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, February 27, 2011

Don't Kill The Messenger 93

Hello all, here's what I have for you this week.

On Location!

In a few weeks, my buddy Schwartz (of Cartoon and Horror) makes his triumphant return back to the Great White North after a six-month stint in Los Angeles. He made spectacular use of his time while he was there - and en route - visiting several movie locations, such as the plantation in Interview With A Vampire, the house from Poltergeist and the farm featured in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Probably the most epic of his excursions though, was going to the Myers house from Halloween. I am so jealous he got to do this. Check out the pics below.

I wonder if you snuck a look in the window, you'd see two teens making out? For the full article on Cartoon and Horror, click here.

Slow Cooked Horror.

I saw an intriguing trailer for a film called Without on Twitch this week. This debut from American filmmaker Mark Jackson played Slamdance last month and won a jury prize.

I can see several flicks in there, the most paramount being fellow yank Ti West's House of the Devil, but also Jessica Hausner's Hotel with a little Skeleton Key thrown in. If Without takes the best elements from that trio, then this could be something special.

Byte-Sized Horror.

I was watching G4 the other day and saw a review for an iPhone game called Hysteria Project 2. Though the review wasn't particularly favourable, I was interested in the live-action Choose Your Own Adventure format. After doing a little investigating I found that the first game was available on the PSN for a mere dollar-ninety-nine. Well, that's a no-brainer. So, after taking thirty or so minutes to play through it, here are some quick impressions. Though the gameplay was rudimentary, the only controls were the X and O buttons, and the quality was extremely poor - what can you expect playing a game designed for an iOS on a 50" plasma - I kind of have to respect BulkyPix for giving this a go here.

I've always yearned for someone to bring back the type of games I used to play on the SegaCD. Also, as someone who has been working on a CYOA project for a while, I know how time-consuming it can be. However, like Heavy Rain, the Hysteria Project games could serve as a jumping off point to bigger and better things so video games can take that final step into true immersive and interactive storytelling.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Belle Of The Bloor!

There’s nothing like watching an old classic projected on the big screen. As part of Fangoria editor Chris Alexander’s monthly movie night at The Bloor, he busted out a 35mm print of Carrie.

Now, we all know how good the film is, one would expect no less from Stephen King's storytelling combined with director Brian De Palma's stylistic sensibilities, but what is truly gratifying is that it still rocks as hard as it always did even thirty-five years after its initial release. It had been a long while since I’d seen the film, but I obviously remembered all the bits that have become ingrained in pop culture – like Piper Laurie cackling “they’re all gonna laugh at you” and the image of Carrie, standing rigid in her pig's blood drenched prom dress – so this time I chose to concentrate on some of the things that lay beneath the surface. The most engaging of which was how much more visible Carrie's transition is than I remembered. Sissy Spacek puts in an undeniably deep performance to be sure, but now I’m old enough to realize just how layered it was. I recall her being a full-on mouse to crazed killer in an instant, but that's not the case at all. She certainly starts off that way, as at first Carrie can barely look people in the eye. However, when her once infallable trust in her mother is shaken early on, Carrie eyes are opened. Receiving positive reinforcement from her gym teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) and track star Tommy Ross (William Katt) only serves to boost her confidence and begins to believe she deserves to lead a normal life. She finds the strength to spar with her overbearing mother and finally start living. This transition is ever so slight, sometimes it is as subtle as her hair being pushed back where previously it hung over her face. The beautifully shot sequence on the dance floor with her and her date – which incidentally reminded me a lot of the opening sequence of Black Swan – is the moment where she fully lets herself go and fully believes that everything is as it seems.

I have to echo Alexander's comments before the film, when he said that because everything is going so well for Carrie just before the shit hits the fan, you almost forget just that. You are in the moment, just like Carrie White is. The filmmaking here, especially the final moments leading up to the prank, is the mark of a master craftsman. De Palma holds onto the tension for as long as humanly possible.

I also noted just how many young up-and-comers there were in the film, including PJ Soles, William Katt and Amy Irving. Nancy Allen & John Travolta would appear together again in De Palma's Blowout in 1981. I find it funny that Edie McClurg played a high schooler here and then went on to play Principal Rooney's secretary in Ferris Bueller's Day Off just a decade later.

Lastly, it warmed my heart to see that last perfect jump scare could still make a few people in the audience jump. What a fantastic screening! As with the other iconic horror titles I have caught on 35mm, they never seem to disappoint.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It Came From The Archives 9!

