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, July 31, 2010

It's a Mad Houssse!!!

I checked out the 1977 Japanese movie House recently, as it just finished a week-long run at the Bloor.

Accompanied by six of her friends, spunky teen Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) decides to visit her aunt, who she hasn't seen since she was a child, at her country home. It is not long before they realize the house is haunted and an evil spirit is picking them off one by one.

House is one of those movies that's truly indescribable. I mean you can watch the bits on YouTube, but you won't be full witness to the insanity of this movie until you've experienced it whole. I cannot imagine the amount of drugs that must have been consumed while making this movie. I know I sure felt like I was on something while in the theatre.

All I really remember are images. Huge lips, bananas, floating heads, watermelons, ravenous pianos, killer pillows and, of course, the cat. Actually, that's not true, I can recall a great deal of it. I think it's likely because my mind was working to figure out just what the hell was going on most of the time. But in a good way. I also think House should win some sort of award for best character names. Along with Gorgeous, there's Fantasy, Sweet and Mac who likes to eat and Melody, who plays the piano, don't ya know. Then there's Prof, she's the one with the glasses and lastly, Kung Fu. She... well, I'm sure you can guess.

While doing some research, I read that the idea for House came from the director's seven-year-old daughter, which throws a whole new light on everything. Anyone who reads the web comic Axe Cop knows that a child's imagination run wild is a truly delightful thing.

If House sounds like your kind of trip, I have good news for you. Criterion is releasing it on DVD and Blu-ray on October 26th. I might suggest Criterion put a warning label on the disc though, something to the effect of “sparking up before viewing this movie, may cause permanent dementia.”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

This Year's Crop.

Toronto After Dark announced its 2010 lineup this afternoon and it's not too shab. Here they are below, click on the image to see the trailer.

Even though there's a fair share in there that I've seen already, there's also a good number that I'm really excited to see. Fingers crossed that Neil & Axelle show up to the Centurion screening, as I know they were at Fantasia just last week.

Toronto After Dark runs from Aug 13-20. For more info on the films above, go here. For ticket info, go here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tasting The Local Flavour

Last Thursday, I took a trip out to the Underground Cinema to see Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated, but came by early as they were screening a locally produced indie called Zombie Dearest beforehand. I figured, why not support the home crowd, right?

Failed comedy writer Gus (David Kemker) tries to win back his ex-girlfriend Deborah (Shauna Black) by fixing up her old farmhouse. While excavating the septic line, he inadvertently digs up a zombie. In a flash of genius, Gus gets the zombie to do his work for him, but quickly realizes that keeping it a secret will be an even tougher job.

Now, I know this may not be fair, but when I hear tiny, locally-produced-for-nothing zombie movie, my first reaction is lower my standards. There I was watching this, expecting to cringe my way throughout, but you know what; those moments never came. To my surprise, it wasn't terrible. It's actually pretty funny comedy. Well, more specifically a romantic comedy with a zombie in it, but trust me, that's not as bad as it sounds.

The cinematography is excellent in Zombie Dearest and grabs you almost immediately. When a low budget film is shot well, that's the first thing you notice and it can instantly lift your opinion. Having a talented eye in your corner is invaluable. I can remember having the same thing happen in the opening moments of Street Trash. It also helps that it's a comedy that is, you know, actually good for a few laughs. Although it sometimes veers off into weird places, like this bizarre S&M montage that comes out of nowhere, it kept me interested throughout. The acting is, for the most part solid and David Sparrow, who you'll recognize instantly if you've spent anytime watching Canadian television, is great as the zombie workman, Quinto.

I wish more people turned out for the screening. There were about twenty people in the audience and over half of them worked on the film. I suspect they didn't really have any money to sink into advertising. The director David Kemker conducted a Q&A anyway where I was shocked to learn that they shot this on an impressive fourteen-day schedule.

