Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Over at smashingapps.com, they have an article about creative Halloween ads. Here's a sample.
Atom.com has a ton of original horror content, here are two quick vids from Waverly Films.
I bet you've never seen THESE deleted scenes from John Carpenter's Halloween.
If you go over to Yahoo! Music, they have collected together a bunch of ghoulish videos, like this old classic from Aphex Twin.
Fans of Hatchet will probably dig the new short from Adam Green, called The TiVo. Click here to check it out.
The season finale of Ghostella's Haunted Tomb (called Top Friends featuring 300's Lena Headey) is not online yet, but click here for an episode from earlier this year entitled Ex.
Lastly, there is a cool bit over at King-mag.com about the history of Scream Queens.
Happy Devil's Night everyone!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Following is an excellent crime film. You can immediately see the beginnings of Nolan’s signature narrative style here. It feels almost like a run through for his subsequent film Memento – like Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock was to Snatch – which propelled him into the mainstream in 2001. Nolan is first and foremost a storyteller. The multi-million dollar budgets of The Prestige and Batman are just the bells and whistles on an already sound skill set.
At a scant seventy minutes and just three main characters, Following feels more like an intimate stage play, than a film. It is a shining example of engrossing filmmaking on a low budget. The difference between Following and The Dark Knight maybe a decade and five hundred million plus, but both were executed adeptly by a director at the top of his game.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I liked I Sell The Dead. I’ll refrain from using the word ‘cute’ to describe it, as that was the term I heard coming out of people’s mouths all that night in regards to it. In my book, cute is a term reserved for Gremlins and E.T.
The low budget underpinnings of I Sell The Dead are easily overcome through strong performances, good storytelling and solid production design. I believed I was in this world and that’s really all you can ask for. I Sell The Dead also scores points with me for having a really cool and fulfilling conclusion. The sound mix was a little difficult to decipher at points, but that could have been due to the venue, which I’m sad to say had several different playback problems this past week.
I Sell The Dead felt like an elongated Tales From The Crypt episode (by no means a knock) as Arthur Blake regaled the priest with his exploits. His world was filled with all sorts of colourful characters. I got the feeling that there were a few more movies worth of material that could be told and, to be honest, I would watch them. I wouldn’t call I Sell The Dead cute, but the words amusing and charming do come to mind.
The cast and crew of I Sell The Dead.
Writer/Director Glenn McQuaid
Angus Scrimm sporting some pretty funky shades.
Here are my top five shorts from the week:
1. Treevenge – The new short by Jason Eisener, the genius behind last year’s Grindhouse faux trailer competition winner Hobo With A Shotgun. Gory, clever and downright hilarious, Treevenge is fifteen minutes of absolute gold. Eisener is on track for great things.
2. The Facts In The Case of Mister Hollow – Like I mentioned before, this played in front of Let The Right One In and I’m still thinking about it. The attention to detail and eerie score really work together to make this a stunning piece of art.
3. The Goblin Man Of Norway – A faux documentary meant as a companion piece to Silicon Knights recent video game release Too Human. This short was so brilliantly executed that a good chunk of the audience thought it was real, until the following Q&A. Watch it here.
4. Hydro-Levesque – A highly enjoyable experimental film – an oxymoron in itself. If David Lynch had grown up in Winnipeg, we may have gotten something like this, instead of cult darling Eraserhead.
5. Bum Rush – A really funny short about three average Joes taking on a very angry vagrant. What makes this even more impressive is that this was a 24-hour film challenge entry. I know what is involved in producing one of these and the fact that the final product was this polished is a true testament to their skills. See it here.
Some honourable mentions:
Martians Go Home – An homage to eighties horror involving a movie geek fighting alien zombies.
I Live In The Woods – This is a great stop motion animation bit about a maniacal forest dweller. He wreaks more destruction in three minutes than most could in ninety. Click here for a sneak peek.
Kingz – This German actioner just got better and crazier as it went on. Gangsters, kung fu and aliens oh my! Check out the trailer here.
