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, August 31, 2011

Festival Of Fear 2011 Part 2


Saturday is always the craziest day of the Fan Expo, but it was actually only really crowded for the first half of the day. I spent most of the time in panels, so I didn’t feel crammed in at all.

My first Q&A of the day was actress Danielle Harris, who was there promoting The Victim and Laid to Rest 2.


She talked about nabbing the part of Jamie in Halloween 4 and I was surprised to learn that it was initially between her and Melissa Joan Hart. Harris recalled a lot of the stunts she did as a kid, that she wouldn’t do now.

“I love doing horror though. If I’m not bruised, losing my voice from screaming and covered in blood, I don’t really feel like I’ve earned my pay.”

When asked about coming back to the Halloween franchise for Rob Zombie’s remake, Harris said that initially he didn’t want any connections to the original films, but won him over with her audition. For her death scene in Halloween II, she had a lot of input because there were no details in the script. Her & Tyler Mane basically improvised the sequence on set.

When someone asked if there was going to be a Hatchet 3, she replied;

“I read on Twitter it’s been green lit, but as of right now, there is no cast or director attached. I’m hoping for a phone call. I certainly can’t imagine they would want to change Marybeth a second time.”

The Q&A ended off with her talking about the project she just finished called Among Friends, which she directed and starred in.


“I just made the kind of movie that I would want to see. A lot of my fans were around my age when Halloween 4 came out. They’ve grown up with me, so I think I know what they like. It’s a fun eighties-style slasher.”

After Harris, was Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley.

He started off by apologizing for the mix-up that had to have his panel rescheduled. I don’t think anyone thought he was to blame for the gaffe, but he said sorry anyway.


Bradley talked about his early career, working with Clive Barker in theatre and his early shorts and how him being cast as Pinhead was just the most logical choice at the time. Of course, it didn’t take long before the issue of the new Hellraiser film came up and he was extremely candid about it.

“They called and wanted me to come in for a two-day shoot for the price of a new refrigerator.”

After he passed on the role, it went ahead anyway, with a two week shooting schedule and a budget of $150,000. The trailer for Hellraiser: Revelations is out now, and it looks abysmal.

“I think it is an insult to Clive, an insult to me, an insult to the material and frankly, an insult to all of you.”

These harsh statements jive with Barker’s who recently tweeted;


Bradley’s last word on the subject was that the trailer on YouTube was currently holding at about a ninety-two per cent dislike rating, so it would appear that the fans are in relative agreement, as well.

When Bradley was asked if he still keeps in contact with the original Hellraiser cast, he said he did and was, in fact, just texting with Ashley Laurence the night before.

There was also some time spent reminiscing about Nightbreed, which Bradley referred to as a “very flawed masterpiece.” I remember him talking about this when he was here several years ago, but essentially the studio butchered the movie because they wanted a slasher flick and couldn’t wrap their hands around the fact that the monsters were supposed to be the good guys.

Eventually the subject came around to whatever happened to the Halloween/Hellraiser crossover movie.


“Well, initially Dimension wasn’t interested in doing it. Then, Freddy vs. Jason came out and made squillions of dollars, and then suddenly they wanted a Halloween-Hellraiser movie made yesterday. I was up for it, and at one point, Clive was going to write it and John Carpenter was going to direct it. Then somewhere down the line, the Akkad’s decided they didn’t want Halloween involved and that put the kibosh on the whole thing.”

Bradley ended things by mentioning his most recent projects, which included a film called The Reverend with Rutger Hauer and The Infliction, with Bill Moseley & Sid Haig.

Later in the day was a panel titled Lance vs. Lance that turned out to be really fun. Rue Morgue writer Last Chance Lance had stated previously that he knew more about Lance Henriksen than the man himself. So, the panel was basically a quiz show of sorts with both Lances buzzing in and answering Henriksen-centric trivia posed by moderator Stuart Andrews & the audience.

