In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Trailer Tuesdays: New Year's Evil.

How perfect is it that New Year's Eve falls on a Tuesday this year?! Seems like me posting this trailer was meant to be.

Trailer courtesy of Jack Boom.

Stay safe tonight, kids.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Best (& Worst) Horror of 2013.

Well, here we are again at the end of another year. It was a busy year for me creatively, so it feels like I saw less films in 2013. However, after perusing the archives I - as per usual - was able to cull my faves together for you. Here they are below in no particular order. Oh, and in case you're wondering why You're Next isn't on here, it's because I already heralded it as my top horror flick of 2011.

USA, Dir: Mike Flanagan

After seeing this film at Midnight Madness, I knew it was a lock to make this year end list. Building on the skills displayed in his previous film Absentia, Flanagan's wonderful scare-filled piece is made more impressive by his seamless juggling of dual narratives. Anchored by solid performances from both adults and children alike, this film was a fantastic and well-rounded supernatural thriller.

USA, Dir: Scott Schirmer

Yep, even months later, I still adore this movie. I gushed during Toronto After Dark about how much I responded to this film and that hasn't changed. Schirmer makes the rough-around-the-edges production work in his favour, and elicits great performances from his principles. The gore work is top notch, and his choice to make it a period piece was also a nice touch. The source material was a self published tome that Schirmer just stumbled across during his time at a publishing house, which just makes you think how many other genre gems are out there just waiting to be discovered.

The Battery
USA, Dir: Jeremy Gardner

This little zombie apocalypse indie that could is still on my mind. It's pretty amazing that the day-to-day musings of two ex-ball players could be so engaging, but it's in no small part due to the charisma and chemistry of the film's stars Gardner and Adam Cronheim. Imagine a zombie picture with hardly any zombies in it that still managed to be more entertaining that one with a billion. I have mad respect for these dudes.

The Conjuring
USA, Dir: James Wan

Out of all the “haunting” pictures we've had over the past ten years, I think this is the most successful. James Wan has grown immensely as a director over that time and this is his most consistent scare-fest to date. His technical prowess is now quite impressive and combined with the talents of Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor and Wan-regular Patrick Wilson, I feel this was something well above what we expect from this subgenre.

The Sacrament
USA, Dir: Ti West

I have to give West credit where credit is due. After a few missteps, he delivered an extremely intense experience here. He not only owned the over saturated “found footage” format, but also managed to blur the line between reality and fiction. As one would expect from West, the pace is slow, but the performances - Gene Jones as the enigmatic leader The Father especially - are natural and completely suck you in.

Honourable Mentions

I feel I have to point out that there were some good remakes this year. Granted, there were tons that ranged from empty to awful, but there were at least two that I felt had a lot of merit. Jim Mickle's remake of We Are What We Are was pretty exceptional, both technically and thematically. By changing just enough to keep the core intact, he made it his own. The other was Alex Aja & Franck Khalfoun's redo of Bill Lustig's Maniac. It was every bit as ugly and disturbing as the original, Elijah Wood was as committed as his predecessor, Joe Spinnell and add in the fantastic score, and you get one of my biggest surprises of 2013.

Speaking of surprises, I'd say another two would be Would You Rather? and The Banshee Chapter. The simple nature of the former - wrapped around one of the best performances from Jeffrey Combs in years - really worked in its favour. As for the latter, this was a throwaway “found footage” tale that I expected nothing from, but by using the true story of MK Ultra and mixing in Lovecraftian lore, it made for a really creepy yarn.

As for disappointments, there were few thankfully. The only one worth mentioning would be Forzani & Cattet's latest art-house effort The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears. Much like my experience with Berberian Sound Studio last year, it was a technical marvel, but failed the fundamentals. I am all for using different avenues to tell a story, but there must, when all is said and done, BE a story.

The worst? Well, nothing got my back up this year more than All Cheerleaders Die. It was a mess of a film, and just the kind of thing I now expect from Lucky McKee and his minions. With every passing effort from these guys, it further cements that May was a fluke.

So that's it for another year. Before I go, I have to make mention that this is the first instance where all five of my faves were domestic titles. That's gotta mean something. Even with all the tripe that Hollywood trots out every year, it goes to show that we're doing something right. Right?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

DKTM 203

Hello all. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and were able to charge your batteries some. Here's what I have for you on these dwindling days of 2013.

