A quick heads up to Melbourne readers – Monster Fest 2016 will happen on take place from November 23 – 27, at the Lido Cinema, Hawthorn. Monster Fest is not something I have had much to do with in previous years, but this year it has been hugely revamped, largely thanks to the new program director, Kier-La Janisse, who has put together a new programming team, of which I am a part of.
Anyway, I particularly wanted to draw your attention to two events I am a part of.
Low Grade Transmissions From Hell: Revisiting the Lost Australian Horror Anthology, The Evil Touch
The early seventies are viewed as a peak period for horror anthology television. The Australian show, The Evil Touch is unique in that it was the only horror anthology show made locally, specifically for the US market. Successful in America, it bombed when aired in Australia in 1973 and the 26 episode series is now largely forgotten. Although cheaply made, The Evil Touch is strangely effective, at times, genuinely disturbing television. The grainy look and surreal narrative style give it the feel – in the words of American television critic John Kenneth Muir – of ‘a low grade transmission straight from hell’.
As part of Monster Fest’s Monster Academy, I’ll be giving a talk on the origins, making and reception of The Evil Touch. The session will also include a screening of what I think is its most innovative episode
‘Kadaitcha Country’. Kadaitcha Country stars The High Chaparral’s Leif Erickson as an unhinged Christian preacher who is assigned to a remote outback mission, where he immediately comes into contact with an Aboriginal ‘witch doctor’ called the Kadaitcha Man.
A special screening of episode 27 of Homicide, ‘Witch Hunt’
Satan, witches, warlocks, demons, they were everywhere in the sixties, even in the case files of what was then Australia’s favourite TV cop show, Homicide. Myself & my fellow Homicide enthusiast and film scholar, Dean Brandum, will introduce a special screening of episode the iconic Crawford drama, ‘Witch Hunt’. Aired in 1965 & written by long time Crawford scriptwriter & producer Sonia Borg, the episode concerns an investigation into a near fatal assault of an old woman that draws the Homicide team into the shadowy world of witchcraft in Melbourne’s outer suburbs. This is a not to be missed chance to see this rare slice of Australian TV history.
I suggest you check out the entire program Monster Fest program, which can be found here. Some of the highlights, for my money, include a screening of the 1971 classic, Wake In Fright, attended by the film’s director, Ted Kotcheff, who is a guest at the festival and the Australian debut of Ben Wheatley’s heist thriller, Free Fire. I’ll also be attending the screening of Paul Schrader’s latest, Dog Eat Dog, which will be preceded by a screening of Melbourne director Paul Anthony Nelson’s much anticipated film, Cigarette.