Wednesday, July 20, 2016



review by AARON ALLEN

Directed by Jeff Maher

Written by Cody Calahan and Jeff Maher

Starring: Colin Price, Alysa King, Dennis Andres, Gwenlyn Cumyn, George Krissa

Black Fawn Films cannot be stopped. With their new film Bed of the Dead, which had its World Premiere at the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival, Black Fawn continues their streak of elevating low budget concepts into high-level contenders for the most interesting, most exciting, and most genuine genre entertainment available. Bed of the Dead is a superb horror-thriller with a B-movie premise that's Grade-A fun.

I don't know who came up with the insane concept for Bed of the Dead, but I like to imagine that it could have had its origins in a late-night Chinese food dinner pitch session at Black Fawn headquarters.

Perhaps as the rice and noodles were running out, someone decided to break out the fortune cookies and read them aloud. You know that silly game where you add "... in bed" to every trite slip of paper that comes out of those disgustingly delicious yellow confections? Perhaps the conversation went something like this:

"What about a movie with an evil parasitic twin?" 

                    "A friend asks only for your time not your bed!"

"No, no. What about a movie about a woman who transforms into a disgusting bug?"

                   "New ideas could be bed!"

"Hey, I got one. What about a movie where four twentysomethings find themselves suffering frightening hallucinations before succumbing to gruesome deaths as they're picked off one by one...."

               ".... in bed!"

Eureka! BED OF THE DEAD, ladies and gentleman in a nutshell.

Okay, I'm 99% sure that's not how Bed of the Dead was conceived, but if it were, I wouldn't be all that surprised. It's exactly that unique blend of dedication to finding serious horror movie concepts with out-of-the-box imagination and a willingness to embrace unproven genre ideas that makes Bed of the Dead just so feverishly fun.

In Bed of the Dead, a group of sexually adventurous friends check themselves into a sex club to celebrate the birthday of their buddy Ren (Dennis Andres). His birthday wish: a foursome with his girl Sandy (Alysa King), his best friend Fred (George Krissa) and his partner Nancy (Gwenlyn Cumyn). What begins as night of awkwardly sexy group play soon becomes a nightmare holocaust when the four realize that they're trapped on the giant oak bed that dominates the room. Anyone who tries to leave meets a supernaturally gruesome demise. A powerful entity in, on, and under the bed is judging their sins. The last thing it wants to do is sleep.

Despite a cursory similarity to the crap-fest Death Bed: The Bed that Eats (as immortalized in comedian Patton Oswalt's legendary stand-up set), Bed of the Dead is a serious horror effort that shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath as Death Bed. Bed of the Dead is packed with serious scares. Serious violence and gore. Serious sexiness. And yes, seriously wicked jabs of cheeky black comedy that only so slightly wink at the audience. As soon as you think you have the plot of Bed of the Dead pegged, the script by Maher and Calahan throws another titillating twist in your face. For example, the introduction of a cop with a rough past (Colin Price) who is investigating a crime in the same sex club ends up intersecting in surprising ways with the plight of our bedridden swingers and provides a third-act complication that's truly exciting.

Bed of the Dead is all about artistic economy. Get into the story, get things moving, and hit the audience with a series of shocking thrills and kills. Set'em up, knock 'em down, and change the stakes. There's literally never a dull moment as the lurid cinematography of Micha Dahan and the scintillating score by Steph Copeland act like sheets to draw you deeper and deeper into the horror of the bed. I cannot recommend this film enough.

