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.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tomás Says Hello.

Here's my Halloween costume this year.

For those scratching their head, I'm Tomás from the film The Orphanage. It was a lot of work and only possible because my mother happens to be a seamstress - a MILLION thanks be to her - but I think it turned out all right. There were a lot of people who came across me last night who seemed to think so anyway. Whatever you spend your Halloween night doing, stay safe and have fun!

Getting In The Spirit

Everybody neighbourhood has that one house that really gets Halloween and goes that extra mile - or ten - when celebrating the big night. In my stomping grounds, it is THIS house. While running errands today, I snapped some pics of this year's display.

It's Here!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Picks!

Devil's Night is upon us. How's about a list of recommends? I figured since I already gave you some Blu-rays to pick over earlier this week, I'd do something a little different. I offer up to you five ghoulish selections that actually TAKE PLACE on Halloween. Ready kiddies? Let's answer the door together.

Let's get the obvious one of out of the way first, shall we? I know I'm not the only one that watches this 1978 classic every time October 31st rolls around. Beautiful, yet simple cinematography, the iconic archetypes of Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis (played by the late, great Donald Pleasance) and one of the best musical scores to ever be laid on a film are just three reasons this film stands the test of time. I need not preach to the choir here, for if you are on my humble blog reading this, you are probably nodding in agreement. Watching Halloween for me is like putting on a favourite shirt. No matter how old it gets, it's always comfortable and just feels right.

The film de jour right now (along with I guess House Of The Devil & Paranormal Activity) is Michael Dougherty’s Trick 'r Treat. Let's forget about how Warner Brothers effed up the theatrical release of this movie, as now it's all blood under the bridge. What's important is it's out there and has FINALLY reached a mass audience on DVD. It’s been received graciously by horror fans, and why not? It's clever, gory and most of all, tons of fun. Anthologies have been few and far between since the heyday of Creepshow and TV's Tales From The Crypt and Trick 'r Treat recaptures that magic marvellously. It even ups the ante by having all the stories interconnect. Having recognizable faces like Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker and Brian Cox in the cast didn’t hurt either. Pick it up and enjoy.

I'm a big fan of Jeff Lieberman (Blue Sunshine, Just Before Dawn) and that's why I first checked out Satan's Little Helper. I don't know if I can really call this is a guilty pleasure because I don't really know anyone else who actually seen this movie to tell me it's shite. I remember watching it the first time and having this nagging feeling that it wasn't good, but I was really having too much fun to care. Satan's Little Helper has this bizarre kind of indefinable charm that makes you overlook how low-rent it is because you're enjoying it too much. I remember having the exact same reaction to I Sell The Dead. There's just something inherently watchable about it. It's really hard to explain without you having seen it to know what I'm talking about. If there's anyone out there who can better articulate it, by all means. I know my love for this movie has to be based on more than just the fact it was first time I laid eyes on Katheryn Winnick.

Ghostwatch is doubly relevant, as it not only takes place on Halloween, but was actually broadcast Halloween night on British television in 1992. And then never again, after it caused a crap-ton of controversy. You see, not unlike Orson Welles' legendary 1938 radio broadcast of War Of The Worlds, it seemed that much of British public, especially impressionable children, thought the events in Ghostwatch were, in fact, real. I saw it several years ago when it played on the horror channel here and despite the cheesy ending; there are some CHILLING sequences in it. Helped by the fact it had actual BBC personalities (like Red Dwarf’s Craig Charles) playing themselves, it really does feel quite genuine. Until it goes off the rails, I can certainly understand why a kid or two might have shit bricks. In fact, I believe the British Medical Journal documented a few cases of post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the broadcast. If you enjoyed Paranormal Activity & The Blair Witch Project – which this was rumoured to have influenced – I would suggest you track down a torrent somewhere because it hits a lot of the same notes.

