Candyman (1992). Man Bites Dog (1992). Dazed and Confused (1993). Cemetery Man (1994). South Park co-creator Trey Parker's Orgazmo (1997). Takashi Miike's Ichi the Killer (2001). Stacy Peralta's skateboarding documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001). What do all of these movies have in common? Aside from the fact that they're some of the greatest cult classics of the last half-century, each of them premiered in the same way: as part of Midnight Madness, the career-making, iconic after-hours section of the Toronto International Film Festival, held every September.
Originating with humble means at the Bloor Cinema, Midnight Madness has always had a simple and, for lovers of left-of-center cinema, admirable mission statement: to introduce TIFF goers to the creepiest, weirdest, funniest, and most exciting new horror, action, sci-fi, and genre-bending comedies from all around the world. Now held annually inside Toronto's Ryerson Theatre, the hugely influential program is the dream world premiere location for genre filmmakers both up-and-coming and established. To unveil your film before the always raucous and discerning Midnight Madness crowds is to instantly solidify its legacy, regardless of whether the screening yields major distribution (like it did for the You're Next back in 2011) or merely crickets and broken moral (Ever hear of Reb Braddock's Curdled, the Midnight Madness 1996 inclusion? Didn't think so.).
Heading into this year's 25th anniversary edition of Midnight Madness, which kicks off this Thursday night at 11:59 p.m. with the awesomely titled All Cheerleaders Die, the sky's the limit for what'll come of the 2013 batch. Will there be another success story to emerge like Eli Roth, a then-unknown director who premiered his debut, Cabin Fever, through Midnight Madness 2002 and is now one of the horror genre's most prolific voices/producers? Or perhaps the next Saw is on the horizon, ready to do for its filmmakers and brand what director James Wan's climate-changing film did after its 2004 Midnight Madness screening? Or, at the very least, there could be the next foreign horror breakout, one akin to past Midnight Madness entries like Spain's The Day of the Beast (1995), South Korea's The Host (2006), France's Inside (2007).
Complex Pop Culture will be on the scene at TIFF for the its entirety, and the 10 films included in the Midnight Madness program are tops on the priority list of must-sees. We spoke with Midnight Madness programmer, and all-around mastermind, Colin Geddes to get his thoughts on the 10 movies, any or all of which could your next favorite genre flicks come 2014. Also, as added bonuses, Geddes breaks down three of the festival's Vanguard section entries, all of which were under consideration for Midnight Madness and have been on the Complex radar for months now.
As told to Matt Barone (@MBarone)