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, October 31, 2017

The World's Angriest Halloween...

Hello everyone! It's Halloween-time again! I've known what I was going to creep around as this year for quite sometime, ever since seeing the FX show Legion earlier this year. Meet my rendition of The World's Angriest Boy In the World!

The awesomeness of Legion was a big surprise to me, as I was expecting a decent superhero show and got a psychological horror with a troubled mutant protagonist (Dan Stevens) whose powers sometimes manifest themselves externally - including the subject above from perhaps the most inappropriate kids' book ever written. I have no doubt that the critical acclaim of Legion - and the success of It - are the reason that the recent New Mutants trailer was edited as it was. I cannot wait for Season 2. In the meantime, may all your candies be sweet... 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

DKTM 355

Hey guys! I've extricated myself from watching the second stanza of Stranger Things long enough to regale you with some recent goings on around the Web. Today, I will be undergoing some legendary suffering, but more on that next week. For now, enjoy your Sunday!

Bite-Sized Awesome.

I've been watching hundreds of short films over the last few months for different fests, so it's a little funny that one of the best this year has come from an outside source. Fox and Mars got together to broadcast some two-minute horror shorts over the last week or so. They were all decent, but the one brought to us by Skittles was far and away the best.

That's some “next level” storytelling right there. Kudos to filmmakers Simon Allen & Toby Meakins for pulling that one off. To check out the M&M's, Starburst and Snickers shorts, click here.

Ride Along.

Local filmmaker Mikey McMurran burst onto the scene a few years ago with his irreverent Xmas horror, Secret Santa. Now, he's currently crowdfunding for his newest project, the comedy horror anthology The Final Ride. Here's the pitch below.

I think that vintage workout video featuring Ry Barrett may be worth the price of admission alone. To contribute to the campaign, click here.

Neon & Palm Trees.

I found this awesome retrofier app online this week. Check it out!

To make your own, go here!

Friday, October 27, 2017

VHS Artwork Is F*cked Up!

I realize it has been a while since I've done a VHS Friday, but it's been crazy around here lately, even by October's standards. I hope to bring back this feature with a vengeance once things slow down in December - even November has Horror-Rama, Ithaca & BITS!

In the meantime, I wanted to pass along this video posted by YouTuber Entertain the Elk a few days ago about VHS coverbox art.

This is not only a great little marketing lesson, but it bangs the same drum I have been all these years about convenience vs. experience. I really love the amount of footage taken inside actual video stores as well. There are lots of people who have impressive VHS collections, but there are fewer who have video evidence of what these stores looked like back in the day.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Shorts After Dark 2017

This year, Toronto After Dark continued its tradition of showcasing short films from Canada and around the world. This was shorts programmer Shannon Hanmer's inaugural year (as former programmer Peter Kuplowsky has since moved onto curating TIFF's Midnight Madness) and she brought her A game. Here were some of my faves from this year.

The homegrown crop was especially strong this year. Toronto dynamo Justin Harding continued his streak of excellence with his newest short, Latched. In terms of production value, this short is a huge step-up and I think it's now only a matter of time before Harding wows us with a feature.

Stephane Lapointe's No Wave was the just the kind of stuff to which I respond. It was simple, dialogue driven and took something innocuous (in this case, those relaxation audio stations) and turned it into something sinister.

Shorts that played with standard genre conventions that I dug were Stephen Sawchuck's Fwd and Trevor Mirosh's The Freeze. Props to lead actress Abby Ross for channeling Katie Holmes from Disturbing Behavior in the latter.

On the science-fiction side of things, we had Phillip McKie's wonderfully colourful cyberpunk world of Breaker.

With Kuplowsky's exit, I was glad to see that Hanmer still kept some absurdity in the programme with Alecks Vujosevic's Schwartzy. Kept alive by an uncomfortably twitchy performance from star Keenan Marr Tamblyn, this short had a laugh-out loud conclusion.

Moving onto international wares, I was happy to see my favourite title from Fantasia, Natalie Erika James' Creswick, get in front of some Toronto eyeballs, as well as Todd Spence & Zak White's Your Date Is Here (which also screened at Fright Night Theatre earlier this year).

I loved the creepy intensity of James Bowsher's Withheld. It really mined the ever-growing concern we have about how vulnerable technology can make us. Adrian Selkowitz's Taste was a real standout, as well. After seeing it a few times now, I not only appreciate how good it looks, but also how well it's put together.

