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, July 23, 2017

Hells Yeah!


Moving now to across the pond, I checked out Cold Hell, the new thriller from German director Stefan Ruzowitzky.


A Muslim taxi driver named Özge (Violetta Schurawlow) becomes the target of a serial killer after she witnesses him disposing of his latest victim.

I loved this film. Thrillers are a dime-a-dozen, but it is rare where all of its components come together as well as they did here. Cold Hell was the perhaps the closest thing to a giallo I've seen in quite some time. It has several elements, including the mysterious serial killer, a protagonist that is unwittingly brought into the investigation and the cat-and-mouse game that ensues.

This time however, the formula was cleverly subverted by flipping the gender roles. Usually, the female is a companion to the main character that helps to a certain degree, but often ends up needing to be rescued (Daria Nicolodi in some of Dario Argento's films for instance). In Cold Hell, Özge was the main character who was not only strong, but also took no shit and never let herself be a victim. It's also important for me to point out that her strength felt well established and organic. It wasn't an empty plot device, her actions were spurred on by years of being trodden on by the world.


Which brings me to Schurawlow, who was just fantastic. I could see the weight of the rage she carried around inside her quiet demeanor. It was almost as if she had been waiting for someone to come along she could unleash all her anger onto. I never once thought Özge couldn't do all of the kick-ass stuff Schurawlow did in this film. On top of that though, there were a lot of other moments like altercations with her estranged family and the socio-political hurdles of xenophobia that really added to her character. Ruzowitzky made a perfect casting choice here I can only hope that Schurawlow's career skyrockets like Franke Potente's did after he put her in his 2000 flick, Anatomy.

Violetta Schurawlow as Özge in Cold Hell.

Cold Hell was a well paced thriller, but it also had its share of really kinetic action sequences. Özge was a trained Thai boxer and I really liked the true-to-life nature of the fight sequences. They were not the highly choreographed bouts we see from Hollywood and the Far East, but realistic get-them-down-and-hit-them-in-the-face-as-many-times-as-possible affairs. It was extremely visceral and I was super pumped after the credits rolled.

Cold Hell will likely be my favourite film at the festival this year. It was a very well executed thriller anchored by a complex and spirited female lead. We need more thrillers (and lead characters) like this one.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mind The Doors!


One of my most anticipated screenings at this year's Fantasia was the new Blue Underground restoration of Gary Sherman's 1972 horror Death Line.


This screening was a treat for a number of reasons. First off, the transfer (which was struck from the original camera negative) was wonderful. Up until this point, Death Line, under its alternate title Raw Meat, was only available through a dark and muddy release from MGM. It was so great to able to actually see the inside of the underground lair during that lengthy tracking shot toward the beginning of the film. Also, Death Line still remains one of my favourite performances by Donald Pleasance. He was clearly having so much fun in this.

The biggest draw of this event though, was that director Gary Sherman was in attendance and sat down with filmmaker Bill Lustig for a lengthy discussion about the film. Here below is audio from that night, where he talks about working with Pleasance & Christopher Lee, the lamented A.I.P. release and exploring subtext within genre film. Enjoy!


Friday, July 21, 2017

Initiate Sequence.


Next up on the Fantasia docket was Graham Skipper's Sequence Break.


After playing an old arcade game that mysteriously shows up at his repair shop, Oz's (Chase Williamson) hold on reality begins to slip.

Skipper is part of a collective of filmmakers that have made several indie horrors (Almost Human, The Mind's Eye) in the last few years that I wasn't struck by, but this premise was just too intriguing to pass up. I'm glad I did because I liked this one quite a bit. When the instantly recognizable ships from Galaga flashed across the opening credits, I was like, okay I'm in, whatcha got?

If 2015's The Mind's Eye was a take on David Cronenberg's Scanners, then Sequence Break was Skipper's interpretation of Videodrome, switching out VHS & TV's with arcade games. However, I believe that this piece succeeded where the former failed. Even with some Lovecraftian and cyberpunk elements mixed in with the Cronenberg, Sequence Break did not overextend itself past its means. Boasting only five characters and largely one location, it allowed itself to be intimate, yet visually stimulating at the same time.


