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.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

DKTM 357

Hello all. I'll use this opportunity between IFFF and BITS to get in a little Don't Kill the Messenger post - well that and watch eight Freddy movies but more on that later. Here's what I've got.

Stranger Pulp.

Artist Butcher Billy is at it again, this time envisioning each Stranger Things 2 episode as its own pulp paperback novel.

Click to enlarge.

He also did some sweet Atari cartridges that you can see here.

I might as well sound off on the second season while I'm on the subject. I liked it well enough, but I feel like The Duffer Brothers kind of doubled down on the less desirable aspects of the show, as they hit the “look it's the eighties” vibe even harder this time around. I get that they were often using it to mirror thematic elements - Dragon's Lair foreshadowing the Max/Lucas/Dustin love triangle for instance - but it was decidedly distracting, especially when I'd seen it done less sensationally in It this summer.

I dug the new characters Max and Kali, but never felt they weren't given as much to do as they should have been. Mainly, I just have to echo Max's statement to Lucas in episode five - something to the effect of “I liked it, but it was derivative in parts and I just wish it had a little more originality”.

Sadie Sink as "Mad" Max Mayfield.

I mean, did they think that re-staging the battle scene from Aliens (with Paul Reiser no less) was going to be met with anything but chuckles at best and eye rolls at worst? Anyway, moving on.

Vamp's Gotta Eat.

I wanted to plug a Kickstarter campaign for a local short project called TiCK.

Burke and Wessel are both local film community fixtures, so I'd like to see this succeed. Twenty-Four by Thirty-Six was a really entertaining documentary and Wessell's last short Ink had a really unique energy to it. If you feel like dropping some coin, click here.

Housesitting Woes.

Here below is the newest trailer for Gabriel Carrer's Death on Scenic Drive.

I'm looking forward to this, as not only does it feature some of my favourite people, but it looks like Carrer has gone full-Refn, something that I know he has been wanting to do for quite sometime. I believe this is set to be released in the coming months, so keep your eyes out.

Friday, November 17, 2017

IFFF Shorts 2017

In addition to its well rounded feature film programming, IFFF also showed a robust list of shorts from around the world. Consisting of two dedicated blocks and some pre-feature entertainments, over two dozen were screened over the ten-day festival. Here were some highlights.

Two titles I had seen while screening shorts for other festivals and was very happy to see on the big screen, were Philip McKie's Breaker and Robin Kaspirik's I Am The Doorway.

Filled with spectacular production design, the former was a master class in cyberpunk world building and the latter was one of the trippiest Stephen King adaptations to come down the pike in a long while.

I was pretty taken by Marica Petrey's Zoey and the Wind-up Boy. A partial adaptation of an existing live performance piece, this was a beautifully shot short that included Californian landscapes I never knew existed. It also had some musical accompaniment that was so striking that I couldn't help thinking to myself “remember to look into this soundtrack” while it unspooled. With all the ugliness in the world right now, it was refreshing to see Petrey shining some light into the universe.

I was glad to see a familiar face in Ithaca, as Ashlea Wessel was there representing Toronto with her short, Ink. Her tale about the potentially horrifying prospect of pregnancy played before my fave film of the fest, Tigers Are Not Afraid.

IFFF played several of my current faves circulating the world right now, including William Boodell's Born of SinCarlos G. Gananian's Sol, Olaf Svenson's Olga and Nicholas Santos' Holiday Fear.

One thing I really clocked into about IFFF this year was their active interest in showing films of every flavour, whether it be Jack Warner's twenty-eight minute opus, Jenny Secoma In: The Blind Spot or Kevin Farmini's Super 8 kung-fu joint, Viola vs The Vampire King.

Keep it up, guys. You are doing it right.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Here There Be Tigers.

As I stated yesterday, the programming at this year's IFFF was terrific, running the gamut of modern genre cinema. I took in some solid films last week, but Mexican director Issa López's newest effort, Tigers Are Not Afraid was the standout title.

When her mother goes missing in Mexico City, Estrella (Paola Lara) falls in with a bunch of street kids headed by Shine (Juan Ramón López) and soon find themselves on the run from the local drug cartel.

I hadn't even heard of this film before I opened up the IFFF programme and it took me completely by surprise. López's film reminded me a lot of Guillermo del Toro's ouevre (namely The Devil's Backbone & Pan's Labyrinth) in that it effortlessly combined elements of drama, crime, horror and fantasy. I was not expecting a film to pull me in emotionally as much as The Shape of Water did recently, but Tigers Are Not Afraid came pretty damn close.

I have to say that after subsequently watching the trailer, it doesn't do the film justice. It plays up the supernatural angle, when that doesn't really factor in until well into the film. Leading up to that, I felt I was watching something more akin to 2002's City of God. However, it was the whimsical flourishes, like the animated graffiti and references to fairy tales that really lulled me into a false sense of security.

Tigers Are Not Afraid was layered and almost poetic in its exhibition of the ugliness (and beauty) of life on the streets of Mexico City. López was already an accomplished writer and fairly well known in her native country, but her previous work has been fairly conventional so I'm hoping that the tremendous versatility shown here will launch her career even further.

