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CanFilm Five: MONSTER BRAWL Director Jesse Thomas Cook

“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.

Jesse Thomas Cook is a Collingwood, Ontario-based writer, director and producer of independent horror films, including SCARCE, MONSTER BRAWL and EXIT HUMANITY. For this instalment of CanFilm Five, Jesse offers up his top five Canuxploitation films shot in the Georgian Bay region:

I live in Collingwood, Ontario – formerly a sleepy manufacturing hamlet that has now transformed into a bustling sea and ski resort town of 20,000 people. It is a Great Lakes community situated on the shores of Georgian Bay and shadowed by Blue Mountain and the Niagara Escarpment. And ever since Renny Harlin and Geena Davis stormed into town in 1996 to shoot scenes from their follow-up to CUTTHROAT ISLAND, a deplorable Hollywood action film called A LONG KISS GOODNIGHT (that would even make Canadian trash cinema blush), I was hooked on making movies in the local area. Nearly half the town was cast as extras in a Santa Claus parade scene, in what amounted to millions senselessly spent for just under 30 seconds of footage that made the final cut. Needless to say Mr. Harlin showed us firsthand the virtues of going ultra-low budget for genre filmmaking.

Our history of shooting in the area began with a slasher short called FORLORN (2005) and has since spanned three features with three more on the way. A little research into local film lore and we find that Georgian Bay and the towns and wilderness that dot its coastline have been used as locations for several piles of Canadiana film trash, including our very own 2007 abominable cannibal-torture porn effort SCARCE (shameless plug).

From Hollywood genre tripe like SKINWALKERS, which turned the nearby brew-town of Creemore, Ontario into the site of a werewolf turf-war, to Disney holiday dud ONE MAGIC CHRISTMAS, which showcased Meaford, Ontario as the stomping ground for the creepiest angel ever (Harry Dean Stanton, who haunts kids in their bedrooms wearing a cowboy hat and a big ’80s duster), to more epic regional portrayals like the use of the Bruce Peninsula for scenes from the Oscar-winning film QUEST FOR FIRE, Georgian Bay and its surrounding terrain have been featured in a variety of films, but mostly Canadian schlock.

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CanFilm Five: THE CORRIDOR Screenwriter Josh MacDonald

“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.

Josh MacDonald is the writer of THE CORRIDOR, which will be released by IFC Midnight (U.S.) and D Films (Canada) March 30th, In Theatres and On Demand. For this CanFilm Five, Josh presents his top five “Surprise-Stirrings of Patriotism While Watching Movies.”  Take it away, Josh:

Growing up in Halifax, Nova Scotia in the 1980s, I was a movie-struck kid who—like most Canadians, I figure—predominantly consumed American pop culture. Out here on the East Coast, I felt pretty far away from where movies actually got made, and pretty far away from seeing my own nation, province, city, or self reflected on the big screen. (I also spent a lot of time finding movies like MON ONCLE ANTOINE or JESUS OF MONTREAL in the Foreign Film section of my local video store: now what kind of cultural schizophrenia was that, I ask you?)

Discovering unexpected Canadiana (or better yet, “Maritime-ishness”—a word I’m now coining) in my movies has always given me a happy jolt, and it’s an experience which usually time-stamps itself onto my movie-going grey matter.Recently, I had this out-of-left-field, knee-jerk “hey, it’s us!” moment while watching WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN. Tilda Swinton’s character has a wanderlust wish to escape her maternal bonds because, well, her baby son is an asshole. Just before Tilda’s Bad Seed can deface her study-room, we see it decorated in a wallpaper collage of world maps, the most prominent of which is a close-up of the Province of Nova Scotia (its shape sorta resembling a lobster-in-profile). My heart high-fived itself.

