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.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mon Dieu!

I find it hilarious that I will be in a car driving to Montreal in just over a week for the Fantasia Film Festival, and up until a few moments ago, I still had no idea what I'd be seeing. Festival organizer Mitch Davis, wild man that he is, just announced the lineup this afternoon. Here are some of the genre goodies playing this year.

The Last Exorcism, directed by Daniel Stamm and produced by Eli Roth.

This French backwoods horror flick finally sees the light of day.

aka We Are What We Are. I've heard nothing but great things about this Mexican import about a family of cannibals.

Chris Smith's (Creep, Severance) newest stars Sean Bean.

Jim Sturgess stars in this British film about a man who sees demons on the streets of London.

The Shrine is director Jon Knautz's follow-up to his debut Jack Brooks Monster Slayer.

After its solid showing at Sundance, Tucker Vs. Dale invades Montreal.

A homegrown selection, I must say the Just Before Dawn vibe of the trailer intrigues me.

Also, A Serbian Film, The Human Centipede and the I Spit On Your Grave remake form a triple threat, vying for the title of most shocking of 2010 at this year's fest. Psst, trust me. It's the first one.

As like last year, there are a good number of flicks I've already seen, including [REC]2, Deliver Us From Evil, The Disappearance Of Alice Creed, The Loved Ones, The Revenant, Birdemic and Doghouse.

I'll be there from the eighth to the thirteenth, so here's what I plan to eyeball while I'm there.

Thai horror returns with another anthology of shivers. If it's half as good as its predecessor, it will be a blast.

A new documentary about the H.G. Lewis, aptly titled The Godfather Of Gore plays with a print of his 1963 splatterfest Blood Feast. Good times.

aka Evil: In The Time Of Heroes, this Greek zombie flick apparently does wonders to freshen up the genre. Can't wait to check it out.

Now, you all know about my penchant for Asian hyper-violent gorefests! Well, it just so happens that both Mutant Girls Squad AND Alien Vs. Ninja both play while I'm there. It's FATE I tell you!!!

Probably, the most bizarre film playing at Fantasia (besides maybe that one with all the mannequins) is Rubber, about a serial killing tire with psychic powers. Yes, you read that right. That's just too crazy to pass up.

For the full list, click here. Hopefully, I'll be checking in with you periodically while I'm there, so you can join in on the fun.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Three Movies In One!

I took a trip into town, via the nearly deserted highway - I swear, for all the trouble this G20 thing has caused, it has sure helped inbound traffic - to check out the Vagrancy screening of Dr. Butcher M.D. at the Toronto Underground. This is another eighties title that only existed previously to me as a memorable coverbox on a crusty video store shelf.

Oh, Dr. Butcher M.D. How adorably ridiculous you are. But I have to ask, where was this movie?

The movie I saw was about random cannibals and zombies on an island. I mean, sure, there's some stuff at the beginning involving some dude mutilating and eating corpses at a hospital, but it takes a reaaaaallly long side route to get back to the "doctoring" at the film's end. Speaking of which, is it just me or is this film last ten minutes of Dr. Butcher exactly like the conclusion Lucio Fulci's Zombie? Ian McCulloch? Check. Lots of fighting inside a burning barn? Check. Our heroes escape before being overwhelmed by zombies/natives? Check. No wonder Dr. Butcher is called Zombie 3 in some circles. It's funny because like I said, it really is like there are three movies going on in here simultaneously. You have this mystery about cadaver mutilations mixed with two knock-offs of Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust and the aforementioned Zombie. The result is not nearly as awesome as you would think, but despite the badness, it is still highly entertaining because you know those Italians always deliver on the gore.

There's an especially memorable bit with someone getting their head sliced into with a motorboat propeller. It's no zombie vs. shark, but I'll take it! There's no shortage of skin, provided by the lovely Alexandra Delli Colli (also of Fulci's New York Ripper) and as with many movies of this ilk, I was bopping along with the score, as well.

If you are into these old Italian B-titles, then you should add this to the roster, if you haven't already. Just don't expect this

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Don't Kill The Messenger 67

I've got some real goodies for you today, but I've got to make short work of this post, as kick-off is at ten this morning. Here we go.

