GREG KLYMKIW - THE CURMUDGEON OF CINEMA

Greg Klymkiw’s 35+ years in the movie business include journalism, screenwriting, script editing, producing iconoclastic work by Guy Maddin, Bruno Lazaro Pacheco, Alan Zweig, etc, 14 years as senior creative consultant and producer-in-residence @ Norman Jewison's Canadian Film Centre, nurturing international recognition for prairie post-modernist films with his guerrilla campaigns as the Winnipeg Film Group’s Marketing Director, writing for Film Corner, Daily Film Dose, POV, Phantom of the Movies' VIDEOSCOPE, Electric Sheep UK - a deviant view of cinema, Take One Magazine, Cinema Canada & he's currently completing 3 new books about cinema. He's the subject of Ryan McKenna’s 2013 documentary "Survival Lessons: The Greg Klymkiw Story". At last count Klymkiw had seen over 30,000 feature films. GUIDE TO RATINGS: ***** Masterpiece/MasterpiecePotential **** Excellent ***1/2 Very Good *** Good **1/2 Not Bad ** Whatever *½ Poor * Raw Sewage. If a film is not up to earning 1 star, it will earn at least: 1 Pubic Hair. If, God forbid, the movie is worse than 1 Pubic Hair, the absolute lowest rating will be: The Turd found behind Harry's Charbroil and Dining Lounge.


PLEASE NOTE: AS OF JULY, 2014, THE FILM CORNER'S STAR RATING IS LOCATED AT THE END OF THE REVIEW.

Friday, 24 October 2014

CANADIAN SHORTS at the illustrious TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL 2014 - Reviews By Greg Klymkiw - FOXED!, DAY 40, ROSE IN BLOOM, MIGRATION and HONOR CODE - 5 Terrific Canadian Shorts at #TADFF 2014

Screening a new Canadian short film before every feature is one of many deserved accolades to bestow upon the magnificent Toronto After Dark Film Festival, which proudly displays its unwavering commitment to the future of Canadian Cinema as well as its open embrace of the short film medium. Here are five Canadian shorts that tickled my fancy during the 2014 edition.

Every child's worst nightmare!
Foxed! (2013)
Dirs. James E.D. Stewart, Nev Bezaire

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Originally presented in 3-D, I was grateful that TADFF screened this gorgeously animated grim fairy tale sans my least favourite mode of projection. This dark, icky, terrifying world is imbued with both visual and thematic depth to such a degree that its eye-popping visuals are, to my eyes, exquisitely sumptuous in a non-3-D format. The film is a grotesque phantasmagorical portrait of a little girl kidnapped by evil foxes and forced to serve in a purgatory of hard labour. When she discovers a window upon her previous home and hearth, we're treated to a delectably creepy rendering of every kid's worst nightmare. The film should be marketed to parents as a tool to keep kids in their proper place.

Foxed! played before the feature film Housebound @TADFF14 THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars

What the fuck did all those animals do?
Day 40
Dir. Sol Friedman

Review By Greg Klymkiw

From here on in, whenever my attempts at repressing the loathsome experience of Darren Aronofsky's ludicrous, humourless, overblown debacle Noah aren't working as well as I'd like, I now have the perfect antidote. Aronofsky's Noah is the disease, Friedman's Day 40 is the cure! Sol Friedman's knee-slappingly hilarious and alternately vicious and moving (!!!) satirical look at activities on Noah's Ark is one of the most cleverly amusing cartoons I've seen in a longtime. If you've ever wondered WHAT THE FUCK was really going on within the bowels (so to speak) of that ark for 40 days and 40 nights, Friedman's quaintly perverse film provides more answers than one could ever begin to imagine on their own.

Day 40 played before the feature film Zombeavers @TADFF14 THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars

Kids see things they should NEVER see!
Rose in Bloom (2014)
Dir. Trevor Kristjanson

Review By Greg Klymkiw

When a young girl turns 13, there are many things on her mind which are confusing, thrilling and even kind of scary, but it's all part of what it means to grow up. Sadly, there are things they should never have to see, think about or experience. Trevor Kristjanson's super-creepy evocation of a child's birthday celebrations is splashed with a kind of rural, midwestern White Trash gothic as it follows a child during pre-party preparations, through to a mysterious ride into a murky, muddy, isolated flatland and eventually, back to a celebration where her poker face does not reveal the horror she's experienced, but the almost voyeuristic approach to storytelling reveals everything we need to know. It's ambiguous, but only on the surface. It's a tidy, twisted and painful short that will keep you haunted long after you've seen it.

Rose in Bloom played before the feature film Wolves @TADFF14 THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** 4-Stars

Aaron Poole
One of Canada's best actors
as a Buster Keaton corporate Samurai.
Honor Code (2014)
Dir. Pascal Trottier

Review By Greg Klymkiw

If honour could truly be found amongst the zombies working in the world of corporate fluorescent cubicles, it stands to reason that the best of its best could only settle differences as aggressively as they pursue filthy lucre to line the pockets of their CEOs. Pascal Trottier's clever and funny satire ascribes the most honourable methods to settling roiling hostilities twixt suited, brief-case-toting warriors who adhere to long-honoured traditions of the Samurai. Seeing these Masters of the Universe engaging in Toshiro Mifune-like bows, nods and sabre-wielding gymnastics is not only hilarious, but decidedly pointed. Aaron Poole is the challenger. With a Buster Keaton deadpan, he proves again why he's one of Canada's finest actors.

Honor Code played before Time Lapse @TADFF14 THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***1/2 3-and-a-half Stars

All of God's Creatures Must "Go Home."
Migration (2014)
Dirs. Fluorescent Hill
(Mark Lomond, Johanne Ste-Marie)

Review By Greg Klymkiw

They say that all living things are God's Creatures and if there is such a higher power of all-embracing love, then surely there could not be a more perfect example of his glory than the herd of sweet, intelligent and fun-loving animals in Migration whom we follow as they traverse a multitude of barren topographical regions tainted by humanity to get to where they belong. This might well be one of the best short films ever made, not just in Canada, but the world. Utilizing a gorgeous 8mm-like home movie aesthetic and imbued with a narrative, characters and theme that are as profound for our time as they will be for future generations, this is a film that deserves no less than being lauded as both a classic and a masterpiece. This is pure cinema and a magnificent tribute to the importance of its funder, Canada Council.

Migration played w/Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter @TADFF14 THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***** 5-Stars

Thursday, 23 October 2014

WHY HORROR? - Review By Greg Klymkiw - World Premiere Toronto After Dark 2014 - Oct. 23 @ 9:30pm

Why Horror? (2014)
Dir. Nicolas Kleiman, Rob Lindsay
Starring: Tal Zimmerman, George Romero, John Carpenter, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Karen Lam, Don Coscarelli, Eli Roth

Review By Greg Klymkiw

My heart briefly sank during the first few minutes of what turned out to be an otherwise entertaining personal journey into the world of horror fandom when the movie initially assaults us with images of a "zombie walk", one of those pathetically annoying parades of geeks adorned in full living dead regalia, marching "in character" down big-city streets the world over. I'm not sure why this drives me insane, but perhaps it's because I'm a lot older than most of the participants and I came to my horror obsessions in the early 60s and expressed said devotion in very different ways.

Luckily, Why Horror?, a personal journey taken by host-subject Tal Zimmerman, quickly dispenses with this offensive way into his genuine exploration of all things horror and a lifelong devotion to popular culture devoted to scaring the faecal matter out of its most avid proponents. Replete with his own personal reminiscences (including great childhood home movie footage and photos), as well as his current activities, Zimmerman is a likeable, intelligent and unpretentious aficionado and public face for so many of us who share his healthy/unhealthy lust for shivers and blood.

The film delivers plenty of interviews with eggheads and writers who offer up historical and intellectual tidbits as well as an dream-team display of talking heads from the world of horror movies including the likes of George Romero, John Carpenter, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Karen Lam, Don Coscarelli and Eli Roth. Zimmerman and his directors aren't North America-centric either and deliver plenty of Euro and Asian spokespersons for the genre.

