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, May 31, 2011

A Road Trip From Hell.

Local indie horror flick If A Tree Falls comes out on DVD today via Black Fawn Films.

When four friends travelling across Canada stop to camp for the night, they are stalked by a ruthless gang of locals.

Director Phil Carrer & writer and star Ryan Barrett have laid down some raw and wholly downbeat stuff here. For the most part, I liked If A Tree Falls, but did find it a little uneven. It is one of those efforts, and I find this a lot with low-budget indies – 2004’s Malevolence being another example – where a few key elements make it a memorable affair. Its washed-out grindhouse aesthetic is extremely authentic, even perhaps too much so. I love this style as much as the next guy, but you don’t want it so overwhelming that it distracts from the actual subject matter. I did however, think that the plucky folk music was an excellent choice, as it instilled a juxtaposition reminiscent of Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left.

The movie has several individual sequences that worked, an early sequence with Laurie (Emily Alatalo) and a later section with Lisa & Vanessa (Jennifer De Lucia & Breanne TeBoekhorst) inside their tent were very effective, but I had some issues with the movie overall. The motivations, especially toward the end, of both the hunters and hunted were a little muddied. I have since learned it was meant to be that way, as Carrer and Barrett have a sequel in mind. I also found the gore to be a little inconsistent. The execution was fine, but there were a few occasions where the wounds didn’t seem to match the severity of the damage inflicted.

One thing I am impressed with, is the solid marketing behind If A Tree Falls. The trailer and poster are both top notch and of course, I’m a big fan of THIS.

I'm so chuffed that some filmmakers have started doing this. It really shows a love for the era my generation of horror fans cut our teeth on.

I could rhyme off a list of films, from Jeff Lieberman’s Just Before Dawn all the way up to 2008’s Eden Lake, where this has been done better, but If A Tree Falls is still worth a watch. I admire the filmmakers’ get-out-and-do-it attitude and what they accomplished on a non-existent budget.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Splatter Matters.

Last Thursday, I went to the Japan relief benefit at the Toronto Underground, the last stop on the tour that started a month ago in New York. Put together by Rue Morgue magazine and Sushi Typhoon, all proceeds went to aid the relief efforts from the disaster on March 11th.

On the sched were two of Sushi Typhoon's latest offerings, Karate-Robo Zaborgar and Helldriver. The former was a remake of an old Japanese kid's show from the seventies, in the same vein as Ultraman. It was entertaining enough, but I think the best part of it was the end credits where they showed footage from the original show. It was incredible how much Noboru Iguchi's film looked like the source material, except of course with the addition of CG and hot chicks.

As I'm sure you can guess, the real reason I was there was Helldriver. I've wanted to see Yoshihiro Nishimura's spiritual successor to Tokyo Gore Police, since it was announced last year at the inaugural Sushi Typhoon screening of Alien vs. Ninja. It was pretty much exactly what I was expecting, with equal measures of gushing arterial spray, Asian beauties with deadly weapons – in this case a chainsaw sword! - and unhinged ridiculousness. These movies employ a very simple formula, and I'll be the first to admit that the majority of them go on about twenty minutes too long, but they never cease to amuse me. Every time my mind starts to wander, something off-the-wall happens and pulls me back into it. It's like Nishimura has it down to a science, much like that whiteboard I theorized about while they were making Tokyo Gore Police.

In Helldriver, Newcomer Yumiko Hara takes on the zombie killing duties, as Eihi Shiina plays the villain this time around. Actually, there were several actors that I recognized from other Sushi Typhoon movies in here, as well. I get the feeling that there is a real familial camaraderie going on behind the scenes of these productions. I have to wonder how much longer Sushi Typhoon can sustain their audience though. While I am still enjoying their output, I fear that interest in this genre is waning. Previously, Tokyo Gore Police and Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl played to packed houses, but the turnout for Splatter Matters was extremely poor. I don't know whether it was the date, venue or lack of press, but a charity event should have pulled in way more people.

Anyway, Helldriver is more of the same stuff you would expect from Nishimura. I wager you already know which side of the wall you sit on, don't you?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

DKTM 104

A Happy Memorial Day weekend to all you yanks out there. A full plate of stuff this week so let's get on with it, as I have an arson case to solve.

What's Eating You?

My buddy Darryl recently forward me this pretty awesome 3D animated short called Hambuster. It's from last summer, so I'm surprised I missed it initially. I do know I'm glad I watched it after my trip to Johnny Rockets after Attack the Block on Wednesday. Check out the patty pandemonium below.

