Toronto is the land of the ‘mad scientist’ film

Zombies, aliens and monsters have roamed our streets for years … and not just at Halloween. Toronto has played host to all manner of scary species and creepy crawlies. What happens when you mix science fiction with horror? You get mutant creature features like The Fly (1986), Mimic (1997), Dawn of the Dead (2004), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Splice (2009) and this week’s re-make, The Thing. Toronto will once again play ‘Raccoon City’ in the Resident Evil series now filming.

Mexican director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) claims he was once chased by a raccoon in a Toronto alley, but might even move here. He is back in town for the alien monster/robot flick Pacific Rim (2013).

His fantasy movies are dark and foreboding. Mimic opens in a hospital where children are dying from a disease spread by cockroaches. The scene was filmed in the Art Deco corridors of ‘the Palace of Purification’, the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant on Queen Street East (left, during Doors Open 2011). An entomologist (Mira Scorvino) creates a new mutant bug, the Judas Breed, to stop the epidemic. What could possibly go wrong with that? The moral may well be, ‘Don’t mess with Mother Nature!’.

Del Toro was unhappy with studio meddling and a new Mimic: The Director’s Cut has just been released on Blu-Ray. The filmmaker will be ‘in Conversation”’ at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Oct. 27 at 7 pm. kicking off five nights of Halloween programming.

You can also check out the free exhibition, ‘Otherworldly, the Art of Canadian Costume Design’, which shows artifacts from 15 sci-fi horror and fantasy films, including Splice in which Sarah Polley plays the brilliant, but eccentric scientist who creates a new life form by cloning human DNA.


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