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.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

DKTM 215

Hey everyone! This is my first blog post using my fancy new laptop, as my last one was mysteriously smashed - and by mysteriously I mean, I beat this shit out of it with my shoe - so bear with me. Here's what I've got for you today.

The Tall Man Returns.

Big news on the sequel front this week, as it appears that the long awaited fifth installment of the Phantasm franchise is finally on its way. Directed by David Hartman and co-written by original creator Don Coscarelli, this bombshell was dropped a few days ago by EW.

Perhaps more impressive is that it has already been made, without almost anybody knowing. Coscarelli has regularly disavowed any knowledge it was happening (crafty bastard!) for reasons only he knows, but the cat - or undead dwarf if you will - is now out of the bag! Here's the teaser trailer below.

As you can see, the film also reunites original cast members Michael Baldwin and Reggie Bannister, as well as The Tall Man himself, Angus Scrimm. I'm so happy about that last part. When I met him at Toronto After Dark in 2008, he was still very lively and alert, so I'm glad at eighty-seven years young that hasn't changed. There is no release date yet, but at least we know for a fact that it exists. For the original press release, click here.

Walt Apocalypse.

Here below are Deviant Art user Kasami-Sensei's sick renditions of Disney princesses, if they were now fighting to survive an undead uprising. Check them out below.

Ariel & Eric


Sleeping Beauty, Snow White & Aurora.


Anna & Elsa

I had look up those last two girls to know they were from Frozen. That's how up on my Disney I am, as I was always more of a Don Bluth guy. For Kasami's full set, click here.

Step Right Up!

It would appear that Skinny Puppy frontman has been bit by the acting bug. After appearing in Darren Bousman's Repo! The Genetic Opera, he has appeared in several other genre projects including Chris Alexander's upcoming Queen of Blood and this little ditty entitled Scream Park. Check out the trailer below.

It looks rough I know, but boiling it down to its key elements (amusement parks, gore, Ogre, Doug Bradley) does appeal to me greatly. Scream Park releases on DVD on April 22 through Wild Eye Releasing.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Horror In The Hammer!

Hello all. We're at the end of another week. How's your weekend looking? If you have a hankering for a some horror to spruce up your Saturday afternoon, and happen to be in the Hamilton area, come to Fright Night Theatre!

My short Lively will be screening, as well as some other choice cuts and we'd love to see you there. Doors open at 3pm with the programme unspooling promptly at 3:15. Tickets are a measly five bones! For more info on the event and lineup, click here.

See you on other side!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Laser Blast Unleashed!

Over the last few years, you may have heard me talk about The Laser Blast Film Society. It's basically a rag-tag bunch of Toronto cinephiles that get together (fairly) regularly, watch a couple of flicks, then sometimes record a podcast. I'm a regular to this festivities and seen a lot of flicks that I likely never would've otherwise.

Well, last week, the LBFS made the leap from living room to theatre, as it has now become a monthly series at The Royal Cinema. Founding members Justin Decloux & Peter Kuplowsy (with the help of Royal programmer Colin Geddes) have set their sights on bringing some of the crustiest titles of the home video era to an unsuspecting public. In their introduction last Wednesday night, the dynamic duo laid out their plans for world domination.

Peter Kuplowsy (left) & Justin Decloux bring Laser Blast to The Royal.

On the name;
JustinIt was basically me sitting in my friend Trevor's living room, trying to think of a name and looking at his DVD shelf. Let's call it the Street Trash Film Society! No, let's call it the Brain Damage Film Society! No wait, I got it. The Laser Blast Film Society!

On the manifesto;
Peter:“Our goal is to focus on films of the home video era, specifically the ones that were made for the direct-to-home-video market. And we'll be screening them on the big screen in glorious VHS. The way they were NEVER meant to be seen!”

The inaugural film of Laser Blast's new incarnation was Tim Ritter's 1986 effort Truth or Dare? A Critical Madness. This was a film of which I was aware due to its coverbox, but one I'd never actually sat down and watched. I'd recently only become aware of Ritter after seeing a Horror Remix of one of his other “gems” Killing Spree.

Truth or Dare? is a blast. Though it has all the hallmarks of ineptness, including long stretches of nothing, blatant over-acting and a ridiculous plot, it also does a lot of things that most low budget films don't have the balls to do. Ritter was just eighteen years old when he managed to convince a production company to give him two hundred thousand dollars to make this film. It certainly doesn't look like it cost anywhere near that much, but it does has its share of gore, explosions and car chases. The main character's iconic copper mask is rather striking and I wonder if perhaps Rob Zombie drew inspiration from this movie while envisioning his version of Michael Myers.

