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Win THE KILLING GAMES on Blu-ray!

NEWEST POSTER CALGARYCanuxploitation favourite Barry J. Gillis dropped us a line recently to let us know that his most recent exercise in brutality, THE KILLING GAMES, will be released on April 22, 2014! Though Gillis is busy in pre-production on his upcoming film, HOUSE OF MANY SORROWS (which will film this summer), he was excited to let us know that fans across the world will be able to grab THE KILLING GAMES, on Apple iTunes, Google Play and other outlets next week. Featuring a character named Dirty Jesus, organized crime, rape, murder and infedelity, we called the film “a condemnation of the worst of human impulse and a tribute to its undefeatable spirit” and “as full of contradictions and wild inspiration as the man who made it.” THE KILLING GAMES can be pre-ordered right now on Apple iTunes.

Contest time!
Streaming is great, but wanna grab yourself a copy of Barry’s latest–for free? Describe your favourite scene from THINGS or WICKED WORLD and send it, along with your mailing address to: contest@canuxploitation.com. First three responses get a Blu-ray copy of THE KILLING GAMES. It’s just that easy.  Update: All gone, thanks for the entries! Congrats to David, Mark and Trevor!

Check out our full review and the trailer:

Fine print: This giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the United States only. The decision of the judge is final. By sending in your description you give permission for us to post it on this blog if we choose. Any collected personal information will only be used to reward the winner — no third parties involved.

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Retrontario’s Cable TV Throwback: March 1983

TV_throwback

We’re pleased to present another look back at Canadian movies on TV by our friends at Retrontario.

Canada’s canary into the Pay TV coal mine was a riveting pop culture jolt when it arrived in early 1983. Competing services FIRST CHOICE and SUPERCHANNEL were forced to combine resources just over one year later as FIRST CHOICE*SUPERCHANNEL , now fondly remembered as the era’s primary delivery system for big ticket Hollywood titles, rare-as-hen’s teeth Can-con, and boobies. Here’s a taste of some of the more exciting moments this $15 per month service offered to content starved ‘80s eyeballs.

MARCH 1983

FC MAR 1983

By March 1983, Pay TV in Canada was barely one month old, but from a layman’s perspective it was the competitive service FIRST CHOICE’s game to lose. With a decent stable of modern Hollywood hits, sport and music events, and a salacious late night PLAYBOY block, FIRST CHOICE was clearly the most attractive package, although it was slightly more expensive than the more family friendly SUPERCHANNEL service (forever and erroneously remembered as the “poor man’s FIRST CHOICE”).

In addition to big guns like SUPERMAN II, CANNONBALL RUN and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, the March 1983 line-up on FIRST CHOICE included a healthy slate of prime home grown Canuxploitation, including a pair of films usually identified as our country’s first forays into the genre of horror. Bless.

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1971’s THE REINCARNATE resembles a chamber drama more than what we’ve since come to associate with a horror movie, but it remains somewhat of a curate’s egg. Starring our own mad media prophet Dr. Brian Oblivion himself (the gravelly voiced Jack Creley), THE REINCARNATE concerns itself with a wealthy lawyer who discovers he is dying and must find a replacement for his re-incarnated memories during a ceremony that must conclude with virgin sacrifice (hubba hubba). Aside from being considered the first major Canadian “horror” picture, this shot-in-Toronto cheapie most memorably features a scene in which THE FOREST RANGERS alum and POLKA DOT DOOR host Rex Hagon is mauled to death by a cat after fondling a stand-in for Trudy Young’s breasts.

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Upcoming Screenings: February 2014

While many of us discovered Canuxploitation films through late night TV screenings and VHS rentals, there’s still something special about catching a locally produced B-movie classic in the theatre alongside other Canadian film fans. Here’s our monthly update featuring upcoming classic Canadian cinema screenings. Want your screening listed? Contact us.

SEXCULA
February 8, 2014, 10:45pm
Mayfair Theatre, Ottawa

That sexy succubus from Canada’s west coast is set to hit the big screen again. The big Canadian film discovery of 2013 heads back to Ottawa, screening not far from where a 16mm print of ther XXX curio was hidden away for more than three decades. More info here.

MY BLOODY VALENTINE
February 14, 2014, 11:30pm
Royal Theatre, Toronto

Cuddle up with someone you love for George Mihalka’s gleefully gory East coast Canadian slasher flick. Special Valentine’s Day screening!

