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The Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival: Why Toronto Horror Fans Need to Go

Published November 8, 2016 by rmpixie

bits2016_horz_banner

 

This November 24th-27th, the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival kicks off it’s 5th year. Why is this important? Because it’s Toronto’s only festival dedicated to Canadian genre film. And why is that important? Well, Canadian film, while it’s gaining in popularity, generally doesn’t get a lot of focus, often being overshadowed by big ticket blockbusters. Independent genre film gets even less attention. It’s difficult to see Canadian genre film on the big screen, and that’s where the Blood in the Snow comes in. Festival director Kelly Michael Stewart created the event to showcase Canadian horror, genre and underground film to make sure talented filmmakers get a chance to show their original films in a theatre to genre-loving fans.

This year there will be 33 films which is a record number for the festival. With 9 feature films and 24 shorts, you’ll find everything from documentary (another first for BITS!) to the supernatural; sci-fi and silent film to grindhouse (see below for some of titles playing). All of the films will either be a Toronto or world premiere, making the festival the first stop for anyone looking to see fresh or buzzed-about films that you may not see in wide distribution.

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The festival will also be held in a new venue. After several years at the beloved Carlton Cinema, there was a need to accommodate more people after sell out and encore screenings pushed the theatre to capacity. This can now happen at the Cineplex Cinemas-Yonge Dundas with more available seating as well as the same convenience of transit at the theatre’s doorstep.

BITS is there for horror fans of course, but it also serves the very people they showcase. Industry panels on Friday November 25th will bring you experts in the legal, distribution and funding areas of the film industry who will share valuable advice. It will be a day of insight that everyone who is interested in or already involved in the film industry needs to attend. Separate industry passes are available for the panels and will also get you into 3 screenings of your choice.

As a former pass holder (and now BITS programmer), I’ve met the most interesting people who have become friends and colleagues. There will be a chance meet with other festival attendees and staff, plus cast and crew from the films at The Duke’s Refresher & Bar, a nearby pub that will host the 4 nights of schmoozing after screenings.

So why should Toronto genre fans go to the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival? Because you are a genre-loving, discerning bunch celebrating indie horror and genre films by attending screenings and spreading the word. We live in Hollywood North after all, and we need  to make a place for indie film by supporting our local talent.

You can get passes or individual tickets.  The full festival passes come with some great perks (i.e. a fantastic goody bag), and tickets make it easy for you to pick and choose what you want to see, even though you should see every film at the festival. So what are you waiting for?! Get your tickets before they sell out!

Follow this link for your one-stop shop to passes and tickets: http://bloodinthesnow.ca/BITS2016.html

or visit The Cineplex website here (when you go to purchase, you must enter the location “Yonge Dundas”):  https://goo.gl/yy9cTH

Dark Moon Issue #3 Scares up Sci-fi Horror for Halloween!

Published October 28, 2015 by rmpixie

darkmoon3

Dark Moon Issue #3

Art by Benedick Bana

It’s almost Halloween and Dark Moon Comic is all about the treats.  To Freematik, creator of the innovative motion comic, this holiday is about sharing creativity, and to celebrate the launch of the first comic last Halloween, the third and last part of their introductory sci-fi horror trilogy will be released for free on October 29th.

The first two issues brought us a team of survivors beamed to a mysterious moon as the Earth is hit by a deadly meteor.  They are led by Dante, the scientist responsible for saving them, who finds the moon has perils of its own in the way of hostile and hungry creatures.  Surrounded by these beasts, they discover an alien outpost and take cover while trying to figure out their next move.  As they explore the base, they find out what the beasts are and how they got to the moon.

The third installment finds the group’s numbers dwindling and Dante reflecting on the remaining survivors fate.  His inner process comes to the forefront as he feels the guilt of placing them all between a rock and a hard place, and he is desperate to get them off of a planet teeming with bloodthirsty creatures.  And if some of you were wondering, we also learn what has happened on Earth after the meteor hit.

Once again, Dark Moon transports you to a brutal place.  We see aliens run amok and a conflicted leader who wills himself to save this random group of characters.  It was nice to see more back story for both the Earth’s fate and Dante’s relationship to each of the fallen.  Of course, the artwork is absolutely stunning with all the near 3-D detailing accented by bursts of vibrant colours, and the sensory experience is completed with the trippy soundtrack.

