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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Best (& Worst) Horror of 2012.

The dust has settled on all the Christmas shenanigans and before the NYE ball drops, I'll squeeze my 2012 wrap-up post in here. As per usual, I thought I would be hard pressed to find five to make up a list, but after perusing my archives, I easily found a good number of titles for re-praise. In no particular order, here we go...

USA, Dir: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead

This film is a creative powerhouse, andin my opinion, the most original genre piece to hit screens in years. As I spoke of in my review from back in October, I still find it miraculous they were able to find some narrative space that was completely untapped. Resolution does for indie horror what Primer did for science-fiction back in the mid-2000's. Those who are initiated with Shane Carruth's time-travel revelation know that is high praise, so hopefully, Resolution sets the same precedent. It would sure go a long way toward elevating horrorphiles' current post-movie conversations beyond, “well, at least it had gore in it.”

USA, Dir: Drew Goddard

I loved this movie. It was the ultimate love-letter to the thirty years of horror cinema that came before it. I can appreciate the opinions of the movie's many detractors – actually I can't, lighten the fuck up – but this movie delivered to me ten-fold what I was actually expecting. Cabin In The Woods was a highlight in a year where I had many especially fun viewing experiences, but more on that later. Goddard and Joss Whedon had a hell of a time getting this movie into theatres – three years in fact! - but in the end, all that blood, sweat and tears were all worth it.

Canada, Dir: Jen & Sylvia Soska

I am proud to again include a Canadian picture on my top five list this year. The Soska Sisters brought forth a darkly fascinating world with their sophomore effort. Though it is true the second half does meander quite a bit, I can't deny there was a large chunk of this flick that had me completely enraptured. I was also extremely happy to see Katherine Isabelle front and center again, where she belongs.

USA, Dir: Nick McCarthy

When making up my list, this title was one that bubbled up to the surface. Anchored by great performances, some fantastic cinematography and a simple, yet interesting story, The Pact is a great little horror film. Its silly last few moments notwithstanding, I recommend you look this up on Netflix right away.

UK/Ireland, Dir: Neil Jordan

I feel a little weird putting this on here, as it is more of a family drama than a straight horror film, but it has vampires, so fuck it. This was one of the best films I saw this year, period. Both Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan compliment each other beautifully and the film itself is just as easy on the eyes. As my glowing TIFF review clearly stated, I loved everything about this film and hope it gets some sort of domestic release in 2013.

Honourable Mentions

2012 proved that the horror anthology is, in fact, making a comeback. Though neither V/H/S or The ABC's of Death were home runs, they both had some great stuff to build upon. V/H/S 2 (or S-VHS as I hear it has been titled) is already on the way, so here's to the horror anthology staying around for a bit.

As I said before, I had a lot of fun in the theater this year. [REC]3 was a nice break from its more serious conventions, Noboru Iguchi's Dead Sushi was a hoot-and-a-half, that was only enhanced by the atmosphere through which I experienced it, and Detention was a uproarious cornucopia of nineties genre film conventions.

This year, I'd like to single out some performances. Pascal Laugier's follow-up to Martyrs may have underwhelmed a lot of people who were expecting something of a more graphic nature, but at least it was a more coherent effort than Bustillo & Maury's Livid from last year. More importantly, Laugier should be praised for getting such a fantastic performance from Jessica Biel, as I have to admit being a little floored when I saw it at Fantasia. I didn't know she had it in her. Also, though the Sam Raimi-produced flick The Possession was sub-par at best, there was nothing mediocre about Natasha Calis' performance as the possessed teen, Em.

Now onto the not-so-goods...

Due to my festival fatigue at the time, I missed seeing Paranormal Activity 4 and Silent Hill 2, but from what I hear I did not miss much. I did however catch Sinister, and the most disappointing thing about it was that it could've been in my top five if its last half had been anywhere near as good as its first.

Nothing I saw this year was as bad as Grave Encounters 2 though. What a waste of time that was. There is nothing more obnoxious in a horror movie that seeing a character rhyme off reasons why modern horror sucks, and then seeing that movie do every single one of those things unironically. Also, Inbred was pretty insipid, but hey, “at least it had gore in it.”

