Sunday, August 17, 2014

THE SACRAMENT (Review)


THE SACRAMENT (2013)

review by AARON ALLEN

Directed and written by Ti West

Starring Joe Swanberg, A.J. Bowen, Gene Jones, Amy Seimetz, Kentucker Audley
-------------

Following the critical fanfare over House of the Devil (2009) and The Innkeepers (2011) as well as his contributions to The ABC's of Death and the V/H/S anthologies, writer-director Ti West has certainly cultivated a cult following of fans in the horror community. With this week's home video release of his new film The Sacrament, a faux documentary about a Jonestown-esque tragedy, I wonder how his latest work will be received by horror fans. Will West's foray into POV "found footage" films convert still more to his congregation, or will it test the faith of the true believers?

Father (Gene Jones) knows best

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rue Morgue Festival of Fear @ Fan Expo Canada - AUG 28-31


In a little more than three weeks, scores of comic book, sci-fi anime, gaming, and horror fans will descend upon the the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the annual FAN EXPO CANADA: AUGUST 28 - 31. Of course, the big draw for horror fans is Rue Morgue's convention within a convention, the FESTIVAL OF FEAR, and their Friday night SHOCKTAIL PARTY boasting an appearance by WolfCop!



Now celebrating its 20th year, Fan Expo Canada is the largest comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming event in Canada and brings around 125, 000 pop culture fans to the sprawling 750,000 square feet of pure of the  Metro Toronto Convention Centre for an extended weekend of pure geekgasm. Rue Morgue is certainly no slouch when it comes to programming a lineup of exciting horror guests fans are ravenous to see!

FEATURED GUESTS

Sean S. Cunningham.
Director/ Producer: FRIDAY THE 13th
appearing THUR, FRI, SAT, SUN
Bruce Campbell.
EVIL DEAD / ARMY OF DARKNESS
appearing SAT, SUN
Robert Englund
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
appearing THUR, FRI, SAT, SUN
Heather Langenkamp
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
appearing THUR, FRI, SAT, SUN
John Saxon
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

BLACK CHRISTMAS
appearing THUR, FRI, SAT, SUN
Sheryl Lee
TWIN PEAKS
appearing THUR, FRI, SAT, SUN


Sherilyn Fenn.
TWIN PEAKS
appearing THUR, FRI, SAT, SUN

Ray Wise.
TWIN PEAKS
appearing THUR, FRI, SAT, SUN















Other guests include cast members from The Walking Dead, Black Christmas and many more. For the full line-up of horror and sci-fi, anime, comic book, and gaming guests as well as ticket information visit fanexpocanada.com.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

MALLEUS MALEFICARUM (Review)

MALLEUS
 MALEFICARUM (2014)
[Short Film]

review by AARON ALLEN

Written and Directed by Torin Langen

Starring Erin Stuart, Rebeca Mackinnon, Eric Repke
---

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
- Exodus 22:18

In Torin Langen's Malleus Maleficarum, the follow up / companion piece to his last short Fondue, Langen has perfected the art of silent dread. Malleus Maleficarum’s completely dialogue-free narrative is so terrifyingly bewitching that I have to assume it can only be the product of some kind of black movie magic.

Malleus Maleficarum opens with a woman and two young people preparing for some Fall festivities. They don't appear to be gearing up for  Halloween, however, although the time of year is certainly right; crisp yellow and orange leaves crunch underfoot, pumpkins are out, and you can almost smell the crisp October air wafting through the skeleton-finger limbs of the trees. No, not Halloween. Something else equally rooted in superstitions and the rites of the winter solstice. They are preparing for something called “Exodus.” A creeping sense of dread begins to creep into the proceedings as the trio take a trip to the local grocer / convenience store. Instead of picking up a Jack O’ Lantern, they are ushered into a silent room containing men and women slumped, sullen, and cowering in the corners with white hoods pulled over their heads.

You’re going to have to see it for yourself to find out where it goes from there. But here’s a hint: it’s riveting. The wordless performances by Erin Stuart, Rebeca Mackinnon and Eric Repke as the trio are so mysterious yet intriguing you won't want to look away. Devoid of exposition, director Torin Langen lets the camera tell the story, ushering you into scenes that are at once both quite familiar yet increasingly tinged with the queer and the strange. In this nightmarish narrative, the true nature of what’s going on is never explicitly laid out for the viewer, but observant audiences will have no trouble discerning the age-old themes at play.

