CanFilm Five: Producer and Writer Greg Klymkiw

“CanFilm Five” is the Canuxploitation blog’s ongoing guest column, which brings together prominent filmmakers, bloggers, critics and programmers to discuss their most loved offbeat Canadian films.

Greg Klymkiw is an Ontario-based writer, producer and journalist. He programmed a Winnipeg rep cinema specializing in cult movies and served as a film buyer for small-town movie theatres (including tons of drive-ins). As the Director of Marketing for the Winnipeg Film Group, he developed the brand of the Winnipeg style and masterminded the marketing that turned Guy Maddin’s TALES FROM THE GIMLI HOSPITAL into an international cult sensation. He produced John Paizs’s early shorts, Maddin’s first three features (GIMLI, ARCHANGEL and CAREFUL), the Berlinale Best Feature Film Award Winner THE LAST SUPPER and, among others, the notorious BUBBLES GALORE. For 13 years he was the Producer-in-Residence and Senior Creative Consultant at Norman Jewison’s Canadian Film Centre. He is currently producing, screenwriting, consulting and script editing. As a film journalist, his writing appears at: Klymkiw Film Corner, Electric Sheep, Canadian Film Corner, Daily Film Dose and the legendary Joe Kane’s “Phantom of the Movies Videoscope”. Greg sez:

I’ve always loved genre pictures and in one way or another they have all inspired my life and career in terms of trying to make movies that defied expectations (while also fulfilling them). What’s kind of cool, is that I could probably name about thirty of so Canadian films that delivered the goods in this respect, but for the sake of brevity, here are my Top Five Most Inspirational Canadian Genre Films (in ALPHABETICAL order):

Yeah, yeah, I know, full disclosure and all that; John Paizs is one of my best friends and colleagues. However, I’m also a worshipper and student of the Paizs Method. I have seen CRIME WAVE so many times that I stopped counting after 50 viewings (not including just watching and re-watching my favourite scenes). The movie never fails to delight and inspire me. The combination of sun-dappled and lurid colour, the clear joy and love for B-movies, the brilliant use of narration, humour that is always absurd, perverse and just plain laugh-out-loud funny are just a few things that place this movie in the top five of this list, but frankly, also in the Top Five of all Canuckian movies. Importantly, Paizs’s humour is reverential and NEVER tongue-in-cheek. I learned more about the art of actual filmmaking from Paizs and CRIME WAVE is a huge part of that.


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Cathode Ray Mission: THE VACANT LOT (1993-94)

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.

Debutting in 1993 and lasting a full six episodes, CBC’s sketch comedy showcase THE VACANT LOT (CBC, 1993-94; Comedy Central, 1994) was one of a handful of attempts by the natinoal network to exploit the success of their flagship show, THE KIDS IN THE HALL (CBC, 1988-94; CBS/HBO, 1988-95). THE VACANT LOT featured Mark McKinney’s brother, Nick McKinney and it was executive produced by Jim Biederman, who  fulfilled the same role for THE KIDS IN THE HALL.

THE VACANT LOT‘s most appealing feature was the full support of Lorne Michaels’ production company, Broadway Video. Michaels needs no introduction — SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (NBC, 1975- ) and THE KIDS IN THE HALL are his two most enduring cultural signposts. THE VACANT LOT was in a unique position to become the next big Canadian comedy export. Unfortunately, that never happened.

The Basic Formula

The show basically cribs THE KIDS IN THE HALL‘s formula. It’s a Broadway Video show, so it’s slick, looks good, and is America-ready. Troupe members Vito Viscomi, Rob Gfroerer, Nick McKinney and Paul Greenberg are set to be household names, on par with Dave Foley, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson, Kevin McDonald and Bruce McCulloch.

The Weird Bits

THE KIDS IN THE HALL starts with Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet’s “Having an Average Weekend,” and scnes of  the Kids having fun. It doesn’t let viewers in on the show’s potentially offensive material right away. By comparison, The Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant” serves as THE VACANT LOT‘s theme song. An allusion to the Maxell “Blown Away Guy” commercial lets the audience know what The Vacant Lot are about, from the off.

THE VACANT LOT is less straightforward, and more absurd, than THE KIDS IN THE HALL. But THE VACANT LOT also looks unfinished and spotty, as the castmembers feel the television medium out. Broadway Video’s series often look like that by design, but THE VACANT LOT is messy even by BV standards.

Let’s Watch

The first part of episode 5 (or episode 1, in the Comedy Central run.)

