Father’s Day – Interview with Mackenzie Robert Royal Murdock (Fuchman)

Fuchman

Toronto After Dark 2011 had plenty of films to be excited about, but one in particular soared past reasonable expectations in my opinion. Father’s Day, which looked good for a laugh for two, took the audience and reviewers by storm (my review here). Now I didn’t know quite what to think of Father’s Day after I saw it, but it has matured in my mind like a fine wine and I can’t wait to watch it again. There are so many soon to be classic scenes in it, but one highlight in particular was the fearsome Fuchman played by Mackenzie Robert Royal Murdock.

It brings me great pleasure to have such a special interview being posted at Entertainment Maven today. He played one of the most evil characters I have ever seen on the screen, but he’s really quite a nice fellow. For your reading enjoyment, it’s time to get up close and personal with Mackenzie…err, I mean MORE up close and personal…or up close and personal again.

Oh just watch Father’s Day and you’ll know what I’m trying to say.

Mackenzie

Father’s Day has enjoyed enormous critical success so far, what has it been like to be part of a film this well received? Has it been a wild ride so far?

Just making the movie to begin with was a blast all by itself, but being able to read all these great reviews, or to be able to sit in a theatre full of people going absolutely bonkers for it is pretty much the greatest feeling in the world.

So far it’s been the wildest ride of my life! Before the movie came out it was only in my wildest dreams that I could imagine being surrounded by complete strangers actually asking me for autographs!

What was it like to play one of the most villainous characters to appear on the big-screen in 2011?

So much fun! Especially because Fuchman isn’t some “misunderstood soul” or some bullshit like that. He’s a guy who kills people because, fuck it, he’s evil. And I love that. I love that he’s a throwback bad guy, and not some angst-ridden emo bitch with daddy issues.

I mean seriously, whatever happened to the great movie villains who are evil for the sake of being evil? Whatever happened to guys like General Zod and Ernst Stravo Blofeld? I miss those guys.

Father’s day is full of nudity and violence, particularly in Fuchman’s attack/rape scenes, assuming that you are nothing like Fuchman in real-life (we hope), were these scenes difficult for you as an actor?

Back when we first did the rape scenes for the fake trailer it was absolutely terrifying. I spent maybe five minutes psyching myself up in the bathroom, with Adam constantly double checking with me if I was certain that I really wanted to do this. That first time, everyone was treating the shoot with kid gloves.

By the end of the feature though, I found I could drop my pants on command, no hesitation.

Was one particular scene more challenging than the rest?

Not really. They all presented their own challenges. For example, for the car chase I had to learn how to drive a standard ten minutes before my first shot!

Another good one is the dam, because I’ve always had this serious fear of heights, so being in a position where I can easily fall to death was pretty tough to deal with. Thankfully, just like the nakedness issue, I managed to more or less overcome my fear, thanks in large part to the other guys cheering me on.

What was it like working with the Astron-6 guys?

An absolute blast. These guys have a perfect balance of professionalism, humour, and kindness. They expect your best, but not the impossible, and they always know how to get it out of you.

Plus, we all share a love for the same brand of films and filmmaking, so it was pretty cool being surrounded by the only five guys in the city who could not only understand all of my pop culture references, but could even one-up me!

Given the content of their films, I would expect that working with them on set would be anything but normal. Do they act as you would expect filmmakers to act on set, or is there a degree of zaniness on set that separates them from everyone else?

Actually, they’re very professional. They joke around, sure, but the movie always comes first. And yes, there was some zaniness to be had, but that’s how their minds work: always coming up with new ideas. It really is astounding how much of the film is just random stuff they thought of while on set.

What are some of the movies that have been most important to you in making a decision to pursue a career in the film biz?

Believe it or not, but if I had to really think about it, I’d probably say it’s Dolph Lundgren’s Punisher. I honestly don’t know why, but that movie had a tremendous emotional impact on me. I guess it makes more sense if you consider that I originally dreamed of being a comic book artist when I was a kid, but still, how any people openly admit that Dolph Lundgren inspired them to take up acting?