Considering I took a gamble here, I was pleasantly surprised. I certainly got more enjoyment out of this picture, than I did from the one I actually showed up to see, but more on that later. Zombie Dearest is a quirky story that is competently made, which is more than I can say for a lot of micro-budget stuff out there. I'm not sure how big the audience is for a movie like this. The majority of zombie fans will likely find this on the tame side, and comedy fans generally prefer their movies sans flesh eaters, but you never know. If it were to pop up on VOD in the future, you may want to take a bite.

Not So Lively

So, as I mentioned, I was at the Underground to see Night of the Living Dead: Renanimated.

For those who don't know, NOTLD:R is a fan-made project that has been in the works for sometime. About one-hundred-and-fifty artists got together and each recreated a scene from the original 1968 George A. Romero classic Night of the Living Dead. This consisted of synchronizing hand-drawn sketches, stop-motion, CG and even Half Life 2 mods, up to the original soundtrack of the film.

So, here's the thing. NOTLD:R is a case of something being a great idea that didn't translate into reality. Don't get me wrong, there's some awesome stuff in here, but it is very hit and miss. The problem is the pacing. Obviously, there are sections of the film that everyone wanted to do, so there's tons of submitted material to choose from in those areas. During the opening graveyard scene, the animation style switches frenetically. Conversely, there are huge sections of the film that are static. You can hear the action going on in the background, but there are single-frame sketches onscreen for sometimes as long as ten seconds. It was in these dull spots, that I wished I was just watching the actual film. I enjoy art as much as the next guy, but the title says re-animated.

NOTLD:R is an experiment that feels incomplete, like it came out of the lab too soon. I wish the organizers had insisted on animation, so the movie would always be flowing. By the end of it, I was a little worn out. It may be more palatable viewed at home in chunks, so its more creative pieces can be more easily picked out from within the messy canvas of the whole.

Below is the short, "So You're A Zombie" that played before the film.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Don't Kill The Messenger 70

As you probably know, this week was Comic-Con, so let me bestow some of the awesomeness that sprung forth from San Diego's nerd prom.

Holy Hell!

Every piece of info that's been coming out about the upcoming AMC television adaptation of The Walking Dead comic, has just got me more excited. Check out these character posters courtesy of Dread Central.

I know had some previous reservations, but these are crazy good. I can't believe how much those look like their comic counterparts, especially Andrea and Dale. It's like they literally walked off the page. Also, click here for footage of the SDCC Walking Dead panel, and here for a bootleg YouTube video of the trailer.

A Trailer.

I wanted to put up quite a few here from SDCC, but finding them online has proved to be most difficult. I did however, find one for the British indie Monsters that made a splash at SXSW earlier this year.

We Have Ignition.

Were you like me and let out a groan when you heard that we had to wait until 2011 to play Dead Space 2? Well, I have good news. It looks like there will be a downloadable prequel called Dead Space Ignition available in the fall via Xbox Live and the PSN.

From what I can gather, it looks like a motion comic puzzle game that takes place on The Sprawl before our hero Isaac Clarke comes onboard. I'll take it. For a full report from IGN, click here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Playing With Fire.

Now that all this Fantasia business is out of the way, I was finally able to catch the newest installment of The Millenium Trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire, at my local multiplex. As you’ll remember, I really dug the inaugural film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, so was totally stoked for the next one.

When two of journalist Mikael Blomqvist's (Michael Nyqvist) colleagues are murdered while investigating a sex trafficking ring, it is Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) who inadvertantly becomes a suspect.

Yeah, this is a tremendous series the Swedes have got going here. Fire is a great film with well-defined characters and pitch perfect storytelling. However, I have to say I didn't find this one nearly as engaging as Tattoo, although that may be more of a preference thing, rather than anything to do with the actual film.

Tattoo is a tough act to follow, man. I just watched it again on Blu-ray a few days ago and everything about that film just pulls me in. First of all, one of the many strengths of Tattoo was the relationship between Mikael & Lisbeth. Normally, these two characters would never ever cross paths, but due to the circumstances laid out in the first film, they became a great team. In Fire, they are separated, each with their own parallel storyline. I know why this happens, as this second film is more about Lisbeth (whereas Tattoo was primarily about Mikael) and it made sense for her character to fight her demons alone. I just, in the back of my mind, always kept waiting for them to be reunited.

