Amazing Del Toro Fright Nights Poster!

Check out the exclusive poster by the Rue Morgue graphics guys for the Del Toro Fright Nights series at Lightbox. The jaw-dropping 12×36 poster, screen-printed with metallic inks (!), will be available for purchase in the Official TIFF Bell Lightbox Store throughout the Fright Night event. Details on the film series below:

• In Conversation With... Guillermo del Toro - Thursday October 27, 2011 - 7:00 PM
• L'arcano incantatore - Introduced by Guillermo Del Toro - Thursday October 27, 2011-  9:30 PM
Black Sabbath - Friday October 28, 2011 - 6:30 PM
The Innocents - Saturday October 29, 2011- 8:00 PM
Cronos - Sunday October 30, 2011- 7:15 PM The Devil's Backbone - Sunday October 30, 2011 - 9:45 PM

Halloween Chills at Lightbox!

Do you have the shakes and shivers as you go through the withdrawal symptoms from the big screen shocks and chills that you get from Midnight Madness? Well, it looks like there are lots of Halloween themed movie hijinks going on in Toronto to help you get by!

In addition to the ongoing Toronto After Dark Film Fest (see The Divide by Midnight Madness alumni Xavier Gens who brought us Frontiers and also the award-winning Canadian horror/sci-fi mind twister, The Corridor) and Chris Alexander's Film School Confidential at The Revue, there are some special cinematic tricks and treats unspooling at TIFF Bell Lightbox including campy 3-D, axe-weidling maniacs, medieval beasts, gothic ghosts and an appearance by the Mexican Maestro of the Macabre, Guillermo Del Toro!

The Mask in 3-D - Wednesday October 26, 2011 - 8:30 PM
• In Conversation With... Guillermo del Toro - Thursday October 27, 2011 - 7:00 PM
• L'arcano incantatore - Introduced by Guillermo Del Toro - Thursday October 27, 2011-  9:30 PM
Black Sabbath - Friday October 28, 2011 - 6:30 PM
The Innocents - Saturday October 29, 2011- 8:00 PM
Jabberwocky - Saturday October 29, 2011 - 11:00 PM
Cronos - Sunday October 30, 2011- 7:15 PM
The Devil's Backbone - Sunday October 30, 2011 - 9:45 PM
My Bloody Valentine - Director George Mihalka in attendance - Monday October 31, 2011 - 6:30 PM

Read on for details!

Wednesday October 26, 2011 - 8:30 PM
The Mask in 3-D
Canada / 1961 / 81 minutes / 14A
Dir: Julian Roffman
Cast: Paul Stevens, Claudette Nevins, Bill Walker

In honour of UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, TIFF's Film Reference Library presents a rare print of Julian Roffman's shot-in-Toronto cult classic about a scientist driven to insanity and murder by an ancient tribal mask. Featuring bizarre, psychedelic dream sequences shot in 3-D, this deliriously campy Canadian horror film has not been screened by TIFF in more than twenty years. Sylvia Frank, Director of the Film Reference Library, will provide an introduction to the film and discuss its importance to Canadian film history and the challenges of preserving our national film heritage. [GET TICKETS]

Thursday October 27, 2011 - 7:00 PM
In Conversation With... Guillermo del Toro
After his memorable on-stage introduction to Toby Dammit and Suspiria during our Fellini double-bills programme this summer, the internationally celebrated fantasy filmmaker drops by again to kick off five nights of special Halloween programming at TIFF Bell Lightbox, presented in partnership with Rue Morgue Magazine.

On Thursday, October 27, del Toro and TIFF Bell Lightbox Artistic Director Noah Cowan share the stage for a lively conversation about the director's films past and future. Later that night, you can catch GDT again as he introduces the screening of the 1996 Italian chiller L'arcano incantatore (The Arcane Enchanter), which he recently named as one of his top twenty favourite horror films. [GET TICKETS]

Thursday October 27, 2011-  9:30 PM
L'arcano incantatore - Introduced by Guillermo Del Toro
Italy / 1996 / Italian with English Subtitles / 96 minutes
Dir. Pupi Avati
Cast: Carlo Cecchi, Stefano Dionisi, Arnaldo Ninchi

"Along with Paul Verhoeven's magnificent Flesh + Blood, L'arcano incantatore holds a unique place in my heart. Both are films that manage to minutely portray the era they take place in and the mindset of the characters that populate the tale. The shortcomings, longings, superstitions and desires of said characters may seem at times mundane, even repellent, but they allow the fantastic or the spiritual to become even more transcendental. Magic is more powerful in a prosaic context. . . . it is the director's eye for detail and pacing that makes us susceptible to the tenuous wonders at hand. Time runs slow for the characters[,] and the landscape surrounding them is vast, void and insurmountable. The film smells of sulfur and frankincense, of sin and redemption . . . rarely does a film evoke [a] true literary substance that reminds me of Sade, Seignolle or a conte cruel of Villiers de L'Isle-Adam."—Guillermo del Toro

Never released in America, Pupi Avati's gothic masterwork takes place in eighteenth-century Italy, where a seminary student flees to a remote castle after being accused of bewitching a young girl. Upon his arrival, he discovers he has been hired to serve a defrocked priest who is rumoured to dabble in the black arts, and his first assignment is to dispose of the body of the previous assistant. Fascination turns to obsession and terror as the student is drawn into a dangerous quest for forbidden knowledge. [GET TICKETS]

