FIDO (2007) on Amazon Prime for the first time.I'm surprised this hasn't been rediscovered in the wake of "The Walking Dead's" and zombies' popularity, but that's lousy timing for you. In an alternate 1950's some space dust awakens the living dead and, once the Zomcom Corporation has defeated and/or domesticated the remaining zombies, life in the suburban American town of Willard carries on as usual (minus Cold War paranoia, since WWII actually never happened because the war on zombies took precedence). Focusing on the nuclear family of little Timmy Robinson (Kesun Lodder), his cold and distant parents (Dylan Baker and Carrie-Anne Moss) and their newly-purchased domesticated zombie (Billy Connolly) meant to impress the influential and well-connected next door neighbor (Henry Czerny), we watch as the growing bond between Fido and two of the Robinsons results in wacky mischief, bloody hijinks, human-on-zombie hanky panky (insinuated more than shown, because manners!) and an important lesson or two about life, friendship, family and aiming for the heads of the undead.Canada's ability to masquerade in movies/TV as a vanilla-flavored Americana (in appearance as well as mannerisms and attitude from the cast) really comes through in "Fido's" ability to easily evoke a cartoony 1950's (think "Pleasantville" on a small budget, in color and all-white) straight out of old Nick at Nite TV reruns. The four leads are each on their own wavelength of personifying 50's types (I personally dig Dylan Baker's frustrated and uncaring dad, but Moss' Helen Robinson grows on you as the plot unfolds). Shame we didn't see more of Tim Blake Nelson's Mr. Theopolis because I found myself wishing the movie had matched the pitch of his performance. "Fido's" desire to be convincingly set in the 50's we know from popular culture (and sell how that square decade would have reacted to post-'68 living dead as we've known them for almost 50 years) keep it from going as nuts and crazy-fun as it should when you-know-what happens. You can feel the movie holding back the few times it goes slightly out of control. Inevitably Nelson's character is the catalyst of the movie's best scenes/moments instead of Connolly's Bub redux schtick. "Fido 2" focusing on Mr. Theopolis and Tammy? Too much of a good thing, and woof, woof! :-)
I swore that the wife was going to miscarry and the baby would become a zombie. I dont know why, as it would have been way off tone, but at one point when watching it I would have put money on it.
The Brood (1979)Like most Cronenberg movies, this one is upsetting and disturbing. Using children in horror movies is tricky business. Stanley Kubrick managed quite a feat with Danny Lloyd in The Shining – Danny the character is in all sorts of danger, but we as the audience never feel uncomfortable about Danny the actor. I can’t say the same about the kids in this movie. One particularly troubling scene has 2 of the “brood” murder a Kindergarten teacher – in front of all her students. The movie could be read as an examination of the debilitating effects of trauma, as “the brood” is created out of an abused person’s rage. However, given that Cronenberg made this movie while he was in the middle of a divorce and custody battle, I fear that it’s really Cronenberg raging to the world about his “crazy” ex-wife and the hell she was supposedly putting his child through. Samantha Eggar starts out an intriguing character; at the end she’s just a homicidal nut job who needs to be killed. SPOILERS - After I watched this I read up on its history – Cronenberg reportedly said that filming the scene where Eggars gets strangled to death was “very satisfying.” Ecch.
Hobo with a Shotgun: At some points I was swearing under my breathe and smiling (I.e. 'Holy shit! hahaha'). Bloody, jokey and exactly what I wanted out of a movie called Hobo with a shotgun.
