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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Day Five: Memories Of Blair Part Two

Yesterday, I shared my memories of the release of The Blair Witch Project. Today, I relate what some of my online peers said about theirs. Oh, and please feel free to post any of your recollections in the comments section.

"I don’t recall an exact occasion but rather slowly hearing bits of info about this revolutionary, scary-as-hell horror film that may just even be true. I immediately became fascinated and loved the chilling reality vibe to it. I also loved the imagery associated with the film and bought a movie poster before I’d even seen the film – the teaser poster with the negative-image shot of the forest. It was the first movie poster that I ever got framed."
-Dave Alexander; Rue Morgue Magazine

"I had first heard about The Blair Witch Project after reading in the entertainment section of the newspaper about the popularity of the television documentary Curse of the Blair Witch. I watched this documentary on television and was instantly hooked by how real everything looked and seemed. I raced online to find out more and this was when most people had to suffer from a dial up Internet connection. I needed to know if the legend was real or not."
-Serena Whitney; Killerfilm

"I remember first hearing about BWP online, people were discussing it on this message board, talking about the website, and that they were not sure exactly what it was. Viral marketing online back in 1999 was hardly was it is today, so the website confused a lot of people. I remember going to the website and quickly deciding that I should stop before I learn too much, and that I needed to see this film."
-DirtyRobot; Filmopia

"I heard all the buzz around the time it screened at Sundance, the internet cult hype I found out about after the fact!"
-Adam Lopez; Toronto After Dark Festival Director

"I'm not sure if I caught the trailer for The Blair Witch Project first, or if I had heard about it on the Sci-Fi channel first. I do remember the fake documentary that Sci-Fi had made, and aired just prior to the film being released. I wasn't sure if the story was real or not, but by the time I went to go see the movie, I knew it was all a set up, and a very good one at that!"
-Heather Santrous; Mermaid Heather

"When BWP was first released, I was a junior in college. All the kids were talking about it and how it was actual found footage and everyone HAS to go see it. I was/am a film buff anyway so I saw the movie within the first week or two of release. I even drove an extra 45 minutes to get to the "good" theater with my date."
-Andrew James; Row Three

"I believe I read it about it somewhere - a blurb in some magazine. Time, maybe? It sounded interesting so I checked out the website. Wow, finding out about something in a print publication BEFORE seeing it on the web…that will probably never happen to me again."
-Stacie Ponder; Final Girl

"I saw it in theaters with my wife/then girlfriend. I vividly remember us being on the edge of our seat and feeling a bit claustrophobic. It was easily and still to date, one of the scariest cinematic experiences ever."
-Mike Pereira; Bloody-Disgusting

"I saw the movie in the theater during it's '99 release, however I saw it late in its run. I was did scare me at times, but after all the hype I was expecting a film of such quality it couldn't possibly deliver. Plus, all the hand held footage made me sort of nauseous."
-Alex Afterman; HorrorBlips

I saw the leaked workprint on VHS before it came out in theatres and thought it was a really cool and smart low budget film that wasn't mind blowing, but that had a really great and creepy ending. I was curious to see how it played with an audience, and how the blow-up to film was going to look, so some friends and I went to see it opening night. We hadn't anticipated how popular it was going to be, so when we got to the theatre, only the front row was available. Normally I would have walked right back out and asked for a refund, but since I had already seen it and the crowd was abuzz, I sat down. Sitting in the front row, if you haven't guessed already, I got motion sick. I wore a baseball cap back then, and spent a large portion of the film with my face in my hat, looking down at the ground. Every now and then I'd take a peek through the holes in the hat to watch the movie. With maybe fifteen minutes left in the movie, I got too sick, and had to go sit outside on the floor, praying I wasn't going to barf, and knowing that 400 people probably thought I had left because I was a wimp."
-Jeff Wright; They Shoot Actors Don't They?

