Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Official 31 Films that Give you the Willies List!

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Check it out! The final 31 FLICKS THAT GIVE YOU THE WILLIES is up at Shoot the Projectionist. If you haven't seen any of the films, make sure to skip the description if you don't want to know what happens in the film. It's a fantastic list, and out of the 31 there are a 11 I've not yet seen! I will be sure to put those on my too see list be

30 Days of Night

Dir: David Slade (Hard Candy)
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Ben Foster, Danny Huston, Mark Rendall
New Zealand/USA, 2007

Seen: October 30/07 at Scotiabank

Reason to see: finishing off scary moviefest for October as well as See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year, this is week 45/52.

I was heading into 30 Days of Night after hearing numerous positive reviews and fresh off seeing spectacular horror and fantasy films from the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. When that is taken into consideration I think my expectations were set too high for the adventure that was the film. Although there is an interesting story there of a isolate region that goes through a period of, you guessed it, 30 days of darkness and low and behold there are night time creatures that come out to play. The influence of being based on a comic book can be seen by the creepy creatures, stunning visuals and excellent use of colour. There are however, some things that read a little more disturbing when seen in live action format when it comes to situational events. There was also a definite disaster movie vibe that often begged the question of 'What would you do' in such a scenario. There were some issues in continuity and logic that were slightly distracting, but only one or two really threw me and the audience off. What kept me in the film though were the very strong performances by the supporting cast. Top of the list is Ben Foster with his second show stealing performance this year, the first being 3:10 to Yuma (2007). Rounding out the acting chops are Mark Rendall as the scared younger brother of Josh Hartnett, and Danny Huston as the menacing leader of the creepies. I would like to see the film again, to be free of the preconceived notions I had going in, and I think after doing so I will enjoy it a whole lot more.

Warnings: Violence, gore

Shannon's Overall View:
I thought it was ok
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it as a solid horror movie

13 minutes of preshow including 4 minutes commercials (guessing that - I was actually a tad late - bad bad!), and 3 previews : Beowolf, One Missed Call (remake of Takashi Miike's Chakushin ari), Untraceable

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

The 31 Flicks That Give You the Willies

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Fun project over at Ed Hardy, Jr site Shoot the Projectionist with the list of The 31 Flicks That Give You the Willies (nomination list) The list of winners will be posted on Halloween - I am so curious!

Tallying up my final list to submit was quite the ordeal and involved an spreadsheet with such factors as if it was so scary I couldn't watch it again (increased to top of the list), how I would rate the film as a film itself regardless of genre (grouped by ratings, then compared films within the same rating) and I scaled down films that didn't make me jump or yelp as well as films that were less scary upon multiple viewings due to twist endings. Here are my selections in order of scariness from the nominations list:

1. The Changeling (1980; Peter Medak)
2. The Shining (1980; Stanley Kubrick)
3. The Exorcist (1973; William Friedkin)
4. The Ring (2002; Gore Verbinski)
5. The Blair Witch Project (1999; Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez)
6. Seven (1995; David Fincher)
7. Frailty (2001; Bill Paxton)
8. Saw (2004; James Wan)
9. The Haunting (1963; Robert Wise)
10. Poltergeist (1982; Tobe Hooper)
11. Alien (1979; Ridley Scott)
12. Jaws (1975; Steven Spielberg)
13. Signs (2002; M. Night Shyamalan)
14. Aliens (1986; James Cameron)
15. Ginger Snaps (2000; John Fawcett)
16. 28 Days Later (2002; Danny Boyle)
17. The Others (2001; Alejandro Amenebar)
18. Psycho (1960; Alfred Hitchcock)
19. Ringu (1998; Hideo Nakata)
20. A Nightmare on Elm St. (1984; Wes Craven)
21. Carrie (1976; Brian de Palma)
22. Ju-On: The Grudge (2003; Takashi Shimizu)
23. Sixth Sense (1999; M. Night Shyamalan)
24. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956; Don Siegel)
25. Dead Ringers (1988; David Cronenberg)
26. Jeepers Creepers (2001; Victore Salva)
27. Rosemary's Baby (1968; Roman Polanski)
28. An American Werewolf in London (1981; John Landis)
29. People Under the Stairs (1991; Wes Craven)
30. Friday the 13th (1980; Sean S. Cunningham)
31. The Serpent and The Rainbow (1988; Wes Craven)

I was suprized that out the 180 or so nominee's I had only seen 62 of the films. I have many to add to my list to see before Halloween next year! Also surprizing, although less so, is how few made it from my submissions to the nominee list (nominee list required 3 votes to get in). This is less surprizing as I know I can have an odd sense of what I find scary, and they certainly made appearences on the runner up list. My original submission list looks fairly similiar to my list of the Scariest Movies of all Time:

2001: A Space Odyssey
28 Days Later
Abandoned, The (Dir: Nacho Cerdà)
American History X
Blade Runner
Cape Fear (1991)
Changeling, The
Dark City
Dead Ringers
Donnie Darko
Haunting, The (1963)
Ju-On: The Grudge
Man Who Fell to Earth, The
Miyazaki's Spirited Away
Nightmare on Elm Street, A
Others, The
Serpent and the Rainbow, The
Shallow Grave (1994)
Terminator, The
Tightrope (1984)

I knew some of those wouldn't make it due to limited releases, not techincally horror films, etc but they all were willie-ish to me! This has been a fun challenge, especially seeing everyones picks, and I am looking forward to the final results (to be posted here on Oct 31/07).