Bed of the Dead puts a decidedly adult new spin on that age-old childhood fear of the monster under the bed. It's freaky, fun, and most importantly fresh. In a world of horror media plagued by sequels, reboots, and derivative ripoffs, Black Fawn Films continues to offer something unique and original that's well worth the price of admission.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

DEAD RUSH (Review)

DEAD RUSH (2016)

review by AARON ALLEN

Directed by Zach Ramelan

Written by Gavin Michael Booth, Raven Cousens, Zachary Ramelan

Starring: Michael Moote, Raven Cousens, Charlie Hamilton, Caleigh Le Grand, Rich Piatkowski, Austin Duffy
The zombie apocalypse gets up close and very personal this week at the Canadian Film Fest with the World Premiere of Zach Ramelan's zombie action-drama DEAD RUSH (9:30pm, Mar 31)

Based on the short film of the same name, DEAD RUSH presents one man's desperate fight and flight for survival during a zombie apocalypse, told entirely through the protagonist's first person perspective. Theoretically, this should put the audience in an intimate and action-packed front row seat for the end of the world. At least, that was the case in Ramelan's excellent and adrenaline-pumping short film (currently collected in the zombie anthology film Zombieworld). Unfortunately, I am very sad to report, the feature-length treatment of Dead Rush is dreadfully dull and stunted in scope. It squanders its POV gimmick by bogging down the story in sad melodrama instead of action.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


by Aaron Allen

Directed by Tyler MacIntyre


This Friday, Tyler MacIntyre's Frankenstein-themed female revenge horror-comedy Patchwork will be making its Canadian premiere at the Toronto After Dark closing night gala. Tickets still remain but will likely sell out quickly, so don't wait to get yours. Patchwork is the perfect TAD film: funny, weird, gory, and out of its god damn mind.

Three women (Tory Stolper, Tracey Fairaway, Maria Blasucci) wake up to discover that their dead bodies have been surgically mutilated and stitched together into a single Frankenstein's monster. Now one body with three distinct and at-odds identities, they/she go on a darkly comedic rampage to find the men responsible and exact revenge.

Like its protagonist, Patchwork is a giddy mixture of horror, comedy, satire, action, and female drama with a wild side full of genuine twists and an irreverent sense of schizophrenic style. It might be a bit rough around the edges, but it's still a monstrous success. Patchwork will never be a mainstream hit, but it's the perfect film for Toronto After Dark's cult-loving audience of film fanatics and the most surprising film of the festival. Go see it this Friday night!

Directed by Jesse Thomas Cook

Last night was the World Premiere of The Hexecutioners, a film so new that it was only finished 30 hours before it screened to a sold-out crowd at Toronto After Dark. Directed by Jesse Thomas Cook (Monster BrawlSeptic Man) and written by Tony Burgess (PontypoolSeptic Man, Hellmouth, Ejecta), The Hexecutioners is a spooky rural Gothic horror that is without a doubt the best film to come out of Foresight Features since Exit Humanity.

In the near future, human euthanasia is a legitimate (albeit shady) business. Malison (Liv Collins) is a new techie paired up with seasoned closer Olivia (Sarah Power) and sent out to end the life of Milos Sombarac:  a very wealthy client living in palliative care on a creepy rural estate. Sombarac wants to die in a very particular and unusual way, and he's willing to pay big money for the service. As Malison struggles to come to terms with her job as a sanctioned killer, she begins to experience a series of disturbing apparitions and hauntings connected to Sombarac's past as the participant in a tragic death cult.

The Hexecutioners is not particularly scary although it is interestingly creepy. Its Gothic mood is a testament to Cook's maturity as a director. The performances are topnotch and the script is a very satisfying mixture of conventional Gothic terror with Tony Burgess's trademark unhinged and envelope-pushing concepts and self-aware wit. While past ventures like Septic Man and Hellmouth may have been too insane and unbridled, The Hexecutioners is actually hindered by too much restraint and a dogged adherence to structure that makes its conclusion far less surprising than it should be. Over all, The Hexecutioners is a good old-fashioned haunted house movie with some exciting occult ideas, but the entire film could have used just a few drops more of Tony Burgess's mad genius in the mix.

Get advanced tickets to remaining screenings:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


by Aaron Allen

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival draws to a close this week, so if you haven't yet got tickets to the final three nights of the fest, do so without delay. This year's fest has been a roaring good time full of fun, frightening, and fascinating films from around the world. Here's a run down of two outstanding genre movies that have already screened.

