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More Horror for National Canadian Film Day 2016!

Published April 20, 2016 by rmpixie

 

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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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Pixie’s Festival Frenzy!

Published November 27, 2015 by rmpixie

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.

 

Horror on National Canadian Film Day

Published April 29, 2015 by rmpixie

Today is National Canadian Film Day, where we celebrate Canadian film and the talented people who create them.  Known for our legendary politeness, the letter “u” in some of our words, and hockey (not true for me, although I’d rather go to a hockey game than a basketball game any day-gasp!!), we are also pretty handy with a moving picture camera.

Some of those moving pictures involve gallons of blood and gore.  Canadian horror has a strong foothold in Movieland, with a lot of them becoming classics, and I am proud to say that there are way too many to include here, so I will focus on a few of my favourites (see, there’s that pesky “u”).

 

One of my favourite directors is David Cronenberg.  He has the best recipe for weirdness and mood, and coupled with his talent and incredible style, creates horror that will make you cringe and marvel at the grotesque beauty he shows you.  It’s hard to choose, but the film that creeps me out every time is Dead Ringers.  This twisted story of twin gynecologists Elliot and Beverly Mantle and their deception of a troubled woman makes me shiver.  The bizarre instruments twin Beverly creates are a nightmare for any woman that’s been laid out and vulnerable in a doctor’s stirrups.

 

 

 

 

Plain and simple, Martyrs will scar you forever.  This revenge film with a twist leaves you reeling as you watch Lucie and Anna struggle for the truth, and when they do, it leads to gruesome and deadly results.

 

 

 

 

Silent Retreat has been on the Canadian horror radar since it’s premiere at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival in 2013.  One of the more unique films out there, it follows Janey as she is forced to stay at a retreat for wayward girls that becomes truly sinister.

 

 

Director Tricia Lee is hard at work on her next feature, One Drop, expected to be released in late 2016.  It is another female driven horror, where a single mother wakes up to find herself pregnant, surrounded by dead bodies and “something not-quite-human” in the basement of a medical facility.  Check out the indigogo campaign to contribute to what sounds like another unique and thrilling Canadian horror story.

 

 

 

Of Unknown Origin is straight up cheesy horror, but Peter Weller does a great job trying to kick a giant rat’s ass.  Definitely a late night treasure.

 

 

 

 

Of course, I have to mention the Soska Twins.  Jen and Sylvia have become horror darlings because they create gory films like Dead Hooker in a Trunk that become fan favourites, and mine is probably American Mary.  Stylish and dark, this revenge flick follows a medical student who provides back room body modification for extra money.  After a horrible violation, she creates her own unique way of punishing those that cross her.

 

 

 

 

For pure weirdness and the special effects, check out Thanatomorphose.  It is body horror at its best (or worst, you’ll have to decide), and it is truly a must see, but don’t eat dinner while watching.

 

 

 

Check out Ejecta for a cool alien/conspiracy/found footage movie.  Written by Canadian author Tony Burgess, who also wrote and (acted in) Hellmouth, Septic Man, and Pontypool, it is dark, jarring and has some really mean aliens.

 

 

 

 

Just recently I went to a screening of Late Night Double Feature.  For a low-budget film, it is full of fun and schlock and most importantly, homegrown!

 

 

 

Lastly, a new film in production called The Void looks pretty amazing.  The creators Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie are striving for great practical effects, and the trailer is really eerie with all kinds of gory goodness!  Check out their indiegogo campaign for more info and a chance to contribute.

 

 

 

Let me know what some of your favourite Canadian horror films are!

 

 

Pixie’s Walk Down Memory Lane and the 40th Anniversary of Black Christmas!

Published December 22, 2014 by rmpixie

Black Christmas

Black Christmas (1974, 1 hr 38 mins)

My Christmas post for 2014 is about a Canadian classic.  Made in 1974 and said to be one of the first slasher films, Black Christmas has a special place in my heart.  It is not only one of my top 5 horror films, but also a favourite of my childhood friends.  As kids, we would discuss it at length and giggle at the scary parts. They have since moved out of town, but when we come across it on T.V. or pop it in the V.C.R. or D.V.D. player, we always text each other.

When I heard that Rue Morgue was putting on a 40th anniversary screening of the film at the Royal Cinema, I had to go.  Imagine seeing it on the big screen as it was intended with fellow fans as we walk down Memory Lane?  With one of the films stars in attendance?  And the option to purchase a limited edition poster?  Yes please!

