Profile | Ryan Brewer (Magic-Time Films)

Hello Bloodlust-ers! I was recently given the unique opportunity to interview the fantastic young filmmaker, Ryan Brewer, of Magic-Time Films. Ryan is a funny and humble fan of the horrific, who’s already had some success with his features to date. In fact, the lovingly shot Nyar was an official selection at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland. This guy is up to big things. Please take a moment to hang out, while I pick his brain a little. Needless to say, you should pop over to Magic-Time Film’s official Youtube page and check it ALL out for yourselves.

Oh, and...uh, Ryan, if you’re reading this, can you please send this lowly horror writer a Miskatonic University hoodie? Thanks.


How did you get started in film making? And Tell us about your company, Magic-Time Films:

I originally grew up wanting to be a screen actor. When I was really, really young (probably too young but if I remember right, I was 6 or 7 years old), I watched Ridley Scott's "Alien" for the first time and was inspired by Sigourney Weaver's performance. She seemed so genuinely terrified. I was too. It's a scary movie. My mom went on to explain to me that it was all fake and that acting is what she does for a living. I was sold! Ever since then all I wanted to do was work in film. I didn't actually start acting till I did my first play in the 6th grade. But I stuck with it from that point on till now. In high school, I met my best friend and brother-from-another-mother, Keith Melcher, and he got me into screenwriting. After high school, we lost touch with each other for a few years and eventually met back up. We started collaborating on scripts and after briefly trying to sell them to Hollywood with absolutely NO success, I basically said, "Fuck it, let's just make our own movies." Keith thought the same and the rest is history. Pardon the language.

Nyar was an official selection in the HP Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, and deservedly so! What is your background with Lovecraft?

I got started with Lovecraft at an early age. I remember my mother had a couple of small Lovecraft collections among her many, many horror novels and I always thought the art was strange and nightmarish. However, I didn't really understand any of it back then and my mom wouldn't let me read it (which is a surprise even to this day considering she had no problem allowing me to watch "Alien"). Over the years, I just slowly discovered it on my own. Eventually, I got a job working as a janitor in a casino and one of my co-workers was really into Lovecraft. We would sit in the break room and read on our breaks and exchange books and ideas about Lovecraft. Would talk about the weird dreams I had about Nyarlathotep and things like that. It was all silly fun, but I really dug it. The atmosphere, the strange monsters, the first person narratives. All of it.

Give us a quick run down of some of your favorite horror movies, directors, and writers:

Some of my favorite horror movies...hmmm...well, I will always be a huge Freddy fan. The "Nightmare on Elm St." flicks are still my favorites, to this very day. Loved Jason, too, but he just didn't do it for me the way Freddy did. I always gravitated towards zombie flicks. "Dawn Of The Dead" is still one of my all time favs (R.I.P. George). It's kind of strange though because most of my favorite writers/directors aren't the ones who typically do horror. Steven Spielberg is right at the top of my list. I mean, "Jaws" is downright terrifying. Scarred me for life. To this day, I still can't swim. Ridley Scott is a huge inspiration. Kubrick. The masters of horror, Wes Craven and John Carpenter, are obviously in there. Sam Raimi. The list goes on and on.

Larry and the Monsters is such a fun series. How did the concept originate?

Larry & The Monsters was actually one of the first movies I ever made alongside Keith Melcher. The second film, in fact. Keith was the one who came up with the original script, which was simply called, "Vampire Short." You can still see the original concept video on our YouTube channel. Shortly after making the movie though, Keith and I both had a mutual epiphany: that it could make for an interesting show. We co-wrote and developed four more episodes featuring a completely different cast and they were made much the same as the first one. We then had some casting issues and the show got put on hold for about three years, while we worked on other things. I always really, really, really, really wanted to go back and revisit the concept so I got an idea and ran with it and wrote the current "reimagining" of the show on my own. Keith came back on board as a producer and reprised his role as the title character, and we were able to hire on professional DP Shaun O'Connel out of Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Any plans for Larry and his crew in the future?

