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

Monday, November 30, 2015

Seasons Bleedings!

Playing Saturday at midnight to a sold-out crowd was Mike McMurran's seasonal slasher, Secret Santa.

A gift-giving party between university classmates in interrupted by a deranged killer.

I had caught wind of considerable ire about this movie leading up to the screening, so I was interested to see what could of caused such lambasting. I assumed it was some sort of knee-jerk reaction to the sullying the good name of Ol' Saint Nick, much like the uproar caused by Silent Night, Deadly Night back in the day, but upon viewing I realized that couldn't be the case. Truth be told, Secret Santa has more in common with The Prowler than it does that infamous holiday horror.

Nicole Kawalez as Olivia in Secret Santa.

I'm not quite sure why Secret Santa got such a bad rap. Sure, the production values are sub par, but as far as low-budget slashers go, it's pretty functional. The gore provided by local splatter gurus The Butcher Shop is solid and Andre Becker's great retro-synth score sets the mood perfectly. And while there are a good deal of awkward pauses and a lot of filler – most notably an overlong tangent about cramming for exams – that make the case this may have made a stronger twenty-minute short, I can't say I didn't enjoy this movie.

You know what a sucker I am for slashers, so feel free to take my opinion as biased, but there was more than enough here to keep me engaged. For one thing, Secret Santa does something that most slashers don't bother to do these days, which was not make it immediately apparent who the Final Girl was. The movie also has a pretty good hook in which the characters receive packages containing weapons connected to their intended demise. The reveal at the climax was good for a chuckle, as well.

Cast & crew of Secret Santa.

Secret Santa might be a bit rough for most pallettes, but for fans of DIY slashers I'd say give this a shot. It's got gore, it's got attractive ladies and it's got enough tweaks to the standard tropes to keep you interested for its less than eighty minute running time.

*Q&A photo courtesy of BITS

Sunday, November 29, 2015

DKTM 284

Good morning everyone! Blood In The Snow was buckets of fun last night, but I'll regale you on that during the upcoming week. For now, here's are some terror tidbits to chew on.

Happy Turkey Day.

For my brethren beyond the border, I hope your Thanksgiving festivities were joyous and plentiful. I send you greetings THS-style by way of video vortex Memory Hole.

Cards From Another Place.

I found a wicked Twin Peaks tarot deck online this week. Created by artist Benjamin Mackey, these are just the bestest.

To see the whole deck, visit his site by clicking here.

Alpha Jason.

Several weeks ago, Gun Media let the cat out of the bag that their long awaited slasher video game project Summer Camp was in fact now an official Friday the 13th game. Recently, some pre-alpha gameplay footage was released of what we can expect from the game.

This certainly looks promising. I like the idea of the multiplayer co-op and the opportunity to play as Jason is a unique angle. Keep the updates coming, guys!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Blood In The Snow 2015

Hey all! The fourth edition of The Blood In The Snow Canadian Film Festival kicks off this evening with the premiere of April Mullen's Farhope Tower. I'll be looking in on the festivities this weekend, so you should see some reviews from me early next week. Until then, watch your step...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: The Howling

I've been catching up on back issues of Delirium magazine recently and I am currently enjoying their retrospective of The Howling, so...

Reading about this film, I realize how foggy I am on the series. I saw the first film as a kid, but I was more drawn to An American Werewolf In London, so I don't think I've ever revisited it. As for the rest of the series, I remember nothing, except Part IV with Michael mutherfuckin' T. Weiss.

I'm thinking I may have to marathon these at some point to see how much I actually remember. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Christmas Comes Early?

Hi everyone. I just wanted to check in and let you know I will be absent this weekend while I help out on a friend's shoot, an Xmas-themed project for an upcoming competition.

I'll be behind the camera on this one, but if you do happen to see a glimpse of someone wearing this sweater--

--in a future horror short, that's me!

Have a great weekend kiddies, talk to you next week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Drunken Cinema!

I've spoken many times before about my friend Serena's movie nights. In recent years, these get-togethers have morphed into drinking game events with rules tailored specifically to whatever flick we may be watching.

Last Friday, she, after much planning, brought forth her tried-and-true formula out into the world with Drunken Cinema's first public event.

It was a blast. The venue filled up quickly and everyone was really into it, with rounds of cheers at every death and cheesy 3D effect - and if you've seen Part 3, you know there is one of the latter every few minutes. You really notice it when you have to take a drink every time it happens.

