LITTLE TERRRORS VOLUME 37: Short, Sharp Shocks for September

One of Toronto’s best and longest running venues for short horror cinema, Little Terrors begins its fifth season on Wednesday, September 30th. 9pm at the Magic Lantern Carlton Cinema, presented by Rue Morgue Magazine and Unstable Ground. Each month, Little Terrors showcases a night of thematically-related short-form cinematic terror, at a fully-licensed venue, for two hours of “the craziest, goriest, most-disturbing and off-the-wall” fare from here and abroad. To kick off this season, the theme is “Control Over Time And Space”.

So what can you expect when the lights go down Wednesday night? Here’s the playlist:

Shadow Boxer (3 minutes, UK, premiere)
DIR: Nic Alderton
A young man practices his martial arts moves while cleaning up a club. But has the power of his imagination brought something dark to life?

The Guest (5 minutes, premiere)
DIR: Nick Rodgers
A trapper finds an unusual creature in the woods, and brings it home with him. A very unique stop-motion style, reminiscent of ‘The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb’.

Night of the Slasher (12 minutes, premiere)
DIR: Shant Hamassian
A teenage girl must commit horror movie sins to lure a masked killer and finish him off. Official selection of Telluride Horror Show 2015, and Frightfest. ‘Shot-in-one-take’.

The Listing (9 minutes, premiere)
DIR: Luke Jaden
A beautiful two-story starter home is for sale, but none of its former occupants have ever left alive. Creepy, atmospheric short. Previous selection of Fantasia, and Telluride Horror Show.

Bad Guy #2 (10 minutes, premiere)
DIR: Chris McInroy
A henchman discovers that career advancement has a deadly downside. Hilarious, gory fun! Previous selection of Fantastic Fest.

Point of View (9 minutes, premiere)
DIR: Justin Harding
A tired coroner is stalked by the living dead, but only when she isn’t looking! Think ‘The Weeping Angels’ from Doctor Who in a full out horror fest. Previous selection of Fantasia and Telluride Horror Show.

Lumberjacked (3 minutes)
DIR: Joel Mackenzie
A reformed Lumberjack must embrace the power of Nature to defeat a Wasp Monster. Trippy animated goodness! Previous selection of Toronto After Dark.

I‘m You, Dickhead (12 minutes)
DIR: Lucas Testro
A man travels back in time to force his 10-year-old self to learn guitar, so he can grow up to get more action from women. A funny mind-bender of a concept.

Controller (9 minutes)
DIR: Saman Kesh
A girl that control everything guides her own rescue by taking control of her boyfriend. Action-packed, high-value thrills with an original concept. Feature version currently in development via 20th Century Fox.

State Zero (17 minutes)
DIR: Andrée Wallin
In post-apocalpytic Sweden, four soldiers investigate why an old surveillance tower just went offline.

One Minute Time Machine (6 minutes)
DIR: Devon Avery
A young man uses a ‘1-minute-back’ time machine to impress a girl he meets. Starring Erinn Hayes of ‘Children’s Hospital‘.

Götcher (4 minutes)
DIR: Bruce Branit
A secret support group meets to take back something stolen from them in childhood. Twisted take on an old joke.

If this sounds like your kind of thing (and why wouldn’t it be), Advanced Tickets are still available for Wednesday’s show.

For more information, including showtimes, updates and where to submit your own shorts for future screenings, make sure you check out the Little Terrors Homepage, as well as their Facebook , Twitter and YouTube pages for info and trailers of upcoming films.

And stay tuned for a recap of Season 5’s launch right here, following the night’s events.


Horror-Rama Toronto : Back For Another Round


To hear Chris Alexander tell it, he’s the last person to expect behind the scenes at Toronto’s newest convention. “Well, I was never fond of conventions. To this day, I’m still not. I’ve always found it a disingenuous way to meet your idols. I would rather sit down and have a beer with somebody that I dig and talk about what they do, instead of dropping down a chunk of money and see them for a fleeting moment. I just found – even back in the early days of Rue Morgue’s Festival of Fear – I just felt that I would rather be on Mars than be here.” With that in mind, Alexander (with a little help from his friends) organized the little con that could: Horror-Rama Toronto, an intimate and cozy convention that stands at the opposite polar end of the spectrum of bigger shows like Fan Expo Canada.

