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, March 30, 2008

Let's Try Something Different.

As you have no doubt figured out, my favourite genre of film is horror. Though it is true I spend many an hour watching blood and sinew fly, horror is not all I watch. I do partake in other types (gasp) of films too. Occasionally, I come across off-the-beaten-path gems that I would love to talk about, but that don’t really jive with a blog called The Horror Section. That being said, I’ve come up with this idea. Once a month, I will showcase a non-horror offering that I think is well worth your attention. Welcome to the Non-Horror Selection Of The Month.




Day Night Day Night is a film that had been on my zip.ca* queue for what seemed like an eternity. I’d missed it at the 2006 Toronto Film Fest (still kicking myself, because it was on my short list) and, for a while forgot about it, until I saw a trailer on a random television show. Here it is below, let it speak for itself.



Hi! Welcome back. You just tabbed out to your online rental site and added it to your list, didn’t you? Seriously though, that has to be one of the most effective trailers in the history of ever. It really grips you, yet gives so little information. Day Night, like so many other great films, is masterful in its simplicity. It requires a certain investment of patience, but I feel the slow narrative only adds to the realism. This film is probably the most intense experience I’ve had watching a movie in recent memory. It’s a very sedate and quiet film, which only made my pounding heart all the more audible. The success of the piece rests largely on the lead Luisa Williams, who puts in a superb performance. What a find! Apparently, she was a nanny who just saw a random casting flyer on a signpost and auditioned. She wasn’t even an actress, yet Williams conveyed everything with ease. She is polite and vulnerable, yet coolly determined to carry out her one last objective.

For anyone who likes engaging and thought provoking cinema, Day Night Day Night is a must watch.



*zip.ca is the Canadian equivalent of Netflix.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

More Jessica Lucas? Yes please!

According to news on Bloody-Disgusting, cutie Jessica Lucas has joined the cast of Sam Raimi's upcoming horror project Drag Me To Hell. This is good news to me. Lucas first grabbed my attention when she came onboard CSI this season to replace the exiting longtime cast member Jorja Fox. Then, I was delighted when Lucas popped up in Cloverfield this past January. I'm glad to see that her career is gaining momentum. On the topic of Drag Me To Hell, I see that Latino Review has posted a review of an advance script of the movie. I've never known how they always seem to get their hands on scripts early, but they do. Their review is not favourable either. They even go so far as to say;

"Practically everything in this story has been done before – and done better at that."

I'm not going to let that deter me though. How are you really supposed to seriously judge a horror film from a mysteriously acquired script? And a SAM RAIMI film at that. You could have also read the script of The Evil Dead and said, this sounds like there's nothing to it. And we all know how that turned out, don't we? Frankly, Raimi's strength has always been how he TELLS a story and not necessarily the story itself. Regardless of the nayayers over at Latino Review, I'm not going to make any assumptions until I see a trailer.

To see the Latino Review script review, click here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

We've come a long way, baby

I’m an equal opportunity kind of guy when it comes to horror. I’ll accept it in any form of media. Today, I want to talk about some horror-themed video games. I checked out the new Condemned 2: Bloodshot demo that recently popped up on the Playstation Network. I didn’t play the first game, so I had no idea what to expect. The presentation is pretty awesome, with great graphics and sound design. In fact, I had what I like to call a “Code Veronica moment", where the game began and I didn’t notice because the first cut scene to gameplay transition was so seamless. The game mechanics don’t really live up to the rest of the product though. The combat system seemed really punchy and imprecise to me. I realize there is probably a large element of timing to be had, but I’m more of a run and gun kind of guy, so this aspect was really unfulfilling. The story is cool, and the use of tuning random television set antennaes to receive information was a creepy touch. Though there are a couple of elements of the game that set it apart from the survival horror genre juggernauts like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, I never seriously entertained the notion of playing it further than the demo allowed. That’s not to say I won’t play a horror game that’s not a franchise because I ate up F.E.A.R. However, that is, as I mentioned, more the style of game I prefer. I don’t think my lack of excitement for Condemned 2 has anything to do with shortcomings of the game. It was just poor timing. You see, Grand Theft Auto IV comes out in a month (34 days to be exact) and I’m sort of playing the hell out of my current favourites (COD4 and Guitar Hero III) because I know I won’t be touching them once GTA IV hits my PS3.

