Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – Rabid

Rose (Marilyn Chambers) and her boyfriend Hart (Frank Moore) are out driving along the road on his motorcycle when they crash because a car has broken down on the road. Hart is fine but Rose is badly injured in the crash and badly burned.

Rose is taken to the Keloid Clinic for Plastic Surgery where Dr. Dan Keloid (Howard Ryshpan) decides to try a new procedure on Rose to graft new skin on her damaged body. Rose is in a coma for a month after the procedure when she finally comes to. She appears normal but something has changed. The procedure has altered Rose. She now needs blood to survive.
Continue reading “Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – Rabid”

Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – Rituals

Five doctors are taking a camping vacation out in the woods. Things start off OK but one night someone steals all their boots except for one pair. The doctor who still has his shoes goes looking for help. That’s when things start to go wrong.

Shortly after the doctor leaves they find a someone has left a deer head just outside their camp. They decide to leave but things are tough going and someone or something seems to be stalking them.
Continue reading “Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – Rituals”

Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – The Gate

12-year-old Glen (Stephen Dorff) has discovered a geode in his backyard after workers remove a tree. Glen’s friend Terry (Louis Tripp) comes over and they find an even bigger geode.

Glen’s parents go away for a couple of days and leave Glen’s older sister Al (Christa Denton) in charge. She quickly throws a party at the house. While the party is going on Glen and Terry crack open the geode and find a note with an incantation on it which they read. Unbeknownst to them they have opened up a portal or “gate” if you will where little demons have escaped. The creatures slowly start messing with Glen, Terry and Al.
Continue reading “Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – The Gate”

Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – My Bloody Valentine

It’s the early 1980s and slasher movies are all the craze. In particular seems to be a trend of having the killer murder folks on a holiday. The producers of what was originally titled The Secret decide to try and cash in on the trend and The Secret becomes My Bloody Valentine.

Set in a mining town called Valentine Bluffs where during a Valentine’s Day dance 20 years ago several miners got trapped in the mine due to the negligence of a couple of supervisors who went to the dance. Only one miner survived, Harry Warden, who had to resort to cannibalism to survive and went mad and murdered the supervisors he felt were responsible for the accident. The town hasn’t had a dance until now but someone remembers the horror and Harry Warden might be on the loose.
Continue reading “Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – My Bloody Valentine”

Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – Splice

After making Cube director Vincenzo Natali wanted to make Splice as his next film but budget and effects restraints forced him to wait until he felt the time was right.

Genetic engineers Clive Nicoli (Adrien Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Polley) work for a company called N.E.R.D. (Nucleic Exchange Research and Development) that wants them to create creatures that they want to use for medical purposes. Clive and Elsa have created a couple of weird creatures called Fred and Ginger which they hope to mate and use create all sorts of proteins for medicine but it’s not enough for them. They want to create a hybrid using human DNA.
Continue reading “Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – Splice”

Lucky Is a Celebration, Not an Elegy of Harry Dean Stanton, Says Director

Harry Dean Stanton, the star of Paris, Texas and Repo Man, and supporting performer in neo-classics like Alien and Pretty in Pink, died last September. He was having a banner year: A part in the Twin Peaks revival and a rare lead role in Lucky.

Stanton’s swan song is rolling across art-houses in Canada. Low-key, loaded with meaning but not devoid of humour, Lucky is so timely, it’s eerie.

The titular character (Stanton) is a fixture in his small community in New Mexico. Lucky describes himself as “alone, not lonely”, but a health scare forces him to reevaluate his place in society and his stance on religion.

The great thing about Lucky is that there is no big drama, no reconciliations, no long-buried secrets. Just a nonagenarian coming to terms with his life decisions. Stanton is not quite his character, but is close enough you can recognize the pathos. Pay no attention to the remarkable supporting cast (David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr. as town denizens). This is Harry Dean’s movie and his command of the screen is remarkable.

In charge of this compelling but obviously complicated endeavor is another character actor, in his debut behind the camera. John Carroll Lynch is the classic “that guy”, one that has found his way into movies by Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island), Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino) and the Coen Brothers (Fargo). You may recognize him as the most likely suspect in David Fincher’s Zodiac or as the deranged clown who frequents American Horror Story.

I had the chance to sit down with John Carroll Lynch in Toronto. A film scholar and self-aware like few of his peers, there is more to Lynch than his hundred supporting roles.

John Carroll Lynch, director of Lucky.

– What were the main logistical challenges of having a 90-year-old as your lead?

– Technically, he was 89. We finished a week before he turned 90. We staggered the schedule because we wanted to make sure he was as fresh as possible. Keep in mind Harry Dean was 89 and there was nothing wrong with him. We had three day weekends, took time between locations. That being said, the shooting was physically and emotionally taxing for him.

– How do you direct Harry Dean?

– He was never going to act, he was always going to be Harry Dean Stanton. That has been his foundational keystone for fifty years. He wouldn’t respond to character or structural notes. It was a way for him to gage if the story was truthful, and whether or not he could live in it. In my experience of watching film actors, nobody had a stronger sense of ‘being in film’ than Harry Dean Stanton. The Straight Story wouldn’t work without his performance, no matter how good Richard Farnsworth is in it. The emotional impact of the film is in the last five minutes and, without Harry Dean’s ability to go from vendetta to regret to forgiveness to love in five minutes without saying anything, it wouldn’t work.