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CanHorror Linked to Recent Murder: All Aboard for Specious Reasoning

There’s a new, bizarre Canadian horror movie twist in the case of accused Montreal-based killer Luka Magnotta. Apparently, Magnotta was friendly with neighbour Derek MacKinnon, the actor who formerly played Kenny in TERROR TRAIN. Now MacKinnon is being quoted in the media as speculating whether TERROR TRAIN influenced the grisly crimes. Because, they’re like, totally the same.

“(My character) killed 11 people, my appearance was always changing and I dismembered a victim,” MacKinnon said of his character in the film, shot in Montreal 32 years ago.

“The similarity is pretty significant.”

Um, what? See the rest of the article.


Upcoming Screenings: June 2012

While many of us discovered Canuxploitation films through late night TV screenings and VHS rentals, there’s still something special about catching a locally produced B-movie classic in the theatre alongside other Canadian film fans. Here’s our monthly update featuring upcoming classic Canadian cinema screenings. Want your screening listed? Contact us.

June 1, 9:30
Trash Palace, Toronto
Tax shelter classic about a conservative political party that unleashes a conspiracy of dirty psychological tricks to get people to vote for them. My, how far fetched! More info here.

THE GATE — 35mm
June 21, 8pm
Toronto Underground Cinema
Canuxploitation.com is proud to co-sponsor a screening of Tibor Tackas’ kid horror classic  THE GATE, part of Rue Morgue magazine’s monthly CineMacabre screening series. More info here.


Cathode Ray Mission: KUNG FU DINO POSSE (2010)

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.

I don’t usually talk about recent Canadian shows for this column, since they either aren’t obscure yet, haven’t proven their worth to a worldwide audience or simply don’t belong on Canuxploitation. However, KUNG FU DINO POSSE (CITV, 2010- ) does — it’s a Canadian cartoon that is persona non grata to Canadian television, despite recieving many tax credits. Sadly, KUNG FU DINO POSSE,  which has a 2009 copyright date, is worse than its name implies.

The Basic Formula

Four anthropomorphic dinosaurs — tyrannohuman Kane (Matthew Gorman), tricerahuman Lucy (Laura Kolisnyk), pteranohuman Jet (Brent Hirose), and stegohuman Chow (Nolan Balzer) — are revived in a present-day city. They know kung fu (of course), and they live and work in a museum. Two humans, Edgar Chudley (Simon Miron) and Polly (Amy Tang), help the Kung Fu Dino Posse in their battles against the evil Skor (Carey Smith) and Skrap (Kevin Michele) .

The overall premise is a variation on EXTREME DINOSAURS (syndicated, 1996) and DINO SQUAD (CBS/KEWLopolis, 2007-09), in which good dinosaurs fight a villain, usually a raptor. For KUNG FU DINO POSSE, the lead villains, Skor and Skrap, are called “raptors”, but they’re actually dilophohumans. No matter, KUNG FU DINO POSSE throws lampshades on things like “accuracy.”

The Weird Bits

It’s a TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Syndicated, 1987-93; CBS, 1990-96; 4Kids TV/The CW4Kids, 2003-09; Nickelodeon, 2012- ) variant, in 2009. The show’s creator is Peter M. Lenkov, who’s better known in television for the HAWAII FIVE-0 revival (CBS, 2010- ), and CSI: NY (CBS, 2004- ). Lenkov’s other recent cartoon is METAJETS, which Teletoon officially debuted in fall 2011. While METAJETS has bounced on and off Teletoon’s schedule for a few years, no one in Canada has touched KUNG FU DINO POSSE. It’s never a good sign when a completed show — of forty episodes — can’t find an immediate home in its originating country.

From what I’ve seen of KUNG FU DINO POSSE  (i.e., one and a half episodes; any more would be torture) it’s a show that knows it’s stupid. Unfortunately, KUNG FU DINO POSSE lets you know how postmodern it is, as the show constantly sends itself up. KUNG FU DINO POSSE covers up its brainfarts by coughing every single minute.

Let’s Attempt to Watch

First up is a Cookie Jar Entertainment teaser for the series. Keep in mind, this show compares itself to TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and JUSTICE LEAGUE (Cartoon Network, 2001-04; Cartoon Network, 2004-06 as JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED). KUNG FU DINO POSSE throws rocks at men with machine guns.

In the next clip, take note of the choppy animation. That’s not YouTube dropping frames. Dutchboyasaurus–see what I mean about the send-ups? Imagine this five-minute clip expanded to four times its length. That’s KUNG FU DINO POSSE. I realize this is entertainment for grade-school children, but KUNG FU DINO POSSE will likely hold up the way HAMMERMAN (ABC, 1991) holds up in 2012.

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