TORONTO AFTER DARK REVIEW: SUBURBAN GOTHIC

DELIRIUM is at the 2014 TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL and will be reviewing new horror and cult films right from the front lines of the festival. Here’s our first entry from critic and writer Cheryl Singleton.

By Cheryl Singleton

As a fan of Richard Bates Jr.’s deliciously disturbing 2012 debut EXCISION, I was anxious to feast my eyes on what would follow. A first taste via the trailer for SUBURBAN GOTHIC did not disappoint. With a super-saturated bubblegum palate, snappy dialogue and a killer cast including Matthew Gray Gubler (CRIMINAL MINDS), Kat Dennings (NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST) and the fan favourite Ray Wise (TWIN PEAKS) I was ready to take another bloody ride with the director.

Having missed the World Premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival back in August, I was delighted to see it would be playing on the opening night of the 9 day Toronto After Dark Film Festival along with Gerard Johnstone’s popular genre mash-up HOUSEBOUND. The two were a perfect pair of oddly hilarious horror films that left a smile on my face for the rest of the night.

While not in the flesh at the screening, Bates Jr. provided a video intro where he warned that this film would be “totally a complete departure from my last movie” Noting that he was unable to get a film made after the graphically disturbing EXCISION, he fell into a depression that led him to revisit things from his childhood that made him happy including watching ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK and SCOOBY DOO cartoons and reading THE HARDY BOYS. With that in mind I was ready to sink into this “children’s film for adults” that he had created.

Unable to find a job in upper management after completing business school, Raymond (Gray Gubler) has no choice but to move back in with his parents in the small town he thought he had escaped years ago. Once an overweight kid obsessed with the supernatural and prone to ghostly visions and high-pitched http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/womans-health/ screams, Raymond has shed the pounds and stopped communicating with the dead, though he remains an outsider thanks to his “European” style of dress and hair that is a character unto itself. Raymond’s parents are split on his return. His mother Eve (Barbara Niven) channels the perfect 50’s housewife and is thrilled to have her little boy back home while his ridiculously bigoted football coach father Donald (Wise) couldn’t be more embarrassed by the arrival of his jobless metro-sexual son.

Bonding with the local bartender Becca (Dennings) over too many drinks, regrettable tattoos and the shared disdain for their town, the snarky pair become fast friends. When Raymond begins to experience strange paranormal occurrences at home (including a particularly cringe worthy piano/ toe nail duet) the two form a misfit ghost hunting team armed with Becca’s trusty crowbar to get to the bottom of it. Gray Gubler and Dennings each bring a crackling energy to the screen which is at its best when they are together. The end of the film suggests more mysteries are in store for the duo and I can only hope to see these explored in some fashion.

While the pace slows at the end of the second act, some secondary characters including the local bullies feel unnecessary and Donald’s prejudices begin to feel a bit heavy, it is not enough to derail the overall fun of the movie.

SUBURBAN GOTHIC is a grown up SCOOBY-DOO mystery complete with characters disguising themselves as ghosts by wearing bed sheets, but by no means is it childish. Between the razor sharp dialogue, the over the top costuming (kudos to designer Anthony Tran), the punk rock energy and the amount of time the characters spend speaking directly into the camera, this film is in your face from start to finish.

EXCISION and SUBURBAN GOTHIC could not be more different yet I was equally enthralled with both. I can’t wait to see what Richard Bates Jr. does next.

DELIRIUM REVIEW: 9/10

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: STAGEFRIGHT

By Jerry Smith

Michele Soavi’s 1987 film STAGEFRIGHT is a favorite to many horror aficionados and now the Italian classic gets the Blu-ray treatment from Blue Underground with this release and boy oh boy, does it look better than ever.

Following a somewhat troubled musical number that ends up being quite the deadly experience, STAGEFRIGHT establishes an excellent tone from the very beginning, setting forth a downright beautiful look full of color and style, before even getting to any real danger within the film’s plot. By the time the film’s heroine twists her ankle and heads to a psychiatric hospital to get it fixed (strange I know) we’re already on board with not only the look of the film, but also its characters, a group of needy and overly dramatic theater actors who each bring a really fun presence to the film. Soon after arriving at the hospital, one thing leads to another and a mental patient, guilty of slaughtering a dozen people, escapes and hitches a ride back to the theater, where the troupe is being subjected to an intense rehearsal by the show’s director.

