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, February 22, 2017

A Woman's Touch.

One of my most anticipated horrors for 2017, the female-directed anthology XX, had its release on VOD last Friday. Fortunately, Toronto was one of a handful of cities that saw a theatrical run for which you can be sure I took advantage.

Five female filmmakers. Five tales of the macabre.

XX was a strange beast. I find myself at odds trying to decide how important it is for a film like this to deliver as an anthology. Are the filmmakers obligated to carry theme and tone throughout, or is performing the difficult enough task of telling a good tale enough? Let's think on that for a bit and I'll just get into the meat – the individual stories.

The opening short by Jovanka Vuckovic (the Canuck of the bunch) entitled The Box was pretty strong. Based on an old short story written by Jack Ketchum, this packs a Twilight Zone-style punch that is exactly the kind of self contained piece I like to see in anthologies. I felt it served Vuckovic very well, as I've always liked the visual style of her previous work, but found her stories lacking. This was a nice solution. It was also refreshing to see a Ketchum work that wasn't entirely abhorrent.

The next short by Annie Clark (aka musician St. Vincent) was more puzzling, as it possessed a more comedic tone. The Birthday Party was probably the most visually interesting segment, so I could have got on board the tone shift if it wasn't for the overbearing music cues. Even if there was one beat where it was quite effective, most of the time it was very distracting. Perhaps Clark's background in music made her feel the need to overcompensate with sound. After all, it's a balance even some of the best filmmakers have trouble with.

I thought Roxanne Benjamin's short Don't Fall was the most thematically problematic. If I had seen it as a stand-alone short, I would've been all “yes this is some decent straight-up horror”, but as part of XX it seems glaringly out of place. With all the other shorts fitting together as representations of motherhood and/or family, this one couldn't be further away from that. So getting back to my initial dilemma, do I scold someone for going against their mandate and creating something that is inherently not about gender? I mean, that is invariably where we should be heading, right? Within the context of XX and how it was marketed though, that seems counter-intuitive. Am I crazy?

Karyn Kasuma's Her Only Living Son was the one that, not surprisingly, features the best performances. Acting almost as a psuedo-sequel to Rosemary's Baby, I thought this one was pretty solid. Kasuma has a real knack (as evidenced last year in The Invitation) for creating tension through dialogue and this piece is now different. I thought the conclusion was a bit abrupt and one of the few times I wished a short existed as a longer work.

Wrapping everything together were the beautifully grotesque stop-motion animation sequences created by Sofia Carillo. Even if they didn't really serve to connect the stories, I felt they themselves came to a satisfying conclusion at the end.

So, very much like Benjamin's other anthology Southbound, XX is very consistent, although without a truly exceptional segment to latch onto, breaking into the mass consciousness may be a tall order. Despite its problems as an anthology though, I think this was a win for the individual filmmakers and hopefully they are able to springboard to bigger projects from this.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Trailer Tuesdays: Critters 3

Here's the trailer for Critters 3, directed by Kristine Peterson and starring a young Leo.

Man, I wish someone would bring back the creature feature movement spawned by Gremlins, Critters, Ghoulies et al.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy Family Day!

Happy Family Day for those in those lucky areas to enjoy it. Be sure to hug those closest to you!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

DKTM 327

Hey all. I hope you are enjoying your long weekend. I know I'm going to make good use of my extra time. For now, here's what I've got for you today.

Big News.

We got a couple of doozies this week. First, the rumour dropped that Sam Raimi is in talks to possibly produce and direct a film featuring The Bermuda Triangle. Now I know it's not official, but I would love this not only due to Raimi's involvement, but also because that particular phenomenon is so underutilized in film. I'll take this news with a grain of salt, but hey, Evil Dead 4 did finally end up happening in the form of a television show, so hey, anything is possible now right?

The second was the announcement of Stephen King & JJ Abrams teaming up with Hulu to make an anthology featuring King mainstay Castle Rock.

I mean, Stranger Things might have had something to do with it, but I can't believe no one thought to do this before! This has so many wonderful possibilities, and I can't wait to see how this plays out.

Mondo Games?

The artist collective Mondo announced this week that they are getting into the board game business. First up, a board game called Infection at Outpost 31 based on the events of John Carpenter's The Thing.

Come to think of it, The Thing would work as a Werewolves type party game, as well. This isn't the first time that The Thing has been adapted, as I fondly remember playing a pseudo-sequel on the PS2

Hopefully, this game isn't as elusive as their prints and I can actually get my hands on a reasonably priced package.

Dead By Dawn.

The 2017 New York Toy Fair is on right now, and NECA dropped these beauties for the 30th anniversary of Evil Dead 2.

Man, the likenesses on these are terrific. I so want that Deadite dear head! As if I don't already have enough Evil Dead stuff! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Two Thousand.

This is The Horror Section's TWO THOUSANDTH POST, guys! I had to think on how to best memorialize this one. I certainly didn't want to do anything as laborious as that VHS Covers video I did when I hit the one-grand marker back in 2012, but I still felt it needed to be significant.

I'd been thinking about doing a compilation of horror movies where the title is spoken within, but when I saw just how many there were, it became a pretty hefty task. I then discovered that a surprising number of those films were Stephen King adaptations. Considering that the man is perhaps my biggest inspiration, it seemed fitting that this two-thousandth post video be dedicated to horror's favourite son.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Puzzle of Flesh.

Last Sunday, I went to a little screening of Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh.

Now for those who don't know, Phantasmagoria was a pair of adventure games from the mid-nineties put out by Sierra On-Line. Unlike most video games, these featured full-motion-video sequences. They may ring a bell as games like this (most notably Sega's Night Trap) were the center of the video game violence Congressional hearings of 1993.

I had little access to FMV games back in the day (1993's Dracula Unleashed and the Sega CD titles I sampled on the display console at my video store were the extent of it), but I always found them an interesting medium. I watched a walkthrough of the first Phantasmagoria a while back, but I didn't even know there was a sequel until a few weeks ago when I learned of this event.

Now when I say “screening”, I mean that Toronto-based filmmaker Pierce Derks painstakingly went through hours and hours of gameplay footage to splice together the cut scenes into a (semi) coherent narrative. A joint effort by the Laser Blast Film and Hand Eye Societies, this little project was glorious.

What to say about A Puzzle of Flesh... Well, I've heard it described as The Office meets Skinemax meets Hellraiser, as well as Zalman King directed by Brian Yuzna. All of these descriptions are accurate. With all of the tedious gameplay removed and the fact that most of the footage was shot on actual sets - as opposed to the bluescreen of most FMV games - Pierce's cut actually plays like a legitimate (well, legitimately fucked up) B-movie.

For 1996, this project was extremely subversive for a video game, not only for its sex and gore, but also its depictions of S&M and bi-sexuality. And in keeping with WIHM, both Phantasmagorias were spearheaded by women, Roberta Williams and Lorilei Shannon, respectively.

This was a fantastically fun event and hopefully Pierce will put his cut online one day for everyone to enjoy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Same Time Next Year I Guess.

Oh great. This day again. Time to once again call on Mr. David Firth.

This guy gets it. It had actually been a while since I'd looked in on this crazy duck. It's good to see he's still super busy. Here's the nightmarish video he created for experimentalist Flying Lotus.