Directed by Kyle Rankin

If the unbreakable Kimmy Smidt crawled out of her bunker into a small-town zombie apocalypse, that should give you an pretty good idea of the quirky and cracked-up style of humour in Night of the Living Deb. After a night of drinking, adorably awkward and feisty firecracker Deb (the show-stealing Maria Thayer) wakes up in the apartment of the man of her dreams (Michael Cassidy), but their one night stand walk of shame becomes a madcap and hilarious fight for survival when it becomes quickly apparent that their town is in the grips of a zombie infection. Night of the Living Deb is an opposites attract rom-com with giddily gruesome zombie elements and lot of heart. The dialogue zips and stings and there is rarely a dull moment. In fact, the characters are so funny and the writing so on-point that the zombie elements are the film's least interesting merits. Burned out on zombie comedies? Give Night of the Living Deb a try; it's a joyous breath of fresh air in an overcrowded and stale genre. 

Directed by Gabriel Carrer

Want to talk about emotionally intense? Introducing The Demolisher: a throat-gripping revenge thriller about an unhinged cable repairman (Ry Barrett) who prowls the gritty streets of Toronto dealing out brutal vigilante justice on the cult-like street gang that left his police officer wife traumatized and disabled. The Demolisher is almost purely a visual and emotional journey into a heart twisted by rage, vengeance, and paranoia; there is virtually no dialogue and the film is very light on story. The narrative is a fragmented, somewhat nonlinear progression dominated by a kaleidoscope of hypnotic visuals and pulsating electronic music. Its lack of narrative definitely diminishes the dramatic arcs of the characters and produces some plot holes and far-too-convenient twists, but if you like your grindhouse with a lot more arthouse influences, you can't go wrong with The Demolisher.

Tonight, TAD hosts the dark horror-comedy NINA FOREVER followed by the sold-out premiere of THE HEXECUTIONERS. Get ready to rush or grab available tickets at

Monday, October 19, 2015


by Aaron Allen

Toronto's largest genre film festival, Toronto After Dark, is now five days into its nine day run and has already delivered some very exciting and crowd-pleasing horror, sci-fi, action, and cult films. Let's catch up with an overview of a few of these exciting movies you may have missed.

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, Axelle Carolyn, Adam Gierasch, Andrew Kasch, Neil Marshall, Lucky McKee, Mike Mendez, Dave Parker, Ryan Schifrin, John Skipp, Paul Solet

Ten of the horror genre's brightest new talents each field a segment in this fantastic horror anthology about Halloween night in a crazy American suburb where all hell breaks loose every October 31st. Tales of Halloween isn't so much a movie but the rousing cinematic equivalent of a kick-ass Halloween party. Full of twists, scares, laughs, and gore, Tales of Halloween comes within a candy corn of unseating Trick R Treat as the premiere Halloween anthology. Bursting at the seams with horror references and an all-star cast of horror icons in cameo appearances, hardcore horror fans will get the most out of this brilliant synthesis of scary and silly. Make Tales of Halloween a must-watch this October and a permanent part of your annual Halloween traditions. 

Directed by Corin Hardy

Looking for some white-knuckle terror? The Hallow certainly delivers! A young couple with a new baby move to the fringes of the remote Irish wildness where the superstitious locals fear the Hallow: the faeries, banshees, and changelings of myth and legend. While they brush off the warnings and dark omens as fairy tale nonsense, they soon realize that their trespass on the hallowed woods has caught the attention of an infectious evil lurking deep in the living forest. When something supernatural suddenly comes for their baby, the family find themselves in a terrifying fight for survival against the lurking night creatures of the forest and their own slipping grasp on sanity. The only real hitch in The Hallow is a middle act that sees the characters make far too many bone-headed horror movie choices and cliche decisions. Overall, The Hallow is a very satisfying monster movie with a unique take on the dark side of fairy legends. Turn the lights down low for this one.