Friday October 28, 2011 - 6:30 PM
Black Sabbath
Italy / 1963 / Italian with English subtitles / 92 minutes
Dir. Mario Bava
Cast: Michèle Mercier, Lidia Alfonsi, Boris Karloff

Horror maestro Mario Bava's trilogy of terrifying tales (known as "The Three Faces of Fear" in its original Italian version) is "hosted" by the legendary Boris Karloff, who links the three episodes and stars in the best of them. In "The Telephone," a high-priced Parisian prostitute is terrorized by a series of threatening phone calls; in "The Drop of Water," a nurse steals a ring from the corpse of an elderly medium, and is soon assailed by the ominous sounds of dripping water and a buzzing fly. The Karloff segment, "The Wurdulak" (based on a story by Alexei Tolstoy) is one of Bava's finest achievements, a chilling tale set in nineteenth-century Russia about a rural family plunged into horror upon the sudden return of its missing patriarch (Karloff), who might have been transformed into a wurdulak, a vampire-like creature who feeds on the blood of the living. "The dexterity Bava exhibits across these quite distinct narratives is somewhat astounding, from the lurid colors and serpentine camera pans of his giallo-ish opener, to the palpable suspense and gothic beauty of his triumphant Karloff-headlined second story, to the EC Comics-style spookiness of his concluding entry, which features a corpse whose undead smile is unforgettable" (Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness). [GET TICKETS]

Saturday October 29, 2011- 8:00 PM
The Innocents
UK / 1961 / 100 minutes
Dir. Jack Clayton
Cast: Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins

Hired by a wealthy bachelor to act as governess for his niece and nephew, Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) joins the children at a secluded country estate, where she soon starts hearing strange voices and seeing mysterious figures. Describing these uncanny visions to the other servants, Miss Giddens is informed that they seem to resemble the children's former governess and their uncle's valet, who had both died a year previously—and whom, the servants hint, had been carrying on a sordid sexual affair. When the children begin behaving oddly, the young governess suspects that the lovers have taken possession of their bodies and determines to drive the spirits out—or do the demons actually dwell within her? Based on Henry James' novella The Turn of the Screw (and co-scripted by Truman Capote), Jack Clayton's masterful ghost story has been roundly acclaimed as one of the greatest psychological horror films of all time. "The most sophisticated scare show since Diabolique" (Time Magazine); "Clayton demonstrates an encyclopaedic understanding of the nature of supernaturally-charged fear . . . The Innocents is one of the most cinematically literate of all British horror films, and still packs a powerful punch four decades on" (Michael Brooke, BFI Screenonline). [GET TICKETS]

Saturday October 29, 2011 - 11:00 PM
UK / 1977 / 105 minutes / PG
Dir. Terry Gilliam
Cast: Michael Palin, Deborah Fallender, Max Wall, John Le Mesurier

Terry Gilliam's first solo directorial effort after sharing credit on Monty Python and the Holy Grail returned him to that film's picturesque vision of medieval mud, blood, gloom and fog. In the reign of good King Bruno the Questionable, bright-eyed proto-capitalist Dennis Cooper (Michael Palin) journeys from his home village to the capital city, which is being terrorized by a fearsome beast. Much ribaldry, fornication and defecation ensues, along with a cameo by Python alum Terry Jones as an unlucky poacher and some gleefully disgusting dismemberments that rival the fate of Holy Grail's stubborn Black Knight. "The most marvelously demented British comedy to come along since Monty Python and the Holy Grail . . . It's a monster film with heart, a movie romance with bite, a costume picture without zippers, and a comedy with more blood and gore than Sam Peckinpah would dare use to dramatize the decline and fall of the entire West" (Vincent Canby, The New York Times). [GET TICKETS]

Sunday October 30, 2011- 7:15 PM
Mexico / 1993 / Spanish with English subtitles / 94 minutes
Dir. Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Claudio Brook

When kindly, aged antique dealer Jesús (Federico Luppi) acquires a four-century-old statue, he discovers a clockwork-like mechanical device hidden in the base that affixes itself to his chest and injects him with a strange serum. He soon finds that the serum is curing his ailments and returning him to his youth-and also giving him an insatiable appetite for blood. Meanwhile, a rich, ruthless businessman, obsessively seeking the device in order to ward off his imminent death, sends his thuggish nephew (Ron Perlman) to recover it from Jesús, but the newly rejuvenated, now far less mild-mannered antiquarian is not willing to give up his gift/curse without a fight. Del Toro's stylish debut instantly established his international reputation when it played at Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival and marked him as one of the most visionary of contemporary horror directors. "For proof that the vampire film is resoundingly undead, consider [this] stylish and sophisticated Mexican variation on some age-old themes. . . . [Cronos'] reflective, even stately style elevates it from the ranks of ordinary stake-through-the-heart vampire dramaturgy, turning it into something much more exotic" (Janet Maslin, The New York Times). [GET TICKETS]

Sunday October 30, 2011 - 9:45 PM
The Devil's Backbone
Spain/Mexico / 2001 / Spanish with English subtitles / 107 minutes
Dir. Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Marisa Paredes, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi

