“One of my great joys is finding a film that is very new on the genre circuit or is only literally just starting the genre circuit and presenting it to an audience long ahead of any chance they’ll have to see it at a megaplex.”

A Night of Horror and Fantastic Planet Film Festival Director Dean Bertram sat down following the announcement of the Festival’s first ten premiere screenings to discuss this year’s line-up. With a huge tranche of the program sourced directly from filmmaker submissions and very newly completed projects, late entrants are still being finalised in the lead up to opening night.

“There’ll be many films at the Festival where there’s probably only been one or two Festival screenings,” said Bertram. “For many years now we’ve always reserved at least 50% of our programming slots for the features for cold submissions… which means a lot of these films literally haven’t had a chance to break even on the Festival circuit yet, we really take pride in the fact that we get these films very early on their run.”

The two Festivals, both champions of their own distinct genre-programming, will run simultaneously at Dendy Newtown.

“We used to run them at different ends of the calendar – one used to run around April and the other around November and then we thought rather than dividing these genres into tiny little boxes it might be more entertaining and interesting for our audience if we presented an event that was more like a Fantastic Fest or something overseas where you could go to a Festival and there was horror, there was sci-fi, there was fantasy and cult offbeat movies as well,” said Bertram.

“The Festivals have kept their own identities in a way, they’re programmed separately, they have their separate award categories but they happen at the same time and under the same cinema roof so to speak so it becomes that one-stop genre festival.”

Of the announced line-up, each screening will be an Australian premiere together with a few international premieres, with at least five films boasting already confirmed representation by foreign filmmakers.

“One of the great joys of the Festival which makes it a different experience than going to a megaplex to see a movie is when the filmmaker’s actually there to engage with the audience, it’s a wonderful experience both for the audience and for the filmmaker to have that instant reaction to the screening,” said Bertram.

“We’re a very social Festival too meaning that when we go out afterwards with our guests we always announce to our audience that we’re having a drink if you want to ask the filmmaker more questions… it’s something we’ve always done and continued to do at the Festival.”

One of the international guests in attendance will be Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time Director Rob Taylor, who helmed the mad scientist caper in more ways than one.

“I didn’t even know this until the final credits rolled that he (Taylor) plays both of the lead characters, the hero Neil Stryker and the mad scientist the Tyrant of Time, it’s always fun when the actor is the director as well, audiences always react very well to that,” said Bertram.

“It’s also got Walter Koenig from Star Trek who played Chekov in the original series, it was fun to see an old Star Trek star in a film. Their two biggest influencers are the early Star Trek and Doctor Who and you can certainly see that in the movie.”

Festival alumnus and Canadian director Seve Schelenz will also be in attendance for the screening of his new feature Peelers.

“The film’s already had a massively successful festival run, it’s got into about fifty festivals so far, its playing Shriekfest this month and we’re doing the Australian premiere,” explained Bertram. “It’s very different to his last film Skew which was a very serious, very cerebral found-footage film which made you think throughout – this movie’s just a thrill-ride you jump on, a rollercoaster ride that drives you through with all those wonderful exploitational elements.”

Sci-fi Teleios will also screen, the new feature promising some of the genre’s most iconic treatments in a thriller centred on a genetically-enhanced crew who find an abandoned vessel drifting in space.

“Something’s gone hideously wrong and people have to discover what actually caused the demise of the original crew,” said Bertram. “It brought to light movies for me like Blade Runner and Ex Machina which asked the question what’s human, what’s not human… it deals with those types of issues that so often the best of science fiction does, I think Teleios is going to be a big audience favourite this year.”

Australian actor Mark Furze will also attend the screening of Bornless Ones, described as a “demon-filled fright-fest.”

“It’s probably my favourite cabin in the woods movie I’ve seen in years,” said Bertram. “Anybody who loves Evil Dead is really going to enjoy this film, it fits neatly in that genre space but it also has plenty of surprises and wonderful effects.”

Amidst all the genre-fare, the extremely left-field She’s Allergic to Cats may very well stand-out as a “genre-defying” feature.

“She’s Allergic To Cats was very well received at Fantasia where it had its world premiere,” said Bertram. “It’s about a wannabee filmmaker as I suppose so many of us are who lives in Hollywood. He works reluctantly as a dog-groomer and one day he happens to meet this sassy, gorgeous client.”

“He’s enamoured by this girl and his only problem is his apartment is overrun by rats and she’s coming to visit. Its unusual in any kind of genre film, it’s an exploration of the horrors of the mundane, the problems that normal life throws up to us and how horrific they can become. It’s quite the movie… its almost as narrative-defying as it is genre-defying.”

“What I like to present to audiences is particularly fresh, new films… while all these films will no doubt have a release some stage down the road it’s the chance to see things which are really new on the Festival stage.”

The A Night of Horror and Fantastic Planet Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Film Festivals will screen at Dendy Cinemas Newtown from November 24 – December 4, 2016