Unsung Heroes of the Exorcism Biz

Clifton Collins Jr. in JT Petty's Hellbenders. If exorcising shit never got rougher than this, I could totally handle the job.
I've been thinking a lot about exorcisms lately. It’s JT Petty’s fault – of all the movies screening at Midnight Madness this year, Petty’s 3-D horror-comedy Hellbenders is one of the films I’m most excited about. It’s been described as Animal House meets The Exorcist, with liberal doses of Ghostbusters—I could only be more jazzed if every ticket came with a free plate of hot, syrupy waffles.

So let's talk about exorcists. This doesn’t seem like an appropriate place for the same old exorcism movie list; who among us has not seen William Friedkin's 1973 classic and its sequels or, for better or worse, more recent fare such as Constantine and The Last Exorcism?

Instead, let’s talk about the dudes who don’t get the props they deserve. Let's face it: being an exorcist has got to be one of the most thankless jobs in horror. Kids talk shit about your mom, the pay sucks, and good luck not ending up on the business end of a demonic possession when you punch the clock at the end of the workday. Take Abby, for instance—a woefully under-appreciated 1974 flick featuring Blacula himself (the great William Marshall) as Dr. Garrett Williams, a professor who must save a young marriage counselor from the West African deity that has possessed her. Written and directed by William Girdler (he of Three on a Meathook and Grizzly fame), Abby is often and unfairly dismissed as an Exorcist rip-off. In fact, in spite of its initial box office success, it was pulled from theaters when Warner Bros. sued its distributor for copyright violations. The devil you say, Warner Bros. Abby is a damn good time, and it’s well worth seeing.

Next up is an Argentinean short film called Deus Irae, about a group of rabblerousing, punk-rock priests who face off with a monstrous demon. I freaking love this film. Think of it as Constantine done right—batshit gore, gnarly creature FX and creepy atmosphere to spare. Very NSFW, and not appropriate for kiddies (unless they’re possessed, in which case this is a cautionary tale and you should totally make them watch it).

Finally, there’s this guy. It’s just a commercial so maybe it’s cheating, but it’s still a hell of a lot of fun squeezed into a minute and a half.

So be sure to check out Hellbenders at Midnight Madness. It'll be good for your soul.

HELLBENDERS screening times:
Sun., Sept. 9, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Tues., Sept. 11, 7PM, CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 7
Sat., Sept. 15, 9:15PM, SCOTIABANK 2

THE RAID Director Gareth Huw Evans' Top 3 Midnight Madness Picks

Gareth Huw Evans, the director of The Raid (AKA The Raid: Redemption) brings us his Top 3 anticipated Midnight Madness picks today!  Enjoy!

This line up of films has been a tough group to whittle down to just three - a sign yet again of the talent of the legend that is the Midnight Madness programmer, Mr. Colin Geddes. There's nothing I could want more than to spend 10 nights in the company of the Midnight Madness crowd, enjoying every single one of them. But it's a bit of a trek from Indonesia, so instead I will spend each night bitter and angry while you guys are treated to a pretty healthy dose of inspired, blood soaked genius.

Regardless, here are my picks...

#1 - The ABC's of Death

What's not to like, 26 short films by 26 different directors from around the world all not wanting to be outdone by the other. I'm good friends with one of the directors, Timo Tjahjanto, and having seen an early cut of his "L" if the rest are anywhere near the insanity of his entry there's very little out there that can prepare an audience for this.

#2 - Dredd 3D

Let's get this out of the way shall we. Both Dredd and The Raid were in production at the same time, if anything Dredd started before us. But here it is and setting aside any coincidental similarities this film looks absolutely stunning and the talent behind it I greatly respect and admire. The character was well overdue a revamp and it looks like they've done a superb job this time round.

#3 - Hellbenders
JT Petty's S&Man chilled me to my core. One of the most effective horror films in some time--it's the work of pure genius. And while I know very little about Hellbenders beyond a 2 line synopsis, the fact that Petty's name is on there makes this a must see.


Gareth Huw Evans is the director of last year's opening Midnight Madness film, The Raid (The Raid: Redemption), as well as Merantau, and Footsteps. He is currently in pre-production on Berendal; a sequel to The Raid.