Lastly, I wanted to mention Jon Rhoads' Buzzcut. It likely cost the least out of all of these shorts I mentioned, but there was a raw energy that really won me over.

That's a wrap on another Toronto After Dark. The next one will be spooooky number 13 and you can be damn sure I will be there!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Deadly Eyes Turns 35!

Thirty-five years ago today, Deadly Eyes, Robert Clouse's adaptation of James Herbert's classic novel The Rats, was released in Canada.

To celebrate this milestone I wanted to showcase one of the places used in the movie. Having been shot in Toronto, Deadly Eyes uses countless recognizable locations, but one of the more striking is The Regent Theatre (formerly The Crest) in Davisville. This theatre was home to the climactic scene where the giant rats chowed down on some unsuspecting moviegoers taking in a Bruce Lee marathon. It took me a long time to track down which theatre was used, but thanks to some exhaustive research and the help of star Lesleh Donaldson pointing me in the right direction I was finally able to find it.

The Regent 2017

It then took me a while to get out there, but thankfully Scarlett Sahota's anime screening series gave me ample reason to make the trek. The Regent has undergone some renovation over the last few decades, but some attributes are still the same. The front facade still sports the “M” shaped marquee, but the stained glass windows that Donaldson's character crashed through in the film have since been replaced.

The Crest 1982

Walking into a place you have seen onscreen is always surreal. I talked with the employees to gain access to the balcony and none of them were even aware their workplace was once crawling with Dachshunds dressed as rats. The box office and concessions are still in the same spot and two archways have been added just inside the entrance to the house.

Deadly Eyes co-stars Lisa Langlois (left) & Lesleh Donaldson.

The main thing that still remains the same are the railings on the staircases leading up the balcony where Lisa Langlois met her unfortunate end in the movie.

The balcony is where all the rat action happened and save for some reupholstering it still looks pretty much the same.

This area right below in the foreground is where I suspect Langois and Joseph Kelly were sitting during their make-out scene.

The Regent is a much larger theatre than I was expecting, and to be honest one of the nicest movie houses in the city. Having been around since 1927, after stretches of inactivity and a run as a playhouse, it has now become a Davisville icon and community hub. 

Even though the guys at Trash Palace have screened Deadly Eyes numerous times on 16mm, my dream is to someday see the Canadian classic unspool at The Regent.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Happy VSD!

Go out and support your local retailer! Physical media 4EVA!

Endless Possibilities.

On Thursday, Toronto After Dark screened Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson’s newest film, The Endless.

Two brothers (Directors Moorhead & Benson) return to the commune of a mysterious cult they left several years before.

I was very much looking forward to this movie because frankly, these two make great films. During their intro, Moorhead & Benson explained that they had many offers after the successful festival run of their sophomore effort Spring, but they ultimately decided to go back to their roots after those all stalled. While it's true that decision meant smaller budgets, it also provided the fair trade of more control. And believe you me, they'd need it for a project like The Endless.

I don’t want to say too much about the movie itself because – like their debut Resolution – it is best to just let it happen, but these two movies do heavily tie into each other. The Endless shared a similar format as its predecessor, in that the entry point was something fairly standard and then went completely sideways from there. I really dug this. Moorhead & Benson vastly expanded the universe that we only glimpsed a tiny piece of in Resolution to the point that it was like getting two films in one.

Justin Benson (left) & Aaron Moorhead in The Endless.

Moorhead & Benson say they have a concise mythology written for these films and I believe that, as their movies do reveal more with each subsequent viewing. Stepping into the lead roles themselves, the directors seem to have even more focus toward their unique vision.

I liken The Endless to David Lynch's Fire Walk With Me. Not in subject matter of course, but just in how it related to what came before it. Twin Peaks, like Resolution, exists on its own – coincidentally both end in cliffhangers – but is significantly broadened in scope by the additional material. There were even thematic similarities between the fates of their characters and Lynch’s pre-Return Dale Cooper. I also adored that the communication through vintage media was carried over from the previous film, as well.

I am really glad that Moorhead & Benson are not only making films, but also dedicated to producing original content that smashes the norm. Even more admirable is that they had the opportunity to sell out and decided not to make movies by committee. I have a tremendous amount of respect for these guys and can’t wait to see where they go from here.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Let's Kill All the Lawyers.

