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.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Charlie Brooker Christmas.

Th Black Mirror Xmas Special, White Christmas aired on Channel 4 this week, and was quickly devoured by yours truly.


While holed up in a mysterious cabin during a snowstorm. Matt (Jon Hamm) tries to get his quiet housemate Joe (Rafe Spall) to open up over Christmas dinner.

This seventy minutes of television – which even held against the lofty heights of Black Mirror’s previous episodes – was an exercise in master storytelling. Show creator Charlie Brooker is truly working on another creative level here. In keeping with the theme of the show, Brooker uses our obsession and reliance on technology to show humanity’s ugliest traits. The two pieces of tech showcased in White Christmas (Zed eyes and “Cookie” clones) are futuristic to be sure, but, as per usual, are presented in such a way that seems plausible. We in 2014 aren’t there yet, but are most certainly on a trajectory to get us there sooner rather than later. And that is half of what makes the show so chilling.

Aside from that, I just had to slow-clap how brilliantly the episode played out. Split into six parts, it actually functioned nicely as an anthology with Joe & Matt telling each other stories about how they wound up snowbound. What I found especially delicious about the episode was how the first two stories were actually well disguised exposition to payoff the conclusion. Brooker really is a mad genius. But it is more than just him. The direction - here by Retreat's Carl Tibbetts - and effects are always so slick and serve the story. Nothing ever feels trite or out of context.

Jon Hamm as Matt Trent in Black Mirror's White Christmas.

Hamm is so perfectly cast in this that I have to wonder if the role wasn’t specifically written for him. He delivered Brooker’s dialogue with an air of confidence and persuasiveness that served him as well here, as it has on seven seasons of Mad Men. I wonder if Matt Trent could perhaps be the great-grandson of Don Draper…

So, whether you are already a fan of Black Mirror, or never heard of it before, White Christmas is a must watch. Brooker’s newest parable is a clever, yet simple yarn about where we may be headed if technology continues to rule our lives.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Trailer Tuesdays: Roar

You ever hear about an old movie, and you're like ‘oh my God, I have to watch this now!’ Well, it happens to me quite a lot. Often said movie has something to do with rampaging animals, whether it be rats (Deadly Eyes), dogs (The Pack) or a tiger in a motherfuckin' hurricane (Burning Bright).

So, I was reading an interview (in Delirium magazine, issue #3) with director Ted Nicolau recently, where he recounted how in the late seventies he turned down a job on the Tippi Hedren picture Roar, due to unsafe conditions.

Wait a minute, what? A movie about lions terrorizing a family on a wildlife preserve? Uh, yes please.



I did an internet search and holy cats, copies are going for seventy-five bucks or more. So, save for watching this on YouTube, I've got some extensive hunting to do.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

DKTM 244


Hey all. I hope your holiday preparations are going smoothly. On the horrible side of things, here's what I have for you today.

Dawn Approaches.

Last week at the Sony Playstation press conference, more details were revealed about their upcoming horror title Until Dawn. Here's the newest trailer.



The interactive slasher featuring Hayden Panettierre looks like a cross between Heavy Rain & Friday the 13th, which you can imagine is of great interest to me. Set for release on the PS4 in mid-2015, I can't wait to get my hands on it. To see some actual gameplay, click here.

Indie Survival Guide.

A visible figure in Toronto's indie film scene is writer/director/producer Justin McConnell. This week, he announced his latest documentary project, Clapboard Jungle: Surviving The Independent Film Business


Combining his own experiences from over fifteen years in the business with an impressive list of interview subjects including Tom Holland, Brian Yuzna, Tom Savini and Dick Miller, Clapboard Jungle aims to be a user's guide to the world of indie film. Set for release sometime next year, the website is now live and can be viewed here.

Dark Pixels.

I came across the little 3D animated gem called Bogeyman this week.



Orchestrated by Andrew Lord and Ben Haworth, this passion project created between jobs is a perfect example of economy with wonderful use of visuals to convey story. Well done, guys.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Trapped!

I had my first Room Escape experience last week and it was good times. For those who don't know, Room Escapes are an activity that has gained popularity in the last few years and involves a group of people getting locked in a room and having to solve some sort of puzzle to get out within a certain amount of time, usually an hour.