Scanners (1981)I liked how this movie began by jumping into a world of warring factions of an underground community existing in our real world....who arent vampires or some other creature type who had lived among us for millennia. It made it seem all the more real. While i was initially disappointed that it wasnt a movie about Mounties who make digital copies of their Beaver migration documents, for Canuxploitation Day Im pretty happy with my choice.Probably my favourite movie featuring a guy staring bugged eyed down the barrel of the camera while standing in a giant head Ive ever seen, or at least in the top three. Ironsidesploitation
TC-2000 (1993)Pure delicious cheese! In the far-distant future of 2020, an environmental disaster has humanity living underground, with only deadly biker gangs roving the surface. Billy Blanks (yes, the Tae Bo guy) plays Jason Storm, a tracker who fights off the surface scumbags. When Jason Storm is betrayed and his partner Zoe is killed, he becomes a fugitive on the surface world. Zoe is revived and turned into a cybernetic Robocop/Terminator type, but in sexy fetish wear. We’re told she’s “80 percent human, 20 percent machine, and 100 percent dedicated to the mission.” She’s the one hunting down Jason Storm. This is all an excuse for non-stop fighting, as the runtime is made up of one martial arts battle after another, after another, after another. This is the kind of fight choreography where one guy stands still while another runs up, jumps, spins through the air, and then kicks him. As for Billy Blanks, as an actor, he’s a pretty good fitness guru. Trust me, you guys have GOT to see this one. (Oh, and the movie was produced and filmed in Canada, where it got its only theatrical release. I checked.)
DEFCON 4 (1985)Not much to say, this one became a bit of a chore for me to get through. The first act of the film had an interesting setup with nice tension. Drawing me in with the whole nuclear war, and post apocalyptic setting with the protagonists struggling to survive. But that was also mostly lost by the other two-thirds of the film.I will say that this film has a great original poster. I can remember seeing the VHS cover art back in the 80s and having my imagination stirred by it. Alas the film does not live up to its cover art.
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)I was so impressed with how this movie dealt with its portrayals of loss and grief. It wasn't all just sobbing and shouting matches; they're very quiet, disturbing, natural things that everybody faces off against at one point or another, and I was very involved in the the dilemma the town faces in wake of tragedy. I felt it had a lot in common with The Ice Storm (a movie I'm not a huge fan of), but with more I could wrap my head around. I look forward to watching this again in the future to see how much Ian Holm really believes in the words he's grandstanding around the community.
Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (1996)Disjointed but funny big-screen venture from four out of the five Kids in the Hall, a sporadically brilliant Canadian comedy troupe. All five Kids are in the movie, but apparently tensions were high and Dave Foley only appears due to contractual obligation and he's the only Kid who isn't a credited writer on it. Worth watching just for Mark McKinney's killer evil-Lorne-Michaels-clone villain, a full year before Mike Myers dipped into the same well for Dr. Evil. A lot of is quite funny, but a lot also meanders a bit too much, as overlong sketches tended to do when the Kids were on TV. Fans should enjoy it, but I don't imagine it would create new fans of those unfamiliar with their previous work.
"Sporadically brilliant" is the perfect way to describe the Kids in the Hall.
Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004) First ViewingYou liked Ginger Snaps right? Would you like to see a movie about their ancestors in frontier times? Of course you wouldn’t. But they made the movie anyways. It’s not horrible, and not totally boring like the other Ginger Snaps sequel (Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, should have remained Ginger Snaps 2: Unwatched). But aside from some cool werewolf fighting (gotta love practical monster effects), this movie has none of the stuff that made Ginger Snaps great. Skip it unless you are a hardcore Snapper™.
Science Crazed (1991) DTVHoly fucking shit. No budget shot on Video GEM. This is why I love Junesploitation. I can't imagine I would have come across this had I not been searching for an obscure Canucksploitation film. This has to be one of the best (worst). A scientist impregnates a women with some magic injection, she dies but gives birth to a full grown monster(?). The monster kills the Scientist and dips out. We view the crooked feet of the monster walking a hallway interlaced with cut scenes of two girls doing aerobics and working out with weights. This lasts for fucking 10 minutes. I am not kidding, it is absolutely the most ridiculous thing I think I've ever seen, but the fact that it happened was astounding! You've got awful ADR, Long, long, long shots of faces after they have recited dialog and terrible lighting which actually looks really awesome (think Guy Maddin (CANUCK!) but unintentionally). Let me stop, I just described the first half hour and I will say no more except that you can expect much more of long scenes where nothing is happening - no, music, no, dialogue (only the sound of the monster) and BOOM - cut to crazyness as you see crooked feet walking the hallway! The box art says it all (although says nothing at all)- http://www.canuxploitation.com/graphx/moviebox/sciencecrazed.jpgMIND------BLOWN!!
