That's a Wrap!

By now we're all either over or right in to middle of the post fest blahs. To help ease you into the transition to the realization that the next TIFF is almost a year away here are some links to help you relive this year's wild nights at the Ryerson.

Ian Goring has dozens of great pictures of all the festivities here.

Check out all sorts of midnight coverage at Thesubstream.com .

Vlogger Sheleigh & Rockstar Roving Reporter Robert Mitchell have all the snazzy red carpet footage here.

Every second of every intro and Q&A can be found here. Or you can watch them below. So enjoy, and we'll see everyone again next year at 11:59 pm!


Stake Land on the Midnight Madness Red Carpet

On September 17th, 2010 Stake Land received it's world premiere at Midnight Madness. I was able to speak with the creators of the film prior to the screening. Here is that footage.

On September 19th, 2010 Stake Land was awarded the Cadillac People's Choice Midnight Madness award.


Talking with Wuershan & Daniel Yu. The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman.

Just prior to the world premiere of the Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman I had the opportunity to have a few words with the Wuershan, the director of the film and Daniel Yu the producer. Here is that footage.


@thesubstream ♥'s Midnight Madness #10 - FIRE OF CONSCIENCE

We'd like to tip our hats to everyone that makes Midnight Madness the best film festival programme ever - Colin Geddes, the volunteers, staff, filmmakers and of course - THE FANS!!!

It's been a hoot and we can't wait to do it again - thanks to all for another great year!

Full coverage and reviews at www.thesubstream.com

@thesubstream - Midnight Madness Review - STAKE LAND

People's Choice winner and tough-guy featurer.

An interesting mash-up that's half melancholic this-is-the-end-of-an-era western and half apocalyptic monster fable, director Jim Mickle's Stake Land is proof enough that genre conventions may well be endlessly remixable. Think The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford meets The Road plus a bunch of brainless starving vampires and you're close enough to Mickle's low-budget, high-concept take on the (still, somehow) hot vampire thing.

Martin (Connor Paolo) is getting ready to bug out of civilization with his parents, gassing up the car and packing food and clothes when they're attacked by one of the aforementioned beasts. These aren't sparkly romance vampires, they're deformed, starving monsters, and Martin is only saved by the intervention of Mister (Nick Damici). Mister is the strong, silent type - a vampire hunter revered by the few pockets of humanity that eke out an existence during the day and batten down at night.

Martin and Mister are on the move, heading north toward "New Eden", about which rumours abound. They pick up stragglers on the way, including a nun (Kelly McGillis) that they save from an attack by members of "the Brotherhood", a gang of religious zealots that view the vampires as God's wrath and encourage their spread by dropping starving vampires out of helicopters onto human settlements.

Damici as Mister is all lantern-jawed masculinity, an all-business dispatcher of monsters. He leads his crew through the backwoods of latter-day wooded rural America, past tattered flags and sunken churches, hiding from Vampires and lunatics. He's clever and remorselessly violent, a horror movie (budget) Clint Eastwood. Martin narrates the film in a dreamy, distracted, Levi's-jeans ad tone, which helps give the film a deeply weird, not unpleasant kind of '70s-cinema feeling. Stake Land's not exactly avant-garde, not experimental, but for a genre work-out featuring a bunch of blood and screams it's positively fascinating.

Full coverage and reviews at www.thesubstream.com


STAKE LAND dubbed Midnight Madness Cadillac People's Choice Award!

In case you missed Stake Land on Friday and Saturday, tonight's 9PM screening at the AMC 2 is your last chance to see the film which earlier today received the Cadillac People's Choice Midnight Madness Award!

And let's not forget the runner-up, Fubar II! Who would have thought Midnight Madness audiences loved road trips films so much -- one with vampires, the other with hosers.

@thesubstream ♥'s Midnight Madness #9 - STAKE LAND

"Ever since I was 15, all I've ever wanted to do in life is premiere a movie at Midnight Madness." - Jim Mickle

Full coverage and reviews at thesubstream.com


Fire of Conscience Duet with Leon Lai and Richie Ren

Leon Lai and Richie Ren put aside their guns and their grudges for this duet. They are among the biggest cantopop and mandopop stars and both have starred in movies directed by MM alumnus Johnnie To (The Mission, MM 2000). Lai co-starred with Lau Ching-Wan in Hero Never Dies while Ren was the amazing smoking sniper, Sgt. Chan in Exiled.