This was a great screening. There were several of the original Laser Blasters in attendance, in addition to a few dozen newbies. That was more than enough to get the place rocking with a title like Truth or Dare? I'm certainly glad I watched this now with a crowd after a few wobbly pops, instead of just casually ingesting it twenty years ago. The guys even had some faux VHS sleeves made up, featuring original artwork by local artist Trevor Henderson.

Right click to enlarge.

I've spoken with Peter at length about some of the titles they intends to play in the future, and I'm super excited for what they have in store. I haven't even heard of some of these oddities, so it just goes to show you, that the vast era of home video has seemingly unending treasures to share.

If you live in the GTA, I urge to come to the show next month. Especially if you're a fan of the terribly cheesy action flicks spit out by PM Entertainment in the nineties. Check this shit out!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Trailer Tuesdays: Truth Or Dare.

Here, in all its glory, is the trailer for Tim Ritter's 1986 direct-to-video flick Truth or Dare? A Critical Madness.

Trailer courtesy of Sebastian Kult.

Check back tomorrow for more on this eighties oddity.

Monday, March 24, 2014

In Fear

Recently, I checked out Jeremy Lovering’s UK thriller In Fear as part of Cineplex’s Sinister Cinema series.

Tom & Lucy (Iain De Caestecker & Alice Englert) are on their way to an Irish music festival, when they decide to stay the night at a remote hotel. When finding said hotel proves to be difficult, they wind up endlessly driving in circles… and they may not be alone.

In Fear was a well made film that relied on simple storytelling and atmosphere. The majority of the film was two characters driving around the back roads of the Irish countryside, so it was a testament to the filmmakers that I was never bored. I think my favourite thing about In Fear was how well the darkness – or more specifically, the absence of light – was utilized in the film. The illumination of their car’s headlights and flashlights really felt like a lifeline, and the uncertainty beyond could’ve swallowed them up at any moment. It created a sense of dread fairly quickly, and only escalated as the car’s gas gauge drew closer to empty.

Another thing that I appreciated was that it didn't feel that the movie shot its was, so to speak, once the “threat” was revealed. I’ve seen a lot of thrillers that feature three person dynamics over the years (Philip Noyce’s Dead Calm and Carl TibbettsRetreat to name two examples) and felt that In Fear held its own. While some may see the lack of explanation as to the antagonist’s actions as a detriment, I did not. His malevolence was unfaltering in a way that reminded me of Wolf Creek’s Mick Taylor. In Fear’s equivalent may have employed methods that were a little less direct, but that didn’t make them any less deadly.

While In Fear won’t do anything to bolster Irish tourism, I felt it was a decent & contained thriller about the perils of venturing off the beaten path.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

DKTM 214

Hello everyone. I hope you'll forgive the age of some of these items, but I'm still playing catch-up. Here's what I've got for you this week.

All Aboard The Spook Train.

Claymation guru Lee Hardcastle, creator of hilariously bloody shorts like Pingu's The Thing and T is for Toilet, is out to make his first feature called Spook Train and he needs our help. Check out the video for his Kickstarter campaign below.

There's still plenty of time to give, so don't be shy. Let's help out this mad genius and see this wild slice of amusement come to fruition.

Lights Out.

I'm sure you've all seen this by now, but such is the rub when something this cool hits the Web early in the week. Here below is David F. Sandberg's excellent short film, Lights Out.

My favourite thing about this is its economy, as it packs a lot of scary elements into less than three minutes. For a little added bonus, check out how the last shot was achieved, by clicking here.

The Dangers of Chatroulette.

Over the past few years, we've had several marketing companies take advantage of the phenomenon of Chatroulette, so I guess it was only a matter of time before someone made a feature framed around the idea. Here is the trailer for Zach Donohue's horror flick The Den.

The Den is currently now available on VOD and in select theatres. For more info, check out their website here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Quelle Horreur!

Last Wednesday, The Black Museum presented the first lecture of its fourth semester, Quelle Horreur: The Films of New French Extremity hosted by Alexandra West.

It was a inhospitably stormy night, and I was still recovering from the flu, but I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. Here’s what went down.