When his father goes off to fight in the Spanish Civil War, young Carlos is sent to an orphanage plagued with ominous signs: an unexploded bomb lies lodged in the courtyard, the home's thuggish and tyrannical groundskeeper is engaged in a search for a cache of gold rumoured to be hidden on the property, and the phantasmal, pale-faced visage of a young boy keeps appearing, whispering portents of approaching doom. Cherished by del Toro as his most personal project and celebrated by both horror fans and mainstream reviewers, The Devil's Backbone brilliantly bridges the gap between genre cinema and the art house and paved the way for del Toro's even more successful Pan's Labyrinth. "A discomfiting mix of gothic thriller, boy's adventure story, and political allegory . . . an expert, sunlit chiller audaciously predicated on an unquiet historical memory" (J. Hoberman, The Village Voice); "[del Toro] finds real substance in shadows and whispers, in the terrors that reside at the back of the mind" (Peter Howell, The Toronto Star). [GET TICKETS]

Monday October 31, 2011 - 6:30 PM
Canada / 1981 / 90 minutes
Dir. George Mihalka
Cast: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck

Twenty years after a horrific Valentine's Day mining accident, the town of Valentine Bluffs is still haunted by the legend of insane miner Harry Warden, who threatened bloody retribution if the town ever celebrated the holiday again. When a group of young mineworkers and their girlfriends defy the curse and have a late-night party at the mine, a mysterious figure in gas mask and helmet starts wreaking some inventively gory havoc with a pickaxe. This gleefully disgusting slasher flick (from which the legendary, eponymous shoegaze band acquired their name) has attained cult status among horror fans and wears its Canadian credentials with pride, from the scenic Nova Scotia locations to the presence of Can-con queen Cynthia Dale to prominent cameos by Moosehead Beer. (And make sure to stick around for the closing credits, which are accompanied by the most unspecific theme song in cinema history.)

Director George Mihalka will be in attendance to discuss the film's heavy censoring at the time of release, and will then present the deleted scenes in all their gory glory. [GET TICKETS]

This event screens as part of Canadian Open Vault.


An unlikely Midnight Madness fan!

While there were rumours of sightings of financial guru and star of CBC's Dragons' Den at some of the screenings at the Ryerson, the truth has come out in The Grid's interview with Kevin O'Leary:
I noticed on your Twitter account that you took part in TIFF festivities in Toronto. I thought highly successful people didn’t have time for stuff like movies.
I’m a fan of the Midnight Madness program—gore, vampires… it’s crazy stuff and I love it. I’ve been a patron of TIFF for a long time.
Any other surprise fans of Midnight Madness out there?

edit- MM Blogger Sanjay just sent me this slice of Twitter proof:


The Red Carpet Interviews for THE DAY

The Midnight Madness Red Carpet was rocking Thursday Sept. 16th when Doug Aarniokoski's post-apocalyptic film The Day had it's world premiere. I had the opportunity to speak with actors, Dominic Monaghan, Michael Eklund and Ashley Bell as well as director Douglas Aarniokoski and producer Guy Danella. Here is the video:


The Kindness of Strangers--A Heartwarming Tale

While the Midnight Madness crew is usually more interested in chilling you to the bone or scaring you into unconsciousness, sometimes we come across a nice little story that reminds us that our audience is the best in the world and it warms the cockles of our long-dormant hearts.  Over on Reddit, a user named 'Etheo' has such a story and wanted to pass on a little good Karma to the TIFF volunteer that helped him into the Midnight Madness screening of Smuggler:

Here be the story to celebrate a man who was almost our hero that fateful day, but we will remain forever grateful for your action. For those of you who don't care, please do not waste your time reading this and move on with your life.

So last week during the last week of TIFF event... my girlfriend and I went down to see Smuggler at the midnight launch event. We bought these groupon coupons that are essentially 2for1 ticket, and didn't know that we had to redeem these coupons prior to seeing the film. It sucked, but we sucked it up and lined up at the rush line to see if we could get in.
After 1.5 hours of lining up, while I went to retrieve my car to park closer to the theater, my girlfriend had a rude awakening from the staff at the line and was told that our coupons would not be redeemable at the rush line as well. It was rather unimpressive to know we had lined up for so long for nothing.
Fortunately, behind her, you stood out as a shining statue of human being in the form of a Jamaican friend (which I could only assume due to the strap he was wearing). You casually gave her a voucher that was given to TIFF volunteers only, letting her know that your friends ditched you and you have no use for the voucher. My girlfriend was taken aback at your gracious offer, and hesitantly let you know that I was also in line so the voucher would be useless to her. You, being the amazing altruist that you are, casually gave her another voucher in strides.
When I returned to the line she let me know of the situation, and I believe we humbly thanked you (at least I hope we did--we're too reserved to know how to handle these situations and thank people properly). Since we had no cash with us on our persons, we offered you coffee, tea or food from Starbucks as it was the only currency we had. We were sadden that you did not take our offer as you don't like coffee and weren't hungry. There was not much else we could have offered. We stood in line awkwardly as I thought of every possible way to make it up to you for your kindness.
When we were able to get into the theater, we tried to use our coupon at the ticket booth, and fortunately they had accepted the coupons in exchange for the admission tickets. I had to survey through the entire theater, but I was successful in finding you and returning the vouchers to you. You, again, casually took the vouchers and thanked us. And then we parted ways and proceeded to wait another hour for the movie to begin.
So thank you, random TIFF volunteer, for your kind acts towards 2 total strangers at the rush line. Your friends were asses to ditch you for the movies. You're the man.
TL;DR GF and I went to line up for TIFF, after waiting for hours we were almost told to leave the line but a random TIFF volunteer behind us gave us free vouchers for the movie. We end up didn't use the vouchers and returned, but he was a pretty nice guy.
Just wanted to let people of Toronto know that chivalry and human kindness are not dead, and there are pretty awesome people in Toronto too, not just jerks.
Edit : Smuggler was awesome. Can't hide the smell of fear.

