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CanFilm Five: Horror Film Columnist Lauren Oostveen

“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.

An professional history geek with an special interest in her province’s past, Halifax-based Lauren Oostveen writes “Smash Cut,” a biweekly film column focusing on cult and horror titles for the Chronicle Herald that often has an East Coast bent. When she’s not busy to digitizing and preserving some of Canada’s oldest films, Lauren blogs for Spacing Atlantic and her own site, Zombies Ate Lauren!. For this CanFilm Five, Lauren offers her five favourite Canadian low-budget masterpieces.

Lauren: I have a lot of love for this great country of ours. And despite all of the Tim Horton’s donuts I can eat and free healthcare to counter the donut situation, there’s nothing I love more about Canada than its films. I respect and enjoy Canadian films, even the cheesy, silly ones, because people here put just a little bit more effort into their work. A little more love. A lot more gore.

Choosing a top five is very hard, but I certainly do have a handful of films that I go to when people ask me for my Canadian favourites. I’ve already written about David Cronenberg, Bruce McDonald, Jason Eisener, and the PROM NIGHT series for my column, so this time I’m taking a step away from the usual suspects. I’ve selected five lesser-known movies that are weird, endearing and made for far less money than their American counterparts.

1. CANNIBAL GIRLS
A young couple spends the night in a restaurant, only to find out that it is haunted by three dead women who hunger for human flesh. Sounds pretty great, right? Now throw in the fact that it stars Eugene Levy and is directed by Ivan Reitman. Holy cats! This 1973 horror/comedy classic is incredibly weird, features buckets of blood, and one incredibly creepy town. It even has a weird bell that rings right before scary scenes to prepare the audience for disturbing content. The score is great, the girls are pretty, and the plot is full of holes. Love it.

2. DEF-CON 4
I’ve given MY BLOODY VALENTINE a lot of props over the years, so it’s time to turn the spotlight to another Nova Scotian classic, DEF-CON 4. This post-apocalyptic sci-fi epic was made by Paul Donovan, who went on to found Salter Street films and helm TV series like LEXX. DEF-CON 4 centres on astronauts who survive World War III by hanging out in space. A glitch in their system forces them to return to earth, which is in full-on MAD MAX gang mode (that is, if MAD MAX was filmed on the beaches of Halifax County). They have to make it to safe, radiation-free areas while avoiding cannibals, mutants and crazy people. Oh yeah, and there’s also going to be another nuclear incident–not good. Hard to find, but so worth it if you can get your hands on it.

3. THE BRAIN
One of those “so bad it’s good” horror films, THE BRAIN drips with 1980s cheese and features the amazing David Gale of RE-ANIMATOR fame. The plot is reminiscent of a TWILIGHT ZONE episode — Gale plays Dr. Blake, who runs “Independent Thinkers”, a wacky self-help TV program. Instead of helping his audience, he’s actual controlling their minds via an alien known as The Brain who is kind of like an evil version of 1990s YTV host Warren the Grog. I love it. There’s a smart-ass kid who has to save the day and it’s all very silly, but still perfect for a boozy Saturday night in.

4. THE GATE
OK, this movie is pretty well-known and was made with a bit more money, but I adore it so it’s here, you creeps! Stephen Dorff, heavy metal, and stop-motion demons–AWESOME. The plot centres around pals who accidentally open a gate to hell in their backyard. Old-school, wee demons are released, and they are hungry for human sacrifices so they can take over the world and be evil and stuff. Using the Bible, sweet, sweet metal music and some other tricks, the kids must try and defeat the demons. It’s pure fun but also packs some genuine scares. The animation and special effects are very good for their era and still kind of creep me out. Good, good.

5. BLOOD SHED
This is a short film, so it may not belong in this list, but its deranged humour, guts (both literal and figurative) and the most awesome, terrifying puppet since MEET THE FEEBLES makes it worthy of inclusion. Not only will it make those fishing trips you take with your buddies in the deep woods all the more sinister, but you may also develop a fear of French-Canadian moms. This film was directed by Jason Shipley who then went on to lend his talents to HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. If you own HOBO on DVD you can even catch a few BLOOD SHED references amidst the Scum Town insanity.

BLOOD SHED – watch more funny videos

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  1. Allan says:

    Every time I watch THE GATE, I feel a sense of patriotic pride when I see the H.P. sauce and Pizza Pizza boxes, but my heart especially bursts at the sight of heavy metal kid’s Killer Dwarves jean vest. That, my friends, is some hardcore Can-Con.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_Y6ZTQcau0