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, February 28, 2013

TV Rots Yer Brain!

Last Friday, I gathered some pals together to assault their senses – and perhaps their patience – with Scream Factory’s latest Blu-ray double pack, The Video DeadTerrorVision.

Scream Factory because has been doing an amazing job of late. Not only have they been releasing some choice horror cuts over the last year or so, but also excelling in the packaging and supplemental departments, as well. I mean, just look at the title menu screen for the above disc!

Anyways, back to the evening at hand. Knowing that TerrorVision was likely going to be the easier for my peeps to ingest, I slapped on The Video Dead first. Even twenty five years later, I still find this movie so endearing. Director Robert Scott had more dreams than money – it was literally shot on weekends over the span of a year – but knew to accentuate his strengths. Sure, it’s slow in parts and the acting is questionable at best, but there is an emphasis on the zombies as characters that you usually don’t see outside of Romero’s catalogue.

As for the transfer, it looks pretty solid. Considering this film was originally shot on 16mm, this is the best The Video Dead has ever looked. I have to now give a shout out to Chris MacGibbon. His painstaking, multi-year pursuit to get The Video Dead released on a digital format has finally come to fruition. Additionally, all the supplemental materials he has been producing over that time are on the disc, including two commentaries, interviews and extensive galleries. It is pretty much all a Video Dead super-fan could ever want.

Diane Hadley as The Bride in The Video Dead.

I know that all in attendance were not as thrilled about The Video Dead as I was, but nevertheless we moved onto TerrorVision.

I had an even more vague recollection of this title, but wagered that the combined efforts of Charles Band & John Carl Buechler wouldn’t let me down. Thankfully, I was right. Just the production design alone in this movie is enough to keep you entertained. Imagining a universe where a house like this could exist brings a smile to my face. Then again, it was the eighties.

TerrorVision falls into a category that several of Band’s pictures possess where it seems like, gore and encroaching adult themes aside of course, he was almost trying to make a kids movie. It would certainly explain why several years later, Band founded Moonbeam Entertainment, the more youth-friendly genre offshoot of his Full Moon empire.

Not surprisingly, the center piece of TerrorVision is the monster, which is top notch. Just two years before the legendary carnage of Friday the 13th Part VII, effects artist John Carl Buechler was at the top of his game here. It goes to show you that no matter how rudimentary a fabricated monster may look, it will always beat CG.

Slimy, gooey and, most importantly, tangible.

But wait, there’s more! TerrorVision also features a catchy theme song, an Elvira ripoff named Medusa, whose heaving bosom defies the laws of physics and some pretty extreme eighties hairdos. Also, much like its counterpart, this disc is rife with special features, including a commentary, retrospective doc and a still gallery.

All of this added up to a fun evening. With many more great titles on the way from Scream Factory this year, I suspect there will be many more nights like this to come.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Trailer Tuesdays: The Brood.

It's Canadian. It's set during winter. This is just my way of saying I'm more than ready for spring at this point.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

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Hey folks, just dropping in with some horror tidbits before my busy weekend gets even busier. Enjoy!

In Pictures.

I found a great poster website the other day called Poster Perversion. It has all manner of posters, lobby cards and other promotional items from films all over the world. As you would expect, my attention immediately to the horror/thriller section. Check out these samples below.

City of the Walking Dead (French)

Cat O' Nine Tails (German)

Food of the Gods (German)

The Beyond (Thai)

I find it hilarious that last one for possession slasher Satan's Blade is clearly just a zoomed-in section of the classic poster for Maniac.

Poster Perversion, curated out of Warsaw, Poland by Derrick Ogrodny is visual ecstasy, so check it out by going here.

In Death It Ends.

Colin Geddes recently turned me onto a British band called In Death It Ends. Most striking about them - or perhaps “him” as I what I could dig up leads me to believe this is a pet project of Rosetta Stone's Porl King - are the music videos. Don't get me wrong, I like the music, as it is the exactly the kind of drony, darkwave - is that what the kids are calling it these days? - I listen to while writing, but the videos are deliciously dark short films. Here are some examples below.

