“Toronto Alice” is a popular girl, indeed.

alice_indiegogo

Toronto Alice has become a very popular girl, indeed. She’s received some love from the Toronto Film Scene blog, from the Canadian Animation Resources blog, and from the fun-loving culture-geeks at Boing Boing!

Many, many heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to my Toronto Alice campaign! In just twelve days, we’ve not only met my goal of $3,000, but surpassed it! If you’d like to get in on the “perks”, there’s still time to do so. You can get a private Vimeo link or Blu-Ray DVD of the completed film, Toronto Alice paper dolls and/or original artwork. This film won’t be released to the general public until after its run in the festival circuit, so this will be your only opportunity to see it till then.

Toronto Alice Indiegogo campaign.

Indiegogo Campaign for Toronto Alice

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/toronto-alice/x/6519608

  • Are you a fan of the funny — and slightly creepy — animations of Terry Gilliam? Or perhaps you’re more of a devotee of Surrealist animation from Poland? Or maybe you just enjoy weird, off-the-beaten-path stuff? If you answered “yes” to any of these (or, like me, to all three), then you’ll probably enjoy the unique style of cutout animation I create at Papercut Pictures.
  • My name is Jennifer Linton, and Papercut Pictures is my production company. I’m an interdisciplinary visual artist working with animation, installation, drawing and printmaking. I have exhibited my art for the past 20 years in galleries across Canada, and internationally with exhibitions in the U.S. and Italy. My animated films have screened at festivals such as Animaldiçoados Film Festival 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Toronto Animated Image Society (TAIS) Showcase 2013, and the Boston Underground Film Festival 2014. I’ve received numerous awards and grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council.
  • This campaign is to raise funds for my next animation project, entitled Toronto Alice. The character of Alice from Lewis Carroll’s famous children’s novels is transported to contemporary Toronto where, like many native Torontonians, she takes a ride on the streetcar. As with many trips on the public transit, she encounters a succession of strange characters who engage her in (equally strange) conversations. The dialogue is borrowed directly from Through the Looking-Glass, but given a fresh & funny new twist in this stop-motion animation.

What We Need & What You Get

  • I will create all of the visuals for this film: the artwork, the puppets, and the backgrounds. I will also handle all of the stop-motion animation. What I need help with is the audio component — and that’s where YOU come in!
  • I need three separate audio components for this project: musical treatments, ambient background sound fx, and voice actors. While I can handle all the visual stuff, I need to call in the professionals to create good quality recordings of ambient sound. Animation takes a great deal of effort and a very long time to create, so you don’t want great visuals to be undermined by inferior audio.
  • Listening to my voiceover in the pitch video should prove, without a doubt, that I should never, ever do voiceover work! Your contributions will allow me to leave this important task to the professionals!
  • I’m offering a range of “perks” to sweeten the deal, from DVDs to paper dolls to original, framed artwork! It’s win-win! You help me make this project the best it can be AND you get limited edition art in return!

Why contribute?

  • You’re a fan of animation. Specifically, you enjoy independent animation that advances the art form, or that simply stands out as different from everything else. There aren’t many animators out there working with paper cutouts and stop-motion. What I do is very boutique and kinda retro. Different is good.
  • You’re Canadian, or you have an uncle who lives in Canada (hey, maybe I know him). No, seriously. It’s good to see your own stories up there on the (big or small) screen. We gotta represent. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to see Alice wearing a Hudson’s Bay coat.
  • You’re a fan of Lewis Carroll and his Alice novels. There’s a timelessness and universality about Carroll’s characters that allow us to visit and revisit this wonderful material. Young and old, we all love to slip into Wonderland.
  •  You want that swag. A custom Toronto Alice jointed paper doll? Sweet.

Other Ways You Can Help

Spread the word!

  • Like what you see? Help get the word out by using the Indiegogo share tools! It’s good karma.

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/705357/wdgi/6519608

“Blueprints”, group show at Centre 3

Lady Lazarus’s Halloween Party Movie Night, 2013 Edition.

It’s a cold, misty, grey and rainy Saturday afternoon — the perfect climate in which to begin compiling my annual Halloween horror-movie list to whet your ghoulish, pre-Halloween appetites. Last year, when it came time to write my list, I shared with you the outstanding horror films I’d seen in 2012. I decided to continue with that tradition this year, with a list of horror films that you might want to keep an eye out for — read on to get the bad Lucio Fulci-themed joke, and apologies in advance — and track down online or on DVD. As with last year’s list, some of these films are new, and some were just new to me in 2013.