That closes the book on 2012, and hopefully all that nonsense about the Mayans. See you all in the New Year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

If You Like...

I'm still sussing out my best of 2012 list, but in the meantime I thought I'd throw this up here. With Quentin Tarantino's newest film Django Unchained recently riding into the theatres, I'd like to bring up a little book I got in the mail a few weeks back. If You Like Quentin Tarantino by Katharine Rife digs deep into his filmography and pulls out countless influences and homages. The reason I am mentioning it here on the pages of The Horror Section is due to its inclusion of several horror flicks. Classic genre staples, such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, My Bloody Valentine, Slumber Party Massacre, and Pieces are all discussed.

As a holiday bonus, and its Canadian connection, I have included the section that covers My Bloody Valentine. Tarantino has, on a few occasions, cited it as his favourite slasher flick and you know how I feel about it, so I was glad to see it appear in the book. See you in a few days.

My Bloody Valentine combines a popular cinematic trend (holiday-themed slasher movies) with a striking image (a miner in full uniform and gas mask) and some familiar genre tropes (horny young kids getting naked) to create a hybrid that for all of its sex and violence still seems rather quaint. This isn’t really the movie’s fault though: My Bloody Valentine was famously, extensively cut to avoid an X rating. Censors demanded cuts to every single kill scene in the movie, and the studios complied, spooked by the murder of John Lennon and the immense backlash that had accompanied Friday the 13th the year before.

Most of the time, these kinds of cuts are no big deal—a few frames that are barely perceptible when they do get restored. But with My Bloody Valentine, they really are two different movies; the cut version is practically bloodless, making all of the murder scenes short, vague, and confusing. It’s a shame, too, because when you do see the deleted scenes, the deaths are creative (one victim is impaled on a shower head so the water sprays out of her open mouth) and the gore SFX are really quite well done. The uncut My Bloody Valentine remained unseen until 2009, when a re-release hit theaters in advance of a 3D remake. The restored version is still unavailable on Blu-ray; somewhat inexplicably, the distributor decided to include the extended gore sequences as special features rather than putting them back in the movie itself.

My Bloody Valentine is obviously not a Hollywood production (all the actors’ Canadian accents are intact, director George Mihalka notes proudly). It was shot on location in the small mining town of Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia; the mine scenes were shot in a real coal mine that had been shut down only a few years before, and some rather drastic safety risks were taken by cast and crew alike. As Mihalka explains in a 2005 interview with the webzine The Terror Trap: “The only lighting equipment we were allowed to use was safety lighting equipment because there were no sparks. It was quite scary working like that because at a certain point, it becomes extremely dangerous. I mean, you can die. That’s why they used to have canaries in coal mines.”

The story is pretty straightforward, if a little silly: it’s 1980, and the small town of Valentine Bluffs hasn’t held a Valentine’s Day dance in twenty years. You’d think they would, being the small town of Valentine’s Bluffs and all, but this sleepy mining hamlet is afflicted with a curse. See, back in 1960, some mine foremen left their posts early to attend the Valentine’s Day dance, resulting in a methane gas explosion that left a group of miners trapped underground for six weeks. The only survivor, Harry Warden, was driven insane by the ordeal and sent to a mental institution. He escaped exactly one year later to cut out the hearts of the guilty foremen, vowing that the same would happen to any unwary schmuck who ever celebrated Valentine’s Day in Valentine’s Bluffs again. But that was twenty years ago, and to a group of young miners, Harry Warden is nothing but a fairy tale. So the teens decide to defy the town sheriff and have a Valentine’s Day party down at the mine. And as the audience already knows, this is one urban legend that’s true . . .

My Bloody Valentine is a giddy, somewhat guilty pleasure, but to its credit, unlike most slasher movies, it’s carefully paced and structured well enough that you won’t forget it right away. Tarantino hasn’t, as he told Entertainment Weekly in 2006: “As far as slasher films go, of course, I love Halloween and all those. But as time’s gone on, I think My Bloody Valentine may be my favorite.”

Excerpt posted by permission from Hal Leonard Books.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Trailer Tuesdays: Xmas Blowout!