Edit2 : Also I witnessed a few people in TIFF giving up their tickets to people waiting in the rushline as well--some were selling, but some were giving. You guys made TIFF pretty cool.

So next time you luck your way into an extra ticket and think about selling it, why not brighten someone's day by helping them out? You might just find yourself immortalized here on the Midnight Madness blog, with all the parted velvet ropes and champagne bubble baths it affords.

And now back to your regular hammer-shots to the face and head.


Another Midnight Madness Junkie

Over at Movies.com, Christopher Campbell writes of becoming a Midnight Madness junkie, i.e., "one of us":
The Midnight Madness section of the Toronto International Film Festival has a certain reputation among fans of midnight movies (or “genre films,” or whatever else you call them -- cultish horror and foreign actioners mostly). Basically, it’s considered one of the finest film festival programs of its kind in the world.

Heading into my first experience of TIFF, that reputation meant very little to me, as I’m not exactly of that particular audience. So for me to now wholeheartedly affirm that it is one of the finest film festival programs I’ve ever encountered, and not just of its kind, this should not only preserve the deserved reputation it holds but also hopefully encourage other typical midnight-forgoers to sever the ‘for’ prefix (remove that head like it’s a zombie) and just go.
 Read more here. And next year, if you haven't been to Midnight Madness, just sever that zombie head prefix!


The MCP Interviews Bobcat Goldthwait, Eduardo Sanchez, Julian Maury and Alexandre Bustillo

Listen in as Hitfix's MCP podcast interviews the fine Midnight Madness filmmakers Bobcat Goldthwait (God Bless America), Eduardo Sanchez (Lovely Molly), Julian Maury and Alexandre Bustillo (Livid).

As Drew McWeeny writes:

[W]e've got a preposterous amount of material to share with you, and I decided to have Scott help me introduce four separate interviews I conducted over the course of the Toronto International Film Festival that just wrapped up.

One of the reasons I'm grateful for the Midnight Madness programming at the festival is because it would be easy to get worn down by the serious fare that the festival offers all day long, and Midnight Madness is always full of the most delightful lunatics.  Where else are you going to see crazy Indonesian action, a dark killing spree comedy, creepy possession horror, and bizarre dark French fairy tales all in the same line-up?
 Stream a preposterous amount of Midnight Madness through your earholes, here.


Interviews with Eduardo Sanchez and the cast of LOVELY MOLLY

Having met and talked to director Eduardo Sanchez I can say he is a man who clearly has a passion for telling stories and a genuine love for the horror genre. Here is my interview with him at the red carpet of his world premiere for Lovely Molly:

One of the standout elements of Lovely Molly is definitely the cast lead by Gretchen Lodge in her very first role in a feature film. Her performance is a very brave and compelling portrait of a woman in the midst of horrors both very much real and not so clearly explained. Johnny Lewis and Alexandra Holden also create very strong portraits of people desperately trying to help a loved one. I had the opportunity to talk with the cast mere moments before the film screen at Midnight Madness.


Eduardo Sanchez one of the co-directors of The Blair Witch Project has him returning to his first person storytelling roots in his latest film Lovely Molly with the angle of a woman suffering through a possession records her struggle.

Here is the Introduction and Q&A from the world premiere of Lovely Molly:


@thesubstream - Midnight Madness '11 Ep. 10: Kill List!

Matt Price of MAMO asks Colin Geddes for his thoughts on this year's very different, very satisfying slate of films. Plus, the gang sees Ben Wheatley's Kill List, which you will either love or hate, as it turns out. We're sad to see you go, TIFF Midnight Madness 2011, but thesubstream.com salutes you - thanks for all the fun!

Red Carpet Interviews for SLEEPLESS NIGHT

Here are Robert Mitchell's interviews with director Frederic Jardin and actor Tomer Sisley at the world premiere of Sleepless Night.

Cadillac People's Choice Midnight Madness Award Announced

The people have spoken and this year's winner of the Cadillac People's Choice Midnight Madness Award is Gareth Evans' The Raid! Congratulations to Gareth, Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Maya Barack-Evans and the producers, cast and crew of The Raid!

First runner-up is Adam Wingard's You're Next! Congratulations to Adam, Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Simon Barrett and the producers, cast and crew.

Second runner-up is Bobcat Goldthwait's God Bless America! Congratulations to Bobcat, Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr and the producers, cast and crew.

And thanks to everyone who marked a ballot for the Cadillac People's Choice Award for Midnight Madness.


