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Moms Deserve Breakfast in Bed!

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SEXCULA Lives!

You just can’t keep a good horny vampire down. Motion Picture Purgatory artist Rick Trembles has a comix review up for our recent Canadian classic ’70s porn discovery SEXCULA!

 

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Cathode Ray Mission: THREE DEAD TROLLS IN A BAGGIE (1992)

 CanTV expert Cameron Archer navigates the often inhospitable landscape of Canadian television for the CATHODE RAY MISSION, our regular blog column that highlights some of Canadian television’s most offbeat offerings.

So, you’re a sketch comedy troupe. You’re not from Toronto, Vancouver or Newfoundland, yet you’ve found your way onto a national network, CBC Television. You’re even part of CBC Television’s efforts to prove it knows comedy beyond CBC Radio stalwarts like ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FARCE and DOUBLE EXPOSURE, and failed sitcoms like MOSQUITO LAKE. Sound outlandish? It wasn’t such a far-fetched idea near the end of February 1992, when THREE DEAD TROLLS IN A BAGGIE (CBC, 1992) debuted.

The basic formula
THREE DEAD TROLLS IN A BAGGIE  is essentially the Edmonton version of THE KIDS IN THE HALL (CBC, 1988-94). The troupe performs risqué humour in the KitH style. Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie are longstanding Edmonton fringe theatre regulars, so CBC obviously expected THREE DEAD TROLLS to succeed.

Each episode consists of sketches, musical bits, and monochromatic blue transitions, as performed by troupe members here are Neil Grahn, Joe Bird, Wes Borg, and Cathleen Rootsaert. “Mr.” Frank van Keeken is an added attraction…inasmuch as van Keeken was an attraction, in 1992.

The weird bits
This was the era of THE KIDS IN THE HALL, CODCO and COMICS! In that light, there’s nothing weird about this show. THREE DEAD TROLLS IN A BAGGIE has a heavy fringe flavour, and is about in line with what CBC Television aired in 1992.

At the same time, 1992-era CBC looks strange in 2012. Granted, Lorne Michaels outright handed CBC THE KIDS IN THE HALL, and CODCO‘s roots date back to the early 1970s, but CBC actually built around those two shows. I miss that era. I accept that it’s not coming back.

Let’s Watch
“Part two” of the second episode.THREE DEAD TROLLS, by and large, is studio-bound. Compared to THE KIDS IN THE HALL, which benefits from Lorne Michaels’ backing, and elaborately-produced location segments, THREE DEAD TROLLS is a lower-budget affair.

 

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Blue Sunset: A Q&A With Programmers Dave Bertrand and Kier-La Janisse

After just two years, Montreal’s premiere screening space Blue Sunshine will officially dim its 16mm projector bulb on May 18, 2012. More than just a screening venue with some of the most eclectic cult programming this side of the border, co-founders Dave Bertrand and Kier-La Janisse ‘s focus on all strains of Canada’s filmmaking past made Blue Sunshine one of the best places to catch everything from pioneering Montreal gay classics of the 1970s to vintage local ephemera, forgotten maple syrup porn and just plain ol’ sleazy tax shelter trash.

It was during last year’s Fantasia Festival that I met Dave and Kier-La (in the flesh, anyways) and made my first visit to Blue Sunshine; they subsequently invited me back in November to deliver a lecture on Canadian horror for the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies program hosted there. During both visits, it was clear to me that (amongst all the other fantastic programming) the BS co-founders’ support and understanding of Canadian films of the last few decades was more sophisticated than anything happening in other cities, including venue-rich Toronto. While maybe inevitable, the closing of Blue Sunshine isn’t just a loss for local cinephiles, but also for anyone who cares about Canada’s film history, and knows why it’s important to keep these films unspooling in front of screens.

In advance of Blue Sunshine’s final Canadian screening on May 10, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN… MR. LEONARD COHEN, we talked to Dave and Kier-La about why Blue Sunshine had to end, memories about some of his highlights of the last two years and their feelings on audience attitudes towards Canadian filmmaking.