As for the future of the series, I actually came up with a concept and Keith and I co-wrote what was supposed to be the 2nd season of Larry & The Monsters. However, we got a little more ambitious this time around and we've thus far been unable to secure the funding. The show itself has been struggling to find an audience. Not enough friends and family sharing the videos on social media, etc. It took almost the full three years that the first season has been up to get episode one over 1000 views. The other episodes are still struggling. If we can ever get the funding for season 2 then we will definitely make it. But until then it's sort of taking a back seat to other projects. I hate doing that because it really is a passion project for me, but there's just no way I could ask anyone to do this season for free. Too much work would have to go into it to make it the way we want to make it and it wouldn't be fair to the rest of the cast and crew to work for free. I'm always willing to sacrifice the paycheck to make my own projects but it's tough to ask others to do the same.

You seem to do it all! You produce, act, direct, write, etc. Do you have a favorite?

Acting will always be my first passion, but directing is a VERY close second. Writing is fun but, I have a hard time finishing scripts due to my anxiety. It's too easy to talk myself out of it. So I really have to run with an idea when I get it because if I wait too long, I completely lose interest.

What are some of your biggest challenges as an independent filmmaker?

The biggest challenge as an independent filmmaker is just getting a movie made. Finding local talent and crew that actually have a passion for filmmaking and aren't just there for the fun of it. Don't get me wrong, I love to have fun with filmmaking, you always should, but there comes a time where passion and desire need to trump fun so we're not waiting four months for everyone to get their schedules straight. It can be frustrating working around people's personal lives but, when you live in small town South Dakota, the "pickins' are slim" as they would say.

I'm intrigued by the Dead End teaser trailer. What can you tell us about this story?

Dead End was a story I collaborated on with a buddy, Kris Monroe. We wrote it together, intending to make it together but, he got busy with other things and I eventually just sort of took the reigns on it. It's intended to be a dramatic zombie film but that might change, depending on the digital FX guy and whether or not he can fix certain bits of footage. As for the story, it's about a mother and daughter surviving in a world overrun with the undead. At its heart, it's all about family versus survival. Maternal instincts versus survival instincts.

What direction do you see horror movies going in the future?

Horror movies have come a long way but, at their core, I feel like horror films are very much the same as they always were. Netflix and VOD have been a bit of a game-changer, as far as securing distribution. I see sooooooo many movies, some of which are just so absurd (perhaps even too absurb to have ever been made) and they are getting an awful lot of attention. That probably wouldn't have happened back in the 80's and 90's (though the 80's certainly had its fair share of questionable horror films). There are almost too many "bad" horror films these days. Like it has become a competition to see who can make the "best" worst horror film. I'm really hoping that more filmmakers step up and focus on making more intelligent horror films. It's been a while since I saw something that actually scared me AND made me feel something.

What's up next for Magic-Time Films?

Right now, Magic-Time Films is working on putting together a couple more shorts. Keith Melcher has his first feature horror film that was just released on Redbox and Amazon Video yesterday called "Bonejangles." We have a new horror feature which I wrote alongside Mr. Melcher called "Something," that we are slated to begin filming June 1st of 2018. We are currently in talks with Erin Hogan ("Paranormal Entity", "Hold Your Breath", "Ray Donovan") to star alongside myself, as well as Apryl Crowel of "Zombie Isle," and Allison Berg ("Until Forever", "Zombies"). I'm really excited for it. It's an homage/satire of the "unseen" monster. The first "origin" teaser was just released a couple of weeks ago. Otherwise, I'm just trying to get "Dead End" finished and focus on a personal project called "Alone," which is a psychological drama about a man who suffers from a strange form of OCD called Mal-Adaptive Daydreaming.

Magic-Time Films Official YouTube | Ryan's Facebook | Twitter | Larry & The Monsters

That’s all for now! Thank you for your time, Ryan. I look forward to following your career and future offerings from Magic-Time Films.

~ Sandra (@LilMsMnstr)


A Review of Inter Arma's Album, "Paradise Gallows"

A few weeks ago, I caught sight of a fall tour that I was pretty sure I wanted to catch. The tour is Carcass, Deafheaven, and Inter Arma. I have a very different opinion of each of these bands: Carcass has always been a huge favorite of mine, Deafheaven I would prefer to refrain from commenting on, and I had somehow never had any real exposure to Inter Arma. I remembered many times before when I had seen their name on other tours and I even remembered getting really solid recommendations for them from friends on more than one occasion, so I’m not really sure why I never gave them the attention they deserved. I needed another good reason to go to this show, and I hoped that Inter Arma would be that reason; my local date in Cleveland is the night before Thanksgiving (I’m hosting), and I was torn between not wanting to stand through an entire set of Deafheaven and my oftentimes fanatical love of Carass. If I could just find a little bit more justification to go to this show, I would bite the bullet and suffer through hours of cooking and baking slightly hungover, if need be. Hell, I would even endure a Deafheaven set.

