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, July 30, 2019

Shorts Fantasia 2019.

At Fantasia this year, I sadly didn't see any movies that knocked my socks off (my fault, I missed the ones that peeps were buzzing about after the fact) so I figured I'd rundown some short films you should keep your eyes out for.

Up first, is Germán Sancho's creeper Fears. I was super impressed with this creative take on the monster-in-the-closet tale. Another pair of efforts that caught my attention were Lance Edmands' Whiteout and Joshua Giuliano's In Sound, We Live Forever, as they both involved innocuous situations that deteriorate quickly.

For the gore hounds out there, you need look no further than Oskar Lehemaa's Bad Hair. Just think of it as if The Peanut Butter Solution went full-on body horror. If you don't cringe at least once during this, you ain't got a pulse.

Fortunately, I was there for this year's edition of the Born of Woman programme. It was as strong as always, but there were a trio of standouts in my opinion. Opening up the block was Yfke Van Berckelaer's Lili. Buoyed by a terrific performance by Lisa Smit, this uncomfortable and all-too-real short was a good indicator of what we were all in for that evening.

Erica Skoggins' The Boogeywoman was a provocative short that blended coming-of-age tale with urban folklore by way of David Lynch. Skoggins (like BoW alumni Natalie James & Alice Waddington before her) has such a firm grasp of story, sound and visuals that I'm sure a feature film cannot be far away. Lastly, it's not an overstatement to say that Jamie DeWolf's Girl in the Hallway obliterated everyone in attendance. This was an incredible piece of work.

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Adventures of Harley & Dick.

With the passing of the great Rutger Hauer, I fished out a VHS I’d actually been meaning to revisit for sometime – Tony Maylam’s Split Second from 1992.

In futuristic (2008!) London, Det. Harley Stone (Rutger Hauer) is on the trail of a brutal serial killer that rips out his victim’s hearts.

This was a fun rewatch. I remember when this came out, people were quick to compare it to Blade Runner and Alien, but cumulatively I think its biggest influence may be Predator 2.

Looking up Split Second, I discovered the script had a pretty storied evolution which I won’t regurgitate here, but I was surprised to learn the whole half-submerged London was a late addition. I recall my Dad coming in while I first watched it and asked, “What’s with all the water?”
“Global warming.” I replied.
“Oh,” he said, simply.

It seems like a really costly and cumbersome plot device just for the sake of world building, but I must admit that it worked. In hindsight, I can also see the DNA of the original script in there, as well.

Being on the Deckard side of things a decade later, you could tell Hauer was having a good time with this. I mean his partner’s (Alastair Duncan) name was Dick Durken for Christ’s sake, and they say it SO MUCH. Split Second was just one of the cool action movies Hauer did around this time (Blind Fury, The Blood of Heroes & Deadlock being three others) and he made the most of it. Add on a solid supporting cast in Kim Catrall, Pete Postlethwaite & Michael J. Pollard and you’ve got some real entertainment value here.

The creature was designed by pre-Blade Steve Norrington, but sadly the best look you get of it is on the cover box. In fact, the subway sequence where you really only saw it at all was a re-shoot by Maylam’s late replacement Ian Sharp. I think it looks like a weird cross between Giger’s Alien and Marvel’s Venom.

Split Second is definitely worth a watch, as it comes from an era when there were still mid-budget action flicks that blurred the lines between theatrical and straight-to-video.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

R.I.P. Rutger Hauer 1944-2019

I was saddened to hear about the passing of inimitable actor Rutger Hauer last week in the Netherlands. He was 75. Although he was best known for his portrayal of vigilante replicant Roy Batty in 1982's Blade Runner, his list of significant genre credits is truly impressive.

Rutger Hauer 1944-2019

Cutting his teeth on the early works of Paul Verhoeven, he made his mark on American eighties cinema with roles in such flicks as Nighthawks, The Hitcher and Wanted: Dead or Alive. He kept working throughout the decades, more recently playing the title character in Hobo With A Shotgun in 2011 and doing a stint on HBO's True Blood. Rest in peace, Mr. Hauer. Unlike tears in rain, your moments won't be lost in time.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Horror Express Montreal!

