the time as a kid. I went to see Valley Girl with my dad and it was really embarrassing because when EG Daily’s top came off he went “Ooooh!!” really loudly. But I remember my mom really didn’t want me to see Porky’s – but when she warned me about it, I had already seen it! 

CP: What’s your favourite sleazy, dodgy, grindhouse-style movie?

K: Poor Pretty Eddie. I absolutely love this film.

CP: What is your favourite found footage or mockumentary movie?

K: Punishment Park.

CP: What is your favourite movie based on a true story, or events, or real person?

K: I think one I just saw for the first time – The Boys

CP: What is your favourite Asian movie?

K: Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41.

CP: What is your favourite European movie?

K: The Night Porter.

CP: What is your favourite Australian movie?

K: Wake in Fright. [Ed: Yes, it’s my fave Oz movie too]

CP: What is your favourite rape-revenge movie?

K: Ms. 45.

CP: What movie have you watched the most times? How many times?

K: I had a bet with a girl in Grade 9 that I could watch The Breakfast Club more times than she could. I watched it fifty-six times. I do not think I have watched any film more times than that ever since.

CP: What five movies would be your “desert island flicks”?

K: Cockfighter, Vice Squad, Jaws, Over the Edge, and the last would be a tossup between Carrie and Streets of Fire.

CP: What five movies from the past ten years have impressed you the most?

K: Let the Right One In, The Babadook, February, Evolution, See You Next Tuesday.

CP: What three things shouldn’t people miss at Monster Fest!

K: I think my personal picks might be the new restoration of On the Silver Globe, the rare screening and presentation on the “Witch Hunt” episode of Homicide (an absolutely amazing episode set partially in Hawthorne where Monster Fest takes place) and The Cult of Monster All-Night Marathon!

CP: Thank you Kier-La!!

Monster Fest runs Thursday, November 24th - Sunday, November 27th at Lido Cinemas, Melbourne. 

For complete program, info, and screening times visit monsterfest.com.au