Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (with rarities)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors screens at the Toronto Underground Cinema on Friday, August 26th with ROBERT ENGLUND in attendance for a post film Q&A. Doors at 7pm, film starts at 8pm. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Tickets can be purchased from Silver Snail, Suspect Video, Eyesore Cinema, Queen Video (Queen St. location only), and the Underground box office during normal business hours.

I adore A Nightmare on Elm Street 3. Although, I have previously gushed about the original film being one of my favourite films of all time, Dream Warriors is a movie that holds the same place in my heart.

Working from a story written in part by series creator Wes Craven, the actual script was written by Dream Warriors director Chuck Russell (who would go on to make The Mask and Eraser) and Frank Darabont (who would go on to become one of Hollywood's most sought after talents with films like The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist). The film also assembles a top notch cast of actors from new faces Patricia Arquette and Laurence Fishburne (here credited as Larry) and returning cast members Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon.

Set in an asylum for troubled youths, Nightmare 3 focuses on a group of teenagers being haunted by Freddy on a nightly basis. Nancy Thompson (Langenkamp) returns to Springwood as a psychologist determined to help the children through dream suppressing medication and group therapy. When her efforts seemingly fail and are deemed unethical by hospital administration, it is up to Nancy and the kids to band together to defeat the evil once and for all.

I don't really want to go into a huge history lesson on this one. Instead, I want to share some videos and blogs I have come across in the past that fans of the series might find interesting and that might make more casual fans take notice of how hard the film was to make.

I guess the best place to start would be all this behind the scenes footage that was shot from the set. This is unedited and raw effects work that you can't find on any DVD box set of the series.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors also marked the first time New Line Cinema had the budget to mass market one of their films. Included in this marketing onslaught were a series of bumpers filmed for MTV to herald the arrival of the latest Freddy film. These bumpers can be found on the bonus disc of the now out of print Nightmare on Elm Street box set.

After becoming the most successful film in the franchise (before the fourth film would break that benchmark), a home video promo tape starring Englund as Freddy was created for video store with hopes of drumming up sales. There is actually some really great news clips in this thing as well.

And finally:


Pleasant dreams...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Freddy Scavenger Hunt Part 2 Trivia Questions

Part 2 of the great Freddy giveaway is tonight. Here are the trivia questions you need to answer at the giveaway location. Upon arrival you will be asked three of these questions at random, so it helps to have all the answers written down when you arrive. The answers can be found in this blog entry. Follow @FKUnderground on Twitter for location clues. All questions for this round pertain to A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge.

1. What is the name of the town Freddy terrorizes in the Elm Street series?
2. New Line Cinema chairman Bob Shaye has a cameo in Freddy's Revenge. What is he playing?
3. What is the name of the gym teacher who is constantly giving Jesse a hard time?
4. Given the film's somewhat openly gay subtext, what did former New Line executive Jeff Katz call the film?
5. What was the biggest reason for Wes Craven's declining to return to direct Freddy's Revenge?
6. What animals does Freddy kill in Freddy's Revenge for seemingly no reason?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil

Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil screens at the Toronto Underground Cinema on Thursday, August 18th at 9:30pm as part of Rue Morgue's Cinemacabre Movie Nights. Catch a new entry from the guys at Rue Morgue every third Thursday of the month!

The oft delayed 2010 film Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil might be a film that genre audiences have waited a long time to see come to the big screen, but this Canadian production is more than worth the wait. The film is the perfect blend of gore and laugh out loud hilarity. Few films this year might be more crowd pleasing, with smart writing and winning performances across the board.

In the Appalachia backwoods of West Virginia, kind and good natured hillbillies Tucker (Firefly's Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Reaper's Tyler Labine) just want to have a relaxing weekend fixing up Tucker's newly bought vacation home. When a group of college frat douchebags decide to camp out in the same area (one described by the local sheriff as having "pain and suffering beyond what you can imagine"), a series of misunderstandings lead to them thinking Tucker and Dale have kidnapped their friend Alison (30 Rock's Katrina Bowden) and killed some of their friends.