Directed by Jacob Gentry

Although its smoky cinematography and synth score will give you fuzzy wuzzy BLADE RUNNER nostalgia all over, this tale of time travel from the filmmakers of THE SIGNAL is a clunky and over-acted "sci-fi" noir that never clicks. In the near future, a physicist on the verge of cracking time travel with a machine that folds space-time finds himself caught up in corporate espionage and a toxic relationship with an erotic femme fatale -- made all the more complicated by the ripples of time travel causality, temporal feedback, and parallel dimensions. Does your head hurt yet? For a film about cracking time travel for the very first time, SYNCHRONICITY gets so bogged down and off-track in a drawn-out, wooden, and cliche noir romance for most of its running time that once it remembers the time travel conundrum at the heart of the movie, it clumsily fumbles for the climax by making some incredible leaps of logic and exposition for the sake of expediency. More style than substance, this films ends up a leaden and convoluted genre throwback in which its own genre elements never find the right synchronicity to pull it off.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

TORONTO AFTER DARK: 4 Films You Need To Get Tickets For Immediately

We at Horror in the Hammer love the Toronto After Dark Film Festival! We're clearly not the only ones. The 2015 installment of Toronto's biggest genre film festival kicks off tomorrow with six screenings already completely sold out in advance!

But fear not! Toronto After Dark still has plenty of exciting screenings that you -- yes YOU -- can still get tickets for if you act fast. Based on trailers and word of mouth alone, we present our picks for the


1.) THE HALLOW (Oct 17)

The opening night gala screening of this creepy-as-hell-looking film about a young family from the city terrorized by mythical creatures lurking in the forests of the Irish woodlands did sell out, but a second midnight screening on Saturday, October 17th has opened up. Tickets will not last long. The Hallow looks downright terrifying.

2.) DEATHGASM (Oct 23)

Another sold out film getting a second screening, Deathgasm is horror gore comedy meets metal music in a New Zealand fusion that's bound to have audiences cheering. A group of metalhead outcasts unwittingly unleash a horde of vicious demons upon their sleepy suburban neighbourhood. Now they’ll have to engage in an epic duel of blood and metal with Satan’s hordes if they’re to win back their town. Throw up the horns for Deathgasm and get your tickets for this encore screening before they're snatched up.


Not yet sold out, but if the praise Canadian revenge flick The Demolisher is getting out of other film fests is any indication, it soon will be. Ryan Barrett plays a vigilantee who dons body armour to dish out brutal street justice. Not only is The Demolisher Canadian, but it's produced by longtime TAD programmer Christian Burgess. The Demolisher is definitely going to sell out.


Creepy mansions, rural horror, and assisted suicide mark this bizarre-looking film from director Jesse Cook (MONSTER BRAWL) and "bat-shit" writer Tony Burgess (PONTYPOOL). Based on the talent involved and this very stylish trailer, I have a feeling that The Hexecutioners is going to surprise a lot of people. Get in on this one!

The 10th annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs October 15-23 at the Scotia Bank Theatre. Order your tickets before it's too late at TORONTOAFTERDARK.COM

Monday, October 5, 2015




Directed by Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy

Written by Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney

Starring Paz de la Huerta, Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, Udo Kier, Laurence R. Harvey

There's always room for Giallo

First off, let me say that I am a huge Astron-6 fan. How huge? Huge enough to make the six-hour drive to Montreal's Fantasia Film Festival for a midnight screening of their new film The Editor and then immediately drive the six hours back home. Was it worth it? You bet your ass it was! The Editor totally exceeded my unrealistically high expectations. 

