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.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Come And See (#11)

The next film I checked out on the Time Out Best 100 List was Elem Klimov's 1985 film Come and See, a title that just cracked their list at #100.

Set during WWII, a young Byelorussian boy named Flyora (Andrei Konchalovsky) is recruited into the Soviet army and it isn't long before he experiences the many horrors of war.

I knew absolutely nothing about this film going in, which is a rare occurrence. When was the last time you saw a film completely cold? As I watched, I realized that this film was not a horror film, but rather on the list because it was, by design, inherently horrific. Like Time Out List entries Threads and Salo, (#93 and #77 respectively) it depicts humanity at its utmost ugliest.

Come and See is not as well known as most contemporary war films, but it is no less important. It is incredibly raw and shines a light on a particular region that was sandwiched between the Russian and German forces. It was one of the worst places to be during WWII, as either side had free reign to do whatever they wanted to the population caught in the middle of their conflict. Klimov's filmmaking is extraordinary and his liberal use of Steadicam really gives you an on-the-ground sense of this unfortunate time. The narrative is long, meandering and often disorienting, but then again, so was the campaign of which it was documenting.

As I said, Come and See is not a horror film, but I can see why it made the list. This film would've had a profound effect on young filmmakers upon its release. It was 1985 (though while I was viewing it, I would've guessed it was even older), shortly before two seminal American war films, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket, would hit screens.

I don't have much more to say about Come and See. Before watching it, I would've said there were countless horror films that deserved that last spot (Candyman, Session 9 and Cemetary Man to name a few), but now that I have, I can't in good conscience say that it doesn't deserve to be on there.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Trailer Tuesdays: Mountaintop Motel Massacre.

This week I give you the trailer for the colourfully titled Mountaintop Motel Massacre, courtesy of trailer0boy.

And the winner for most motel related puns goes to... Anyway, I have fond memories of this one, as it was smack dab in the middle of the home video era when I soaking up these B-grade slashers like a sponge.  Evelyn (Anna Chappell) is a great antagonist and certainly earns her place among the second-tier slashers like Russ Thorn and Madman Marz

I recall there being some great gore, mostly involving Evelyn's weapon of choice - a sickle - and I believe it was also the first time I ever saw a mobile phone onscreen. How futuristic! 

And who doesn't remember this coverbox?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

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I'm running at about half-speed today, but here's what's been up the last week.

Moldy Goodness.

The second issue of Dan Kinem's (curator of the awesome site VHShitfest) new 'zine Tape Mold released this week.

Focusing on VHS culture, Tape Mold is quickly gaining readership. This month's issue features interviews with filmmakers Dave Coleman & Chris Witherspoon, as well as a video spotlight on Tapeworm Video. For more info on how you can get your hands on Tape Mold, click here.

It's The Zombie Apocalypse, Charlie Brown.

I'd say this wicked mashup from artist by Justin Hillgrove speaks for itself.

Hillgrove is currently running a contest to name his creation. You can sound off by going here.


I was happy to hear the announcement that the character Tyreese will soon be making his entrance into The Walking Dead TV show. Played by The Wire alum Chad Coleman, Tyreese is rumoured to be making his first appearance sometime during the mid-season finale.

Tyreese (left), and his live-action counterpart Chad Coleman.

This is good news, as I was never sure whether they were going to bring him in, or whether T-Dog (IronE Singleton) was supposed to be some loose incarnation of him. Sadly, I guess the coming of Tyreese, does not bode well for Oscar (Vincent M. Ward), but I guess we'll have to see.

So, for my American readers, enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving weekend, and for my brothers closer to home, enjoy The Grey Cup.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

VHS Nite Part V: A New Beginning

I managed to orchestrate another VHS Nite at my swanky, not-so-new pad last weekend. It took a bit of planning, but the stars aligned enough to get some Toronto folk on a train to my neck of the woods in due course. On the docket this time around were some British off-the-beaten-path anthologies. After taking a detour at the Wimpy’s down the street – it could say I planned that in keeping with the English flavour, but the truth is our choice of cuisine was completely random – I fired up the VCR.

In the mid-nineties, ITV broadcast a five-part-anthology horror series called Chiller. A few years later it came to Canada via our local broadcast station TVO. Due to its penchant for playing a lot of British programming, my parents regularly tuned in and one evening I happened to catch an episode of Chiller entitled “Number Six.”