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Toronto After Dark Film Festival Coverage

Pre-Festival Coverage:
September 26/07
October 5/07
October 19/07

Daily Coverage:
TADFF 07 Day 1 - October 19/07
TADFF 07 Day 2 - October 20/07
TADFF 07 Day 3 - October 21/07
TADFF 07 Day 4 - October 22/07
TADFF 07 Day 5 - October 23/07
TADFF 07 Day 6 - October 24/07
TADFF 07 Day 7 - October 25/07

Post-Festival Coverage:
Wrap Up

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival ran from October 19-25/07 at the Bloor Cinema, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2007 - Wrap Up

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Seven days of mayhem has come and gone. As the Toronto After Dark Film Festival brought us a full week of jump out of our seat moments, scares, swords and last but not least, zombies! After consuming countless tea's, 2 bags of popcorn and the ink running dry of my pen from notes we are left with some great film and experiences. Considering the stellar film selection shown to enthusiastic and large crowds I would say it is destined to continue to bring us more spooktackular films in years to come. I know I have decided to add it to my yearly October rituals, and I think you should as well. If you need more convincing, here are some highlights of the fest.

Best Zombie Film: Mulberry Street - This is not only my favourite zombie film of the festival but also my overall favourite film of the festival. You have zombies, a great story and strong characters. It was a treat that the director as well as members of the cast and crew were present on Day 1 which made it an extra special screening.

Best Thriller: Alone - the trailer for Alone was so scary that on first viewing I had to stop watching, and the film itself led to many jumps and squeals and hiding behind my own hands.

Best Fantasy: Wolfhound - impressive epic Russian film that had all the mixings for fantasy fare, and then some.

Best 'Other': The Rebel, as a historical martial arts film seems not to fit in the other categories, but it was still excellent and well worth mentioning.

Best Short: Terror on the 3918 (Dir: Mathieu Fontaine) on Day 2. Inventive use of everyday items and an apartment as a ship. It's a must see.

Scariest Imagery: Dream sequences in Nightmare Detective

Icky-ist Imagery: Poultrygeist, on so many levels

Best Double Bill: Day 5 double bill of Wolfhound and Alone. Although the two films have nothing in common in terms of theme, they were stand outs in terms of quality.

Still has me thinking: Audience of One from Day 2. The documentary about one mans create a biblical Star Wars type film when he has no film background. What still has me thinking, is why the overwhelming instant reaction is humour.

Interesting Trend: In complete reversal of behaviour in the majority of screenings I went to, the crowd for TADFF often had people quickly opt to sit in the very front row. Centre/centre filled up as well, but people liked to be front and centre as well. I myself opted for the side section on the aisle for good sightlines.

Repeating themes: The world run out of natural resources and alternative are needed - usually scary ones, twins and of course, zombies!!!!

Fullest Screenings: Mulberry Street, Automaton Transfusion and Poultrygeist. Toronto After Dark fans love their zombies!

Wish I hadn't missed: Murder Party. The premise felt a little much for me, but it received glowing reviews across the board. Perhaps I will get a chance to see it on the Blood Car/Murder Party tour.

Wish I hadn't heard: Although I love that each film was introduced, on a few occasions I heard a little more than I would have expected about the film we were about to see. I loved the enthusiasm, but 'Don't worry - everyone dies' is a little too much. We are there in the theatre, we don't need further convincing to see the film.

Best Experience: Day 2 Screening of In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale and Q&A with director Uwe Boll lead by Chris Alexander. The audience was enthusiastic, the film was highly entertaining and getting to see Dr. Uwe Boll in person was beyond cool.

Funnest collective experience: Zombies, zombies and more zombies. Walking out of Audience of One to a sidewalk full of zombies waiting for the double bill of zombie flicks that night. Totally awesome.

Can't wait for: Next October to come to see more amazing horror and fantasy films!

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The Toronto After Dark Film Festival ran from October 19-25/07 at the Bloor Cinema, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

TADFF 07 Day 7 - October 25/07

The final night of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival closes with the Gala screening of Murder Party (dir/writer Jeremy Saulnier) and the screening will be attended by Chris Sharp. Following the screening, the closing party will be at the Bovine Sex Club.

Be sure to check back Wrap 'up post!

TADFF 07 Day 6 - October 24/07

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Day 6 rounds out with a equal portion of hack and slash and spooky scares, it was another night of all around goodness at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

Mime Massacre
Dir: Colin Decker

Impressions: Brilliant in concept and exectution (literally), this bloody short is a must see for anyone scared of mimes, and I'd stretch that to clowns too.

Simon Says
Writer/Dir: William Dear
Cast: Crispin Glover, Margo Harshamn, Greg Cipes

Impressions: Teens camping out, crazy twin brothers and pickaxes. Slasher, or impaler? film Simon Says is full of blood, horror and creepiness galore. Crispin Glover plays both twins to a tee and delivers some pretty funny one liners to boot. Great considering the genre, ok overall.

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(director of Key Lime Pie Trev Jimenez and Todd from Twitch)

Key Lime Pie
Dir: Trev Jimenez
Animated short

Impressions: On man's obsession with Key Lime Pie and the actions he will take, advice he will ignore to get.. that.. pie. Impressive animated short with grim yet humourous outlook.

