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, August 23, 2009

Shorts After Dark

Over the course of the last week, I got to take in about twenty-odd Canadian and International short films at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Here were some of my favourites.

1. Zombie Zombie - This is one I actually viewed online last year, but seeing it up on the big screen was freakin' awesome. Zombie Zombie is a French retro-electro band that is heavily influenced by the music of John Carpenter and Goblin. This short is a music video for their single Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free which re-enacts John Carpenter's The Thing using stop-motion animated GI JOE figures. You can check it out online here. I picked up their album A Land Of Renegades right after first seeing this and it did not disappoint.

2. Practical Guide For The Imaginary Friend - This clever little short from Spain was a delight. It was the hilarious story of an imaginary friend named Captain Kiloton who desperately tries to hold onto his human partner. The short takes place at a motivational conference, as he speaks about being a successful imaginary friend. I loved the staggering amount of great ideas in this piece.

3. The Horribly Slow Murderer With The Extremely Inefficient Weapon - This funny short, which won the Gold prize last month at Fantasia, is set up like a really long movie trailer. We see a man continually being assaulted by an unknown figure in black with perhaps the most innocuous weapon ever – a spoon!

4. Heart of Karl - This is the new short from Astron 6, who gave us the short Lazer Ghosts 2: Return To Laser Cove last year. However, director Steven Kostanski decided to forge a darker path this time around. Even though I'm still not clear what the hell was going on in this short, the creature designs were spectacular, bonding Silent Hill and Clive Barker in sinewy marriage. Check it out here.

5. Blackheads - Perhaps the weirdest short at the festival was Chris Nash's Blackheads. I have to wonder how he ever came up with the idea for this. He manages to run the gamut here, making you feel uncomfortable, give you laughs and gross you out, all in less than fifteen minutes.

Some honourable mentions:

Bad Roomate - James Gangl & Kevin Whelan give us an infectiously catchy tune enacted in stop motion. It is a testament to what you can do with very little more than just a camera, while fuelled by booze and weed. I'll never look at Exhibition Place the same way again!

Danse Macabre - This Canadian short is absolutely gorgeous and really showcases the format as art. It may be ultimately depressing, but its dark beauty cannot be denied. It will also be screening at The Toronto Film Festival in September.

Die Schneider Krankheit - This German offering relays an entire alternate universe in the form of an old black and white newsreel. The production design is excellent and the images within stuck with me for a long time afterward. Check out the trailer here.

Fallow - Dave Alexander & Colin Landry's short Fallow about a town trying to protest its harvest was very well done. It had a very cool look to it and recalled some of the great stories told in The Twilight Zone and Tales From The Crypt. Click here for the trailer.

Overall, it was a great year for shorts. That about wraps it up for my coverage of the 2009 Toronto After Dark Film Festival. This coming weekend is the annual Festival Of Fear horror convention, so be sure to check back soon to hear about my exploits there.

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