Brought To You By 3M.

My buddy Darryl sent me a link this week to the site of an artist named Don Kenn. His shtick is he sketches his dark visions on Post-It notes. Here's a taste.

For more of Kenn's work, click here.

Movie Macabre Returns!

Many a late Saturday night was spent watching Elvira: Mistress Of The Dark ham it up on Movie Macabre. Cheesy movies like The Mad Butcher, Beast In The Cellar and Dr. Heckyl and Mr Hype were made infinitely more watchable by Elvira's commentary. Well, it looks like a new set of episodes are on the way. Check the video below for the deets.

I Swallow Your Soup!

Saw these hilariously awesome things on Sci-Fi Wire a few days ago.

It brings a smile to my face to know that some Bruce fan has already printed these off and put them on soup cans in a supermarket somewhere. Hell, I might just do it myself for shits and giggles.

And I Love This Short.

Thanks to the jaded viewer for drawing my attention to a 2008 short called I Love Sarah Jane. Like Let The Right One In, it grounds its genre underpinnings with a coming-of-age story. I adore the last few moments of this piece. I can't wait to see more from Spencer Susser in the future. Watch I Love Sarah Jane below.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nightmares in Blu.

I finally got around to watching my A Nightmare On Elm Street Blu-ray this week.

You know, it's really quite astonishing how well this movie holds up. Let me first talk about how gorgeous this movie looks on Blu-ray. With some of these golden oldies, namely Texas Chainsaw and The Evil Dead, I always wonder if a high-def transfer is even necessary – as their graininess is part of their power – but with Nightmare, it really pops. The creativity used in the many dreamscapes is immaculately rendered and on full display. The excellent sound mix is equal to the task, as well.

I've revisited this film about four times this year and it still always astonishes me how solidly its put together. The classic horrors that endure are a combination of a great story, all the right people involved and a whole lot of luck. Nightmare has all three of these in abundance. This seminal eighties slasher not only has the scares, but also the smarts. It's a rare combination, especially for one that came so late in the cycle.

Fortunately, I had yet to pick up a recent issue of this on disc, so the abundant special features were all new to me. I will say that I was disappointed that the included featurette “Never Sleep Again” wasn't the comprehensive doc by Farrands & Kasch that's been making the festival rounds of late. However, the one that is on there is still quite good. I really dug that they talked at length about all the effects shots in film, namely the death scenes. There's also a bit called “The House That Freddy Built”, that delves into how much the Nightmare series helped turn fledgling film company New Line Cinema into the empire that would later bring forth the epic Lord Of The Rings adaptations. The two commentaries are also interesting. I believe they aren't new – one is actually from the laserdisc released in the mid-nineties – but they are still engrossing. The first is a conversational commentary with director Wes Craven, cinematographer Jacques Haitkin and actors Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon, and the second is a newer track featuring inserted clips with a least a dozen people involved in the production, including actors Craven, Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Robert Englund, producers Bob Shaye & Sara Risher and composer Charles Bernstein.

So, as you can see, the disc is jammed. It's worth owning for the Hi-Def transfer alone, but there are several hours of supplementals to go with it, as well. A Nightmare On Elm Street is a touchstone film for me, and you will not see it any better represented than on this release.

*Blu-ray screencaps courtesy of DVDBeaver.

Friday, June 25, 2010

24 Hour Update.

Well, the 24 Hour Film Race screening went off without a hitch yesterday. To be honest, I was worried with all these G20 nonsense, I wouldn’t be able to get to the screening on time, but the roads were clear as day. It appears that people are either staying home or have left the city all together.

Where is everybody?

The audience seemed to be receptive to our short – always a good thing – even though it was the last in a series of twenty-two to hit the screen. Afterwards, Darrin, Harmonie & I went over to a nearby pub and mingled for a bit before the organizers handed out the audience awards.

Our short J Plus K came third! The winner was a very funny short called Besties, by an improv troupe of four dudes who I’d seen before. Their winning 2008 24-hour short Bum Rush actually played at Toronto After Dark a few years back. I was kind of bummed that an entry shot at Springridge Farm featuring a guy in a giant strawberry suit didn’t place, but what can you do.

