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.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Bloody Short Cuts 2017

The Blood in the Snow Film Festival continued its tradition of showcasing Canadian short filmmakers last weekend, screening almost two-dozen works from coast to coast. Here were some that stood out to me.

Apart from some familiar works from Shock Stock earlier this year, like Carlos Henriques' Human Cattle and Chris Giroux's Scraps, as well as Greg Kovacs' Fun (which I programmed at Saskatoon earlier this month) I was seeing a lot of these for the first time.

Carl Tremblay's Quebecois short The Wolf was really good looking piece of work. Home invasion stories are decidedly becoming a little long in the tooth, but I did like how this one handled the material.

Michael Peterson's Consume was a stark and unwavering tale rooted in actual events in Canadian history. Combining the ugly reality of the residential school system with the legend of the Wendigo, this short paints an ugly portrait that won't soon be forgotten.

On the science fiction side of things, I really enjoyed Daelan Wood's Timebox. A delightful cross between Primer and the The Most Dangerous Game, this was one of those rare occasions where I hoped there might one day be a feature version of this made.

Kalen Artinian's Destruction Makes The World Burn Brighter was another strong showing. While I think some of the subtext went over my head, there's no question he has a commanding grasp of composition and visual storytelling. I was also glad to see he utilized those Mad Max-style landscapes that I see every time I drive out to Hamilton. Frankly, I don't know why those aren't in every horror movie.

It did not surprise me in the least that Best Short honours went to Gigi Saul Guerrero's Bestia. She's been tearing up the festival circuit for a while now and this latest piece is her most striking yet. Having moved from her previous dark and grimy interiors into the British Columbian wilderness, the scope has increased, but her signature grit and texture are still as present as ever. At this point, her jump to feature filmmaking has to be imminent.

So that's it for this year. I have to hand out mad props to Kelly Micheal Stewart and his crew for putting together a really solid year. It may honestly be the strongest yet, which becomes even more impressive when you consider that Toronto After Dark scooped almost double the amount of CanCon they usually do (five titles) earlier this year. I guess the resulting winning line-up is a testament to just how much great genre content The Great White North is pumping out now.

And with that, festival season is finally over. I can relax for a few weeks before I have to start screening shorts for Hexploitation Film Fest in March. But before then there's Little Terrors in January. And the Black Museum debate in a few weeks. And the Paperbacks From Hell show tonight.

It never ends, does it?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Bless The Child

On Saturday, Blood in the Snow screened two creepy kid flicks, the first of which being Jennifer Phillips' debut effort, Blood Child.

After suffering a miscarriage in Singapore, Ashley (Alyx Melone) with the help of her maid Siti (Cynthia Lee MacQuarrie) make a pact with a witch doctor to bring forth a “ghost child”. But as time goes by, it becomes increasingly difficult to control, especially when Ashley becomes pregnant again.

I am hoping that Phillips is the beginning of a new cycle of bringing lesser known South East Asian folklore to the West (much like up-and-comer Larica Pereira did with her short film Tik-Tik last year). I found the whole concept of the ghost child fascinating, especially when Phillips explained at the Q&A that this is an actual practice in Singapore. When not filtered through the lens of a studio (like say last year's The Forest), delving into these customs comes off as a lot more sincere.

Alyx Melone as Ashley in Blood Child.

Blood Child was definitely at its strongest when it was dwelling on its lore. It was when Phillips fell back on generic horror conventions – and the usual trappings and logic gaps that plague these kind of supernatural thrillers – that it was less interesting to me. I liked it well enough though, even if it did end rather abruptly in a manner I wasn't crazy about.

Something I found unique was the pairing of the housewife and the maid. In most horror films, the maid would be played as an antagonist, but this duo were intrinsically linked by the pact they had made. Cynthia Lee MacQuarrie accomplished a lot with very little dialogue beyond “yes ma'am” and I spent most of the film trying to place why the lead Alyx Melone seemed so familiar. It finally dawned on me that she possessed both the looks of fellow Canuck Tristan Risk and the mannerisms of Heather Lankenkamp. Everyone else in the film just seemed to be circling in an ineffectual orbit around these two the whole film.