Nightmare Detective / Akumu Tantei
Writer/Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto
Cast: Ryuhei Matsuda, Hitomi, Masanobu Ando, Shinya Tsukamoto
Language: Japanese

Impressions: I didn't think I would see something scarier than Alone this year, but Nightmare Detective gives it a good run for its money. Intriguing premise of a man who can enter into the dreams of others, and a detective investigating something that needs that. Although the idea did remind me of the 1984 film Dreamscape, the story is completely different. There is also a bit of a gender flip with the tried and true facts detective is a woman, and the emotional psychic is a man. Unique visual style punctuate the scary moments and a plot that keeps you hanging make Nightmare Detective a sure fire entertainment delight.

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs October 19-25/07 at the Bloor Cinema , Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

TADFF 07 Day 5 - October 23/07

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Here we are at Day 5 of 7 for The Toronto After Dark Film Festival! It's gone by pretty quickly and I am already looking forward to next year. Day 5 was a stellar success, I couldn't recommend either of the 2 features highly enough.

The Legend of Boruta
Dir: Bartosz Nowakowski
Animated Short

Impressions: Very stylish animation, amazing use of light, interesting characters and story. I am continued to be impressed with shorts that have little to no dialogue, this one had a few lines in German, but you still are giving all the information you need to understand and enjoy the film. Kudos.

Wolfhound / Volkodav iz roda Serykh Psov
Writer/Dir: Nikolai Lebedev
Cast: Aleksandr Bukharov, Oksana Akinshina, Aleksandr Domogarov
Language: Russian

Impressions: A really fun fantasy film with all the things you would expect and a whole lot more. Like the bat side kick. I kid you not - a bat side kick, who completely won over the crowd. Impressive battle scenes, scenery, costumes and performances are a plenty throughout the film. There are characters to love, hate, cheer for and growl against Wolfhound has all the mixings for a wonderful fantasy film. It would be amiss to not comment that parts of the story bear strong resemblance to other films (Lord of the Rings, Conan the Barbarian), however it does hold true as its own film and is most certainly worth seeing. Wolfhound is one of my favorites of the festival so far.

Check out the Wolfhound official website here

God's Little Girl
Dir: Mitch Davis

Impressions: The idea behind this short is very interesting, however the one tone voice over and length of the piece dragged it down too much to be very enjoyable.

Alone /Faet
Dir: Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongppom
Cast: Masha Vadhanapanich, Witthaya Wasukraipaisam
Languages: Thai, Korean

Impressions: Don't watch Alone alone! It's so freaking scary, and awesome to boot. Brilliant story revolving around conjoined twins, Alone also provides us with stellar acting and scares galore. Even when you knew the scary parts were coming, they still made everyone jump. It was a real treat to see this in the theatre in the presence of an enthusiastic and loud crowd. I still remember the first yelp, then giggles - what could be bad? Nothing, it was all good. Well, fingers crossed I don't get any nightmares!

Check out the Alone official website here

Highlight of the Day: Not only was it a treat that I loved both of the features today, I was accompanied by my sister and her husband for the screenings which made it so much more fun! After the screening of Alone we kept coming up with freaky ideas that would scary people in the style of the film.

Runner up highlight: The bat in Wolfhound.

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs October 19-25/07 at the Bloor Cinema , Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

TADFF 07 Day 4 - October 22/07

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A little of a quieter day for me at on Monday at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, checking out just one movie, The Rebel a kickin' martial arts film from Vietnam. I decided to forgo the David Arquette directorial debut of The Tripper as I'm a little bloodied out and I have a sneaky suspicioun that it is one of the films that will more readily available. I'm sure I will back for more blood for Wednesday's for Simon Says.

The Bullet
Dir: Tanner Adams

Impressions: This could be the first ever western short I've seen, and it made it expertly clear that the key elements of a western could be succinctly captured in 11 minutes. A hyper use of colour and electric soundtrack are a creative turn completing the extreme nature of this genre and the film itself.

The Rebel
Dir: Charlie Nguyen
Cast: Johnny Nguyen, Thanh Van Ngo, Dustin Nguyen
Languages: Vietnamese, French

Impressions: It is fair to say this is one of the films I was most looking forward to at this year's festival. It has been billed as the most expensive Vietnamese film, starring Johnny Nguyen whose credits include The Protector, Cradle 2 the Grave and the man inside the Spiderman suit. The happy surprize is that is following a current trend that I love which is the martial arts film with so much more. In a way, it reminded me of Myung Sung-Le's Duelist in that it has more than one main character and beautifully combines action and romance, without either feeling cheesy. The Rebel arguable has three main characters, along with Johnny Nguyen's character Chong, we also have Thanh Van Ngo playing a strong female character Vo Thanh Thuy and power hungry Sy played by Dustin Nguyen. The plot weaves through colonialism, rebellion, redemption and a thread of romance. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable film with solid story and of course spectacular fights and spinning kicks galore. Notablely, the Fred Astaire style full body shots were received much more enthusiastically than shots that were pieced together. Not that I doubt the skill, which all three actors have to a level most humans will never achieve. The Rebel is high on my list of favorites for this years festival.