The selection of clips are always bounteous and thrilling and the whole affair is nicely put together with numerous animated sequences and slick graphics as both drivers, inserts and clever interstitial material. I was also impressed with a lovely film within the film which attempts to provide a very short history of horror cinema from its early beginnings through to the present. Much as I appreciated this sequence and acknowledge how impossible it would have been to include all salient issues, it does seriously err with one extremely important omission. By not touching upon the RKO horror division led by the visionary Val Lewton, it doesn't address how horror changed forever because of Lewton's insistence upon finding the things that really scare us in:

(.a) the contemporary world/themes

(.b) the mind/imagination of children (plus adults under stress of societal pressures/expectations) and;

(.c) the dark and shadows.

Lewton also pioneered the use of sound in horror and in so doing, in collaboration with the likes of Jacques Tourneur and Robert Wise, he pretty much invented the shock cut that became so de rigueur in virtually every horror film that followed it. For decades afterwards, crew members would always refer to shock sequences (the kind designed to make you jump) as "The Bus". Watch the original The Cat People sometime. Follow the heroine as she eerily makes her way through the park and eventually gets the crap scared out of her by . . . "the bus" (and a whole lot of other stuff blended in).

I'm sorry, but no matter how brief any history of horror films is going to be, ignoring Lewton borders on, sorry guys, boneheaded.

The only other quibbles I have with Why Horror? is that it's a bit too lightweight in terms of delving into the personalties of those who love horror, including the host. Where is the self-loathing? To ignore it is to say it doesn't exist, which is, ultimately major denial. Maybe Zimmerman is in denial on that front. It's his journey, after all, but someone (given that two directors and several producers are credited) should have been on the ball here to push this particular envelope. As well, even though the film interviews several older filmmakers, the movie seems a trifle ageist in terms of ignoring the experience(s) of fans who discovered horror at earlier junctures than those the film focuses on. Again, it's Zimmerman's journey, but by exploring horror using a few more old fart fans could have expanded the breadth of the movie.

And don't get me wrong, I wasn't expecting this to be the Shoah of horror, but I must admit, seeing that someday might be just what my psychiatrist ordered.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars

Why Horror? enjoys its world premiere at TADFF 2014 and will eventually be broadcast on SuperChannel.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2014) - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Canuck Preem TADFF14 - Oct22@7pm

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) Dir. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Scr. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Starring: Addison Timlin, Veronica Cartwright, Anthony Anderson, Edward Herrmann, Ed Lauter, Denis O'Hare

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Nobody, has ever accused Charles B. Pierce of actually making a good movie out of the Texarkana true-crime tale of the "Phantom Killer." Released in 1976 to solid box-office and an eventual cult following, the impact of Pierce's documentary-like approach to the otherwise creaky and somewhat clumsy The Town That Dreaded Sundown was, in spite of its shortcomings as cinema, felt the world over. Its influence has, in fact, lasted to this very day. Not that the subject matter was at all uninteresting, but it was Pierce's approach to telling the tale of a mysterious lovers' lane killer which superseded the mystery - one that never really had an ending as the killer had never been apprehended.

There had, of course, been earlier "fake" documentaries, most notably Jim McBride's 1967 groundbreaker David Holzman's Diary, but none of them were absorbed into the public consciousness as widely as Pierce's through-the-roof money-makers. A prolific regional independent filmmaker, he first brought his unique style of faux-documentary to bear in The Legend of Boggy Creek, the smash 1972 hit which focused on the Fouke County, Arkansas lore of Bigfoot.

Some consider Pierce the real father of true-crime reality TV, a dubious achievement at best. Better yet, he's also credited with inspiring the "found footage" horror film craze that began with The Blair Witch Project in the late 90s and has unabatedly kept generating new product each and every year since.

This vaguely post-modern reboot has a screenplay by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa that is not initially without interest or ambition. We're introduced to the contemporary town of Texarkana and the yearly ritual of screening Pierce's film at a local drive-in.

The famed killer appears to be resurrected and begins to commit heinous murders in the tradition of those detailed in Pierce's film. There are all sort of interesting elements involving the God-fearing citizenry of Texarkana and their decidedly un-Christian need to extract bloody revenge upon the killer. This all takes back seat eventually to a dull mystery and slasher movie-styled murders until we're not surprisingly introduced to the real killer.

Television director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon handles the proceedings with all the skill of a competent camera jockey, but does little more to enhance the proceedings. It's fun seeing old pros like Veronica Cartwright, Edward Herrmann and Ed Lauter strut their stuff, but their screen time is limited compared to the bland, young leads. There's also one interesting subplot involving a character based on the son of Charles Pierce, very well played by Dennis O'Hare, but sadly, this thread eventually goes nowhere.

In fact, the whole film is a whole lot of nowhere.

>THE FILM CORNER RATING: *½ One-and-a-half-stars

The Town That Dreaded Sundown enjoys its Canadian Premiere at Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2014.

Monday, 20 October 2014

WYRMWOOD - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Canadian Premiere Toronto After Dark FF 2014 - Oct22 @ 9:30pm

Wyrmwood (2014)
Dir. Kiah Roache-Turner
Starring: Jay Gallagher, Bianca Bradey, Leon Burchill

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The new Australian living dead chiller-thriller Wyrmwood might, at first glance, look and feel like a derivative post-apocalyptic zombie picture, but there's nothing run-of-the-mill about it. Constructed with solid craft, spewing globs of gallows humour, walloping your senses, well, uh, senseless with bowel-loosening jolts, inspiring cold-cocking scares that slide you to the edge of your seat and of course, offering up a kick-ass babe of the highest order, all adds up to a rollicking good time.

With plenty of loving homages to George Miller's Mad Max pictures and George Romero, helmer Kiah Roache-Turner and his co-scribe Tristan Roache-Turner, serve up a white-knuckle roller coaster ride through the unyielding Australian bushland as a family man (who's had to slaughter his family when they "turn" into zombies) and a ragtag group of tough guys, equip themselves with heavy-duty armour, armament and steely resolve to survive.

Blasting through hordes of flesh-eating slabs of viscous decay, they careen on a collision course with a group of Nazi-like government soldiers who are kidnapping both zombies and humans so a wing-nut scientist can perform brutal experiments upon them. The family man's insanely well-built, athletic and gorgeous sister is nabbed by the fascist egghead which allows for a harrowing rescue attempt and a bevy of scenes involving our babe in lethal fighting mode.

The movie has two very cool variations on zombie lore - one, a way for humans to telepathically communicate with and subsequently control the zombies as well as the handy discovery that zombie blood can be used as petrol for their souped-up fighting truck.

Roache-Turner proves himself a formidable talent. He employs very little herky-jerky action and keeps things in nice clean shots which allow the action and violence to play out stunningly (including a few harrowing chases). He manages, on what feels like it might have been a meagre budget, to put numerous blockbusting studio films of a similar ilk to shame. It delivers the goods and then some.

You'll feel a bit like you've seen Wyrmwood before, but as it progresses, it gets increasingly more intense and original. It's also great seeing aboriginal characters playing heroes and zombies, adding a unique flavour to the proceedings. So hold on tight to your fur-lined Aussie Akubra hats and prepare for the blood-splashing ride of your life.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** 4-Stars

Wyrmwood premieres at the 2014 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

WOLVES - Review By Greg Klymkiw - North American Premiere Toronto After Dark 2014 - Oct19@7:00pm

Wolves (2014)
Dir. David Hayter
Starring: Jason Momoa, Stephen McHattie, Lucas Till, Merritt Patterson

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Wolves purports to be in the style of 70s/80s monster movies like The Lost Boys (pretty much a piece of shit anyway) and Near Dark (a near-masterpiece that Wolves isn't worthy of to lick the ass clean after a runny dump) and, in fact, feels like a horrendous cellar-dweller country cousin to the abominable Twilight series.

The screenplay by first time helmer David Hayter plays out like a soap opera with man-to-wolf transformations and lots of blood, but bereft of the style infused in something like Dan Curtis's great TV series Dark Shadows. This is simply dull, dumb nonsense involving a young man who discovers his true pedigree as a noble-class werewolf amidst a passel of white-trash hillbilly werewolves. He falls for a hot babe werewolf, also of his "class", but a mean-ass werewolf, also of the noble line, wants to mate with her.

