Stay safe kiddies!
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.
Ed - Funny story. So it looks like my article got bumped for ad space. I know, right? Look for it in issue #22 I guess?
Ed - Funny story. So it looks like my article got bumped for ad space. I know, right? Look for it in issue #22 I guess?
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.
Tuesday, October 8, 2019
This week I give you my pal Mike Pereira's newly posted short Deathbox from 2015.
Look out for his upcoming debut feature Shout For The Devil to be unleashed next year.
Friday, October 4, 2019
Okay so here we are, these are TZ's top episodes in my book.
Written by Richard Matheson / Directed by Richard Donner
My favourite of Matheson's contributions, this episode was so iconic, they even decided to re-use it for the 1983 theatrical version, as well as arguably the best segment of The Simpson's Treehouse of Horror. Due to this, a case could be made that this is the most pervasive episode of the Twilight Zone, as much like open water is to Jaws and showers are to Psycho, have you not ever, while on a flight, looked out onto the plane wing to see if there was a gremlin staring back at you?
Written by Rod Serling / Directed by Douglas Heyes
Yet another episode that it is synonymous with The Twilight Zone that has been parodied and re-appropriated over the years. It still remains one of the greatest twists in television history. Also, watching it again recently, I was able to really appreciate the artistry in filming in such a way to hide everyone's faces for most of the episode.
Teleplay by Rod Serling / Directed by John Brahm
This episode really freaked me out as a kid and my go-to when I think of the real “gut punch” episodes. I concur with Albert Brooks' when he speaks of that episode during the opening of the 1983 movie. I too have a back-up pair of glasses, especially since my vision is now starting to rival that of Burgess Meredith's. This was the best realization of TZ's popular theme of “be careful what you wish for.”
Written by Rod Serling / Directed by Ronald Winston
Paranoia and mob mentality was always an oft-used theme in The Twilight Zone, but it was never better utilized than here. It's just as poignant now as it ever was, although we still don't need alien interference to get riled up. I also have a soft spot for this one because it was heavily sampled by Skinny Puppy for their song, Monster Radio Man.
Teleplay by Rod Serling / Directed by Lamont Johnson
This episode, based on a story by Marvin Petal, may likely be a contentious choice for number one, but it holds great significance for me. I first discovered The Twilight Zone in the eighties while it was in syndication. When I was about twelve or so, I got a TV in my room, but the rule was that if I went to bed at ten, I could watch TV for an hour – which consisted of reruns of Benny Hill and Bizarre – and then it was lights out! However, one time I kept the TV on and this episode came on. I was immediately transfixed and I remember turning the TV real low so I wouldn't get caught because I absolutely had to see the end. And then my mind was blown. I have dabbled in fiction over the years and nothing has inspired me (save maybe Stephen King) more than that story, which I feel is still one of the greatest twists ever.
So that's my list. Hopefully, this inspires you to go back and watch some old Twilight Zone episodes because they really are fantastic. It's also fun to see early appearances of some big stars, which are too large to count in number, but the one where Burt Reynolds (doing his best Brando impression) get punched out by William Shakespeare is certainly a gas.
Anyway, have a good weekend and I'll see you in the fifth dimension.
Thursday, October 3, 2019
Welcome back! Let's continue with my countdown of favourite Twilight Zone episodes, starting with an “alien” invasion.
Written by Richard Matheson / Directed by Douglas Heyes
This was the first episode I watched when CBS started releasing TZ episodes on VHS back in the day. Serling performed this particular switcheroo a few times over the course of the show (the episodes Third From The Sun and the aforementioned Probe 7 come to mind), but it was never better accomplished than here.
Teleplay by Rod Serling / Directed by James Sheldon
You can gauge whether a Twilight Zone episode really “made” it, if it eventually wound up in an episode of The Simpson's Treehouse of Horror. Serling based this on a 1953 story by Jerome Bixby so it further illustrates that he was aware of his contemporaries. What I found especially unique about this episode was Serling's assertion during the end narration was that the Twilight Zone was an actual place with inhabitants and not just a realm to be visited or passed through.
Written by Richard Matheson / Directed by Paul Stewart
This was another episode that later found its way into Treehouse of Horror. I find falling out of bed a lot more relatable than kids with godlike powers so that's why I ranked this one a little higher. I also wonder – because I'm too lazy to look it up – if this wasn't one of the first instances of “wormholes” on television.
Written by Martin M. Goldsmith / Directed by Robert Butler
In a 1959 Mike Wallace interview, Serling stated that he was “not going to delve into current social problems dramatically” due to being tired of battling sponsors over perceived controversy. We all know he was either fibbing or changed his tune, as the opposite was never more apparent than here. This two-man (Neville Brand & George Takei) bottle episode was so provocative that it was pulled from syndication after its original air date. Something like this episode proves that the Twilight Zone did not fizzle out and was still offering up strong television right up until the end.
Written by Rod Serling / Directed by John Brahm
This was another terrific one-location piece starring the lovely Vera Miles (1960 was sure a good year for her!). Birthed from an encounter where he thought he saw his double from across an airport terminal, Serling wrote what would become one of TZ's most persistent themes. I really love this episode – as does Jordan Peele, as it apparently inspired Us – and if the final moments weren't so kooky, I might have placed it higher on the list.
Teleplay by Rod Serling / Directed by Richard L. Bare
Based on a 1950 story by Damon Knight, this is another episode that can identified by its climactic phrase “It's a COOKBOOK!” One of the few episodes to break the fourth wall, and perhaps the inspiration for the eighties TV phenomenon V, this is my favourite episode featuring aliens – ones that appear front-and-center anyway. It also has the unmistakable Richard Kiel in one of his earliest roles.