– What was about this story that made you want to direct it?

– I’ve been trying to leverage myself into the director’s chair for a while and this one came together. What attracted me about the script was the idea of a man realizing he may not have many years left. To get to a place of resolution, he didn’t have to reconnect with a child, jump from a plane or tame a bronco. He just changed his perception of his own life and discovered he was not alone: The town he kept himself separate from had actually been holding him up this whole time. Lucky felt more real to me because it’s an interior journey people actually experience.

– Given your experience working with Scorsese, Fincher and the Coens, what best practices did you learn that you applied in Lucky?

– The thing I appreciate about all the masters I worked with is that they no longer worry about how to do this. They just want to tell a story, and the ‘how’ is based on the ‘why’ and the ‘what’. That is an actionable approach. I’m not quite there, but it’s something to aspire to.

– Both you and Harry Dean have been described as “character actors”. How do you feel about the term?

– I embrace it. It hasn’t hurt me at all. For many people, being a “character actor” means you are not going to get laid in the movie, there won’t be a romantic interest of any kind, and if there is one, it’s abhorrent in some way. You wear overalls and play a lot of cops. I don’t think the term means much of anything nowadays, except in the relationship with the audience. If they recognize you -your face and not your name- they know they are in good hands.

– Do you think Harry Dean knew this was his final performance?

– Absolutely not. He saw Lucky for what it was, not an elegy but a celebration. I don’t think he knew if he was going to work again, but by choice not because of death: He was a guy who wanted to do nothing and rest after.

Lucky opens Saturday 14th at the Broadway Theatre.

Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – Prom Night

The success of John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween created a surge of slasher films in the 1980s. In 1980 two slasher films hit the big screen only a few months apart. The first was Friday the 13th and second is today’s 31 Days of Horror feature – Prom Night.

Prom Night starts with a group of 11 year kids playing hide and seek in an abandoned convent. Young Robin wants to play too but the other kids scare her and she falls to her death. The kids promise each other never to tell anyone.
Continue reading “Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – Prom Night”

REVIEW: The Meyerowitz Stories Acknowledges Lives of Unfulfilled Potential

Dustin Hoffman and Ben Stiller in The Meyerowitz Stories.

The easiest way to approach Noah Baumbach’s latest movie The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) would be to talk about Adam Sandler’s performance. Sure, Sandler’s work is way above average, but it’s hardly news that the low-brow comedian can act. He just chooses not to.

The real headline here should be that the film features Dustin Hoffman’s finest work in nearly two decades. The two-time Oscar winner is Harold Meyerowitz, the patriarch of a balkanized family with an artistic streak. Harold has three kids: Danny (Sandler), Jean (Elizabeth Marvel) and Matthew (Ben Stiller). Despite the fact Harold wasn’t a constant presence in their lives, Danny and Jean fuss over him. Alas, their father takes them for granted and seem to care only for Matthew, who lives in the West Coast.

The film is episodic by design, focusing alternatively on a different family member. Outside a considerable level of unhappiness, the Meyerowitzes share the feeling none of them lived up to their potential. Harold, a sculpting teacher, has problems accepting the fact a contemporary of his (Judd Hirsch) racked fame and fortune and he didn’t. Danny finds himself divorced, jobless and nearly fifty. Matthew is successful just on paper, while Jean goes through life unappreciated and lonely.

Location is fundamental for The Meyerowitz Stories. The film attempts to capture the artistic New York, the one slowly fading away due to gentrification. As it’s traditional with Baumbach, the script is impeccably written, and the filmmaker’s ability to capture difficult family dynamics (see The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding) is in full display. Their pathos and manias lead to several explosive combinations, without forgetting the underlying affection the characters feel for each other.

Long-standing feuds and petty squabbles often ring true and when they don’t, they are entertaining enough to keep the audience invested. Think of The Meyerowitz Stories as Woody Allen on steroids. Three and a half planets.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) premieres on Netflix this Friday, October 13th.

Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – Shivers

It took Canada a long time to start trying to support a film industry but in the late 1960s the Canadian government started the Canadian Film Development Corporation (CFDC) which would later become Telefilm Canada. The vast majority of Canadian movies made since then have been with the help of Telefilm. Most of the films I have talked about so far have had some help from Telefilm.

In 1975 David Cronenberg finally got funding from CFDC aka Telefilm to finance his first feature film. Originally titled Orgy of the Blood Parasites, the title was soon changed to Shivers. In the U.S. it was changed to They Came from Within.
Continue reading “Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – Shivers”

Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – Ginger Snaps

Two teenage sisters have a huge fascination with death and have sworn an oath that they will die together. The community has been besieged with dog deaths lately, something has been stalking and feeding on them.

One night Ginger (Katharine Isabelle), the oldest of the sisters and Brigitte (Emily Perkins) go out to prank a girl who is bullying them at school. On their way Ginger gets her first period and the blood draws the creature that has stalking the neighbourhood to them and attacks Ginger.
Continue reading “Aiiieeeee!!! Canada: 31 Days of Horror – Ginger Snaps”