Lots of poorly executed werewolf mano a mano follows.

The movie is not without basic competence, but has no voice, no style and very little to recommend it save for the welcome presence of stalwart character actors Stephen McHattie and Jason Momoa who both add a whole lot of sizzle to this otherwise cheap cut of werewolf steak.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: * One-Star

Wolves enjoys a Noirth American premiere at Toronto After Dark 2014, followed by a perfunctory release by E-One

REFUGE - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Canadian Premiere Toronto After Dark Film Fest 2014 - Oct. 22 @ 7pm

It ain't easy surviving the apocalypse.
Refuge (2013)
Dir. Andrew Robertson
Starring: Carter Roy, Amy Rutberg, Eva Grace Kellner, Sebastian Beacon, Chris Kies, Travis Grant, Mark Ashworth

Review By Greg Klymkiw

There's a whole lot of been-there-done-that-been-done-lots-bigger-and-better comprising the experience that is Refuge (earlier entitled The Mansion) which makes my heart go out to the filmmakers even more than those who would merely attempt a low-budget, slapdash rehash of movies like John Hillcoat's fine adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. That said, this post-apocalyptic science fiction chamber drama with thriller elements is not without fine performances, intelligent writing (via helmer Andrew Robertson and co-scribe Lilli Kanso), superb use of remote, evocative locations and first-rate production design and art direction.

Our familiarity with this world on film is simply one of the biggest problems facing Refuge. The accent on character and family is admirable and its handling of both suspense and violence is not without merit, but given its modest budget, one might have hoped its makers would have attempted to push the envelope further in order to deliver something that felt more original.

They don't, though, and we're left with a film with considerable merit, but few surprises that provide the kind of frissons which would otherwise allow us to forgive a few of the picture's lapses in logic which seem due to a clumsy flashback structure which might have been a problem inherent in the screenplay or the result of exigencies in production and post-production.

Focusing on a couple and their young daughter (Carter Roy, Amy Rutberg, Eva Grace Kellner), a next door neighbour (Chris Kies) and a wounded outsider (Sebastian Beacon) who brings a backstory of violence and being on the run with him.

The latter is what sets off a chain of unpleasantness when a gang of nasty psychopaths follows his trail to the backwoods mansion and our protagonists are forced to leave their refuge behind, now all on the run from the marauders. Things settle into a backwoods cat and mouse until the predictably inevitable grand showdown.

There's nothing especially wrong with the film, but its familiar tropes are enough to make the experience quite underwhelming in spite of its quality.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: **½ Two-and-a-half Stars

Refuge has its Canadian premiere during the 2014 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

THE ABCs OF DEATH 2 - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Canadian Premiere at Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2014, followed by a wide Canadian release on October 31, 2014 via VSC

A whole whack of directors to
deliver 26 whacks (and then some)
The ABCs of Death 2 (2014)
Dirs. Evan Katz, Julian Barratt, Julian Gilbey, Robert Morgan, Alejandro Brugués, Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado, Jim Hosking, Bill Plympton, Erik Matti, Dennison Ramalho, Kristina Buozyte, Bruno Samper, Lancelot Imasuen, Robert Boocheck, Larry Fessenden, Hajime Ohata, Todd Rohal, Rodney Ascher, Marven Kren, Juan Martinez Moreno, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Vincenzo Natali, Jerome Sable, Steven Kostanski, Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo, Soichi Umezawa, Chris Nash.

Starring: Tristan Risk, Conor Sweeney, Béatrice Dalle, Nina Iordanova and shitloads of others

Review By Greg Klymkiw

This second followup to the popular anthology feature The ABCs of Death is a marked improvement over the previous outing, but it shares similar, albeit less egregious obstacles to total appreciation.

This is a full-length amalgam of 26 thematically-linked shorts, each representing letters of the English alphabet which stand for a word that delivers a solid "kill" within a short narrative, each of which expunged upon celluloid by 26 directors.

Sounds interesting enough, but the whole package is a serious slog. Amidst the stuff that works, you're forced to watch a whack o' titles that range from ambition-exceeding-their-delivery (but worth seeing) to just plain middle-of-the-road (but watchable) to sucking a dirty, sweaty scrotum.

With this in mind, I'm going to primarily concentrate on letters of the alphabet that deliver good, better than good or just plain terrific short genre films.

And, of course, kills of the highest order. Jesus, for all of my kvetching, what's not to like?

"D" is for Deloused is UK director Robert Morgan's delightfully baroque animated short about a repulsive bug assisting a creepy gent get some mega-payback upon those who were responsible for his execution. Morgan's palette is wadded with globules of the most odious colours which he's skilfully wielded with abandon, aplomb and appropriate nausea appeal. Lots of disgusting viscera on display and a whack of decidedly dark laughs are the hallmarks of this outlandishly imaginative cartoon for kiddies of all ages who desire plenty of viscous fluids with their breakfast cereal (or as their breakfast cereal).

The Film Corner Rating: ****


"H" is for Head Games has been spewed from whatever orifices Master Animator Bill Plympton chooses to release his brilliantly unhinged images and ideas. Here, two people engage in the simple, passionate act of kissing. Imagine if you will, the scandal caused by all 47-seconds of Edison's famous 1896 filmed re-enactment depicting a kiss twixt the somewhat disgusting May Irwin and John Rice then blend it together with Raymond Carver's short story "Popular Mechanics" in which two parents play tug-of-war with their child. You get the drift.

The Film Corner Rating: *****


"Q" is for Questionnaire is belched out from the ultra-cool Rodney Ascher who delivered the phenomenal conspiracy theory documentary Room 237 about the more brilliantly psychotic theories behind Stanley Kubrick's much-loved and oft-debated horror masterpiece The Shining. In the grand tradition of documentary direct cinema, cross-pollinated with zero-budgeted 50s/60s "brain" genre films, he presents two sides of a delightful coin as he bounces twixt an intelligence test and a man's brain being transplanted into the head of a gorilla. The only thing missing is the gorilla leeringly emitting a Jack Nicholson-like "Heeeeeeerrrrrrreeeee's Johnny!"

The Film Corner Rating: ***1/2


"S" is for Split is an ideal short genre film and makes clever, literal and metaphorical use of its title. Juan Martinez Moreno creates a numbing nightmare involving a cel phone conversation twixt a hubby and wife whilst a killer invades the family home and proceeds to search out and murder one of the significant others on view in a series of horrifically effective split screens that would make Brian De Palma proud if they didn't give the man a run for his money.

The Film Corner Rating: ***


Astron-6 Stud-Thesp Conor Sweeney
is about to learn the meaning of
PAYBACK!!!
"T" is for Torture Porn comes to us courtesy of the Soska Twins, Jen and Sylvia, those two nice Hungarian girls from British Columbia who are continually on the cutting edge of reinventing, revitalizing and just plain knocking the ball out of the genre film park. They're an important force, not just in the world of genre, but in the world of cinema period. From their crazy micro-budgeted Dead Hooker in a Trunk to the astonishing low budget sophomore effort American Mary, the Soska Sisters (aka "The Twisted Twins") were naturals for this anthology feature. Their special blend of feminist splatter is taking the world by storm. Their films are stylish, dark, funny and have plenty to say about the world we live in. Herewith, the legend continues as the ladies wear metaphor on their sleeves in a winning fashion. Astron-6's prime thespian stud Conor Sweeney presides over a grim audition for torture porn and proceeds to debase a young actress (the great Tristan Risk) in the most despicable fashion. Payback is inevitable. Happily for the abused actress and the audience, the Soskas unleash payback of the Most Delicious Urotsukidōji Kind. Scumbags Beware!!! There's a vengeful new Overfiend in town and SHE's not interested in raping little schoolgirls in uniform.

The Film Corner Rating: ***1/2


"U" is for Utopia is pure Vincenzo (Cube, Splice, Haunter) Natali. The man has a distinctive voice you can detect within seconds of seeing his seemingly cold, clinical, horrifying and mordantly funny work. Here we face a dystopian world of public execution (in malls, no less) and for the most egregious of crimes (in a perfect world, of course). Imagine, if you will, a dash of Kubrick, a sprinkling of Jean-Baptiste Leonetti, a few drops of Harlan Ellison via L.Q. Jones ('natch) and a few buckets o' Pure Natali. It's tasty!