When I am down in the archives, I occasionally come across items I don't even remember owning. Take my last excursion for example. I was looking through a box of miscellaneous figures and came across a few colourful plastic creatures in an old After Eight box. I may have mistaken them for M.U.S.C.L.E.'s - of which I have many - if there wasn't an accompanying pamphlet identifying them as Monster In My Pocket.

Apparently, this was a toy line created in 1990 by two guys, after they left Mattel. Like Battle Beasts, they had a collectible hook for when you pit them against each other. As you can see above, each monster was designated a point value. I don't know how they decided a Werewolf was more powerful than a Kraken, but whatever. Anyhoo, here are some shots of the eleven figures I found in ye olde crawlspace.

Winged Panther.

Invisible Man aka The Handicapped SCUBA diver.

Witch. This one weighs less than a duck.

Red Cap. Probably not as tasty as the beer.


Gremlin. Spielberg lied to us.



Haniver. Yeah, I've never heard of it either.

Release the Kraken!

Great Beast.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Don't Kill The Messenger 92

It's been a fantastic news week - so much so that I couldn't even wait until today to post some of it - so I'll get right to it.

Toy Fare.

I got an email this week about the American International Toy Fair, which happened a few days ago in New York. FEARnet was there to cover it, and released these cool images of some upcoming toy lines.

McFarlane Toys has done Robert Kirkman proud by fashioning some pretty sweet figures of The Walking Dead.

For more info on the upcoming run, click here. I love how there is little mention of the third picture in the article. They're all like, 'yeah, we made a figure of the comic's most badass character, what of it?'

NECA has some wicked Freddy figures in the works.

I love, LOVE the extendo-arms figure. Props to NECA for going with the iconic Robert Englund design and completely forgetting about that other one. For the full article, click here.

Trailer Round Up!

First up is a trailer for a UK joint called Spiderhole. IFC just bought the North American rights for this movie, so hopefully we'll be seeing it here in some capacity soon.

Next, is a short and sweet trailer for James Wan & Leigh Whannell's new haunted house flick Insidious. This movie was one of the best horrors I saw last year, so I urge you to support it when it comes out this April.

Lastly, a new trailer for Rat Scratch Fever. Why? Because giant rats OWN! That is all.

Oh My Good God Yes!

It looks like there is a new horror event coming to Toronto.

So... yeah I'm going to this. A little investigation revealed that the man behind this is Andy Nyman, who you may remember from his memorable roles in Brit projects like Severance and Dead Set. In fact, now that I think of it, Nyman may have done his interview bits for Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide from London's Duke of York's Theatre.

Ghost Stories begins its North American engagement in Toronto April 1st. For tickets, click here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Best News!

My prayers have FINALLY been answered!

Wow, this and Sucker Punch in the same month? My head is liable to explode from too much awesome.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dead Island

I know you've all probably seen this already, as this trailer for the upcoming video game Dead Island has been tearing up the Internets the past few days, but I don't care. It is awesome.

I don't know anything about the actual gameplay, but I'll wager it will at least be better than Dead Rising 2.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Netflix Pix

So, us Canucks have had Netflix a few months now, and the database in rapidly ballooning. It still boggles my mind how people can complain there's nothing on there. Whenever I go on, I see half-a-dozen things I'd check out before even scrolling down the page. To each their own I suppose. For now, I'd like to quickly mention a few notable horror titles that have popped up in the last few weeks.

Altered is an underseen gem from Eduardo Sánchez, half of the duo that brought us The Blair Witch Project. I suspect nobody saw Altered because it was swept under the rug after the whole sequel debacle. However, I think this movie is well worth your time, as the story is solid, the gore is top notch and Sánchez uses his low budget just as effectively as he did in his debut. For my full review from when I watched it during my ten-year Blair Witch Retrospective, click here.

Primal is an Aussie flick from 2009, that I had a vague recollection of from when the trailer was making its way around the Web. Director Josh Reed combines elements of The Ruins and 28 Days Later for a pretty enjoyable flick. There are some cool moments, but you do have to overlook some really boneheaded decisions made by the characters. It gets a little CG heavy toward the end, as well. It is worth a look though, if the trailer strikes your fancy.

Guillermo del Toro's debut Cronos is presented here in beautiful HD and it has never looked better. I can see no better time to visit (or revisit) del Toro's unique take on vampirism, featuring one of the most badass props in horror movie history.

Well, what are you waiting for? Fire up your viewer of choice and get streaming!

Monday, February 14, 2011


Far be it from me to pay credence to a detestable Hallmark holiday, but the short film below is worth your time, no matter the colour of your heart. Unstrung is the winning film of the 2010 Film Racing Grand Prix, where teams are charged with creating a short film in one-hundred hours. The only parameters for this year's competition were the theme of 'forever' and the use of 'a photograph' as a prop.

