After Dark raises the dead for this year's fest

The list has been finalized, the schedule is set and images of blood and butt-kicking are floating above fans’ heads.

Toronto After Dark’s opening night is hitting the screen with Black Dynamite, the fest’s second throwback to ‘70s blaxploitation films from director Scott Sanders and co-writer/actor Michael Jai White of Spawn. The former CIA agent and karate expert Black Dynamite is forced to take action and seek revenge when “the man” kills his brother and starts injecting the local orphanage with heroin. His fight will take him all the way to the White House.

The undead and infected are taking prominent positions this year. Spain’s The Dark Hour is post-apocalyptic survival versus mindless, highly contagious, zombie-like creatures known simply as “Strangers.” They’re also contending with alien creatures called Invisibles that are accompanied by frigid cold. After Dark’s “Zombie Appreciation Day” will feature Dead Snow and The Revenant. The former is a Norwegian, Evil Dead-influenced, gore-fest starring Nazi-zombies that interrupt a weekend of boozing, sex and snowmobiling to reclaim their hidden treasure. The latter is an undead buddy comedy about a fallen soldier that doesn’t realize he’s fallen. His homecoming becomes a feast lowlife corpses.

Continuing with this theme, vampire horror comedy Strigoi offers Romanian peasants dealing with a wealthy local landowner-turned-vampire that stalks the village at night, hoarding pickles(?). Also, After Dark’s closing night film announced previously, the baby blood-drinker Grace.

More pint-sized terror is provided by The Children. Two families’ Christmas vacation turns red when the younger revellers become disturbingly aggressive and decide to rid themselves of their birth givers. These kids take audiences on a scary journey as they attempt to execute their plan.

More fight is brought to the screen via Rough Cut and The Warlords. Rough Cut is about an arrogant actor so far beyond the fringe of his own industry that the only person willing to co-star in his current gang film is an actual gangster with dreams of stardom. It’s written and produced by art house favourite Kim Ki-Duk. The latter brings martial arts hero Jet Li to the Toronto festival. Joined by Asian stars Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro, Li portrays Pang, a disgraced general who led his men to slaughter before connecting with a gang of petty bandits. With Pang’s experience, the trio rise in a government desperate for military strength before suffering tragic loss.

Finally, Must Love Death is an unusual mix of survivalist horror and romantic comedy. Heartbroken, Norman decides to end his life by starring in a snuff film; but a chance encounter with Jennifer, the girl of his dreams, and another misinformed breakup leaves Jennifer to race against the clock and save Norman from himself (and the rednecks he permitted to kill him).

To see the previously announced list of films premiering at this year’s After Dark, click here.

Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs August 14-21 at Bloor Cinema.

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