I remembered that Inter Arma had just released a new album sometime last summer. I found that album—Paradise Gallows—and then I spent the next several days listening to it. And I mean I fucking listened to it. I listened to it at work. I listened to it at home. I listened to it over…and over…and over. I had to if I wanted to say anything intelligible about it besides, “Wow,” simply because it was so much to digest. I know I’m a little late to the party on this release, but man, let me tell you—it became an immediate favorite and I now consider it a personal contender for album of the year.

This album was fascinating to me and like a total chameleon, changing stride with whatever kind of emotion the band is forcing into your headspace at any given moment. You find yourself constantly speculating over where, exactly, it’s taking you, and looking back in surprise at where it brought you from. Throughout my first listen, it demanded nearly all of my attention, but I still knew that I had missed most of it. The album is fairly esoteric and challenging to listen to, and that’s what I dig about it; it’s a puzzle for my ears to solve. There’s a lot going on during Paradise Gallows. It’s all different, but it’s all good, and when you put it all together you get quite an impressive and complex piece of work.

The album begins with a short instrumental track, Nomini. Some unassuming acoustic guitar work quickly bursts open into nice, dreamy guitar harmonies (perfect for a Carcass tour!). At this point I kind of felt like I was getting prepped for something along the lines of a newer Baroness song, but what came next was more like getting gored to death by a mammoth. Track two, An Archer in the Emptiness, slams you into a solid wall of guitar that is utterly crushing. It comes out of nowhere and instantly begins pounding you into dust. This sound is certainly for fans of early Mastodon and Neurosis. An Archer in the Emptiness wastes no time getting to the meat of things; it is long and brutal, alternating between blasting and super slow, doomy parts sure to leave your neck aching, racing up and down like a rollercoaster. Most of the vocals are lows, which also delights my inner death metal dork.

After the long beating suffered through An Archer in the Emptiness, the band rushes you right along into Transfiguration, one of my ties for favorite track on the album. Transfiguration opens with a driving drum beat and bass line, steadily winding you back into a sling that you know you’re inevitably going to be launched out of. When the song finally does erupt, it drags you along for a whopping nine minutes, bludgeoning the hell out of you the entire way. The arrangement and continual evolution of the song, however, made its length virtually unnoticeable to me upon first listening. It’s quite a trip. The lyrics close out this heady song with the declaration of, “Man has transfigured the Earth, now we must transfigure ourselves.”

From here, the album cools off some, offering a nice refresher after such an intense first 20 minutes (spread between three tracks, no less). This is where more risks start to be taken regarding the style of the music. The album develops a bigger atmosphere from the beginning of track four, Primordial Wound, which is very slow and more sludge-like compared to the earlier tracks, straying from a path that we may have thought was already set. It flows well into track five, appropriately named The Summer Drones, now incorporating a significant drone quality. Around the half-way mark of the album, another instrumental track, Potomac, brings more surprises. (This is my other tie for favorite track on the album.) Potomac begins with those wonderful guitar harmonies we heard at the very beginning of the album, but a piano quickly takes the lead of the track. The song swells into an intricate and emotional composition, complete with obligatory sexy guitar solos, that I could barely even believe was produced by the same band I was listening to 15 minutes prior. But you don’t just subtle upon this song all of a sudden; Inter Arma guided the album to this point with such skill and finesse that it felt totally natural to be listening to something like Potomac. The fact that this track fit so well into the album even though it was wildly different from where we started at—it’s tied with Transfiguration for my favorite track, a song that really is nothing like it—is quite noteworthy. Potomac is certainly a grand flex of musicianship muscle.