In no uncertain terms, Malleus Maleficarum marks a distinct point of maturation in Torin Langen’s development as a filmmaker. While Langen’s prior shorts have all shown exceptional talent, he has in the past relied heavily on retro homage or heavily stylized music and visuals. Malleus Maleficarum, by comparison, is a much more straight-forward and no-nonsense demonstration of Langen’s deft skills with a camera, narrative, and character. If Malleus Maleficarum were a knife, it would cut deep and cut clean. Few people can tell a truly engaging story without character dialogue yet still manage to keep it tight, tense, and tantalizing, but Torin Langen has cracked the code.

Malleus Maleficarum is a great sample of suspenseful short film sorcery. I can’t recommend it enough. See it for yourself August 15th in Montreal where it will screen as an official selection of the MASCARA & POPCORN Film Festival.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Black Fawn Brings SILENT RETREAT to DVD: SEPT 2nd

On Friday, August 8th, Horror in the Hammer is screening the award-winning Canadian horror film SILENT RETREAT at a special charity screening of Fright Night Theatre with all net proceeds going to SACHA (Sexual Assault Centre Hamilton). A little less than a month later, SILENT RETREAT will hit home video on September 2nd courtesy of our friends at Black Fawn Distribution!



Black Fawn Distribution continues to make a name for itself as one of Canada's most unique genre film distributors with their growing catalog of hot, cutting edge horror films like recent acquisition DISCOPATH (review). SILENT RETREAT is available for pre-order as a single-disc package including a "Making Of" documentary and filmmaker commentary OR as a double-bill package that also all of the above plus a signed poster and a copy of the film Discopath. As always, Black Fawn Distribution offers free shipping!




PRESS RELEASE

BLACK FAWN DISTRIBUTION ACQUIRES HOME VIDEO RIGHTS FOR SILENT RETREAT, RELEASE NEW POSTER

Black Fawn Distribution To Release A Film Monkey Production Feature “SILENT RETREAT” On DVD In Canada September 2nd



(Toronto, ON) – After taking home the prize for Best Canadian Feature at last year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival, SILENT RETREAT has now found a home on DVD through Black Fawn Distribution. A Film Monkey Production has granted the Canadian home video rights for their award winning creature feature SILENT RETREAT to Black Fawn Distribution to be released on DVD in Canada on September 2nd, 2014. After taking home the prize for Best Canadian Feature at last year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival, SILENT RETREAT has now found a home on DVD through Black Fawn Distribution. A Film Monkey Production has granted the Canadian home video rights for their award winning creature feature SILENT RETREAT to Black Fawn Distribution to be released on DVD in Canada on September 2nd, 2014.

SILENT RETREAT celebrated its World Premiere at the 2013 Toronto After Dark Film Festival and has since gone on to screen at the Nocturna Film Fest in Madrid, Spain. Led by talented actresses Chelsea Jenish and Sofia Banzhaf, SILENT RETREAT is ultimately about women finding their voice and refusing to be silent, a theme that resonated with Lee while developing the film. With SILENT RETREAT, Lee added her own spin to the genre: strong female characters combined with an emotionally resonant theme and classic horror imagery.

“We really wanted to acquire a film that was very different thematically,” states Black Fawn Distribution Sales Manager C.F. Benner. “What makes Tricia’s voice so unique is her ability to build quality characters by using small pieces of social commentary. It’s a very clever style that really allows these characters to come to life and drive the film forward. Obviously SILENT RETREAT is a creature feature, but this film has a lot of layers that are enjoyable to peel back and explore as you’re watching.”

