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Five More Horrific Canadian Picks

I love the autumn like no other season in the year.

Maybe it’s a holdover from my years as a student, a sense of getting back to normal, a return to structure and consistency, the comfort of a familiar routine.

Maybe it’s the sight of earthtones everywhere, unusual colours in the trees, the feeling of summer’s heat dropping away, a returning to the coziness of home.

Maybe it’s because in our family, nearly everyone’s birthday falls around these months, punctuated by other familiar holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and several more . . .

. . . like Halloween, of course, a time when we spend the month before ramping up with decorations, big meals, spooky music, and movie nights.

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Monster Brawl (2011)

Monster Brawl (2011)

“It’s the ultimate fight of the living dead.”

* *

As a grade school student, I once received a book at a fall fair. It was called The Dynamite Monster Hall of Fame. Though I’d likely already heard of mummies, vampires, werewolves, and so on, it’s my most certain early memory of being aware of the Universal monsters.

Yes, every kid wonders who would win in a fight: Sean Connery or Roger Moore? Well, that was probably just me, but I imagine everyone else was pitting invisible men against phantoms of the opera.

Not every kid grows up, however, to commit those fights to the big screen. Which is exactly what writer, producer, editor, and director Jesse Thomas Cook has done with Monster Brawl, a feature which unfortunately works better as a “What if?” pitch than as sustained entertainment.

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Walled In (2009)

Walled In (2009)“It is essential for the victim to suffer.”

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Sometimes, you can find the most amazing things in a dollar store. That’s where I found this bargain-binned video called Walled In. It looked appropriate for October, with a creepy thriller vibe, a Saskatchewan production, and hopefully a play on Thoreau’s Walden.

No, not so much.

Oh sure, there were several things I appreciated about my 92 minutes spent watching it: a coffee which tasted like roast marshmallow, the sun on the autumn trees behind my home, and the fact I was able to get a load of laundry done simultaneously.

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Prom Night (1980)

Prom Night (1980)“For a guy so fast on the disco floor, you sure are the slowest.”

* * / * * *

This original Prom Night was a bit of a surprise. I had no idea it was filmed in Don Mills, where I’ve lived the majority of my life. Perhaps it comes of not being a fan of horror, or at least slasher flicks.

A stretched effort of uneven pacing, there’s not even much slashing in it. Its deadliest weapon might actually be the boredom. For most of its duration, I amused myself by imagining its headline stars — Leslie Nielsen and Jamie Lee Curtis — gallivanting around my neighbourhood.

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Tribute to Wolf Koenig: Free TIFF Event

Tomdalyatsteenbecksmaller“Every cut is a lie. It’s never that way. Those two shots were never next to each other in time that way. But you’re telling a lie in order to tell the truth.”

God, we love TIFF. Particularly the TIFF events that celebrate Canadian cinema. This Saturday, Oct. 11 we are going to miss an event that is worth every red-blooded Canadian film fan’s time.

It’s a retrospective of the great Wolf Koenig, a pioneer of Canadian cinema and National Film Board legend held at 3:30 p.m. at the Bell Lightbox.

We curse the turkey that is luring us out of Toronto and away from this event.

Koenig was unflinching and uncompromising. Last year, we schlepped around Ottawa from library to library on the hunt for early and ground-breaking Canadian films. We caught Lonely Boy, a documentary made about the young Paul Anka by this ground-breaking Canadian director.

This was no Justin Bieber Never Say Never. No fluffy confection for the teeny bopper set here. It was a grainy, at times, unflattering look at the heat-seeking ambition missile that was Anka – complete with talk of Anka’s nose job and dental work.

Director, animator, cinematographer and producer, Koenig was an honest man.

Here in Toronto, there’s an overwhelming number of awesome events celebrating the glory of CanCon. Sometimes we find ourselves frozen by the abundance of choice.

Thanks TIFF for another great event, and we are sorry. We promise the turkey will pay.

The Thing (2011)

Thing (2011)

“Story by autopsy”

* * *

In university, I had a professor who demonstrated the problem of originality. He pointed out how many new ideas were simply combinations and juxtapositions of earlier elements. My mind was on him, for better and worse, as I watched 2011’s The Thing.

Initially, I didn’t know what to expect when I loaded up this locally coproduced feature. I’m a massive fan of the original film, 1951’s Thing (From Another World), but not as big on John Carpenter’s take, 1982’s The Thing. It could have gone either way.

Unfortunately, it went over to the latter.

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Five Favourite Moments of TIFF 2014

Hacker Renders
I don’t know if it qualifies as a “guilty pleasure” exactly, but the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival was certainly a mixed-blessing experience.

We’ve both had some previous exposure to what I’ve never stopped thinking of as “The Festival of Festivals”. However, this was our first time being so involved, so immersed, so overwhelmed.

Over the course of two weeks, we went, we saw, we felt conquered. As a pair of avowed introverts, neither geek nor goth were entirely prepared for the lines, the waiting, or the socializing, but we managed to come away a bit wiser and refilled with fond memories nonetheless.

Here are just five . . .

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