Now, the 3D worked with limited success, but it didn't seem to bother anyone. I mean the first half-dozen times I watched this movie, it was on VHS sans the third dimension. It wasn't until the mid-2000's that I saw a 3D screening of it in Toronto.

The experience felt really intimate and communal, half in part due to the smaller space, and half that everyone was following the same rules. And by rules, I mean there were not only shared drinking rules, but also cards with personal rules dealt out to everyone at the start of the movie.

There was also a themed cocktail!

I had an acquaintance of mine show up early and was initially disappointed it wasn't a trivia night, but when I saw him after, his first words were, “how awesome was that!” Based on that reaction, I'd say the first public consumption of Drunken Cinema was a success.

Once everyone's livers have recuperated, we'll have to see what comes next.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: Parents

Today's trailer is Bob Balaban's kooky 1989 horror flick, Parents.

I saw this when it came out and wasn't a fan. However, I've been thinking about giving it a re-watch because a) I can't recall a damn thing about it, and b) everyone else seems to remember this movie so much more fondly than I.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

DKTM 283

Hi everyone. I'm still reeling from the upset last night, but I've pulled myself together to give you some recent horror tidbits.

A Saviour Cometh.

It was announced this week that an actor has finally been cast to fill the mighty big boots of The Walking Dead's most infamous villain, NeganJeffrey Dean Morgan will first appear in the role at the end of this season and while I had my heart set on Kevin Durand, Morgan is also an excellent choice.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan.

His turn as The Comedian in the 2009's adaptation of The Watchmen is just the kind of pedigree we need for the leader of The Saviours. What this means for continuity, with a certain character still M.I.A remains to be seen, but it's certainly something for which to look forward.

It's Getting Hot In Here.

A short film that has been making the festival rounds of late is Austrian filmmaker Kevin Kopacka's Hades. Here's a look at the newest trailer here.

Even though using low-key covers of old tunes in trailers is old hat now, I do dig this one. The colour palette influences are no doubt obvious, but from an art-house horror perspective, Kopacka may have just out-Amered Amer with this piece.

Here's Blood In Yer Eye!!!

I came across this video about the history of fake blood the other day.

While the host & narrative are super cheesy, this is still a pretty informative piece on the different types of fake blood that have graced the screen over the last hundred years. Good to see my favourite recipe, the one used in the Evil Dead movies, got a mention.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hang X.

During a recent scouring of the Archives, I came across an old drawing of mine which seems appropriate to post on the third and final Friday the 13th of 2015.

I drew this circa 1994 as a joke, but now it doesn't seem so absurd considering where the tenth entry actually ended up going.

Anyhoo, Happy Friday the 13th everyone!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: Friday the 13th Part VII

With the third and final Friday the 13th of 2015 approaching, I figured I'd post a Friday sequel that is near and dear to my heart.

Not only was this the first appearance of Kane Hodder as Jason Voorhees, I think this iteration of Jason also had the best design. His exposed spine is totally badass! I always really loved the Jason vs Carrie conceit that leads to such a fucking awesome third act. Plus, Elizabeth Kaitan, who I am quite fond of.

I always lament how much this film got butchered by the MPAA. John Carl Buechler brought the brutality back to the series, after the tamer, albeit highly enjoyable Jason Lives, yet only a fraction made it onscreen. Some of the shaved bits have resurfaced over the years, but not in any kind of shape that they could be put back into a definitive edition. Shame.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

DKTM 282

Howdy everyone! I spent most of my weekend catching up on new releases with free passes scored from winning James Bond trivia at an opening night Spectre screening. Yes, I watch other types of movies too. But, back in the world of horror, here's what's been going down.

But The Rent is Great.

Here's the trailer for Breakthrough Entertainment's newest, The Sublet.

I see a couple of familiar faces in this. If anything, It'll be cool to see Tianna Nori dust off her crazy chops, last seen in Tricia Lee's Clean Break. The Sublet should see a release in 2016.

Reap The Harvest.

Scott Schirmer, the director of Found, one of my fave indie horrors of recent years, is back with a new project called Harvest Lake. It's got Tristan Risk, Ellie Church, and... tentacles? Seriously, what more do you need?

Check out the website to pre-order the limited edition Blu-ray here.

R.I.P. Gunnar Hansen 1947-2015.

I have to end on a sad note, as it has been reported that actor Gunnar Hansen has died this weekend at the age of 68. 

