Fantasia Festival 2020: The Mortuary Collection (2019)

The Mortuary Collection (2019)

The Mortuary Collection

Director (and writer): Ryan Spindell

Cast: Clancy Brown, Caitlin Custer, Christine Kilmer, Jacob Elordi, Ema Horvath, Jennifer Irwin, Jame Bachman, Barak Hardley, Sarah Hay, Ben Hethcoat, Mike C. Nelson

On the cusp of retirement, an eccentric mortician recounts several of the strangest stories he’s encountered in his long career, but things take a turn for the phantasmagorical when he learns that the final story – is his own. – IMDB

While horror anthology are far and few, they always luckily tend to pop up at Fantasia Film Festival. The Mortuary Collection is the latest offering and its one that the poster caught my eye instantaneously. The art style and color palette of it reflects in the movie itself. The Mortuary Collections tells 4 tales with the 5th one being the one that strings them together at the Raven’s End Mortuary over the span of decades starting from the 1950s all the way to the 1980s. All of them are fairly diverse but uses the different situation of people. As with many anthologies, some stories probably land a little more than others however in my opinion, they were all fairly entertaining in their own way with each other having a little bit of dark humor and increasingly creepy to watch all building up to the last tale set in the present.

The Mortuary Collection

The Mortuary Collection uses the conversation between mortician Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown) and a potential hired help Sam (Caitlin Custer) as the basis as he shows her around the mortuary while fulfilling her desire to tell her stories of the dead that has passed through Raven’s End Mortuary. After each one, she will criticize them for their predictability or lack of extremity. The first tale told, set in the 50s, is rather short and gives a good taste of the style. In reality, its definitely a catchy dose whether its the color scheme or the single actress in one setting of poking their nose where they shouldn’t as she finds a creature in the medicine cabinet. I’m a big fan of creature features here so the small dose of this was exactly what made it a fun start. Of course, the 60s takes on a different term with a male lead that I recently saw in The Kissing Booth 2, Jacob Elordi plays a college boy trying to build up his count of girls he sleeps with and it all comes down to a rather scary end and warning about safe sex. Its probably not my personal favorite but the ending was slightly disturbing yet a tad creepy. If anything, this was the lesser one although it had a nice premise and had us wondering what creature this girl is that leaves a little space for the imagination to go off. The 70s one is probably the creepiest as a husband contemplates killing off his sickly wife to get out of this dead end situation. Things go horribly wrong as it usually does and it also gets incredibly creepy although to be fair, another anthology (maybe Creepshow on Netflix) might have had a similar sort of segment with a different backstory. The 80s one is titled The Babysitter Murders, told by Sam as she tells a story close to her heart. It might seem like one of the more predictable tale among all of these but in reality, it takes a rather unique twist of events.

Aside from the stories, Montgomery Brown and Sam’s conversation about stories, their greatness and lacking elements while also the lessons that it discusses all brings a lot of fun. The dynamic between the two characters works really well. Clancy Brown does a great portrayal of Montgomery Brown and Caitlin Custer is a rather engaging Sam which gives both of them some subtle depth. At the same time, Raven’s End Mortuary also seems to come alive as they go through the different rooms. There’s is fantasy-like entity to the space that almost feels like something more is just lurking around the corner.

The Mortuary Collection is a really fun anthology. Sure, not all the stories are perfect but they all have this great entertainment value that gives a nod back to series like Creepshow or Tales of the Crypt. They have their own keeper of tales and it even has this fantastic color palette that makes some colors pop in their gloomy environment. The setting and the stories spread across the decades all have their own genre and leaves a little space for mystery plus the stories all connect as supporting characters will overlap between each tale as well. Its such a well thought out anthology that brings a lot of entertainment and amps up the creepiness with each tale. Its one that I’d definitely want to watch again while also hoping that they make another of one of these to see what other stories they have to tell.

And Then We Vanish: Collected Stories by D.H. Schleicher

And Then We Vanish: Collected Stories
By: D.H. Schleicher

and then we vanish

Eleven twisting tales curated from nearly a decade of work, And Then We Vanish features five new stories and six previously published stories from acclaimed independent author D. H. Schleicher.

In these stories we encounter characters who are victims of their own poor decisions…These characters might be longing to disappear or left behind by those who already have, and their stories challenge us to connect with them while they navigate the waves of mystery, violence, and the absurd that filter into their everyday lives. – Goodreads

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

And Then We Vanish is a collection of stories which is exactly as its title implies, about people who vanish in one way or another. The stories all have their own backdrop and range in different sort of characters. Its quite the box of chocolates to open and discover. Each of the characters in this story are more than they seem and as their characters reveal, most of them are rather displeasing personalities.

