An Open Letter to Ryan Reynolds (and 20th-Century Fox… but mostly Ryan Reynolds)

Dear Mister Reynolds.

First off, congratulations on being Ryan Reynolds. Seriously, you lucked out on that one.
But I digress…

If I can pull you away from your picture-perfect marriage, your adorable child and whatever business comes along with being sexy as hell, there’s something I was hoping to talk to you about. Y’know, plant a bug in your ear.

It’s about your labour-of-love turned license-to-print-money success story, DEADPOOL. Specifically, the sequel. I understand there’s an opening for a director. Now, I’m certain you have a veritable conga line of directors forming around the block for this gig, and no surprise. One of the most successful R-rated movies of all time, not to mention the highest grossing film in the X-Men franchise? That’s a pretty choice checkmark for anyone’s CV! I’d go for it myself if, y’know, I knew the first thing about making a movie! I mean, I find the camera on my phone is challenging at times, and I wouldn’t even know where … I’m off track, again. I’m sorry. I’m getting help for it.

The point is, I’m not the best candidate for the job but I know someone who is.
Two someones, in fact.
Twins, to boot.

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Meet The Twisted Twins, Jen and Sylvia Soska. Writers/actresses/directors/all-around badasses.

Now, you may know them from their seminal cult film, AMERICAN MARY. Or their stint as the taskmasters on GSN’s HELLEVATOR. Or their larger-than-life presence on social media. Chances are, though, you’ve heard of them. Especially with everyone making a big to-do on ( your social network of choice) about how they’re the obvious choice to direct the sequel. Before I go any further, yes, social media fooferaw like this should be taken with a sizable grain of salt. Hot button tweets and likes have a short shelf life online and can burn out real quick-like. Ask KONY. He’ll back me up. But the difference here is that the buzz is legit. In fact, you guys have more in common than you may be aware of. How much so? Let me break it down for you, starting with…

1) Number #1 Fan:It’s safe to say that there’s probably not a bigger fan of Wade Wilson’s hijinx than you. A man doesn’t spend that much time cultivating a project like this for A DECADE without a bit of love for it. But I’d be willing to wager that The Soskas could give you a run for your money on Deadpool 101. Not only can they tell you whether or not Deadpool was ever infected by a splinter of the Venom symbiote (answer: yes) , but they’ll tell you which series,volume and issue it happened in. Hell, they’ll break it right down to the page and panel. Believe me, I know! But beyond an encyclopedic knowledge of the character, they GET Deadpool – the character, the universe, the specific quirks and traits that make him such a standout from the rest of the spandex crowd on both the page and screen.

Like you do, really. And who wouldn’t want that in their corner?

2) Hometown Pride: You’re from Vancouver. Guess what? So are they. They know the scene, they know how to get the most bang for your buck out west. It may seem like a little thing, one of those tenuous-at-best connections , but it’s one more point in this little connect the dots, and I’m trying to make an argument here.

3) Ringing Endorsements: As mentioned before, the social networks are buzzing with support and calls for the girls to take the helm. Their fan base is loyal… VERY loyal. And vocal about their support, too. There have been petitions, hashtags and every other media tool possible to spread the word. But there’s also been high praise from other persons of interest, too, that bare mentioning:

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Yes. THAT Slash. String-shredding, top-hat-wearing, rock-and-roll royalty!

I’m not saying it’s enough to swing the vote completely but HOLY CRAP, IT’S G-N-F’N-R’s SLASH!!!

4) Maximum Effort: these girls started out 100% DIY, Ryan ( I feel like we can first-name basis this stuff, now. We’ve been through *so* much now.). From a handful of short films to their GRINDHOUSE-inspired DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK to the cult-phenomenon that is AMERICAN MARY. Currently, they’re ramping up to start on the remake to David Cronenberg’s RABID, as well as more-projects-than-common sense in development. They know how to make a little look like a lot.And while I don’t know that much about filmmaking (ie: nothing at all), I know that, brother, that ain’t easy.

