Monday, October 31, 2011

Besides for it's Halloween theme, the TARDIS jack-o-lantern has nothing specific to do with this blog entry, I was just looking around for holiday appropriate images and thought that this one was kinda' awesome. Halloween is my favorite holiday thematically, but one that I really don't participate in in the dress-up sense. In the past few years I've gone out trick-or-treating with a couple of my lil' fake nieces, but this year they went and moved to Hawaii. So I don't even have the fake-uncle obligation of taking them door-to-door and carrying their candy bags for them anymore.

What I do like about this time of year is scary movies, It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror episodes, the Thriller music video, monster comics and candy. All of which I have taken part in today or will take part in. Though to be fair, I take part in all of those things fairly often on any given day of the year whether it be October 31st or not.

The Mayfair is showing a one two punch of The Rocky Horror Picture show of course, so I made a rare trip out to the multiplex that I've grown to be so displeased with each and every time I go to get my dose of horror. At least I used my Visa points, so they didn't get any cash out of me. We saw Paranormal Activity 3, and it did not disappoint. I have been truly impressed and terrified by this franchise three movies in a row. I hope they end it with the third entry though, I think the story has now been told in a nice lil' trilogy package. I have a feeling that Paramount will look at the $50 million dollar cash-haul of a weekend for a $5 million investment and get a fourth entry ready for Halloween 2012.

I am off to watch Halloween cartoons and mayhaps another movie. Happy Halloween one and all. Please do feel free to give me your leftover licorice and Maynards gummy candy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Starting tonight the insanity that is the annual tradition of showing The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Mayfair during the Halloween season continues. You have a total of six chances to check it out on Friday, Saturday and finally on Halloween night itself. As an added bonus on top of the usual madness of throwing stuff and dressing up in bizarre costumes, the screenings are also accompanied by the Absent Friends Shadow Cast whom expertly preform a live rendition of the film in front of the film in progress. I think it would be kind of funny to do a non-participation screening and just sit and watch the actual movie. I seem to be in the grande minority in that thought though.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A few months back I worked on the installation of a traveling exhibit that was making a stop-over in Ottawa at the Museum of Nature (or as I have always called it, the Dinosaur Museum) called Extreme Mammals. I've been meaning to go and check it out as a museum-goer and not a thing-setter-upper before it left town. Plus, I am cheap, and Thursday's they do a free admission thing at the museum.

Amongst many bigger, scarier and more extreme mammals was the Platypus. Not so extreme by normal measures, except for that it's part beaver, part duck, and has poisonous claws. Poisonous claws that the males uses to subdue the females for mating purposes. Or, in layman's terms, the little bastards propagate the species thanks to making use of roofie techniques that might be used by any number of sleazy douche-bags in meat-market bars. Another fine example of the insanity that is the miracle of nature and animal ways.

There are plenty of non-shocking and offensive animals to observe as well. If in Ottawa, you have 'till November 6th to check it out before I go in to help pack it up and it rolls on to the next town.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last night I got caught up in a naive attempt to try and do a good deed, and ended up being ripped off for twenty bucks. I didn't even realize that it happened, that I'd been evilly con-manned, until a good five or ten minutes after the thieving bastards plan had successfully come to fruition.

I was in the midst of a late night walking of the rat-dog with my girlfriend. A guy approached, who seemed very stressed out but polite and nice, and asked if he could borrow my phone because he had locked his keys in his car. I found myself handing over my phone to him, while chanting in the back of my thoughts "Don't steal my phone...don't steal my phone...". He did not steal my phone, thanked me for the use of it, and explained his trouble. He had not only locked himself out of his car and house, but his wallet was in his car, and hence he could not pay the tow-truck guy to help him to bust into his vehicle. Now, at this point, in retrospect, I have no idea why I fell for this. He really was delivering an Oscar caliber performance for the ages.

