by Melissa Cohan
Adam Thorn has always had a love for all things terrible.
“I’m just addicted to bad stuff. I realize as the years go by, not only do I like bad music – that’s why I’m playing terrible eighties music that I know is terrible, but I kind of love it still – but I also eat terrible food and I go and tell people ‘I ate something awful today’. I don’t know why I love it.”
His addiction led him to create Terriblefest a celebration of bad movies at the Eyesore Cinema. Over the weekend, the film festival kicked off its sixth year with, you guessed it, terrible films. It featured titles like “Cocaine Snorting Crabs from Outer Space“, “Attack of the Killer Chickens” and “Xanadu Hellfire“.
Daniel Hanna is the owner of Eyesore Cinema and it is going on to celebrate its fifteenth year of operation. Eyesore used to be a small upstairs video store seated above Rotate This on Queen street about seven years ago and has since gone on to upgrade to a larger location at 1176 Bloor Street West in downtown Toronto.
Before Eyesore became what it was, Hanna owned what was then known as Suspect Video. Thorn said, “He opened it because he was the manager of the Suspect Video also on Queen Street, and that’s the one that sort of famously about 15 years ago, burned down, like a whole part of that block burned down. And the owner of those stores had multiple stores, like Honest Eds and he was just like, man, I’m just not gonna reopen it. So, Dan needed a job and he thought, ‘I’m insane, but I’m gonna open up video store in the 21st century.”
Eyesore wouldn’t be where it is today without people like Dave. I had the chance to talk with him during intermission between the short films and when the film of the night was to begin, and he has been apart of this community since the very beginning. He said, “I’ve known the owner for twenty-five years. I remember when he was the owner of Suspect Video and that was when I met him, so I’ve been an Eyesorian since 2008.”
Nestled in a back room hidden behind shiny red drapes lies the home of Terriblefest. When speaking with Thorn he said that it really was a community effort. Thorn says about how the idea came as a joke, mentioning it to friends in a “wouldn’t it be funny” type of moment. But that moment turned into reality when a friend had found someone getting rid of dozens of rickety old metal chairs and had brought them over and put them in the back room. Another friend then came by with a projector and set it up, with another friend not long after bringing a projector screen. Before Thorn knew it, he had a movie theater set up that was all donated with one goal in mind: turning an idea into reality.
The only words that come to mind when trying to describe the atmosphere in the room is warm and welcoming. It’s was fun and lighthearted, with everyone interacting with one another throughout the whole show. Thorn was a great host, he spent time before the short films and gave us some background history on who the producers were, where they were from, and how many videos they’ve submitted to the festival in the past. There were jokes being tossed around and some guests even won prizes. There was trivia, $1 pops and $5 beers. It was even a BYOF (bring your own food) event! How many times can you say that the owner of a theater willingly let you bring outside food to a show?
The festival started off with a compilation of short films that varied from twenty seconds to forty-five minutes, and the genres were a mixture of comedy, horror and cute animations like the grandmother who cooked cherry pie for her stomach who has its own mouth. Submissions throughout the years have been sent from around the world. We got to watch short films from those in Germany, Venezuela, Brazil and even Japan.