Structurally speaking, the film is absolutely brilliant in every way. Details are given only a little bit at a time to show exactly what is going on. This is a film with a lot of twists, but the twists always work because Tucker and Dale are so totally likable as human beings that you never want to see any harm come to them. They might not be the smartest characters to grace the silver screen this year, but they are wittier than anything else in the horror genre this year.

The film also boasts the best villain of any horror film in the past five years. The leader of the "concerned friends", named Chad (and played by Jesse Moss in a remarkable performance) is the ultimate worst nightmare. A man with a mean streak with a constantly popped collar who thinks he works for what is righteous. That's not to say that Tudyk, Labine, and the rest of the cast don't hold their own. Labine especially gets to shine as a character with low self-esteem, a great memory, and a huge heart that makes you just want to hug him. Dale's crush on Alison is remarkably sweet and realistic, lending to the movie's huge heart. As the titular characters, Labine and Tudyk are the best on-screen duo of the year.

Director and co-writer Eli Craig has created a film that is almost the inverse of the Scream franchise. It is a world where self-reflexivity and thinking everything is out to kill you could actually work against you. The overthinking of the college students is laid bare when Alison tells Dale that there is a difference between education and intellect. It isn't really scary, but it is intensely creepy and intensely funny. This is a film that deserves to be seen with a crowd who will likely be laughing, booing and cheering everything that happens. It has more heart and soul than a thousand Final Destinations and almost as many brains as the original Scream. Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil really is that damn good.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Freddy Scavenger Hunt Part 1 Trivia Questions

Freddy here! Today marks the first big day where you can come and see me on the big screen in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and watch as that hack ROBERT ENGLUND takes all the credit for my work. Tickets are still on sale, but I say fuck it! I want the souls of the cheapskates as well as those who want to pay to give me strength.

Here is what you need to do:

1. Read this from the Underground's blogger Andrew Parker and find the answers to the 8 trivia questions I posted below. He helped you more than I would have liked. He was really bold about it, but he won't be for much longer.

2. Follow or pay attention to me on Twitter: @FKUnderground

3. I will give a pair of tickets to Andrew and send him out into the world to do my bidding. When you find out his location from me on Twitter, you freaks have one hour to find him or else no one sleeps! (or in this case, wins the tickets) Meet him armed with the answers to the trivia questions I give you. He will ask you three of them at random. Get all three right, you are going on a dream date with me! AAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!Go ahead and write down the answers and bring them with you. Daddy can't help you now! I've already posted some clues as to where he will be on my Twitter if you were paying attention... but I will spell it out when it comes time to actually find my errand boy.

Let's get cracking. Here are your first batch of questions related to my first film. Happy hunting. I know I will be...

1. What was the true life inspiration for the story behind A Nightmare on Elm Street?
2. What is the connection between Freddy and the villain from Wes Craven's first film, The Last House on the Left?
3. Why did Wes Craven choose the particular shades of red and green to make Freddy's sweater?
4. What was the only major studio to show an interest in A Nightmare on Elm Street?
5. Freddy's make-up artist David Miller also did the make-up for what famous rock band?
6. Who was it that suggested Johnny Depp audition for his first ever onscreen role as Glen?
7. Robert Englund got an audition for A Nightmare on Elm Street because he didn't get a role in what largely forgotten John Hughes film?
8. The rotating room set used in two of the death scenes in A Nightmare on Elm Street was reused for what other 1984 release?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Freddy's Toronto Nightmares Scavenger Hunt and Contest

Hey fellow Undergroundians, who's excited for our big events coming up this August? Sure, we have such luminaries as LANCE HENRIKSEN (coming in on Thursday, August 27th to talk about his film NEAR DARK) and JOHN WATERS (coming in on Saturday, August 29th for an exclusive stand-up set), but what we are here to talk about today is the man of your dreams, Freddy Krueger.

Robert Englund, the man who portrayed Freddy in the seminal Nightmare on Elm Street series of films, will be attending a screening of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS on Friday, August 28th and will partake in a Q&A session following the film.