Next thing you know, I had not just handed over some cash but had gone to an ATM to get it first. I then accompanied my new friend to where his fictional car was parked. The locked out driver ran ahead to catch the tow-truck before it left. Alas, by the time we caught up with him, the non-existent tow-truck guy had left. My twenty dollars was taken, with the promise that it would be returned with a bonus momentarily (which I very Canadianly refused the thought of). We headed home, watched an episode of 'Arrested Development', and somewhere in the midst of doing so it donned on my that I had been tricked by a thief.

It's not the end of the world, twenty bucks lost into thin air does not destitute me. It did upset me quite a bit though, and couldn't help like being made feel like quite an idiot. Just another jaded evil happening that makes you think that it can be a really horrible planet filled with underhanded people more often than the opposite kinder type. This simple wrong-doing did make me feel a bit like going all Punisher vigilante justice onto the streets of Ottawa. But that seems like a lot of work, instead I will comfort my anger with Daily Shows and comic books.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tonight at the Mayfair we present what is possibly the scariest and most acclaimed horror movie double bill of all time. Now, ask any movie buff what the two best horror films / scariest films ever made are and you will get varying answers of course. I continue to stand-by my opinion that movies are subjective and not objective. That in mind though, as a mathematical equation if you took into account the thoughts of all the critics and filmmakers and fans, the number one and two spot on the scary movie list would very likely belong to The Exorcist and The Shining. So if you are brave enough, please join us tonight (Oct 25) at the Mayfair at 7pm and 9:20pm for a pair of true Halloween tradition masterpieces.

As an afterthought, why is it that now-a-days the non-film-studio / made by talented film-fans movie posters seem to be always better than the real thing?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Killer63 has shown a number of Matt Fincer's Creepy Puppet Projects since the mini-fest began, and year in and year out they seem to garner the biggest laughs and applause from the crowd. If we were an actual festival that gave out awards, not to disrespect the other fine films, I'm fairly confidant that the Creepy Puppet Projects would continually win an audience favorite award. So, for your viewing pleasure, here is Matt's twisted contribution to last weekend's Killer63 screening, Happy Fuzzy Things.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Too tired to make much of a posting tonight. Another round of Killer63 went very well, lots of nice response and praise for the set, and a very decent crowd in attendance, especially considering it was scheduled in the late late slot. I always get nervous and stressed during a screening like this, but again all went ok, and was a nice event for the Mayfair, a nice showcase for some indie filmmakers, and a nice ego boost for me. Got home at about 2am from that, then had to get back up for a split-shift gig at 4am, which I'm just home from now. Set up lights and stuff for some kinda' fundraising event that will involve Joe Montana. Long day. Think at one point I actually fell asleep on my feet for a brief second (and I'm not even joking).

Anyhow, just wanted to post 'The Last One', the short that I worked on with three of my friends that we did for this years Killer63. I wrote it in about half an hour, we shot in about four hours, Jeremy worked his editing magic over his great cinematography skills, and here's what the final product came out like. And if you're curious as many seem to have been, no there is not a plan for a longer version of this. A stand alone short story is it. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Images from Killer63 alum and Rideau Valley Roller Girl document-er Jeff Campbell's latest directorial effort 'Good Samaritan'. Tonight is the night for the sixth annual special Mayfair presentation of Killer63. It really falls under the time flies category for me, as it seems like just yesterday that a couple friends and I were casually chatting over the internet about organizing some kind of short horror fest for all of our friends to partake in. Now it's become an annual lil' Halloween event. An annual lil' event that always stresses me out for a few weeks then miraculously comes together at the last minute and everyone seems to enjoy.

