"From the streets of Hong Kong to a post-apocalyptic, vampire-plagued United States, from a town run by Kung Fu killers to the oil fields of Alberta, this year's Midnight Madness selection will take audiences into worlds that are sure to excite, shock and thrill."—Colin Geddes, TIFF programmer.
Bunraku (Guy Moshe, USA)—In a world with no guns, a mysterious drifter (Josh Hartnett), a young samurai and a bartender (Woody Harrelson) plot revenge against a ruthless leader (Ron Perlman) and his army of thugs, headed by nine diverse and deadly assassins. This visually stunning film is filled with uniquely choreographed action sequences of a new style that melds east with west and old school with new. The film also stars Demi Moore. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest.
Wikipedia has done a good job of rounding up the press releases and production buzz to date on this "upcoming martial arts live action / animation hybrid film noir that revolves around a 'Man with No Name' stock character known as 'The Drifter'. This classic tale is re-vitalized and re-imagined with shadow-play fantasy. The world of Bunraku is past and present, fantasy and reality, Samurai and Western all combined. Like Sin City and 300, it gives classic conflict a new graphically supercharged dynamic. Directed by Guy Moshe from his own script, the title of the film is based on a 400-year-old form of Japanese puppet theater, a style of storytelling that uses 4-foot-tall puppets with highly detailed heads, each operated by several puppeteers who blend into the background wearing black robes and hoods."
The Butcher, The Chef and the Swordsman aka Legend of the Kitchen Knife aka When Blade Meets Smile / Dao Jian Xiao (Wu Ershan, Hong Kong, China / USA)—A group of misfits become mixed up in the struggle to own a deadly kitchen cleaver made from the top five swords of the martial arts world in this wild and brash action comedy that is sure to have audiences running to Chinatown after the film for a late night snack. V.Joy.CN has the Chinese trailer. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Fire of Conscience / Fur Long aka Huo Long (Dante Lam, Hong Kong, China)—Dante Lam proves himself to be a talent to look out for in this slam bang action film where robbers and gunrunners battle with cops on the busy urban streets of Hong Kong. Starring Leon Lai, Fire of Conscience is easily one of loudest action films from Hong Kong in recent memory, with an orchestra of exploding grenades and machine gun rounds. Official website. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Twitch teammates James Marsh and Niels Matthijs have both reviewed Fire of Conscience. "In short," James writes, "Fire of Conscience is a blast from beginning to end, delivering a much-needed grenade down the pants of an increasingly tired and world-weary sub-genre." Niels: "Dante Lam finally delivers a film that mixes enjoyable, adrenaline-inducing action coupled with a more stylish and classy exterior. Add solid performances from the whole cast and you've got a winner." Gonin Movie Blog describes Fire of Conscience as "brash, straight forward, undiluted, no funny hats" and claims it competes "with the iconic works of Michael Mann or John Frankenheimer." At Beyond Hollywood, James Mudge writes: "Fire of Conscience is a film which not only thrills, but grips. While it may be a touch downbeat and angst-ridden for viewers looking for straightforward, guilt free fun, it delivers an engaging, measured mixture of action and tormented male psyches. Lam directs with style and verve, and the film certainly confirms him as one of the most interesting currently working in the thriller genre." There are a few more mixed reviews at IMDb External Reviews.
Fubar II (Michael Dowse, Canada)—In the sequel to the 2002 cult comedy Fubar, headbanger hosers and lifelong friends Dean (Paul Spence) and Terry (Dave Lawrence) realize they're weary of constantly trying to "give'r" while barely scraping by and hit the road to find wealth, happiness and more beer in the oil fields of Alberta. Official blog. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Insidious (James Wan, USA)—When proud parents take possession of an old house, an accident results in one of their sons falling into a coma. The tragedy doesn't stop there when they are beset by vengeful spirits from another realm in this new chiller by the director and writer of Saw and by the producers of Paranormal Activity. The film stars Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey and Patrick Wilson. IMDb. Wikipedia. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
JimmyO offers a set report at JoBlo. Ryan Turek interviews James Wan for Shock Till You Drop.
Red Nights / Les Nuits Rouges du Bourreau de Jade (Julien Carbon & Laurent Courtiaud, Hong Kong, China / France)—This shocking debut by director duo Carbon and Courtiaud is a seductive cat-and-mouse thriller set in Hong Kong, about a woman's obsessive desire to own a rare object that hides a deadly and perverse secret. At Twitch, Todd Brown shares the trailer and the film's theme music by Seppuku Paradigm. Official website. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Films Distribution synopsis: "During the reign of the first emperor of China, an ingenious torturer concocted an elixir that paralysed its victim's limbs, while increasing the sensitivity of their nerve endings tenfold. Kept in a jade skull, the elixir could provoke sensations in infinite variations—everything from erotic caresses to appalling lacerations. Haunted by the desire to experience the extreme sensations caused by the elixir, the executioner kills himself with his own poison, intensifying his death experience. His pursuers never found the skull, which had been concealed within a large imperial seal. But the curse of the jade skull, responsible for its creator's death, will endure within the seal, bringing misfortune to all of those who possess it. Until today...."
Stake Land (Jim Mickle, USA)—In the aftermath of a vampire epidemic, a teen is taken in by a grizzled vampire hunter on a road trip through a post-apocalyptic America, battling both the bloodsuckers and a fundamentalist militia that interprets the plague as the Lord's work. Official website. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
The Twitch team has had its eye on Stake Land for a while now. Back in April, Todd Brown interviewed Jim Mickle and subsequently offered a gallery of the vampires and a teaser trailer (also offered at Quiet Earth with additional Mickle quotes). John Marrone visited the set for Bloody Disgusting.
SUPER (James Gunn, USA)—After his wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), a frustrated husband (Rainn Wilson) decides he will win her back as Crimson Bolt, a costumed vigilante armed with a monkey wrench. His actions bring him an admirer, an overeager comic store clerk (Ellen Page) who wants to be his sidekick. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Brendan Connelly reports to /Film on the casting of Kevin Bacon as the film's villain. At MUBI, David Hudson cites Ioncinema's Eric Levallee: "Wilson plays Frank, a seemingly average Joe who is madly in love with his troubled wife Sarah (Tyler). But when Sarah leaves Frank for Jacques (Bacon), a smooth-talking drug dealer, Frank transforms into pseudo superhero The Crimson Bolt, stakes out Jacques sleazy hideaway, and wages a one-man war on crime. What he lacks in superpowers, he makes up for with a trusty pipe wrench. Every superhero needs a sidekick and so enters Libby (Page), a cute sociopathic teen working at the local comic book store, who morphs into 'Boltie' and teams with Frank to take Jacques down."
Vanishing on 7th Street (Brad Anderson, USA)—When a massive power blackout causes the population to inexplicably vanish, a small handful of survivors (Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo) band together inside a desolate tavern, struggling to survive as the darkness hones in on them. From director Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Transsiberian) comes an apocalyptic thriller with a terrifying vision of our world's end and a story that wrestles with the nature of existence itself. Official website. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
At Twitch, Todd Brown offers up a gallery, interview footage with the film's cast and production team, and the first trailer.
The Ward (John Carpenter, USA)—Acclaimed director John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing) makes his long-awaited return to the screen with a thriller about a young woman (Amber Heard) in a 1960s mental institution who becomes terrorized by malevolent unseen forces. Live For Film has a behind-the-scenes trailer. Official website. IMDb. Wikipedia. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.