"I knew going in that it was fiction, but that didn't spoil my enjoyment of it whatsoever - I absolutely loved it. I was totally sucked into the story and rather frightened. While the film itself was fantastic, the atmosphere made it even better; I caught it at a midnight screening opening day (back in MY day, when midnight screenings of new films were rare) at the Angelika in New York. In the lobby, there were glass cases set up to display some of the items that had purportedly been buried under the house- some DAT tapes, cassettes, Heather's diary, etc. Everything was weathered and dirty and worn and it all seemed so real. It was great."
-Stacie Ponder

"I saw it at the famous Angelika in the Village with friends and it was a packed house. This was well into it's huge media coverage and I hated it.. so did the rest of the crowd. People started throwing things and yellin they wanted their money back. Needless to say, everyone was pissed."
-Don Neumann; Quiet Earth

"I saw it in the theater within the first couple weeks it was out. Frankly, I was very unimpressed. I thought it had some really interesting ideas but failed to build any tension. It was just this never-ending meander through the woods, and having grown up in some pretty rural areas, it never seemed particularly scar or convincing to me. The imagery at the end, of the guy in the corner, was effective but by that time I had already given up on the movie. So yeah, I am one of the haters. On the other hand, I had and have no issue with the first-person camera work that drives so many people nuts. I like it, when it is used effectively. I thought BWP used it well -- that was not one of its problems (pacing and not enough movie in their movie was the issue.)
-Cory Casciato; The Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse

"I scored a pass to the advanced screening, and I loved it. People were genuinely freaked out, and it exceeded my expectations. The film really worked on me, as even without the supernatural angle, it taps into those fears of getting lost in the woods, being cold, going hungry, etc. I hadn’t been that affected by a horror movie so much since I was a kid – the hair stood up on my arms, I was holding my breath at some parts and the ending was such a perfect punch in my already sickly-feeling gut. I saw it several times in the theatre and it worked every time."
-Dave Alexander

"I saw the film with the masses in an air conditioned theatre on a hot summer day in 1999. My friend and I needed an excuse to get away from the unbearable heat outside, but once the film was over we were racing to get out of that theatre. I’ll always remember the feeling of my knees shaking in fear at the finale."
-Serena Whitney

"Saw it on DVD, when it came out after the theatrical release. I decided NOT to watch it at theatres after hearing how nauseous the shakeycam was supposed to make it for viewers. Personally a shaking giant screen is not my cup of tea."
-Adam Lopez

"I believe it took me a week or two, after the release, but I did get to see The Blair Witch Project on the big screen. It was the first film I went to go see by myself, so that added to the experience some I think. I was sitting there looking around me once in a while, as the film played out. That is something I do when I am feeling nervous. I look around to see if anyone else is feeling the same way. At the end of the film, no one got up for a good while after the credits rolled. I couldn't hear anyone talking either. This left a lasting impression on me, since I have never been to a movie that has happened at before or after. I loved the film. I know there are a lot of people out there that hate it, and I can kind of see why that is. It is very slow. However, the things that happen in the film really let the imagination run wild, and I can have a big one at times. It was the event at the end of the film that really hooked me though."
-Heather Santrous

"So I saw the movie in the first week or two of release and was very skeptical of the authenticity of the whole thing. I flat out knew there was no way that this was real for loads of reasons. Still, I remember trying to delude myself into believing the legend since it made it a lot more fun to experience and discuss with friends. The feel of the film was unlike anything I had ever seen before. I don't remember ever watching a feature length film that looked like it was shot on my mom's 8mm home video camera. It felt raw and real. Everyone loved to talk about the final act of the film and hypothesized about the legend and what actually happened and how scared they were, etc. Myself, I actually preferred the earlier scenes when the sun was still above the horizon, but things were slowly going wrong. The build-up of anticipation and all of the creepy clues found throughout the forest and the general sense of impending doom was what I appreciated most about the movie. Even if I wasn't consciously aware of it at the time, I know now that that is exactly how I felt."
-Andrew James

"I saw the film early in its run in a Varsity VIP screening room, which is a very small theatre with extra comfy seats and 'table service' for the usual cinema snacks. I brought my girlfriend, who was not keen about horror movies in general, but who attended for my sake. She didn't make it through the whole movie. The shaky cam, and perhaps the fear, drove her out of the theatre by about the half-way point. I was instantly hooked by the story, by the believability of the characters, and the faux-doc style. I'm a pretty easy audience as it is, my suspension of disbelief is strong, so I loved how the film played with your head, how it was utterly sincere in its 'reality'. And yes, it scared the shit out of me. A testament to the concept that 'less is more', BWP very skillfully showed us that a few noises in the dark, or even a weird pile of rocks outside your tent can instill fear and panic much more effectively than a perfectly rendered monster or a long sharp blade cutting through your guts."