Bobcat Goldthwait's Impromptu Midnight Madness Set

MM Blogger Robert Mitchell recorded Bobcat Goldthwait's impromptu stand up set last night. Bobcat saved the night and entertained the audience while the technical difficulties with Smuggler were fixed.

Smuggler screening times:
Sun., Sept. 18th, 12:00PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4

KILL LIST: A Gallery of Hitmen

Hitman movies are one of my favorite genres. I like the moral tension, the conflict between being a part and being apart, the slick suits. So while we wait for the genre-bending  Kill List, tonight, here's a little list of cinematic gentleman who live off of blood money. Feel free to share some of your favorites.

Citta Violenta / Violent City / The Family (1970) Charles Bronson plays, Jeff Heston, a double-crossed hitman out for revenge. Jill Ireland plays a pretty woman in the clutches of the evil and salacious gangster played by Telly Savalas, with all the leering salaciousness he can muster. There's a fantastic score by Ennio Morricone. (It serves as my wake up alarm in the morning). And I enjoy how the movie conveys a more European sense of the distance between New Orleans, Louisiana and Michigan.

In The Mechanic (1972), well-established Charles' Bronson's professional hitman takes a young upstart--and even full-on whippersnapper,  (played by a cocky as hell Jan Michael Vincent) as his protege. It's not really a good idea, but it does make for an excellent twist ending.

Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon (1977) is a live-action version of Takao Saito's hardboiled manga series. JJ Sonny Chiba plays Duke Togo, a hitman hired by the United States government to eliminate a Hong Kong triad boss. Fans of Etsuko Shiomi/Sue Shiomi will be glad to see her do a little fighting in this film. Features the kind of violence you'd expect from a 1970s Chiba film blended with the coolness of 1970s Hong Kong.

Ostensibly the story of Jeff, a hitman played by Chow Yun-Fat, who's attempting to right a wrong and find a new life with the young nightclub singer he's blinded, played by Sally Yeh, The Killer (1989) is just as easily described as a love story between a noble hitman and a sort of corrupt cop (Danny Lee) who each cross the same moral line. There is, however, a helluva lot of shooting, fashionable suits and style to burn. And I'm sure it's just an accident that the hitman here is named Jeff and is double-crossed by a gangster boss a la The Mechanic.

In Leon: The Professional / The Professional (1994), Jean Reno plays an hitman ("Leon") who takes in a stray girl after her parents are killed. The is one of Natalie Portman's earliest roles, and she does a great job as a girl who desperately tries to convince a hired killer to take revenge.

Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) is a comedy. John Cusack plays Martin Blank, a man who not only has an incredibly Hal Hartley name, but also believes he is conflicted about his life choices. He's forced a therapist (played by Alan Arkin) into seeing him and decides he needs to go to his high school reunion, conveniently located near a job his been hired to do. Blanks' interactions with his therapist are revealing in just how frightening a professional hitman would be in real life. Also, for fight fans, Benny "The Jet" Urquidez does some kicking.

Ghost Dog:  The Way of the Samurai (1999) is a Jim Jarmusch movie. It is very quiet, contemplative and conversational as a hitman movie. That is, it is not action-packed (though it is compared to Broken Flowers). Forrest Whitaker plays Ghost Dog, a hitman who's been trying to understand his profession through the 18th Century manual of bushido, The Hidden Leaves / Hagakure. Unfortunately, its precepts of service, duty and honor get Ghost Dog in trouble with the Mafia.

KILL LIST screening times:
Sat., Sept. 17th, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Sun., Sept. 18th, 3:15PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4

@thesubstream - Midnight Madness Review - SMUGGLER

A mea culpa, to start: me trying in earnest to apply any kind of critical analysis to Katsuhito Ishii's manga adaptation Smuggler would be like me trying to review the national epic of a country I've never heard of. It comes from a filmic/manga comic place that I know next to nothing about, so I'll just get to summarizing the plot.

Kinuta (Satoshi Tsumabuki) is a mild mannered failed actor turned "slacker", who unwittingly finds himself indebted to a gang of goofy Chinese gangsters. To pay it off, he's told to work with Joe (Masatoshi Nagase), the surly leader of a gang of body disposers. After they dispose of a body of a yakuza killed by the supernaturally-gifted "ultra assassin" Vertebrae, Kinuta, Joe and the Yakuza's widow find themselves in the middle of an alternately goofy and horrifyingly bloody gang war.

The joy in the film, for me and I'm going to assume many Western viewers is in watching the effects-laden ass whippings that Vertebrae hands out. He's scarred and tattooed and borderline psychotic, and he's a whiz with a pair of beaten up nunchuks, and Ishii fills his to be honest kind of disturbing fight scenes with more than a helping of pretty broad slapstick humour.

It's pure hubris that lets me think I can you a good movie from a bad one in the first place, but even I am in major balk-mode trying to decide if Smuggler is worth recommending. It's in more than one language I don't understand: Japanese, Mandarin and the completely all-over-the-place tonal language of manga movies. It pairs saccharine-sweet moments of golly-gee-whizzery with some of the most brutally sadistic torture scenes I've ever seen, and it's utterly baffling in a way that renders it simultaneously super enjoyable and kind of tiresome, to my foreign eyes. It's a mash-up that from moment-to-moment seeks to dazzle, to entertain, broadly, to gross you out, to engage you and to repulse you straight out of the movie-watching experience. It works, a lot of the time, insofar as it does all of those things, but is that rollercoaster experience by design or by dint of my being, well, kind of ignorant? Who knows. The good parts are great, and the bad parts are… different, and that's the smartest thing I can say. Sorry.