"After learning of Black Fawn Distribution's grassroots marketing and their mission to sell directly to genre fans, I was very excited to begin working with them on SILENT RETREAT,” explains director Tricia Lee. “I think they’ll do a fantastic job getting the film out there.” Described by Rue-Morgue.com as a film that “beautifully blends supernatural horror with the terrors of the real world,” SILENT RETREAT is already being noticed by critics. The National Post stated that SILENT RETREAT is a “chilling little number from Canadian director Tricia Lee” while Ain’t It Cool News heralded the film as “a tense little beast of a movie that has some powerfully terrifying moments interspersed with some even more impactful silences." The SILENT RETREAT DVD will include a behind the scenes featurette, director and writer commentary, an exclusive artwork gallery and trailers for the film.
# # #
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR PRESS INQUIRIES PLEASE CONTACT:
CF Benner Chad Archibald
Sales Manager General Manager
sales@blackfawndistribution.com chad@blackfawnfilms.com


Monday, July 28, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare (Review)

ROCK 'N' ROLL NIGHTMARE (1987) 

(aka. The Edge of Hell)

review by AARON ALLEN

Directed by John Fasano
Written by Jon Mikl Thor
Starring: Jon Mikl Thor, Jillian Peri, Frank Dietz
-------------

You can't really consider yourself a red-blooded Canadian fan of exploitation and trash cinema until you've put down your hockey stick, set aside that Tim Horton's, and popped in a copy of the ridiculously bizarre Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare starring Canadian god of glam metal: Jon Mikl Thor. 

Sadly, John Fasano -- the director of this and several other little oddities of Canadiana -- passed away last week at the age of 52. I point this out because in my original review of Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare I called his directing "inept to the point of self-satire but ... nevertheless fun as hell." Is that disrespectful in the wake of his passing? Look, I respect Fasano even if his work here is not the best. Independent film-making is a hard road to travel, and it's easy for audiences on the sidelines to criticize after the fact. Fasano's early directorial output might not win any awards here, but films like Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare and Black Roses (which was filmed in Hamilton) endure in the hearts and minds of cult film fans exactly because of Fasano's quirky interest in these weirdo flicks. As we reflect on Fasano's passing, let's take a look back at one of his first films to explore just what exactly makes Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare a charming trash treasure.

Electric perm? Check. Muscle oil? Check.  Let's go!
Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare is the film version of every nerdy metal fan's adolescent wet dream inspired by comic books and images of rock warriors airbrushed on the sides of vans -- but shot with a less-than-epic budget. It's an amazing gem of trash and cult cinema, and it's all set in Toronto. It begins when metal band Triton rents out a farm house in rural Ontario so that they can practice their sets and get their fuck on! Lead singer John Triton (Jon Mikl Thor), a beefy blond metal machine who loves Canada for the arts, has a hell of a time getting his band to focus on their music. Between sneaking off to fuck their boyfriends and girlfriends, the band is being tormented by evil demons in the shape of silly latex puppets and Halloween props. The band is picked off, one-by-one, by an evil presence until only Triton remains. Then, the film takes a spectacularly out-of-nowhere twist that concludes in one of the most mind-boggling and cheer-worthy final battles ever filmed between good and evil.


Was it good for you, baby?
Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare might give new meaning to the word "silly." Obviously, the film is not meant to be truly scary, otherwise it wouldn't be populated by one-eyed puppets that smoke, people in ill-fitting leotards and metal rock costumes, and unforgivably bad monster masks. Yet, it's precisely this haunted house of cheap tricks and completely random host of demons and goblins that gives Rock 'N' Roll nightmare its indelible charm.

Aside from the silly effects, actor Jon Mikl Thor brings the movie to a whole new level of endearing ridiculousness with his portrayal of Triton, an impossibly earnest metal band front-man. Thor is simply so clearly into his role despite the bad script and bad direction that his commitment to this bizarre movie should put a grin on your face. Watch him rock that mic in a red vest and belt out complex lyrics such as, "Energy takes me where I want to be. And you're where I want to be. Girl, you give me (give me) energy!"

I experience the energy of Jon Mikl Thor's hammer at SHOCK STOCK 2011
where Thor was an honoured guest.
After teaming up with Thor in Zombie Nightmare, Jon Mikl Thor re-teams with John Fasano to demonstrate that they still don't quite have a handle on this whole movie-making thing. Case in point: I REALLY hope you like to watch a van driving...for 10 minutes.

Someone needed to give the film editor a hand on this picture
What Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare lacks in quality, story, and genuine scares, it makes up for in shamelessly gratuitous female nudity. Almost every woman gets nude in this movie, there's plenty of bouncing busts, and even the chiseled Thor gets into the buff for an awkward shower sex scene. There's no time to get bored with a movie that has this much bare flesh on screen!