Lastly, let me hit up a VHS title from waaaay back called Trick Or Treats. Very much like Slaughter High, which I recently viewed for the Final Girl Fan Club, Trick Or Treats is one of those movies that has so much wrong with it, you eventually just have to throw your hands up and say “okay, well I can't NOT like this movie now. All these shenanigans MUST be intentional... right?” I mean just the opening where Peter Jason wrestles with two moustachioed orderlies for a full five minutes was enough for me to know this was a winner. Then, you also have awesome exchanges like when the babysitter (Jackie Giroux) calls her actor boyfriend (played by Steve Railsback) just before he goes onstage.

-“Aren't you a little young to be playing Othello?”
-“I can lower my voice.”

I'm choosing to ignore the horrible pacing for the purposes of this bit though. Sadly, coming across this 'treat' may be difficult as it has yet to be released on DVD. I had to rely on the wonders of Ebay to procure it.

So, there you have it. Try not to get into too much mischief this weekend.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Independent filmmaker Drew Daywalt recently posted a new short for Halloween on his YouTube Channel. It's called Judged and you can watch it below.

For more of Daywalt's work, click here.

Killer Lists

Over the past few weeks, the folks over at Killerfilm have been posting lists of recommended watch lists for Halloween. What's really cool is they've gotten several filmmakers from the horror community to sound off, as well. I compiled a list below of some of the names that have been partaking in the fun over there. Click on their names to be redirected to their picks.

Terrance Zdunich, writer, composer and producer of Repo! The Genetic Opera.

Ti West
, director of House Of The Devil & The Roost.

Kevin S. Tenney, director of Night Of The Demons & 2007's Brain Dead.

Maurice Devereaux, director of End Of The Line & $la$her$.

Nathan Baesel, the title character from Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon.

Dave Parker, director of The Hills Run Red & The Dead Hate The Living.

Paul Solet, director of Grace.

Adam Green, director of Hatchet, and the upcoming film Frozen.

Chris Sharp, The Brown Knight from Murder Party.

Stay tuned, for tomorrow I add another list of my own.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's Almost Upon Us.

Here's the final edition of Boxtober. You can also click here to see last year's Halloween Coverbox Wednesday, which had more of a seasonal theme. All right, here we go.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Blu-es

I'll be serving up a bunch of Halloween posts this week, the first of which is this selection of recommended Blu-ray horrors, in case you decide to stay in this Hallow's Eve. Now, there are obviously a shit-ton of titles to choose from, but here are five I picked out for you today.

First up, is the quintessential horror film An American Werewolf In London. It just released on Blu-ray last month and it looks fantastic. All the special features from the Collector's Edition DVD have thankfully been carried over, along with a few other goodies. A few years ago, a young British cinephile named Paul Davis sought to film a short about the making of American Werewolf. When he managed to get director John Landis on board, the project ballooned and before Davis knew it, he had almost everyone involved with the 1981 film sharing their memories. Beware The Moon – now a full-fledged documentary – is included on this disc and worth the price tag alone. There is also an additional featurette with legendary special effects guru Rick Baker. The melding of comedy and horror has still never been as adeptly done as it was in this film.

Next, is David Slade's 2007 adaptation of the Stephen Niles comic 30 Days Of Night. What I love about this film is that – amongst all this Twilight nonsense – it gives the vampire its teeth back. And let's please ignore that Slade is directing the third entry in that series in 2010, shall we? Niles' vamps are ferral, unforgiving beasts who see humans as livestock and nothing more. 30 Days Of Night is one of the best comic-to-movie adaptations to date and the Blu-ray transfer is superb. The unique art of Ben Templesmith is captured beautifully and the gory bits are all left intact. For my original Blu-ray review, click here.

Sam Raimi's triumphant return to horror Drag Me To Hell hit store shelves a few weeks ago. Seeing this last May was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had in a theatre for quite some time and none of this has been lost in its journey to Blu-ray. You could tell that Sam's first and perhaps only rule on this picture, was to have fun and it shows. Every scare set piece pays off gloriously, with a jump and a laugh. This is the closest we are going to get to another Evil Dead, so enjoy it!