Congrats to the people over at Meerkat Media for pulling this off so seamlessly. Even if they had access to the studio and all the puppets for the shoot, they still had to get all that beautiful coverage and edit it together. Having participated in three similar challenges myself, I know the Herculean undertaking this must have been.

To check out some of the other 2010 Grand Prix films, click here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Don't Kill The Messenger 91

Here's an all-video edition of DKTM, mainly because I was out late last night and the couch beckons.

A Farewell To Arms.

Here below, is a fun little short from writer/director James Picardo called Guillotine Guys.

Frank is Coming!

Any horror fan who has spent anytime on the 'Net should be familiar with Dutch director Richard Raaphorst fabled Nazi-zombie project Worst Case Scenario. The 2003 promo is the stuff of Web legend. Unfortunately, when the project fizzled out, Raaphorst began work on a new project called Army of Frankenstein. Well, this week, Twitch premiered a brand new promo for the film, which should hopefully finally come to fruition in 2012. Here it is below.

Make A Wish! (Don't Suck)

The trailer for Darren Bousman's new horror flick 11-11-11 came out yesterday, courtesy of Bloody-Disgusting. Though I've never really been a big fan of anything he's done, I do like the look of this trailer. Check it out below.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Isaac Clarke Is Back!

I’ve been all about the Dead Space 2 recently and last night I finally stomped the last Necromorph into oblivion. Here are my impressions on Visceral Games’ latest survival horror title.

I want to point out that Dead Space 2 is the first game I’ve played on my new television and boy, is it gorgeous. Everything is ridiculously sharp and due to the blacks being so deep, it makes everything else really pop.

The setting for this game is a space station called the Sprawl, situated on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Our hero Isaac Clarke wakes up from stasis while all hell is breaking loose there. The opening is incredibly intense, as you are stumbling around in nothing but your hospital gown, with necromorphs clawing at your heels. This makes for an extra satisfying moment when you finally get your hands on a plasma cutter and don the iconic RIG suit.

Dead Space's HUD system is still the best in the industry because it guarantees one-hundred-per-cent immersion. They even took away the need for a map by giving you this cool wrist-mounted GPS that shoots a beam of light to your current destination. You can even toggle it to direct you to save stations and weapon stores, as well. Though this IP has obviously lost some of its sheen, as it is no longer as fresh and new as it once was, I still enjoyed it immensely. I’ve heard terms like ‘derivative’ and ‘repetitive’ bandied about over the past few weeks and I don’t subscribe to that. While you are, for the most part, doing the same stuff you were in the first game, I never seem to tire of Dead Space’s unique brand of carnage. Each time I stomp on the corpse of a fallen foe to see what goodies spring forth from its shattered torso, it always gives me an equal amount of joy. It’s the same reason why I never got tired of the horseback riding in Red Dead Redemption. It just feels good doing it.

And while it is true that with this installment being on a vast space station, some of that confined claustrophobia from the first game has been diminished, it has been replaced by mind-blowing scope. For instance, I turned around in an elevator and saw the breathtaking sight of Saturn filling my entire view. There are also some spectacular sequences that take place outside the station, as well. The bit where you are trying to realign some solar arrays is pretty fucking epic. However, for those who yearn for the tight hallways of the Ishimura, there may be a surprise in store.

The level design is another thing I’ve heard taking flack. I don’t get that either. While overall I suppose it could seem that way, there are also many sections that stand out. The daycare level is super creepy, and the part where you are trapped in the processing center reminded me of that vintage eighties Play-Safe ad. Although the bosses themselves aren’t quite as creative this time around, the battles are no less grandiose. G4’s Victor Lucas made a really good point when he said that, at times, it’s like the game is playing itself. There is a huge confrontation early on, which is on par with the Ripley vs. The Queen duel from Aliens.

I think my only gripe would be the narrative. While the story starts strong, it does eventually fall into a trivial rhythm of “go-do-this-now-re-route-that-now-fix-this.” I am hoping that for the inevitable third installment, Visceral can retool this and make the game a little less linear.

I loved Dead Space 2. It offered me the kind of game play experience that warmed the cockles of my blackened heart.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Terrors In 4 x 7 3/8!

In amongst the ample festivities of this past weekend, I hosted a VHS movie night featuring a pair of Canadian creature features. The first was Deadly Eyes, which I needn’t elaborate on – as you already know how much I adore it – other than to say that my guests got a kick out of watching dachshunds dressed as rats, as much as I did. The second flick was a rare eighties oddity called The Pit.