The always classic Handbra
Peek a Boob!
Oh yeah. That's steamy.
Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare would be just another cheap Canuxploitation film if not for its balls-to-the-wall ending. As the devil appears to claim Triton, Triton reveals that he's been the only one in the house the whole time. All the other band members, even the one he awkwardly tonged in the shower, have been illusions created by Triton, for Triton is no mere mortal. In fact, he is THE INTERCESSOR: a warrior angel.

He-Man: The Rock Opera
The Intercessor looks like Dolph Lundgren from Masters of the Universe crossed with a heavy metal runway model. We learn that the Intercessor's imaginary friends were just a ploy to trick the devil (played by a rigid rod puppet) out into the open so that the Intercessor could lay a WWE beat down on him.

Arrrrgh! Cyclops starfish attacking!
Seriously, as the battle between the Devil and the Intercessor gets underway, it consists of Thor grimacing like a wrestler and putting wrestling locks on a cheap rod puppet.

No Sympathy for the Devil
Does any of this make sense? Not one bit. But it's a surreal and completely left-turn from demon possession horror into superhero pseudo-fantasy. And I love it. Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare is not a good movie -- that's why we call it trash cinema -- but it's a crusty Canadian gem that provides a guilty pleasure for fans of horror and glam metal. Jon Mikl Thor is admirable for keeping a straight face as Triton (aka. The Intercessor). He's the heart of the film. Without him and the insane Intercessor twist, Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare would be little more than a dusty old VHS sitting in someone's basement. As it turns out, the film has enough kooky qualities and a cult fan base to support it that Synapse Films put out a very nice DVD full of extra features. More than you ever thought you wanted to know about Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare courtesy of an audio commentary with the late but not forgotten John Fasano.

RIP John Fasano. Thanks for the laughs!


A version of this review originally appeared on monsterchiller.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Canada delivers Aliens, Living Dolls, and a WolfCop to the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival

Canadian horror/genre filmmakers can't be stopped! Today, the Fantasia International Film Festival announced its full 2014 lineup, and you better believe that Canada has brought its Eh!-Game to the prestigious and lauded genre festival!



Check out the full list of Canadian feature films including fan-favorite horror comedy WOLFCOP and the world premiere of the new alien horror film EJECTA

EJECTA || WORLD PREMIERE! 


The story of one night on earth that changed everything we know about the universe.

August 3 • 7:00 PM
DB Clarke Theatre

Directors: Chad Archibald, Matt Wiele
Writer: Tony Burgess
Stars: Julian Richings, Lisa Houle, Adam Seybold

THE DROWNSMAN || WORLD PREMIERE! 


After almost drowning in a lake, Madison finds herself bound to a life of fear. Unable to describe what happened to her during the moments she was underwater, she begins to develop hydrophobia. Crippled by her post trauma, Madison attempts to shut out the world but her fear intensifies and she is faced with the vision of a dark figure that haunts her.

August 2 • 5:15 PM
DB Clarke Theatre

Director: Chad Archibald
Screenplay: Chad Archibald
Cast: Michelle Mylett, Caroline Korycki, Gemma Bird Matheson, Sydney Kondruss

WOLFCOP || QUEBEC PREMIERE! 


As a series of strange and violent events start happening, an alcoholic policeman realizes that he has been turned into a werewolf as part of a larger plan, so he investigates with the help of his partner and his friend.

August 1 • 11:55 PM
Concordia Hall Theatre

Director: Lowell Dean
Screenplay: Lowell Dean
Cast: Leo Fafard, Amy Matysio, Jonathan Cherry, Sarah Lind

DYS- || WORLD PREMIERE! 


Forced to barricade themselves in their apartment, a young couple is brought to the edge of the already existing divide between them.

August 1 • 7:30 PM
J.A. De Seve Theatre

Director: Maude Michaud
Screenplay: Maude Michaud
Cast: Shannon Lark, Alex Goldrich, Dega Lazare, Lynn Lowry

BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE || WORLD PREMIERE! 


Black Mountain Side follows a group of archaeologists after they uncover a strange structure in Northern Canada, dating over ten thousand years before the present. The team finds themselves isolated when their communication systems fail and it is not long before they begin to feel the effects of the solitude.