My next pick is probably the best horror transfer I have seen yet. It is J.A. Bayona's The Orphanage. You can read my original Blu-ray review here, but this movie is spectacular in every regard and seeing it in Hi-Def just takes it to another level. I have shown this movie to countless people and the verdict is unanimous (well, almost unanimous, I do have one friend who inexplicably doesn't like this film – you know who you are!) I adore this movie and no matter how many times I watch it, there are still moments that make me hold my breath.

My last choice on the list isn't a particularly good movie, but I want to include it because of the unique experience that the Blu-ray disc offers. The movie is 2007's Return To House On Haunted Hill. It has a Choose Your Own Adventure feature, where at several points it will stop a give you a choice, like “Should Paul Run Away?” You select the outcome with your remote and the movie continues based on what you decided. It's quite a novel feature and I'm actually surprised I haven't seen any titles do it since. There are apparently ninety-some-odd scenarios, so I'm sure it could keep you and yours occupied for an evening. This disc was the first Blu-ray – actually one of the first movies period – I reviewed here at THS. Click here and here to read my before and after thoughts.

So, there you go. If you are part of the Hi-Def initiated, plop in one of these along with your usual late October viewings. From one couch to another, I salute you!

Monday, October 26, 2009

In The Doghouse

A movie that I had been waiting for – and had spoken of at length here at THS – was Jake West's newest project Doghouse. It released in the UK in June and I was sure that it would play at least one of the festivals around here. That never happened though, as After Dark, TIFF and most surprisingly Fantasia, all passed on it. So, having to take matters into my own hands, I finally saw it last week.

A bunch of men travel to the English countryside with their newly divorced friend Vince (Stephen Graham) for a guys' weekend. Once they arrive at their destination, they find a virus has turned all the female inhabitants into man-eating zombies.

It crushes me to say this, but the unfortunate reality of the situation is that Doghouse just isn't very good. There are points where it is clearly supposed to be a comedy, but isn't funny and conversely points where it is supposed to be horror, but isn't scary. I liken it to Dark Castle's 2001 effort 13 Ghosts. If the rest of the production was as good as its creature designs, then it would be something to behold. That's what drew me to the project – that and it was done by the director of Evil Aliens – in the first place.

As you can see, they are the best part of the piece. My favourite was The Snipper, played by Emily Booth. I really wish they'd given her more to do though. Considering the talent involved, with the likes of Danny Dyer, Stephen Graham and Noel Clarke, it is really surprising how many of the jokes fall flat. I KNOW these guys are funny because their antics in Severance, Snatch and Dr. Who respectively, gave me many a chuckle. So why didn't it work here? Your guess is as good as mine, but Doghouse is a definite swing and a miss.

Another negative is that I really didn't care about any of the characters. I understand that they are supposed to be a bunch of fuck-ups, but they are as such that I felt nothing when they started getting killed off. That can't be what West had intended. It really surprised me by how mundane it was. West's last theatrical feature Evil Aliens had the same – if not higher – level of absurdity, yet there was an energy to it, that was sorely absent from Doghouse. And the rotten cherry on top is that West decides to end his movie in the most ridiculous manner possible. I suppose it fits with the uselessness of the characters, but as a viewer it justs seems kind of retarded.

Doghouse was a disappointment, but considering how it had been ostracized from the festival circuit, I guess the writing was on the wall. It's not a total loss, for there were glimmers in it, but too few and far between. It's a classic case of the whole not being anywhere near the sum of its dismembered parts.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Don't Kill The Messenger XXXIV

There a lot of stuff I want to cover today, so I'll get right to it.

Muchacho Del Globo!

I love a good mashup, especially the ones playing with horror movie trailers. The latest, from early this week, remixes the upcoming [REC] 2 with a certain story that left CNN blowing a lot of hot air.

