Saturday, September 12, 2009

TIFF 2009: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968); George Romero at Yonge-Dundas Square

To Toronto's famed Yonge-Dundas Square, where director George A. Romero, in town to pimp the latest entry in his deathless zombie franchise, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD (of course I've got tickets!), expresses his somewhat puzzled gratitude to the throngs of walking dead Canadians (is there any other kind?) who got all dolled up in their nearly departed finery and participated in this afternoon's Zombie Walk, subtitled the "Special Director's Cut Edition" because it shuffled its rotten feet for a good three hours from Alexandra Park to the square. The Master was pleased, if a little incredulous at the whole affair.

Romero was joined by TIFF Midnight Madness honcho Colin Geddes, who further invited a sincere if somewhat clueless city councilor up on the YD Stage to present the director with a "very special award" that recognized both his contribution to the horror pantheon as well as his relatively new status as an authentic Canadian citizen. The trophy, natch, was a model of the CN Tower clutched by a severed hand.

The evidence (click each photo for a larger, downloadable version):

It stands to reason than an evening such as this wouldn't be complete without a free public screening of the movie that started it all . . .

That image on the bottom makes it look like they were presenting some worn-out old public domain VHS tape, but rest assured the film was spun from the excellent Elite DVD. Rex never said he was a night photographer, just an espionage master.

The official Toronto Zombie Walk will be held October 24th.


D: Bert L. Dragin
W: Bert L. Dragin, Robert McConnell

Found this advertisement for the video release of the direct-to-video horror flick TWICE DEAD while skimming a small stash of bound-for-the-recycling bin home entertainment magazines for the various technology articles I've been posting in the past few days. I haven't seen this little B horror, actually, nor am I likely to, but I thought the packaging looked appropriately garish enough to share.

From The Archives of Rex Saigon: Home Entertainment Technology: The Next 50 Years (1989)

A look at the future of home entertainment technology, based on then-current trends and predicted by futurist Gary Arlen, in the April 1989 edition of the now-defunct Video Review magazine.

His ETAs may not have been precise, but much of what he predicted has come to pass. Take a look:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

From The Archives of Rex Saigon: Double Your Discs (1993)

From the March-May 1993 edition of Britain's Home Entertainment magazine: disc-maker Nimbus demonstrates feature-length, full motion video from a double-density compact disc at the ever popular MIDEM music industry booze 'n schmooze at Cannes in January, 1993. But could something like this ever catch on? The magazine, much like every Home Theatre/Video magazine of the day, assumes that laserdisc can't be dethroned.

THE NEWZ (USA; 1994)

THE NEWS (1994) was a one-season sketch-comedy wonder somewhat fondly remembered as the first to attempt to bring the flavour of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, MAD TV and IN LIVING COLOR to late night syndication, but since it varied little in its structure from those shows, and almost never pushed the envelope in new, innovative directions despite being afforded a later, more permissible time slot, it never really caught on. But it had its moments, and it proved fertile training ground for at least one future comedy star, Brad Sherwood, seen in the first clip as his recurring Tom Slack character:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Happiest Place On Earth!

No, not Disneyland, stupid. Pacific Mall in Markham, Ontario, Canada, just north of Toronto. If you die without having visited Pacific Mall, you will very likely burn in hell.

Here's a couple of articles culled from a local rag fancied by the hoi polloi, the first from 2006, the second from 2008, when promises of even bigger Asian malls started being made (if not necessarily kept):

From The Archives of Rex Saigon: Gump goes video CD (1994)

Few among today's digital cognoscenti may remember that the Video CD format—still popular today in Hong Kong and parts of Asia, where few households circa 1993 had VCRs when this low-priced, climate-friendly format made its debut—almost became the successor to VHS. Almost. This ad from Philips appeared in the November 1994 issue of Premiere Magazine, touting the "CD-quality audio" and "digital picture quality" of the then-nascent format. Notice they don't say "VHS-quality" or "laserdisc-quality", since the VCD generally landed somewhere in between those formats—or, just as often, beneath both of them—on the home theatre presentation scale. It may have died a quick and quiet death in North America, but the format's resilience in Hong Kong, in particular, means any fan of the city's cinema who truly wants to wear the badge must indulge the format on a regular basis or risk leaving a considerable segment of Hong Kong's diverse film offerings undiscovered due to its lack of availability on DVD or any other format.