Monthly Archives: November 2014

November 28-30 in Toronto: Blood in the Snow Canadian Horror Film Festival

Dead in the Snow Canadian Horror Film Festival (2014)

Dead in the Snow Canadian Horror Film Festival 2014

If you’re looking for things to do in Toronto this weekend and want to check out some new Canadian horror films, head downtown to the Carlton Cinema (20 Carlton Street, Toronto, Ontario) where they’re hosting the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival. With 9 feature films and 15 short films showing over three days, you just might find some hidden gems!

There will also be 10 horror-related vendors, including one by Fangoria Magazine, opening- and closing-night parties, and a seminar titled “Surviving the festival and distribution world.”

Maybe I’ll see you there!

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Making Dreams a Reality: Realism in ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ (Part 2)

Horror films need enough realism to convince the audience that the threats, and the people threatened, are real. This becomes more, not less, important when the film’s villain is a dream-stalking demon and nth-degree burn victim who has, instead of fingernails, small scythes that cut through dreams and into reality.

In our last entry, the team behind the original A Nightmare on Elm Street discussed the camera and special effects techniques they used to make a smooth transition between the film’s dream world and its real world. But technical approaches in and of themselves aren’t enough to establish a sense of realism; it also has to come from the characters.

Choosing the characters

So as a writer, why did director Wes Craven choose to focus on a co-ed group of teenagers?

Continue reading

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Making Dreams a Reality: Realism in ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ (Part 1)

I know what you’re thinking. “Realism in A Nightmare on Elm Street? He must be crazy!” Well, maybe I am, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

It probably seems contradictory to talk about realism in a film about a villain that only exists in dreams but can kill people in real life especially when so many other horror films deal with threats that are more grounded in reality. Continue reading

The Shining

‘The Shining’: An Illuminating Commentary on Stanley Kubrick’s Horror Classic (Part 2)

In Part 1 of our write-up on the DVD commentary on Stanley Kubrick‘s horror film The Shining, we heard from Steadicam inventor/operator Garrett Brown and film historian John Baxter about Kubrick’s general approach to Stephen King‘s source novel, and the motivation behind his shot composition in The Shining. Brown starts off the second half of the commentary with some filmmaking tips that might be useful to low-/no-budget filmmakers working today. Continue reading

The Shining

‘The Shining’: An Illuminating Commentary on Stanley Kubrick’s Horror Classic (Part 1)

(Spoiler alert! Although I doubt people would read a review of the commentary before seeing the movie itself, but just in case….)

A shining example of just how good horror films can be, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) is as effective and horrifying as my puns. Loosely based on Stephen King’s book of the same name – and we’re talking hula-hoop-on-a-stickman loose – The Shining focuses on a family of three that spends the winter isolated in the massive Overlook Hotel deep in the Colorado mountains after Jack (Jack Nicholson), husband to Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and father to Danny (Danny Lloyd), takes a job as the off-season caretaker. Except they’re not alone. Not really. The Overlook, a presence in itself, is overbooked with malevolent ghosts that would be only too happy to find a room for the family. Continue reading

Jeepers Creepers

Horror through ‘Jeepers Creepers’ Director Victor Salva’s Peepers (Part 2)

(Spoiler alert! Although I doubt people would read a review of the commentary before seeing the movie itself, but just in case….)

Last time we heard about some of the challenges writer/director Victor Salva‘s experienced while making the horror film Jeepers Creepers and his decision to stick to his guns rather than bow to outside pressure. That’s not meant to suggest, however, that he feels writers and filmmakers should tune out everyone’s suggestions all the time.

Knowing when to say ‘yes’

Salva thinks it’s important for directors to have someone they trust to tell them when something is working, and when something isn’t. Surrounding yourself with people who only say ‘yes’ can result in a weaker film (00:44:30).

That said, Salva received some advice that he did choose to follow. For example, Continue reading

Jeepers Creepers

Horror through ‘Jeepers Creepers’ Director Victor Salva’s Peepers (Part 1)

(Spoiler alert! Although I doubt people would read a review of the commentary before seeing the movie itself, but just in case….)

Jeepers Creepers was given an unassuming release in 2001, but much like the 1938 song written by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer from which it takes its title, it had a lingering affect on audiences. Teens and twenty-somethings who saw it expecting some cheap thrills were unprepared for this tense, original and fairly smart horror film.

On his commentary track, writer/director Victor Salva gives due credit to actors Gina Philips (Trish) and Justin Long (Darry) for elevating the material through their strong performances and chemistry. The material itself, however, is stronger than you might expect, and credit for its conception and execution must go to Salva.

Knowing when to say ‘no’

This is especially true in light of Salva’s resistance to the pressure that was put on him to change certain aspects of the film. Continue reading