Well, I'm off to Saskatoon for SFFF. Stay out of trouble while I'm gone.
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Last week, the 10th edition of the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival unveiled their shorts line-up. You can check out the full slate here, but I thought I'd let you in on some of the good gets I'm especially stoked to see on the big screen.
A short I brought over from Fantasia is Joshua Giuliano's In Sound, We Live Forever. I love the unique narrative of this one and am looking forward to see how this plays with an audience.
Speaking of reactions, I'm sure there will be some audible squirming during Oskar Lehemaa's Bad Hair, which is easiest to byline by asking “what if Cronenberg had made The Peanut Butter Solution.”
Next, if there was ever a perfect short/feature pairing it is Jason Gudasz' Place with our presentation of Greener Grass. We will all be in absurdist overload by the end of this night I assure you.
I'm very proud of our shorts program (screening Thursday Nov 21st, 6pm) this year, as well. Entitled SHE, it features eight tales with a strong female presence either behind and/or in front of the camera. Some inclusions are current festival darlings Erica Scoggins' The Boogeywoman, Izzy Lee's Re-Home and Adele Vuko's The Hitchhiker.
SFFF runs from Nov 19th to 24th at Saskatoon's Broadway Theatre. Click here for festival info.
Sunday, November 17, 2019
Friday, November 15, 2019
Rue Morgue TV's latest episode of The Rewind Zone reminded me I still had a copy of James Bryan's 1981 slasher Don't Go In The Woods sitting un-watched in my stacks. Frankly, a summertime slasher sounds like a wonderful contrast to the subzero bullshit that has descended upon Ontario in the last week or so.
A maniac kills people who venture into the wood-- Do I even need to synopsize this?
Not even ten minutes in, I could tell Don't Go In The Woods was a real turkey. However, there's something intriguing in that it's not immediately apparent whether it's meant to be a horror movie or a parody of a horror movie. It is decidedly the latter – especially when you factor in all the comical sound cues – which I guess makes it ahead of its time. It would have just been a (more) terrible Friday the 13th ripoff if it was played completely straight.
Don't Go In The Woods was a movie of thirds. Opening the movie was a series of vignettes that saw random hikers and campers being murdered, mostly offscreen, by an unknown force mixed in with the travels of our four comically dubbed leads. My favourite part was when the group leader told his crew to “watch out for rabies”, as if it's like poison ivy or something. I also have to mention that this may be the only movie where someone tells a campfire tale and the camera never goes to the storyteller. Imdb reports that they lost that footage so they had to use the reaction shot. Ohhh, that's so Don't Go In The Woods!
|Tom Drury as The Maniac|
The best chunk of this movie was the middle, where it got much gorier and the killer was actually revealed. Known only as The Maniac, this wild bear dude looked like a crazed Grizzly Adams and sounded like a feral Yoda. Most of the best set pieces were in this section, including the couple – they literally had three seconds of screen time before they were attacked – that were killed inside their sleeping bags. Bryan may have ripped off Friday 1, but he beat Part 7 to the whole sleeping bag bludgeoning thing at least. I also have to mention that the scariest thing in Don't Go In The Woods to me was this woman's nose...
Then sadly, the third act slammed on the brakes. I imagine it was in the interest of padding things out, but it largely consisted of people, namely the sheriff, just searching the forest. Although, I have to admit that this movie was brutally committed to its body count (16!). Even an hour in, they were still introducing fodder, like that poor wheelchair guy. Damn, 1981 was not a good cinematic year for the disabled.
I'm willing to give Don't Go In The Woods its good-bad street cred, but when it comes to legit backwoods slashers I'm gonna lean more toward Rituals or Just Before Dawn. That end song was pretty ace though.
Saturday, November 9, 2019
Friday, November 8, 2019
This week's VHS is one of my acquisitions from last month's Up All Night Fest at the Mayfair, Luis Llosa's 1988 flick Crime Zone.
