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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

From A To Zombie.

With Zombieland hitting theatres this Friday, the walking dead are as popular as ever. So, I thought I'd drop a few appropriately themed links for you to devour at your leisure.

Fellow blogger Cory Cosciato just unveiled a slick new re-design for his zombie site The Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse earlier this week. The IZA is your one-stop shop for zombie news, whether it be movies, gaming, web videos or literature.

If you want a resource for weathering the zombie Armageddon, look no further than the Zombie Survival & Defense Wiki. It has everything you'll need to know to stay one step ahead of the undead.

Want a little more levity with your flesh eaters? Check out the humourous bit "5 Reasons You Secretly Want A Zombie Apocalypse." from I certainly spied some similar daydreams in there.

To keep tabs on zombie sightings around the world, check out this MAP on If any of these events have happened near you -- MOVE!!!

That's it for now. Hope to see you when the ESS hits the EFF!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Waking To A Nightmare.

Earlier this year the movie Pandorum popped up on my radar. Even though director Paul W.S. Anderson (who acted as producer on this film) may not have the best track record with genre fans – even though I personally find the Resident Evil films to quite entertaining – the ambiguous trailer for the film definitely piqued my interest. After a fairly sizable ad campaign (for a genre film that isn’t Saw anyway), Pandorum has made its way into theatres.

When Cpl. Bower (Ben Foster) and Lt. Payton (Dennis Quaid) suddenly awake from their cryo-sleep on the spaceship Elysium, they go about trying to recover their lost memories and find out why they seem to be the only people left on the ship.

I don’t know if it’s that we’ve been spoiled this year with some really awesome science fiction like District 9 and Moon, but I thought Pandorum was a bit of a misfire. Although its ideas were lofty, it gets bogged down in a mess of science-fiction conventions. Much of the film is as clunky as the dying ship and almost every scene introduces a new character whose quick to clumsily spout exposition. Although, to be fair I did become more interested once Nadia (played by German actress Antje Traue) came into the picture.

Nadia getting her Descent on.

On the plus side, the look of the film IS impressive. The ship’s interior, while not entirely original, feels like a hulking, breathing beast and the creature designs are pretty cool, especially the little guy we glimpse in the trailer. There is also some neat futuristic gear on display, as well. I would love to get my hands on one of those laser shavers! After all is said and done though, there are just some things that didn’t add up for me. Normally I’d let a lot of that shit slide, but considering how high concept Pandorum tries to be, I have to scrutinize. I don’t want to blame the director Christian Alvart, as I suspect – and I could very well be wrong on this – maybe there were too many cooks in the kitchen here. The performances are okay, but poor Foster has to carry most of the movie on his back.

I don’t mean to be as harsh as I sound. Pandorum is definitely watchable fare, but I don’t think it lived up to the promise of its trailer. Maybe I was expecting too much. It made me hope for something like Anderson’s 1997 film Event Horizon, but what I got was a far cry from that. Starting with the 2007 underrated gem Sunshine, the current state of straight-up science fiction has a very high standard, so you have to bring your A-game if you want to impress me nowadays.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Don't Kill The Messenger XXX

That's #30. Get your mind out of the gutter. Welcome to the hungover edition of DKTM. Let's get right to it, the couch is beckoning.

Fantastic Trailers Abound.

Fantastic Fest is underway in Austin, TX and to celebrate they (and G4) have been holding a competition called UWE BOLL'S TOTALLY AWESOME VIDEO GAMES. Entrants are charged with creating a faux-trailer for a video game movie adaptation to be judged by the Dr. Boll himself. Here below are some of my favourite submissions.

Can You Hear Me Now?

The invention of cell phone technology has been the bane of horror movie screenwriters everywhere. But fear not, for every new problem births an accompanying cliché. Behold!

Thanks AOTS!

Cronenberg + MC Hammer = Internet Gold.

I don't know how they ever thought to do this, but I'm glad they did. Click on the image to be redirected. Sorry, the sound seems to be a little off for some reason.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back On Track.

After all that craziness I think we are in need of a palette cleanser. What better thing for that, than a Coverbox Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TIFF Vids: [REC] 2

Lastly, here is video shot by fellow bloggers Robert Mitchell & Sheleigh Bober of the midnight screening of [REC] 2 from September 15, 2009.

And this is the following Q&A that MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.

For more videos from Rob & Sheleigh, click here. For my review, click here.

