Sunday, 30 June 2013

5 Great Canadian Slasher Films


**Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

  Growing up in the eighties in Canada has given me a lot of great memories.  I remember watching reruns of the Hilarious House of Frightenstein before having to go to school and running to the local store to pick up whatever horror films they had for a night chills and thrills. 
  The 80's were the high point of the slasher genre and we may have lesser known maniacs but they're just as terrifying as anywhere else in the world, eh. 

Here are 5 Great Canadian Slasher Films:



5. Curtains (1983) - Famed actress Samantha Sherwood is brought to a mental institution by her director and friend, Jonathan Stryker. Stryker has claimed that Samantha is a danger to herself and everybody around her and when he speaks to head doctor of the sanitarium, Samantha attacks him with a letter opener.  This seals the deal and the doctor grabs the rubber stamp that says "Crazy" and stamps Samantha's forehead but before Stryker leaves, he asks the doctor to be alone with Samantha to say good-bye.  When the doctor leaves, Stryker and Samantha start laughing because this is just a ruse, so Samantha can learn about crazy people for her next role, an insane woman named Audra(?). (They never tell you what the movie or character is about)
  Unfortunately, Samantha adapts too well to the environment of madhouse, which allows Stryker to eventually stop visiting Samantha and he sets up auditions for six women at this chateau over the weekend.  This enrages Samantha , so she busts out of the sanitarium and goes to find Stryker and demand the role be given to her.  At the chateau, not all the girls seem to have made it to the audition but that's okay because Samantha arrives and like a dog with a bone, demands the role.  Stryker tells her, she can audition with the rest of them.  Samantha walks off in a humph and the rest of the girls talk about the what they would do to get the part.  The next day, teach of the girls slowly start disappearing because someone in an ugly old woman mask is killing them off.  Who will survive the audition and get the role or will they all get hacked even before they start shooting any of the scenes.
  This was alright but the editing was pretty crazy.  It seems that director Richard Ciupka left a lot of scenes on the cutting room floor.  There are a few characters that just show up and don't get developed and then fall off the screen into oblivion.  Like, the woman who helped Sherwood escape the mental institution and Matthew, who is introduced at dinner and then winds up dead in a montage. It's very weird.  The script seems mixed up and has a hard time deciding which character it wants to focus on and flits around without any rhyme or reason. There was a girl at the table who I think didn't have a line in the whole film and a chase scene with someone, who I didn't even know was still alive.  The movie didn't explain the Audra role at all, which would have maybe explained why everybody was so crazy.
   However, I liked John Vernon (Animal House, The Sub-Mariner (voice)) as the "Stryker" character and Samantha Eggar (The Brood, The Exterminator) was excellent as Sherwood but I think Lynne Griffith (Black Christmas, The Littlest Hobo) really stole the movie as Patti O'Connor, the comedian, whose over all goal was to be an famous actress.  She is just so versatile in this film and I think this is one of her best performances outside of Strange Brew.  There were some good death scenes, especially the figure skating one.  The ending is a little contrived and wraps up really quickly.  Lynne Griffith remembers that Ciupka shot an alternate ending with the cast but it's hasn't seen the light of day.  Not a great movie, but if you're looking for something fun and cheap, then you may enjoy this.