*update* For those that were at the Oct 22/07 screening of The Rebel, it was later revealed that the version that was intended to be shown got held up at customs therefore we saw a back up copy. This explains the audio issues and no credits, and I hope it explains the reason why there were no subtitles at 2 brief moments of the film.

Memorable Quote: "That Goddamn move hurts"
I wonder if that was the character, or the actor...

Visit The Rebel official website here.

Highlight of the Day: Getting to meet fellow TADFF'er Bob from Eternal Sunshine of the Logical Mind.

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The Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs October 19-25/07 at the Bloor Cinema,

Monday, 22 October 2007

TADFF 07 Day 3 - October 21/07

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Sunday was my fullest day at Toronto After Dark Film Festival by far, fitting in all screenings which included 16 shorts and 3 features. This was a tough decision as it means I missed seeing the zombie walk. Luckily not all was lost and the zombies were tromping around the Bloor and Bathurst area all night. In fact, upon exiting the theatre after Audience of One, I was faced with multitude of zombies, many of which were in line for the next film, Automation Trnasfusion. At one point I nearly crashed into a zombie and then had the quick & friendly "Sorry!" and "It's OK!" exchange. Good zombie!

Cutting Edge Fantasy
The day started with a collection of SciFi and Fantasy shorts which were introduced as "All the cool stuff". I would have to agree, they weren't all pigeon holed into the genre identification as SciFi/Fantasy but I think there could all be appreciated by SciFi/Fantasy fans. Here are the stand outs:

Agnieshka: A Dark Symphony of 2039
Martin Gauvrea
Poland/UK, 2007
12 min

This was the most polished film of the bunch and had an electric like energy to it that drew you in the world it created. Highly stylized with amazing sound and ideas brought to life, it was my favorite of the bunch.

Trionyx (Soft-Shelled Turtle)
Nick Child
USA, 2006
5 min

This brilliant short revolving around the preparation for a fight against Godzilla. Hilarious.

Flemming Jetmar
UK, 2007
4 min

Clocking in at 4 minutes this is the essence of short film. Enough visual information is provided for everything to mesh together perfectly but also leaves enough to keep you thinking.

The Drift
Kelly Sears
USA, 2007
8 min

Creepy tale of a sounds that overwhelms humans, told in an unnerving visual style bridging the familiar with the unthinkable. One to watch.

One of the great things about seeing SciFi/Fantasy is it opens up to fascinating ideas as well as new and inventive ways to tell stories. Fantastic ideas are the back bone of Ambassador's Day and The Un-Gone, and visual inventiveness is dominant in Hairlady and An Introduction to Lucid Dream Experience.


One of the exciting things about today was that it was the annual zombie walk. Although I didn't attend myself, the zombies were everywhere!!! Here is Thea Faulds, Zombie Walk Coordinator looking fabulously ghoulish with Adam Lopez as they hand out prize packs before the screening of Automaton Transfusion:

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Terror on the 3918
Dir: Mathieu Fontaine

Impressions: Ironically after viewing all the shorts in the fantasy selection, I find my favourite short so far directly after it. Canadian and in French to boot this film brilliantly pairs known scifi culture to every day home devices. Absolutely brilliant.

Audience of One
Dir: Mike Jacobs

Impressions: This film was by far the one I heard that most people in being interested to see it, possible because it is a documentary. I wonder if it falls over 'horror' or 'fantasy'. I'm thinking they were going for fantasy. The documentary follows a pastor set out to direct a biblical film of Star Wars scale with zero experience and the continual refrain that 'the funding will come through'. Although there were many great moments ranging from hilarious to unbelievable the continual thought ran through me of why we think it is funny? Is it because of the religious element? The ineptitude? The main focus is really about one man's dream and going for it even if it is big and crazy idea - and that is something I can be totally for! Although it's more about him getting people to follow his dream, as oppose to everyone having their own. I would also be curious as to why he agreed to be filmed throughout, and if he has seen the film. It is entertaining on many levels, so for that I give it credit.

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(Adam Lopez and Steve Miller before Zombie Jesus)

Zombie Jesus
Dir: Steve Miller

Impressions: Wonderful, zom-com merging the ideas of religion to current day life with a twist of zombieness. Very well received and stellar zombie film.

Q&A Highlights: Parts of the film were filmed during the 2006 Zombie Walk, and numerous zombies from this year were in the audience! Cool!

Automaton Transfusion
Dir: Steven C. Miller
Cast: Garrett Jones, Juliet Reeves, William Howard Bowman

Impressions: Introduced as a film that will be the first in a trilogy, this bloody as hell zombie film is entertaining but didn't quite meet the mark for me. I think it is the bloodiest of the films so far (excluding the possibility of Blood Car which I didn't see), and surely had lots of cheers from the audience. There are promising young actors but I felt some aspects of the film didn't quite hold up including that some of story is 'told' instead of 'shown', as well as some continuity issues. It was entertaining and the crowd loved it, but in terms of zombie feature films I found Mulberry Street from Day One of the festival to be a much more satisfying.

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(Adam Lopez and Jason Zukowski before Eat the Parents)

Eat the Parents
Dir: Jason Zukowski

Impressions: Very rowdy crowd gave this short about a average couple meeting the parent's dinner to a ritual zombiemaking process a welcoming response.