At first, the rooms were fairly generic, but more recently certain themes based on genre tropes have emerged like you're held captive by a serial killer or you're trying to find an antidote to a zombie virus.

The one that four friends and I braved last weekend was called Claustrophobia. For some reason, my comrades saw fit to pick me as the leader, which meant I had to start the game chained to a wall. The scenario was right out of Saw, though fortunately we were able to get out - with seven minutes to spare! - without having lost any of our limbs. The organizers then told us that only thirty per cent of players succeed, so that was a nice boost to the self esteem.

Click to enlarge.

The popularity of Room Escapes have grown so much in the last six months that there are now several companies running rooms here now, with smaller group size scenarios - four to six instead of the initial eleven - that make things much more flexible. It's always better to play with your friends, kids.

We've all got the escape bug now, so our group will surely be getting locked up again in the near future. Here's a couple of others that have piqued our interest.





If any of these things are going on in your area, I highly recommend them. They are great little outings at a reasonable price - usually twenty to twenty-five bucks per person - and you've got a story to tell for weeks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Seven!


Seven years ago today, I began this humble blog. So much has happened since 2007 that I decided to make a list – aptly seven items long – detailing the highlights about curating The Horror Section.

1) When I started THS, it was intended to be a VHS cover art archive. I spoke about this in my first few posts, but I was really frustrated with the state of film marketing and poster art at the time. The ten years previous to 2007, there had been some real half-assing going on and it was getting a little frustrating. I wanted to make sure that the great art of the seventies and eighties didn't wink out of existence. Fortunately, shortly after that time, the art of yore made a comeback. Fuelled by the wave of retro-style filmmakers like Ti West and Jason Eisener, among others, old was new again. This also brought renewed interest to a format that was many thought was down for the count. And I couldn't be happier.

A smattering of splattering.












2) One thing that THS has given me is a regular routine of writing. Sometimes you don't always feel like sitting in front of your computer screen, but after I got this going, I started to feel antsy if I hadn't posted for a few days. Sometimes it was a struggle to find things to write about – as I certainly haven't written about every horror flick I've seen – but weekly bits like Trailer Tuesdays, Coverbox Wednesdays and Sunday's Don't Kill the Messenger have certainly helped. Over the last seven years, I've kept up a loose regimen of at least three posts a week, and two hundred posts a year. And I haven't missed the latter yet.

3) As you have no doubt gathered, I own a ton of horror shit. Before the blog, it was an unorganized mass languishing in the dark pit underneath my parent's house. However, once I had the idea to archive my collection, it gave me the push I needed to get it all sorted. It took hours and hours of work – especially the posters, hoo boy – but my segment It Came From The Archives is now twenty-three episodes in. My goal for the New Year is now start cataloging on the non-horror ephemera, perhaps putting my long dormant Instagram to good use.


4) I've corresponded with so many wonderful people through the site. Whether they be fellow bloggers (like Stacie from Final Girl, Heather from Mermaid Heather and Cory from Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse) or fans just checking in with kind words, it makes everything sweeter. I've been happy to write guest posts for several different blogs as a result of stuff I've done here, and I've even had the occasional guest writer at THS as well – the most recent being Paul Corupe of Canuxploitation.com. I've had the pleasure of spreading the word about many indie projects over the years – some of which have even seen the light of day. It's a good feeling putting positivity out into the universe. It seems in short supply these days, so every little bit helps.

5) An extension of number four was gradually getting accredited for film festivals. I'd be covering them anyway, but saving some dough is always nice. I adore Fantasia, Toronto After Dark and most recently Blood In The Snow for the wonderful camaraderie they breed among horror scribes. There's nothing I like better than sitting in a pub, a pint of Moosehead at hand, and talking about film. I'm blessed to still be able to do this several times a month.

6) The thing I'm most proud of though are my short film accomplishments over the last few years. There is no way I would have had the courage or knowledge to attempt it if I hadn't honed my barely adequate skills here. With the immeasurable help of countless individuals I've had three short films (among other things) play on big screens across North America over the last three years. And I haven't yet been run out of town on a rail, which is an achievement in itself. Here below is the online premiere of my second short film, Lively



In addition to my own endeavours, I've also had the pleasure of working on projects from my filmmaker friends Chris NashMichael SchwartzMike Pereira and Darryl Shaw. If you don't know their names yet, I can assure you. You soon will.