TIFF Vids: Bitch Slap

Here is the video caught by my friends Robert Mitchell & Sheleigh Bober at the midnight premiere of Bitch Slap on September 14, 2009. Luckily, he didn't have the camera running when I lost the ability of speech in the presence of Zoe Bell. Thank God for small miracles. The first video is the before the screening and the next pair are part one and part two of the following Q&A.

For more videos by Rob & Sheleigh, click here.

TIFF Vids: The Loved Ones

Here below is video shot by Robert Mitchell & Sheleigh Bober from the midnight screening of The Loved Ones on September 13, 2009.

This video is the subsequent Q&A and MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.

For more videos by Rob & Sheleigh click here.

TIFF Vids: Survival Of The Dead

Here below is video taken by TIFF videographers Robert Mitchell & Sheleigh Bober during the Zombie Walk in Toronto on September 12, 2009. The event included a ceremony honouring iconic director George A. Romero, followed by an outdoor screening of his 1968 classic Night Of The Living Dead.

This was then followed by a midnight screening of his new film, Survival Of The Dead. The first video is the red carpet preamble and intro to the film, the second video - which MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS - is the Q&A afterwards.

For more videos by Rob & Sheleigh, click here. For my review of Survival Of The Dead, click here.

TIFF Vids: Daybreakers

Below is video taken by my friends Robert Mitchell & Sheleigh Bober before and during the Midnight Madness screening of Daybreakers on September 11, 2009.

And here is the Q&A following the film. MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.

For more video from Rob & Sheleigh, click here. For my Daybreakers review, click here.

TIFF Vids: Jennifer's Body

My buddy Robert Mitchell has been diligently uploading all of the footage he took from last week's Toronto Film Festival. Below is footage from the red carpet chaos and intro to the Midnight Madness screening of Jennifer's Body from September 10, 2009. For my review, click here.

And here is the Q&A that happened after the screening. MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.

For more of Robert's videos, click here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Welcome Back Joe!

The last film that I’d like to talk about from this year’s TIFF experience is Joe Dante’s new offering The Hole. Any child of the eighties will no doubt be familiar with this director’s work, whose credits include Gremlins, The Explorers and The ‘burbs. And that’s not even mentioning his contribution to more straight-up horror with titles like Piranha and The Howling.

While the Thompsons are moving into their new house, Dane (Chris Massoglia) & his younger brother Lucas (Nathan Gamble) discover a boarded up hole in the cellar. Joined by their new neighbour Julie (Haley Bennett), they try to discover exactly what it is and whether their opening it is the cause of some strange occurrences around town.

The Hole is a fairly light affair, but that might be what makes it stand out. What Dante has given us here is a fun adventure film that can be enjoyed by everyone, young and old. It so made me recall the PG horror movies that I devoured as a child, like Lady In White, Cat’s Eye, House and Poltergeist. Okay, those last two might not have been PG, but I sure watched the hell out of them in my formative years. Perhaps what I found most appealing about The Hole, is the sense of wonder within it. We all had summer adventures when we were young and you may have also had your own hole and by that I mean, a mysterious place that you felt compelled to explore. Mine was a drainage tunnel near my house that ran underground for several hundred feet. Once my friends and I discovered it, it took us days to finally get up the courage to walk through to the other side. It is this kind of energy Dante harnesses with The Hole, taking this ‘what if’ scenario and running with it.

Troll's Tunnel in Oakville, Ontario.

The Hole is presented in 3-D, but you know, it almost doesn’t need it. There are very few gimmicky moments and apart from the last fifteen minutes – which take place inside the hole and employ a fantastically skewed visual style – you almost don’t even notice the technology. The casting of the three leads is top notch and they really come across as kids being kids while the parental unit is away. Dante sprinkles in a few cameos here and there that his fans are sure to get a kick out of, as well.

The children of the eighties are now grown up and having their own kids and The Hole is a perfect example of something they can enjoy together. Thank you Mr. Dante, for reminding me of a time when my only care in the world was being home before the streetlights came on.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Something Rotten In Denmark.

When Todd from Twitch informed me that Ole Bornedal's Deliver Us From Evil was one of his favourite films so far this year, I knew I had to get a seat when I found out it was screening at this year's TIFF. The Danish director has a good track record with me, having done both versions of the nineties thriller Nightwatch and the quirky children's movie The Substitute in 2007. He was in attendance at the screening.