Gunnar Hansen 1947-2015

The Icelandic-born actor was best known for his iconic role in Tobe Hooper's 1974 juggernaut The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but he appeared in over thirty films over the course of his fourty-year career. I was fortunate to see him in person on a few occasions, and he was larger-than-life and always seemed humbled to be a part of one of horror's true classics. 

Man, this year has just been rife with losses. Time to go try and cheer myself up. Stay safe, kiddies.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Put The Mask On, NOW!

In addition to the already jammed lineup of horror films that were screening downtown the last week of October, the Lightbox also saw a run of the newly restored 1961 film The Mask. In case you're not aware, this was not only Canada's first feature filmed in 3D, but also the Great White North's first venture into horror. So naturally, I made catching this little piece of history a priority.

A psychiatrist named Dr. Barnes (Paul Stevens) inherits a tribal mask that causes dream-like hallucinations in the wearer.  

On our way into the theatre, we were given our 3D glasses--

These are presumably similar to what audiences would have received back in the early sixties, which was a nice touch. Only about fifteen minutes of the eighty-and-change was actually in 3D, which suited me fine, as pressing those things up to my glasses for an hour and a half would've been a bit of a buzzkill. I did love that shtick of when the person onscreen puts on the mask, you put on the mask though. It's pretty brilliant in that Bill Castle kind-of-way.

As for the film, I found it quite entertaining. The effects were cheesy at times, but the visual flair of the dream sequences, designed by Slavko Vorkapich, were some pretty great stuff. The 3D layering worked better than the effects that came out of the screen, but I feel they all came across rather well considering the tech is over fifty years old.

Put your Mask on, NOW!

Despite the film being very dialogue heavy, I still found it quite engaging. I couldn't help but feel that Jacques Tourneur's film Night of the Demon, made four years previous, was an influence, both aesthetically and thematically. The pallate of smoke and shadow was similar, as was the large, imposing antagonist (demon or mask) looming overhead. 

Night of the Demon, 1957 (left) & The Mask, 1961. 

Both have films that switch protagonists early on, and are victims, directly or indirectly, of evils invoked by ritual. Whereas Night of the Demon was pretty straightforward, I think The Mask's underlying comment on addiction was very provocative for a film that was basically just trying to cash in on the 3D craze of the day.

Canada has always been known for putting out solid horror content, but it's good to know we started out strong with this bewitching entry into the gimmick horror canon.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Trailer Tuesdays: Children of the Corn

It's funny how stuff sticks in your brain. It's been almost thirty years since I've watched Fritz Kiersch's adaptation of Children of the Corn, but I immediately recognized it during its random appearance on Scream Queens a few weeks ago.

I suppose it is maybe not so surprising. Considering my formative years coincided with the home video boom, it was rare that I didn't watch a rented tape more than once and Corn was smack dab in that time period. Of course, little did I know that the tagline “an adult nightmare” might as well have been code for “hey kiddo, you're gonna grow up to be an office drone.”

Maybe if I'd known that, I'd have built a cross for myself and made like The Blue Man. But, I digress.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

DKTM 281

Hey everyone. I hope you're Halloween hangover isn't too bad.

I spent mine doing the important things, like watching a double bill of Halloween I & II, and taking care of some unfinished business.

For now, here's some genre morsels to chew on.

Hail To The King, Baby.

Ash Vs. Evil Dead is finally here, and here's a Variety piece where Bruce Campbell himself explains the origins and impetus for Ash's return.

I'm pretty chuffed with the pilot. It's in line with the universe that the Renaissance Boys created way back when, and Ash's inadvertent reopening of the gateway does seem like the boneheaded thing he would do. 

Submitted For Your Approval.

Toronto-based filmmaker Justin McConnell has been hard at work for a very long on his newest documentary Clapboard Jungle: Surviving the Independent Film Business. He has compiled over eighty interviews with genre professionals, and is now looking for funds to help complete post production. Check out Justin's and co-producer Darryl Shaw's concise pitch video on what to expect from this project.

If you ask me, this is exactly the kind of documentary we need right now. With the tools being as affordable as they've ever been, a resource like this can only benefit young filmmakers seeking to dive into the shark-infested waters of the indie film business. So give what you can, by clicking here.

Disney Horror.

Artist Travis Falligant and teamed up to give us these horror re-imaginings of our favourite Disney princesses.

Check out this link to see the rest, it's some pretty great stuff.