Retrontario’s Cable TV Throwback: April 1986


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.

APRIL 1986



In its heyday FIRST CHOICE*SUPERCHANNEL broadcast a raft of cool Canadian flicks that have shamefully passed into the ether over the last 30 years. Even the gluttonous content orgy in which we now exist thanks to the Internet cannot abide, and many of these films have simply vanished. Had they not been fully or in part recorded on VHS tapes back in the day, there would be no trace of them at all beyond error-ridden, tumbleweed infested IMDB listings.


One such title is surely LISTEN TO THE CITY (1984), a bizarre Toronto-based soft sci-fi/musical scored by Gordon Deppe of The Spoons (the amazing LP soundtrack also featured the debut appearance on an album of the band’s massive singles “Romantic Traffic” and “Tell No Lies”). To date, the film remains the sole fiction film by local documentary maven Ron Mann, his legacy buttressed by the likes of GRASS, TWIST and COMIC BOOK CONFIDENTIAL rather than this oddball curio. The film starred HALLOWEEN’s P.J Soles as a crusading reporter, but also features “smiling” Jack Layton in a cameo as a hospital patient (you can see him in the above clip). In spite of continued interest in The Spoons, this title seems likely to remain exiled in home video limbo.

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NEWEST POSTER CALGARYCanuxploitation favourite Barry J. Gillis dropped us a line recently to let us know that his most recent exercise in brutality, THE KILLING GAMES, will be released on April 22, 2014! Though Gillis is busy in pre-production on his upcoming film, HOUSE OF MANY SORROWS (which will film this summer), he was excited to let us know that fans across the world will be able to grab THE KILLING GAMES, on Apple iTunes, Google Play and other outlets next week. Featuring a character named Dirty Jesus, organized crime, rape, murder and infedelity, we called the film “a condemnation of the worst of human impulse and a tribute to its undefeatable spirit” and “as full of contradictions and wild inspiration as the man who made it.” THE KILLING GAMES can be pre-ordered right now on Apple iTunes.

Contest time!
Streaming is great, but wanna grab yourself a copy of Barry’s latest–for free? Describe your favourite scene from THINGS or WICKED WORLD and send it, along with your mailing address to: contest@canuxploitation.com. First three responses get a Blu-ray copy of THE KILLING GAMES. It’s just that easy.  Update: All gone, thanks for the entries! Congrats to David, Mark and Trevor!

Check out our full review and the trailer:

Fine print: This giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the United States only. The decision of the judge is final. By sending in your description you give permission for us to post it on this blog if we choose. Any collected personal information will only be used to reward the winner — no third parties involved.