Black Rock.

I found this poster in my inbox a few days ago.

After disappearing following its premiere at Sundance last year, I'm glad to see Black Rock is getting some sort of release in May. I am a big fan of comedy power couple Mark Duplass & Katie Aselton, so it's cool to see them branch out into other genres. Despite the trailer being one that shows you pretty much everything in two minutes, I have put it below to watch at your discretion.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Diggin' For Treasure.

As the Canadian catalogue of Netflix continues to increase, so does its number of hidden gems. Based on a recommendation, I checked out Luiso Berdejo's 2009 film The New Daughter. Berdejo's name may not be familiar, but he has played a significant part in the rise of Spanish horror in recent years, collaborating with Paco Plaza & Jaume Belaguero on their [REC] franshise.

After divorced writer John James (Kevin Costner) moves into a secluded estate, his daughter Louisa (Ivana Baquero) starts exhibiting some bizarre behaviour.

Striking out on his own, Berdejo's debut feature is an impressive outing. Out of all the possession films we have seen over the past few years, this is by far one of the most engaging. It is frustrating that this film received a paltry limited release, while something as painfully insipid as 2011's The Devil Inside was plastered on every street corner, digital ad and movie screen for months. Comparing those two films is a disservice to The New Daughter though. Berdejo's film more closely resembles last year's The Possession, in that it features a father trying to discern if his teenage daughter's erratic behaviour is normal, or whether there is something more sinister afoot.

Costner is terrific as the father struggling to keep the pieces of his uprooted family together, and the two children, always integral to a movie like this, are both solid in this. I have to especially commend Ivana Baquero on her performance. Even though her role as the title character didn't feature a ton of dialogue, there was a physicality to it that required a great talent. It wasn't until after that I realized she was also Ophelia in Pan's Labyrinth. What a difference three years can make!

Ivana Baquero as Louisa James in The New Daughter.

Perhaps what I most appreciated about this film was the inherent lack of CG. I have seen so many films of late overuse visual effects out of laziness, rather than necessity. Berdejo understood this, and it gives certain sequences way more resonance because of it. Although, I do have point out one scene toward the beginning of the film, when Louisa was looking out her window. I felt the film gave away much more information than was needed. Leaving it out would have prolonged the mystery of what we were actually dealing with for so much longer.

Speaking of the mystery, the lore of this film was well executed. It felt like an avenue that few films have travelled, making it somewhat unique. I'm not sure I liked how the film wrapped up, but there's no denying that last shot was a wonderful piece of filmmaking.

I highly recommend adding The New Daughter to your Netflix queue, as it features good performances, great sound design and a well told and fresh take on an old story.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Horror of Dracula (#7)

The next title I watched on Time Out Best 100 List was Hammer Films 1958 staple Dracula aka Horror of Dracula. I know it may seem odd that I'd never seen this movie, but, when it comes to Hammer, I've always gravitated to the more female-centric titles in their catalogue. Shocking, I know...

This adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic story sees Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) and Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) battling the evil Count Dracula (Christopher Lee). 

Watching Dracula was a pleasurable experience, but I can't help but feel this is one of the more dated entries on the list. Having said that though, there was plenty of stuff to love. Director Terence Fisher puts his workman-like stamp, that served him so well throughout the fifties and sixties, on the proceedings by beautifully transporting us back to the end of the nineteenth century. Not surprisingly, Cushing is the shit in this film. Much like his performance in Fisher's creature feature Island of Terror eight years later, Cushing  takes charge of the situation and does what needs to be done. 

Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing in Horror of Dracula.