What’s on the horizon for Mackenzie Robert Royal Murdock?

At the moment I’ve just finished training for a customer service job which will put money in my pocket until I can get some paying acting gigs. Winnipeg’s film community is having a bit of a dry-spell at the moment, so right now the plan is to move out in a couple months and seek greener pastures.

Will we be seeing you back in Toronto any time soon, perhaps for Toronto After Dark 2012?

Nothing planned just yet, but I’d love to come back! The première at Toronto After Dark still ranks in my mind as one of the single greatest nights in my life!

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My Ridiculously Late Best of 2011 List – Theatrical releases and festival fare

Most people around me are living in the future. Everything is 2012 this, 2012 that, but I’m still focusing on 2011. I entered the world of film reviewing in July 2011, and as a result I’ve been playing catchup for the entire year. December was brutal, and it is only now that I feel I have seen enough of what 2011 had to offer to actually make a ‘best films of the year’ list. Since many people have not had a chance to see the films offered at the festivals in 2011, I have taken the privilege of separating my top 20 into the top 10 theatrical releases and the top 10 festival films. I hope you enjoy my lists, and if you agree or disagree then let me know!

On with the show.

TOP 10 THEATRICAL RELEASES

10. Hanna

9. The Illusionist

8. Troll Hunter

7. Attack the Block

6. The Artist

5. Midnight in Paris

4. Drive

3. Café de Flore

2. 50/50

1. Take Shelter

TOP 10 FESTIVAL FILMS

10. You’re Next

9. The Divide

8. A Lonely Place to Die

7. Sleepless Night

6. The Innkeepers

5. A Letter to Momo

4. Kill List

3. Some Guy Who Kills People

2. Redline

1. The Raid

 

Toronto After Dark Film Festival Wrap-Up – Mini reviews of Love, The Theatre Bizarre, Midnight Son, Absentia, The Corridor and VS

Image is not the property of Entertainment Maven

It’s over! My first time at Toronto After Dark has come to an end, my body is grateful, but the film fan in me isn’t taking it so well. 19 screening in 8 days and complete coverage of the festival was an ambitious goal that I fell somewhat short of. I missed out on two screenings and failed to get a review up for everything, but I’ll be better prepared for next time, perhaps with a guest blogger or two up my sleeve.

Mini-Reviews

Love -A thoughtful and awe-inspiring space adventure that forces the audience to question what exactly it means to be human. Great lead performance by Gunner Wright, and beautiful direction by William Eubank. The film is a bit of a softy in terms of the Sci-fi content, but would be an excellent film to introduce someone to the genre.

The Theatre Bizarre -The horror anthology makes a return with this collection of seven short horror films presented in an abandoned theatre by horror icon Udo Kier. The quality and subject matter of these shorts covers a very wide range, I’m sure everyone will find one to like. For me the best was the Lovecraftian mystery from Richard Stanley, while the food fetish story from David Gregory actually had me looking away from the screen. I actually enjoy eating food and couldn’t risk having some of this imagery stuck in my brain.

Midnight Son -I missed it. I couldn’t watch four movies from 1:30pm – 12:00am on Sunday and I picked the 9:45pm screening of Midnight Son as the one to miss. I screwed up. Multiple fans that I spoke to called this film one of the best of the fest. From what I hear, it is a gritty, realistic, and different take on a vampire film. I also found out that I had been talking to the director, Scott Leberecht, who is a chill, down-to-earth guy. Next time I won’t be taking off any features.

Absentia -A very cool and surprisingly scary low-budget horror film from director Mike Flanagan. Very creative scares and decent acting make this one a pleasure to watch, although the budget does not allow for some of the money-shots that some members of the audience might have been waiting for.

The Corridor -A Sci-fi and horror mash-up that has a lot going for it. Decent writing, acting, and special effects across the board. For some reason the secluded-cabin-in-the-winter theme never seems to get old for me. The intricate relationships between the friends on this winter cabin trip is one of the highlights of The Corridor. The tone of the end of the film may not work well for some, but the film as a whole is certainly worth a watch.

