Event Report: Festival of Fear 2007! - Dread Central
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Event Report: Festival of Fear 2007!




Festival of Fear 2007 coverage!There used to be a time when Canada didn’t really have a horror convention. If you wanted to mingle with your favorite horror stars and spend all your money on T-shirts, DVDs, back-issue magazines, and autographs, this usually meant heading south. But along came Rue-Morgue, who not only started a magazine catering to the more cerebral side of horror culture, but also gave Canadians with criminal records and an inability cross the border a horror convention to call their own.

The Rue Morgue Festival of Fear is actually part of a larger convention called FanExpo, which also encompasses comic book, anime, gaming, and sci-fi component. Since so many of us are Renaissance geeks, this massive amount of extra content is one of the things that really sets the festival apart from other, horror-only conventions. Well, that, and scantily clad underage girls in full anime cosplay outfits consorting with middle aged men dressed as storm troopers. Ewww.

That said, the Festival of Fear doesn’t rest on its laurels and let the other nerd disciplines get the upper hand. This year marked the best year yet for the convention, with the horror side garnering what felt like a more substantial piece of the show floor and guest list. Only Rue Morgue could organize a convention with Dario Argento as the headliner, and throw in 2004’s headliner, George Romero, as a “freebie.” I guess it helps that Romero now calls Toronto home.

The Friday night of the festival is usually fairly tame, but Paul (McCannibal) did manage to catch the H.G. Lewis Q&A, which you can kind of read about in between Paul’s ranting about the evils of advertising right here.

Festival of Fear 2007 coverage!Saturday morning started off by proving that Toronto is the new Pittsburgh. The Dawn of the Dead remake, Land of the Dead, and the upcoming Diary of the Dead were all filmed in and around Toronto. Another thing those films have in common is that they all benefited from the mad makeup talents of Gaslight Studio (www.gaslightstudio.com), a Toronto based makeup effects shop. The good people at Gaslight, Chris Bridges, and Kyle Glencross, ensured that Saturday morning started the way every Saturday morning should; with zombies. In between answering questions from Rue Morgue’s Managing Editor, Dave Alexander, Chris and Kyle proceeded to build up a full zombie makeup. Check out the zombie transformation in the Festival of Fear photo gallery.

Afterwards we headed to the Argento “Intimate and Interactive” panel, mediated by Chris Alexander, with Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni of Demons 2 fame on hand as translator. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your tolerance for Argento’s amusingly stilted and irreverent way of speaking English) Coralina’s language skills weren’t employed often. Her “sit there and look hot” skills were taxed to the limit, though.

Festival of Fear 2007 coverage!Argento touched on topics as wide-ranging as his hatred of censors and censorship, the difficulties filming his daughter in the nude, his love of filming Moran Atias in the nude, his vehement defense of his films as not misogynistic, and ended with a strange rant about the Toronto International Film Festival selecting The Third Mother for its prestigious Midnight Madness program as “racist.” The panel ended by screening the North American and European trailers for The Third Mother and, despite the fact that Argento hasn’t made a good film in years, the trailer, full of Argento’s trademark lush visuals and graphic violence, got me kind of pumped to see it.

Up next was a Q&A with Greg Nicotero, co-founder and owner of KNB FX. This is the guy who’s helped bring Evil Dead II, Bride of Re-Animator, Army of Darkness, The Hills Have Eyes (remake), Land of the Dead, and Hostel to the screen, not to mention exclusively provides makeup and special effects for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez and the Masters of Horror television series. The panel started off with KNB’s reel, which served to remind the crowd just how many classics of the genre KNB has provided the effects for.

There was lots of talk about Nicotero’s background as a pre-med student who took time off to work on Day of the Dead and never looked back, but the most interesting part of the Q&A came when Nicotero began talking about his directing career. Many people don’t know that Nicotero directed some of the best scenes of Land of the Dead, including the scenes where the zombies rise out of the water and the infamous zombies feasting scene where the zombie reaches into his dinner’s throat and pulls out his insides.

Festival of Fear 2007 coverage!According to Nicotero, he’s been collaborating with Joe R. Lansdale, who’s already sent him a script to direct for Masters of Horror. Unfortunately Mick Garris won’t let Nicotero direct because, despite the fact that he’s provided effects for a stable full of masters, you can’t be one until you direct a feature length film. The good news is that Nicotero told the crowd that he’s currently attached to direct a big screen adaptation of Lansdale’s seminal work The Drive-In, which prompted spontaneous applause from those in attendance. Nicotero was careful to mention that nothing was set in stone, but the thought of what Nicotero and KNB could do with the Popcorn King is a tantalizing thought.

Festival of Fear 2007 coverage!The final panel of the day provided a nice feminine counterpoint to the testosterone-fueled day. When Adrienne Barbeau walked into her Q&A session, I’m pretty sure everyone was thinking the same thing: “Holy shit she looks good!” This was evidenced by the fact that panel moderator Chris Alexander referred to her as “buxom”, threatened leave immediately to find the topless version of Swamp Thing after he found out about its existence, and actually used the word “Barboobies”. Barbeau, the consummate pro, took it all in stride and in fact was quite forthright about the role her famous chest had in making her career.

She also showed that she’s a savvy businesswoman, and despite not being a follower of the genre herself, she realizes that her main fanbase is composed horror fans. She told the crowd that early in the New Year she would be releasing the first in a possible series of novels entitled Vampires of Hollywood, about a famous scream queen who is also a vampire. Given Barbeau’s famous connections to horror and Hollywood, she’s in a unique position to do a fictional tell all under the guise of a vampire novel.

Festival of Fear 2007 coverage!After a full day dodging sweaty nerds and trying to avert our eyes from exposed underage flesh (where the hell are these girls’ parents!?), we rolled into a pub close to the convention center. It just so happened that this was the location chosen for Argento’s ridiculously overpriced “ultimate VIP” meet and greet. Apparently for $200 you can wait in line to meet Dario Argento in a bar, rather than for free at the convention center. No thanks. We bumped into Karim Hussein (Subconscious Cruelty), and Doug Buck (Sisters remake) who filled us in on their current projects. Karim is currently developing a new film called Terminal Care that he describes as “a sex comedy about euthanasia!” Doug surprised us with the news that distribution of his high profile Sisters remake was being handled by Image Entertainment, and a theatrical run was not yet guaranteed. After spending the weekend ogling and glad-handing horror’s last generation of stars, you couldn’t have asked for an easier going couple of guys to sit around and shoot the shit with.

We ended the night by going to the Giallo Macabro, Rue Morgue party where we talked to Toe Tag’s Fred Vogel about a Frankenstein-inspired project he’s trying to get off the ground, tentatively called Monster, My Child, about a father bringing his dead son back to life. Vogel’s expressed a desire to make a more intimate picture, focusing on the relationship between son and father, but we bet it’ll still be gory as hell. We also got a chance to meet and talk to the guys responsible for the best Grindhouse trailer you’ve never seen, called Hobo with a Shotgun. Unfortunately, this trailer was only screened before the Canadian prints of Grindhouse, but director Jason Eisener and producer Rob Cotterill assured us that they’re working on a feature length version of the picture for the masses.

Even though we couldn’t stay for the last day of the festival, we had a great time this year, and the Rue Morgue crew is to be commended for putting on their best show yet. Thanks to Dave Alexander, Gary Pullin, Stuart Andrews, Chris Alexander, Jovanka Vuckovic, and Rodrigo Gudino for showing us a good time. See ya next year for the fifth anniversary!


Evil Andy

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Wolf Guy Blu-ray Review – Sonny Chiba As A Werewolf Cop In ’70s Japan



Wolf Guy UK SleeveStarring Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Nami, Kyosuke Machida

Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi

Distributed by Arrow Video

As virtually every American adaptation has proven, translating manga to the big screen is a job best left to Japanese filmmakers. There is an inherent weirdness – for lack of a better term – to their cultural media that should be kept “in house” if there is to be any hope for success. Ironically, the stories are often so fantastical and wildly creative that a big American studio budget would be necessary to fully realize such a live-action vision. But I digress. Back in 1975, Toei Studios (home of Gamera) adapted the 1970 manga series Wolf Guy into a feature of the same name. Starring the legendary Shin’ichi Chiba (a.k.a. Sonny Chiba), who at that time was in his prime, the film combines elements of crime and psychedelic cinema, delivering less of a werewolf film (despite the title suggesting otherwise) and more of a boilerplate crime caper with a cop who has a few tricks up his hairy sleeve. I should stress it is the story that plays fairly straightforward, while the film itself is a wild kaleidoscope of strange characters and confounding situations… mostly.

An unseen killer, known only as “The Tiger”, prowls the streets at night slashing victims to death and leaving behind no trace. Beat cop Akira Inugami (Sonny Chiba) is on the case, and he has an advantage over his fellow brothers in blue: being a werewolf. As the opening credits flashback shows, Akira is the sole survivor of the Inugami clan of werewolves after a slaughter wiped out the rest of his kind. Now, as the last of his brethren, he uses his acute lycanthropic skills, under the auspices of the moon, to track down underworld thugs and solve cases uniquely tailored to his abilities. As the lunar cycle of the moon sees it growing fuller Akira’s powers, too, increase to superhuman levels.

Searching for this mysterious “Tiger”, Akira is led into a subterranean world of clandestine government organizations, nightclub antics, and corrupt politicians. One night, Akira is attacked and taken prisoner by a government research lab that wants to use his blood to create werewolves they can control. Only problem is – which they don’t realize – Akira’s blood cannot be mixed with that of a human; the only end result is death. Miki (Etsuko Nami), a drug user with syphilis, comes to Akira’s aid and proves to be quite useful. She holds a secret that has the potential to vastly change Akira’s world but, first, a showdown with the criminal underbelly looms on the horizon… as does the fifteenth day of the Lunar Cycle, when Akira will be made nearly invincible.

First, some bad news: Sonny Chiba never attains full werewolf status. This is not that movie. Sure, he growls and snarls and sneers and possesses many of the traits of a werewolf but in terms of physical characteristics he more or less remains “human” the entire time. Yes, even during “Lunar Cycle Day 15”, a.k.a. the moment every viewer is waiting for, to see him turn into a wolf. Instead, he just winds up kicking a lot of ass and taking very little damage. To be fair, a grizzled Sonny Chiba is still enough of a formidable presence, but, man, to see him decked out as a full-on kung-fu fighting werewolf would’ve been badass. The film could have done better at tempering expectations because it builds up “Day 15” like viewers are going to see an explosion of fur and flesh, instead it’s just plenty of the latter. Aw, well.

Lack of werewolf-ing aside, the film plays out a bit uneven. The opening offers up a strong start, with The Tiger attack, wily underworld characters being introduced, and a tripped-out acid garage rock soundtrack (which I’d kill for a copy of). But Second Act Lag is a real thing here and many of the elements that may have piqued viewer curiosity in the first act are scuttled, and although the third act and climax bring forth fresh action and a solution to the mystery it also feels a bit restrained. Then again, this is Toei, often seen as a cheaper Toho. Wolf Guy serves as a good introduction to Akira Inugami and his way of life, which makes it a greater shame no sequels were produced.

Presented with a 2.35:1 1080p image, Wolf Guy hits Blu-ray with a master supplied by Toei, meaning Arrow did no restorative work of their own on the picture – and it shows. Japanese film elements, especially those of older films, are often notorious for being poorly housed and feebly restored. This transfer is emblematic of those issues, with hazy black levels, average-to-poor definition, minimal shadow detail, and film grain that gets awfully noisy at times. The best compliment I can give is daylight close-up scenes exhibit a pleasing level of fine detail, though nothing too eye-popping. This is a decidedly mediocre transfer across the board.

The score fares a bit better, not because the Japanese LPCM 1.0 mono mix is a beast but because the soundtrack is so wildly kinetic, exploding with wild garage rock and fuzzy riffs right from the get-go. Dialogue has a slight hiss on the letter “s” but is otherwise nicely balanced within the mix. Subtitles are available in English.

“Kazuhiko Yamaguchi: Movies with Guts” is a September 2016 sit-down with the film’s director, who reflects on his career and working with an icon like Sonny Chiba.

“Toru Yoshida: B-Movie Master” is an interview with Yoshida, a former producer at Toei who oversaw this film and many others.

“Sonny Chiba: A Life in Action, Vol. 1” covers the man’s career up to a point, with the remainder finished on Arrow’s other 2017 Chiba release, Doberman Cop.

A theatrical trailer is also included, as is a DVD copy of the feature.

Special Features:

  • Kazuhiko Yamaguchi: Movies with Guts
  • Toru Yoshida: B-Movie Master
  • Sonny Chiba: A Life in Action, Vol. 1
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Wolf Guy
  • Special Features


While the film might be a bit of a letdown given what is suggested, fans of bizarre Japanese ’70s cinema – and certainly fans of Chiba’s work – should, at the least, have fun with this title.

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Amityville Arcade Does What Nintendon’t – Kills You!



Oh, Amityville, is there nothing you cannot possess with your horror? Not even retro video games are immune from your evil for soon we shall experience the haunted coin-op horror that is Amityville Arcade.

The other day I told you about Amityville Cop and a slew of other forthcoming Amityville movies in the works. This prompted the makers of yet another that I somehow missed out on at the time to pass along info on their foray into this haunted horror subgenre: Amityville Arcade. Pay to get in! Pray to survive!

A down-on-his-luck arcade owner purchases an arcade cabinet from the legendary Amityville murder house. The plan is to turn it into a tacky roadside attraction to round up business in time for Halloween but it does not take long for them to realize they got more than they bargained for when the owner’s daughter is sucked into a Lovecraftian digital hellscape. And the arcade’s three half-wit employees are, sadly for the rest of us, the only thing standing between our world and whatever lays inside the game.

Who knew the Lutz family even owned an arcade cabinet?

Makes you wonder what other possessed objects from that house of horrors are still lurking out there waiting to be taken in by some unfortunate souls?

Amityville Bird Feeder?

Amityville Pet Rock?

Amityville Waterbed?

Amityville 8-Track?

Amityville Lava Lamp?

Amityville Stretch Armstrong?

Amityville Cuckoo Clock?

Oh, wait. I believe Amityville 1992: It’s About Time already did the cursed clock.

Anyway, unlike some of these other upcoming Amityville productions in development that I’ve written about, the writer of Amityville Arcade, Newt Wallen, assures me that in addition to being a horrific love letter to retro gaming his film will also carry a satirical edge poking fun at the glut of Amityville cash-in movies and the very notion of a long-running series out of fresh ideas.

Libby Chapman directs this retro gaming horror comedy that begins filming this February at TNT Amusements in Philadelphia. Look for special appearances by horror movie host Mr. Lobo and scream queen Crystal Quin and practical f/x and prop fabrication by Ryan Hickey and Joe La Scolla.

They’re hoping to deliver some top notch special effects on a small budget. Something tells me whatever they come up with for Amityville Arcade will still prove better than Full Moon’s disastrous Arcade from back in the day. The horror… The horror…

If the finished film is half as good as the promotional artwork I’m ready to plunk down a few quarters for it.

Now if you’ll excuse me I really need to get back to work on my screenplay for Amityville Mr. Microphone. You see, the Mr. Microphone came from the Amityville murder house and now after being discovered in an abandoned storage locker it finds its way into the hands of luddite who collect retro gadgets. But, being that the mic is possessed by evil, whenever he uses it, the voice coming through the radio speakers is that of an demonic entity that makes whoever hears its voice obey its evil commands, which, in turn, begins turning the lonely loser using it into a power-mad maniac. Only polyester clad priest Father Ronco can help– Oh, geez! Someone reading this is probably going to steal my million dollar idea. I better write faster.

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DVD and Blu-ray Releases: January 16, 2018



Welcome back, friends.  One would imagine that a release list containing only five entries wouldn’t contain any discrepancies, right? Nope. The Amicus Collection may have come out on December 5th, but it popped up again this week so if you missed it then, go get yours now.

The big hit of this week, and of 2017, Happy Death Day gets its release this week on both Blu-ray and DVD.  This was a great movie and recently surpassed $100 million dollars worldwide. I highly recommend it.

Up next is The Snowman.  You can check out the Dread Central review of this wintertime serial killer thriller here.

If you’re feeling more of a science-fiction kind of vibe, check out Beyond Skyline.

Basically there’s a little something for everyone this week.  What are you going to watch?

Pleasant viewing, friends.


Beyond Skyline (2017)


Frank Grillo, Bojana Novakovic, Iko Uwais, Jonny Weston


When the population of Los Angeles is vacuumed off the face of the Earth, Detective Mark Corley storms his way onto an alien ship to rescue his estranged son. But after crashing the ship in Southeast Asia, he must forge an alliance with a band of survivors to discover the key to saving his son and taking back the planet once and for all.


Eye of the Cat (1969)


Michael Sarrazin, Eleanor Parker


A man and his girlfriend plan to rob the mansion of the man’s eccentric but wealthy aunt. However, the aunt keeps dozens of cats in her home, and the man is deathly afraid of cats.


Happy Death Day (2017)


Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken


Blumhouse (Split, Get Out, The Purge) produces an original and inventive rewinding thriller in Happy Death Day, in which a college student relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity. The thrills continue with an Alternate Ending never-before-seen in theaters.


Snowman, The (2017)


Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, Chloe Sevigny


From executive producer Martin Scorsese, The Snowman is based on Jo Nesbø’s New York Times bestselling thriller series. When an elite crime squad’s lead detective (Michael Fassbender) investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer may be active again. With the help of a brilliant recruit (Rebecca Ferguson), the cop must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.



The Amicus Collection


Peter Cushing, Britt Ekland, Herbert Lom, Patrick Magee, Stephanie Beacham


Known as The Studio That Dripped Blood, British film company Amicus Productions (founded by American writer/producers Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky) built a legacy of horror anthologies and twisted thrillers that remains among the very best genre movies of the 70s. In this trio of Amicus classics featuring stars that include Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom, Britt Ekland, Patrick Magee, Stephanie Beacham, Calvin Lockhart, Michael Gambon, and Charlotte Rampling, you’ll discover the studio’s legendary portmanteau Asylum, their insane Gothic shocker And Now The Screaming Starts, and exclusive to this set the infamous werewolf whodunit The Beast Must Die, as well as a Bonus Disc of Amicus trailers, TV commercials, rare interviews, and more – all in this 4-disc box set.


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