If Ya Smelllll.....What THE DAY Is Cookin'!

Good news for fans of The Day and also for those who didn't get to see it when it screened at Midnight Madness or any of the subsequent screenings! It seems that WWE Films (yes, you read that right) has acquired the distribution rights to the post-apocalyptic siege movie.  Dread Central has the full report.

Now, WWE Films doesn't exactly have the strongest track record for its properties, which, up until this acquisition, have all featured professional wrestlers like Triple H, Kane, John Cena, and Stone Cold Steve Austin in prominent roles.  Here's hoping that The Day marks a turnaround for the distribution arm of the most successful sports-entertainment company on the planet and that Vince McMahon won't be digitally adding The Big Show into the background (please, please do me a personal favour and never watch Knucklehead).

The last screening of The Day is TONIGHT!
Saturday September 18  9:45pm Scotiabank Theatre

@thesubstream - Midnight Madness '11 Ep. 09: Smuggler!

Last night's TIFF 2011 Midnight Madness screening of Katsuhito Ishii's Smuggler (a film that guest host Matt Brown of MAMO knew absolutely nothing about) was delayed by an hour due to an unspecified technical glitch! Thankfully, Bobcat Goldthwait, humanitarian and all-round decent human being volunteered to keep the crowds entertained with 15 solid minutes of his hilarious stand-up routine. And Smuggler? It's all over the place, man. thesubstream.com's Midnight Madness coverage continues! ONLY ONE MORE NIGHT - Can you believe it???

Bobcat Goldthwait Saves Midnight Madness

Thanks, Bobcat!

As Ben Kenigsberg reports at Timeout Chicago, last night there were some "technical difficulties" at the MM screening of Smuggler. "Technical difficulties" is an industry euphemism for fun-hating ninjas. I'm as surprised as anyone that (some) ninjas hate fun.

Fun hater?

But God Bless America director Bobcat Goldthwait saved the night when he took the stage for some impromptu stand-up. We hope to have some footage up later, including, ideally, close-ups of Colin Geddes leading MM bloggers, TIFF volunteers and fans against the ferocious fun-hating ninjas arrayed against them, seizing back the Smuggler film cans for the enjoyment of all.

Unidentified fan defends fun.

Smuggler screening times:
Sat., Sept. 17th, 6:45PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4
Sun., Sept. 18th, 12:00PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4

KILL LIST Screens at Midnight Madness!

Kill List plays Midnight Madness tonight!. What seems like a straight up genre piece becomes something else entirely in this movie about a hitman who accepts a job from some shadowy clients.

Kill List is directed by Ben Wheatley (Down Terrace) and stars Neil Maskell, MyAnna Buring, Harry Simpson and Michael Smiley.

KILL LIST screening times:
Sat., Sept. 17th, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Sun., Sept. 18th, 3:15PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4


Ando Vs. Ando


Spoiler level: Mild (knowledge based on trailer  of Smuggler and the film Battle Royale (not the book or manga, which is supposed to be amazing, but I am scared it will ruin my love for the film) )

Japanese star Masanobu Ando's new movie will be screening tonight (Friday, September 16th, midnight!)  In Smuggler he plays dangerous cargo - as an assassin who is being transported by the main character.  Ando is no stranger to deadly roles, having already been in Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django, and Fukasaku Kinji's Battle Royale.

In an entirely imagined celebrity death match with himself, I present to you:


Movie:  Battle Royale
That's right.
Character:  Kazuo Kiriyama

Profile:  During the BR act, kids from all over Japan were forced to kill each other, largely against their own will as a way of punishing Japan's out of control youth. However, Kiriyama was so bad ass, that after already improbably surviving a round of the murderously psychotic game, he willingly gave up his hard won freedom and transfered back to a brand new game, just so he could keep smoking people, because it was so much fun.

Weapons of choice:  Moves up from fan, to sub-machine gun  and butterfly knife (skipping over frying pan), to mega phone (so you can hear the death rattles of his victims), to GPS tracking device (no where to hide!)

Weakness:  Explosive collar on throat, tied to game rules. Eyeballs later melt, ruining his chances of appearing in a non time-machine related sequel.

Last Seen:  In the hearts of cosplayers and BR fans everywhere! By the way, this is my most watched favorite movie. I can watch BR back to back to back.

Eyes:  Like staring into the Abyss.

Hair:  Spiky, Peroxide wash, likely used Japanese equivalent of bed head products.

Distinguishing features:  That glazed-over, disconnected look in his eyes that would chill Micheal Myers.

Theme music:  hellsya -- start it at 2:11 if you want to get an instant visual of him walking through writhing bodies and smoldering corpses.

**** VS ****

Movie:  Smuggler

Say that one more time.
Character:  Sebone

Eyes:  Looks pretty pissed off!

Hair: Appears to be more heavily bleached - scalp singingly so!

Weapon of Choice:  Nunchaku! Finally the most badass weapon has returned to the action movie!

Distinguishing Features:  Dark ink spine segments tattooed over his own spine. I hear that it hurts a lot on the bone. Also, that maze of scars tells the violence of a 100 movies!

