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, March 29, 2016

Trailer Tuesdays: Pulse (1988)

The way my devices have been treating me of late, this trailer for Paul Golding's eighties flick Pulse seems apropos.

I guess it's a good thing I don't have a garbage disposal.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

DKTM 298

Hey all. I hope you are enjoying the resurrection and all your eggs are accounted for. Here's what I've got for you this week.

Bloody New Digs.

This week, the Blood In The Snow Canadian Film Festival announced a new venue for its fifth edition, the heart of downtown at Cineplex's Yonge & Dundas location. I think this will suit them well, as it has a nicely sized block of theatres on the top floor with spacious lobby space for their accompanying vendor village. Blood In The Snow hits Toronto this November 24th to 27th.

Expanding Horizons.

So, most of you familiar with the Internet would have seen Lights Out when it went viral a few years ago. Well, it appears Warner Brothers & James Wan have given director David F. Sandberg to opportunity to turn his two-minute short into a feature.

Regardless of how this turns out, I have to give Sandberg mad props for being able to make the jump from shorts to features. It's something for which all short filmmakers aspire, and I'm glad he was one of the lucky few. Lights Out hits theatres July 22nd.

While The City Sleeps.

The videos highlighting the work of retrosynth jockeys Gunship keep coming, this newest being a clever mashup of footage from classic films such as Blade Runner, Dark City, The Crow and Escape From New York. Give it up for Maximum Black!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hot Docs 2016!

Yesterday, the full schedule of documentaries screening at this year's Hot Docs Film Festival was announced yesterday. As per usual, there are countless topics being covered from all around the world, but three genre titles caught my eye.

First, fresh off its run at this year's SXSW, Irene Taylor Brodsky's true crime doc Beware The Slenderman comes to Toronto.

This doc follows the lore of The Slender Man, from its beginning as an Internet meme through to the grisly crime committed in his name five years later.

Next, is the British doc Fear Itself by Charlie Lyne.

Using existing horror films, Lyne builds a narrative exploring the nature of fear and its place in cinema. I'm intrigued by this one, and worst case scenario it's just a big game of name-that-movie.

Lastly, Toronto native Matt Johnson returns with his new picture Operation Avalanche. A mockumentary about a film crew that uncovers a conspiracy while doing a story on NASA, the movie features footage Johnson stealthily acquired from inside the facility.

Hopefully, I get to check out at least one of these. For more info on this year's solid line-up, click here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Trailer Tuesdays: Ghost In The Machine

Yep, I feel like this is appropriate right now.

Man, you gotta love 90's interpretations of virtual reality. And to think that twenty-three years later, we are only just now getting consumer level VR.

Oh, and Windows 10 sucks.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

DKTM 297

With Windows 10 still wreaking havoc on my laptop, I'm speaking to you now from a secret location. Here's what I've got for you this week.

Trailer Hitch.

I've got a build-up of trailers I'd like to show you today. The first is for an upcoming anthology called Holidays.

Like ABC's of Death used the alphabet, Holidays goes through the calendar year, assigning special occasions to a certain director. There is certainly a lot going on visually in that trailer and I'm interested to see new work from directors such as Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes), Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact) and Matt Johnson (The Dirties). Holidays releases next month.

Next, is the new POV zombie flick Dead Rush from local boy Zach Ramelan.

Along with films like JeruZalem and the upcoming release of Hardcore Henry, Dead Rush is on the cusp of a reinvigorated extension of a popular subgenre. This project was originally a short film, so I'm really interested to see how Ramelan maintains that tempo for ninety minutes. Dead Rush premieres at the Canadian Film Fest at the end of the month.

Lastly, hold onto your hats (or more aptly floatation devices) for here is the trailer for Jaume Collet-Serra's The Shallows.

I'm excited for this one. This was once a Black List script entitled In The Deep, so I'm glad it finally got made. I dug the story, so really the only question marks are does Blake Lively have the chops, and how CG'd is the shark?

Dark Indeed.

This week, I found out about a really interesting video game project made by survival horror pioneer Frederick Raynal called 2Dark.

Check out some of the concept art! I'm glad to see the French haven't lost their flair for the grotesque.

Slated for release this year on PC, Xbox and PS4, I cannot wait to give this a go.

R.I.P. Larry Drake 1950-2016.

Sadly, actor Larry Drake passed away last Thursday. He was 66. Though he was best remembered as Benny on the drama L.A. Law, for which he won two Emmys, he also played a trio of memorable roles in genre cinema. In 1981, he was the hapless Bubba Ritter in the TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow, followed, in the early nineties, by his turn as the villainous Durant in two Darkman films and then as the wildly over-the-top Dr. Giggles. Rest in peace, Mr. Drake.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Christmas in April!

Great news! That short film I worked on for my friends Serena Whitney & Justin McConnell is premiering this April at the Calgary Underground Film Festival! Filmed over a hectic weekend last November, I'm thrilled that this will soon be hitting screens. Check out the poster and teaser below, and click here for more.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Come On In, The Water's Fine!