Fire also ends very abruptly, which is again in contrast to Tattoo. The first film had a twenty-minute epilogue, yet Fire seemed about that length too short. They totally Empire'd the ending! I can only wager that Fire was meant to be a bridge between two larger stories, the events in Tattoo and whatever is coming up in the last film, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Thank God I only have to wait until November to see how this all turns out.

Despite being a different director this time around – Daniel Alfredson, brother of Tomas 'Let the Right One In' Alfredson – the style was still very similar to that of Niels Arden Oplev's Tattoo. That was a relief, as that can be jarring when you switch directors mid-franchise, like when Paul Greengrass replaced Doug Liman on the Bourne films. I wasn't a fan of that change-up, but here the transition is pretty seamless.

The Millenium Trilogy is classic mystery filmmaking that is not afraid to deal in extremely dark subject matter. I expect that once I have seen them all, they will fit together brilliantly as one gigantic film. For anyone who enjoys good thrillers, this stuff is required viewing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Poster Collection: A-B

So, I guess when you are dealing with a mountainous collection of posters, the best place to start is at the beginning of the alphabet. Most of the ones you'll see over the next several months I acquired while working at both Cockbuster and an Ontario music store franchise called Sunrise Records, while some were purchased legitimately from different establishments. Click on any of the posters to take a closer look.

This poster was purchased from Athena in the UK. I also have a huge 24 x 72" door-sized version of this, as well. I assume that's how it was meant to be displayed, as Giger's pet is bursting through a wooden door in the picture.

The two AOD posters above were ordered via mail from Renaissance. I remember picking up some tees - that have since degraded into holey scraps of cloth - and some 8x10's, as well.

I'll always remember the release of Blair because it came out the same week I waved goodbye to retail sales.

Every time I think of this movie, I recall an exchange between two of my friends. "Hey, let's go see Bone Collector" to which my friend replied, "Bone Collector? More like Shit Collector!"

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Don't Kill The Messenger 69

First, let me get you updated on what happened with my latest 24-hour Film Race short, as the awards were handed out a few days ago. If it seems like this happened quickly, that's because it did. For some reason, they decided not to do the whole posting-the-top-five-thing and just cut to the chase. I asked them why and they said they just wanted to announce the winners as soon as possible. I don't really understand the logic in this, as now no one gets to see the films, except those who came out to the screening. I thought the whole purpose of this thing was to expose the public to independent filmmakers, but whatever.

Anyhoo, the awards. We did pretty well by placing third in this year's competition, as well as winning Best Makeup and Best Set Design. I unfortunately have no link for "J Plus K" right now, but hopefully Darrin will be putting it online sometime in the next week.

The Master Speaks.

Jason Bene over at KillerFilm gave us another doozy this week. He somehow managed to score an interview with John Carpenter. To discuss his entire career would take days, so Jason understandably chose a single title to focus on - 1987's Prince Of Darkness. Here's a snippet.

Jason Bene: You took an intellectual approach to science vs. religion and how both of them perceive the devil. Did you do research on metaphysics and atomic theory?

John Carpenter: A lot. It isn’t exactly a devil. It’s an Anti-God, which is very different. The devil by biblical terms is just a fallen angel. He started a rebellion in Heaven and was cast out. He’s not on the evil par with the deity. This is an anti-deity basically. I guess I didn’t explain that very well in the movie.

Jason Bene: You seemed to be going for the less is more approach with Frank Carrisosa’s make-up effects. Were you happy with the final results?

John Carpenter: I was very happy with it. I was especially happy with what Catherine turned into. I thought that was pretty good. I was very happy.

Jason Bene: The dream sequence involving the tachyon sent from the future is a foreboding piece of celluloid that fans still talk about to this day. Every time I discuss this flick, that’s the scene everyone says freaked them out.

John Carpenter: That’s weird. I never thought of that. That’s great. That’s interesting. I have to keep that in mind.

For the rest of the interview, click here.

Oh, Roger.

This trailer needs no introduction.