The story, loosely based on real murders that happened in Montreal, is about a sorority house that is plagued with obscene calls made by a mysterious and murderous nut-job as he kills the girls off one by one.  It has become an iconic Christmas horror movie that, to the trained eye, uses some very familiar locations and is slice of Canadian history.  From the search party scene filmed in the neighbourhood that I grew up in at Grenadier Pond (the source of some historical myths), to University of Toronto where I pursued higher education, Black Christmas is a map of an old Toronto even though it is set in the fictional U.S. town of Bedford.

Starring Hollywood heavies such as John Saxon, Olivia Hussey, Andrea Martin and Margot Kidder, the organizers invited Art Hindle, who played the fur-clad Chris, to host the screening.  Hindle is a busy Canadian actor who has worked on shows like Beverly Hills 90210 and the award-winning Canadian series E.N.G.  He has a face that is easily recognizable, and it was great to see him in the flesh, wearing the actual fur coat monstrosity from the film that he kept after all these years as a souvenir.

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Art Hindle, second from the left, in his fur coat, with Rue Morgue’s Dave Alexander and Lee Howard with one of his Quiet Room Bears- The special edition Black Christmas Bear

young art

Art Hindle in 1974 as Chris in all his furry glory with Olivia Hussey as Jess in tow!

Before the movie started, Hindle answered some questions about his experience being in the film.  He said that he took the role of Chris to make money, plain and simple, because he had to support his family.  A chat with Margot Kidder convinced him to go to Los Angeles to find more work because Toronto at the time was not booming in the entertainment industry.  He also raved about late director Bob Clark’s “consummate craft of filmmaking”.  Hindle felt Clark was a genius and cited the classic teen sex comedy Porky’s as a technically advanced film, despite its subject matter; in fact, Hindle pointed out that the crew would often consult Clark beyond his directorial skills because he was so technically well-rounded.

As I watched the film on the big screen, I realized my favourite aspect of Black Christmas was the deliciously slow camera shots that either panned across rooms or came in for close-ups-the epitome of building tension-as well as the killer’s point of view camera work, which was apparently mounted on camera man Bert Dunk’s shoulder.  Along with the tension came the jarring score by Carl Zittrer.  Christmas carols surrounded by jangling discordant notes, eerie wind mixed with moans, and heavy breathing, all culminating when Jess’s high-strung boyfriend Peter (Keir Dullea) blows a gasket and destroys a perfectly good grand piano.  Those angry sounds resonated throughout the film as things got worse.

Another key element was the well-placed comedy.  Writer Roy Moore, along with script revisions from Clark, incorporated dark humour that punctuated the action so cleverly.  Among the most memorable moments were Kidder’s dry portrayal of the perpetually drunk Barb and the fellatio phone number scene, and Sergeant Nash’s (Doug McGrath) general oblivion.  Add the foreboding old school telephone ring which was central to the film and the truly creepy, rambling phone calls, and you have all the ingredients for an entertaining and well-crafted horror movie that has become a cornerstone of the horror genre.

To mark the anniversary, a limited edition poster was created.  Toronto based artist Ghoulish Gary Pullin, who has had a multitude of clients such as Rue Morgue Magazine, Dread Central, and Anchor Bay Entertainment just to name a few, and won for best movie poster for the documentary Why Horror? at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, was invited to reinterpret the look of the Black Christmas movie poster.  I am not normally a poster type gal, but when I saw it, I needed to have one. Silk-screened and featuring metallic silver inks, it is truly a thing of beauty.  Pullin was actually on site to personally hand out prints and say hello!  He said he was humbled when he was asked to do the poster and was a genuinely nice guy and obviously extremely talented.

garypullin

The limited edition poster by Ghoulish Gary Pullin

My first experience with Black Christmas will always be remembered as a popcorn and pyjama movie with close friends, but I had a lot of fun seeing it loud and proud on its historic 40th anniversary.  It was great to sit with an audience as we laughed and shrieked at some old school horror.  Who knew a little film about a crank caller and murdered sorority girls would be such an industry trailblazer!  So glad I made it out to revisit the mystery of Billy, Agnes and the baby!

Merry Christmas, dear reader!

*I would like to dedicate this post to my childhood friends who loved this film as much as I did, and to their loved ones who recently left us.  Terry and Sharon lost their father Desmond on September 3rd, and Tessa and Suzette, Desmond’s nieces, lost their beloved friend Danny December 11th.  May they find solace in the memories and the good times with their friends and family, and here’s to a happier new year for us all.  

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