Merry Christmas everyone! To celebrate this year's visit from Santa Claus, I bring you this sack full of Christmas horror goodies! So, roast those chestnuts and egg that nog, and I'll see you in a few days for my 2012 wrap-up.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Zombie Christmas

Here below, is Mad Genius Comics' festival web comic, Johnny Zombie Christmas. Click on the image to check it out. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

DKTM 163

Well, we made it. Now, we can concentrate on the festive season at hand.  

Last Wednesday, I attended the latest edition of Little Terrors, the monthly short film showcase organized by filmmaker Justin McConnell and Rue Morgue Magazine. This fourteenth volume consisted of almost a dozen Christmas-themed genre shorts. Fortunately, a lot of them are online, so I will share them with you here.

We'll start off with a classic. Treevenge was Jason Eisener's 2008 follow-up to his now historic Grindhouse competition trailer Hobo With A Shotgun. For those who haven't already seen it - and even if you have, why not another watch! - here it is below.

One of my faves from the programme was a 2011 Bloodshots 48-hour challenge entry entitled Father Christmas. Brilliant!

Premiering at Little Terrors was Astron 6's newest short, Breaking Santa. Freshly posted online this week, here it is below for your enjoyment.

Lastly, here is an American short called The Living Want Me Dead which combines the Christmas spirit with some good ol' fashioned Rage. Here it is below.

Hopefully, that was enough to get your holiday juices flowing. Have a great Sunday!

Friday, December 21, 2012

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish.

What I find rather dickish of the Mayans is that the end of the world is on a Friday and not a Monday. Happy trails everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trailer Tuesdays: Shivers.

It's time to bring a little Can-con to these weekly proceedings. Here's the trailer for David Cronenberg's 1975 debut Shivers aka They Came From Within courtesy of Zorgjul.

I love the sound design of this trailer. Even though you can't always make out what is flashing onscreen, the screaming and moaning certainly lets you know it can't be good for those involved. It is also helped by the narrator Percy Rodrigues, who was basically the “voice” of horror throughout the seventies, eighties and nineties.

Shivers is one of a group of films from this era that was a larger comment on some facet of our society. For more info on that, there is a fantastic documentary called The American Nightmare that covers this very topic.

Personally, what I take away from this film is that if making out with Lynn Lowry means I get infected with a soul-flaying parasite, well... I'm willing to take that hit.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

DKTM 162

Okay folks, here is your last Don't Kill the Messenger before the end of the world. Enjoy guys, it's been a slice.

Daemonium: Zero Hour

About a year ago, I posted a link to an Argentinian zombie short called Daemonium. Those who watched it shouldn't be surprised why it caught my attention. Now, one year later, director Pablo Pares is back with the second chapter of his proposed five-part post apocalyptic epic. Here it is below. To refresh your memory, click here for part one.

His Face All Red.

I came across a wonderful web comic the other day from artist Emily Carroll called His Face All Red.  Much like Ryan Andrews' Our Bloodstained Roof (which I posted about last year), Carroll makes great use of the scrolling page online format. Click on the image below to check it out.

The Shining Bass.

The illustration & design website The Fox Is Black recently posted a terrific article about some rejected artwork for the poster for Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining. I was not aware until now that not only was the final artwork done by the legendary graphic artist Saul Bass, but it was one of several hundred proposed ideas. Many of these rejected drawings are now on display at the Kubrick exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Here, with Kubrick's notes included, are some examples below.

Click here for the original The Fox Is Black piece.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dead of Night (#10)

In a stroke of good fortune, I was able to strike off another one of the Time Out Best 100 List titles during a recent Laser Blast meet-up. 1945’s Ealing Studios anthology Dead of Night.

I have some issues with Dead of Night’s placement on the list, but let’s first focus on the positives. The wraparound story of Mr. Craig (Mervyn Johns) feeling some serious déjà vu while attending a party at a country house is pretty entertaining. Dead of Night is from the fourties, so it has that classic vibe with the fast, overlapping dialogue that Howard Hawks pioneered. I enjoy that stuff. People seemed so jolly in films back then.

