All posts for the month March, 2015

The 2015 Canadian Film Fest: Late Night Double Feature

Published March 27, 2015 by vfdpixie


Late Night Double Feature (2014, 89 mins.)

I like a good horror anthology.  Where else can you get more bang for your buck, more gore, and more monsters all in one horror package?  Films from my horror education like The Trilogy of Terror (1975) and the golden prize in my movie collection The Monster Club (1981) provided more campy scares than I could ever ask for, and while some were cheesier than others, they all gave me a sense of joy when I found them on T.V. in the wee hours.  The latest addition to this genre, embracing the iconic old-school cable show, is Late Night Double Feature, the brain child of The Blood in the Snow Festival founder Kelly Michael Stewart that had its Canadian premiere at the 2015 Canadian Film Fest last night.

Directed by Navin Ramaswaran, Dr. Nasty’s Cavalcade of Horror is just that.  Amidst shoddy sets and props, Dr. Nasty (Brian Scott Carleton) is a “mad scientist” late night host with a penchant for booze and pretty young interns.  His co-host, Nurse Nasty (Jamie Elizabeth Sampson), is an aspiring actress and tired of his antics that go un-punished by the show’s indifferent director and her boyfriend, Shawn (Mike Donis). As the studio drama goes on, Dr. Nasty shows two films, Dinner for Monsters and Slit, giving us 3 stories of horror in total, complete with some goofy laughs, a bit of shock, and schlocky fun.

It’s difficult to do tongue-in-cheek without it going the route of overly silly, and Late Night Double Feature actually delivers because of some great performances and good control of the mood and audience reaction.  With Dinner for Monsters, directed by Zachary Ramelan, a young chef (Nick Smyth) struggling to keep his dead father’s restaurant afloat gets a chance to cook for a private party that ends up having a gruesome main course.  The comedy was groan-inducing but made you laugh all the same, using lots of camp and a B-movie reveal that hit all the right notes.  Jeff Sinasac as the wealthy party host Vincent Dubuc has a stage actor’s presence, and brought a classic maniac vibe to the mix.

In Slit, Brad (Colin Price) is a cutter for hire.  He services clients who like to be strategically sliced up for pleasure.  He is void of feeling, creepy and likes to keep his client list private.  When he gets a new referral in Brii (Caleigh Le Grand), he reluctantly agrees to take her on, only to find she has lost her mind.  Escaping her attack, he rushes out, losing his little black client book that has his address in it; a perfect opportunity for Brii to find him and exact revenge.  I give Slit marks for intensity and a great villain in Brii.  I actually want to see more of her exploits and hope there is something in the works for the future.  Directed by Torin Langen, Slit reminds you that this is in fact a horror movie, and we shouldn’t get too comfortable with laughing, even though there is some comic relief with the kooky homeless guy played by Kirk Haviland.  It leaves you hanging, wondering where the rest of the film will go, which is exactly what creator Stewart wanted to do.  The flow eases the viewer out of the shock of Slit and back into the melodrama with Nurse Nasty, her predicament, and its bloody, climatic conclusion.

After the screening, the entire (read gigantic) cast and crew came up for a quick Q & A.  We learned that this production was realized by their determination and the good will of many friends and family.  Set in and around Toronto, and despite shooting delays and a flood, the film was shot in 15 days, and the idea that was spawned in 2013 came to fruition due to careful pre and post-production.

It looks like the cast and crew really enjoyed themselves making a true B-movie winner, and if you get a chance to see it, you’ll have a good laugh.  Honourable mention goes to the movie trailers of Night Klown and Encephatopithecus which were hilarious; and the moody, dark opening short, Burn the Tapes by Nick and Brit Kewin.  It was a fun night and I am glad I was able to check it out.  You can follow the film on Twitter for updates:  @LATENIGHTDOUBLE; and the Canadian Film Fest wraps up tonight, so check out the final films here.

Face Off Season 8 Episode 11: Imaginary Friends Come to Life!

Published March 26, 2015 by vfdpixie

As the artists get closer to the finale, their next Spotlight Challenge offered a different approach.  They went to the Brookside Park in Pasedena, where they met on a playground.  They would be working with kids, who tend to have big imaginations, to bring their imaginary friends to life with lots of whimsy.  These six energetic clients would pick the artist they worked with and also be on the reveal stage to see their creations come to life.

