BITS Fest

All posts tagged BITS Fest

Pixie’s Festival Frenzy!

Published November 27, 2015 by vfdpixie

I’m sure the burning question on your minds, dear reader, has been “Where the heck has that pixie been lately?” Well, I’ve been writing away for Cinema Axis, reviewing great indie horror, and really getting out there for the horror film fest season here in Toronto.

BITS2015

Tonight is the opening night of the Blood in the Snow Film Festival, an all Canadian content horror film fest put on not only for the fans, but for filmmakers to learn about the industry.  They’ve showcased some of the most bizarre horror like the oozing Thanatamorphose, and my pick of 2014, the haunting Black Mountain Side.  BITS has a special place in my heart because it was here last year that I got to meet Canadian actor Stephen McHattie, so I will forever be a fan.  I’ve reviewed a few films for this fest, and there are some really interesting filmmakers out there.  I’ll be looking forward to seeing my horror friends, old and new, and rubbing shoulders with cast, crew and directors during this industry driven festival.

http://cinemaaxis.com/2015/11/21/bits-2015-bite/

http://cinemaaxis.com/2015/11/22/bits-2015-white-raven/

http://cinemaaxis.com/2015/11/26/bits-2015-secret-santa/

 

If you want to see any BITS films this weekend (November 27-29th), there are still some limited tickets available:

http://www.bloodinthesnow.ca/BITS2015.html

 

tadff15

I also attended the Toronto After Dark Film Festival , a film fest staple every October in this fair city for 10 years. They’ve consistently brought us great horror films like The Babadook, We Are What We Are, Tales of Halloween, Housebound, Deathgasm, and countless other fan favourites that have gone on to larger success.  This anniversary year was no exception, and I now have new favourites in Sion Sono’s fantasy cute-fest Love and Peace and the one-man psychological horror The Interior.  What I loved about this year in particular was reconnecting with more friends, and actually heading out to the pub nights after screenings.  I had a great time chatting with fellow horror fans and schmoozing with directors.  Definitely one of my favourite years.  Here are the reviews I wrote:

http://cinemaaxis.com/2015/10/25/tadff-2015-patchwork/

http://cinemaaxis.com/2015/10/14/tadff-2015-night-of-the-living-deb/

http://cinemaaxis.com/2015/10/22/tadff-2015-synchronicity/

http://cinemaaxis.com/2015/10/18/tadff-2015-the-interior/

http://cinemaaxis.com/2015/10/17/tadff-2015-the-hollow-one/

http://cinemaaxis.com/2015/10/15/tadff-2015-a-christmas-horror-story/

And check out the winners for the TADFF viewer awards.

So fair reader, there you have it.  Another festival year is coming to an end, and I hope you check out, or have seen some of the great indie horror these festivals work so hard to bring us, because independent films will forever be the backbone of horror.

 

The 2015 Canadian Film Fest: Late Night Double Feature

Published March 27, 2015 by vfdpixie

lndf

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.

Black Mountain Side BITS 2014

Published December 4, 2014 by vfdpixie

black mountain side

Black Mountain Side (1 hr 39 mins)

The unknown and isolation takes center stage in Black Mountain Side, the closing film for The Blood In The Snow Festival.  A team of field researchers are on the site of a breakthrough and mysterious archeological find that has the potential to turn history on its ear.  When a professor joins them to figure out the where and why of the ancient structure they are excavating, the mystery gets even more confusing as the men start to become increasingly ill and mentally unstable.  In the ensuing days, the team unravels and their isolation feeds an unknown terrifying menace that blurs the lines of reality.

I have to say this was my favourite film of the festival.  While it was a definite nod to horror films centered around isolated locations like The Thing, The Shining and even perhaps Alien, it had its own unique feel, most notably the lack of a soundtrack or scoring.  The opening scene of breathtaking beauty in the snow-covered wilderness was ominous enough, without any musical interpretation.  Cutting from interior, dialogued scenes to the silent, frozen exteriors subtly built tension as we watched the countdown to the characters’ descent into madness and murder.  The story also had a bizarre twist that defies any creature feature out there and will definitely stay with you long after the movie ends.

The cast really blew me away with their realistic portrayal of men losing touch with reality.  They were rough around the edges which added to their growing paranoia as nips grew to throat-crushing bites within their almost feral pack.  Most notable were Carl Toftfelt as Francis who gave me goose bumps as he struggled to keep sane, Michael Dickson as Professor Peter Olsen who was the only tether to reason and logic, and Marc Anthony Williams’ wild west demeanour that would culminate in one incredible continuously shot sequence.