So get out your lighters and enjoy the Fire of Conscience song action. With any luck Fire of Conscience will have the midpoint musical montage traditional to HK action movies and you'll already know all the words--or can at least hum and sway along.

Fire of Conscience screening times:
Saturday, Sept. 18. 11:59pm Ryerson
Sunday, Sept. 19. 3:00pm Scotiabank Theatre 11

Tickets can be purchased at the official TIFF site.

Stake Land Q&A

Ever since Stake Land director Jim Mickle was 15 years old he dreamt of showing a film in Midnight Madness at TIFF. Tonight he checked that off his bucket list. Stake Land gives us truly monstrous vampires that scare the living crap out of you. These aren't teenage heartthrobs pontificating about their place in society. These vampires want to suck the blood out of you as violently as (in)humanly possible! Here are some highlights from the Q&A including: how Nick Damici prepared for the role of Mister, some information about the vampire prosthetics, and Danielle Harris' pregnant prosthesis.

On a personal note, this is going to be my last post for a while because I leave the Reel world on Sunday and go back to my job as a Six Sigma Black Belt (that's really my job title folks.) I'll post some higher quality uncut intro and Q&A vids later next week then I'll see you all this time next year.

Stake Land screening times:
Saturday, Sept 18. 12:15pm Scotiabank Theatre 4
Sunday, Sept. 19. 9:00pm AMC 2

Tickets can be purchased at the official TIFF site.


The Ugly Truth about Vampires

Seems like lately the world has been overrun with the pretty vampires, certain spakle-pires I won't mention here. But even here at Midnight Madness we had an Ethan Hawke vampire in Daybreakers last year. It's enough to make that chewy-faced guy from Stake Land insecure. Sure Bela had it going on but there's a long history of plain, ugly, plain ugly and even fugly vampires dating way back to Dr. Polidori's The Vampyre and the later Victorian Varney the Vampire.

Whatever else Christopher Lee's Dracula had going on, it wasn't prettiness. (He was kinda the Iggy Pop or Lance Henriksen of vampires).

Oh wait, Lance Henriksen was a vampire.

Really, Iggy Pop would make a fantastic vampire. I mean, look at him.

He needs a blood transfusion, stat!

But the point here is that for most of vampire history, beauty has been in the eye of the beholder--usually a woman in hypnotic thrall.

Sure, Graf Orlac isn't pretty, but if you look at him right he is adorable in a lost kind of way.

He's got a lot to give, ladies (and Renfields).

Stake Land screening times:
Friday, Sept. 17. 11:59pm Ryerson
Saturday, Sept 18. 12:15pm Scotiabank Theatre 4
Sunday, Sept. 19. 9:00pm AMC 2

Tickets can be purchased at the official TIFF site.

Five (okay, four and a half) Cool Vampires Before STAKE LAND!

Tonight's Midnight Madness selection, Stake Land is sure to satiate all the real vampire lovers who stuck with True Blood through a season that contained several shark-jumping moments, and those who aren't currently trolling their favourite message boards about how TIFF 2010 selection, Let Me In is soooooooo much worse from the original (spoiler: it's nothing of the sort) while sweeping Cheetos crumbs and drool off their keyboards.

But it got me thinking - we've seen some pretty awesome bloodsuckers in our time that are nothing like the emo halfwits in
Twilight. Here's a few that have captured our imaginations and reminded us that being dead just might not be so bad.

#1 Russell Edgington - A new entry on anyone's vampire top five, Russell Edgington was sadly one of the only bright spots of this last season of True Blood. The scene depicted above features the 'Vampire King of Mississippi' despining a news anchor, before declaring war on humanity and trumpeting vampire superiority. It was one of the most riveting TV moments from this year, and hopefully True Blood will turn a corner and provide a few more next season. Basically I just want to see more spine-ripping in general because there's so little of it on The Good Wife.
#2 Charles Bromley - The badass vampire CEO from last year's Midnight Madness selection Daybreakers shocked audiences with a class and sophistication you just don't find in most vampire flicks these days. He wasn't even just evil on an animalistic, blood-sucky level either - this dude sold out his own daughter and tried to harvest the entire human population for food. I think that qualifies him for Bond villain territory.