Everything leading up to that point in the film, is all about setting forth that tone and feeling, allowing STAGEFRIGHT’s viewers to get hooked into a question of what’s coming next. What does end up coming, next is that the entire group gets trapped inside of the theater, with the killer hiding within and he soon dispatching them, one by one.

What sets STAGEFRIGHT apart from every other slasher film released at the time, is how tense it can feel, all while also feeling very playful and visually striking at the same time. It’s one of the few great horror films set within a theater-setting (Bava’s DEMONS and Herrier’s POPCORN also sitting comfortable side by side with it), something that gives you as a viewer a very confined and sometimes claustrophobic feelin. Topped with some excellent kills, with everything from axes, chainsaws, drills and everything in between used as ways to off each cast member one by one, STAGEFRIGHT also boasts one unforgettable killer, wearing an owl-head costume while chopping people to pieces, and trying to stage his own stage piece. It’s one of those horror films that really stands out in pretty much every capacity, with a fun plot, over the top performances, great kills, and last but definitely not least, an excellent electronic-based score by Simon Boswell (DEMONS 2, SANTA SANGRE).

Blue Underground really did one hell of a job with STAGEFRIGHT’s Blu-ray debut, as it looks absolutely stunning in high definitely, making those beautiful colors and shots stand out even more than they always have. Add the disc’s 5.1 DTS sound to it, and you’ve got by far the best the film has ever looked and sounded. Also on the disc, is over a half dozen interviews with everyone from Soavi himself, to stars of the film, make-up effects artist Pietro Tenoglio, as well as composer Simon Boswell. Each interview is well over the ten minute mark and not a single one feels like the short EPK’s that fill up so many releases these days.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of STAGEFRIGHT or if you’re just in the mood for something new, this is one hell of a release and something that should be in every horror fan’s collection.

DELIRIUM REVIEW 9/10

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UK DVD REVIEW: UNHINGED

by Matty Budrewicz
88 Films dig their heels further into the UK genre market this week by unleashing yet another cult favourite, with Portland indie journeyman Don Gronquist’s moody slasher mystery UNHINGED receiving a welcome DVD reissue. It’s without doubt a step up from any previous disc too, from Platinum’s discount PAL VHS transfer, to Brentwood’s Stateside release – you know, that one with the obnoxious ‘comedy’ (in the loosest sense of the word) commentary. Bleurgh…

Don’t be expecting anything swanky though. For those spoilt by the pin-sharp picture and high-end sound of the recent slew of spiffy special ed blus from Arrow and Scream Factory et al, 88’s no-fuss package will likely horrify; Unhinged is just as rough and ready-looking as ever, thanks to no HD elements being available to create a new master. Still, with two presentations of the film to choose from – a 4×3 open matte or an upscaled anamorphic widescreen version – and an informative talk-track with Gronquist himself, it’s definitely the way to go. Its rock-bottom price tag is just the sweetener.

One of Blighty’s infamous Video Nasties, Unhinged’s inclusion in that notorious line-up is just as nonsensical as the rest of its condemned compadres; perhaps even more so as, unlike the grue excess of CANNIBAL FEROX and FACES OF DEATH, Unhinged eschews artery-splitting mayhem in favour of a handful of off-screen blood splashes. As noted by critic Calum Waddell in 88’s liner notes, its undue attention was probably more down to its stunningly morbid artwork – lovingly reproduced here – than anything particularly explicit within the film itself.