One of the elements that stand out in all the stories of And Then We Vanish are its characters. Each of them in their own backgrounds and their own settings and backdrop. In some cases, these characters take a rather extreme path and the story will leave it with some room to contemplate on the overall situation of the story. Knowing when to end a story shows how clever this author is. Doing it with short stories and having a certain pacing to make it all mostly work together that these characters reveal enough to be relevant and criticize their course of action but still think further about it. The best part is that these characters are all living in the everyday lives of the society whether its a parent, child or colleague, etc.

Some of these stories shine because of the setting. The specific one that comes to mind, especially as a Canadian and having vacationed there a few times in my life, is the incredibly creative take on Niagara Falls (which personally is the story that I liked the most) called When Night Falls on Niagara. There’s some other stories like: A Ballerina in Battery Park, Upon the Unfortunate News of My Death, The Pumpkin Thief , Somebody You Used to Know and Anthrax and Cherry Blossoms are some of the my other favorites from this collected stories.

D.H. Schleicher crafts each of these stories in a vivid writing style. The characters all come to life and it all has some kind of lingering effect for the characters that leaves room for reflection. The clever combination of the everyday characters and their settings gives them each a nice twist. You can tell from the titles above that there is always a twist of effects. Much like other anthologies and collected stories, some stories do land better than others and have the clever angle that makes it memorable however, they all deliver fairly well overall.

Score: 4/5

Blog Tour: Forgotten Magic (Magic Underground Anthology #3) [Excerpt/Giveaway]

Welcome to the blog tour for the final installment from the Magic Underground trilogy, Forgotten Magic! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a paperback copy of the book!

Forgotten Magic (Magic Underground #3)

Forgotten Magic

Publication Date: May 2020
Genre: Anthology/Fantasy/Magic
Publisher: Magical Mayhem Press

SYNOPSIS

For the last time, these heroes, witches, wizards, vikings and more will put it all on the line. No quest is too dangerous. No monster be it a dragon or something cuddlier with teeth is off-limits in the epic conclusion to the Magic Underground Trilogy. Stay tuned for details.

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EXCERPT

Excerpt: The Ones Who Choose by C. S. Johnson

Before I’d left to return home, Ai started talking to me about the Bloodmagic.

After I’d rescued him from the tower, I had taken him down to the caves. I’d settled him in one as best as I could, and then faced the cave entrance, keeping a lookout for Aiden. I was more concerned for Aidan at first; I didn’t know if he was coming or not. There was a good chance that when Ai was taken, the Community Elders would find a way to keep everyone in the tower until they had answers. As much as we were both in this together, I didn’t know what to expect now that we’d accomplished something this big.

But as Ai kept talking to me, and considering his talk of condemnation, I began to ask Ai questions. It didn’t take us long to talk about Bloodmagic.

“Bloodmagic is their word for the sacrifice,” Ai said.

“What?” My head snapped to look at him, as if to make sure he wasn’t trying to fool me. Instantly, I regretted my action, seeing his mangled body and the sad condition it was in. That was part of the reason I’d offered to stand watch in the caves, keeping my focus on the entrance. While I did not want the Community Elders to find us, and although I was watching for Aidan, I did not want to look at Ai too much. He made me feel uncomfortable.

Ai slumped beside me, looking out toward the cave entrance. The last of the sunlight was gone, and the temperature dropped. Ai did not seem to notice, even if he was nearly naked, with only a thin cloth around his loins.

“They call humanity’s curse ‘Bloodmagic,’” Ai said. “That is their name for it. I don’t think they like to think about it much.”

“If this is why you’ve been hurt, they probably don’t like to think of it,” I said. I glanced at him quickly, before reverting my eyes back to the cave entrance. “This is terrible.”

“It is,” Ai agreed. “But it is like I told you before. All of my suffering is your suffering.”

“That’s not right.”

He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. I have been alive for nearly a century, thanks to the Bloodmagic, and this is just the way things are. That is why I would prefer that you return me to my tower room.”

“What?” I gasped at the remark. “No. Why would you want that?”

“The Community won’t survive long, Skyla,” Ai said. “Without the Bloodmagic Covenant, the full effects of suffering will return to your friends and family swiftly and mercilessly. They will suffer, and in their suffering, they will make others suffer more. They might even begin to enjoy hurting others if we don’t hurry.”