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(Adam Lopez with Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma crew)

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead
Dir: Lloyd Kaufman
Cast: Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, Lloyd Kaufman

Impressions: Where to begin. My impression going into it was a zombie-chicken-musical. I thought, ok that sounds interesting. This is my second D'oh! moment of not reading the description carefully enough. This satire with the theme of protesting against the fast food business on an ancient burial ground, with the most visible protesters being girls who for some reason remove their shirts. Right. Add to that bathroom humour, bodily fluids, solids and parts all flying around going into things or being cut off or multiple other possibilities. I haven't even gotten to the whole chicken thing, or zombie thing, or satire thing. I think I'll leave it at that. I would think you would be able to know by now if the film was meant for you.

Q&A Highlights: The film did us mostly old school special effects as opposed to CGI, the soundtrack has karaoke delights, and it was good to hear that independent film is still kicking and that a lot of people volunteered from all over the world to help put this film together.

Highlight of the Day: Walking into zombies all day and night.

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The Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs October 19-25/07 at the Bloor Cinema, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

TADFF 07 Day 2 - October 20/07

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Here is the daily news for Toronto After Dark for Saturday October 20, 2007.

Dir: Peter Ricq
Short film

Impressions: Fabulous short film exploring alternate realities, an excellent use of colour fully punctuates this theme. A creative visual style accompanied by strong narrative made this short film a treat to watch.

Aachi and Ssipak
Dir: Jo Beom-Jin
Voices: Seung-wan Ryoo, Chang Jung Lim, Yeong Hyeon
South Korea

Impressions: Easiest thing to say would be that this does not suit my tastes. In all fairness it is described as "South Park meets the Matrix". The initial action sequence is quite good but the premise of the film was just too ridiculous for me: in response to requiring an alternate source of energy and the chosen raw material is human waste. Add to that a fair amount of gender imbalance including the following line by one of the only female characters "Why do I need to know? Isn't being pretty enough?". If your tastes fall along the lines of bathroom humour plus gangster films then it would be suited for you. It did start out with a strong audience reaction but lost quite a few folks throughout the duration of the film. In the end there was loud cheering and clapping so it was enjoyed, just not by all.

The Pit and the Pendulum
Dir: Marc Lougee

Impressions: Stylistically strong with characters that are alarmingly full of depth given the fact that there is almost no spoken language (voiceovers being and exception). The quality of the film makes it no surprize that it has played at over 100 festivals.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
Dir: Uwe Boll (Bloodrayne, House of the Dead)
Cast:Jason Statham, John Rhys-Davies, Ray Liotta, Matthew Lillard, Leelee Sobieski, Burt Reynolds, Ron Perlman , Will Sanderson, Claire Forlani, Brian J. White, Kristanna Loken

Impressions: Highly enjoyable fantasy fare with impressive cast, effects and fight scenes. This film had the most vocal crowd so far, to the point of lines being called out from the audience to the screen. Eventually a not so polite retort quelled the tone down a little and I then realized that there were people enjoying the film in a non humorous way. Fair play to them, this film has a fair amount to offer (look at that cast!), being of the fantasy genre I was interested right away. The story begins with a simple task which becomes complicated and intertwined with numerous characters throughout the duration of the film. Strong performances include Jason Statham as a hesitant avenger, creepy factor runs high with Ray Liotta and comic relief by the bushel full with Matthew Lillard as the selfish nephew to the king. Leelee Sobieski and Kristanna Loken round out the cast and I was impressed by the presence of strong female characters. All in all I would say I enjoyed it and I believe numerous people in the crowd did as well.

Q&A Highlights:
Right off the bat Chris Alexander addressed the similarity to Lord of the Rings to which Uwe Boll replied that any fantasy film made will bear the burden of being compared to Lord of the Rings, however he said it’s a different story, there is no goal revolving around an object. In my opinion, In terms of art direction and the ‘creatures’, you can’t help but see a similarity but if in fact the film is true to the world and story that the video game created it would be the video game, not the film, to which complains should be directed to about the similarities.

I think it would be safe to say that this Q&A was one of the most highly anticipated of the festival. Not only was it led by Chris Alexander, one of the critics who took up the challenge to box Uwe Boll, but also because people have such a strong reactions to his films. What I found more riveting about the Q&A was that Uwe Boll is that he speaks his mind in such a straight up manner without hesitation to be very frank about the people his worked with and the experiences he’s had be they good or bad. I think that is remarkable.

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(Chris Alexander, Uwe Boll)

Highlight of the Day: After the screening of In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale there was a preview of upcoming documentary titled The Maneuver In Vancouver when there were some technical difficulties Uwe said from inside the theatre “I am here, I can do it live”. I think that might be the best moment of the festival.

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs October 19-25/07 at the Bloor Cinema, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

TADFF 07 Day 1 - October 19/07

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The Toronto After Dark Film Festival started out with a bang on with a full and energetic house piled in The Bloor Cinema to see the zombie film Mulberry Street. The room was full of energy as festival director Adam Lopez introduced both the short and feature films of the day, as well as the festival itself. It was a treat to have special guests at the event including Jim Mickle (director) and Nick Damici (actor/writer) from Mulberry Street.

Latchkey's Lament
Dir: Tory Nixey
Short film

Impressions: Interesting concept involving a creature whom abducts keys, this short film is very successful in producing a very creepy setting and premise. The costuming of the creature is wonderfully bizarre along with is paired with an overall rich and creepy setting.