More From The Brains.

I happened across an awesome post from the wonderful horror art site Monster Brains this week. Check out these covers from their "Hideous Rampage Of The Grotesque VHS Box Art!!!"

For the full post, click here.

Sharks In Weird Places.

The trailer for David R. Ellis' Shark Night 3D dropped a few days ago.

Sharks in a lake?! Okay, I guess I'll buy that. Then, just a day or two later, things got even more ridiculous when the trailer for Bait 3D hit the Web.

Sharks in a grocery store??? It seems like horror is all about nature's perfect killing machine right now - with Andrew Traucki's excellent thriller The Reef also being released on DVD in July - and me being a glutton for punishment, am all over it.

Hometown Bloggers Roundup.

My Toronto peeps have been busy over the last few weeks. Schwartz is back to doing regular posts over at Cartoon and Horror. This included some pics from his trip to the old warehouse & graveyard locations from 1985's Return of the Living Dead and a gallery of fantastic art from David Hartman.

After having survived last weekend's Rapture fail, Serena Whitney offered up some tips on how the inevitable zombie apocalypse may actually help your love life.

"Remember the times you were constantly ridiculed by your classmates in High School? During the Zombie Apocalypse, all those painful memories that haunted you will disappear when you are able to finally outrank the so-called buff men that didn’t have enough sense to stock up on guns, wood and canned foods. Women will see you as the 'Alpha male' instead of the 'eternal dork' you were once referred to as."

For the full article, click here.

Lastly, Fangoria scribe Lianne Spiderbaby's podcast Fright Bytes is still chugging along. The most recent episode featured a review of Insidious and an interview with director James Wan. Here it is below.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It Fo’ Real, Bruv. Trust.

Director Joe Cornish’s alien invasion comedy Attack the Block made a splash at SXSW last March, picking up the Midnight Audience Award. It was then immediately snapped up by Sony, and released in the UK a few weeks ago. On Wednesday, with its North American release uncertain, it was screened in select cities, including Toronto.

A group of delinquents fight to defend their South London neighbourhood from an alien invasion.

Attack the Block was a really fun time. It would be hard not to compare it to the works of Edgar Wright – who coincidentally has an executive producer’s credit on the film – as it has a similar mix of genres. And like Wright, Cornish is also not afraid to sprinkle in the splatter with his comedic riffs. However, he goes beyond just aping his contemporaries, as the film is technically sound, as well. I think what stood out to me the most though, was the score by Steven Price. It wonderfully punctuates the film with high-energy compositions that pump things up from the get go.

Attack the Block is populated with great young talent, most prominently John Boyega and Alex Esmail as Moses and Pest, respectively. The interactions between the gang of teens made for several laugh-out-loud moments, which, thankfully, weren’t all in the trailer. The instantly recognizable and always hilarious Nick Frost also appears in a supporting role. Another highlight for me, and what I think made the movie a success, were the creatures. The designs were really cool and the choice to have them be jet black – save for their fluorescent green jaws – was inspired. It helped the CG considerably, as the solid palette alleviated the blurring you often get when animating textured objects.

So, as I mentioned at the top, there is currently no North American release date for Attack the Block. My only theory as to Sony’s reluctance is the thick London dialect spoken within. Now, while I didn’t catch everything, I was always able to get the gist of what was being said. It certainly didn’t take anything away from my enjoyment, that’s for sure. But, then again, Sony isn’t worried about me. They’re clearly focused on “general” audiences, for they can be finicky lot that won’t read subtitles and reject black & white.

All I know is that depriving people of Attack the Block would be a shame. It is a highly entertaining flick that is well worth supporting and could very well be Britain’s equivalent to Super 8.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

United They Stand!

This week's home video distributor intro is United Home Video.

Even if you don't remember the logo, I guarantee you saw some of their offerings back in the day. United and their partner company VCI (which is still in business today) were responsible for unleashing hundreds of genre titles out into the world. This included such colourful titles as The Boogens, Midnight Movie Massacre, Terror at Tenkiller, Fiend and the title the intro above was pulled from...

And though they weren't the first (Western World Video's Sledgehammer has that disctinction), United even released a few shot-on-video horror flicks, such as Blood Cult and The Ripper.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Mother Only A Son Could Love.

The eighties bore witness to hundreds, nay, thousands of horror flicks. No matter how misspent your youth was, there's just no way to have seen them all. There's always gaps in the catalogue. Charlie Kaufman's 1980 backwoods horror effort Mother's Day is one of those titles for me. Fortunately, this month's Rue Morgue Cinemacabre screening was...

