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, June 30, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: Tales From The Darkside

In keeping with the feline theme, here's the trailer for the Tales From The Darkside movie from 1990, which of course features the story “Cat From Hell” by Stephen King starring Bill Hickey and David Johansen.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Vote For Muffins!

As I alluded to on Sunday, I made a crazy last minute decision to shoot an entry for the Fantasia Bumper Contest. Please take a gander at Muffins below. It's for all the cat lovers out there.

If you dig it, I'd really appreciate your votes, which are being tallied until the 2nd. Did I mention it was last minute?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

DKTM 270

Hey all. Today I'm engaged in a last minute shoot - which you'll all be hearing about soon, like tomorrow if all goes well - so today's Messenger post is coming to you from the past. Let's get down to it.

Blood Ten Inches Wide.

I spoke previously that Videogram (Swedish tapehead & musician Marcus Sellegrin) has an upcoming EP for Camp Blood, but now he has some cool art (provided by Andy Grail) to go with it. Check it out below.

Set to release on 2015's third Friday the 13th in November, go can get more info here.

The Other Side.

I wanted to pass along this wonderful short film called Coda by Irish director Alan Holly. This animated exploration of what happens after death is creepy, beautiful and profound in equal measure. Enjoy!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Horrors Worth Your Monies.

Hey all. I thought I'd just post something quick on the cusp of the weekend, as there are a couple of horror crowdfunding projects on the go right for which I wanted to draw your attention.

Wacky Canadian filmmaker Justin Decloux (director of 2014's Teddy Bomb and one-half of the Loose Cannons podcast) is currently fundraising for his next project, Impossible Horror. Created by Decloux & Emmy Milling, the project is a horror comedy “about being creative, grappling with the fear of the unknown and kicking supernatural ass.” These are all things I like! But, let them tell you in their own words.

To hit up the IndieGogo page, click here. There are still nine days left, so go over to help make the impossible possible.

Meanwhile, over at Kickstarter, director Elias Ganster is trying to get his latest feature off the ground. Ayla looks like it comes from an extremely personal place and should make for some really compelling material. Check out the pitch video below.

There are still a few weeks to contribute, so if you'd like to get more info, click here for the campaign page.

And with that, have a great weekend, you crazy cats!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: The Uncanny

I have cats on the brain for a few different reasons right now, so I think today's trailer seems appropriate.

That was like, kind of, the best trailer EVER. It has star power in Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasance and Ray Milland. It has cats. It has cats being thrown on said stars. I may be a man of simple pleasures, but holy smokes what a wonderful world we live in!

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Horse Of A Familiar Cover

Horsehead, last year's Parisian psycho sexual thriller (God I love that phrase) from director Romain Basset releases on Blu-ray tomorrow.

When Jessica (Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux) returns to her childhood home for her grandmother's funeral, she is stricken with a fever that plunges her in a dream world that may unlock secrets from her past.

Horsehead came to my attention this year when it was picked up for Canadian distribution by Black Fawn. All I really knew about it was inspired by the classic Italian horrors of Dario Argento and Mario Bava, so I was going in fairly cold when I popped into my PS3.

I dug this film. Knowing of the Euro-horror influences, it didn't take me long to clock into the tone they were going for. Steeped in dream logic, I felt the world Basset created within was very well realized. In structure, Horsehead reminded me a little of Bernard Rose's Paperhouse in that Jessica is bedridden by fever and the tale mostly unfolds with her dream world. In terms of style, even without forewarning, the references to seventies Euro-horror were obvious. There were some shots that looked like they were ripped straight from Suspiria, which makes sense considering the protagonist in that film (coincidentally played by “Jessica” Harper) also spends a good amount of time in a drug-induced stupor.

Despite my shitty screencaps, I assure you they are both the same shade of red.

I think what I most appreciated about Horsehead was that even though so much of it took place in a dream world, it still remained, for the most part, coherent. It pays tribute to the films that came before, but also forges its own way. I feel this is what I was missing from the past works of Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani (Amer, Strange Colour) in that they had a tremendous grasp of the aesthetic, but it stopped there. I'm not saying that Euro-horror ever gave priority to narrative, but Basset offered a lot more to work with than Cattet & Forzani ever have.

No, Horsehead is more than just an imprint. It goes beyond atmosphere. It has wonderful little character moments, much like the early Argento gialli had. It was wonderful to see significant horror figures like Lucio Fulci muse Catriona MacColl and Philipe Nahon (the lumbering maniac form 2003's High Tension) show up here. I also can't go any further without mentioning the rather striking lead actress, Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux. The role was pretty demanding, physically and emotionally, and she pulled it off in enchanting fashion.

Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux as Jessica in Horsehead.

