CanFilm Five: Cinema Sewer’s Robin Bougie

“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.

Vancouver, BC-based writer and artist Robin Bougie has been writing and drawing CINEMA SEWER magazine since 1997, a hilarious, incredible and unapologetically smutty film zine with
a gleeful handwritten focus on classic exploitation / porn / horror / weirdness. His brand new book, CINEMA SEWER VOL.3, is now available from FAB Press, and if you order this brand new 200-page collection directly from Robin before December 15, he will spend an entire hour drawing you a dirty original drawing on the inside front cover! Pure madness. Visit Robin’s (very NSFW) blog to see the personalized drawings he’s already done for others in their books.

For this edition of CanFilm Five, Robin selects CINEMA SEWER’S five favourite Canadian documentaries.

Robin: What with the NFB and the grand Canuck tradition of gritty independent cinema, Canadian documentary film making, especially that of the 1970s and ’80s (my most cherished moment in movie history) is absolutely in a class by itself. I find it to be something of a cryin’ shame that more people aren’t aware of how enthralling many of these movies are, and instead confuse Canadian documentaries from this era with those dull, washed out “Hinterland who’s who” shorts that played on CBC back in the day. I guess one can’t be too surprised, however, seeing as many of these gems are obscure, out of print, or have simply never been easily available on any home format.

Being as I publish CINEMA SEWER magazine, my list has a definite unashamed skew towards the more tawdry side of life. Prostitution, porn, nudism, crazy stuntmen and wacky comic books are present, accounted for, and ready to entertain your eyelids off.

1. NOT A LOVE STORY (1981 Dir: Bonnie Sherr Klien)
The ultimate hand-wringing anti-porn feminazi screed of it’s era will amaze you, infuriate you, and titillate you from minute one to it’s bitter, guilt-packed, victim-flavoured end. If you’re as interested as I am in the classic era of the porn industry, the early knee-jerk baby-steps of the misguided Dworkinites, and the days when Times Square was a fetid urine-soaked stink-pit of debauched sin and sleaze, you absolutely must not miss this hilariously one-sided investigation into why men are reprehensible monsters for wanting to see women sans clothing! Mega-props to this propaganda!

2. THE DEVIL AT YOUR HEELS (1981. Dir: Robert Fortier)
This is just astounding, and one of my fave documentaries of all time — bar none. Simply put, this is a movie about a Canadian stunt man named Ken Carter. Keep in mind that I don’t mean the kind of stuntman who substitutes for actors when there is a dangerous situation on a film set. I mean the kind of Evel Knievel-esque daredevils that captured the imagination of the entire world in the seventies. These were showmen. Gloryhounds. MENTAL CASES — and Ken in particular might have been the most insane of them all. Listen, this cat wanted to shoot off a giant ramp, fly a fucking car almost a mile across the St. Lawrence Seaway, and land what was left in some flower bushes in a cow pasture. Watch it to see how that turned out. Hint: NOT WELL. [Ed: Watch the entire film for free streaming at the NFB site!]

3. HOOKERS ON DAVIE (1984 Dir: Janis Cole and Holly Dale
Who wants to watch movies about whores? Considering the long obsessive fascination with the sex trade by all manner and forms of media, I can safely say: everyone. Taking place on the mean streets of Vancouver, HOOKERS ON DAVIE may be one of the most revealing, honest, and sharply insightful films about the vocation of paid dong-gobbling, and it also acts as a brilliant time-capsual of a place and a time that long ago transformed and changed. This is one of those wonderful emotion-punching movies that gets better every time you see it, and if I ever meet co-directors Janis Cole and Holly Dale, I’m gonna give ‘em both a big smooch.

4. MONDO NUDE (1979 Dir: Anthony Tudhope)
A leering-yet-artistic Maisel Bros. style visual investigation into the 1978 Miss Nude World pageant, MONDO NUDE provides an unabashed behind-the-scenes peep (and who doesn’t like to peep?) at a fleshy expose of strutting 1970s lady-parts. Masses of lovely pube-festooned naturalists jockey for the titty title before an ogling group of hooting dudes at The Four Seasons Family Nudist Resort in Freelton, Ont, and you and I are made privy to the campy spectacle of it all. There is a surprisingly large dose of candid insight and fly-on-the-wall artistry involved in this massively underrated picture, and I really want to take a moment right now thank Canuxploitation.com for bringing it to my attention. Would most certainly never have found out about this rarity otherwise!

I’ve been drawing and self publishing my own comics for exactly 20 years now, and it has been a wonderfully rewarding job/hobby (jobby?) that has held my hand and seen me through tough times, and provided me with an unbeatable creative outlet. Through those years I’ve done over 130 comic books of various size and page counts. Some were funny, some were disturbing, some were sexy, and in each one I was the director, the actor, the cinematographer, the producer, the writer — and I did it all with the meagre budget of some pens and some paper. But you know what? All of that might never have occurred if I hadn’t happened upon Ron Mann’s documentary on late night tv one night in 1991 — at the impressionable age of 18. With a focus on the history and the (then) modern world of independent and underground comics, Mann’s movie inspired me to sit down and begin work on my own comics the very next day — and I’m still going strong. Thanks Ron! Your movie meant the goddamn world to me.

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  1. Janis Coe says:

    Thank you for the kind words you shared with your readers about Hookers on Davie. very sweet!