Put em all together, and what does that spell?

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Yeah, I know. I’m sorry.

Look, my opinion doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. I’m neither a captain of industry nor a mover-and-shaker (which incidentally sounds like a substitute name for a go-go dancer). I’m merely a guy with a blog, who happens to occasionally write for other outlets when the mood hits him. That probably puts me just a fraction above “angry teenager with a Reddit page”. The point is, you could do worse things then taking a lunch meeting with them and letting them make the pitch. Hell, Sylvia has stated that she’ll waive her pay for the chance.

I repeat: free labour! That’s living the dream, friend-o!

And what do I have to gain from this? Nothing. I have no horse in this race, and I’m sure there have been more eloquent arguments put forward for the cause.  But I do like to see like-minded individuals come together, especially if it means working together on a passion project like this. Great things can happen when people of  a similar mind-set come together, and this could be one of those moments.

In the end, it’s your call to make, but the signs are there. It’s at least worth mulling over. At the very least, you’ll make Slash a very happy man. And really, who doesn’t want that?

Either way, best of luck with the hunt. And continued success with all that “perfect life that we all envy over here oh-so very much” thing, too.

Sincerely,

Ron McKenzie

 

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Jen & Sylvia Soska, with KILL CRAZY NYMPHOS ATTACK co-creator, Daniel Way.                Who also wrote DEADPOOL. So yeah, add THAT to the checklist.

 

UNDER THE STATIC

Listen closely. A faint collection of sounds. Static, the crackle of electricity, the creaking of joints and pistons long motionless, slowly stirring. Moving.

It’s the sounds of life, or something like it, as this long-slumbering entity begins to stir, shaking off cobwebs and dust and lethargy with slow, deliberate movement.

It’s awakening. And it has things it wants to share.

Keep watching this space.

 

TWISTED TWINS BLOOD DRIVE #7 KICKS OFF WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH 2016

It’s the first of February, which means Women In Horror Month is officially out of the gates and running. In what has been an ongoing tradition, Vancouver’s Twisted Twins Productions (Jen & Sylvia Soska) have gathered together a confederacy of like-minded filmmakers to celebrate WiHM and raise awareness of the need for donations to blood banks across North America. The result is the Massive Blood Drive anthology, a collection of short films that brings together old-school splatter with big-hearted philanthropy.

As stated in this year’s press release, things have gotten a bit of a shake-up in the roster: “Every year, we have taken it upon ourselves to create PSAs urging people to donate. You can’t think horror without thinking blood and horror is all about facing your fears. Anyways, what’s one small prick in a world filled with an epidemic of pricks, right?

Over the years the PSA has grown to include and spotlight artists from across the globe. This year was our first year to include feminists of any gender. Our goal has always been inclusion, support, and awareness. Many of these artists wouldn’t have their voices heard without opportunities such as those gifted from events like Women In Horror Month.”

Previous Blood Drive contributors return to the fold for Round 7, including Jill Sixx Gevargizian (The Stylist, Call Girl), Maude Michaud (Dys-, Red), Patricia Chica (Ceramic Tango) Gigi Saul Guerrero (El Gigante, Madre De Dios) and Women In Horror Month FounderHannah Neurotica.

Among this year’s stable of fresh meat, there are contributions from Nicole McClure (The Unbearable Lightness of Boning), Joe Magna (Hellevator), Lisa Ovies (Puppet Killer), Andy Stewart(Dysmorphia, Remnant) Tristan Risk (American Mary, House of Manson) and the debut of Blood Drive’s youngest auteurs to date, 17-year olds Veronica Hampson and Kate Taeuschel.

So enough talk. Press “play”, soak in some quick & dirty work from some of the best in the business, then get out there and donate!

A word of warning, though, straight from the source:

” IT IS NOT SAFE FOR WORKIf your work sucks. Viewer discretion is advised but should be completely ignored.

