Retrontario’s Cable TV Throwback: Halloween 1984!


We’re pleased to introduce a brand new column by our friends at one of our favourite sites, Retrontario. This new column will look back at Canadian pay TV movie lineups of days long past featuring extensive images and video from Retrontario’s vast archive. The film programming on these stations exposed many viewers to Canadian genre films for the first time, making them important supporting characters in the history of Canuxploitation.

Canada’s canary into the Pay TV coal mine was a riveting pop culture jolt when it arrived in early 1983:
Competing services FIRST CHOICE and SUPERCHANNEL were forced to combine resources just over one year later as FIRST CHOICE*SUPERCHANNEL, now fondly remembered as the era’s primary delivery system for big ticket Hollywood titles, rare as hen’s teeth Can-con, and boobies. Here’s a taste of some of the more exciting moments this $15 per month service offered to content starved ‘80s eyeballs…

Barely one month after the financially motivated forced marriage of FIRST CHOICE and SUPERCHANNEL, things were looking up. As was the case every October, attention was squarely focused on FCSC’s Halloween night schedule, a fairly decent line-up:


The DRACULA documentary hosted by Vincent Price at 6PM remains an ultra-obscurity, while DR. TERRORS HOUSE OF HORROR has at least bagged a Region 2 DVD release. Jess Franco’s COUNT DRACULA getting a primetime airing on a national service seems like a fever dream, but FIRST CHOICE*SUPERCHANNEL was often the stuff that dreams were made of.

De Palma’s umpteenth Hitchcock remix DRESSED TO KILL and the Universal Studios anthology NIGHTMARES (best remembered for its Bishop of Battle sequence with baby faced Emilio Estivez) followed in short order, while the evening was rounded off with some creepy Canadiana: David Cronenberg’s icy studio picture DEAD ZONE and the Harvey Hart directed Karen Black/Christopher Plummer devil cult flick THE PYX.


The October 1984 issue of FC/SC’s PRIMETIME magazine spotlights some of that month’s other choice horror material which didn’t make it to air on Halloween night, including VIDEODROME and AMERICAN NIGHTMARE.


Halloween 1984 was a fantastic time to be young, and even better if your parents subscribed to FIRST CHOICE*SUPERCHANNEL.