Of course, that’s not to say Unhinged is an easy ride. It’s far from it; a dark, tonally depressing cocktail of familial madness, repression and aberrant sexuality. Like Ruggero Deodato’s landmark gut-muncher CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and Romano Scavolini’s harrowing proto-HENRY, NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN – two of the smartest, and most uncompromising, of the Nasty canon – there’s much more going on thematically than just simple, box-ticking exploitation. Unhinged is elevated cheapjack horror.
Drawing too from the old dark house and psycho-biddy subgenres, Unhinged finds a trio of totty (Laurel Munson, Sara Ansley and Barbara Lusch) sheltering at an isolated, brooding mansion after a car accident. Their hosts, the Penroses, are hospitable but off, with prudish daughter Marion (J.E. Penner) domineered by her screeching, man-hating mother (Virginia Settle). Soon, a killer is prowling the Penrose grounds and, as the body count slowly starts to rise, so too do the skeletons that come creeping out of the deep, dark family closet…

It’s not quite classic stuff: Though atmospheric and showing a great flair for uncomfortable detail, Gronquist’s direction is, even with such a scant seventy-odd minute run time, a touch lax; especially so during Unhinged’s more standard dramatic moments. The performances too range from the overdone to the undercooked, with only Penner (who’d later appear in, of all things, HOMEWARD BOUND) producing a thoroughly credible turn. Nonetheless, Unhinged remains a minor of gem of sorts; it may be a little unpalatable for anyone expecting a FRIDAY THE 13TH-style popcorn crowd-pleaser, but for us schlock nuts who like our stalk and slash a little left of center a la FUNERAL HOME and THE UNSEEN, it’s just the disquieting tonic.
DELIRIUM REVIEW – 6/10

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DVD REVIEW: SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE

By Smitty Allenby

The fact that the first SHARKNADO was even made is ridiculous. The fact that it was a hit is astonishing. And the fact that they made a sequel is completely outrageous. And yet, here it is…

SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE isn’t a horror movie but neither was the first one. Rather it is like an absurdist comedic/violent episode of THE LOVE BOAT;  a cheap, tacky cinematic rust-bucket full of declining celebrities and wanton absurdity. But with sharks. LOTS of sharks, once more raining from the heavens and chomping their way across America.

Ian Ziering reprises his role as a former surfer bum Finn (har har!),  whose heroic efforts in the first SHARKNADO have cemented his iconic status. While on a plane to NYC with his ex-wife (a returning Tara Reid), the sky darkens and suddenly sharks are fudging up the engines and blowing holes in the aircraft. While passengers fly out and sharks fly in, Finn commandeers the plane, lands it and immediately sets out to warn the world that another Sharknado is afoot. Many people die and many http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/allergy/ familiar faces – from Andy Dick to Matt Lauer to a mocked-up version of Toronto mayor Rob Ford – show up to shake their heads and scream bloody murder.

And that’s about it.

You don’t watch a SHARKNADO movie for great cinema or lyrical screenwriting or even decent special effects. You watch a SHARKNADO movie to laugh and have a good time and, if nothing else, SHARKNADO 2: THE NEXT ONE is a great damned time. There’s no crime at giggling at/with writer/director Anthony C. Ferrante’s cheerfully moronic magnum opus. The man knows exactly what he’s designing and for what audience. Digital eating machines flying through the air battling chainsaw-wielding ex-BEVERLY HILLS 90201 stars is an acquired taste, to be sure, and we’ve certainly got the fever for its flavor.

DVD/Blu-ray Special features include a deleted scene, outtakes, making of featurettes and assorted distracting supplemental materials. Oh and make sure you sit through the closing credits, which are the fastest moving things outside of syndication hell and feature Ziering oddly and casually eating pizza.

Weird stuff, amusing flick.

DELIRIUM Review: 7/10

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Hurmee’s Horrors Looks at DELIRIUM #4

Here’s a page by page fan video looking at DELIRIUM #4!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IEs7y2CxWI

DELIRIUM Release Party at Dark Delicacies: Vidcast

Our D-DAY OF THE B-MOVIES event at Dark Delicacies in Burbank celebrating the release of DELIRIUM #4, went smashingly, with guests such as Mick Garris, Nivek Ogre, Jeffrey Combs, John Lechago, Axelle Carolyn,  David De Coteau and more on hand to meet fans and sign mags.

Here’s our Vidcast report from the show!

And to order a copy of DELIRIUM #4 signed by every star at the show, go HERE.

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