Terrified actress Samantha Hill or Catriona MacColl's Twin?
The Winnipeg filmmaking collective that brought us the absurdly entertaining, goretastic Father's Day have taken their unique brand of horror and humour and aimed it squarely at the Italian Giallo genre. The murder mysteries made famous by directors such as Dario Argento and Mario Bava have plenty to poke fun at, and the boys in Astron-6 were definitely up to the task. Astron-6 made their start filming short films and mock trailers, but it was the faux grindhouse trailer for "Father's Day," chock full of male nudity and genital mutilation, that caught the attention of Troma's Lloyd Kaufman, who gave Astron-6 the green light and funds to make Father's Day into their first feature. Who knew that the story of a dad-raping serial killer and a one-eyed vigilante would end up becoming the toast of the indie horror community? Now, Astron-6's much-anticipated sophomoric effort, The Editor, has finally arrived in Canada courtesy of Raven Banner Entertainment! 

The Giallo's genre's black-gloved killer is only one of many conventions spoofed by The Editor
Directed by Adam Brooks, and Matthew Ward Kennedy (who both also star in the film), The Editor is the story of Rey Ciso (Brooks), a once-famed film editor who has fallen from grace after chopping off four of his own fingers in a film editing accident. Married to former starlet Josephine Jardin (Paz de la Huerta) who constantly belittles him, Ciso spends most of his time working with his assistant Bella (the adorable Samantha Hill) on the trashy new film TARANTOLA from Francesco Mancini (Kevin Anderson). With the exception of Bella, Ciso doesn't seem to have a friend in sight. Things get much worse for Rey when actors in the film start dropping like flies. These corpses just happen to have four missing fingers, so guess who the main suspect is? Matthew Kennedy turns in a hilarious portrayal of the bumbling inspector Porfiry, while fellow Astron-6er Conor Sweeney plays the lead man wannabe Cal Konitz (another obvious suspect in the murders). Along for the ride, we also have some genre film icons. Udo Kier (Mark Of The Devil) and Laurence Harvey (Human Centipede 2&3) have small but very memorable roles. The beautiful, talented Tristan Risk (from HITH favourites American Mary and Call Girl) rounds out the cast, playing actress/murder victim Veronica. Aftermath FX (Jason Koch and Kaleigh Brown) created some truly stunning special effects, including a very cool Videodrome-style Beta tape (watch the film and you'll see what I mean). With all these ingredients, The Editor arrives laced with the classic Giallo tropes of bad English dubbing, a black-gloved killer, and gratuitous love making as icing on the cake.

Despite losing four of his own, Rey (Brooks) is getting fingered for murder
The Editor is, hands down, one of the best films I have seen all year, but not just because of how goddamn funny it is. This film looks absolutely beautiful. The feel of classic Giallo films like Suspiria or Deep Red is lovingly recreated with great sets, genuine 70s garb, a wonderful score, and most of all, amazing lighting and use of colour. I am admittedly NOT a fan of Blu-ray, but the Blu-ray of The Editor seems to make every scene jump off the screen. What I love most about these Canuckleheads at Astron-6 is their attention to detail. They succeed at the whole Giallo spoof because they know their stuff. Down to the fake one sheet film posters that hang on the walls of the editing suite, Dario himself couldn't have made a more giallolly Giallo film. These posters designed by Graham Humphreys really are a thing of beauty. Posters with fake film titles such as The Mirror and the Guillotine, Cat With The Velvet Blade, and Colour Me Sin just scream of the good old days, when I would spend what seems like an endless amount of time in my favourite mom and pop video store, in awe of all the glorious VHS box art. 

You wish these films were real
To make a long story short, Astron-6 put in a shit ton of work, making sure that every little thing was perfect for The Editor: their first film with a budget, albeit a small one. Even if you have never heard of Dario Argento or the Giallo film genre, you will have a blast with The Editor. This film is well-written, acted, scored, and shot. Even better than that, Fright Night Theatre is proud to have The Editor as a part of its October 10th double bill, screening with another great Canadian horror-comedy: Bloody Knuckles! So get off your duff, and buy your tickets now, before they are gone.

Saturday, October 10, 2015
The Staircase Theatre (27 Dundurn St. N.)
Hamilton, ON

Double Feature Admission: $15.00
Single Film Admission: $10.00 (advance) / $12.00 (at-the-door)