Henriksen, Andrews & challenger LCL.

Henriksen was a really good sport about it, as I don’t think he really knew what he was getting into when he first walked in.

“I feel like I’m at a roast, but in reverse.”

It got a little chaotic toward the end, but I believe the right Lance won. Audio was being recorded for a future Rue Morgue podcast, so I'll be sure to link to it when it surfaces.

Before leaving, I took another walk around the floor.




I am suddenly very interested in the comic Bomb Queen.

On the subject of lovely ladies, one thing I was really hoping to see at this year’s Expo were some Sucker Punch cosplayers. I was not disappointed.

Final tally: 4 Baby Dolls, 1 Amber, 1 Blondie & 1 Rocket.

Later on, I hung out with some friends before going to the Festival of Fear party at Revival. I had a great time and saw some people I hadn’t talked to in a while. I was also impressed with Blood Ceremony, the band Rue Morgue got to play the event this year. Here’s some footage of their set, posted by YouTube user darklordbunnykins.



Check back tomorrow for the last installment of my Fan Expo wrap up. For Part 1, click here.

Additional photos courtesy of Michael Schwartz & Kiva Reardon.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Festival of Fear 2011

Whew. That was an exhausting weekend! It looks like I’ll be splitting this post into pieces, as there is a lot of material to sift through. First off, I want to commend the Fan Expo organizers for how smoothly things went this year. They clearly learned from the distastrous mistakes made the previous year and took the necessary steps to prevent them from happening again. The larger space, extended hours and extra day spread out the affair and alleviated some of the congestion. So, mad props to the Fan Expo people on a job well done!

Thursday

The first day was mainly just a get-in-get-out type of thing. I got my pass, looked around for a bit and then headed off to the Near Dark screening at The Toronto Underground.


It was a lot of fun, even if it wasn’t the 35mm print that was promised. You know, I always forget how fantastic the ensemble is in that movie. These are the kinds of bloodsuckers that vampire flicks need to be populating their movies with. Then there is Near Dark's formidable style, proving that Kathryn Bigelow was a Grade A filmmaker from the get-go, not just when the Academy decided to acknowledge her.

Following the screening, Toronto film critic Richard Crouse brought out Lance Henriksen to talk about his experiences while filming. Henriksen talked about how matriarchal Bigelow was as a director, and his close friendship with Bill Paxton. The two of them got so into their roles, they even wrote another Near Dark script. He also told the story – which I’d heard last year, but never tire of hearing him tell it – about testing out his Jessie character on a unwitting hitchhiker he picked up late one night.


Lance's opinion on the current state of cinematic vampires?

“God I fuckin’ hate Twilight, man.”

Other stories that came up were about him working for a director that used to talk to stuffed animals on set and how he once was abandoned in the desert with three potatoes and a book of matches. It was great stuff like this that reminded me that I still have to read Lance’s book, Not Bad For A Human.


At the tail end of the Q&A, Crouse brought up Michael Biehn, who happened to be in the audience. He was apparently offered a role in Near Dark, but turned it down. Of course, now he was quick to admit that he made a lot of mistakes as a young actor. When someone asked what he’d done instead, he said;

“Navy Seals. Yeah. Shit like Navy Seals.”

Biehn then went onto say that he almost didn’t take the role of Kyle Reese in The Terminator either because his agent basically sold it to him as;

"A movie directed by the guy who got fired off Piranha 2, starring the bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger, about a robot coming back from the future to kill this girl that works at a burger joint."

Thankfully, Biehn still took the role.

Henriksen, Crouse & Biehn.

However, he was clearly enthusiastic about the two projects he was promoting at the Expo. He is part of a really strong ensemble in Xavier Gens’ new film The Divide. Biehn described the movie as Gens’ “fuck you to Fox” after the director's unpleasant experience working on Hitman in 2007. Biehn also talked about another project called The Victim, which he had full control over.

It was a solid night.