“But you will suffer if you return,” I said. “And I will make you suffer, too. I don’t want that. Can’t something else be done about the Bloodmagic?”

“There is nothing that can be done about human nature,” Ai said quietly. “We are prone to self-destruction, and we live in a world where pain and suffering are constants. All the countries and nations of the world have wrestled with this question, and in the end, all of the pain still exists. Many tried to fix the problem and only made it worse.

“So they decided to try something else. And it works.” He reached up and touched the shard on his forehead, the one what was darkening along with the sky. “If I am not returned, the suffering will only increase, and you will see people at their very worst. Every evil, selfish, and ignorant thought will manifest into danger and disaster. I’ve been able to hold off their degeneracy for a long time, and without me, they will exponentially become violent and careless.”

“Surely we still have some more time to stop them.” I put my hands together, trying to think of something else. “Maybe it is a matter of education. The adults here are smart. They’ll be able learn how to deal with the pains our Community has.”

Ai shook his head. “You don’t understand,” he said with a sad sigh. “But you will, once you see it. You must promise me you will not forget me when you do, or you could be at risk, too.”

From that moment, we lapsed into silence, and I was grateful.

I shivered as we sat there, but I didn’t think it was because of the chill in the air.

Purchase Link: Amazon

AUTHOR LIST

Melinda Kucsera
Joynell Schultz
Lee French
H.B. Lyne
Raven Oak
L.C. Ireland
Alesha Escobar
Tiffany Shand
C.S. Johnson
Anela Deen
Erik Kort
Devorah Fox
Stephen Wallace
Gwendolyn Woodschild
Leah W. Van Dinther
Barbara Letson
C.K. Rieke
William C. Cronk
Majanka Verstraete
Toasha Jiordano
H.M. Jones
Krista Ames
A.R. Johnston

GIVEAWAY

Print copy of the book
Enter Giveaway HERE

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

June 1st

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Tranquil Dreams (Spotlight) https://klling.wordpress.com/
Lunarian Press (Review) https://www.lunarianpress.com/

June 2nd

C. Vonzale Lewis (Spotlight) https://cvonzalelewis.com/index.php/blog/
Crystal’s Book World (Spotlight) http://crystalsbookworld.wordpress.com
Jennifer Mitchel, Bibliolater (Spotlight) https://www.jennifermitchellbooks.com
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

June 3rd

Dark Whimsical Art (Spotlight) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news
Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

June 4th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
Carrie’s Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Indies Reviews (Spotlight) http://indieproreview.blogspot.com/
Just 4 My Books (Spotlight) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com
Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com
The Cozy Pages (Spotlight) http://thecozypages.wordpress.com/
Books Teacup & Reviews (Spotlight) https://booksteacupnreviews.wordpress.com/

June 5th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/
Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Spotlight) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com
Lecari’s Live Journal (Review) http://www.lecari.co.uk

Blog Tour Organized By:
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R&R Book Tours

Blog Tour: Double Barrel Horror #3 (Review)

Welcome to the blog tour for Double Barrel Horror Volume #3, a collection of thrills and chills by six amazing authors! Hold onto your pants folks!

Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3
By: Matthew Weber, Christine Morgan, Mark Matthews, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer, Glenn Rolfe, Robert Essig

double barrel horror vol. 3

Publication Date: March 22nd, 2020
Genre: Anthology/Horror/Suspense

Synopsis

Brace yourself for another two-barrel blast of unrelenting horror and suspense. Volume 3 of the ‘Double Barrel Horror’ anthology series delivers two chilling tales from each of six talented authors for a 12-story onslaught that will blow you out of your sneakers. This time around, your fate lies in the hands of Christine Morgan, Mark Matthews, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer, Glenn Rolfe, and Robert Essig

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Authors

Matthew Weber

Christine Morgan

Mark Matthews

Theresa Braun

Calvin Demmer

Glenn Rolfe

Robert Essig

Review

While I haven’t read any of the previous two volumes of Double Barrel Horror anthologies, Volume 3 is structured by its authors and their two stories each. For each of the author, it shows off their writing style and sometimes, even a little correlation in detail from one story to the next. Each of these stories are different in their premise and also have their own uniqueness and creativity. Its fairly imaginative and each one has their own twist. As with all kinds of anthologies, they usually have stories that will more and others that in contrast appeal a little less. Its rather nice to say that most of these stories all appeal rather well and it has to do with its variety and the different style that each author chooses while writing their horror stories.