Lucio Fulci's "The Beyond" (1981).

The blind girl and her canine companion from Lucio Fulci’s “The Beyond” (1981).

1. This past year I caught up with two classics from Italian horror maestro, Lucio Fulci. The sheer audacity of his signature goopy, oozing, swarming-with-maggots gore and trademark eye-gougings rightfully earned him the title of ‘Godfather of Gore’ in late 70’s – 80’s horror cinema. While I can’t recommend any of his films on the basis of story or dialogue, what they do offer are arresting visuals, an undeniably effective atmosphere of dread, and a try-anything attitude towards experimentation in B-movie filmmaking. How else can you explain the batshit-crazy scene that occurs in Zombi 2 where an underwater zombie battles a shark? Although that zombie vs. shark scene is truly heaps of campy-horror fun, the film that I’d most enthusiastically recommend by Fulci is his nightmarish masterpiece The Beyond (1981). For this film, Fulci pulls out all the stops and gives us a crumbling Southern-Gothic hotel, black magic, zombies, a portal to Hell, face-eating tarantulas and not one but three graphic scenes of eyeballs being pulled, poked and eaten out of their sockets. The story meanders passed the brink of comprehension, but the images are worth seeing it through to the end. And speaking of the end, The Beyond boasts one of the most bleak and truly haunting finales to a horror film that I’ve seen in quite a while.

Elijah Wood plays a surprisingly sympathetic serial killer in "Maniac" (2012).

Elijah Wood plays a surprisingly sympathetic serial killer in “Maniac” (2012).

2. The recent remake of the 1980’s slasher-horror Maniac by French director Franck Khalfoun was a superlative rethink of the serial killer cult classic. Then again, with Alexandre Aja heading up the screenwriting team, one should hardly be surprised at this clever re-contextualization of the tired old slasher genre. It was Aja, after all, who gave us the gender-bending slasher-thriller Haute Tension back in 2003. When the remake of Maniac was announced, many wondered (as I did) how the relatively diminutive Elijah Wood could step into the role of serial killer Frank Zito that had been originally portrayed by the large, hulking Joe Spinell. Admittedly, he was convincingly creepy as the cannibalistic Kevin in Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City, but then all Wood needed to do for that role was stare vacantly behind eyeglasses and grin. The character of Frank needs to be equal parts nerdy, pathetic and truly terrifying. Wood pulls this off, in part due to the POV-style of the film. The audience experiences the film through Frank’s eyes, and Wood is only occasionally glimpsed in mirrors and other reflective surfaces. As the grimy, crime-infested New York City of the original film no longer exists, Khalfoun shot in the sleazier neighbourhoods still existent in Los Angeles to recreate an environment that threatens violence. The kills are bloody enough to satisfy most gorehounds, though the CGI does lack the visceral quality of Tom Savini’s famed physical SFX — such as the infamous scene in the 1980 original where Savini himself has his head blown off by a close range shotgun. That said, this remake is definitely worth a look.

Jorge Michel Grau's cannibal film "We Are What We Are." (2010).

Jorge Michel Grau’s cannibal film “We Are What We Are.” (2010).

3. Recently on Hulu, I noticed there’d been an English-language remake of the Mexican cannibal film We Are What We Are (Original Spanish title Somos lo que hay, 2010. Directed by Jorge Michel Grau). While I’ve not seen this remake, the original Mexican film was a surprise discovery for me this past year (the film was only released in North America on VOD). It tells the curious story of a family of cannibals who are compelled — for reasons that are left to one’s own imagination — to ritualistically murder and devour victims kidnapped off the streets of Mexico City. For a cannibal film, We Are What We Are is profoundly understated in it’s gore…at least, until the latter half of the film. For the most part, it’s a tense family drama, and relies much more on character development and atmosphere than one would expect from a film in this genre. Recommended for the horror fan who likes a dash of the unexpected.

"X is for XXL" from the horror anthology "The ABC's of Death." (2012)

“X is for XXL” from the horror anthology “The ABC’s of Death.” (2012)

4. Five minutes, five thousand dollars, and one randomly-selected letter of the alphabet. That was the premise behind the massive horror anthology The ABC’s of Death (2012).  It contains 26 different shorts, each by different directors spanning fifteen countries. Like most anthologies, it’s a real mixed bag of offerings. Even though watching all 26 shorts felt like a bit of a slog, at least one could have fun trying to guess what each letter represented, as this information is never revealed until the end of each segment. Stand-outs for me include “D is for Dogfight”, the darkly funny claymation “T is for Toilets”, and the very meta “Q is for Quack.” “L is for Libido” by Indonesian director Timo Tjahjanto is sick and twisted, and Noboru Iguchi’s “F is for Fart” is just plain loopy. The best of the bunch, by a wide margin, is Xavier Gens “X is for XXL”.

