Midnight Madness still bold and bizarre

The witching hour at the Toronto International Film Festival is the place to be for the strange and unusual, the hard-hitting and fast-paced, and the bloody and shocking. Fortunately, this year’s Midnight Madness lineup looks like it will deliver on all fronts.

The “Muscles from Brussels,” a.k.a. Jean-Claude Van Damme, will be making a comeback in Mabrouk El Mechri’s JCVD. Playing himself, the down-and-out Van Damme lands in the middle of a dangerous heist only to be exposed as an ordinary guy.

Another familiar face can be seen in Toshio Lee’s Detroit Metal City. Based on the popular manga series, it tells the tale of Souichi, a sensitive and wimpy music geek who dreams of becoming a fancy pop musician but is forced to front a satanic death metal band. KISS’ Gene Simmons challenges the band to a death metal duel.

S&MAN director JT Petty returns to TIFF with The Burrowers, a horrific take on John Ford’s The Searchers. In 1879, a band of men set out to find and recover a family of settlers mysteriously taken from their farm but soon realize the enemy is stalking them from below.

Also making a repeat appearance is Prachya Pinkaew, director of the 2003 TIFF hit Ong-Bak Muay Thai Warrior. In Chocolate, Zin (Jija Yanin) discovers that years of obsessively playing video games and watching action movies have transformed her into a martial arts savant.

Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel’s Deadgirl has two teenage boys discovering the naked body of a long-forgotten girl in the sealed basement of an abandoned asylum; when she exhibits signs of life, they decide to keep her.

In Miguel Martí’s Sexykiller, Barbara, a sexy, fashion-obsessed student, turns out to be the serial killer at Spanish medical school – but not all her victims are staying dead.

Not Quite Hollywood is Mark Hartley’s documentary on Australian genre cinema of the 70s and 80s, featuring interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis, Dennis Hopper, Stacy Keach, Quentin Tarantino and other celebrities.

Three high school students blackmail a suspected murderer into killing their bully in Jon Hewitt’s Acolytes.

Inspired by Manga and video game imagery, Franck Vestiel’s Eden Log is a visually stunning sci-fi vision of a tomb-like underworld, in which a man wakes up next to a dead body and must escape to evade the menacing creatures pursuing him.

In Pascal Laugier’s France/Canada co-production Martyrs, two young women set out to wreak vengeance on the family believed to be responsible for the capture and torture of one of them 15 years earlier.

For more TIFF '08 coverage, click here.

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