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OCTOBER 30, 2016  –  ISSUE 33
TheREVIEW
“I’m gonna suck your brain dry”
Scanners
Guest curator
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Morgan Spurlock
Filmmaker. Horror Fan. Rodent Expert.
@MorganSpurlock
Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved horror films. Well, I wouldn’t exactly say loved, more like “begrudgingly accepted horror films after they were forced on me by my terrible parents in a way where I didn’t really have a choice, but to either love them or be scarred forever.”

You see, when I was growing up in West Virginia in the ‘70s, parents didn’t give a shit. We didn’t wear seat belts — you’d pile your whole baseball team into the backseat of your dad’s Cutlass and go for victory pizza. No one ever wore helmets when you rode a bike. You got a concussion… like a MAN! And there was all kinds of dangerous equipment at playgrounds — good luck finding some serious monkey bars or merry-go-rounds today.

And parents (at least mine) took their kids to see whatever movie they wanted to see at the theatre. So, from a very young age, I watched Jaws, The Exorcist, Omen, Carrie, Scanners, you name it. Because hey, at the end of the day, they’re ONLY movies.
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David Cronenberg’s Scanners, 1981
Believe it or not, David Cronenberg’s Scanners was the movie that actually made me want to make movies. When, aged 9, I saw Michael Ironside make Louis Del Grande’s head explode in this 1981 classic, it changed my life forever.
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“I HAVE TO DO THIS!” I said to myself.
(Whatever THIS was.)
— Morgan on realizing his future
“I HAVE TO DO THIS!” I said to myself. (Whatever THIS was.) And when I actually got to meet Cronenberg at TIFF 2016, I was that giddy nine-year-old all over again, gushing how he changed my life.

“For the better, I hope,” he quipped. The guy is a national treasure.

But, in the end, it wasn’t just Scanners. I LOVED all horror movies. The way they made my skin crawl, the way they made me jump, the way they forced me to look under my bed, in my closet, and turn on all the lights in my house, was fantastic. The days and nights that I spent in darkened theatres with my parents are some of my fondest memories from my childhood.

But why? Why did these films resonate so deeply with me? My friends thought I was a freak. When I’d go to the movies with them, they’d all opt for whatever goofball early ‘80s comedy was in the theatre next door (cue Burt Reynolds) while I stared longingly into the eyes of Malachai in Children of the Corn, Carol Anne Freeling in Poltergeist, and Halloween’s Michael Myers.
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Rick Baker, Werewolf and director John Landis on the set of An American Werewolf in London
An American Werewolf in London was another major turning point for me. After seeing this epic fright fest, all I wanted to be when I grew up was Rick Baker. (The makeup and special effects guru for the film.) He and Tom Savini became my heroes. I started gobbling up all their movies in weekly theatrical and VHS binging gulps! From Squirm to Dawn of the Dead, The Howling to Friday the 13th, Videodrome (more Cronenberg!) to Creepshow… I wanted to do what these geniuses did.

Next thing you know, I’m in my bedroom mixing up my own blood with food coloring and Karo syrup, putting scars all over my face and arms with liquid latex and scaring the bejesus out of my mom. This went on for years, with me redesigning and re-painting Halloween masks and doing my own weird makeup up until high school.

That was when I went to have that “What are you going to to do with your life?” meeting with my guidance counsellor. She knew how much I loved movies and suggested I go to college to learn how to make films. “You can do that?!” I said. She took that giant book of colleges off the shelf (keep in mind this was 1988 and there was no internet) and turned to the section that listed “Film Education” schools.

Now, here I am as a grown-up, “trying-to-be-adult” director having just made my first horror film, or, to be more accurate, my first horror documentary, Rats.
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Morgan Spurlock and producer Jeremy Chilnick talk Rats during TIFF 16 in an exclusive podcast
We premiered the movie at the mother of all genre fests, Midnight Madness at TIFF. It was a dream come true for this freaky, horror-obsessed kid. From there, we hit every genre freak fest we could, from Fantastic Fest in Austin to Beyond Fest in LA, to the Telluride Horror Show. Nine-year-old me was giving 45-year-old me serious high-fives.

And I have to say, watching the film is not nearly as awesome or rewarding as watching the audience watch the movie. The squeals, squirms, and eye-covering discomfort are the jumps that put me where I am today. I can’t wait for my parents to see the film. Maybe it’s a little sweet revenge that I’ll finally get them back for all those years of staring at the screen through clasped hands. Or maybe they’ll be smiling the whole time, knowing that they were the ones truly responsible for their oddball kid’s rat-tastic undertaking.
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Rats director Morgan Spurlock on the red carpet at TIFF 16
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Issue 32 Curated by Nicholas Meyer
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Scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Thanks to the stunning advances in technology and motion capture, it is now possible to literally depict anything in films. Director Nicholas Meyer talks about how today’s science-fiction and fantasy films are especially susceptible to what he calls the "eye-candy syndrome."

"In art — and in film — sometimes less is more"
 
Issue 31 Curated by Freida Pinto
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We Do It Together Advisory Board members (L-R: Kátia Lund, Freida Pinto, Juliette Binoche, Patricia Riggen, and Carol Polakoff)
Why is the percentage of studio films directed by women so very, very small? Why are there so few opportunities in the industry for women? Freida Pinto, actor, producer, and feminist mogul, shares her ideas and her plans.

"Feminism for me is equality. And when I say equality, I don't mean men and women have to be equal without merit. Be equal with merit. I don't want to be given a job or an award because of the colour of my skin. I don't want to ever be nominated because, "Oh, in that category, let's throw in the token Indian girl." I put my heart and soul in my film projects and I would never want to feel like I didn’t earn it."
 
Issue 30 Curated by Mark Duplass
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Scene from Blue Jay
If you've got $5, you can make a movie. Then spend $10 on the next one. Sooner or later, you might just make something great. Get some inspiration from a filmmaker who has forged his own path and wants to help others forge theirs.

"You need to allow yourself to make mistakes and fuck up and build a tribe of people around you. And then, just keep making mistake after mistake — as cheaply as you can, so they don’t hurt too badly. At some point, you’ll accidentally land on something."
 
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