One of the highlights of this year's trip to Fantasia was partaking in the sophomore voyage of The Horror Express. Created by author and cinephile Kier-La Janisse, this wonderful venture began last August in Toronto where she took a busload of people around to a dozen genre movie locations around town. This time, along with co-host journalist Mike Gingold, we toured Montreal.

We began the day at the old brownstone which saw Peter Weller battle a giant rat in Of Unknown Origin. I checked out this spot last year - along with the estate from Cathy's Curse - on my way out of town last year, but it's always terrific to see, especially because it's right downtown and most people don't even realize it's there.

As with the Toronto tour, David Cronenberg loomed large over the proceedings.

Starliner Towers from Shivers.

The mall where Santa gets shot in Rabid.

ConSec headquarters from Scanners.

For the latter movie, I was shocked to learn that the D.B. Clarke, a theatre I had been in a few times over the last twelve years, was actually the site of the iconic head explosion scene. And speaking of ol' Ironside, we drove a bit out of town to check out these digs.

St. Anne's from Visiting Hours

In between the more well-known spots, we also checked out some from more obscure tax shelter flicks, like The Blue Man, Sweet Movie and The Disappearance for which architectural marvel Habitat 67 was home to Donald Sutherland.

Other cool locations included the high rise building that Karen Black threw herself off at the beginning of The Pyx and the Crawford Academy from Happy Birthday To Me.

In the end, we visited about eleven locations over six hours. I imagine the next two iterations of The Horror Express will be in New York and Los Angeles for which I'll likely miss, but I'll sure try my best because these tours are the best.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Saturday, July 20, 2019

It Came From The Archives 28.6!

During the early eighties, just before Arnie and Sly became superstars, my favourite action star was Chuck Norris. When we got First Choice, it was flooded with his movies, so I cut my teeth very early on with titles Forced Vengeance and Lone Wolf McQuade. Before Aliens and Die Hard came along, twelve-year-old me would have said my favourite action movie was Invasion USA. A decade later, when I was rescuing all these rental inserts, I must have still carried a torch for him because I noticed a good number of his catalogue now sifting through them. So for all your Chuck fans out there, this one's for you!

This concludes my rental sleeve archive. If you'd like to peruse the entire collection, please click the links below.

2014  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5 
2019  Part 6  Part 7  Part 8  Part 9  Part 10 

Friday, July 19, 2019

It Came From The Archives 28.5!

One of Blockbuster's most nefarious edicts was its internally mandated views on censorship. In Canada at least, Big Blue did not deal in unrated versions of movies. We got “Rated” titles which were cut down unbeknownst to the consumer because in Canada, R usually meant the hard stuff. Blockbuster then took things a step further by introducing the Youth Restricted Viewing program.

Under no circumstances were you able to rent anything with this sticker to anyone under 18. My buddy still gives me shit for denying his request to rent Hollywood Hot Tubs back when we were in high school. I keep telling him my boss was standing right there, but he still busts my balls about it to this day.

I mean, it would've been all right if these movies with the YRV stickers had actually been risqué material, but look at the titles below. Do these strike you as stuff that is particularly damaging to young eyes, in comparison to the titles I've shown you over the last four days?

Come back tomorrow for one last post that covers one of my childhood heroes. And no, it's not Freddy or Jason.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

It Came From The Archives 28.4!

So I mentioned before, when it came to movies (excluding docs and the kids section which was its own separate ring of hell in the corner by the beanbag chairs) Blockbuster only saw the world in three colours - Drama, Comedy & Action. Inexplicably, Horror & Sci-Fi were listed as a subcategory of the latter. When I first started working there (it was a Major Video that later became a Cockbuster) these sections were massive, but they sadly got pared down as time went on. 

Here below are the inserts from the Sci-Fi section. I'm sure you''ll notice that several of these could've been just as easily been in the Horror section, as well.

Check back tomorrow when I regale you with one of BBV's more boneheaded practices (and there were many).