In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Who Would You Save?

The film to which I was most looking forward at this year's Blood In The Snow was Ryan M. Andrews' newest, Save Yourself.

Five filmmakers travelling to Los Angeles run afoul of a mad scientist (Ry Barrett) who intends to use them for his cruel experiments.

This is definitely Andrews' best so far. Having worked with a lot the same crew in his previous films, I believe they have now really started to click. As mentioned in the post film Q&A, Andrews and his DOP Michael Davidson (who also did a spectacular job on last year's Berkshire County) have formed a visual shorthand which stems from their intense love of the horror films they grew up on. Save Yourself contains several of these cues, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre being the most evident.

While the film was pretty to look at, the real draw here was the impressive ensemble assembled here. Anyone familiar with the current landscape of independent horror is no doubt familiar with Tristan Risk and Jessica Cameron, and right behind them, ready to explode, are Tianna Nori and Caleigh Le Grand. Much like what I said about Secret Santa, Save Yourself did not make it immediately obvious who the Final Girl was, which gave the film an added component I really appreciated. Rounding out the cast is the ubiquitous Ry Barrett, who you can tell was relishing the role of the evil Nazi scientist Dr. Sauter every moment he was onscreen.

Ry Barrett & Jessica Cameron in Save Yourself

I found Save Yourself way more palatable than Gavin Michael Booth's The Scarehouse, the other recently released female ensemble horror. Not only were the characters more likable and relatable, but the movie itself doesn't dwell on the violence as much. Andrews shows just enough to get his point across, but lets his actors do the heavy lifting. I also felt it was a good decision to play the material completely straight, as the premise could have drifted into camp very easily.

For me, there was also a surreal quality to the movie, as the theatre used in the first act is right around the corner from my house. It is very possible I could've ended up in this movie had I not already been en route to Fantasia when the shooting took place. Ah well, the old Mews sure looks great on camera.

Ryan M. Andrews (left) with cast & crew of Save Yourself.

Save Yourself is pretty much exactly what I wanted it to be; a simple premise driven by its strong ensemble and fine cinematography.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Seasons Bleedings!

Playing Saturday at midnight to a sold-out crowd was Mike McMurran's seasonal slasher, Secret Santa.

A gift-giving party between university classmates in interrupted by a deranged killer.

I had caught wind of considerable ire about this movie leading up to the screening, so I was interested to see what could of caused such lambasting. I assumed it was some sort of knee-jerk reaction to the sullying the good name of Ol' Saint Nick, much like the uproar caused by Silent Night, Deadly Night back in the day, but upon viewing I realized that couldn't be the case. Truth be told, Secret Santa has more in common with The Prowler than it does that infamous holiday horror.

Nicole Kawalez as Olivia in Secret Santa.

I'm not quite sure why Secret Santa got such a bad rap. Sure, the production values are sub par, but as far as low-budget slashers go, it's pretty functional. The gore provided by local splatter gurus The Butcher Shop is solid and Andre Becker's great retro-synth score sets the mood perfectly. And while there are a good deal of awkward pauses and a lot of filler – most notably an overlong tangent about cramming for exams – that make the case this may have made a stronger twenty-minute short, I can't say I didn't enjoy this movie.

You know what a sucker I am for slashers, so feel free to take my opinion as biased, but there was more than enough here to keep me engaged. For one thing, Secret Santa does something that most slashers don't bother to do these days, which was not make it immediately apparent who the Final Girl was. The movie also has a pretty good hook in which the characters receive packages containing weapons connected to their intended demise. The reveal at the climax was good for a chuckle, as well.

Cast & crew of Secret Santa.

Secret Santa might be a bit rough for most pallettes, but for fans of DIY slashers I'd say give this a shot. It's got gore, it's got attractive ladies and it's got enough tweaks to the standard tropes to keep you interested for its less than eighty minute running time.

*Q&A photo courtesy of BITS

Sunday, November 29, 2015

DKTM 284

Good morning everyone! Blood In The Snow was buckets of fun last night, but I'll regale you on that during the upcoming week. For now, here's are some terror tidbits to chew on.

Happy Turkey Day.

For my brethren beyond the border, I hope your Thanksgiving festivities were joyous and plentiful. I send you greetings THS-style by way of video vortex Memory Hole.

Cards From Another Place.

I found a wicked Twin Peaks tarot deck online this week. Created by artist Benjamin Mackey, these are just the bestest.

To see the whole deck, visit his site by clicking here.

Alpha Jason.

Several weeks ago, Gun Media let the cat out of the bag that their long awaited slasher video game project Summer Camp was in fact now an official Friday the 13th game. Recently, some pre-alpha gameplay footage was released of what we can expect from the game.

This certainly looks promising. I like the idea of the multiplayer co-op and the opportunity to play as Jason is a unique angle. Keep the updates coming, guys!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Blood In The Snow 2015

Hey all! The fourth edition of The Blood In The Snow Canadian Film Festival kicks off this evening with the premiere of April Mullen's Farhope Tower. I'll be looking in on the festivities this weekend, so you should see some reviews from me early next week. Until then, watch your step...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: The Howling

I've been catching up on back issues of Delirium magazine recently and I am currently enjoying their retrospective of The Howling, so...

Reading about this film, I realize how foggy I am on the series. I saw the first film as a kid, but I was more drawn to An American Werewolf In London, so I don't think I've ever revisited it. As for the rest of the series, I remember nothing, except Part IV with Michael mutherfuckin' T. Weiss.

I'm thinking I may have to marathon these at some point to see how much I actually remember. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Christmas Comes Early?

Hi everyone. I just wanted to check in and let you know I will be absent this weekend while I help out on a friend's shoot, an Xmas-themed project for an upcoming competition.

I'll be behind the camera on this one, but if you do happen to see a glimpse of someone wearing this sweater--

--in a future horror short, that's me!

Have a great weekend kiddies, talk to you next week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Drunken Cinema!

I've spoken many times before about my friend Serena's movie nights. In recent years, these get-togethers have morphed into drinking game events with rules tailored specifically to whatever flick we may be watching.

Last Friday, she, after much planning, brought forth her tried-and-true formula out into the world with Drunken Cinema's first public event.

It was a blast. The venue filled up quickly and everyone was really into it, with rounds of cheers at every death and cheesy 3D effect - and if you've seen Part 3, you know there is one of the latter every few minutes. You really notice it when you have to take a drink every time it happens.

Now, the 3D worked with limited success, but it didn't seem to bother anyone. I mean the first half-dozen times I watched this movie, it was on VHS sans the third dimension. It wasn't until the mid-2000's that I saw a 3D screening of it in Toronto.

The experience felt really intimate and communal, half in part due to the smaller space, and half that everyone was following the same rules. And by rules, I mean there were not only shared drinking rules, but also cards with personal rules dealt out to everyone at the start of the movie.

There was also a themed cocktail!

I had an acquaintance of mine show up early and was initially disappointed it wasn't a trivia night, but when I saw him after, his first words were, “how awesome was that!” Based on that reaction, I'd say the first public consumption of Drunken Cinema was a success.

Once everyone's livers have recuperated, we'll have to see what comes next.