Ms. West began by mentioning Toronto film critic and programmer James Quandt who originally coined the term New French Extremity circa 2004. What’s funny is that he actually despised the movement and in an article with Artforum was quoted as saying;

“This recent tendency to the willfully transgressive… determined to break every taboo, to wade in rivers of viscera and spumes of sperm, to fill each frame with flesh, nubile and gnarled, and subject it all manner of penetration, mutilation, and defilement.”

West went onto mention that though France is perceived as all about love, romance and art, there is actually a lot of civil unrest and instability that gets glazed over on a global scale. She first ran down some events that contributed to the climate that brought about the New French Extremity, chief among them being World War II. The shame of France laying down to Nazi rule led to a fractured identity, which was compounded by post-war propaganda that proclaimed they were their own saviours. The ugly affair with the Algerians in the 1950’s did nothing to help this either, as distancing themselves from the ugliness of their past only led to a repressed national consciousness.

“A big part of art and film and the whole discourse surrounding it is really about looking at our past. Looking at different countries’ pasts and seeing how these movements form really illuminates parts of the society that they emerge from.”

Alexandra West talks New French Extremity.

West then went on to mention some of the artistic movements in the twentieth century that included The Grand Guignol and The Theatre of Cruelty. The former was perhaps an extension of France’s historical propensity for violence as theatre (public executions were still being held well into the 1930’s) and entertainment.

One of the most interesting revelations of the evening was that the New French Extremity began more as an art-house movement, and then evolved into its more recognized state as a horror subgenre.

The first film West brought up was Claire Denis’ 2001 film Trouble Every Day. Denis plays with expectations of narrative and intentionally keeps things stilted and awkward. The terrible things that the two protagonists are compelled to do in the film make it difficult for the audience to sympathize with them, thus creating a sizable disconnect.

I remember loathing this film when I saw it back in 2001. I found it equal parts self indulgent and incoherent, but re-evaluating it in the context of the New French Extremity, I can at least appreciate it a tad more. Watching the clips provided during the lecture, I was struck by the similarities between Trouble Every Day and Jonathan Glazer’s recent film Under The Skin. They both feature minimalist narratives, involving female outsiders compelled to seek out men for nefarious purposes, whilst being “handled” by a motorcycle-riding partner. Considering how much I adored Under The Skin, it just goes to show how much tastes can evolve – or at least change – over the course of a decade.

Moving on, West’s next film was Gaspar Noe’s cinematic gut-punch from 2002, Irreversible. Perhaps the most infamous film of the last twenty years, it still inspires ire among cinephiles to this day. What I find impressive about this film is how Noe took a simple story and told it in a very unconventional way. It takes no prisoners and its rape revenge conceit (minus the revenge) offers no payoff to the viewer. If that wasn’t off-putting enough, the story’s events play out in reverse and mess with time and premonition, the only take away being “time destroys all things.”

In 2003, director Alex Aja brought us High Tension. This is where the New French Extremity crossed over into pure horror conventions. Due to Aja’s love of American slashers films like Maniac (Aja would go on to produce a remake of that film a decade later), his fusion of style, sound design and gore would facilitate High Tension’s success in the North American market. West pointed out that France never enjoyed a slasher renaissance like the US did, so Aja’s creation of a Euro-slasher hybrid was something very fresh and exciting at the time. Putting aside the logistical problems of the film’s climax, there are some really interesting things going on High Tension. The themes of sexual repression and the dangers thereof, playing with the tried and true Final Girl trope and unreliable perceptions of reality were all present here.

I was happy to see West cover Moreau & Palud’s 2006 film Them as it is one of my favourite’s from this period. It is another very simple story driven almost solely by its atmosphere. I also dig its themes of xenophobia, the backlash of imposing one’s will on another country and the uncertainty of the future that each generation brings with it.

West inexplicably skipped over the two significant titles Inside and Frontiers, but I imagine it was likely due to time constraints. These two films do admittedly share a more straight forward narrative, so I guess I can forgive them being glazed over.

The lecture ended off with Pascal Laugier’s 2008 film Martyrs. This was another cinematic powerhouse and West was quick to argue – and I’m inclined to agree - against this film being labelled as “torture porn”. Torture porn generally revels in acts of violence, whereas the violence in Martyrs served a thematic purpose, illustrating the cyclical effect it had on its characters.

After Martyrs, the New French Extremity seemed to fizzle out. Why was that? Well, I’d wager that this tight-knit group of filmmakers had been continually trying to one-up each other and Martyrs represented a “ceiling” of sorts. Also, as West mentioned, all the brightest – or darkest depending on how you look at – French minds of the movement migrated to Hollywood and became hired guns on studio projects with varying degrees of success.

