The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) continues the 2017 film festival season in style! And with tons of horror movies!
Thank God! I was getting a little parched with the paltry (though potent) slates of horror movies at Cannes and Venice.
Honestly, it’s not a surprise that TIFF has much more horror than the other festivals. TIFF has always been a little more…risky than some of the more prestigious festivals. Not that TIFF isn’t prestigious–it regularly attracts top-level talent and Oscar contenders. It’s just that TIFF is a little more daring. A little more willing to recognize the worth and artistic accomplishments of genre films.
As Vox put it, “Cannes films often skew toward more rarefied and international films, while at Toronto…you can find bigger crowdpleasers that might also find more money at the box office and wind up bigger awards-season contenders…TIFF sets the pace for the year’s awards chatter.”
And just to underscore the point, TIFF regularly hits homeruns, especially in horror. TIFF has debuted such horror films as Dario Argento’s Opera in 1989, Peter Jackson’s Braindead in 1992, The Grudge in 2002, Hostel in 2005, Inside (À l’intérieur) in 2007, 2008’s The Loved Ones, Black Swan in 2009, The Lords of Salem in 2012, Emilie in 2015, and Raw in 2016, where multiple people passed out during the screening.
Thus, without further adieu, let’s get to TIFF 2017’s horror movies!
1977 was a damn good year for cinema with the release of modern film classics like Star Wars, Saturday Night Fever, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It was also an inspired year for horror, with The Hills Have Eyes, Eraserhead, Rabid, and, of course, Dario Argento’s masterpiece, Suspiria. One of the most iconic horror films ever, Suspiria enjoyed the 40th anniversary of its world premiere a few months ago. Just a few days ago, it enjoyed the 40th anniversary of its American release.
Suspiria is one of my favorite horror movies. Full stop. Not only is it violent and horrifying, it’s freakin’ gorgeous. Gory and unsettling, its visuals are beautiful and opulent. Suspiria is a true experience, more than a straightforward movie-watching experience. Like the giallo movies from which Suspiria is descended, the film explores the stunning effect of horrific violence rendered cinematic. Of all the giallo films, Suspiria achieves a rare kind of horror movie sublimity, slipping into your subconscious like a long, thin blade. Continue reading
As part of my ongoing series, Horror at Film Festivals, let’s take a trip down under to Australia for the Melbourne International Film Festival. The world isn’t just about Cannes and Sundance, now is it?
The Melbourne International Film Festival is chock full of horror spanning a wide range of tastes from the gory to the eerie to the downright weird. From August 3rd to August 20th, the film industry will gather in Melbourne to toast the latest crop of inventive and important films, and horror films part of the schedule.
As a festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival aims to show the global audience all manner of “curated and unforgettable screen experiences.” The major Australian film festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival is also one of the oldest film festivals in the world, showcasing films since 1952. It has a decidedly different flavor to its film lineup, focusing on daring, a little risky, slightly off-kilter independent films.
To that end, the Melbourne International Film Festival has showcased works by horror icons Dario Argento, David Cronenberg, and David Lynch, among many. More recently, the Melbourne International Film Festival screened such horror films as Housebound, Train to Busan, and What We Do in the Shadows.
The lineup for 2017 is exciting! Melbourne International Film Festival has one of the most extensive slates of indie horror I’ve seen at a major festival. I can’t wait until I can see these in America!
I won’t lie, I was ready to be disappointed by Alien: Covenant.
When I finally walked into it, I did so with low expectations and gratitude that my ticket was free. An ardent fan of both Alien and Aliens, I’m still sore about how disappointing Prometheus turned out to be. I was hopeful that Alien: Covenant would be different, but I wasn’t going to hold my breath. I thought I’d learned my lesson about managing expectations.
So imagine my surprise and delight when Alien: Covenant turned out to be thrilling, scary, and downright thoughtful. Alien: Covenant, thankfully, broke new ground instead of rehashing Prometheus and took meaningful steps towards giving us the same kind of gruesome and disturbing space horror epics we all know and love.
The Tribeca Film Festival starts tomorrow! The film festival circuit is in full swing and Tribeca is the latest prestigious stop. And I’m going to tell you all about the featured horror films.
Tribeca may not be Cannes, but in its relatively short existence, Tribeca has proven itself a formidable and important film festival. Founded in 2002 by producer Jane Rosenthal, renowned actor Robert De Niro, and real estate mogul Craig Hatkoff, Tribeca has made a name for itself as a festival dedicated to presenting discerning and innovative filmmaking. More than the Cannes Film Festival or the Toronto International Film Festival, Tribeca is about independent films over “prestige studio movies.”