Be sure to check out http://www.womeninhorrormonth.com/ for more events and news as the month progresses.

A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER AND A KICK IN THE ASS

I had every intention of writing my review of CRIMSON PEAK. I really did.

I was going to tell you that it’s a beautiful, chilling Gothic Romance with great performances and the wonderful visual aesthetics that are part-and-parcel of a Guillermo Del Toro movie, and that you should see it in theatres to soak in all of its splendour the way it was meant to be seen.

In short, I would have been repeating what others have said before me with more eloquence and critical clarity than I would have been able to.

I’ve said it before: I’m a lousy critic, but a pretty mean cheerleader. I’ve always been very vocal about the works and artists that I admire, and that will never change. But lately, the urge to create my own works, maybe even gain some cheerleaders of my own in the process, has become a strong one. I have been dabbling with the notion of writing for years – honest-to-goodness, pen-to-paper storytelling – without ever really committing to completing it. So many “ideas”, so many unfinished stories, just sitting there.

So now’s as good a time as any to stop yapping about it and do it.

I’ve given myself a goal. Deadlines. Scheduled time every night to get in 300 words a day, good, bad or otherwise. I’ve even signed up to compete in this year’s NaNoWriMo. Not so much to win, but to keep momentum going. I’m not getting any younger, and I don’t want this to be one of my regrets on my deathbed. So this is where my focus needs to be. In short, I’m treating it like work. As it should be.

It’s time for a little story, and I assure you, it’s a fitting one.

October 2013: A Night With Stephen King, part of the International Festival of Authors. After the Q&A, King was doing a signing: one item per person. I brought my copy of Stephen King On Writing, a source of great education and inspiration (and mandatory reading for anyone interested in the craft). It was a gift from my wife, Katherine, and she had written an inscription on the title page:

Because you can be just as great.
Love you with all my heart.
XO
-K-

I got to the signing table. King was signing at top-speed, ensuring no one got left behind, and then it was my turn.
He opened the book to the title page and paused to read the inscription. Then he smiled. He looked up at me and said “So? How’s it working out for ya, then?” I told him it seemed to be working just fine. He scrawled his autograph beside Katherine’s words and handed the book back. “Well, maybe she’s on to something, then. Good luck.

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I’m well into my first draft now. Over 3,000 words so far, and miles of paragraphs and sentences to go before it’s over. Maybe she IS on to something. And the only way I’m going to know for sure is by doing it.

Time to go underground for a while. Not away, not permanently. But long enough to see this through.
If I have something cool – like, extra-special super-cool – to share with you, I’ll post it here. But for now, it’s about time I got to work.

See you all when I see you again. Scout’s honour.

And many thanks to Mr. King for the much-needed kick in the ass.

Ron McKenzie

LUCHAGORE PRODUCTIONS’ PALOMA: A Hymn For The Day Of The Dead

Vancouver’s Luchagore Productions have made a reputation for themselves as purveyors of vicious, no-holds barred cinema in a very short time. Blending Mexican folklore and religious iconography with bloody grindhouse-style violence, director Gigi Saul Guerrero and the Luchagore crew have made their presence known on the festival circuit with the shorts, EL GIGANTE and MADRE DE DIOS.

Which brings us to PALOMA, a total about-face from Luchagore’s signature style and a most-fitting musical selection for this year’s Dia de los Muertos or Day of The Dead.

PALOMA was created by Luchagore, after accepting an invitation to take part in Capilano University BOSA Centre for Film and Animation’s run of final projects for their Cinematography Class. Working with the stipulated guidelines (one day of preparation, followed by two hours of filming ), the film was subsequently chosen as the opening film for this year’s MORBIDO FEST in Puebla, Mexico, “an elegant and very Mexican piece…the right way to start”, according to Morbido’s Festival Director and CEO, Pablo Guisa.

