TIFF ’08: ‘Midnight Madness’ Films, Trailers, Interviews and Reviews!

The Toronto International Film Festival (September 4 through 13, 2008) announces the complete lineup of the 21st “Midnight Madness”, a Festival favourite drawing legions of devoted fans for manic midnight screenings of wild and wicked films for the witching hour. Featuring work you might not expect in a festival context, Midnight Madness brings chillers, thrillers, and `”shock-u-mentaries” from around the world to ravenous cinephiles. Read on to see what films will be premiering including a few other horror films playing TIFF…

MIDNIGHT MADNESS 2008

The Midnight Madness Package is $156.51, and available to students and seniors for $100 (prices do not include GST, building fund fee and service charges). Purchase online at tiff08.ca, by phone at 416-968-FILM or 1-877-968-FILM or in person at the Festival Box Office at Manulife Centre, 55 Bloor Street West (main floor, north entrance). Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The 33rd Toronto International Film Festival runs September 4 through 13, 2008.

MARTYRS (trailer; website, REVIEW) Pascal Laugier (interview), France

One night in the early 1970s, Lucie, a little girl missing for over a year, is discovered wandering by the side of a country road, unable to say anything about what has happened to her. Hospitalized, Lucie slowly learns how to live again with the help of Anna, a victim of terrible abuse at the hands of her own family. In no time, they are inseparable. Fifteen years later, with the help of Anna, Lucie sets out to wreak vengeance on the family she believes to be responsible for her capture and torture. A visceral and deeply disturbing exploration of what it means to be pushed to the limits of human endurance, Martyrs redefines the nature of horror cinema.

SEXYKILLER (trailer; REVIEW) Miguel Martí, Spain

A serial killer is loose at a medical school in Spain, and nobody suspects that the culprit is Barbara, a sexy, fashion-obsessed student whose hunger for blood can’t be satiated by what she gets in anatomy class! She’s Paris Hilton with the mind of Hannibal Lector. But when her fellow students’ experiment to discover the killer’s identity goes terribly awry, Barbara’s victims start coming back to life. Add in some zombies and chainsaws for a bloody spin on the term “fashion victim.”

DEADGIRL (website; REVIEW) Marcel Sarmiento, Gadi Harel (interview), USA

In this kinky, funny and chilling exploration of friendship, morality and the horror of growing up, two teen boys discover the naked body of a long-forgotten girl in a sealed basement of an abandoned asylum. They quickly realize something far more mysterious is at play when the girl, who they presumed to be dead, begins to exhibit signs of life. When they decide to keep her, their twisted teen fantasy soon erupts into a desperate and dangerous battle of wills between friends. As word of their dark secret threatens to spread, the boys are forced to decide how far they are willing to go to get what they want, and at what cost.

THE BURROWERS (trailer; review soon) J.T. Petty; USA

A horrific take on John Ford’s The Searchers, director JT Petty (S&MAN, TIFF’s Midnight Madness 2006) tells the story of a band of men who, in 1879, set out upon the plains of Dakota to find and recover a family of settlers mysteriously taken from their farm. Expecting the offenders to be a fierce band of natives, the group prepares for a routine battle. But, upon discovering strange holes in the ground, they soon realize that the real enemy is stalking them from below.

EDEN LOG (trailer; website; REVIEW) Franck Vestiel, France

Inspired by Manga and video game imagery, Eden Log is a visually stunning sci-fi vision of a tomb-like underworld. A man regains consciousness at the bottom of a deep cave. He has no idea of how he got there, nor can he determine what happened to the dead man whose body he wakes up next to. Only one thing is certain – he must escape the menacing creatures that are pursuing him, and climb back to the surface through a cemetery-like world that has been abandoned by a mysterious organization called Eden Log.

ACOLYTES (trailer; website; REVIEW) Jon Hewwit (interview), Australia

When they discover the body of a murdered Canadian backpacker buried in the woods, three high school students trace the crime back to a suspected killer. Taking full advantage of their situation, they attempt to blackmail their suspect into killing again. Their target? A brutal bully – recently released from prison – who has victimized them all their lives. But as their scheme lures them into a violent and sadistic world, the vulnerable teens soon discover that rather than destroying their childhood nightmare, they have created one far deadlier.

NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD (trailer; website) Mark Hartley, USA / Australia

Free-wheelin’ sex romps! Blood-soaked terror tales! Blazing action extravaganzas! The same cultural explosion that gave birth to Australian art classics also spawned a group of demon-children – maverick filmmakers who thumbed their noses at authority, made their own rules and, in the process, unleashed films such as Razorback, The Man from Hong Kong, Patrick and Mad Max. A rip-roaring documentary on Australian genre cinema of the 70s and 80s, Not Quite Hollywood features Jamie Lee Curtis, Dennis Hopper, Stacy Keach, Quentin Tarantino and other celebrities sharing their love and memories of an unjustly forgotten cinematic era.

JCVD; Mabrouk El Mechri, France

Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as Jean-Claude Van Damme in the comeback story of one of the biggest action stars in movie history. When a trip to the post office lands the down-and-out Van Damme smack-dab in the middle of a dangerous heist, the “Muscles from Brussels” is exposed as an ordinary guy, complete with fears, contradictions and hopes. What can he do when the gun pointed to his temple isn’t filled with blanks? JCVD finds himself at the turning point of his life as a presumed hero.

CHOCOLATE; Prachya Pinkaew, Thailand

Starring martial arts dynamo Jija Yanin, Chocolate reunites the director and action choreographer of the breakout Midnight Madness hit, Ong-Bak Muay Thai Warrior (TIFF 2003). Exiled from a powerful Thai crime syndicate following a passionate but forbidden love affair with a Japanese gangster, cancer-stricken Zin struggles to raise her shy, autistic daughter Zen. When she learns of some outstanding debts owed to her mother that, if collected, would pay for much-needed medical treatment, Zen sets out to collect from dangerous and reluctant debtors, soon realizing that years obsessively playing video games and watching action movies have transformed her into a martial arts savant.

DETROIT METAL CITY; Lee Toshio, Japan

Based on the hugely popular manga series, Detroit Metal City tells the tale of Souichi, a sensitive and wimpy music geek who came to Tokyo from the country with the dream of becoming a fancy pop musician. But bubblegum dreams are crushed to a bloody pulp when Souichi is forced to front the satanic death metal band Detroit Metal City (DMC), whose trademark is eccentric makeup and destructive performance. Winning recognition as one of Japan’s top acts, DMC is challenged to a death metal duel by rock icon Jack IL Dark (KISS’s Gene Simmons). Souichi must battle for the title of death metal king while keeping Ms. Aikawa, his long-time crush with an affinity for shiny happy pop, unaware of his double identity.

OTHER HORROR TITLES PLAYING TIFF ’08

VINYAN (trailer; REVIEW); Fabrice du Welz (interview), France

Still not having accepted the loss of their son in a tsunami disaster, Janet and Paul Behlmer are back in Bangkok. Hanging onto the fact that his body has never been discovered, Janet desperately clings to the idea that pirates might have kidnapped their kid in the confusion that followed the catastrophe. Looking for someone to guide them in the Thai underworld, they bribe their way to a mysterious Mr. Gao, who takes them to Ranong, where a mercenary supplies them with a boat and crew to explore the pirate-infested shores of Burma. Slowly, they will lose themselves into a strange child-infested jungle and to their inner demons.

SAUNA (official website; trailers; review soon); Antti-Jussi Annila, Finland

A cruel horror film bathing in the Finnish sauna culture, in the no-zone between Christianity and paganism. A story of two brothers, who leave a young girl to die and become haunted by her, as she follows them in supernatural form, her face pouring with endless filth. The brothers escape with a commission marking the border between Russia and Finland to a Russian-Orthodox village. In there they find a sauna – The sauna where all sins are washed away. Seeking for forgiveness, the brothers step into the sauna…

PONTYPOOL (REVIEW); Bruce McDonald, Canada

A small-town radio station discovers that recent madness in the local population may be caused by a virus transmitted through speech.

Ticket info and more details at TIFF08.ca

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