Deadspiel – Someone finally had to bright idea to combine zombies and curling. Hilarity ensues!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
After a sweet looking title sequence, 4bia gets right into it with the first story. “Happiness” is about a young woman, housebound with a broken leg, who begins to text back and forth with a stranger on her cell phone. Though they are the most advanced region in the world, Asia seems to have this underlying fear of technology. Phones, video and computers have always played a huge part in this 21st century Asian horror renaissance. Despite its modern underpinnings though, Happiness still bears all the hallmarks of an old campfire tale. The climax of this story got the biggest rise out of the audience, so 4bia definitely starts off on a thrilling note. The second part called “Tit For Tat” was probably my least favourite. It had a Final Destination vibe that could have been cool, but one-note characters, annoying editing and terrible CGI ruined it for me. 4bia got back on track with story number three though. “In The Middle” about four dudes on a rafting trip was absolutely hilarious. Filled with self-referential humour and laugh out loud dialogue, it was a nice change of pace from the other three. The last installment “Last Flight” returns to the scares, with a simple Twilight Zone style yarn involving a flight attendant and her single “passenger”.
4bia was a blast and the crowd was really into it. I think the screams from the audience during the big moments made me jump more than the movie itself. When you can actually feel the collective anticipatory energy of the crowd around you, that is when you know you have a winner on your hands.
Red is the newest adaptation of one of Jack Ketchum’s books. I had sworn off his brand name after seeing The Lost, but I kept Red on my radar for one reason. Brian Cox. When you have an actor of that caliber onboard, you give your production instant credibility. And I’m not talking about collecting paychecks like Ben Kingsley in Bloodrayne, I mean an actor seeing something in the character or script that they want to explore and make their own.
And Brian Cox delivers. He puts in a performance that makes the movie. Red’s low budget and relative blandness is evident throughout, but it never bothered me once. Cox’s excellent and nuanced turn as Ludlow is the best I think I’ve ever seen him. The cast is also rounded out by a lot of familiar genre faces like Tom Sizemore, Robert Englund, Amanda Plummer and Ashley Laurence.
Some people I talked to at the screening didn’t think that there was much of a payoff, but I found the outcome realistic. If the system were to fail someone like it failed Ludlow, I think that might be how it could play out. I mean, Red is considered a revenge movie yes, and could have been a lot more sensational, but I kind of like that it didn’t go that route. That sounds weird of me to say I know. Maybe I’m just relieved that I didn’t have to relive The Lost again. If that’s the alternative, then tame is good.
Red is not a remarkable film, but features a remarkable performance that is worth watching. When I was at a screening of The Wrestler during TIFF last month, Darren Aronofsky introduced his film by saying something that has stuck with me ever since;
“All you need to make a good film is an honest performance and a lens.”
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
In a situation like this, you just have to focus on the gore. It is well executed by Gabe Bartalos (well known for his work with Frank Henenlotter among others), working by himself at cost. I was kind of hoping for a little more originality with the deaths though. There isn’t much in it that we haven’t seen in other low budget zombie outings. I was reminded of the Australian movie Undead. Brain Dead actually made me appreciate the Spierig Brothers’ debut that much more. They had way less than Tenney to work with and they still made a far superior movie.
During the Q&A after, someone asked him what I was thinking earlier. Why did he name it Brain Dead?
“Well, to be honest I just couldn’t think of anything better. When movies get sold to other countries, they often change the name of it anyway and you have no say in it. Even Peter Jackson’s Braindead got released as Dead Alive in the States. So I figured I’d just go with Brain Dead because it does fit.”
The second film of the double bill was Trailer Park Of Terror. I could have caught this at Fantasia, but decided to check out an animated indie called From Inside instead. Yeah… hindsight is twenty-twenty.
Unlike Brain Dead, TPOT had no shortage of creative kills. The zombie makeup, provided by Drac Studios, was quite extensive. There were also multiple undead characters (the residents of the trailer park) that would have given any effects company a workout. Seeing all these characters in action reminded me how stoked I am for Jake West’s next picture Doghouse. The whole rockabilly vibe of the movie reminded me of 2004’s Dead & Breakfast. This redneck zombie thing is becoming a subgenre within a subgenre. Trailer Park Of Terror is not a bad effort. It has enough going on to make it stand out from the crowd".