The Film Corner Rating: ***1/2


"W" is for Wish is the latest cinematic chub o' kielbassa from that Winnipeg Wunderkind of the Astron-6 persuasion, the one, the only, Steven Kostanski. The madman behind Manborg serves up a delicious blend of his delightfully retro special effects and the kind of wonder we all felt as kids (and that those of us, who've never grown up, still feel). Kostanski's operating on similar ground to the Soskas here by wearing metaphor proudly (and entertainingly on his sleeve). The less said about this gem, the better. Suffice to say, we're given a dose, through the eyes of children, of how the things we wish for might come terrifyingly true. Mega-Bravo!

The Film Corner Rating: ****


"X" is for Xylophone by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo features Béatrice Dalle, the still sexy Betty Blue girl herself, the incomparable muse of Jean-Jacques Beineix and every strapping young 70s/80s lad's mega-masturbation fantasy. Here, she's a somewhat long-in-tooth babysitter being driven to places she'd rather not traverse to, courtesy of an annoying child plunking on a fucking xylophone. Xylophone's in the hands of babes are fine, but only in moderation and this goddamn kid just doesn't know the meaning of the word.

The Film Corner Rating: ***


Refrain from ingesting your guitar.
"Y" is for Youth is what's been barfed up from within the diseased mind of ace Japanese makeup and SFX whiz Soichi Umezawa. His cinematic blown chunks reveal an equally diseased mind - that of a young woman fantasizing violent payback for those in her family who would dare abuse her. If you've a fetish for sword swallowing electric guitars, viscous pustules, juicy white worms and other taste treats, you're sure to be dazzled by the fantasies of this demented young missy exploring the true extert of her desires for vengeance.

The overriding question is this: Is fantasy reality? O! Land of Nippon! I love thee!

The Film Corner Rating: ***


"Z" is for Zygote is the last short in the anthology and it's the surprise treat of ABCs of Death 2. The less said about the plot and/or content of Chris Nash's creepily eerie and downright brilliant shocker, the better. Just let it work its savoury magic upon you whilst rivalling the pus sucks hanging from Samantha Eggar's tummy in David Cronenberg's The Brood.

Storytelling and shocks at their very best.

The Film Corner Rating: ****


So there you have it: 10 fine films out of 26. Titles where the ambition of the filmmakers either exceeds their reach as filmmakers and/or falls short in the delivery department, but are worth seeing include "C" is for Capital Punishment, "F" is for Falling, "J" is for Jesus, "L" is for Legacy and "O" is for Ochlocracy. Adding these titles to the list increases the watchability-factor to 15 out of 26 titles. Adding middle of the road mediocrity (no need to point fingers on this inevitability) increases watchability to 19 out of 26 titles. The most horrendously disappointing film is master filmmaker Larry Fessenden's lazy effort "N" is for Nexus. The number of shorts that suck dirty, sweaty scrotum (including Fessenden's) are a mere 7 out of 26 titles. Not too bad at all when you get right down to it. Add to this mix cool opening and closing title sequences to the whole anthology and The ABCs of Death 2 yields a fine genre treat for horror lovers - especially as Halloween is looming.

THE FILM CORNER RATING for all 10 titles in the 3-5-Star Range: **** 4-Stars
THE FILM CORNER RATING for all 19 titles in the 2-5-Star Range: *** 3-Stars
THE FILM CORNER RATING for the whole 26-title package: **½ 2-and-a-half Stars

The ABCs of Death 2 had its Canuck launch at the 2014 edition of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. It will be released theatrically in Canada (and via VOD and digital platforms) on October 31, 2014 through everyone's have Canuck indie distributor VSC. Playdates include the following:

On Demand and iTunes October 20, In Theatres October 31

Opens October 31
Toronto – Carlton Cinema, 20 Carlton Street
Calgary – Globe Cinema, 617 8th Avenue Southwest

Opens November 1
Vancouver – Rio Theatre, 1660 East Broadway

Opens November 5
Montreal – Centre PHI, 407 Rue Saint Pierre

Opens November 7
Ottawa – The Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank Street

Magnet Releasing is handling the distribution honours in USA

Friday, 17 October 2014

DeadSnow2REDvsDEADakaDødSnø2 ReviewByGregKlymkiw 2014TorontoAfterDarkFilmFestivalOct18@9:30pm

A rotting, flesh-eating Obergruppenführer der
Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei Zombie
Waffen is no mere wurst einen Gehackte Leber!
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
aka"Død snø 2" (2014)
Dir. Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas, Stig Frode Henriksen, Jesper Sundnes, Tage Guddingsmo, Charlotte Frogner

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Those plucky Nazi Zombies have returned to invade contemporary Norway, but there's little need to see the precursor to this sequel, since the first instalment wasn't especially good to begin with, nor is there any real need to get up to speed with it. All one needs to know is that the latest shenanigans of Der Führer's rotting, flesh-eating Waffen-SS in Død snø 2, is a truly jaw-agape treat of the highest order.

Martin (Vegar Hoel) is hell bent on avenging his girlfriend's death from the first Nazi Zombie outing. However, a major screw-up finds zombie Kommandant Herzog's (Orjan Gamst) hand sewn onto Martin's arm. Herzog, in turn, now sports Martin's hand. Complications ensue from the swap and lead to laughs-a-plenty and a running homage to Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead.

Herzog's goal is to complete a mission ordered by Der Führer - a major offensive against Norway. With the help of Zombie-Squad basement-dwelling geeks from America and resurrecting Soviet zombies, it doesn't take too long for an all-out battle on Norwegian soil. Carnage ultimately rules the day. The movie has a few shock-cut scares, but for the most part, it's very existence is rooted in non-stop gross-out gags, thus solidifying Død snø 2 as a madcap farce, replete with a barrage of Zucker-Abrams-Zucker-like one-liners and slapstick humour. There's nothing really scary about the picture, but it's a damn joyous one.

Amusingly, the movie features a very strange homage to Star Wars and manages to sneak in famous lines of dialogue into the proceedings. I'm no fan of Lucas's blockbuster space opera, but the geek-meter in me still hit the top bubble when I encountered the dialogue in what feels like virtually every scene in Dead Snow 2. God knows I found this movie way more entertaining than any of the Star Wars movies (and, for that matter, many others), but then again, how could any movie that feels like Braveheart with Nazi Zombies and Norwegians, not be anything less than captivating?

With movies like this one, there was a halcyon time when you used to be able to say, with a bit of tongue-in-cheek, "Oh, those crazy Germans!" Given the oddball movie output of Norway in recent years, one is more likely to emit the friendly chiding, "Oh, those crazy Norwegians!"

(And, of course, as this film is Norwegian, but shot in bloody Iceland, feel free to add, "Oh, those crazy Goolies!")

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars

>Død snø 2 plays the 2014 Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Visit the TADFF website HERE!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

EVERYTHING & EVERYTHING & EVERYTHING, HAPPY B-DAY, INVADERS, SWORDFIGHTS, HE TOOK HIS SKIN OFF FOR ME Reviews by Greg Klymkiw - SHORTS AFTER DARK, 2014 TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL, October18@4:15pm

Shorts After Dark is a stellar lineup of international shorts of the genre-persuasion that make the majority of pieces in the ABCs of Death and VHS anthology features look like so much swill floating in sewage treatment plants. Here's a few reviews of the TADFF offering of bite-sized bloody treats.

Blue Pyramid Expunges Doorknobs
Everything & Everything & Everything (2014)
Dir. Alberto Roldán
Starring: Shane Carruth, Makeda Declet

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Morgan (Shane Carruth, director/actor Primer, Upstream Color) is a slacker. When a blue pyramid appears in his living room, his life morphs into one of ever-increasing corporate greed and adherence to the shackles of corruptible capitalism.

