Ooh, it’s scary, kids! Our guest for this special spooky Halloween edition of CanFilm Five is Editor-in-Chief of Fangoria magazine Chris Alexander. A former columnist for Rue Morgue magazine, Chris is one of the busiest and most passionate voices in horror, teaching film history, curating film nights, composing for movies, making films and writing about the genre that means so much to him. For this CanFilm Five, Chris offers up his five essential Canadian horror films.
Every David Cronenberg film should be on this list, of course–that’s just the way it is. But for the sake of space I will forever stick with his first two features, produced by Don Carmody and Ivan Reitman for Cinepix. Though thin on budget and almost jazz-like with the looseness and slipshod quality of its performances, SHIVERS simply IS David Cronenberg. All those ideas about sexual plagues, body betrayal, conspiracy and disgusting, fascinating visuals are splattered over every second of this one, unrefined, gloriously energetic and genuinely scary…and dirty. SHIVERS has that unique ’70s Cinepix feel, like chilly death porn. I worship this film.
Boris Karloff often quipped that October was his “busy season,” and seeing how horror looms large over genre filmmaking, we’ve been busy behind the scenes too, contributing some other interesting material around the web this month. Just in case you missed it, here are some of the other things I’ve been up to lately:
First, I was more than pleased to be asked to contribute to The Terror Trap‘s annual Halloween feature, “Reflections on… Fear! 2,” in which actors and writers reflect on their own personal memories of horror films. I decided to write up a personal anecdote about the first time I watched CANNIBAL GIRLS. You can also check out a piece on PROPHECY by They Came From Within: A History Of Canadian Horror Cinema author and occasional Canuxploitation.com contributor Caelum Vatnsdal. Also offering anecdotes are fellow Canucks Art Hindle, Paul Zaza, Lesleh Donaldson and Lisa Langlois!
It’s the 50th anniversary of THE MASK this year (but you already knew that)! To help celebrate, I wrote an entry for fellow RUE MORGUE scribe Jason Pichonsky’s Depthsploitation 3-D blog on the film’s experimental music soundtrack by Louis Applebaum and Myron Schaeffer. And be sure to check out the blog’s other recent in-depth pieces on THE MASK, including rare video, storyboard comparisons and other fascinating material.
Also: I was also interviewed for this piece on the THE MASK and Toronto-shot horror films for the THE GLOBE AND MAIL to coincide with the film’s screening a few days ago. Which, by the way, was awesome.
My most recent instalment of PSYCHOTRONIC NFB on THE SNIFFING BEAR? Picked up by the NFB blog itself! Huzzah!
I’ll be talking about this more in the coming weeks, but on November 19 and 20, 2011, I’ll be offering a class at the Blue Sunshine Psychotronic Film Centre in Montreal entitled ”Echoes from the Sleep Room: Medical Terror in Canadian Horror Cinema.”, as part of their Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. I’ve been working hard preparing slides and movie clips for what promises to be a unique look at Canadian B-film, so you should probably come.
And finally, a little something for your Halloween loot bags! No specific Canadian horror connection with this one, but every year I put together a free downloadable Halloween compilation of classic monster rock obscurities from the 1950s and ’60s. 27 tracks of vintage oddities with not one mashing monster in sight! Available until the 31st only.
Couldn’t resist sharing this fun two-minute video put together by Eyesore Cinema’s Justin Decloux for Astron-6‘s MANBORG screening at Toronto After Dark a few days ago. Set to the National Anthem, it’s a great, eye-popping overview of Canadian genre filmmaking that collects some of the most memorable moments from the last 50 years.
Canadian horror cinema hits a major landmark this month. It was exactly 50 years ago that the first feature-length Canadian horror film first hit theaters, kicking off a wave of brutal, bloody and brilliant genre film from north of the 49th. When Julian Roffman concieved the 3-D spookshow THE MASK, it’s doubtful that he could realize the influence and longevity his film would have–he simply wanted to show that a film shot in Canada could achieve U.S. distribution and compete with American films. And it did–THE MASK made it’s U.S. debut on October 27, 1961 in New York City, unnerving Halloween moviegoers with bizarre Freudian visions of ritual sacrifice (as witnessed in the following dream sequence).
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. With the Halloween season well upon us, here’s just a selection of worthwhile classic Canadian horror screenings happening this week.
CATHY’S CURSE – 35mm
Monday October 24, 7pm
Innis Hall, University of Toronto
Free screening! Cinepix tapped French director Eddy Matalon for this Montreal-lensed rip-off of The Exorcist.
Wednesday October 26, 8:30pm
TIFF BELL Lightbox, Toronto
The Toronto Film Reference Library presents Julian Roffman’s 1961 classic The Mask, in 3-D! Don’t miss this rare screening of the first Canadian horror film on its 50th anniversary! More info here.
RABID — 35mm
Wednesday October 26, 6:50pm
Bytowne Cinema, Ottawa
The Lost Dominion Screening Collective keeps the ball rolling on its second Canadian Cult Revue season as rabid Montrealers run wild, infected by Marilyn Chamber’s parasitic underarms. More info here.
SHIVERS — 35mm
Thursday October 27, 9pm
Revue Cinema, Toronto
Free screening! Fango editor-in-chief Chris Alexander unspools David Cronenberg’s nightmarish 1975 classic of body horror paranoia as part of his ongoing Film School Confidential series. Special guests are slated to appear. More info here.
PROM NIGHT — 16mm
Friday October 28, 8pm
Blue Sunshine Psychotronic Film Centre, Montreal
Blood-spattered prom suits and dresses highly encouraged– be crowned the king and queen of Blue Sunshine’s BLOODY PROM as you thrill to this bloody “dead teenager” Canadian slasher classic. More info here.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE
Monday October 31, 6:30pm
TIFF BELL Lightbox, Toronto
Director George Mihalka will be in attendance to discuss the MPAA’s attack of his gleefully gory East coast Canadian slasher flick and to present the film’s censored scenes. More info here.