He wuz robbed!

So, a few weeks from now, the top five shorts will be announced on the Film Racing website. I’m feeling good about our chances!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thalassophobia Turns 35.

With all this Film Race stuff going on last week, I completely failed to notice we had a birthday come and go. Thirty-five years ago, Steven Spielberg unleashed Jaws, a film adaptation of the best-selling book by Peter Benchley. It scarred generations of swimmers and made what was actually a malfunctioning mechanical shark affectionately nicknamed Bruce a household name. Three sequels and many knockoffs followed, but none packed the punch that the 1975 film did. Who didn't sneak a look behind them while underwater at the local pool? Just to make absolutely sure. That's the power Jaws had on us all.

Happy birthday, ya big lug.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yet Another 24 Hours.

Hey everyone. Here's the rundown of what happened last weekend, during my latest 24 hour Film Race shoot. I'll spare you the suspense and tell you we did get our submission in on time (with time to spare no less!) I apologize for the lack of pictures below. I was wearing many different hats this time, so I wasn't able to snap any. You'll just have to use your imagination, until I can post the vid. Okay, here we go.

9:45pm - I get to Darrin & Harmonie's place, which will serve as our home base. Schwartz and Terence show up shortly after. We boot up the computer to get ready for the email that will give us the parameters for our short. Harmonie got a location release to use her office building, so whatever we do, we'll try and incorporate that.
10:00pm - Our assignment arrives. The theme is 'Happily Ever After' and the surprise element is 'Chocolate'. We start throwing ideas out, though it's a little tough as Schwartz & I have minds that aren't really wired for Happily Ever After. We also have to remember that we only have two actors; Harmonie & myself.
10:15pm - Schwartz comes up with a very Henenlotter-ish idea, centered around this fake leg prop that he's brought with him, so now everyone is fixated on the fake leg. It kind of reminds me of last year when Schwartz reaalllly wanted to use his dog, Boo. No psychics involved this time though, he just wants the use the leg. Considering Harmonie & I are the ones that have to be in front of the camera, we're not sold on it.
11:00pm - We've got the 'leg' idea as a backup, but we're still trying to come up with something else - anything else.
12:00am - So, we're going with the 'leg' idea? This is what's happening?

I've heard the term 'break a leg', but this is ridiculous!

1:30am - Before I start to write, Harmonie & I kind of veto the leg idea. I don't think she's real comfortable with the subject matter and I'm ansy about pulling off the inevitable special effects needed. Harmonie comes up with a 'nugget' and I run with it. Schwartz vows that he will one day film a short starring his severed limb! Everyone retires, while I stay up to write the script.
3:00am - The script is done! It's four pages, which is a perfect size. It's funny though, no matter what the length - Snip was two-and-a-half pages, and The Mountebank was six - they always seem to end up coming in at just under four minutes of screen time. Now I just hope my pages aren't shite. With nobody awake to show it to, there's no turning back.
3:45am - I finish up a quick shot list and then hit the hay. Usually my job is done now, but this year I have to act, so I should really get as much sleep as possible. I don't want to look like a zombie on camera, not this time anyway.
8:00am - I get up, do a prop list and get copies of the script printed off for everyone.
9:00am - Oh yeah, possible snag. The short requires a third person that we don't actually have. Darrin gets on the phone to a friend of his and somehow manages to find Samantha, who is miraculously free on a Saturday afternoon. Crisis averted!
10:00am - We are all ready to head to the location, which is about twenty minutes away.
10:30am - The location is gorgeous, a nice open-concept office layout, with three desks placed perfectly for the scene. Adrian, our last crew member shows up and we get to work. We don't have to do much dressing, just set up the lights and camera.
12:00pm - One of the company's bigwigs shows up with his kids. We all hold our breath. He's just there to grab something and wishes us luck before leaving. Aaannnnd... exhale.
12:15pm - The first shot is complete. Yeaaaah, probably should have started earlier. I think we've got about fifty shots to do, so I see a lot of them being combined as the afternoon progresses. The humming from the computer servers in the next room is killing our sound, so we're going to have to put a lot of music in to mask it. I think Darrin is already intending to cut in some of NIN's Ghosts. Good thing it's public domain. Thanks Trent!