I think the average comic reader could get used to this, spoiling them with HD visuals, an engaging story and the added hip-hop fusion scoring.  These mini movies will keep you wanting more story and more creatures, so here’s hoping Freematik and artist Benedick Bana will surprise us with something in the near future (but not like, death by meteor near future…)

Check them out on Twitter : @DarkMoonComic

and their deviant art site: http://freematik.deviantart.com/ to check out issues 1 and 2 so you’ll be ready for the alien chaos in issue 3…all for free!

Face Off Season 9 Episode 5: Gateways and Gatekeepers

Published August 27, 2015 by rmpixie

This episode we finally got a Foundation Challenge and immunity prize.  Using Rorschach tests as a springboard, the artists had to create their own characters from what they saw in each ink blot.  Their guest judge was Eryn Kreuger Mekash, the multiple nominated, Emmy award-winning makeup artist.  Her advice was to use their creativity and originality, and to look at the shapes and shadows of each ink blot test in order to do a creative makeup.

They all did some great makeups, and most of them saw demons in the ink blots.  The winner was Meg who created a “dirty river mermaid”.  Eryn loved the use of a sea sponge on the model and the paint job.  Meg would be safe this week.

Meg's immunity-winning makeup

Meg’s immunity-winning makeup

 

The Spotlight Challenge was pretty cool.  They were presented with six gateways to alternate realities.  In teams of two once again, they would have to create two characters:  The gatekeeper and whatever they had to keep behind the gates.  They picked their teammates by randomly selecting keys to the gateways and matching them up with each other.

Ben and Jordan went for fawn-like characters.  The gatekeeper held the soul of a soldier of the underworld in her staff.  They worked together on the very first challenge of the season and really meshed, so it was pretty much smooth sailing.  Jordan worked on the male soldier creature and fabricated the helmet and chest piece out of L200, while Ben worked on the female gatekeeper’s headdress.  Ben added antlers on it to make it look more regal.  They really outdid themselves.  I loved the female gatekeeper and the soldier’s paint job was amazing.  The judges liked the female’s nose sculpt, the balanced helmets on both characters, perfect palette and detailed sculpt.  Their duo told a story and put them in top looks.

Jordan and Ben's regal duo

Jordan and Ben’s regal duo

 

Meg and Libby had a medieval looking gate.  They came up with a gatekeeper that kept a boar/hyena creature out of the kingdom.  Libby was concerned from the beginning about her knowledge of animal anatomy.  She also dropped her cowl, and had to repair a dent in the head.  Mr. Westmore told her what to correct in the sculpt, and that left her uncertain and eventually scrapped the boar nose to make it more human.  Meg felt it would make the characters more cohesive.  In last looks, Libby had to scrap the tusks because they  weren’t going on properly, and the design suffered from that.  Their characters were not well received.  The judges saw the errors in anatomy with Libby’s creature, and Meg’s gatekeeper had some arbitrary forms that Neville didn’t get.  They were in the bottom looks.

Meg and Libby's duo

Meg and Libby’s duo

 

Kevon and Scott went for a demon and heroine duo, and Mr. Westmore told them to avoid cartoony details.  They also did a nice job on their creatures, and I loved the work Kevon did on the horns.  Stevie and Evan created a mind controlling alien and her prisoner.  Mr. Westmore told her to adjust the pixie nose, and Stevie blended white and red for the gatekeeper’s skin tone and added a vibrant purple as well.  They had blue lights in their foreheads and were a cohesive set.  Both teams were safe this week.

Scott and Kevon's creations

Scott and Kevon’s creations

 

Evan and Stevie's gatekeeper and her prisioner

Evan and Stevie’s gatekeeper and her prisoner

 

Jason and Ricky decided on a Mayan inspired duo, with a serpent shaman bringing a goat statue to life.  Ricky had sculpting issues and scrapped the large head to be more cohesive with Jason’s work.  His sculpt was taking a long time to finish and he was getting frustrated.  He used UltraCal which Nora pointed out is a natural plaster product, and it took a long time to set, putting them back again with time.  The guys had to run the molds in polyfoam which would limit mobility.  In last looks, Jason had to complete a full makeup in one hour due to many mishaps.  He scrambled with the polyfoam, tearing out the bulk, and uses the headdress to cover mistakes.  The judges weren’t impressed with the snake and felt it looked like it was from The Land of the Lost (I had to agree).  They also felt they makeups looked like masks.  They too were in the bottom.

jasrickgate

Jason and Ricky’s shaman and statue

 

Jasmine and Nora did aliens as well.  The gatekeeper dominated the lower form male.  These two also worked well together, and had a lot of their molds done early.  With some coaching from Jasmine, Nora finished her paint job on the male and was really happy with the look.  They came up with some cool characters!  I loved Jasmine’s alien.  She was just beautiful!  The judges loved the colours, the gorgeous beauty makeup, and the slug-like male alien with an interesting head sculpt.  They were in the top.

