Behold the new teaser trailer for The Chamber of Terror, the production I worked on this past March. Look for it next year at a festival near you.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Saturday, August 28, 2021
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
There were of course many reasons that prompted last weekend's getaway to Montreal, but chief among them was Fantasia's North American premiere of Rob Jabbaz's The Sadness. Shot in Taipei's summer of 2020 during the delayed onset of Covid-19, this title has been rapidly growing infamy for its extreme violence. I became aware of it after Rue Morgue put in on the cover of their Jul/Aug issue and then leaned shortly after, rather fortuitously, that it was screening during my visit. Then, months later, stuffed high up in the balcony at the Imperial, I finally took in The Sadness.
Citizens in Taipei fight to survive during an outbreak that compels those infected to torture, murder and rape.
So is it worth all the hype? For the most part, yes. I mean, you know how things go when movies get talked up as they do - Fantasia even put a disclaimer on their listing - your imagination is always worse than the real thing. Having said that, The Sadness was no doubt a Category 3 title (Hong Kong's much maligned version of NC-17) peppered with bloodstained set pieces that kept the tension going once all hell broke loose. Not only was it gory, violent and transgressive, but also well made with solid performances by Regina Lei and Berant Zhu. A lot of the tension is built on these two trying to find each other again after the movie's gentle and relatable opening scene of their morning ritual.
Also memorable was the axe-wielding company man played by Tzu-Chiang Wang. Jabbaz revealed in the Q&A that Wang is a well-known character actor in Taiwan (he referenced Harry Dean Stanton as a Western equivalent) so I'd say it was pretty ballsy for him to have taken such a lecherous role. In amongst all this were the obvious parallels between The Alvin and Corona viruses, as well as some political satire that's pretty transparent no matter what corner of the globe you hail from.
Listening to the gasps and sighs of disgust happening around me during The Sadness' most talked about scene, I realized that it had been a while since I had experienced such a thing. It gave me pause, as it seemed like during the aughts there was some nerve shredding title grazing my eyeballs every year. Now, not so much and if I'm being honest, I don't think the machine allows the shit that tips the scales of taste to be made anymore. I mean, a Canadian had to basically flee to Taiwan and use completely independent money (his producer Jeff Huang is, among other things, a crypto tycoon) to get something like The Sadness made. I can't even imagine other Category 3 films like Red to Kill and Untold Story even being shot in this day and age. Some people might say this is a good thing. I am not one of those people.
While I may no longer actively seek out the sinewy fringes of shock cinema, knowing it is still there comforts me because lacking the video store experience, I still want the idea of the forbidden to exist in some form or another.
Friday, August 13, 2021
Monday, July 26, 2021
I'm popping in during my hiatus to post about Grady Hendrix's new book, The Final Girl Support Group.
I'm a big fan of Hendrix's work. He has a tremendous talent for breathing new life into standard horror tropes as evidenced in his previous titles like Horrorstör and My Best Friend's Exorcism. When I heard he was writing a novel about final girls, I was immediately excited because they are perhaps my favourite concept in all of horror. My childhood was filled watching such plucky and resourceful heroines as Laurie, Alice and Nancy fight their way out of danger. Hendrix did not disappoint.
The Final Girl Support Group was a terrific read. Even more than his previous books, this story moves at a break-neck pace. Once the players are established, it immediately throws the protagonist – and us along with her – into chaos.
I think what most surprised me about this story was how meta it was. I guess I was expecting something straightforward, but there's some fascinating world building here based on pre-established history horror fans will instantly recognize. I suppose this is a mild spoiler, (though it's literally set up in the first few chapters), but the book's conceit is that all the slasher franchises we all hold dear – boasting alternate titles like Summer Slaughter and Babysitter Murders etc – were all based on real events and these actual survivors have spent their lives haunted not only by PTSD, but the media and Internet stalkers.
Take for example, our protagonist Lynette. Imagine if you will, that Linnea Quigley's character in Silent Night, Deadly Night had survived being hung up on those antlers. Hendrix offers up some really interesting alternate scenarios for classic slashers in an entangled ball of horror lore that is equal parts familiar and fresh.
I also appreciated that Hendrix threw a sobering slant on the realities of surviving a mass murder, not only from a mental health perspective, but also how they're treated by the masses, how their would-be murderers are fetishized and their ordeals end up being commodities to be ranked on Internet all-time lists.
Hendrix has a very visual style to his writing so it is not at all surprising this story has already been bought by HBO Max with the Muschettis (of It fame) and Charlize Theron already attached. I don't know what it will look like when it eventually hits the small screen, but I will definitely be there to watch because I know as well as anyone that you can't keep a good Final Girl down.
Friday, July 2, 2021
Monday, June 14, 2021
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Sunday, May 23, 2021
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Definitely didn't mind being thrown around by Dimitrescu and her daughters in this game. I really enjoyed Resident Evil 8. If Resident Evil 7 was Evil Dead, this one is Evil Dead 2, just in the amount of abuse Ethan takes alone. I except 9 will be the conclusion of a Winters trilogy, before evolving and moving onto another branch of RE lore. The return of Claire Redfield perhaps??