#34 Abby/Eli - Let Me In's Abby is burdened with the weight of having to live up to another awesome vamp, Let The Right One In's Eli. They are, after all, the same character. But they have their distinctions so I'm being lazy and counting them as two. Abby/Eli is a very, very old vampire in a tiny body, who enlists old men to do her bidding and the very dirty work of getting blood from an unsuspecting gaggle of victims. She doesn't say much, has a disturbing habit of hanging out under bridges, and can definitely come off as cold, but we can't help but love her when all is said and done.
#5 The Count - Not scary? Think again! The Count is one of the scariest dudes on this list for one single reason - he preys almost EXCLUSIVELY on children. Sure, he lures you in with his promise to reveal what comes after the number eight (nobody knows) but once that castle door closes and the Sesame Street cameras stop rolling, The Count is just as viscious and bloodthirsty as the rest. I mean, what do you think happened to Mr Hooper?

Stake Land screening times:
Friday, Sept. 17. 11:59pm Ryerson (tonight!)
Saturday, Sept 18. 12:15pm Scotiabank Theatre 4
Sunday, Sept. 19. 9:00pm AMC 2

Tickets can be purchased at the official TIFF site.

Raising the Stakes

The creative team behind Stake Land talk about heroes with the Midnight Madness Blog...

Since the eighties, there has been a decline of the male action hero in horror films. Back then we had Bruce Campbell taunting demons, Kurt Russell fighting Things, and Rowdy Roddy Piper chewing bubble gum and kicking ass.

After that, we saw more and more females, soon to be defined as "final girls" taking on hero roles. The Final Girl hit its mainstream apex with Neve Campbell's portrayal of Sidney in the Scream films. Not only that, but in the nineties, we also saw the rise of empathetic villains stealing the hero spotlight all together with Jason Vorhees, and Freddy Krueger getting more screen time, and in Freddy's case, dialogue than the actual protagonists of the film. This trend continued to the point of Child Play's murderous doll Chucky becoming a full on protagonist in his more recent outings.

However, all through this, the males heroes have been having a tough time. While I intend to take nothing away from George Clooney's awesome performance in Dusk Till Dawn, or Vin Diesel's Riddick-- the male heroes of genre movies had become increasingly sinister. After the dust settled, these were not savory characters who you would invite to your home. More and more it seemed that these were bad people doing good deeds; but in no way did they intend to be redeemed. One could easily assume they went back to being their bad selves after the credits rolled.

When you look to TV's currently most successful hero, it's Michael C. Hall's Dexter - a serial killer who hunts other killers. Is it even possible to have cool male heroes in a horror movie who can realistically fight the evil forces convincingly... while also being a good human being?

With Mulberry Street, we saw a new force buck against this trend, where Nick Damici's character Clutch does everything in his power to save the tenants of his mutant rat infested building. The striking thing about that film, was that while Clutch was so tough, he was also incredibly human and believable. Here was a tough guy who genuinely cared about people- and not fleetingly or selectively. And he kicked ass. And I don't mean kicking ass by suing the villains or calling the police. This was a nice guy who could convincingly overcome his foes, without super powers, psychotic rage, or criminal talents. Just a good guy trying to do the right thing.

Now Mulberry Street's creative duo return with a new tale of apocalyptic terror. Nick Damici stars as a grizzled warrior teaching and protecting a young man in a doomed age of vampires in this year's midnight madness selection Stake Land.

And for my money, this further cements Nick's triumphant rise as a new kind of horror hero; one that cares about you!

I recently caught up with the director Jim Mickle, and writer/actor Nick Damici, and asked them some questions to test my theory.

NICK DAMICI - writer, actor

Do you write parts for yourself, or do you write the character as someone different in your mind and then you become that person -- as a writer how do you separate yourself from the story to become the actor, or what’s your method?

I write the characters generally with someone in mind including myself. As far as separating myself from the writing and moving into the acting, they are different processes taking place at different times so it's pretty easy. I'm not precious about what I write and often end up letting the actor in me edit the writer. When I not sure of something or it doesn't seem clear to me, I talk to Jim...