Cast & crew of Blood Child. Photo courtesy of Joe MK.

I think the core of Blood Child, built around its compelling folk tale and two strong leads, was solid, even if some of the interstitials fell flat at times. I'm all for the effort though. We need an infusion of new things that go bump in the night beyond the usual revolving door of CGI apparitions, flesh eaters and dudes in animal masks.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Blurring The Line.

Next up on the Blood in the Snow docket was Rob Grant's documentary Fake Blood.

An attempt to make a documentary about whether cinematic violence inspires the same in real-life pulls two filmmakers (Grant & Mike Kovac) into some very dark places.

Fake Blood was a very clever documentary. It was not only a piece about violence in film, but also the nature of filmmaking itself in that often you set out to make one thing and it, seemingly on its own, morphs into something else entirely. This was a perfect example of people chasing a story and falling down a rabbit hole into imminent danger. I found it very difficult to discern – without any context – how much of this documentary was fact, and what was fiction. I mean, I know it must have been, as there are three credited writers on the project, but it was so well crafted.

As storytellers, Grant and Kovac do a commendable job of setting the stage, using a weird fan video they received about the correct way to dismember a body (in response to seeing it done in Grant's previous film Mon Ami) as a jumping off point for their exploration into their responsibility as filmmakers when dealing with violent material. This was all very natural with nothing showy about it.

Later on in the film when they encountered a, let's say shady, individual, the ensuing dramatizations were consistent with every true crime show you've ever watched. Just when I had been sucked in by them, Grant, in a stroke of genius, pulled back the curtain to remind you that you were watching a recreation of a recreation. My brain was constantly trying to access how much of this was real and that's the mark of a good film.

Director Rob Grant with John Doe.

Fake Blood was definitely the most realistic doc I've seen in on this topic since J.T. Petty's 2006 faux-snuff doc S&Man. Unfortunately with Grant's film, I didn't get the luxury of having Petty point out his on-screen antagonist in the front-row after the screening. Until someone tells me definitively and I can breathe the sigh of “well of course that wasn't real”, this doc will be clanking around in my head for sometime.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Red & White

This year's Blood in the Snow Festival kicked off last week with the world premiere of Jeff Sinasac's Red Spring.

In a world overrun by vampires, a group of human survivors forage for supplies by day and stay on the run at night.

I was really stoked for this, as I know Jeff and his producing partner/wife Tonya Dodds very well. They've acted in several projects of mine and I know Red Spring has been a passion project of theirs for years. This movie has had a long history, starting with his script that was a optioned a few times and even almost produced with modest budgets and A-listers over the last ten years. When all that fell through, Jeff & Tonya just committed to making it themselves.

I have to say I was pretty impressed with what they achieved on such a tiny budget. Red Spring was a really ambitious project, not just by design, but also in scope. Filmmakers have made post-apocalyptic tales on a shoestring before, but most have been content to just have them be morose, insular affairs that take place in one location. Sinasac reaches higher by employing many locales with several action set pieces.

Using Richard Matheson's I Am Legend as a jumping off point, Sinasac quickly builds his universe by having his survivors flee Toronto via an abandoned Gardiner Expressway. Starring Sinasac himself, he also mined several great talents from within the local web series scene, including Elysia White and Lindsey Middleton, as well as genre up-and-comer Adam Cronheim (who previously tread similar terrortity in Jeremy Gardner's 2012 festival darling The Battery).

Rather than going for a stylistic tone to gloss over their meager budget, Red Spring takes a more grounded approach. The character's know they are living on borrowed time, but that doesn't stop them from fighting all the same. And the world may have ended, but that doesn't mean you can't still crack a corny joke once and a while – including one random reference to a Maple Leaf Foods ad from like forever ago.

