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.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Festival Of Fear 2012: The Events

There were several off site events going on during the Expo, of which I attended two. With Tony Todd being in town, it made perfect sense to hold a screening of Candyman down at the ol' Lightbox.

From what I hear, it took a little finagling to get the 35mm print we watched that night, so big props to those who made it happen – you know who you are. It was a nice print too, and who knows, maybe this was the first time it had been unspooled since its run back in 1992.

It had definitely been a while since I'd watched it. I'm not sure if I saw it during its original run, but I certainly watched it a few times on VHS. The Bloody Mary urban legend was a very powerful thing during my childhood, and Candyman played off that same fear beautifully.

Looking at it now from a filmmaking perspective, I'm quite impressed by the technical prowess of this film. The cinematography is solid, including several aerial shots that really showcase the city of Chicago.  I'd also forgotten how amazing the score by Philip Glass is, as well.

Todd's performance as the sinister, yet sullen Candyman is hypnotic, though I think by design the film itself is, as well. The early nineties were a special time for genre movies. Some filmmakers were trying to shirk the slasher and creature feature boom of the eighties and go for something a little more cerebral. In addition to Bernard Rose, two other likeminded individuals were Adrian Lyne and Jonathan Demme. The former made the nightmarish fable Jacob's Ladder, and the latter would sweep the Oscars with The Silence of the Lambs.

These films had weight, and it's because they involved relatable protagonists in grounded realities, who come into contact with extraordinary forces, whether they be supernatural or otherwise. I yearn for those days.

After the film, Todd took the stage and talked for a bit.  He recalled being in Toronto twenty years ago, to premiere the film at TIFF's Midnight Madness.

When asked about shooting the scene with the bees, he said it was very uncomfortable as he had to wear a dental dam with the bees inside it so they would then crawl out his mouth. He felt more sorry for Madsen though, as she was allergic, so stingerless baby bees had to be used for her scenes.

Tony Todd at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Someone asked about where the chemistry between him and Madsen came from;

“Well, we spent a lot of time together before the shoot. We took ballroom dancing, went horseback riding, did some fencing, all sorts of things, so that we'd be really comfortable together.”

Todd was asked about his burgeoning voice acting career, to which he said his role as The Fallen in Transformers 2 led to multiple gigs in the video game industry, including the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

Todd also plugged his new movie Sushi Girl – which will be playing the Toronto After Dark Film Festival in October – as well as a feature he is writing and directing called Catalytic.

Todd (fourth from left) in Sushi Girl

The second special event that weekend was the Rue Morgue Shocktail party which featured a rare performance from composer Alan Howarth. For those who don't know who he is, he has worked on some of the most memorable horror scores of all time, including Christine, Prince of Darkness and They Live.

There were unfortunately some technical difficulties during the show, but I can't deny there were points during his set that gave me chills. Here's a small sampler of what transpired.

So, that's all she wrote. It took four posts, but I think I've covered all I was a party to. Now, only a week to breathe before the Toronto International Film Festival is upon us. I'll be seeing a record number of films this year, so stick tuned for my thoughts on the new crop of horror offerings.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Festival Of Fear 2012: The Panels

Ed- I'm sorry if this post seems a little rough, I had it all beautifully worded and ready to go when Blogger promptly erased it. What is below is my frazzled and defeated attempt to recreate it.

One of the things I am really appreciating is the Festival of Fear's recent emphasis on interesting and unique panels. I first became aware of these last year when I checked out a discussion about the Video Nasties of the home video era. This time around, the schedule was positively brimming with panels like these.

On the Thursday, was the Collectible Horror Poster Art panel moderated by Toronto Cult Paper and 27 x 41” curator Tal Zimerman.  What transpired had to be one of the funnest things I've witnessed in the nine years I've been going to the Expo. Accompanied by local artists Gary Pullin, Jason Edmiston and Justin Erickson, all collectors themselves, they spoke about their favourite posters and what inspired them to get into the business.

Even though the floor was littered with folded pieces of paper, Tal insisted this was but “point five percent of his collection” which was rather astonishing. He then showed off some of most prized pieces.