Years later, I was able to watch the rest of the episodes on video (coincidentally, it is being reissued on DVD next month through Synapse), but Number Six remains my favourite of the series. I adore it, mainly because of the tone, skillful storytelling and the blurring of the natural and supernatural. I think it was this episode of Chiller that really clued me into British genre television’s slightly darker bent, as images from Number Six still linger in my mind today.

The next VHS I put in was the eighties UK anthology Screamtime.

It features three macabre tales, plus a cheesy wraparound strangely set in New York. It begins with a couple of hoods walking down 42nd Street, who then steal some VHS tapes from a video store, which later turn out to be the trio that make up the anthology.

Up to no good.

I am a big fan of Screamtime and was glad to be able to dust off my VHS copy. The first and third stories “That’s The Way To Do It” and “Do You Believe In Fairies” are really fun, and “Dreamhouse”, the one in between, has some genuinely freaky moments.

As far as I know, Screamtime was never released on DVD, but I just found out, while searching the Web, that it’s now on Netflix Instant. So, my neighbours to the south, if you are a fan of eighties anthologies, here’s one that is well worth your time.


That’s another VHS Nite in the books! Now to find more suitable VHS goodies for the next one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Trailer Tuesdays: Three On A Meathook

This week's trailer is for the 1972 backwoods horror flick Three On A Meathook. Take a look courtesy of YouTube user PathGrinder.

The narrator cracks me up every time. I've never heard so much verbal diarrhea in a trailer before.

“ touches the full spectrum of the bizarre, the forbidden. The twilight areas of a life destined to be spent in shadow and agony...” Huh?

“...Forcing the will into blind canyons of lonliness and despair! A stolen life onto a Godless oblivion...” What now?

“...Little broken dolls that go on dancing, after the music has stopped...” Okaaaay.

However, as cheesy as the narration may be, I can't help but wonder if it influenced the John Larroquette-voiced opening crawl of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre two years later. I mean they both share the same inspiration - Ed Gein - so it is within the realm of possibility that Tobe Hooper and company may have seen this flick when it came out. Three On A Meathook also get points for following through on its title. What you see is what you get, folks!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

DKTM 159

Good afternoon everyone. Here's what I have for you this fine day.

Terror At Four Inches Tall.

I came across some wicked custom action figures online the other day. A dude named Popsfartberger has made himself an entire line of vintage 3 3/4" action figures; ones you'd never see from Hasbro or Kenner. Check some of them out below.

If your mouth is now watering, the good news is that you can purchase them via his Ebay store. Check out all of Popsfartberger's wares by going here.


Ever since his recent BBC special Apocalypse was mentioned on TRS last week, I've been ravenously watching YouTube videos of UK hypnotist Derren Brown. I had previously seen his Waking Dead video when it went viral a few years ago and heard about his live game of Russian Roulette, but wasn't aware of his huge popularity in Britain. His show Apocalypse is what I'd like to bring your attention to today. Basically, Brown takes a chronic underachiever and through suggestion and hypnosis, makes him believe the world has ended and is now living in a zombie apocalypse. Here is the two-part miniseries below.

Whether you believe it is real or not, the message remains the same.

ABC's of Death Gets Red.

Here below is the recently released red band trailer for the Drafthouse Films' anthology ABC's of Death.

I like that trailer a lot, as it really gives you a sense of the insanity that lies within. For more info on the project, you can go to the main website, or check out my review from September.

Thanks y'all, and remember to play safe.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Halloween Man.

Before diving into this memoir, Irwin Yablans was certainly not the first name I associated with the classic horror film Halloween. Naturally, my mind goes to director John Carpenter and his long-time partner, the late Debra Hill, and then (mostly due to his name leading the credits for decades) also no-longer-with-us Moustapha Akkad. However, after reading The Man Who Created Halloween, it is clear that Yablans was an integral part in the inception of what some believe to be the greatest horror film of all time.

This book was an enlightening read. Yablans’ recollections are written in a very interesting prose that covers many eras of modern United States history, starting with the Great Depression. He has had an extremely storied career, which he spent working for Warner Brothers, Paramount and MGM before finally going off on his own and co-founding the independent film company Compass International Pictures in the mid-seventies. Already armed with years of experience as a cog in the wheel, he was able to use the machine to his advantage and Compass soon flourished.