The event is selling out fast and tickets can be found at Brown Paper Tickets, but we want to extend to you guys a chance to win your way in to see Freddy for free (and more likely than not, some of our other big August events as well).

If Wes Craven's New Nightmare has taught us anything, it is that Freddy is very much a real, living entity and he has enlisted our blogger to help him bring more souls to the party at the end of August.

Freddy will be tweeting clues from the Twitter handle FKUnderground every few days or so. In fact, 8 clues are already up. While they might look simply like lines from Freddy's movies, they are actually location clues. (Don't fret, they will be elaborated upon later, but you have to remember them for now. They will not be repeated.)

Our blogger will be stationed throughout the city at a different location throughout the next few weeks ready to give an (un)lucky winner a pair of passes to see Robert Englund live. But unlike last year with Scott Pilgrim and The Riddler, things are going to be a bit harder this time out.

Each destination will focus on a different film from the Nightmare franchise. Upon reaching that destination, in order to obtain the tickets, participants must correctly have the answer to 3 trivia questions about the film. These questions will be posted ahead of time. When the location has been given away, participants will have one hour to get to the destination and answer the questions correctly. The questions will be posted here on the blog several hours in advance of the location being given away. If you were able to garner anything from the Twitter clues already posted, you are ahead of Freddy's deadly game already.

A few things to keep in mind:

-The clues might be in the order of the films, but that doesn't mean the giveaways will be sequential. Freddy doesn't play by the rules. They will be out of order, and be ready for curveballs.

-The Freddy Vs. Jason stage of the contest will also test your knowledge of Jason.

-There will be two BONUS giveaways. One will focus on the music of the Nightmare series and one will be a special geocaching adventure to find Freddy's bones. (And who knows, maybe Freddy has something cooked up that he isn't even telling us about. Again, he doesn't play fair.)

-Our blogger is a huge Freddy fan and he will be doing everything in his power to help you find him and free him of Freddy's evil spell. On giveaway days, our blogger will post in depth looks at each of the films in the Nightmare series that will include the answers to several of the trivia questions.

The first giveaway will be this Friday. Stay tuned for further updates. And whatever you do, don't fall asleep.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fright Night

Fright Night screens FOR FREE as part of Rue Morgue's Cinemacabre at the Toronto Underground Cinema on Thursday, July 21st at 9:30pm.

Hot on the heels of the upcoming Disney and Dreamworks remake (from Lars and the Real Girl director Craig Gillespie), Rue Morgue brings their Cinemacabre movie series to the Toronto Underground Cinema with a free screening of the 1985 horror classic, Fright Night.

Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) has a very big problem. He has proof that his new next door neighbour, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire. Naturally, no one will believe the horror movie obsessed Charlie at first. Charlie tries to enlist the help of his girlfriend (Amanda Bearse) and his best friend "Evil" Ed (Stephen Geoffreys), who are skeptical, but genuinely want to help. Charlie also looks to a former Hammer-style film actor named Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell) who was once famous for tracking down creatures of the night on screen. Jerry would willing leave young Charlie alone if he would just stay out of his business, but eventually Charlie grows to know too much and Jerry begins an all out assault on his friends and family. In the end it is up to Charlie and the disgraced actor to save the suburbs from a horrible terror.

Fright Night is undoubtedly one of the best horror films of the 1980s and in many ways was ahead of its time. Writer and director Tom Holland has not only a great visual eye (this movie is gorgeous to look at), but a real knack for self reflexivity that doesn't beat the audience into submission with sly references or half baked nods to films from the past. It bears its love of Rear Window and the Universal horror films of the 30s and 40s on its sleeve, but it never actively tries to recreate those films word for word. It balances the funny and the brutal quite well. While there is quite a bit of humour in the film, it also goes in some pretty unexpected places. The stakes get raised in the film at almost every turn and in many cases without any warning, especially in the second half of the film which includes the final battle between Charlie and Jerry that lasts almost a full thirty minutes without ever getting old, tiresome, or repetitive.