Screening Times:
The ABCs of Death
Fri., Sept. 14th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Sat., Sept. 15th, 3:15 PM SCOTIABANK 9
Sun., Sept. 16th, 9:00 PM SCOTIABANK 9

Dredd 3D
Thurs., Sept. 6th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Sat., Sept. 8th, 12:30 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 7

Sun., Sept. 9th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Tue., Sept. 11th, 7:00 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 7
Sat., Sept. 15th, 9:15 PM SCOTIABANK 2

Preview of The RAID Sequel, BERANDAL

The Raid (aka, The Raid:  Redemption) opened last year's Midnight Madness program, ripping up Ryerson before punching, kicking, slashing, choking, gouging, elbow-striking, hacking and blasting its way through theaters all over North America and the world.  Director Gareth Huw Evans and star Iko Uwais are following up with Berandal, the second in a proposed trilogy.

Evans discusses Berandal in interviews with Heatvision, The Collider and BBC News South East WalesTwitch has concept art for Berandal's mysterious and obviously dangerous, Hammer Girl

Can't wait to see what Hammer Girl smashes, hopefully at Midnight Madness.

Is THE BAY Packing Major Carnage?

The Bay is one of the more mysterious titles in this year's programme. We have no frame of reference for director Barry Levinson as a horror filmmaker. We've seen very few images from the film. The synopses let on a little bit about eco-horror themes, parasitic infections, and found-footage format, but they generally don't indicate how grisly the film gets. We can, however, get some sense of it from these gory concept images created for the filmmakers by artist Daniel Colón. You can view the entire gallery here.

Looks pretty juicy.

Wed., Sept. 12th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Thurs., Sept. 13th, 2:45 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 6

Newbie's Comprehensive Guide to The Festival

There are plenty of festival guides out there. I've done my best to post the tips I've learned over the last eleven years but if you want something more comprehensive check out this multipart guide by Larry Richman. Larry is a 7 year Toronto International Film Festival veteran and has attended dozens of other festivals over the years. Follow him on twitter @Larry411


Festival Programmer Steven Landry's Top 3 Midnight Madness Picks

Today's Top 3 Midnight Madness Picks are from Toronto After Dark Film Fest programmer, Steven Landry. TAD just announced their first 10 titles, so go check out their site after reading Steven's picks!

When I think about that lovely synaptic buzz we call anticipation, it's not that I'm remembering my favourite meal, or looking forward to entering a pre-established world of characters I've grown to love over the course of a sequel or two. The greatest form of anticipation for me comes from the unknown. Think about that first time as a child you ventured out past the boundary of your neighbourhood, or that first date with someone you've been crushing on for awhile. You never forget your first time, they say, and that's because there's a level of excitement when something is brand new that doesn't compare to the return to a well worn experience. Show me something new!  

#1 - Hellbenders

It's the three-peat at Midnight Madness this year for writer/director JT Petty with Hellbenders, a raunchy exorcism horror comedy, shot in 3D, and staring The Kurgan himself, Clancy Brown. As far as anticipation goes, you had me at JT Petty, a filmmaker who's work is as varied as anyone working in genre today. Midnight Madness audiences first met JT with S&MAN, a "documentary" about extreme horror that delved into the reasons why we would want to watch such terrible things. Next up was the epic western / creature feature The Burrowers, a film that played with the conventions of the western, and showed its usual heroes to be the true monsters. Now with Hellbenders he switches gears again, and I can't wait to see his take on the horror / comedy. A consistently skilled filmmaker tackling different types of stories, Hellbenders may be my most anticipated film of this year's crop.

#2 - John Dies at the End

Based on the book I've passed along to a number of friends, it's hard for me not to be excited for Don Coscarelli's take on John Dies at the End. Imagine if Hunter S. Thompson and William Burroughs collaborated on the script for Ghostbusters, and naturally thought ghosts were pretty passe, so they added Shadow People, inter-dimensional drugs, Lovecraftian bug demons, and a creature made of various cuts of meat. Oh... and a floating dog. For a story that is completely out there, it's the droll sense of humour that won me over, and how despite the fact that you may be battling the minions of an ancient god in your spare time, you still have to make your shift at a shitty day job to pay your bills. Add Clancy Brown (yet again) and Paul Giamatti to the mix, and I can't wait to finally see this whacked out story of the big screen. 