Last weekend was the inaugural edition of the Fright Night Theatre Film Festival in Hamilton. Organizers Aaron Allen & Darrell Marsh have been screening films out of the cozy Staircase Theatre for years, but this was their first stab at a full-fledged weekend event. Featuring a programme that ranged from the nostalgic to post-modern, Fright brought forth a mix of shocks and absurdity.

My main reason for being there was the world premiere of Scott Schrimer's new flick, Harvest Lake. You've heard me talk about his previous film Found at length, so I was elated when I heard that his latest effort would be screening two towns over.

Four friends visiting a lakeside cottage come across a lascivious entity that threatens to consume them.

I, perhaps not surprisingly, dug this movie. It kind of reminded me of that old X-Files episode with the mushroom spores, if instead of hallucinating, Mulder & Scully got freaky. In some ways, Harvest Lake was exactly what I was expecting, but in others it was much more. I feel Schirmer elevated this simple story, which could've just been cheap exploitation, to something deeply visceral and, dare I say, erotic. This shows real growth from Schrimer as a filmmaker because as much as I love Found, it is a little rough around the edges. Harvest Lake was beautiful to look at for more than the obvious reasons. In addition to the copious amounts of skin – I don't think I've seen bikinis worn better than they were by fetching leads Tristan Risk and Ellie Church – cinematographer Brian Williams filmed the surrounding forest and lake as if they were living, breathing beings.

Ellie Church as Jennifer in Harvest Lake.

But it was not just the look of the film that grabbed me, but also the music. Schrimer commissioned the musical duo of Adam Robl & Shawn Sutta and the result is incredibly hypnotic. It's one of the best instances of a score representing the subject matter onscreen I've witnessed in quite some time. Once again delivering on the special effects was longtime collaborator Arthur Cullipher. Not only were they incredibly tactile (oh the slime) but the creature designs were also distinct and memorable.

Schrimer, Williams and Church were on hand for the screening and humble as per usual. Among other things, they talked a bit about their funding strategy. The film itself was self-funded, for the incredibly impressive sum of eight grand, and they only turned to the Internet for post-production costs.

“We took pre-orders for a limited edition Blu-ray and if we sold enough of them, they would pay for cost of having them made. We didn't want to fund the movie with Kickstarter or Indiegogo if we could do that ourselves. Too often people just pocket the money that is donated and never deliver. That ruins it for everyone. If you get screwed over, you'll be less likely to donate to something else in the future. We wanted to make sure we had something to offer first.”

Director Scott Schirmer, star Ellie Church & producer/DOP Brian Williams.

Harvest Lake might not appeal to some, but there's no denying that it is unique. And that is a good word to describe Scott Schirmer. In the indie landscape, a supposed haven for creative freedom, most genre filmmakers are content to just ape their influences. Schrimer however, is carving out stories that, thematically and visually, go beyond where many are willing to go.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Trailer Tuesdays: Inseminoid

Here's a trailer that I think bridges the gap between what I posted yesterday and what I'm posting tomorrow. Enjoy!

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Bad Robot Mystery.

Two months ago, Bad Robot surprised everyone with a trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane. Just as they did with the original Cloverfield, they were somehow able to shroud the entire production in secrecy – a feat that becomes more and more impressive with each passing year.

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up in an underground bunker after being saved by a man named Howard (John Goodman) who tells her that the world above them has ended.

10 Cloverfield Lane is an interesting beast because it's a hybrid of two separate ideas. The project began in 2012 as a script called The Cellar, which was later re-appropriated to fit into the Cloverfield universe. I'll talk more about that later, but right now I want to focus on the piece's biggest strength.

You've probably heard about how great John Goodman is in this, and I agree. Howard can be added to his long list of memorable characters. He's an unsettling presence throughout that you never really feel comfortable around because you are never quite sure if his behaviour is malicious or just plain awkward. As solid as Goodman is though, I also feel that Mary Elizabeth Winstead deserves just as much praise. She is one of a few actresses that can not only balance vulnerability and strength, but always remain grounded and relatable while doing it. Her role here just further cemented her place as one of my favourite actresses working today. The third player in the film, John Gallagher Jr. as Emmett, is also great as the intermediary between the two.

Howard (John Goodman) & Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in 10 Cloverfield Lane.

With the help of the confined setting, director Dan Trachtenberg created some real tension here. After cutting his teeth on a decade's worth of commercials, this was a very competent debut. Given the piece's intimate tone, I'm very impressed he had the confidence to let his actors do a lot of the heavy lifting. I used to religiously watch a Web show Trachtenberg was on for many years, so it puts a smile on my face to know he's now finally achieved the things he always talked about doing.

I was also happy that the trailer (I only watched the first one) didn't give away as much as it seemed to. While it is true the name Cloverfield, which implies a somewhat problematic expectation of the grandiose, does fly in the face of the straightforward character piece presented in the trailer, I do think they can co-exist. Regardless of where the story eventually goes though, I think there were some major improvements made from the original script, the best of which being the character of Michelle. She was a much better realized character here, which is in part due to rewrites, but mostly Winstead, the only actress who was ever considered for the role.