The practical effects (once again recalling Videodrome) were well executed and tactile and the synth score by Van Hughes was perfect. The indie horror scene has been saturated with eighties homages, but this one came off to me, as one of the most sincere. These retro efforts largely tend to rely on nostalgia and while they are often fun, do come off a bit surface-y. In Sequence Break, those aforementioned elements were complimentary, but it was the relationship between Oz and Tess (Fabienne Therese) that kept me invested.

Chase Williamson as Oz in Sequence Break

Which leads me to Williamson and Therese, reunited after working together in 2012's John Dies at the End. I thought their chemistry here was fierce and their relationship endearing. Maybe it was just the hope that someone like Tess exists in the world. I'm not necessarily convinced of that. My friend tells me I don't know enough women. Perhaps that is true. All I do know is that Therese is racking up an impressive list of genre credits so a breakout role is surely imminent.

Sequence Break was a solid indie sci-fi romance that is by far the best thing his crew have put out into the world. It rose beyond mere homage where retro-gaming was an entry point, but not the only driving force of the story. If Skipper's compatriots are smart, they will follow his lead going forward.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Only Skin Deep.


Fantasia continued with a screening of Norbert Keil's body horror piece, Replace.


When Kira's (Rebecca Forsythe) skin starts to inexplicably decay and flake off, she discovers she can replenish it with that of other women.

I wasn't crazy about this movie, but I'll start with the positive. I was really impressed with the look of this movie and how it visually represented Toronto. Kira's apartment had this really strange layout that could only exist in a movie and I kind of dug that. Odd at first was the relationship between Kira & her neighbour Sophia (Lucie Aron), actually reminding me of those awkward dubbed conversations you see in old gialli, but even that kind of grew on me after a while. It could also be that Aron reminded me of Asia Argento.

The Big Smoke.

I think scene to scene, Replace just felt uneven to me. I was slightly confused in that it seemed to exist out of time. Kira rocked an ancient flip phone, yet Sophia busted out a futuristic projection screen. As soon as the movie started escalating, it didn't really flow together as well as it should have. A few revelations toward the end helped to alleviate some of my grievances, but not all. I would wager that the more surrealist qualities of the movie were perhaps the contribution of co-writer Richard Stanley, but I was lukewarm on how that mixed with the science here.

Due to these distractions, I didn't feel nearly as connected to the characters as I was supposed to. That's a problem because body horror is all about its visceral nature and response. The special effects were solid, but even with those I often experienced a strange disconnect. Barbara Crampton showed up and gave the project some gravitas, but not enough to anchor the movie down once it started meandering in the middle.

Rebecca Forsythe (left) & Barbara Crampton in Replace

Visually I thought Replace was a success, but I just wish the other elements came together as well.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dying To Play.


Starting off my Fantasia coverage this year was a homegrown effort by Sebastien Landry & Laurence Morais-Lagace called Game of Death.


A group of friends unknowingly enter into a bout of kill-or-be-killed after uncovering an old board game.

I'd been looking forward to this title since it played SXSW in March, so I was very glad to hear it was playing Fantasia. Game of Death was a fun ride that basically succeeded on the strength of its premise. It may have leant on it a little too much, but I cannot deny that the game board was one of the most distinctive props I've seen in some time.

Originally envisioned as a web series, I think the creators were wise to cut into a feature, as it works much better as a one-shot. I don't think it would have had nearly as much punch if it had been broken up into bits. As a feature, the mix of traditional and video formats felt a little disjointed, but within the context of the chaotic subject matter I was able to cut it some slack.


The main draw was the gore and with Rémy Couture at the helm it was premiere stuff. If you like head explosions, then Game of Death is veritable pornography. And the crowd appreciated it I can tell you, even if it did admittedly have a home field advantage. I sometimes forget how much of a blood lust Montreal horror fans have here.

With gaming being a prevalent theme, there were a lot of callbacks to retro gaming, including a neat animated credit sequence. Landry & Morais-Lagace used this technique a few times throughout the movie and though I welcomed it, I don't believe it worked as well as it did at the onset.


Game of Death would have likely had more resonance if any of the characters were actually likable (Beth, played by Victoria Diamond, was the only one I was invested in and she was no saint), but it was easy to not really give a shit because it was the spectacle that drove things forward. And with a running time of under eighty minutes it didn't have time to overstay its welcome. It did still tend to meander at points, most notably with the inclusion of a Fargo-esque park ranger that began to grate on me, but it never went off the rails.

