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.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Save The Cheerleader.

Eight teenagers reunite at a mountain cabin a year after a tragedy saw two of their friends go missing. Soon after arriving, they realize they may not be alone. Only quick reflexes and a clear head will see them all live Until Dawn.

Playstation 4's Until Dawn was terrific. I think it delivers on its promise of an immersive gameplay experience modelled on one of horrors most recognizable sub-genres – the slasher film. It is also a beautiful looking game employing excellent motion capture technology. Maybe not quite Naughty Dog quality, but it's pretty darn close.

The great thing about video games now is that they've reached a level of quality that is now attracting Hollywood talent. Hayden Panettiere takes the lead as Sam and Peter Stormare appears as a psychiatrist that bookends the game's chapters. I've always thought Stormare's acting style cartoonish, so he fits in perfectly here.

One of the main things that had me excited about Until Dawn was that Supermassive enlisted indie horror darlings Larry Fessenden & Graham Reznick to write the story. This was a great choice on their part because these guys not only understand the genre, but they also know how to subvert it.

Don't move.

Building on the gameplay popularized by 2010's Heavy Rain, I really enjoy these kind of games, as they are interactive interpretations of a film genre I've loved my entire life and I feel they are also pushing the industry forward creatively. Even if you weren't a fan of Until Dawn, you cannot deny the potential here is immense. Which brings me to comment on the things people have been calling out as negatives, namely the last act and the unlikable characters.

I don't really agree with either criticism. To be honest, anyone familiar with Fessenden's body of work shouldn't have been surprised it eventually ended up where it does. Besides, the shift from Saw territory into another property that was arguably the best horror film of the last ten years (no spoilers here, I'll let you figure it out once you've played it) was a choice I am fully on board with.

As for unlikable characters? Well, since Fessenden & Reznick used slasher archetypes, I suppose that's fair. However, the difference here is I'M RESPONSIBLE FOR THEM. I'm not a sociopath, so if a character, no matter how obnoxious, I've been controlling for several hours gets hacked to pieces because I didn't press the right button, it bothers me. And in this case, the stakes have never been higher. The auto-save system is such that once you've made a decision, there's no going back. You have to completely reset the game if you want to undo something. That makes things incredibly stressful, especially toward the end.

There was much yelling between Player 1 & 2 during this tricky situation.

Until Dawn wasn't particularly long (I played through it in about seven hours) though there may have been more content had certain characters lived longer. Under normal circumstances, that would be an unacceptable length for an eighty-dollar game, but that also makes it a manageable length for replays. And believe me, I'd like a better result. Only three out of my initial eight characters saw the sunrise, and I am still thinking about my fuck-ups – missed QTE's took two out, and an ill-advised decision killed two more.

As I said, I love these kinds of gaming experiences and I hope that Until Dawn does well enough for companies to take heed and bring us more. Ideally, a VR platform supporting co-op would be where I'd like to see this type of gameplay eventually go. For now, I give props to Supermassive on a job well done.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: R.I.P. Wes Craven

Yesterday I emerged from the darkness of my marathon session of Until Dawn to learn the incredibly sad news about Wes Craven. This one cuts deep, folks.

Wes Craven 1939-2015

The man was an icon, not only for the classics like The Last House of the Left, A Nightmare On Elm Street and Scream, but also a list of curious other goodies. I pay tribute to Mr. Craven with a slew of trailers of his most treasured works.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

DKTM 277

Hey all. Take a look at theses horror goodies from the week, so we can forget that this is the last weekend in August. Enjoy!

Tech Noir!

If you've coming here for a while, you've no doubt heard me talk about Lee Hardcastle, the UK-based claymation artist. His short films (including his contest winning ABC's of Death short T is For Toilet) have been taking the Internet by storm for years now. His latest piece is the VHS infused music video for Gunship song Tech Noir. With narration by John Carpenter!

All I Need Now Is A Handbasket.

The horror title I'm most looking forward to at TIFF this year - save maybe Robert Eggers' The Witch - is the Turkish horror flick Baskin. I remember being impressed by the short a few years ago, and I'm glad to see they were able to expand the idea into a full feature.

That trailer seems to insinuate Event Horizon levels of hellacious gore and madness, so bring it on I say! Here below is the blood streaked poster, as well.

TP x 25.

I'm sure you are as excited as I am about the return of Twin Peaks next year. Recently, the annual Twin Peaks banquet was held in Snoqualmie Ridge, Washington. Attending this year, were cast members, Ian Buchanan (Dick Tremayne), Kimmy Robertson (Lucy Moran), Catherine E. Coulson (Margaret Lanterman aka The Log Lady), Charlotte Stewart (Betty Briggs), Phoebe Augustine (Ronette Pulaski), Gary Hershberger (Mike “Snake” Nelson), Jonny Leppell (Pierre Chalfont) and surprise guest Jan D’Arcy (Sylvia Horne). Check out the video below from the event.

Friday, August 28, 2015


The VHS on tap this Friday is 1977's Watch Me When I Kill.

After Mara (Paola Tedesco) witnesses a man leaving the scene of a murder, she becomes a target. Her detective boyfriend Lukas (Corrado Pani) investigates and comes discovers a much larger story that could endanger them both.

So, this is another case of me not paying attention. Based on the coverbox I'd been staring at for eons, I always figured this was a Z-grade slasher in the vein of Don't Go In The Woods. Nope, Watch Me When I Kill is a freakin' giallo! If it had been marked with its alternate title The Cat With The Jade Eyes that would have been clear, though neither moniker actually has anything to do with the movie itself.