Its never been my forte to review anthologies and I won’t go through each of these stories as there are twelve of them and its more important to highlight the authors and the stories and even the double feature story that hit the mark the best for my own preference. Christine Morgan starts off the anthology with Eye See You in a remarkable way. The descriptive and visual portrayal in Robert Essig’s From Unclean Spells is outstanding. At the same time, Mark Matthews, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer and Glenn Rolfe all present some fun double features. Among them, Glenn Rolfe definitely ends on a high with two awesome stories called The Guide and The House on Mayflower Street that definitely was a major highlight and two very strong entries. Different in their horror genre but both equally entertaining. Although, one of the more memorable reads did go to Theresa Braun’s Stillborn which had some chilling elements. Same goes for Mark Matthews two stories, Wicked Smart Carnie and Goodwin that also stood out a lot as well.

Overall, Double Barrel Horror Volume 3’s stories all have their flair but for myself, some definitely land better than others. Luckily, they definitely almost all land in one way or another with the minority that are a little less memorable. Plus, they also have the perk of introducing previously unknown authors (to myself).

Score: 4/5

Purchase Link: Amazon

Blog Tour Schedule

May 11th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Kim Knight (Spotlight) http://kimknightauthor.wordpress.com
Literary Dust (Review) https://literarydust.wordpress.com/

May 12th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
The Scary Reviews (Review) https://thescaryreviews.com
Cats Luv Coffee (Spotlight) https://catsluvcoffeez.blogspot.com

May 13th

Entertainingly Nerdy (Spotlight) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com
The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com
Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1

May 14th

Dark Whimsical Art (Spotlight) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news
Didi Oviatt (Review) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com
Books Teacup & Reviews (Spotlight) https://booksteacupnreviews.wordpress.com/

May 15th

I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Review) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com

Blog Tour Organized By:

R&R Button

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Double Feature: Christmas Evil (1980) & All The Creatures Were Stirring (2018)

DOUBLEFEATURE (82)

Welcome to the last holiday double feature for this year. Not double feature because that is staying, just before Christmas, no more holiday reviews. So we are ending with a nice change of pace to alternate Christmas horror found via Shudder: 1980’s Christmas Evil and 2018’s Christmas horror anthology All The Creatures Were Stirring.

Christmas Evil (1980)

Christmas Evil

Director (and writer): Lewis Jackson

Cast: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull, Andy Fenwick, Marc Neville, Joe Jamrog

A toy factory worker, mentally scarred as a child upon learning Santa Claus is not real, suffers a nervous breakdown after being belittled at work, and embarks on a Yuletide killing spree. – IMDB

Christmas Evil is really a Christmas film as its not only set in Christmas but a horror story of a mentally unstable man who was scarred so deeply as a child that Santa Claus isn’t real that he chooses to make himself into Santa and takes revenge on all those who did him wrong. Being 1980 film, there is definitely that 80s slasher vibe that goes with it which actually is quite endearing to watch. However, the film does suffer from some issues of being rather slow in the first half of anything happening other than setting up all the bad things that happen to Harry and then his desire to become Santa.

Deal is, there is still this unsettling feeling with Christmas Evil especially in the second half when Harry loses it completely and from the moment that he commits to turning into Santa and starts all the actual killing spree parts, it gets rather fun to watch in an 80s horror way and as much as I don’t find them particularly scary, it has the entertainment element. This is pretty much where Christmas Evil fits in.

All The Creatures Were Stirring (2018)

All The Creatures Were Stirring

Director (and writer): David Ian McKendry & Rebekah McKendry

Cast: Graham Skipper, Ashley Clements, Constance Wu, Jonathan Kite, Jocelin Donahue, Mark Kelly, Matt Long, Amanda Fuller, Catherine Parker, Morgan Peter Brown, Michelle DeFraites, Stephanie Drake, Peter Cilella, Makeda Declet, Megan Duffy, Brea Grant, Matt Mercer, Diva Zappa

When an awkward date on Christmas Eve leads a couple into a strange theater, they’re treated to a bizarre and frightening collection of Christmas stories, featuring a wide ensemble of characters doing their best to avoid the horrors of the holidays. From boring office parties and last-minute shopping, to vengeful stalkers and immortal demons, there’s plenty out there to fear this holiday season. – IMDB

All The Creatures Were Stirring is a horror anthology with five horror stories set during Christmas and revolves around the central story of two people going on their first date on Christmas Eve to see a play where these five stories are being acted out. As with more horror anthologies, its a hit and miss deal with a lot of the stories. There’s an obvious indie low budget thing going on here as well which for some does add to the charm. If anything, its a lot more about some of the interesting creative elements added into the scenes than the stories as a whole which at times were downright odd or hard to get into while there were two that did stand out.