#3 - Come Out and Play

Seemingly out of nowhere we get a remake of the Spanish film Who Can Kill a Child?, by a director who is literally unknown, as he uses a pseudonym and wears a mask on set. Now that's something to look forward to right there! The original 1976 film is quite notorious for obvious reasons, a young couple end up trapped on an island off the coast of Spain and have to fight for their lives, as all the children have gone mad and murdered all of the island's adult residents. Let's face it, everyone knows kids are creepy. Have you seen The Brood? I rest my case. I think though that the real horror comes from the question that's right there in the title... could you bring yourself to do the unspeakable in order to survive? I think the anticipation in this film comes from the audience wondering just how far it will go, given the premise, and how often we'll feel the need to squint our eyes and turn away from the screen. This is Midnight Madness after all, so the chances are good that this film will indeed go farther than we'll be comfortable with, and I think that's a good thing.

Steven Landry is tall, bald, and never had wisdom teeth. When he's not assisting programmers or trafficking film prints at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, he's programming films for the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, where he works from his kitchen as the entire Programming Administration and Print Traffic departments.

His mother says Gypsies left him as an infant on her doorstep. He regrets nothing. Not even his love of Akiva Schaffer's 2007 amateur stunt man opus, Hot Rod.

Screening times:

Sun., Sept. 9th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Tue., Sept. 11th, 7:00 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 7
Sat., Sept. 15th, 9:15 PM SCOTIABANK 2

John Dies at the End
Sat., Sept. 15th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Sun., Sept. 16th, 6:00 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 7

Come Out and Play
Thurs., Sept. 13th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Fri., Sept. 14th, 3:15 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 10
Sat., Sept. 15th, 6:45 PM SCOTIABANK 11

Greetings from Possum Holler

Greetings from Possum Holler, fellow midnight mavens! I’m April Snellings, and I have the unique and considerable honor of being the first recipient of the Kari’s Scaries bursary. One week from today, I will make my way from Knoxville, Tennessee to Toronto, where I will eat my weight in poutine* and indulge in the non-stop debauchery known as TIFF Midnight Madness.

If you’re unfamiliar with Kari’s Scaries, please allow me to explain. Kari Ramjattan was a TIFF volunteer and staffer whose passion for genre movies–horror flicks in particular–knew no bounds. Kari passed away in 2010, so her family, friends and colleagues created Kari’s Scaries in her honor. The idea is to remember Kari by giving a horror journalist the opportunity to travel to Toronto, attend the Midnight Madness screenings, meet with Festival delegates, enjoy special events hosted by Midnight Madness programmer Colin Geddes, and have one hell of a time at North America’s coolest film festival. (Incidentally, the lovely art you see at the top of this post was provided by Kari’s son, Kelvin Ramjattan Jr. I really hope I get to meet him soon.)

J.T. Petty's Hellbenders
Though this is my fourth trip to Toronto (I’m a contributing writer and online editor for Rue Morgue Magazine), it will be my first time at TIFF. I can’t imagine a better year to go–I’m crazy excited for several of the films on this year’s roster, including J.T. Petty’s Hellbenders, Don Coscarelli’s John Dies at the End and Drafthouse Films’ The ABCs of Death. I’m jazzed about The Bay, psyched for Come Out and Play and pumped about No One Lives (in these parts, I’m known as That Chick Who Liked Midnight Meat Train). In other words, I’m looking forward to everything.

Making the journey with me will be my close friend and Knoxville Horror Film Fest Director William Mahaffey. We’ll head out at ridiculous o’clock on the morning of September 6 to make sure we roll into Toronto in time to see people get shot in the face in slow-mo (and 3-D!) in Dredd. If you’ve never driven from Tennessee to Toronto, I ask you: Where’s your sense of adventure? And by “sense of adventure” I mean, of course, your complete disregard for your own sanity.

If you’re interested, keep an eye on this space; I’ll be blogging about our trip and about the movies I’m so excited to see. I never had the pleasure of meeting Kari, but I hope her family–both the one she was born into and the one she picked up along the way–knows how much this trip means to me. I intend to make the most of it, and to honor Kari by doing exactly what she’d do: watch movies until my eyeballs shrivel up, and enjoy every last bit of Midnight Madness that Colin and the gang can sling my way.

Cheers, Kari, and thank you.

* If you’re unfamiliar with poutine, it is a pile of French fries roughly the size of your head that has been slathered with gravy and buried beneath a mound of fresh cheese curds. It’s amazing. Fries, gravy and cheesecan you think of a reason we don’t have this in Tennessee? Me neither. 

