With dozens of film festivals running in Toronto annually, it can be tough to decide which ones cinephiles should dedicate their time too.

That is unless you’re a fan of horror, action, chopsocky, and exploitation movies.

There’s only one true home for the city’s genre fans and that’s Toronto After Dark. Festival creator Adam Lopez knows what his audience craves, primarily because he’s also a member of the crowd.

“When I arrived in Toronto no festival was really focused the kinds of movies that I love,” says Lopez. “When I discovered that many other cities had festivals devoted to genre films, I was jealous. But soon realized I was onto something. Something I could do as a fan for other fans who were also feeling left out in the city’s giant film festival scene.”

Lopez’s Toronto After Dark is now entering its fourth year with popularity steadily rising. This year he’s offering 18 genre outings varying from action (the French ’70s throwback Black) to horror (the wacko Asian gorefest Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl) and everything in between. With so many titles to choose from over the eight-day fest, it can be tough to decide what to see.

With that in mind, we present a short list of some of the best titles from this year’s selection.

Black Dynamite: The opening gala is a hilarious and homage/parody of classic ’70s Blacksploitation flicks. The movie mimics the style of camp classics like Superfly and Shaft perfectly, filled with all of the glorious continuity errors, washed out cinematography, over-ambitious action, and bad-ass posturing of the beloved genre.

Trick R’ Treat: Needlessly sitting on a shelf at Warner Brothers for almost two years, Michael Dougherty’s directorial debut expertly weaves together five separate Halloween tales about a prank gone fatally wrong, a sadistic principal, some supernatural partygoers, a wheezy shut in, and a murderous little trick or treater. The hilarious and creepy film will receive a rare theatrical screening at the fest before getting a lackluster October DVD release and earning inevitable cult classic status.

Children: An unrelenting British scare flick about a pair of families spending Christmas in a secluded country mansion whose children are suddenly and inexplicably taken over by a murderous rage. Think of it as Night Of The Living Dead with cute English children instead of zombies.

Dead Snow:
What more could anyone possibly want than a movie about a bunch of youngsters in a cabin fighting off an army of Nazi zombies. This hilarious Norwegian export wears its bad taste and horror influences on its sleeve, offering up 90- minutes of giddy entertainment for bloodthirsty horror fans.

Grace: This closing night gala is your typical first time mother melodrama…except for the fact that the infant in question develops a ravenous taste for blood. While the filmmakers occasionally treat the subject matter with a gravitas that can feel inappropriate, the story is so unique and disturbing that it demands to be seen. Just don’t bring your family along to this one unless you feel like having an awkward ride home.

Visit www.torontoafterdark.com for more information.

– The Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs Firday through Aug. 21.

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