Moving on from that, here’s something that is coming up in the near future. A friend of mine was telling me yesterday about all the cool footage he had been seeing for Alone In The Dark 5. I vaguely remembered there being an upcoming Alone game set in Central Park, but had completely forgotten about it and now it’s just around the corner. I checked out the vids and he’s right, it looks epic. Take a look for yourself.





As you can see, it utilizes an upgraded physics engine (the same one in Half Life & MotorStorm) and really immerses you in a truly interactive environment. It totally changes the way you play the game. That real time inventory menu inside your jacket is a great think-outside-the-box idea. It reminds me of that merchant guy in Resident Evil 4. Now YOU can be that guy! You can flash your coat open like a hoodlum on a street corner selling stolen watches, with the flick of a toggle stick. That spells awesome to me, I don’t know about you. I’m definitely checking this one out when it comes out later this year. I’ll need something to tide me over until Resident Evil 5. THAT trailer of voodoo goodness still gets me going no matter how many times I watch it. If you haven’t partaken yet… BEHOLD!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Scarecrows


A group of bank robbers make a daring escape in a small plane, taking the pilot and his daughter hostage. When one of them parachutes out with the money, the others land and give chase. They soon come across a decrepit cabin surrounded by scarecrows. As night falls, something lurks in the shadows.

Whilst watching this month’s Final Girl Film Club selection, I realized two things. The first was how little I remembered of this movie from the first time I watched it. It was essentially like viewing it for the first time, kind of like when I revisited Nail Gun Massacre last year - although Scarecrows was a much more pleasurable experience than that was. The second thing was how much the scarecrow is underutilized in horror. You would think that something with the word “scare” in the title would have more than the half a dozen entries that appear on Imdb. I'll avoid the Hallowed Ground title Final Girl mentioned, but I must admit this one pictured to the left has me intrigued. Eat your heart out Joe Francis! Look at it this way though. If you were stuffed with straw and hung out to dry in the hot sun for years at a time, wouldn’t you be pissed? With the exception of the one that got to hang with Judy Garland, being a scarecrow must suck a great deal. It’s a pretty thankless job. So, along comes the 1988 flick Scarecrows, where the straw men finally get some payback.

The film opens with a pretty creepy intro with an endlessly staring scarecrow that you expect to go BOO at any moment. Then, once we are on the ground, one of the characters for some reason, spends the first act thinking his lines, instead of saying them. It was as if the narration was added in after the fact because the filmmakers thought it was needed. It wasn’t. Also, I was surprised to learn that grenades come in short and long fuse varieties. Then again, maybe the fact that I noticed this means I've been playing too much Call Of Duty 4. I think my “favourite” part is when the remaining bank robbers calmly pick blood soaked c-notes out of their dead friend’s eviscerated husk of a body, one scooping them out of a severed head like he was digging into a grapefruit at breakfast. Just another day at the office when you are ex-military I guess.

I jest, but despite all the eighties cheesiness, hazy logistics and the fact that the majority of the movie is people walking - when they are not driving around in trucks with no engines, that is - through the forest looking for the loot, the gore is pretty good and the design of the scarecrows works. It also never goes the route I was expecting – including an overused conclusion that they tease you with halfway through. It’s definitely watchable fare if you are starved for some scarecrow action, and I think it’s safe to say we all are really.

Friday, March 21, 2008

T.G.I.G.F.

Happy Easter from The Horror Section!


Um.... wtf is that in the bottom left corner?!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March Madness!

So, the NCAA tournament tips off tomorrow. A show of hands who gives a shit. Truth is, the only game I find less appealing than basketball is baseball. You can chalk it up to the Canadian stereotype if you like, but the only sport that really captures my interest is hockey. And even that is waning with my beloved Maple Leafs about to miss the playoffs for a third straight year - something that hasn't happened for eighty frickin' years! Anyway, enough of that bollocks. It's time to celebrate March Madness Horror Section style!

That's it for now kiddies. Until next time, keep those strait jackets handy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Final Girl Awesome Day!

About a month ago, Stacie over at Final Girl made an excellent point. It seems out of fashion to get excited about upcoming projects these days. Every time there’s a new announcement or trailer, it seems that members of the Internet community fall over themselves to be the first to bring it down. How did we become so cynical? I realize that horror is an oft looked down upon genre and for every gem there are ten - and that’s being conservative - pieces of coal, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still get pumped, does it?