You see, it's all those damned doorknobs that the glowing, almost-monolithic tchochka keeps crapping out, which provide profits and work for a myriad of slackers that Morgan is forced to hire (and offer shares, profits and points to). Alas, corporate culture swallows the slackers whole with far more gluttony than a zombie seeking brains. This clever and funny American indie satire is a daring, deadpan delight.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-stars


A flaxen Frau offers a B-Day surprise
Happy B-Day (2013)
Dir. Holger Frick
Starring: Gabriel Raab, Isabel Thierauch

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The handsome young man (Gabriel Raab) taking a leisurely jog through a wintry German woodland is blissfully at peace. Fluffy blankets of snow adorn the flora of Der Fatherland on this, his hallowed day of birth. He's an easy-going fellow, but he absolutely hates surprises. Alas, he gets more than a few shockers he hadn't planned on when his babe-o-licious GF (Isabel Thierauch) appears out of nowhere.

Like some flaxen, winter-parka-adorned Kriemhild out of Die Nibelungen, the comely ice-queen inadvertently instigates a series of blood-soaked treats. Holger Frick's amusing shocker offers up more than its fair share of surprises and buckets of crimson nectar, but it also sneaks in a perversely dark layer of, uh, heart. It's a gutsy film, in more ways than one.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***1/2 3-and-a-half Stars


Swords Must Be Drawn
Is Virgin Deflowering an
art or craft? 
Swordfights! (2013)
Dir. Nasos Gatzoulis
Starring: Thanos Alexiou, Dimitris Liolios

Review By Greg Klymkiw

A gentleman visits his psychiatrist. During their session, one man reveals that he's professional deflowerer of virgins. The other admits he deflowers them for sport. The battle lines are clear. A duel is inevitable. Swords must be drawn. Swordfights! is an outrageously funny, gorgeously photographed (in monochrome) one-note joke, but it's a downright hilarious one.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars


HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY,
MOTHERFUCKERS!
BLARNEY STONES UP YER ARSES!
Invaders (2014)
Dir. Jason Kupfer
Starring: Ricky Wayne, Jordan Woods-Robinson

Review By Greg Klymkiw

A pair of bumbling home invaders argue about what masks will freak out their potential victims the most. They settle on identical masks that'd definitely instil major freak-outs once a homeowner opens the door - the humungous axes being quite an added adornment. A bloodbath ensues. A most unexpected and knee-slappingly funny expulsion of blood at that.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars


DO NOT REMOVE YOUR SKIN!
YOU CAN'T JUST PASTE IT BACK!
He Took His Skin Off For Me (2014)
Dir. Ben Aston Writer: Maria Hummer
Starring: Anna Maguire, Sebastian Armrest

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Having seen more short films than anyone in their right mind should (in addition to the ludicrous number of features I've seen in my life), it's especially gratifying to see a polished gem like this one - and not just polished, not just a gem, but a film that brilliantly contributes to expanding cinema's boundaries.

After spending 13 years as a senior creative consultant and teacher at Uncle Norman Jewison's film school the Canadian Film Centre and presiding over the mentorship of Jesus-H-Christ-Knows-How-Many short films, I'm relatively well versed in what it takes for young filmmakers to generate truly original and cutting-edge work in such a setting (often quite impossible given the pressure placed on them by - ugh - "industry stakeholders"). Since the mid-90s, far too many burgeoning filmmakers have squandered the opportunity (especially, though not exclusively in North America) to generate short films that work, quite simply, as good, if not great, films - period. Too many have been drawn to the "Look Ma, I can use a dolly, but have nothing to say" calling card nonsense which allows them a shot at camera jockeying series television (not too egregious in Jolly Old Blighty, though) or worse, making short-form versions of feature films they almost never end up making. It's enough to make a movie lover sick to the stomach. Once in awhile, though, once in a Blue Moon, once upon a mattress (as it were), a short film comes along - from a film student in an academic setting - that blows the living pants off everyone who sees it. He Took His Skin Off For Me is just such a film.

Based on a short story and screenplay by Maria Hummer, director Ben Aston has crafted a delectably creepy, darkly hilarious and jaw-droppingly perverse love story which traverses the mine fields of contemporary notions of sacrifice within the context of male-female relationships (though, frankly, any significant other coupling might well apply). Sacrifice in relationships has always been at the forefront of any deeply passionate and lasting union, but in recent decades, with the steady collapse of traditional family units and the rightful advance of women in modern societies, sacrifice, it seems can often take on the most ludicrous extremes. Here, Hummer and Aston, cleverly focus on the more traditional aspects of a relationship - one that seems to be a reflection of the kinds of traditions which can spell death for any relationship - where the rituals of what it means to be "traditional" settle into a kind of dull-as-dishwater existence of comfort and expectation.

Here, we have a couple who seek to put some pizzaz and pep back into their love. When the hubby makes an extreme sacrifice to literally remove his outer layer of flesh, things are clearly new and exciting, but once the relationship begins to settle back into familiar territory, it seems that the irreversible sacrifice is all for nought.

There are several elements which make the film work as well as it does. First and foremost is the simple approach it takes to rendering the tale. The filmmakers do not shy away from utilizing a borderline literary voiceover which is not only deftly scribed, but played with a delicate deadpan. The actions of the characters are also played straight and if there's any tongue-in-cheek at all, it seeps quite naturally from the proceedings due to the Buster-Keaton-like visages applied by both leads. The almost matter-of-fact acceptance of the inconvenience-factor in having no skin (trails and stains of blood that need to be endlessly cleaned) is what has us alternately laughing and grimacing. Aston's compositions and colour-schemes are also imbued with an aplomb that borders on muted - not unlike the approach David Lynch takes in his best work where the utterly insane proceedings are all the more insane because nobody on screen (or off, for that matter) is going out of their way to point a finger at it.

It's also gratifying to see that the special makeup effects are rendered without digital manipulations. This always adds a remarkably naturalistic touch to tales of the fantastical. This is especially important here given the fact that the film is often rooted in a kind of skewed realism that reflects the lives of so many (if not all).

This is a thesis film generated at the London Film School.

Bravo! It's a great short film no matter how, when or why it was generated. That it is the work of young talents, however, speaks volumes about their considerable talent, promise and yes, any powers-that-be that allowed them the freedom to create a work of singular and lasting value.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** 4-Stars

Shorts After Dark at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival includes the aforementioned delights in addition to four others. For further info, visit the TADFF website HERE.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

SUBURBAN GOTHIC - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TORONTO AFTER DARK 2014 - Toronto Premiere Oct15@9:45pm

Something's not quite right in the
SUBURBS.
Tell me something
I don't know.
Suburban Gothic (2014)
Dir. Richard Bates Jr.
Starring: Matthew Gray Gubler, Kat Dennings, Ray Wise, Barbara Niven, Mel Rodriguez, John Waters, Sally Kirkland, Jeffrey Combs, Mackenzie Phillips, Jennifer Lynch, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Muse Watson

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Suburbia is one of the easiest targets in the world to wrench a few laughs from, but when the aim is true, as it is in the cool, funny and sexy horror comedy Suburban Gothic, then a spirited romp through familiar territory can indeed seem new and decidedly fun again. Helmer Richard Bates Jr. and co-scribe Richard Bruner serve up a wild phantasm of slacker ennui amidst the scares in this tale of the un/under-employed-un-employable mop-haired MBA grad Richard (Matthew Gray Gubler) who's forced by a lack of finances to move in with his horrendously straight-laced parents (Ray Wise, Barbara Niven) in their bungalow ensconced in the dull domain of the leafy, sun-dappled 'burbs.

Richard's got a problem. Well, he has many problems: a nagging, bullying jock Dad, a spin-cycle Mom and that annoying employment (or lack thereof) issue, but the real spanner in the works is that he's got a disturbingly paranormal tendency to connect with the dead.

The family home is undergoing massive landscaping renovations via a sleaze-ball contractor (Mel Rodriguez) whose prolonged topographical desecrations are raising the ire of the dearly departed. Richard seeks solace in the local watering hole where he connects romantically with the goth-chick bartender Becca (Kat Dennings). In no time at all, the anti-establishment couple are making like an amalgam of Shaggy, Freddie, Daphne, Velma and Scooby-Dooby-Doo in order to get to the bottom of the ghostly apparitions and dead bodies terrorizing the town.

