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More Horror for National Canadian Film Day 2016!

Published April 20, 2016 by vfdpixie

 

cdnfilmday

National Canadian Film Day-April 20, 2016

 

It’s that time of year again when we celebrate Canadian Film on National Canadian Film Day!  Good old Hollywood North gets a day to say “Hey, we make great films up here!”  Of course, being the gal that I am, I’ll concentrate on horror made right here on Canadian soil.

First off is a couple of indie slow burners that really resonated with me.  Screened at Toronto After Dark Film Festival and Blood in the Snow Festival last year, these two contributions feature man vs. nature in the most hellish way.

The Interior(2015), directed by Trevor Juras, premiered at Toronto After Dark Film Festival and really needs to be seen on a big screen to experience the overwhelming beauty and psychological terror.  James (Patrick McFadden) is bored with his life and dealing with a gnawing ennui.  When he has to come to terms with his mortality, he escapes to the wilderness to deal with his issues. He soon realizes a mysterious figure is sharing the forest with him, watching and waiting to strike.  See this one for the cinematography and the unravelled performance by McFadden.

 

White Raven (2015), also premiered last year, but this time at The Blood in the Snow Festival (of which I am now a film programmer!  Yay!), also takes place in the wilds of Mother Nature.  Four friends take their annual manly camping trip so they can catch up with each other’s lives and bond.  They soon realize that one of them isn’t doing so well, and his obsession with a past wrong and a Native legend will change their lives forever.  Director Andrew Moxham pulled some really great performances out of the cast.  Definitely worth seeing.

 

Feel like something gory to whet your horror appetite?  Then you’ll want a to check out Bite (2015).  This festival favourite also screened at BITS and includes all kinds of cringe-worthy splatter.  Casey (Elma Begovic) is getting married and goes to Costa Rica for her bachelorette.  When she is bitten by a mysterious bugaboo, she returns home only to find the bug bite has gotten worse and her symptoms have become stranger.  Director Chad Archibald and the crazy kids at Black Fawn Films really went for it and created a fun gooey body horror classic.

 

Heir (2015) is a short that left me feeling really uneasy.  Gordon (Robert Nolan) suppresses an urge and an ailment that he shares with a supposed old college friend Dennis (Bill Oberst Jr.).  He brings his son to meet Dennis, but there is a more sinister reason for their visit.  With creepy undertones and some intense performances, this little film directed by Robert Powell will definitely make your skin crawl.

 

For some classic weirdness, I recommend Pin:  A Plastic Nightmare (1988).  This gem from bizarro-land directed by Sandor Stern, brings us Leon (David Hewlett), an isolated young man who becomes friends with his father’s (Terry O’Quinn) anatomically correct see-through dummy named Pin, used in his father’s medical practice as an educational tool.  This unusual attachment grows as Leon and his sister Ursula (Cynthia Preston), lose their parents in an accident.  What ensues is a weird spiral into obsession and insanity.  This one you’ll just have to see to believe!

 

Seiren (2015) is a short that should be a full-length horror, which is what director Kat Threlkeld intends to do at some point.  When a model (Sayla Vee) gets bitten on a beach photo shoot, she begins to transform into a vicious version of a well-know legend.  Loved this for the special effects and Vee’s blood-thirsty performance.

 

And They Watched (2015), directed by Vivian Lin, is a short with a strong message.  A custodian cleans the execution room of a prison, and disturbs some troubled souls.  Lin got the idea for the film after reading testimony of death row inmates.  It is chilling and the makeup effects are really, really good.

 

So there you have it!  Get out there and freak yourselves out with some great Canadian horror on National Canadian Film Day! Check out my full reviews of the festival films on Cinema Axis here, and be sure to read about other great Canadian films on Cinema Axis too!

 

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Face Off Season 10 Episode 14: The Big Finale Part 2 “Sinister Showdown”

Published April 14, 2016 by vfdpixie

The second part of the finale had the artists tweaking their makeups to suit what the directors needed.  Walter and Melissa didn’t have too much more to do, but Rob would have to redo his makeups from scratch.  They had very little time left, but a visit from their loved ones helped spur them on.  Walter’s wife, Melissa’s hubby and son, and Rob’s parents gave them some much-needed support before they went full force to finish their makeups for their films.

The each arrived at the creepy mansion on the oilfield to shoot their scenes, and as noted in the previous post, Jason Blum would be on the reveal stage to help judge the final films and makeup.

Melissa finished her molds on set. She got Johnny to affix the appliances differently so they would hold up to the actor’s sweat.  Melissa bounced between makeups to get everything finished.  On set, the judges thought she hit the right notes for her director John Wynn.  He asked her to add a bit more sheen to the possessed makeup and make the demon eye more gooey.  She was happy with how the makeup turned out and thanked her “Team Badass” for their help.  The film was called Hellhole: The Possession and  the judges thought it was a cohesive makeup and liked the organic elements in the prosthetics.  Jason Blum thought her creativity with the cyclops demon was great and her director thought she did something really different with the concept.