Have you ever had a “hero moment” in real life?

I've had a few scary moments, and you just react or you don't. I've been lucking in that I generally react. It's a reflex decision so I don't think heroism really comes into it.

How do you view your roles as a writer, and how do you approach them from an actor's standpoint?

I try to keep my characters as close to me as I can generally and then just try to be as honest as I can in my portrayal.

Who are your heroes in film, life, etc?

My film heroes range from King Kong to Bogart in films. In life I see heroes in anyone who faces the world honestly and with humility. People who have the courage to embrace the gift of our lives in the face such a shitty world.

What other kinds of characters are you interested in exploring?

I'd love to do a real period peace and stretch a bit. I played Sherlock Holmes in a play two summers ago and had a ball. I'd love to re-visit Mister some time in the future and maybe see how Martin turns out as a man.

JIM MICKLE - director

How did you two first meet?

I met Nick on a student film almost 10 years ago. I was doing lighting for a friend and Nick was playing an ex-con school bus driver. We hung out after the shoot and realized we had the same crazy tastes for movies and filmmakers and over the next few years we pipe dreamed about doing a movie together and working with guys like Tim House (from Mulberry Street) and other friends. Mulberry Street came about out of a mutual desperation to work on our own projects. And now that friendship has led to a pretty potent creative juice and we wind up making these hard to define, hybrid genre movies.

What was your first impression of Nick as an actor?

The first time I saw Nick he was acting in a scene and I was probably stacking sandbags on the side, but I remember thinking "Holy Shit! This guy's the real deal." So many times in the independent film world you see a guy who looks tough or sounds tough but you can tell it's an act, and they're trying really hard to fill a type. With Nick he just is. He's confident as a person and as an actor and he never has to push. Some people do that, but they're bland and no one wants to see them in movies. Nick can be himself, but he's got that great cinematic quality that pulls you in and keeps you watching more.

How did he convince you to play the lead?

He never had to. He wrote it for himself to play, and the cool thing was, it was the least doubtful decision of the whole film for everybody. I remembered being concerned at first that someone would want to put a huge name in that role but once people liked the script and met him for two seconds, the case was closed. He IS Mister.

As Nick wrote the script, did he need to audition; and if not, what was the major selling point for you in using him?

Nick wrote the script, and no he never had to audition. Because it was all born from his mind, I actually had to catch up with him on the character and the world. He was so engulfed in the joy of creating a character, that it was a pleasure to sit back and be a part of the ride. He slept in a tent during the shoot, camped out, carved his own weapons, sewed his own clothes. He made his own leather pants. He spent a few rainy nights sleeping in the car. By the time we started shooting, he was just doing his thing, and we grabbed the camera and just hoped to make it translate to the screen..

Has your collaboration gotten more in tune with a second feature film together?

Absolutely. We also did a short film and teaser trailer for another feature. I remember working with him on set before Mulberry Street and being amazed that someone was as enthusiastic and excited to be creating something as I was. It was like running around in the backyard making films as a kid and forgetting that the rest of the world exists outside of your little movie. By Stake Land, we know what the other guy is looking for, so the only time we need to speak up is if we're violating something in the story, or if we're screwing up a good idea by trying to pull off too many ideas. It's fun to hit that groove with someone.

What would YOU do in a vampire apocalypse?

I'd go to Nick's apartment and watch him go to work.
Check out the team at work in Stake Land, mere hours from now as it premieres at Midnight Madness!

Stake Land Screening times:

Friday September 17 11:59:00 PM RYERSON

Saturday September 18 12:15:00 PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4

Sunday September 19 9:00:00 PM AMC 2

@thesubstream ♥'s Midnight Madness #8 - THE BUTCHER, THE CHEF & THE SWORDSMAN

"This is a deal changer. This changes what you'll think of mainland China's cinema."
- Colin Geddes

Review: The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman

Loony Tunes!

Really good films - especially in the context of a festival programme like Midnight Madness where you never know exactly what you're in for when you sit down - are more often than not surprising films. They defy your expectations, they present characters that are original, they combine and remix stylistic elements in new ways. Director Wuershan's The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman is surprising from start to finish, astonishing, a deliriously entertaining defiance of expectation.