If I had one gripe about the film, it was how little Dracula was actually in it. Lee comes in at the beginning and, after dispatching Harker, steels away for a good chunk of the film. Apart from briefly ravishing a few damsels in distress, we don't see Dracula again until his final confrontation with Van Helsing and his compatriot, Arthur (Michael Gough). I know this was the first in a long line of Dracula films featuring Lee, but considering he is the title character, I figured he'd have more screen time. 

John Van Eyssen (left) as Jonathan Harker & Christopher Lee as Count Dracula.

Hammer Films are a huge part of the horror canon and have inspired countless filmmakers, so I cannot contest the inclusion of Horror of Dracula on the Time Out list. Though I may not value Hammer as highly as some, I fully recognize their artistic importance.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Goin' Medieval.

It was the twentieth anniversary of Army Of Darkness' release yesterday. I realized this late in the day, otherwise I'd have showcased it as part of Trailer Tuesdays. So, consider this a +1.

I can still remember my father dropping off my buddy Scott & I at the local multiplex during a snowstorm to watch this. Army of Darkness still remains one of the great horror comedies and has been a solid gateway film for a couple of generations now, due to its innate accessibility. I won't prattle on about my adoration for this series, as I've done that in many previous posts, I just didn't want this milestone to pass unmentioned.

Happy 20th, ya big lug!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Trailer Tuesdays: Girly

With it being Family Day here yesterday, I thought it best to program this week's trailer in kind. Behold, Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly, or simply, as it was released on this side of the pond, Girly.

Even seeing this as a youngster, I knew it was whacked. Having grown up in an English household though, I was well aware - after copious amounts of Python, Benny Hill and the like - of their irreverent brand of humour. Besides that, the poster for the film still remains one of my all-time faves.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

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Hello all. Here's what I have for you this weekend.

Mr. Prolific.

A friend of mine recently directed me to a certain page on director Larry Cohen's website. Cohen has posted ten of his currently unproduced screenplays for our perusal. As he puts it,

“It’s been said that movies are like dreaming with your eyes open. I invite you to share my dreams. Simply cast your favorite stars in all the roles. Play your favorite movie music while you read. You may well wonder how one person could possibly create so many scripts — but then you might recall that I’ve written 46 produced features and I’ve directed 21. I’m fast! And I love to write. So happy reading, and let your imagination soar. You are now my partners in your own personal movie experience."

Larry Cohen has always been one of horror's most important filmmakers, and reading some of these screenplays over the last week or so has been a real inspiration. Click on the image below to check them out for yourself.


As you know, February is Women In Horror Month, so I'd like to showcase two interviews conducted by my videographer pal Robert Mitchell. Below, are interviews with actress Karen Black (Trilogy of Terror, House of 1000 Corpses) and Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Stepfather II).

To see more of Mitchell's video, check out his page here.

Brooker's Back.

Charlie Brooker's jet black anthology series Black Mirror returned to the UK's Channel 4 last week. If you have not seen this series, orchestrated by the same brilliant bastard that brought us Dead Set in 2008, do yourself a favour and get on it. The thread that binds the stories of Black Mirror is how pervasive technology has become - and will continue to - in our everyday lives. Here is the trailer for the second series premiere episode entitled Be Right Back, starring the lovely Hayley Atwell.

I actually uttered “Oh my God, that is genius” to my television during this episode. The main idea is simple, yet incredibly astute and also, most troublingly, plausible.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum.

Enough time since the finale of American Horror Story's second season, subtitled Asylum, has elapsed for me to rabble my thoughts together. Here goes.

As crazy ridiculous as the first season was, I have to again praise Ryan Murphy and company for outdoing themselves here. As I said before about not envying anyone subsequently attempting a haunted house story following the first season, this now also applies to the canon of the insane asylum. This season, rather than being tied down to just ghosts inside a suburban home, saw all manner of antagonists, including serial killers, Nazi scientists, genetic mutants, angels, demons, and even aliens. I find it incredible that a show that consistently stays cranked at eleven still manages to maintain a (somewhat) coherent narrative. Though in regards to Ryan Murphy’s other allegiances, I do have to commend his restraint for waiting until ten episodes into the second stanza to inject a musical number.