"My friend. She was actually one of the people that suffered from extreme motion sickness from the film. She almost threw up all over the audience members in front of us—which would have made for a funny anecdote at parties today."
-Serena Whitney

"I believe I was."
-Mike Pereira

"The people who saw it when it first came out thought it was better than those of us who saw it after the hype machine had carried it along. They were pleasantly surprised by the quality and the scariness, while my friends who saw it later expected the moon."
-Alex Afterman

"My buddy Josh was completely freaked out by it. He bought it hook, line and sinker (even after I told him it was all a marketing campaign/hoax, he refused to believe me) and was terrified of the woods for weeks. We were actually going to film a movie at another friend's place out in the woods and we got a little turned around (lost would be an exaggeration) and he started flipping out about how this was just like the beginning of Blair Witch .... it was pretty funny."
-Cory Casciato

"I don't know if "affected" by it is the right word, but I remember my date cowering in fear in her seat during the last 15 minutes or so of the film. Let's just say I didn't sleep alone that night. Everything else is really a blur (remember I was in college) so I don't remember anyone being truly affected by it, but it sure was the buzz for several weeks... still is to some extent I suppose."
-Andrew James

"It has to be a toss up between a friend of mine and myself as far as who was affected the most by it. Even though I had to explain the ending of the film to her, she was the only person I knew that was into the film as much, if not more, than I was. Both of us were buying up anything we could find about the movie."
-Heather Santrous

"I watched it with my then girlfriend at the time (now my wife) and we were both pretty freaked out by it. That END scene was absolutely terrifying. It still lingers in the mind. It's what you DON'T see in Blair Witch that I think makes it very scary. A recent zombie flick [REC] from Spain did a very good job of recapturing that terror of what you don't see is more scary than what you do."
-Adam Lopez

"Well, on the way home from that screening, my friend asked me if Blair Witch comprised the ACTUAL footage they found, or if they re-shot it all and released the recreated footage. I was confused by that question until I realized he had no idea the whole thing was fake. I hated breaking the news to him! My mom, however, has the best story. She's as big a horror nut as I am, and around the time of the film's release she had a t-shirt with MISSING emblazoned above pictures of Heather, Josh, and Mike. She wore it one day when she got her hair done, and I guess her hairdresser asked about it; my mom mentioned the website but not that it was all fiction. Apparently her hairdresser went home, looked it up, and was OUTRAGED that no one seemed to be doing anything to find these missing kids. He proceeded to go on all sorts of forums to tell the world of his outrage…my mom clued him in about the truth at her next appointment, saving him from a lifetime of worry and eventual embarrassment."
-Stacie Ponder

"It's been a few years. It's one of those films that worked to marvelous effect on the first viewing. I found it just doesn't hold any power over the viewer upon multiple watches because you see how you were tricked by its simplicity. I think many resented that which is probably why in the history of horror cinema, there's never been a phenomenon which ended up becoming so completely forgotten. The terrible sequel and oversaturation of the Blair Witch product might have something to do with that, as well."
-Mike Pereira

"I only saw it the once in the theater. I thought it was OK, but not really worth a second viewing. I think The Last Broadcast, which is similar in theme and shooting style (faux documentary, found footage from a doomed exploration in the woods) is less scary but a more interesting and well constructed film."
-Alex Afterman

"I watched it less than two months ago, to prepare for writing the cover story for the current issue of Rue Morgue, which revisits the film. I hadn’t seen it in years but it worked on me once again. I showed it to someone younger who missed the initial hype, and she was genuinely scared by it, and thought it was real until she went online and read up on it. I totally lied to her for as long as I could to preserve that deep down freaked out feeling."
-Dave Alexander

"It’s been years since I had seen The Blair Witch Project mainly because it is one of those films you should only experience once to get the full effect of it. Many people complain how it’s not that scary and it’s over-rated. I’m glad that I’m not one of those people, which is why I refuse to watch the film again. It would taint the terrifying memories I have of it."
-Serena Whitney

"I think I probably haven't seen it since opening night, so I'm definitely due for a rewatch. I have pretty strong (but vague at the same time) memories of THE CURSE OF THE BLAIR WITCH television special that was aired just before BLAIR WITCH PROJECT's release being as effective, if not more than the movie itself, so I'm looking forward to rewatching that as well."
-Jeff Wright