4. Humongous (1982) - It's Labor Day in 1946 and the Parson's are throwing a party on their island.  Daughter, Ida Parsons is tired of the same drunk douchebag hitting on her and excuses herself.  She heads out to the forest area but the drunk ass follows her and rapes her.  Luckily, her dogs break loose and kill the guy but it's too late for Ida, she can't wear white not more.
  Thirty six years later, brothers Nick and Eric are taking their family's boat out for the weekend with their girlfriends, Sandy and Donna and their little sister, Carla.  Before they leave Donna breaks up with Nick but she still goes on the trip because she's friends with Sandy. Awkward.  Nick is jealous of Eric because Nick is considered the screw up of the family and hates Eric for being such a goody two shoes.  So this sounds like it's going to be a fun vacation for everybody.
  The gang hits the waters and it's good most of the time with exception of the constant pissing contest between Eric and Nick.  Night falls and they see a man on the water whose boat has capsized.  They rescue the man, Bert and he tells them the wild tales of Dog Island.  Bert tells them about Ida Parson's and how she never leaves the island, except for food and has savage dogs everywhere guarding the island to protect her.  As Bert is telling his stories, they gang can hear the howling of dogs and this freaks Nick out!  Nick tries to drive the boat out of the area but he's to close to shore and fucks up the boat.  Everybody evacuates the boat before it explodes but they lose Carla in the mix.  When they reach the island, Bert has a broken leg and everyone is pissed at Nick because he's a fucking tool and got them stranded on the island.  To make it up to everybody, Nick searches the island to find a phone or someone to help them.  Unfortunately, all he finds is an empty boat house and a monster who wants to eat him.
  The next morning, Eric and Sandy search for Nick and anyone who can help them off this island.  They leave Bert and Donna alone and Donna ends up stripping to keep Bert warm?  However, Bert isn't the only person sticking something in Donna because the monster skewers them were they lay.  Eric and Sandy have better luck because not only do they find the old Parson's place but Carla too. Yeah, you didn't drown!  In the Parson's place they find a lot of dust, dead dogs, a Ida's diary, which talks briefly about her having a child.  They keep searching the house and find Nick's body! The freak out and then the monster attacks them!  Luckily, they get away from the monster but night is falling it sounds like that monster is hungry!  Can Eric, Sandy and Carla get off the island, that's only a mile from the rest civilization or are they doomed to be doggy treats for Ida's monster child?
  This was an interesting movie, it had a lot of good elements but I don't know it really paid off in the end.  I thought it was funny that none of the characters seemed to like each other at the beginning but they all still wanted to go on a vacation together.  I would have liked to see more of the actual monster but he was shot in the dark and it was hard to see the horror of his monstrosity.  There were some decent kills though, the monster crushed a head and that's always fun but a lot of the third act was just people running around in the dark.  Alright film and worth having a watch when you have an axe to grind.
  
 





3. Visiting Hours (1982) - During a heated segment on her TV show, Deborah Ballin unwittingly  incurs the wrath of station janitor and all around psychopath, Colt Hawker, who is taking a break from his job and watching the segment from the floor.  Apparently, during his spare time he enjoys writing numerous angry letters to newspapers and killing old people to make his skull collages.  Anyway, Colt has a murder boner for Deborah and sneaks into her house one night after work.  He tries to stab her to death but she survives and makes a new best friend at the hospital with nurse Sheila.
  However, Colt doesn't give up and tries to take another crack at her at the hospital.  Unfortunately,  he kills the wrong patient because Deborah's been moved to another room but he kills a nurse to stress a point.  Don't fuck with Colt.  When nurse Sheila finds the dead nurse, the hospital goes on full alert and the police realize this wasn't a random attack on a local celebrity.  Will the police every be able to find Colt and stop him or will Deborah become another story on the six o clock news? 
  Probably the best movie that Michael Ironside (Scanners, The Littlest Hobo) and William Shatner (Osmosis Jones, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) have ever been in together.  Michael Ironside plays Colt and Shatner plays the Deborah's boss, Gary Baylor and both give pretty good performances.  Deborah is played by Lee Grant (Shampoo, Mulholland Dr.) and the Nurse Sheila is played by Linda Purl, who has been seen lately in The Office and Homeland.  It's a good role for Ironside because he had that creepy vibe in the 80's but what's disappointing in this film is his character's inability to actually kill people under the age of 60. He got lucky with the nurse but as a murderer, his character fails horribly almost ever time.  The script allows the character to come up with these incredible plans on how to reach his target but he never seems to be able to finish the job and it's not a lack of opportunity.  Who knows? There are some pretty intense scenes when Ironside comes in stocking his victims and that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
  This was on the famous Video Nasties list, maybe I didn't see the right version because the gore isn't that extreme at all but there is enough to be enjoyable.  The ending is a little confusing because Deborah seems to run away for the police instead of to them but the end, end is good.  If you like Michael Ironside's villainous smile than this is a film that is a cut above the others and worth having a look at.