The script is chock-full of fun banter, zippy one-liners and spirited (in more ways than one) characters. The terrific cast is more than up to the challenge of spitting out their dialogue with all the requisite screwball skill and helmer Bates Jr. fills his frame with garish 80s colour schemes to allow for splashes of suitably grotesque backdrops for all the verbal jousting. Adding to the mix is a sprightly score and grungy songs, providing added oomph to the whole buoyant affair.

Though the plot races perfunctorily to an expected conclusion during the final third of the running time, we tend to be overly forgiving of this flaw since so much of the movie is just downright diverting. Thankfully, all the aforementioned is played straight by the leads, especially the uber-hilarious Ray Wise. The filmmakers happily cram a month-of-Sundays worth of cool cameos by an all-star assemblage of popular filmmakers (John Waters and the babe-o-licious Soska Sisters) and cult-stars of yesteryear (gotta love Sally Kirkland and Jeffrey Combs) to make the picture a geeky, gosh-golly-gee fanboys' delight.

Let the nocturnal emissions begin.

Suburban Gothic is in town.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars

Suburban Gothic enjoys its Toronto Preniere at the 2o14 edition of Toronto's After Dark Film Festival. For further info, visit the TADFF 2014 website HERE.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

TIME LAPSE - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TORONTO AFTER DARK 2014 - Toronto Premiere: Oct. 21/2014 @ 9:30pm

Time Lapse (2014)
Dir. Bradley King
Writers: King and B.P. Cooper
Starring: Danielle Panabaker, Matt O'Leary, George Finn, Amin Joseph, Jason Spisak, John Rhys-Davies

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Originality rules the day in this cool, clever, compulsively suspenseful and slow-burning science fiction shocker. The superb screenplay by co-producer B.P. Cooper and helmer Bradley King puts the accent on character and creepy-crawly chills. Focusing on a Fine Arts grad (Matt O'Leary), his hot-babe significant other (Danielle Panabaker) and their roommate, a charming slacker bro-mantic buddy (George Finn), the happy-go-lucky troika happen upon a mysterious camera that seems to have the power to capture images from the future.

Coming up with the mad plan to use their secret discovery to score big at the dog races seems like a good idea, but in Richard-Matheson-like Twilight Zone fashion, all does not go according to plan. Whilst buoyant shenanigans and considerable profits follow, mounting greed, sexual tension and backstabbing eventually ooze into the trio's good fortunes. When we're introduced to a suspiciously malevolent scum-bucket bookie (Jason Spisak), his tough psycho henchman (David Figlioli) and a too-curious security guard turned cop (Amin Joseph), sci-fi starts dipping its toe into the film noir territory of a criminal underbelly. Genre-bending murder and mayhem aren’t far behind.

Tautly directed and magnificently acted, Time Lapse is as good, if not better than most studio pictures that might have attempted similar high concept approaches. Unlike most studio efforts, the accent on atmosphere and some provocative thematic concerns dealing with friendship and morality would have given way, no doubt, to empty bombast.

Thankfully, true independence has yielded a terrific little picture that proves how talented mavericks can move a mountain. Time Lapse manages to move not one mere mountain, but several mighty ranges to yield a killer thriller.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***½ Three-and-a-half Stars Time Lapse has its Toronto Premiere at the 2014 edition of Toronto After Dark

Monday, 13 October 2014

THE DROWNSMAN - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2014 - October 19, 2014 @ 4:15pm

The old "Red Rose Tea" slogan:
"Only in Canada, you say? A pity."
The Drownsman (2014)
Dir. Chad Archibald
Script. Archibald & Cody Calahan
Starring: Michelle Mylett, Caroline Korycki, Gemma Bird Matheson, Sydney Kondruss, Clare Bastable, Ry Barrett, JoAnn Nordstrom, Breanne TeBoekhorst

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The Canuck creative team responsible for last year’s modest apocalyptic “infection” thriller Antisocial are virtual poster boys for the (not-so) stereotypical notion that Canadians are indeed quaintly polite. The Drownsman, their all-new idiosyncratic, almost politically mindful and artistically fetishistic lunatic will never fill the mighty shoes of 70s/80s slicers-and-dicers like Jason Voorhees, Freddie Kreuger and Michael Myers. He has, it seems, no interest in stalking, hacking and/or maiming his nubile victims. His needs are simple. He wishes to drown them. Like the old Commonwealth adage, "No sex, please, we're British," The Drownsman revels in its colonial roots with, “No bloodletting, please, we're Canadian (though drowning will do very nicely with our maple syrup, thanks).”

Delivering what amounts to an origin story for a fatally flawed franchise-to-be, the opening few minutes find us in a dank chamber where our title wacko (Ry Barrett), a hulking, greasily bedraggled rogue hauls a fetching babe into a metal tub. He shoves her head into the water, but it turns out to be the fruitcake's lucky day. Our harassed honey, desperate to survive, proposes he make love to her. The sneaky vixen allows the bounder to expunge his unholy seed within her loins. Whilst he shudders in post-orgasmic bliss, the lithe lassie is able to plunge the creep into the water and drown him.

Twenty-or-so years pass. Hannah (Caroline Korycki) hustles her hot BFF Madison (burgeoning Canuck Scream-Queen Michelle Mylett from Antisocial) to a dock just below the country home where an engagement party is raging. The gals look deeply into each other's eyes and though Sapphic gymnastics loom tantalizingly, we’re instead treated to a "bestie" hug. Hannah asks Madison to be her Maid of Honor then immediately excuses herself to go off and take a slash, thus allowing Madison to conveniently slip, fall, whack her noggin on the floor of the dock and roll into the water. A rotting ghostly version of the drowned psycho-water-fetishist from the picture’s opening offers Madison a malevolent howdy-doo, but she’s plucked handily out of harm’s way by a gaggle of rescue-minded babes. How safe she or her friends will eventually be remains to be seen when it's revealed that the purulent, waterlogged drowning-aficionado is her biological Dad (lest we forget the vaginal pounding he delivered).

One year later, on the night of Hannah's wedding, Madison quivers under the blankets in her bedroom as it rains cats and dogs outdoors. Hannah unexpectedly bursts in. It seems our troubled heroine has skipped her Maid of Honor duties and the blushing bride is crimson with anger. Since her brush with the Drownsman, Madison has been a basket case. She's now so terrified of water that she can't even drink it, requiring a constant I.V. to keep her flush with fluids. Since her fear of water nixes showers and bathtubs, why Hannah would want a foul, rank, unwashed Maid of Honor, albeit one who looks surprisingly scrubbed and gorgeous at all times, is perhaps the film's greatest mystery. The next evening Madison’s babe pals plan to cure her hydrophobia once and for all by dunking her in a tub full of H2O.

At this point, one might be thinking, "Horror movies don't all have to be stupid, do they?"

Though it’s tempting to applaud the film’s makers for trying to create a new 70s/80s-style signature killer, there’s something a touch imbecilic about one who literally sucks babes through the drain pipes of pretty much any receptacle that holds water so he can drown them. Sadly, he never once has the good humour to use a toilet bowl or bidet. This is indeed, the trouble. The movie is so deadly serious and completely without humour (a hallmark of classic horror-meisters, especially Wes Craven) that the meandering screenplay by helmer Chad Archibald and co-scribe Cody Calahan barely generates any shivers. Worse yet, The Drownsman doesn't even qualify as unintentionally funny. It’s simply a style-bereft misfire.

Some of its tech credits hold up admirably under the weight of the film’s low budget and general artistic malaise. The design of the title psycho ghost is suitably grotesque, the lensing and lighting prove adequately sharp, a creepily effective musical score manages to rise above its stock origins and leading lassie Michelle Mylett is clearly a decent actress whom the camera truly loves. She’ll no doubt be in demand for much better work. The uninspired film’s life, however, seems destined to play-off for bamboozled horror fans who make the mistake of choosing to partake via the usual home entertainment platforms this should be handily relegated to.