"I have only seen it once! By my own rules, I probably owe it another chance, despite finding it so utterly boring and pointless the first time through. The ten-year anniversary is as good of a reason as any, I guess..."
-Cory Casciato

"The last time I watched The Blair Witch Project was back in September of 2006. I didn't realize it has been that long ago already. It was time for my 100th post, and I had decided that I would write about The Blair Witch Project. It isn't a film I watch a lot, because it feels like it loses some of its magic each time that I do. That being said, the ending of the film still manages to get to me everytime."
-Heather Santrous

"I saw it shortly after its video release. I sat down in the living room with the lights turned off and showed it to my mom. It as then I realized that this movie sucks ass. It's simply three immature kids screaming obscenities at each other for 45 minutes. It was really uncomfortable for me to sit there with my mom listening to all of that as I knew she was perturbed; not scared in the least, just perturbed. Hence, I was perturbed as well. I didn't remember all that from the first viewing. It seemed like a completely different film from the amazingness I had built up in my mind. I have never seen it since. Saw part 2 though. I underwent reconstructive surgery the next morning to repair my eyeballs and ear drums after I mashed them in with a corkscrew to relieve the pain of that movie."
-Andrew James

So, as I expected, the opinions expressed above were polarizing to say the least. The debate still continues, but it cannot be denied that The Blair Witch Project is not only an important horror film, but a significant milestone of the medium. I hope you enjoyed my retrospective coverage this week and thanks to everyone who contributed. Check back here soon for tales of my trip to this year's Fantasia Film Festival!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day Four: Memories Of Blair.

So, ten years huh… Crazy. What are my memories of The Blair Witch Project? Well, a crap-ton to be honest. It came out the same week I started a new job (the one I’m still at… GADS!), so that is why the release of The Blair Witch Project is sort of frozen in time for me.

I first remember hearing about it from a co-worker when I was still working at a music store called Sunrise Records. His description was pretty vague, so when I got home that night I looked up the website he gave me. I was immediately transfixed by the mythology and the fact that it wasn’t clear whether this story was actually true or not. Remember, it was 1999 and the Internet had not evolved to the everything-about-anything Googleplex that it is now. In fact, I still maintain that The Blair Witch Project was actually the first film to actually harness the power of the Internet as a marketing tool.

Speaking of the Internet, here is some recent video (0-3:35) of Eduardo Sánchez talking about The Blair Witch Project.

I’d also like to say that it was The Blair Witch Project (as well as a few other films that came out that year, like The Matrix) that really got me back into film. Since I’d been working at Sunrise - and thus Ticketmaster - for a few years my focus had shifted to music. Once I’d left that job, I naturally gravitated back to film and the Blair Witch was as good a catalyst as any.

On Friday, June 30th 1999, I sped off from work to see it at my local multiplex. I sat there that whole ninety minutes hypnotized. I was pretty affected by it, but it wasn’t until I starting talking to my friends over that weekend that I started to grasp the power of the film. I had a friend who went with his girlfriend and they almost didn’t make it through it. The way he described it to me was that every time dusk came in the movie, they were just filled with this overbearing sense of dread as the last night approached, they weren’t sure how much more they were going to be able to take. It was the ending that really fucked them up though. And rightly so, as that final shot of – even if it was borrowed from earlier films like Cannibal Holocaust and Man Bites Dog – is still one of the most chilling sequences I think I’ve seen in my life. I had another friend who was so scarred, he swore off horror films all together. I think it actually broke him to an extent. This remained the case for awhile because I remember hosting a Halloween party some four years later and when he arrived and saw the stick men lining my front hall – he almost did a one-eighty out the door. Needless to say, he liked the dressed-up dummy I stuck in the corner of the living room (which I SO WISH I could find the pictures of) even less. He’s okay now though, as I know he's watched The Descent without soiling himself. Sometimes you just turn a corner you know? Then, there were the people that thought that the whole thing was real and couldn’t be convinced otherwise. I mean, the website and film were very well executed, but come on, the actors were appearing on talk shows for Christ’s sake!