I’m hoping that GAME, a short horror movie I’ve recently finished writing and directing, also might trigger some memories in Canadians who grew up in the 1970s and ’80s. As GAME is only seven minutes long, I do want to hold back some surprises about it, but let me say it tries to invoke a generation’s televisual understanding of our hinterland outdoors… I’ve got my fingers crossed for GAME to make it into some festivals later this year, and I’ve also got my fingers crossed that—should you check it out—it’ll startle unexpected patriotism out of you, too, for our True North, Strong and Free.

Top 5 Surprise-Stirrings of Patriotism While Watching Movies

GHOSTBUSTERS
The first time I experienced this joy-buzz recognition was while watching a sold-out screening of GHOSTBUSTERS during its first-run at Halifax’s Oxford Theatre. I was too young to know that Ivan Reitman or Rick Moranis were Canadians, but when Moranis’ Louis Tully held his apartment party and told his guests, “This is real smoked salmon from Nova Scotia, Canada: $24.95 a pound! Only cost me $14.12 after tax, though,” the entire Oxford Theatre blew up in cheers and laughter. I can say with confidence this line didn’t provoke a reaction anywhere near as strong anywhere else on the planet, but in Halifax we couldn’t hear the movie again until Moranis wondered, “Okay… who brought the dog?”

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The Power of Sperm: A Q&A with THE UNDRAWN Co-creator Brett Butler

Among the hardest working and most prolific indie filmmakers in the city, Toronto’s own Brett and Jason Butler have launched a funding drive for THE UNDRAWN, a new film project that promises to bring the sibling’s unique voice and smart satire to the comic superhero genre.

The Butler brothers made some of our favourite local indie comedies over the last decade or so. Although their films aren’t strictly genre works, they manage to combine pithy dialogue and cleverly observed relationship moments with just enough gratuitous penis jokes to keep them well outside the usual quirky indie fare and, therefore, well within the realm of Canuxploitation. We called their 2006 film CONFUSIONS OF AN UNMARRIED COUPLE  “equal parts Woody Allen and the Hanson Brothers,” which actually describes the bulk of their work pretty well.

Based on the early teasers, it looks like THE UNDRAWN is set to throw Stan Lee’s name into that prestigious mix too for a fun romp through a dark comic world of awkward sex, mid-life crises, and personal humiliation. As they ramp up towards filming, the Butlers have been debuting character teaser trailers for the last few weeks (new videos each Thursday and Friday), with more on the way followed by a “SuperTeaser” as the campaign draws to a close.

In anticipation of the film, we spoke to Brett Butler (above centre, flanked by Jason on the left and THE UNDRAWN director Jeffrey P. Nesker) about their new direction towards more traditional genre cinema, when simultaneous orgasms are a bad thing, and why you should kick them a couple bucks to help make THE UNDRAWN a reality.

You released a whole series of teasers for this project instead of just one, like most filmmakers. What was the idea behind this campaign?

We’re releasing a series of trailers for this project because we want to fully immerse people in the world and the characters of THE UNDRAWN. Basically we wanted to show the characters and their twisted and deviant world rather than just telling people about it, so we put our all our own money in and shot the teasers. It’s kind of an appetizer to let people decide if they want more!

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The Art of CRIME WAVE

Digging through my old files yesterday I turned up some original scans of art that John Paizs created for his film CRIME WAVE . John gave me a copy of some of the scans that were made of his work a few years back and they’re just too good not to share. Here’s a few of the travel brochures that John designed for Steven’s trip to meet Dr. Jolly:

         

I’ve added some additional images to the interview we did with John back in 2007. If you’re a fan of the film you don’t want to miss them.

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Bad Monsters in Black Lace

Here at Canuxploitation we usually focus on feature-length films, but of course there’s a whole lot of  bloody and brilliant shorts being made, especially right now with so many genre festivals cropping up across North America and around the world.  Saskatoon-based Bad Monster Films programmer Tyler Baptist of (who previously contributed a CanFilm Five) gave us a sneak peek at his new effort, MANTIS IN BLACK LACE, which should meet the approval of Canuxploitation buffs– cool slab of sinema that’s perhaps even more twisted than its nameske 1968 feature. Check it out:

 

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