Chris Alexander and Luis Ceris

Chris Alexander and Luis Ceriz

Horror-Rama is spearheaded by Alexander and Fangoria‘s marketing director Cheryl Singleton and Luis and Donna Ceriz, proprietors of the Toronto video store/cultural institution Suspect Video, with a singular focus in mind: horror, and nothing but. It all started with Fangoria’s involvement in the London, Ontario based horror/exploitation gathering, Shock Stock“When I took over on Fangoria, the boys who run ShockStock asked if I would come onboard – give them an ad, take a table –  so I thought “why not?” . It was here that Alexander made first contact with Luis Ceriz , and the wheels started moving. “Even though I knew Luis from Suspect Video in passing, I didn’t really “know” him. It was the first or second year we just started connecting and talking. He’s one of the sweetest guys, the most honest and open people I’ve ever met in the business. I trusted him instantly. He’s also very relaxed, when you’re around him, you feel very relaxed.  With Luis, it was a very practical, very calm suggestion that we band together for this convention. I brought in some other people I was working with to let them handle it while I was doing other things. Those people left, so it was just Luis and I left standing and I said “well, fuck, let’s just jump in and do it.’  Let’s make the kind of convention that we would want to go to as fans of weird stuff.  So we put it together, with friends who love this stuff, working in various ends of the industry, and did it because we love to do it, not because we want to make tons of money. We started this thing with zero capital, and just jumped in. It was the most pleasant, relaxed thing going into this. The guests that we had brought onboard – we populated it with people that we liked. I don’t even think of it as a convention, I like to call it a two-day party.”

The golden rule for Alexander and Ceriz for keeping the show on track? Simplicity. “Suspect has been around for a long time. It’s real “mom and pop” – just (Luis) and his wife that own it – so Luis was key in keeping it very simple, keeping it friendly and fun, no bullshit. Deliver on what you can promise: that was the philosophy for the show. Just promise everyone a good time and I think honestly, that was the secret to our success. To keep it simple. The first year was successful, as far as the vibe. Financially, I would say it was successful too, because we didn’t lose any money. I would say that for a first-year show, that’s pretty successful.”

As part of this year’s upgrade, the show has moved to a bigger venue (downtown Toronto’s Hyatt Regency), emulating the smaller convention model much more prevalent in the US. “The last venue we had was cool and bohemian, but it was also difficult. We weren’t allowed in on the Friday night before the show – we didn’t get in there until 6 o’clock in the morning, and the show opened up at 10 or 11. We were trying to build this thing with very few people. So we wanted something closer to central Toronto… a great room in a great hotel. It’s close to everything, and they gave us the run of the joint.”

As well as space-wise, the show’s guest list for Year Two has also expanded, with such names as Mick Garris, perennial icon Micheal Berryman, horror comics superstar Steve Niles and a quartet of scream queens, including Linnea Quigley, Sybil Danning, Debbie Rochon and Tristan Risk, among many others. “We have a variety of guests this time, but it’s still all our friends. People that we know and love.”

With Horror-Rama’s inevitable evolution underway, Alexander remains pragmatic about everything, keeping the initial spirit and tone first-and-foremeost. “It’s the same show, the same heart, just a little more refined. It’ll still be two days of hanging out with people who like weird shit.”

Horror-Rama takes place October 17th and 18th at The Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Toronto.
Advanced tickets are on sale here. 

Keep watching for more updates and interviews, as we get closer to showtime.


Del Toro’s Master Class Recap: REBECCA

Originally published for Rue Morgue (August 27, 2014).

Photo Courtesy of Ian Gibson

“Welcome to this screening of I AM CHRIS FARLEY.” And thus, with his trademark self-depreciating humour, Guillermo Del Toro kicked off the Gothic Master Class at TIFF last night to a full-capacity audience.

The Master Classes have become an annual tradition here in Toronto, Del Toro’s second home. And for him, there’s as much business as there is pleasure in curating this film and lecture series. “The reason I wanted to do this is because I love the idea of discussing films in the same depth that we can literature or painting, or any of the major arts. There was a time when we used to discuss it like that and somewhat it got lost in the last 15 years. The discourse started to wrap into the business, box office… and it has become a necessity for me to do this, to re-engage in the fact that what we do is a form of art and a form of narrative art that can drink from the most ancient sources.”

Setting the tone for his three nights of “school”,  Del Toro gave a brief overview of The Gothic Tradition, including its symbolism as well as the origins of the sub-genre: “The Gothic Romance is a very peculiar creature. For me, horror surges out of the vocation of the fairytale…to talk about the dark side of the universe and to talk about the forces that shape us as humans.

