ACH YEAR, THE TORONTO INTERNA- TIONAL FILM FESTIVAL’S MIDNIGHT MADNESS PROGRAM OFFERS GENRE FANS A FIRST LOOK AT FEATURES BY BOTH EXCITING NEWCOMERS AND ESTABLISHED DIRECTORS. The 2012 festi- val was no different, as red-eyed viewers lined up to see
bloodshed and scares from the likes of Don Coscarelli, Rob Zombie and Ryuhei Kitamura. However, one of the biggest surprises of the fest came via a nasty little environmental horror film called The Bay (in wide release this month from Lionsgate/Alliance), which was helmed by the filmmaker behind Diner, Tin Men, Rain Man and Wag the Dog. At age 70, Barry Levinson de- cided to take his first crack at the horror genre. Speaking to Rue Morgue before the world premiere,
the filmmaker is nervous. “Do you think they’ll go for it?” he asks. “Because this does differ from the nor- mal horror film. ... It’s not that I don’t like horror movies. I’ve seen a lot over the years and I love some of them, but I wouldn’t know where to start if I were making one.” What he means, is that, like George A.
Romero, he’s using horror as a means to ex- plore social issues – in this case, pollution and the dangers of genetic modification. In fact, the project actually started as a straight documentary about the ongoing environmental disaster that is Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, where pollution run-off has transformed a once-thriving aquatic ecosystem into what is fast becoming a dead zone.
“I was asked to do a documentary about Chesapeake Bay because it’s in such sad shape and 40 percent dead. I agreed and started to find some fascinating information,” explains the di-
rector. “Then I saw that the PBS series Frontline already did a docu- mentary, and it’s great. I went back to the people who asked me to make the film and said, ‘I don’t think I can do a better documentary than Front- line, and the sad thing is that it didn’t get anybody to do anything.’”