I was into this film though, only bumping on tiny, inane things like a couple having oral sex while wearing their underwear and the filmmakers not seeming to know (or care) what actually comes out of a shotgun. Game of Death was a simple and fun ride that will satisfy the gore hounds, but perhaps leave the more discerning a little wanting.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Trailer Tuesdays: Alone in the Dark

In addition to George A. Romero, we also lost another icon in Martin Landau who passed away on Saturday. He was 89. His career spanned seven decades and included all forms of media. His favourite role of mine (and I'm sure for many) was his turn as Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's 1993 film Ed Wood

R.I.P. Martin Landau 1928-2017

I'll also remember him from Jack Sholder's 1982 thriller Alone In The Dark where he shared the screen with Donald Pleasance and Jack Palance.



Rest in peace, Mr. Landau. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

R.I.P. George A. Romero 1940-2017

We lost a giant, figuratively and literally, yesterday. Filmmaker George A. Romero has passed away after a brief battle with lung cancer. He was 77. 

George A. Romero 1940-2017.

After bursting onto the scene with Night of the Living Dead in 1968, Romero's contribution to film is beyond compare. His debut ushered in a new era, not only for the zombie genre, but also the idea of using subtext within horror. He may not have been the first to do it, but Night sure inspired a lot of future filmmakers to do the same.

Beyond his influence as a filmmaker, his works had an indelible effect on me growing up. Night, Dawn of the Dead and much later Day of the Dead (once I was actually able to find it outside the limited resources of my Toronto suburb) are the pinnacle of zombie cinema, both in terms of special effects and what can be achieved through genre. His leanings toward the bleak carried onto 1977's The Crazies where he gutted me not once, but twice with the death of Lynn Lowry and the zero-hour loss of the cure. 

Romero then did what he did with ghouls with bloodsuckers in 1978's Martin with his non-sensationalized portrait of modern day vampirism. Later, Creepshow would run through my VCR more times than I can count and that syringe climax in Monkey Shines still remains one of my most intense memories of watching a horror film. I could go on and on.


What makes this even more sad is that Romero had made his home here in Toronto. He was a fixture of this community. You get into that frame of mind that he is always going to be there and it is just a matter of time before his next project would be announced. Then he's gone. I am taking some comfort in that we will get more time with him posthumously when his interview with Guillermo del Toro gets released on the newly announced Between Night and Dawn set from Arrow.

Rest in peace, Mr. Romero. Your legacy, much like some of your film subjects over the years, will never die.  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

If You Want It Done Right...

I'm gallivanting around Montreal right now, so no DKTM today, however I did want to call attention to a web series called Allie & Lara Make A Horror Movie. Created by Toronto-based horror mavens Larissa Thomas & Alicia Faucher, the first episode dropped a few days ago.



I dig how this turned out and the message rings true. When you're a filmmaker (or even a creator of content) it's easy to get bogged down by negativity or discouraged by those who seek to mess with your vision, so the idea that no matter what Allie & Lara (played with gusto by Maddy Foley & Heather Dicke) are going to make their vision - in this case a monster movie called Womantis - a reality is an inspiring one.

If you liked what you saw, why not contribute to their Indiegogo? The production already has a few episodes in the can, but they need some extra cash to bring the rest of their season into the world. Check it out here.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fantasia Bound.


Hey gang! I'm off to Montreal for a spell, so stay tuned for some Fantasia reviews when I start rolling them out next week. Until then, have a great weekend, guys!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Brian Yuzna in the Flesh!

Last Tuesday was sensational because I got to meet horror maestro Brian Yuzna who The Royal Cinema has managed to corral for their screening of his film Society. I was getting another beer during the show and he was just sitting at concessions hanging out. I introduced myself and he told me I reminded him of Jeffrey Combs. It was pretty awesome. 


Anyway, after the film, there was a lengthy Q&A moderated by Royal programmer Richelle Charkot which you can listen to below. My apologies for the audio, I made the mistake of putting the recorder in my shirt pocket. Enjoy!