In the grand scheme of things, The Blair Witch Project and its effect on people seems to be hit and miss. There were tons of people who got absolutely nothing out of it, but to be honest I am glad I was not among them. Memories Of Blair continues tomorrow when I reach out to the online community to share their experiences from that fateful summer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day Three: Coven Covers

It should be no surprise that this installment of Coverbox Wednesday focuses on the popular movie villain - the witch. They have been a part of folklore for hundreds of years, and entered modern popular culture when a certain Wicked Witch flew across movie screens in 1939's The Wizard Of Oz. While we're smack dab in the middle of Blair Witch Week, let's spinkle a little Eye of Newt and Toe of Frogge and take a look at some horror offerings featuring witches and witchcraft.

Don't know why Witchcraft II, III & IV weren't in our library. Coincidentally, one of my first drunken memories involves a couple o' buds, Witchcraft V and a whole lot of rum & Coke.

Pazuzu vs. The Hoff?! Truly a match made in Hell!

Referencing the ol' Ouija may be a little iffy, but screw it! I LOVE that cover for Witchboard 2. Sell it Ami! And why change a good thing, as evidenced here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day Two: Sánchez At The Bloor

Eduardo Sánchez's newest effort is a film called Seventh Moon. I caught it when it played here in June at The Bloor.

Melissa (Amy Smart) and Yul (Tim Chiou) are honeymooning in China, when their tour guide gets them lost in the middle of nowhere. After their guide disappears, they realize they may not be alone.

‘The less you know’ seems to be a running motif in Sánchez’s work, as he keeps the antagonists obscured for as long as possible. I do not know whether that’s a thematic decision or one based on budget constraints, but it is a style that he makes work very well. Sánchez has a really good thing going with Spectral Motion as they again provide the effects for the film. With all that said, Seventh Moon didn't have the effect on me that his previous film Altered had. Taking its inspiration from Chinese folklore, it builds tension well, stalls a bit in the middle, but battles back with a very claustrophobic sequence in a cave that recalls The Descent. However, Seventh Moon is not The Descent though, as a small plot hole and an anti-climactic ending bog down the story here. The shaky-cam was back in full effect as well, but for some reason it didn’t bug me as much as I was expecting. It was a nice surprise seeing Amy Smart star as Melissa, Yul’s other half. She has a lot more to do here than she did in last year’s Mirrors – even if her death scene was the centerpiece of that movie. The setup works because the two are believable as a newlywed couple, even if their honeymoon destination WAS a little off the beaten path.

Overall, Seventh Moon is watchable fare. Eduardo Sánchez continues to prove that he is a competent filmmaker, but I think it just comes down to picking the best stories to tell. Eduardo Sánchez was in attendance at the screening and was receptive to questions about any of his works. Below is some video of the Q&A. Toronto-based film scholar Richard Crouse is the one filming and it looks like he was inspired by The Blair Witch Project while he was taking this footage. Mild spoilers within.

Day Two: Chasing Shadows

So, let's move onto some more recent efforts, starting with Daniel Myrick's 2008 film The Objective.

CIA Agent Keynes leads a Special Ops team into Afghanistan on a top secret mission. When they find themselves inexplicably lost in the desert, strange things start to appear.

The Objective – as you might expect from one-half of the Blair Witch team – is another slow-burn of a film. Myrick keeps his cards even closer to his chest than Sánchez does when it comes to the revealing the goods. That's not to say it's not engaging though. I think the Afghan locale has a lot to do with it my case. Genre films set in countries I would never venture to – 2007's The Passage is another example – always put me on edge. The ensemble cast, including real-life Green Beret Matthew R. Anderson and stuntman/actor/director Jeff Prewett are all solid and work hard to define themselves. This is a difficult task considering everyone is wearing fatigues and are not easily distinguishable. Mike C. Williams shows up again in this, though his part was not as substantial as it was in Altered.

I could look back on The Objective and say that not much happened, but there are some really crazy WTF moments that really spike the film. I was a little iffy on the ending, but I think that was more to do with personal preference than quality. Myrick's choice to skirt the line between the supernatural and scientific is quite admirable and I'll leave it to you to decide whether it worked or not.