I unwittingly began watching it, but as soon as the actors starting speaking in overdubbed voices while a figure skulked around in the shadows, I was all in. This has all the Italian horror hallmarks on display; the unique kills, the convoluted sleuthery of Pani & Tedesco (who at their best reminded me of David Hemmings & Daria Nicolodi from Dario Argento's classic Profondo Rosso) and a parade of quirky characters like;

The Unhappiest Pharmacist In The World

Italian Bradley Cooper

And Guy Who Bathes In Drano.

But the real takeaway from this movie was the music, which doesn't even try to hide its influence. I can see the conversation between the producers now. “Hire a local band (in this case prog rockers Trans Europa Express,) play them some Goblin and say give me more of that!”

It's still great and one of a few pretty rocking tracks in the movie, but I just thought it was funny how blatent it was. I also have to comment on how the movie finishes, as it has one of the most abrupt endings this side of Pieces.

Watch Me When I Kill was not what I would consider in the upper echelon of the genre, but it still had its moments. And now I have another track I can add to my YouTube playlist of horror film scores.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Horrorwood North!

Last week, Rue Morgue Magazine released the fourth volume of its Library series, Horrorwood North, a ghoulish little softcover that documents the history of Canadian genre cinema.

Horrorwood North is a longtime passion project by RM contributor James Burrell. Spurred on by a childhood viewing of Prom Night, he has since always been drawn to the output of the Great White North, and the subtle differences from our southern counterparts.

Though this book may not be as comprehensive as 2004’s They Came From Within by Caelum Vatnsdal, it is very digestible, and also has the advantage of being able to speak of the last decade of Canuck horror cinema – that brought us such pictures as Pontypool, American Mary and Hobo With A Shotgun, as well as saw the rise of Astron 6 and Black Fawn Films.

Canada's first horror film, The Mask (1961)

Horrorwood North is a nice looking package with tons of colour – if I did have one complaint about Satanic Panic, it was its monochromatic appearance – and bursting with posters, lobby cards and BTS images. Burrell utilizes the easiest way to break down Canadian genre film, sorting by the tax shelter era of the seventies and eighties and the years that came before and after.

I found this book a really pleasurable read. Naturally, I was aware of most of the stuff covered, but have to admit I didn’t realize that some mentioned were Canadian, like Humongous, The Uncanny and Grace. And my mind was blown when I read in the wonderful piece on Ginger Snaps that the title role was first offered to Scarlett Johansson. Not taking anything away from the amazing Katharine Isabelle, but holy shit, I wouldn’t mind visiting that alternate universe for a few hours…

Black Christmas (1974)

Even though Burrell does make an effort to cover as many films as possible, I was disappointed that two of my favourites – Ed Hunt’s The Brain (1988) and Robert Clouse’s Deadly Eyes (1982) were reduced to mere footnotes. And the fact that Jon Knautz’s 2010 film The Shrine wasn’t even mentioned is further evidence that it remains criminally under-appreciated.

However, I was glad that a lot of time was spent on the classics, as Black Christmas, The Changeling and the aforementioned Ginger Snaps are also given several pages of coverage. Burrell also gives special attention to Canada’s vital role in the slasher boom of the early eighties with sinewy spreads on Prom Night, Happy Birthday To Me, Curtains and My Bloody Valentine.

Ginger Snaps (2000)

So, go ahead and pick this book up. For further info on Canadian horror, check out Paul Corupe’s awesome site, Speaking of which, here is Corupe’s 2012 Black Museum lecture on the subject. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It Came From The Archives 25!

Supermassive Games' Until Dawn was released yesterday, but I have to wait until this weekend to dig into it. With that mind, I figured I'd unearth something a little serendipitous for this excursion into the Archives.

When it was announced that Until Dawn would take place in a wintery cabin locale, I had a flashback to some of my first stabs at writing fiction. Between the ages of eleven and fifteen - my love of slashers deeply ingrained by this point - I penned a trilogy of short stories featuring a deformed madman named Jackal Bloodthirsty, the third of which was entitled The Ski Lodge Massacre.

Here it is below. It's pretty terrible, with prose and spelling that will make you wince, but hey, at least I was being productive in my early teens. I thought I'd have to subject you to my awful handwriting as well, but seeing that it was typed made me realize that we purchased our first computer - an Atari 1040ST - earlier that year.

Looking at it now, it's funny to see how many of the kills I pilfered from Jason and Michael. I also have no idea why I wrote $#%& instead of an actual curse word. It's not like I didn't already have the mouth of a sailor by then. Anyhoo, I hope you enjoyed this latest window into my misspent youth.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: Skullduggery

While I was reading the recently released book, Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980's, I saw mention of the 1983 flick Skullduggery in the chapter covering the religious backlash against Dungeons & Dragons. I remembered the cover box from back in the day...

...but up to now I didn't realize that a) it was a Canadian production and b) that D&D - or a poor facsimile thereof - was featured in the plot. I was not able to locate a trailer, but I did find a number of scenes online.

This movie... Well, I don't even know. This isn't some of the Toronto film industry's best work, let's just say that. These scenes below should give you some indication as to what we're dealing with here. 

I realize those scenes are taken out of context, but I spent most of my time while viewing them muttering “what the fuck is going on?” That is when my mouth wasn't just hanging open in utter confusion. I mean, JESUS, at least Mazes & Monsters had a coherent narrative.

But I digress. We're out of the dark ages now, and millions of people around the world now play role-playing games in some capacity. If they were indeed part of some master plan orchestrated by Old Scratch, then let me be the first to say, “well played, Sir,”