Katharine Isabelle stars as the titular "American Mary", though it's never revealed as to why she's identified as "American."

Katharine Isabelle stars as “American Mary”, though it’s never revealed as to why she’s identified as American.

5. The Canadian directorial-duo of Jen and Sylvia Soska, a.k.a. the “Twisted Twins”, have been steadily gaining notoriety in the genre film world these past few years.  They first gained attention with the low-budget exploitation film Dead Hooker in a Trunk (2009), and returned in 2013 with the gloss and production values of a bigger budget with American Mary (2013). Starring Katharine Isabelle — best known to horror fans as Ginger from the Ginger Snaps franchise — this film is essentially a rape-revenge mashed up with medical-horror. The titular Mary is a medical school drop-out who finds herself working as an underground surgeon in the world of (very extreme) body modification. The visual style of American Mary is very much fetish intermingled with body horror, though the body modification community is not exploited nor treated unkindly.

King Street Alternative Film & Video Festival, February 8-9, 2013.

Video still from "Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery" by jennifer Linton, 2:01 minutes, 2012.

Video still from “Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery” by Jennifer Linton, 2:01 minutes, 2012.

My short animated film Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery will be screened next month during the 2nd Winter edition of the King Street Alternative Film & Video Festival. According to the festival’s blog, they’ve programmed over 35 films & videos over the 8th and 9th of February (2013), ranging from the very short to over 20-minutes in length. The event is held at Betty’s, that stalwart Corktown staple located directly across from the Toronto Sun building on an otherwise desolate stretch of King Street East. The beer and nachos at Betty’s are glorious, and the evening should prove fun and entertaining. Come on out and support your local, indie filmmakers!

Animaldiçoados/Animacursed 2012

Film still from “Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery”, 2012, stop-motion animation done with paper cutouts and puppets.

It’s official. My animated short film Domestikia: The Incident in the Nursery has been selected under the International category for Animaldiçoados/Animacursed 2012, a film festival in Rio de Janeiro that features horror, suspense, and “other cursed” genres of animation. Mine is probably under the “other cursed” or possibly the “WTF” category, should they have one of those.

Visit the festival web site (in Portuguese, of course) and check out the selected films. Pretty solid programming! Amazingly enough, I’m sharing screen time with Julia Pott (see my last blog entry When I grow up, I want to make films like Julia). Not sure how that happened.

The 3D paper cutout animation of Co Hoedeman’s ‘Charles et François’.

I recently discovered the stop-motion work of French-Canadian animator Co Hoedeman. One of his earlier animations, Charles et François, made use of paper cutouts mounted upright in a fully 3-dimensional set. He employed the technique of “substitution” — where different paper drawings are swapped in, frame to frame, to indicate movement — rather than rely on jointed or “articulated” paper puppets. The effect is quite breathtaking.

"Charles et François", by Co Hoedeman, 1987, 15 min 24 s.

Here is the synopsis as it is given in French on the NFB/ONF web site, followed by a predictably clumsy Google Translate English version:

Film d’animation dévoilant le récit d’une relation hors de l’ordinaire, toute de tendresse et de complicité. Ce film témoigne des bouleversements physiques et psychologiques qui se vivent, pour un grand-papa et son petit-fils, au fil des ans. Voilà ainsi posée une douce réflexion sur le caractère changeant des choses et de la vie.

Animation revealing the story of an extraordinary relationship, full of tenderness and complicity. This film reflects the physical and psychological changes that live for agrandfather and his grand-son, over the years. This is a gentle and laid reflection on the changing nature of things and of life.

Unfortunately, I can’t embed the video from the NFB web site. However, if you click on the following link you can view this animation: http://www.nfb.ca/film/charles_et_francois/embed/player

REPOST: Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a creepy Canadian slasher flick.

A repost of last year’s blog entry on Bob Clark’s Black Christmas, with an added paragraph and one or two spoilers.