Maybe the most jaw dropping piece of trivia was that Red Spring boasts over four-hundred visual effects shots. The first act has a few that aren't so hot, but there are also some subtle and understated ones that I didn't even notice. I should mention that in addition to being actor/writer/director/producer/editor, Sinasac also did every single one of those effects shots himself over the course of a year-and-a-half. That's one dude! What's your excuse Justice League?

Cast & crew of Red Spring.

Red Spring concluded in true Dawn of the Dead fashion, which means that there are definitely more stories to be told within this universe. And I'd watch them. I just hope it doesn't take another ten years for them to see the light of day.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Turkey & BITS

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends south of the border. We may have celebrated Turkey Day last month, but we Torontonians at least have the Blood in the Snow Festival all this weekend, starting tonight with Jeff Sinasac's Red Spring.

That's where I'll be for the next few days, but you can be sure I'll be back next week with a full report. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


No sooner had I recovered from Laser Blast's Hellraiser marathon, my friend Serena hosted a similar event for the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. Eight movies in fifteen hours. That's a lot of one-liners, folks!

I grew up with Freddy Krueger, and though I really responded to him then, I've found as I've gotten older I have lost touch with the films. I often re-watch entries of the Friday the 13th and Halloween (the first three anyway) series, but it's been decades since I've seen the middle chunk of the Nightmare series.

Serena put her own flourishes on the event, with fifteen minutes of old Freddy videos, promos and other parodies in between each feature. We even watched the origin story episode of Freddy's Nightmares, No More Mr. Nice Guy between Parts 4 & 5.

When you view all his content at once, you can really see how ingrained Freddy (brought so wonderfully to life by Robert Englund) was in the public consciousness back then. He might not have the same resonance with younger generations now, but in the late eighties/early nineties he was as ubiquitous as Santa Claus. He even had his own telephone number!

I called it yesterday for shit and giggles, but sadly it is no longer in service. Thankfully though, a kid recorded a bunch of them with his Darth Vader microphone back in the day. Can you imagine what happened when his parents got the phone bill??? 

Let's get back to the task at hand though. We kicked things off at eleven a.m with Wes Craven's 1984 classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street

It still remains my favourite. Craven envisioned a film with a killer concept. Freddy was a boogeyman that wasn't held back by the same constraints as his contemporaries like Jason and Michael. Everybody has to sleep eventually. I also love the dream-like quality of the film itself. It has a pace that makes it inherently watchable and Heather Langenkamp as Nancy still remains one of the greatest final girls of all time.

Heather Langenkamp in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

It was during this movie that we reached our first point of contention. Serena & I have watched this movie together a few times now and every time, she can't help but bring up how terrible Ronee Blakely's acting is as Nancy's mom. I don't see it myself. I never really thought about it growing up. I guess I just figured her glazed-over expression was from years of drinking from linen closet vodka bottles. Serena tells me I'm in the minority. Maybe so. It's still my favourite.

I think rather than go in chronological order (which was how we watched them, no Kirstie tricks this time!) I'm going to rank them from my best to worst. Which leads me to-- (cue Dokken)

Nightmare 3: Dream Warrrr-i-orrrs! I think it's safe to say this is the movie launched that Freddy into the pop culture stratosphere. The first sequel hadn't been as well received, so this one was considered to be a return to form. It had a great hook with teenagers who were ready to fight and benefitted from some great direction by Chuck Russell, who followed this up with one of the best horror remakes of all time, The Blob

With the three-pronged awesomeness of Screaming Mad George's effects, Angelo Badalementi's score and the tandem of Patricia Arquette as Kristen, along with the returning Langenkamp, this movie delivers in every way. Oh, they finally bent to peer pressure and put some honest-to-goodness boobies onscreen, as well.

Right under Dream Warriors for me, is the follow-up Nightmare 4: The Dream Master.