On Tuesday, Toronto After Dark screened Joe Lynch’s Mayhem, a title to which I had been looking forward for quite some time.

When a virus that causes people's inhibitions to recede infects an office building, the white collar workers inside must wait out the quarantine while the effects subside.

Mayhem was crazy amounts of fun and Joe Lynch through and through. This was a perfect example of the solid genre content that him and his unofficial collective (including the likes of Adam Green & Paul Solet) have been making for over a decade now. Lynch has an energetic quality that permeates his work, but he also doesn't take himself too seriously. This film in particular was very polished and with having been shot in Serbia using pretty much one location, I'd wager that it cost much less than it looked like it did.

I should address the inevitable comparison to Greg McLean’s The Belko Experiment. The setup of both movies was similar, but the driving force behind both efforts was not. In Belko, the characters actions are based on survival, whereas Mayhem it was revenge, or depending on how you look at it perhaps even justice. Lynch's movie was definitely the more fun of the two, as clearly his main goal was to entertain by playing on the hot button issue of the downtrodden rising up against corporate oppressors.

Samara Weaving & Steven Yuen in Mayhem.

I do maintain that Belko was a much more edgy and mean spirited effort, but also not without humour. However, anyone who has seen James Gunn's previous indie work (namely Super) knows that his comedy is of a jet black nature.

Mayhem's construct allowed for more camaraderie between the two leads Steven Yuen and Samara Weaving and they made a fantastic pair. Her career is exploding and Yuen is doing very well after his exit from The Walking Dead. The movie's plot device was a little hard to nail down at times, as it appeared to be a rage virus like the one in 28 Days Later, but nowhere near as powerful or consistent. It was almost as if the actual violence perpetrated by the infected was a choice rather than a condition. It's a delicious concept, but never fully explored in my opinion. No matter, it didn't take anything away from the movie for me.

Mayhem was a super entertaining and slick horror comedy featuring a lot of great actors letting loose and having fun with the material.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Making the Impossible Possible.

Next up on the Toronto After Dark docket was a movie to which I was much looking forward in Justin Decloux’s Impossible Horror.

Two strangers named Lily & Hannah (Haley Walker & Creedance Wright) team up to investigate an unexplained phenomena taking place in their neighbourhood.

So full disclosure. I’ve known the people behind this movie for years and I contributed to the Indiegogo campaign, but bias aside Impossible Horror was a really fun watch and a special treat to see friends and locations with which I was so familiar on the big screen.

Decloux is a ravenous cinephile and it shows, as this movie was rife with influence, the bulk of which coming by way of the Asian horror movement, most notably Kyoshi Kurasawa, Takashi Miike and Shinya Tsukamoto. Yet even though he used many iconic moments in cinema as jumping off points, Decloux always seemed to land somewhere far from expectation.

Haley Walker (left) & Creedance Wright in Impossible Horror.

During his intro, Decloux confessed that he had always wanted to make a Lovecraft movie, but of course having no money meant there would have to be a distressing lack of monstrosity. To cleverly subvert this, he came up with the scream hunting angle and went from there. The resulting mystery and the energy with which it was portrayed were the real strengths of Impossible Horror.

To compensate for the low budget production values, Impossible Horror had some great sound design and the score was legit fantastic. Emily Milling wore many hats on the project, but this was her best contribution. On many occasions, I found myself being aware of how bangin' it was. I'd stack it up against some of the best soundtracks in recent memory.

After watching this, and his previous film Teddy Bomb, I've keyed into something unique about Decloux's style. His characters speak in a particular and calculated cadence that is very distinct. That requires a level of discipline that very few filmmakers possess. He is also very good at juggling genres, as in addition to J-Horror and Lovecraft, he also managed smatterings of kung-fu, buddy comedy, surrealism and, perhaps most resonant of all, a movie about making movies. I'm reminded of a scene in an alleyway where Lily walked by a random pile of tapping screws and used condoms. It's a bizarre combination that immediately makes you wonder how it came to be.

Director Justin Decloux (left) with cast & crew of Impossible Horror.

Decloux (and his equally talented co-writer/co-producer Nate Wilson) have continually showcased they can impress with micro-budgets, so imagine the horrors they will unleash if (when) they get some serious money behind them.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


So now all of the hoopla over the premiere is behind me I can concentrate on some of the titles that have been screening at Toronto After Dark. I've decided that I'm going to focus on the indies of the fest this year. First up is Aussie Luke Shanahan's Rabbit.

