Tim Hannigan

Cinemaniacs rejoice!  The Toronto After Dark Film Festival is upon us yet again – arriving two months earlier in this, the fourth year of this fantastic cult festival.

For those who have never been to TADFF, you have been missing out on a weird, wild and wickedly entertaining showcase of some of the most amazing cult films ever collected under one roof.  There is truly something for everyone in this festival – action, science-fiction and heaps of horror.  This year promises plenty of vampires, zombies and Nazis – oh my!

The festival launched with a “bang” with the fantastic blaxploitation homage/spoof “Black Dynamite”.  Director Scott Sanders was in attendance and gladly answered questions from the sell-out crowd who were absolutely blown away by the ode to 70s action cinema.

I love all kinds of cult cinema – but this being I’m sure everyone is wondering about the horror offerings this year.  I guarantee fans of all things frightening will not be disappointed. 

This year’s line-up includes a zombie night on Sunday (apparently those dressed as the undead – or those truly undead – get in half price).  The zombie night includes “Dead Snow” the Scandinavian shockfest featuring teens on a snowmobile trip being stalked by zombies.  And we’re not talking about your garden variety zombies – these are Nazi zombies!  The trailer for “Dead Snow” looks amazing, and it promises to be one of the highlights.

Monday is vampire night, with the splatter-filled romantic comedy from the creators of “Tokyo Gore Police” – “Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl”.  If the movie is even half as cool as the title we’re in for a treat.  The vampire fun continues with the world premiere of the Romanian vampire horror/comedy “Strigoi”.

Tuesday night features “The Children” – a new entry into the growing sub-genre of creepy little kids turning into killers.  Festival Director Adam Lopez promises that “The Children” will be one of the scariest films in the entire festival this year.

The horror films this year are too many to list, but other highlights include a screening of the eagerly anticipated “Trick ‘r Treat” on Thursday night, and the blood-craving baby film “Grace” closing out the festival on Friday August 21st 2009.

Standing in line for the festival tonight I overheard people talking about the fact that some of these films, such as Grace and Dead Snow, will be arriving on DVD in the coming months.  To me this is more the reason to come out to the festival and see them on the big screen.  Cult movies are intended to be viewed in a movie theatre, and there is no better way to see them than watching them along with a few hundred rabid cult fans.  Unfortunately the big movie studios think that films like this should go straight to DVD.  Even “Trick ‘r Treat” which was produced by Brian Singer and written by the writer of X2 appears to be heading for an extremely limited theatrical release before being dumped onto DVD.  Watching these films on DVD can never come close to the experience of watching them surrounded by like-minded film fanatics.  If you have never experienced a cult film with an audience – in my view you’ve never really experienced what makes these films “cult”.

All of the passes have sold out this year but there are tickets available at the door.  I suggest you arrive early to make sure you get tickets – this is definitely a festival you don’t want to miss!

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