It had been a long time since I'd seen this, but it really held up for me. This one was the first Nightmare movie I was able to see in theatres, so it holds a special resonance with me. A lot of people (including some in attendance) don't like the fact that the survivors of the previous movie are killed off – a possible response to Arquette's absence – but surprisingly I'm okay with it. It might have something do with the fact that the Dream Master's roster of teens were equally as likable. Alice (Lisa Wilcox) who inherits Kristen's powers, her brother Rick (Andras Jones) who deserved a better death and Debbie (Brooke Theiss) who had great taste in music were easy to root for. I may have had a small crush on Tuesday Knight (Arquette's replacement as Kirsten) as well.

Tuesday Knight in Nightmare 4: The Dream Master

But it goes deeper than the cast. I feel Part 4 was when the effects – shepherded by gore guru Kevin Yagher – hit their peak with the Crave Inn, roach motel and Freddy's death sequences. In addition to the rocking soundtrack – the best of the bunch – I thought Renny Harlin also brought a real energy to it. I think Part 3 & 4 link together as well as 1 & 3, and 1 & 7 do.

Part 4 was the most commercial of the franchise, which is likely the reason it was, at least until Freddy vs Jason came along anyway, the highest grossing one.

Moving on from the eighties for a bit, we get to the seventh movie in the franchise, Nightmare 7: New Nightmare.

This was a really interesting film that was way ahead of its time. Though it may not have as been as well received as it should've been, Craven laid the self-aware horror seeds that would germinate two years later with Scream. Watching it within twelve(!) hours of the first one, you really notice all the wonderful callbacks to the first film.

It's a great piece of work with some really cool ideas with a retooled Freddy make-up that didn't suck. I have to say that are a few characters in this series I was sad to see killed off and Julie, Nancy's nanny (Tracy Middendorf) was certainly one of them. But I guess somebody had to recreate Tina's death from the first film.

Fifth on the list is Nightmare 2: Freddy's Revenge.

Man, this movie is chock full of gay. It's been talked about at length in the exhaustive Nightmare documentary Never Sleep Again, but it still wows me that anyone could contend this wasn't intentional. Homoerotism permeates almost every frame of this movie. Sweaty dudes. The Probe board game in Jesse's (Mark Patton) closet. The rainbow sticker in a random car window. And then lines like;

Jesse: He's inside me, and he wants to take me again!

Jesse: I'm scared, Grady. Something is trying to get inside my body.
Grady: Yeah, and she's female, and she's waiting for you in the cabana. And you wanna sleep with me.

I could go on. Aside from that though, this movie was a strange way to follow up the original film. It may have not been as well received on release, but time and re-evaluation have warmed to it, much like they have to Halloween III.

I also noticed two connections to the Hellraiser series, as lead actress Kim Myers (or Meryl Streep lite as I like to call her) was also Hellraiser 4 and composer Christopher Young did scores for the sophomore efforts of both franchises. Just a little trivia for you there.

Next on the list was the last movie we watched that night, Freddy vs. Jason.

Quality-wise, this is where we start our sharp decline. This movie is largely a mess, but I can't help but marvel that this finally happened after over a decade of half-starts and discarded scripts that included everything from a Freddy cult – which actually sounds a lot like Hellraiser 7 – to Freddy being revealed as Jason's father. Freddy vs. Jason is problematic, because every good thing is counteracted by something shitty. Jason on fire at the cornfield rave is great. The previous scene where Jason ostensibly “saves” Gibb (Katherine Isabelle) from being date-raped by skewering her is... not so great.

There's also the fact that this movie features some of the worst dialogue of both franchises. Choice cuts like Lori's (Monica Keena) epiphanous;

Wait a minute! Freddy died by fire. Jason by water. How can we use that?

Or when Blake (David Kopp) lets us know he narrowly escaped death from Freddy's as yet non-corporeal glove by needlessly exclaiming;

I'm okay! I'm all right!