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(Adam Lopez along with cast and crew of Mulberry Street)

Mulberry Street
Dir: Jim Mickle
Cast: Nick Damici, Antone Pagan, Sarah Dickinson, Kim Blair, Ron Brice, Bo Corre, Larry Fleischman, Javier Picayo, Lou Torres, John Hoyt

Impressions: After being introduced as not like a regular zombie movie, but has an emotional kick to it, I wasn't sure what to expect from Mulberry Street. I believe that can be a great way to approach a film and in this case it was. The suspense and the story draw you in over time, and the depiction of the infected rats whom create zombies, was really creepy and accompanied by an excellent use of sound. An unnerving feel is achieved by confining the majority of the film to an apartment building where the main character, Clutch, lives. The neighbours fill in the roles of a large supporting cast and bring a full and realistic feel to this film. You quickly get a sense of who everyone is shortly after their onscreen appearance and grow attached to them, which is a dangerous thing given the nature of zombie films! All in all, Mulberry Street was a delightful zombie film full of scares, thrills and not only brains but also heart.

Q&A Highlights: An audience asked what the logistics of working with the rats were to which director Jim Mickle replied that the star is Nick, and other than that the start is the rats. One of which they caught footage on the street but other than that they made a set and had a rat wrangler and hoped to get the shot. Also, the indoor apartment scenes were shot all in Nick Damici's apartment, painted in different ways.

Highlight of the day: The crowd! Packed to the gills and cheering along ("Brains!!") this is one of the things that makes festivalling so special. So come on out and be a part of it!

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(Jim Mickle, director of Mulberry Street capturing the crowd at TADFF 07)

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs October 19-25/07 at the Bloor Cinema, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Toronto After Dark Film Festival - it begins!

The day has finally come! The Toronto After Dark Film Festival starts today. A recent announcement has indicated that four of the feature film screenings will have special guests in attendance.

Screenings with special guests include:

Friday October 19/07 - Gala screening of Mulberry Street, director Jim Mickle will be in attendance along with cast and crew

Saturday October 20/07 - In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, director Uwe Boll will be in attendance

Sunday October 21/07 - Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Lloyd Kaufman will be in attendance

Thursday October 25/07 - Murder Party, lead actor and co-producer Chris Sharp will be in attendance.

Short and sweet news here shows us the full line ups of the shorts that are running during the festival. I am thrilled ot hear that Canadian shorts will be shown before the features films, what a treat that will be! Here is the short film schedule:

Saturday October 20/07 1:45pm: Cutting Edge Horror (please note this screening is at Innis Town Hall)

Sunday October 21/07: Cutting Edge Fantasy (Bloor Cinema)

Throughout: Cutting Edge Canada will be show before feature film screenings.

See you in the dark!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Rosemary’s Baby

Dir: Roman Polanski (The Pianist, Chinatown)
Cast: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer
USA, 1968

Seen: October 6, 2007 thanks to the Toronto Public Library

Reason to see: It’s on my 101 list of films I can't believe I haven't seen for being a classic scary movie

Was it scary? Yes. On the most part it was that lovely creepy style of a slow pace that on the surface feels like regular day life and then gets more and more freaky as the film passes on. The film does an amazing job of creating vivid characters and genuine tension. It does give you time to settle into the film, make yourself comfortable for this viewing as it clocks in a over 2 hours.

I did find some elements a little unclear but I think this was done on purpose and I don’t believe it hurt the story at all. It is a film that holds up over time better than most, there are some slightly dated references but on the whole it works. It’s definitely scary and worth a watch.

Warnings – There are a number of fairly to very disturbing scenes. As opposed to some other films of it’s time it still reads as very scary and disturbing. Not for the faint of heart

Shannon's Overall View:
I thought it was very scary as a drama-scary film*
I would likely watch it one more time, likely in a group setting
I’d recommend it to folks who enjoy tension plot based scary films*

* I would have to say that I can’t give it 100% approval in the fact that like The Wicker Man it inaccurately portrays some practices. I’m not saying it isn’t possible for people to think this way, only that I believe it’s contradictory to true practices and even go as far to say mildly offensive.

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Monday, 8 October 2007

The Wicker Man

Dir: Robin Hardy (The Fantasist)
Cast: Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Britt Ekland
UK, 1973

Seen: September 1, 2007 on VHS thanks to the Toronto Public Library

Reason to see: It’s on my 101 list of films I can't believe I haven't seen list, for reasons I can not reveal as they would spoil the film. Believe me, it will. Someone asked me once and insisted they didn’t mind knowing but after I told them their reaction was “Wow, that really does spoil the film”. If you *really* want to know and you’ve seen the film, feel free to email me.

There was a lot of anticipation to see this film, the lone copy the library had that took 6 month to make it through my queue. It was unfortunate that it did not live up to the expectations I had. There was a lot going for it in terms of the idea at first, an investigation on a island of a missing child where the townsfolk are creatively elusive. The pacing is slow, as you would expect with a 70’s film but I didn’t it worth it. In general, it wasn’t very scary nor rarely created tension and then it threw in some nudity which arguable fit the storyline but felt completely unnecessary. On the whole I found it a bit of a chore to make it through and I did not agree with the portrayal of the community in which it was set.

Shannon's Overall View:
I can not say I liked it
I would not watch it again, but I might give the remake a go
Whom to recommend it to, normally I’d say people who enjoy 70’s Horror films but that includes me so it does not hold up. I’m at a bit of a loss. If you’ve seen and enjoyed it – let me know!