He's An Old Broken Down Piece Of Meat!

Also this week in mashups, is this Grindhouse-inspired trailer for Aronofsky's Oscar nominated film The Wrestler. Thanks be to DirtyRobot for the heads up.

A New Teaser.

A few months ago, I mentioned that my friend Serena Whitney had gone to Louisiana to film a short. Well, a teaser is now up and you can watch it below. Based On Actual Events will hopefully be coming early next year. Stay tuned to Killerfilm for more updates.

Sieg Heil.

Wow, Nazis sure are popular these days. First, we had the crowd pleasing Dead Snow and then Quentin Tarantino gave us his long awaited reimagining of the last days of WWII with Inglourious Basterds. Now, it looks like we have a Nazi-centric slasher on the way from Denmark. Check out the new trailer for Final Solution below.

More Fear.

My buddy Rob Mitchell finally uploaded more of his footage from the Festival Of Fear. Check out the vids below.

For more vids, check out Rob & Sheleigh's YouTube channel here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Climbin' That Mountain.

Let me introduce you to ‘the pile’.

It exists on my coffee table. It’s where I stack my movies-to-watch. This ever-shifting mess of loaners, freebies, screeners and envelopes sits there mocking me every time I sit down on my couch. Until now. I’ve decided I’m going to make an concerted effort to chip away at it. First up, is Michael J. Bassett’s 2006 film Wilderness.

Now, I had originally planned to watch this before the Toronto Film Fest because Bassett’s newest film Solomon Kane was premiering there. Though I had seen his debut Deathwatch several years ago, I wanted to reacquaint myself with his style. Obviously, I didn’t get around to it. After seeing Kane – which as far as swashbuckling sword & sorcery movies go was a fairly entertaining effort – the completist in me felt obligated to take in Wilderness, if only to get my Zip queue moving again.

A group of incarcerated juvenile delinquents and their handlers are set upon by a maniacal survivalist, while on an island character-building excursion.

Wilderness is definitely my favourite of the three projects Bassett has made so far. There’s a lot to like about this movie. The setup is simple and things get moving quickly. The cast is great and stacked with recognizable British talent. Sean Pertwee, who always elevates the quality of anything he’s in and Alex Reid (The Descent) appear as the authority figures and Toby Kebbell – who I first saw in the fantastic Shane Meadows film Dead Man’s Shoes – excels here as the alpha male juvenile Callum. What put this movie over the top for me were the interesting dynamics. In addition to the perils of having a trained killer and his attack dogs (which are a force by themselves) on their tail, these kids also have deal with each other. With their supervising element removed, some of these delinquents are as dangerous as the person hunting them and things fall into chaos quickly. It is unsettling and not beyond the realm of possibility. I mean there’s still a helping of characters doing stuff they clearly shouldn’t like when Jo (Karly Greene) unnecessarily provokes her own undoing, but for the most part the script is fairly tight.

Pertwee put it best in the accompanying featurette, when he described Wilderness as a cross between Battle Royale and Lord Of The Flies. That’s some nice fucking company! Wilderness is also similar thematically to a lesser-known Canadian film from the seventies called Rituals. Unlike Kane and Deathwatch, Wilderness is devoid of of any supernatural elements, which maybe why it resonated with me more. There is also some well placed gore in this movie. It is rarely excessive and is used only to accentuate the brutality of the circumstances.

After watching Wilderness, Bassett has cemented himself in my eyes as a competent filmmaker. As I said, Solomon Kane was decent enough, but it’s the kind of thing that could become a franchise if it does well enough and I'd hate to see him get locked into one thing for an extended period of time. I find his ensemble character pieces like Wilderness – and Deathwatch to a lesser extent – much more appealing, so that’s where I hope his career leads him.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another Round?

Welcome back for week three of Boxtober. Thanks for all the emails you have been sending in. It makes this little horror section all that much more fulfilling.