The first few stories of the piece are somewhat glorified anecdotes and I’d say that “Golfing Story” – based on a story by H.G. Wells – feels like the most dated, as it features two men courting a woman who seems completely content (overjoyed in fact) that she has no say in her future. It is no doubt a sign of the times, but it also has a comedic bent that seems out of place among the rest. Once Dead of Night gets into the meat of the picture though, there is some really good stuff to be had.

The film’s strength lies with the pair of stories, “The Haunted Mirror” and “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy”. The former has a storyline that surely would have inspired some future genre scribes like Rod Serling and Richard Matheson and also features a visual flair quite striking for the time. The latter is what I imagine most of the filmmakers’ who vaulted Dead of Night onto the lists’ upper echelon remember, and I have to admit that even some sixty-some years on, it is still pretty creepy. It is the last story in the anthology and ends on a strong note, even if the conclusion of the wraparound is something we have seen countless times since.

Michael Redgrave (right) with Hugo.

After many months of knocking movies off this list, I don’t think I’ve come up across one that I’m in disagreement with… until now. Don’t get me wrong, Dead of Night is a solid film, but number thirty-five? No way! And considering this is only one of two horror anthologies on the list – the other being Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath, which easily earns its spot on artistic merit alone – I can’t justify its place here. In my opinion, it is not even the best British anthology, as I feel Amicus’ 1972 Tales From The Crypt offers more bang for your buck.

There is no question that Dead of Night is influential. It was one of the first films to employ the anthology format (behind 1943's Dr. Terror's House of Horrors and a few earlier German productions) and it gets points for trailblazing, but overall its lofty position on the Time Out List seems inflated to me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Trailer Tuesdays: Blood Beach.

Here's another one from the golden age of home video, Blood Beach from 1981. John Saxon & Burt Young versus a creature that lies underneath the California sand!

Trailer courtesy of Shadow5920able

This is yet another trailer that rules because of its narration - “those singles.. aahhh”. Plus, the whole “just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, you can't get to it” is pretty effing genius, if you ask me. From a marketing perspective - such as it was in the early eighties - Blood Beach is perfection.

I'm quite sure this movie is nowhere near as good as my eight-year-old brain remembers, but that trailer certainly does not disappoint.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


It's hard to believe The Horror Section has been around for five years, but there it is. Thanks again to all of you who continue to visit. For some fun this Sunday morning, see how many coverboxes you can pick out of my collage above. You can right-click on the image to enlarge and if you need a hint, they are all in the video I did commemorating my thousandth post back in April. Enjoy!

Friday, December 7, 2012

No Time Left.

I finished The Walking Dead game a few days ago, and it is still with me, lingering in my psyche. The last chapter, No Time Left, was a tad shorter than the other four installments, but it was no less impactful. I don't think this episode could've been more aptly titled, as the sense of urgency was always hanging over my character's (Lee) head.

The final two set pieces were superbly executed, the first being a verbal chess match with Clementine's captor and the latter the inevitable conclusion to a long journey that started when I pressed Start way back in the spring. For the sake of my masculinity, I'll refrain from commenting on my reaction to No Time Left's final moments. The ending (or at least my ending) left a few questions unanswered, but at least the post-credits epilogue shed some light on the most important one.

Lee, taking care of business.

I find my large emotional investment in this game hard to explain, but hopefully sometime soon you will experience it for yourself and know of what I speak.

My hat goes off to Telltale Games for not only creating a twenty-dollar title more valuable than most that are three-times as expensive, but also providing a Walking Dead experience that was more affecting than the comic and show combined.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Around Every Corner.

Well, Around Every Corner, the fourth installment of The Walking Dead game, wasn't any easier in terms of the moral dilemmas it threw up for me. This time around, I made a decision that I immediately regretted. Even though I had been waiting for an opportunity to make said choice, there was no joy in it. Things are never black and white in this game. It was something that needed to be done for the safety of the group, but has increasingly been the case, explaining my actions to Clementine was... problematic.

I'm sad to say the rift between my character (Lee) and Clementine is getting bigger, as I feel ill-equipped to justify some of the shit I had to do in this episode. It doesn't help that it seems like every five minutes someone in my group is saying “make sure you take care of that kid” or “are you sure you can handle this?”

No, but I'm doing my best.