HELLBENDERS screening times:
Sun., Sept. 9, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Tues., Sept. 11, 7PM, CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 7
Sat., Sept. 15, 9:15PM, SCOTIABANK 2

JOHN DIES AT THE END screening times:
Sat., Sept. 15, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Sun., Sept. 16, 5PM, CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 2

THE ABCS OF DEATH screening times:
Fri., Sept. 14, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Sat., Sept. 15, 3:15PM, SCOTIABANK 9
Sun., Sept. 16, 9PM, SCOTIABANK 9

THE BAY screening times:
Wed., Sept. 12, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Thurs., Sept. 13, 2:45PM, CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 6

COME OUT AND PLAY screening times:
Thurs., Sept. 13, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Fri., Sept. 14, 3:15PM, CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 10
Sat., Sept. 15, 6:45PM, SCOTIABANK 11

NO ONE LIVES screening times:
Sat., Sept. 8, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Mon., Sept. 10, 9:45PM, CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 7
Fri., Sept. 14, 4:45PM, CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 6

DREDD screening times:
Thurs., Sept. 6, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Sat., Sept. 8, 12:30PM, CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 7

Midnight Madness at Trailers From Hell: Joe Dante

Director Joe Dante is not only one of the fiendish master mind behind Trailers from Hell, he's also a Midnight Madness alumnus. He directed a segment in the horror anthology, Trapped Ashes, which screened at Midnight Madness 2006.

As the first among TFH gurus, Dante comments on a lot of films, but one film, he commented on twice:  Mario Bava's classic giallo, Blood and Black Lace. and an excellent movie to watch in anticipation of Berberian Sound Studios, a movie that plays with giallo history and conventions.

James McNally has already covered giallo in depth at our Vanguard sister blog, so I'll just say that giallo is an Italian crime film genre that is generally more lurid than straight detective stories--and possibly more honest in its way. It often has weird or psychic phenomenon elements. And giallo influence the development of both slasher horror like John Carpenter's Halloween, sexy thrillers like Brian de Palma's Body Double and even artsy psychodramas like Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan.

It's somehow fitting that a giallo film would get two slightly different takes.

Here's Dante's most recent commentary:

And here is the original commentary, if you are curious to hear if he says anything different and to see the transfer quality for yourself.

Mon., Sept. 10, 6:00PM:  The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Tues., Sept. 11, 2:45PM:  Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 3

The 26th Director of THE ABCS OF DEATH

When Drafthouse Films assembled a slate of all-star genre directors (including Midnight Madness alumni Xavier Gens, Marcel Sarmiento, Jake West, Ben Wheatley and Adam Wingard) to contribute to The ABCs of Death, they left one slot open--the letter "T." In order to fill the slot, they held a contest in which aspiring filmmakers submitted their own shorts featuring modes of death beginning with "T." The winner was Lee Hardcastle's spectacular claymation short "T is for Toilet." Check it out:

Visit the contest page here, but be careful--it's easy to lose track of time watching one submission after another. We're particularly fond of this short, "T is for Testosterone Replacement Therapy," by our very own Midnight Madness blogger Darryl Shaw:

T is for Testosterone Replacement Therapy from darryl shaw on Vimeo.

Here's one more favorite of ours, "T is for Thread," directed by Chris Nash:

T Is For Thread from Chris Nash on Vimeo.

Fri., Sept. 14th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Sat., Sept. 15th, 3:15 PM SCOTIABANK 9
Sun., Sept. 16th, 9:00 PM SCOTIABANK 9

Pearson Airport to Downtown TO for $3!

There are tons of ways to get from Toronto's Pearson Airport to Downtown Toronto, the heart of TIFF, but the cheapest is via the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). It takes about 90 minutes and only costs $3 Canadian. Here's a handy guide that will get you from the airport to within steps of Bell Lightbox.

1) After you leave your gate at Pearson go to terminal 3 and follow these signs:

2) Once you get outside go stand by the TTC pole:

3) Wait for the 192 Airport Rocket (For schedule click here). Before you board make sure you have $3 (Canadian) in exact change. The bus drivers will not make change. If you don't have exact change you can get TTC tokens from some of the shops in Terminal 3.

4) The bus will make 1 stop before it reaches your stop, Kipling station, which is the end of the Southbound line before the bus returns to the airport. Go inside the station and get on the train. This station is at the end of the Bloor-Danforth line so no matter what train you get on you will be heading in the right direction. The Bloor-Danforth line is the green line in the map below.