For people who like films that take their time, you might want to make The Objective a priority.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day One: Slipping Through The Cracks

I thought I’d kick off the Blair Witch Week festivities by visiting some of the other projects directors Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez did after their big break in 1999. Myrick and Sánchez split after the disastrous Blair Witch Project sequel – which they really didn’t have much to do with, but we’re indelibly marked anyway – and went their separate ways. I tracked down some of these titles and will be reviewing them this week, leading up to my retrospective on the anniversary. First up is Eduardo Sánchez’s 2006 film Altered. This was a film that I didn’t even know existed until a few weeks ago. Serena mentioned it to me a few days before I went to a screening of Seventh Moon - Sanchez’s newest film. I’m really not sure how I could have missed this and it only lends more credence to the theory that getting out from underneath the crushing weight of the Blair Witch is an almost impossible task.

Altered is a good fucking movie. Like shockingly good. It could be that I wasn’t expecting much, but there’s a lot of stuff to like in this. There are many reasons why this movie worked for me. First, the special effects by Spectral Motion are top notch. They REALLY bring it! There’s one scene in particular where a character’s flesh is slowly being eaten away and a great shot of a layered torso actually got a verbal response from me. It reminded me of a similar shot from Deep Rising, except without the CG augmentation. It’s fantastic stuff.

The creature designs are also pretty sick and Sánchez holds off showing them for as long as possible. I appreciated that the use of CG is very sparce. The only blatent use of it is towards the end of the film and this one sequence gives you so much information about the antagonists that no exposition is needed. This is the attitude used throughout the film. These characters have an entire history together that was shattered by one event fifteen years ago, but what actually happened is only touched on. The emphasis is put on what is happening in the here and now. There is very little fat in this movie. The story unfolds really well and always feels fresh somehow. Another success is that apart from a few wisecracks and a segment where the sheriff shows up, Altered is played completely straight. It is a tough job considering the subject matter, but I think Sanchez pulls it off. I’ll also say that it was good to see Mike C. Williams (Mike from BWP) again. He plays Otis, one of the five people fighting for their lives.

After viewing Altered, the question remains; why was this movie not a bigger deal? As far as I can tell, it didn’t even play the festival circuit. That’s a real travesty because I think this movie deserves an audience. When I was at the Seventh Moon screening in June, there was a trivia question of which Altered was the answer, and there were maybe three people in a crowd of hundreds who knew it. Sad. Hopefully, you’ll read this and seek it out because it’s a great piece of work well worth your time.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Keeping The Lights On.

Just a quick note to let you know I'm forgoing DKTM this week because I'm now in Montreal and I don't know how good my access to the Internets will be. Stay tuned all this week though for my Blair Witch Project 10th Anniversary festivities, which will be immediately followed by a rundown of my week at the Fantasia Film Festival. Talk soon!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Danny, Come Play It Off With Us.

I know this has been around a few days, but I couldn't resist putting it up. Keyboard Cat is still alive and well and this is the best one yet.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Madness Cometh

The ten titles playing Toronto's Midnight Madness were announced today. Man, that's a lot of late nights! First up, we have the heavy hitters that need no introduction.

I have it on good authority that a certain SEERING HOT starlet will be on the red carpet for that last one. Oh boy, this has international incident written all over it. Then again, I was within arm's length of Kate Beckinsale at 2003's Underworld premiere and somehow managed to restrain myself.

Every year has its share of returnees. This time around we have three.

MM vet George A. Romero returns with his new zombie opus, Survival Of The Dead.

Aussie identical twins Michael & Peter Spierig return six years after their debut Undead, with something a tad bigger in scope with Daybreakers and 2007's Big Man Japan director Hitoshi Matsomoto returns with his newest oddity Symbol.

Then we have the off-the-wall fun and games offerings.

The Belgian stop-motion animation romp A Town Called Panic -

and the makers of Hercules and Xena reunite for some estrogen-fuelled grindhouse in -

That leaves Michael J. Bassett's (Deathwatch, Wilderness) Solomon Kane, and a lone unknown from Australia called The Loved Ones.

As I said, that's a LOT of late nights. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Click here for the official announcement.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sleep is The First Thing To Go.