2. Prom Night (1980) - Like most kids in the 80's, Wendy, Kelly, Nick and Jude are playing a version of hide and go seek called "The Killers are coming" in an abandon building.  Unfortunately, Robin Hammond stumbles upon their game while waiting for her older sister, Kim to run back to school because she forgot something.  The other kids don't seem to like Robin and scare her right out of a second story window!  The kids freak out and wonder if Robin is going to be alright and then a pane of glass falls off the building and lands on Robin's throat.  I guess not. Sad but not sad enough to get into trouble, the group of friends promise to never speak of this again and run home to watch cartoons or Alice or something. Maybe Three's Company?
  Six years later, it's the morning before Prom and the anniversary of Robin's death. Kim, her brother, Alex and their principal father, Mr. Hammond all head to school with heavy hearts.  The police find out the person, who was convicted of killing Robin has escaped and killed a nurse during his transfer to another mental institution and he's returning to Haddonfie, I mean, he's returning to wherever this is taking place to get revenge on somebody.  Just after the police find out, Wendy, Kelly, Nick and Jude all get mysterious phone calls from a creepy dude but they dismiss the calls thinking it's the school thug Lou playing a trick on them.  Anyway, not everybody are BBF's like they were when they were 11 and Nick is turning to dump Wendy so he can date Kim but he still hasn't told her those 4 magic words, "I Killed Your Sister".  Still, they're going to the Prom together and relationships need time. Jude gets picked up like a hooker on the street by van driving jokester, named Seymour "Slick"Crane and Kelly and her horn dog boyfriend are going to the Prom together.  Wendy is going with Lou and they have some revenge to dish out "Carrie" style to Kim and Nick.
  Anyway, the prom night finally arrives and people start disappearing and winding up dead.  Will the truth ever come out about Robin's death or will the secret die with them all.
  This is a real classic.  There are some really good elements in this like, Jamie Lee Curtis (Love Boat, Halloween) who plays Kim and Leslie Nielson (Airplane, Creepshow) who plays her father.  The story is good with a lot of twists that director Paul Lynch brings the audience through and there is some very good gore scenes throughout the film. I think it drags a little in the middle but not enough to hurt the film.  I, also like the idea of the one police officer hanging out at the Prom.  He just seems creepy and a bit of a pervo.  Terrific ending and if I went to my prom, I would have hoped it ended like this.  Great film, it's totally worth watching and it's great stab at teen horror.
   





1. My Bloody Valentine (1981) -The small mining town of Valentine's Bluff is getting ready to have their first Valentine Day's dance in over twenty years.  See, twenty one years ago, there was an accident at the mine because the two supervisors knocked off early to go to the Valentine's Day dance.  The accident caused 4 men to die and the fifth only survived by eating the other 4 men.  His name was Harry Warden and he warned the town never to have the dance again or he would have his revenge. The town didn't listen to his pleas and a year later, the dance was back on, so Harry cut out the hearts of the two supervisors who caused the accident and put them into heart shape boxes.  He then dropped the boxes off at the dance and was immediately arrested, sent to an insane asylum and they never had a dance again.
  Until now!  It's been twenty years and the everyone who works in the mine is putting up decorations and excited about the dance.  The mayor leaves the hall after checking in on the festivities and is given a box of chocolates that has his name on it.  On the drive back to the office with the sheriff, he opens the box to find a human heart!  Has Harry returned to stop another dance and cock block the men of Valentine's Bluff or will the mayor and sheriff be able to stop him this time before he turns this Valentine's day red, with blood!
  This was my favourite out of the this bunch films.  Maybe it's because I grew up in a small mining town but there is something aboot the dialogue that seems natural and authentic to me.  The story is really well done and I really like the character, Harry Warden. I'm surprised that this didn't have a follow up to this because the ending leaves it wide open.  The kill scenes were also very good and think the effects team did a bang up job on this film.  Great film and a must see for any horror fan.




  So, head on down to the Mac's and grab a couple bags of ketchup chips.  Throw in some of these fine Canadian Slasher films and enjoy.  At the end of the movies, look at your fingers and pray that their red from just the chips!

(On a side note, most of the actors and actresses in these films were on the Littlest Hobo at one time.  I thought that was funny.)


3 comments:

  1. Never really understood all the love for Curtains; it's alright but pretty uninteresting save for the score and some familiar faces.

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    1. I know what you mean but I there is some charm to the film but it is really all over the place. Maybe it's Lynne Griffin. I don't know either.

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  2. My Bloody Valentine had aged sooooo well! All ur selections are terrific!

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