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Canuxploitation Runs Wild at Fantasia’s Cinépix Tribute

I was thrilled when I heard that this year’s Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal was planning to celebrate Canadian genre film pioneers John Dunning and André Link, and even moreso when the festival organizers asked me to pack my bags and attend the July 20, 2011 gathering. It was a really fun, heartfelt evening–a Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the Cinépix founders, they were toasted by their peers, and it all culminated in a screening of David Cronenberg’s SHIVERS, the pair’s breakout Anglophone hit that changed the entire direction of not only their own future productions, but Canadian cinema as a whole.

That’s enough CanCon to give anybody Log Driver’s Waltz nightmares for a month, but it didn’t stop there–I squeezed much Canadian cinema goodness out of those five days, a maple-syrup drenched holiday that overflowed with Canadian cult screenings, conversations and meetings. I thought I’d recapture the whirlwind events of the week here while gratuitously name-dropping all the great people I met which is, I’m told, what one usually does on one’s blog.

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CanFilm Five: Severin and Intervision DVD Czar Evan Husney

“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.

One of the faces behind beloved cult labels Severin Films and Intervision Picture Corporation, Evan has been helping to acquire and release many exciting cult and B-movie titles, including the recent DVD release of THINGS. An aficionado and champion of shot-on-video horror trash, outsider movies and other filmic weirdness, Evan serves up his list of five Canuxploitation rarities that you don’t want to miss. 

Evan HusneyEvan: Rather than compiling a list of my absolute favorite Canuxploitation films, which would be just an uninteresting assault of every early Cronenberg work and perhaps the mega-surreal 3-D nightmare THE MASK, I thought I’d spotlight some of Canada’s weirder offbeat curios, which really get to the heart of my recent fixation with forgotten cinema from the North.

After my first exposure to Canadian tax shelter films, I realized there was a whole world of great, virtually unseen English-language films where concept trumps commercial viability. And I hope you like the thrill of the hunt, because all the films presented in my list are unavailable on DVD.

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CanFilm Five: Terrortrap.com’s Jason Knowles

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

One of the essential websites for horror fans, The Terror Trap has been cranking out intelligent commentary on the genre since 1998. Though site co-founders Jason Knowles and Dan Hunter write about all horror and suspense films made between 1925 and 1987, their reviews and interviews on classic Canadian slasher films of the tax shelter era are particularly excellent. For this edition of CanFilm Five, we asked Jason to select his five favourite death scenes from Canadian horror films.

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Giveaway of 1000 Ugly Brutal Cuts: Win an Autographed THINGS DVD!

Calling all movie fans and masochists–Wanna win yourself an autographed  THINGS DVD courtesy of Intervision Picture Corp or a copy of Barry J. Gillis’ new follow up WICKED WORLD? Of course you do!

I’ve got DVDs to give away to five questionably artistic B-movie fans that can’t live without these warped cult classicks. And, for the first time in the site’s history, this giveaway is open to U.S. residents too! See below for all the ghastly, horrible, brutal and insane details!

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Psychotronic NFB: BABY BLUES (1990)

The National Film Board of Canada may be the nation’s venerable award-winning public film producer and distributor, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t weird gems lurking on the fringes of its impressive back catalogue.

As the NFB makes its films available for online viewing, it has so far passed over some of its strangest and coolest  titles such as HOT WHEELS, BEYOND KICKS  and GENTLEMAN JEKYLL AND DRIVER HYDE,  but there are occasional entries available for instant viewing that are worth checking out. This new column, “Psychotronic NFB,” attempts to filter through the earnest docs on social problems,  overserious animation and World War II newsreels to uncover the NFB’s weirdest works.

For our first entry, we’re looking at the NFB’s 1990 teen sexuality “conversation starter,”  BABY BLUES. Nobody does teen melodrama better than Canadians, and director Annie O’Donoghue pretends DEGRASSI JUNIOR HIGH didn’t already tackle this subject ad nauseum with her 24-minute ode to Jason and Kristen, two teens that like to get their freak on before heading off to cool group dates at the bowling alley. This one’s got it all–a soundtrack of hot sax licks, sniggering 25-year-old “teens” inflating condoms, field hockey action, infomercial production values and  badly dated fashions. Underneath it all, though, this is the same old “mental hygiene” style of educational short as seen extensively in the early 1950s.

Bizarrest moment: There’s a few (where does the jean-jacket wearing “voice of reason” disappear to?) but intercutting Kristen mixing the chemicals to take a pregnancy test with Jason making tea almost made me spit my cup of chamomile all over the screen.

Lesson learned: Being a pregnant teen is challenging enough, but then you also might get the “blues”! Guess they all should of paid attention in health sciences class…

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