Unconquerable indeed.

Tarman & Tal.

Tal with two helpers.

Pullin then blew my mind when he brought up the 'face in the hand' on the classic Halloween poster. I will now impart this revelation onto you.

Can you see it?

Now you can't unsee it, can you? Upon further reflection, I wonder if it was a nod to Black Christmas, as it certainly bears a resemblance to the suffocated victim that adourns that poster.

The next day, was the Gore, Girls and Godforsaken Cinema which was also helmed by Tal who, flanked by a quartet of Rue Morgue writers, opened the festivities by saying;

“If you are easily offended... Fuck off!”

What followed were three compilations of the sickest, goriest and most depraved scenes ever put to film or, in some cases, video. Some choice cuts included Burial Ground, Guinea Pig, Dagon, Cutting Moments, Takeshi Miike's Masters of Horror segment Imprint as well as his Audition. I was sitting at the back, so I was able to count the walkouts during the show. The most was six during the climax – pun intended – of Jörg Buttgereit's Nekromantik 2. The blood soaked proceedings closed with a scene from a 2009 film I'd never even heard of called Maskhead, where the August Underground crew basically reenacted the inferred “Lust” crime from David Fincher's Se7en.

Yeah... that happened.

On Saturday, Schwartz & I attended the Black Museum Presents Canadian Horror Revisited. The Black Museum is the brainchild of two local scribes Paul Corupe (of and Andrea Subissati. Starting next month, they will be hosting a series of lectures on genre film at The Projection Booth in East Toronto. The best part of this panel was Corupe's rundown of the entire history of horror in the Great White North. Check it out below.

Right click to enlarge.

I also have audio of this panel, which I'll post at a later date.

Last, was the Astron 6 panel, with members Jeremy Gillespie and Steve Kostanski. If you are not familiar with these guys, Astron 6 are a filmmaker collective based out of Winnipeg. Recently, they have been burning up the indie circuit with their two latest features, Father's Day and Manborg. I highly recommend checking out their website as many of their early shorts are available for your perusal. My personal favourite is Heart of Karl.

Gillespie & Kostanski talked about their origins and overcoming the obstacles of producing films with almost no money.

Jeremy Gillespie (left), moderator Dave Alexander & Steve Kostanski.

They also have a feature length documentary in the can called No Sleep, No Surrender which was made in tandem with Father's Day. They played a bit of it during the panel and it looks every bit as entertaining as the film.

Despite that fact that one of their other members has been saying that a feature length version of their short Fireman is a go, nothing has been confirmed yet. Gillespie then commented about what's next for Astron 6.

“We have a few irons in the fire, but not really things we can talk about. One of them could possibly be a western. But we'll have to see.”

I sincerely hope Rue Morgue continues doing these panels, as they perfectly compliment the slate of celebrity guests they bring in each year.

Check back tomorrow for my last installment which details some of the events that were happening off site during Expo weekend.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Festival Of Fear 2012: The Q&A's

An integral part of the Expo each year are the Q&A sessions. Even after nine years, the Festival of Fear still manages to snag wonderful guests to appear during its four day stretch.

On the Thursday, returning after his last visit in 2006, was character actor and The Candyman himself, Tony Todd.

Todd is an extremely affable, humble and soft-spoken man who loves his craft. Obviously, the focus was on his most notable role, that of the title character in 1992’s Candyman, but he also spoke of his entire career, which began with Oliver Stone's 1986 war film Platoon.

Tony Todd

Someone asked what it was like to work on The X-Files.

“The X-Files was great. It was also good that my episode was fairly early on, like second season or something. When everybody was still speaking to each other.”

He also talked at length about his experience shooting the “The Visitor” episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was around the time Todd lost his mother and channelled that into his performance, which involves him playing an adult version of Cirroc Lofton's Jake Sisto character.

When asked which role has been his favourite – next to Candyman of course – he pointed to his recent turn as sinister crime boss Duke in the flick Sushi Girl. Having seen this film last month at Fantasia, I can agree that he is great in it; one of a strong ensemble that includes James Duval, Andy Mackenzie & Mark Hamill.