When drunkard Lars (Jens Andersen) runs over an old woman with his truck, he goes about framing the town outcast, Alain (Bojan Navojec). When the townsfolk come to Lars' brother's Johannes' (Lasse Rimmer) house – whom Alain has been doing odd jobs for – with the intention of lynching him, Johannes holes him away inside. Armed only with a nail gun, Johannes must keep the angry mob at bay until help arrives.

Deliver Us From Evil is pretty exceptional. The suspense is built to a fever pitch, as you see events being set in motion that are clearly not going to end well. It most notably recalls Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, but Bornedal said he drew on the American home invasion subgenre as a whole. He was quick to point out that xenophobia is rampant in Europe nowadays and this film was made out of necessity to comment on that.

Deliver Us From Evil has a structure almost like a play, where a bard-like character comes onscreen and introduces the story, sets it in motion, and then comes back to conclude the tale. As you would expect in any small town, it is full of colourful characters that we see at their best and their worst. Ingvar (Mogens Pedersen) is the grisled town patriarch and the only thing keeping his war-torn soul from the darkness is the very woman who Lars has run down. Lars and his girlfriend Scarlett (Pernille Vallentin) have one of the most unhealthy relationships that I've ever seen onscreen, yet with one speech to his brother's wife Pernille (Lene Nystrøm), Lars manages to almost come off as sympathetic. What you take away from Deliver Us From Evil is everyone has good and evil in them and it is up to each one of us to decide which path we want to take.

Bornedal ended the Q&A with the news that a future project he is working on is a cross between Lost In Translation and The Silence Of The Lambs. I want to see that movie!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nastiness Down Under.

The dark horse of the festival this year is an Australian entry by debut filmmaker Sean Byrne called The Loved Ones. Twitter was a buzz with praise for this film and I caught it a few days after its premiere at Midnight Madness.

Before Brent can attend his prom, he is abducted and taken to a remote cabin. There he discovers that Lola (Robin McLeavy), the school shrew whom Brent rejected earlier that day, has her own party planned for the both of them.

I could have been all the praise and expectations, but I was a little underwhelmed by The Loved Ones. Don't get me wrong, this is a well made movie with great performances all around, but it didn't really break any new ground. The movie looks fabulous, employing a gritty, yet colourful palette ala All The Boys Love Mandy Lane and the music – including a sugary Aussie pop ballad that may rattle around in your head for a while – is well placed throughout. It also gets points for presenting an antagonist dynamic I don't think I've seen before. However, in the end there really isn't much more to it. I went into The Loved Ones completely cold, knowing nothing except that it was about a prom. I had this built-up hype in my head throughout the entire film. I kept thinking, 'it's gotta be about more than just this' and then later 'okay, something crazy HAS to happen in the third act, otherwise what's the big deal?' The Loved Ones made a few interesting turns, but I'm still puzzled as to what people thought elevated it from good to great.

I have to be honest and say that my biggest problem with it has nothing to do with the film itself, but my perception of it. During the torture scenes, I felt very disconnected and this isn't the first time this has happened. I had the same reaction during my festival viewing of Fabrice du Welz's Calvaire in 2004. I have found that I am way more invested when the protagonist is female, rather than male. That's on me of course, but it is what it is. It also took me sometime to figure out why there was a secondary storyline in this movie. I've come to the conclusion that it was mainly to add contrast, as one boy has the worst night of his life, while the other has the best. It's fairly unorthodox, but not entirely unsuccessful.

Stars Jessica McNamee & Victoria Thaine.

While The Loved Ones is miles beyond last year's Midnight Madness discovery film Deadgirl, it still didn't really thrill me. Sean Byrne has proven here that he is a skilled filmmaker with a great eye and I have high hopes for his future projects. As the aforementioned du Welz went onto make the exceptional Vinyan last year, perhaps Byrne's next one will equally impress.

Red Carpet photo courtesy of DirtyRobot.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bueno! Mucho Bueno!

The nervous excitement throughout the crowd was palpable at the Midnight Madness screening for [REC] 2 last night and I am thrilled to report that it lived up to my already exceedingly high expectations. Boy, did directors Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza ever bring their 'A' game!

[REC] 2 picks up fifteen minutes after where the original left off, as a doctor accompanied by a four-man SWAT team enter the quarantined building to access the situation.