At the end of the night, the undead masses shuffled off from whence they came, signalling the end of another successful zombie day in Toronto. I love this city.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Donkey Punch is a solid thriller. It is simple; occurring mainly in one location – the yacht that director Olly Blackburn makes great use of – and effective. I think its main strength is how plausible a situation like this could be, however it does take a while to get to the event that the title suggests. There is also a lot more sex than you usually see in a horror film (not that I’m complaining) and that's likely due to the Brits being a little more relaxed about such things. Of course stateside, Donkey Punch has quickly earned an NC-17. I’d say we Canadians might not be so far off, considering the giggles from the audience every time the phrase was used. The music in the movie is a nice addition too. Everything pre-'punch' is all contemporary tunes that the characters would listen to and when the S hits the F, it switches to a more conventional score, provided by Frenchman François Eudes. He is fast becoming one of my favourite composers, after his fantastic work on High Tension, Inside and most recently Vinyan.
The Q&A after was also good. Director Olly Blackburn seems like a pretty cool guy. He made mention of his influences like Knife In The Water and Alien, but when someone cited Dead Calm, he revealed that he actually set out to make the ‘anti-Dead Calm’.
“Dead Calm is a great film, but I wanted to get away from where you have these characters and then a psycho appears and attacks them. I wanted Donkey Punch to be where there was no psycho. The characters themselves are the enemy.”
Director Olly Blackburn.
So, what to say about Repo! Well, it wasn’t the train wreck that some people had led me to believe, but I still didn’t think much of it. I have to give props to the production design and the overall look of the film though. The choice of using comic panels to convey character flashbacks was a unique one, but it did get a little tiresome after the fourth or fifth time.
The cast and their singing voices range from the excellent Sarah Brightman – the only parts I really liked were when she was onscreen – to the downright poor Bill Moseley. I know all you Paris-haters out there would like to hear that she was terrible, but the truth is she is not in the ‘cons’ column of this production. Her performance (basically playing a possible futuristic version of herself) is actually pretty solid. And Nivek Ogre (of Skinny Puppy fame) isn’t in it as much as I’d have liked either. Lastly, I’d like to make special mention of Tony Head (Giles from TV’s Buffy) for his portrayal of the Repoman. Even though some of the material he was given was not good, he gave it his all anyway, like a true pro.
Paris Hilton as Amber Sweet.
So, my verdict on Repo! is that, for the most part, it fell flat for me. Judging from the sold out crowd and the enthusiastic fans that stayed for the Q&A, the movie obviously has a audience; I’m just not it. I’ll give writer Terrance Zdunich and Bousman full credit for having the cajones to attempt it though. I know the suits probably looked at them like they had three heads when they originally presented it to them.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I gotta say that I really liked Let The Right One In a LOT. I can see why people have warmed to this film on the festival circuit because it is something really special.
I’m so glad I stayed away from the trailer and just let the story unfold in front of me. Let The Right One In somehow manages to be unconventional and original, yet incredibly simple and dare I say, sweet. Like REALLY sweet. I think that’s what caught me off guard about this piece. It isn’t really a horror film at all. It’s more of a coming of age story between a boy and a “girl”… that just happens to be a vampire. The exchanges between the two leads (Kåre Hedebrant & Lina Leandersson) are an absolute joy to watch. And on the top of all that, the film is beautifully shot. There are numerous winter exteriors, yet the film has this warmth to it. It hits a few of the same notes as the dark fantasy works of Guillermo Del Toro, but somehow manages to stay even more grounded in reality. Everything about Let The Right One In just fits together so well, including a truly satisfying conclusion.
There is very little that I can find fault with. It is a very sedate film and a little slow in places, but that is easily forgivable considering the fresh ground on which it is treading. There was this odd sequence with CGI cats that seemed out of place, but other than that I can say this film had me one hundred percent.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I of course, couldn’t miss out on this. I am in complete agreement with Todd’s adoration of the film. It rightly deserves its place in The Fearsome Fifteen and it could be argued that The Thing is Carpenter’s greatest achievement. It also has the distinction – one that few of its eighties peers can attest to – of holding up beautifully. Rob Bottin’s legendary creature effects still leave me as awestruck as they did my nine-year-old self. The Bloor’s upstairs lobby was transformed into a makeshift museum as Cameron brought along some of his collection. Check it out.
Thomas Waites (Windows)