Then, the question of an inevitable Candyman remake was brought up, and who Todd would like to see fill the role. He could barely answer the question, as he knows as well as anyone that no one could wield that bloody hook as well as he did.

Shortly after that though, someone asked with that disdainful attitude toward remakes, was he at all apprehensive about starring in the Night of the Living Dead remake in 1990?

“Oh, very apprehensive. I mean, the original is untouchable, and Duane Jones (Ben) was so great in it. But Tom (Savini) had so much passion for the project, it kind of put me at ease.”

When asked if he would ever reprise his role as Candyman, he said;

“Sure, I’d love to. Just as long as it’s not, you know, Candyman vs. Leprechaun. (crowd laughs) That was actually discussed. (crowd gasps). Yeah, I was once in a meeting where they were like 'why can’t we have Candyman go into space.'”

I don’t know which is sadder. That bit above, or the fact it doesn’t surprise me.

With AMC’s The Walking Dead breaking through into the mainstream this year, it seemed the biggest draw of the weekend was the appearance of two cast members from the show. Jon Bernthal & Norman Reedus – who play Shane & Darryl respectively – were on hand to speak to the thralls of fans who turned up on Saturday.

Bernthal entertained the crowd, as he waited for his cohort to “powder his nose”. Then, Reedus finally appeared from the back of the hall and ran up the aisle, slapping hands as he went.

Jon Bernthal (left) & Norman Reedus.

Over the course of the Q&A, you could tell they were enjoying the hell out of the success of the show and felt blessed to be part of it. It was interesting hearing about the differences between how they approached their roles, as Bernthal knew going in that his time was limited, whereas Reedus – whose character is not in the comic – had a clean slate to work with.

Reedus was asked about how his Darryl's brother Merle's (played by Michael Rooker) reappearance will affect his character.

“It's going to be interesting because Darryl spent his entire life being beaten down by his brother and his family and over the course of the show, he's been accepted by this new group. He feels like he's got a new family now.”

He also spoke of his young co-star Chandler Riggs (who plays Carl) and that he's been very impressed with his acting ability this season and he's enjoying seeing his fascinating story arc unfold.

They then quickly talked about their upcoming projects. Bernthal is starring in Frank Darabont's upcoming crime show L.A. Noir (alongside another Walking Dead alum Jeffrey DeMunn) and Reedus shot a movie called Sunlight Jr. with Naomi Watts in between seasons two and three of the show.

Next up, was something special.  I watched a lot of television in my twenties, but nothing captured my imagine more than The X-Files. As I've mentioned before, I was obsessed with the show. Now, almost twenty years later, I finally had the opportunity to see Gillian Anderson in person.

She took the stage looking absolutely radiant. I was clearly not the only one who thought so, as one of the first questions asked was how she managed to keep looking so fantastic.

“Yoga,” she replied.

It is a no-brainer that Anderson and her portrayal of Special Agent Dana Scully was a hugely positive role model for young women during the show's nine-year run, but the number of ladies in the audience was proof positive. There was a woman who went so far as to say she persued a career in medicine because of Scully. She then asked if working on the show had made Anderson more interested in science, to which she jokingly replied;

Gillian Anderson

“Well, I've always been fascinated with science, but my memory is so terrible, I think I could have only been an actor.”

The emphasis of the questions were naturally skewed toward The X-Files, but did also talk about other work, such as House of Mirth, Great Expectations and a new project she just did with Michael Caine called Mr. Morgan's Last Love.

When asked about her favourite episodes of the X-Files, she said that the one they had the most fun shooting was the “Bad Blood” episode, and the most fulfilling was “All Things” which Anderson herself wrote and directed.

Here's what she had to say about a third X-Files film;

“Things are looking pretty good. Me, David and Chris Carter would all like to do it, but it's a matter of convincing Fox.”

I think the most exciting bit of news for me though, was that she is currently working on a crime show for BBC Two called The Fall. If it's anything like Luther, I'm IN!

