Rue Morgue Cinemacabre (Toronto Underground Cinema) – The Loved Ones Review (Kirk Haviland)

Rue Morgue Cinemacabre at the Toronto Underground Cinema

The Loved Ones (2009)

Starring Xavier Samuel, Robin Mcleavy, Victoria Thane, Richard Wilson, Jessica MacNamee and John Brumpton

Written and Directed by Sean Byrne


Yes, it’s that time of the month once again, as the guys from Rue Morgue take over the confines of the Toronto Underground Cinema. As usual, all the familiar faces are there to greet me as we all prepare for the cinematic treat that is The Loved Ones. Unlike last month’s Rue Morgue presentation, I had seen The Loved Ones years before at the Midnight Madness showing as part of TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival for those who aren’t familiar). I’ve been singing its praises for years and a chance to see it once again projected on 35MM was a chance I could not pass up. After catching up with the Underground guys and Rue Morgue crew it was time for the film.

The Loved Ones opens with the unfortunate accident that will drive a wedge between Brent (Samuel) and his suffering mother. We fast-forward six months and meet Brent’s best mate, Jamie (Wilson in a very funny performance). Jamie is obsessed with Mia (MacNamee) and is elated when she says yes to going to the big dance with him. Meanwhile Lola (Mcleavy) has an obsession of her own, Brent. She finds out when she asks him to the dance that Brent has been dating Holly (Thaine) and that they are already going together. But we soon find out that Lola does not take rejection lightly, and she enlists her father (Brumpton) in kidnapping Brent and staging a school dance of her own in their home. Concurrently we see Jamie and Mia’s date, and Holly and Brent’s mom looking furiously around for Brent. Through the movie we come to see many things differently as characters come clearer into view. This all leads to a grisly end as things go completely awry with Lola’s plans and the others start to close in.

The Loved Ones is without a doubt one the best genre films of the last decade. A bold statement indeed, but also a true one. Samuel manages to convey a myriad of emotion in a role that has him silent for more than 50% of the film. His Brent is a sympathetic victim/hero, and in the process becomes the heart of the entire film. McLeavy is a revelation. Her Lola starts off as a shy, awkward teen that you really feel for, but then she flips the switch and becomes a menacing and vindictive sociopath. By the end of the film you are desperate for her comeuppance, and boy does it ever come! In fact the growth of most of the characters throughout the film is what truly sets the film apart. Even a supporting character like Mia has a reason for herself self-destructiveness that is revealed in the final moments of her story. Byrne’s script is tight and the direction is on point. He’s a real talent and someone to keep an eye on in the future.

The Loved Ones is loved very much by this writer. It finally looks to be getting a release this year, albeit a very limited one, so do yourself a favor and track it down. It is very gory in parts and ratchets up the suspense very tight, but if you are a genre fan this film is a must. The Loved Ones is a strong recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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Nightmare Revew – Rue Morgue Cinemacabre at the Toronto Underground Cinema (Kirk Haviland)

Nightmare – aka Nightmare in a Damaged Brain (1981)

Starring Baird Stafford, Sharon Smith and C.J. Cooke

Written and Directed by Romano Scavolini

Toronto Underground Cinema

Rue Morgue Magazine

UPDATE: Rue Morgue has announced that May’s Cinemacabre will be the amazing The Loved Ones on May 17th at the Underground. If you have not seen this movie, you owe it to yourself to go. I will be there, wearing a drill proof hat for protection!

Hello All,

I’ve been meaning to write about the great series of films presented each month by Rue Morgue Magazine at the theatrical gem of Chinatown that is the Underground for quite sometime now. Nightmare from 1981 finally gives me the perfect opportunity.