So, a final reminder: Killer63 VI - Saturday October 22nd at 11:30pm at the Mayfair Theatre (1074 Bank Street in Ottawa). Fourteen new films from local filmmakers, a couple from Quebec, and even one from overseas. Last minute bonus news, we will have some give-aways thanks to our friends at Ottawa Horror.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A late in the day reminder that tonight (October 22nd) at 11:30pm, the Mayfair is screening Zombie (also known as Zombi, Zombi 2, and I think a few other titles. Italian movies are so confusing in that sense!). All you need to know about this horror masterpiece is that this is the movie where a zombie fights a shark. If that doesn't pique your interest, I don't know what will.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One of the short films screening tomorrow night at Killer63 VI is actually a music video from an Ottawa based band by the name of Zebrasseires. Check out Lone Fish, the song that inspired the video on their website, and then come out and see the video from the song on Saturday night (October 22nd at 11:30pm) at the Mayfair. And then the next time they play, go see them in concert. They are good. Listen to all the songs on the website...I'm not just being nice 'cause they're a part of Killer63.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Co-ownership of an indie movie theatre has it's privileges, one of them being that sometimes I get to watch movies slightly in advance of everyone else. Along with a couple members of the press, yesterday I got to watch an advance screening of 'Attack the Block'. I had high hopes for a new twist on the alien invasion genre from the producers and many of the crew behind 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz'. It did not disappoint.

Any time someone bitches and moans that there aren't any good movies anymore, that it's all sequels and prequels and remakes and reboots, I point to movies like 'Attack the Block'. Filmmakers aren't out of ideas, movie studios are still making great's just that instead of finding something better to watch you (and likely not "you"...but you know what I mean) went to see 'Transformers 3' or 'Fast 5' or brought your kids to see 'The Smurfs'.

So, if you are in Ottawa, do yourself a favour, find some time in your hectic schedule, and get over to the Mayfair Theatre to see 'Attack the Block' sometime between October 21st and 23rd or 26th and 27th. If you don't live in Ottawa, track down this movie and watch elsewhere!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A screen-shot from the short film The Mask of James Henry, from Digger Films / directed by Steve Villeneuve. Steve and Digger Films are one of the returning alum to this years Killer63 line-up, amongst a mix of diverse offerings ranging in horror theme and sub-genre the likes of Creepy Puppets, zombies, apocalyptic tales, Twilight Zone fare, rock and roll, gore, comedy and more.

Below is the list of the films being screened (in no particular order), with a couple of late additions still to be announced:

KILLER63 year VI

Victor Perpetual – Ray Besharah

Employee of the Month – Olivier Beguin

She's Not Gone – Randy Smith

Lone Fish - Zebrasseires music video – Luca F

The Mask of James Henry – Steve Villeneuve

The House on Arch Lane – Alexander Steinhoff / Alexander De Lukowicz

Good Samaritan – Jeff Campbell

Six Minutes – Ralph Gethings

Profile of a Killer – Chris Chitaroni

Happy Fuzzy Things – Matt Fincer

Emily – James Campbell

Games Night – Fiona Noakes / Islam Balbaa

I've also finally posted a Facebook Events page, so now you can invite all of the people you know without the inconvenience of actual real-world interaction.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Released only a week apart from that other 1982 Spielberg movie, 'E.T. The Extra Terrestrial', was a much scarier view of a modern American suburban family, 'Poltergeist'. The film went on to become a box office smash, was nominated for three Academy Awards, spawned two sequels, and is on various top 100 lists from the likes of Bravo, the American Film Institute and others.

The film also got quite a bit of legit media and tabloid recognition thanks to two things revolving around the production. There has been quite a bit of superstitious talk of trouble on-set while the movie and it's sequels were being made. There were also a number of deaths amongst the cast, which can really for the most part be considered coincidental considering the number of people that work on any film. Sadly of course, one of these deaths include that of young actress Heather O'Rourke, the young blonde actress who uttered the films often repeated catch-phrase "They're Heeeeere!"

There has also been back and fourth controversy to this day as to who was actually the creative force and director of the project. Most reports seem to lean towards that is actually much more a Steven Spielberg film than a Tobe Hooper film. The poster for the film has 'A Steven Spielberg Production' listed right at the top of the credits, he wrote the story, and he was a producer on the film. On top of normal film production duties in that effect, he also did some if not all of the storyboards and a number of actors said he was more of a director on the project than Tobe Hooper was. Spielberg has been diplomatic over the years to his involvement on the project and to Hooper's deserved directorial credit. I'm suspicious though and lean towards believing the rumors and reports that Spielberg was in fact the director of at least most of 'Poltergeist'.