Friday

On the second day of the show, I got some more time to walk the floor. Even though the space dedicated to horror seemed a tad smaller this year, there was still no shortage of things to do.

Now that the Toronto After Dark Film Festival has moved back to October, they took the opportunity to announce the first eight titles of this year’s programme.


Even though Vagrancy didn’t have a booth this year, they still had flyers around trumpeting their very solid 2012 Shock Stock event.


Twisted T’s had some new designs this year, including The Gate, Slaughter High and The Beast Within.


Full Moon & Troma were out in full force again


Then I saw some familiar faces walking around the floor.


Seizing the opportunity to get some shopping done, I quickly made some acquisitions.

Still waiting on that Scarlet trade though.

The first panel of the day was Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. After seeing actress Cassandra Peterson appear a few years ago, it was cool to see her this time as the persona that made her famous. Either way, she still looks great.

She talked a lot about her career, and how the name ‘Elvira’ was literally picked out of a hat before they started shooting that first day.

When somebody asked her about her longevity, she replied it was because of Halloween. She is always doing something when that season rolls around, so she’s sort of become synonymous with it.


She also talked about turning down an offer to pose in Playboy. Before making a decision, she polled her fans at a convention and was surprised to see that the majority of them were against it.

“My audience is one-third horror fans, one-third comedy fans and one third horny guys. I guess they didn't show up that day.”

She also said that the latest incarnation of Movie Macabre went very well with the DVD’s releasing this October.


Right after Elvira was actor, director and make-up man Tom Savini. I’ve seen him in person several times now, and he’s always lively and willing to answer a lot of questions.

He talked about starting out and hounding effects legend Dick Smith for the tricks of the trade. This led to him getting jobs in the mid-seventies, shortly after coming back from Vietnam.

When asked the inevitable question about what he thought of CGI, Savini said he didn’t mind it.

“I think the best stuff out there now is when visual effects are used in combination with the practical.”


Savini was of the opinion that CG can work, but Hollywood is still in the process of reprogramming us to accept it.

"When me and guys like Rick Baker were doing stuff, it was all there in front of you and required no effort from the viewer to believe it. With CG, you have to pretend that what you are seeing is real."

Someone asked Savini what his most dangerous stunt or effect was and he said that apart from his high fall in Dawn of the Dead, there was a bit in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 that left little room for error where he was cutting through a fake head held by his assistant.

Savini then talked about his mysterious disappearance from the end of Machete. His death scene was shot, but apparently cut from the film because director Robert Rodriguez wanted to bring him back for Machete 2.


Savini also revealed that he was supposed to play the villain opposite Antonio Bandares in The Mask of Zorro, back when Rodriguez was still attached to direct.

From there I took off to check out Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and well, you know how that went. Check back tomorrow for Part 2 to hear about Saturday’s exploits.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Don't Be Afraid Of The CGI.


Sally (Bailee Madison) is sent to live with her father & stepmother (Guy Pearce & Katie Holmes) in an old mansion, and soon discovers there are creatures within that may not be as friendly as they pretend to be.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark was a frustrating experience. So many things about this film are top notch. Everything from the production design & cinematography to Marco Beltrami's score is exceptional. I could see Guillermo Del Toro's influence almost immediately, as it has many of the qualities inherent in contemporary Spanish genre cinema, most notably Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage. This movie also has a great cast – though Holmes was given little to do and Pearce even less – and considering how much of the movie was put on the shoulders of young Madison, I think she did an admirable job. The filmmakers had a good foundation built here. And then the CG creatures show up and the whole thing comes crashing down.

I'm not bad; I'm just rendered that way.

And you know, it wasn't even bad CG; it just WASN'T SCARY. To me, that's a fundamental problem when that's what I was promised. I mean, it's in the friggin' title! Too much CG kills a movie like this, but it is also how you utilize it. The Orphanage had over a hundred digital effects shots, but you barely noticed them because they were so well implemented. In Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, it seems the further the movie goes along, the more overtly they trot them out. I mean, the little guys in The Gate were scarier than these fucking things.


