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, September 25, 2016

DKTM 314

Hey all. With some time now between festivals, I can catch a breather and touch on some cool things from around the Web.

Stay Tuned.

SyFy recently aired some promos for their upcoming anthology horror show, Channel Zero.

Based on stories that originated from Creepypasta (for those who don't know they are essentially online urban legends), I love that this show was filmed in Canada, since there a few popular Creepypasta tales set in the Great White North. I'd love to see an adaptation of '1999' in the future.

Mr. Bear wants to play with you.

Channel Zero, consisting of a six-episode arc entitled Candle Cove, premieres on October 11th.

My Kind of Art!

The poster documentary Twenty-Four By Thirty-Six had its premiere at Fantastic Fest a few days ago and to mark the occasion, the production released this fabulous new poster.

Artists Paul Ainsworth, Joshua Budich, Sara Deck, Gary Pullin and Matt Ryan Tobin all contributed to the above poster. I cannot wait to see it when it finally screens here in Toronto.

Good Advice.

I recently came across this Kickstarter for a Friday the 13th fan film, Never Hike Alone. While fan films are largely tedious affairs - I posted about one for Halloween that was less than ideal a few months ago - I have to admit that the teaser trailer (that originally hit the Web back in May) was impressively well shot. Take a look for yourself below.

If you'd like to contribute, check out the campaign page here

Thursday, September 22, 2016

TIFF Vids 2016

Videographer Robert Mitchell was once again a fixture on the Ryerson red carpet at this year's Midnight Madness. Here's a sampling of some of the interviews he was able to snag during the fest.

If you'd like to see the rest, check out his channel by going here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trailer Tuesdays: Theatre of Blood

Now that all of that festival excitement is behind us, I'll cap off this year's festivities with some theatre mayhem from 1973.

So much going on in this trailer, and you can be sure Vincent Price had a hand in all of it. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

J-Horror Showdown

This year's Midnight Madness concluded on Saturday with a classic confrontation between the two horror icons from The Ring and The Grudge franchises, Sadako vs. Kayako.

After a pair of young women discover and watch the cursed video tape, they seek the help of a pair of ghost hunters who hatch a scheme to pit Sadako against another local vengeful spirit, Kayako.

These type of event pictures are nothing new, as its been almost seventy years since Abbott & Costello first met Frankenstein. Even in Japanese cinema, Godzilla once fought King Kong, so I suppose that now that Sadako & Kayako are now pop culture icons (they even recently threw out the first pitch at a Japanese baseball game) its seems this match-up was inevitable in much the same way as Freddy vs. Jason was in this neck of the woods.

I have to say Sadako vs. Kayako was surprisingly entertaining. For what could have been a cheap gimmick, it was actually pretty well put together. Director Kôji Shiraishi (of Noroi: The Curse fame) was in on the joke and made this effort incredibly easy to digest. I liked the evolution of the lore surrounding the cursed video tape in that it had become a well known urban legend, to the point that one character had become so obsessed with Sadako that he was offering a reward to anyone who could acquire it for him. I'm not sure why the death countdown was inexplicably changed from the seven days to two, but I can assume it just better served the script.

Even though the tone of the movie was rather light and comedic, there was still room for some fun scares as Sadako and Kayako continued their modus operandi of being able to strike from anywhere. It is a testament to their design that no matter how ridiculous they become (they spent their time in Toronto getting their hair done, and visiting the candy store Sweet Jesus), their appearance and accompanying audio cues still manage to put people on edge.

The highlight of the movie for me were the pair of ghost hunters that come onto the scene when all seems lost. I immediately recognized Masanobu Ando from his appearance as the psychotic Kazuo in 2000's Battle Royale and he and his young blind sidekick Tamao's (Mai Kikuchi) blunt force humour were pretty great. The ending of the movie was rather abrupt, but the aftermath of what happened when Sadako and Kayako were pitted against each other made for some crazy visuals.

Sadako (Runa Endo) & Kayako (Elly Namani) haunt the Ryerson Theatre.

It was a solid year at Midnight Madness with some real crowd pleasers in Free Fire and The Belko Experiment, as well as those that revitalized their respective subgenres like Raw and The Girl With All the Gifts.

Friday, September 16, 2016

It's Not Just For The Japanese Anymore.

To add to this year's docket of TIFF films, I was able to score a ticket to Amat Escalante's The Untamed.

This Mexican-Danish-French-German-Norwegian-Swiss co-production was a complete question mark for me and gave me no indication of what to expect. Although, its placement in the Vanguard programme did imply there would be some edge. And that it had.

I think that mystery was a large part of its strength. Only adding to this was the prolonged opening shot of an asteroid floating in space. Then the first scene hit, and I was like, ohhhh, I was not expecting this! The Untamed exists in a space of which I have rarely seen – well, in live action anyway. I think the closest reference would be Andrzej Zulawski's Possession, as they both feature domestic turmoil and otherworldly external forces. I would also offer that The Untamed's deliberate pace and abundance of beautiful cinematography recalled Jonathan Glazer's Under The Skin.