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Trailer Tuesdays: Evil In The Deep

With summer now in full swing, you may be tempted to go into the nearest body of water. I, however, feel it is my duty to remind you of what may be waiting for you... EVIL IN THE DEEP



Holy, that narrator is working overtime. Also, I think the antagonist is a shark, but there's so much else going on in this trailer I cannot be sure. For some reason, this trailer neglects to mention this movie features Chuck “muthafuckin Love Connection” WooleryCheryl Ladd, before making the very wise decision to change her last name from Stoppelmoor, also appears.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

DKTM 347


Hey all. Here's what I've got for you this week.

VHS Love.

I found this great little piece on Bloody Disgusting this week. An artist by the name of Steelberg has made a name for himself by creating retro style VHS coverboxes featuring recent titles and here are some of his latest.





Steelberg is obviously not the only cat who is doing this, but I'd say he is the best and certainly the most authentic right down to the rental stickers. To see the rest of the run, check out the original article here.

Don't Go In The Woods.

Here's the trailer for the David Bruckner's new backwoods horror flick The Ritual.



I read the book this was based on a few years ago so I'm interested to see how this turned out. Hopefully, it comes to my neck of the woods later this year.

...& Ecstacy.

Madmind Studios' Agony, the video that literally takes place in hell, has a new trailer out.



This looks cool. Gameplay-wise it looks pretty standard, but I'm really intrigued by the world. I'm definitely up for trekking around some Hellraiser/Event Horizon-like digs. Agony is scheduled for release later this year on all platforms. You can check out the website here.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Blu Bird Fly.

It took me a few weeks, but I finally got a chance to dig into my Arrow Blu-ray of Dario Argento's 1970 film The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.


Bird has special significance to me, as it was the first Argento I ever saw (followed closely by Suspiria and Phenomena in its US incarnation Creepers). I was barely sixteen and just beginning my video store tenure. My horror diet up until that point had consisted mainly of slashers and creature features and it was films like Bird that opened my eyes to the fact that horror could be more than mere entertainment. It could also be artistic.

I adore this film with its quirky characters and meandering tour of the Rome less travelled. Bird was not the first giallo, but it set the template (in much the same way Halloween would kick off the American slasher boom almost a decade later) for what would come later not only in Argento's career, but also that of his contemporaries in Lucio Fulci, Sergio Martino and many others.

Someway, somehow, I will own that painting.

Based on the fourties pulp novel The Screaming Mimi, Argento took the nugget of the story and made it his own. I've always found his exploration of memory (where the protagonist is always chasing that one important detail) fascinating, not only how well he executes it, but also how many times he was able to successfully mine it throughout his career.

As for the Blu-ray, I’ll let the experts talk about the transfer, all I know is it looked as good as it ever has, and I’ve seen it projected on 35mm. Arrow really went to town on the presentation though. I posted Industrial Blue's unboxing video before, but even that doesn’t do justice to how stunning this set is. Perhaps most impressive is the gorgeous sixty-page booklet that dissects the film in many different ways as well as gives a good rundown of the gialli as a whole.

The set includes these six lobby cards.

I was also really impressed with the special features. There are two lengthy talks on the film with scholars Alexandra Heller-Nicolas & Kat Ellinger that were very informative, even for those well versed in the subject. I was not aware that there was another adaptation of The Screaming Mimi out there from 1958! I'll have to track that down. There is also a great commentary by Troy Howarth, as well as a new half-hour interview with Dario Argento himself. It was really refreshing to see him just sit down and talk extensively about his debut.

Big ups to Arrow for this one. There are few horrors that I always get the same amount of enjoyment with each viewing as I do with Argento’s ouevre. A good chunk of his catalogue are masterworks as far as I'm concerned, whether they be of the nail-biting thriller or supernatural fever dream variety.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Trailer Tuesdays: Hotline

Here's a trailer for the Lynda Carter thriller vehicle, Hotline.



I would watch this, however three things jumped out at me while watching this trailer. First, the phrase “crisis worker is being bugged by a crank caller” seems like a weird phrase to use, like he's giving her wet willies instead of harassing her by phone. Second, I somehow immediately identified this as a TV movie. And third, when Carter hits that dude at the end, I'd wager that's where she discovers that her trusted confidant is the killer and makes her escape. Horror 101 peeps!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

DKTM 346


Hello all! I hope you're enjoying your weekend and that sweet spot in between Canada Day and Fourth of July. Here's what I've got for you.

