Welcome back, fright fans! This past Friday was the final night of to the Toronto After Dark 2010 Film Festival, which means that, sadly, this is my final recap piece, and I am now back home in New York State. On one hand, it’s nice to be back at my house, sleeping in my own bed, and not living out of a suitcase… But, on the other hand, I had an amazing time at the festival, and Day 8 was no exception!
The last night of the festival kicked off with the Canada After Dark short, Pleasure Dome. The short was a strange little film about a variety of equally strange individuals living in a fictional place called the Pleasure Dome. It was shot and edited to look like an informational TV special and featured a series of short sequences about various people, or groups of people, that inhabited the place. Unfortunately, this was probably my least favorite short of the festival, and it really didn’t make much of an impression on me, as it felt like it was just weirdness for the sake of weirdness. n other words, there didn’t seem to be much of a point to it, and I found myself a tad bored during it. However, some people seemed to enjoy it, so maybe it’s just me… I would share the short, or at least a trailer for it, with you, but I can’t find one out there…
Anyhow, while Pleasure Dome did leave a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, I have to admit that it was a fitting short to put in front of the night’s first film, Rubber, as that film was also equally weird. If you haven’t heard of this movie yet, it comes to us from French director Quentin Dupieux (also known as the popular electro house musician Mr. Oizo), and it’s about a tire with telekinetic abilities… Yes, you read that correctly… A killer tire!
Apparently, the film was a hit at this year’s FantAsia Film Festival, and it sold out several screenings, so it’s safe to say that I was extremely intrigued by it. However, in the end, Rubber just seemed like more weirdness with little to no point. The film had its moments — like the hilarious introduction, and a seemingly never-ending amount of exploding heads — but in the end, it was mediocre at best; neither great or terrible. For fans of totally bizarre cinema, though, it’s totally worth a watch. Just don’t expect more than a bunch of strange scenes and a killer tire, and you should be able to enjoy it on some level.
Once Rubber wrapped — with a strange credit sequence that played over an old-looking aerobics video… Seriously, I can’t make this shit up… — it was back in line for the closing film of the festival, The Human Centipede. Once the sold-out crowd was seated, Festival Director Adam Lopez took the stage for his introduction; his last of the festival. He said a few words about how grateful he was that everyone came out, and he assured us that the festival would return in 2011 for more craziness and fun. He then asked for some audience members to take the stage and form their own Human Centipede, and the section that did the best job got a poster from the film as a prize. It was an entertaining and amusing spectacle, to say the least.
Centipede was preceded by the Canadian-made short Re-Wire, which was about a young man who pays a visit to a reclusive doctor, hoping that he can cure his fears. To be honest, I quite enjoyed Re-Wire. Though it was certainly not my favorite of the festival, it was very well shot and had some great atmosphere. In particular, the sound design was very good, and the score was haunting. I was able to find a trailer for this short, and I have included it below. If you head over the the filmmaker’s page on Vimeo, I believe he also has some other clips from the film up. Highly recommended!
After Re-Wire, Human Centipede began. Now, I know you’ve probably heard a hundred different things about this film, so I won’t bother telling you what it’s about. You may have also heard from hard-core horror nuts that the film was disappointing, and its subject matter far less shocking than the hype surrounding it made it out to be. While I do agree that the film is far from graphic, and that seasoned gore-junkies and fans hard-core horror won’t be shocked or disgusted, I have to say that I was far from disappointed. In fact, I enjoyed the film immensely.
This was due in no small part to the strangely brilliant performance from Dieter Laser, who plays the mad doctor in the film. Looking like some bizarre cross between Christopher Walken and Angus Scrimm, he really delivers some great over-the-top, whacked-out acting here. In fact, the crowd in the theater was laughing and cheering all through the film. In the end, I believe this is a huge part of the reason why so many people have reported the film to be over-hyped and disappointing; they never saw it with an audience. To be honest, if I had downloaded the film or watched it on VOD in my living room, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it a fraction as much as I did in the theater. That’s because, while the film really isn’t very graphic or shocking, it worked on some level as an extremely bizarre black comedy. It certainly wasn’t my favorite film at the festival, but I enjoyed it quite a bit, and I found myself (and everyone around me) laughing the whole way through.
After Centipede wrapped, we spilled out into the street and headed to Pauper’s for one last night of drinking and partying. Since this was the official Closing Gala party for the festival, the place was packed, but I got there early enough that I was able to get a booth with several of the new friends that I made during the 9 days that I spent in Toronto. We spent the night drinking, eating, and discussing the previous week’s craziness. Looking back, it’s really hard to believe that only a little over a week beforehand, I was just some guy from NY State who was in Toronto by himself to watch a bunch of crazy films at a festival. It truly felt like I had known these people for much longer, and it was great to get to spend one last evening hanging out with them. Towards the end of the evening, Adam Lopez even ended up hanging out with us at our table and having a few drinks.
Adam is such a genuine guy, and after talking with him so much over the course of the festival, you can really tell that he and the other festival organizers really do everything for the fans. TAD isn’t some huge festival with tons of large corporate sponsors that exists to make profits and whore out whatever is on the agenda. It really is all about the audience, and everyone who helps with the festival is extremely gracious and gives their all to make sure that we have a good time. Adam shared the story behind TAD with us, and I can’t really do it justice here, but hopefully in the future I will find some time to sit down and interview him so that I can share it with all of you, as it really is a great story, and it really reinforces the feeling of family that is behind the festival. Adam is so genuine, and I can’t even count the number of times throughout the festival that he stopped by to thank me for coming out and doing coverage. Now, I always have a blast at the festival, and I would be covering it regardless, but it makes me happy to know that, not only am I sharing a lot of cool stuff with all of you, but I am helping to support someone who puts so much time, energy, and money into something that really is for the fans. Kudos to him and all of his staff for pulling off such an amazing event.
I’d also like to take a minute to thank several other people that I met over the course of the festival: Kirk Haviland, who hung out every single night at the festival and put back countless pints with me at the pub afterwards. Will Brownridge, over at The Film Reel, and his girlfriend Charmaine, who were two of the first people to welcome me to the festival and ended up hanging out pretty much every night. Christian Burgess, Programming Assistant for TAD, and one of the coolest guys to party with in a packed hotel room at 4am. Derek Quenneville, author, fellow film junkie, and all around nice guy (Thanks for the Eyeball Monster, dude!). There are also plenty of other people that I met and hung out with, but these guys in particular made me feel very welcome at the festival.
Also, I’d like to wish the best of luck to Henry Saine (The Last Lovecraft) and Sol Friedman (Junko’s Shamisen). It was great meeting both of you guys and hanging out. I enjoyed both of your films a lot, and I hope that they both do very well! Hope to see more from you guys in the future!
Sadly, that about does it for the festival recaps here on The Blood Sprayer, as TAD 2010 has wrapped, and I am back home… However, it’s not the end of our coverage, as I plan on doing some full reviews of the films that played at the festival, and I will reporting on the winners of the Audience Choice awards, as well as compiling my own “Best Of” list, in the near future. So, keep your eyes here for more on Toronto After Dark, and thanks for reading!
As always, if you want to find the previous days’ coverage, or just want to find all TAD-related articles in one place, you can go HERE. Also, for more photos from Day 8 of TAD, please visit the festival’s Official Facebook Page.