Things are about to get crazy busy around here. This Friday, I bound off to Montreal for Fantasia! The line-up while I'm there is unfortunately not as good as I'd like, but what the hey, it's Montreal and I'll be amongst friends - I'm sure we'll get on all right. I should clarify what I mean by 'not as good'. It's more due to bad luck, than bad scheduling on Fantasia's part. You see, four titles (I Sell The Dead, Deadgirl, The Children and Best Worst Movie) I've seen already and there's a lot of other stuff playing I'm just not interested in. I'd have preferred Smash Cut, Thirst and Mutants screen during my trip, but whaddaya gonna do? That's not to say I won't be frequenting darkened rooms though, as I plan to check out Dead Snow, an Irish thriller called The Eclipse as well as THIS little 'gem'...

How can I NOT see that? Anyway, as if next week wasn't busy enough, my trip also coincides with my planned Blair Witch Project 10th Anniversary festivities. I've got so many posts to write it makes my brain hurt. It's all good though.

Lastly, the Toronto Film Festival Midnight Madness line-up is announced tomorrow. This is the big one of the year folks, and it's a doozie! Check back in twenty-four to see what's in store.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Don't Kill The Messenger XXVI

Greetings all. Here's the trio of things I have for you from this week.

I'm Dying To Know What Happens Next!

Here's a funny still I found on Digg this week.

O Slime, Where art thou?

Bio-Slime is a movie that seems to have been in limbo forever. A new trailer popped up online this week on Twitch, I can only hope that means that a release is near. Check it out below.

Terror On The High Seas.

A new trailer for Chris Smith's (Creep, Severance) upcoming film Triangle appeared on Empire Online this week. It is opening the UK's Frightfest event next month and looks pretty high concept in comparison to his previous efforts. Click the pic below for a gander.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Big Brother Is Watching

I picked up this month’s selection – Adam Rifkin’s new film Look – at Eyesore when I was there renting Burial Ground a few weeks back.

Using the off-putting statistic that the average American is photographed two hundred times a day as a reference point, Look is an ensemble piece that is told entirely through the use of survaillance cameras.

Adam Rifkin was a name I recognized, but couldn’t place. It turns out he’s been in the business since the eighties and has directed notable films like The Chase and Detroit Rock City. Coincidentally, Rifkin also worked on The Nutt House, which is a film that Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Scott Spiegel were involved with, but had their names removed from after Speigel was replaced by Rifkin as director. I still haven’t been able to get my hands on that. As for Look, once I got over the realization that it was obviously scripted and not actual footage, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is immediately captivating and not just because the first scene shows the inside of a department store change room. Rifkin does a nice job of playing overseer. You really get the sense that someone has culled a narrative out of millions of hours of footage around this city. The subject matter runs the gamut from sometimes funny (two buddies joking around in a convenience store), sometimes awkward (a student’s escalated flirting with her teacher) and sometimes disturbing (a man stalking young girls at a mall). Despite some familiar faces like Giuseppe Andrews (Cabin Fever) and Rhys Coiro (TV’s Entourage), there are no huge stars to break the illusion of quasi-realism. It is a testament to these naturalistic performances that even with the sterile camerawork, the situations still feel genuine. I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise, as these scenarios do occur and voyeurism is one of our more primal instincts.

Look is worth checking out. If you are fan of films with unique narratives (like 2000’s Time Code or Chris Nolan’s early work) then you should find this as fascinating as I did. I quickly devoured the ample special features on the disc after my initial view and MAY have watched the first scene an unhealthy number of times… but hey – you can’t prove anything!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Horror On The Tube: Harper's Island

The TV series Harper’s Island wrapped up last Saturday. Not that many people noticed however. Harper’s Island was a thirteen episode series that’s basically a murder mystery set on a small island off the coast of Seattle. At least one character shall die per episode and all would be revealed in the show’s finale. Harper’s Island seemed as doomed as its characters almost immediately. CBS dumped it in a summer slot – which is never good, as last year’s Fear Itself can attest to – and they didn’t help things by flip-flopping air dates from Thursdays to Saturdays (at least my Canadian affiliate did) on an almost weekly basis. After about the fifth episode I gave up trying to see it live and just watched the last nine or so episodes all together last weekend. The first thing that struck me about Harper’s Island was how gory it was. Maybe I just don’t watch a lot of non-cable TV, but I found a person cut-in-two, a decapitation and a shotgun blast to the face in the first few episodes to be surprising subject matter for a network show. The cast is huge. In the first few episodes, I was actually finding it tough to keep all the characters straight. They were basically only recognizable by their stereotypes at first. This fell away once I started watching the show all at once though. Harper’s Island is basically a really, really, REALLY long slasher movie, and therein lies the appeal for me. I’m a sucker for that subgenre and it made enduring the more 90210 elements of the show a lot easier. Of course, with something that is six times longer than your regular slasher, you also have the proportionate amount of red herrings, as well. I think EVERYONE on this show was a suspect at one point.