Anyway, in response to all this negative thinking, Final Girl declared Tuesday March 18th as “Don’t Be A Douchebag Day” and reached out to her fellow bloggers to share stories about why the movie watching experience is still frickin’ awesome! To which, I humbly accept the call. Rather than just talk about one particular movie or instance, I decided to cull together a timeline that molded me into the horror film geek that I am today. So, here we go.

Circa 1980
I don’t recall the first horror movie I ever saw, but very early on in my life I saw a 1978 film called The Legacy on TV. I remember being extremely afraid and even had to leave for a bit at one point. The part where the girl drowns in the pool because she can’t come up for air is probably the root of my dislike for water sports (that, and Jaws of course). We had the novel kicking around our house and that cover always gave me the shivers. I can’t tell you why now. I mean, look at it. It’s completely absurd! And yet…

Xmas 1981
I grew up in the eighties where home video was still a novelty. Going downstairs and finding a VCR under the tree was like, well… Christmas! We had rented one a few times previously and now we had a VCR at our disposal ALL THE TIME! I remember trying to wrap my head around the concept of being able to tape episodes of Battle Of The Planets off the TV and watch them ANYTIME I wanted. Though it did take me a while to save up the 20 bones it cost for a blank tape. We also got an Atari 2600 that morning, making 1981 the best Christmas EVAR.

Circa 1982
I loved, LOVED Halloween as a kid. I used to watch it endlessly. And this was a time when movies weren’t generally available for sale, just rental. You could buy them, but they were about $100 a pop, so obviously unless you were Richie Rich, you were renting. One day, I got the genius idea of renting both Halloween & Halloween 2 and watching them back to back. That meant three hours of Michael Myers mayhem, which, as you know, is all kinds of awesome.

Circa 1983
I remember showing American Werewolf in London to a friend one day. Early on, when David and Jack are being stalked on the moors, my friend got so scared he had to watch from behind the couch. Now, I’d seen the movie a few times already and knew what was going to happen, but my friend was so scared shitless that he made ME scared shitless. So much so, I had to seek refuge behind the couch myself. Isn’t that weird? Fear is contagious.

Circa 1987
I have a brother who is seven years older than me. One night, when my folks were away, my brother was entrusted with my well being. Now, my bro - being of recent legal drinking age - wasn’t about to waste a perfectly good Saturday night looking after me, so he rented me a couple of movies and took off with his friends. Those two titles were… Women’s Prison Massacre and Stripped To Kill. It was a good night. Very educational.

Circa 1988
I have a cherished memory of my Dad, brother and I doubled over laughing during Evil Dead 2 when Ash is struggling to get Linda’s possessed head off his hand.

Oct 1990 – Aug 1994
I can’t tell the history of Jay without mentioning my tenure at Major/BB Video. It is the main reason this blog exists and the base from where my modest horror vocabulary springs. Those were good, good times.


June 1&2, 1991
I was an avid reader of Fangoria when I was a teenager, but one thing that always bugged me was that their convention Weekend Of Horrors never came up to the Great White North. Then, in the spring of ’91, a Toronto date was announced for June. I was ecstatic. I went both days, met icons like Kane Hodder and Tom Savini (whom I would both see again in ’04) and bought so much shit I was on a first name basis with the poster vendors by the end of it.




Circa 1996
Anyone who played the first Resident Evil remembers when that zombie dog smashes through the window. It was probably the first time a VIDEO GAME made you jump five feet into the air. I was with a few friends, playing it in the dark on a big screen TV and we screamed like little girls when it happened. Sure, the live action intro was cheesy and the voice acting atrocious, but man did it get ever your blood going when those zombies came shambling toward you and all you had was a lockpick.

Sept 2000
It was an ex-girlfriend that turned me onto the Toronto International Film Festival. Until that point, I didn’t even know it was open to the public. Thanks be to her because it was there that I discovered the Midnight Madness programme. Over the last eight years, I have seen numerous fantastic offerings like Haute Tension, Bubba Ho-tep and Cabin Fever. The day the lineup is announced each year always feels like Christmas to me.

Aug 2004
Now, I mentioned that Fangoria came here in 1991, but after that never again. I always wondered about that because the turnout was good from what I remember. Then, in 2004, the Toronto based horror mag Rue Morgue brought horror back to the Big Smoke. There had been a Sci-Fi/Comic Expo happening annually for several years and Rue Morgue fashioned a piggyback horrorcon – or Festival Of Fear – onto that. Kudos to them because this event is extraordinary and always packed full of cool things to do and see – on and off site.