And you know, it seems somewhat egregious when filmmakers deliver a no-to-low-budget horror movie replete with babes and none of them are naked - or hell, even attired more aggressively in their undies. This is the nadir of stupidity.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *½ One-and-a-half-stars.

The Drownsman has its Toronto Premiere at the 2014 edition of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

ZOMBEAVERS - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Toronto Premiere Toronto After Dark Film Fest 2014 - Oct.18@7:00pm


BABES & BEAVERS are BEAUTIFUL BEDFELLOWS
Zombeavers (2014)
Dir. Jordan Rubin
Starring: A whack o' babes, guys, old people & beavers

Review By Greg Klymkiw

If you see Zombeavers and complain that the movie was nothing more than nubile babes and their boyfriends getting attacked by zombie beavers and turning into half-human-half-zombie-beavers themselves, then you're pretty much a fucking idiot.

Make no mistake, this is what you're going to get:

A couple of inbred truck drivers spill a load of toxic waste into the water near a beaver dam.

A gaggle of babes is headed up to the cottage for a weekend away from their dopey, horny boyfriends. The guys show up anyway. Soon, between boink-o-rama shenanigans, the toxic-waste-infected beavers begin to feed.

A few of our hapless babes and hunks grow beaver teeth and are greedily looking to feed. They are. after all, beavers now.

In addition to the aforementioned scintillating plot, you will be party to some of the crudest, sexist and borderline misogynist jokes imaginable. There will be topless sunbathing and, for those so inclined, geysers of blood.

The film is mercifully short and if I was to say I didn't admit I enjoyed every second of it, I don't know how I'd ever be able to look at myself in the mirror ever again - at least not without thinking, "Asshole!".

So, please, if you're planning to see a movie called Zombeavers, rest assured it's exactly what you're going to get.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: **½ 2-and-a-Half Stars.

Zombeavers receives a Toronto premiere at TADFF 2014.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

PREDESTINATION - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Toronto Premiere Toronto After Dark 2014 - Oct. 21 @ 7:00pm


In search of a hermaphrodite & humanity.
Predestination (2014)
Dir. Michael and Peter Spierig
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor

Review By Greg Klymkiw

This is the kind of annoying science fiction time travel picture that gets film critics all hard and/or wet due to its "clever" gender-bending calisthenics amidst time-bending aerobatics which yield "deep humanity" twixt the thrills. Alas, there's nothing especially exciting about this adaptation of a Robert A. Heinlein tome, which I've not read. For all I know it's relatively faithful, but if so, then I can't imagine it's much good. The Spierig Twins, who've never displayed anything especially unique as filmmakers, save from being identical, have generated a dull as dishwater tale of a "Temporal Agent" (Ethan Hawke) who's on the trail of a criminal through the intricacies of time travel.

He's yet to nail the bugger and both his existence and that of the known universe is dependent upon it. His target appears to be a hermaphrodite (Sarah Snook) who birthed a babe as a woman and pulls off terrorist activities as a man. The terrorist activities haven't happened yet, though they have, but they won't if Hawke manages to do his job properly. Much of the movie is comprised of endlessly talky scenes in a pub where Hawke works as a bartender (undercover, 'natch) and chats up the young fella who was once a woman and moonlights as a "true confessions" style columnist called "The Unmarried Mother". Ugh.

With great indie time travel films around like Time Lapse and decent mainstream items like Looper, the existence of Predestination seems dubious at best. Someone will like it, though. Precious, pretentious critics, no doubt.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: * One-Star

Predestination has its Toronto Premiere at Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2014.

Friday, 10 October 2014

HOUSEBOUND - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Opening Night Gala Toronto After Dark Film Fest - Oct.16@7:00pm


Being the tender tale of a mother-daughter,
an amiable paranormal investigator,
a creepy Teddy and a creepier social worker.
One right Royal Kiwi Kitchen Sink!
Housebound (2014)
Dir. Gerard Johnstone
Starring: Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Cameron Rhodes, Ross Harper, Mick Innes, Millen Baird

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Kylie (Morgana O'Reilly) is a nasty piece of work. Since leaving home, the chunky, unkempt, greasy, tattooed and criminally-minded lassie has been through the revolving doors of Kiwi drug rehab clinics and courtrooms more times than she can remember. A not-unsympathetic judge working for Her Majesty's Crown in New Zealand has all the facts at his fingertips. Her latest escapade involved smashing into an ATM for drug money. Deciding Kylie needs some stability in her life. albeit forced, he orders her to several months under house arrest in the countryside with her dear Mum (Rima Te Wiata) in the old country homestead.

Prison might have been better.

The family home was never a place Kylie felt comfortable. With its overgrown yard, gnarly trees, scrubby woods and a creepy neighbour (Mick Innes) to boot, Mummy dearest's musty, ramshackle, pack-rat-crowded old house is chock-full of too many bad memories. It's hardly conducive to a mentally healthy recovery, especially since Kylie's forced to wear an electronic ankle bracelet which keeps her from seeking any respite from the dusty claustrophobia of her childhood home. Adding insult to injury is the incessant nattering of her Mum and regular visits from a smarmy court-appointed slime-bucket councillor (Cameron Rhodes). Her only friend turns out to be an unlikely one, the beefy, amiable security dude Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), hired by the corrections department to monitor her incarceration.

Worst of all, it appears the house is haunted.

Luckily for Kylie, Amos is an amateur paranormal investigator and the two team up to solve the mystery of odd noises and goings-on. Needless to say, there's a whole lot more than meets the eye. Think of Housebound as an extreme kitchen sink melodrama (so popular in the UK during the 60s), that's infused with loads of black comedy, more red herrings than you can shake a stick at, plenty of muted whisperings, things going bump in the night, a surfeit of shock cuts and eventually, a few gallons of bloodletting.

Debut helmer and chief scribe Gerard Johnson, keeps the atmosphere thick with suspense and punctuates the numerous shocks with big laughs. If there's a problem it's that Johnson's script is too packed with red herrings and that it spins its wheels during the last third of the film. It's also a tiny bit of a letdown to discover that what seems to be, isn't, and is, in fact something else altogether.

Still and all, Housebound is an intelligent and finely wrought genre item. That its characters are vaguely plain, plain-spoken and a bit repulsive is an added bonus. If and when the movie is remade in Hollywood, it'll be scrubbed to a lily white and zapped dry of everything that makes it fresh.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars

Housebound is the Opening Night Gala at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

THE GUEST - Review By Greg Klymkiw - New Wingard Thriller opens theatrically in Toronto on October 17, 2014

Good thrillers ALWAYS have
BABES & HUNKS
(in addition to being, uh, good).
The Guest (2014)
Dir. Adam Wingard
Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe

Review By Greg Klymkiw

This creepy, edge-of-you-seat thriller is a cool contemporary take on Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. It ain't Hitchcock (what is?) and The Master would never let scribe Simon Barrett get away with the disappointing, too-predictable "shocker" reveal that slides its way into the proceedings, but director Wingard more-than-ably puts his terrific thespians through decent blood-soaked gymnastics.

David (Dan Stevens) is an old army pal of a young fella who bravely died in Afghanistan. When he returns after his tour of duty in, David pays a surprise visit to the lad's grieving family to convey his sympathy, but also to relay verbal messages croaked out during his friend's death rattles. The family is so charmed by the handsome, but kind of "off" David, that he's invited into their home to stay.

Caleb's little sister, the babe-o-licious Anna (Maika Monroe, also leading the casting charge in It Follows) is certainly enamoured with David's buff, hunky good looks, but as the film progresses, she's able to see there's something not all together right with The Guest. Danger looms, as does the bloodletting.

When it's revealed that David might not entirely be telling the truth, she keeps her eye on him and eventually realizes her family might be at risk of being iced. This is not only a good deal for thriller fans, but it's a nice contemporary spin on Hitch's classic by utilizing the whole backdrop of psychos-in-the-army, post-traumatic stress disorder and, of course, America's ridiculous waste of human life in their moronic "war on terror".