Finally, as we near the end of the album, the enormous title track, Paradise Gallows, sweeps us away with prominent post-metal elements. This nearly twelve minute long track seems to summarize everything that we’ve experienced since we started listening to the album. Paradise Gallows (the track) revisits all kinds of sounds and emotions that we felt earlier on and seems to weave them all together into an epilogue of sorts, giving us something profound to reflect on. There is more ahead of us still on the album, but this title track was where the surprises seemed to finally end. It feels a lot like saying goodbye. Maybe not so ironically, the last words that we hear on the title track are a clean whisper of, “Laughing all the way to my grave”. The song left me in such a comfortable haze that it was hard to get shaken back up for the next track, Violent Constellations, which picks up and seems to be trying to give us back some of the aggressive energy that we first heard on the album. The closing track, Where the Earth Meets the Sky, was a gentle and appropriate end track (with all clean vocals), but the arrangement of these last three tracks always leaves me feeling a bit perplexed. I appreciate Violent Constellations and Where the Earth Meets the Sky individually, but I find when I’m listening to the entire album through that it’s hard for me to really get my stamina back after something like the title track. It almost makes me wish that Paradise Gallows would have been the closing track, even though Where the Earth Meets the Sky did such a good job closing the album. Regardless, it's a very small criticism and not something that substantially influences my opinion of the album. Maybe I’ll get to see them end a set sometime (soon?!) with Paradise Gallows, and I’ll feel satisfied.

Catch Inter Arma on tour with Deafheaven and Carcass this fall

Catch Inter Arma on tour with Deafheaven and Carcass this fall

As a whole, the album Paradise Gallows is pretty extraordinary. Inter Arma took some big risks on this piece by incorporating so many different styles, but they pulled it all off with such precision that it worked—and that really demands some respect. There aren’t a whole lot of bands in the world that can be so multi-dimensional, especially on the same album. (ESPECIALLY without sounding super abrupt and/or tacky.) I still haven’t listened to any more of Inter Arma’s releases (don’t worry, I’ll catch up and properly educate myself before Thanksgiving), but I’ve heard enough on this one album that I’ll gladly pay money to go see them throw down live. In fact, I am looking forward to seeing them for the first time now just as much as I’m looking forward to getting my Carcass fix. Everybody celebrates the holidays in a different way; my plan is to have my mind blown by Inter Arma, go to the bar and have a sip during Deafheaven, and drunkenly thrash my brains out for Carcass. I guess there will be turkey in there somewhere.

Check out Inter Arma on Facebook, Twitter, or visit their bandcamp page to listen to (and purchase — digital or 2xLP options!) Paradise Gallows now:


Amanda is a stereotypical cat lady with a penchant for death metal. Her idea of a perfect Sunday morning includes coffee, fur, egg sandwiches, and some really loud records. When she isn't tending to her urban farm, she can occasionally be sighted around the east coast traveling for shows and festivals. Her quest for enlightenment and good metal never ends.

A Review of Fister's Album, "Gemini"

For my first review, I could have written about one of the many recent big releases, such as the latest albums from Opeth or Neurosis, both of which are undeniably momentous releases. Instead, I decided to go super obscure on everyone and write about a three-piece sludge band from St. Louis, Missouri — with fewer than 7,000 likes on Facebook — because they’ve really been my favorite thing to listen to lately.

Gemini album cover.

Gemini album cover.

I got turned onto this band called Fister recently - specifically their album, Gemini. Before you find yourself wondering if you missed that release, the Gemini full-length is not a new album. It was originally released in 2013 and is the band’s second full-length; Fister has since put out another LP (entitled, IV) in 2015. Although Gemini is an older release, it is still currently relevant because it's about to be released on vinyl for the first time, at the end of this month (October, 2016). This is how it was brought to my attention.

Fister is primarily sludge, but is also for fans of stoner, doom, and — surprise! — black metal. The vocals in particular are cut for black metal fans; they are quite haunting and screechy. The band’s Facebook page listed a few influences and the two that really leaped out at me were Yob and Burning Witch. If you can imagine something between those two sounds, you’ll arrive pretty close to what Fister accomplishes. As for Gemini, most of the songs are very slow or comprised largely of slower segments, with some upbeat glue to hold it all together (and boost your energy levels). Some of what Fister does is simple, but incredibly effective. They do what they do very well. There is also a good bit of diversity on Gemini, as they borrow from quite a few different subgenres throughout the album. This was enough to keep the songs unique and memorable for me. But what all of these tracks have in common is they are all consistently heavy as hell and have a morbidly depressed quality about them — one that really got its hooks in me. I love its darkness.