Three college friends on a camping trip are abducted by two rednecks and their insane mother.

It seems odd that as striking as that coverbox above would have been back in the day, I still passed it over. I guess I was more interested in Troma's flashier offerings like the Toxic Avenger, Surf Nazis Must Die and Class of Nuk'em High.

It has been a few years since I've watched a Troma offering, but seeing Mother's Day made me realize how they've changed over the years. I find their earlier works went more for shock value, whereas nowadays I think the priority lies more in the over-the-top gross-out. The rape scene in Mother's Day, though brief, showed a sadistic side that has all been erased from current Troma offerings. Even the original Toxic Avenger had one such scene, where Toxie's eventual love interest is ravaged during an armed robbery, but now Troma offers titles like Poultrygeist and Tales From The Crapper. They are entertaining in their own way, but surely not of the same stock.

The gore in Mother's Day is pretty rudimentary, but displays a certain creativity that brought a smile to my face. I think what made the movie work, or at least be serviceable, were the performances of all involved. They all, whether they be the tormentors or the tormented, were fully invested in their roles, which often gave it – and I may sound silly for saying this – an air of credibility.

Though Mother's Day may not have the film making chops of other low-budget survivalist films like Rituals and Just Before Dawn, I doubt that was the kind of movie Kaufman's was shooting for. I will say that watching Mother's Day has made me want to check out some more Troma. There is this movie called Decampitated I've had my eye on recently.

As for Darren Bousman's upcoming Mother's Day remake, I am still undecided. I'm not really a fan of Bousman, but the cast assembled is impressive.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

DKTM 103

Hey everyone. Well, the undead aren't banging down my door, so it looks like we successfully avoided the end of the world yesterday. Good for us. My favourite theory for sidestepping Armageddon was that Randy "Macho Man" Savage killed himself so he could stop God from pressing the Rapture button. Hey, it sounds about as plausible as anything else in the Good Book. But I digress.

Enacting Phase 2.

I've spoken intermittently about Android Re-Enactment, the film project I worked a while back. We released the first trailer a few months ago and the next leg of the ad campaign is about to launch, as the finished product gets submitted to film festivals around the world. Here below, is the final poster.

To see the trailer, click here. To visit the Facebook page, click here.

Death For Breakfast.

Anyone remember Garbage Pail Kids and Wacky Packages? Any kid of the eighties may recall sinking their pocket money into these things. Well, Wax Eye just announced a new line of cards called Cereal Killers. Featuring the art of original GPK artist Joe Simko, the set combines two of my favorite things; horror and cereal!

A Clockwork Porridge FTW! For more info on Cereal Killers, click here.

Chucky's Back... On Your Console?

Darryl forwarded me an interesting news release last week. It seems that Tikman Games are working on a video game featuring everyone's favourite homicidal doll Chucky. Described as a "stealth-action" game, players will be able to fill the bright red shoes of Charles Lee Ray, as he stalks and dispatches everyone in his path. Now, this could turn out to be shovelware, or an attempt to drum up interest in another movie/remake, but I can't deny that the idea of a Chucky game is intriguing. The release is slated for consoles and PC this fall. Click here, to see the announcement via Kotaku.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dark & Wild.

For this home video distributor intro, I'm going to get a little obscure.

Wow. That is some crazy video toaster action right there. I pulled that off a VHS copy of Fugitive Girls that I acquired from an Eyesore bargain bin a few months ago.

That bikini top looks like it is hanging on for dear life...

*ahem* Where was I? Oh right.

I wasn't able to find much about Nite-Flite. I do know that it was connected to the exploitation collaborations between Ed Wood & A.C Stephens (Stephen C. Apostolof) during the seventies. These included titles like Beach Bunnies & Hot Ice.

It probably wasn't Apostolof who cooked up that intro above, but a tip of the hat to whoever did!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We're All His Children Now!

Last night at the witching hour, Rue Morgue announced the guest lineup for this year’s Festival of Fear.

Having Robert Englund here this time around is pretty sweet. He is really the last remaining major horror name - save for legendary directors Carpenter, Raimi or Jackson - they could get to headline this event.

John Waters will be really interesting to see. He is one of the original midnight movie phenomenon auteurs – his after hours brethren Romero & Jodorowsky have appeared in previous years – so I think he will fit in quite nicely.

I was hoping Lance Henriksen would be back this year. FoF happens during his book tour for Not Bad for a Human, so it makes sense.

