There’s plenty to be afraid of in Canada — and no, I don’t mean Quebec’s mythical werewolf, the loup-garou or Dalton McGuinty’s proroguing of the legislature. We may be known as a mild mannered people, but put us in front of a camera and all of a sudden we turn into creepy Canucks.
The Great White North has a blood splattered cinematic tradition, dating back to The Mask, the first Canadian film widely distributed in the United States.
A low budget 3D thriller about an archaeologist who believes he is cursed by a mask that causes him to have weird nightmares and even murder people, the movie was a cheapie knocked out to cash in on the 3D craze started by movies like House of Wax. Although it missed that movement by a few years, it may have inadvertently started a new trend. Since the release of The Mask, which coupled tried-and-true 3D with experimental electronic music to heighten its spooky effect, Canadian filmmakers have been scaring the toques off their countrymen and women.
Where would Canadian horror movies be without Valentine’s Day? In 1981, My Bloody Valentine, a creepy little slasher flick shot in Cape Breton, ran afoul of the ratings board but has since gone on to become a cult classic.
In 2008, a new type of terror reared its ugly head on the day Hallmark created. In Bruce MacDonald’s Pontypool, the townsfolk of a small Ontario town are infected by a deadly virus on Valentine’s Day — A God bug that turns them into flesh-eating zombies. Not even Cupid with a quiver full of arrows can keep this town safe.
Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, an Ottawa-shot chiller, has cult hit written all over it. Breathing the same fetid air as genre classics Dead Alive and Demons, it has all the earmarks of a midnight movie in the making — humour, a tormented anti-hero, crazy creatures, gallons of guts and goo crowned by an over-the-top performance from horror legend Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund.
No look at Can Con chills would be complete without at least one David Cronenberg movie. The Brood stars Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar and Black Christmas (another great Canadian horror) star Art Hindle in a story about a brood of mutant children. Writer Ken Hanke called it one of the director’s most “unsettling” films, which is really saying something if you’ve seen Rabid, Shivers or Videodrome.