Dash Away All and In A Twinkling are the two that definitely were highlights of the anthology. Dash Away All is set in a parking lot where a man locks his keys in his car and ends up asking two girls to borrow a phone and ends up having this really fun twist. In A Twinkling is about a bunch of friends going to visit for a surprise Christmas party and the night takes a turn for a worse when they enter into a black and white loop from outer space. These two were a tad funny and had a hint of creepiness.

The Stocking Were Hung was okay with an Secret Santa party at work which turns into a Jigsaw killer sort of thing. There are some clever bits here but it feels a tad familiar (especially with Saw having so many movies in that franchise already). All Through The House is a horror Christmas Carol sort of deal which is pretty much the same sort of stuff but they did have one thing that I remembered kind of gave me a little jumpscare. It just feels a tad weird in its pacing. The last one to talk about is Arose Such A Clatter which really was the least appealing BUT it had the whole “killer” point of view going on that kind of made it a little more unique in the way they executed it.

The central story which is generally called To All A Good Night is what links these pieces together. It does capture the awkward element well but then it seems to lack some substance to it as it does try to have a twist ending and ends up leaving it as an open-ended deal which is a good and bad thing, leaving the mystery but then makes it feel incomplete especially since this being the piece that connects the stories together means the story itself isn’t fleshed out in between the stories. Some good, some decent and some meh stories here making this one that I might not want to revisit considering it took me a few sittings to get through it this time already.

That’s it for this holiday double feature!
Have you seen these two films before? Thoughts?
Are Alternate Christmas films part of your holiday viewing?

After Hours – Love, Death + Robots (Season #1)

Season 2 officially wraps up with our final After Hours pick. This time, Elwood picks our first anthology series, Netflix Originals, Love Death + Robots. We try to touch on all the little stories here as well as talk about the ones that impressed us the most.

As Season 2 wraps up, you can already see that the banner on Movies and Tea has already changed with our next feature director, Sofia Coppola for Season 3. With that said, guests are always welcomed to join us if any of the movies interests you. Just drop me or Elwood an email or leave us a comment. Its almost completely unfamiliar territory for myself so it’ll be a fun dive into her filmography as we change not only film genre and our first female director highlight.

With that said, head over to Movies and Tea to check out our latest episode and share your thoughts on Love Death + Robots!

Movies and Tea

Wrapping up season #2 our final bonus episode has us looking at Love, Death + Robots for our first boxset binge.

A project from David Fincher and Tim Miller whose initial plans to
remake Heavy Metal were mophed instead into this anthology of short
animated tales with seemingly limitless scope for the stories which can
be told as we discover from this first season.

So get ready for alternative histories, monsters, shocking twists and of course love, death + robots!!

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare

Listen to the Show

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Book Review: Osgoode As Gold (Toronto Comics #5)

Yonge at Heart (Toronto Comics #4)

Osgoode As Gold (Toronto Comics #5)
By: Stephanie Cooke

Osgoode As Gold

In a city of competitive wizard barristas, nervous werewolves and scoundrel Trash Pandas, you’ll find some of the best upcoming comic creators! We’re back again with twenty-four fresh comics from local indie veterans and first-time creators.

From the strange giants that prowl Kensington at midnight, the vengeful Pacific Mall dance mafia, or the dragon-hunting wannabes working Queen Street, we’ve got stories inspired by every part of the city we love. – Goodreads

The 4th comic anthology revolving around Toronto in Toronto Comics is called Osgoode For Gold. If you have read these anthologies before, you already know that while the central focus is set in Toronto, the stories all vary and can be set in fantasy or reality or past, present or future. There are no limits in these stories and yet once again, the creativity and the themes addressed here are truly great to read. They shed light on the people and culture in the city and have stories for everyone. At the same time, the art also changes with each story as well as the color palette. Its what makes them unique.

There are 23 stories while it ends with an additional 4 which are thoughtful one page art. It would be crazy to talk about each of them, however, I will choose a few that I personally like.