Tracing the history of a mystical kitchen cleaver through three tales of revenge in the hands of Chopper, a good-hearted but horrifyingly-whiskered butcher, the Mute, a chef who must learn the secrets of killing and serving a fish before it knows it's dead and the Swordsman, a dark master whose betrayal births the magic cleaver, the film is a non-stop dust-kicking riot. It veers apropos of not much from wuxia-revenge film into rap-video territory, into video game showdowns and Loony-Tunes slapstick. It's dark, hilarious and extremely well-made. It's up there with the best films of Midnight Madness and really, with the best films of this year's festival, period. That may be because I really like characters with gross dreadlocks covered in mud and sand, though.

Full coverage and reviews at www.thesubstream.com

Red Nights: Red Carpet Interviews

Wednesday night proved to be a nice affair when the beautiful and talented Ms. Carrie Ng arrived at the premiere of her film, Red Nights. Along with her came the directors Julien Carbon and Laurent Courtiaud.

Red Nights still screens:
Sunday, Sept. 19th at 5:45pm at the Scotiabank Theatre #11

Midnight Producers Part 6: Larry Fessenden - STAKE LAND

This is the last in my series, Meet the Producers of Midnight Madness 2010

Let me introduce you to legendary N.Y. producer Larry Fessenden, producer of Stake Land

Larry Fessenden may not be a name you instantly recognize but the name is one that has probably been involved in some of your favorite films. At this year's Midnight Madness alone Mr. Fessenden's reach is felt, from Ron Perlman that has worked numerous times with Mr Fessenden, from The Last Winter which was written and directed by Larry as well as I Sell The Dead which Mr. Fessenden not only produced with his company Glass Eye Pix but also acted in. If you were looking really close during Brad Anderson's Vanishing on 7th St, there was Larry on the big screen again, which brings me to Stake Land. Stake Land was also produced by Glass Eye Pix. He has over forty acting credits, has produced 35 films and has numerous directing credits for feature films, shorts and documentaries. In short. Mr. Fessenden is not only a remarkable talent but is truly a tireless advocate for independent cinema.

1) As others are talking about recession and economic downturns you and Glass Eye Pix seems to be thriving in the film world, how do you equate your success in remaining in business and producing quality work?

We were very fortunate to have had financial support throughout the recession of Dark Sky Films. The association began with Ti West’s THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL and that lead us to strike a deal to produce three more movies over the course of 18 months: BITTER FEAST, STAKE LAND and HYPOTHERMIA. And that was followed by another Ti West film, THE INNKEEPERS. So we’ve had a very good run of it with Dark Sky. In the 2000’s Glass Eye Pix invested in the careers of several filmmakers including Ti West, Graham Reznick, James McKenney, and Glenn McQuaid, as well as Kelly Reichardt and Ilya Chaiken, and the consistent model was to make films of artistic integrity at a very low budget. During more lucrative times we could get reimbursed for our efforts. It is our hope that in these lean years our model of frugality and originality will be attractive to new investors. It is important not to discount the sheer talent we have tapped in to. And I believe there is a tone throughout all the films from Glass Eye Pix that stands in marked contrast to the mainstream or even “indie” output and that is our brand.

2) How difficult was it to find the money to produce Stake Land? What challenges did you face that were unique to this film?

Stake Land was the most solid pitch we had for our slate of three movies with Dark Sky Films; it had the elements that looked good on paper: vampires, the post apocalyptic setting, and the director Jim Mickle had made a successful first film but still was hungry enough to go from no budget to low budget with gusto and conviction. So the film was financed easily, as part of an overall slate. The challenges were many from there. First, the script had to be reworked over several months to shape it into the feature it’s become, and then the epic scope of the story had to be fit into the budget. We determined to split the shoot into two parts, so we could experience on film the change in seasons. This was a gamble that paid off, but one that can stress a budget and crew and spook most financiers. As with all our films, we choose to emphasize post production: sound design, music, graphics, visual effects, the color correct and mix, all are an essential part of the experience we want to deliver, and again, the challenge is to strategize to get the most out of what is left of the budget after a grueling shoot. By using the same team of people in post-production on several films, we have been able to get a lot of bang for the buck.

