Mania (1986)

Score: 5.5/10

Length: 87

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories:

Also known as: Mania: The Intruder, Mania: Episodes in Terror

This is a Canadian anthology horror film that appears to be little-known. I decided to give it an overall rating, as there’s not going to be much fluctuation in the individual short’s scores. They were all pretty original and entertaining, though it felt like I was reading a murder mystery short story novel written in the late eighties. I mean, this movie is from the eighties, yes, but it didn’t really feel like a horror and there was a slight cheese to it. Someone in the comment section of the film mentioned the peculiar Canadian accents. So I listened really hard for them but I just couldn’t hear it. Maybe you can? There is a very Canadian forced apology, but that’s aboot it. Get your maple beers and your Coffee Crisps ready to enjoy with some thoughtful, yet mediocre short films! (Yes, it’s on YouTube.)

See No Evil

After a hooker leaves his house, a man sees her stabbed on the street. The murderer stalks him and frames him, wrapping him up in a sticky situation.

The Intruder

A neighbourhood is victim to a string of robberies, so a couple looks to get a watchdog. Guy is clearly afraid of dogs, but nonetheless, they get the biggest one there and it drives him nuts. In the end, the lesson is… you need dogs.

Have a Nice Day

A mysterious man kidnaps a woman’s daughter and manipulates the mother over the phone. And then suddenly, he shows up on her couch. She’s been fooled!

The Good Samaritan

After leaving a pub, a Scottish man picks a fight with some young punks on the street and is pulled away by his friend. When they get off the train, the friend saves a woman in the subway who’s being attacked. The woman and the friend run for a really long time and end up at his house. The tables turn, and the ending is pretty guessable.

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Pin (1988)

Score: 5.5/10

Length: 203

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 90s, murderer, toys, psychological

This strange Canadian gem probably isn’t quite what you were thinking. Yes, it’s about a life-sized, plastic medical dummy. But it’s also got a Psychoesque tinge to it and there’s a heavy lean on psychology. This definitely isn’t a fast-paced slasher, but it’s thoughtful and fairly original. As the training doll ages, it will be scarier in its vintage. If you can see through the awkward cheesiness of the film, you might be able to experience the realistic yet unique character and his development. I couldn’t help but be drawn to Leon, yet he was also easy to be revolted by. His words were very vulnerable and familiar, yet he was creepy, and very mannequin-like himself. Leon and his sister grow up with the doll, learning life lessons from their father who acted as the ventriloquist. A schizophrenic, Leon brings the doll into his adult life, giving it more lifelike accessories and talking to himself in Pin’s voice. Ultimately, Leon acts on his impulses, hiding behind Pin and spiraling out of control. The movie isn’t necessarily memorable as a Canadian movie, but it’s definitely memorable nonetheless.

 

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Top Ten Christmas Movies…of Horror!

Can you believe I haven’t made this list yet?! And just barely in time for Christmas. Although I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas most years, I’m always a fan of horror. Unfortunately, there are no Chanukah or Kwanzaa horror-holiday films, so here are some movies about creepy Saint Nick and bad presents.

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Honorable Mention: Jack Frost (1997)

I don’t know why the cover image for this movie has a weird, CGI skeleton face, because the horror Jack Frost looks exactly like the kids movie Jack Frost except with angry eyebrows. But guess what… this one came out first! I love a good evil snowman, but this one ain’t making the cut because of the ridiculous carrot rape scene.

 

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10. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) or Christmas Evil (1980)

I’m cheating a little, here, but there aren’t a lot of Christmas horrors that are more than just set around the holidays. Both of these films are generic, eighties slasher nonsense, but they each have a good ole killer Santa.

 

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9. Christmas Horror Story (2015)

This four-pack anthology feels like a Christmas version of Trick R’ Treat. The film includes a lonely radio host, a group of teenagers investigating old crimes at a school, a creepy kid, a white-powdered Krampus, a Santa in need of a bath, and obviously, a group of zombie elves. The story about the changeling I liked best- it seemed very real, and was only ruined by the costumey look of the monster up-close. It’s about a family who loses their son in the woods and takes home the wrong version of him instead. The ending isn’t bad, but the movie could have been built with two of these stories.

 

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8. Krampus (2015)

I mean, it’s not the best movie. There is way too much going on and the gingerbread men and flashback animations almost push it into an unwatchable category. The Krampus idea hadn’t been used much before this movie came out, and I thought they did a good job with the look and feel of the character. It just needed a little more direction and focus, even though the idea of a family hiding from a Krampus storm seems like a pretty simple idea.