Yablans is candid about his dealings over the years, and even shows regret over some of his actions, both personally and professionally. I found this refreshing, as after the countless falling outs he had with people during his life, it is good to know he doesn’t think he is infallible  Now, the meat of the story is obviously how he came to meet with John Carpenter through distribution of his second feature, Assault on Precinct 13 (which was initially titled Siege) and how the idea of Halloween came to Yablans while on a flight to Los Angeles. It also occurred to me that I never actually knew where the name “Michael Myers” came from, until reading this book.

Irwin Yablans (left) & John Carpenter on the set of Halloween.

However, despite its title, it is surprising how little this book has to do with Halloween though. That turned out to be okay, as there are many other great tales for cinephiles to latch onto. Back when Yablans was a booking agent, he took care of the initial run Rosemary’s Baby, so it was cool to see Bill Castle’s handling of the film from a different perspective than was documented in Jason Zinoman’s Shock Value. Perhaps most interesting was hearing about Yablan’s dealings with Charles Band in the late eighties where he talked about certain projects that you don’t get to hear about very often, like Prison and Arena. There is also a sizable chunk of the book dedicated to the 1977 production of The Message, which culminated in a hostage crisis in Washington D.C.

Yablans appearing on the show "AM Northwest"

The book does unfortunately end with a whimper, as Yablans has distanced himself from the movie business in recent years, only resurfacing to deal with legal issues on the rights and revenues of the original Halloween, but The Man Who Created Halloween is an extremely brisk read that offers up immeasurable insight into the inner workings of the film industry over the last fifty years.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (#12)

Now that all of this film festival coverage is behind me, I can get back into knocking off the rest of these Time Out Best 100 List titles. The next one I checked out was Robert Fuest’s 1971 film The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

A police detective (Peter Jeffrey) struggles to find the man responsible for a rash of bizarre murders involving physicians.

This shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone who has seen this, but The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a gem of a film. There were several things about it that I was really not expecting. It is lavishly colourful and has this strong musical element that really gives the film some pomp and circumstance. It is fantastical and possesses that flamboyant air of an older generation of motion pictures.

It is also fairly restrained in the top half of the picture, using only the aforementioned music and camera to tell the story.  In fact, I believe it is at least a full ten minutes before a single line of dialogue is even spoken.  This falls in line with the great Vincent Price’s performance as well, as you can tell he fully relished this part.  Apart from a few monologues delivered through a speech device, his role is all mannerism. It was a joy to watch.

The film overall is just a fun time. Fuest is able to toe that line between humour and the macabre wonderfully. The deaths, based off the ten plagues of the Old Testament were made for some creative set pieces.

Most of all though, I was just plainly unaware of how influential this film was. I could see so many contemporary films inside The Abominable Dr. Phibes, whether it was Sam Raimi’s design of Darkman or the biblical-inspired serial killings re-appropriated for David Fincher’s Se7en.  Hell, James Wan basically lifted a scene right out of this film for his debut, Saw.

Vincent Price as The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

Out of all the movies that I have watched for the Time Out List, The Abominable Dr. Phibes is definitely one I regret not seeing as a youngster. I feel I would’ve really latched onto this, being that I’ve always been a fan of Ten Little Indians-style fables. The Abominable Dr. Phibes is wildly inventive fare that looks stunning to boot and easily earns its place on the list.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Trailer Tuesdays: Torso.

This week's trailer is another favourite of mine for Sergio Martino's 1973 slasher Torso. Join me, won't you, on a trip into the psycho-sexual mind!

TORSO! Reooooooowww reeeow reeow reeow! Best guitar lick in a horror movie trailer, ever. I love this movie. It is unabashedly sleazy, yet has all the visual hallmarks of its Italian contemporaries, as well as a parade of lovely ladies and a rockin' soundtrack. What more could you possibly want?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

DKTM 158

This week saw an abundance of trailers for upcoming genre projects, so here's a rundown for you.

Capital Z.

Perhaps the biggest thing to hit the Web this week was the new trailer for the movie adaptation of Max Brooks' zombie tome World War Z. Feast your eyes below.

My first reaction to this trailer was how overblown it looks, but upon further reflection I realized that we have never actually had a big budget zombie blockbuster before, as the zombie genre up until this point has been the domain of the low budget and independents. I guess the biggest would be Boyle's 28 Later films and Zombieland, but even those weren't particularly costly pictures to make. So, WWZ is what a hundred-million dollar zombie movie looks like.