Bone (Peter Nelson) & Helen (Sherilyn Fenn), two inhabitants of a dystopian society aim to escape with the help of a mysterious man named Jason (David Carradine).
From the coverbox I inferred that Crime Zone might be some sort of Road Warrior rip-off, but sadly that was not the case. Instead, this movie was more of a Bonnie & Clyde set against the backdrop of a bargain basement Blade Runner. You know what I mean, there were a ton of these in the late eighties/early nineties that all had a similar look, but couldn't spring for the flying cars or any other expensive visual effects. I do give them some points for world building though, as that wonky version of pool was amusing and they beat Lawnmower Man to the VR punch by four years.
Then again, those kids could just be high.
Seeing Fenn as a blonde was rather striking. Man, compared to The Wraith this must have felt like a blockbuster. This was during her “naughty” period so Crime Wave does feature an obligatory nude scene. I have to admit though, if they'd found a better lead, or at least someone Fenn had even a bit of chemistry with, it might have made all the difference. Because I gotta tell you, the last half hour of this movie felt like a thousand years long. Once the novelty of Carradine's couple-of-days-on-set performance lost its luster, I was wishing for the end credits.
I will say that the middle of Crime Zone did keep me entertained, either from the exchanges between Helen and Bone that were frankly hard to keep a straight face through, or other bits like the lady cop who uttered that aforementioned line above and that the government's preferred method of execution was to shoot a death ray at your genitals.
Come to think of it, there's a lot of weird crotch stuff in this movie. Probably best not to dwell on it. At the end of the day, I can forgive Llosa for this less than stellar effort because he is the gentle soul that would eventually give us Anaconda. Bless.
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Here's more nightmare fuel from UK stop-motion animator Robert Morgan.
These were fragments used in Shawn Snyder's film debut To Dust starring Matthew Broderick. I love that in addition to his own short films, Morgan's gooey fingerprints are now being left throughout the cinema world.
Friday, November 1, 2019
This week it's Jag Mundhra's Halloween horror Hack-O-Lantern from 1988.
Three siblings discover their grandfather is the leader of a satanic cult, or close enough... the particulars are already fading from my memory.
I haven't been having much luck with the holiday-themed horrors this year, as this was pretty much an archaic, meandering mess. You see, there's this really lame Satanic cult that likes to sacrifice people on Halloween. How do I know they're lame? Well, Exhibit A.
The grandfather (played by Hy Pyke) is the ring leader of this cult and he's pretty grating to watch. It's like he's channelling a really shitty version of Emperor Palpatine at times. Grandpa has three grandchildren - one of which he's trying indoctrinate and the other two he doesn't really seem to give two shits about - and the movie can't seem to figure out which one is the protagonist.
Things really get crazy when the Halloween party gets started. It's your average small town event that for some reason has a strip show - featuring a lady who I'm pretty sure, based on her distinct tan lines, was the same one who got a pentagram branded onto her ass a few scenes earlier - and a snake dancer for entertainment. I'd let that pass, but the dude who breaks out into a stand-up routine outside... not so much. I think the only thing more painful were the extras fake laughing in his vicinity.
|Where is Candyman when you need him?|
Eventually in this really long eighty-seven minute movie, we get a few kills and then finally an anti-climactic pitchfork/sword fight that lasts an awkward twenty seconds. You know, I remember seeing this cover box back in the day and passing it over. Now, I wish that demon woman was the protagonist and not just a weird chick who shows in a random music video dream sequence.
Yep, more of that would have suited me just fine.
Thursday, October 31, 2019
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
This week's short is another recently posted short film from my buddy Mike Pereira. The Resurrections of Clarence Neveldine stars the lovely and talented Raven Cousens and is my fave of Mikey's works because it involves a horror trope near and dear to my heart - the Final Girl. Enjoy.
Monday, October 28, 2019
Despite missing both shorts programmes at Toronto After Dark this year due to my Ottawa trip, I was able to still catch them via screeners. Here are my faves from this year's selections made by programmer-at-large Shannon Hanmer.