Playing With Jason.

Check out this cool game controller for the Playstation 4, made by valentino42.

What's even cooler is that this guy posted how to make your own over at A bang up job; one that I'd love to see undertaken with some other slasher icons. I mean, come on, can you not see a red & green striped controller to accompany this one?

Red on White.

Thanks to Fearnet, I came across the ceramic stylings of Danish artist Maria Rubinke.

Her work reminds me of Jessica Harrison's, but instead of merely modifying existing figurines into works of grisly art, Rubinke creates hers from scratch, which would explain her incredibly vast output. Rubinke's website is still under construction, but you can still see more on her Facebook page by clicking here.

This Will Not End Well.

I came across a red band trailer for the new film Lucky Bastard recently, which you can see below.

I have to commend filmmakers that keep coming up with interesting new ways to employ the “found footage” device. After seeing two ghastly Valentine's Day release trailers in front of Her yesterday, I feel this will clean the palette nicely.

That it for now, but please check back tomorrow for my 2013 wrap-up post.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Red Ink 2013

Before my 2013 wrap-up post, I wanted to talk about some of the comics I've read this year.

First off, I have to commend Image Comics for the fantastic job they are doing. You would think with the monster The Walking Dead has become that they would shy away from risking over saturation, but instead, they've nurtured two other undead titles over the past few years.

I spoke about '68 last year and wasn't aware that it was still going until I happened by artist Nat Jones' booth at this year's Fan Expo. He was a super nice guy and I was glad to walk away with a signed copy of the second trade. '68: Scars collects four more issues of the continuing story along with a one-off called Hardships.

I am still enjoying the wonderful colour carnage that this comic provides, but I think '68's strength is how well it juggles the multiple character threads it has going right now – on both sides of the globe.

I also like how it this comic bends history. '68 ends each issue with some supplemental pages to provide context in just how close to reality the story actually is – sans zombies, of course.

The other Image series I wanted to speak of is Revival.

Written by Tim Seeley (of Hack/Slash fame) and art by Mike Norton, the trade above collects the first five issues. I like this comic a lot. The premise is quite intriguing, in that the undead are not only isolated to a small town – now quarantined by the CDC – but have also remained, for the most part, completely normal. Amongst all this chaos, Officer Dana Cypress also has to solve a brutal murder, as well.

Revival reminds me of a French film from a few years ago called Les Revenants, except I feel that this is does a lot more with the material. Revival is the kind of thing, tone-wise, that I was hoping Hack/Slash was going to be, so I'm pretty happy that Seeley is finally delivering on that. There's so much to like here, as it has surface undead stuff, but also an extra layer, quickly alluded to, that I can't wait to see explored, as well.

WTF is that???

It was a very wise choice to make this story a crime noir, as well. With the numerous cool and likable characters that populate the town, the procedural nature of this story will keep it fresh for sometime. I could easily see this being made for television at some point.

One independent comic that caught my attention this year, thanks to Rue Morgue, was Terry Moore's Rachel Rising.

The above trade collects the first six issues. This comic is significant because it uses its undead element as a backdrop for a seemingly larger story involving angels and demons. Or at least, that's what I could glean from what I've read so far. I think what I find most striking about Rachel Rising is the beautifully illustrated art, which has a level of detail I don't see often.

Now I realize I may be late to the party on those last two comics, as they've been going a while, but what the hell, they're new to me. Despite being a little behind on '68, and a lot behind on the others, it just means I'll be extra busy catching up in 2014.

Check back in a few days for the last DKTM of the year, followed the day after by my best of 2013 post.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours! Here's a bit of Xmas cheer for you, courtesy of Brad Rodriguez.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

DKTM 202

Hey gang. I've got an all-video edition of Don't Kill the Messenger for you today! Check it out...

Bobby's Been Busy.

One of my favourite short filmmakers right now is UK-based nightmare alchemist Robert Morgan. This week, he posted his newest incantation Invocation, which you can watch below.

I also want to post one of his earlier works that I just discovered recently. Overtaken was created for a 48-hour film challenge in 2009. Having done my share of these timed competitions, I have to marvel at how he was able to maintain his usual high degree of insanity & quality in equal measure. Here is it below.

So, what have we learned? Well, a filmmaker should always respect their subjects, animate or otherwise and people who drink all the milk, get their NUTS KICKED OFF!