VS -The third and final world premiere at Toronto After Dark. I really wanted to give VS a full review, but simply ran out of energy and time. An amalgamation of superhero and Saw movies, VS really feels like something unique. The film was written and shot quite quickly, but doesn’t come across this way in the visual department. Dark warehouses and junk yards are the environments of VS. Unfortunately the writing comes across as rushed. However, the great performance by James Remar (Dexter) adds some energy to the script. If you feel like a devilishly dark take on the superhero genre, check out VS.

Toronto After Dark Films Earning the Entertainment Maven Seal of Approval (The best of the best)

At TIFF this year I saw roughly 20 films and was ecstatic to find 6 additions for the Seal of Approval page. Toronto After Dark continued the trend as I saw plenty of entertaining films, including 5 remarkable ones. Click on the film titles for my reviews.

Redline

Some Guy Who Kills People

A Lonely Place to Die

The Divide

The Innkeepers

Final Thoughts

I WILL MISS the amazing sense of community at TAD. I found myself alone during a few of the social events, at night after the screenings, that is until I approached a long-time pass holder at TAD named Kirk. Before I knew what was going on, I was being introduced to the whole community, including staff, press, and filmmakers. If you find yourself in my position, make the first move and find a great fan like Kirk.

I WON’T MISS the volume level that some directors think is ideal for their film screening. Turn it down guys.

I WILL MISS the incredibly kind and accommodating people at The Toronto Underground Cinema. Everyone, including Nigel, Charlie and Harvey, did a great job.

I WON’T MISS glass bottles rolling down the length of the floor like clockwork.

Finally, I WILL MISS the films. Genre films don’t often get the respect they deserve, but my god, is there a better type of film on the planet? The variety of themes, characters, environments, writing styles, unlikely heroes, menacing villains, soundtracks, action sequences, etc. that can be found in genre films is absolutely astounding. Toronto is one of the best cities in the world for genre fans, and Toronto After Dark is one of the most dedicated and incredible festivals out there for genre films, and only in their 6th year!

I’ll look forward to seeing everyone next year, and until then, maintain your love of the weird, wicked and wonderful, I’m sure it will be effortless to do.

Manborg Review – Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2011

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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 www.torontoafterdark.com.

The guys at Astron-6 are back for the second time at the 6th annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival. The first helping was the deliciously over-the-top Father’s Day which must have been one of the crowd favourites of the festival. This time around the visuals resemble an old cd-rom game, the acting is cheesier, and the spirit of fighting games has been channeled to create some epic showdowns.

Before I get into Manborg I would like to discuss the impressive short that preceded it, Ethereal Chrysalis from writer\director Syl Disjonk. Disjonk introduced the short, saying that the imagery we were about to witness was the product of his nightmares. He wasn’t lying. Ethereal Chrysalis really reminded me of Dante’s Inferno, and the otherworldly work of Clark Ashton Smith. In addition to this, there is even a character who is reminiscent of the notorious occultist Aleister Crowley, in more ways than one. Disjonk has done a remarkable job creating a nightmarish world complete with amazing special effects. I hope he continues to be haunted by nightmares, so I get to see more of his films.

Back to Manborg.

Do I really have to explain the plot of Manborg? It sounds like your typical computer game from the early 90’s. The Hell Wars have been going on for years. Draculon, the military leader of Hell is up to his usual business, slaughtering human soldiers and then sucking them dry. But when he kills a seemingly harmless soldier, he starts a chain of events that delivers the human race’s final chance at salvation, Manborg. Half man and half…borg, Manborg has a devastating arsenal and at least 128-mb of ram, enough to take on Draculon and the armies of Hell, but has he been assembled in time?