I like this trailer, and despite all the CGI, as I cannot deny that those shots of the 'herd' are pretty eye-catching.  At the same time, I don't want this to become another I Am Legend. The book, even though it was grand in scope, was a collection of personal experiences, so it always felt intimate. By focusing in on Brad Pitt's character (or at least appearing to) it becomes more of an action movie with zombies in it. That's what I get from my Resident Evil movies and I want WWZ to have weight, dammit! Anyway, rant over.

Crickley Hall.

Being a huge fan of British writer James Herbert, this news is especially pleasing. Starting this Sunday, the BBC is premiering the newest adaptation of one of his works called The Secret of Crickley Hall. Here is the trailer.

Regular readers will know how incessantly I have rambled on about how many of Herbert's works remain unadapted, so good on the Beebs for getting on it, if no one else will.

Maniac Runs Red.

Here now is the full Red Band trailer for Franck Khalfoun's upcoming remake of Maniac.

It seems to have the tone right and I certainly respect Elijah Wood for taking on this role, but I'm worried the movie's largely first person perspective will become a little tiresome after a while. Still, this is exactly producer Alex Aja's wheelhouse and nobody working today does it better in my opinion.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Living Dread!

Through Halloween to the fourth of November, Toronto cinephiles were extremely fortunate this year, as the Lightbox was screening the filmography of the great George A. Romero.

Best of all, now that Romero is a resident (and has been for sometime now) of Toronto, he showed up to intro several of his films.  This began on Halloween night with an In Conversation session with the man himself, moderated by Midnight Madness programmer Colin Geddes.

Over the course of the evening, Colin ran through the gamut of Romero's genre films and did a very good job staying away from the oft-trodden subjects that have been covered previously in fourty-odd years of interviews. Here is a sampling of what was discussed that night.

Q: Why do refrain from using the word “zombie” in your films?

George: In later years, I just kept looking for something else to call them. I never thought they were zombies, when I made the first film, I didn't think of them as zombies. I didn't know they were zombies, I thought they were some new creature. At that time, zombies weren't dead as far as I knew. If you read Serpent and the Rainbow they were just given this cocktail and they're not dead, they are put in a state of suspended animation and become slaves to Lugosi or whoever. So I never thought of them as zombies at all.

Q: When did you first meet Tom Savini?

George: Before we made Night of the Living Dead, I had written a very high minded script, a coming-of-age story about teenagers in the Middle Ages. I guess I'd been watching too much Bergman (chuckles) So, Tom auditioned for the role of one of these kids. He was I don't know, 14. We went to see him in a high school play. He was the lead in this high school production I can’t remember the name of, and he was great. So, we talked to him and he was all set to star in our high minded movie. And, of course, the high minded movie never got financed and it all blew apart. Years later, we announced production on Martin and this guy walks off the elevator at our office and says “watch this!” and slashed his wrists, so he's bleeding all over the place and then he does a somersault and falls flat on his back on the floor. Then he stood up and said “Remember me!” And I said, “No. But that was impressive.” It was Tom. He re-introduced himself and said he'd done some films (Deranged & Deathdream) and asked if he could do the effects on Martin. I said, “forget effects, you're a pretty good actor if I remember, so why don't you be in the movie, as well.” And that's what started the relationship.

Q: What was it like to work with Stephen King, first directing him in Creepshow and then adapting his novel The Dark Half?

George: (On Creepshow) He was so compliant, he basically did everything I told him and then only at the end, did he say “ahhh, you're makin’ me look like a jerk!” Fortunately, my direction to him was “Steve, think of this as a coyote and roadrunner cartoon. And play it that big.” And that's what he did. He did it all the way and he went for it. And he has never forgiven me. (laughs) (On The Dark Half) It was great, Stephen basically left me alone. I've never had problems with him that way. He always kept his opinions to himself, and basically said “George take it, run with it, go” He didn't like the film in the end and I don't exactly know why. He could never really articulate exactly why he didn't like it. He's just crazy about certain things. He hates Kubrick. He'll go to his grave hating Kubrick. And he hated Creepshow simply because of the way Viveca Lindfors portrayed that character (Bedelia in Father's Day) She was smoking a cigar, she wearing a big hat, and Stephen was like, “that's not what I wanted her to be”. So he'll hate a movie for some detail like that. All he'd say about Dark Half was “well it could've been better.” Oh well, I did my best. He loves Mick Garris, that's all I know.

Director George A. Romero (left) with Colin Geddes.