Alexandra picked Logan to create her mermaid friend.  Logan hoped for a monster, but instead got a pink tailed, glowing heart-shaped tailed girly character, and he just couldn’t say no to Alexandra’s cuteness.  When Mr. Westmore looked at his face sculpt, he suggested taking some away so that the model’s beauty could be featured.  Rayce also got Logan to scrap his “ugly” mermaid tail due to its bulkiness and he started over with foam and armature wire to make it come together.  In last looks, Logan was still a little unsure of his abilities with beauty makeup, so the model gave him a few tips to get the look finished.  The judges loved his pink and baby blue mermaid, and Alexandra was tickled pink as well.  His shapes and colour choices kept him safe.

Maya worked with Emily.  This little mastermind wanted a bunny called Lulu to be her best friend.  Emily went with this to create a living stuffed animal who inspired creativity.  She was ready for the challenge because she was feeling low being away from her family, and since she had been on the bottom, hungry to make it to the finale.  She wanted to create a flocked look, and tested with a piece of prosthetic and felt for a velvety finish.  She was also going to avoid a big hair this time by incorporating sculpted ears to look like hair and a more subtle wig.  That sad feeling overwhelmed her and she had to step away in tears.  Coach Laura gave her a pep talk to get her back in the game, and despite having a chunk of her mold come off, she carried on.  Strangely, Ve thought a big wig with ears would have worked this time, but Glenn thought her approach with a different shape was commendable.  He also thought it looked like a Saturday Morning TV show character.  Lulu ended up keeping Emily safe this week (Phew!!)

Adam worked with little Lance on a giant alligator with laser eyes, dragon wings, and wanted him to be called Godzilla but settled for the name “Laser”.  Adam decided to create a character that stole toys and went for a ton of fabrication.  He did all the fabrication on day 1, leaving the sculpting and molding until day 2.  The chest piece was made out of a harness with foam padding coated in latex and paper towel to build up texture.  He had a lot to do, and wouldn’t know if the giant head would fit until the last day.  Because he made the chest also the lower jaw of the monster, he had to fiddle with the positioning of the head.  He used coloured hairspray to colour the fun-fur suit, and came up with a big goofy looking monster that Lance loved.  The judges liked all the colour and the amount of work he put in, and his smart direction with the concept; the great teeth and colours made this child-like, “Barney’s nightmare” get to top looks.

Darla’s little designer was Jordyn, who came up with a diamond girl who lived underground.  She wanted her to have a blue diamond-shaped head, curly hair and a sparkly pink dress.  With this tall order, Darla set out to design a kid-worthy friend.  She decided to create button eyes, and Mr. Westmore loved the idea and suggested she go big for whimsy.  She created cool eyes fixed on opera glasses, and a crystal collar layered with cotton and latex to create texture.  Her face piece/cowl had to have clean edges because the model’s face was exposed, and the final makeup was a great imaginary friend for Jordyn.  The judges felt the makeup had Darla’s signature on it which was a gift for simple forms, and they liked the stones and crystals in the collar.  She got the vibe of the challenge, and they loved the glasses, calling them clever.  Her first attempt at fabrication created a “solid and beautiful” character that the judges felt would be great for a children’s film and got her into top looks.

Creature hungry Blayne came up with a 3-headed monster for Ben; one head to have horns and another wings, no legs and the ability to fly.  Ben decided to go big, and Mr. Westmore advised him to concentrate on the creature’s eyes and make sure they were highlighted for animation.  Since he was Coach Anthony’s only artist left, he was glad for the attention and input.  Ben had a lot to do.  Anthony had faith in him because of his sculpting abilities but was worried that the makeup was too large an order.  With his model gluing wings, and Anthony as a human form in the fabricated body, Ben scrambled to get details finished, which he unfortunately couldn’t do.  In the end, Anthony felt like he couldn’t rein Ben’s focus in, and the monster was not up to snuff.  Even thought Blayne loved it, the judges thought the palette was good but the paint job was one-dimensional.  I thought the eyes looked dead, and he bit off way more than he could chew.  With no time for quality, Ben was in the bottom.

Julian created a zombie b-boy for Andrew, who wanted a half-zombie, bloodied and mohawked character with an exposed heart.  Mr, Westmore told him to get a good smile on the face to give it whimsy, and Julian went with a bone mohawk.  He chose his colours carefully to show definition, but the judges didn’t get the character.  While Ve thought it had a good profile, Neville felt it was confused with random shapes.  Glenn thought it fell into design purgatory, and didn’t look like a zombie.  It lacked a child-like quality and because they thought it was basic and rough, it put him in the bottom.