Wingard's direction here is more taut and assured than You're Next, his previous outing and even when the plot veers into please-don't-go-there territory (a similar problem that afflicted the aforementioned 2011 thriller), it's still a sheer delight to see how well he manages the carnage, action and suspense. No need to be a total grumpy-pants about the disenchantment with the turns eventually taken by the plot, as The Guest is a corker of a thriller that'll more than satisfy one's need to accidentally expunge waste matter in one's panties.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars

The Guest is a Dfilms release opening theatrically in Toronto with, hopefully, a wider release to follow.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

DIRTY WEEKEND - Review By Greg Klymkiw - UK-France Co-Pro Crime-triple-hander not just lame, but legless.

The movie is as good as its poster.
Dirty Weekend (2013)
Dir. Christopher Granier-Deferre
Starring: Kirsty Oswald, Jamie Parker, Pierre Perrier, Bernard Blancan, Didier Vinson

Review By Greg Klymkiw

A singularly unattractive British couple (Kirsty Oswald, Jamie Parker) - not just skin-deep ugliness, either - have their weekend of illicit amore in a country cottage in France scuttled by the appearance of a murderous scumbag (Pierre Perrier) who's in possession of a whack of stolen gold coins. The couple sees dollar signs in their eyes and a drawn-out cat and mouse game ensues, replete with a surfeit of poorly-scribed (by Geoffrey Gunn) yakking, familiar story tropes and clumsily-wrought "suspense".

The only respite from this plodding mediocrity is the appearance of two seemingly bumbling gendarmes (Bernard Blancan, Didier Vinson) who bring some wit to the proceedings. The performances of the leads are imbued with competence, but the characters give them little to do but try to breathe life into ever-so familiar stick figures.

This dreadfully inconsequent film might play for bleary-eyed viewers with little taste in the middle of the night on VOD. The rest of us, should probably cut our toenails instead.

THE FILM CORNER RATING:
*½ One-and-a-half-stars


levelFILM will release Dirty Weekend on VOD & digital in Canada & the USA on October 14, 2014.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Klymkiw Reviews 3 short films U can't miss at FNC (Festival international du nouveau cinéma de Montréal) - AVEC LE TEMPS (aka BEFORE I GO), MYNARSKI DEATH PLUMMET, THE WEATHERMAN AND THE SHADOWBOXER

WHITE LIGHT OF SNOW
LIGHT OF NATURAL WORLD
LIGHT OF FLASH FRAME
LIGHT OF FLASH FRAME SHADOW
LIGHT OF SPIRIT
AVEC LE TEMPS
aka Before I Go (2014)
Dir. Mark Morgenstern

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Mark Morgenstern's exquisite new film reminds us of the oft-neglected poetic qualities of cinema. Avec le temps/Before I Go also happens to be a real film. It's "real" in that it was actually shot on real film. Its beauty and importance lies in the evocation of the greatest narrative of all - life, death and the seasonal journey of every beat of our lives. Like a short end, life is like a series of leftover bits, seemingly unused and discarded, yet there to be used and to comprise the whole of our existence. Like a flash frame, life is also adorned with those mistakes of perception that are very real, but are so fleeting that we might only be aware of them in times of either repose, reflection and/or death. Like Tom Berner, life only has meaning when we give selflessly to the passion which drives us and, in turn, drives those who receive the benefit of gifts given by those with no other agenda other than to do what has to be done in order to make life richer.

A "short end" is unexposed motion picture negative that is left over at the end of a film roll when the next take cannot be achieved with the amount of stock actually left on the roll. Over the course of shooting any film, especially a series of shorts or a single feature, there can be enough "short ends" to make a whole new film out of. A "flash frame" occurs when the camera is stopped while the gate is still open, leaving a blank frame of extremely overexposed stock. Even better is when the camera takes a few pubic hairs to get up to speed before cranking and allows a frame or two of "flashes", which are, essentially, blasted out frames which include picture. A "Tom Berner" is a man who made independent film a reality for several generations of artists. On the surface, he was a lab rep at Toronto's Film House and Deluxe, but beneath the layers of flesh, he was the spirit of cinema in Canada during a time when it needed him most. It still needs him, but he retired in 2001 and passed away in 2004.

Those whose lives were touched by his, will hopefully be able to infuse others with their own touches of self-sacrificing devotion to the art of film. If cinema is not consecration, it's nothing.

Avec le temps/Before I Go begins with the image of nature resting under a fluffy blanket of snow. The film moves into an interior where faceless shadows appear furtively amidst objects of both beauty and decay. The film has quite literally been constructed with short ends. With occasional flashes of fleeting frames the movie ultimately leaves us with the words "for Tom Berner" on its final frames before the end title credits.

Throughout Morgenstern's haunting, yet joyous and yes, occasionally and alternately creepy film is the light of day through the windows. The light changes as do the seasons - from darkness into light. Ultimately, we're left with the whiteness we began with. No longer is it the chilly scenes of winter, but the warmth and spirit of life itself, which is, ultimately death - a new stage in the journey of existence. A montage of flash frames and extremely short ends (shots), blow our mind during the film's climax, like Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey Stargate sequence, albeit with neo-realist dollops, which lead to and leave us with the dedication to the late Tom Berner, enveloped, of course, by light.

We're reminded of two other key moments in cinema.

1. Clarence, the guardian angel's words to George Bailey in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life:

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives.
When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

2. Most evocatively, Morgenstern's film reminds us of Gabriel's voice-over at the conclusion of John Huston's immortal film adaptation of James Joyce's short story The Dead:

"One by one, we're all becoming shades. Better to pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. . . Think of all those who ever were, back to the start of time. And me, transient as they, flickering out as well into their grey world. Like everything around me, this solid world itself which they reared and lived in, is dwindling and dissolving. Snow is falling. . . Falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living, and the dead."

Avec le temps/Before I Go is 12 minutes long. Morgenstern evokes a lifetime in that 12 minutes. It's proof positive of cinema's gifts and how they must not be squandered, but used to their absolute fullest.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***** 5-Stars

Canada's Great War Hero, Andrew Mynarski VC,
Shooting Star of Selfless Sacrifice, a man of Bronze.
Mynarski Death Plummet (2014)
Dir. Matthew Rankin
Starring: Alek Rzeszowski, Annie St-Pierre, Robert Vilar, Louis Negin

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The true promise, the very future of the great Dominion of Canada and La Belle Province lies beneath the soil of France and Belgium. Between World Wars I and II, Canada lost close to 2% of its population, the vast majority of whom were the country's youngest and brightest from the ages of 16 to 30. Canadian lads bravely served on the front lines, well ahead of the glory-grabbing Americans, the Yankee Doodle mop-up crew that dandily sauntered overseas after all the hard work was paid for by the blood spilled upon European soil by the very heart and soul of Canada's future and that of so many other countries not bearing the Red, White and Blue emblem of puffery. As a matter of fact, any of the best and bravest in Canada came from Winnipeg and if you had to pick only one hero of the Great Wars from anywhere in the country, Andrew Mynarski, a gunner in the famed Moose Squadron, would be the one, the only. He is the subject of Matthew Rankin's perfect gem of a film, the one, the only genuine cinematic work of art to detail the valiant sacrifice, the one, the only, the unforgettable Mynarski Death Plummet.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***** 5-Stars
Read the full review HERE

A maze begins in childhood & never ends.
The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer (2014)
Dir. Randall Okita

Review By Greg Klymkiw

One of Canada's national filmmaking treasures, Randall Okita (Portrait as a Random Act of Violence), takes the very simple story of two brothers and charts how a tragic event in childhood placed them on very different, yet equally haunted (and haunting) paths.

Fusing live action that ranges from noir-like, shadowy, rain-splattered locales to the strange, colourful (yet antiseptically so) world of busy, high-tech, yet empty reportage, mixing it up with reversal-stock-like home movie footage, binding it altogether in a kind of cinematic mixmaster with eye popping animation and we're offered-up a simple tale that provides a myriad of levels to tantalize, intrigue and finally, catch us totally off-guard and wind us on a staggering emotional level.

Winner of the Toronto International Film Festival's 2014 Grand Prize for Best Canadian Short Film.
THE FILM CORNER RATING:
**** 4-Stars

Read the full review HERE

For further information visit the FNC - Festival international du nouveau cinéma de Montréal website HERE

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