Rob had a lot of work to do.  He needed Anna to do a more simple possession makeup and  he had to get rid of the demon’s horn to make the look more sleek; while Kaleb worked on new shoulder pieces.  On set he was terrified but excited.  Anna blended the prosthetics like a maniac, and Rob came up with a gag to make oil seep out of the demon’s eye.  He was happy with the end result, but was apprehensive about what his director Bryce McGuire would say.  Luckily, he only asked for dust on the demon and to keep the possessed makeup hair wet so the oil wouldn’t cake.  The judges liked the eye gag that worked really well, and Rob was happy with his team and thought it was the best creature he’d ever made.  Neville thought he gave them a classic demon that told the story, and they loved the possessed makeup for the J-horror feel.  Glenn thought Rob focused on the right things, and his director thought he was a stroke of genius.  The film, Hellhole: Dead Earth, took place in 1929, and impressed the judges. Ve also loved the horns that looked like a crown on the demon.

Walter was prepared and ready to get to the film set.  Mel made sure not to overdo the painting this time around, and they all focused on the many details to make the characters camera ready for director Ryan Spindell.  The judges loved the integrated vines in the possession makeup, and thought the demon looked “rad” under the lights.   Ve liked the demon’s boils on one of the biggest makeups on the show, and Neville thought they covered a lot of work.  In the film Hellhole: Dark Harvest, the demon looked great!

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The winner was Rob!  He was grateful for this life changing experience, and was happy to share the moment with his parents.  He walks away with a Fiat 500, $100,000 and a visit to one of Kryolan’s 85 international locations.

If you’d like to check out the films, click here. (Canadian fans will have to watch the full episode here, since the short films will play in the U.S. only…boo!!).

All the finalists were really talented and deserved to be there.  Congrats to Rob! Now we have to wait for the next season to see more crazy challenges and innovative makeups!

Hunters: A Strieber Portal to Alien Invasion

Published April 13, 2016 by vfdpixie

hunters

 

A weirdo DJ playing a song by the 80’s band OMD, frenzied looking bunnies, and a terrified woman in a cage.  That was enough to keep me watching the new TV series Hunters based on Whitley Strieber’s book Alien Hunter.  His 2013 book series is summed up with an excerpt from the book’s website www.alienhunterbook.com below:

“In Alien Hunter, which is the first in what will be a series, I have created a character, Flynn Carroll, a cop who ends up working with alien cops to clean up alien criminals on Earth. Flynn has a powerful motive: they took his wife and never returned her.

He’s a man obsessed. He wants revenge, and he wants his beloved Abby back. When he’s recruited by the most secret police unit in the world–the Alien Hunters – he finds his true vocation and becomes the single most dangerous force any alien criminal could encounter on Earth. Bad news for them, good news for us. Dangerous news for Flynn.”

The Alien Hunter series is par for the course for Strieber, who is well-known for his accounts of alleged abductions by “visitors” in his earlier work Communion, as well as his classic horror contributions with The Wolfen and The Hunger which were made into feature films.  He has been a prolific writer over the decades, a believer in aliens and other-worldly beings, and a fixture in the sci-fi/horror world.

The first episode of Hunters is actually quite good.  What sounds like typical sci-fi fare translates well on the small screen.  We are introduced to main characters right away in an action-packed chase.  Secret agents hunt a sleeper cell of nasty aliens in the opening scenes, and we also meet Flynn Carroll (played by Wolf Creek’s Nathan Phillips), an FBI agent who searches for his missing wife.  He has PTSD from being a war veteran, a troubled charge in his dead partner’s daughter, and a slight drug problem.  He’s a mess, but already a likeable character, and is suddenly thrown into the secret anti-terrorist world.

Flynn (Nathan Phillips) and Regan (Britne Oldford)

Regan (Britne Oldford) and Flynn Carroll (Nathan Phillips)

 

The Exo-Terrorism Unit that we see in the show opening is led by Truss Jackson (Lewis Fitz-Gerald), a gruff no-nonsense agent who oversees Regan (Britne Oldford), Briggs (Mark Cole Smith), and Page (Stephen Anderton).  They are traumatized by the loss of Page within the first few minutes of the episode, and the relationship between the remaining agents become strained as the aliens elude them again and again.  The lead “terrorist” alien McCarthy (TV bad guy Julian McMahon) masquerades as a DJ who loops OMD’s Maid of New Orleans, is violently pesky, and McMahon plays him well.  There’s a juicy twist with agent Regan whose character I already love.  She’s a tough gal and I’m hoping her complexity is expanded in future episodes.  There’s also plenty of weird alien autopsy scenes and exploding alien faces.