Fister members Kenny Snarzyk, Kirk Gatterer, and Marcus Newstead

Fister members Kenny Snarzyk, Kirk Gatterer, and Marcus Newstead

The opening track, “Antitheist,” immediately grabs you by the throat with a slow, thunderous riff, broken up with dramatic pauses. An agonized scream sings to you about suicide in words that will make your blood run cold — the lyrics for this song are really something to be reckoned with. This beginning is stormy, furious, and full of hate, but the track gradually (over the span of 8+ minutes) unravels into something more tragic than wrathful; the second half of this long, gruesome venture opens up into larger, atmospheric sounds with an underscore of mournful violins. It’s not just a tale of rage and misery, we also hear sorrow and hurt here. Yet, just as we think we’ve settled into a comfortable depression with this new mood, telltale of a farewell, it all crashes back to the beginning, shaking us awake to the horror of what’s to come. This is really a song about suicide. We had a brief reprise towards the end there to say "goodbye," but now back to business. It is truly a portrait of utter despair; the chilling lyrics ending with the statement, “and I don’t care anymore.”

fister.jpg

This bleak soundscape only prepares you for the next six tracks, all full of hopelessness in their own ways. The second track, “Suicide Hessian," starts at a galloping mid-pace and has more of a punk vibe to it — something catchy that often gets stuck in my head. But it also descends into slow, tortured brutality. The title track, “Gemini,” features eerie sounds from a piano, an upright bass, and a violin, giving you a new depression — this time with a whimsical flavor, like that of a nightmare. “Permanent Chemical Psychosis” barges in with a very bluesy swing that changes the way your head is bobbing. And then the farewell track, “Invisible Corpse,” begins as straight doom, and is heavy, heavy, heavy.

Overall, Gemini is an agonized piece of work wrought with misery and despair, but it might take patience for some people. It is very serious sludge, so be prepared to commit to the album; the band is not in a hurry to take you on their hellish journey, with only one track on the album clocking in under five minutes (and three clocking in over seven). But if you’re into some seriously dark shit, it’s well worth the time. They kept me entertained the whole way.

Visit Fister on Facebook or at their bandcamp page.

Pre-order some absolutely beautiful bundles for Gemini here: Encapsulated Records


Amanda is a stereotypical cat lady with a penchant for death metal. Her idea of a perfect Sunday morning includes coffee, fur, egg sandwiches, and some really loud records. When she isn't tending to her urban farm, she can occasionally be sighted around the east coast traveling for shows and festivals. Her quest for enlightenment and good metal never ends.


Cinemafantastique

I had the pleasure of attending one day of Cinemafantastique at the UBC’s Norm Theatre - a treat as the theatre is slated to undergo renovations for the next couple years and the fest will be changing venues for the foreseeable future. Hanging out there was like stepping back in time, which seemed to suit the theme of the festival which brought us a plethora of 70s inspired magic. I was instantly welcomed to a cozy space filled with niche horror fans, quality vendors, such as Cranium of Curiosities, Videomatica, and a very chill vibe. Sadly I was only able to attend one day of the festival, but without further ado here are the films I saw:


The Cruel Tale of the Medicine Man
2015, James Habacker
1hr 30 min (NR)

If I had a word cloud about this movie (re: if it was 2013) the most prominent word would definitely be ‘GLITTER’. This is a burlesque-themed film, and it is obvious the moment it begins. In fact, the location of The House of Choad is actually James Habacker’s own Slipper Room, a burlesque theatre-lounge in New York. Picture a dark, smoky bar filled with society’s fringe: knife throwing, exotic burlesque performances...it’s beautiful, cheesy, fantastical, and fun.

Right away we meet Linda, a young woman (brilliantly played by Jillian McManemin) who has left a mental hospital and almost magically arrives at the House of Choad. It’s obvious she’s desperate for work and is quickly hired to dance. Habacker himself plays Mr. Choad, a man so obsessed with an artistic awakening he’s willing to sell his soul (and the souls of others) to achieve it.

Taking notes from the Grand Guignol, a French theatre specializing in “amoral horror entertainment”, The Cruel Tale delivers frightfully grotesque short-form theatre with impressive performances from all involved. Even in the films entirety you can see the Guignol influence with it’s bloody macabre climax. It only makes sense then that I often felt I was watching a stage play. All I could think while watching was how much I would love to see those shows live (minus the uh, special performances). Matt Fraser of American Horror Story was among the cast, an extra bonus since seeing him perform at the International Burlesque Festival here in Vancouver in May.