On the international side of things, it was a particularly strong year with work that ranged from stunning animation (Carlos Baena's La Noria) to the blackest of comedies (Mia'kate Russsel's Maggie May), but for me there were two outliers;
Jason Gudasz's Place was a delightful exercise in absurdity. A brisk ten minutes, I immediately earmarked it to perhaps pair up with something we're playing at SFFF next month.
I also really dug Marc Martínez Jordán's Your Last Day On Earth, which possessed all the colourful quirkiness we've come to expect from the Spaniards along with a dash of Ray Bradbury.
TAD's commitment to Canadian content continued this year and I was pretty impressed by the visual polish on several of these, namely Kat Webber's Barbara-Anne and Neil Cavalier's Eilid & Damh.
It was also a good year for economy, as there were a pair of shorts that nailed it in under five minutes, these being Denman Hatch's Make Me A Sandwich and David Hamelin & Neil MacDonald's The Changeling.
On the other hand, equally as noteworthy was Geoffrey Uloth's Moment. Clocking in at twenty-two minutes, it remarkably kept me engaged, walking a tightrope between the startling and saccharine.
If I were to pick a top short, it would likely be Guillermo de la Rosa's A Noise That Carries. This one has atmosphere in spades and relied heavily on sound design and a supremely unsettling performance by Lee Lawson.
So that's another TAD in the bag. This was the sadly the first year in fourteen that I wasn't able to attend a single screening - a huge bummer - but I guess it shows how busy I've been. That's the Halloween season for you!
Friday, October 25, 2019
As I mentioned before I took a jaunt to Ottawa last weekend to catch a movie marathon. Up All Night Fest is the brainchild of Hamilton Trash Cinema founder Ben Ruffett and with the kindly gifted use of the historic Mayfair Theatre, he screened eight crusty VHS of ill repute.
Though my memories may be part fact, part fever dream - I got three hours sleep over a fourty-eight hour period - here is what I can recall of what went down.
The night began with this shot-on-video gorefest. I reviewed this, rather unfavourably, back in 2012, but it's quite staggering how much more entertaining a bad movie can be with an audience. I mean, that moment when the killer interrupted his necrophilic activities to belt out a Lucas-sized NOOOOO had the audience in stitches. It really is the little things. And surprisingly 555 wasn't the night's cheapest representation of a police station office. That would come later...
Having been initiated just a few months ago, I was looking forward to watching - nay, experiencing Things again. What can I really say about it? It must be seen to be believed. And it has BLOOOOOD... ... ... AND GUTS!
Now I moved into uncharted territory with this SOV flick from 1986. As you would expect, it shared a similar storyline with 555, but wasn't nearly as sleazy or gratuitous. It also featured Larry Thomas aka The Soup Nazi as a creepy photographer. I do have to mention the soundtrack and the hilariously long driving scenes that fondly reminded me of Global's Night Ride. Several other attendees didn't find it as soothing as I believe we lost an entire row during one of those sequences. Too bad because I thought this movie ended pretty strong, by B-movie standards anyway.
I should mention that there were ten to fifteen minute intermissions between flicks, so we could walk around and/or pee. They also opened up concessions during these times too, as the lone theater employee was also the projectionist.d
It was now past three a.m. and I wager I may have been going in and out because I don't remember a lot of this one. It was less than an hour, but pretty amusing in a cheesy kind of way. It was made by the same Texas collective responsible for the ultra-low budget slasher Carnage Hall that Ben screened in Hamilton a few years ago. Imagine Creepshow if was just the “Father's Day” segment and Nathan's corpse continued killing people while spewing puns. I found the gore to be surprisingly well done, as well.