Nora and Jasmine's gatekeeper and creature

Nora and Jasmine’s gatekeeper and creature

 

The winning team was Ben and Jordan for their head-to-toe complete characters and cohesiveness.  The winner was Jordan for all the work he did on the male character.  Unfortunately, Libby was going home.  She needed to work on her anatomy knowledge, but she was happy to be overly ambitious and be judged by the pro panel.  She has a great personality and can only grow from being on the show.

 

Hamlet of Horror: A Look at Wayward Pines

Published June 5, 2015 by rmpixie

waywardpines

Wayward Pines (T.V. series, 2015)

 

Being isolated in one location, be it a small town or a mysterious island, is a terrifying concept in horror and sci-fi since as humans, most of us have an insatiable lust for freedom.  Classic representations of this theme in The Stepford Wives, Twin Peaks, and Lost makes us uneasy as secrets, the supernatural and suppression take control, while (in my opinion) the excruciating Under the Dome puts us (or at least me) asleep with unseen threats and captors.  The latest contribution to this roster, Wayward Pines, is a weird take on the isolated, sleepy town that is not what it seems.

Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) is a secret service agent searching for two of his colleagues.  On his way to their last destination of Wayward Pines, Idaho, he is involved in a car crash, and disoriented, staggers into the small idyllic town hidden in the mountains.  He ends up in a deserted hospital under the care of Nurse Pam (Melissa Leo) and soon discharges himself when he realizes he has no wallet, no phone and no contact with the outside world, frantically searching for answers and trying to keep his grip on reality.

Wayward Pines’ tightly wound Sheriff Pope (Terrence Howard) and the townspeople are a strange bunch, and not forthcoming with any information due to the town’s restrictive code of conduct, save for a bartender named Beverly (Juliette Lewis) who becomes Ethan’s guide in this surreal hamlet.  He soon learns he cannot leave, and the agents he is looking for come to different, and sinister, fates.  Ethan’s wife Theresa (Shannyn Sossamon) clings to the hope that his disappearance can be explained, and her determination to find him matches his to leave the locked-down town.  What makes this story all the more interesting is Ethan’s previous breakdown from a case gone wrong.  He felt he could have prevented the disastrous outcome and his hallucinatory symptoms from the past makes the viewer wonder whether his experience in the town is real.  There is also a strange difference in timelines that has him, and some inhabitants, confused.

Wayward Pines is based on a trilogy of books by Blake Crouch, who was so influenced by Twin Peaks in the 90’s that he basically wrote an homage to the series.  Produced by M. Night Shyamalan, who also directed the pilot, this series is bubbling with secrets and nuances.  I have to say I was a little concerned when I heard Shyamalan was involved, as I had visions of The Village and the train wreck that movie was; but having read the first part of this trilogy, the writing for the show is smart and illustrates the suspense and atmosphere of dread that is so prevalent in the book.  Along with Crouch, series creator Chad Hodge also streamlines the action in the novel, which was at times overly descriptive, to create intrigue that slowly reveals what will hopefully be a first class ticket to bizarro-land (in a good way).

Oscar and Emmy nominees grace the cast with the likes of Terrence Howard and the acclaimed Toby Jones as Dr. Jenkins; and I love Matt Dillon who is one of the most underrated actors around, as well as the always fabulous Juliette Lewis and Oscar winner Melissa Leo as the nasty, ball-breaking nurse Pam.  It is great to see mainly big-screen actors take the leap to television, which may draw a larger audience.

While not for everyone, I really hope this show goes the distance.  It took me a few episodes to warm up to Wayward Pines, but after reading the first book for a better understanding of the story and this past 4th episode of a 10-part season that may or may not be a one-off, things are starting to get really interesting.  It is similar to Twin Peaks, and perhaps to some degree Lost, but it also stands alone with a uniquely weird twist that, if the show stay true to the books and doesn’t go off the rails, will blow some minds out there.

 

Wayward Pines airs Thursday nights at 9:00 p.m. ET on Citytv in Canada and Fox in the U.S.

*Looking for the books?  I searched high and low, visiting several book stores in my hometown with no luck unless I wanted to place a specific order, but your best bet is to download the free Kindle app and get a digital copy from Amazon here.  Please note that the first book is entitled “Pines” and it is a decently written, easy read.

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