by Jeff Meyers
Though it's technically a part of the cineaste juggernaut that is the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF), the Midnight Madness program has always marched to its own drum (a violent, profane drum) and attracted its own audience - one that has grown in size, influence and profile since the program's 1983 start.
It maybe hard to believe but there was a time where no one knew the name of Quentin Tarantino, Sasha Baron Cohen, and Eli Roth. Yet Reservoir Dogs, Borat, and Cabin Fever all made their debut at the MIDNIGHT MADNESS film program (As did Dazed And Confused, Saw and The Raid).
Known for its boisterous and unexpected screenings - 1983 featured the debut of cult horror fave Brain Damage (which sported a poop-shaped alien parasite) - MIDNIGHT MADNESS has become a must-attend event for those who don't mind stumbling home from a movie at two or three in the morning.
Like the Island of Misfit Toys, curator Colin Geddes culls hundreds of potential films into his witching hour "10," a mix of high profile films, smaller indies, international fringe and complete unknowns. And the crowds come out in droves. 1300 die-hard geeks, gorehounds, and fans of the eccentric fill the Ryerson theater, each of the festivals 10 nights eager to get an early peek at the next fanboy fave. Of course the filmmaker and cast Q&As that follow are always a big incentive to stick around.
At the 2006 World Premiere of Borat, Cohen showed up on a donkey cart pulled by a team of women. When the projector broke down in the middle of the film, he, producer Larry Charles and filmmaker Michael Moore (who was in the audience) did an off-the-cuff chat with the crowd until the projector could be fixed.
In the past I have attended 3-4 of the midnight screenings but this year I'm determined to avoid nodding off during the 8am screenings. But for those of stouter hearts and later wake up calls, here's a mathematical recap of this year's MIDNIGHT MADNESS offerings. Things kick off with Lucky McKee's (May, The Woman) remake of his own 2001 no-budget All Cheerleaders Die.
ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE (9/5 @ 11:59pm)
Director: Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson
HS revenge story + Pleated skirts + Supernatural violence = What's not to like?
THE STATION (9/6 @ 11:59pm)
Director: Marvin Kren
Isolated Alpine research station + Global warming + weird monsters = "The Thing" goes to Austria.
THE GREEN INFERNO (9/7 @ 11:59pm)
Director: Eli Roth
Ethnic stereotyping + Cannibalism + A complete absence of taste = Tasting dinner for the second time and going home feeling ashamed the next morning.
OCULUS (9/8 @ 11:59pm)
Director: Mike Flanagan
Damaged siblings + Family madness + Cursed mirror = Hmmm, Sounds a little bit like the neighbors across the street (minus the haunted mirror). Worth a look.
AFFLICTED (9/9 @ 11:59pm)
Director: Clif Prouse, Derek Lee
One night stand + Cronenberg-like body horror = Meta narrative = Film school geekery that could impress... or bore.
ALMOST HUMAN (9/10 @ 11:59pm)
Director: Joe Begos
Alien possession + Lo Fi filmmaking = The trailer needs to do a better job of convincing me.
RIGOR MORTIS (9/11 @ 11:59pm)
Director: Juno Mak
80s Hong Kong vampire movie + Modern effects + Ruin porn = Creepy ass images. (Hope the rest of the film measures up)
R100 (9/12 @ 11:59pm)
Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto
Ordinary dad + Crazed S&M Club + Japanese absurdism = WTF?
WHY DON'T YOU PLAY IN HELL? (9/13 @ 11:59pm)
Director: Sion Soto
Yakuza + Mutilation + Fame whores + "The Fucker Bombers" = A movie my Great Aunt will never ever watch.
WITCHING & BITCHING (9/14 @ 11:59pm)
Director: Alex de la Iglesia
Spanish grand guignol + Sexy witches + Busker bank robbers + A golden Jesus = More madness from the man who brought us The Last Circus.