Maude (Adelaide Clemens) returns to her childhood home in South Australia when she starts having visions about her missing identical twin, Cleo.

Rabbit had a very slow and measured pace so I don't know if it will appeal to everyone, but I liked it well enough. I dug that what appeared to be a backwoods horror tale actually opened up into something more captivating about halfway through. Shanahan's script inhabited a much more philosophical space that, despite perhaps not answering all the questions it posed, certainly elevated the material.

Adelaide Clemens as Maude in Rabbit.

Aesthetically, I liked everything about the film. The dark and blanketing score by Michael Darren had me right into it from the get-go and the locations and cinematography were both top notch. Shanahan definitely had a clear vision (right down to the colour palette) of what he wanted and it showed.

Having said that, the bulk of the reason this movie worked at all was its star Adelaide Clemens. Not only was she playing dual roles, but they also required a wide range of emotion. She kept me invested throughout, even during the stretches where I wasn't sure Shanahan was leading me. In addition to Clemens, the film was populated with a lot of wonderful and strange players with a lot of character to spare.

Rabbit was an intriguing tale, spearheaded by solid performance and presentation.

Monday, October 16, 2017

TGS Premiere.

It was a fabulous weekend. The Good Samaritan, the short film that I wrote and produced for my longtime collaborator Darrin Suzuki screened at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival last Saturday.

Director Darrin Suzuki, actress Storm Steenson & I with programmer Peter Kuplowsky (left)

We were extremely fortunate to play to a packed house at the Scotiabank Theatre, due to us having been paired with the highly anticipated Korean action flick The Villainess. Our short seemed to go over well - nobody booed which is always a plus - and Darrin & I came away feeling pretty chuffed about it.

Clowning around with Taddy!

Now, onto the next!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Best Friday!

It's Friday the 13th yo! And an October one at that!

There are tons of things going on this evening, including screenings of not one, not two, but three various installments of Friday the 13th. I am of course partial to Drunken Cinema's event for Part VII.

But whatever you do this evening, have a great Goddamn time!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

After Dark 2017

Toronto After Dark unleashes its horrifying wares upon Toronto this evening. Among them is Saturday's premiere of my newest short made in collaboration with my good friend Darrin Suzuki.

Come on out and say hi if you are able. As for things here, aside from a brief look-in tomorrow for obvious reasons, I'll be swept up in the festivities all weekend so you likely won't hear from me for a bit. Until then, stay safe kiddies.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Trailer Tuesdays: Deathtrap

With Gerald's Game still on my brain, I was looking for horrors that took place in largely one location for this week's trailer tie-in and came across Ira Levin's Deathtrap from 1982.

You know, based on my childhood exposures of the coverbox, I always assumed this movie was a lot less comedic in tone. And when you consider Levin's other big contributions to horror, it seems downright odd.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Deadly Games.

Soon after the film adaptation of Stephen King's infamous novel Gerald's Game dropped on Netflix, I eagerly queued it up.

A romantic getaway turns deadly when Jessie (Carlo Gugino) is left handcuffed to her bed when her husband dies (Bruce Greenwood) during some kinky role play.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well Gerald's Game turned out. Director Mike Flanagan's interpretation was excellent and I would go so far as to say that it's one of the purest King adaptations out there. It's been donkey's years since I've read the book, but from what I recall everything was left intact, yet nicely condensed to fit a one-hundred minute running time. He even kept in the references to King's other works like Dolores Claiborne and the pervasive Dark Tower in addition to some throwaway lines about Cujo and Bag of Bones that made me chuckle. Though with all these connections, I was puzzled why they relocated the story from Maine to Louisiana.

Most impressive was how effortlessly Flanagan put this onscreen when you take into account that this book was long considered unfilmable. How can film a movie where the main character is nude throughout the whole thing? And more challenging, how can you film a movie where she spends most of it in her own head? Well, the solutions to both were actually pretty simple, it just took a talented problem solver like Flanagan to figure them out. First, don't have her be naked and second, externalize her inner voices into physical form. I thought this worked really well and felt much more organic than the device used in last year's 11/22/63. In that one, the filmmakers expanded a bit player for the protagonist to play off, but by doing so increasingly veered from the subject matter. In Gerald's Game, these tangible manifestations fully visualized the core of the piece.