And he’s absolutely right. While still working within the confines of Mexican occultism and traditions, the result is a languid, static yet haunting vignette -a take on an oft-reinterpreted Spanish standard (beautifully performed by Shadan Saul Guerrero ) that is equally beautiful and jarring – that goes against the grain of what Luchagore’s best known for. And I dig it.

They say variety is the spice of life, and PALOMA shows that Guerrero can slow things down without losing the visual punch of her more brutal works. A sign of true talent and diversity stepping outside familiar territory, and a strong indication that Guerrero and Luchagore Productions are no flash in the pan.

Up next for these Vancouver superstars? DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, a featured segment in the upcoming Mexican horror anthology, MEXICO BARBARO, out on DVD/Blu-Ray and VOD tomorrow!(Ain’t synchronicity a beautiful thing?).

And after that? Who can say? But I can’t wait to see what’s next.

TORONTO AFTER DARK: THE WRAP-UP

And so, another Toronto After Dark Film Festival has come and gone. Celebrating ten years of genre cinema, both homegrown and international, it’s safe to say this was probably one of the festival’s most successful years with multiple “sold outs” screenings across the board.

Personally, I didn’t get to see as many films as I had hoped, so for those who were able to make it out each and every night… you have my respect and envy. But I saw enough of After Dark’s offerings ( including the opening gala, TALES OF HALLOWEEN, which was reviewed right here ) that it warrants some thoughts and opinions for public consumption. So let’s take a look, shall we?

the_hallow_posterTHE HALLOW: Synopsis – “After a young family move from the big city to a peaceful Irish woodland cottage they find themselves in a desperate fight for survival in a prolonged confrontation with some vicious creatures lurking in the forest.

Beautifully shot, with the visual aesthetic of the darkest of fairy tales, THE HALLOW is a masterclass in building tension. A slow-and steady escalation towards intense confrontation between the family and the long-time residents of the dark and foreboding winds that makes up the last half of the film, which kicks into “siege mode” hard and fast. It also works because the supernatural elements are contrasted with primal, universal fears – children in peril (and the parental fear of failing to protect them), isolation in foreign territory and the disintegration of the family unit – grounding the story and its characters in the real world. Great performances by Joseph Mawle & Bojana Novakovic, as the besieged couple & newly-minted parents, also anchor the film as truly sympathetic characters in a very-bad situation.  Then there are also the creatures of The Hallow and dear lord, they are glorious! As with any creature feature, the stand-or-fall ratio depends on how the monsters come across, and THE HALLOW succeeds – no, exceeds – those expectations. Created through practical effects and designed by concept designer, Ivan Manzella (Prometheus, Edge Of Tomorrow), the “Fair Folke” are equal parts folkloric menace and bio-eco horror, rendered with old-school mastery and shot beautifully. They are menacing, nightmarish and wholly original.

This is director Corin Hardy’s debut behind the camera, and if it’s any indication of what to expect, Hardy’s got a very bright (or dark – depending on your penchant for horror-film analogies) future ahead. Directed with confidence, shot beautifully and expertly paced, THE HALLOW deserves to be seen in wide relase, as it puts most mainstream horror output to shame. Endorsed with the highest and most enthusiatic of recommendations.

Christmas-Horror-Story-poster-newCHRISTMAS HORROR STORY: Synopsis – “Yule-themed horror tale about all hell breaking loose in the small town of Bailey Downs on Christmas Eve, including Santa having to fight off an outbreak of zombie elves!”

The second of this year’s “holiday anthologies”, CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY takes the polar end of the holiday spectrum, with four stories set in the Yuletide season. Strangely enough, it’s also the darker of the two. Where TALES has been called by some a “GOOSEBUMPS for adults” (and I only wish I had come up with the analogy myself), CHRISTMAS has much more in common with the black-and-white pulp terrors of Warren Publishing’s pulp CREEPY and EERIE magazines: it’s got a bit of a mean streak to it, albeit a delightful one.