3) What is something that you have learned as a producer that you wish you knew when you started out with your first feature Habit?

There is no one thing that has changed since I made HABIT in 1994. With HABIT, I established many of the principals that I still employ: A small crew (there were seven of us on HABIT), an open schedule (we shot over 45 days), and a long post-production emphasizing sound design and a rich, live score, all driven by a resourceful, single-minded auteur (which was me at the time). With HABIT, I endured a tsunami of festival and distribution rejections and so I released the film myself, compelling me to learn about marketing and exhibition. That experience taught me that there are no answers in show biz, there is only conviction. I have applied that to film after film with various degrees of success since, and it has helped several careers get started through Glass Eye Pix. Another thing I have learned since HABIT is I need my own producer to take care of the nuts and bolts of production. I may have a philosophical overview that drives the ship, but it was HABIT’s producer Dayton Taylor that got the film made, Jeff Levy-Hinte who got my subsequent films made, and now Peter Phok and Brent Kunkle have been instrumental in getting a slew of new pictures made. Collaboration in film at every level is essential.

Stake Land screens:
Friday, Sept 17 11:59PM RYERSON
Saturday, Sept 18 12:15PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4
Sunday Sept, 19 9:00PM AMC2

You can purchase tickets from the official TIFF website.

Stake Land Premieres Tonight!

Am I the only one who gets hungry when he hears the title Stake Land? Part of it could be that at this point in the fest a lot of my primary functions are effectively shutdown and I've been ignoring the urge to eat and a good steak always sounds great at 3 am.

At this point I'm on autopilot: Sleep. Stand in line. Screening. Camcorder. Blog. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

But enough whining. What I wanted to talk about is Stake Land and its director Jim Mickle. The picture at the top of the post is of Jim hanging out after the premiere of Red Nights. I've seen Jim at nearly all the midnight screenings hanging out and supporting the other films. Take that all you naysayers who think TIFF is snobby. Midnight directors buy their tickets, stand in line, and sit in the non-reserved section just like the rest of us.

Jim has been showing the Midnight Madness program mad love all week so lets throw some back his way. Get your tickets ASAP.

Stake Land screens:
Friday, September 17. 11:59PM Ryerson
Saturday September 18, 12:15PM Scotiabank 4
Sunday September 19 9:00PM AMC 2

You can purchase tickets from the official TIFF website.


@thesubstream ♥'s Midnight Madness Episode #7 - RED NIGHTS

"I don't care how kinky you are, there's probably stuff in this film that you either haven't seen or haven't tried."- Colin Geddes


They say that Toronto boasts more Chinese restaurants than China (where, by the way, they’re just called ‘restaurants’).

Okay, no one says that. Mostly because it’s probably not true. But Toronto not only has some of the best Chinese restaurants in Canada or even North America, but many of them are open until the wee hours of the morning – perfect for a post-Midnight Madness snack or, if you’re in and out of screenings as much as I am, breakfast. Here’s a few of my favourites that would make for an ideal setting to mull over the culinary and martial arts wizardry in tonight’s premiere of The Butcher, The Chef, and The Swordsman.

Gold Stone Noodle (266 Spadina Ave) isn’t just any old restaurant – it’s actually nothing short of a fixture in Chinatown. Whether driving or walking down Spadina, you can’t miss the illuminated window with whole roasted ducks and pigs hanging there like delicious, inside-out mannequins. Make your selection and the chef will chop up that carcass like it owes him money before expertly laying it on a bed of freshly-made (in-house!) thick noodles. It’s no frills and I don’t even think they give you any vegetables, but it is seriously one of the best meals you can have in the city.

Rol San (323 Spadina Av) is so dear to my heart that I’m almost loath to mention it, lest it be overrun next time I’m trying to get a table. I’ve spent many late nights there, eating things I was too drunk to even identify and passing them to friends around huge round tables after a particularly late club night or screening. The Crispy Beef with Ginger Honey Sauce here is roughly equivalent to a night with GACKT or Carrie Ng (depending on your preference) and the gigantic sign outside proclaiming that “WE SERVE DIM SUM” isn’t just there for decoration.