Bava Buffet.

While it is often that I wish I could attend something that is screening in NYC, this takes the torta, so to speak. The Quad Cinema in New York will be celebrating the work of Italian icon Mario Bava in July by playing twenty-one (!) of his classic films.

Mario Bava's Black Sabbath (1963)

Kicking off July. the Mondo Bava series also will play other such titles as Blood & Black Lace, Black Sabbath, Bay of Blood, Shock and a new 4K restoration of his seminal sci-fi title Planet of the Vampires. For the full line-up, click here.

Planet of the Vampires (1965)

I can only pray to any higher power that will listen that some organization in the Big Smoke will bring this series to Toronto. I'm crossing my black gloved fingers.

Trailer Two-Fer.

I have a couple of trailers here, the first of which is for the newest Child's Play movie, Cult of Chucky



I still haven't seen the one from a few years ago yet, but fortunately a friend is having a Chucky marathon this month so I'll be able to catch up soon enough. Second is the trailer for Black Fawn's newest The Heretics.



Each picture these guys make as part of their eight picture deal with Breakthrough is better than the last and having worked with two of the leads (Ry Barrett & Jorja Cadence) in the past, I am expecting good things. Look for both titles later this year.

If Only.

Lastly, since I'm still clocking in nightly sessions with Gun Media's Friday the 13th game, I thought this mock-up was particularly awesome.


I'm afraid I don't know who is responsible for this, but I like to think there is an alternative universe where these titles actually exist. What a childhood that would be!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Canada 150

Hello all! Canada turns 150 today!


If I was better at Photoshop I could have done something really cool like put a Canadian VHS cover in one of each of the thirteen boxes in that maple leaf, but alas I can only rock MS Paint. You'll just have to use your imagination.


Have a great one, guys!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Djinn Joint.


Earlier this week when I discovered that The Lamp was indeed The Outing, I subsequently remembered that I actually owned it. It then seemed fairly logical that I should watch it for this week's VHS Friday. Here goes.


A group of school kids break into a museum overnight just as the evil spirit inside an ancient lamp is unleashed.

The Outing was surprisingly not terrible. Although the setup was rough - I remember thinking if the whole movie is like this oh boyo - but it did manage to mostly redeem itself by the end. I thought the design of the lamp with its little hand stopper was pretty snazzy and the story committed to its evil jinn lore. I mean, its powers were erratic and confusing, dispatching people in simple or elaborate ways with no consistency, but the death-by snake sequence was pretty bad ass. I'm surprised that scene doesn't come up more often when horrorphiles talk about phobias in film. 


Mostly, I really have to hand it to the producers on this. I have no idea how they finagled their way into Houston's Museum of Natural Science. I imagine the basement stuff was shot elsewhere, but there is a good chunk lensed inside the museum that added a ton of production value.

The characters were pretty stock, but there were some entertaining flourishes like the security guard who belted out Puccini at length - he actually takes a bow post credits - while doing his rounds. I also have to mention the villain Mike (Red Mitchell) who was so cartoonish that I'm surprised they didn't give him a mustache to twirl. I think I must have muttered “who does that?” several times while he was onscreen. His story line eventually led to a completely unnecessary rape scene during which he was dispatched in a very dissatisfying way. Even his underling had a more gruesome death.


At that point, The Outing was a wash, but then director Tom Daley brought out the big guns - the Jinn itself. The creature work by Gabe Bartolos and his team not only looked great, but they also showed a lot of it. That was enough to win me over. I so had this movie pegged as one of those titles where the coverbox is the best thing about it, but colour me surprised. Sometimes wishes do come true!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Trailer Tuesdays: The Lamp

Here's one that looks like a real doozy, Tom Daley's The Lamp aka The Outing.



Monday, June 26, 2017

Japan Gonna Pump... You up!

Last Saturday for its third year in a row, The Royal Cinema hosted the What The Film Festival.


