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.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Nice Beaver!


My yearly jaunt to Montreal would not be complete without a midnight screening, and this year's was the newest animal hybrid flick Zombeavers.


When a toxic waste spill turns the beaver population of a secluded lake into ravenous flesh eaters, a group of vacationing college kids must fight for their lives.

There's nothing like a Fantasia midnight screening. It really enhances a movie like this and lends so much more to the experience than just downloading and watching it on a laptop by yourself. I'm not going to purport that Zombeavers is anything but what you expect, but I did find it pretty entertaining. Paired with the Indiegogo-funded zombie kangaroo short, Waterborne, it was exactly what this midnight crowd ordered.

While I was doing some research, I found a lot of people comparing this with Sharknado, which I feel is inaccurate. It may sound weird to say this, but Zombeavers wields a fair bit more credibility than that. First of all, the majority of the beavers are puppets, rather than cheap CG, so that instantly won me over. There is some decent gore in this, with some great little set pieces that work because of the emphasis on the practical.


Zombeavers also takes itself slightly more seriously, as well. I mean, the film has every variation of the “beaver” joke imaginable, but the humour still comes off as slightly more clever than Syfy fare and their “look what impossible thing we've done now” formula. And to be clear, this isn't a creature feature where you hardly ever see the antagonists. There is plenty of beaver in this.

Lexi Atkins in Zombeavers.

That said, I certainly can't forget the three lovely ladies (Rachel Melvin, Lexi Atkins & Courtney Palm) in the picture. They spend a good chunk of the movie in bikinis – or even less in Palm's case – and will command your attention even if the subject matter does not.

This is a “just as advertised” kind of thing. If a movie about combining zombies and beavers sounds appealing to you, then step right up.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Levelling Up.


My first Fantasia film of note was Faults directed by Riley Stearns.


A down-on-his-luck cult expert named Ansel Roth (Leland Orser) is hired by a couple to deprogram their daughter Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who has fallen under the influence of a mysterious cult called Faults.

Faults actually turned out to be not at all what I was expecting, but I still enjoyed it a great deal. I thought the movie was going to be of the straight-up horror variety, something along the lines of The Sacrament – especially with AJ Bowen appearing in both movies – but it is more of a quirky comedy that got darker as the movie progressed. I briefly debated if I should even review it because of this, but I've always actively promoted indies that offer good character stuff, so here we are.

I am hit and miss with films that have a tonal shift, but this one works rather beautifully, mainly due to it being very gradual and buried in a strong dialogue-driven script. There's a straight-faced comedy to the delivery that I responded to immediately. If you watch Steans' 2012 short The Cub, that should give you an idea of what he's about. The air of mystery about what may or may not be going on under the surface was of real interest to me.

Leland Orser & Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Faults.

The movie hinges on the two leads and they are both excellent. I was pretty chuffed to see Leland Orser – whose made a career out of supporting roles for the last twenty-odd years – front and center in this picture. He was given a meaty role and he delivers perfectly, as does Winstead. I've been loving the work she has been doing recently, after many years of doing sequels and remakes. I hate to sound like I'm slighting the genre that I love, but after her more serious performances in 2012's Smashed and this, I feel she has really elevated her game. I also want to stress how intimate this piece is. It could've been a stage play. The meat of the picture is really the “deprogramming” exchanges between Orser and Winstead, as it is really captivating stuff.

You never know what kind of future small films on the festival circuit will have, but if you ever do come across this in your travels, and are a fan of dialogue-driven, encounter pieces, I encourage you to check this one out.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fantasia Bound.

I'm now on my way to Montreal for Fantasia, and that makes me as happy as a...


Stay tuned, folks. My reviews should start coming in by the end of the weekend. Talk to you then.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Doc Of The Dead

During its limited run in Toronto last week, my buddy Schwartz & I took in the recent zombie documentary Doc of the Dead.


Directed by Alex O. Philippe (The People vs. George Lucas), Doc of the Dead delves into the worldwide phenomenon of the zombie.