So, after looking at this group of films, we can see some common themes emerge. They often employ reversed or fractured time elements, involve couples (or perceived couples) and past traumas. In relation to these themes and France as a country, West concluded her lecture with this;

“These traumas that play out over and over again have their roots in social unrest. France is a first world country and these are really deeply seeded social problems that are coming to light in other ways. The characters in these films are trying to preserve their world, and over the course of these films, their worlds are fractured and broken and cannot be put back together again. I think that speaks to why these films are some of the most horrific, crazy and exciting of the last fifteen years.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Trailer Tuesdays: Leprechaun

Well, hello everybody. I hope all that green beer didn't give you too much of a hangover. Here to sober you up is the trailer for the 1993 movie Leprechaun.

It's funny how restrained that trailer is in comparison to the rest of the franchise. I have fond memories of going to see this with my Dad at the old Eaton Centre Theatres in Toronto. I remember being struck by Jennifer Aniston, and how she reminded me of a brunette Christina Applegate. Good times.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

DKTM 213

Well, that was the worst. I haven't had an illness like that in five years. Anyway, let's put that unpleasantness behind us and move on. Here's what I got.

The Last Of Us: Hollywood Edition.

It's old news that the The Last Of Us is going to get the movie treatment, but I did want to comment on it. I guess the two biggest positive points are that the creative director Neil Druckmann is writing the screenplay and Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures will be collaborating to bring it to the big screen. This of course, doesn't mean Raimi will be directing - it's been a very long time since Raimi has been behind the camera on something of this jet-black nature - but I have faith he can find the right pieces. Casting will be tough. I suppose for Joel, the Hollywood money is on someone like Gerard Butler, but I'd hold out for someone who can effectively do a North American accent. In my recent sickness, I watched a lot of the television show Banshee, so perhaps with a little ageing, Antony Starr could work nicely. As for Ellie, obvious choices Ellen Page and Chloe Moretz have now become a little too old for the part, so some new blood may be required here. I look forward to seeing how this develops.

Where's Cropsy?

Here's a cool poster for The Burning by my artist pal Trevor Henderson.

I love the colour scheme of this piece. If you'd like a copy of your very own, head on over to his site by clicking here.

Un-Shaky Cam.

Remember those unfortunate souls in 1999 who got stuck watching The Blair Witch Project in the first few rows of the theatre and ended up with motion sickness. Well, a Vimeo user with a lot of time of his hands, has painstakingly stabilized the film for your viewing enjoyment.

I think this merely makes the movie disorienting in an entirely different way, but it's one hell of an experiment.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Trailer Tuesdays: Humanoids From The Deep.

It's been a while since I've posted a Roger Corman trailer, so why not go big with one of the most infamous.

Trailer courtesy of ShoutFactoryTV

The mass procession of girls screaming and/or various stages of undress in between shots of huge explosions was basically the template of how to sell a genre film in the eighties. Of course, this iconic poster didn't hurt either.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

DKTM 212

All this white outside is making me see red this morning. I'm so irritated right now, I can't even bring myself to write an intro. That said, here's what I got for you...

The Queen.

Earlier this week, Fangoria editor-in-chief turned filmmaker Chris Alexander released the official poster for Queen of Blood, his sophomore feature and pseudo-sequel to his 2012 debut, Blood For Irina.

It looks pretty darn sweet. Shortly after, he also premiered a teaser trailer.

In addition to looking like Jean Rollin and sounding like John Carpenter, I think the biggest draw for me is that it stars Skinny Puppy frontman Nivek Ogre. I'm interested to see how this turns out.

Recent Terrors.

Although I wasn't able to attend the latest edition of Little Terrors last week, curator Justin McConnell was kind enough to send me links to the ones in the programme that are currently online. Here below, is James Bushe's dark (literally!) UK horror Blackout.

You can also view the cool WWII actioner Project Arbiter from Michael Chance here and Daniel DelPurgatorio's crazy-ass body-horror short Other, by clicking here.

No Sleep Indeed.

My friend Lisa recently turned me onto a Reddit forum called No Sleep this week. It is basically a writer's group for scary stories, but all involved pretend that everything presented is fact and not fiction. 

I've only scratched the surface so far, but the six-part story by user 1000Vultures (which was later expanded into a novel called Penpal) is pretty exceptional. You can read the first story entitled Footsteps here. I take no responsibility for any increased electrical bills or insomnia caused by said stories.