The performances are also great across the board. Bearse is suitably low key and mousy and Geoffreys is over the top and crazed. Sarandon is the perfect vampire blend of sexy and scary, and possibly worst of all he actually looks the part of the neighbour you want to be friends wth but you can never quite be sure about. Ragsdale is pleasingly heroic and he never backs down from a fight, making him one of the toughest nerds in film history. The film really belongs to McDowell who doesn't so much play a withering wimp as a placating blowhard who would totally be in love with himself if he wasn't so busy lamenting his lost fame. Fright Night is an often overlooked piece of 1980s film history, but it is well worth the time if you haven't seen it. And for free (and on very rare 35mm) you just can't beat the price.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Defending the Indefensible: Equilibrium and Ghostbusters 2

Defending the Indefensible: Equilibrium and Ghostbusters II happens on Thursday, July 28th at Toronto Underground Cinema. Equilibrium at 7:00pm. Ghostbusters II at 9:30pm. Single film: $10, Double Bill $15. Proceeds to benefit Sick Kids Hospital.

This month our Defending the Indefensible series, where local film critic square off in a cinematic death match, focuses on a special kind of "indefensible" film. Equilibrium and Ghostbusters II are two films that have many vocal supporters who think that both films can be seen as modern classics rather than the box office bombs or disappointments that they were seen as on first glance. These films are actually so well liked that the defenders of these films seemingly have no desire to acknowledge that anyone could ever possibly dislike these films. In truth, both films are by definition critically indefensible and have numerous vocal detractors.

Equilibrium, from writer director Kurt Wimmer (also responsible for Ultraviolet and the screenplay for Law Abiding Citizen), was a film that was largely overlooked at the box office and never actually made a profit upon release. The film, starring a pre-Batman Christain Bale, Taye Diggs, and Emily Watson, was a cross between a heady science fiction film set in a dystopian fascist state (with heavy nods to 1984 and Brave New World) and a Matrix-style action film that introduced a new form of martial arts fighting known as "Gunkata". The film was barely distributed in the United States after sitting on the shelves at Miramax/Dimension for several years without release. It was only screened on just over 200 screens worldwide and never theatrically in Canada. Critics upon the film's release were largely negative upon the release of the film (currently standing at an abysmal 33% on Rotten Tomatoes). The film became more of a success overseas in Europe and on home video where it has amassed quite a cult following.

Ghostbusters II is a lot more well known and a bit of a special case. Released in the summer of 1989, Ghostbusters II became the first ever film to earn over $100 million at the box office and still be considered a disappointment. Upon the film's release, many film critics took the film to task for being a lazy retread of the original and not having as much originality and wit as its predecessor. But for all the people who speak ill of this sequel, just as many praise it for being just as funny as the original film and they don't seem to care that they are watching essentially the same film played out in only a slightly different variation. A lengthy history of the production and comments from both sides of this argument can be found here.

The big question on this night will be if these films are truly indefensible on a critical level and if the audience will change their minds when presented with both side of the argument. As always, two critics will square off head-to-head to introduce the films and debate them with the audience following the screening.

For Equilibrium, the Toronto Underground Cinema resident blogger (who has been writing all of this in the third person in a bid to remain impartial) and writer for Criticize This! Andrew Parker will be explaining how nothing about the film works, it makes no sense, and the action is incredibly stupid. Sasha James, head writer and editor for The Final Girl Project will be the person who will attempt to explain why sometimes just making a good looking and fun action film can be better than high art.

For Ghostbusters II, blogger, filmmaker, podcaster, and One Minute Film Festival creator Matt Brown, will explain why this sequel is a heartless cash grab and how it was the first film to ever prove to him as a child that movies could actually suck and how it started him on his path of disillusionment. For the defence, Torontoist and Cinema Scope will explain how just being funny isn't a crime and why sometimes nostalgia for a film can be better than looking for a deeper meaning.

As always, proceeds from the screenings will be benefiting charities and this month we are proud to welcome returning charity Sick Kids to the Defending the Indefensible series. There will be prizes, trivia, and as always, your chance to put film critics on the spot to defend your favourite films. Come on out and support some great movies. Or boo them. Or whatever. Just come see them and help us support a great cause.