Okay, that’s it. I had to narrow it down to those. Trust me, I have many more tales to tell, but you're probably already asleep.

I feel better now. Less jaded. How about you?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Raimi's Reality.

I missed this piece of news on Friday in my haste to make it out to the theatre. It looks like Sam Raimi is going to throw his hat into the reality television ring. Bloody-Disgusting reports that Raimi and reality guru Jay Bienstock have been enlisted by the CW Network to produce eight episodes of a project entitled '13'. It is a reality show where horror-themed challenges are used to knock players off, until just one is left and declared the winner. Click here for the original story on BD.

It sounds like a very cool idea, but I don't know how well it will do. I remember there was a similar show that aired back in 2001 called Murder In Small Town X. The ratings were pretty weak and is generally remembered only because of the fate of its winner - a firefighter who perished in 9/11. Regardless, I will totally give 13 a try. Unfortunately, since it's on an American network, I'm sure we Canadians will get shafted, as per usual.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Funny Games


Funny Games is a remake of the 1997 German film of the same name. A family, vacationing in their lake house, is set upon by two young psychopaths.

Michael Haneke (the director of both versions) has pretty much left the film untouched and props to him for doing so. I am interested to see how general audiences are going to react to a film like this because I’m certain that they have never come in contact with anyone like Haneke before. His slow and brooding camera style is still prevalent and in complete contrast to the way Hollywood films of this ilk are made. I also suspect that the “fourth wall” bits will be as audience splitting as they were back in ’97.

Funny Games was as uncomfortable for me to watch, as it was the first time around. Even though I knew what was going to happen, it was now happening to Naomi Watts and Tim Roth, not German actors unknown to me. The escalating feeling of dread is not toned down one iota. I put Haneke up there with Lars Von Trier and Gaspar Noé when it comes to being able to unsettle and disturb. They all make films that are technically brilliant, yet overtly ugly at the same time. The performances are great across the board, especially Watts – is there anything this woman can’t do?

This review is short because there is not really much to say. Funny Games is something that just needs to be experienced before I can talk to you about it. One thing is for sure regardless; you’re not going to feel good afterwards.

Doomsday Is Here!


I wasn’t going to do a review for Neil Marshall’s new movie Doomsday because it turned out to be an actioner and not horror, but since I did put it on my top anticipated of ’08, I figured I should say a few words about it.

Set in the future, a deadly virus has caused Scotland to be walled off and the inhabitants left for dead. Many years later, the contagion appears outside the walls and satellite images reveal life inside the quarantine area. An elite extraction team headed by Major Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) is sent to find a cure before the entire UK is consumed.

Doomsday is all a matter of acceptance. If you go in expecting The Descent, I would imagine you are going to be sorely disappointed. However, go in like you are entering a time machine that goes back to the eighties and you should have a lot of fun. This is a very bold choice on Marshall’s part because everyone (myself included) was expecting him to do another horror film. Instead, he decided to do something that basically reads like a love letter to the films that obviously inspired him. The influence of Escape From New York and The Road Warrior is immediately apparent, as is a smattering of Aliens. I enjoyed watching this movie, but only after I realized what it was and what it wasn’t.

Rhona Mitra (whom I’ve always liked way back to her humble beginnings as a Lara Croft model), while no Milla, is certainly no slouch. It looks like she really buffed up for the role. Doomsday has a parade of recognizable faces. In addition to Malcolm MacDowell (who is sadly underutilized) and Bob Hoskins, there is Alex Siddig, Martin Compston and David O’Hara. Also appearing, making it sort of a Marshall reunion, is Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers) and Nora-Jane Noone & MyAnna Buring (The Descent).

Doomsday is a fun action movie. It reminded me of Rambo 4 a little, in that if you are willing to go along for the ride, you'll enjoy it. While not as fresh or edgy as his previous two efforts, there is no doubt that Marshall makes entertaining films, no matter what the genre.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When Zombies Attack!

Yesterday's list of flesheaters has got me in the mood for some more undead action. I've covered Romero's ghoulish canon before, so I thought I'd get a little more esoteric this time around.

I dug a bit deeper in my memory and came up with some of the crustier zombie offerings that adourned my old store's shelves.


