CanFilm Five: Speculative Poster Curator Dave Alexander

“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.

Debuting last year at Fantasia, the speculative Canadian poster exhibit If They Came From Within is set to hit Toronto on August 7, 2013 from 7-11pm at Steam Whistle Brewing (255 Bremner Blvd) where it will remain on display for all of August. This unique show, sponsored by Canuxploitation.com, brings together some of Canada’s best known filmmakers and movie art designers to imagine an alternative history where horror, sci-fi and exploitation dominated the Great White North’s film industry, as imagined by Jason Eisener, Vincenzo Natali, Astron-6, George Mihalka, and Jen and Sylvia Soska, among many others. These not-quite-real movies have been brought to some semblance of reality via more that 20 movie posters, associated synopses, imaginary soundtracks and even supposed props (we talked to one of the poster artists last year)

MRM_6506The show was arranged and curator by none other than Rue Morgue magazine Editor-in-Chief Dave Alexander. In addition to being an occasional contributor to this site (and–full disclosure–a personal friend for many years), Dave has been on the forefront of helping the recent boom in Canadian genre films reach an audience, and this latest project is an extension of that. Originally hailing from Edmonton, Dave has written freelance for various newspapers and magazines across North America, made award-winning short films programs, and currently programs Rue Morgue’s CineMacabre movie nights at TIFF Bell Lightbox, among other creepy and cool accomplishments.

In anticipation of the show’s opening night party, for which some artists and filmmakers will be in attendance, we asked Dave to offer up his top five posters for Canadian genre films that actually do exist. In the meantime, RSVP to the event and check out their Facebook page for the latest updates.

Black Christmas vert

1. BLACK CHRISTMAS, A.K.A. Silent Night, Evil Night (insert)
This rare insert for Black Christmas not only boasts incredibly striking artwork — I just love the bizarre conceptual image of a naked woman trapped inside a Christmas ornament — it sports the now-lesser-known American title that was used at the time: Silent Night, Evil Night. (I also have a full-size 27″ x 41″ poster for the film that had the “Black Christmas” title glued over top of “Silent Night, Evil Night.”) Here, if you look closely, you can see that the victim is bleeding from the mouth! Sex, death and Christmas brought together with a wonderfully lurid red. Just look at that dripping font – it’s like candy to a genre poster collector. The bonus is that this one carries over the black and white cartoon image of the police running into the house with the Christmas tree out front. It looks like it should be on the ad for a kid’s film and just makes the whole thing that much weirder and more wonderful. Black Christmas, along with My Bloody Valentine inspired the faux film for the show called Stubbies, about a killer in a duct-taped balaclava hacking off the limbs of a bunch of partying kids who foolishly break into a abandoned brewery to party. I did the synopsis and Gary Pullin designed a poster for it which will premiere in the Toronto version of If They Came From Within: An Alternative History of Canadian Horror.


2. CURTAINS (one-sheet)
This one was a gift from none other than Canuxploitation editor Paul Corupe, and I included it, not only because I love the film, but because it’s creepy as hell. One guesses that the artist was given a pic of the creepy doll, which is barely in the film (though in one of the most unnerving scenes) and the old hag mask, and was told that the title is Curtains and a bunch of women are murdered. The result is a literal curtains formed from the mouth of the hag, that frame a doll in the most vaginal way possible. And don’t forget that the colour purple is often said to represent sexual frustration! With the line (under that wonderful title font) that reads “…the ultimate nightmare,” this is one of the most Freudian movie posters ever made. You could write a Film Studies paper about it. I just like that it kinda freaks people out.


I got this one from an older fellow that has no website or store but sells every year at the San Diego Comic Con. I got my full size Black Christmas from him for a steal, along with a bunch of other Canuck stuff that he didn’t really know what to do with — he even threw in an ultra-rare small Rituals posters made for when it was released as The Creeper for free. Score! I got this framed along with my Death Weekend and They Came From Within posters, as they are all two-colour one-sheets from the same era and go great together, almost like a sleazy triptych. Again, purple highlights the sexual frustration of our killer, Ezra Cobb (late, great character actor Roberts Blosom), who was modeled after infamous body part collector Ed Gein. With him staring at the legs of a strung-up woman, the character’s penchant for literally objectifying women by turning them into furniture and knick-knacks is perfectly represented. And that tagline, “Pretty Sally Mae died an unnatural death… but the worst hasn’t happened to her yet!,” is batshit exploitation bonkers. I left this up in my condo when it was being sold and I loved the idea of strangers walking into the place and their jaws hitting the floor. This one partly inspired the faux Quebecois survival horror synopsis I write for the show, called Cabane à sang (translated: Blood Cabin), which is wordplay on the popular Quebecois “cabane à sucre” (known in English as “sugar shack”).

Mujeres Canibales

4. CANNIBAL GIRLS (Spanish one-sheet)
I love foreign versions of classic horror posters, as they’re exotic. This Spanish one for Cannibal Girls is a perfect example. For me this one’s all about the font and those bright retro colours that promise a wild ride, as does the huge warning about the buzzer (pictured here in very a mammary fashion) that goes off to warn you to close your eyes to protect your squeamish sensibilities during the undoubtedly mindbending horror that awaits with in. (“THE PICTURE WITH THE WARNING BELL! When it rings – close your eyes if you’re squeamish!”) I really wanted this image on the cover of Rue Morgue and tried my damnedest to get Ivan Reitman to grant us an interview about his first feature, but alas, neither him nor stars Andrea Martin and Eugene Levy would agree to talk about it. We were actually told that Reitman was too busy on pre-production for Ghostbusters 3! Special thanks to horror poster collector/RM contributor/buddy Tal Zimerman (his Canuxploitation poster picks are here) for tracking this down online for me. It was also an inspiration for Cabane à sang.


5. RITUALS (alternate one-sheet)
I guess I have a thing for drippy fonts because here’s another one leaking all over the place. If you’ve seen Rituals – one of the most underappreciated Canuck genre movies of all time – you’ll know that the bloody tagline proclaiming “Gothic Horror” is utter nonsense, but it sure makes the poster more fun. You’ll also know that the image of the tied up, burning victim is a major spoiler, but nevertheless the poster’s got a great grindhouse vibe to it. Did they throw “Gothic Horror” on there because some distributor thought the movie was about a cult of deranged European villagers burning someone at the stake? Hard to say, but this eye-catching one-sheet is much rarer than the Rituals poster with the white border and the bear traps in the river. It’s also another one that Tal found for me, and it has very special place in my heart because when we did a cover story on the movie, we had this exact poster drum-scanned to use as out cover image because there was nothing hi-res available for it otherwise. It hangs in my office along side that aforementioned Black Christmas one-sheet.