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  • “GRAVITY” (TIFF Movie Review)

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    Based on the broadest definition of genre, Alfonso Cuarón’s astounding new film GRAVITY doesn’t cleanly qualify as horror. It is however guaranteed to be one of the most terrifying viewing experiences of the year, so it seems silly not to acknowledge it. After disappearing from filmmaking for seven years following the technically ambitious and thematically complex CHILDREN OF MEN, Cuarón has returned with a movie quite simply unlike anything else. As a depiction of space travel, the realism and immersion of GRAVITY is unparalleled; the story then uses that realism to make the space environment feel more unforgiving and chilling than ever before.

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  • “A FIELD IN ENGLAND” (TIFF Movie Review)

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    With only a handful of movies, writer/director Ben Wheatley has already established himself as one of the finest filmmakers of his generation. Always toeing genre lines, his greatest achievement thus far was probably KILL LIST, a viscous hit man movie transformed into occult horror with one of the most disturbing finale twists since his obvious influence THE WICKER MAN. The genre journalists all immediately demanded that he dabble in horror again and now he kind of has with the twisted art house hallucinogen he calls A FIELD IN ENGLAND. Like KILL LIST, the movie is not pure horror, but it does boast some of the most disturbing images destined to flicker across screens this year.

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  • “AFFLICTED” (TIFF Movie Review)

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    Each year, TIFF’s Midnight Madness program provides a home for hungry genre buffs where blood is spilled for adoring crowds to squeal in delight. Pretty well all of the iconic horror directors of the last 20 years have premiered at least one of their features as part of the program, but the finest treat is probably the discovery of new filmmakers bursting onto the scene. This year, the big breakout just might be for first-time Vancouver filmmakers Cliff Prowse and Derek Lee. The duo made the leap from shorts to features with AFFLICTED, their impressive new schlocker that manages to wring a little extra life out of the tiresome found footage genre and even a classic creature as well.

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  • Eli Roth’s “THE GREEN INFERNO” (TIFF Movie Review)

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    Six years after HOSTEL PART II and a host of acting and producing gigs later, Eli Roth has finally returned to directing. To celebrate, he came back to TIFF’s Midnight Madness program where he enthusiastically debuted his fourth feature for the first audience outside of the post production crew. As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, it’s a cannibal movie, just like those lovable Italian rapscallions Ruggero Deodato and Umberto Lenzi used to make. Though Roth’s fingerprints are all over his addition to the indigestion-favoring genre, he plays true to the form both in terms of the graphic gourmet content and the themes of civility vs. civilization. It’s both throwback and something disturbingly new that is sure to be controversial for some, beloved by others, and impossible for anyone with a weak stomach or bleeding heart to forget. 

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  • “ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE” (TIFF Movie Review)

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    Long before they made contemporary controversial horror favorites like MAY, THE WOMAN and THE LOST Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson were a pair of fresh faced film grads who decided to shoot their first feature together. The result was ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE and though it never got much of a release, it did kick off their solo directing careers. Now over ten years later, the two filmmakers teamed up again to remake that film with, you know, production values. The result is as fun as the title suggests and as giddily violent as their subsequent directorial careers guaranteed. It’s also a bit of an artistic regression as well as a nostalgia piece, though. The movie is as messy and tonally jumbled as most first feature films, with the directors unable to tame their old concept with their acquired skills as professional filmmakers. That quality is part of the wacko charm that earned the flick a spot at TIFF’s Midnight Madness program, it’s just sadly a bit of a step back for McKee in particular.

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  • “THE CAR” (Blu-ray Review, Arrow Films)

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    Released amidst a slew of JAWS knock offs, THE CAR was completely dismissed in 1977, and not without reason. It is a pretty dumb movie. However, it’s also a gloriously dumb movie and that’s the sort of thing that cults are built on. The movie may not have achieved the revival status of Steven Spielberg’s similar motor-monster-movie DUEL or even 70s car chase relic VANISHING POINT, but it’s certainly developed a base of followers. Guillermo del Toro even had a perfect replica of the titular evil vehicle built to drive around Los Angeles as a one man movie homage and he’s far from the only one with fond memories of discovering the flick in drive ins, on worn down VHS tapes, or late night cable screenings. There’s an undeniable charm to Elliot Silverstein’s ridiculous exploitation movie. While it’s not the most obvious choice for a pristine new Arrow Blu-ray, THE CAR is a fun addition to their ever-growing line up of oddball genre releases and one in need of a wider audience of those special folks with a sweet tooth for cheese.

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  • Guillermo del Toro: No PG-13 for “CRIMSON PEAK”

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    In the course of interviewing genre master Guillermo del Toro (pictured above) about his upcoming robots-vs.-monsters epic PACIFIC RIM, Fango also brought up his forthcoming horror film CRIMSON PEAK, and received reassurance that this haunted-house movie will not be a restrained mood piece.

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  • “BLOW OUT” (Blu-ray Review, Arrow Films)

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    In the late 70s and early 80s, audiences didn’t look forward to the next movie directed by Brian De Palma, they got excited about the new Brian De Palma film. After the success of CARRIE, De Palma was able to disappear into his own imagination and create films routed entirely in his own interests. His director-for-hire phase would begin shortly with SCARFACE, but for a few glorious years De Palma was in charge of his own scripts and destiny and used his auteur power to dabble in grand entertaining thrillers that doubled as deadpan satires of filmmaking convention and self-conscious explorations of the director’s personal obsessions. Of this flock of golden age Brian De Palma, none were better than his 1981 flick BLOW OUT.

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  • “BLACK SABBATH” (Blu-ray Review, Arrow Films)

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    Anthology horror films are a tricky beast to pull off and more often remembered for their inconsistency than anything else. Normally only about half of the shorts in an anthology are strong if you’re lucky, although there are a few exceptions. The big one is Mario Bava’s BLACK SABBATH, a strong contender for the director’s finest outing combining everything the filmmaker did right in his early 60s groundbreaking days and tossing in one of the great late Boris Karloff performances for good measure. Sadly, the movie has never been particularly easy to track down, constantly going in and out of print and available in two distinct cuts that are surprisingly different. Well, the good news is that the good folks at Arrow Films narrowed their laser sights onto BLACK SABBATH as part of their current commitment to bring Bava to HD, and now all may drool over the disc in horror geek delight. Given that the film is not only one of the maestro’s best, but one of his prettiest “horror in Technicolor” achievements, this disc is practically guaranteed to make eyeballs bleed in the best possible sense.

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  • George A. Romero’s “KNIGHTRIDERS” (Blu-ray Review, Arrow Films)

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    The man who gave the world the modern flesh-munching zombie will always be remembered as a horror maestro, but one of George Romero’s finest efforts from his underground Pittsburgh days was made with no intention of giving audiences the willies (well, except for the sight of Tom Savini in a speedo). KNIGHTRIDERS comes between DAWN OF THE DEAD and CREEPSHOW in the director’s career and features roles for many of his stock company of the time like Savini, Ken Foree, and John Amplas (MARTIN).

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