Top 10 Canadian Horror Flicks!
Although our very own The Arrow found it a little less effective than both Eric and I, there's no doubt that Robert Eggers' THE WITCH is one of the most harrowing horror films to come out this past calendar year. And don't look now, but the film was made in Canada! With this in mind, we thought it'd be a ton of fun to stir the old noggin and come up with a list of our favorite Canadian horror joints that have scared the ever-loving piss out of us over the years. Slashers, monster movies, ghost stories, haunted houses, witchery, creepy-killer dolls...we're leaving no goddamn stone unturned.
You with it? Good! Whip it up top to scope out our Top 10 Favorite Canadian Horror Flicks!
Let's kick things off with a celebration of womanhood, shall we? Ah, GINGER SNAPS and the grand menstruation metaphor of a young woman morphing from innocent child to carnally craven werewolf. How lovely! Not only did this flick turn Katherine Isabelle into a bona fide scream queen for a new generation, but also helped revamp the moribund werewolf subgenre. Hell, the flick likely even inspired IT FOLLOWS in the way it used feminine sexuality as metaphor for the horrors of growing up. Oh snap indeed!
Okay, so perhaps not as overt a horror joint as the rest, but come on, there's no denying the awe-inspiring claustrophobic dread that Vincenzo Natali's CUBE thrust upon the world back in 1997. I'm still dizzy! Hell, in a way the movie plays as a spliced DNA code of 13 GHOSTS and SAW (Natali...splice...see what we did there?), with a group of strangers trapped in a nightmarish maze with a menagerie of death traps laid to fell each and every one. Low-budget ingenuity here, shot with great style and indie-verve to create a memorably unique experience.
We could have easily addressed PROM NIGHT, the other 1980 Jamie Lee slash-fest, or hell, even THE BURNING for its quasi-Canadian ties, but when all is said and done, TERROR TRAIN embodies the kind of off-the-rails nastiness we dig most about slasher from the great white north. A murder whodunit on a train? Check. Jamie Lee's huge tits? Check. The magic of David Copperfield? Check. The sweatily mustachioed Ben Johnson? Check. A transgendered murderer? Check. And the capper? THE SHINING DP John Alcott shot the shite out of this sumbitch!
Regardless of country or continent, PIN is one of the most genuinely creepy movies I've ever seen. An underrated one at that, perhaps because it does indeed hail from north of the border. But true horror fans know what's up with Sandor Stern's killer-doll flick and the bizarre psychological toll it takes on both the main characters and its viewers. Shite's gnarly! The flick features a skinned-looking, anatomical doll that begins to bark homicidal orders to the children of the doctor whose office it resides in. Sounds weird? You don't know the half!
Nope, not the grossly overmade Angie Jolie movie, we're talking George C. Scott here...show some respect! All japing aside, among the countless amount of horror films I've clocked in my life, I can count on one hand the number of times the hairs of my nape and forearm literally stood up in terror. Friends, one of those movies is Peter Medak's THE CHANGELING. In specific, the scene in which a bereaved George C. Scott finds his dead little girl's toy ball come bouncing down the stairs, out of the darkness, landing at his feet. It's truly terrifying, made so by the top notch acting of a bona fide Oscar winner.
Now this is a goddamn movie you need to see immediately! Seriously, DERANGED might be the best horror movie I've ever seen that no one actually talks about...never-mind in Canada...ever! Made for a paltry $200,000 in 1974, this vilely odious tale of necrophilia isn't likely to ever escape your memory after seeing it. Shot with commensurate style and flare, the intense graphic nature of the images are treated with both terror and beauty in a way you just don't see in movies anymore. Do wise and dig this old bag of bones out of the grave and give her a taste!
From SHIVERS TO SCANNERS, right on through to EXISTENZ and MAPS OF THE STARS - we all know David Cronenberg is the Prodigal Son of Canadian horror - body horror at that - and could be rightly feted with his own honorary Top 10. So, really, consider this one giant nod of the lid to David and any number of movies of his you deem worthy of being on the all time Canadian horror list. For me, THE FLY cannot be discounted, simply for an example of a remake surpassing its original and what a landmark VFX achievement the movie still is. That said, gun to my temple, I'm taking Jeremy Irons in DEAD RINGERS!
It's why we're here. Now. With this Top 10. F*ck me sitting...THE WITCH done shook my bones to the core. And I think the reason it did was because it doesn't much play like a horror film at all. No cheap thrills, no lame jump scares, no gimmicky exploitation or gratuitous violence...nope, the film plays a straight drama that happens to unfold a horrific story. Big difference. Of course, the slow burning pace, austere tone, wonderful performances, gorgeous photography, searing score and final 15 minutes of bone-seeping evil go a long way in casting THE WITCH's curse. See this movie!
Perhaps higher on our list than most, I make no apologies for the original 1981 MY BLOODY VALENTINE ranking among my top 5 my personal favorite slasher films...it's that dope! Of course, I'm always a sucker for a slasher whodunit, but there's something so wildly unshakable about the subterranean mining setting and Nova Scotian location the film features. A jilted lover roaming around in a mining outfit with a pick-axe killing every motherf*cker in sight...in exorbitantly inventive ways no less? No surprise why MY BLOODY VALENTINE will always be close to our hearts!
The late great Bob Clark really ought to be more recognized than he is. Not just as a national Canadian treasure, or for helming the equally classic flip-sides of yuletide cinema - BLACK CHRISTMAS & A CHRISTMAS STORY - but also for his early work in DEATHDREAM and CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS. This dude deserves his props! That said, yup, it's the progenitive slasher effort BLACK CHRISTMAS, which predates HALLOWEEN by a good 4 years, that for us will always be the most invaluably prized gift among all Canadian horror joints!