Whittling down the long list of features for these creatures was a tough task, and coach Anthony and Laura spoke up for their bottom artists Ben and Julian about their strengths.  The winner was Adam!  For the judges, he delivered on the challenge.  The person going home was Ben because his sculpt and paint job was unfinished and he needed to streamline his ideas.  That meant Anthony was off the show as well!  Sad to see both of them go, but Neville had complete confidence that Ben will go far.

Team Tally:

Team Laura:  Darla, Julian and Emily

Team Rayce:  Adam and Logan


Everyday Vampires

Published March 22, 2015 by vfdpixie



What We Do in the Shadows (2014, 1 hr, 26 mins)


What We Do in the Shadows.  Sounds really ominous, mysterious and a little intimidating, but it’s the title of a vampire “mockumentary” that was a favourite at film festivals last year, and probably one of the funniest horror-comedies I’ve seen in a long time.

A documentary crew follows the everyday lives of four vampires in Wellington, New Zealand.  The unofficial den vampire, “dandy” Viago (Taika Waititi), moderates, mediates and civilizes the others, perhaps to bring an understanding of their kind.  Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) and Vladislav (Jermaine Clement) are rougher than Viago; with Deacon who is all about rebellion, knitting and being sexy, and Vladislav, described as a “pervert”, who is in love with torture.  There is also the loner Petyr (Ben Fransham), who is probably better known as Nosferatu, lurking in the basement and barely controllable, but a flatmate all the same.  We are introduced to the challenges of vampires living in the modern age, with disgruntled familiars, clubbing, chores, wardrobe, victims and the perils of blood-stained furniture.  When fledgling vampire Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) ignores the age-old vampire code, things get messy and dangerous for the undead roomies.  Add a pack of rival werewolves, an ancient grudge, and an unholy masquerade, and you have the recipe for bloody and hilarious mayhem.

I’ve said before that I dislike horror comedies because they usually end up being stupid instead of silly, but the folks from Down Under have nailed it again.  I don’t know if it’s because of their geographical positioning that gives them such a hilarious view of the world, but whatever it is, it works.  Jermaine Clement is a multi-talented performer born and bred in New Zealand that is fast becoming a familiar name in North America.  Most would know him from his show Flight of the Concords, a great comedy series about a musical duo from New Zealand trying to make it in America.  He was also in Men in Black 3 as Boris the Animal and, in my opinion, stole the show.  His fellow Kiwi Taika Waititi has a number of director credits under his belt such as The Inbetweeners and Boy, as well as being a seasoned actor.  Here, the two friends since college have written and directed a gem of an indie film, brought over to North America with funds raised from a Kickstarter campaign.

The cast’s comedic timing, honed by years of improv, smoothed over a couple of drawn out scenes, such as Deacon consoling Nick after a loss, that could have stilted the pacing.  The fact that they were also friends outside the set conveyed an ease with the characters that made the flatmates’ relationships believable.  For a low-budget film, the makeup was also well done.  Petyr clearly wore the most special effects makeup, and there was a good balance of tongue-in-cheek and terror with his character, and the practical effects were extremely practical but they worked.  Old-school rotating room techniques and wire work gave us plenty of vampire fights and tom foolery to laugh at.

It’s nice to have an iconic horror villain like the vampire come from left field once in a while, and What We Do in the Shadows goes above and beyond to tickle even the sourest funny bone.  If and when it comes out on DVD, I will definitely be adding this to my collection!

*If you live in the Toronto area, it is still playing at the following theatres:


Face Off Season 8 Episode 10: Superheros in the House!

Published March 20, 2015 by vfdpixie

A Face Off first happened this episode.  This week, the artists gathered at the historic Herald Examiner Building that used to house one of the most highly circulated newspapers.  It is now used as a filming location for movies like The Usual Suspects, among others.  It was here that McKenzie told them about what was probably “the most daunting challenge in Face Off history”.  They had to create a superhero using themselves as the alter-ego and model!   They would also have assistants on application day since applying makeup on themselves would be a bit of a challenge in itself.  Seeing their own lifecasts gave them a good laugh and they were all excited for challenge.  Their guest judge would be the one and only Todd Mcfarlane, creator of Spawn!