I really can't overstate how gorgeous this film looks though. It has some of the best lighting I've seen in a good while, and the production design is top notch. I mean, some of it had to do with their location, but the interior stuff was incredibly layered, as well. I thought the music was solid, save for one jarring sequence where it felt like Skrillex showed up in the mixing booth one afternoon and took over. It feels at odds with the rest of the score.

For such a small affair, the Blu-ray package itself offers more than the usual I was happy to find. There is an hour-long documentary included, which gives you an idea of how dynamic the shoot was. I was quite impressed with all the crew and equipment they were able to wrangle, considering the director mentioned several times it was “made with friends for no money.” I wager this is hyperbole, as one does not come out the other side with something so polished, if that were the case.

On the Artsploitation Films release, the disc also includes four of Basset's earlier short films, my favourite of which was Remy, about the bond between grandson and grandfather.

Euro-horror revivalism is a thing that has been going on for a few years now and I think Horsehead is one of the better I've seen. It uses that era's familiar palette as a base, but goes beyond mere mimicry to weave a captivating and surreal mystery.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

DKTM 269

Hey all. I hope everyone is having a productive weekend. Check out this interesting stuff I found this week.

The Horror.

A reader turned me onto Horror Section this week, a punk band that does songs about our favourite eighties horror movies. Not only that, but I discovered they also have some accompanying videos, which you can see below.

Being that I've seen about five different versions of The Prowler over the years, I sometimes forget how gore-ious the uncut version is. A treasure to be sure.

Art by Trevor Henderson.

The Doctor Is In.

I heard about a cool upcoming comic series from Dark Horse called Death Head this week.

Created by Zack & Nick Keller, Death Head follows the story of a camping trip gone wrong. The Burton family stumble onto an abandoned village and unwittingly unleash an ancient evil in the form of The Plague Doctor, as pictured above. The story intrigues and the art looks great, so I'm in. Issue #1 hits the stands July 15th.

Meg 2015.

We have all heard the tales. Since 1997, several directors have tried to bring Meg, the killer shark novel by Steve Alten, to the big screen. All have walked the plank. Until now? 

This week, Variety announced that Eli Roth is in talks to direct this gargantuan undertaking. Presumably, the huge success of Jurassic World caused Warner (the current rights holder) to give this proverbial white whale another look. I welcome it. After all the silly offerings out there from Asylum and the like, it would be nice to put the “great” back in Great White. Just looking at this infographic underneath gives me shivers. I can't even...

Friday, June 19, 2015

I, Loose Cannon.

Hey gang. You may have heard me talk about the Loose Cannons podcast in the past. Since February, Toronto cinephiles Justin DeclouxMathew Kumar have been systematically going through the entire catalogue of Cannon Films and then recording their thoughts.

I guested on this week's episode, which focused on the 1973 picture I, Monster, Amicus' 1971 retelling of Jekyll & Hyde starring Christopher Lee & Peter Cushing. Click on the image below to listen to the episode.

Sadly, this was recorded the day before the news of Lee's passing, so we unfortunately didn't get the chance to reflect on Lee's legacy. It sucks because we kind of slag the movie, but at least Kumar does comment on Lee's sex appeal...

Anyway, enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: The Wicker Man

I paid my respects to the career of the late Sir Christopher Lee here previously, but I also wanted to post the trailer for one of his greatest roles, Lord Summerisle in 1973's The Wicker Man.

Now, sadly Lee is not featured in this trailer, but he's the thing I remember most about the film. Well, that and Edward Woodward's stuffy Englishman routine. And the animal costumes. And naked Britt Eklund. And the ending...

You know I should probably just watch this again. See you cats later.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

DKTM 268

Good morning everyone. I hope you're all keeping well. Here's the news from the week just past.

R.I.P. Christopher Lee 1922-2015.

As I'm sure you've all heard, we lost a giant of the genre earlier this week. Christopher Lee passed away at a hospital in London, England. He was 93.

Sir Christopher Lee 1922-2015

Lee appeared in over two hundred films over seven decades. He is perhaps best known for his work in the Hammer horror films of the sixties and seventies, as well as his roles in The Lord of The Rings and Star Wars franchises, as Saruman and Count Dooku, respectively.

Growing up the Roger Moore 007 era, he was first introduced to me as the villain Scaramanga in 1974's Man With The Golden Gun, but I would obviously seem him countless more times as my love of horror grew in the eighties. I count his roles in 1973's The Wicker Man and Horror Express among my favourites. To give you an idea of the scope of his career, check out this wonderful illustration by Andrew Barr.

May you rest in peace, Sir Lee.

Second Wave 2015.

Onto lighter news, the Fantasia Film Festival announced the next group of titles it will be screening next month and there are definitely some standouts.