'Poltergeist' may have been the first horror film that I saw. It was a PG film back before the advent of a middle-ground rating in-between PG and R, so kids could get away with watching it without seeming to break any censorship rules. It's the perfect kids scary story, and if you see it at the right age it has a good chance to scar you for life. Any numbers of phobia could result as an after-effect to watching the film, including that of clowns or trees or television sets or suburbia in general even. Some cross-over effect of having seen 'Poltergeist', the extended 'Thriller' music video and 'Night of the Living Dead' at a young age are to blame or to thank for my love of the horror movie genre I'd say.

See 'Poltergeist', another great pre-Halloween screening tonight (Monday October 17th at 9:15pm) as part of Lost Marbles Geek Nights at the Mayfair. Answer a relatively easy bit of trivia and you even might win a prize!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Although the October installment of the 'This Month at the Mayfair' article came in a couple weeks late due to the poor interviewed being super ill and bed-ridden, it is at long last up on the (cult)ure magazine website for all to read. Went up on the site last night after we did a last minute interview to explore the second half of month, since some of the article was cut because the movies talked about had passed by on the schedule already. Upcoming programming at the theatre ranging from 'Winnie the Pooh' to 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' were all discussed.

Also for the piece we chatted about this-evenings Lost Marbles Geek Night presentation of 'Critters' (Friday October 14th at 11:15pm). The film is one of the rip-off / wannabe clones that came out on the heels and success of 'Gremlins'. Though it is a bit different since the monsters are from outer-space and they have intergalactic bounty hunters chasing them. The movie was directed by Stephen Herek, whose next film was 'Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and spawned three sequels (one of which was the first role for a young Leonardo DiCaprio).

A bit shockingly considering the movie was low-budget, B-grade, knock-off fare, Roger Ebert gave the film a positive review back in 1986. In surprising review situations such as this, I'm always reminded that Roger also liked the Tomb Raider movies. None-the-less, continue checking out our Halloween programming, and see if you like a movie about fuzz-ball alien eating machines terrorizing a small town as much as the most powerful film critic of all time did.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tonight and tomorrow at the Mayfair (Oct 12 at 9pm and 13 at 9:30pm) are your last chances to check out Bellflower, the knock-out directorial debut from Evan Glodell. Supposedly made for only a $17,000 budget, which I will say in a complimentary manner that I can't imagine a budget so low to be true upon seeing the finished product. I mean, the movie has a flamethrower and an amazing post-apocalyptic Mad Max style car in it ! Just one of those things alone has to cost about the much right?

My comment as the credits rolled, after a horrifically mesmerizing and explosive climax to the story was to say, "Well...that was something!". In terms of modern day film-making comparisons, it reminded me of 'The Devil's Rejects' style of characters seen from Rob Zombie mixed into the darkest of Quentin Tarantino's universe of storytelling. Somewhere around those two comparisons, mixed with slacker characters from Richard Linklater or maybe Kevin Smith if his actors did more than chat about Star Wars and lean on corner-store countre-tops.

All of the characters were very interesting and watchable, but I didn't like any of them. And that's a trait that seems to be lost in the storytelling styles within present day cinema. Everyone has to be too good now-a-days. Hence, it also reminded me of something you might have seen back in the hey-day of the 1970's. Something that might star Steve McQueen, except more disturbing. And I think it's the most impressive directorial debut I've seen in a long time.

I saw Bellflower last Friday night, unfortunately not many other people did. I think there were eight paying customers there that night. For the screenings tonight and tomorrow, I hope more people find their way to the theatre (maybe folks won't be so busy with Thanksgiving obligations and travels). I say that partially as a co-owner of the place of course, but also 'cause this is a movie that I hope gets some support, and that people get to see big screen style. I want to see another movie from these guys.

Don't just take my word for it, check out the Chicago Sun Times review from King of all the critics in all the land, Roger Ebert.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

As often in my attempts to keep a blog updated, I am guilty of being a day or two behind in planned writings. In this case, tardy in wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving. Or at least wishing my fellow Canadians a happy Thanksgiving, my American friends get no such well wishes until next month.

