Long before the teen angst pangs of Twilight or the fever heat of True Blood, director Kathryn Bigelow had an inkling of what a southern-fried vampire romance could be. Near Dark delivered on her vision of hillbilly vamps, an eighties cult classic that’s hard to believe is coming up on its thirtieth anniversary. The cinephiles at TIFF have dug out an archival print, so this Friday, July 21st, Bigelow’s blood-sucking hicks will rise again.
The TIFF Kids International Film Festival is close to wrapping up, but there’s a few gems that are still worth checking out. While teens are unlikely to be moved by the charmingly chill ghost flick Room 213, it’s perfect for a younger audience, with a simple story and zero horror histrionics.
Halfway to Halloween, and here in Toronto, the scarestivities are well underway. The Toronto After Dark Film Festival is bringing the shivers to the Scotiabank Theatre for the next week. And this weekend, the third annual Horror-Rama Canada convention is turning the Hyatt Regency into a horror hotel.
Although I’ve seen hundreds of horror films, I still consider myself something of a novice. The upside of this situation is that there is always a movie I haven’t yet seen, which means there are still hundreds, if not thousands, of films to look forward to seeing for the first time.
After all these years, I’ve managed to figure out what kinds of horror movies truly terrify me. Here are my top three favorites and why they scare(d) the living hell out of me.
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This week’s edition of “Pump Up The Jam” features A Band Aparte, Myrkur, Marching Church, Axis: Sova, Vallens, and more.
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Film is a fragile medium. It’s easy to forget in this digital age that so much of our cinematic history is committed to old-fashioned celluloid, the plastic spools wound on reels that rattle and clack on their way through the illuminated projector gate, giving us our magic in the dark. And celluloid is decidedly impermanent. The winding and travel of projection can damage film prints. And they fade, dry out, flake and become brittle over the years, even when they’re kept in optimal conditions. Film preservation has become a big concern, with directors like Martin Scorsese trying to raise awareness about how much film history might be lost if efforts aren’t made to keep these prints around.
TIFF has gone to great efforts to preserve films in its collection. This October, they’re breaking out a rarity, Canada’s first horror film, and first 3D feature as well. It’s a little known picture called The Mask, directed by Julian Roffman and released in 1961. In the film, a psychiatrist comes into possession of an ancient tribal mask. When worn, the mask assails him with nightmarish visions of monsters, occultists, and ritual torture. Believing that he has discovered a portal to the deepest recesses of his mind, he continues to explore this terrifying new psychic world — even at the risk of his sanity. It’s a dark, malevolent journey, with a riot of psychedelic 3D imagery every time the film intones for the doctor, and the audience, to “PUT THE MASK ON”. A definitive version of the film hasn’t been seen in decades, but through the restoration efforts of TIFF and the 3-D Film Archive of New Jersey, The Mask has been returned to its full, dizzyingly surreal glory. I spoke with the TIFF Director of Programming Jesse Wente about The Mask‘s strange journey, and TIFF’s challenging restoration.
Fairies are creepy. Maybe not fairies, but certainly faeries. The fantastic creatures of celtic lore have a decided dark side, and you’re wise to give them a wide berth. In his video introduction to the screening of The Hallow (2015) at Toronto After Dark, director Corin Hardy advised the audience to keep their iron tools and flashlights handy, to ward off the malign faerie folk. We giggled nervously, having left our wrought iron at home. What a mistake. “If you trespass on them, they will trespass on you,” the movie’s introduction says, and boy did we get trespassed on, by an eerie, unsettling creature feature as relentless as the demons in the woods.
Need something to watch this Halloween??? Look no further than 2014 Biff Bam Popcast Halloween edition, featuring Andy Burns, Glenn Walker, JP Fallavollita, Amanda Blue and Marie Gilbert. We’re talking 31 Days of Horror 2014, the horror movies we love and why, along with some discussion about the recently announced slate of Marvel movies.
This popcast is brought to you by our own Marie Gilbert’s first novel, Roof Oasis, which you can purchase over at Amazon.