Fun fact:  His name, "Sebone" - means spine in Japanese.

Weakness:  TBD

Last Seen:  TBD

Profile:  TBD

Theme music:  God, I hope so.

So who's the winner? You guys! As much as I love Kiriyama, Ando looks to have incarnated an entirely new monster in Sebone, cementing his legacy as iconic over the top characters in Japanese genre films.  Here's to hoping someone miraculously awesome will plug my breakdowns into a computer and make a video game of all of this, and also make a solid side-scrolling beat'em up for The Raid. 

Check out Smuggler:

Fri. Sept. 16th 11:59pm, RYERSON
Sat. Sept. 17th 6:45pm, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4
Sun. Sept. 18th, 12:00pm, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4

Movies.com Reviews LOVELY MOLLY

Christopher Campbell at Movies.com reviews Eduardo Sanchez' Lovely Molly, writing that "it comes off as a kind of psychical whodunit."

Read Campbell's review here

Lovely Molly screens one more time:
Sat., Sept. 17th, 4:00PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4

Retrospective of WTF Cinema at Midnight Madness

There's a TIFF programmer in those pyjamas.

Colin has said that this year Midnight Madness is about discovery, but as a (relatively) long time Midnight Madness acolyte, this year feels more like a return to Midnight Madness roots. In the last few years, MM has been associated with cutting edge horror, and while that's true, there's also a long tradition of action, rock'n'roll, documentary, comedy and films that make an audience go, "WTF?"

Smuggler follows in a long line of insanely awesome Japanese movies at MM. Fellow Japanese filmmakers who have shown repeatedly at Midnight Madness include: MM All-Star, Takashi Miike with Fudoh: The New Generation (1997), The City of Lost Souls (2000), Ichi The Killer (2001), Gozu (2003), Zebraman (2004) The Great Yokai War (2005), Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)); Shinya Tsukamoto with Tetsuo/Iron Man/ Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1990), Tetsuo 2 /Tetsuo: The Bodyhammer (1992), and Tokyo Fist (1995); and, most recently,  Hitoshi Matsumoto with Dainipponjin/Big Man Japan (2007) and Symbol (2009).

But less well-known filmmakers like Tetsuro Takeuchi  amazed the Uptown with his "rock'n'roll JET movie," Wild Zero (2000):

And in 1998 Lance Mungia envisioned a future in which the King is dead. (Though MM acolytes know that the King is in a nursing home in Nacogdoches, Texas):

There's also Jung Jun-Hwan's almost uncategorizable  Save the Green Planet (2003)--a brutal sci fi "torture porn" romantic comedy with action elements?

And the animated wonder of Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar's A Town Called Panic (2009)

But for me, the quintessential WTF Midnight Madness movie will always be Pornchai Hongrattanaporn's Bangkok Loco (2005) about a drummer who might or might not have committed murder and can save the world through a drum duel. It features a bunch of Thai visual puns that are probably hilarious if you understand Thai.

SMUGGLER screening times:
Fri., Sept 16th, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Sat., Sept. 17th, 6:45PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4
Sun., Sept. 18th, 12:00PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4



Here is the Introduction and Q&A for Sleepless Night with action star Tomer Sisley and director Frederic Jardin.

Sleepless Night screens one final time. Tonight!

Friday, Sept. 16th 9:45pm Scotiabank Theatre 11

Red Carpet Interview THE INCIDENT with Director Alexandre Courtes

The Incident had its world premiere Monday September 12th, 2011. I was on the red carpet to talk with director Alexandre Courtes about his feature film debut. Here is the video:

The Incident screens two more times:

Friday, Sept. 16th 3:15 pm Scotiabank Theatre 3
Sunday, Sept 18th 9:45 pm Scotiabank Theatre 2

SMUGGLER Premieres Tonight!

Tonight's the premiere of Smuggler, the latest film from Midnight Madness favorite, Katsuhito Ishii, whose previous films include Funky Forest; Party 7; Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl; and the animated segment in Kill Bill vol. 1.

The film also features Midnight Madness alumnus, Masanobu Ando, who played the vengeful thief in Wuershan's  The Butcher, The Chef and the Swordsman (2009) and Yoichi (Nasu no Yoichi) in Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django (2007). Both Midnight Madness selections. Ando also played Detective Wakamiya in Shinya Tsukamoto's Nightmare Detective (2007) and Kazuo Kiriyama in Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale (2000).

SMUGGLER screening times:
Fri., Sept 16th, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Sat., Sept. 17th, 6:45PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4
Sun., Sept. 18th, 12:00PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4

@thesubstream - Midnight Madness '11 Ep. 08: The Day!

What would you do if the apocalypse came tomorrow? Do you have your machete ready? We asked this question of some die-hard Midnight Madness fans in line for last night's screening of The Day, a dreary post-apocalyptic yarn starring Dominic Monaghan, Shawn Ashmore and Ashley Bell. It was the first real red-carpet affair of this year's Midnight Madness program which got Rajo pretty excited, let me tell you. Or, hell - why not just watch for yourself? thesubstream.com's coverage of TIFF 2011 Midnight Madness continues!

