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    “WHY HORROR?” (Toronto After Dark Review)

    Full disclosure: this writer is actually in — albeit briefly —Toronto journo and ardent horror fan Tal Zimerman’s new globe-trotting doc WHY HORROR? which might muddy my critical perception. Or not. The film, which is having its Canadian premiere at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival tonight (reportedly a sold out show, but you can try your last minute luck by storming the Scotiabank Theatre gates), sports a who’s who of terror’s most celebrated talking heads, from John Carpenter to George A. Romero to Alexandre Aja to Steve Niles, all collected in an on-camera investigation into why people watch horror films. 

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    “WYRMWOOD” (Toronto After Dark Review)

    Despite a bleak, bleak, bleak opening sequence—the line “This morning I shot my wife and child with a nail gun” is spoken less than five minutes into the film and we are not spared the gory flashback details—in fairly short order the Australian zombie adventure WYRMWOOD takes a sharp left into deliciously wild, ridiculously hepped-up pastures, exuding a sinister buoyancy and spirit that resembles less a sui generis stand alone film than, say, the second or third entry in a franchise wherein filmmakers striving for freshness are willing (forced?) to indulge the more absurdist, outlandish elements of the horror palette—think BEYOND THUNDERDOME meets DREAM WARRIORS meets DEAD BY DAWN not MAD MAX meets NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET meets EVIL DEAD. 

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    “SEE NO EVIL 2″ (Screamfest Movie Review)

    In true horror sequel tradition, SEE NO EVIL 2 picks up just moments after the first’s finale. The crazed killer with a hellacious hook, Jacob Goodnight (Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs), has been skewered through the eye and thrown through a window. Scraping up the gory remains of him and his victims, the ambulance drivers make a rather gruesome delivery to the local morgue. This puts a real hitch in the birthday plans of coroner Amy (Danielle Harris), who’s forced to work the graveyard shift. But that doesn’t stop the celebration… Amy’s buddies bring cake and booze to the morgue and party like there’s no tomorrow. Which, of course, there isn’t when a certain surprise stiff shows up. 

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    “PARLOR” (Screamfest Movie Review)

    In this mostly miserable mash-up between MIAMI INK and HOSTEL, a group of drunk, horny teens living it up in Lithuania fall prey to a tattooed madman and his evil assistant. Pretty much anyone who’s seen a horror movie knows that an Eastern European Bloc party is not going to end well… and of course, that’s what we’re hoping for when the lights in the theater go down. But when it doesn’t start well, that’s trouble. 

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    “THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT” (Movie Review)

    From the title and the interview clips in the first few minutes, THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT appears to be framed by an inquiry into the creation of haunted attractions, and their relation to the human urge to scare and be scared. Then, up comes that oh-so-familiar text line: “The following footage was shot by five friends…”

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    “AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW 401: Monsters Among Us” (Review)

    There isn’t much room for normality in FREAK SHOW. There’s never been any in AMERICAN HORROR STORY, at all. Three seasons of fluctuating between unending ghoulishness and spritely trash, the delicious wrong of this anthology series has seen a few constants: a roving, dizzying, dazzling camera; bad bitches as played by Jessica Lange; and a thematic through-line of being ostracized. In its fourth season, the second of which is fully period-set, co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have dipped further back into an atmosphere of repression (1952), one that circles the free-flowing madhouse of a carnie sideshow full of freaks and outcasts and those unwelcome in ordinary society. It is perhaps AMERICAN HORROR STORY at its least subtle (that’s something!), and yet as season premiere “Monsters Among Us” unfolds, also its most focused. 

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