I mentioned The Pit in a past post featuring some of the more obscure video store titles that left an impression on my teenage brain. I acquired a copy of it recently and was anxious to see if, twenty years later, it still held up.

For the most part, I’d say yes. I think The Pit’s main strength is how it just keeps heaping on the bizarre. So, you’ve got a twelve-year-old outcast named Jamie. He has a teddy bear that talks to him. Oh, and he also has a hole in the ground filled with Tra-la-logs.

People. Seriously. What more do you need?

Further adding to the oddness is the tone. The story is fairly absurd, but everyone plays it straight, even though there are zany music cues happening throughout. I really do have to hand it to Sammy Snyders though, as he has to carry the movie, as Jamie. I find it remarkable that, for a low budget horror flick such as this, the filmmakers were able to find someone who could put in this kind of a performance. I’ve seen kids in Hollywood blockbusters be far less convincing.

The Pit also takes some interesting turns toward the end. Aside from the obvious escalation of what has to happen to keep Jamie's pets fed, you don’t know where it's going to go. That is also something not often found with movies of this ilk. It was of course limited by what it could show in terms of gore, but at least there were smatterings of nudity here and there. Actually, there’s a funny story about how director Lew Lehman’s wife wouldn’t let him film any of the nude scenes, except the skinny dipping because the actress was his daughter. Yeah, I know. I fail to see how that’s better, either.

Anyway, I enjoyed revisiting The Pit. If you like curious little gems that march to the beat of their own drummer, I would suggest tracking it down.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Don't Kill The Messenger 90

Here's ya SupaBowl Sunday DKTM people!

Do You Wanna Party?

My buddy Schwartz who runs Cartoon and Horror put up a fantastic post yesterday. There was a signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank last week, for the newly released book The Complete History of the Return of the Living Dead, and he was there to chronicle the event.

Among those there were Clu Galagher (Burt of ROTLD, and muthafuckin Cat on a Cruise Ship), James Karen (of ROTLD 1 & 2), Brian Peck (Scuz, we all remember Scuz!) and Diane O'Bannon, the wife of the late, great Dan O'Bannon. Fortunately, Schwartz also took some video, which you can see below.

For Schwartz's full account of the event, click here.

American (Canadian) Mary.

One actress that I just do not get to see as much as I would like is Katherine Isabelle. It is upsetting to me that her career didn't take off after her seminal performance as the title character in Canadian modern horror staple Ginger Snaps. I'm not going to say she's fallen off the map, as a quick check of Imdb shows she is still working, but all I've seen her in the last few years are all too brief appearances in stuff like Uwe Boll's Rampage and the 30 Days of Night sequel, Dark Days. Well, here's hoping her leading role in the Soska sisters new feature American Mary changes all that. Here is the teaser trailer below.


Here below is the trailer for the new Indonesian horror Beach Creature, courtesy of Twitch.

Who knows if this is their response to Piranha 3D, but by golly is it... stimulating.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Diving Into The Third Dimension.

My home theater system has gone through some changes recently, the most prominent being the acquisition of a new television.



I wasn't initially going to go 3D, but it turned out that the best 2D TV out there last year just happened to be 3D, so it made sense to pull the trigger on it. Well, that and I got a killer deal. I have to say I'm pretty impressed with it. The difference in sharpness was immediately noticeable as soon as I booted up my PS3 and Blu-rays literally sing. And I wouldn't have thought it possible, but Avatar really does look as good as it did in the theater.

Earlier this week, I had my brother over to watch the newly released Blu-ray of Piranha 3D. It was a fun time, but the difference between movies that are shot in 3D and ones that are done in post is as equally apparent here as it is in the theater. Though the depth of field in Piranha 3D has been improved on significantly from its theatrical counterpart, there is some occasional image doubling, especially with the opening titles. That seemed to decrease as the movie went on though.

My brother hadn't seen Piranha 3D yet and liked it a lot. He couldn't believe how many people (Dreyfuss, Shue, Lloyd et al) they got to be in it. I guess it was just a matter of everyone being on the same page as to what kind of movie they were making. A campy creature feature that embraces its trashiness, and offers up the goods in spades.

I found Piranha 3D to be just as enjoyable the second time round. The “flower duet” sequence with Riley Steele & Kelly Brook looked beautiful on my Panasonic and I still marvel at the operatic scale of the beach massacre scene. It is truly some of the best stuff Nicotero & company have done in a while.

Bring on Piranha 3DD!