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.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Monitor Premiere.


Well, THAT happened. It was such a great night! My short film seemed to go over well, being that there were many kind words afterwards, so that’s always reassuring.

Me, with lead actress Tonya Dodds (right) & TAD programmer Shelagh Rowan-Legg. 


It’s been a crazy whirlwind this week – two flicks aday for nine nights will do that to you – but once I get a chance to catch my breath I will get things back on track here.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Surreality.

Here's the listing for The Monitor in honest-to-God print.


I keep thinking in the back of my mind, I'm going to get an email or text saying,“whoops, there's been a terrible mistake.”



Just over twenty-four hours to showtime now. By this time tomorrow I bet my stomach and heart are going to feel like they have switched places.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Darkness Is Nigh!

The ninth edition of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival starts its nine-day run of insane programming tonight.


Apart from the 31st, this festival is the highlight of my October every year. I'm excited to see several of the films in the line-up this year, including tonight's Opening Gala screening of New Zealand's newest horror offering Housebound.


But, as I announced earlier, this year has extra significance because my newest short film is playing TAD this year.


The Monitor will be screening in front of the Elijah Wood thriller Open Windows at 7pm on Mon, October 20th at The Scotiabank Theatre. If you make it, please come over and say hi, either at the theatre or afterwards at Pub After Dark.

With all the madness of the next week or so, posts will be light, but I promise to whip up some, after the dust settles, covering the films I most enjoyed at this year's TAD, as well as my experiences next Monday evening. Until then, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Well, Hellooo Dolly!

Last Wednesday, The Black Museum (its fourth semester now winding down) held another of their lectures at The Royal, this one an exploration of dolls, and other creepy life-like machinations in horror cinema. 


I was looking forward to this not only because of the subject matter, but also because the guest speaker Andrea Butler's previous lecture on horror movie poster art still remains one of my favourites.

Butler began by relating a personal connection to that evening's lecture, in that she grew up in contact with a substantial doll collection by way of her mother. Strangely, as a child, nothing was amiss. It was only when she grew into her teens, that this collection, looming on hallway shelves that were built for just that purpose, started to become ominous. Why had this only become an issue when she had reached a certain age? Dolls provide children with joy the world over, yet for some adults, they give the absolute opposite response. I mean, look no further than this confounding ad from the sixties...



This irrational unease was what Butler sought to explore that evening. Rather than simply do a historical chronology of cinematic dolls, puppets and mannequins, she thought it much more interesting to analyze how these fears have been represented on film.


She began with a possible origin, which dealt with man's fear of becoming an automaton brought on by The Industrial Revolution and the increase of menial & repetitive labour. I can certainly see how one could fear the loss of individuality and sense of one's self during this time. Butler offered up a clip of Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times to illustrate this point.

Hoping to identify what exactly makes dolls and the like so unsettling, Butler brought up Masahiro Mori's theory of  “The Unncanny Valley”.

Right click to enlarge.

Based on an earlier essay by Sigmund Freud, Mori was a robotics professor that surmised that one's reaction to a robot was in direct relation to how closely it resembled our likeness. As Butler explained;

“The more human a robot acts or looks, the more endearing it is to us, but when the likeness is too strong, it somehow illicits a negative reaction... and if the robots moves or speaks, that only increases the feeling of the uncanny.”

With that out of the way, Butler broke down how these subjects are represented in cinema into three categories.

The first category involved inanimate objects as props for the antagonist, being used either to symbolize some past trauma of the killer, or as lures or traps for their victims. Butler cited such examples as these iconic sequences from Dario Argento's Deep Red and James Wan's Saw



as well as lesser known fare, such as 1983's Curtains and the underseen 2012 flick Cassadaga.


The second representation in film is related to mental illness, where a character will interact or speak through - or sometimes become - an inanimate object in order to enact a fantasy or repress reality. Some of the examples brought up in this category were “The Ventriloquist's Dummy” segment of the 1945 anthology film Dead of Night, Richard Attenborough's brilliant thriller Magic, as well as the weirdly sexual Pin from 1988, and Lucky McKee's May.



The third, and most pervasive category belongs to the supernatural, where dolls have been possessed or cursed by some mischievous or evil entity. There were obviously no shortage of titles to crib from here, but Butler chose a nice mix of the mainstream and obscure, which included Umberto Lenzi's Ghosthouse, Stuart Gordon's Dolls and the Zuni Fetish sequence from the 1975 Karen Black vehicle Trilogy of Terror.