 5) After 14 stops you will arrive at the Spadina station. Don't worry about counting stops, just listen to the conductor as they announce each stop as the train pulls into the station. There are also maps posted in the train so you can figure out your location pretty quickly. At the Spadina station you are going to get off the Bloor-Danforth train and follow the signs at the station to the Yonge-University-Spadina line heading towards Finch. Do not go to the platform that says Yonge-University-Spadina heading towards Downsview as those trains are going in the opposite direction of Lightbox. Yonge-University-Spadina is the yellow line above.

6) If the first stop you come to is St. George you are on the right train. If you arrive at DuPont, you went the wrong way. Don't worry, just get off the train and wait for the next train going in the other direction (trains come every 10-15 minutes). From St. George it is 6 stops before you arrive at your final destination of St. Andrew which is a short walk to the Festival Box Office.


Happy Belated Birthday, Jack "King" Kirby!

via Newsarama

This week marks the 95th anniversary of Jack Kirby's birth. Working as an artist, writer, editor and even in film, animation and television from the 1930s through the 1990s, Kirby's impact and influence are inestimable.  He created or co-created countless characters, including Captain America, The X-Men The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, The Silver Surfer and Galactus, and possibly my favorite, Victor von Doom, as well as his cosmic Fourth World--heroes like Big Barda, Mister Miracle/Scott Free, Orion and villains like the master of Apokolips, Darkseid.

via materioptikon

Make sure to check out David Brothers' tribute to Jack Kirby and how Kirby switched the focus of heroic stories from good vs. evil to "freedom vs. slavery."
Kirby redefined good not as a moral issue, but one of freedom. The freedom to love, laugh, share, create, and more. There's the potential for harm, and many of the New Gods struggle with that potential, but just having that potential is vital. It needs to be there. Being able to choose to do wrong is greater than being forced to do good. Free will is everything. The Life Equation is everything beautiful, warts and all.
And feast your everlovin' eyes on The Kirby Museum's amazing gallery of Kirby's art as well as their YouTube Channel, which includes this 1982 Entertainment Tonight interview with Kirby.  Warning: Liberal use of sound zany effects.

Critics Have Much Love for JOHN DIES AT THE END

John Dies at the End played a few festivals earlier this year in unfinished form. Director Don Coscarelli is bringing his finished cut to Toronto as the closing film of Midnight Madness. Here is a sampling of the praise the film has already received:

"And I mean a cult film in the truest sense of the term. John Dies At The End will be a movie that you use to gauge new friends. Do they like JDATE (the romantic sounding acronym of the title)? If not, they may not be your kind of person. It's a movie that will inspire catchphrases and references. It's a movie that will inspire, in the select few, a real devotion." --Devin Faraci at Badass Digest (full review)

"Directed by Don Coscarelli, who you may know as the director as Bubba Ho-Tep and the Phantasm series, John Dies at the End is somewhere between a schlocky, B Movie full of camp (in the best way possible!) and a buddy cop movie. This is all through the lens of some sort of Hunter S. Thompson Gonzo style reporting. It's over the top in every way. Big jokes, big gags, big set pieces, big monsters and bigger than life characters cram their way into every crevice of the 90 minute screen time as if the world was about to end and this was their last chance." --Alex Koehne at Twitch (full review)

"[The opening] involves axe handles, zombies, mutant leeches, axe heads, hardware store trips and answering a dead man as to whether or not the axe in question is the same that killed him. Confused? If you are, then you don't want to stick around. If you're too overjoyed that the spiritual successor to Sam Raimi has appeared, you're in luck." --John Lichman at Indiewire (full review)

"Luckily, he's an inventive filmmaker who has made a career of stretching his budgets as far as he can, and the film is filled with crazy, wild imagery that will delight genre fans.  It's fun and it's gross and it's silly and it's playful… and it does indeed get that feeling, that out of control liquid reality feeling of hallucinogens, just right." --Drew McWeeny at Hitfix (full review)

Sat., Sept. 15th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Sun., Sept. 16th, 6:00 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 7

Conspiracy Theories: ROOM 237 & THE SHINING

A few years ago... I had a bit of spark.  I was sitting in my basement apartment, looking over a Kubrick DVD box-set I had just acquired, and declared it to be lightening in a bottle.  How could one guy, this Kubrick, be such a goddamn filmmaking genius?  With several cups of coffee, I made a decision, that well, in reality, hasn’t had much impact... Until now!  Maybe.  It’s up to you to decide.

