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, July 30, 2014

September Treats!

I barely had time to get over all the Fantasia festivities before Colin Geddes unleashed the line-up for this year's TIFF Midnight Madness yesterday morning.

So many titles I've been waiting to see. From Adam Wingard's newest The Guest, to the newest installment of the [REC] series to Mark Hartley's Cannon Films documentary Electric Boogaloo, I can assure you I'll be spending a lot of time at The Ryerson come this September. For more info on the Midnight Madness programme, click here.

As has become customary, the Vanguard programme which Colin often describes as Midnight Madness' “cooler, older sister” has just as many exciting titles, including new films from Fabrice du Welz (Calvaire, Vinyan), Takaski Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer), Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead (Resolution) and Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio). For more info on the Vanguard programme, click here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Trailer Tuesdays: Something Wicked...

This week's trailer is for the 1983 film Something Wicked This Way Comes, for which I attended a retro screening at this year's Fantasia.

It had been at least twenty years since I'd seen it last, and was glad to see that it still held up beautifully. All the classic Bradbury tropes were wonderfully showcased in this piece, directed by Jack Clayton and produced by Disney back when their children's films still had an edge to them.

Speaking of which, this Something Wicked screening was in celebration of the book launch of Kid Power! An anthology book co-edited by Kier-La Janisse (author of the fantastic tome House of Psychotic Women) and Canuxploitation’s Paul Corupe, Kid Power covers all manner of cool, tuff and inspiring kids in cult film and television.

Growing up, did you ever sit in front of a TV, a 16mm school projector or a VCR and come under the hypnotic spell of the tuff, sassy, cool and inspiring kids that you saw on the screen? Perhaps you grinned as Jacob Two-Two stood up to The Hooded Fang, thrilled as Hawk Jones grabbed a small arsenal to take down some gangsters or cringed as a bespectacled Scott Baio got stoned? We certainly looked up to many of these pint-sized tots, tweens and teens, and chances are you did too. That’s why we’re devoting the first anthology in the new Spectacular Optical book series, KID POWER!, to this inspiring world of kid cult classics from North America, the UK, Australia and beyond. From the 1940s antics of Curley and his Gang to the overwrought denim-clad melodrama of THE ABC AFTERSCHOOL SPECIAL, from the surreal fantasies of THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION to the pre-teen bloodsucking dramedy of THE LITTLE VAMPIRE, KID POWER! is a heavily illustrated collection of film writing by a diverse array of some of genre criticism’s most unique voices.

And to sweeten the event, they also had an all-you-can-eat cereal bar. Thanks to these guys, I am now back on the Froot Loops!

It's been too long, Toucan Sam...

For more info on the book, click here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mother Knows Best.

On my last night at Fantasia, I was fortunate enough to catch John McNaughton's newest film The Harvest.

Bed-ridden Andy (Charlie Tahan) knows little of the world beyond the confines of his room and the smothering care of his mother (Samantha Morton). When Maryann (Natalia Calis) moves in next door and strikes up a friendship with Andy, his mother immediately puts a stop to it. Is she simply being overprotective, or does she have something to hide?

I loved this film. It just goes to show you how versatile a director McNaughton really is, as The Harvest is quite different in tone than his previous genre pictures. It has none of the stark morosity of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer or the overt and gore-laden comedy of The Borrower, yet despite this innocence, still maintains a playfully dark flavour.

It's more of a PG-13 thriller told largely from the kid's perspectives and I, as a kid who grew up in the eighties, really respond to these types of stories. You've heard me mention an underseen gem from the UK called Paperhouse and there are moments in The Harvest that capture that kind of magic. The flawless representations of youth and friendship had me smiling a lot, and I was, therefore, completely invested when they were ultimately threatened.

Due to my mention of the phrase “PG-13”, you'd be right in assuming that the film is not particularly edgy by today's standards, but that doesn't take anything away from its quality. Its conclusion was slightly less satisfying than I would've liked, but admittedly, anything over-the-top may have betrayed the grounded center of the story.

Samantha Morton & Charlie Tahan in The Harvest.

Everything about this production was top-notch and infinitely helped by the gravitas brought by veterans like Michael Shannon and Peter Fonda. You really couldn't have found two better youngsters either. Charlie Tahan – who I'd just coincidentally watched in Burning Bright on the train ride up to Montreal – and Natalia Calis – the best thing, by and large, about the 2012 flick The Possession – were wonderful together as Andy & Maryann.

The real standout here though, was Samantha Morton as Andy's domineering mother, Katharine. I would put this performance up there with some of my favourite film maternals, like Rebecca De Mornay's Payton Flanders in The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and Kathy Bates' Annie Wilkes from Misery. Morton is positively scary and able to convey it with just a look. You will constantly be in awe about how she could be so dreadful to her own family.

Director John McNaughton.

This is a tight thriller that plays to a horror fan of any age. It is so solid, in fact, that it makes me sad we had to wait over a decade for McNaughton to bring us a new feature. So, here's hoping he has broken ground on a new chapter in his career.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

DKTM 230

It's been an active week with Fantasia Film Festival still going strong and this year's San Diego Comic Con festivities in full swing, so here are some highlights.

Framing Frontieres.

This week, Fangoria posted a link to posters for some of the projects being pitched at this year's Frontieres film market at Fantasia. Here's just a taste.

For the rest, click here.


Since Thursday, all manner of pop culture enthusiasts have descended on the San Diego Convention Center for this year's Comic Con. As always, there is way too much news coming out of there to cover it all, but here are some things of note.

AMC's The Walking Dead unveiled a lengthy trailer for the show's fifth season.

