Midnight Madness' Colin Geddes Leaving Toronto Film Festival

Jason Gemnich/WireImage
Colin Geddes (right)

For 20 years, he booked horror pics and black comedies into TIFF's witching-hour sidebar for bloodthirsty audiences and bleary-eyed Hollywood buyers.

Colin Geddes, whose gore- and zombie-filled Midnight Madness sidebar launched the career of horror superstar Eli Roth, is leaving the Toronto Film Festival after 20 years.

“When I started at TIFF in 1997, I had no idea it would be a journey that would last two decades,” Geddes said Tuesday in a statement. During his years programming Toronto's witching-hour sidebar, Geddes, in his customary red pants, helped introduce North American audiences to genre-bending directors like Miike Takashi, Tony Jaa, Saw co-creator James Wan, Gareth Evans and Ben Wheatley.

Midnight Madness also helped distributors find the next Saturday night hit at the multiplex to connect with the Comic-Con crowd. An example was Eli Roth's 2002 horror pic Cabin Fever, which was at first rejected by TIFF before Geddes got a hold of a VHS screener.

The result was a Midnight Madness premiere of Cabin Fever just as the fest closed that year and a high-priced overnight sale to Lionsgate for Roth. Suddenly, Midnight Madness had Hollywood's attention and bleary-eyed studio buyers watching pics with thrills and spills into the wee hours of the morning.

Geddes passes the Midnight Madness programming duties to Peter Kuplowsky as he continues work as a curator for the horror streaming service Shudder, and with his wife Katarina Gligorijevic continues as artistic directors of Royal Cinema in Toronto.

"Colin embodied a wicked and savvy eye for what’s at the cutting edge of fun, eye-popping horror, and way-out-there, in-your-face, genre-bending movies that were not always in good taste — and we loved him for it," Toronto fest CEO Piers Handling said in his own statement.

Another Midnight Madness highlight was Sacha Baron Cohen in 2006 arriving at the Ryerson Theater on a cart drawn by donkeys and peasant wenches for the premiere of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

The 42nd Toronto Film Festival is set to run Sept. 7-17.