They are the following:

  • Catnap Cafe: When a newly immigrated girl moves to Toronto, she goes to Catnap Cafe for the experience where she turns into a cat and befriends another cat who guides her back to apartment in hopes of being able to turn back into human. Lets just say, cat cafes and cat related stories are things that I love so this one also had the perk of the whole details and such that I really liked.
  • Leave it to Leo: More of a comedic offering in a vibrant colors and art set in 1940s, Leave it to Leo talks about comic book artists who want to be compensated for their worth and play a trick on their editor.
  • Mirrored: Nothing like a little imagination of interdimension fantasy, Mirrored tells the story of a subway entrance to another dimension for magical battles with a little twist ending parallel to reality.
  • FinalMIX! Difficulty Expert! : Set in Pacific Mall in Markham and structured around a video game dance battle, this story is about as relatable as they get for me.
  • Cenotaph: Set in a future Toronto, we look at ghosts who are looking back at the city that was when they were alive and how the destroying and building has changed it in the present.
  • The Part-Time Knight: Wrapping up the anthology is this story about a stable kid who hears a dastardly plan to murder the king and finds a way to bring the message as knights would do.

Here are a few that I like and of course, all the stories were pretty great whether it was the different art styles or the time frame they chose to use or the realistic or fantastical angle. It shows off the talent and the stories that any place and experience can inspire. Sometimes they are predictable but the majority times, they aren’t.

Thats it for the review of Osgoode For Gold.
Have you read any comics from Toronto Comics?
Have you read/seen comics inspired by a city?

Double Feature: Gods of Egypt (2016) & Holidays (2016)

Welcome to the next double feature. This time, we’ve landed coincidentally on two 2016 movies. Our G selection is one that had some pretty bad reviews when it came out and that is fantasy action film, Gods of Egypt. The H selection is horror anthology Holidays directed by a good few directors, one of their headlines being Kevin Smith.

Let’s check it out!

Gods of Egypt (2016)

Director: Alex Proyas

Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Courtney Eaton, Nikolaj  Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler, Elodie Yung, Rachel Blake, Bryan Brown, Chadwick Boseman

Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt’s throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict. – IMDB

So…Gods of Egypt…not sure where to start with this one. The cast here is pretty good and probably one of the reasons why I decided to at least give this a shot. Sad enough though, this movie is a lot of flare and not a whole lot of substance. Its actually not even a lot of fun to watch because its pretty boring and stupid. Gods of Egypt is one of those films that remind me of previous bland experiences like Clash of the Titans (the remake) and The Immortals (which I also disliked both of these). It bases itself on playing with the various gods of Egypt (as per its title) and uses a fairly basic story where Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is an pretentious god who eventually gets his throne taken from him when he gets blinded by Set (Gerard Butler). In the process, Set puts Egypt into this world where everyone needs to gain whatever value or money in order to get a better afterlife. In desperation to save his love of his life, the mortal Bek (Brenton Thwaites) tries to get Horus to stop his self-loathing and help him get back his sight (aka his powers) so that he can get back the throne and hopefully make Egypt better again.

There’s some romance and some bromance and some good versus evil and some personal character development. Its not clear who is the hero here or who is the main lead and the story is as predictable as it sounds. There’s a whole lot of plot holes and its pretty forgettable and there’s nothing very special of it. I can’t really find a whole lot of good to say about this. I really liked Chadwick Boseman’s character. It gave the story some well-needed humor and enthusiasm.

Holidays (2016)

holidays

Directors (and writers): Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer, Gary Shore, Nicholas McCarthy, Sarah Adina Smith, Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Smith, Scott Stewart, Adam Egypt Mortimer

Cast: Madeleine Coghlan, Savannah Kennick, Rick Peters, Ruth Bradley, Ava Acres, Mark Steger, Sophie Traub, Aleksa Palladino, Joceline Donahue, Harley Morenstein, Harley Quinn Smith, Ashley Greene, Seth Green, Clare Grant, Lorenza Izzo, Andrew Bowen, Megan Duffy

HOLIDAYS is an anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time by challenging our folklore, traditions and assumptions. – IMDB

Its always tough to decide how to approach reviewing anthologies. Holidays takes 8 shorts from different directors that center their stories around 8 different holidays and the darkness in the characters involved. There are some very odd stories in this anthology that can only be described as weird and bizarre. However, in some ways, it does work. In some other ones, my less favorite ones, the stories are a bit too far-fetched for my taste. Its one of those things in anthologies where some things just work better than others and that changes by personal preference.

Here’s how I’d rank the 8 shorts in this anthology:

  • Christmas
  • Father’s Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Easter
  • Halloween
  • Happy New Year’s
  • St. Patrick’s Day

Taking a look back at the 8 stories in Holidays, my favorite was no doubt almost equally Christmas and Father’s Day. In terms of the horror comedy style, Christmas nails it and has Seth Green who does a stellar job however, in terms of horror atmosphere, Father’s Day captures that one really well. The execution of the both of these are on point. If we talk about creepy kids and a little weird and psychological, which is the type of horror that I like also, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day both have these elements and for that, these four are the most memorable to me and well rounded.