I love any review that begins "holy fucking shit."Reading some of these Junesploitation reviews is every bit as fun as watching the movies. Thanks!
That's the joy of this month! Thanks to you for keeping up the great work man!
Because I haven't seen it in forever, I watched Better Than Chocolate (1999) which is still fun, but is sooooo padded. Even for an indie lesbian romance it's super padded with these karaoke scenes that just go on forever.
My Bloody Valentine (1981)I had a vague notion that this was a Canadian movie but I had no I idea it was made just up the road and it did my salty Nova Scotian heart proud! I thought it was a pretty impressive 80s slasher with a decent story, interesting characters (that were very recognizable to me), some creative kills and a menacing killer. Very glad to have finally watched it! As far as the very limited genre of NovaScotploitation goes, it definitely gives Hobo with a Shotgun a run for its money!
Deathdream (aka Dead of Night) (1974, dir. Bob Clark)I'm on a (completely lucky) roll. Bob Clark's second horror movie (after Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, which I don't care for much) is really, really good. A guy goes off to fight in Vietnam and is reported dead, but shows up home on his parents' doorstep...only something about him is different. Really good characters and a deliberate pace keep the movie involving. It has sequences that are creepy and effective, but by the end I was just really sad (intentionally so). It works as both a horror movie and a social statement about the cost of war and the treatment of veterans upon their return. Really, really good. So glad I finally saw it.
Also, sadly given it's 40 years old, very timely given the ongoing news about the VA and veterans' health treatment.
The Brain (1988) trailer (en espanol) / full movieThe bad guy from Re-Animator has a talk show called Independent Thinking which he uses to help a giant space brain put the Ontario area under a hypnotic trance. A prank-fixated high schooler is the only one mentally capable enough to withstand the alien lobe's suggestion, and is framed by it for a triple homicide. The bad guy says to another character "Your mediocre mind cannot begin to comprehend the importance of my work. I suggest you look into your own neurotic behavior, then you will understand your continuing negativity!" before the brain eats them. The monster brain looks great, but most of the running time is wasted on a silly 'wrongfully accused man on the run' storyline. Maybe I should have watched Science Crazed instead.
Black Christmas (1974)Oh Jesus, I should not have watched this alone, at night. I found it genuinely creepy. That first phone call, I got serious chills down my spine. But I guess that is a sign of a super well-made, very effective movie.Everyone should definitely watch this one if you haven't already.
Black Christmas---a genuine Canadian classic, and yeah, you should never watch it alone in the house, especially that ending----but,hey, it's still worth it,and still creepy as hell in some parts,four decades after it was made
Cube (1997)I'm sure everyone has seen this so I'll spare the synopsis but this remains one of my favorite psychological horrors movies. Especially considering it was filmed in only 20 days.
Cottage Country (2013)It's ... fine.
My Bloody Valentine (1981)Happy to have come across this sleeper of a slasher, (is that even a phrase?). Managed to snag an unrated copy as I'd read that a lot of the original gore had been butchered, for want of a better word, by the censors. On a whole though I think the film works even with the gore restricted. The set up is good as far as slashers go, the villain is menacing and powerful without being supernatural, and the mineshaft sequence is a great claustrophobic setting to film the climactic scenes. Doesn't have the profile of Halloween or Friday the 13th but definitely worth a view. Also refreshing to see it hasn't been bastardised by a hundred sequels.