1:00pm - We are moving at a good clip. Even though the script is four pages, it is only three tiny scenes. There's no minimum length requirement, so whatever.
2:00pm - Lunch time! Rule #1; always feed your actors!
3:15pm - We're still plugging along, over halfway at this point. I'm a bit worried about the two f/x shots at the end of the shoot, as we really won't have time to do many takes.
4:15pm - The first f/x shot is locked. We're reaaaallllly behind.
5:00pm - The second f/x shot goes okay. We power through a few takes, making as little a mess as possible.
5:15pm - We decide to do our last shot in the alleyway beside our location. Passersby look confused, as all they see are two people walking with bloodied hands. Filmmaking is fun!
5:40pm - Picture is wrapped. Darrin has taken all the footage to start editing. We are behind the pace of last year, but at least we were capturing throughout the day. I'm still not panicking because I know what Darrin is capable of. The rest of us clean up and put everything back as it was.
6:30pm - Harmonie & I get back to home base. Darrin is hard at work. We track down a copy of Ghosts for him to use. Schwartz and Terence are coming back in a few hours, where hopefully there will be a rough cut to look at.
8:15pm - The guys arrive and we wait patiently as Darrin needs another twenty to finish up. Things are getting tight. What would a film race be, without taking it right to the wire?
8:45pm - Darrin shows us what he's come up with. What a guy. It looks great and cuts together way better than I would have ever expected. Schwartz & I point out some missed shots and Darrin goes about inserting them, while we scramble to get all the necessary paperwork together.
9:15pm - Now, this is the part that blew me away. Probably the most stressful time in a Film Race shoot is when you are transferring your film onto a disc. Many a team have been brought down (including ours in 2008) by glitches and the time it takes to do this. At this point, I thought we were fucked because in previous years, this process has taken twenty minutes, if not longer. However, with Darrin's souped-up rig, he had two copies of 'J Plus K' burned almost instantaneously!
9:30pm - Harmonie drives me to the drop-off point, which is fortunately only fifteen minutes away.

Ye Olde Finish Line!

9:40pm - Darrin calls us while en route to let me know there's a piece of info missing on our disc case - the running time, which is three minutes and fifty-three seconds. You see? Same length everytime! I take care of it.
9:45pm - I drop off our submission. I mention that our team did Snip last year and get tons of positive feedback from the organizers. It looks like Boo made quite an impression. Let's hope J Plus K is to their liking, as well.
10:15pm - I grab some dinner at home base before heading home. Darrin, Harmonie & I watch J Plus K one more time. Of course all of its imperfections are glaring now that it's been submitted, but it is what it is.
11:00pm - I head home, stopping on the way to drop off the camera equipment we borrowed for the day.
12:00am - I arrive back at my place. Exhausted. I spoil myself by turning on the air conditioning. Time for bed.

Hopefully, the audience gets a kick out of J Plus K on Thursday. Even though we were knee-capped by the whole 'happily ever after' thing, we still managed to make it violent as all hell. I will say that the idea of seeing myself on the big screen at The Bloor is a little surreal though. There's no question that it looks great and the music adds a lot, as well. I'll be sure to update you on how the screening goes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Don't Kill The Messenger 66

This week at E3, the three pillars Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, as well as hundreds of game developers from all over the world trotted out their upcoming product. As usual, my next twelve months filled up pretty quickly. In addition to Black Ops, Medal Of Honor, Rock Band 3, Infamous 2, Killzone 3, Portal 2 and many others, there are some great horror titles on the horizon, as well. For instance;

F.E.A.R 3 is set nine months after the second games icky conclusion and you take control - via two player co-op - of duelling brothers from the previous installments, Point Man & Paxton. Here's some demo footage.

Rage is a new property that I only first heard about this week. It looks really fun and much like Fallout 3 and Borderlands without all the RPG elements that don't interest me. It appears racing around like Mad Max is also a large component to the game, as well. Here's a look.

When I first saw the working title of Silent Hill 8, my first thought was 'holy crap, there's been SEVEN of these things already'. I know it's been a while since I've visited this series, but wow. This one's got an interesting setup, that might just get me back in. Check out the trailer below.