I think the thing I most admire about Plaza and Balagueró is they were not content to just give us more of the same. They expanded on the stuff touched on at the end of the first film and took it in a new direction. I'll leave it to you to decide whether you like that decision or not, but I loved what they did. Whereas [REC] was seen through the eye of a single camera, the sequel employs several as there is one mounted on each of the SWAT members. This makes for some inspired editing, as we get multiple views of the action throughout. There were even some moments where it felt like I was in a first person shooter. As with the first, there are some masterfully nail-biting set pieces that really got the crowd roaring, especially one towards the end where the camera continually switched back and forth from infrared to spotlight. I'd say that the tension here almost surpasses the original, as these characters are now entering areas that we as viewers saw in the first film – and unlike them, we KNOW the dangers that lie within. Needless to say, there was very little downtime in [REC] 2.

I also want to point out how seamless the CG is in this film. It is way more visually ambitious than the first, and they somehow manage to pull it off. When I did notice an effect, it was more because I knew it HAD to be digital, rather than it looked like it. If I can add one more accolade to the pile, it is how strong the third act is. Like its predecessor, [REC] 2 is a wonderfully crafted thrill-ride that never runs out of steam.

Directors Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza

That's pretty much all I have to say about [REC] 2. You just have to experience it for yourself. My hat is off to this pair of Spaniards for delivering the best offering Midnight Madness – and perhaps the genre as a whole – has put forth this year.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bitch Slapped!

Last night was the premiere of Bitch Slap, which as you can imagine I was pretty excited for. And why not?

So, usually I would give you a review, but I think the copy on the back of the postcards above sums up this ditty better than I ever could.

"3 Bad Girls, 1 Desert, 1 Supercharged Thunderbird, 1,473 Exotic Weapons, 1 Ruthless Crimelord, $206 Million in Stolen Goods, A Cop Who May Not Be A Cop, Hundreds More Cops who are Cops (Maybe...), 317 Mercenaries, A Pair Of Mentally-Challenged Contract Killers, 1 Device That Could Snuff Out Life On Earth, Impromptu Wet T-Shirt Spectaculars, Existential String Theory, Several Pairs of "Pouty Puss" Underwear, Girl on Girl... On Girl... On Girl Fighting, Nasty Nuns, Circus Freaks, A Sword-Wielding Psychopath, Elvis Impersonators, 1 Creepy Pre-Schooler, Hot Women In Bars, Hotter Women Behind Bars, 4 Psychotropic Drug Trips, A Cavalcade of Horny Strippers, Ferrari vs. Porsche vs. Yugo, Deadly Sex Toys, Feral Feminists in G-Strings, Savage Bikini Waxing, One Badass Hearse, The Department Of Homeland Security, Vegas Porn Stars, A Spirited Round of Honduran Snuff Sex, Intercontinental Intrigue, Death and Dismemberment, Celebrity Cameos, One Pissed Off Midget, The Greatest Chick Fight in Cinema History, Generous Scoops of Mouth-Watering Female Flesh, More Cleavage than you can Shake a Stick At and Kidney-Rattling Erotic Displays of Carnal Prowess Heretofore Unimagined...

I don't know about you, but I want a piece of that!"

Hells yeah! Here's some more pics from the night.

The cast of Bitch Slap!

Bad Girls Julia Voth (Trixie), Erin Cummings (Hel) & Ameríca Olivo (Camero).

Minae Noji (Kinky).

Stunt Coordinator Zoe Bell.

Speaking of Ms. Bell, I totally froze up while standing in front of her outside the theatre afterwards. I just couldn't make any words come out of my mouth. I'm thinking,

'just stick out your hand and say hi! Tell her she was awesome in Angel of Death, or that Gamer would have been way better if she was in it for more than five minutes. Hell, just tell her that stunt in Death Proof was cool. Just say something! ANYTHING!'

I didn't. I guess that's what they call being starstruck. Oh well. I have another big day today, with two horror flicks (The Loved Ones and [REC] 2) on the docket, so check back soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Zombie Day In T.O.

Zombies have been with us, at least in their most recognized incarnation, for over fourty years now and Toronto played host to a special set of events on Saturday. Legendary director George A. Romero was sworn in as a permanent resident of Canada this week and was honoured in front of a huge crowd at Yonge & Dundas square – the city's center! In this crowd, were hundreds of undead that had just walked – or perhaps more accurately – shambled across the city for the occasion. At the ceremony Romero was presented with an award, which you can see below in all its severed glory.