A Grand Trailer.

A thriller that's been on my radar for a few months since it played Fantastic Fest, is Eugenio Mira's Grand Piano. Here is the trailer below, but I would suggest not watching past the one-minute mark if you only want to know the setup.

This one has a lot of potential and I look forward to seeing it soon. Elijah Wood, after his stint in Middle Earth, has been getting himself into some solid little genre gems of late. I say welcome back!

More Than A Penny's Worth.

I found about a fantastic new show coming to Showtime next year called Penny Dreadful. Check out the teaser below.

The reasons to be excited about this show's eight-episode run are numerous. If the Victorian time period and “psycho sexual” undertones don't grab you, the cast spearheaded by screen siren Eva Green and including Josh Hartnett, Billie Piper and Timothy Dalton should. It also doesn't hurt that the show creators are John Logan & Sam Mendes and the first two episodes will be directed by The Orphanage's J.A. Bayona. Bring it on!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

There's Still Time!

Hey all! You've still got time to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign for Twenty-Four by Thirty-Six. In case you missed my post about this earlier, it's a cool new documentary about movie poster illustration by Post No Joes Productions. Here's their initial pitch video below. You can also click the image underneath to see a recent CTV interview with director Kevin Burke.

The campaign ends tomorrow morning, so better get cracking if you want to pitch in. They have already reached their initial goal of $25,000, but you can still get in on some great perks by donating. For more info, click here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Trailer Tuesdays: Society

Thanks to the BLB, I got to see this flick on the big screen last weekend.

Trailer courtesy of krzysztofffffffer

It had been about twenty years since I'd seen it last, and this little oddity courtesy of Brian Yuzna was just as weird and gooey as I remembered. Well, actually, that's not exactly true. Society was yet another title to get the Blockbuster chop, so this was my first time seeing the full version. It was a joy to behold and just made me yearn for the days that filmmakers didn't have computers to “solve” their problems.

Monday, December 16, 2013

And The Winner Is...

The ABC's of Death 2 announced the winner of the second 26th director competition yesterday. The short film joining the sophomore field of twenty-five directors will be... M Is For Masticate.

Congratulations to Robert Boocheck and his team. It's not the one I would've picked, but it is certainly competent enough to rub elbows with the genre's best. To read the official announcement, click here.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

DKTM 201

I'm feeling a bit under the weather - and by that I mean not only in health, but also the two feet of snow outside - so I'll keep it brief today.

Pretty Pictures.

Here are some sick art pieces I saw over the course of the week.

“Major Toht” by Jason Edminston for Crazy 4 Cult Show.

“Colonel Dietrich” by Jason Edminston for Crazy 4 Cult Show.

Poster art by Chris Weston for 5ReelFilm

Poster art by Dan Panosian.

Dine In Style.

Here are some cool horror-inspired lunchboxes designed by the awesome site Kindertrauma.

You can see the rest by clicking here.

Playing With Fear.

I found this cool little video on the history of horror video gaming this week. It was a pitch reel for a documentary called Playing With Fear.

For more info on the doc, click here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Jason Vs. Jason

I lost.

This drawing, courtesy of local artist Karen Brown, was a gift from my friend, Lisa.

Happy Friday the 13th everyone!!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Trailer Tuesdays: Wait Until Dark

I picked up this little gem at the local flea market last weekend.

Trailer courtesy of Humanoidity

It now seems fitting to throw up the trailer.

This film is fantastic and one of the best play-to-film adaptations around in my book. Terence Young creates some brilliant tension here, though I feel the deck was already heavily stacked in his favour. I mean, who in their right mind would want to see anything bad happen to Audrey Hepburn?

Monday, December 9, 2013


Six years. Hard to Believe. Thanks again to everyone who keeps looking in.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

DKTM 200!!!

Hey gang! It is not only a special occasion because this is the two hundredth edition of Don't Kill the Messenger, but tomorrow is also the sixth anniversary of The Horror Section. Each milestone that goes by I marvel at the fact I've managed to stay at it for so long. A good chuck of my motivation is the constant good will I receive from you guys, but mostly it is just that I have to. By now, it is habit and deeply ingrained. Anyhoo, I've got a super-sized news post for you, so let's get on with it.

Park City At Midnight.

The first highlight of the year is always the midnight lineup at the Sundance Film Festival. For 2014, it looks like there are more than a few corkers. Here's a sampling of some that caught my eye.