A personal fave - so much so I "liberated" it before I left.



That last one was cool because it had a LED lights for the creature’s eyes that flashed when you pressed a button on the coverbox. Well… I thought it was cool. I was happy for anything that kept me amused during those long, boring shifts.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Undead Unlisted




Here's a cool list that I came across on OMGHorror.com, posted yesterday.

The 26 Best Zombies Of All Time! Why 26? I have no idea. It's a great list though, encompassing multiple forms of media, not just film.

I'd have put #25 higher, but I'm baised. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Reunited!


This is something that blew in completely under the radar and it was by pure luck that I noticed it at all.

So, we all know that the Weinstein‘s decision to release Grindhouse in the two separate uncut DVD editions of Planet Terror and Death Proof sucked the bag. I can accept that they wanted to make back as much of the money they lost as possible, but what really irked me was that they decided not to release the original theatrical cut, as well. Sure, there’s the six DVD Japanese import version that came along earlier this year, but I was hardly going to splurge on that. All I want is the version I saw in THEATRES. Is that too much to ask? So, fast forward to yesterday afternoon. I had a co-worker come up to me and say,

“You know what’s on The Movie Network* tonight?”
“What?”
“Grindhouse.”
“Oh yeah? The split versions I would assume.”
“I don’t know.”

I then preceded to tell him about the whole DVD release debacle. Then, that evening, a phone call from my roommate.

“Hey, Grindhouse is on tonight.”
“Yeah, I heard. The DVD versions right?”
“I don’t know. It just says Grindhouse, 3 hours 15 minutes.”

Hmmmm.

“Does this mean there’ll be no trailers?” he asked.
“Not in the middle, no.” I replied.

Later on, bunkered in against the snowstorm (the latest of many this winter for the Golden Horseshoe, please make it stop!) I figured, what the hell I’ll flip it on. Of course, because Planet Terror is so awesome, I end up watching the whole thing and damned if the Zombie, Wright and Roth faux trailers didn’t come on afterwards. I was absolutely flabbergasted. There are so many things that don’t compute here.

First, why, if there is no DVD of this version, is it popping up on TMN of all places? I mean, where would they have even acquired it? Second, sure TMN was advertising it as Grindhouse and not Planet Terror/Death Proof, but wouldn’t you think they would hype it up a little more. Like, HEY! Come see the version not available ANYWHERE ELSE - except Japan and ‘Net pirate sites.

It’s just really weird. And I almost missed it! Luckily, there was a later showing that night for ye olde DVR to record. I guess all I can say is thanks TMN! And the two people that mentioned it to me… and VERY begrudgingly, the storm. You made a Grindhouse fan very happy.


*The Movie Network is the Canadian equivalent of HBO.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Two stories. One Lost Girl.



Anneliese Michel was a young woman who grew up in Bavaria. When she was sixteen, she was diagnosed with epilepsy. Anneliese and her family were extremely religious and as time went on, she came to believe she was possessed by a demon. In 1976, she died of exhaustion during an attempted exorcism sanctioned by the Catholic Church.

Requiem is the German adaptation of the tale of Anneliese Michel. 2005’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose was also based on this same tragic story. Even though the two films spring from the same seed of history, they couldn’t be more different in narrative.

Emily Rose focuses more on the ensuing court case after her death, rather than the plight of the girl herself and thus becomes more of a debate about science versus the supernatural. Requiem stays entirely with the protagonist and literally ends where Emily Rose begins. The lead actress (Sandra Hüller) in Requiem is with us in almost every scene. She has to convey what is happening to her by her reactions alone – without the benefit of the creepy CGI that freaked us out in Emily Rose. Requiem is ALL Hüller, and props to her for pulling it off.


Now, as a film, Emily Rose has more entertainment value, but it is its German counterpart that is the more accurate account. It also helps that Requiem takes place in the same locale and time period of the original event.

No matter which version you watch, this is some scary shit and it’s still not clear – and likely never will be – how much of a help or hindrance the family’s faith was to whatever ailed this poor girl.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

He Slimed Me...

In keeping with Monday’s oozing post about Bio Slime, here are some goo soaked offerings (not THOSE kind of goo soaked offerings, we didn’t have a XXX section) from back in the day. Although, now that I think about it, the last two titles do have antagonists that get a little… amourous. Ick!

Good ol' Chocolate Chip Charlie!