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article imageHorror movie celebration set to haunt Toronto this November Special

By Cate Kustanczy     Sep 24, 2014 in Entertainment
Toronto - Toronto's first annual horror movie celebration gets off to a screaming start come November. With a combination of panels, parties, and a selection of horror-lore guests, HORROR-RAMA hopes to make its bloody mark on the local horror culture scene.
Hoping to capitalize on the fervor of Halloween, HORROR-RAMA, happening November 1st and 2nd, hopes to create a fun, inclusive environment for both longtime horror fans and newbies alike. Taking place in the busy Queen/Dovercourt vicinity, the fest will include a convention, two parties, a vendors market, and a special screening of Black Sunday at the historic Revue Cinema, hosted by its star, Barbara Steele. VIP packages, weekend passes, and day tickets are all available.
Less a formal film festival than an overall celebration of horror film culture, HORROR-RAMA's main attraction is its lineup of beloved fright figures, which includes Canadian musician, actor, and performance artist Nivek Ogre, a founding member of industrial band Skinny Puppy who's appeared in the 2008 horror-rock opera musical film REPO! The Genetic Opera and the 2012 musical horror film, The Devi's Carnival.
Also slated to appear is celebrated horror actor Barbara Steele, star of the classic Mario Bava horror film Black Sunday, as well as the 1961 Roger Corman film, The Pit and the Pendulum, playing opposite horror great Vincent Price. Along with various roles in various Gothic horror movies, Steele also appeared in Louis Malle's controversial 1978 film Pretty Baby, the early 90s iteration of TV series Dark Shadows, and more recently, Ryan Gosling's directorial debut, Lost River, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival this past May.
Author Michael Slade will appear at HORROR-RAMA as well. Fans may know that  Michael Slade  is the p...
Author Michael Slade will appear at HORROR-RAMA as well. Fans may know that "Michael Slade" is the pen name of Canadian novelist and criminal lawyer Jay Clarke, whose first works, the intensely ghoulish 'Headhunter' (1984) and 'Ghoul' (1987) set the tone for his unique mix of mystery, horror, thriller, the supernatural, and criminal law, elements he would seamlessly incorporate into his many later works.
Other guests include writer/actor/director and celebrated special effects artist Tom Savini (known for Friday the 13th, Dawn of the Dead, and From Dusk Till Dawn) and actor Lisa Marie, who played horror movie icon Vampira in Ed Wood and appeared in numerous Tim Burton movies, including Mars Attacks! and Sleepy Hollow.
Festival Director Chris Alexander, who's also the Editor-in-Chief of longtime horror movie magazine Fangoria, recently exchanged ideas about why he founded the fest, how he chose its guests, and how horror-film culture reflects our own anxieties around mortality.
Where did the idea to have a horror movie festival come from?
I’ve worshiped strange cinema, specifically horror films, since I was three years old (I just turned 40), and I've devoted much of my personal and professional life obsessing over and intellectualizing this unyielding passion for all things macabre in the movies. Editing the world’s biggest horror film magazine means every day is a horror movie festival. but the idea to legitimately create a real deal fan convention, well... credit must go to Luis Ceriz, the madman who has successfully run Toronto’s Suspect Video for over 25 years.
Suspect Video s Luis Ceriz.
Suspect Video's Luis Ceriz.
It was Luis who approached me at another event in London (Ontario) called Shock Stock, and pitched the idea to pool our resources – he with his brand, and me with Fangoria. Luis and I liked each other, and after over a year of discussions, we pulled the trigger. HORROR-RAMA is the result.
How did you decide the movies?
HORROR-RAMA is not a film festival, but rather, a niche, almost bohemian, convention and culture celebration, with two days of parties, amazing vendors, and iconic artists who have shaped the way we absorb dark fantasy film. We are screening the incredible 1960 Italian gothic masterpiece Black Sunday in the midst of this madness, because we are bringing in the Grand Dame of sensual horror, Barbara Steele, who is the star of that film. To be able to screen Black Sunday with Barbara there, meeting the fans, and spinning stories of working alongside the great Mario Bava in Italy during the most fascinating period in its film history… it is both surreal and majestic.
Horror film legend Barbara Steele will be hosting a screening of the classic horror film  Black Sund...
Horror film legend Barbara Steele will be hosting a screening of the classic horror film "Black Sunday" — the movie that made her a star — as part of inaugural HORROR-RAMA celebrations.
How did you decide the guests? You have a very compelling mix of classic and new stars.
My work as a filmmaker, journalist and magazine editor has enabled me over the years to connect with many of my heroes and even call some of them friends. For this inaugural HORROR-RAMA, Luis and decided to assemble a tight team of not only great talent, but decent, interesting, and warm people, full stop. That’s the concept behind HORROR-RAMA: a fantastic, intimate experience for fans and artists to share space and have a great, memorable time.
How do you think HORROR-RAMA complements or contrasts Toronto's other film festivals and conventions, not just in terms of content, but style-wise?
We are of course, not in competition with film festivals; rather, we are directly opposed to juggernaut conventions like Toronto’s mammoth Fan Expo, in which horror culture is a small component of a much larger event. It is our experience that horror fans are more exclusive. We LOVE what we LOVE, and don’t care for crowds or massaging our interests into the stew of other sub-genres. We’re too cool for 12 year-old CosPlayers posing for every lens pointed at them, and middle-aged men prancing around in Aquaman costumes. Toronto has never offered horror fans an event that is exclusively for them. We’re an anomaly, and we’re banking on that to draw the fans to our doors.
Who's this fest for — horror fans, of course, but who else?
With the guest list we’ve assembled, I promise that anyone who just loves cinema and bizarre pop culture will get a kick out of HORROR-RAMA. Again, we have Barbara Steele, known for her work in horror, yes, but also an actress who danced for Fellini in his masterpiece 8 1/2 and has won Emmys as a producer for things like the epic miniseries The Winds of War. She is far more than a scream queen — she is a titan of motion picture history.
We also have Nivek Ogre who, for 30 years, has fronted the band Skinny Puppy, an outfit that literally invented a kind of music and performance art that influence generations of musicians, and commands an army of fervent followers all over the world. While Ogre is now starring in horror films – including, my own feature film, Queen of Blood – it is his work on the front lines of extreme music that defines him. The list (of guests) goes on. This is a deeply esoteric and exciting event.
Chris Alexander is a longtime horror movie fan and the Editor-in-Chief of Fangoria Magazine.
Chris Alexander is a longtime horror movie fan and the Editor-in-Chief of Fangoria Magazine.
Chris Alexander
What's the appeal of horror movies?
Horror movies, and the interest in them, has been a component of cinema since its earliest days. We, as a species, are interested, curious and terrified about our own mortality, and with good reason. Horror literature, simple ghost stories, and cinema are reflections of our anxieties, and serve as mirrors, exaggerating our phobias, which, in turn (I think), allow us to appreciate living.
Horror films can serve as parables to our cultural climates, and on a very basic level, offer a fantastical, aesthetically rich escape into dark, strange, beautiful, and blood-spattered worlds. Horror is always with us — it never goes out of style. And as long as we keep dying, and sadly, dying violently, the public will always be attracted to the horror film. Now, with the advent of technology and various mass media, we are seeing a wild spread of horror culture, in TV, video games, film, comic books… everywhere.
How do you see HORROR-RAMA fitting into Toronto's cultural life?
Check back with me on November 3rd!
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