2011 was a big year for Canadian film. A resurgence of grindhouse-influenced genre film stuck with filmmakers here a little longer than our southern peers, and we’ve seen production booms in areas not usually noted for their output. There were big changes happening here at Canuxploitation.com too, from the July 1 redesign, our appearance at FanTasia, course at the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, and the launch of this blog to help explore the culture that continues to spring up around these films. So as we clean up the holiday mess and bring in 2012, let’s take an entirely unscientific look back at the year that was.
BEST FEATURE OF 2011
HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN
A lot of movies are made in Canada every year but no genre film was as well-made, visible and influential as Jason Eisener’s HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, which caused a sensation in 2011 with its balls-out, gritty homage to 1970s and ’80s trash. From landing the cover of RUE MORGUE to making it on TIFF’s Canadian top 10 list–a feat unheard of for a Canadian exploitation movie–HOBO was everywhere and it’s influence will be felt for years. One has to wonder whether a Genie lies in the film’s future.
Last week we announced the winners of our holiday giveaway, in which we offered the chance for a reader to get his or her top five favourite Canadian films listed on the blog, in addition to some great prizes from the NFB and Retro Films Entertainment. Well, that winner was Alberta’s Josh Marler, who know graces us with his top five picks.
Easily Cronenberg’s most Canadian film and, truthfully, this is one of the only things that elevates RABID above a tie with all Cronenberg’s other genre films. That, and I love this idea just a bit more than his other work, though it is still very Cronenberg. Who else could take a concept like armpit vagina penis stinger and make it actually work? Nobody except this creative genius.
2. MY BLOODY VALENTINE
Gotta love this little slasher from Nova Scotia. Some of the best special effects from the Great White North ever, even if most of it was cut out. The plot is great, the acting, the atmosphere, cinematography, and of course the gore, Personally I say it’s Novy’s best film–really the only thing missing is a cameo from one of the Trailer Park Boys.
3. HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT 2
Of course I need one film from my hometown of Alberta. The long awaited sequel to PROM NIGHT would take a completely different approach instead of the (by this time) boring man in a mask. The plot focuses on a Freddy Krueger-ish ghost haunting Hamilton High. Even though it is seriously corny and at times laughably stupid that’s the charm of it. Plus, I always did like all the EXORCIST jokes, especially since the film is a much bigger rip-off of CARRIE.
It’s hard to choose between these two even thought Screwballs was just a rip off of Porky’s it was campier and frankly more Canadian then Bob Clark’s epic. Sure PORKY’S has Doug McGrath, Kim Catrall and Art Hindle, but SCREWBALLS was actually shot in Canada. Besides neither one really has any true hosers or Canadianness.
Not only one of the best genre films of the 1970s, DERANGED is also one of the creepiest from Canada and also one of the best directed (even if by outsiders). For me, one fun thing is watching HOME ALONE after DERANGED and seeing rumoured family killer “Ezra Cobb”…ma ma. Same feeling I get from Watching DAHMER star Jeremy Renner in SENIOR TRIP. Out of the many Ed Gein movies this gem truly is the best, even if it the character isn’t actually Gein.
Thanks again Josh and enjoy your DVDs!
It’s the holiday season, so what better time to give our regular contributors a break? While they rest up and catch up on their Canadian film classics, we’re filling in today to offer up Canuxploitation.com’s five favourite Christmas-themed scenes in Canadian exploitation cinema (and for another perspective, check out contributor Lauren Oostveen’s list of Canadian Christmas films for the Canadian Encyclopedia blog).
5. LE MARTIEN DE NOEL
Quebecois kiddies Cathy and Frankie are just about to get some holiday gifts from their dressed-as-Santa dad when all of a sudden Pooflower, the titular extraterrestial of this odd winter-themed movie appears in a bright red suit. Two Santa Clauses? How charmingly screwball! In the only Christmas scene in the film (despite the title), these kids are ecstatic to get… their dad sent to jail and a two foot wide replica of P.F.’s UFO?!
Thanks to everyone who entered our 2011 holiday giveaway–we have sifted through your e-mails and are ready to announce the winners!
Congrats to grand prize winner Josh Marler, who gets their top film list published next week. He also picks up the NFB’s new CANADA VIGNETTES: A LOVE STORY DVD, featuring 36 classic Canadian shorts from the 1970s and ’80s, plus Retro Films Entertainment‘s mob mockumentary THE NOTORIOUS NEWMAN BROTHERS: RUBBED OREGANO EDITION. Stay tuned for his picks in as a special reader edition of CanFilm Five!
“Bob Clark essentially created the slasher genre, while making a film that still stands up today. Suspense, tension, gore, Black Christmas has it all, and few films have been able to match it. Mandatory viewing for horror and film fans alike. “
Finally, Matt Rauch will receive a copy of Barry J Gillis’ mind-bending WICKED WORLD . Matt’s pick is Michael Dowse’s latest, GOON, which hits theatres in the new year:
“I saw GOON at TIFF this year and it was fantastic. It was most likely the funniest movie I’ve seen at TIFF ever and it had great hockey action and mustaches! The chemistry between Allison Pill and Sean William Scott was sweet and the hockey players were all very funny stereotypes. The movie really involved you in the sport of hockey–not just the glossy NHL-type play, but the Men’s league. The beer drinking, old equipment, foul-mouthed hockey that I grew up with in rural Ontario.”
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 odd gems lurking on the fringes of its impressive back catalogue. “Psychotronic NFB,” filters through the earnest docs on social problems, overserious animation and World War II newsreels to uncover the NFB’s weirdest works.
Let’s take a slight break from the stranger nooks and crannies of the NFB vault for a more seasonably appropriate treat. Released as part of the NFB’s renowned “Candid Eye” series, 1958′s THE DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS is a fun, nostalgic piece by veteran NFB collaborators Wolf Koenig, Terence Macartney-Filgate and Stanley Jackson that gives Christmastime in Canada the direct cinema treatment.
Like most of the “Candid Eye” films, THE DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS has no real storyline, but just takes to the streets of Montreal to soak up some holiday cheer. From one end of Montreal to the next, the gently paced, 30-minute short explores a wide range of pre-holiday activities–choir practice, a mall Santa’s interactions with kids, butchers preparing Christmas turkeys for sale, snowy street corners and twirling mechanical store window displays (in a scene that strongly recalls Bob Clark’s A CHRISTMAS STORY!).
As with other “direct cinema”–a movement largely pioneered at the NFB that attempted to achieve a cinematic realism thanks to newly developed lightweight cameras and equipment–THE DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS’ most important value is that it remains a real snapshot of its era. We get an authentic peek at department stores and markets of the 1950s–no less busy than today, only really differentiated by the fashions and degree of hands-on interaction allowed with the toys. The scene in the rock club is also notable, as a hardworking (and sweaty!) soul band turns it out on stage while the young Christmas revelers nervously stir their drinks.
Also interesting is the obvious influence of Catholicism in pre-Quiet Revolution Quebec depicted in the film. The church choir practice looms large over the film, the religious overtones of the school play (that certainly wouldn’t fly today) and the sounds of the midnight mass that conclude the film as parties across the city wind down for the evening. There’s no escaping the religious overtones here! But even those that may bristle at such allusions will still be able to sit back and enjoy this vintage panorama of winter in Canada!
Bizarrest moment: Nice to see Santa’s brusque manner with some kids hasn’t changed much in the last 50 years.
Lesson learned: Always ask your Montreal cabbie where the best bootleggers are.