The frustrating thing is that Don't Be Afraid of the Dark starts out really well, with a sequence that it sure to have you cringing, but the only other effective bits were exposition scenes. Holmes is shown drawings of the creatures and those were actually creepy because they're tactile and not created in a computer. However, even when forgiving the pervasive CG, there is just an emptiness here. The Spanish efforts that I spoke of before always brought a lot of heart, and effortlessly built a connection with their audience. There was none of that here. Even with the great performance put forth by Madison, she is initially portrayed as a petulant brat and perhaps plays along with her “new friends” a little longer than she should've before realizing they didn't have her best interest at heart. And I have always liked Katie Holmes, but let's face it; she is no Belén Rueda. Lastly, I really didn't care for how things played out at the end. The characters' acceptance of the events that transpire seemed false and the last little reveal was confusing to me.

The recipe for success was there, but then someone in the kitchen decided to mix in some artificial ingredients and spoiled the whole meal. It's a shame, as I was really hoping Don't Be Afraid of the Dark was going to extend Del Toro's impeccable record.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nerd Prom Is Nigh!

The doors open today on the 2011 Fan Expo at The Toronto Convention Centre.


It runs four days this year, so it’s going to be a lot to absorb. However, you can be sure I will sift through everything as fast as possible to give you the highlights of what went down.

Tonight, I’m just planning to grab my pass and do some quick shopping, before heading off to The Underground for this--


Way to start things off right! If you’d like more info on the Expo, click here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's Hammer Time!

Seeing The Tower the other day prompted me to learn more about the company that could have spawned such a “special” film. Here is the intro for Emmeritus Productions.


Emmeritus was a Hamilton, Ontario based company that made ultra-low budget features for local television station CHCH during the 1980’s. When I looked them up on Imdb, I was elated to find they had quite the catalogue, many of which I remembered from my coverbox browsing days. Boasting titles such as Shock Chamber, Blue Murder, The Hijacking of Studio 4, Ladybear & Niagara Strip, how can my interest not be piqued? You can be sure I will be actively searching for anything from these guys from now on.


For more info on Emmeritus, check out this awesome article about them on Canuxploitation.com, which includes several coverboxes and a promo video.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hillbilly Hijinks.

It’s been a long road for Tucker & Dale vs Evil. After seeing its first screening at Sundance over a year-and-a-half ago, it finally played Toronto last week.


A couple of easy-going rednecks (Alan Tudyk & Taylor Labine) are mistaken for inbred psychopaths by a group of vacationing college kids.

I had a fun time with Tucker & Dale vs Evil. As you can no doubt tell by the trailer, the movie does recycle the same joke over and over – obstensibly making it the Three’s Company of horror comedies – but I still found it entertaining. The role reversal device within its stretched out premise is an interesting one and mixes well with the splatstick. There are moments that the movie dragged to be sure, though I felt that the movie ultimately succeeded because of Tudyk and Labine. They worked well together, had great comic timing and were the main reason why the theatre was still full of laughter – and not crickets – an hour in. I like Tyler Labine. I recall his tiny, yet memorable appearances as a stoner on The X-Files and I’m glad he’s made the big time – you can also see him in the recent Rise of the Planet of the Apes – because he’s very likable onscreen.


The fact that this movie sat on the shelf for so long only serves to its detriment and that’s a shame, as making horror fans wait this long only leads to overhype and raised expectation. While I don’t think Tucker & Dale vs Evil is anything spectacular, it is really hard not to like. It’s wholly inoffensive, sometimes charming and the protagonists are lovable losers. It is also one of those movies that is best viewed in a group environment. Throw it on at your next party for shits & giggles, and see if you don’t have one or two people grinning like a banjo boy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Not So Cool, Brewster.

The latest remake on the block is the flashy 3D redo of Tom Holland's 1985 horror classic Fright Night.


