All posts for the day October 27th, 2014

Hellmouth TADFF 2014

Published October 27, 2014 by vfdpixie


Hellmouth (2014, 1 hr 35 mins)


The trailer for Hellmouth was exciting.  It had a definite retro feel, and there was a campiness that lead me to believe that there were some laughs to be had.  What I came to realize is that it is an unexpectedly beautiful surrealist horror; a swirling combination of both modern and classic influences.

Charlie Baker is retiring.  After many years of working as a grave-digger and tending to a bleak, solitary environment, he is going to pack up his bags and head to Miami where he can actually talk to people, and not be tormented by the local kids.  He is also ill, a husk of a man, battling an episodic brain disorder that will eventually kill him.  Definitely time served, but an unexpected visit from Mr. Whinny (Boyd Banks), his supervisor, presents a 6 month, non-negotiable extension that crushes Charlie to the core.  He must travel to the Forks of Heaven Cemetery, possibly the creepiest final resting place ever, where his grave tending duties take a nightmarish turn.  His journey becomes one of life-changing proportions, and with the help of a mysterious woman Fay, he will battle demons, beasties, convicts and his own limitations to save himself and the woman he grows to love.

I was completely drawn in by the visuals of this film.  The effects created by Nick Flook were really beautiful; black and white with pops of colour that to me, indicated glimmers of hope in such a bleak world.  During the Q & A after the film, director John Geddes was asked about whether Sin City was an influence.  He definitely acknowledged the influence, but wanted Hellmouth to have more of an Ed Wood feel.  I saw the obvious similarities with the Frank Miller film, but you will quickly realize that aside from being technically and visually similar, this film’s story makes you forget any Sin City reference.  Other references you may notice are of course Dante’s Inferno as well as a touch of Samuel Beckett’s absurdism and Lynchian surrealism that created a great visual and cerebral package.

The performances were fantastic.  As you may know, I love Stephen McHattie.  He can do no wrong in my eyes.  His portrayal of a broken and weary Charlie was spot on; a perfect conduit for this character which was a custom fit.  I will echo the sentiment from the crew that without Mr. McHattie, there would be no film.  Siobhan Murphy was gorgeous as the mysterious femme fatale and guide for Charlie, and it was great to see Canadian indie directing great Bruce McDonald play a cameo role in what was probably my favourite part of the film in which creepy detective Cliff Ryan (Mark Gibson) recounts the fates of doomed cemetery staff before Charlie.

Writer Tony Burgess, who also wrote Pontypool and Septic Man, was also at the screening.  Always entertaining, he told the audience that he at first balked at the story Geddes brought to him.  The world as a cemetery?  He thought it was “bat shit crazy”, but committed to it anyway.  What looked crazy on paper ended up being a great story, examining one man’s relationship with his mortality and love to become an unlikely, but worthy hero.  This team of Geddes, Burgess, McHattie et al can stay together if they are going to bring us thoughtful and beautiful films like Hellmouth.  Treat yourself and go see this weird and exciting marriage of retro-stylized horror and technology.

Face Off Season 7 Episode 13: Monster Mayhem!

Published October 27, 2014 by vfdpixie

This episode, we found out who was going to be in the finale!  The remaining artists headed to DC Studios where shows like The X-Files and Alias were shot.  They came upon some old-fashioned newspapers with sensational headlines.  McKenzie was there as usual, ready to tell them about their last challenge before the finale.  She told them the newspaper headlines were inspired by movie monsters like Godzilla and King Kong.  Each headline involved a landmark devastated by a creature.  Their challenge was to pick a newspaper and create their own giant monster from that headline.  She advised them not to hold back as this was the last chance to show the judges that they belonged in the finale.  There was also a guest judge:  Clifton Collins Jr., a great character actor that everyone has seen, most recently in Pacific Rim.  He loved monster movies for the nostalgia and the fun.  His advice to them was to be original and pay attention to detail.

Dina picked “Mantis Preys on Paris!”  She wanted to created a female praying mantis who ate so many of her male counterparts that she grew into a giant monster, and to show the judges that she could do creepy.  Dina used plastic globes for the large eyes, and Mr. Westmore liked the face and told her how to shade for detailing.  She had quite a lot to do, and created extensions that added 2 feet to the model’s arms.  She also pulled out the piping bag for spikes on the arms.  After painting like crazy, she ended up with a beautiful giant monster.  The judges loved the teeth and the way she incorporated eye holes in the head’s nostrils.  The head itself was powerful for them, and with all the details, they felt every square inch of the makeup was addressed.  This put her in the top looks.

Cig went for “Yeti Crab Crushes Kremlin!”  His monster was a by-product of Chernobyl that escaped.  He wanted to fabricate a whole suit and start with a basic ape sculpt.  When Mr. Westmore saw his design, he told him it looked like a gorilla in a crab suit.  Cig had a moment where he needed a breather to rethink the sculpt.  He was running out of time, and he needed to sell more crab in the makeup, so he added antennae on the sides of the face.  This made him feel more confident, so he went on to make the suit with couch foam and L200.  He loved his paint job and the end result was a unique face and great overall shape.  The judges thought the face forms and profile worked well.  Clifton liked the fur, shell and shading.  The literal melding of crab and yeti also had a Japanese design and feel.  Cig was also in the top.

Drew got “Giant Sloth Destroys Shanghai!”  He wanted to go big by emphasizing the sloth’s long arms and claws.  He had to make sure the creature didn’t look too cute.  He started layering hair on the arms and then realized it took too much time, so he created a burn on the other arm to look like a war wound.  He was worried that it would look silly.  At the last minute, he thought the hair looked bad and ripped it off to create burns on both arms.  The judges liked his paint textures and felt it successfully met the challenge, but he could have handled the burns better.  They liked that he modified the creature to show gigantism, as well as the head and claws.

George picked “Deadly Squid Destroys Dubai!”  His idea was to sculpt a scary beak in a chest piece.  Mr. Westmore advised him to stay away from muddy colours and use purples and reds instead.  His chest piece didn’t cure properly, so he had to run it in poly foam which is more rigid, but it was key for the makeup.  He had a lot to create with the bodysuit, and it wasn’t quite working out, realizing that he had bitten off more than he could chew.  George wasn’t proud of this makeup and started to throw paint onto the suit which was a little alarming since they had to do their best for this last challenge.  Luckily, he ended up liking his paint job.  I thought it was sloppy looking, but the judges overlooked that because they liked the 60’s feel of the makeup and the profile transition from mouth to shoulder.  They felt the colours were more playful, and Glenn liked the Sarlacc pit mouth.  Lois though it looked like a creature from Dr. Who.

After lots of deliberations, the judges chose Dina as the winner and the first person picked for the finale!  I was so happy.  They thought the amount of work she did by herself was impressive.  Cig was the second person picked.  The loved the throwback nature in his concept.  Drew was the last one going to the finale.  They thought he made smart decisions to focus on the sloth elements and did a successful sculpt and paint job.  That meant George was going home.  They thought he was a great artist but this week just not up to par with his peers.  He was disappointed but proud of his work and intended to  go back to work on his shop and keep creating.  I think the right people are in the finale, but I would have loved to see Stella in that lineup.  We got a bit of a hint of the upcoming finale challenge with swords, armour and a return to the Life or Death theme.  Looking forward to all the surprises they have in store!



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