Some may question the genre of The Cruel Tale of the Medicine Man, and that questioning is more than fair. After all, it describes itself as “a genre - defying mixture of comedy, horror, sex, fantasy, freak show, dream and cartoon.” Hardcore horror fans, beware! But if you’re a big fan of burlesque like I am, it’s a must-see.

The Red Man
2016, Jimmie Gonzalez
1hr 28min (NR)

When I picked up my flyer for Cinemafantastique at the earlier Northwest Horror Show, The Red Man was the one I looked forward to seeing the most. Having been in the festival circuit since October, I was pleased to be able to attend. Director Jimmie Gonzalez was also in attendance, known in the past for his music videos and underground EDM DJ skills. He described his disappointment in the mainstream corporate and commercial leanings of the EDM scene. He decided to quit and turned his frustration into art via metaphor.

Clearly inspired by Argento, and meant for repeat viewings, Red Man was a bit of an adventure. The symmetry and color of the film were noticeable in the first shot. Evan is a famous DJ, troubled with nightmares about a violent incident that occurred several years prior. It’s clear he’s struggling with drug addiction, paranoia, and PTSD.

I love paranoia. It features in every one of my top 10 horror movies, and The Red Man has it in droves. It also has great production quality and performances, and gets fairly twisted. With all its twists and turns, it is an impressive feat and I appreciate what it tried to achieve. More than anything, I was impressed by Daniel David Diamond’s performance as Evan. This is one of those movies it’s difficult to talk about without giving too much away, so if you like this sort of psychological horror I’d encourage you to check it out.

Afterwards there was a Q&A with Gonzalez where he shared more about his life and creative process. He considers it an intensely personal film and found it freeing to “get it out” - even with his great success as a DJ he wasn’t happy. Having a friend invest in him gave him the opportunity to create the movie at the quality it is. I felt lucky to be able to see such a personal piece of art and meet the director.

Hell Town
2015, Steve Balderson, Elizabeth Spear
1hr 29min (NR)

If dramatic horror comedy is your thing, then Hell Town is for you.

Shown as a mini-series of 3 episodes shown in “binge-watching style”, Hell Town is best described as a mash-up of soap opera and horror. It’s extremely melodramatic, playing on daytime TV tropes with absolute frenetic glee. Toss some blood in with the caricatures of small-town teens and you’ve got yourself a real murder mystery.

And what a mystery it is! Who is killing all these annoying kids? Why do they all hate each other so much? What is this family war really about? You will either love or hate the grandiose performances by all the actors involved. One of the actors informed the audience that they were “told to go balls to the wall with performances, it gave us a chance to have fun!” you can definitely tell everyone had fun making it, but frankly I didn’t have a lot of fun watching it. I will say this: some of the kills were unique and stylish - but overall it fell flat for me. If you’re dying to get your hands on it, it comes to VOD on the 23rd of August.

She Kills
2015, Ron Bonk
1hr 41mn (NR)

Yo, you guys like grindhouse? If you can’t get enough of that campy, grimy 70's bush then this is the flick for you. I mean, just look at that poster!

Through an unfortunate attack on her wedding night by a local gang called The Touchers, Sadie learns she is cursed (blessed?) with “fire crotch”, a condition that causes the perfume of her vagina to drive men crazy. Crazy enough to violently kill and eat people while acting like apes, I guess.

Gold star for the writers, I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much vulva slang in my entire life. Look, I love a good revenge horror as much as the next gal, but this was a grueling 101 minutes that could easily have been cut down to a more palatable 80. What started with a pumped-up desire to see her torturers destroyed, turned to malaise and indifference after a while.

This is a total lovefest homage to 70's grindhouse, replete with boom mic drop-ins, continuity errors and a big fat wink right at the audience. With the right crowd, it’s a hell of a ride. Bring your closest friends to this and have a few drinks - you’re going to be laughing a lot.


While Cinemafantastique lasted a solid 3 days, I wasn’t able to attend the whole weekend. I’m especially sad I missed Harvest Lake and Last Girl Standing, as they’ve been on my list for quite some time. I really appreciate fests like this one for bringing in niche horror and connecting like-minded individuals to the horror community. I look forward to seeing what’s in store for next year!

