October 16, 2012

Toronto After Dark 2012: Top 5 Can't-Miss Movies

More than sex. More than food. There's one thing that never fails to get better after dark.

And that's movies at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (October 18-26 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema).

I'm talking genre movies here, people! When the lights go down, what's better than sitting in a theatre of genre fans for some horror, sci-fi, action, and cult thrills? Nothing! That's why the annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival is such a highly-anticipated event for lovers of genre cinema.

With the festival set to launch in just two days, I sat down with the festival schedule full of demon zombies, werewolves, killer sushi, apocalyptic visions, LARPers, and reality-impaired psychopaths to do the excruciatingly hard job of choosing my top 5 can't-miss TAD picks. Here are the five films you'd be crazy to miss.

1.) [REC] 3: Genesis (CANADIAN PREMIERE)

Sat, Oct 20, 6.45 PM - Zombie Apprec. Night at Bloor Cinema
Directed by Paco Plaza, Spain, 2012, 80 mins
Principal Cast: Leticia Dolera, Diego Martin, Javier Boter

CAN'T MISS MOMENT: Blood-spattered bride with a chainsaw.


"The third film in the venerated Spanish zombie outbreak franchise sees [REC]  and [REC] 2 co-director Paco Plaza fly solo at the helm of this chronological prequel. Star-crossed lovers Koldo and Clara are celebrating the happiest day of their lives, their wedding day, with friends and family in an idyllic setting. As three cameras (two amateur, one professional) capture the happy moments and party atmosphere of the drunken reception, one guest seems a little more drunk than others - only it isn’t alcohol in his blood. Before you know it, all hell breaks loose, zombies are running amok, and Kolda and Clara will move heaven and earth to find each other amidst the chaos. It is fast, furious, gory, campy, and romantic, with tongue firmly in cheek, heart on sleeve, and sword and chainsaw handy. It is both faithful to and a wacky twist on the series, horror story and fairy tale, adding to an already cult classic mythology." - Shelagh Rowan-Legg


Sat, Oct 20, 9.45 PM - Zombie Apprec. Night at Bloor Cinema
Directed by Matthias Hoene, UK, 2012, 88 mins **Director In Attendance for Q&A!**
Principal Cast: Georgina King, Alan Ford, Honor Blackman, Michelle Ryan, Harry Treadaway

CAN'T MISS MOMENT: Slow-Speed Zombie Pursuit


"London’s famous, or rather infamous, east end has seen its share of monsters: Jack the Ripper, the Kray Brothers, and now, zombies. But the zombies picked the wrong end of jolly old London town, as these East Enders won’t give up without a cracking good fight. From screenwriter James Moran (SEVERANCE, DOCTOR WHO) and director Matthias Hoene comes a hilarious new take on the zombie genre. Brothers Andy and Terry, in an effort to save their grandfather Ray’s quiet retirement home from being sold to condo developers, grab a few friends and attempt to rob a bank. Just as they’re about to escape with the loot, they find their way blocked by hordes of the undead, and must make their way to the retirement home, guns blazing. Meanwhile, Ray and his fellow retirees, with their East End bravado, must fight off another zombie horde, hip replacements and all. This film is destined to join the ranks of great horror comedies." - Shelagh Rowan-Legg 


Fri, Oct 26, 9.30 pm, Bloor Cinema,
Directed by Juan Martinez Moreno, Spain, 2012, 102 mins **Director in Attendance for Q&A!**
Principal Cast: Carlos Areces, Secun de la Rose, Luis Zahera

CAN'T MISS MOMENT: Beautiful practical werewolf makeup


In the remote countryside of Galicia, Spain, the few and mostly elderly townspeople of Arga have suffered under a gypsy curse for 100 years, a curse that might finally be lifted when local boy, Tomas, returns to write his new novel. Hoping for some peace and inspiration, Tomas instead finds himself running from the locals and accidently releasing the dreaded beast. While the villagers try to kill the monster, Tomas and his friends attempt to end the curse, with hilarious and dire consequences. The werewolf has been a rather neglected monster of late, but with the Spanish flair for outrageous humour in the most deadly of situations, GAME OF WEREWOLVES is a fine addition to the country’s tradition, as a delightful homage to the Spanish werewolf films of Paul Naschy. This is an old-school horror comedy, reveling in its danger and fun, that will keep its audience guessing until the last frame. - Shelagh Rowan-Legg


Oct 18, 6.45 PM at Bloor Cinema
Directed by Jon Wright, Ireland/UK, 2012, 94 mins
Principal Cast: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey

CAN'T MISS MOMENT: Greatest excuse to drink. Ever.


A small Irish fishing village on Erin Island has a big problem. Fishermen have disappeared, and dead whales are washing up on shore. As if that’s not enough to deal with, local policeman (and perpetually drunk) Ciaran has another problem… his newly arrived, by the books, partner Lisa.  It’s soon apparent that something monstrous and possibly alien is lurking just offshore, and with the help of the local village scientist they’ve discovered the creatures' Achilles heel… a lethal allergy to alcohol. So obviously, the best way to survive the night and a full on giant alien squid invasion is to get the entire town righteously drunk!

The spirit of films like TREMORS is alive and well in the horror/sci-fi comedy GRABBERS. Take an age old Irish cliché, a village of quirky characters, a touch of romance, and some fantastic small budget special effects, and you have a raucously deadpan giant monster extravaganza. You’ll laugh all the way to last call, and maybe certain doom when the GRABBERS come to call. - Steven Landry


Thurs, Oct 18, 9.45pm, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Directed by Jen & Sylvia Soska, Canada, 2012, 95 mins **Directors In Attendance for Q&A!**
Principal Cast: Katherine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk, Jen & Sylvia Soska

CAN'T MISS MOMENT: B(lo)ody Modification


After medical student Mary (GINGER SNAPS star Katherine Isabelle in a fearless standout performance) finds herself disillusioned with both the poverty of student life and chauvinistic treatment by her peers, she begins to look for an alternative lifestyle that might better reward her surgical skills. A chance encounter at a seedy nightclub opens the door to a lucrative but dangerous side career: performing extreme body modifications for private clients. But working in the shadowy underworld of illegal surgeries comes with unforeseen, horrifying, and yes…bloody consequences.  - Adam Lopez

For more on these films, the full Toronto After Dark schedule, and ticket information, visit: www.torontoafterdark.com