This doc was a pretty good time. Whereas the other zombie doc I watched recently Birth of the Living Dead focused more on George A. Romero and his contributions to the genre, this one was a much more broad and all-encompassing look at the undead. It may not be as aesthetically pleasing as Birth, but its interviewees are many, including Bruce Campbell, Simon Pegg, Tom Savini and Greg Nicotero. The biggest insights, however, came from arguably the three most important figures in modern zombie culture, Romero, Robert Kirkman & Max Brooks.

Zombie godfather, George A. Romero.

There are an impressive number of things covered over the course of this doc's eighty-one minute running time, including the genre's ravenous and ever-growing fan base, the scientific, social and philosophical underpinning of the zombie as well as its origins in folklore – contrary to the literary beginnings shared by the rest of horror iconic figures. Even the heated debate between fast vs. slow zombies is discussed!

Being a fan myself, I'm obviously aware of just how pervasive zombies have become in pop culture over the last decade. The Walking Dead is the most popular show on television (save for maybe GoT), almost every city has a zombie walk event that draws hundreds or even thousands, and advertisers are now using the undead to schlep everything from phones to candy to courier services.

One of the many zombie faithful.

However, due to so many topics being offered up, Doc of the Dead did tend to meander a bit. I also thought the “comedy” skits added in for filler were pretty painful. It was only when talking about them with Schwartz afterward that I realized it was the same guy who did those elongated reviews of the Star Wars prequels a while back. Yeah, his material isn't as amusing when it doesn't involve hookers trapped in his basement. But, I digress.

Despite perhaps lacking direction, there was a lot of good stuff in there. It featured a lot of familiar genre faces and offered up some good observations about everyone's favourite flesh eaters.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Trailer Tuesdays: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Now, here is one of the true classics, folks. I bring this before you today, as the newly restored 40th anniversary presentation (overseen by Tobe Hooper) is playing Toronto - or more specifically The Royal) for six days starting this Friday.



It is unlucky timing for me, as I'll be at Fantasia for this. Unluckier still, the Montreal screening of said film with Hooper in attendance is long after I'm back home. Hopefully, it shows up near you somewhere, as this is a true example of how much more power a film can have when viewed on the big screen. It is drenched in dread throughout, and the last half hour is an audio/visual onslaught and well worth experiencing for the first, second or tenth time. Will you survive? And what will be left of you?


Monday, July 14, 2014

Videogram!

Swedish composer Magnus Sellergren aka Call Me Greenhorn is back with another album of horror-inspired synth soundscapes entitled Videogram.


Just looking at that logo should give you an idea of where Sellergren's head is at. It's a thing of beauty! You can stream the entire album by clicking the image above. If you like what you hear, show some love and plunk down seven measly dollars to make it your own!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

DKTM 229


It's a rainy one today, folks. Here's what I for you this week.

Black Museum 4.5.

Before a screening of Fright Night this week, Andrea & Paul announced the remaining three lectures of The Black Museum's fourth semester. I am pretty stoked for all three, the first being a look at classroom scare PSA's from the 1940's through 1980's presented by Kier-La Janisse, a Montreal-based writer and festival programmer.


I used to love these things as a kid. I remember the ones that used to play on television, as well. Any ad that would make my mom say, “aww I hate these things” or “why do they have to keep playing these?” indicated an immediate mark of quality.

The Black Museum's other two lectures haven't been posted to the website, so I'm not sure if I'm supposed to let the cat out of the bag, but I will say that one involves a certain analog medium, and the other estrogenic art.

Horror In The Stars.

A UK-based group known as The Dorothy Collective have come up with this awesome display of horror cinema history.


It is a sky map of the stars visible from Berlin on March 4th, 1922 which happens to be the night Nosferatu was released in theatres. However, in this map, each constellation represents a significant film of the horror genre, made of the stars that appeared within it. It's a wonderful piece of film art, and you can see more of it - and the one they did for science fiction - by clicking the image below.


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My filmmaker friend Darryl Shaw released the trailer for his latest short film this week. Greater Than is a dark romance featuring Adam Buller as a shady passport dealer that falls for an Eastern European immigrant played by Dana Tartau. And if you look closely at around the half-minute mark you can see me stomping on the protagonist. Making movies is fun!