I cannot, however, heap all the praise onto López because the entire cast of child actors were phenomenal. Considering the subject matter, it was quite remarkable López was able to find two leads in Paola Lara & Juan Ramón López that were able to so naturally pull off such demanding roles.

Paola Lara & Juan Ramón López in Tigers Are Not Afraid.

Tigers Are Not Afraid is a wonderful achievement and should be sought out immediately. This was exactly the kind of genre filmmaking that will make even the most jaded remember why they watch films in the first place. I really can't overstate how well all the bits & pieces meshed together. López has already enjoyed a long and prosperous career in the film industry, but I think she's poised to explode if she's got a few more like this in her.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ithaca IS Fantastik.

I am back and recovered from my little jaunt last week to New York for the sixth edition of the Ithaca Fantastik Film Festival. I really cannot praise this fest enough. It is a well run, well curated festival that cares about film. Hugues Barbier and his team programmed some real gems this year, ranging from current fest faves like The Endless, Tragedy Girls and My Friend Dahmer to more dynamic and challenging titles like November and The Crescent.

This is just one day's programming alone!

There is a real love of the medium at this festival. These guys don't seem concerned whether their selections are playing to one or one hundred people, they just are happy to showcase the strongest voices in genre cinema. Again, as with my experience last year, IFFF's presentation was on point with another beautifully illustrated programme book.

This year's retrospective was Italiana Psichedeliko, a look at Roma's wacky and wild genre films from the sixties & seventies that included Mario Bava's Danger: Diabolik, Corrado Farina's Baba Yaga and the new 4K resto of Dario Argento's 1977 masterpiece Suspiria.

Towards the end of the fest, IFFF also put on screenings of the new restorations of Gary Sherman's Deathline and Bob Clark's Deathdream, with Sherman and Blue Underground's Bill Lustig in attendance.

Perhaps the most unique event was the screening of Jean Cocteau's The Blood of a Poet with live music from local musician Anna Coogan. That was a real treat, as I'd never seen the film before, let alone accompanied by a haunting score.

IFFF doesn't just give festival goers great programming though, they also go out of their way to put on other fine events off-site. After Suspiria, there was a bar meet-up that included a live set by a band called MSZM and on Friday night, there was a horror trivia game that my compatriot & I absolutely crushed. We Canucks took home this sweet poster as a prize, along with bragging rights.

It was a truly amazing five days. I met a lot of new people who I'm sure I'll see again at subsequent festivals for many years to come. In amongst all the IFFF stuff, my travelling companions & I also got to walk some gorge, pay our respects to Rod Serling--

--and I even managed to snag this little treasure from a used bookstore. 

I really love this town. Ithaca is beautiful in the fall and I love its cheesy Dad-joke plays on words everywhere like the local barber shop “Ithacuts” and tourist paraphernalia marked--

Tomorrow, I'll sound off on my favourite film of the fest, followed on Thursday by a rundown of IFFF's varied short film programming. Till then, stay safe kiddies.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

John Carpenter in Toronto.

The maestro John Carpenter brought his Anthology tour to Toronto on Sunday night. I had taken a huge gamble not travelling to NYC when he played there last year in hopes he would eventually come here, and it paid off. What an amazing show!

Looking out at the crowd around me, it was a who's who of the GTA horror community. It was a popular comment on my social media feeds that this show was akin to a religious experience and truth be told, for a bunch of heathens like us, this is about as close as it gets. And pray at the altar we did.

The almost ninety-minute set hit all the greatest scores of Carpenter's illustrious career as well as selections from his Lost Themes album including my favourite track, Wraith. For those who missed it, here's a little taste. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 11, 2017


I'm still in Ithaca, but wanted to post my respects to those who gave their lives so that we can do frivolous things like sit in darkened rooms and watch movies. Have a wonderful weekend everyone and I'll see you back here in a few days.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Del Toro AGO

I am currently attending the Ithaca Fantastik Film Festival so I'll be out of action for until next week, but I did want to post about the Guillermo del Toro exhibit currently showing at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

I knew I was in for something really cool, but I didn't expect At Home With Monsters to be so vast and intricate. Not only does it break down del Toro's career and inspirations, but also showcases objects from his immense personal collection of oddities.

Ray Harryhausen maquettes.

I like penguins!

The exhibit is broken down into eight main sections, including themes that have permeated his work succh as childhood innocence, insects, death and monsters, both literal and metaphorical.

My favourite parts were The Rain Room, a recreation of the one in del Toro’s personal residence  (known as Bleak House after the Charles Dickens novel) where a false window & special effects simulate a perpetual thunderstorm, and the area where comics from every age line the walls from ceiling to floor.

My friend & I stepped in around seven o'clock and I swear we blinked and the loud speaker was announcing the closure of the gallery two hours later. There was just so much to absorb. If you live anywhere near Toronto, you owe it to yourself to check this out before it leaves in the New Year. It is a magical place that will engorge your inspirational monster.