7. Better Watch Out (2016)

This home invasion horror-thriller doesn’t have a lot to do with Christmas, but there is a Christmas tree and lights and snow and such. There’s a twist in the middle, but overall, it’s pretty predictable. A babysitter and an awkward pre-teen who’s in love with her hide from intruders. It should have been better, but there was an unsuccessful attempt at a comedy shimmer that just didn’t work. It needed tension, creep, and more of a horror direction instead. (I recently saw the trailer, and if I had been tricked by this first, I probably would have appreciated it more, so watch that first.)

 

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6. Sint (2010)

Sint (Saint) is a Dutch scarytale about Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas), an undead bishop who rides around on his horse killing people. It’s an original movie with an awful climax and lots of holiday cheer and fear, although I’m not sure how I feel about the whole “Black Pete” situation.

 

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5. Silent Night (2012)

Another instantly forgettable Christmas title attached to a decent holiday horror. A killer Santa with a mask slaughters the naughty while police people, Sugar and Salty, fail miserably at trying to stop him from killing… literally everybody.  But you want everyone to die these random, horrible deaths because they’re all just disposable Barbies who make moronic choices like running straight towards the murderer. To wrap this little movie gift up nicely, it’s bad decisions and ruthless killing fun.

 

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4. Rare Exports (2010)

A film from Finland with an original story that I’m not even quite sure how to describe. Like a horror fairytale come to life where Santa is a giant Krampus-like creature who has been frozen in ice. The elves are old, hunched over men with wispy beards, and they want all the children for Santa once he’s melted. A little boy, his dad, and the hunters try to stop evil Santa and the elves in a part humor part action-drama sort of way.

 

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3. Gremlins (1984)

It all started in Chinatown… and when you buy a gift for someone in Chinatown, there are always strange rules that come with it, such as ‘no food after midnight’! About a sweet kid who breaks all the rules and endures the “horrors” of the evil-turned mogwais. Even though they’re mean and nasty, there’s a lot of cuteness going on in this film. It’s a very unusual and special Christmas movie, but not so heavy on the horror.

 

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2. Black Christmas (1974)

Here is your original, seventies, better than the sequels and decently constructed horror film. It’s about a group of sorority girls who are murdered in their home on campus. There’s no charcoal snow, or African Santas to make the title make sense, but the character development is refreshing and this well-directed gem is definitely one to watch. You can probably skip the remake, though.

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1. The Gingerdead Man (2005)

I really love the whole trilogy of Gary Busey as an evil, murderous, cookie. It’s not like there are all these amazing, scary Christmas movies out there, so might as well indulge in some yummy horror silliness. It’s probably already what you’ve guessed: a killer’s blood gets into some cookie batter resulting in the baked cookie going on a bite-sized murdering spree. I’m pretty sure I laughed at movie number two’s title for about twenty minutes. Check it out.

 

Buckout Road (2017)

Score: 6.5/10

Length: 97

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, recommended, witch, murderer, supernatural, ghost, woods

As seen at CIFF. The director, Matthew Currie Holmes, a Canadian known for his acting, was there and what a personality! He was handing out beers to the audience, and personally thanked everyone for coming. Luckily, it was a good film. Starring Evan Ross (who I just learned is Diana Ross’ son)! It’s all about urban legends, and although it focusses on a few of them, the idea doesn’t over-complicate the film. It centres around a bad boy, a girl with a past, and the sleepwalking twins as they try to solve a curse by investigating the past. The acting was strong, the photography was ideal, and the only thing I wasn’t really so fond of was the end. The whole “never can escape” thing was not the strongest possible ending I hope for, but it was satisfying enough. The movie was engaging, imaginative, and well planned-out, so I was pleasantly surprised, as you never know what to expect at a film festival.

The Void (2016)

Score: 5/10

Length: 99

Rating: NR (R)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, monster, zombie, murderer, supernatural

IIIIIII don’t know about this Canadian movie. One friend hated it, one friend liked it. I fall right in the middle. On the one hand, I liked the cult members standing outside staring, not moving and the quick scene with the monster-zombies in the basement. On the other hand, I’m really over the cop, the pregnant lady, and a mishmash of unlikable others being trapped in the hospital. The third idea with the eighties alien-monsters was kind of fun, but it didn’t quite feel like it fit in. I also liked the first half a lot better than the second, and was pretty disappointed with the ending. I even went back to see if I missed something, because it took me three tries to finish this as I kept falling asleep. After all this, I’m left giving it an “inbetween” score because it’s just so equally good and bad. Made me want to watch Society again.

Top Ten Canadian Horror Films

Happy Canada 150, my fellow proud Canadians and adoring non-Canadians! Here are my favorite scary Canuck movies to watch after the fireworks, or hungover the next morning, accompanied by Canada’s top snacks.