Manborg is a tribute to old computer games, fighting games, and most importantly VHS movies from the 80’s. Like Father’s Day, every member of Astron-6 is involved in some way. For the most part this is Steven Kostanski’s film, as he directed, while sharing writing and some special effects duties with Jeremy Gillespie. Kostanski’s love of movies and computer games from the 80’s and 90’s is readily apparent. #1 Man (Ludwig Lee) is an out of place and badly dubbed martial artist dressed like Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat; Justice (Conor Sweeney) is a ridiculous vigilante with a bizarre gun stance and a hilariously awful Australian or New Zealand accent (I heard both); finally, Manborg (Matthew Kennedy) is armed to the teeth with weaponry from old first person shooters. In other words, Manborg is nerd video game/filmmaking heaven. Also, Jeremy Gillespie’s performance as the Baron, much like Sweeney’s portrayal of Justice, has some real comedic flair. Astron-6 films may feel like a bunch of your high school friends decided to make a movie, however real individual talent can be found with each member.

If you’re on the fence about checking out Manborg, just understand that seriousness and incredulity must be left at the door before watching this one. If you can do that, and you can find an audience to watch it with, then I am sure you will find something to like about Manborg. It’s a fun movie, and you get to see what the Astron-6 guys were up to three years ago, before they completed the highly entertaining and boundary pushing Father’s Day.

The Woman Review – Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2011

Image is not the property of 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 www.torontoafterdark.com.

The short film preceding the feature tonight was the third and final installment in director Chris Nash’s skin disease trilogy, Liplock. I have no idea what possesses an individual to make such a disgusting trilogy, but I have to admit that I have enjoyed Nash’s work immensely, I just won’t be re-watching them before or after I have eaten a meal. Liplock was not as upsetting as My Main Squeeze, however I do think that it is the more creative of the two and a great watch. Also, make sure to watch and vote for his ABCs of Death entry.

The Woman was the second last screening at the 6th Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Before the festival kicked off I had The Woman circled as a movie NOT to see. It just looked like an exercise in torture-porn to me. The synopsis makes it clear that a seemingly normal family finds a woman living in the wild. They then take her home and attempt to domesticate her. Add to this bare storyline the now infamous reaction by some audience members at Sundance, and to me this seemed like it would be a movie trying to push the boundaries of violence and bad taste, something I am not very interested in. However, I’m glad I decided to attend the screening in the end, and I’m glad the TAD team highlighted the dark comedic elements to be found in The Woman. It turned out to be an entertaining movie with a cool soundtrack and some excellent characters.

The Woman was directed by Lucky McKee (May, Red, and The Woods) and written by McKee and Jack Ketchum. For those who don’t know, Jack Ketchum has to be one of the most talented authors out there when it comes to grisly violence and inhuman villains. I haven’t seen any of the Ketchum adaptations that have been made (Offspring, Red, The Girl Next Door and The Lost), but if a director ever manages to put a perfect adaption of a Ketchum novel up on the screen, then the audience will be in for a sleepless night. The Woman is definitely toned down Ketchum. Yes it is violent, yes some of the characters are evil bastards, but it is certainly not the boundary pushing work of violence that I thought it would be. Much of the violence takes place off-screen, and it is not overdone. Also, the very dark comedic element actually lightens the mood every now and then, so it really doesn’t feel oppressive, unlike most works of torture-porn.

The music in The Woman consists of a pop-indie-rock soundtrack that was not written scene-by-scene for the film, but rather for the work as a whole. Such a light and cool soundtrack also helps to alleviate some of the emotions that will surely build up in viewers watching a film about such dark subject matter.

Finally, the cast do an incredible job in The Woman. Of particular note are the performances by Sean Bridgers and Zach Rand, as the evil father and son duo of Chris and Brian Cleek. Viewers will absolutely loathe these characters for their callous treatment of others. However, the star of the film is without a doubt Pollyanna McIntosh as the Woman. McIntosh brings a primal energy to the screen and remarkably the guttural sound effects emitted by the Woman are from McIntosh and not from some animal in post-production. A wonderful performance, and apparently one that McIntosh prepared for by spending some considerable time alone in the woods.

The Woman is not for everyone, and is certainly not a ground-breaking work in the horror genre, but it is without a doubt an entertaining movie. Any accusations of this being a torture-porn or anti-feminist work are completely unfounded. These accusations stem from a shallow understanding of what The Woman is all about, and a failure to see the big picture.

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