This year, there’s a great mix of various horror subgenres, from serial killer movies to artistic slashers to psychological horror, with loads of films falling between those categories or smashing through them. I have a feeling that some of these feature and short films will go on to generate plenty of buzz. Hopefully, we will see general releases of some of these. I’m particularly excited about Hounds of Love, Psychopaths, and Retouch.
Spring Break in Texas means a lot of things, like South Padre Island, Mustang Island, and South by South West!
I have many a fond memory of my time as a college student in Austin, Texas, too poor and too uncool to go to the exclusive, VIP SXSW events and having to settle for free events and waiting in line for screenings and concerts. Most of the time, I could only ever get into the musical events. I dreamed of the day I could afford a VIP pass to the SXSW Film Festival, especially because of all the freakin’ amazing SXSW horror movies there. So many great horror films premiered at SXSW! To name a few of those SXSW horror films, take French-extremism horror film Them, Lake Mungo, Insidious, and The Cabin in the Woods, to name a few.
Sadly, I’m still not in a place where I can take off a whole week to go party in Austin. Someday, I’ll get there. But until then, here’s a list of SXSW horror movies that are premiering this year! I’ve included a synopsis and a trailer if available. Enjoy!
*Very Mild Spoilers for Get Out*
Every once in a while, a horror movie comes along that checks off all my horror-movie boxes. Such a movie strikes a balance between horror and comedy, between jump scares and mounting dread, between imagination and classic genre fare, between a stand-alone story and an important social message.
Every once in a while, a horror movie comes along that knocks me back. Holds me in my seat. Grabs me by the throat.
Get Out is the most recent example of such excellent filmmaking. By now you’ve surely heard that the film has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 167 total reviews and an 83% “Universal Acclaim” rating on Metacritic. You might also have read that Get Out is a certified box office smash, grossing $111 million dollars worldwide against a budget of $4.5 million, which is 24x over its budget.
Get Out deserves every good review and every penny it earns. Movies like this make me proud to be a horror fan because they prove how the genre is positioned as uniquely challenging and entertaining art. From its technical execution, to its writing, to its casting, to its deeply relevant social criticism, Get Out will probably be one of the best movies of the year and will undoubtedly be one of the best horror movies of the decade.
The tense political environment right now has me thinking a lot about my identity as an American. I was born and raised here. I’m fairly patriotic. I studied the law and our nation’s history in part to better understand the rules that underlie our Americanness.
And when I think of myself as an American, I think about our rights and the defense of our liberties. I think of working together with those who have different viewpoints. I think of respect and tolerance because Americans are supposed to hold those values in esteem. I also think, “It’s easy to be American when things are going well.”
What happens if this all falls apart?
We Americans treasure our autonomy. Look at the Bill of Rights. Look at the Constitution. These are the rules by which the government protects our rights and with which the people limit the government. We have all said we agree to abide by this rulebook to preserve everyone’s pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (within reason). Do we mean it?
UPDATED TO INCLUDE THE 2019 NOMS – SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM
*Interested in what other awards shows have honored horror? Check out my Golden Globes post here.*
I’m a huge film buff (I love movies in general, not just horror movies) and I enjoy watching the Academy Awards every year. I strive to see all the Best pictures, even if I don’t agree with the choices. Despite my love and respect for the Academy Awards, I am disappointed that many excellent films are completely overlooked by the Academy. Especially horror films.
I shouldn’t be surprised. The Academy has a lot of issues. The Academy is a notoriously conservative body, reluctant to reward risks or give credit to inventive and brave filmmaking. Lately, it seems like the more popular a film is, the worst its chances are for receiving any kind of recognition from the Academy, though there are notable exceptions. Why does the Academy pick certain films over others? I have no idea.
And while horror is criminally underrated and underappreciated as a genre, while turning out well-made and culturally resonate films, there have been several films that the Academy has lauded for achievements in directing, acting, cinematography, and other facets of filmmaking.
Let’s hope that as more and more high-quality, compelling horror movies are made, the more recognition is paid to this underrated genre.
***Spoilers for The Neon Demon Follow***
Unfortunately, 2016 hasn’t been the best year for horror movies, though it hasn’t been the worst either. In fact, 2016 seems to have been a moderate year, with some of the best films exhibiting hard-to-ignore flaws and the worst films showing flashes of promise. All the good films seemingly came out of left field while all we got from the hyped horror movies were splashy marketing campaigns and disappointment. For me, no other 2016 Horror Movie exemplifies this better than The Neon Demon.