Now we came to the real endurance test of the evening/morning. This movie was atrocious, yet one I would happily recommend to fellow bad movie enthusiasts. It's perhaps the most perfectly imperfect movie ever made, next to Things of course. Zombies was largely a one-man-show, as creator Jess Turner let us know in a dozen individualized credits at the end of the movie. But he also gave us the gift of putting himself in his own movie, first as a zombie and then as a police captain with the most hilariously fake beard you have ever seen, presumably so we wouldn't confuse him with his zombie self.
|Captain Stefans can see into your soul.|
It takes real talent to make an eighty-five minute movie feel like three hours. My buddy Justin described Zombies best when he said, “This movie is told in triplicate. First we see the zombie attack, then we see a new report about the attack and then we see Captain Stefans talk at length to his two underlings about the attack.” Then rinse and repeat. Add some whistling (which I swear was lifted from Just Before Dawn) and wind noises and Bob's your uncle. As you can see, it's the REALLY BAD movies you remember the most. My brain was so fried I couldn't even fall asleep to this one.
I think this was a legitimately good movie. I say I think because I was really battling sleep during this one. I'm pretty sure I nodded off during a sizable chunk of the middle. Though it doesn't sound very exciting, the first half of this movie is John Hawkes standing in line to get into a haunted house, but it's well shot and the production design is pretty great. It's definitely one I intend to revisit at some point.
This was a twenty-minute short that was as advertised. It has lots of ladies being eaten whole by a large tree. I bet this movie was a hit with the vore crowd.
This Don Dohler effort was the final film of the night and a fitting capper. It had a few bloody good twists, including when the movie one-eighties from Last House to Evil Dead. I was glad to see this one also had that dime-store fog aesthetic that I've come to expect from Dohler. Blood Massacre also featured George Stover doing his best Michael Moriarty impression.
So that was it. We started with a hundred or so peeps and were left with about twenty brave souls by the time the sun came up. Considering it was only ten bucks, I imagine most just showed up for the first two and took it from there. I think we incurred the most casualties during the Mind Ripper to Zombies Invade stretch. Oh, I forgot to mention that Ben and fellow VHS seller Brett Jansen were on hand selling tapes. I picked up these beauties.
It was a success and one I'd be glad to repeat. VHS 4EVA!
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
This week short is the latest from my pal Mike Pereira, Zandavi Lives. Enjoy!
This was the third short to feature his recurring monster hunter Nash Caruthers, played by Timothy Paul McCarthy. For more, click here.
Monday, October 21, 2019
Hey all. Just a quick post to let you know that Delirium #21 comes out today.
This issue is a love letter to 90's horror and was guest-edited by filmmaker Ama Lea. Lea is no stranger to the magazine, having served as art director and contributor on many of Delirium's past issues. But if that isn't enough for you, look out for my piece about the early days of Full Moon Video. Find out how you can get the new issue, by going here.
Saturday, October 19, 2019
Friday, October 18, 2019
I caught a screening of Michael Fischa's 1989 flick Death Spa last week and had my brain melted for a number of reasons.
First, there's the obvious because I mean, holy balls this movie. I feel like the nugget of an idea was there – ghost-in-the-machine and all that – but somewhere down the line someone sniffed a mountain of coke and all reason went out the window ala Maximum Overdrive.
Aside from that, what confounds me the most is that I'd seen this movie a few years previous and had absolutely no recollection of it. It wasn't like I was halfway into it and thought “oh I've seen this”. No. Zero recall. No asparagus, no Ken Foree and no killer fish. Nada. I had Facebook exchanges about Death Spa in 2015, yet sometime between then and now, it got wiped. It's like this movie was such unequivocal nonsense that my brain rebelled and struck it from the record. I don't think that has ever happened before.
As for the movie, what can I say? I subsequently listened to the How Did This Get Made? episode on Death Spa and they had a lot of the same questions I did. You should go listen to it if you haven't, but the only thing I want to reiterate is this exchange;
This plays so many ways. Like he's saying he's gay, right? That's the only way this makes sense. But if so, why is Beta gay? Because it's better or just incompatible? Beta was already in its death throes by the time this was made so the former makes no sense. As does if he just meant he's too good for her. I'm so confused.