I watched The Shining in glorious digitally re-mastered DVD and manically DISSECTED it shot-by-shot, over the course of a single day.  I jotted it all down on my laptop’s note pad program.  I’m going to venture to guess it took me about 4-5 hours.  It’s all a smeary caffeinated blur to me now!  I’d “scribble” down shots as the movie went by, and then pause the film to catch up for the more complicated sequences.  Now I can’t say that my notes are perfect, or even technically sound -- but as an indie filmmaker, I definitely know the broad strokes.  Most of the time, it’d be the camera work I’d be looking at.  The framing, move type, focus, etc.  Sometimes I’d concentrate on the acting.  Other times, something in the edit would pop out at me.  There was just so much going on.  And there still is, every time you play it.

In the end, I had a several paged document, that I don’t think I’ve ever gone back to read.  I sent it to two friends, who didn’t respond to the email (I forgive you). 

Did I learn something?  I sure hope so.  Did I bottle the genius of Kubrick?  Baby, I didn’t even cap a spit of spark.  But man, how clever I felt!  I was on the verge of a new discovery!  This was going to change things!  Had anyone ever done this?  I didn’t know, but I sure felt special. 

Well, that bubble burst some 4 years later, when a few days ago, I loaded up this year’s Vanguard line up online, and inched through it, a movie at a time; my eyebrows see-sawing in amazement.  Click, click, click... Berberian Sound Studio... hmmmm.... click-click-click - Room 237?

The image hit me first... a VCR with a video tape of The Shining protruding from it!  What the heck... So I read the blurb, and learn that filmmaker Rodney Ascher has created a feature length subjective documentary exploring the possible hidden meanings and secret code in The Shining!  Whaaat, secret code?!  Do you know what that means?  Ascher and his team have in all likelihood, spent years examining that lightening in a bottle.  They’ve had whole teams of minds analyzing the very same question.  Months upon months of effort, money, blood, sweat and tears, looking to drop a finger on it. I hadn’t been that ambitious with my tinkering with The Shining.  But then, maybe that’s why I’m still (mostly) sane!  

I don’t have much idea of where Room 237 is going to take these ideas, and I doubt they’ll be anywhere similar to my mundane shot by shot break down -- but what I invite you to do, is to post your own theories and extrapolations of The Shining -- and let’s see if we don’t have some overlapping wavelengths!  Some new ideas!  Let’s break out the tin foil hats, and compare theories!  I know there are some geniuses out there!

And... if any of you doubt at all what I’m saying about my own Shining breakdown (it’s absolutely real!), post your emails (or spam-safe spoof emails), request a copy, and I will send it to you - or perhaps if enough of you request it, I’ll get the green light to post it here! 

Don't miss the meticulously mad deconstructions of The Shining lurking in the eminent screenings of Room 237!

ROOM 237 Screening times:

Thurs., Sept 13., BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA, 6:00PM
Sat., Sept 15., CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 2, 5:45PM
Sun., Sept 16., TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX 3, 12:00PM

Aquatic Horror: A Brief, Particular History

Barry Levinson's The Bay and its army of invisible parasites is just the latest entrant in cinema's long, storied history of aquatic horror flicks. It's bad enough that fish do all kinds of debauched, disgusting things in the water to begin with, but then filmmakers have to go along and throw all other types of vicious nasties in there, too.

The tagline to Jaws was "Don't go in the water," and director Steven Spielberg and company meant it. But sometimes we find far scarier things under the sea then you're normal, everyday man-eating shark--like, for instance, genetically enhanced, super-intelligent sharks. That's case in Deep Blue Sea, a movie most best known for its out-of-nowhere Samuel L. Jackson death scene. But mutant sharks aren't this film's only horrors--you've also got a pretty silly, truly confounding (I've spent way too much of my life trying to figure out what "My hat is like a shark's fin" means) LL Cool J theme song to deal with, too.

The ocean is a truly vast, unknown world yet to be fully explored. One day, what kinds of things might we discover below the surface? If War-Gods of the Deep is to be believed (and I trust fully that it is), Vincent Price in a frilly neckerchief--complete with an "army of half-men, half-monster gill-men"-- isn't out of the question.

Really, if aquatic horror teaches us anything, it's that women are never safe in the water. Or really anywhere near a beach. Just look at Roger Corman's Humanoids from the Deep, as a race of intelligent sea-beasts invade our world for the sole--and quite rude, if you ask me--purpose of mating with human women as a means of advancing their species.

