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    “AFFLICTED” (TIFF Movie Review)

    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)

    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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    Ti West’s “THE SACRAMENT” (TIFF Movie Review)

    More faux doc than “found footage,” Ti West’s THE SACRAMENT exceeds at effectively blurring lines, subsequently succeeding at being horrifying and grounded. From its inclusion of the VICE brand and positing the cult tale as one of their “Guide To’s,” to the rare-for-this-medium proper opening titles to hewing closely to the tragedy of Jonestown and the Peoples Temple, the film presents itself as fictional entertainment about the evil real men do rather than real capturing of supernatural phenomena. The end result is especially unsettling.

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    “ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE” (TIFF Movie Review)

    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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    “PROXY” (TIFF Movie Review)

    Ready-to-pop pregnant Esther Woodhouse (Alexia Rasmussen, pictured above) is walking home from an obstetrician’s appointment when she’s brutally attacked in the street by a hooded stranger. It is a harsh and surprisingly graphic opening—one likely to have some movie patrons running for the door—but marks only the beginning of the pitch-black psychosexual terrain to be explored in Zack Parker’s fourth feature, PROXY.

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    “BORGMAN” (TIFF Movie Review)

    Dutch filmmaker Alex Van Warmerdam’s modern-day mythical black comedy BORGMAN was scooped up amidst much Cannes buzz by Drafthouse films earlier this year and just made its North American debut at TIFF, where Fango caught it yesterday. A strange and feisty film whose horror affiliations are more existential than overt, BORGMAN is about a handful of divine shit-disturbers, led by the title character, who turn the life of a suburban couple upside down.

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    “ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE” (TIFF Movie Review)

    The first thing you must know about the film ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE is that it is a vampire film. The second thing you need to know is that it is written and directed by arthouse auteur Jim Jarmusch. Therefore you can fairly easily and accurately assume that it is a vampire film like no other and your embrace of its charms will depend squarely on this revelation.

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    “THE DEAD 2: INDIA” (Movie Review)

    Low budget horror is oversaturated with zombies, so the greatest trick THE DEAD pulled was standing out not especially for its viscera, but for its location. Set in vast African expanses, it impressed with its landscapes, its photography and its languid pace. Stretches of it were so silent that it could have worked as a completely dialogue-free film like Luc Besson’s LE DERNIER COMBAT, and the fact that it paired an American soldier (Rob Freeman) with an indigenous African sergeant (Prince David Osei) gave it at least a suggestion of subtext.

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    “THE BORDERLANDS” (FrightFest Movie Review)

    Somewhere in the southwest of England there are reports of supernatural phenomena at a rural church. Father Crellick (Luke Neal), concerned for his sparse parishioners, has video evidence of objects moving independently on his altar during a christening; moved by a presence that seems to corrupt the very recording. A team is sent in.

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    “RIDDICK” (Movie Review)

    If you recall, we first met Richard Riddick, an extreme survivalist Furyan with hyper sensitive eyes that aid him to see in the dark at long distances, in the modern cult favorite PITCH BLACK. PITCH BLACK became an underground hit with its mix of action and gory kills but its sequel, 2004’s THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK  moved on to a much bigger canvas with more sci-fi elements and a decidedly less hardcore PG-13 rating. That film left Furyan fans wondering if a third film would bring back what made PITCH BLACK work so well.

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