There could also be no discussion without the inclusion of the denizens of the Puppet Master films and good ol' Chucky from Child's Play.



Bringing things up to date was Annabelle, the ultimate creepy doll introduced in James Wan's 2013 scare flick The Conjuring, and now, most recently, in her self-titled prequel.



Butler brought the talk to a close by saying that the common thread of these categories preys on our fear of becoming a doll, losing control of our body, or being manipulated by some outside force.

So, my conclusions?

Yep, dolls are creepy as fuck.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

DKTM 237


Hello all. Well, we're knee deep in every horrorphile's favourite month and everything seems to be moving along nicely. I can see from my various social media feeds that several October horror movie marathons are in full swing and it warms my heart.

I myself am in the calm before the storm (i.e Toronto After Dark) here, so I'm enjoying this little Thanksgiving breather before things get crazy for here on in. So, for now, here are some terror tidbits to chew on.

Sexy Witchcraft.

Here is a cool little effects-heavy short I found on Vimeo called Goat Witch. It is from the guys who brought you last year's The Demon's Rook, that made some noise on the festival circuit last year. This short features a lot of things I hold dear, such as gore, dark rituals... oh, and blood-soaked, full frontal nudity. Enjoy!



Arrow A Go-Go.

Most cinephiles have heard of Arrow Video by now. Based out of the UK, they have killing it with their horror Blu-ray releases over the past few years. Unfortunately, due to being across the pond, their wonderful wares are region locked (as well as all that pesky overseas shipping) which continues to pose a problem to a large percentage of North American consumers. Well, Arrow now has their sights on expanding, but they need your help.



One-hundred-thousand smackers is a lofty goal to be sure, but it looks like they are already a third of the way there, so the demand is obviously there. Plus, fifteen bones is a pretty good price for an Arrow tee, wouldn't you say? For more info on the campaign, click here.

Well? Are You???

Though it was a bit before my time (I was weened on Twilight Zone reruns, Tales both from the Crypt and Darkside, and also the lesser known series, Darkroom) the show Are You Afraid Of The Dark? was pretty substantial nightmare fuel for kiddies of the nineties. Recently, Reddit user R2Teep2 was kind enough to not only discover that every episode is available on YouTube, but also cull all the links together in a handy episode guide. Click on the image below to dive in.


Whether reliving childhood memories or discovering them anew, these should keep you busy throughout the Halloween season.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Trailer Tuesdays: Pin

Since tomorrow's Black Museum lecture is all about creepy dolls, marionettes and automatons in film, I figured I'd offer up one of Canada's best examples of such, the 1988 thriller Pin, starring David Hewlett & Terry O'Quinn.



I recently re-watched this and the subject matter is still pretty unsettling, as not only is Hewlett's character all kinds of askew, but his father (played by O'Quinn) corners the market on questionable parenting decisions. A dangerous mix, indeed.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

DKTM 236


Hello all. Since it is now October - the busiest month for all things horror - my weekends are pretty much rammed with stuff. Therefore, this post is coming to you from the past! Here's what I've got for you this week.

Stay Living.

Here's a cool little advert that pops up in my Facebook recently. UK filmmaker Matt Devine recently posted the third in a series of zombie films for Boost Mobile. Here it is below.



To check out the first two parts, click here, and here.

Lucille Would Approve.

A few days ago, the site Nuke The Fridge let fly with a juicy casting rumour about the small screen juggernaut The Walking Dead. Apparently, Kevin Durand has been approached the play the infamous Negan


Those familiar with the comic know that Negan's shoes are tough ones to fill, but I think Durand would be an excellent choice. His size & demeanor fit right in with the character, and furthermore, Durand is killing it right now on The Strain.

Aside from that, the entrance of Negan is really going to shine a light on how far the show can really go on AMC. Considering, they shied away from letting Rick say what he really should've said in the concluding moments of last season's finale, how are they going to deal with someone as “colourful” as Negan??? Case in point;


It should be interesting to say the least. Regardless, I hope the rumours are true, and Negan's arc begins sooner, rather than later.

More King.

Last week, I posted a trailer for the upcoming adaptation of the King novella Big Driver, but there is another King adaptation releasing this weekend. The movie version of the story A Good Marriage, which coincidentally also appeared in the King collection Full Dark, No Stars, stars Anthony Lapaglia, Joan Allen and Kristen Connolly. Here is the trailer below.