Truly, no one, and no beach is safe--not even Party Beach! Need proof? Check out The Horror of Party Beach, wher "an invasion of ghoulish atomic beasts who live off human blood" terrorizes fun-loving teens and cycle gangs alike.

And when Mother Nature isn't running amok, humanity's here to cause their own problems, like inventing "the most devistating device the mind of man has ever created," and then filling it with super-men with super weapons in Aragon.

Wed., Sept. 12th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Thurs., Sept. 13th, 2:45 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 6

Producer, Travis Stevens' Top 3 Midnight Madness Picks

This is the first in a series of posts where I asked some peeps what 3 Midnight Madness films they're most excited for this year.

First up is A Horrible Way to Die and The Aggression Scale producer, Travis Stevens' picks.

#1 - The Lords of Salem

 Who cares if an artist missteps every now and then as long as they're heading in an interesting direction? House of 1,000 Corpses is a bit juvenile--designed and executed like an elementary school halloween fundraiser for the children of an outlaw biker gang, but it was made with relish. The Halloween 1+2 reboot sacrificed what made the character iconic in order to make him "new" but who cares? At least he had the balls to actually "kill the cat" so to speak.

But the real reason to look forward to The Lords of Salem is because it appears that he's created another new world for us to explore. And the last time he did that we got a dusty masterpiece. The Devil's Rejects was an assembly of gore and exploitation as complex and as beautiful as a Faberge Egg...smashed against the skull of an unsuspecting audience.

He's going to push the sexuality. He's going to push the WTFness. And I could care less if he stumbles.

#2 - The Bay

Why, at the age 70, did Barry Levinson of Good Morning, Vietnam and Rain Man fame, decide to dip his toes in the dangerous waters of the high concept / low budget horror world? Was it crass commercialism? The desire to explore a looser approach to filmmaking, free of some of the restraints that big budgets and movie stars can shackle you with? Did he lose a bet?

Beyond the basic stomach turning appeal of a parasitic outbreak rampaging through the mouths and guts of a small coastal town, I just want to see what the hell Levinson does with the concept. Let's hope the end result is focused, funny and terrifying...and that Levinson tells the audience "why" during the Q&A.

#3 - The ABCs of Death

Taking an approach to anthology films that would have made Caligula proud, this orgy of gore is likely to cause the only death by excess recorded in the history of a cinema. But what a way to go! Gangbanged to death by some of the most inventive minds working in genre film today. I'll take it.

Bonus Non-MM Picks

 #4 - Passion
The hope is that Passion is to De Palma what Black Book was to Verhoeven.  Once last crack of the master's whip.  An indulgence of the man's personal fetishes, blossoming forth from the pavement of a really commercial script.  The fear is that it plays closer to Argento's Dracula 3D.  

#5 - The Hunt 
Thomas Vinterberg and Mads Mikkelsen.  A collaboration that appears just as delicate, cold and beautiful as an icicle hanging from your roof in winter.  I want to watch it shatter. 

Travis Stevens is the founder of Snowfort Pictures; a boutique production company specializing in the development, financing, production and sale of commercial genre films. Since founding the company in 2010 he's produced Adam Wingard's A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE, Steven C Miller's THE AGGRESSION SCALE, The Butcher Brothers THE THOMPSONS, Frank Pavich's JODOROWSKY'S DUNE, Mike Mendez's MEGA SPIDER, Ravi Dhar's AMERICAN MUSCLE and Trent Haaga and E.L. Katz's upcoming CHEAP THRILLS.

None of which his wife shows any interest in seeing.

Screening Times:
World Premiere: Mon., Sept. 10th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Wed., Sept. 12th, 5:00 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 6

World Premiere: Wed., Sept. 12th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Thurs., Sept. 13th, 2:45 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 6

World Premiere: Fri., Sept. 14th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Sat., Sept. 15th, 3:15 PM SCOTIABANK 9
Sun., Sept. 16th, 9:00 PM SCOTIABANK 9

Tues., Sept. 11th, 8:00 PM WINTER GARDEN THEATRE
Thurs., Sept. 13th, 8:30 PM SCOTIABANK 1
Fri., Sept. 14th, 9:30 AM SCOTIABANK 3

Mon., Sept. 10th, 9:15 PM TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX 1
Wed., Sept. 12th, 3:00 PM TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX 2