Charlize Theron and Nicholas Holt reunite in Gilles Paquet-Brenner's adaptation of Gillian Flynn's Dark Places. Chloe Grace Moretz, Christina Hendricks and Tye Sheridan also round out the impressive cast.

About five years ago, David Kelly came onto the horror scene with his Hammer produced Wake Wood. Now he returns with Cherry Tree, a film about good intentions gone awry.

Anyone who saw Kidnapped (Sequestrados) at Fantasia a few years back will no doubt remember Miguel Angel Vivas. This year he returns with his first English language film Extinction, a post-apocalyptic monster movie which is rumoured to have astonishing practical effects. Sign me up.

Fresh off the Cannes film market is Nathan Ambrosioni's Hostile.

Now sure, it might not seem like this is anything new, but I should mention that Ambrosioni is fourteen years old! Dubbing a movie onto another VHS was the extent of my filmmaking skills at that age, so I think this is pretty impressive.

On the science fiction side of things, we have Synchronicity. Jacob Gentry (one of three filmmakers that gave us The Signal in 2007) has returned with this effort about the repercussions of time travel.

Fantasia also a glut of films from previous fests that I am itching to see, including Cop Car, The Hallow and The Invitation. Only just over a month to go!!!

Blue Shining.

Cinephile Richard Vezina made this wonderful tribute to both Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch by posing the question, what if Lynch had directed the 1980 version of The Shining? The results are pretty fucking lovely.


Vezina had made previous tributes to Kubrick and Lynch individually (which you can watch here and here) but this is definitely his best video yet.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Monitor Plays The Hammer.

Hey all. If you happen to be in the Hamilton area on Saturday, why not check out some short films! The third annual Little Nightmares Film Festival takes place tomorrow night at The Staircase Theatre.

My latest short film will be playing along with the works of many other Canadian filmmakers. So come on by, grab a drink and let your blood run cold. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Babysitter Blues.

The Canadian home invasion horror Berkshire County is currently seeing a run downtown, so after missing it at BITS last year, I made sure to check it out.

High school senoir Kylie (Alysa King) is babysitting on Halloween night when she is set upon by a group of masked assailants.

In the year 2008, we saw the release of Bryan Bertino’s debut The Strangers. It didn’t invent the masked home invaders sub-genre, but it certainly popularized it and since then, we’ve seen many, many iterations. Director Audrey Cumming's Berkshire County is one more to the list, but aside from its ive-seen-this-before motif, it does have some good things going for it.

First off, the lead actress Alysa King is terrific in this. Much like actress Katherine Isabelle in 2013’s similarly themed Torment, she is the real strength of the picture. But, whereas Isabelle’s motivations came from a maternal instinct, King’s were more about her taking control of her life and not becoming a victim, like she was in the very topical events of the first act.

Alysa King as Kylie in Berkshire County

I also have to mention the location, which was a beautiful sprawling mansion about an hour north of Toronto. This place looked absolutely fantastic, with multiple levels of rooms and hallways that seem to go on forever. The family in the film were moving, so the place was cleared of furniture, leaving an eerie, cavernous space for the ensuing cat-and-mouse antics. It only served to assist the cinematography, which was already solid. I dug the masks (provided by Grim Stitch Factory) worn by the antagonists, but as I mentioned at the top, we are entering an area of diminishing returns at this point.

I appreciated that a good chunk of the second act happened in real time. Unlike most horror flicks, Kylie actually gets through to 9-1-1 and just has to hold out that painfully long amount of time it takes for the cavalry to arrive. It frames that section with a sense of immediacy and adds to the tension. Additionally, there is the fact that Kylie also has to protect the two children in her charge.

Sadly, what works against the atmosphere is the insistent overuse of audio cues during the film. Jump scares are an overused crutch of the genre, almost every horror filmmaker uses them – even my current favourite It Follows has its fair share – but Berkshire’s habit of over-accentuating action really wore down on me after a while.

I felt the film started strong, but became increasingly implausible as it progressed, leading to an ending I wasn’t all that struck on. A few years ago, a film programmer friend of mine said he never judged a horror film by the last two minutes because it was often just something tacked on to get in one last jolt. I took that observation to heart and now choose to apply it here.

Having said that, I enjoyed Berkshire County for what it was, a showcase of local talent for which I can see bright things in the future.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: Funeral Home

I watched this little bit of Canadiana the other day.

It was fairly innocuous, with a twist that was old hat even by 1980, but it does have appeal in that it is so wonderfully Canadian. You can tell just by the way the characters interact with each other. There were also a lot of familiar faces, including Kay Hawtrey and Alfred Humphreys, but more importantly, Lesleh Donaldson - who I don't think gets enough credit.

