For fans of cult classics, blacklisters and no-budget specialties that would have otherwise evaded the screen, Monster Fest is the film festival for you. Kicking off last night at Lygon Street’s Nova cinema, the festival presents eleven days of genre horror, science fiction and thriller, but as event curator Zac Hepburn explains, you don’t have to be a cult connoisseur to have a good time. “It’s all about communal experience. If you’re sick of run-of-the-mill cinema going, there will be no better way to get something unusual than in a packed cinema, on a big screen as it was intended. We’re offering a more immersive experience.”

Or you could also view Monster Fest as a very thorough education. The opening night screened the 1973 classic, The Exorcist, and featured signings and a talk by Linda Blair, who played the possessed child. From there it meanders unsettlingly through new Aussie genre films until getting genuinely terrifying with an Asian horror excursion next week. There’s then a mystery film night next Saturday, featuring a VHS title blacklisted in 1980s, Brittan, before concluding December 1 with the Australian premiere of Kiss of the Damned; a sexy, cool technicolour homage to European vampire flicks of the ’70s.

Of course there’s always a chance that a thorough journey through genre classics is not what you’re into. “And to that I’d say if you take a punt and experience some of these things anyway. They’re not all gory, they’re not all horrible. Do your research, go along for the ride and if you do see something you didn’t like, well, just don’t see it again.” Hepburn laughs and adds finally, “And there’s lots of dressing up. I’ll be dressing up as Freddie Kruger and I can’t wait.”

Monster Fest runs until December 1 at various locations around Melbourne. For the full program, click here.