If we talk about the last four, the one that I remember the least is St. Patrick’s Day. Aside from, there are some creative twists to say the least. Easter is creative in the sense of mixing the Easter bunny and recreating it with a religious twist. I can’t decide if maybe it might not be as welcomed. While Halloween had a more over the top twist which was a tad disturbing but strayed away from the very gory bits and as much as I like over the top in some scenarios, I wasn’t a particularly huge fan of the execution while acknowledging the psychological elements behind it and Happy New Year’s also has a clever twist behind it which I have to say works also.

Holidays isn’t the best horror anthology out there but in terms of embracing its weird and horror comedy nature, it achieves that quite well. The stories vary in tone and atmosphere and using the theme of 8 different holidays is a nice idea.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films?
Are you a fan of horror anthologies? If you’ve seen Holidays, which is your fave segment?

BITS 2018: Montreal Dead End (2018)

Montreal Dead End (2018)

Montreal Dead End

Directors: Remi Fréchette, Priscilla Piccoli, Quentin Lecocq, Emilie Gauthier, Loic Surprenant, David Emond-Ferrat, Eve Dufaud, Frederick Neegan Trudel, Mickael N’Dour, Julie De LaFreniere, Catherine Villleminot, Tiphaine Dereyer, Hugo Belhassen, Audric Cussigh, Gaelle Quemener, Mara Joly, Charles Massicote, Jimmy Pettigrew

Montreal Dead End is a 15 part horror anthology set while “a supernatural mist is seeping through the cracks of the city, causing various evil enchantments related to the neighborhood from which it escapes, waking up a dark spirit here, a vengeful ghost there, releasing a plethora of terrifying creatures, possessing numerous citizens and even turning some of them into zombies, or entities from the beyond. The key to this paranormal chaos lies within a First Nations legend, a shamanic amulet and a guardian (Marco Collin) in search of a book of prophecies and premonitions which only he can decipher.  The quest takes us from one part of the city to another, crossing paths with unexpected events and multiple creatures along the way. ” [BITS 2018]

A fifteen part horror anthology that runs over less than an hour and a half is a marathon in itself. Some of these are barely snippets and is truly a short film in itself set in the different boroughs of the city. Between these films is one part of the anthology called The Guardian (“Le Gardien”) directed by Remi Fréchette that is the key behind all this chaos. It is intertwined between all these different stories and brings the entire story together. The beauty of Montreal Dead End is that it acts as a tour of the island of Montreal. Its panning scenes taken by drone takes a lot of aerial landscapes of this city, at the same time also showing off its many touristic areas. Being knowledgable of Montreal probably adds to the enjoyment of the city because of the familiarities and the preconceptions of each neighborhood.

Montreal Dead End

To call this anthology a beauty is not accurate because it is better described as a quirky movie experience. Many of the stories grow from some very odd ideas, for example “Part 10: Who Listens to Celine Anyways?” where anyone who listens to Celine Dion music will automatically be possessed and some can see some indirect influence from other films like “Part 13: Folie Legumineuse” that feels a bit like the gingerbread man scene in Krampus. There isn’t any story in particular that is extremely horrific however. It acts more of a horror comedy with perhaps a few slight exceptions. A lot of the merit of these stories are in its creative ideas even though some of the execution is overly obvious.

This anthology’s heavily lies on the main plot that runs throughout with the guardian played by Marco Collin as he goes in search for the book of prophecies that only he can control. It is well-timed each time the appearance of these small snippets appear from one location to the next just like a treasure hunt as it also helps gain a better understanding of what is going on. After the resolution of it all seems a little hasty. 

Montreal Dead End

A movie anthology like this has its charms. To be fair, any anthology has its great, good and lackluster bits. With one with so many different parts, it is hard to escape that fate. With that said, Montreal Dead End won’t be for anyone. Maybe one story or another will please someone but this one has some very odd ideas that might just seem off putting for many.  You can’t fault any of these directors for not putting their twist and being incredibly creative with their ideas. Its going to appeal to a specific audience who will appreciate what its trying to do here.

Montreal Dead End is showing on November 24, 2018 at 9pm at The Royal Cinema for BITS Festival.

Fantasia 2018: Nightmare Cinema (World Premiere 2018)

Nightmare Cinema is a 2018 horror anthology featuring nightmare stories told by five renowned directors. It was an opening film at the Fantasia Festival and the screening was preceded by the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Joe Dante, one of the five directors of this film.