An often overlooked classic, the 1974 Canadian film Black Christmas now enjoys a cult status amongst horror fans and critical acknowledgment as being the progenitor of  the “slasher” genre that dominated horror cinema in the late ’70s and throughout the 1980s. Directed by Bob Clark — best known for his raunchy teen sex comedy Porky’s (1982) — the film boasts an enviably list of talented Canadian actors: Margot Kidder, Keir Dullea, John Saxon and comedienne Andrea Martin. The film stars Olivia Hussey, a British actress who’s most frequently recognized for her role as “Juliet” in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. In Black Christmas, Hussey leaves the Elizabethan poetry behind and gets her “scream queen” on.

Getting all wrapped up for the holidays in Bob Clark's 1974 cult slasher film "Black Christmas." Apologies in advance for the bad pun.

Getting all wrapped up for the holidays in Bob Clark's 1974 cult slasher film "Black Christmas."

It’s important to note that Black Christmas predates the better known slasher films like John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) and Sean S. Cunningham’s Friday the 13th (1980), and they owe a great debt to Clark’s film. The quote below from Wikipedia concisely captures this film’s cult status:

The film gained a fairly decent cult following over the years of its release, and has been praised by fans of the slasher film genre internationally. The Black Christmas fan site has considerably increased the film’s popularity over the years. The film ranked #87 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments for Lynne Griffin’s infamous plastic sheeting scene. During an interview regarding the film, Olivia Hussey met Steve Martin at an industry event and he brought up the fact that she starred in one of his favorite movies of all time. Hussey thought he might have referred to her work in Romeo & Juliet, but was surprised to hear from Martin that it was Black Christmas, which he claimed to have seen 25 times.

What Black Christmas possessed — and what later films in the slasher genre often lacked — was the element of suspense. Rather than rely on the crude shock tactics of gore, Clark torques up the tension by placing the insane homicidal intruder inside the sorority house right at the opening of the film — and then keeps him there, undiscovered by the house’s other occupants. Only the audience is aware that the killer, and a couple of his victims, are stowed away in the attic. The fact that the events in the film happen over Christmas provides the killer (and Clark) the opportunity to surreptitiously dispatch a number of sorority sisters on an ordinarily bustling — but now slowly emptying — college campus as it shuts down over the holidays.

Below is a wonderfully creepy clip, featuring an uncomfortably prolonged obscene phone call from the psycho-killer. There is a prodigious use of the word “c*nt” in the following sequence, so consider yourself warned. Oh, and Merry Christmas.

Cannibals, werewolves and tentacles: The web searches that bring you here.

Blog statistics are a fascinating gateway into the collective unconscious. While the identities of those who’ve visited my blog remain anonymous, their mouse clicks remain on record and provide an insight into the topics that interest them most. What occupies people’s thoughts during those moments of procrastination when they are not writing that report for their boss or essay for that class? Cannibals, apparently. More specifically, Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 horror film Cannibal Holocaust, a film that’s still considered controversial after 32 years and, likely due to its continued notoriety, received the most “hits” on my blog. If they’re not seeking information on cannibal films, people are looking into the Canadian teenage werewolves of Ginger Snaps which, as far as I’m concerned, is a much better use of their time.

Periodically, I will write about topics other than horror films, though these topics are as equally strange and macabre. Heinrich Hoffmann’s darkly comedic children’s book Der Struwwelpeter (1845) has garnered a great deal of interest on my blog, as well as the eroticized anatomical art of Jacques D’Agoty and anatomists of the 18th-century. The mythological vagina dentata and Japanese ‘tentacle erotica’ draw a fair amount of interest, as one might expect.

Celebrities and famous artists predictably top my statistics tally. People have searched on marquee names from art history including Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Odilon Redon, and Hannah Wilke (though the latter is lesser known), as well as contemporary visual artists Loretta Lux, Marcel Dzama and Shary Boyle. And, 45 years after her death, Jayne Mansfield still attracts a large amount of attention. I only wrote about her in a post last week, and she’s #22 on the list of “all-time” top searches. Of course, her story is a ‘perfect storm’ for achieving immortality on the Internet: a beautiful, buxom starlet, who reportedly dabbled in Satanism, died young and in most grisly manner (depending on which account you read, she was either scalped or decapitated in a car accident). We are, as a species, a ghoulish bunch.