But, therein lies the game I guess. I found the two leads actresses to be quite good. I have to admit that I became somewhat attached to Abby (Elaine Cassidy, all grown up now after her appearance as the title character in the 1999 Canadian gem Felicia’s Journey) and Trish (Katie Cassidy, who is no stranger to genre television after appearing on Supernatural) by the end and considering slashers aren’t known for having two Final Girls, it made for some tense moments. I think the show finds it stride around episode six when the shit hits the fan. It’s not a moment too soon either, because the fact that no one was cluing into the growing list of missing persons was getting a little ridiculous. Then, by episode ten I was genuinely interested in seeing how things were going to turn out. This was likely due to Callum Keith Rennie’s appearance, which lends more credence to my theory that any project becomes more awesome with a little CKR! It’s not all grand though. There’s a moment on a bridge in one of the latter episodes that’s pretty cheesy and for every slasher cliché that is broken, there are two that are reinforced. The conclusion seemed a tad outlandish, but when are the evil machinations of a psychopath ever simplistic? It’s not must-see-TV, but it’s certainly some pretty good entertainment, especially if you are into this sort of thing.

Harper’s Island was an interesting experiment and is one best viewed in one or two sittings as opposed to week-to-week. I guess that pretty much goes for any ongoing serial these days though, doesn’t it? How the hell did we ever survive before the advent of PVR’s and DVD?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Treevenge Unleashed!

At last year's Toronto After Dark festival, the best short (and one of the best things period) I saw was a little piece called Treevenge. It was a Canadian effort - done by the guys who brought us the grindhouse flavoured faux-trailer Hobo With A Shotgun in 2007. Well now, thanks to Twitch, it is now viewable online. Click on the picture below and enjoy!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Don't Kill The Messenger XXV.

It's time for another weekly round-up.

Tasty Trailer.

A short little teaser dropped online for the upcoming French zombie horror-actioner The Horde this week. Sign me up.

Shake Your Moneymaker.

Here's the new one-sheet for Jennifer's Body. I LIIIKKKE IT!!! Good to see the marketing people are on the same page as the film's audience for once.

Colour Me Intrigued.

I saw a rumour on Kotaku this weekend that the popular video game franchise Tomb Raider will be soon undergoing a reboot, transforming it into an open world survival horror game.

While I'm sure the knee-jerk reaction by most to this news will be negative, I can't really NOT get excited about one of my most beloved video game characters merging with my favourite gaming subgenre. I am super interested to see whether this rumour becomes reality. Click here for the original article.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Archive Project Continues.

I'm deep into getting my poster collection sorted out now. I was hoping to finish the bulk of it today, but I actually ran out of cardboard if you can believe it. I thought one-hundred-plus sheets would be enough, but obviously not. Take a look at this ridiculousness!

There's a poster wedged in between each one of those things. It's time consuming, but I'm certainly getting a kick out of going through them. I've discovered that I must have a poster for almost every Full Moon release between 1989 and 1994. It's pretty crazy. Then there are those I don't even remember acquiring. Movies I haven't even HEARD OF, let alone saw when they came out. I mean, what the hell is Invader? There's also ones that faded into obscurity, but I have clear memories of checking them out in the theatre. Anyone remember Man's Best Friend with Ally Sheedy and Lance Henriksen? Speaking of Henriksen, I've got a shit-ton of one-sheets for movies he's done too. The list goes on and on. Oh, and best tagline so far? "Some things are better left undead!" Any guesses as to what movie it's from?

I'm getting more cardboard next week - a hundred more pieces should definitely do it - so hopefully I'll have the remainder laid out by Saturday.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Alphabet Soup.

This week's Coverbox Wednesday theme is fairly simple. It features horror from A to Z.

Coincidentally, I'm catchin' a screening of Q next week. Glorious!

AKA "You Better Watch Out" ;)