Festival Programmer Steven Landry's Top 3 Midnight Madness Picks

Today's Top 3 Midnight Madness Picks are from Toronto After Dark Film Fest programmer, Steven Landry. TAD just announced their first 10 titles, so go check out their site after reading Steven's picks!

When I think about that lovely synaptic buzz we call anticipation, it's not that I'm remembering my favourite meal, or looking forward to entering a pre-established world of characters I've grown to love over the course of a sequel or two. The greatest form of anticipation for me comes from the unknown. Think about that first time as a child you ventured out past the boundary of your neighbourhood, or that first date with someone you've been crushing on for awhile. You never forget your first time, they say, and that's because there's a level of excitement when something is brand new that doesn't compare to the return to a well worn experience. Show me something new!  

#1 - Hellbenders

It's the three-peat at Midnight Madness this year for writer/director JT Petty with Hellbenders, a raunchy exorcism horror comedy, shot in 3D, and staring The Kurgan himself, Clancy Brown. As far as anticipation goes, you had me at JT Petty, a filmmaker who's work is as varied as anyone working in genre today. Midnight Madness audiences first met JT with S&MAN, a "documentary" about extreme horror that delved into the reasons why we would want to watch such terrible things. Next up was the epic western / creature feature The Burrowers, a film that played with the conventions of the western, and showed its usual heroes to be the true monsters. Now with Hellbenders he switches gears again, and I can't wait to see his take on the horror / comedy. A consistently skilled filmmaker tackling different types of stories, Hellbenders may be my most anticipated film of this year's crop.

#2 - John Dies at the End

Based on the book I've passed along to a number of friends, it's hard for me not to be excited for Don Coscarelli's take on John Dies at the End. Imagine if Hunter S. Thompson and William Burroughs collaborated on the script for Ghostbusters, and naturally thought ghosts were pretty passe, so they added Shadow People, inter-dimensional drugs, Lovecraftian bug demons, and a creature made of various cuts of meat. Oh... and a floating dog. For a story that is completely out there, it's the droll sense of humour that won me over, and how despite the fact that you may be battling the minions of an ancient god in your spare time, you still have to make your shift at a shitty day job to pay your bills. Add Clancy Brown (yet again) and Paul Giamatti to the mix, and I can't wait to finally see this whacked out story of the big screen. 

#3 - Come Out and Play

Seemingly out of nowhere we get a remake of the Spanish film Who Can Kill a Child?, by a director who is literally unknown, as he uses a pseudonym and wears a mask on set. Now that's something to look forward to right there! The original 1976 film is quite notorious for obvious reasons, a young couple end up trapped on an island off the coast of Spain and have to fight for their lives, as all the children have gone mad and murdered all of the island's adult residents. Let's face it, everyone knows kids are creepy. Have you seen The Brood? I rest my case. I think though that the real horror comes from the question that's right there in the title... could you bring yourself to do the unspeakable in order to survive? I think the anticipation in this film comes from the audience wondering just how far it will go, given the premise, and how often we'll feel the need to squint our eyes and turn away from the screen. This is Midnight Madness after all, so the chances are good that this film will indeed go farther than we'll be comfortable with, and I think that's a good thing.

Steven Landry is tall, bald, and never had wisdom teeth. When he's not assisting programmers or trafficking film prints at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, he's programming films for the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, where he works from his kitchen as the entire Programming Administration and Print Traffic departments.

His mother says Gypsies left him as an infant on her doorstep. He regrets nothing. Not even his love of Akiva Schaffer's 2007 amateur stunt man opus, Hot Rod.

Screening times:

Sun., Sept. 9th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Tue., Sept. 11th, 7:00 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 7
Sat., Sept. 15th, 9:15 PM SCOTIABANK 2

John Dies at the End
Sat., Sept. 15th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Sun., Sept. 16th, 6:00 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 7

Come Out and Play
Thurs., Sept. 13th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Fri., Sept. 14th, 3:15 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 10
Sat., Sept. 15th, 6:45 PM SCOTIABANK 11

1 comment:

  1. Good choices, have a MM pass so will see all of them.