SHIVERS
February 25, 2014, 9:30pm
Mayfair Theatre, Ottawa

The Canadian Cult Revue is back with TIFF’s remaster of David Cronenberg’s nightmarish 1975 classic of body horror paranoia. More info here.

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Retrontario’s Cable TV Throwback: January 1986

TV_throwback

We’re pleased to present another look back at Canadian movies on TV by our friends at Retrontario.

Canada’s canary into the Pay TV coal mine was a riveting pop culture jolt when it arrived in early 1983. Competing services FIRST CHOICE and SUPERCHANNEL were forced to combine resources just over one year later as FIRST CHOICE*SUPERCHANNEL , now fondly remembered as the era’s primary delivery system for big ticket Hollywood titles, rare-as-hen’s teeth Can-con, and boobies. Here’s a taste of some of the more exciting moments this $15 per month service offered to content starved ‘80s eyeballs.

 

JANUARY 1986

 

JAN 1986

 

 

1986 got off to a wonky start On First Choice*Superchannel with a New Year’s Day showing of the glacial bore 2010, preceded by Goldie Hawn in PROTOCAL, YENTL and TERMS OF ENDEARMENT. Was this an omen of the year to come? Sanity was restored thankfully with premieres of John Carpenter’s pensive but brilliant STARMAN, John Landis’ LA noir INTO THE NIGHT and nudity strewn pictures like PREPPIES, NIGHT PATROL and Rock Hudson in THE AMBASSADOR thrown in for insomniacs and hungry-eyed teenage boys.

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CanFilm Five: I DECLARE WAR Director Jason Lapeyre

“CanFilm Five” is the Canuxploitation blog’s ongoing guest column, which brings together prominent filmmakers, bloggers, critics and programmers to discuss their most loved offbeat Canadian films.

Toronto-based Jason Lapeyre’s first feature, the gritty crime thriller COLD BLOODED (2012), won Best Canadian Film at Fantasia 2012. His second feature, co-directed with Robert Wilson, I DECLARE WAR (2012) was an official selection of the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, won the Audience Award for Best Film at Fantastic Fest the same year, and was released theatrically by Drafthouse Films. He has also directed a documentary feature about mental illness called FACELESS, and produced the short film THE CAPTURED BIRD (2012(, which was executive produced by Guillermo del Toro. His films have played in over 75 film festivals around the world and won more than a dozen prizes. The Drafthouse DVD/Blu-ray of I DECLARE WAR was released November 12, 2013 and is available from drafthousefilms.com. His previous film, COLD BLOODED, is also now available in the U.S. and Canada on iTunes, in Redbox and streaming.

To celebrate the recent home video release of I DECLARE WAR (makes an excellent Christmas present!) we asked Jason to run down his five favourite Canadian films that aggressively ignore, abuse and otherwise cross the line of genre convention.

ScreenClipJason sez:

One of the most enjoyable things about making I DECLARE WAR was playing with the genre conventions of a war movie and bending them to the needs of a movie entirely cast with children. I always appreciate when filmmakers take a risk by pushing and pulling the conventions of a genre in the hopes of making a film a little more interesting or effective.  Most of the time it doesn’t work but, when it does, it can be incredible (see, for example, the entire career of the Coen brothers).

PIN (1988)

What if you made a horror movie where the antagonist was an inanimate object?  No, not a possessed inanimate object, like Chucky, I mean literally an inanimate object, like a really, really creepy, life-size anatomical doll?  That’s the premise of this late ‘80s horror movie, and it’s surprisingly effective.  It was a huge risk for the filmmakers to pin (heh heh) their hopes for the film’s effectiveness on a single prop, but they hit the jackpot when they either found or built “Pin” itself.  It really is a frightening and disturbing enough thing to build a whole horror movie around.  I had a phone meeting with an American distributor once who was obsessed with Canadian tax shelter movies, and when I told him that I had heard a rumour that the Pin doll itself was actually for sale, he almost crawled through the phone to demand where and when he could buy it.  It’s that awesome.  And, as a bonus, Terry O’Quinn is in this, which is reason enough to watch anything.