And let's just forget anything that comes out of Kia's (Kelly Rowland) mouth. Obviously, the biggest faux-pas is that Kane Hodder wasn't cast as Jason Voorhees. They went with Ken Kirzinger, who was a tall fucker to be sure, but just doesn't have the swagger. Also, I really didn't care for the design of Jason and the blackened glossy look of his head.

Having said all of that, the final fight between the two of them made it all the crap worthwhile. They beat the ever living shit out of each other, battling to an inevitable stalemate.

Now we move onto the legitimately bad ones with Nightmare 5: The Dream Child.

I think it had been even longer than Part 4 since I had seen this one. I remember being disappointed, but was willing to give it a chance. Fellow marathon participant Matt Therrien spent a good deal of the first four movies talking about how much he hated Part 5. He's right, it's not good, but still better than some of the entries in the Hellraiser & Halloween franchises.

I was actually on board for the first half of this movie. I still dig the Dan (Danny Hassel) and Greta (Erika Andersen) death sequences – though they were cut down in the theatrical version we watched – but yeah pretty much when Jacob (Whit Hertford) shows up, the movie takes a nose dive.

Freddy (Robert Englund) & Jacob (Whit Hertford)

The franchise had been playing fast and loose with Freddy's weaknesses, but this one just gets nonsensical. Lisa Wilcox, reprising her role as Alice, tried her best to hold things together, but the last act of this movie has already left my brain. It's evident that the franchise was running out of ideas. They should have sent Freddy to space and got ahead of the trend!

After much thought – it really was a dead heat – I have to say Nightmare 6: Freddy's Dead is my least favourite of the bunch.

An unpopular opinion, as most in attendance thought Dream Child was the biggest stink pile, but I'm not convinced. Freddy's Dead seems so apart from the rest of the series and bordering on parody. There are callbacks to the series, but they are so on-the-nose and not nearly as clever and fluid as they are in Part 7. And this Escape From New York opening was so ridiculous.

It also featured the worst sequence in any of the movies – Spencer's (Breckin Meyer) video game death scene. This shit was so fucking dumb that it literally hurt my eyes to look at it.

I spoke about that Cops vs Cenobites scene in Hellraiser 3 was what broke that franchise. Well, that “great graphics!” scene is Nightmare's equivalent. I'll take anything in Part 5 over that idiocy.

Oh, I forgot to mention. In keeping with Serena's movie night traditions, Freddy's Dead (and New Nightmare) were also drinking games with the usual personal and secret drinking rules.

Nine, Ten... Never drink again...

So yes, this is what you would call taking it up a notch. I'll tell you one thing about this movie. You'll really notice just how much Doc (Yaphet Kotto) says the word “dream” in this movie when you have take a swig every time he does so.

I will say there were two glaring positives to Freddy's Dead though. To my surprise, the Girl #2 of this entry, Tracy (Lezlie Deane) survived the movie. I was happy about that. Second, the last act – the 3D section – brought me back in. I remember seeing this back in 1991 – after my brother snuck me into the Drive-In – in all its 3D glory, so that was a nice bit of nostalgia.

So, just after the clock chimed two a.m, there remained just three dream warriors in Serena, Matty and myself. It was good to revisit some of them and in terms of overall quality, I think it beats out the Hellraiser franchise. Nightmare has more of a through line and none of the re-appropriation that befell Clive Barker's baby.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about the remake. We didn't do that one. Michael Bay can ess a dee.

I'm not sure what will be up next. I think Halloween is on tap for next October, and maybe I'll pitch the Fridays for the fourtieth anniversary. Until then, sweet dreams, kiddies.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

DKTM 357

Hello all. I'll use this opportunity between IFFF and BITS to get in a little Don't Kill the Messenger post - well that and watch eight Freddy movies but more on that later. Here's what I've got.

Stranger Pulp.

Artist Butcher Billy is at it again, this time envisioning each Stranger Things 2 episode as its own pulp paperback novel.