7) The last thing is just having your thoughts all in one place. Memories fade, but if I ever forget the details of a particular horror film, I can look it up in an instant. I basically have my own personal History of Horror 2007-???? going here. I can map out trends. I can track projects from conception to release. I can plot a time line of a new genre director's career. Oh, and I love going into the analytics and seeing how people found the site. A few of my recent keyword favourites were “fucktown” and “santa smoking a joint”.

So, seven years down. Thanks to everyone who keeps looking in. I hope I can continue to provide interesting content. I have a few off-site projects on the go, but rest assured I'll always keep coming back to THS. Have a great rest of the week, kiddies!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

DKTM 243


Hello all! I'm hitting my first Escape Room in a few hours, so I'll be brief. Here's what I've got for you this week.

Kosovo-A-GoGo.

For years, a Toronto fixture has been a midnight marathon called Shock & Awe put on my cinephile Dion Ventress. Now, having worked in film and television production for years, he has now begun his latest endeavour - directing not only his first horror feature, but the first ever shot in Kosovo. But he needs your help. Here's the teaser below.



Dion's a cool cat, with an encyclopedic knowledge of cult film and all things weird, so if there's anybody I'd like to see make a film, it's him. Check out the IndieGogo page here.

Midnight, Park City, 2015.

This week, Sundance announced the slate of Midnight films screening this January. It looks like there are some doozies here.


Last year, Park City rocked the house with The Babadook. In 2015, it looks like Irish director Corin Hardy is set to bring similar scares in The Hallow, about a man who must protect his family after awakening evil beings during a agricultural survey. And it has Michael Smiley. I love that guy!

Corin Hardy's The Hallow

Rodney Ascher, who brought us the fascinating documentary Room 237 last year, is back with another doc/horror hybrid called The Nightmare. This one visually explores the terrifying affliction of night terrors and sleep paralysis through the eyes of eight subjects.

Eli Roth returns with a new thriller starring Keanu Reeves called Knock Knock about a married man set upon by two mischievous young girls - one of which is Ana de Armas from Blind Alley, so...

Lorenza Izzo, Keanu Reeves & Ana de Armas in Knock Knock.

What began as a ABC's of Death contest submission in 2011 has now become a feature film. This Canadian/New Zealand co-production, which looks like a wonderful marriage between Astron 6 and Peter Jackson, will finally see the light of day in Utah this January. Here's where it all started below.



To see the rest of Sundance 2015's recently announced lineup, check out The Wrap's rundown here.

Killer Comic.

I heard about this cool looking upcoming comic on Bloody Disgusting this week. Dark Horse will begin running a comic called Lady Killer next month.



The “Betty Draper meets Hannibal” thing is all I pretty much need to know. Although from the preview pages here, it looks more like “Draper meets The Professional” would have been more apt. Unless of course, she's eating her targets! Whichever. I'm in!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Bloody Shorts


In addition to the features, Blood In The Snow screened fifteen short films over the course of the weekend. I didn't see them all, but here are some highlights within the ones I did catch.

Jon Hyatt's Woods was a really well made effort. A new take on an old tale of woe, Hyatt created a well rounded universe in a small amount of time. The performances from Hyatt (who had to step in at the last minute after his lead dropped out the day before production) and Amy Marie Wallace were solid and anchored the piece nicely.


Like the aforementioned Queen of Blood, Torin Langen's retro-styled Malleus Maleficarum conveyed a lot without the use of dialogue. Set in a time where witch hunts are commonplace, one young man struggles to fit in with the grisly practices of his siblings.


Perhaps the best looking short I saw was Adam O'Brien's Insane. Though the story seemed familiar, it looked great and the production design was pretty flawless.


Lastly, I have to give shout outs to my filmmaker friends Mike Pereira and Darryl Shaw who both had shorts play this year.

Bias aside, I can safely say that these are their best works to date. Pereira moved away from his dialogue heavy tendencies, concentrating instead on letting visuals and sound drive his story. It gets a bit esoteric toward the end, but a well done offering nonetheless.


Shaw's unique dark romance with awesome production values and haunting performance by lead actress Dana Tartau fetched Greater Than the well deserved Best Short at this year's Bloody Awards.


It was a good year for shorts and further proof that genre cinema in Canada continues to thrive.