I again find myself thankful for many things as the holiday rolls past this year. Mostly for the simple things in life, like that The New 52 at DC Comics turned out ok, that it's only a couple months until the Doctor Who Christmas special, that I'm amongst a select few of people who get to wear a Rideau Valley Roller Girls hoodie as my gang attire, and that I now how 300 gigs to play with instead of the pesky 25 I had with the provider that I just broke up with.

I'm thankful that the small bit of power I have in life makes it possible for me to get Blair Witch Project and Highlander along with other of my favorite movies seen up on the big screen. I am thankful that more often than not my life seems like the plot of a sitcom or some form of John Hughes movie. More and more I find myself actually taking a moment to let it sink in that I'm actually part owner of my favorite place on earth or that I'm on a road trip with a posse of roller derby girls or that someone knitted me a Super Mario Bros scarf from scratch (how does a human do that!? I think I'd be about the same level of impressed if someone handed over a jet pack to me).

Hope you all are equally thankful in your lives and sitcom happenings. And next year I will try to post my Thanksgiving thoughts before Thanksgiving, but likely will be late again, but still thankful that I'm kept so busy doing awesome stuff and things.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

When you work freelance in techie related fields, whether it be rock and roll concerts or film production or boring corporate shows, you find yourself working on a wide range of diverse and strange stuff. I've done gigs for everyone from Cirque du Soleil to the Liberals to Kevin Smith in my day. I've pointed lights at KISS, painted sets for a Tori Spelling TV movie and helped piece together prehistoric monster museum exhibits.

Today I finished up crewing on the latest Brett Kelly B-grade independent epic, Jurassic Shark. You read that correctly. Not since Snakes on a Train or possibly Transmorphers has there been a greater mock-buster title. From what I pieced together from my few days of working on the production (didn't work on the whole thing) the movie is about girls in bikini's, evil spies clad in black, and a giant CG shark to be added at a later date.

Keep an eye out for the movie coming to a small screen near you sometime in 2012. Or if you live in Ottawa, I'd imagine that the premiere will likely be at the Mayfair sometime in the next few months. I just hope it means that rumor spreads thanks to misread imdb browsing that people will think I worked on a Jurassic Park movie.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Tonight at the Mayfair at 7pm, the world premiere of Ottawa based filmmaker Brett Kelly's new western, Hell At My Heels. The director will be in attendance to intro the film, and I would imagine most of the cast and crew will be on hand as well.

Also tonight, right after that at 9pm, your last chance (for now) to see Kevin Smith's Red State. Red State marks arguably the first time that Smith has made a real move (no guys hanging out in malls and corner stores talking about various rude things, comic book stuff and pop culture references), and I think it's the best thing he's done since Clerks. And John Goodman is in it!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I'm three weeks behind on extolling the virtues of Joss Whedon and his comic book writing skills, but I just managed to read the three weeks ago released first issue of Buffy season nine issue # 1 last night.

It's been over four and a half years since Buffy season eight hit the comic stores, and yet it seems to me that almost every time I meet a person who claims to be a fan of the series, they still have not checked out the comic book. How could someone claim to love Joss Whedon and his work, and yet not want to read the comic book that he writes and executive produces? And when Joss isn't writing the book himself, the other writers include Buffy and Angel writing alum the likes of Drew Goddard, Jane Espenson, Steven S DeKnight, Drew Z Greenberg, and Doug Petrie. It's the closest that we are ever going to get to another Buffy-verse TV series I think, and if you claim to be a Buffy fan, you should be supporting this book. If you don't want to hit a comic book store, or read comics in their monthly format, they collect them up into bigger fatter comics that you can buy at any bookstore or get on Amazon.

Comic books continuing on the stories of characters from other mediums is nothing new. Dark Horse has been publishing the further adventures of various Star Wars characters for years. There are a ton of Star Trek comics, and in more recent years there have been cancelled TV series like Charmed and Farscape making there way to the comic book page under the supervision of the shows creators and writers. Stephen King has even allowed for comic book prequel tales from the epic Dark Tower series of books to be published under his supervision.

