“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.
Jen and Sylvia Soska–perhaps better known as the Twisted Twins–burst on the Vancouver horror film scene with 2009′s DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK. Made under the Twisted Twins Productions banner, the twins wrote, directed, produced, starred in, and performed the stunts for the film. Since then, Jen and Sylvia have continued to establish themselves, alongside fellow Canuck filmmakers Jason Eisener and Astron-6 as the new face of Canadian genre film. A hit on the festival circuit, their latest production, AMERICAN MARY (2012), stars Katharine Isabelle (GINGER SNAPS) as a cash-strapped medical student who gets involved in the shady world of underground surgery.
Directed by Steve Kostanski
Allow us to introduce you to MANBORG. You are welcome in advance. If you haven’t heard of Astron-6, welcome out of your cave. This group of purely Canadian filmmakers–Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie, Matt Kennedy, Connor Sweeney, and Steven Kostanski–take indie film to a whole other level and are living proof that Canada doesn’t just make sad indie dramas that take place in the farmland of the Prairies about incest and alcoholism (although that WOULD make a crazy ass Astron-6 film). MANBORG is indie filmmaking at it’s finest, a perfect shout out to classic ’80s sci-fi/horror. If you can’t fall in love with MANBORG, we feel for you–it’s non-stop LOLs all the way through. Horror fans will dig the originality and retro style while aspiring filmmakers will be in awe of how far these guys make their budget stretch. Astron-6 is a Canadian national treasure.
Directed by Bruce McDonald
When we were growing up, there were so many cool original monsters and ideas. Now, everything just seems to be a tired remake. The same old crap films with zombies, werewolves, and vamps keep getting pumped out by directors who claim they’ve got some epic original take, but what this usually means is that this time around the zombie (much like its werewolf and vampire brethren), just wants to score with highschool girls. ICK. Enter PONTYPOOL. A truly terrifying, genius, and…. wait for it… original take on zombies. I won’t say much more, but look for a healthy serving of thoughtful story telling, incredible plot development, and terror. What? A horror movie with a gripping story? Yes, boys and grrls, they actually DO exist. And a little birdie may have told me there may be a sequel to this amazing slice of brilliance. Outstanding performances across the board with an undeniable WAR OF THE WORLDS feel.
Directed by Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz
Let us start by saying we HATE found-footage films. They’re so often poorly done and we spend the whole time screaming at the TV, asking no one in particular, “Is that something? Is something happening??” It’s undoubtedly a stylistic decision, but more often than not it’s also a cheap choice and an excuse to cover mistakes and weak story telling. Ever wonder what it would be like to watch a found-footage film where something ACTUALLY happens? How about one that doesn’t use all the sad, same tricks of found-footage flicks and is truly scary and not just in the “this-camera-is-so-shaky-I’m-gonna-be-sick” kind of way? May I introduce you to the Vicious Brothers, Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz. We had no hopes for this film going in and were blown away by what we saw. We started as true doubters and walked away fangirls. We won’t give away too much of the plot, but it’s shot in Vancouver at what is believed to actually be a haunted asylum. We’ve been there and it still scared us shitless.
GINGER SNAPS, 2000
Directed by John Fawcett
Not enough of you have seen this film. Make time for this brilliant werewolf movie that brought us all our much loved horror icon, Katharine Isabelle. GINGER SNAPS is smart, sexy, and so relevant–maybe even more so today than it was when it was released. I’ve heard the TWILIGHT seriescalled “female horror,” but that just disgusts and insults us on just about every level. GINGER SNAPS is about empowerment, family and change. It’s about the relationship between two sisters who are outsiders and 100% cool with it. Okay, it might be speaking directly to us, but the similarities it draws between teenage angst and, um, changes, with lycanthropy is clever, hilarious, and just plain awesome. The performances of Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins as Bridgette and Ginger Fitzgerald are nothing short of jaw-dropping and heartfelt. GINGER SNAPS is a MUST watch and must own movie.
DEAD RINGERS, 1988
Directed by David Cronenberg
Yup, well, it’s our list. We can pick whatever we like, but just tell us you couldn’t feel this one coming. David Cronenberg and his work has paved the way for so many Canadian artists and that goes times a million for horror filmmakers. In this day of sequels and remakes, David Cronenberg and his work have always shown us the beauty of originality and WTF moments and storytelling. We went in with doub wWhen we first watched this film about identical twin gynecologists Beverly and Elliot Mantle, played with seamless brilliance by heavy weight actor extraordinaire Jeremy Irons. Being identical twins ourselves, we couldn’t believe that one actor could hope to convincingly play twins nor could a non-twin director have any insight to the relationship between twins. We’ve never been more wrong. This film is haunting and will stay with you long after it’s over. It’s unsettling, heartfelt, strange, and mesmerizing all at the same time. You really ought to invest in seeing everything that David Cronenberg has ever touched, but this makes a pitch-perfect start to feasting on the fiendish works on this phenomenal Canadian.
Get your vampire armpits ready for another Canuxploitation-exclusive edition of Rick Trembles’ Motion Picture Purgatory. This time, Rick probes the deep, dark orifices of David Cronenberg’s sophomore scare flick RABID (1977), in which ex-porn queen Marilyn Chambers unleashes a deadly disease that threatens to overtake Montreal.
We’re back with another Canuxploitation-exclusive edition of Motion Picture Purgatory. This time Rick Trembles gets his skis shined up and grabs a cup of gratuitous bare flesh for a personal look at Cinepix’s naughty winter comedy APRES SKI (1971). This cornerstone of the Quebecois “maple syrup porn” era features a fun soundtrack and lots of the eyebrow-raising humour that helped define the era before tax shelter cinema really took hold.
One of our best-loved new Canadian films last year was the B.C.-shot pitch black, blood-spattered kidnapping comedy MON AMI, and we even named it our favourite indie feature of 2012 in our annual year-end round-up. Director Rob Grant got in touch with us recently to let us know that a release for the festival hit is imminent. Distributors Cinedigm/New Video currently plan to have the film debut on June 16, 2013 on iTunes (pre-order here) and that a limited run of DVD/Blu-Rays
will be up are now up for sale on the film’s website.
If you haven’t hand a chance to check out MON AMI yet, we recommend that you make it a priority. To whet your appetite, here’s a new trailer created especially for the upcoming release: