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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THE STRANGERS Blu-ray Review – Let This Stellar Release From Scream Factory Sneak Into Your Home



Starring Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, Man in the Mask, Dollface, Pin-up

Directed by Bryan Bertino

Distributed by Scream Factory

It’s a bit odd – though somewhat fitting, given the number of waited-too-long sequels being produced these days – The Strangers (2008) finally got a follow-up after a lengthy ten-year gap. The original is a fine example of a home invasion picture done right, or at least well enough, but, as anyone who has seen the film knows, the leads probably won’t be returning and the killers have the personalities of dime store Halloween masks. The Strangers is a disturbing film in the sense the events seem like they “could happen to you” – it is, after all, “based on a true story” (not really). Plus, the situations our leads find themselves in are exactly the sort people still freak themselves out, like whenever someone enters a room with large windows at night – let’s all be honest here. The only thing scarier than things that go bump in the night is the thought those things are just out of eyesight, waiting to scare you. With the exception of a few “wait, why are you doing that?” moments The Strangers manages to activate certain primal responses to being stalked and frightened. It’s creepy.

Not-newly-engaged couple James (Scott Speedman) and Kristen (Liv Tyler) have returned to James’ childhood summer home after a day spent at a wedding, where James’ proposal to Kristen was sadly declined. They go through some awkward motions back at home, trying to figure out where their relationship stands, when there’s a sudden KNOCK at the door. James answers and finds a young girl asking for a person who has never lived there. She leaves, cryptically mumbling she’ll “see them later”. She does, along with two other “friends” – the Man in the Mask and another girl in a pin-up mask – who proceed to stalk, taunt, tease, and terrorize both Kristen and James until the morning light breaks.

There aren’t many huge surprises in this film but the less you know about how the night plays out, the better. This isn’t to suggest the main characters make smart decisions viewers aren’t expecting, though. James is initially dismissive of a series of terrorizing occurrences Kirsten experiences when he goes out to get her a pack of smokes, brushing all of it off like she has an overactive imagination; this after the weird situation with the girl moments before. And expectedly, once James is finally on board with believing something sinister is afoot it’s already too late to do much about it. Past that point he and Kristen do act like rational people (mostly) and their plight gains a little more sympathy because of their noble efforts.

I hate the scene where James’ friend, Mike (Glenn Howerton), shows up, though. Spoiler alert: any viewer can see his accidental death coming from a mile away. Since it’s established early on James has called Mike to pick him up, what would have worked better would be if all the footage of Mike’s arrival and inspection of the house was cut. That way, his reveal at James and Kristen’s makeshift stronghold in the back bedroom would have been a major surprise. Instead, it plays out so obviously the intended impact is completely muted.

While the film falters in a few areas, it manages to make up for those gaffes by stepping outside the norm. One thing is does incredibly right is refusing to give the trio of terrorizers any personality or backstory or motivation. Viewers are left just as cold once the credits roll as they were upon being introduced to these faceless miscreants. This feels especially refreshing when watching the movie today because lately it seems so many horror films have been yanking the mystique out of things; between prequels and reboots and lengthy exposition it’s rare when a film chooses to eschew all of that. The film is also dire and dour, leaving little room for hope aside from a tiny tidbit that occurs at the very end. There are no white knights; the cavalry isn’t coming – and when you are staying at a house with weak security, near the woods, with no neighbors close by, don’t expect a deus ex machina to save the day.

Universal previously issued The Strangers on Blu-ray, though it featured both cuts on a single BD-25 and used an outdated codec. This new release from Scream Factory spreads the goods out onto two discs, giving each cut a full BD-50 to maximize bit rate. As a result, the 2.35:1 1080p image looks much more refined, smoothing out past compression issues and tightening up both contrast and definition. The lion’s share of this film was shot at night and black levels maintain a rich consistency throughout, while still allowing for details to remain apparent. Nothing is lost to the shadows, which frequently bathe the actors and environments. Scream Factory touts a new 2K scan of the intermediate and the results are nearly flawless.

As viewers might expect, sound design plays a crucial role in this film and the audio options ensure they’ll be immersed in subtle and not-so-subtle sounds from every direction. Both cuts feature an English DTS-HD Master Audio track in both 2.0 and 5.1 options. As expected, the multi-channel track offers a more discreet experience, spreading out the spooky sound design to fully envelope listeners. Thuds, knocks, voices, and footsteps creep from unexpected corners of the room, placing viewers right in the action and heightening the tension. The soundtrack goes a bit overboard on the jump scares stingers but since the whole point of this film is a couple being jolt scared over and over they seem fitting. Subtitles are included in English SDH.

Just as buyers should rightfully expect, Scream Factory has included all of the previous extra features found on Universal’s release and then some.

DISC ONE: Theatrical Cut

“The Element of Terror” – This is a routine EPK, filled with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast & crew.

“Strangers at the Door” – This piece covers the film’s initial concept and shows off some of the cast & crew working on set, with a few being interviewed, too.

A reel of deleted scenes, three TV spots, and a theatrical trailer, which is quite effective, can also be found on this disc.

DISC TWO: Unrated Cut

“Defining Moments – Interview with writer/director Bryan Bertino” – This is a newly recorded chat with the director, who discusses not only the making of the film but its legacy now that so much time has passed since release.

“All the Right Movies – Interview with actor Kip Weeks (Man in the Mask) – Here, the actor discusses how he got the role and what kind of direction was given to him for the character.

“Brains and Brawn – Interview with actress Laura Margolis (Pin-up Girl) – Just as with Kip Weeks, Margolis talks about playing such a quiet character as well as discussing some changes to the trio that were made during production.

“Deep Cuts – Interview with editor Kevin Greutert” – Learn about how the film took shape, the reasoning behind cuts and sequencing, and what changes were made right up until the theatrical release date.

A still gallery is also included.

The cover art is reversible and there is a slipcover included on first pressings featuring newly commissioned artwork.

Special Features:

  • NEW 2K REMASTER of the Theatrical Version of the film
  • NEW 2K REMASTER of the Unrated Version of the film
  • NEW Defining Moments – An Interview With Writer/Director Bryan Bertino
  • NEW All The Right Moves – An Interview With Actor Kip Weeks (Man In The Mask)
  • NEW Brains And Brawn – An Interview With Actress Laura Margolis (Pin Up Girl)
  • NEW Deep Cuts – An Interview With Editor Kevin Greutert
  • The Element of Terror – Interviews With The Cast And Crew
  • Strangers At The Door – Interviews With Writer/Director Bryan Bertino And The Cast
  • Deleted Scenes
  • TV Spots
  • The Strangers
  • Special Features


Still effective only with only a modicum of true stupidity, “The Strangers” might not be the classic it’s been called in more than a few recent retrospective pieces but it does occupy a cushy spot near the top of the contemporary home invasion film list. Scream Factory’s release offers up excellent A/V quality and all the bonus features anyone could want (barring an audio commentary).

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Exclusive: Concept Art and Video From Tim Burton’s Cancelled SUPERMAN Plus Art From Clive Barker’s MUMMY Project



Special FX artist Steve Johnson has a long and storied career in Hollywood. From working on films such as Predator, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Lord of Illusions, and more, to to makeup on Return of the Living Dead III, Nightwatch, and Night of the Demons 2, his work has been seen in a swath of films that genre fans know and love. Hell, the guy even created Slimer from Ghostbusters! If that doesn’t make him Hollywood royalty, I honestly don’t know what does.

Right now, Johnson has a Kickstarter going for Rubberhead Volume 2: Sex, Drugs, and Special Effects, the second book in a five volume series that chronicles the work he’s done over the years. Included in this particular book is a section called “The Ones That Got Away”. That’s what brings us to today and to this particular article.

We were absolutely fascinated with some of the films that Johnson got to work on that never ended up seeing the light of day and we managed to get our hands on some exclusive concept art from both Tim Burton’s cancelled Superman and Clive Barker’s Mummy project. We also have a suit test video from the former, which features Danny Elfman’s music from Batman, so it’s extra thrilling.

You can read about both projects and see the concept art below (the Superman suit video is above). Also, click on the Kickstarter link above if you want to help make Johnson’s second book a reality!

Tim Burton’s Superman:

For the ill-fated Tim Burton Superman movie, Johnson was contracted to craft all manner of elaborate costumes, props, puppets, and prosthetics for a project that was to be doomed by an overextended budget.

It was absolutely massive because not only were we working on these Superman suits, we were doing Doomsday, we were doing a Menagerie, a Brainiac and an entire spaceship that was literally filled with creatures. It looked like the Star Wars cantina on steroids,” Steve Johnson exclaims.

Of the standout pieces were multiple bioluminescent Superman regeneration suits, all of which glowed purely by way of practical effects. The effect was created using cyalume, the active liquid in glow sticks, strategically pumped through a series of elaborate tubing patterns which gave the appearance of glowing blood pumping through veins.

Other suits were powered by a fiber-optic light setup informed heavily by Johnson’s groundbreaking work on James Cameron’s The Abyss, a creation he claims pleased him more than any other in his entire career.

Clive Barker’s Mummy:

Clive Barker had teamed up with Mick Garris (Critters 2, Psycho IV) on a brand new Mummy concept that the two pitched to Universal. The hyper erotic plot involved a transsexual occultist protagonist who attempted to reanimate mummies within a prestigious museum setting.

Shortly after collaborating with Barker on Lord of Illusions, Steve Johnson signed up to help him create a visual proof-of-concept in order to help Barker pitch the project which had not yet been greenlit. Johnson signed on and even built proof-of-concept creatures, funding the endeavor entirely out of his own pocket to help Barker sell it in to Universal.

For inspiration, Barker and Johnson exhaustively researched museums, Egyptian sculptures, statues and artifacts to ensure historical accuracy while imbuing the mummies with a heavy dose of classic sadomasochistic Clive Barker style.

Johnson explained, “If you do your research on real mummies in Egypt they look nothing like Boris Karloff mummies or mummies in the new mummy movies. The goal was to include all of the realistic detail and adornment in a way that was accurate to real Egyptian mummies which had never been done before. We were going to make them fascinating, cenobite-like creatures but based entirely in reality and history.

Unfortunately, the project was never greenlit by Universal. Clive Barker told Fangoria, “Looking back, our version of The Mummy was precisely what the powers that were at Universal did not want.


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TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL Clip Features Graboids on Ice!



The newest entry in the always lovable Tremors series will be hitting Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand, and Digital on May 1st.

And today we have a fun new clip from Tremors: A Cold Day In Hell to share! It features a sequence that reminds me A LOT of the ice planet creature vs Kirk scene in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek.

You can check out the clip below and then make sure to let us know what you think in the comments below or on FacebookTwitter, and/or Instagram!

Tremors: The Complete Collection will be available on DVD on May 1; and Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell hits Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand, and Digital also on May 1st.

Special features include:

  • The Making of Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell: Filmmakers, cast, and crew discuss why Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell is the most bone-blasting Tremors movie yet.
  • Anatomy of a Scene: Watch as we break down the various elements that need to come together to film the first underwater Graboid attack.
  • Inside Chang’s Market: Chang’s Market is an iconic location in Tremors history. See how it was recreated and updated for this installment of the franchise.

Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) and his son, Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy), find themselves up to their ears in Graboids and Ass-Blasters when they head to Canada to investigate a series of deadly giant worm attacks. Arriving at a remote research facility in the Arctic tundra, Burt begins to suspect that Graboids are secretly being weaponized, but before he can prove his theory, he is sidelined by Graboid venom. With just 48 hours to live, the only hope is to create an antidote from fresh venom — but to do that, someone will have to figure out how to milk a Graboid!


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