Aussie director Jennifer Kent brings the scares in The Babadook about a single mother protecting her child from a malevolent force inside her house.

Cooties looks to be a sort of reverse version of The Faculty as a band of teachers battle for survival after a mysterious virus turns the student body into vicious savages. It stars Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson & Leigh Whannell, who also co-wrote the screenplay.

Elijah Wood & Alison Pill in Cooties.

Tommy Wirkola follows up his Hollywood Hansel & Gretel picture - which imho was way better than it should've been - with a sequel to his fan fave Dead Snow. Entitled Red vs Dead, this one sees the survivor from the first film battle the Nazi undead for all the marbles.

Perhaps my most anticipated of this lineup is the new film from Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett. The Guest sees a soldier contacting the family of a fellow comrade killed in action, only to find all is not what it seems. These guys are at the top of their game right now, so I can't wait to see their next project.

Maika Monroe in The Guest.

The Japanese/Indonesian co-production Killers sounds like a recipe for insanity as two serial killers log their crimes online in an effort to one-up each other. Co-written by Timo Tjahjanto, who made the batshit crazy VHS 2 segment Safe Haven earlier this year, I am now expecting big things of this.

I am happy if there are one or two titles to take away from Park City, but this year has over six I'm chomping at the bit to check out. The 30th edition of the Sundance Film Festival runs January 16th to 26th. For more info, click here.

Twenty Four by Thirty Six.

There's a Kickstarter campaign going on right now for an exciting new documentary about movie poster art called 24 x 36. A few months ago, a company called Post No Joes made a short featurette about artist Ghoulish Gary Pullin. They had so much fun making it that they decided to make a full doc about him and his creative brethren. Here's the video pitch below.

You still plenty of time to give generously, and the rewards are plentifully awesome. Click here to get more info.

The Carpet From Another Place.

I love this little mash-up drawing from artist Jared Lyon.

For more work of the artist, click here.

Getting Scary.

A few weeks back, I talked about discovering a set of old books written by Alvin Schwartz called Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Well, it appears I wasn't the only one as Saw scribes Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan are planning on turning it into an anthology for CBS Films. According to the press release;

“Dunstan and Melton will adapt some of the Scary short stories into a screenplay about a group of outcast kids who stand up to their fears to save their town when nightmares come to life.”

It sounds a lot like It, but there are no shortage of great source material to pull from, so a skilled hand should be able to make this work. I look forward to seeing these folk tales made flesh.

Shock Advertising.

Here's an crazy ad from Japan. It is supposed to be an for snow tires, but I think it could easily just make you want to sell your car and never drive again.

It is not quite as clever as the Exorcist parody from Germany a few years ago, but it is certainly a commercial you won't soon forget!

Bloody Scraps.

Here's a few more things I wanted to mention. After many years of waiting a trailer for Nurse 3D finally popped up online.

Yeah, so maybe not quite as excited as I once was. Maybe it's just from hearing all those Paz Vega horror stories over the past few months. They sure did pick the best possible screencap for that YouTube video though, didn't they?

However, here's something I AM excited for - the next project from the Resolution guys from Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson. Entitled Spring, Twitchfilm reports that it is about “a young man in a personal tailspin as he flees California to the Italian coast, where he meets a woman carrying a dark secret.” Here below, is the first still from the film.

Nadia Hilker in Spring.

Lastly, Guillermo del Toro is now in production on his television adaptation of his book series The Strain. Here below, is the recently released rat-tastic teaser.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

BITS & Pieces.

Here is some video that was taken at the Blood In The Snow Film Festival last weekend. The first video is Ali & I being interviewed by Katie Uhlmann for her web show Katie Chats. Watch as Ali cracks bad jokes and I almost walk off camera before the outro.

The second video is footage from my intro at the screening graciously filmed by my co-producer Darrin Suzuki. The whole experience all weekend was so surreal that I barely stopped to take any pictures. Thankfully, several of my peeps had it covered.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Lively Weekend.

The 2nd annual Blood In The Snow Film Festival went down this past weekend, and what a blast it was! It is remarkable how well run and polished this event is in only its sophomore year. With its relocation to the Carlton Cinema, BITS also expanded to include a “vendor village” in the lobby, which included the likes of Fangoria, Suspect Video, Black Fawn Films and IndieCan Entertainment.