Lee (right) and Clementine.

I should point out that the irony is not lost on me. I am stressing over not only the safety of a virtual child that is not even mine, but also how she perceives me. How the fuck did Telltale manage to do this to me?

As far as the story goes, I thought the Crawford arc was very well laid out. Around Every Corner also introduced a new character named Molly, a spirited lone wolf, much like Michonne. After dealing with my ragtag group of survivors for four episodes now, I almost envy Molly. She just has herself to think about, and has gotten really good at it.


Lastly, something happened toward the end of this episode that I can honestly say I didn't see coming. Now, I am almost dreading the last installment, No Time Left. I have an idea now of how it is going to play out, and it's going to be gutting. And that's the best case scenario. I have to do it, though. 

Clementine is counting on me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Trailer Tuesdays: The Deadly Spawn

Shifting from slashers to carnivorous alien creatures, here is the trailer for the 1983 flick The Deadly Spawn aka Return of the Aliens Deadly Spawn courtesy of sideshowcarny.

Since discovering it by way of Continental Video’s compilation video Terror on Tape, I have always loved this movie. It is truly a prime example of ingenuity filling in for lack of funds. The gore is spectacular, and there are some memorable surprises in the movie, as well.

If I had a wish list of vintage B-movie props, that giant million-toothed monster puppet would be high up there. It actually surprises me that Todd McFarlane or any of the other cool figure manufacturers out there have never tackled this creature.

Lastly, for those not aware, there was also an unofficial sequel made in 1990 called Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor. Though the movie is less interesting overall, the creature designs are solid and also features some awesome stop-motion sequences.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Long Road Ahead.

With all the hustle & bustle of the last four months – ie “the busy season” – behind me, I was finally able to catch up on The Walking Dead game.

I played episodes three and four, Long Road Ahead and Around Every Corner respectively, and was very glad to see that, in my absence, the high standard of quality had not diminished.

Over the dozen or so hours I've been playing this game, the negatives have all but disappeared and what I'm left with is an unrelenting desire to try and keep the wheels from falling off the wagon. It is not an easy task, as I am starting to realize that there are no good decisions, just ones that avoid immediate disaster. On the game play side of things, I do like the emphasis on puzzle solving. Sure, said puzzles are not particularly challenging and really just amount to a series of fetch quests, but they always seem to fit the situation and rarely feel arbitrary.

There was a moment in Long Road Ahead that shocked me so much that I actually gasped aloud. It was a defining moment of not only this story, but also the power of this game. I spent the next few days lamenting whether I could've done something to prevent it. That feeling left me with a grudge that ended up just getting me in more trouble in the following episode.

One of the game's many sticky situations.

By the end of Long Road Ahead, my group was left shattered and felt like it was being held together with duct tape and a prayer. It is also becoming more difficult to shield Clementine from the ugly stuff, and I'm constantly finding her questions tougher to answer truthfully.

The Walking Dead comic is superb, and the show in the last ten or so episodes has been making great strides, but there is something about the interactivity of this game adaptation that makes it even more substantial somehow. Check back later this week for my continuing experience with Around Every Corner.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

DKTM 161

Happy December everyone! Here's what been happening on the Internets this week.


Here's a nice piece of levity for you. This prank video from Brazil has been tearing up the Web this week.

I wonder if there's been a rise in the use of stairs in Rio recently?

Traucki Lives!

His lacklustre short in the ABC's of Death notwithstanding, I love the work of Aussie director Andrew Traucki.  His two under-seen killer beast features (2007's Black Water and 2010's The Reef) are great examples of independent filmmaking. Now, Traucki is looking for help to finish financing his third feature, The Jungle. Here below, are the poster and trailer.

I'm in. For more info, go to the Indiegogo page here.

Weird Words II.

A few months back, Fangoria announced a second edition of their short story competition Weird Words. After six weeks of waiting, they have finally posted the first finalist, Creeper.  Over the next little while all the finalists will be posted on Fangoria (although at this rate, it will be Halloween by the time they're all up) where the readers will take over and vote for their favourites. The best three will then be printed in a future issue of Fangoria magazine. You can check out Creeper, by going here. Good luck to all the entrants!