Donaldson was just fifteen when she did Funeral Home, and it was the first of four significant horrors in as many years (followed by Happy Birthday To Me, Deadly Eyes and Curtains). She was smack dab in the middle of the slasher renaissance of the early eighties, putting up almost Jamie Lee-like numbers. I mean, any horror fan worth their salt remembers this scene, right?

Anyhoo, just wanted to show some love to some Toronto talent.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

DKTM 267

Hey everyone. It's been a lazy weekend chock full of Netflix, but here are some weekly horrors to keep up the routine.

New York Horrors.

Did you know that New York is home to over seven-hundred horror movie locations? Well, filmmaker Ted Geoghegan (whose debut We Are Still Here just hit VOD this weekend) is currently putting together, with the help of resident New Yorker and Fangoria editor Michael Gingold, a tome that catalogues all such locations.

Past horrors have included flicks helmed by the likes of Lucio Fulci, Roman Polanski, Larry Cohen and Ivan Reitman. Click the image above to check out a cheat sheet of seven classic genre locations in The Big Apple.


I'm a big fan of The Duplass Brothers and it looks like they've returned to the horror well after 2008's Baghead with the SXSW selection Creep. Here's the trailer.

Sure, it just seems like simple found footage, but I can already tell from the trailer that this could be a really intense yarn. The film releases on iTunes later this month.

Fatal Frames.

A few weeks back, I posted about some cool gaming technology called Night Terrors. By using their phone app, you can interact with any environment via augmented reality. This week, they released a second trailer, which you can see below.

The IndieGogo campaign is still going, and you can pre-order the app for just five dollars. Night Terrors is set to release in January of next year.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Insidious Rift.

Yesterday, I finally got to experience something I've been excited about for a few years now - the Oculus Rift. Previously only available to developers, it's been popping up in public demonstrations over the last year or so. I sadly missed out on the Game of Thrones “Climb the Wall” bit last year, but when I heard that there was a demo tied into the release of the new Insidious flick (hitting screens today) running downtown, I made sure I gave it a whirl.

Not me, though I do own that shirt.

After finding the booth, signing the waiver(!) and sitting into a comfy, black chair, I donned the goggles and headphones and away I went. When I first heard about the tech, I was concerned about its practical functionality. How heavy was this thing? If I were to have a six/eight/ten-hour gaming marathon, how would my neck fare to having this thing strapped to my head all that time? Also, this whole device will be completely moot, if I couldn't wear my glasses with it.

After putting it on, I was immediately glad to find that the Oculus was extremely lightweight, to the point I hardly noticed I was wearing it. The goggles also fit on my face quite nicely, allowing room for my glasses, yet also still covering my entire field of vision. 

Once I was in the experience, I immediately saw the appeal in practice. It's one thing to think of VR as a concept, but one thing to be actually sitting across a table from Lin Shaye in a dusty living room. 

Afternoon tea in the Further.

I had a legitimate 'wow' moment when I turned my head and saw the rest of the room behind me. The idea of a full three-sixty environment didn't really sink in until that moment.

I was impressed to say the least. With the consumer versions of these products, the Oculus and the Sony's Morpheus set to release in 2016, I say it's about time! After waiting twenty-plus years, the future is finally upon us.

Lawnmower Man (1992), Arcade (1993) & TV's V.R.5 (1995)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: Chosen Survivors

During one of the many conversations I had with cinephiles at this year's Shock Stock, I was made aware of THIS film--

It should not be a surprise to you that I quickly sought this out (it was released in one of those Fox double features with The Earth Dies Screaming.) based on premise alone. 

I wish it was... better. I mean, all the ingredients are there, but the effects were a little lacking. It was great to see they used actual vampire bats though, as the scene where one walked (or more accurately shuffled) across a character's bedspread was pretty darn creepy. I never even knew they could do that! However, whatever tech they used (compositing? projection?) to generate the swarming scenes was not so great.

Killer bats or film grain, who can say?

The really unfortunate thing for me is knowing that this is probably the closest I will ever get to seeing an adaptation of James Herbert's third rat novel, Domain. Swap out the bats with giant rats and you're pretty close, they both even feature a fevered climb up an elevator shaft. But I don't want to get on another rant about Herbert's untapped resources.

Regardless, Chosen Survivors is still good for some grade A seventies cheese.

Monday, June 1, 2015

R.I.P. Betsy Palmer 1926-2015

I was deeply saddened to hear actress Betsy Palmer passed away last Friday. She was 88. Even though she appeared in several films and over seventy television shows in her long career, she was best known as Jason Voorhees vengeful mother, Pamela in the first two Friday the 13th movies.

Actress & mother Betsy Palmer.

I know she left an indelible impression on me as a youngster. And why not? Next to perhaps Psycho's Norma Bates, is there a more iconic matriarch in horror?

Palmer passed away from natural causes in a hospice in Connecticut. She is survived by her daughter, Melissa.