Monday, June 23, 2008


Since I started showcasing materials
from my archive back in the early
90's, I had dreams of doing an all
night show. First coming to Toronto
when in film school, I was facinated
with an old grindhouse on Younge Street, called the RIO and their "4 Great films for $4.75" which had their odd mix of something not too far away from their theatrical run then something long from it's initial run (back in the nineties they had "Tarzan Goes to India" showing at one point), some cut-to-s**t adult film, and some action flick. I always thought it would be great fun to cram in continuous films and go well beyond the normal times films would show. With the Rio's closing in 1992 and with me
beginning my screening career
shortly afterwards, it was virtually
impossible for me to reconstuct
an all night movie marathon.
Tim and I dreamed of doing this
on it's demise, I thought it would
be impossible. Luckily the FOX
boys after a return from Finland
and the Canadian premiere of HUNKA JUNK 5, made it happen.

With an hour before we opened the
doors, I noticed several people milling outside. By the time the doors opened, I stepped outside and saw a
lineup around the block. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!

Patrons got seated for the night/morning long marathon of material from my archives, and an exclusive screening of the Peter Jackson disgusting splatter classic/comedy "Dead Alive", which thanks to Tim and the Fox Boyz, we got the Canadian exclusive on. Before we started, patrons got to see some "vintage" Russian music videos from an old tape I picked up before going to a St. Petersburg Russia 3-D grindhouse back in the day. They seemed to be having fun, and ready to buckle down for the evening.

Fox theatre manager introduced me as "the king of Finland" (LOL!) and off to the races we went.

Getting ready for one show is lots of work in itself, but running six back to back def had me workin on my game. As the evening went and the more sleep deprived I became, I had to really concentrate on the hosting skills and making sure everything ran on time. Andy luckily had me down on the schedule. Tim was also my backbone at the merch table.

All in all, the films were all great fun, and the audience was locked down to have fun for the evening/morning and they were in for the long haul. I can't say there was one particular highlight of the nite, but instead can say I enjoyed the whole nite!

Special thanks to all that came out, the Fox guys for getting it in gear. Sponsors RUE MORGUE MAGAZINE, FILM BUFF, CUT AND RUN, and the AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL helped get the word out. Also, THE TORONTO STAR, BLOG.TO, Stuart at CKLN 88.1 made sure people were in the know. BURRITO BOYS, AMATO's PIZZA made sure there was nutritional value past the popcorn. But to everyone who came out to make it a truly special night, my hats off to you.

Team SHOCK AND AWE is ready to work on it again! November is when we plan the next one, and it's funny, already I'm excited.

The funniest moment might have been when the projectors were shut down and we cleaned the theatre after being there for 12 hours. I've never picked up so many RED BULL cans in my life!

Monday, June 16, 2008


WHO is the mystery celebrity that will show up?

WHAT are the mystery films and world premier shorts showing (including one student film with a perky Game Show girl?)

WHEN will the new goodies hit the snack bar, including Burrito Boys, Beef Jerkey, Danishes, pizza slices, and breakfast items?

WHY not invite your friends and indulge in a night and morning of the rarest films from one of Canada's best private archives, all in their 35mm glory?

HOW could you EVER EVER think of sleeping????

This is it folks! The FINAL WEEK stretch to one of the CONFLICT ARCHIVES most ambitious events EVER! SHOCK AND AWE hits the Fox Theatre (2236 Queen Street West) this Saturday, running from 11:30 PM till 10 AM the next morning. In one mind blowing experience, you'll get to see SIX grindhouse packed flicks. Eat tons of goodies from the snack bar, buy lots of cool DVD's, film reels, and cool film publications. From obscure burlesque (NAUGHTY NEW ORLEANS), Art-House Horror (THE BOOGEYMAN), Blaxploitation (THE BLACK SIX), Dirty (DANISH PASTRIES), Threesome love triangle/Jaws Rip-off (TINTORERA) and the final capper of them all, Peter Jackson disgusting yet tongue in cheek gorefest (DEAD ALIVE), SHOCK AND AWE is a Toronto first, and something YOU CANNOT MISS.

Presented by DION CONFLICT, RUE MORGUE MAGAZINE, AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL, and of course the fine boyz at the Fox, you'll have all Sunday to sleep. RUN to get your tickets (the hottest in the city!) at all FILM BUFF locations (73 Roncesvalles Ave. & 1380 Queen St. East) and at the FOX box office.

DOORS OPEN AT 11PM (get that seat early for you to chillax in for the night/morning!). And like a grindhouse, you can almost come crash anytime. But not if it's sold out! So grab your tickets.. NOW! A wrist-band policy is also in effect for those of you that need to go outside to 'get some air' ;)

Sleep is for suckers.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Knight into Day...

I was recently on tour in Ohio and to alleviate
some of the stress from my bookers, had taken it on myself to book a hotel room. Looking over, one thing was aparent, was that accomodation in Youngstown, Ohio was reasonably priced. Looking over the choices, I decided to go with a Knights Inn. It was a chain I've seen before, but had never stayed in (and at this point, I've seemed to have done them all, except something such as the Hilton). Again, it was MAD CHEAP. Not too far from the interstate, I was expecting the usual I would find at roadside motels.... Out of state travellers, truckers, people there for such and such a conference... the usual.

After driving through the peacefull roadways of Pennsylvania state, I switch over to Ohio, and eventually find the turnoff for my motel. Coming off of working seven days straight at my day job, and having to plan for a television interview the next morning, I was EXHAUSTED. Down the road on Motor Inn drive, I pull in to the Knights Inn. The adventure started.