CHRISTMAS relates the events that occur one Christmas night in the small burg of Bailey Downs (ten bonus points for the CanCon horror fan who recognizes that name – for everyone else, Google it ). Four separate stories, joined together a “host” of sorts in the form of William Shatner as the town’s local DJ, the episodes range from a haunting in the local private school, a family outing for a Christmas Tree that yields much more – and worse , a family stalked by the season’s vengeful “anti-Claus”, Krampus and Santa Claus fending off an elf-zombie apocalypse at the North Pole. Each installment would work incredibly well on its own, with the “Christmas Tree” and “Santa” episodes being especially noteworthy, despite being on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. “Tree” is a dark, slow-building piece that surprisingly shares much in common with the above-mentioned THE HALLOW, bleniding family drama and folkloric horror. “Santa” is a giddily violent riot, with Ol’ St. Nick laying the smackdown on the foul-mouthed, flesh-hungry elves in a Raimiesque splatstick extravaganza. While the stories are joined by the most threadbare of narrative threads – a character here, a reference there – the crossover was, according to the filmmakers, a matter of fiscal neccesity rather than a creative choice. Which makes it all the more amazing when it all comes together in the film’s climactic confrontation between… you know what? I’ve said too much already. Let me leave it at this: it takes a lot to surprise me. This one had me literally clapping out loud.  A lot of fun, and a worthy add to your holiday movie collection

TheHollowOne_Poster_2_newTHE HOLLOW ONE: Synopsis – “an artifact unleashes a demonic force upon the people of a small farm town. With most of the townspeople possessed, two young sisters find themselves in a race against time to try and stop the sinister force before its evil purpose is achieved.”

Another directorial debut, this time by Nathan Hendrickson, THE HOLLOW ONE is an ambitious blend of rural family drama and grand cosmic horror. While many have already made comparisons to Clive Barker’s HELLRAISER, most notably for the puzzle-like apparatus at the heart of the story that summons the titular evil, the film owes a much stronger debt to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Nigel Keane (who also inspired John Carpenter’s brilliant metaphysical horror masterpiece, PRINCE OF DARKNESS). The Hollow One itself is a truly alien being of ancient age and unfathomable purposes, and placing such an unknowable force in the American heartland gives the film an eerie and original feel. It’s also one of the more visually interesting movie monsters to appear in a very long time, which always gets a win in my books. Performances are good, tension is consistently raised and although the film occasionally trips itself up in the “otherwise smart characters making really bad decisions” trap, it’s a minor quibble. Despite its low-budget and related production values, THE HOLLOW ONE has ambition to spare, with the hints of a much greater and expanisve mythology lurking in the background and that’s rare in this day and age with so many low-budget filmmakers trying to break in with “Zombie Apocalypse Movie #342”. At the post-screening Q&A, Hendrickson hinted that he would like to tell more stories in the universe he’s built for this first film.  Here’s hoping that comes to fruition, as THE HOLLOW ONE shows incredible potential, both for its director and its future as an expanding mythos.

backtrack-posterBACKTRACK: Synopsis – “After a series of unnerving ghostly encounters in the city, a troubled psychotherapist returns to his rural home town to try and solve the dark mysteries that date back to his childhood.”

Of all the films I caught this year, the Australian host story/murder mystery BACKTRACK was the most underwhelming of the bunch. Shame, really, because all the moving parts work just fine. It’s a good-looking film, with atmosphere and shadow aplenty. We have great work from Adrian Brody ( as the film’s haunted protagonist, who also pulls of an impeccable Australian accent) and Robin McLeavy (in a complete 180 from her work as the psychotic Lola in THE LOVED ONES, as a local cop drawn into Brody’s hunt for answers). We have well-played out scares, of both the slow-and-creepy and “jump scare” varieties. There’s really no reason this shouldn’t have worked.