As I walk in the theatre, I find Alex and Nigel, two of the owners of the Underground, at the box office warmly greeting me to the evening’s festivities as they usually do. I proceed down the stairs, yes the Underground is actually UNDERGROUND, to be greeted by Rue Morgue editor Dave Alexander and ticket taker, and friend, Harvey Lalonde. As usual the Rue Morgue table is buzzin with people checking out the wares available for purchase. I proceed to the concession stand where owner number three, Charlie, is behind the counter with Brendan, part-time popcorn schiller for the Underground. Hanging out with the boys is Rudy, actor and another former Blockbuster refugee, and as usual a more casual vibe exudes from the theater as conversation fills the air before the show. I take my treats to my seat and prepare for the film. Dave hops on the mic and provides his intro for the film and preps the crowds with some trivia and prizes. Unfortunately, the usual classic trailers reel was missing in action this time around, so we went directly to the feature.

Nightmare is a classic of the slasher genre that gained its reputation as one of the most notorious of the “video nasties” in the UK, a list of films that were banned for decades due to their graphic context. In fact the producer of Nightmare was sentenced to 18 months in prison for refusing to make cuts to the film.  The film is the story of the George Tatum (Baird), a man who is constantly hounded with the nightmare of a child wielding an ax against a woman involved with sexual intercourse with his father. This bloody visage has tormented George for years to where he is institutionalized and constantly medicated to keep him docile. Under constant psychiatric supervision, George appears, over time ,to have become more adjusted and possibly able to rejoin society. After a evening stroll through the seedy streets of New York in the 80’s and a particularly funny sequence in a peep show, George decides to hop in a car and drive. Along the way the deranged George carves a bloody path from New York to his ultimate destination in Florida. We are introduced along the way to the Temper family, Susan (Smith) and boyfriend Bob who spend many an afternoon tryst on Bob’s boat. C.J. (Cooke) the precocious pre-teen who, ever the prankster, is the proverbial “Boy who cried wolf”, and his two sisters, Tammy and Kim, who usually bear the brunt of his pranks. Susan is having issues with the macabre nature of C.J.’s pranks and feels constantly overrun by his antics. Bob tries to intervene and help as he can, but when a incident occurs with a friend, C.J.’s doubt prevails. And that is just the start of the problems for the Tempers.

Unfortunately Nightmare doesn’t hold up as well as I would have hoped it to. Baird’s performance is over 60% random screaming, which actually starts to become grating. Smith’s performance as the mother is very bland and downright wooden at times. Cooke as C.J. is what manages to keep the film together, he puts in some solid work here, even if his character lacked originality. Then again back in 1982 perhaps C. J.’s character was more of an original concept. The effects work is decent enough for the time, Tom Savini famously denies working on the film, and I can clearly tell he did not. His level of make-up mastery could have elevated some of the rougher spots.

After the screening the discussions continued , until it eventually moved to the pub for the remainder of the evening; another successful Rue Morgue night in the books. Rue Morgue has yet to announce their next Cinemacabre showing, but keep an eye on to see when the announcement is made. Dave promises it to be ghoulish fun.

Overall I highly recommend checking out a Cinemacabre, if not at least paying the boys at the Underground a visit. I guarantee you be in good hands.

Til Next Time

Movie Junkie TO

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Double Bill at the Projection Booth (Dec. 13th) – ‘Little Terrors Short Film Series’ & ‘Christmas Evil’

Hand drawn art from Kevin Hutchinson (

The next edition of Little Terrors is right around the corner. If you haven’t had a chance to check out this incredibly fun monthly series of short horror films, do not wait another month! The press release is below:

Toronto genre fans looking for a little bit of Holiday‐themed mayhem should visit THE PROJECTION BOOTH (1035 Gerrard Street East) on Tuesday, December 13th. On the docket: a double shot of terror for one ticket price! First up, Rue Morgue & Unstable Ground’s monthly short film series, “Little Terrors”, returns for it’s sixth month, starting at 8pm. Then, at 10:30pm, catch director Lewis Jackson’s cult‐classic horror film “Christmas Evil” on the big screen!

We invite you all to this licensed event!