I had a wonderful time all weekend, meeting filmmakers & moviegoers alike, as well as taking in some quality homegrown genre efforts, Tricia Lee's Clean Break, Renaud Gauthier's Discopath and Greg Kovaks' short film Tasha and Friends being my personal faves.

The world premiere of my short Lively took place on Sunday evening in front of the closing film Discopath and I couldn't have wished for a better reception. I was overwhelmed with how well people seemed to respond to it. At the after party, I was plied with questions about what I was doing next, and whether Lively would someday be a feature.

Lively star Ali Chappell & I introducing Lively.

Ali & I with BITS programmer Kirk Haviland on the red carpet!

All I know is that I'm pretty darn proud of what my team & I accomplished and forever indebted to them for all their efforts. Lastly, thanks to Kelly, Kirk and everyone at Blood In The Snow for not only accepting Lively with open arms, but also being so welcoming and accommodating all weekend long. You guys rock!

*Photos courtesy of Glenn Hicks & Darrin Suzuki.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Blood Flows Tonight.

It has finally arrived! The 2nd Annual Blood In The Snow Film Festival kicks off this evening at Toronto's Carlton Cinema, and I have only two more sleeps before my short film Lively has its world premiere! If any of you are in town, I'd love to see you there. The screening is this Sunday at 7pm. Tickets are twelve bones at the door.

Naturally, this weekend is going to be a whirlwind, but I'll be back next week to give you a full report on the festivities.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trailer Tuesdays: Tourist Trap

This time around, I'd like to pass along the trailer to this underseen little oddity.

Trailer courtesy of deadenddrivein

I was aware of Tourist Trap due to its distinctive coverbox, but just watched it last week after recently acquiring it. On the surface, it looks like a Texas Chainsaw clone - one could easily be confused as art director Robert A. Burns worked on both pictures - but almost immediately you realize there's more going on.

Horror distribution icons Irwin Yablans and Charles Band both had a hand in this project, but if that's not enough to pique your interest, it also stars Chuck Connors as a crazy wax museum owner, and a very young Tanya Roberts. What more do you need???

Monday, November 25, 2013

Where Is Jessica Hyde?

I made a wonderful discovery last Friday evening that I'd love to share with those currently unaware. By way of UK blogger Wesley Williams, I heard about this new show called Utopia on Britain's Channel 4. Less than twenty-four hours later, I had devoured all six episodes.

Simply put, this show is excellent. I was hooked immediately, as Utopia has one of the best pilot episodes I've seen since perhaps Lost. It puts its DNA right up front, quickly showing you that it's not playing around and not like anything else on the small screen. If I were to break it down into buzz words, I'd say Utopia is complicated mix of Ben Wheatley, David Lynch with a sprinkle of Broken Saints, a web series from the mid-2000's. I was seriously shocked that Wheatley wasn't involved in this production somehow because his fingerprints are all over this. It is not just that Wheatley alumni Michael Smiley and Neil Maskell appear, but also the show's penchant for sudden bursts of brutal violence and overall tone of jet black quirk. Speaking of violence, The Brits continue to surprise me with how much they get away with. Channel 4 isn't HBO, it is public television, and yet it features all manner of grisly mayhem.

I want to make things clear here. It was not only the subject matter that grabbed me. This is a full package deal, as every facet of this production is something to behold. The visual palette of Utopia, in brilliant contrast to its dark themes, is vibrant and colourful with framing that will make you want to reach for the remote. 

Additionally, enough cannot be said about the music by composer Cristobal Tapia De Veer. The score is eclectic, and his choice to mix in sounds not usually associated with music scores – like breath for instance – was ingenious. It will not leave your head for days once it is locked in.

The main thing that distinguishes Utopia from the stuff going on this side of the pond is the ensemble cast. It is unlikely that a show like this would ever exist here. As for the subject matter, not since the popularity of Twin Peaks and The X-Files brought forth such boundary pushing and out-of-the-box thinking shows like Nowhere Man, VR.5 and Millenium, has there been anything quite like this.

This show is dynamite. It aired earlier this year around the same time as the second series of Black Mirror, so I'm kind of surprised I missed it. Oh well, better late than never. I have to echo Williams' comments about getting on board this show now before it goes off into the stratosphere. A second series has been ordered, so there will thankfully more Utopia coming in the future.