The final year of the tax shelters, 1988 saw the wildest burst of Canadian genre films hit theatres and VHS, an anything-goes last gasp from which all manner of strange and wonderful B-films emerged. For his latest Canuxploitation-exclusive edition of Motion Picture Purgatory, Rick Trembles tackles what may be the weirdest entry of the era, Ed Hunt’s Canuck camp classic THE BRAIN, in which a giant sentient brain eats anyone who’s resistant to his mind-control techniques.
In advance of the Impulse Pictures’ DVD release of the “lost” Canadian XXX horror spoof SEXCULA on April 9, 2013, Canuxploitation and Vancouver adult film archaeologists Return to Porno Chic! are teaming up to present the world premiere of the virtually unseen film in Toronto at the Big Picture Cinema – Gerrard on April 6, 2013 with special pre-show entertainment provided by The Canadian Romantic.
Sealed away in a dingy government basement for 40 years, SEXCULA makes its big screen debut not only as Canada’s only contribution to the porno chic film boom of the 1970s, but also one of earliest monster movies made north of the border (see our review of the film). Return to Porno Chic’s Dimitrios Otis and Canuxploitation.com’s Paul Corupe, who rediscovered and resurrected the film, will also be on hand to conduct a Q&A about the all-Canadian story of the film’s legend and reveal why SEXCULA said to suck more than just your blood.
This is may be your only chance to SEXCULA on a big screen, so get your raincoats on and come on down for what promises to be one of the most unique screening events in all of Canadian film history! But don’t just take our word for it–reviews of the DVD have started to trickle in already:
“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.
Jason Pichonsky has been interested in 3-D images ever since his first ViewMaster, but it wasn’t until his rediscovery of 3-D movies back in 2000 that he became fanatical about the subject. His blog, depthsploitation.com, was set up to share some of his thoughts on 3-D, focusing on films made during it’s most exploitive yet leanest years (1960-1990). He continues to research this era with plans to turn his findings into a book, appropriately entitled Depthsploitation. Jason is also a frequent Rue Morgue magazine contributor and filmmaker based in Toronto. He’s even made a zombie film well before it was fashionable–8 ½ Short Films About Zombies to be precise. Jason sez:
Finding five Canadian films to collect under the banner of “depthsploitation” (3-D exploitation flicks) is no easy task. Prior to the current wave of 3-D, Canada’s contribution to three-dimensional filmmaking is meager, but in no way insignificant. With a little creative license, here are five Canadian “depthsploitation” films that that exploit the gimmick of 3-D and are well worth seeking out. Although this list begins and ends with the National Film Board of Canada, every film here has ties to the NFB.
NOW IS THE TIME (TO PUT ON YOUR GLASSES), 1951
Commissioned by the British Film Institute for The Festival of Britain in 1950, NOW IS THE TIME is the first in a pair of animated short films produced by the NFB, showcasing the animation of Norman McLaren. To achieve the 3-D effect, McLaren abandoned his beloved camera-less animation technique (in which he would draw directly on the 35mm strip) and instead relied on cutout drawings suspended in front of a black background to create planes of depth. Although the clouds in the film’s opening are flat and two-dimensional, they appear to drift out from behind the screen and into the audience. Traditional cell animation, drawn for each eye, added an extra layer to the film. NOW IS THE TIME also employed an experimental stereo music score draw directly onto the celluloid optical soundtrack space to create its sound.
AROUND AND AROUND (1951)
Okay so I’m clearly cheating already. AROUND AND AROUND is the second of the short animations produced by McLaren for the BFI. But, not one to repeat himself, McLaren employed different techniques to achieve his 3-D images. Using an optical printer, McLaren panned flat animated images to create left and right stereo-paired images. He also experimented with oscilloscope patterns, frame staggering the patterns’ horizontal motions in the optical printer to create the 3-D (with this highly technical task he was aided by cameraman Chester Beachell). This time around, the soundtrack featured a more traditional score provided by NFB composer Louis Applebaum.