Malcolm McDowell was here a few years ago, but I’ll never tire of seeing one of my favourite actors of all-time. Hopefully, I’ll get to ask him about his fantastic mo-capping in Killzone 3.

Elvira aka Cassandra Peterson is back this year, as well. Though, I assume she will actually be in character this time, with her new show and all.

Tom Savini and Doug Bradley also return to Toronto this year. Like Bill Moseley last year, it is always great to catch up with them and see what they are working on now.

Other notable appearances include Eliza Dushku (Buffy, Dollhouse) Sam Trammell (True Blood) & Katie Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica).

The Fan Expo expands to four days this year, running from August 25-28 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. For the full announcement from last night, click here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

DKTM 102

Good morning everyone! Here's some news to help cure that Friday the 13th hangover.

Lance Speaks!

I just found about this week that character actor Lance Henriksen's autobiography came out a few days ago.

Seriously, that is the best fucking title ever! The book, co-written with Joseph Maddrey, spans Henriksen's entire career. Judging from the few tales he told during his appearance at last year's Festival of Fear, I can't imagine how many fascinating yarns are in this book's pages. For more info, check out the Not Bad for a Human website by clicking here.


Here are a pair of trailers for some notable horror releases. First, is the fifth entry in the Final Destination series.

Ugh, they had to go there. My chances of undergoing laser eye treatment just went from less than one percent to ZERO. As preposterous as that scenario is, it still doesn't make it any less gruesome a thought. So, it's a bridge accident this time. Sooner or later, these guys are just going to run out of disasters.

Second, is the new trailer for the remake of Tom Holland's Fright Night.

This actually looks a lot better than I was expecting. The trailer makes it a lot more serious than it may actually be, as Peter Vincent (David Tennant in an inspired piece of casting) is only glimpsed in this trailer. Even so, there is no denying they've assembled a great cast here.

The Dirt Pazuzu.

Lastly, I wanted to throw in an awesome commercial from Germany that played on G4 a while back. Again, I have to ask; why are European ads so much better than ours?

Friday, May 13, 2011

It Came From The Archives 11!

Friday the 13th is here again, this time only four days off from the thirty-first anniversary of the initial film’s release. I have mentioned before that I have numerous books & folders of random horror clippings in the archives, so to celebrate this most superstitious of dates, I dug out some stuff related to everyone’s favourite indestructible machete-wielding maniac.

The Friday series was pretty close to my heart while growing up. I’ve talked before about how, as a personality, I gravitated toward Freddy, but when it came to the actual movies, the Fridays had an infinite watchability factor. They were simple stories, that followed the same formula, but were all somehow different, at least in my mind. I could identify which entry a particular character or kill was from in the blink of an eye back then.

You know, we tend to make fun of the tweens for their running obsession with the Twilight series, but I guess I can’t really throw stones.

So, I guess by ‘approximately’ I meant ‘I’m just gonna throw a number down and hope it’s right’ because those figures aren’t even close. Oh, fourteen-year-old self, you so sloppy. The ratings are funny to look back on, as well. Due to the gratuitous nudity in Part V – what are there, like, three pairs of breasts in that? - I can understand my raging hormone-fuelled score, but what’s with the low score for Part VII? That one is the shit!

This was obviously before I saw the movie. I guess I interpreted the term ‘New Blood’ to mean that Jason would be fighting a relative, but we know now they didn’t go down that road until the ninth flick.

Speaking of Kane Hodder, the hulking presence that played Jason in parts seven through ten, I first met him in 1991 at Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors. It was the only time they ever brought their travelling roadshow to Toronto.

And no, I didn’t ask him why he was signing photos of Richard Brooker from Part 3. I didn’t want him to, you know, pull my arms off with his bare hands.

I believe that last one was from a bit in Rolling Stone magazine circa 1990.

Though the magic of Google, I looked up how that whole thing played out. Not so good. No sequel for Mr. Branch.

Below are some fold-outs from various Fangoria poster issues, circa 1990.

A cool Friday-related thing I pilfered from my video store was a retailer ad for Part 9.

It then opened up to reveal…

My copies of the Friday the 13th movies were scattered over several tapes, until I finally dubbed them all together on a pair of VHS. I even made a neat little case for them.

Entire story. Riiiiiight.

I even clipped all the intros together in a montage. Keep in mind that this was edited with two VCRs, so it looks like you would expect.

I was able to find pretty much everything I remember having, except for my Jason Voorhees Madball and my recording of Jason on Arsenio Hall. Fortunately, thanks to YouTube user miscvids818, here is the latter below.

Happy Friday the 13th everyone!