A satellite event of the Laser Blast Film Society, the WTFF caters to the eclectic and experimental. Programmer Peter Kuplowsky scowers the globe for stuff outside the mainstream and this year gave us three such examples in Shinichi Fukazawa's Bloody Muscle Body Builder In Hell, Kentucker Audley's Sylvio and Michael Reich's She's Allergic To Cats.

Due to a family engagement, I was only able to catch the first show, but what a time it was.


You may have heard this movie referred to as the Japanese Evil Dead and that is pretty accurate. However, though there were many bits and pieces that were ripped right out of Raimi's beloved splat-stick trilogy, Fukazawa did make this his own thing by mixing in traditional Asian ghost story tropes and the aforementioned bodybuilding obsession. It did take a while to get going, but once the vengeful spirit was unleashed, the balls-to-the-wall inventiveness took over.

Here's blood in your eye! (sorry, couldn't resist)

As a huge Sam Raimi fan, it was impossible for me to not find this incredibly endearing. Body Builder was as fun as it was gory with a delightful everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to practical effects. Shot mostly in confined spaces, you could tell how difficult and time consuming - much like Evil Dead - some of these sequences must have been to shoot. It's the kind of DIY filmmaking that not only entertains, but also inspires.

Writer/Director & also lead actor Shinichi Fukazawa.

It is sad to think that this movie almost did not see the light of day. It was shot in 1995, but not fully put together for another fifteen years. It was then only available underground on DVD-R until UK company TerraCotta finally did an official release this year. I feel the world of splatter cinema is now a little redder for it.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

DKTM 345


Hey all! I've been enjoying the Double XP weekend of the Friday the 13th game - in between their overworked server crashes that is. Playing until 4am has caused me the first non-alcoholic hangover I've had in a while. Are you sick of the NES Jason skin yet? I, for one, can't get enough of his chip-tune serenades. But enough about my extracurriculars...

Two Sentence Adaptations.

Stage 13 has had the fantastic inclination to start a web series adapting Two Sentence Horror Stories. Since the TSHS sensation started several years ago, there have been many visualizations posted online - I even made one myself - but this is the first time there has been an organized attempt to produce them. This clip below is from “Guilt Trip” and it premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival earlier this week.



Return to Tall Oaks.

A couple of years ago, a tiny company called Bright Light successfully Kickstarted their movie villain board game Mixtape Massacre. Now, they have a new campaign for their expansion entitled Black Masque.



I've played mixtape Massacre and it is super fun. I like the flipped mechanic of playing as a killer and it's also a bit more accessible than the similarly themed Camp Grizzly - though I adore that game too. To contribute to the campaign (which has already reached its goal in less than a week) click here.

A Precarious Position.

One of my favourite short films from last year has just made its way onto Vimeo. Tim Egan's Curve brings forth an immediate intensity with almost nothing more than sound and performance. Hold onto your seat...



Friday, June 23, 2017

Getting Reel!

I had intended this to be a VHS Fridays post, but the movie I randomly picked off my shelf - Lewis J. Force's Night After Night After Night - was such an unbearable bore I had to abort.

In its place, I decided to post that A-Pix trailer reel I mentioned a few weeks back. It's got some real doozies from the nineties including, coincidentally enough, Jeff Obrow's take on The Mummy starring Lou Gossett  Jr. Enjoy!



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Trailer Tuesdays: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

Arrow Films' new limited edition release of Dario Argento's 1970 debut The Bird with the Crystal Plumage comes out today. Here's the release trailer.



I adore this film. It was my introduction to the gialli and still remains one of my absolute favourites. I received this set in the mail last Friday and it is absolutely gorgeous. I entertained the thought of doing an un-boxing video, but it would never be as good as Industrial Blue's so just take a gander at his below.



I can't wait to dig into this set.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Désolé

Thanks to AMC's horror streaming service Shudder, I was able to check out Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury's 2014 effort Among The Living last week.


While screwing around in an abandoned film studio, three delinquents become the targets of a pair of psychos when they come across their latest victim.

This film had eluded me for sometime, as after it premiered at Fantasia in 2014, it seemed to disappear into the ether. Now I know why. Mon dieu, this is a frustrating movie! With a premise like this, it could have been a home run, but I found myself sighing my way through most of this thing.