Carla Gugino as Jessie in Gerald's Game.

Additionally, I really appreciated that there were no important compromises made. Jessie's revelation halfway through the movie was just as uncomfortable to watch as it was to read and though the epilogue may have been creepier on the page, it still needed to be there. I was also taken aback by the cringe-worthy gore at the climax. It really went from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds.

Flanagan aside, I really have to commend Carlo Gugino. I praised the perfect casting when I heard she was attached, but she really delivered here. Both her & Bruce Greenwood were fantastic and brought the characters to life. It had been a while since I'd seen Henry Thomas too – and to be honest I wish it was under less sleazy circumstances. Gerald's Game was really top notch from A to Z.

I think Flanagan has cemented himself as the premiere genre director working today. He has a string of strong indies and has now proved that he can kill it with other people's material. Shit, I might even have to check out his next Netflix project, a miniseries based on The Haunting of Hill House, also starring Gugino (Theodora?!) How can I not at this point?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

DKTM 354

Hello all. I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving Day weekend (for those us in Canada anyway). This weekend represents the calm before the storm, as my October gets into high gear next week. In the meantime, here are some trailers for things I am very much looking forward to in the coming weeks/months.

The Return of the Creep.

Recently, the trailer for Mark Duplass' follow-up to his found footage gem Creep has come online.

I'm all over this. I loved the understated tension created in the first film. It affected me so much that I actually dressed as Peach Fuzz for Halloween a few years ago. Creep 2 releases on VOD October 24th.

Oh I Like It!

It was a good day when Severin announced they were released (for the first time on DVD) the whacked-out Canuxploitation opus Beyond The Seventh Door. I mean, look at this bonkers trailer.

The amount of time it took me to pre-order this movie after seeing that was infinitesimal and just another reason to look forward to October 31st. You too can order it here.

Netflix Dark.

Coming in December to the Big N is Dark, a German produced sci-fi mystery series.

Described as a cross between Stranger Things and Les Revenants, I was unable to attend the sneak they had at TIFF last month so I am elated that this is getting released here so soon. Dark releases globally on December 1st.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Paperback Memories.

As an addendum to yesterday's post about Grady Hendrix's fabulous new book Paperbacks From Hell, I wanted to go into more detail about why this subject struck such a wonderfully nostalgic cord with me. While it is true I grew up during the head of the VHS boom, I was exposed to covers like the ones in Paperbacks From Hell before I ever stepped foot into a video store. Perhaps they conditioned me for what was to come.

In one of my first Archives posts, I spoke of George Fox's novel Amok and how it stared at me from my father's bookshelf and later the crawlspace of my family home. But there were others. The bizarre cover of John Coyne's The Legacy may be the most resonant image of my early childhood.

While travelling through the cramped aisles of said crawlspace I was always greeted by two other grizzly titles, Michael McDowell's Gilded Needles & Peter Tonkin's Killer.

I do not how this copy of Frank De Felitta's The Entity came into my possession, I can only recall that I had seen the movie version before I knew it was originally a novel.

I didn't start reading actual long-form books until I was in my early teens and the first one was the original release of Stephen King's The Stand. I know right? Go big or go home I suppose. I remember that was after I had already my appetite whet by Night Shift which was given to me at the beginning of an eighteen-hour road trip to Myrtle Beach.

Soon after King came James Herbert. His books were macabre, full of carnage and always, always delivered.

I spent a year working in a book store and passed a good chunk of my shifts reading YA stories from the likes of R.L Stine & Christopher Pike. My favourites were Chain Letter

and The Stepsister. I always wondered why no one ever made a PG-13 horror out of that one.

During my book store tenure, we had a chuckle when it was discovered that one of the lawyers behind the pseudonym of horror writer Michael Slade shared my name.

The first used book (fiction at least) that I ever ordered online was Robert Silverberg's The Book of Skulls

I also own several copies of The Silence of the Lambs in paperback, but this one with its die-cut cover is my favourite.

I still may not read as much fiction as I should - comics and books about film tend to dominate my reading material - but that's not to say I don't have a sizable “to read” pile going. It is a stack that is surely set to get a little higher after reading Paperbacks From Hell I can assure you.