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Canuxploitation on DVD: Winter 2015 Preview

It’s a new year with new boutique DVD and Blu-ray labels sprouting up to take over where the big studios left off. For home video fans, that’s good news, as it means many offbeat Canadian films may still have a chance to hit DVD over the next year, including some of those noted below. Remember that clicking through these links helps support our efforts is rediscovering classic Canadian cult film, and that the Amazon links on the sidebar are always updated with the latest new release announcements for your viewing pleasure.

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Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone / Krull DVD (Mill Creek)
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Read Our Review

Cinepix’s 3-D space opera is back on this new release with the like-minded Hollywood hit KRULL. This was released on DVD many years ago, so nice to see a budget release for those that missed it.

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Wolfcop Blu-ray and DVD (Anchor Bay)
Release Date: March 10, 2015

The new Saskatchewan-shot B-movie homage WOLFCOP hits both formats this winter from Anchor Bay.  

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White Line Fever DVD (Mill Creek)
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Read Our Review

Jonathan Kaplan’s Canadian co-production isn’t particularly Canadian but does have some solid truckin’ action. This is its first proper release, having only been available via Sony’s burn-on-demand DVD program.

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Class of 1984 Blu-ray (Shout Factory)
Release Date: April 14, 2014
Read Our Review

Be part of the future! High school exploitation classic CLASS OF 1984 gets the redux treatment from Shout Factory’s Scream Factory sub label. This season’s must-have release.

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Motion Picture Purgatory: THE MASK (1961)

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Happy New Year, eh! Why not kick things off with another installment of Rick Trembles‘ MOTION PICTURE PURGATORY! In his latest site-exclusive strip, Rick puts on Julian Roffman’s THE MASK (1961), and experiences all the 3-D nightmares that make this Canuxploitation classic our nation’s very first horror film!

And don’t forget: if you liked Trembles’ previous work for our site, he’s gathered all previous strips from 2012 to 2013 in a cool new mini-comic, MINI MOTION PICTURE PURGATORY!

Rick sez:

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Motion Picture Purgatory: HOOKERS ON DAVIE (1984)

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A big welcome back to Rick Trembles‘ MOTION PICTURE PURGATORY! This time, in another site-exclusive strip, Rick tackles the Vancouver-shot doc HOOKERS ON DAVIE (1984), which follows the hilarious, sordid and tragic tales of streetwalkers working the downtown beat. A Canuxploitation west coast classic!

Also! If you liked Trembles’ previous work for our site3, he’s gathered all previous strips from 2012 to 201 in a cool new 28-page mini-comic, MINI MOTION PICTURE PURGATORY!

Rick sez:

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Retrontario’s Cable TV Throwback: October 1986

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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.

October 1986

HALLOWEEN 1986

Long before streaming, downloading and dollar bin DVDs became the fluid currency for horror movie buffs, local Mom & Pop video stores and cable TV were often your best chance for scoping out the many slice-and-dice shockers the glorious 1980s had to offer. There was (and still is) no better time of the year than October to gorge on gore, slasher and monster movies, and if you were lucky enough to be a subscriber to Canada’s fledgling Pay TV network First Choice*Superchannel, t’was indeed the season to be jolly.

In the early 1980s, Michael Weldon’s photocopied zine PYSCHOTRONIC VIDEO pretty much staked out now-lucrative cult/horror/Sci-Fi real estate, reviewing all manner of B-films not worthy of coverage in respectable publications. The “Pyschotronic” title was, for a time, borrowed by First Choice*Superchannel (font and all) to summarize their horror offerings, which included a mix of both new and old, foreign and homegrown trash and treasure.

For October 1986, First Choice*Superchannel heralded the Return of Psychotronic Cinema with some seriously creepy retro British fare including eco horror DOOMWATCH (based upon the DOCTOR WHO-ish BBC series), THE BEAST IN THE CELLAR, and THE BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW. For fans of flying, eerie proto-FINAL DESTINATION flick SOLE SURVIVOR was peppered throughout the month, no doubt contributing to the catatonic fear of airplanes shared by many an ’80s kid.

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Monday nights were designated “Psychotronic” and alongside these new old offerings were encore screenings of titles like THE NINTH CONFIGURATION, the bananas Klaus Kinski/Christopher Lee COUNT DRACULA, and Brian De Palma’s masturbatory Hitchcock fantasy BODY DOUBLE, which bizarrely earned the furious ire of First Choice*Superchannel’s PRIMETIME magazine:

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As expected, the Halloween night schedule was no slouch either. The ghoulish programming department at First Choice*Superchannel never failed to stir up an eclectic brew of scary movies to wallpaper the day, often starting in the early afternoon and running until early AM the following morning.