So, some things of note. It looks like it will expand beyond the confines of Terminus, which is good because the last thing we need is another long stretch stuck in a single location. Also, it looks like we're going to find out what happened to Beth after her abduction in that mysterious car. I'm also a little troubled by the conspicuous lack of Darryl and Maggie in this trailer. The Walking Dead returns October 12th.

Sam Raimi dropped a couple of bombs during the Screen Gems panel on Friday. First, he said that he is developing an Evil Dead TV series with usual suspects Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell. Again, whenever news of the Deadites comes out, I always take it with a grain of salt. Remember how a while back Army of Darkness 2 was a sure thing. Well, they were quick to back pedal on that this weekend. I've always adopted a wait-and-see attitude to these sorts of things.

Sam Raimi at SDCC, pic courtesy of Rue Morgue.

Second was some news of The Last of Us film adaptation, which seems redundant, but whatever. Raimi is producing the picture, which will be written by the game's creative director Neil Druckmann. Nothing is set in stone right now, but the most promising news what they were seeking out Maisie Williams (Arya from Game of Thrones) for the role of Ellie.


Bioware teased their upcoming horror IP, tentatively called Shadow Realms.

You can't tell much of the game from this, but isn't it funny that we've come to the point where I'm not one-hundred percent sure whether that trailer is live action or CG.

Trailer Trash.

Here are some new horror trailers to mull over. First up, is See No Evil 2.

I never saw the first one, but the inclusion of The Soska Sisters, Danielle Harris and Katharine Isabelle means I cannot ignore this. Next, is the trailer for the bizarre little ditty The Deep Dark.

This film about a talking wall (voiced by Denise Poirier of Aeon Flux fame) is certainly intriguing, and hopefully a little more palatable than last year's similar Motivational Growth. Lastly, we have the trailer for Kevin Smith's newest project, Tusk. I must warn you though, this trailer seems to show a lot.

I love Michael Parks, so he's certainly a draw here. Also, did anyone else find the most disturbing thing about this trailer was seeing Haley Joel Osment as an adult?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lively Update.

Hey all. I just wanted to update you on the status of Lively, as it has a couple of screenings coming up. Tonight, it plays Toronto at a place called 3030 as part of the short film showcase Come To Daddy, co-presented by Fangoria and DJ John Nicol.

And a week from today, Lively has its US premiere at the Long Beach International Film Festival in NYC, as part of its inaugural Midnight Madness Series.

It looks like a pretty cool event, so if you are in NYC and decide to attend, let me know how it went.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Ghost In The Machine.

Sunday night saw the world premiere of Timur Bekmambetov's newest production venture Cybernatural directed by Leo Gabriadze.

An online chat between six high schoolers is interrupted by a seventh participant claiming to be a classmate that they cyber-bullied to suicide one year before. At first, they dismiss it as a sick joke, but when they start dying in front of their eyes, they realize they've no choice but to play its deadly game.

This was a fun movie. Considering that it is solely comprised of computer desktops and Skype view screens, I was surprised by how well this worked. The filmmakers have carved out a new narrative here by implementing the technology that we use everyday. Much like the J-horror invasion at the turn of the century, Cybernatural causes us to look at how vulnerable our always-connected lifestyles make us. I think this type of storytelling could really find a horror foothold, especially within the generation for which it is now second nature.

Cybernatural definitely has the potential to become a hit and I found it far more technically impressive than the Paranormal Activity flicks. I think it works better as a whole, evn if its individual set pieces are not as pronounced. I mean, there's only so much you can do with the stuttering and pixelated realities of Skype feeds.

One down, five to go.

I don't want to understate the storytelling though. Gabriadze envisioned this almost like a stage play, so everything was shot in real time with very long takes, which he then tweaked day-by-day. It's not a perfect medium, as multiple windows of characters yelling over one-another can be overwhelming, but it never – except for the Facebook wall death sequence which seemed a little over-the-top – strays from the world it creates.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Cybernatural is that it somehow circumvented copyrights. Timur must have some very good lawyers because pretty much every major online institution is represented here. It helps the production immensely because recreating an online experience on film becomes much less tangible when you see stuff like Schmoogle and MyFace. By using the real deal – these characters had Facebook walls, iTunes playlists and YouTube accounts – they successfully maintained a world that mirrored our own.

The following Q&A, befitting the film we had just watched, featured seven participants. Gabriadze and producer Adam Sidman were live on stage and Bekmambetov, writer Nelson Greaves and actors Shelley Hennig, Courtney Halverson & Moses Jacob Storm joined via Skype.


Cybernatural is an experimental film that won't play with everyone, but if you are looking for a fresh take on a supernatural tale, then I urge you to check it out.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I wanted to break from the reviews for a moment to give a shout out to my good friends Serena Whitney and Justin McConnell, who are pitching their feature project, Mark of Kane to investors at this year's Off Frontières at the Fantasia Film Festival

They've been preparing for this opportunity for months and have some really cool materials made up to showcase their project, like this pamphlet;

My last night at Fantasia, I also finally met filmmaker Todd E. Freeman whose been a name in my Facebook feed for months now. We both have projects in the ABC's of Death 2.5 (mine of course being M is For Manure, and his being M is for Marriage) so that was a good conversation starter. He is in Montreal because he is also pitching at Frontières. He has put all the pieces together for his next feature Love Sick, he just has to find some generous investors to back it.

Love Sick starring Tristan Risk & Francisco Barreiro.

Good luck to my peeps and everyone who is throwing their ideas out there this weekend. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like that. Hopefully, the bean counters will recognize your passion and give you all that you need to make your dreams become flesh. Who knows? Maybe I'll even be there someday...