Okay, now that they're actually releasing a Dead Rising game for the PS3, I can finally get my zombie killing on! Can't wait to try out that double chainsaw motorcycle! Here below is some demo footage from Dead Rising 2.

Those above titles are all great, but there's no game I'm looking forward to more than Dead Space 2. I had so much fun playing the first one, that I can't wait to get into Isaac's suit again, and try out his new abilities and weapons. It looks like there is a special edition pack available that comes with a PS3 port of Extraction, as well. Awesome! Here's some Dead Space 2 gameplay.

Like I said, even BUSIER times ahead.

Friday, June 18, 2010

24: Mark 3

Well, it's that time again for the Toronto Film Race. It will no doubt be a late night this eve as me and my crew try to put something together that resembles coherence in time for the Saturday 10pm deadline. For newer readers, the Film Race is a yearly competition that challenges entrants to write, shoot & edit a four-minute short in twenty-four hours. I feel pretty good about this year, as I've got both Schwartz and Darrin with me this time around. Darrin was the Mac Pro mage who managed to cut together my first year short "The Mountebank" in a few hours, and Schwartz & I made such a solid team last year on "Snip" that we ended up almost winning the damn thing. Most importantly, we've all got experience now, which helps avoid the pitfalls that can bring down novice teams.

I think the only stumbling block this year is our lack of actors. It looks like I might have to pull double duty and step in front of the camera this time. I haven't done that for quite a while, but hey, it's for a good cause, right?

Anyway, that's going to keep me occupied all weekend, but hopefully I'll have the full story of what went down for you on Monday. Until then, wish us luck. Below, are both of our first two Film Race shorts.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Keeping The Faith

With VHS becoming more and more rare these days, I'm always looking for places that still display it on their shelves proudly. Here's the first of what I hope to be a series of posts chronicling the dying breed of the VHS vendor.

I took a trip into Cambridge on Monday to meet up with Schwartz and check out a new video store that opened up around the corner from where he's living right now. What kind of video store could make me drive an hour, past fields of cows and rusted out school buses, you ask? Well, one called The Vault.

It is a specialty store catering specifically to genre cinema and carries not only DVD, but also a startling amount of VHS.

As you can see, this place is pretty wicked. It's like stepping into a horror movie museum. It amazes me that a specialty business could survive in such a location, but Zack, the owner, assured us that it's been going well since he opened about six months ago. He, as I'm sure you can relate, was frustrated that there were no places to get old genre movies, so took it upon himself to make it happen.

The pictures speak for themselves, so if you are at all interested in genre cinema it is certainly worth the drive. Zack receives new stock on a weekly basis that often includes obscure donations from people trying to unload their 'junk'. All I know is, any place where I can acquire goodies such as these;

is tops in my book. For more info on The Vault, click here.

The next stop on my video shop tour is Pickering, as Zack told us that it is still a largely untapped resource when it comes to vintage VHS. Here's hoping that is the case.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

At Long Last.

Sometimes running this blog involves some juggling. I had intended to use this week for my next It Came From The Archives segment and regale you with my collection of Topps Dinosaurs Attack! cards. However, a search of the 'Net quickly revealed that a dude by the name of Bob Heffner had already displayed them in all their bloody glory. Click the image below to go to his site, as they are definitely worth a look.

So, here I was, left with a slot to fill. Then I realized I should really get around to documenting the posters I spent so much time sorting and mounting over the last year. While I technically began posting them during last month's ICFTA (my Full Moon posters) this will be the first official installment of The Poster Archive Project.

Where to begin! Well, I'd say my Weekend Of Horrors stash would be a good start. I've talked before about the one & only time Fangoria brought their roadshow to the Big Smoke in 1991. I've also probably mentioned that by the end of that weekend, I was on a first-name basis with all the poster vendors there. My WOH haul is easy to spot these days because I had them all mounted (at great cost) shortly after the show. I look back now and laugh at just how much money I had to burn then. Even if I was only making four-sixty-five an hour, I was a sixteen-year-old with a job and the money piled up fast.

Anyway, here they are.

I still have the standee for this too, but it's in pretty rough shape.