The woman behind the counter seemed to be baffled by my reservation. "Is this being billed to your company?" as she glances over my online reservation. "Sure" I say. One thing I do like when I'm out on tour (and driving) is a fridge, so I request that then head to my room, finally after a long day on the road.

Pulling into my room, a guy with some scrappy looking people shouts over the balcony "Oh Canada!" then proceeds to tell me that he's been to Canada to see "Phantom of the Opera" in Toronto (they must have had a HUGE marketing campaign for Phantom down this way because I've met TONS of people in Ohio that had been to Toronto to see "Phantom"). Smiling, I open the door to my room. It's devoid of artwork and painted white with the typical ammeneties you would get in a motel. But the beds were clean and cozy, so it was what I needed. The maintenance guy knocks on my door and tells me that the fridge they have is missing the door, so sorry, no fridge. I call my booker and tell her I'm in town and where I was staying "Dion, you jump right into Youngtown culture! Damn!" As we chat I lay on the bed and look up and some weird speckle on the ceiling. Blood spatter comes to mind, but more than likely it's my active imagination. Mentioning it to her, she mentions that Youngstown was featured on the A&E crime program "City Confidential".

Settled in, one can get thirsty on the road (and the fact that Toyota Yaris' don't have drink cups) so it was off to the gas station up the street for a drink when I exit my room a tubby guy with a crappy rust colored sweater and baggy raver jeans approaches me drinking a beer. "I hope you don't mind me bothering you" he says with his distinct Ohio accent and continues to rattle on asking why I'm there with his eyes lighting up after telling him I had a show at the Butler Museum of American art. "I'm a pretty cultured guy" he explains and then tells me about how he lived in San Francisco, how he was drinking beer that the whinos drink, and how it's hard for him to be gay in Youngstown. "Are you gay? Because you're beautiful. You look like David Beckham." He says, then quickly afterwards says, "Oh sorry, you're a minister arn't you? A man of the cloth" this being possibly, the most baffling thing anyone might have ever said to me. I then get an invite to his room to do some drinking and told he has a fridge which I could put my ice pack in. I decline telling him that my evening should be spent preparing for my show the next day, and also doing some prep for an interview I was to do with a local NBC station. After that, to the store.

The pitter pat of feet and shouting upstairs. Nodding off to some CNN, I get a knock on the door around 1:15 in the morning. Do I answer it? Would you?

Morning comes, and after a coffee (which I got from the gas station, NOT the front lobby) it's off to the TV station. With some nice banter with my interviewer getting ready to depart she asks where I'm staying and I tell her The Knights Inn. Her cheery expression dissolves from her face. "Oh God. (sigh) Be careful! And please don't talk with anyone!" Well, there was no need to worry about that as they would talk with me. After getting a little lost, and stopping off at some bargain stores with vast desolate parking lots, it's time to head back to the Knights Inn to get ready to have lunch with my bookers. There as I pull up by a vehicle with a smashed window storing wooden dressers I return to my room. Outside again was the 300+ pound guy with his shirt off, sitting on a towel on the cold pavement 3 doors down from mine, and yes, my little admirer with his cousin (who also lived there). They said they watched TV all morning hoping to see me. I share my stories with my Youngstown bookers over lunch at my fav restaurant, Ponderosa. But back to the motel I go to prepare for our screening that evening.

Realizing I forgot something in the car, I go out throwin on some jeans, my tims, and a white t-shirt. The housecleaning staff was in the parking lot with, you guessed it, the gay guy with the bad sweater. "Yo homeboy!" one of the girls shout.

"What's up?" I say

"You single?" says one of housekeeping.

"Yeah, and Canadian. (laughing). Who wants to know?"

"She does" where the girl points not at the toothy gay guy, but at well, a homegirl. She was kind of a Kim Mathers knock-off who hung around with the other wigger girl and her home-boy boyfriend (who gave me snake eyes a couple times going to the ice machine). I smile at them. Gay sweater looks like he's going to gouge out the girls eyes.

Upon leaving for the evening, I'm approached by another guest asking me about jobs in Canada. "Our economy is very good right now" I tell him. He proceeds to tell me he worked in a factory, and his kid got Leukemia, treatment was a million dollars, which was why he was living there now. It's a sad story, and afterwards Michelle (my booker) tells me "it's sad, but more than likely maybe 50% true).

The evening I return. There's nobody in the parking lot to greet my return, which in a way kind of gives me a "shuckers" type feeling. I nod off to sleep with no thumping on the floor upstairs. It's eerily quiet.

Next morning: knock on the door. The homegirls are there. "Are you checking out today?" one says as they both eye me up and down with an oh-so-obvious twinkle in their eyes.

And I was. Upon exiting the building I surveyed my surroundings. The back units of the building were all closed off, with their windows and doors boarded over for tourists and visitors that would never fill the rooms. The host from the TV station calls and as we chat she says, "The next time you come down, I'll pay for the hotel!" Leaving the Knights, to my left is a downed Holiday Inn sign.

Maybe some people when they tour have to have a 4-star hotel but y'know, for me culture is always richer than some hoitey-toitey hotel. Our lives are always enriched by those around us, the ones we encounter, no matter what side of the tracks they come from. We always need a reality check, a people skills tune-up. From the Knights Inn, to my bookers, to the friendly people at the screening sharing their stories of Canada, Scandinavia, and of course film, I drove away from the Knights Inn truly liking Youngstown and left meeting truly great people, no matter their background, and good people are never a bad thing!

Would I stay there again? Yeah. But if I wanted to take the host from the TV station up on her offer, I'd be down for that too!