It’s just that we’ve seen this story before, most notably in WHAT LIES BENEATH and (my personal favourite) STIR OF ECHOES: a person, haunted by the past, is chosen by vengeful/wronged/lost spirits to undertake a mission of redemption/forgiveness/revenge. The plot twists and turns to keep you guessing, but even those convoluted contrivances and red herrings only end up leading us to familiar territory. While the route may be different, the destination is all too familiar.

It’s not horrible nor exceptional. In the end, BACKTRACK rests in the grey zone of “passable entertainment” and will probably find its audience with those looking for a good night out for some chills and thrills. For the more seasoned horror/suspense moviegoer, though, it’s deja-vu all over again..

Patchwork PosterPATCHWORK: Synopsis – “ A re-animated corpse, made from the stitched together body parts of three murdered young women. On waking after the operation, The Creature decides to go on a quest to find the girls’ killer and avenge their deaths with both bloody and darkly humorous results.”

If there’s a “Sleeper Hit” award for After Dark, PATCHWORK wins it, hands-down. With less visibility or advance buzz than some of the fest’s “big ticket” films, I had zero expectations or preconceptions going in. And I loved it. A violent, laugh-out-loud funny and very bold feminist take on Frankenstein, PATCHWORK delivers a consistently funny script, a cast of incredibly gifted actors with great comic timing and a hit-list of gore gags across the board. Once the three victims learn how to work their new body together, they go on a killing spree that takes out every man who ever done them wrong – and may have done them in. Ex-boyfriends, date-rapey fratboys, etc. – all gruesomely and humorously eliminated by the three-in-one avenging angel.

Much of the film’s success lies in the chemistry between its three female leads, only seen onscreen together in their “hive-mind” pow-wows – an accidental shared consciousness created by making one body out of their three corpses. Tory Stolper (strait-laced Jennifer) , Tracey Fairaway (party girl Renee)  and Maria Blasucci (mousey loner Madeline)  are all exceptionally talented and create a great dynamic together ( I overheard someone else at the screening call it the horror version of Pixar’s INSIDE OUT, and I’m using it here because dear God, it’s SO spot-on).  It’s Stolper, though, as the physical “body” itself who merits special attention with her brilliant physical comedy and timing, especially in the early stages of their “awakening”. Evolving from spastic and twitchy shambling corpse to confident and swaggering engine of destruction, Stolper’s performance has been compared to Bruce Campbell‘s splatstick brilliance in EVIL DEAD 2. And that’s high and accurate praise indeed. Also features a fun, understated performance by James Phelps (One half of HARRY POTTER’s Weasely Twins), a med grad student who becomes The Creature’s makeshift medic and unwitting love interest ( their sex scene – funny, gory and necrophiliac as all get-out –  is one of the film’s absurdly brilliant highlights.).

I have yet to see an announcement for PATCHWORK’s release, theatrical or otherwise, but it is still touring on the festival circuit.  Here’s hoping there’s news soon, as it’s a clever, smartly-written and flat-out funny flick that deserves a bigger following.

deathgasm_ver2_xxlgDEATHGASM:  Synopsis – “a group of metalhead outcasts unwittingly unleash a horde of vicious demons upon their sleepy suburban neighbourhood. To win back the town they face an epic duel of blood, music and metal with Satan’s hordes!

And here we are, the closing gala and the final film of After Dark 2015. Did they save the best for last? By and large, yes. Yes, they did. I’m sure you’ve read other reviews on the big horror websites. I’m sure you’ve seen the gushing praise on social media.

And it’s all warranted. Every last word.