Jessica Lange as Sister Jude.

What I find deliciously unique about American Horror Story is how they recast certain actors as new and unrelated characters from season to season. Jessica Lange, Evan Peters and Sarah Paulson all returned for Asylum, in roles with large sweeping arcs. However, these were but three that inhabited this amazing season, which also included the likes of James CromwellZachary Quinto and Lily Rabe as Sister Mary Eunice.

Perhaps most astonishing about American Horror Story is, unlike other genre shows on television, it never seems to wane. It maintains its primary arc as well as throwing in these awesome side plots, like Ian McShane’s turn as a killer Santa. I also hope that the show continues to feature a random appearances by  historical figures. This season, to echo Mena Suvari’s cameo as Elizabeth Short (aka The Black Dahlia) last year, Asylum brought in the criminally underused Franka Potente as Anne Frank (yes, that Anne Frank).

Although there are a lot of similarities in aesthetic between the two seasons, I found Asylum to be of a considerably darker pedigree. The absurd comedic beats sprinkled into the first season are almost completely replaced here with a jet black sensibility. I’m not saying this show doesn’t go over-the-top, just that my reaction to said occasions was not guffawing laughter. There are images involving supporting characters (namely the ones portrayed by Chloe Sevigny and Clea Duvall) that will not leave my consciousness for a very long time.

Sarah Paulson (left) as Lana Winters & Franka Potente as Anne Frank.

Though some of the major storylines were wrapped up rather quickly toward the end of the show, I have to say I adored the Six Feet Under-style flash forwards of the finale that showed where every character ended up.

Asylum was a resounding success, so it is no surprise that a third season has already been announced. The  rumoured “Salem” storyline has me a little concerned, as the connotation of limiting itself to witchcraft seems like a step back to me. True Blood lost me during its “Season of the Witch”, so hopefully Salem does not. As of this post, Lily Rabe & Frances Conroy are already onboard to return, so that’s a good start at least.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Trailer Tuesdays: My Bloody Valentine.

My pick for this week's trailer seems fairly obvious considering its proximity to a certain insidious Hallmark holiday.

Trailer courtesy of LonChaneySr

All griping aside though, it is no secret how much I love this slasher, so any opportunity to showcase it is fine by me.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

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Well, that was one hell of a storm. The last time we had a snowfall like that, this blog was in its infancy. Life, however, must go on and now that we're all dug out, here's the news.

He's A Big Box Wizard.

Charles Band is a man who needs no introduction to anyone who would read this blog. He began his career at the dawn of home video and has either directed, produced or distributed hundreds of horror titles over his long career. Recently, while cleaning out one of his old warehouses, he came across something truly remarkable. Here below, is the story straight from the man himself.

I love this video because it also serves as a mini-documentary about the genesis of home video, as well as a promotional piece to hock his wares. For more info on the sale, click here.

The Dead Return.

The Walking Dead returns from its mid-season hiatus this evening and all week AMC has had their hype machine cranked to eleven. For the last several days, Toronto's Union Station has been host to this little display.

For a closer look, check out this video courtesy of sajak551.

Michonne McFarlan'd.

Staying on the topic of TWD, McFarlaneToys recently unveiled this little piece of awesomeness.

Right click to enlarge.

This 14.5” Resin statue is limited to 1500 pieces and will set you back three-hundred bones. Pre-orders start tomorrow, so click here if you want more info.

That's it for now. If you'll excuse me, I have some necromorphs to strategically dismember.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Night of the Demon (#8)

Viewing the next entry on the Time Out Best 100 List, Jacques Tourneur's 1957 film Night of the Demon, turned out to be quite the adventure. It began with a trip to the video store (yes, they still exist) that netted me a copy of a Z-grade eighties flick about a killer Bigfoot which shared the same moniker. I knew almost nothing of Tourneur's film, but the moment this other one flashed onscreen, I knew there had been some egregious error made. So, after a humble exchange, I finally got my hands on the right demon.