All hell breaks loose when Charley (Anton Yelchin) realizes that his new neighbour Jerry Dandridge (Colin Farrell) is a vampire and preying on the residents of his neighbourhood.

I was really hoping I was going to like Fright Night more than I actually did. Don't get me wrong, it's a serviceable movie, but there were numerous things about it that hindered my enjoyment. As you would while watching a remake, you tend to wait for the cues from its predecessor and I found that the good deal of them never came. That is due to, apart from sharing the same characters and byline, it feeling like a completely different movie. I understand why the filmmakers wanted to get away from just doing a shot-for-shot redux – as that makes no sense either – but in their attempt to distance themselves from the original, they also managed to suck most of the fun out of it, as well. The first half is shrunk down considerably and the Rear Window aspect, my favourite thing about the original, is completely downplayed. Here, within twenty minutes, Charley's friend Ed (Chris Mintz-Plasse) is telling him matter-of-factly that his neighbour is a vampire. In Holland's version, we were shown that. In Craig Gillespie's, we are told it. You see the difference?


Unfortunately, this is not the only stuff from the original that is cast aside. Charley's girlfriend, Amy plays a much less relevant part in this one, which irked me as I'm a big fan of Imogen Poots. However, perhaps the most disapponting tweak was that there didn't seem to be all that much interaction between Charley & Jerry before the shit hit the fan. I think if it wasn't for the strong talent involved here, Fright Night could have been a real failure. Farrell has fun with the role, playing up the calculating and predatory aspects of his vampiric nature and David Tennant is great as stage show illusionist Peter Vincent, even if he was just doing his best Russell Brand impersonation.

The changes to the story could have all been forgiven, if I didn't keep getting distracted by the heavy use of often sub par visual effects. There was an entire sequence in the desert that was rife with bad CG. It's a shame because the original sported some really creative practical effects, and this one almost actively avoided them. I really hope this isn't a sign of things to come with The Thing prequel, as that would seriously break my heart.


Putting all that aside, Fright Night does have its share of good ideas and some sly references to the original movie, but as a whole, it doesn't add up to anything substantial. I guess I was a little more optimistic than perhaps I should have been.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

DKTM 115


Hello all. Here is some stuff to keep you cool, during these last few weeks of summer.

Crazy Clown Countdown.

This week it was announced that David Lynch's music album Crazy Clown Time will release on November 8th. Lynch, in collaboration with musician Dean Hurley, wrote, produced and performed the 14-track album. Here below, are the two winners of the 2010 Lynch video competition for the tracks "A Good Day" and "I Know." I couldn't be more excited for this!





Blood Drenched Rainbows.

This week at GamesCom, Suda 51, overseer of quirky over-the-top games like No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned, announced a new title coming in 2012 called Lollipop Chainsaw. Written by director James Gunn (Slither, Super), you need only the trailer below to see the glorious pairing these two make.



The great thing is, even if this game is total shite, it'll still be infinitely more enjoyable than Dead Rising 2.

The Re-Enactment Is Coming.

For those of you that will be in Toronto next weekend for the Fan Expo, I corgially invite you to check out a sneak preview of Android Re-Enactment on Sunday, August 28. Yes, the feature I worked on many moons ago is finally ready to unleash on an unsuspecting populace.



The screening is at 2pm in Rm#709 and the cast & crew will be in attendance to answer your burning questions. Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's All A Little Hazy Part 2

With our bellies full of chili, we moved from Devil Times Five onto the second feature of the night’s double bill, an old Canadian TV movie called The Tower. This was an eighties relic – snapped up last time I was at Eyesore – made by a company called Emmeritus Productions, who made a bunch of movies for Canadian television during that magical decade.


LOLA, an office building’s security system powered by the body heat of its occupants(!) goes haywire and starts sucking the life from the unfortunate people trapped inside.

Here is what I recall, as everyone still in attendance, was fading fast by this point.