Q: What happened with your rumoured involvement with the Resident Evil movie?

George: I was excited about to get the chance to do it. What happened was the rights to Resident Evil were bought by a German company called New Constantine. They had offices in LA, and assigned a production executive to supervise the script writing. So I started to write the script and guys from Capcom gave me clues as to what was going to be in the next game and we came up with a script that I loved. I thought it was great. Tom loved it and the executives from New Constantine loved it. But New Constantine is a company that is run by one guy. And he came in one day and said “this is not what I was thinking” and that was it. Then they brought in Paul Anderson, and I didn’t think it was that great.

Q: What do you think about your countless imitators, as well as the zombie genre’s growing popularity due to stuff like World War Z & The Walking Dead?

George: In four words: It pisses me off. (laughs) I don't know, man. The Walking Dead, I thought the books were great, but… The thing is, I used to be the only guy doing zombies, and now all of a sudden everybody's doing zombies. I guess I'm not really pissed off, but I'm bothered by the fact that there's now a lot of people in my playground. I have always tried to do something satirical or political, something going on underneath. The Walking Dead is a soap opera that happens to have zombies in it. I guess that's what I have to say.

Then, on the following weekend, there was back-to-back-to-back screenings of his Dead Trilogy, for which Romero once again took to the stage for an intro.  Here it is below.

It was great week indeed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Trailer Tuesdays!

I'm starting up a new feature today called Trailer Tuesdays. It has always been a priority here at The Horror Section to showcase the wonderful coverboxes that adorned video store shelves during the VHS era, but I also wanted to pay homage to another awesome marketing tool - the trailer. Condensing a movie's essence down to a minute or so is tricky business, but I find it offers an experience that is sometimes - as was the case with coverbox art as well - better than the movie itself.

To kick things off, I present to you a favourite of mine, Chopping Mall.

While re-watching this trailer, (courtesy of YouTube user ChadBloodyHorror) I realized that the mall where this was shot is the same one featured in Commando. It's the multi-sided elevators that give it away. It's good to see the head explosion money shot made it into the trailer, as well. Here, for good measure, is the cover box.

I see a mall-themed movie night in my future.  Dawn of the Dead seems too obvious, so maybe The Initiation?

Lastly, as I was linking to Imdb, I saw there is apparently a Chopping Mall remake coming in 2013. But it won't involve killer robots. WTF?! Let me guess, the producers are going to flip a coin to decide between zombies or vampires.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

DKTM 157

Hello everyone! Are you ready for your first post-Halloween Don't Kill the Messenger?

Awards After Dark.

Yesterday, the awards were announced for this year's Toronto After Dark Film Festival.  Comedy was definitely the order of the day as the Audience Choice Gold, Silver and Bronze went to Cockneys vs Zombies, Dead Sushi and The Fantastic Fear of Everything, respectively.  I was happy to see Resolution and American Mary clean up in a lot of the technical categories because those are the two that really resonated with me when the dust settled.

Cockneys vs Zombies & Bio-Cop.

Also, congrats to Steve Kostanski for taking away Gold in the best Canadian Short category for Bio-Cop.  If you are in the Toronto area, this short is now playing with his feature Manborg for a limited run at The Royal. If you're a fan of eighties genre films and like to laugh, get your butt down there right now.

For a full list of winners, click here.

Halloween Screams.

Something really cool I found on the Web this week was this audio recording from inside a 1979 screening of Halloween.

I love how riled up audiences got back in the day. This is just a testament to how powerful The Fearsome Fifteen really are.

Monster Mash.

So, by now you've all seen the trailer for the Evil Dead remake. It is a solid trailer, but I still can't help feeling that its slick and gritty look will likely equate to empty and soulless - much like the stuff from Platinum Dunes over the past decade. The filmmakers are clearly making practical effects a priority though, so I will at least give it a fair shake. Anyway, below is a clever mash-up by Badideaonline, which recreates the new trailer using footage from Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 1 & 2. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


When I saw UK animator Robert Morgan's newest animated short Bobby Yeah last June, I immediately knew who I wanted to be for Halloween. Bobby Yeah is still touring the festival circuit, so for those unfamiliar with this little oddity, here is a clip.

And here is my costume.

The mask was sculpted by Chris Nash and (using a variation of the pattern used for my 2009 Halloween costume) my mother handcrafted the suit. I am eternally grateful to them both, as I'm still kinda floored at how well Bobby turned out in the end.