To sum up, 10 Cloverfield Lane probably won't knock anyone's socks off, but it is a solid thriller that I feel gets most, if not all, of the important things right.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Look! Up In The Sky!

This week's VHS intro is a fairly deep cut, Comet Video.

I always think it a shame when there isn't a catchy jingle accompanying the visuals for these things. Comet was a smaller sub-label of the much more well known - and infamous - Continental Video. Comet distributed some of H.G Lewis' more notorious flicks like 2000 Maniacs and Blood Feast. As you saw, this intro was taken from my copy of Terror on Tape.

Though it is strange that my cover says “Studio One”, a company I could find no info about.

Anyway, I will attending Fright Night Theatre all weekend, so check back next week to hear of my exploits.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Trailer Tuesday: Emelie

Not a vintage trailer today, but one I wanted to post last weekend, but was prevented from doing so by some little Microsoft gremlins.

I saw this last April at Tribeca and it's a pretty taut thriller with great performances. Emelie released last Friday in select markets, so be sure look out for it. For a spoiler-ish interview with star Sarah Bolger over at Shock Til You Drop, click here.

Oh, and Happy International Women's Day!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Ain't Technology Grand?

I had a sudden computer issue yesterday that prevented me from doing my usual news post, but I'm back online now and will be getting you back to your regularly scheduled programming shortly.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Nevada Broadsword Massacre.

Okay guys. Be sure to buckle up because I've got a doozy for you today, Ray Dennis Steckler's 1971 (even though the title card says 1980) horror rodeo Blood Shack.

“There is a legend about this valley. A tale carried across the winds of time. A legend strange and sinister. The legend of The Chooper.”

This movie. Whoa. Just. Whoa. I don't even know where to start, so I guess the beginning is as good a place as any. Blood Shack opens with a car that looks like it drove right out of a twenties gangster film pulling up to an old ranch. The girl insists she's gonna stay in the haunted shack, so her two friends fuck off and leave her there. The trusty caretaker Daniel (Jason Wayne) then comes over to give her the whole “The Chooper's gonna get you” spiel.

She takes no notice and stays the night, overstepping that line between brave and stupid. She promptly gets offed by a screaming assailant awkwardly brandishing a sword. At least, I think so, it was very dark. It actually reminded me of my first grainy VHS viewing of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre where the night scenes were pretty much unintelligible. I guess that's why every other Chooper attack happens in daylight.

Seriously, could someone teach him how to use that?

Contrary to that little gem above though, Blood Shack is mostly just a combination of footage from a rodeo and two little girls playing around on set. Although, I do have to admit there is something adorable about watching a five-year-old relay exposition in child speak. I can't imagine it would have made any more sense coming from an adult. And oh my God, the narration. There are films that use this device as a crutch; and then there's Blood Shack. Steckler even found the need to narrate scenes that were completely unnecessary. For instance;

“Peanuts. That's what they named the pony. She was just about the prettiest thing you ever saw. If ever you wanted to see two happy kids this was it. Sugarplum, their adopted puppy, seemed to like their new friend. Margie took to riding Peanuts almost immediately. These kids really know how to enjoy life in the–” WHAT THE FUCK AM I WATCHING RIGHT NOW?!

Narration even ends the piece.

“So-and-so's dead. I don't know what I'm going to do. I think I'll just worry about it tomorrow. If tomorrow ever comes.” THE END

This came as a surprise to me because it hadn't even reached the hour mark by this point. I was, of course, grateful in that it was like the last day of school when your teacher let you out early, but what the fuck?

After viewing this, I turned to Imdb and it offered so much clarity. Blood Shack was apparently shot on short ends, which explains the string of one take wonders that involve cowboy hats getting blown off actor's while delivering dialogue and floundering fisticuffs. Oh, and they only had two lights. That explains the darkness of the first kill scene.

I discovered Steckler also gave us the infamous The Hollywood Strangler Meets The Skid Row Slasher. Then it all made sense. Steckler just loves narration, as that aforementioned movie doesn't have one spoken word of dialogue in it.

Not this movie's first rodeo.

Perhaps the craziest thing about Blood Shack was that to sell it to drive-ins, Steckler had to add fifteen more minutes of rodeo footage to it. That works out to like, a third of the movie! Fuuuuuck me.

My crusty VHS wasn't helping, but this movie just looks like an antique. Apart from every car in the picture looking way older than when they shot this, even the score seems vintage. Most of it feels like it was plucked from one of those 16mm PSA's I used to watch in grade school, “Timmy, make sure you look both ways before you cross the street!”

So in closing, I can't really say this is even a movie in any real sense, but I also can't deny that I was entertained/fascinated. If only all bad movies were less than sixty minutes long.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Trailer Tuedays: Inferno

I'm in the mood for something bat-shit crazy this week. Maestro?

The hilarious thing is that this trailer makes about as much sense as the actual film does. And I love it. Inferno is the gift that keeps on giving. Due to its dreamlike narrative, I can never wrap my head around it in any real sense, so the details eventually fade. That's why when I revisit it every five years or so, it's like I'm watching it again for the first time. Except for the opening “pool” scene and the Central Park sequence. Who could ever forget those bits?