TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL at the Bloor (506 Bloor West), Friday to Thursday (October 19 to 25). 416-967-1528, www.torontoafterdark.com. Rating: NNNNN
Zombie chickens, axe-murdering American presidents, Russian barbarians and Pee-wee Herman - not to mention cult icon Crispin Glover as identical twin killers - are among the gore-filled Guignol on tap at the second annual Toronto After Dark Festival.
The opening-night gala digs up Mulberry Street ( NNN , Friday, October 19, 7 pm), a creepy post-9/11 allegory about a deadly infection that turns the residents of a Lower Manhattan apartment building into bloodthirsty monsters. Working with a budget of about $1.95, director and co-writer Jim Mickle creates genuine suspense and paranoia as circumstances spiral out of control.
It's been 22 years since schlockmeister extraordinaire Lloyd Kaufman staked his claim to the cult cinema crown with The Toxic Avenger. Now he's back with what he says is his final movie as director, Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead ( NNN , Sunday, October 21, 9:30 pm), and he's going out on a disgusting, disturbing and wholly degenerate high note.
This musical comedy - yup, even Uncle Lloyd does a hilariously twisted song and dance - is about a fast-food chicken outlet that's built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground. In addition to blood, butts and boobs, there's actually a message in there somewhere about the evils of fast food. Easily the grossest movie at this year's TAD.
David Arquette makes his directorial debut with The Tripper ( NN , Monday, October 22, 9:45 pm), a movie with a message about American politics buried among the random killings committed by a psycho in a Ronald Reagan mask at a woodsy Woodstock-style love-in . Jason Mewes ( Jay of Jay And Silent Bob fame), B althazar Getty, Lukas Haas, Paul Reubens (aka Pee-wee Herman) and Arquette's brother-in-law, Thomas Jane, star. They're the only reasons to watch this bloody mess that fails to deliver a single shiver.
While documentaries are an odd choice for a genre festival, Audience Of One ( NNNN , Sunday, October 21, 4 pm) is a fitting entry for geek fanboys. It's about a San Fran minister who believes God wants him to make a movie about the Biblical Joseph (of technicolor dreamcoat fame), but set in the future, with robots and spaceships and laser battles. Call it Star Wars meets The 10 Commandments.
Whether crazy or called by God, this particular Cecil B. Demented seems little different from any other power-mad Hollywood director.
The closing film, Murder Party ( NNNN , October 25, 7 pm) is the festival's must-see movie. A lonely loser finds an invite to a Halloween party thrown by a bunch of coked-out artists intent on killing him as part of their latest project. But when one of the artists drops dead from an allergic reaction to the cake the guest baked, things go hilariously, insanely out of control.
It's a simple, inventive premise that's swiftly, sharply and assuredly, ahem, executed.
For more information, go towww.torontoafterdark.com