This was followed by an outdoor screening of the 1968 classic Night Of The Living Dead right in the heart of downtown. After the ceremony, the horde made their way over to the Ryerson Theatre to take in Romero's new zombie opus, Survival Of The Dead. When the undead crash the red carpet, you know you are in for a wild night.

All right, so onto the movie.

The remaining members of a military unit headed by Crocket (Alan Van Sprang) become involved in a bitter feud between two families when they seek refuge on a secluded island. The O'Flynns feel that the undead should be put out of their misery, while the Muldoons maintain they should be kept unharmed in case a cure is discovered.

I've decided, after digesting Survival for a day or so, that I come down somewhere in the middle. The movie does have some good stuff in it, including a shootout at a dock and the striking visual of a zombie riding on horseback, but these moments don't seem to come as often as they do in the other films of the series. I will say that Romero certainly hasn't run out of new and interesting ways to dispatch the walking dead though. It had a cool western vibe throughout and like Romero's last couple of projects, was infused with large helpings of humour. I also liked how he connected Survival to his previous film Diary Of The Dead because it gave more weight to the universe he's created here. It is pretty evident that this one could end up being the second of a possible trilogy.

Director George A. Romero

Romero is known for injecting subtext into his films and that is still present here, but this time it is more overt and not as cleverly presented as it used to be. Some of the dialogue in Survival seemed a little off to me and the only characters that were really able to pull it off were the feuding codgers Patrick O'Flynn (Kenneth Welsh) & Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick). Now matter how ridiculous it may have been, their exchanges were pretty entertaining I must admit.

MulDOOOON! (Richard Fitzpatrick)

I seemed a lot warmer on Survival Of The Dead than many of my compatriots were after the screening, but I can relent that the quality and relevance we've come to expect from Romero is slipping with each subsequent installment.

For video from the night, click here. Zombie photos courtesy of DirtyRobot.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Return Of The Spierigs.

My first reaction after seeing the trailer for Daybreakers a few months ago was surprise. Identical twin brothers Michael & Peter Spierig had seemed to have all but disappeared after their 2003 debut Undead and here they were storming back with this flashy new vampire epic that starred A-list talent like Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill and Willem Dafoe. It was quite a leap to say the least.

It is 2019. Earth is populated by vampires and the last remaining humans are hunted and harvested for their blood. Edward (Ethan Hawke) is a scientist trying to create a blood substitute before the world's supply runs out. When he is approached by group of humans offering a cure, Edward must decide where his allegiances lie.

Daybreakers is an extremely ambitious movie and, for the most part, I think it succeeds. Like last month's District 9, it takes a fresh and unique look at an old genre and it does it for way less money than the bloated offerings we see every blockbuster season. The Spierigs were aware of how huge this project was in comparison to what they had done before, even joking during the Q&A that just the contact lens budget was probably as much as the total cost of Undead. That didn't seem to phase them however. They are still the purveyors of big and bold ideas. Within the first ten minutes of Daybreakers they create an immersive world, reminiscent of Alex Proyas' Dark City, full of stark visuals that speak volumes.

Aussie Directors Michael & Peter Spierig.

There are some excellent action set pieces in the first half that combined with the awesome sound design really pop. I don't know if the Spierigs were going for some sort of record for jump scares involving bats, but I think they broke it. As with the aforementioned District 9, Daybreakers is also improved exponentially by having WETA on board to do the effects. The Subsider creature designs were absolutely fantastic and the CG got better and better as the film progressed. The cast is great with Willem Dafoe especially fun to watch as the human rebel leader Elvis. He somehow pulls off tons of cheesy dialogue just because he is just that charismatic. Another standout is Isabel Lucas – who I actually had to be told was the fem-bot from Transformers 2 because I sure didn't recognize her – as Alison, another one of the humans on the run from the vampires headed by Sam Neill's character, Charles Bromley.

Willem Dafoe

Sam Neill

The movie isn't perfect though. It has a slow second act, and the last bit sort of degrades into a generic action movie. It also seems to collapse under the weight of maybe one too many ideas, but I don't think it really hurt my enjoyment of the movie. I appreciate new ideas, even if they don't gel together flawlessly. I really hope Daybreakers does well when it releases in January because then it will be another movie for filmmakers to point to when they are pushing to get original content green lit.