Last, but certainly not least, was the Festival of Fear's guest of honour John Carpenter. The Q&A was one of the shorter ones, but he was quite happy to answer questions until someone he referred to as his “drug dealer” whisked him away. I actually recorded this one, so here are some selected bits.

The legend John Carpenter.

On Halloween, thirty plus years on;

“I feel great about it. And here's the reason why. I made that movie when I was thirty years old and still trying to get into the movie business and we had about twenty-two days of shooting. We had Donald Pleasance, Jamie Lee (Curtis) was there. And Dean Cundey. We had a great time making it. And it sort of boosted my career. And it turned me into a director to be reckoned with. What that means is, if you make them money, they like you. If you don't make them money, they don't care about you. It's as simple as that.”

On Halloween's sequels and remakes;

“I'll tell you one thing. I'm not going to talk about what I think of the sequels and the remakes, that's up to you to decide. But, everytime they make a new Halloween movie, something really great happens to me. Let me tell you what it is. I'm sitting on my couch, my feet are up. I read in the trades that they're going to make a new Halloween. I extend my hand, and a cheque lands into it. This is the kind of job I've wanted my entire life.”

On working with makeup artist Rob Bottin;

“He was a young genius at the time in special makeup effects. He'd worked with Rick Baker, and I met and worked with Rob on The Fog. He played the big ghost at the end of that movie. He was just a big, kinda goofy guy who provided the idea for The Thing. He said it can look like anything. It's imitated every life form it's encountered out there, so we could just go crazy. It doesn't have to look like one monster. And I thought, that's great.”

On composing;

“Well, my son is also a musician and he and I spend a lot of time composing music. We may put something out on the Internet that we've done together. It's sort of a soundtrack sampler of stuff.”

On what recent movies he has enjoyed;

“Well, I'm a big David Fincher fan, I just think he's a terrific director. I like the way he frames, I like the way he designs his movies. I like his work a lot. I'm not as big a fan of his version of The Dragon Tattoo, but the one before (The Social Network) was really good.”

On what he's working on next;

“I'm developing two projects. One is a gothic western type thing based on a true story called Bloody Benders, about a family in Ohio who had a shop right outside of town that cooked meals for the people as they rode in and then they'd rob and kill them. And I'm working on a comic book called Dark Child that was a comic in the nineties that was pretty popular. I'm trying to do a movie version of that. But when they say development, what they mean is, trying to raise money. So, we'll see what happens.”

If you'd like to listen to the entire Q&A, Rue Morgue just put up a link to the audio, which you can hear by going here.

And that was about it. I wasn't able to see Rose McGowan, Tom Noonan or Chris Surandon due to conflicts, but I think I did pretty well considering.

Check back tomorrow when I rundown the awesome panels I took in over the course of the weekend.

Gillian Anderson photo courtesy of Torontoist.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Festival Of Fear 2012: The Show

Well, that was a packed weekend. Condensing all that happened at this year's Fan Expo into one post would be a fool's errand, so I'm going to split it into four parts.  This one will just concentrate on the show itself.  So, here we go.

With the show being extended to four days, I like to take Thursday to slip in, grab my pass and quickly walk the floor to get my bearings. Of course, the first place I headed to was the Toronto After Dark booth, as they were displaying the first ten titles (of the whopping twenty) that will be screening in October.  Those of you with sharp eyes & minds may be able to discern a few of the ten playing from the pamphlet below.

For more info on the festival, click here.

As the weekend progressed, the crowds got bigger and the usual problems resurfaced.  The Toronto Star even ran a piece about some of the disappointed souls that were turned away on Saturday - the busiest day of the Expo. It's unfortunate, but ultimately unavoidable at this point.  The show floor itself is manageable; it's getting in and out that is the problem.  I'm not sure moving to a larger venue is the answer, it might just be a matter of preparation. People need to be made aware that if you don't get there early, you're not getting in.

Chaos reigns.

In my travels around the show floor, I visited the familiar faces I spoke of in my anticipation post and all seemed pretty happy with the turnout. Here's a pic of terrific artist Jason Edmiston's booth, but more on him later.