But let's get down the meat of the matter because even by eighties standards there was a lot of nudity in this. Not that I'm complaining. Gorehounds can also rest easy, as people get their aerobicized asses ended in a number of ways that included fire, acid showers and exploding glass, none of which made any sense within the ghost-in-the-machine context. But hey, whatever. I'm VHS, and you're DVD.
Thursday, October 17, 2019
The Toronto After Dark Film Festival is once again upon us. Check out this year's (the 14th) sizzle reel below.
Of the titles I've seen already, I recommend Paradise Hills, Come To Daddy and The Furies. TAD runs Oct 17-25. For ticket info, click here.
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
A few weeks back, Swedish synthwave artist Videogram put his Lunchmeat VHS tape on YouTube. It was originally released in 2015 to commemorate his self titled album and features his music set to clips from such grindhouse flicks as Driller Killer, Naked Massacre and Alien Factor. Enjoy.
For more info on Videogram, click here.
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Here's the 2017 short Belial's Dream from the incomparable Robert Morgan that up until now was only available on the Arrow Blu-ray release of Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case.
Yep, surreal and nightmarish as per usual! Morgan's partnership with Arrow appears to be ongoing as he most recently created a short film for the Blu-ray release of Jörg Buttgereit's Schramm entitled Tomorrow I Will Be Dirt.
Friday, October 11, 2019
With Thanksgiving upon us this weekend, I watched a holiday horror VHS from 1981 entitled Home Sweet Home.
An escaped mental patient (Jake Stanfield) crashes a family's Thanksgiving dinner party.
Man, there's no way to sugar coat this. Home Sweet Home was legit terrible. It started with a cold open where Stanfield murdered some dude for his car and then celebrated by injecting PCP into his tongue. Is that how you do that??? Then, after a lengthy credits sequence where he drove around in a station wagon, he promptly ran over an old lady. I thought, oh, this is a like a Troma film? Nope, I'd have been lucky if that were the case. At least those movies are halfway entertaining.
While our killer puttered around, I got to meet a handful of insipid characters, including a talking mime named – I shit you not – Mistake who ran around with his guitar annoying everyone. It took so long for this guy to get offed, I actually started to wonder if he was supposed to be the hero of this piece.
Was there a script for this movie? It seemed to me like every interaction inside the house was ad-libbed. “Okay guys, this scene you're going to look for the peas. Just mention peas. A lot.”
Eventually our killer, shitty Lou Ferigno – I shouldn't be mean, apparently he was a fitness guru back in the day, but as an actor he's the least performative slasher I've ever seen – finally started knocking people off, but the kills were pretty lazy. Although Don Edmonds did get crushed under a car hood. Geez, I just saw someone else die like that the other day. My low coolant light has been coming on in my car, and now I'm doubly afraid to check the level.
I digress. It is hilarious to me that I consider Edmonds to be slumming here and this is the cat who made the first two Ilsa flicks. Also of note, the little girl, the one who seemed to have no idea what was going on, was Vinessa Shaw who later went on to work with the likes of Kubrick, Soderbergh and Bigelow.
So yeah, Home Sweet Home blows. It's boring, it's not shot well and even the kills aren't particularly memorable. If you're looking for some filling Turkey Day horror, you are much better off with John Grissmer's Blood Rage. Another bad movie to be sure, but miles better than this, just for Louise Lasser's bonkers performance alone.
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Check out this new video from Rue Morgue TV about the 1986 Canuck faux doc Splatter: Architects of Fear where Canuxploitation's Paul Corupe tells the story about how the filmmakers put one over on the censor board.
While I was watching this video, the only thing I could think of was, “how have I never heard of this?!” However, when I was subsequently looking it up on Imdb, I immediately recognized the coverbox.
I always thought this was some shitty sub-Troma flick so I never looked into it. Damn, what a missed opportunity. Oh well, live and learn I guess.