Asian Legend (418 Dundas St. W.) is a lesser-known spot on Dundas, located close to the Art Gallery of Ontario and TIFF venue, Jackman Hall. This place specializes in Northern Chinese cuisine from the Shanghai region and is super authentic (chicken balls are nowhere on this menu). Super crispy, not greasy Peking Duck, delectable green onion pancakes rolled with beef...Oh god I’ve drooled all over my keyboard. What I love about this place, though, are its private rooms downstairs. Nowhere in this city can replicate the feeling of being a Chinese gangster quite like Asian Legend’s circular rooms that my friends and I have affectionately dubbed ‘the Jedi Council Chamber’. You get a huge table in this room that goes almost to the wall and rotates, Lazy Susan style, for optimal sharing. Perfect for you and your crew to plan your next hit.

So if you find yourself with a deadly case of the munchies tonight after The Butcher, The Chef, and The Swordsman, give one of these places a try!

The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman screens:

Thursday, Sept 16 11:59PM RYERSON
Friday, September 17 6:30PM AMC 6
Saturday September 18th 3:30PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 2

You can purchase tickets from the official TIFF website.

Insidious: Red Carpet and Partial Intro

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Get into the wuxia spirit for The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordsman with some fine fighting action. Above, The Deadly Breaking Sword with Ti Lung and Ku Feng. And below, the famous bamboo forest fight from King Hu's A Touch of Zen:

Jet Li takes down Donnie Yen in Hero:

Michelle Yeoh gives Zhang Ziyi what for in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon:

Zhao Wen Zhou in The Blade, Tsui Hark's Tsui Harkiest move:

And since Fire of Conscience is coming up, this fan video with kung fu, wuxia and guns:

The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordsman screening times:
Thursday, Sept. 16. 11:59pm Ryerson
Friday, Sept. 27. 6:30pm AMC 6
Saturday, Sept. 18. 3:30pm Scotiabank Theatre 2

Fire of Conscience screening times:
Saturday, Sept. 18. 11:59pm Ryerson
Sunday, Sept. 19. 3:00pm Scotiabank Theatre 11

Tickets are available for purchase at the official site.

RED NIGHTS: A Decadent Exploration of Pleasure & Pain

Red Nights is a special and unusual film. It’s beautifully shot, with an amazingly hypnotic soundtrack and compelling performances by its sexy femme fatale leading ladies.

However, it's a difficult film to peg down, making it the wild card of this year’s Midnight Madness line up.

When seeing the trailer, I wasn’t sure what I was in for, because there was nothing I had seen before that I could relate it to: vivid neon cityscapes, an air tight PVC body encasement, a glamourous woman plucking a bullet out of her shoulder with jade claws, striking images set to surreal music.

But how does it all come together?

It’s a ride movie. But unlike any ride movie. When you think about blockbuster films, you compare them to roller coasters. Insidious you could compare to a terrifying haunted house attraction.

Red Nights is something very different. It’s not a roller-coaster, it’s more like a pedal boat; floating through dark forbidden tunnels. Sometimes the water is still, other times, not. It feels like progressing through a guided dream, leading you down the lost hallways of the characters' repressed subconscious.

It never feels contrived or too precious with its symbolism. This is a film of complimentary contrasts: romantic yet perverse, sublime but harrowing, gorgeous and repulsive. It all melts together like the over-flowing fudge sundae you’re too modest to order. You know you want it, though!

Some would complain the narrative is a bit undefined, and it's tough to decide who the protagonist is until the very end. But that never bothered me -- because this film consistently chooses against expectation, making it highly enjoyable to those jaded by more conventional thrillers. If you dig, deeper meanings are there. Nothing happens by chance.

Now tie this together with one of the most surreal and maddening soundtracks in years, and you have a lush ride that invites you to dream with it.

When it all ended, I wanted to have that dream again.

Red Nights screening times:

Friday, Sept. 17. 2:15pm Scotiabank Theatre 2
Sunday, Sept. 19. 5:45 Scotiabank Theatre 11

You can purchase tickets from the official TIFF website.