McLaren’s animated films screened via dual projection (a projector for each eye) in a specially conceived Telecinema, built for the exhibition as an experimental pairing of television broadcasting and cinema. Additionally, three live action films, A SOLID EXPLANATION, ROYAL RIVER and THE BLACK SWAN, were also screened in 3-D. These films were produced by the Brits under the supervision of Raymond Spottiswood who, together with his brother Nigel, quite literally wrote “the book” on 3-D moviemaking. Published in 1953 under the less then sensational title, The Theory of Stereoscopic Transmission and its Application to the Motion Picture, the Spottiswoods dedicated their manuscript to McLaren.
Turn down the lights and open up your window blinds for latest exclusive mini-Motion Picture Purgatory review by Rick Trembles about the most voyeurism-heavy erotic thriller north of the 49th! Director William Fruet made the transition from humble CanCon peddler to Canadian King of the Bs by cranking out enjoyable trash like 1984′s BEDROOM EYES, in which a sex-obsessed peeping tom gets more than he bargained for.
We were saddened to hear of the passing of Stompin’ Tom Connors, a true Canadian legend, yesterday. Tom was a pillar of the Canadian music scene for over 50 years, infusing hundreds of songs across dozens of country music LP releases with a fierce patriotism that connected with people in a way that his Canadian contemporaries like Hank Snow, Wilf Carter, Don Messer and even Ronnie Hawkins could not. But Tom also has a unique connection to Canadian film, having starred in the first concert film–made by the man who devised the character of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS, no less–and playing a central role in developing common narratives that continue to be weaved through movies produced across the country.
These days, it may be tempting to dismiss Tom and his boot stompin’, city name droppin’ songbook as a novelty act, but know this–Tom was no joke, an honest to goodness country music shit kicker who saw every corner of this country. Getting his start as an itinerant performer who played small bars and venues across Canada (not unlike Donnelly Rhodes’ fictional country band in THE HARD PART BEGINS), it was surely these gigs that gave Tom the idea to pepper his setlist of traditional tunes with a series of songs devoted to the places he played, such as “Tilsonburg,” “Road To Thunder Bay,” “Movin’ On To Rouyn”, “Isle Of Newfoundland,” and “Okanagan Okee.” You may think “Sudbury Saturday Night” is a cute song, but imagine seeing Tom perform the song one Saturday in 1971, in a cramped, beer-soaked Sudbury watering hole crammed with rowdy miners.
But more than just offering his own musical panorama of Canada, Tom also gave maple leaf-waving audiences a nostalgia for home at a time when Canadians were leaving rural areas and heading off to seek their fortune in larger cities, as so heartwrenchingly rendered in films like GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD. Songs including “My Home Town”, “My Home By The Fraser”, “Take Me Back To Old Alberta” and “To It and At It” were wistful reminders of the rural places that rapt listeners came from. Though Tom never got a much-deserved soundtrack spot in a dramatic feature (despite seeming to have a spiritual kin), it’s appropriate that SCTV’s GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD parody prominently featured “To It and At It.” However, Tom did it one better–he managed to star in his own Canadian film.
In the midst of trying to break into the Anglophone market, Montreal shlock studio Cinepix commissioned a film to capture Tom at perhaps the height of his musical talents. ACROSS THIS LAND WITH STOMPIN’ TOM CONNORS is a production with few frills. Aside from footage of Tom belting out his biggest hits at the time (later released on the live double-LP pictured above), there’s some shots of the audience and a few decidedly Canadian cutaways to give the proceedings some visual interest. But ACROSS THIS LAND is still essential for a few reasons, and not just that incredible poster artwork. For one, it was the only feature directed by John C.W. Saxton, a University of Toronto professor who hovered around the fringes of Canada’s exploitation film scene, having created the sadistic grindhouse queen Ilsa and later collaborating on the scripts for undeniable Canxuxploitation classics like CLASS OF 1984, BLACKOUT and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. And it’s also a wonderful time capsule of Stompin’ Tom and the real power of his music that may have been lost in recent years as he shifted from certified guitar plucker into a role as an unofficial ambassador and national icon. Finally, ACROSS THIS LAND features a great vintage look at Toronto’s legendary music venue The Horseshoe Tavern, complete with western decor on stage, which may surprise younger concert-goers more familiar with the bar’s current iteration.
Watch ACROSS THIS LAND WITH STOMPIN’ TOM CONNORS in its entirety:
So here’s to you Tom. I hope you finally got your pot of gold.