~ @bexbz

Northwest Horror Show - Vancouver, BC

 

On April 22-24 I had the chance to check out the second annual Northwest Horror Show in Vancouver, BC. When I heard about the event, I jumped at the chance to see such awesome titles as Maniac, Zombie, Night of the Creeps and more on 35mm at the local Vancity theatre. Though Vancouver boasts horror filmmakers like the Soska Sisters and refers to itself as “Hollywood North”, the horror community is surprisingly difficult to find. One of the best parts of the festival was the opportunity to see several horror shorts by independent directors tucked in between features, and I’d love to share them with you! The weekend also boasted Q&As with William Lustig, Tom Atkins, and Lynn Lowry which were exciting, despite any technical difficulties. The vintage trailers and PSAs before each feature were the true icing on the cake for me with titles like Night of the Bloody Apes, Rituals, and House of the Park on the Edge. There was so much eye candy and I left impressed with the smorgasbord the organizers from Northwest Nightmares gave us! I’ll be back next year for sure. Without further adieu, let’s take a look at the gems on display from the weekend:

Features:

Zombie, 1979 - Lucio Fulci
Probably best known for the awesomely bizarre underwater zombie vs. shark scene, Fulci’s Zombie was a fan favourite and a great start to the festival. Surprise: I’m not a big zombie fan in this saturated market, but I have a deep appreciation for this film. In particular, I love the way the zombies look, extra earthy! My favourite scene involved a slow-mo shot of a piece of wood going into an eyeball. Totally gross. If you get the chance, join the two strangers heading into the tropics to locate a missing scientist-dad who’s studying the cause and cure of - you guessed it - a zombie epidemic.

Maniac, 1980 - William Lustig
Though I enjoyed the 2012 remake of Maniac, this was actually my first time seeing the original and I can’t think of a better way to experience it than on the big screen. This was easily my favourite screening of the weekend. Joe Spinell plays the psychopath scarred by childhood abuse with the perfect blend of creepy uncle and sad trauma survivor. The interview with William Lustig after the movie definitely added to the experience. Around the time of filming, apparently Tom Savini was set to get a nose job. He had a bust made of his face pre-surgery, and since it would have been useless once he got the work done, they used it in the infamous shotgun head exploding scene. This was done with a live shotgun on the streets of New York, which was definitely not legal. When they drove the car from the scene home, they had to cross a toll bridge. When the attendant saw the hole in the windshield and the car covered in apparent blood and gore, the cops got involved. You can imagine how that went.

Cannibal Ferox, 1981 - Umberto Lenzi
What can I say? It’s like Cannibal Holocaust with better music. Sorry, that’s a little trite. This one caused an angry walk-out and it’s worth it just for that alone. It’s one of those movies you have to see once, if only because nobody will stop talking about it. It’s gory as hell and involves cannibalism, obviously. Can you tell it’s not my favourite film?

Night of the Creeps, 1986 - Fred Dekker
This is an absolute cult classic that took me awhile to get into (horror/comedy is not my jam) but by the end I was totally sold. There’s a pretty excellent dog in this movie, and I’m a sucker for clearly stuffed dogs in horror films. This movie is insanely quotable with perfect one-liners, and must be the quintessential 80’s experience. You’ve got your rowdy teenagers, you’ve got your alien parasites, what more do you really need? The audience had a blast with this one! Bonus points for a jovial interview with Tom Atkins after the movie, where, of course, his opening line was “Thrill me!” Speaking of which, he shared a story where he was standing in line at the grocery store where a woman approached him yelling “Thrill me!” when he turned to her, she eagerly pulled out a pack of pencils she had made for her personal business with the words printed on them. Who uses pencils still? Atkins prefers the theatrical UFO ending himself, which was the version we got to see that evening. I haven’t seen the other ending; which do you prefer?

I Drink Your Blood, 1970 - David Durston
This movie is one crazy hippie ride, with lines like “...Satan was an acid head. Drink from his cup; pledge yourselves. And together, we'll all freak out.” right out the gates. The audience was quick to laughter with this one, given the quirky dialogue and exaggerated cases of hydrophobia and human rabies. All was put in motion by one vengeful child who’s had just about enough of this hippie group terrorizing the town: meat pies will teach ‘em, for sure. The dessert was an interview with Lynn Lowry after the movie, who was cast as a mute only because she wasn’t supposed to be in the film! This one’s not really a must-see, but fun nevertheless.

