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Review: ‘Late Night Double Feature’ loves its monstrous characters Special

Posted Mar 29, 2015 by Sarah Gopaul
This year’s Canadian Film Fest gets dark and bloody grindhouse-style with the horror anthology, ‘Late Night Double Feature.’
A scene from  Dinner for Monsters  in horror anthology   Late Night Double Feature
A scene from "Dinner for Monsters" in horror anthology, 'Late Night Double Feature'
Three Evil Cats Productions
While the modest revival of Grindhouse horror has not achieved the popularity it held in its heyday, there is still enough of an interest for filmmakers to create new contributions to the genre. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are probably the most prominent providers in recent years, but there has been a steady production of new pictures dealing with sex, violence and bizarre subjects. Late Night Double Feature is the latest addition to embrace this spirit.
Dr. Nasty (Brian Scott Carleton), along with Nurse Nasty (Jamie Elizabeth Sampson), is the host of an after-hours horror double feature — an element of TV programming made popular in the ‘80s in which an eccentric personality would introduce equally strange movies to night owls. Off-camera, the actor is an abusive drunk. The first picture in the double bill is “Dinner for Monsters,” which follows a formerly successful chef (Nick Smyth) who’s lost his flair and is about to lose his late father’s restaurant. Shortly after his last loyal customer vows never to return, he receives a phone call confirming a dinner party for six later that night. When he arrives, he’s shocked to discover the main course is “long pig.” The second movie is about a man (Colin Price) who provides a particular service to a select group of clients. In spite of his secrecy, he’s contacted by a new customer (Caleigh Le Grand). The appointment begins routinely, but takes a ghastly turn that sends him running for his life. But apparently he does not go far enough.
Anthologies are a popular structure in horror as it allows several filmmakers to work together in telling briefer stories while maintaining a full-length format. It can be difficult to sustain extreme levels of intensity for a prolonged period, extend certain ideas beyond 30 minutes or even build an adequate special effects budget for longer screen times, so the shorter, individual runtimes can be beneficial in many ways.
The first film in the double bill is relatively competent in its inexplicable depiction of a morbid gathering. The scenes in the kitchen are vague and frenetic, and probably the weakest visual in the story. Conversely, the ghoulish portrayal of the dinner guests is exceptionally well done and makes them cartoonish and unmistakably evil. The second “feature” is bloody and morally ambiguous as it focuses on facilitating a specific aspect of mental illness; though it does later condemn the provider’s actions via a horrific confrontation. The pace of this movie, however, doesn’t match the higher energy of its predecessors, which does disrupt the overall flow to some extent.
Finally the framing story embraces the spirit of grindhouse, but possible too heartily. The Nurse Nasty character is somewhat of a punching bag for the male personalities, even though one of them eventually comes to her rescue. As the story progresses, it can be vexing to watch in the context of the current climate of misogyny. It’s also somewhat disjointed to include the behind-the-scenes elements of the framing story, while attempting to give viewers the experience of watching the “show” on television with commercials.
Overall there is potential in all aspects of each of these pictures; it’s just not fully realized in this project.
Late Night Double Feature screened as part of the 2015 Canadian Film Fest in Toronto.