First off, why did you decide to end Blue Sunshine? Oh why, God, why?

DB: Oh God! Well, when Kier-La and I set out to attempt this crazy experiment – that is, starting our own micro-cinema in a city neither of us have ever lived in, and with no financial backing to speak of – a two-year lease was about the maximum we thought we could make it work. Our lease expires at the end of May, and ever since we opened in June 2010, we’ve learned that, though this business is creatively rewarding on so many levels, financially, it just doesn’t work. Despite keeping our film licensing and rental costs to a minimum, the cost of the rent a commercial space on overpriced Boul. St-Laurent, excessive utilities rates, and our numerous attempts to legitimize the business with the city of Montreal, all pricey and ultimately unsuccessful – even when we did really well, attendance-wise, we lost money. On top of that, we’re really, really tired and our mental health is unraveling. But hey, it’s a miracle we made it last two years, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with all we’ve accomplished! We’ve left a big dent on the Montreal film world. I’m honoured that this was a part of my life.

Blue Sunshine has always featured a healthy amount of Canadian films. Why was it so important to Blue Sunshine to showcase local movies?

KJ: Honestly I don’t feel we showed enough local movies! But because we often played repertory titles, we’re able to have some perspective on how these films are relevant to our development, individually and as a country. Most Canadians, when they talk about Canadian films, tend to characterize them as middling and bland or just trying to ape American films. It’s only with some distance that you can really see that there’s a strong identity there. It wasn’t until I lived in Texas that I started to appreciate Canadian cinema really. Well, I always liked the tax shelter flicks but that was because Canadian industry seemed so embarrassed by them and so it was fun to side with the underdog. But once I moved to Texas I started to really see Canadian cinema on the whole as unique and worth fighting to preserve. There are things about the films that will be especially funny or poignant to Canadians in whatever region the film is from — specifically films made in Quebec. The best thing about moving to Montreal was discovering how much amazing French-Canadian cinema there is that no one talks about in the rest of Canada. And it is electrifying to sit in a room full of Francophones who are watching a movie that’s engrained in their culture – like the time we showed APRES SKI, and I couldn’t even understand the dialogue, but I was just feeding off the energy in the room. We would have showed way more of these films but the Cinematheque kind of had it covered.

DB: Most Canadian cinema still remains an untapped resource – the Canadian public of non-film professionals remains largely oblivious to their own cinema history, mostly due to lack of exposure and the enormous weight of Hollywood. Personally, it gives me great pleasure to dig out some obscurity from the tax shelter era and toss it up to an unsuspecting audience. As Kier-La says, being Anglophone outsiders, it was a shocker to realize just how much film history there is in Quebec that we knew NOTHING about, and are only still just scratching the surface of. I can say from experience that screening a Montreal-based film is ALWAYS a draw — here, like anywhere, people love to see their own neighbourhood and history up on the screen. So why not play something with a local connection, which excites a crowd and brings in greater numbers, and is an unheralded gem to boot?

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They Came From Within London — A Q&A with SHIVERS Programmer Vince D’Amato

Canada is set to invade the UK later this month in a brand new screening series that will shine a spotlight on one of the more neglected aspects of Canadian horror, the independently produced films of the 1990s. “The Influence of the Tax Shelter Films”, an all day movie marathon curated by Shivers,  a new London-based film society. In anticipation of their upcoming screening on May 20, 2012 at The Roxy Bar and Screen, we caught up with one of Shivers’ co-founders, Vancouver-based film fanatic Vince D’Amato, to talk about the films Shivers has selected, the group’s plans to expand back home and why Canadian genre films matter.

How did you get the idea to start the Shivers film society?

Justin, a friend of mine who runs the Filmbar 70 film club in London, came up with the idea of screening a series of Canadian films, like a mini-festival. We thought about programming and, after a couple of months, decided to form Shivers as a one-time event. However, after putting all that work into scheduling and designing ,we discovered a lot more interest in this idea than we’d initially anticipated, so we decided to take it even further.

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