Simone Bucio (left) and Ruth Ramos in The Untamed.

This film's ingredients of family drama and science fiction made for a singular vision and I expect its exploration of sexual desires will confound many a viewer. I guarantee some of the blue-hairs that wandered into the theatre had never seen anything like this before. Despite its more shocking material though, the majority of The Untamed operated like your average art-house film. It was quiet, brooding and concentrated on humanity's baser natures.

I think I'd classify The Untamed as more of a film with genre elements, rather than a genre film, but it was a well executed example of how some provocative imagery can leave a mark on your psyche. If you dig films of a deeply sexual nature, then give this a whirl. I'll leave the cabin door open for you.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

They're Back, Baby!

Midnight Madness continued on Monday with Julia Ducournau's first solo effort, Raw.

After being forced to eat meat during a hazing ritual at her first week at veterinary school, vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) begins developing deep carnivorous urges.

During the 00's, horror fans were blessed with a series of films collectively referred to as The New French Extremity that included such nerve-shredding titles as High Tension (2003), Inside (2007) and Martyrs (2008). Then they seemed to fall away, just as the Spaniards took their turn as the darlings of modern horror. Well, after seeing Raw, I can say the French are now back with a vengeance.

Raw has been described as both feminist and veganist, but I feel those labels are too narrow. This is a coming of age film. Much like films such as We Are What We Are and Ginger Snaps, Raw had a grounded and introspective quality to it that was so incredibly well orchestrated. The subject matter was both primal and sexual, which elicited genuine reactions from the crowd. You could feel it in the air and it gave the film's title all that much more meaning.

Garance Marillier as Justine in Raw.

Some viewers may have felt a little too much, as I'm sure you all heard about the pass-outs and ambulances. The PR was quick to jump on that and I can corroborate, as one of the affected was sitting a few seats over from me. Raw was gory and gross, with many wince-tastic moments, but I'd be surprised if it was the visuals alone that caused the kind of thing I saw – they were more like seizures than pass-outs. I can't explain it, but it was like there was some other variable at play that night. It was a very strange experience.

The highlight of Raw – apart from the awesomely tactile F/X work by Olivier Afonso, the man responsible for Inside's nightmarish splatter – was the fantastic and fully committed performance by Garance Marillier. Ducournau said during the Q&A that she has been working with Marillier for several years now and they have developed a creative shorthand. This was immediately evident onscreen, as Marillier was fearless and brilliantly calculated in every stage of her character's evolution.

Director Julia Ducournau.

It is one thing to say that a movie was made for the Midnight Madness audience, as was the case with this year's opener, The Belko Experiment, but it's another thing entirely to make a film that defines the programme. Raw is the kind of work that keeps the spirit of Midnight Madness alive and away from marginalization and mediocrity. Ducournau's film is bold and veracious, possessing an energy that is unique to the cinema from her corner of the globe. Don't ever change!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Lady In The Walls.

My first non-midnight screening of this year's TIFF was Osgood Perkins' newest I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives in the House aka The Movie With the Ridiculously Long Title.

A hospice nurse (Ruth Wilson) takes a job caring for an elderly author (Paula Prentiss) only to find the house is haunted.

As evidenced in his previous film February – now known as The Blackcoat's Daughter – Osgood Perkins' sensibilities lie with an older era of cinema. He exists in a place where films took their time, lingered on shadows and cricked their ears at the sounds in the walls. That is why I feel very few people will have the patience for this effort. Programmer Colin Geddes used the word “literary” to describe it and I think that was apt, as history and the written word played a large part in the story.

Ruth Wilson as Lily in I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House.

Regrettably, much like what I said of Blair Witch, the genre has moved on, for better or worse, from this kind of filmmaking. The pace and payoff were not in-your-face and Perkins' interpretation of the ghost was more A&E than MTV. That said, I'm grateful that at least Perkins has a voice. Pretty Thing is not insipid emulation. We have titles like last year's Darling if that's your bag. Actually, these two titles share very little, I just wanted to reiterate how much of a garbage pile that movie was.

As for me, I think February had more to offer. I do have to say thank God for Ruth Wilson though, as her awkward and skittish, yet endearing character, was easy for me to get behind when she used phrases like “silly billy” and “heavens to Betsy.” Since there really wasn't much else going on here, I was glad to have something to latch onto. Although, I was admittedly intrigued by the philosophy of the piece that you cannot own a house that suffered a death in it, only borrow it.

Director Osgood Perkins

Overall, I think I appreciated Pretty Thing more than I liked it. It's probably not a film I would ever revisit, but I still think it was a competently told haunted house tale.