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10. The Brood  (1979)

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One of four Cronenburg and sons films on the list, it’s about a woman driven by her psychologist to do some pretty strange things, among them, lead a brood of lumpy lawn gnome look-alikes. The skin sack is a hard image to forget, so you may want to have a couple 2-4s and mickeys on hand.

Canadian Snack: Watch a woman lick her bloody baby while you nosh on some flavour-packed Lays ketchup chips and guzzle down a spicy Caesar with a green bean.

Review here

Trailer here

 

 

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9. Terror Train (1980)

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A satisfying New Year’s Eve slasher movie about med students at a costume party held on a train who are killed off by a masked murderer. What a kerfuffle with everyone stuck on that train. Better grab your toques and runners and get a move on.

Canadian Snack: In order to stay up past midnight you’re going to need some caffeine. But since we’re on a moving train, better reach for a Coffee Crisp instead.

Review here

Trailer here

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8. The Fly (1986)

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Jeff Goldblum and Gina Davis are surrounded by a hefty helping of that goopy, slimy, eighties blood and gore. It’s pretty much every superhero story, without the superhero part, leaving just- man turns into fly, and it doesn’t go too well.

Canadian Snack: If there’s one thing that flies like, it’s sugar. So give them what they want in a sweet, buttery treat: the butter tart.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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7. Black Christmas (1974)

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This is a film about a woman calling for her cat, Claude… I mean… it’s about sorority girls trapped in a house with a mystery killer. And also Christmas! So it’s snowing and no one is really around to help. Better than the 2006 version by a million kilometres, but not necessarily thrilling.

Canadian Snack: Our country doesn’t really have much to do with Christmas dinner, so instead, grab a Tims double double with a maple-glazed donut for breakfast.

Review here

Trailer here

 

 

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6. Dead Ringers (1988)

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Who wouldn’t want to watch a movie about twin gynecologists addicted to drugs, both played by Jeremy Irons? I generally dislike it when a movie is two or more hours long, but I didn’t mind it in this case. Felt like I was just watching a few episodes in a row of Twin Peaks. It’s labeled as a drama / horror / thriller, but it doesn’t have the typical tension of a horror or thriller; I found it heavy on the drama end.

Canadian Snack: Nothing goes better together than a Montreal-style bagel and Montreal smoked meat.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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5. Antiviral (2012)

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A film about a business that offers diseases (carried by celebrities) to the public, in order to allow the fans to feel closer to the famous person they’re obsessed with. So strange, and so creative with such a fantastically interesting lead character played by Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out). Lots of drug hazes, needles galore, and so many blood-soaked white things that even Tide couldn’t clean.

Canadian Snack: Some good ole fashioned brand-name KD with a dollop of ketchup. The Canadian way.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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4. Cube (1997)

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Out of the three Cube movies, the first has the best ending- with a twist. A group of people are trapped in a room-filled structure, where each room has a different violent booby-trap waiting for them.

Canadian Snack: We’re too hip to be square, but a homemade nanaimo bar is to die for, and angular enough to accompany this franchise.

Review here

Trailer here

3. American Mary (2012)

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A revenge flick about a med student turned underground body modifier is American only by title.

Canadian Snack: To go with the American theme, believe it or not, the popular sushi order, California roll, was invented by a Japanese sushi chef who moved to Vancouver in the seventies.

Review here

Trailer here

2. Ginger Snaps (2000) 

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Good things come in threes, but the original of the well-known Canadian trilogy is the best. Nothing beats some simplistic teen werewolf angst, eh?

Canadian Snack: Unfortunately, ginger snaps aren’t really Canadian, so instead how bout some Chinese food? Surprisingly, ginger beef was invented right here in Calgary, AB. I think a werewolf would prefer meat over cookies anyway.

Review here

Trailer here

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1. Silent Hill (2006)

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This dreamlike fantasy horror about a mother searching for her daughter in an eerie, ash-covered town gets the top spot. This fantastic goth film is an adaptation of a survival video game and couldn’t have been done better. Around every turn is a mysterious creature, its details creatively imagined. I’d pay a lot of loonies and twoonies to see this at the theatre in 3D.

Canadian Snack: The number one spot deserves nothing but the number one Canadian food. So versatile and comforting, you can’t do better than a proper poutine.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

 

BONUS! The legendary tv show, Are You Afraid of the Dark, is of course, also Canadian.

Looking for more? Try Pontypool, Hobo With a Shotgun, Pin, The Changeling, Videodrome, The Shrine, Prom Night.