Horror movies about kids in peril are my jam and that's what originally drew me to this. Imagine Tobe Hooper's Funhouse if the bratty kid didn't fuck off home halfway through the film. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, the writers forgot that you also have to not make them complete jerks. I didn't give a shit about these brats. I'm all for truancy, but not so much the arson and golden showers. Maybe the latter is a French thing I don't know.

Les enfants Victor (Théo Fernandez), Dan (Damien Ferdel) & Tom (Zacharie Chasseriaud)

However, the frustrating part was just the parade of bad decisions made by the characters. Even by horror movie standards, there was a staggering amount. One of the kids, who up to this point has shown no positive qualities whatsoever, decides to charge in and save the girl instead of easily running away to find help. It's just lazy writing and it happens often. 2011's Livid, Bustillo & Maury's previous work, was nonsensical, but at least it took place in a house that limited the characters' options. Livid also had its moments, whereas even Among The Living's best bits didn't feel particularly fresh. The clown sequence wasn't even new when Amusement did it almost ten years ago.

Apart from all this, it's like Bustillo & Maury are going soft. Almost half of the violence happens offscreen and due to all the plot inconsistencies, it's really hard to care by the time you hit the third act. I mean, it's not all bad. The score by Raphaël Gesqua was rather unusual, some of the set designs were on par with that of Livid and it was nice to see – albeit briefly – Chloé Coulloud and Béatrice Dalle again. Although I now feel like when they use Dalle, it's less a fun cameo, as it is them saying 'hey guys, remember when we were good?'


When I saw Livid at TIFF, I remember thinking, good for them for not being like some of their other countrymen and diving into the first Hollywood picture they were offered. They eventually made that leap with the upcoming Leatherface movie and I can't help but feel like, at this point, it may be the best thing for them. I'll guess we'll see.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

DKTM 344


Hey all. I'm still digesting the tasty BBQ I ate yesterday, but for now here's some tasty horror morsels.

The Rats.

I missed this one when I did my E3 post, but holy crap do I need A Plague Tale: Innocence in my life.



As you may remember, killer rat movies are among my favourite subgenres in horror, so a gaming version of that makes my whiskers tingle. No release date yet, but 2018 is a good bet. What a stacked year for horror gaming that is going to be!

Fantasia 2017.


Fantasia announced its first block of titles for this year's festival this week. This Montreal-based event never disappoints with many awesome looking things on tap. Here's a peek.

First, Fantasia will be honouring the great Larry Cohen with a well deserved Lifetime Achievement Award. This will be celebrated with 35mm presentations of Q: The Winged Serpent, It's Alive, God Told Me To. As for new films, I'll be hoping to check these out.


Stefan Ruzowitzky returns with an action-horror hybrid Cold Hell about a taxi driver (Violetta Schurawlow) targeted by a serial killer. I was a fan of Anatomy back in the day, so I'm stoked for this.


Game of Death is a project I've been tracking since it hit SXSW earlier this year. Originally conceived as a web-series, this premise of a kill-or-be-killed board game is so delicious, I cannot resist it.

After some good buzz at Sundance, I am looking forward to seeing Damien Power's Killing Ground. Outback horror has always been one of the most intense out there, so here's hoping this delivers.


Joe Lynch's Mayhem will be playing this year, so I'll finally be able to see how it stacks up against the similarly themed The Belko Experiment. It will likely not be as polished, but I do expect it will be more f*cked up.


Replace is one of the more provokative of the announced titles. Co-written by Richard Stanley and featuring Barbara Crampton, this movie tells of a woman who replace her skin with that of other women's. This has some serious gross-out body potential!

Genre darlings Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson are back with their newest venture The Endless. I'm not going to tell you what its about because like their previous works, it is best to just go in and let things happen.


Lastly, what would Fantasia be without Japanese splatter. Yoshihiro Nishimura returns with a sequel to the 2005 flick, Kodoku Meatball Machine. You can be sure the walls of the Hall Concordia will be stained when this one plays.

My Air bnb is booked, my train ticket is purchased, all I need now is for July to get here! Fantasia runs July 13th to August 2nd.

What You Can't Hear...

Lastly, I wanted to post a short film I saw last year at Fantasia. Here's director Rob Savage's take on a tried-and-true genre. Enjoy!