PAS DE DEUX (1968)

What if you made an animated film that wasn’t animated?  Or even stop motion?  Only a genuine master like Norman McLaren could pull something like this off, essentially inventing a new filmmaking technique to create what is, in my hyperbolic opinion, the greatest work of art ever made in this country.  This 13-minute short film (available to view for free, in full HD below and on the NFB website) involves two dancers performing a pas de deux set to intense, dramatic classical music.  But McLaren shoots them in black and white and lights them in harsh, monochromatic tones, so they look almost like graphite sketches (imaging Frank Miller’s SIN CITYbut ballet) and then uses an optical printing process to create multiples of the dancers, so each one becomes a flowing, impossibly elegant shape, sometimes dancing with themselves, sometimes becoming inconceivable geometric patterns.  The effect is breathtaking, and it’s not just a flashy technique, he really uses it to tell the story of the two characters more deeply.  This isn’t a filmmaker tweaking a genre in hopes of being more effective, this is a filmmaker balls-out trying something that’s never been done before, and it’s a grand slam.   Incredibly bold, something that can’t often be said about Canadian filmmaking.

Pas de deux by Norman McLaren, National Film Board of Canada

THE SILENT PARTNER (1979)

What if you made a crime film where the hero wasn’t a criminal, but wanted to be?  And where the villain was a sadistic transvestite?  Of the five films listed here today, this is the one that probably strays the least from its genre conventions, but it’s also probably my favourite.  It stars Elliott Gould and Christopher Plummer, was written by Curtis Hanson (who would go on to be an excellent genre director himself with L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and 8 MILE) and directed by Daryl Duke, and tells the story of a bank teller (Gould) who, realizing that he’s about to be held up, stashes fifty grand in a safe deposit box and blames it on the bank robber (Plummer).  Then the bank robber realizes he’s been ripped off and starts looking for the teller to get his money back.  It’s a really smart, really fun movie, from Gould and Plummer’s cat-and-mouse battle of wits to Plummer completely deranged character, who gets turned on by violence and dresses as a woman to commit robberies.  It also has some utterly reprehensible violence in it (always a plus), cameos from John Candy and Eugene Levy, and a score by Oscar Peterson.  And, as an extra bit of Cancon trivia, it was shot in the Eaton Centre in the very year that it opened, in all its mid-70s architectural glory.

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THE DEVIL AT YOUR HEELS (1981)

What if you made a totally straight-faced, NFB-style documentary about a completely insane, oafish daredevil stuntman?  This criminally underappreciated film (available for streaming in its entirety below) is a standout work of documentary filmmaking in a country that punches waaaay above its weight when it comes to that genre.  It’s about Ken Carter, a Canadian who claims to be the world’s greatest stuntman, and to prove to everyone that he’s a better stuntman than Evel Knieval, he decides to jump a rocket car across the St. Lawrence seaway at a point where it’s one mile wide.  And land in a field of poppies.  That’s his plan.  The whole world hears about this lunatic and ABC Wide World of Sports sends a news crew to film the preparations, along with Knieval himself to inspect the jump.  Knieval takes one look at the setup and tells Carter he’s insane, and that he’ll be killed if he attempts it.  But does Ken Carter back down?  HELL NO.  It would have been so easy to make this film as wild and unhinged as its subject matter, but what’s so great about it is the incredibly dry, detached narration and typically Canadian sardonic humour and sarcasm used to tell the story.  A risky choice that pays off enormously:  the net result is hilarious, like an SCTV sketch about CBS’ 60 Minutes played out to feature-length.  I can’t recommend this enough.

The Devil at Your Heels by Robert Fortier, National Film Board of Canada

THINGS (1989)

What if aliens from another planet, who had never had any contact with human beings before, decided to make a horror movie about human beings, engaging in normal human behaviour?  Well, if that happened, then the result would probably be more coherent and recognizable as a movie than THINGS.  Ah, THINGS.  What can you say?  This one isn’t so much a case of a filmmaker bending the rules of a genre – it’s more like a filmmaker operating so far outside even the most basic rules of the medium that the end result is something genuinely unique.  Which is so rare, and so special, as to almost be commendable.  I was actually introduced to this film when Paul Corupe, Canuxploitation.com’s mastermind, asked me to film his interview for the DVD re-release of the film.  I was rewarded with a copy of the finished product, and happily sat down to watch it.  Jesus God.  Vaguely resembling a horror movie, the film is shot on 8mm, the sound is entirely dubbed in post, and…without literally describing to you the content of every shot of the film, I’m not sure I have the power as a writer to convey what this movie is “about”.  THINGS challenges the very concept of “aboutness”, shattering the very underpinnings of narrative cinema – not intentionally, mind you, like a Harmony Korine or a Peter Greenaway, but more accidentally, like a drunken hoser backing into a Ming vase at a house party.  One simply has to bear witness to THINGS in order to call themselves a Canadian film completist, endure it until you get your badge of glory when that infamous title card comes up at the end: ”You Have Just Experienced…THINGS.”

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