DEATHGASM is a flat-out, balls to the wall gorefest, with outrageous kills, crackerjack pacing and zero f*cks to give about social acceptability. Death by dildo, blood-farts, castration by Weed-Whacker, decapitations, two-fisted chainsaw combat… all lovingly rendered in a gleefully cartoonish manner that will bring back fond memories of DEAD ALIVE (aka BRAIN DEAD) for folks in my age bracket. It’s also incredibly funny, and kind of sweet, with the heavy metal bromance between best friends Brodie (Milo Cawthorne, with more than a passing resemblance to Jason Mewes) and Zakk (James Blake, equal parts Heath Ledger and Glenn Danzig) at the heart of the film. It’s Kimberly Crossmah, as high school object of affection and burgeoning metalhead, Medina, who steals the show. Medina is smart, quick with an axe and even quicker with her wit, as she gets in some of the best lines in the film. Growing up as a horror and metal fan in my teenage years, DEATHGASM is the kind of film 16-year old me would have given a limb or eyeball to see. And it’s totally been worth the wait.

Director Jason Lei Howard knocks it out of the park with his first film the very definition of “crowd-pleaser”, endorsed by the enthusiastic laughter and roars of approval at the film’s most spectacular gore gags from Friday night’s audience. A truly good time and a fitting closer for one of Toronto’s longest-lasting (and rowdiest) film festivals.

So there you have it: How I Spent My Time In The Dark. And it doesn’t even cover the films I WISHED I had seen, including NINA FOREVER and THE DEMOLISHER, all of which generated considerable heat from the festival’s crowd.
Perhaps next year, I’ll gain the reserves and the time to see absolutely everything. But for now, I’ll take my little victories where I can.

Congratulations, Toronto After Dark, on ten years of genre cinema love and continuing to grow as one of the best movie-going experiences the city has to offer. Long may you reign.

And now, rest. Until next time…

HORROR-RAMA TORONTO: The Post-Mortem

The past week or so has been a busy one, to say the least. On top of starting a new job (hooray for gainful employment), there’s also been a number of screenings at Toronto After Dark ( and yes, I will be sharing my thoughts on said films very soon. Honest ) . But first, let’s talk about the other genre gathering that just happened this weekend.

Let’s talk about Horror-Rama Toronto.

This was year two for the upstart horror convention, spearheaded by Shock Till You Drop’s new editor-in-chief, Chris Alexander, and Suspect Video‘s head honcho, Luis Ceriz, and it can be summed up succinctly: growth.

More space ( in downtown Toronto’s The Hyatt Regency ), more guests, more panels, more vendors… just more all around. A sizable leap from last year’s inaugural show, but keeping the cozy ambience. And it’s a nice change of pace. I’ve done my share of the larger conventions across Canada – on both sides of the curtains, as well – so to go to a con where socializing with fellow congoers with room to spare and no need for yelling… it’s actually very welcome.

There’s definitely more than enough room for the American-style “hotel con” here in Toronto, especially one that caters to a group that… let’s be honest… tends to get the sharp end of the bloody stick at the larger conventions.

I hope this year was a success. I hope it continues to grow with each year. And I know I’ll be back again next year.

For now, enjoy some photographic highlights from this year’s show. And thanks to Chris Alexander and Luis Ceriz for letting me play in the sandbox for the weekend.

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Three familiar faces, welcoming guests to the show. I swear I saw one of them move…
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Where wolf? There! There wolf!
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It was a rough weekend. Rougher for some more than others.
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So many vendors. SO many movies. Seriously, between VHS, DVD, rare import, there was literally something for every taste.
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MonsterMatt Patterson, artist and full-grown “monster kid”, selling his works at his table.
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Convention organizer and weekend MC, Chris Alexander holds court.
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George Mihalka, director of the Canadian slasher cult classic, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, and all around awesome guy.
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Con guest, and horror icon, Michael Berryman meets a fan.
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Steve Niles, comic writer extraordinaire, with the book (fittingly so ) that put him on the map and revitalized the horror comics industry. That’s not hype, folks. That’s just science.
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Tristan Risk (AMERICAN MARY, THE EDITOR) with Holy Scar, up to no good at the booth…naturally.

Next time: Highlights and recommendations from the tenth annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Honest.