Full Details:

Rue Morgue & Unstable Ground present Little Terrors – Vol. 6 – Holiday in Hell
December 13th @ 8pm, The Projection Booth

Christmas Evil
December 13th @ 10:30pm

Advanced Tickets (also available at door):

Little Terrors on Facebook:

Supporting links:

Little Terrors Volume 4 (Toronto) – Guest Blogger Phil Graves Returns

Hand drawn art from Kevin Hutchinson (

Editor’s note: Last month my doctor told me that I had a serious case of the shivers and creeps, as a result he restricted my film diet to Hollywood fare like 2011’s The Thing and Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, you know, movies that aren’t all that scary. Unfortunately, this means that I am unable to watch the terrifying shorts at Little Terrors, the monthly horror short film festival in Toronto. I sent horror correspondent Phil Graves in my place last time, and considering his sometimes less than tactful manner I expected some angry e-mails from sensitive readers. I only received one comment, a letter sitting on my desk:

Dear Entertainment Maven,

I really dug the coverage of Little Terrors by the despicably talented Phil Graves. You should really give him a raise, buy him a new shovel, and send him to cover a Toronto After Dark film.

Filthily yours,

Phil Bill Traves

Thanks for your comments Bill. I’ve decided to let Phil return today with coverage of Little Terrors Volume 4. As you already seem to know, I will be covering every Toronto After Dark Film, and tickets are still available to many shows, but going fast. I will consider your idea of sending Phil to cover one of the films, but don’t get your hopes up.

Readers, for the second time, I give you Phil Graves. God help us all.

Entertainment Maven

The 6th Annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival, 8 Nights of Horror, Sci-Fi, Action, and Cult Movies runs Oct 20-27, 2011 at the Toronto Underground Cinema. For complete festival info visit

Good Evening,

These miserable economic times are really starting to bring me down. Just last night I had to make my dreaded stew with some of the scrawniest rats I’ve ever seen, the fat ones must have moved on to the swanky cemetery on the rich side of town. I even tried hosting a singles night at the cemetery to  scare up some extra cash, but two-for-one burials in the same casket didn’t seem to grab people’s attention. Only one chap showed up. He was fairly insistent on waiting for a pretty lady to join him, but it was getting late so I buried him for half the price. He tried to argue for a later burial date, but I couldn’t do him wrong. I’m an honest business man.

As I was saying, times are tough, but luckily eight bucks still gets you into Little Terrors, the monthly horror short film festival at The Projection Booth in Toronto. Little Terrors is presented by the nameless amorphous creature that Rue Morgue keeps behind lock and key in their basement, and the insane film-making scientists at Unstable Ground. It should be noted that grotesque creation Justin McConnell has been stitching together some of the most frightening shorts out there, with the result being two-hour sojourns into madness.

Little Terrors Volume 4 was by far the most unsettling night yet. The haunting Danse Macabre, the unfathomable employment depicted in Tea Break, and the descent into zombie mayhem aptly titled Axed, caused me to miss a fair bit of shuteye later that night. In fact, I had to sleep with my cemetery issued night light on, specifically reserved for these type of episodes. I may be a sick bastard, but I’m still human, kind of.

The creators of animated shorts Raven’s Hollow and Scayrecrow also managed to make my heart skip a beat. And here I thought animated movies were for kiddies. Finally, the Lovecraft inspired Black Goat gave the audience a glimpse of eldritch horrors. With a feature length film potentially looming on the horizon, this could be one to keep an eye on.

The next installment of Little Terrors will be shown on Tuesday, November 22nd at 8pm. Join the Facebook page for unseemly updates. Remember dear readers, if I don’t see you at Little Terrors, but see you somewhere else instead, you had better hope that I don’t have my shovel with me, and a soft patch of dirt nearby.

Filthily yours,

Phil Graves

Little Terrors Volume 3 (Toronto) – Phil Graves Guest Blogging

Hand drawn art from Kevin Hutchinson (

Editor’s note: It’s difficult to find guest bloggers that will work for free, that’s why I had to settle for Phil. Please don’t be too upset by his manner, he really is quite a nice fellow. Regardless, I should still take the time to apologize in advance, before I get a slew of angry e-mails.