Click to enlarge.

He also did some sweet Atari cartridges that you can see here.

I might as well sound off on the second season while I'm on the subject. I liked it well enough, but I feel like The Duffer Brothers kind of doubled down on the less desirable aspects of the show, as they hit the “look it's the eighties” vibe even harder this time around. I get that they were often using it to mirror thematic elements - Dragon's Lair foreshadowing the Max/Lucas/Dustin love triangle for instance - but it was decidedly distracting, especially when I'd seen it done less sensationally in It this summer.

I dug the new characters Max and Kali, but never felt they weren't given as much to do as they should have been. Mainly, I just have to echo Max's statement to Lucas in episode five - something to the effect of “I liked it, but it was derivative in parts and I just wish it had a little more originality”.

Sadie Sink as "Mad" Max Mayfield.

I mean, did they think that re-staging the battle scene from Aliens (with Paul Reiser no less) was going to be met with anything but chuckles at best and eye rolls at worst? Anyway, moving on.

Vamp's Gotta Eat.

I wanted to plug a Kickstarter campaign for a local short project called TiCK.

Burke and Wessel are both local film community fixtures, so I'd like to see this succeed. Twenty-Four by Thirty-Six was a really entertaining documentary and Wessell's last short Ink had a really unique energy to it. If you feel like dropping some coin, click here.

Housesitting Woes.

Here below is the newest trailer for Gabriel Carrer's Death on Scenic Drive.

I'm looking forward to this, as not only does it feature some of my favourite people, but it looks like Carrer has gone full-Refn, something that I know he has been wanting to do for quite sometime. I believe this is set to be released in the coming months, so keep your eyes out.

Friday, November 17, 2017

IFFF Shorts 2017

In addition to its well rounded feature film programming, IFFF also showed a robust list of shorts from around the world. Consisting of two dedicated blocks and some pre-feature entertainments, over two dozen were screened over the ten-day festival. Here were some highlights.

Two titles I had seen while screening shorts for other festivals and was very happy to see on the big screen, were Philip McKie's Breaker and Robin Kaspirik's I Am The Doorway.

Filled with spectacular production design, the former was a master class in cyberpunk world building and the latter was one of the trippiest Stephen King adaptations to come down the pike in a long while.

I was pretty taken by Marica Petrey's Zoey and the Wind-up Boy. A partial adaptation of an existing live performance piece, this was a beautifully shot short that included Californian landscapes I never knew existed. It also had some musical accompaniment that was so striking that I couldn't help thinking to myself “remember to look into this soundtrack” while it unspooled. With all the ugliness in the world right now, it was refreshing to see Petrey shining some light into the universe.

I was glad to see a familiar face in Ithaca, as Ashlea Wessel was there representing Toronto with her short, Ink. Her tale about the potentially horrifying prospect of pregnancy played before my fave film of the fest, Tigers Are Not Afraid.

IFFF played several of my current faves circulating the world right now, including William Boodell's Born of SinCarlos G. Gananian's Sol, Olaf Svenson's Olga and Nicholas Santos' Holiday Fear.

One thing I really clocked into about IFFF this year was their active interest in showing films of every flavour, whether it be Jack Warner's twenty-eight minute opus, Jenny Secoma In: The Blind Spot or Kevin Farmini's Super 8 kung-fu joint, Viola vs The Vampire King.

Keep it up, guys. You are doing it right.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Here There Be Tigers.

As I stated yesterday, the programming at this year's IFFF was terrific, running the gamut of modern genre cinema. I took in some solid films last week, but Mexican director Issa López's newest effort, Tigers Are Not Afraid was the standout title.

When her mother goes missing in Mexico City, Estrella (Paola Lara) falls in with a bunch of street kids headed by Shine (Juan Ramón López) and soon find themselves on the run from the local drug cartel.