Darla described herself as an introvert, and wanted to create a powerful guardian angel superhero that was elegant with a powerful silhouette.  She was inspired by the filigree from the Herald Building and used a trace and transfer technique to get elegant designs on her face sculpt.  Her final concept was really pretty and even though she was a little scared because she could feel her paint cracking in areas, she was safe.

Julian designed an anti-hero for himself.  Calling him “The Reckoning”, this character was a human that made a deal with the devil to take over his duties, but wanted to do good.  Instead of the usual devil horns, Julian came up with a crown shape for the head.  He had a bit a of a time issue, so Coach Laura showed him a “speed sculpting” technique.  Other than that, he had no real issues and his devil anti-hero had some interesting horn details.  The judges liked the nice edges he had for a self-applied makeup and he was safe.

Logan loved dragons and used that for his character.  He created a vigilante called Slayer who was a dragon-human hybrid and an immortal assassin.  He also loved flying and incorporated wings by using foam tubes, latex and cheese cloth to create a believable dragon skin look.  His colour scheme was flesh tone and green paint, and his final look was pretty great.  It reminded me of a character from a video game and looked really menacing.  The judges liked the layered wings, and that Logan was really enjoying playing the character.  They loved his concept and thought the technical work was impressive.  Ve loved the colour palette and the wings, and the face sculpt allowed for expression and movement, while Todd liked the message.  He was in top looks.

Emily went with a nature theme and came up with a Mother Nature healer hero.  Her mom, who is a wig maker and her superhero, taught her about wigs, and so she made a huge one in her honour.  She had to use gelatin instead of latex for her mold due to an allergy, but the gelatin didn’t set right, so she ended up using silicone.  She was concerned because of her lack of experience with silicone, but the edges came out perfectly and she had done a test run of her makeup beforehand, so she was ready for painting with alcohol based colours for a translucent look.  She realized in last looks that she didn’t really look like a superhero, but carried on.  Her paint job was beautiful, but the judges didn’t like the big hair because she had done that before.  They thought it looked like a hedge, or “Marge Simpson as Poison Ivy”, and was not appropriate for the challenge.  Todd thought she looked uncomfortable in her skin. Because she didn’t seem to evolve with challenges, she was in the bottom.

Ben was inspired by his five years working as a Marine Corps helicopter mechanic.  He wanted to make a villain of himself, so he went with a superhero that crashed and was rebuilt into a war machine.  He was the last person on Coach Anthony’s team, so he could get full attention from his coach.  He felt a lot of pressure in this position.  Ben created a cool helmet from vaccuform, a skeletal sculpt for a more villainous look, and a black, leathery looking paint job.  His finished villain was really cool and mean looking complete with a blood gag for the mouth.  His tons of fabrication got him a safe spot this week.

Adam loved this challenge and decided to go the comedy route.  His superhero would have his powers by accident, bumbling into some cannon arms, and destroying a city while trying to save it.  He used buckets and vaccuform for the arm cannons, making them larger than life, and took cues from his bright red hair to create a red suit of armour for his character, the Crimson Wave.  I loved the concept and the judges loved the comedic proportions.  Glenn though he hit the superhero note with his design, and Todd really liked the overall character and thought it was action figure ready.  This was my favourite makeup of the night and he was in top looks.

Stephanie also wanted to do an anti-hero, but was stuck for an idea again.  She came up with a half-demon character that would jump out of the pages of a comic, and would be in black and white, but the face details were still foggy for her.  She decided to do a small brow piece and aim for a flawless makeup for her pretty “Doll Face” demon.  Her paint job ended up looking grey instead of black and white, and she thought it looked more like a vampire.  On the reveal stage, the judges thought she could have sculpted the ears better, and Todd thought the mask she fabricated was underused.  Ve thought it looked like her Lost Boys concept and was boring as well as the old lady paint job, and Glenn thought it was derivative.  She was in the bottom looks.

The artists all thought this was the hardest challenge yet, but I thought they all did well.  Because he created mystery with his character and looked like he stepped out of another century, Logan was the winner!  The person going home was Stephanie.  The judges didn’t feel she was inspired for the challenge.  She was happy she had made it this far, and was proud that she was in the final 7, and left looking like a bad-ass demon!

Team Tally:

Team Anthony:  Ben

Team Laura:  Darla, Julian and Emily

Team Rayce:  Logan and Adam

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