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, November 14, 2018

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Short of the Week #43: Black Eyes

This week I'm posting one of my favourite shorts from 2015 in Rick Spears' Black Eyes.

If you know anything about me at all, you know that this kind of stuff is my bag. Sadly, Spears has been quiet (at least according to Imdb) but at least two members of the team, Michelle Lombardi & Drew Bolduc - whom I had the pleasure of meeting during one of my trips to Bloomington - are in post production on their newest project, Assassinaut.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Friday, November 9, 2018

She Came From Within.

Carrying over the Montreal locale, this week’s VHS is David Cronenberg’s 1977 effort, Rabid.

After undergoing experimental surgery, Rose (Marilyn Chambers) acquires a taste for human blood for which her victims subsequently become violent zombies.

Rabid is one of those films that so much time has passed from when I would have first seen it that I can’t remember if I actually watched it, or just manufactured an idea of it from seeing the coverbox so much as a kid. Considering I recalled almost nothing, I wager the latter is true. Though Rabid is one of Cronenberg’s least talked about works, I think it’s still a solid piece of work.

Obviously, the main talking point was the casting of porn star Marilyn Chambers (apparently a suggestion by Ivan Reitman after the studio balked at their first choice in Texan Sissy Spacek) that I think was as bold as it was perfect. I felt she had real screen presence in this film, switching back and forth between innocent and predatory with ease. Her comfort level with the nudity was to be expected I suppose, but I also got the sense she really trusted her director. I mean, can you imagine her reading the script, “soooo I have a parasite that comes out my armpit???” 

Marilyn Chambers as Rose in Rabid.

After watching Strange Shadows last week, I was surprised by how different Montreal looked even though both these movies were filmed around the same time. Granted, a lot of Rabid was shot at night, but I definitely felt there was more grittiness to this one. As with most of Cronenberg joints, this had so many recognizable locations. If there’s ever a Montreal edition of Horror Express, I hope that at least the mall and apartment complex are on the list.

Also while watching Rabid, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to George A. Romero’s The Crazies released a few years earlier. Not that there was any intentional aping going on, but they did share similarities in both pathology and escalation. It’s also clear the pair shared the nihilistic streak that was so common during that decade, it was almost a badge of honour.

I mentioned Rabid wasn’t as popular as some of the Baron of Body Horror's other efforts, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments. It played to me as an extension of Shivers, moving beyond the confined space of Starliner Island and sweeping into the entire city of Montreal where truck drivers, pervy moviegoers and mall Santas were all caught in the crossfire. Not to fear though, as Cronenberg’s version of squeegee kids were there to clean up the mess.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Short of the Week #42: Latched

Last week, Canadian filmmaker Justin Harding posted his award winning short filmography on his website. I have posted his 2017 opus Latched below, but afterwards you should definitely go check out his earlier work.

I stand by my past declaration that Harding is currently the top hombre working in this medium. He has fantastic ideas, the resources and skills to execute them and his many years working in the television industry have given him to chops to churn out his projects at a break-neck pace. I have no doubts Harding will soon become a major player in the horror industry.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Horror-Rama Haul!

Hey all. Last weekend was Horror-Rama and it was a blast, as always. In addition to sharing air with genre celebrities such as Linnea Quigley, Lynn Lowry and Dee Wallace, I also came away with a pretty sweet haul.

And since it was staring me in the face all weekend, I finally broke and picked up Matthew Therrien gorgeous Suspiria print.

I'm afraid I don't have the faculties to go into depth as much as I usually would, but I can assure you that if you can make it out next year, you will not be disappointed.

Friday, November 2, 2018

I Thought Canadians Were Supposed To Be Friendly!

This week’s VHS was my recently acquired tape of Alberto De Martino’s 1976 Euro-crime joint Strange Shadows in an Empty Room.

A grizzled Ottawa police captain (Stuart Whitman) travels to Montreal to investigate the death of his sister.

I first saw this film at Trash Palace many years ago, but likely due to the PBR-induced haze remembered almost none of it. Strange Shadows is a fascinating anomaly as it was shot in Montreal by an Italian (known for spaghetti westerns & sword of sandal pictures) aping the gritty American cop efforts of this era. If you then throw in some giallo elements you have yourself quite a stew.

Right of the bat I noticed the fantastic cast assembled for this movie. In addition to Whitman, you also have Martin Landau, Tisa Farrow and Italian production staple John Saxon, among others. While the cover may have you believe you're in for a Wait Until Dark-style thriller, the blind girl only briefly factors into the story. It’s actually more of an ensemble murder mystery that in true Italian genre fashion features a revolving door of quirky characters that come fast and furious throughout the run time.

Stuart Whitman (left), John Saxon & Martin Landau in Strange Shadows...

In some markets this movie was known as Blazing Magnum, but more apt might have been Excessive Force based on main character Tony Siatta’s policing methods. He was Dirty Harry on crack, as literally every interaction with a suspect concluded with him pulling his badge after an obligatory chase or fisticuffs. Perhaps the most problematic bit was when he brawled a group of transvestites during which I’m pretty sure Siatta went all Sleepaway Camp and shoved a curling iron where the sun don’t shine.

It was this behaviour that led to the car chase scene that this movie is best known for. It’s pretty awesome and definitely De Martino’s attempt to one-up Bill Friedkin's The French Connection. They even did a three-car stunt that’s so cool they showed it FOUR times!

Hilariously though, the suspect Siatti was chasing had barely any useful information and was basically one of a bunch of guys he shook down looking for a stolen necklace.

I’m not going to lie though, the fact this was shot in Canada was of endless amusement to me. For some reason, half of Montreal looked like it was under construction and the Toronto police crime re-enactment video was a real gut-buster. And I have to must admit the climax at the hospital was pretty satisfying.

Shoot first...

So yeah, get past the fact that Siatta was a pretty terrible person and this was some solid Euro-crime featuring a lot of familiar faces.