I remember the production value being astonishingly minimal. It made your average soap opera look like Dreamworks.

I remember the term “BTU” being used a LOT. Like the most ever.

Behold the state-of-the-art graphics!

I remember the actors occasionally slipping into their accents, resulting in lines like, “We have to find a way oot.”

I remember thinking that the filmmakers ripped their visual effects from Dr. Who.



I remember LOLA sometimes phrasing random sentences as questions.

I remember the girl in the yellow bikini.

The Tower's best asset, Miss Zuzana Struss.

Then I remember wondering how it was that she was going out with the security guard – the Bruce McCulloch of nightwatchmen.

I remember the location suddenly switching to a strip club… for like, half-an-hour.

Eighties Photobomb!

And then to an apartment, or rather a hotel room dressed to look like an apartment. You could actually overhear the conversation happening next door coming through the wall.

But, most of all I remember thinking the movie felt like it was three hours long. Even if you took out the scenes of people wandering around the building halls and staircases, it would still feel overwrought. Yet, because it is SO eighties and SO Canadian, I can’t help but feel somewhat endeared to it.

Ain't that the sad truth.

So, you know what that means? Chalk up another successful movie night!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's All A Little Hazy

I had another VHS movie night last Saturday’s eve. The first movie planned was the 1974 horror flick Devil Times Five. I’d had this movie on my shelf for quite sometime, and after seeing the trailer during Suspect’s recent anniversary party, I figured it was time to crack it open. However, we got started kinda late, so by the time the movie began to unspool, we were all pretty intoxicated.


When a bus transporting five psychotic children crashes, they escape and are taken in by the unsuspecting occupants of a nearby mountain retreat. Of course, it isn't long before the bodies start piling up.

Based on my foggy mental state, here are my recollections of this movie.

I remember the credits sequence being perhaps the longest in existence. Every few minutes someone in the room would pipe up, “How are the credits still going?!”

This is the second act!

I remember being lost – and I wasn’t alone – as to what the hell was going on, but at the same time, not really caring.

I remember a black & white slow motion death scene that – like the opening credits – seemed to go on forevvvvvvvver.

I remember coming to the realization that all my childhood I mistakenly thought my teachers were telling me I was cute.

Now it all makes sense...

I remember there was a very un-sexy sex scene.

I remember there was Christmas music.

I remember wondering at one point if I was watching Of Mice and Men, due to the appearance of an outspoken retard named Lenny Ralph. He even owned pet rabbits!

I remember there being an actor who looked an awful lot like Elwy Yost.

Seventies Photobomb!

I remember a lot of orange.

I remember a catfight breaking out in the bedroom.

"What are you guys doin? Auditioning for the Olympics or somethin?"

I remember there was a couple named Papa Doc & Lovely.

I remember Papa Doc pronouncing piranha, “piran-ya”

I remember there were many choice lines, many of which ended up on Mitchell’s live Twitter feed. (mild spoilers)

And finally, I remember it got pretty good toward the end.


Oh, and I recall delicious chili, prepared by DirtyRobot, being served around 1 a.m.

A couple of days later, I decided to re-watch Devil Time Five. Was it really that incoherent, or was just our combined level of inebriation? It turns out it was mostly us, but not completely.

The opening credits really do go on for ten minutes, and that black & white slo-mo bit for almost as long. It’s funny because there is a similar technique used in They Call Her One Eye – also 1974 – so maybe it was just a global filmmaking trend that year. The child actors are all suitably crazy insane and give the movie a really bizarre tone. You can certainly accuse this movie of excessively elongating its first half, but it does end up earning its place at the grown-ups table of seventies’ survival flicks.


I was hoping Devil Times Five would be something more along the lines of Who Can Kill A Child? or the more recent The Children, but I’m definitely glad I gave it another watch to fill in some of the substantial blanks.

That's all for now, but check back tomorrow for Part 2.