Street Trash, 1987 - James M. Muro
Surprisingly, I felt Street Trash was the weakest screening of the weekend even though it was the one I most looked forward to. maybe it was the time of night, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I covered this movie in my recent Gross-Out List, mostly because the effects of the mystery brew on the street people is pretty fantastic. People tend to enjoy this one, because it can be a lot of fun, and the audience showed their approval. Seeing it with an audience is a whole different experience, so I recommend a group viewing where laughter is encouraged.

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, 1975 - Pier Paolo Pasolini
The crowd was predictably smaller for this showing, and the organizer congratulated us for our bravery before the show began. I was familiar with the content of Salo but this was my first real viewing. It had been 12 years since Salo was screened in Vancouver and I felt it was an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed, especially since we had our hands on such a beautiful copy of the film. Though I found it a little uncomfortable to watch, it definitely inspired a lot of conversation afterwards. I think it’s a movie that should be viewed once, but doesn’t really need to be visited again. There’s only so many times you can watch 4 fascists torture a bunch of adolescents for 4 months. Unless you’re in college, and then you’re there for like 4 years.

Bad Taste, 1987 - Peter Jackson
Despite the name, Bad Taste turned out to be a pretty great palate cleanser after Salo. This little project was so much fun! It initially started out as a weekend short film project by Peter Jackson and his friends, and naturally evolved into his first feature. I really appreciated the opportunity to view it on the big screen and I think everyone should see it! It was a pretty great end to the festival and my only regret is that I didn’t bring more friends to see it. After all, it was rated “auuugh” and I left with a big smile and a great song stuck in my head.

Memorable Short Films, in order of appearance:

Night of the Slasher - Shant Hamassian
Impressively done in a single shot, a fun take on horror tropes and what happens if you try to lure the bad guy… Check this one out if you have a soft spot for ‘90s horror!

The Smiling Man - AJ Briones
My favourite short of the weekend, and recipient of several festival awards, The Smiling Man was a real creep-fest that had me thinking about it for days. Wonderful makeup and acting, it was just what I wanted to see. Everyone should see it, if possible.

Out of My Skin - Nadine L’Esperance
Here was a humble short tackling the demands of motherhood: can’t a lady get a break? What about a break out of her skin? Some definite talent had a hand in making this one, so keep an eye out.

Carved - Mary Russell
If you like hot ladies getting into some trouble, you’re in for a ride. This one is a lot of fun and worth a watch! Check it out!

The Barber’s Cut - Mark Brocking
A cute horror/comedy involving a nefarious barber (no, not Sweeney Todd) with some impressive shots. You’ll get some chuckles out of this one, especially if you like puns.

Chateau Sauvignon: Terroir - David Maire
It’s wine! Made from people! Watch a sickly-looking son try to care for his ailing mother under the guidance of a father with anger issues. Anyone coming out for a wine tour is in for a big surprise.

Dark and Stormy Night - Jared Carney
Another comedy short that is suspiciously reminiscent of a beer commercial. You’ll probably like it.

McDavid - Conor McNally
Do you like hockey? If not, too bad, because I’m Canadian and it’s my only religion. Either way, this experimental short about the Edmonton Oilers was something special. Having been an Oilers fan back in the day, I am no stranger to the true horror that team has become. But the new arena being built, and the new draft picks, well, they might just change everything.

Cantata in C Major - Ronnie Cramer
An experimental short mashing together 600 audio clips from old timey horror movies and transcribing them into electronic music. It sort of felt like 6 minutes of screaming, but if you’re into that stuff I’d give it a try.

Beautiful - Andrew Phillips
What if the person you loved, trusted, and married, turned out to be kind of weird and obsessive about you in a Boxing Helena way? Just wondering.

Canvas - Leandre Low
This was a great little piece about a haunted(?) painting. It lures you in, and with one touch… well, you have to see what happens.

Sunnyville Security - Shelby Wilson
It’s Valentine’s Day and someone’s on night security duty, but they’re not alone. The classic foolish security guard who gets into more than he can handle - this got a lot of laughs, so check it out if you can!

I had a great time this weekend covering The Northwest Horror Show for The Bloodlust! This is going to become an annual tradition for me, for sure. I’m already looking forward to the next one! Let me know your thoughts, and check out some of those great shorts! After all, some of the best filmmakers started out that way. Also, recommend some movies to me with stuffed dogs, because that gets me every single time.

~ Becky (@Bexbz)

Northwest Nightmares (@NwNightmares)
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