There is one Toronto film festival that is eagerly anticipated by Torontonians every year, and it isn’t that big flashy one that you’ll be hearing more about in September. Now in its fifth year, the Toronto After Dark Film Festival bills itself as “8 thrilling nights of cinema.” The festival has made its name showcasing science fiction and horror cult films and a year has yet to pass where a gem or two of a film hasn’t been shown. This year’s fest promises a little something for everyone, especially if you have a yen to meet a bastard, see a real live (robo)geisha, or just want watch some good old fashioned horror gore.
FRIDAY, AUG. 13
Friday’s opening gala begins with “The Last Lovecraft,” a self-described horror comedy in which the last living descendant of H.P. Lovecraft has to save the world from mini-Cthulhu. Critics have already been comparing Henry Saines’ film to Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead’ flicks for its mix of horror and comedy. The trailer itself is a riot; nerds run willynilly away from sea monsters (made up with some pretty decent creature FX from the looks of things) while a faux-epic score plays in the background. As an added bonus, the cast and crew will be present at the screening for a Q & A.
SATURDAY, AUG. 14
As part of a yearly tradition, Toronto After Dark dedicates one night to the undead, even letting them, and those costumed as zombies, buy tickets for almost ½ off regular admission! This year, Saturday claims the honour of showcasing the zombie flicks “Doghouse” and “Evil in the Time of Heroes.” “Evil in the Time of Heroes” sees the people of Athens, Greece, besieged by the undead. Their one hope lies in mysterious prophet played by Billy Zane, thus confirming the long-held rumour that he actually acts in films occasionally. By all accounts, this is a gore-filled film that should satisfy any zombie junkie. But the best bet for pure entertainment is the first film in the double bill, “Doghouse.” If “The 40-Year Old Virgin” and “Shaun of the Dead” made sweet, sweet love to each other, the result would likely be this horror-comedy in which four recently-dumped British blokes decide to let loose for a weekend in the British country side only to find that man hating female zombies are running rampant. Despite the Freudian set-up, the trailer has some genuine laughs and showcases some good, overlooked British acting talent. “Doctor Who” fans will recognize Noel Clarke, who played the 10th Doctor’s second companion Mickey, as one of the bachelors.
SUNDAY, AUG. 15
Sunday ups the ante with a massive triple bill spanning all genres. First up is a dystopian vision of Earth’s future in Swiss film “Cargo.” IJM’s Kyla Drewette reviewed “Cargo” back in April (read her review HERE).
It’s interesting that Toronto After Dark would pair a slow, cerebral film with one that couldn’t be father from slow or cerebral. “Robogeisha” is about … OK, let’s be honest; does it matter? A loose plot about two women fighting over the affections of a wealthy industrialist is really just an excuse for large action set pieces in which women fight ninjas and geishas with swords and guns that burst out of their body parts. It sounds over the top in the best possible way.
Last up is “High School,” which should not be judged by its lackluster trailer (see it HERE). The stoner comedy about two students who drug their high school in order to dupe the school’s drug testing system got a decent amount of buzz coming out of this year’s Sundance film festival.
All films screen at the Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor St. W). For festival times, go to www.torontoafterdark.com. Check back on Sunday for a preview of next week’s Toronto After Dark line-up, plus reviews of some of the films. And you can follow me on Twitter for Toronto After Dark updates!
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