Written by Rod Serling / Directed by Robert Stevens
This was the pilot episode for the Twilight Zone and it beautifully encapsulated what viewers could expect from the series in the future. Serling put forth the fantastical, but also very human elements into his storytelling. It is why his work continues to endure today.
Written by Rod Serling / Directed by Robert Stevens
Tales of time travel were the Twilight Zone's bread and butter, covering sojourns to and from the age of the dinosaurs (The Odyssey of Flight 33) to pioneer days (100 Yards Over The Rim & The 7 Is Made Up of Phantoms) to far into the future (The Rip Van Wickle Caper). However, this one tops the list of these narratives by being the most personal and thoughtful of the bunch by echoing the sentiment that “you can't go home again”. It also features a young pre-Mayberry Ron Howard in a small role.
Written by Rod Serling / Directed by Douglas Heyes
This one represents my favourite kind of Twilight Zone episode that skirts the line between horror and suspense. It was the mystery that kept me hooked and the payoff was as satisfying as the build-up. The only time I think I was more mesmerized by an episode was the one that ultimately topped this list.
Teleplay by Rod Serling / Directed by Alvin Ganzer
Based on a fourties radio play from Lucille Fletcher, but a variation of Ambrose Bierce's 1890 story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge that I feel is one of the most important pieces of genre fiction that exists – Twilight Zone would later air a 1961 adaptation by Robert Enrico during season five – this was another iconic episode of the show. This device has been used so often since, it's almost shocking when similar scenarios don't end with this revelation.
That's it for now. Come back tomorrow to see me crack the top five. Can you guess what they are?
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Sixty years ago today, Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone first aired on CBS. You don't need me to tell you how important this show was to the genre and pop culture, but it was exceedingly influential to me and my interests. In celebration, I am counting down my favourite twenty-five episodes of the original series that ran five seasons and one-hundred and fifty-six episodes. Let's get to it, shall we?
Season 5, Episode 15 / First Broadcast Jan 3, 1964
Written by Earl Hamner Jr. / Directed by John Brahm
Just cracking the list is this story about guilt from the final season. It was rare that the Twilight Zone mixed its comedic and dramatic undertones together, but it was done successfully here. I am also a sucker for stories featuring vehicles that have minds of their own, something that would later become a staple in horror with films like The Car and Christine.
Written by Charles Beaumont / Directed by Douglas Heyes
As Keyser Soze once said, “the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist” and that adage has never been more succinct than within this episode. Utilizing the talents of H.M. Wynant, Robin Hughes and the great John Carradine, the scope of this went far beyond this largely three-man piece.
Teleplay by Rod Serling / Directed by John Brahm
Based on a story by George Clayton Johnson, this was one of many Twilight Zone tales where people were gifted extraordinary abilities, but still managed to lead themselves into ruin. What I really dug about this episode was the production design. This show's subject matter lent itself to abstract visuals (the episode Perchance To Dream is another example), but they really went above and beyond in this one.
Written by Rod Serling / Directed by Robert Florey
So many of the Twilight Zone's episodes dwell on the darker shades of humanity – greed, paranoia, fear etc – so I was really struck by this one that dealt with true love. I really bought into the premise, but unfortunately for me, I momentarily forgot that TZ rarely affords us happy endings.
Written by Rod Serling / Directed by Boris Sagal
Based in part of Anton Chekov's story The Bet, but of course with a more odious spin the likes of which we'd expect from Serling, this tale is perfect for telling around a campfire. This was also one of the few Twilight Zone episodes that featured a double twist.
Written & Directed by Montgomery Pitman
Much like The Silence, this is perhaps the most effective campfire ghost story – hell I've told it a few times myself, swapping out the cowboys for sorority girls – ever told on the Twilight Zone. Culled from a story dating back to the forties, this episode features a stellar cast including Lee Marvin, Lee Van Cleef and TZ regular James Best.
Written by Charles Beaumont / Directed by Richard C. Sarafian
This episode is a staple. Telly Savalas versus a seemingly sentient and indestructible talking doll. Got it, great. However, it drove home to me that the most dated thing – and I suppose this came as a surprise to no one – about the Twilight Zone are gender relationships. Sure, I suppose there are still women who marry for security today, but I was shocked how many times an episode would introduce an eccentric loser (Pat Hingle in The Incredible World of Horace Ford and Martin Balsam in The New Exhibit come to mind) and then the next scene would reveal they actually had a spouse waiting for them at home.
Written by Rod Serling / Directed by Ted Post
In his teaser speech at the end of the previous episode, Serling stated “this particular opus has an unpredictable ending that we doubt that even the most seasoned TZ fan will be able to pick up on before it happens on your screen”. And it turns out he was right, in my case anyway. Well played, Mr. Serling.
Written by Rod Serling / Directed by Jack Smight
Based on a story dating back to 1906 and one of the six Twilight Zone episodes that were shot on video, this is one of those classic episodes that can be encapsulated into a single phrase, “room for one more, honey”.
Written by Rod Serling / Directed by Nathan Van Cleave
Before starting into my box set last year, I had seen most of the episodes that appear on this list previously. This one however, was a first time watch and it stuck with me. Not only was the simmering heat perfectly portrayed here – I looked it up and they weren't acting – but Serling once again played the prophet. Except our climate change isn't due to our planet spinning out of orbit, but something much more nefarious, and sadly preventable. Oh, and Serling once again hits us with a double twist.
Check back tomorrow when I continue my list, counting down from #15 to #6.