Things got rolling with Michael J. Fox’s turn as a lyncanthrope in TEEN WOLF. By no means scary, it served as a fun warm-up to the ghastly evening ahead (as a side note, it remains troubling that “TEEN WOLF” is now and forever best known as a poxy MTV non-com soap).

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Like this year, Halloween also fell on a Friday in 1986, and happily coincided with the channel’s popular SUPERCHOICE block. SUPERCHOICE offered up the opportunity for viewers to vote on one of the four films selected by calling a 1-800 number at $1 per call (a sweet sideline for the channel, especially as you could call as many times as you desired).

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For the Halloween installment of SUPERCHOICE, the competition was indeed fierce: First up was Wes Craven’s still untouchable A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, which in 1986 was still unsullied by the comedy Freddy Krueger of its inferior sequels (the still frightening and unappreciated “homoerotic” sequel A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE had appeared the previous year).

SILVER BULLET, Daniel Attias’ mostly forgotten adaptation of Stephen King’s grizzly novel starred the damn fine Canadian duo of Corey Haim and Megan Follows (chewed up by a moderately unhinged Gary Busey). This was the ringer of the group, as it had premiered earlier in the month and had aired many times by Halloween.

Neil Jordan’s THE COMPANY OF WOLVES was a long shot as, aside from Cannon’s pant-pissing poster art (which also haunted many a horror section when Vestron carried it over for the VHS release) the title offered up a mostly esoteric tale of horror.

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Finally, and most disappointingly, was eventual winner of the night, THE BRIDE. After wasting several dollars voting on Freddy, the author was a little upset at having to spend 90 minutes with barefooted bore Sting as a sensitive Dr. Frankenstein.

Not to worry, as the main event was unquestionably the premiere of THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. In this populist zombie parading, WALKING DEAD-era, it’s easy to forget that this film once delivered a cherry Doc Martin kick to the nuts. A steely punk ethos, geysers of gore, rocking soundtrack, wicked sense of humour and slavering adherence to the rules of George Romero’s original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD made it the talk of the hardened playground set.

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Rounding out the evening was a pair of Psychotronic hangovers, BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW and THE BEAST IN THE CELLAR. At 2:30 AM, a nightcap in the form of spooky Canuxpoitation classic THE MARK OF CAIN (1986) was served chilled and it was definitely time for bed (unless you needed a morning diesel run in which case John Sayles’ BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET was just the ticket).

While most of these titles are now but a mere click away from our fingertips, it remains nigh impossible to recreate the sort of fevered anticipation First Choice*Superchannel crafted in the lead-up to Halloween night in 1986.

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Retrontario’s Cable TV Throwback: July 1985

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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.

JULY 1985

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One of FIRST CHOICE*SUPERCHANNEL‘s most illustrious programming stunts was the multinational co-production “interactive” mystery MURDER IN SPACE, shot in Toronto on a shoestring budget and starring an array of cult stars like Wilford Brimley, Martin Balsam, Nerene “TODAY’S SPECIAL” Virgin, and David Cronenberg players such as Michael Ironside, Peter Dvorsky and Barry Flatman.

Airing in July of 1985, MURDER IN SPACE was a 90-minute thriller which invited viewers to solve the open ended mystery of whodunit, with the added incentive of $60,000 in cash and prizes (including a flight for two to London, a trip on the Orient Express from London to Venice, accommodation and return airfare courtesy of Wardair – remember them?).

Set on the international space ship Conestoga returning to Earth after a successful exploration of Mars, MURDER IN SPACE pit Michael Ironside’s gruff Captain Neal R. Braddock against his crew, with several murders, ’80s Cold War tensions, lots of suggested sex, and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA stock footage interrupting what should have been a smooth trip home.

FIRST CHOICE*SUPERCHANNEL promoted MURDER IN SPACE to the hilt throughout the month, airing numerous interstitials featuring “bonus” interviews with the crew of the Conestoga ostensibly offering up more clues as to who was the murderer.

PRIMETIME magazine, the FIRST CHOICE*SUPERCHANNEL program guide, featured a pull-out entry form which allowed viewers to identify the four murdered characters, their nationalities and, bizarrely, “how murdered?”. It then asked the ultimate question – “Who Committed the Murderers?”

ENTRY FORM

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