Category Archives: movie review

31 Days of Horror 2014 – Ravenous (1999)

ravenousDo you ever get those hanger pangs that are so deep, so full of want, that you could eat a whole steak (yes), a whole beef roast (yes!), a whole cow (YES!)?

No matter how hungry you get, there is one food source that is strictly taboo, firmly off-limits, and definitely not for civilized consumption. So it’s no wonder that gorging on human flesh is too harrowing and far too repulsive an act to ever consider – no matter how dire the (pardon the pun) stakes.

The idea literally turns our stomachs.

And that’s what makes the 1999 dark humour horror film, Ravenous, so much fun!

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Free Spirit: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Any film from Studio Ghibli is a treat. The Japanese anime house has put out some great movies over the years, including Hayao Miyazake’s films Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001), and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). Now officially retired, Miyazake’s worked slowly but steadily, putting out a film every five years or so. His Studio Ghibli cofounder Isao Takahata is even less prolific. The director of the masterful WWII story Grave of the Fireflies (1988) has only made three films since, his last My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999) released over fourteen years ago. His return at age 78 with The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2014) shows that Takahata hasn’t missed a beat. Beautiful and moving, he delivers another anime masterpiece.

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31 Days of Horror 2014 – L’Inferno (1911)

LInferno 1911Think of the high pitched screech of metal across metal, the low guttural growl of a wild animal or the rapid plucking of violin strings again and again to illicit a sense of tension. Undoubtedly, one of the most important elements of any horror film is sound: both in music score and in effects.

Still, visceral imagery and the underlying text that a film is based upon can have an enormous affect on the mindset of a viewer.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, at the origin of the art form we call film, the black and white L’Inferno, released in 1911, silent and arresting, tested the relevance of this treatise. The result was an overwhelmingly popular and horrifying experience for all of those that viewed the film then, as well as those that view it today.

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31 Days of Horror 2014 – A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

“Whatever you do… don’t fall asleep.”

Yeah. That’s gonna work. Talk about an absolute classic catchphrase. Parents of newborns, late night essay crammers and insomniacs all know how weird your head can get without enough sleep. I’m in the mad throes of a rushed move myself, packing and running around at all hours, and I am spaced. If someone said that to me right now, in a dead serious hushed whisper, I can tell you, I’d freak the fuck out. Freddie Krueger knows where we all live, at night, when our eyes are closed and we’re most vulnerable. But he’s not real, it’s okay. That horribly burnt, disfigured face isn’t real. Those razor claws aren’t real. Have another cup of coffee. We’re fine. Let’s talk about the original Nightmare on Elm Street, I’m just going to lean back, and… did you hear something? Never mind. It’s probably… just… the wind…

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31 Days Of Horror 2014 – Murder By Decree (1979)

murder_by_decreeThe world over, and in even in the realm of pop culture, is there a more horrifying thought in public consciousness than the famously unsolved murders of Jack the Ripper?

Of course, innumerable amounts of people have written about their fascination with England’s most notoriously unknown murderer. We here at Biff Bam Pop! have done our part, too. Whether it’s a physical walk, book, poem, or a drawing, film has always had a fascination for the villain.

Although not a horror movie, Murder By Decree announces its intent through its opening scene: a rolling panorama of 1888 London during an October sunset, a fog rising, and the night’s first policeman whistles as Big Ben chimes in the distance.

Suspense and dread. That’s what the film offers. Oh! And a solving of the crime by fiction’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes!

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Somber on the High Seas: Haemoo Sinks Under Its Own Weight

Genre-bending is a real Korean specialty. From the family drama monster movie hybrid of Bong Joon-Ho’s The Host to the madcap martial arts western of Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, The Bad, The Weird, films like these turn on a dime. You just never know what to expect. One big Korean film at the Toronto International Film Festival this year is Haemoo, directed by Shim Sung-bo. Relatively unknown, the first-time director co-wrote Memories of Murder in 2003 with Bong Joon-Ho, who returns the favour here producing and co-writing Haemoo. Not bad having the director of Snowpiercer in your corner. It isn’t all smooth sailing with Shim Sung-bo’s debut, though. Climb aboard, matey, and I’ll tell you the tale.

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Got That Swing: Bang Bang Baby and Songs She Wrote About People She Knows

The super-stylized Bang Bang Baby follows Stepphy (Jane Levy) and her dreams of musical escape

Finding new talent is a thrill, that delectable shock when you hit on something that speeds your pulse and your synapses and says, “Hey, bet you’ve never seen it done quite like this before.” Getting that thrill is what the Discovery Programme at the Toronto International Film Festival is all about. It’s a showcase of forty films featuring the best new directors from around the world. There’s a bunch of Canadian films in the Discovery Programme, cuz hey there’s nothing wrong with a homer. Two of them happen to have a lot in common. Both Bang Bang Baby and Songs She Wrote About People She Knows are musicals with a hesitant lead finding her way to her dreams. Now those dreams are pesky things, and they never quite turn out the way you expect.

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It Follows: Heartfelt Horror Mines the Past for Something New

David Robert Mitchell’s throwback horror film It Follows is surprisingly fresh. And creepy.

Passing on the curse is a time-honoured horror tradition. Through an innocent act, the victim unwittingly brings a malevolent force down on themselves. The only chance for salvation is to make someone else the next target. That’s the plot for The Ring (2002) and its Asian originators, and it stretches back to Jacques Tourneur’s occult Night of the Demon (1957), which in turn takes literary inspiration from M.R. James’s short story Casting the Runes. (The Stephen King/Richard Bachman classic Thinner is another haunting example.) With his new film It Follows (2014) at this year’s TIFF, American indie filmmaker David Robert Mitchell turns the conceit to a sexually transmitted serial haunting. He takes that idea and runs with it, or rather, walks very… creepily… slowly. Now take a look around. We don’t have much time. But you need to know this.

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