The Thing super-fan & collector Joe Hart was there promoting Thing-Fest. I mentioned I was at the last one in 2008, and he told me about some of the cool things they're planning for the 30th anniversary edition.

I am saddened that the actual horror arm of the Fan Expo seems to be getting smaller each year.  This was compounded by the lack of genre costumes I encountered. Sure, I could count on the old standbys...

but they were definitely the minority this year. Although, AMC & Anchor Bay did have a sizable chunk of the floor to promote their horror wares.

The Rue Morgue booth also had some cool postcards detailing the awesome upcoming releases from Scream Factory.

On the last day of the Expo, my buddy Schwartz & I ran into Toronto Batman, or as Schwartz likes to call him 'Angry Batman'.

Where is he?!

As for purchases, I was even stingier than last year. Apart from a picking up a few T-shirts - like Twisted T's newest creation - and a Gary Pullin print, I kept my money in my pocket. It also helped that Schwartz gifted me this awesome Thai poster for Rats: Night of Terror that I had my eye on.

Party like it's 225 A.B.

I would also wager the limited amount of time I actually had to walk the floor may have had something to do with it.  There was a crap-ton of events and activities going on this year, with surprisingly little overlap - or at least until the last day.  Tomorrow, I'll rundown the Q&A's I attended over the course of the Expo.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bringin' The Fear.

I'm fully ensconced in the Festival of Fear 2012 right now, so check back soon for a full report on this year's Nerd Prom.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

In Good Company.

Feast your eyes on this badass print I came across from Pittsburgh-based artist Byron Winton called Creature Feature.

Right click to enlarge.

It's one of those pictures you can stare at indefinitely, isn't it? I managed to place all but three, not counting the ones I actually had wrong. How many did you get? If you get stumped, Winton has a piece-by-piece breakdown on his blog here. Also, if you feel like this is something you'd like to own, check out his store by going here

As of this evening, I will be fully entrenched in Toronto's Fan Expo festivities, so be sure to check back soon for all the gory details.

Monday, August 20, 2012

You Rascal You.

Check out this wicked horror montage I found in my Facebook feed this morning.

Having done of few little vids myself, I now know how much work goes into them.  This must have taken weeks!  Hats off to Jonathan Keogh on a great job.  And thanks to my artist friend Trevor for the heads up.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Let's Shoot This F%$#er!

Sorry guys, no DKTM today. I'm in Niagara Falls all weekend helping out on a buddy's film shoot.

I've got quite a bit on my plate over the next few months, so aside from my Fan Expo, TIFF & Toronto After Dark coverage, posts may be a bit scarce.

Friday, August 17, 2012

It Came From The Archives 16!

During Fantasia's If They Came From Within panel, director Maurice Devereaux recalled that he used to clip the horror movie ads out of newspapers when he was a young lad. I had to chuckle, as I did the same thing, even dedicating an Archives post to it last winter. Later, I remembered that post was supposed to have been the first of two, and I had yet to do the follow-up. So, here it is. These were taken from the various magazines you get at the theatre to read while you are waiting for the film to start. Maybe some of you remember seeing these during their initial run.

There were also a lot of theatrical posters that changed for their transition to the home video market.  Sometimes the reasoning was obvious, sometimes... not so much. You can rollover the images to see their VHS counterparts. Please do, it took me forever to get them to work.

This one seems pretty arbitrary, as putting your bankable star on the cover is as old a practice as film itself.

Same goes for this one.  Though Kristy Swanson was still an up-and-comer, Luke Perry had the force of 90210 behind him.

This movie's star was the mysterious character, rather than the person who played him - as Liam Neeson had yet to become the leading man he is today. The VHS poster does a good job of illustrating Sam Raimi's kinetic style, as well.

Rutger Hauer is the centerpiece of both posters, but the VHS also includes the other selling point - the creature designed by Stephen Norrington.

This one has always perplexed me.  Why did they remove the spider for the VHS release?

Both are very subtle, but the VHS is far superior in this case I'd say.

Speaking of home video, working at Cockbuster made me privy to a lot of promotional materials, some of which I have posted previously. Here below are clippings from some retail VHS magazines I liberated from there.