In attendance at the screening was executive producer Samantha McDonald, and Michael Dickson.  McDonald told the audience that the inspiration for the film came from a nightmare writer and director Nick Szostakiwskyj had, and he was also influenced by H.P. Lovecraft and John Carpenter’s The Thing.  They filmed in Lumby, British Columbia and the 35 cast and crew members actually lived in the cabins seen in the film.  She also revealed that the lack of music in the film was deliberate since they wanted the audience to be in the action with the characters.  Szostakiwskyj also wrote with real research in mind.  He wanted the science to be accurate and the mythology behind the film believable.  Dickson recounted tense moments with one time use prosthetics and a real axe (eek!), but it all came together in the end.

Black Mountain Side, winner of a Best Cinematography Bloodies Award at the festival, offers a clean and beautiful low-budget thriller/horror that takes you to weird world of myth and madness you won’t soon forget.

Ejecta BITS 2014

Published December 3, 2014 by vfdpixie

Ejecta

Ejecta (2014, 1 hr 27 mins)

I would love to get inside writer Tony Burgess’s head.  I am sure it is a place of wonder and intrigue, a place where festival hits Pontypool and Hellmouth were born.  His latest brainchild, BITS Fest selection Ejecta, tackles some pretty mean aliens.

William Cassidy is a tormented man.  After being abducted, or as he put it “meeting” with “an advance life form”, he has been under their watch and control for 39 years.  His reports and theories on his alien captors have made him something of a mysterious legend online under the name Spider Nevi, and when he contacts an eager filmmaker Joe (Adam Seybold) to finally tell his story, things hit the fan as an anticipated solar event serves as a backdrop to an insane alien cat and mouse chase and interrogation by a secret military operation.

This is definitely more mainstream for Burgess, and refreshing.   I could see the Burgess substance as William waxed poetically about his alien experiences, but there was an overall popcorn movie feel that I enjoyed.  Directing team Chad Archibald and Matt Wiele (winners of a Best Director Bloodies award at the fest) created a found footage/real-time combo that didn’t confuse the story.  There was a fair amount of terror in this sci-fi gem, and the aliens were filmed in true found footage style, with glimpses of their angry, saw-toothed faces and low lit alien autopsy-like shots.  Plenty of frantic shaky camera chases kept a frenzied pace, but it was a step above many found footage films with some great performances.

Julian Richings, who is literally everywhere from the Canadian sci-fi classic Cube to the super popular Orphan Black and a Bloodies Best Actor winner, delivered as the tortured William.  His expressive, angular face captivated like no other, and Lisa Houle as the intense Dr. Tobin was equally engaging with her steely and villainous resolve to find the aliens by any means necessary; and Adam Seybold was believable as the eager Joe, who exuded a certain innocence that would be lost as the aliens took charge.  Also look for another cameo by director Bruce McDonald that provides some nutty comic relief with a touch of menace.

Burgess, Wiele, Richings and Houle were all in attendance to give us more insider tidbits that I love to hear about!  Ejecta was shot the same time as Hellmouth and Septic Man 2 years ago.  When the directors saw what they had, they decided it wasn’t what they wanted, with Wiele calling the found footage genre the “bastard child of horror” and basically shot another movie.  The incorporation of the 2 films was actually pretty seamless, making a better overall presentation.  When Burgess was asked if he thought about the genre of film while he wrote, he revealed that he didn’t and the story just comes regardless of the genre.  What is consistent with him is a guaranteed surreal world that has been respected by his directors.

I have seen enough films with the common denominator of Tony Burgess to know that I am rarely disappointed, and Ejecta is no exception.  If you want some mystery and mean, determined aliens, check it out!

(As an aside, I had a cool experience that night.  As you all know, I love Stephen McHattie, Canadian actor extraordinaire.  He showed up to the Ejecta screening to support his friends, and I got a chance to say hello.  There is always a fear that someone you hold in high regard will disappoint you, but he was so nice!  We shook hands, had a laugh and I gave him my card so he could read my “love letter” to him.  One thing off of my bucket list!)

 

View From the Dark

Reviews and essays on genre film from a WOC perspective

Cinema Axis

Where All Things Film Converge

timwburke

burke –verb (used with object), burked, burk·ing. to murder, as by suffocation, so as to sell the corpse to medical science

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

grotesque ground

Promoting the grotesque in cinema and literature.

CURNBLOG

Movies, thoughts, thoughts about movies.

crazynonsensetalk

A ranting woman's mind

The Tyranny of Tradition

Lamentations and Jeremiads 25 Years After The End Of History

What Are You Doing Here?

A Black Woman's Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.