I’m sorry.

Entertainment Maven

Good evening,

Horror correspondent Phil Graves, at your service. It seems that the last night of Little Terrors, back in August, was too much for the cowardly Entertainment Maven. Daily sessions with a psychiatrist and a few bottles of pills a week helped the Maven reduce his relentless nightmares, induced by the last evening of Little Terrors, to basic insomnia. However, he didn’t think his constitution was strong enough for another round, so he sent me in his place to attend Little Terrors Volume 3 at The Projection Booth in Toronto. For those of you who have been hesitant to come out and slay with us, Little Terrors is a deliciously terrifying evening of short horror films presented by the crawling cadavers over at Rue Morgue, and the unbalanced psychopaths at Unstable Ground. In fact, lead corpse Justin McConnell has been doing such a bang up programming job that he will likely be institutionalized in the near future, due to the reels of depravity and mayhem that his now brittle sanity has had to endure.

The nice thing about Little Terrors is that it caters to an audience who are normally hard at work during the evening hours, like myself. It’s nice for these lowstanding citizens to have the opportunity to get out of the basement and hang up their knives, machetes, and axes for the evening. At $8 a ticket I was eager to put down my own shovel for two hours of vicarious chills and thrills. Volume 3’s lineup featured a balance of hackles, cackles and shackles, and would not have disappointed any true fiend. Below are some comments on the recently exhumed shorts.

Off Season – Unfortunately some of the zombies working on the TTC caused me to arrive a little late for this one. But what I saw impressed me. A man and his dog spend some quality time together, sticking their noses into some abandoned cabins, and discover something that gave me CHILLS.

Next Floor – How often are you disappointed that a buffet doesn’t have your favourite dish? Well you’ll be overjoyed to hear that this short offers up a smorgasbord of grotesque treats, and features a mixed grill comparable to the contents of Noah’s Ark, that is, if it fell into some gluttonous hands. Excellent production value, uncharacteristic of many shorts, make this one tough meal for the squeamish to stomach.

The Screaming Skull – Reminiscent of old horror computer games like The 7th Guest and Realms of Haunting, this atmospheric spooker proves that you don’t always have to understand a plot to understand fear.

The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon – I don’t know about the killer’s choice of weapon, at this rate he’ll send my business to a grinding halt, but I have to admit that I don’t think I’ll be eating a bowl of soup anytime in the near future.

The Eyes of Edward James – A murderous tale that may remind viewers of the Christopher Nolan film, Memento. However, this story also uses a very interesting setting. Time is split between a therapy session and the first-person p.o.v. reminiscences of a patient, from the night of a traumatic event.

Legend of the Seven Bloody Torturers – The seven bloody torturers have been doing their thing for a long time, after all, they are legendary. But even these hard working gentlemen have to submit to bureaucratic rules and regulations. What is a poor torturer to do?

The Familiar – A vampire’s familiar is one of the least appreciated occupations in the underworld. The hours are long and the pay is little, only the allure of becoming a fellow bloodsucker could attract a young man to this job.

Rise of the Living Corpse – Clocking in at 30 seconds, this short gets to the harsh reality of being a new member of the undead.

Dead Bones – A wild west bounty hunter tale with an early twist. Gorehounds should find this one disgusting!

The scream team of Rue Morgue and Unstable Ground, and the screen scene at The Projection Booth have proved to be a ghastly combination. If I wasn’t so busy shoveling dirt every night, I might think about making the theatre my home. Alas, more hacking and slashing will have to wait until Tuesday, October 18th at 8:00pm, when Justin McConnell stitches together the next collection of shorts that will send your mind reeling. I’ve heard murmurs that ‘Axed’, which is a Toronto premiere, is the bloodiest thing since Peter Jackson’s Braindead (Dead Alive) and Bad Taste.

Hope to see you next time at Little Terrors, or eventually, lying face up in one of my holes.

Phil Graves

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