CanFilm Five: Terrortrap.com’s Jason Knowles

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

One of the essential websites for horror fans, The Terror Trap has been cranking out intelligent commentary on the genre since 1998. Though site co-founders Jason Knowles and Dan Hunter write about all horror and suspense films made between 1925 and 1987, their reviews and interviews on classic Canadian slasher films of the tax shelter era are particularly excellent. For this edition of CanFilm Five, we asked Jason to select his five favourite death scenes from Canadian horror films.

1. Kindergarten teacher Ruth (Susan Hogan) gets bludgeoned by murderous dwarves in David Cronenberg’sTHE BROOD (1979). Few things are more frightening than seeing your beloved schoolteacher get clubbed to death by a couple of your fellow classmates. No doubt the surviving tots will be in therapy well into their Pension Plan years. One of my favorite Canadian genre scenes — and one of Cronenberg’s finest moments.

2. Sweet, innocent Sylvia (Helene Udy) gets hung up to dry by psychotic miner Harry Warden in George Mihalka’s MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981). One of my absolute favorite Canadian splatter sequences. Even shorn of the extra bits of gore (which legendary FX expert Tom Burman created for this scene and which were excised by the MPAA), this one’s still a shocker! Whether you see the censored version, or with the nasty bits re-inserted, you’ll agree this is a classic slasher moment you can really hang your hat on!

3. After a black-gloved psycho pays him a visit in HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981), Etienne (Michel Rene LaBelle) discovers that scarves & motorcycles just don’t mix! It’s probably true that Matt Craven’s death-by-shishkebab is the more popular death scene from J. Lee Thompson’s HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. But I’ve always had a soft spot for the gruesome, face-chewing demise of foreign exchange student Etienne. A ham-fisted tribute to dancer Isadora Duncan, this is one of slasherdom’s most unforgettable setups. Face, meet wheel. Wheel, meet face.


4. Violent sociopath Lep (Stroud) gets flattened by a vengeful Diane (Vaccaro) in William Fruet’s psycho-thriller DEATH WEEKEND (1976). After she’s been kidnapped, assaulted, humiliated, debased and abused in every conceivable way, fashion model Diane proceeds to take revenge upon the group of thugs who’ve been messin’ with her. She sets one of the losers on fire. She slashes another’s throat with a piece of glass. But when she decides to take care of leering, grinning Lep, leader of the hoods, that’s when you’ll really be howling “Vengeance!” What this death scene lacks in style or creativity (Vaccaro just runs Stroud over with her truck), it makes up for in sheer emotional intensity. This one’s for the sistahs.

5. Ice skater, ingenue, and aspiring actress Christie (Lesleh Donaldson) gets hacked to pieces by a scythe-wielding killer wearing a hag mask in Richard Ciupka’s underrated slasher CURTAINS (1983). Although it was a production-troubled mess overall, it’s this sublime stalk-n-slash sequence which gives CURTAINS its well-deserved touch of genius. Some brisk, early-morning skating practice on a frozen pond? A creepy, life-size doll which serves as the killer’s “calling card”? A maniac brandishing a sharpened scythe? A mad, slow motion chase through the snowy, isolated woods? A throat-slitting & decapitation…in full-on daylight?! I’m so there.


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  1. David D. says:

    I did also love the scene in My Bloody Valentine when Canadian stage and screen veteran Patricia Hamilton getting ‘dried to death’ in a laundromat.