@thesubstream - Midnight Madness Review - SLEEPLESS NIGHT

Capping off a three-night run of French films at this year's Midnight Madness was Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche), director Frédéric Jardin's frenetic, occasionally frantic story of a bad cop making good in a packed, pulsing mob-rub nightclub.

Tomer Sisley (Largo Winch) plays Vincent, who along with a partner violently and murderously intercepts a shipment of cocaine on the streets of Paris. It's revealed that the two are in fact cops, and that Vincent was recognized during the heist after his mask was torn off. Vincent's son is kidnapped by the vicious Corsican mobster Jose (Serge Riaboukine) who demands that Vincent return the shipment of drugs to him at his club if he's ever - dun dun dunnnn - to see his son alive again.

Vincent has a plan that's immediately (without him knowing) upended by the arrival of more cops, and once everything starts to go sideways, Vincent is off and running through the club, constantly improvising, crawling through ducts and back stairwells.

It's in his geographic wandering, and in the film's deft handling of a bumper crop of plot details - such and such cellphone, such and such bag, such and such pissed off Turkish dude - that Sleepless Night shines. The club itself is a marvel of stitched-together set pieces, with action ranging from a packed dancefloor, up jammed stairs into an industrial kitchen, back-room casino, posh restaurant and the narrow passages that connect them all, as cat chases mouse and mouse turns around and chases right back.

What action there is in the film is spectacular, in particular a brutal piece of realist fight choreography that has two middle-aged dudes huffing and puffing and throwing colanders at each other in a kitchen full of gawping cooks, but the real pleasure is watching how tightly the film controls its complex plot.

The character of Vincent is less-well handled. Vincent's transformation into a hero and a father is crippled by his - and the film's itself - hilariously poor, almost sociopathic treatment of the four women in it. It'd make great fodder for a film school paper on action movie gender relations, and it's legitimately off-putting enough that it took me out of the action, an unfortunate thing as much of the rest of the film runs like a watch.

Midnight Madness' Colin Geddes Interviewed by Blogtastic Voyage!

The good folks over at Blogtastic Voyage talked with our own Midnight Maddened leader, Colin Geddes about the Midnight Madness programme this year.

Colin mentions the 3 films he recommends "if you're in it for the blood and violence" as well as the movies he found funniest this year. And they discuss Kill List, which premieres Saturday night.

Kill List is by a British filmmaker Ken Wheatly, who did the very dry, darkly comic gangster film Down Terrace. How would you compare Kill List to it?

It's a lot like Down Terrace; he really has a knack for capturing these kitchen sink-style dramas. At times you feel like you're watching a documentary because he has a very loose, easy feel with his actors. But then he gets dark and bloody. The audience is not going to know where they are when they walk out of the theatre. It's really, really grim and it gets uncomfortably violent.
Read more, here.

Kill List screening times:
Sat., Sept. 17th, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Sun., Sept. 18th, 3:15PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4

There are also still screenings of many of the films they discuss in the article including: God Bless America, You're Next, The Incident, Sleepless Night, Lovely Molly, The Day, and Smuggler


THE DAY Premieres at Midnight Madness Tonight!


Tonight is the world premiere of Douglas Aarniokoski's The Day, shot in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Ottawa!

THE DAY screening times:
Thurs., Sept. 15th, 11:59PM, RYERSON
Fri., Sept. 16th, 3:00PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 2
Sat., Sept. 17th, 9:45PM, SCOTIABANK THEATRE 11

@thesubstream - Midnight Madness '11 Ep. 07: Lovely Molly!

Tonight's Midnight Madness film Lovely Molly is directed by one half of the team responsible for The Blair Witch Project. Maybe you've heard of it... it's one of the most groundbreaking horror films ever made and with regards to the collective output over this past decade: one of the most influential. Where were you when you first saw it? Tonight's guest-host Kurt Halfyard asks this question to die-hard fans, including Producer Robin Cowie who kindly helps Kurt ward off any evil spirits. thesubstream.com's coverage of TIFF 2011 Midnight Madness continues!

The Intro/Q&A for THE INCIDENT

The Incident marks the directorial debut of French director Alexandre Courtes. He previously has directed numerous music videos for bands such as U2 and The White Stripes. The Incident also takes its place in Midnight Madness history as having two people faint from the horrific images that played out before them..

Here is the Introduction and Q&A from the world premiere of The Incident:

The Incident screens two more times:

Friday, Sept. 16th 3:15 pm Scotiabank Theatre 3
Sunday, Sept 18th 9:45 pm Scotiabank Theatre 2


Pics from Monday's Screening of THE INCIDENT!

Two people passed out and many more were shocked into submission at the premiere of Alexandre Cortes' debut feature, The Incident. The hardest-working shutterbug in the business, Ian Goring, was there to document the whole evening, in all its crazed, finger-amputating glory!

Funny story: The idea for The Incident - escaped mental patients - was inspired by this very photo!
If you'd like to see a higher-res version of this picture, check the Wikipedia entry for "BADASS"
Robert Mitchell interviews Alexandre Courtes as the paparazzi documents every minute. Every *sexy* minute.
Funny, no one ever passes out while watching a White Stripes music video...
Courtes hitches a ride in the ambulance to get back to his hotel at the end of the night.
The Incident screens:

Friday September 16 Scotiabank Theatre 3 3:15pm
Sunday September 18 Scotiabank Theatre 2 9:45pm