July 30 • 7:00 PM
DB Clarke Theatre

Director: Nick Szostakiwskyj
Screenplay: Nick Szostakiwskyj
Cast: Shane Twerdun, Carl Toftfelt, Michael Dickson, Marc Anthony Williams, Andrew Moxham

BLOODY KNUCKLES || WORLD PREMIERE! 


Travis is an underground comic book artist with a penchant for the obscene. When one of his comics insults a Chinatown crime boss, the gangster punishes Travis by removing his drawing hand. A daunted Travis retreats into a life of alcoholic misery. That is, until his hand returns from the grave...

July 27 • 5:00 PM
DB Clarke Theatre

Director: Matt O’Mahoney
Screenplay: Matt O’Mahoney
Cast: Adam Boys, Kasey Ryne Mazak, Ken Tsui, Gabrielle Giraud

PATCH TOWN || QUEBEC PREMIERE! 


In this dark comedy / adventure-fantasy, an abandoned living toy named Jon works in a factory where new living baby dolls are harvested from gabbage patches and sent out to be adopted by little human girls. When Jon and his wife Mary steal one of the newborns from the factory floor, they must flee the shadowy factory and enter the human world, but they are pursued by an evil child catcher who manufactures the living dolls.

July 19 • 3:15 PM
J.A. De Seve Theatre

Director: Craig Goodwill
Screenplay: Craig Goodwill, Jessie Gabe, Trevor Martin
Cast: Rob Ramsay, Zoie Palmer, Julian Richings, Suresh John, Stephanie Pitsiladis

FEED THE DEVIL || WORLD PREMIERE! 


A hunt for easy money turns into a deadly search for a missing loved one as outsiders confront the evil forces behind a native American myth.

Director: Max Perrier
Screenplay: Matthew Altman
Cast: Jared Cohn , Ardis Barrow , Victoria Curtain , Brandon Perrault, Nahka Bertrand

DEVIL'S MILE || WORLD PREMIERE! 


A relentlessly-paced hybrid of gritty crime thriller and Lovecraftian supernatural horror, Devil's Mile follows a trio of kidnappers who take an ill-advised detour en route to deliver their hostages - two teenage girls - to their mysterious and powerful employer. When they accidentally kill one of the girls during a botched escape attempt, their simmering mistrust explodes into shocking violence. But what they thought was their worst case scenario is only the beginning, as they are engulfed by the hellish forces that haunt the road - a road they realize they may never escape... THE DEVIL'S MILE

July 26 • 7:25 PM
J.A. De Seve Theatre

Director: Joseph O'Brien
Screenplay: Joseph O'Brien
Cast: Maria Del Mar, Casey Hudecki, David Hayter, Samantha Wan, Frank Moore

Friday, June 27, 2014

CONTEST: Win Tickets to RADIO SILENCE & CALL GIRL at Fright Night Theatre (June 28)

To celebrate the Canadian Premiere of the award-winning German horror/thriller RADIO SILENCE and short film CALL GIRL, Horror in the Hammer is giving away 3 double-passes to see both fright-tastic films at Fright Night Theatre in Hamilton, ON this Saturday (June 28, 2014 @ 7pm at The Staircase Cafe Theatre - 27 Dundurn St. N.





Horror in the Hammer has three (3) double passes to RADIO SILENCE CALL GIRL

HOW TO WIN
DEADLINE: 12am on Saturday, June 28, 2014 (ET)

Three winners will be selected at random and notified at midnight.

RADIO SILENCE: Synopsis

A pirate radio host is the only person who can prevent a serial killer called the Nightslasher from slaying his next victim, but saving one innocent soul may means sacrificing another.

Radio Silence delivers a pulse-pounding game of cat and mouse that takes audiences on a nail-biting plunge into the depths of human depravity through a maze secrets, lies, and murder. Nothing is what it seems. The killer is closer than you ever imagined. There is no escape. Directed by Marco Riedl and Carsten Vauth.


CALL GIRL: Synopsis

In one man's attempt to exploit his date night via online video-chat, he ends up sharing something far more disturbing. Tristan Risk (American Mary) and Laurence R. Harvey (Human Centipede 2 and Human Centipede 3) star in this sleazy and shocking micro-movie from director Jill Sixx Gevargizian.