Buffy season nine picks up with our central lead vampire slaying heroine living in San Francisco with a couple of roommates, hanging out with Spike, and...well...I guess I shouldn't say much else since there are so many damn potential spoilers stuffed within a fourty issue series.

Oh, and also go read the Serenity comics. Those are awesome too.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tonight at 8:45 (Oct 4) at the Mayfair the Halloween programming continues to roll along, this time with a presentation of the original (and the best) version of Fright Night. I was never a giant fan of the juggernaut 80's horror sequel franchises the likes of Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th, I seemed to lean towards other areas of horror offerings, and Fright Night was one of my favorites.

Writer / director Tom Holland brought to the screen something a kin to the John Hughes teen angst formula, but instead of having our hero go up against an evil principal or various forms of high school crisis, this one goes up against a vampire. Holland went on to direct a couple of Stephen King stories, and a number of very good TV horror offerings within series like Tales from the Crypt and Amazing Stories, but I think his first directorial effort was his best.

The film stars William Ragsdale (who also seemed to have peaked in Fright Night) as the teen in trouble, with the much more memorable vampire and washed up horror TV host turned vampire hunter roles going to Chris Sarandon and the late great Roddy McDowall. The remake does boast a rather impressive cast (including the 10th and best Doctor Who, David Tennant) and a script from Buffy / Angel vet Marti Noxon, but in this case as in most (with rare exception of your True Grit's and Ocean 11's) you just can't best the original.

Monday, October 03, 2011

People may look back on it now as a gimmick film, but it should be of interest to any film fan that The Blair Witch Project was a true phenomenon. A dozen years ago, while horror fans were in the midst of slasher fare franchises the likes of Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer & Urban Legend (amongst many other of the same ilk) came a little movie out of nowhere about kids getting lost in the woods.

In a time where the internet was twelve years younger and viral videos weren't commonplace, the brains behind Blair Witch managed to be in the right place in the right time with the right idea. Trick as many people as possible into thinking your fake horror themed documentary is a true story, reel in the free publicity, and try to make back $60,000 bucks. They managed to do just a little bit better than that and watched their no stars / no effects / no tripod film gross near $250 million in worldwide ticket sales.

I happened to be in California when the movie was in previews down there. My friend and I drove past a theatre with Blair Witch Project on the marquee and a line-up around the block. I had never heard of it, he explained what it was, and I was confused as to why anyone would care.

A few weeks later back in Ottawa, I sat in a theatre on a Friday afternoon with a couple of friends to watch the now much hyped film. I proceeded to be completely enthralled and petrified. I know there's some complaint in the inability for some to suspend disbelief as to why these characters refuse to ever turn off their camera whilst on the run for their lives through a scary forest. That point is valid. I managed to push that aside and completely enter the world that this was indeed a very real documentary about three dumb kids who try to make a documentary about the fabled Blair Witch and end up entangled in a fight for their life against... something. I have three theories as to what that something is, but I guess I shouldn't share them here on the off chance someone reads this who hasn't seen the film yet. It also didn't help that one of the characters names was Josh. That put me even slightly more in the centre of the action. I wasn't a camper before watching Blair Witch, but afterwards it certainly did't make me ecstatic at the thought of going camping in a tent in the middle of nowhere for fun.

At that screening, while the credits rolled I heard two women discussing that they couldn't believe that a film studio would allow for such a disturbing documentary to be shown. While working at Rogers Video I took three calls asking if the film was a real documentary. And, I have had three conversations in real life with people trying to convince them that it's fake. It was maybe the greatest pop-culture trick on the public since Orson Welles and his friends mistakenly convinced folks that aliens were invading in 1938.

So, tonight at 9:30 (Oct 3) we showcase The Blair Witch Project. Kicking off not only the Halloween season, but also a trio of scary films presented by Lost Marbles (and with prizes from Lost Marbles too!). Later in the month comes Critters (Oct 14) and Poltergeist (Oct 16 & 17).