Nightmare Cinema (2018)

Nightmare Cinema

Director: Mick Garris, Alejandro Brugués, Joe Dante, Ryuhei Kitamura, David Slade

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Eric Nelsen, Sara Elizabeth Withers, Zarah Mahler, Mark Grossman, Richard Chamberlain, Maurice Benard, Elizabeth Reaser, Adam Godley, Orson Chaplin, Faly Rakotohavana

Are you ready to enter the world of The Projectionist in the old Rialto Theatre? This Nightmare Cinema brings 5 complete strangers where their darkest fears are the focal point of the story on screen. This anthology features five decent lengths short stories pieces that each have their homage to a nice variety of horror genres but adds in their own twist to make it more modernized or more entertaining or even more intense.

Nightmare Cinema

The opening segment takes no time to introduce us we follow a young girl into the theatre where she sees a movie with her name as the main feature called “The Thing in the Woods”. Directed by Alejandro Brugués, an Argentinian director known for his work in Juan of the Dead and The ABCs of Death 2 segment, this segment pays tribute to the 80s slashers that many still love. As with many slashers, there is a campiness to it as well as a dark humor that surrounds it with both great effects and well-timed moments. Probably the least serious and frightening of the five tales but also a great way to start off this anthology especially with this genre being one of the most popular in the horror subgenres. There is an artistry to the way it is filmed and even the way the story is written with a fantastic twist which honestly is what makes it stand out.

The second segment follows with “Mirari”, directed by the ever so renowned Joe Dante as he takes the audience to the horrors of plastic surgery and boy, do things go horrifyingly bad. While the story does keep you guessing for most of the film, it is the one that feels more mysterious and suspenseful because of the premise. It plays on the obvious expectations that the audience will have, knowing that there is no way that this plastic surgery won’t go wrong. What keeps the audience under the wraps is when it becomes apparent that the people around our victim all become rather sinister.

Nightmare Cinema

The third segment “Mashit”, directed by Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura, known for The Midnight Meat Train among many films, enters the world of a Catholic school and possession. Its bloody and eerie. Some scenes brings up memories of The Exorcist if it was done in this day and age with some outstanding effects that will send a chill down your spine. There are a lot of elements that work here including creepy children and scary makeup. The best part here is the use of light with the hallways covered in sinister colors and then adding in this gloomy backdrop that highlights the bloody parts. However, some parts do get a little overboard and ticks those over the top boxes a little too much.

The penultimate segment is directed by David Slade, the man behind the disturbing indie film, Hard Candy as he presents “This Way To Egress”. Not surprising to see that this story follows a mother of two who visits a psychiatrist office who believes she is going crazy. Her world falls into this ugly reality. This is helped by the stylish black and white feature especially making it more psychologically disturbing as you wonder whether the world are full of monsters or her mind is turning everything into monsters. It straddles the line of truth and fiction while tackling some serious subjects as her story unfolds. While it never quite hits the disturbing levels of Hard Candy, This Way to Egress does pack an effective punch and amps up on the tension as we near the end of this anthology. Nightmare Cinema

The final segment “Dead” along with the intermission segments with The Projectionist is directed by Mick Garris. A great finale to wrap up the anthology as it takes a look at some The Sixth Sense area where a young boy wakes up from being dead for essentially 17 minutes to realize that he can see the lost souls. There is much more to the story than that but the dead are all creepy. There is a great amount of tension arising from the circumstance that he is put in. Dead ends the anthology packing quite the punch. However, the films merit is in creating this character, The Projectionist, portrayed by Mickey Rourke who is a mysterious fellow as we see him more and more in the intermissions between segments as he hints towards what this Nightmare Cinema is all about and well, the final scene shows that there is potential for these stories to just keep on going.

As with any horror anthology, it is about the sum of its parts as much as it is about the big picture. Each of the five stories here pack in some homage to a certain genre and boast the talent of the director and their artistry. Both the cinematography and the atmosphere is top of the line. The soundtrack also builds the mood and tension for each of these scenarios. Even when the story feels like it takes it a little too far or gets a little silly, these elements pulls it back into place. The structure of the horror anthology though is where it stands out because it goes from something more comedic like The Thing in the Woods and builds up both the seriousness and the intensity so that when you reach the final segment Dead, it is pretty much an intense segment from start to finish. With the vast amount of horror subgenres here, there is bound to be something for every horror fan.

Review also posted to That Moment In