While attempting to expose shady cult leader Julian Carswell (Niall MacGinnis), psychologist Dr. John Holden (Dana Andrews) becomes the target of a powerful demon curse. Always the skeptic, Holden dismisses the idea until some inexplicable events begin to convince him otherwise. Aided by the niece of a former victim of the curse, Holden races against time to stop Carswell's evil deeds once and for all.

Night of the Demon is a perfect example of great storytelling. It is a straightforward, dialogue driven and expertly executed tale. The strength of this film is the rivalry between Holden and Carswell. There is a real battle of wits between these two which culminates in a final confrontation on a train car which I absolutely loved. These kinds of exchanges are so rare in film these days and really exemplifies how filmmaking has changed over the last fifty years. It seems nowadays that studios feel there needs to be a grand gesture every ten minutes to keep the audience interested, when they should be concentrating on enthralling us for the nine-minutes and fifty-nine seconds previous and thus making time irrelevant.

MacGinnis (left) & Andrews as Julian Carswell and  Dr. John Holden in Night of the Demon.

Much to my surprise, I almost immediately noticed that this film was the template that director Sam Raimi used for his 2009 horror flick Drag Me To Hell. If you replace the loan officer and gypsy characters with a psychologist and cult leader, you basically have the same story. Even both climaxes take place at a train station. In tone and aesthetic, these two are obviously polar opposites, but I can't believe this comparison wasn't made more often upon Drag Me To Hell's release. This isn't a condemnation you understand, as this type of thing is common practice these days, just an observation.

However, as good as Night of the Demon is, I have to admit being a little disappointed with the actual Demon. It looked rather rudimentary, but it was somewhat offset by the cool-looking smoky visual effect that signalled its appearance. I did a little reading and found out that the creature was later added in against Tourneur's wishes by producer Hal E. Chester. I'm afraid have to side with Tourneur on this one.

The Demon cometh.

There is no question that Night of the Demon should be on the list. All the cornerstones of a great horror story are present and accounted for here. It has solid performances and a sense of dread and immediacy brought on by concise storytelling, rather than bells and whistles.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Don't Open The Closet Door!

Last fall, I mentioned I helped out on a buddy’s short. Well, it is now nearing completion and director Mike Pereira just released the teaser trailer online. Here it is below, along with three promo stills.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Trailer Tuesdays: Home Video.

I wanted to do something a little different this week. I've been looking for an opportunity to praise the wonderful archive site, and Ed Conroy's recent article on the Canadian Pay TV wars of the early eighties was just the right opportunity. Conroy's article - which you can see by going here - not only delves into the battling clans First Choice and Super Channel (which eventually amalgamated to become what is now the The Movie Network in 1984) it also covers the programming produced by said channels like Murder In Space and the anthology series The Hitchhiker. On a similar note, here is a selection of home video related ads available on If you grew up in the GTA in the eighties, visiting this site will overwhelm you.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

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Hey everyone, just checking in before I consume copious amounts of unhealthy foods and beverages as part of my annual SuperBowl festivities. Here are some choice cuts from the week.


I came across this cool little video in my Facebook feed last week. Released this past Halloween, American musician Petra Haden created this vocally charged rendition of the theme from Psycho. Here it is below.

Man Is The Warmest...

With Dead Space 3 being released next week, Visceral Games unveiled this awesome piece of promo from artist Ron Guyatt.

I am hoping that Dead Space 3 is more like The Thing, than the Gears of War clone the demo has led me to suspect, but I guess I will see soon enough.

ABC's of EPK.

With the upcoming release of the uber-anthology ABC's of Death on March 8th, Magnet posted this short teaser featuring some of the contributors. Here it is below.

I can't help but find it comical that two of the filmmakers who appeared in this spot were responsible for the best and the worst entries. ABC's of Death is now available on VOD.