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Sunday, 7 October 2007

The Chronicles of Riddick

Dir: David Twohy (Pitch Black, Below, The Arrival)
Cast: Vin Diesel, Alexa Davalos, Thandie Newton, Karl Urban, Judi Dench, Colm Feore
USA, 2004

Seen: October 14, 2006 thanks to Rogers Direct

Reason to see: Loved Pitch Black so much I saw it 3 times in the theatre

It took more than a few attempts to see this film. I am astonished I didn’t get out to it in the theatre, and then my first attempt to get it through Rogers Direct resulted in getting Pitch Black oddly enough.

On the whole, I would say I was disappointed with this film. There are many possibilities of where a sequel could have gone after Pitch Black and I’ll tell you I would not have expected this one. The filmdoesn’t in any way compare with the beautiful simplicity of Pitch Black and it feels dragged down by the huge scale of the highly stylized new world it it set in. It’s as if there is more style over substance. That being said it pulled in some wonderfully talented actors (Judi Dench, Colm Feore and Karl Urban) all of whom added to the film even if they didn’t have tons of screen time. There are some good action sequences and some interesting characters but as a whole there was a bit lacking.

Shannon's Overall View:
It was ok, but not as much as I hoped
I’d watch it again on a Sunday afternoon
I’d recommend is as a fun scifi film but it isn’t really to be compared to the first film if you want to enjoy it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Ju-On: The Grudge

Writer/Dir: Takashi Shimizu (Marebito / The Stranger from Afar, The Grudge <2004>, The Grudge 2)
Cast: Megumi Okina, Misaki Ito, Misa Uehara, Yui Ichikawa
Japan, 2003

Seen: October 28, 2006 thanks to TMN

Reason to see: Great way to warm up to Halloween is to see scary movies!

This is a very creepy film, and it’s all about the visuals and the story. If you like films like Ringu or The Ring than this will be up your alley. Everyday settings that quickly become creepy, questionable characters and moments where your own eyes trick you are here in abundance. I will admit I didn’t 100% understand the logic story but that is most likely due to closing my eyes at the creepiest parts.

It’s a great film for a fun night of scary movies, but it’s not so scary that I’d imagine it would keep anyone up at night. Unsettling and wild, yes… but not to the point of creating irrevocable damage.

Side note: For those whom may tend to push aside movies that have subtitles, take a chance on this one you won’t be disappointed.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I will watch it again
I recommend it for scary movie fans

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Friday, 5 October 2007

Toronto After Dark Film Festival - Full Line Up online!

Well, fans of horror and fantasy - happy news for you! The full line up of films is now available on the Toronto After Dark Film Festival website. I went through the list of feature films and I can say I'm really impressed - they left some of the really juicy ones to the last minute and it is quite an exciting bunch!

From the newest released info these are the ones I am most looking forward to:

Alone / Faet (Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom)
Creepy looking thriller from Thailand exploring the scary possibilites of conjoined twins. The trailer freaked me out so much I couldn't watch it all. This is one I will not miss.

The Rebel (Charlie Nguyen)
1920's period film from Vietnam with some kick butt action and some familiar faces, this one will be a highlight for me.

and last but not least:

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (Uwe Boll)
Uwe Boll is back with another film based on a video game, this time the cast line up includes Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Leelee Sobieski, Ron Perlman and Burt Reynolds. Words can not describe the experience of a Uwe Boll film (although I tried with my review of Bloodrayne), so I do anticipate this to be one wild ride.

The festival has got a great line up. Check out their site for more info and trailers for all 14 feature films. I will be attending the festival from Oct 19-25, 2007 and posting daily. See you in the dark.

Thursday, 4 October 2007


Dir: Uwe Boll (Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead, Heart of America)
Cast: Kristanna Loken, Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez, Ben Kingsley, Billy Zane, Michael Paré, Udo Kier, Meat Loaf
USA/Germany, 2006

Seen: November 25, 2006 thanks to Rogers Direct

Reason to see: morbid curiosity. I heard such scandalous things about the director (including challenging critics to boxing matches) therefore I could not resist checking out the film.

I don’t even know where to start. Well, first off – look at that cast! Michelle Rodriquez, woohoo! Ben Kingsley, always a man of class. Then add in Billy Zane and Kristanna Loken it’s just a little bit of everything. Sometimes the language and accents are an odd mix of period and contemporary but I can live with that. There is a fair amount of violence and it is gory in a very video game way, but not to an extent where I found it brutal or disturbing and it tended to fit the action scenes. All and all I can I enjoyed this film, but I approached it really openly it’s based on a video game after all and with a female title character that kicks butt and goes for what she wants.

It was loads better than Dungeons & Dragons, that’s for sure.

Great Quote: “Plans are for humans”

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I’d watch it again
I recommend it to fans of fun period action films

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Wednesday, 3 October 2007


Dir/Writer: Rian Johnson (Evil Demon Goofball from Hell!!!)
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas, Nora Zehetner, Matt O’Leary, Noah Segan, Emilie de Ravin
USA, 2006

Seen: March 1, 2007 thanks to TMN

Reason to see: Curiousity, looked either smart or pretentious.