Julian McMahon as McCarthy the evil DJ alien

Julian McMahon as McCarthy the evil DJ alien

 

I’ll forgive that the production is filmed in Melbourne, Australia and being passed off as the U.S. (although not very well masked), and that the Aussie cast can’t hide their accent for long, because it’s actually an engaging, gory and action-packed show right from the start.  With the show creator Natalie Chaidez, the brains behind Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Heros and executive producer for Syfy’s 12 Monkeys, as well as executive producer Gale Ann Hurd of The Walking Dead fame at the helm, there’s sure to be much more alien mayhem to come.  I love the guttural alien growling, the over all menacing feel to the story, and, well, there is a random kitten and a bunch of bunnies (that have yet to reveal their significance) running around after all!

I recommend checking this show out.  The reviews have been generally harsh, calling it generic Syfy series fare, but I can dig it and I’m giving it a chance.  I think it has potential and great cross-over for horror and sci-fi fans alike.

Hunters airs on Syfy Monday nights at 10 p.m. and on Showcase same night and time in Canada.

Face Off Season 10 Episode 13: The Big Finale Part 1: “Sinister Showdown”

Published April 7, 2016 by vfdpixie

Season 10 would end with my kind of challenge!!  The 3 finalists found themselves in an oil field with a creepy looking house in the background.  It set the scene for the final challenge of the season.  McKenzie had special guest Jason Blum, creator of the production company Blumhouse that brought us all the latest horrors like The Purge and Insidious with her to bring them the challenge details.  They would have to create 2 characters to star in their own film. The film would be an adaptation of a short story taken from The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City, a collection of short stories by writers, actors and directors like Eli Roth and Scott Derrickson.  The story, entitled “Hellhole” by Chris Denham, tells of a family that buys a house only to find that it’s a portal to Hell and that they have unleashed a demon.  The artists had to create a demon and a possessed family member according to a script from one of 3 new up-and-coming directors hand-picked for this challenge.  The artists would get a lighting and screen test, 2 helpers in the way of their former contestants, and  Jason Blum would also be a judge for the final looks in the film.  Another surprise was that Oscar-winning makeup artist Lois Burwell, one of the judges from season 7, would be there for the walk-through.

Rob picked Anna and Kaleb.  His script described a demon that came up from the oil fields.  The director, Bryce McGuire, wanted a molten, cracked and crusted skin on the demon.  Rob came up with a sun-baked demon and a possessed woman who would ooze oil.  He wanted to create a larger than life chest piece, face and cowl.  Anna would do the possession makeup and Rob would do the demon face. Lois warned him to avoid a leonine look to the nose and cheeks.  Rob was floundering a bit with the design of the face, but came up with a mole/rhino look that he was happy with.  He also wanted a unique horn shape that would add height.  Kaleb fabricated a back piece that looked like roots, and even though the mold stuck creating a huge split in the demon face, and the heavy cowl was making the demon face push forward, they came up with a great makeup.  During the screen test, Rob soon learned that his vision didn’t match the director’s.  Bryce wanted a paler, more powdery look, the horns placed further back on the head, and shovel-like hands.  He also wanted imbedded natural elements.  The possessed makeup was too extreme for him, and he wanted the possession to not manifest physically.  Um….sure.  Poor Rob had a tall order ahead of him and would have to do a whole new makeup.

Rob and his first demon draft,

Rob and his first demon draft.

 

 

Melissa had Yvonne and Johnny on her team.  Her script involved a cyclops-type demon so she wanted to make sure she didn’t recreate her last makeup and came up with a fleshy eye membrane instead of an actual eye.  She would be doing the face of the demon, Yvonne the demon cowl, and Johnny the possessed family member.  During the walk-through, they thought the possessed makeup was too subtle, and she had to shift his eye shape.  The demon needed a stronger jaw line, and they had to watch their time.  She let Johnny do the molds since that was his strength, and she created a diseased look emanating from the heart area for the possessed character.  She was stressed because they were running out of time. At the screen test, director John Wynn didn’t like the demon chest piece because it might look like he was lactating once the oil started to ooze.  He wanted oil oozing from the demon’s mouth and more redness in the eye area.  The possessed makeup needed more makeup on the shoulder and branches growing from his fingertips.  Melissa intended to step it up for a win.

Melissa and her demonic duo.

Melissa and her demonic duo.

 

 

Walter, Mel and Robert would avoid the typical demon look and create a simple possessed makeup.  Lois and Mr. Westmore suggested sculpting skin around the vines that would protrude from the possessed character’s face.  They loved the demon, but Lois advised him to pay attention to where the lighting would hit the makeup.  Walter went for an asymmetrical feel with vines on one side and a pumpkin like look on the other shoulder.  He created a set of teeth for his model and Robert used moss to cover edges and gave a great look to the demon.  Mel worked on the possessed makeup and although the edges were lifting on the face piece, they got the makeups to the soundstage.  Ryan Spindell seemed happy with the look but wanted the vines finished and Mr. Westmore suggested fixing spots on the nose and brow bone that reflected too much light.  Ryan also wanted to see more of the actor in the possessed makeup.  Walter was pleased that he didn’t have to redo the whole makeup.

Walter and his vined demons.

Walter and his vined demons.

 

 

All the artists had a lot of work to do before the final filming, and once again, Face Off left us hanging until the second part of the finale.  This is killing me!!

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