So, as many of you who read The Blood Sprayer already know, yesterday was the inaugural night of the 5th Annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival. If you couldn’t tell from the festival preview that I posted yesterday (if you didn’t check it out yet, you can find it HERE), I’ve been expecting it to be a great time. Well, I’m happy to report that, if things continue to go like they did yesterday, that will most certainly be the case!
Because yesterday was opening night, there was only one feature film and one short scheduled. The opening feature was Henry Saine‘s The Last Lovecraft: The Relic of Cthulhu, and the short that preceded it was called The Necronomicon. However, before either of those started rolling, Festival Director Adam Lopez took the stage to say a few words about what festival-goers could expect to see over the next week.
As usual, Adam’s introduction was very fun and enthusiastic. You can tell that he puts a lot of hard work into organizing the festival, and it’s a labor of love for him. He stressed several times that he does it all for the fans, and that it’s not a commercial endeavor, as nobody really profits from it.
His rundown of the highlights of this year’s fest didn’t really contain much news that anyone who hasn’t checked out the official festival site, or read our preview of it, would be surprised by. However, reading it in a web browser can’t compare to hearing it from the Festival Director in a packed house full of rowdy genre fans. And, the house was certainly full last night… In fact, by the time Adam was done speaking, I could barely see any open seats.
One thing that did surprise me, though, is that a bunch of the cast and crew of The Last Lovecraft were actually in attendance and would be doing Q&A after the screening. It turns out that they actually cancelled some vacation plans and flew out from California on their own accord to be there. Seeing as it was the first time the film had played out of the US, I can’t say I blame them!
After that announcement writer/producer/star Devin McGinn came up to say a few words about the film. Well, mostly he joked that he wished he had been the one to make Let the Right One In and expressed his gratitude at having been picked as the festival opener, seeing as that slot is usually reserved for much larger films. But, more on that later… Let’s get to the films!
As usual, the night began with the official festival trailer (it was included with my preview too). This was immediately followed by a short “Bumper” film. As it turns out, this year, TAD asked for filmmakers to submit little films that somehow used the number five (for the festival’s 5th year) as a theme. I’m not sure if this one had a name (I’ll have to see if I can find that out), but I can say that it was quite hilarious and had the audience in near-tears. Since it was so short, I can’t say much else about it, as it would spoil the entire thing, but if it gets posted to the Internet any time soon, you can bet I will share it with you!
Next up was the first Canada After Dark short, The Necronomicon. This was actually a very great fit with the feature that followed, as it was a comedic piece that centered on some material that should be quite familiar to genre enthusiasts and fans of Lovecraft. Again, I don’t want to say a lot about it, as I feel that doing so would take a lot of the fun out of it. I will say, however, that it is one of the funniest shorts that I have seen in recent history, and I highly recommend that you take a few minutes to watch it yourselves, which you can do so by scrolling to the bottom of this post.
After the short wrapped up, The Last Lovecraft began. Now, going into it, this film had two things going against it that I believed it would need to overcome in order to entertain me. For one, it’s a comedy that deals with horror material. As I’m sure you’re all well aware, that is one of the most difficult things to do well (as proven by the never ending string of forgettable parody films that pop up). Secondly, it’s based on H.P. Lovecraft material, so in order to avoid droves of angry fanatics, it needs to beware of how it pokes fun at the mythos.
Those things are huge factors that could have killed almost any film, but I’m happy to say that the filmmakers behind The Last Lovecraft did it right. In fact, within the first fifteen minutes or so, I was sold. The story — about a group of guys, including Lovecraft‘s last remaining descendent, who must save the world from the coming of Cthulhu — treats the subject matter with care, and the jokes are written as such that they should be appreciated by everyone; not just the die-hard HPL fans. You can really tell that the filmmakers behind this thought things out and cared about the source material quite a bit. If you get the chance, I highly recommend that you check out the film (I plan to write a full review soon, so be sure to check back for that).
After the film ended, key members of the cast and crew joined Adam on stage for Q&A. Included in the lot were the aforementioned Devin McGinn, along with Director Henry Saine, and actors Kyle Davis, Edmund Lupinski, Ethan Wilde, and Martin Starr. Even with the knowledge that there would be a Q&A after the film, for some reason, it seemed like half the theater cleared out before the credits had even finished rolling. This is not the first time that I’ve witnessed this at TAD, and I’m not really sure why it happens. Oh well… In the end it was their loss, because the Q&A was very entertaining.
During the session, it was revealed that the film was part of a planned trilogy. The key depending factor, of course, is whether or not they can get the financing. Apparently, if they can move 60,000 units, someone is willing to put up the cash, so I hope the DVD sells well! They also discussed the idea of possibly doing a comic book tie-in, which makes complete sense, seeing as there were a few fun animated sequences in the film. Of course, the question came up of their concerns with adapting Lovecraft, and their answers just proved that they knew full well what they were doing before diving in.
As usual, I enjoyed the Q&A quite a lot. In particular, Martin Starr was very humorous; even if he only had a very tiny part and didn’t have much to say. The rest of the cast was very entertaining as well, and none of them seemed the least bit pretentious. You really got the feeling that they had a (mostly) great time making the film, and that, as always, financing was the biggest obstacle.
After the Q&A wrapped, it was off to the festival’s Opening Gala. This year, the Gala was held at the Bovine Sex Club over on Queen St. W. I’ve heard of the club, and even passed by it, many times over the years during my journeys to Toronto. However, this was the first time that I had ever gone there, and I must admit, I enjoyed it quite a bit.
The club was much smaller than the place they held last year’s Galas, and I think that actually worked in its favor. Pretty much all of the festival personnel were there, along with the cast and crew from The Last Lovecraft, who were very approachable and seemed like very nice people. As usual, there were several TVs and a makeshift projection screen that were playing genre films. The TVs were playing The Warriors and Shogun Assassin, while exploitation trailers were being projected on the screen. While this was going on, Rue Morgue founder Rodrigo Gudiño and friends DJ’d through the night, providing a nice eclectic mix of music.
I mingled, had a few drinks, and generally enjoyed myself. I met some new people, which is always fun, and chatted with some folks that I had previously only known through Facebook and Twitter. It was a lot of fun, and it makes me look forward to the Pub After Dark social nights, which will be going on each night at Pauper’s, even more than I already did. I wound up staying until around 1:45am or so, when I figured I may as well start my walk back to the hotel (which wound up being longer than expected, but that’s another story!).
So, that about wraps it up for Day 1 of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Overall, I think it was a great success and a ton of fun, and I can’t wait to head back to the Bloor for more strange and awesome films! Speaking of which… It looks like it’s time to get ready to do just that, so I must be on my way…
Stay sick, and remember to check back here often for more on TAD!