Here’s the top 30 searches, according to WordPress:

cannibal holocaust 577
ginger snaps 287
holocaust 279
struwwelpeter 253
loretta lux 247
odilon redon 246
max ernst 246
vagina dentata 184
daguerreotype 123
tentacle erotica 109
cannibal 97
jennifer linton alphabet series 94
walerian borowczyk 91
max ernst collage 84
der struwwelpeter 78
hannah wilke 70
contes immoraux 67
drag me to hell 56
agoty angel 49
anatomical art 46
jayne mansfield 45
marcel dzama 43
the descent 40
macabre art 37
drag me to hell old lady 37
best animated movies of all time………… 33
holocaust pictures 33
redon 33
irreversible 28

Now, get back to work…

p.s. One of the funniest web searches I’ve seen to date would be this one: “horror movie with a women who seducing and kill men with her vagina.” Hey, who am I to judge? Incidentally, there is such a film — not surprisingly, it’s Japanese and called Killer Pussy. You’re welcome.

Mother’s Day REPOST: “Your mother ate my dog!”

“Definition of  Freudian slip: when you say one thing, but meant your mother.” –an old joke, as immortalized in Urban Dictionary.

Ever since the days of Sigmund Freud, mothers have endured the brunt of blame for the neuroses of their offspring. The psychologically-complex relationship between mother and child served as the dramatic foil against which the existential angst of Shakespeare’s melancholic Hamlet played out, not to mention innumerable tales of dysfunctional families in horror fiction. There are countless examples of horror movie villains, like Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th series, who have a rather intense and, um, complicated relationship with their mother. In these films, the character of the mother is the creator — both literally and metaphorically — of the monster. Let’s honour Mother’s Day by paying homage to the most memorable mothers in cinematic horror.

Margaret White (Piper Laurie) presses her traumatized daughter against her "dirty pillows" in De Palma's "Carrie."

1. The abusive Margaret White (Piper Laurie) from Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976) torments her teenage daughter with her ferocious piety. Unfortunately for Mrs. White, her daughter happens to possess telekinetic powers and a strong desire to attend her high school prom. When the latter proves disastrous, and Carrie finds herself soaked in pigs blood, things go from bad to worse. Convinced that she is “possessed by Satan,” Margaret stabs her daughter in the back before being summarily dispatched by a shower of kitchen knives flung at her by Carrie’s telekinesis. The knives pin Mrs. White against the kitchen door frame in the highly appropriate cruciform stance, offering horror fans one of the most memorable and satisfying death scenes in the genre.

Vera "Mum" Cosgrove gets bitten by the nasty Sumatran Rat-Monkey in Peter Jackson's "Braindead".

2. Long before he ventured into the realm of Orcs and Hobbits, New Zealand director Peter Jackson was much beloved in the horror genre for his “splatter” films. His infamous 1992 horror-comedy Braindead (released in North America as Dead Alive) still holds the title for being one of the bloodiest, goriest zombies films to date. Even highly adept and accomplished splatter-gore directors like Takashi Miike don’t quite attain Jackson’s zany, hilarious, and way over-the-top levels of gore. As if in counterbalance to the excessive gore, Jackson’s Braindead offers an equally excessive character in Vera Cosgrove. She epitomizes the thoroughly controlling, ball-busting mother who simply cannot allow potential happiness to enter the life of her beleaguered son. Once “Mum” is bitten by the Sumatran Rat-Monkey and infected with the virus that transforms her into a zombie, Jackson revels in the sadistic pleasure of having various parts of her matronly body impaled, injected, dismembered, consumed, and otherwise compromised. Packed with many memorable quotes, including “I kick ass for God!” and, one of my favourites, “Your mother ate my dog!”, Braindead is a gloriously gory, campy romp. Just don’t watch it soon after eating.

Nola (Samantha Eggers) gives her newborn a clean -- with her tongue -- in Cronenberg's "The Brood."

3. Procreation doesn’t get more bestial than in David Cronenberg’s 1979 Canadian horror classic The Brood. Samantha Eggars (best known for her role as TV-mom to Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) plays Nola Carveth, a mentally-ill patient who opts for an experimental, and highly controversial, psychotherapy treatment. This unorthodox  “psychoplasmics” treatment causes the patient’s mental illness to manifest physically on their bodies — in the case of Nola, she parthenogenetically births strange, mutated children. This film has all the themes that typify a Cronenberg film: abjection, body horror, bizarre sexuality, and an anxiety/horror over female biology and reproduction. A degree of sympathy exists for Nola, as she’s evidently the victim of childhood abuse perpetrated by her cruel and self-centred mother, although this sympathy soon diminishes once it is revealed that Nola is, herself, abusing her daughter Candice. The ‘birthing’ scene, where Nola licks her offspring clean in the manner of a mother cat, is classic Cronenberg.