John Carpenter's The Ward: Red Carpet & Intro

By now we all know that Mr. Carpenter was unable to attend the premiere of his film The Ward. However, we were still delighted to host MM alumnus Amber Heard (from All The Boys Love Mandy Lane) and newcomers Jared Harris, D.R. Anderson, Laura-Leigh, Danielle Panabaker, Lyndsy Fonseca and Mika Boorem.

We asked them about who they play in the film, what it was like working in an actual asylum and how they felt about working with Mr. Carpenter.

The Ward still screens:
Sunday, Sept. 19th at 12:15pm at Scotiabank 1

Machete Maidens Unleashed Intro & Q&A

I'm sure many of you think that if you miss a first screening then you miss all the fun. Here is some video from the SECOND screening of Mark Hartley's Machete Maidens Unleashed to prove you wrong. Some of you will remember Mark from when he was here a few years ago with the Australian Exploitation Doc Not Quite Hollywood. He is in the Real to Reel program this year. But don't let that scare you, Colin was the one who picked it and it is a rollicking good time!

Machete Maidens Unleashed screens:

Saturday, September 18, 12:30PM, AMC7

You can purchase tickets from the official TIFF website.


Is Midnight Madness winding down? Hell no!!

There might only be four films left in this year's Midnight Madness programme, and maybe there aren't going to be any more movie stars on the MM red carpet, but I think an argument could be made that the remaining four nights are among the most eagerly awaited films! They are for me, at least.

Tonight has an S&M murder tale from France and Hong Kong, written and directed by the writers of Running Out of Time with Red Nights.

Mainland China's first martial arts food comedy with The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman tomorrow night.

Friday night brings post-apocalyptic vampires with Stake Land.

And then finally, Saturday closes the programme out with a blast of explosive Hong Kong action with Dante "Beast Cops" Lam's Fire of Conscience.

Come on out!

@thesubstream ♥'s Midnight Madness #6 - INSIDIOUS

"It starts out as a haunted house movie, and then degenerates into something completely different!" -James Wan

Full coverage and reviews at www.thesubstream.com

Exploring Toronto’s Kinky Side Before RED NIGHTS!

If you plan on seeing tonight’s presentation of the dark, kinky thriller Red Nights, you may find yourself a little hot and bothered by Carrie Ng’s sensuous performance. When someone makes carving a dude up with jade fingernails look as good as Ng does, you can be forgiven for having a little action in the bikini area. To that end, here are a few of Toronto’s hottest spots for getting your kinky side out.

Black Eagle

The Black Eagle is the venue of choice for gay men in the leather community. It’s located right in the heart of the gay district (the Yonge/Wellesley area) and features decor that wouldn’t feel inappropriate for Jigsaw’s basement in Saw. There’s dungeon equipment, fetish-themed artwork, and a large patio for that post-panking smoke.


Goodhandy’s describes itself as ‘Toronto’s pansexual playground’. Hosting a wide variety of events for gay, straight, and mixed crowds, it can be safely said that if you have a kink that can’t be satisfied here, well, perhaps you should consider therapy. Goodhandy’s hosts transgirl parties and boy parties each week and hosts the Northbound Leather Fetish party each Saturday which may be one of Toronto’s largest weekly events of this size. All genders and orientations are welcome to dive into the smut.


Every fourth Saturday, Subspace throws their monthly fetish party in the heart of Kensington Market. Mandatory fetish attire means that your gimp mask and ball gag wouldn’t be out of place, and there’s a large dance floor and play area. Subspace’s marquee event happens on Halloween night, but there’s large events each year on a weekend in May that’s hosted in conjuction with London’s Torture Garden (the be-all and end-all for fetish parties). There’s also a dungeon space that’s available to rent for your next birthday party, anniversary, or office retreat.

Fetish Masquerade

Fetish Masquerade is a monthly event held usually on a Friday or Saturday and located on Queen West. It’s not always quite as large as the others mentioned, but like Subspace, fetish attire is mandatory and there are play areas throughout the club as well as a dancefloor.

Red Nights screening times:

Wednesday, Sept. 15. 11:59pm Ryerson
Friday, Sept. 17. 2:15pm Scotiabank Theatre 2
Sunday, Sept. 19. 5:45 Scotiabank Theatre 11

You can purchase tickets from the official TIFF website.