I was happily surprized after watching this film. The acting is excellent, the dialogue is fantastic and the plot is solid. I wouldn’t say it’s a scary movie per se but I would consider it a thriller, almost even film noir although it appears to be often classified as a drama. It feels like what Heathers was for previous generations, but omitting the Omigod! lines played in 100% straight faced with cryptically created dialogue. Brick is not an easy film to watch, there is a fair share of violence, disturbing ideas and high schooler’s doing things most people wouldn’t want to think they could do. When you add those things with the creative language I think it can be interpreted as pretentious, however I thought it worked perfectly as it never broke the world it created and each character rang true.

If you, like I, had moments of where do I know them from? The character Emily is Emilie de Ravin who played Tess in the TV Series “Roswell” and in lead character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the sweet Cameron from 10 Things I Hate About You, and I would have to say that his stellar performance here really puts him on the chart of one to watch.

Warning: Violence

Shannon's Overall View:
I thought it was very good
I’d watch it again
I recommend it, but note the warning of violence

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007


Dir: Mikael Håfström (Derailed, Ondskan / Evil)
Cast: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Tony Shalhoub, Jasime Jessica Anthony
USA, 2007

Seen: July 9, 2007 at Scotiabank Theatre

Reason to see: Looked interesting and it is one of my films for Week 29 of See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year.

It is refreshing to see a scary film based on a strong story and that uses ideas to thrill in a genre that has been saturated with gore over the past few years. Initially it reminded me a lot of Identity but quickly established its own tone and focus. The main setting is a hotel room where ‘things go wrong’ and John Cusack’s character is one who does not believe in such things. It was great to see John Cusack really hold his own in this film, which is one of the things that make it successful considering the large amount of screen time he has. Other contributing factors to what makes this a solid film is the setting – a relatively normal room that easily creeps us out, and the excellent use of sound and music. Add to that original ideas and freaky visuals and you’ve got a pretty good scary movie on your hands.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I’d watch it again
I would recommend it to thriller and scary movie fans

16 minutes of preshow including 7 commercials and 5 previews (I Know Who Killed Me, I Now Prounouce You Chuck and Larry, Sunshine, Shoot ‘Em Up and the fifth I missed or they did not show the title but it may have been the Rob Zombie directed Halloween remake)

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Monday, 1 October 2007

October: Month of scares if you so dare!

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Welcome film fans to the scary month of October! We associate different months with different things depending on our lives and the things we do, but October seems to be a time when it gets darker sooner, the cold starts to creep in and scary movies are upon us as we approach Halloween.

One of the thrills sure to be had this October is the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (in Toronto, October 19-25/07). I am thrilled to be attending this year and I will be sending you daily updates during the festival.

To get us warmed up for that, or chilled depending on your preference, I've got a bucketload of scary film reviews planned the first of which is already up: Resident Evil: Extinction. Many, many more to come so stay tuned!

If you have your own list of favourite scary films, I'd suggest you head on over to Ed Hardy, Jr site Shoot the Projectionist and participate in his The 31 Flicks That Give You the Willies. Make sure to get those lists in by Oct 13, 2007! I've already submitted my list (many of which are on my Scariest Movies of all Time list) and I am very much looking forward to hearing the films that freak out other people!

And I thought nothing could top Sept 07, but with all this fun stuff going on I think the days just keep getting better.

Resident Evil: Extinction

Dir: Russell Mulcahy (Swimming Upstream)
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Ali Larter, Ian Glen, Ashanti Douglas France/Australia/Germany/UK/USA, 2007

Seen: Sept 22, 2007 at Scotiabank Theatre

Reason to see: Mostly, the timing was good and the first one was entertaining. This also counts as the second entry for week 39/52 in my #7 - See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year.

If you are looking for a good paced zombie action movie, it is very possible that Resident Evil: Extinction is for you. However if that is what you are looking for I would think it's likely you've already seen it! This film does have some good action sequences, a solid plot and acting. I was expecting more action sequences truth be told, but I think the ones they have fit the bill and were impressive and creative.

I was unfortunately unimpressed by some of the gender crap in this film. It almost seems contradictory to say that about a film that involves a kick butt female protagonist, and additional strong female characters, but it is true. This happens in a variety of scenes, some of which are believable and others which are not. I want to keep this spoiler free so I'll describe it as such: it was not so disturbing that I wanted to leave the theatre but it was jarring or inconsistent during those specific scenes.

There was another very odd thing I found about this film. Well, there was more than one odd thing but this was in terms of film something I'd not noticed before. A few of the smaller roles were played by actors whom had a striking resemblance to quite famous actors. For example, Iain Glen whom played Dr. Isaacs looks a lot like Hugo Weaving (check out the imdb links: Iain Glen here and Hugo Weaving here). I do wonder if it was intentional. I also found it odd how much Milla Jovovich appeared to be airbrushed - they could have been trying to go for the CGI feel as it's based on a game, but it seemed odd. She's gorgeous as is, I think they could have left it at that.

If nothing else, it did make me curious to watch the second film in this series, which was a result I was not expecting. I did not enjoy Resident Evil: Extinction as much as the original Resident Evil (for one, the original has Michelle Rodriguez!), however it is better than the likes of Ghosts of Mars.

Shannon's Overall View:
It was mostly entertaining, but would have been better without the gender crap
I'd give it another watch on TV
I recommend it fans of action/zombie films

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007
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