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Retrontario’s Cable TV Throwback: March 1983

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We’re pleased to present another look back at Canadian movies on TV by our friends at Retrontario.

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.

MARCH 1983

FC MAR 1983

By March 1983, Pay TV in Canada was barely one month old, but from a layman’s perspective it was the competitive service FIRST CHOICE’s game to lose. With a decent stable of modern Hollywood hits, sport and music events, and a salacious late night PLAYBOY block, FIRST CHOICE was clearly the most attractive package, although it was slightly more expensive than the more family friendly SUPERCHANNEL service (forever and erroneously remembered as the “poor man’s FIRST CHOICE”).

In addition to big guns like SUPERMAN II, CANNONBALL RUN and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, the March 1983 line-up on FIRST CHOICE included a healthy slate of prime home grown Canuxploitation, including a pair of films usually identified as our country’s first forays into the genre of horror. Bless.

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1971’s THE REINCARNATE resembles a chamber drama more than what we’ve since come to associate with a horror movie, but it remains somewhat of a curate’s egg. Starring our own mad media prophet Dr. Brian Oblivion himself (the gravelly voiced Jack Creley), THE REINCARNATE concerns itself with a wealthy lawyer who discovers he is dying and must find a replacement for his re-incarnated memories during a ceremony that must conclude with virgin sacrifice (hubba hubba). Aside from being considered the first major Canadian “horror” picture, this shot-in-Toronto cheapie most memorably features a scene in which THE FOREST RANGERS alum and POLKA DOT DOOR host Rex Hagon is mauled to death by a cat after fondling a stand-in for Trudy Young’s breasts.

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