I hadn't even heard of this film before I opened up the IFFF programme and it took me completely by surprise. López's film reminded me a lot of Guillermo del Toro's ouevre (namely The Devil's Backbone & Pan's Labyrinth) in that it effortlessly combined elements of drama, crime, horror and fantasy. I was not expecting a film to pull me in emotionally as much as The Shape of Water did recently, but Tigers Are Not Afraid came pretty damn close.

I have to say that after subsequently watching the trailer, it doesn't do the film justice. It plays up the supernatural angle, when that doesn't really factor in until well into the film. Leading up to that, I felt I was watching something more akin to 2002's City of God. However, it was the whimsical flourishes, like the animated graffiti and references to fairy tales that really lulled me into a false sense of security.

Tigers Are Not Afraid was layered and almost poetic in its exhibition of the ugliness (and beauty) of life on the streets of Mexico City. López was already an accomplished writer and fairly well known in her native country, but her previous work has been fairly conventional so I'm hoping that the tremendous versatility shown here will launch her career even further.

I cannot, however, heap all the praise onto López because the entire cast of child actors were phenomenal. Considering the subject matter, it was quite remarkable López was able to find two leads in Paola Lara & Juan Ramón López that were able to so naturally pull off such demanding roles.

Paola Lara & Juan Ramón López in Tigers Are Not Afraid.

Tigers Are Not Afraid is a wonderful achievement and should be sought out immediately. This was exactly the kind of genre filmmaking that will make even the most jaded remember why they watch films in the first place. I really can't overstate how well all the bits & pieces meshed together. López has already enjoyed a long and prosperous career in the film industry, but I think she's poised to explode if she's got a few more like this in her.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ithaca IS Fantastik.

I am back and recovered from my little jaunt last week to New York for the sixth edition of the Ithaca Fantastik Film Festival. I really cannot praise this fest enough. It is a well run, well curated festival that cares about film. Hugues Barbier and his team programmed some real gems this year, ranging from current fest faves like The Endless, Tragedy Girls and My Friend Dahmer to more dynamic and challenging titles like November and The Crescent.

This is just one day's programming alone!

There is a real love of the medium at this festival. These guys don't seem concerned whether their selections are playing to one or one hundred people, they just are happy to showcase the strongest voices in genre cinema. Again, as with my experience last year, IFFF's presentation was on point with another beautifully illustrated programme book.

This year's retrospective was Italiana Psichedeliko, a look at Roma's wacky and wild genre films from the sixties & seventies that included Mario Bava's Danger: Diabolik, Corrado Farina's Baba Yaga and the new 4K resto of Dario Argento's 1977 masterpiece Suspiria.

Towards the end of the fest, IFFF also put on screenings of the new restorations of Gary Sherman's Deathline and Bob Clark's Deathdream, with Sherman and Blue Underground's Bill Lustig in attendance.

Perhaps the most unique event was the screening of Jean Cocteau's The Blood of a Poet with live music from local musician Anna Coogan. That was a real treat, as I'd never seen the film before, let alone accompanied by a haunting score.

IFFF doesn't just give festival goers great programming though, they also go out of their way to put on other fine events off-site. After Suspiria, there was a bar meet-up that included a live set by a band called MSZM and on Friday night, there was a horror trivia game that my compatriot & I absolutely crushed. We Canucks took home this sweet poster as a prize, along with bragging rights.

It was a truly amazing five days. I met a lot of new people who I'm sure I'll see again at subsequent festivals for many years to come. In amongst all the IFFF stuff, my travelling companions & I also got to walk some gorge, pay our respects to Rod Serling--

--and I even managed to snag this little treasure from a used bookstore. 

I really love this town. Ithaca is beautiful in the fall and I love its cheesy Dad-joke plays on words everywhere like the local barber shop “Ithacuts” and tourist paraphernalia marked--

Tomorrow, I'll sound off on my favourite film of the fest, followed on Thursday by a rundown of IFFF's varied short film programming. Till then, stay safe kiddies.