Oh Canada, with your beautiful forests, colourful money and a sense of politeness that is mocked the world over, what a surprise that you could have some truly great horror films. So not too much talk eh, and let's get down to business.
Here are 5 Great Canadian Horror Films:
5. The Gate (1987) - While a construction team is removing a tree from his backyard, young Glen wanders on the site and discovers a geode. (a science nerdy thing from the ground). He shows the geode to his buddy Terry and Terry convinces him to dig up the back yard to see if there are more, so they can make some money. As they dig, they discover a huge hole in the earth and an extraordinary sized geode. Glen pulls it from the earth, gives himself a sliver and bleeds into the hole. When Glen's parents come home, they're pissed about the hole, ground Glen for the weekend and puts Glen's sister Al (Alexandra) in charge of the house because they are going to gone for 3 days. Like any good Canadian kid, she has a party, Glen and Terry try to crack open the geode in Glen's room. When they do manage to crack it open, it releases some terrible gas and it sparkles inside. The boys also notice it left some strange writing on the dollar store etch a sketch pad, which of course they read opening up a gate way for demons to invade our earth. Now, Glen and Terry have to close the gate and stop the demons using their pre-teen wits and the power of European heavy metal! I loved this movie when I was a kid, probably because it was about kids fighting demons! A lot of great nods to nostalgic canadiana like mentions of Romper Room and Terry having a Killer Dwarves patch on the back of his demin jacket. This was Stephen Dorff's first film and probably one of his most memorable, in my opinion. The claymation demons are pretty good for the time and are reminiscent of the Full Moon stuff. Not a lot of blood or body count, but a fun film that people should get a kick out of.
4. The Cube (1997) - 7 strangers awake up to find themselves in a multi-level cube and try to escape. Each room in the cube is different, some are safe and some have horrible booby traps. As the group tries to decipher the numbers and avoid the traps, the most dangerous part of the game is revealed, themselves. Terrific little film shot on a sound stage in Toronto, with a low budget and a lot of heart. The idea is great and the film is a taut 90 minutes. It's got some gore but it has a sense of claustrophobia that is undaunting and as the characters start not unravel you can see the real horrors of the film. Pre-dated the Saw films and may have inadvertently restarted the game horror concept. Good stuff.
3. Hobo with a Shot gun (2011) - Rutger Hauer plays a Hobo, who just arrives in Hope Town. Just after he arrives he sees a public execution in broad daylight and realizes that this town is run by an evil creep named the Drake and his 2 viscous homicidal sons, Ivan and Slick. The Hobo tries to ignore the corruption and lawlessness of the town and tries to focus on his dream of owning a used lawn mower that is only 49.99. However, one night after a day of begging, he follows Slick and Ivan into an arcade, where they try to collect drug money from a kid. The kid doesn't have their money and Slick is about to hurt the kid when a prostitute named Abby intervenes. Slick lets the kid go and focuses his killing intention on Abby. This is where the Hobo saves the day, knocks Slick out and brings him to the police for justice, right. Nope, the police are under the corrupt thumb of the Drake as well, so they beat the living shit out of the Hobo and throw him in a dumpster. The Hobo decides that this is enough, buys a shotgun and begins his vigilante justice against the corrupt city! Director Jason Eisener does a fantastic job in bringing up the saturation levels and creating a true grindhouse classic. The story is relatively simple and Hauer does a nice job portraying the Hobo. The violence in this film is phenomenal and so over the top, you end up laughing your ass off. There are tons of Canadiana moments and people in this film, so keep your eyes and ears open. Great film, totally worth checking out!
2. The Changeling (1980) - After a terrible accident that killed his wife and daughter, Dr. John Russell moves to Seattle for a teaching position. He gets a fantastic deal on a historical house that hasn't been lived in for over 12 years. Once he settles in, he notices some strange occurrences like doors opening by themselves, banging in the night and a ghost of a boy in his bathtub! John with the aid of an extremely helpful historical helper, Claire Norman investigate the house and bring in some professionals who can really bring the facts in about the house, psychics! The psychics put together a couple of seances, find out a boy named Joseph was murdered in the house and now, John Russell, professional composer and widower, must right the wrong to clear the ghost out of the house! Great haunted house picture and from reading notes on the author, Russell Hunter based on some real events. The pacing is good and director Peter Medak does a nice job with setting a sullen atmosphere right off the bat and continuing it throughout the film. George C. Scott (RIP) is excellent and plays well off real life wife, Trish Van Devere. Like, most classic haunted house films, it's more of a mystery based with characters searching for the truth and what lies beneath the floor boards of the house. Not a lot of blood, but some good scary scenes.
1. Rabid (1975) - A young women, Rose, is almost killed during a motorcycle accident and is rushed to a remote plastic surgery clinic/spa. There she is worked on by Dr. Keloid, who does some sort of skin graft that is morphologically neutral and.... Anyway she wakes and she now has a hole in her armpit that conceals a stinger. With this stinger she starts to feed on other patients, turning them into raging, blood thirsty monsters, who die within 24 hours of being stung. However, as the monsters attack people the virus is passed on and becomes an epidemic in Montreal. Way to go, Dr. Keloid! Rose has booked out of the clinic and the police must find her, to stop this spread of human rabies. This was Cronenbreg's 2nd feature and truly one of his best. Like, Shivers he uses something that can be easily transmitted and can turn people into a monsters. Originally, wanting Sissy Spacek for the role but she was committed to a lesser known film called Carrie, Cronenberg used porno star/Ivory Snow model Marilyn Chambers (RIP) as Rose, on the recommendation of Ivan Reitman. Good gore scenes, huge body count and there are some scene that are similar to Dawn of the Dead that came out a year later. Great film and a definite must see!
So, take off your toque and get ready to have that Molson scared out of you when you sit down to watch these films. You never know, America, it's always the quiet, polite neighbour with the most bodies in their basement.