Out of that comes a movement, over the centuries, towards rationalism. We look back, and we do it even now, we look back on things that are myth, fable, parable… like those things are for childish minds. But the fact is there is a moment in time in the 18th Century, where there is a surge against rationalism – “The Age Of Reason”, making everything prim-and-proper for the good of intellect – and there is a rebellion of the spirit. The spirit demands that we reembrace nature and fable and myth.

We are going to hopefully drag the gothic, and the gothic romance in particular, all the way up to now.

Following Del Toro’s introduction, the house lights dimmed and the opening credits for Alfred Hitchcock’s REBECCA filed the screen. The adaptation of Daphne DuMaurier’s novel was Hitchcock’s first film in Hollywood, marking the transition from his early days (Hitchcock’s “British years”, as Del Toro pointed out. The resulting film, despite its then-contemporary trappings and mores, has all the hallmarks of the Gothic tradition: a manor with a shadowy legacy, a dark and brooding patriarch haunted by the past and his innocent young bride, drawn into a web of mysteries and secrets.

 After the film’s fiery coda and the final credits rolled, Del Toro took to the stage and continued with the lecture portion of the night. It was here that he went into the film’s history – the clashes between Hitchcock and producer David O. Selznick, his displeasure with the film’s telegraphing and over-abundant score (as Del Toro put it, the music “Mickey Moused” every action and emotion on the screen to a near-cartoonish level), as well as how the then-untested director and Gothic Romance were actually a perfect fit.

You must remember this. First of all, two things: Gothic Romance was basically punk, it was an affront to the establishment when it was birthing. It was emotion and rote melodrama and a lot of things that weren’t ‘proper’ to express or feel, filled with innuendo. And Hitchcock, by the same token, was an incredibly modern filmmaker at the time. He was a guy that was very daring. There were plenty of sexual layers in the movie – he was an expert at dodging The Hayes Code… he would remove one perversion and add three.

There are two more films left to screen in the Gothic Master Class: tonight’s screening of David Lean’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS and Monday’s ( August 31st) final installment, Robert Stevenson’s JANE EYRE. Rush Tickets will be made available at the TIFF Box Office one hour prior to screening.


del toro

Although school doesn’t officially start for another couple of weeks, Toronto cinephiles can get some higher learning starting tonight, as Guillermo Del Toro returns to TIFF Lightbox to host the Gothic Master Class.

This will be the fourth time around for Del Toro at TIFF, having curated and hosted the Fright Nights Series (2011), The Alfred Hitchcock Master Class (2012)  and Ken Russell’s THE DEVILS with Richard Crouse ( 2014). For this series, Del Toro has hand-picked three films which best represent the Gothic cinematic tradition, tying into the imminent approach of his Gothic-heavy ghost story, CRIMSON PEAK (due out in October). Each film will be bookended by an introduction and a post-screening lecture by Del Toro, delving into the origins and signifgance of both Gothic literature and film.

It all starts tonight with a screening of Rebecca, Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier‘s novel. A fitting lead-in, as Del Toro is considered one of the world’s pre-eminent Hitchcock historian/experts, as evidenced at his previous Hitchcock Master Class.

Following that, TIFF will also screen David Lean’s Great Expectations, based on Charles Dickens‘ immortal classic, as well as Jane Eyre, starring Orson Welles and Jane Fontaine, directed by Robert Stevenson and adapted from the novel by Charlotte Brontë.


(L to R: Rebecca, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre)

The gameplan breaks down, as follows:

August 26Rebecca (7 PM)

August 27Great Expectations (7 PM)

August 31Jane Eyre (7 PM)

As of now, all tickets are “Rush” status only, but take my word for it: it’s worth the wait if you manage to snag a ticket to even one of these events. Put simply, the man knows of what he speaks. With an encyclopedic knowledge of film and folklore, as well as being an incredibly entertaining (and occasionally profane) speaker, the lectures are worth the price of admission alone.

I will be covering the inaugural screening tomorrow night for my old alma mater, Rue Morgue Magazine, so expect to see my review of the night’s events on, as well as right here.

Need more info? Head over to TIFF’s website for all updates and information as they become available.

TIFF Lightbox is located at 350 King St W, in the heart of Toronto.

Classic cinema and education from one of the most revered filmmakers of our time under one roof?
There are certainly worse ways you can spend the end of summer.