October 31, 2017

November's Mystery Movie: Third Clue

Clue #3: This month's movie employed a crew member who would go on to do sound design and foley work for Amelie, Delicatessen, and six of the James Bond films!

Tape Freaks Presents: November's Mystery Movie at the Trylon Cinema, Wednesday, November 1st @ 7:00pm, only $5!

****Purchase advance ticket here****

October 30, 2017

Canuxploitation: The Weird List

There's a ton of odd films that came out of the heydays of the Canuxploitation, mostly thanks to the enticing tax shelter the Canadian government had set up to boost their arts industry. Plenty of first time directors, film makers who wouldn't have gotten funding otherwise, and people who didn't have the first clue about how to make a movie all got their projects made utilizing that tax break, and some VERY odd films were gifted to the world.

The Peanut Butter Solution: As a kid, Tim caught this one on cable, and it creeped him out for years. Over those years, what he could remember from watching the movie made so little sense to him, he started to think he'd made the whole film up. But then, many years later, while talking to a friend about weird movies, The Peanut Butter Solution came up and they discovered they'd both had the exact same experience! But what kind of nonsensical movie could have driven two different people to believe they'd hallucinated an entire movie? The Peanut Butter Solution is about a young kid who gets coerced into investigating an creepy old haunted house. When he goes in, he sees something that scares him so badly [what he actually sees is never revealed to the audience], all of his hair falls out. Then a witch (or something) visits him at his home and gives him a magic recipe that utilizes household items to make a paste the kid must slather on his bald head at night in order to make his hair grow back. (The main ingredient is peanut butter, hence the title... I guess....) But something goes wrong when he makes the "solution" and the ratio of peanut butter to other stuff gets messed up. But that doesn't deter him from using the solution anyway! His hair does grow back and very quickly, but once it starts growing, it never stops. Soon has so much hair he must to do all kinds of wacky things to deal with it all, while his hair continues to grow at an alarming rate. This is about the time he's kidnapped by his art teacher. His teacher has kidnapped a bunch of other kids as well and has been cutting their hair to make magic paintbrushes that allow you to walk into whatever you paint with them. And that's just the start of the third act! If you're ever in the mood to watch the most inexplicable kid's "comedy" ever made, get your hands on this movie and marvel.

Cannibal Girls: This film was directed by Ivan Reitman (Stripes, Ghostbusters) and produced by his frequent collaborator Daniel Goldberg (Stripes, and The Hangover movies) as their first serious attempt at filmmaking. The idea was to shoot a horror movie for a few thousand bucks using the Canadian film incentives, take the film to Cannes (where they were guaranteed a screening as part of the film incentives), sell the movie for a profit, and then use those profits to make a bigger (and better) movie! They enlisted some improv comedian friends (Eugene Levy and Andrea Martin) and set out with a loose story of a young couple on a road trip who visit a restaurant on the outskirts of town run by a trio of cannibal girls. They shot for 9 days mostly improvising the rest of the story on set, figuring they could make it work in the edit. And that's where their plan went sideways... After the initial shoot, they had to re-shot multiple times in an attempt to hobble together a semi-coherent plot. Each time they re-shot, they ended up more in debt to the increasing number of investors, and to their print lab. As their screening date quickly approached, Reitman left for Cannes while (a very nervous) Goldberg continued editing the film. The hope was that Goldberg could get the last reels cut, printed, shipped, and delivered to Reitman before their scheduled screening at the festival. Unfortunately, when Goldberg finished editing the film, the lab tried to strong arm him into signing a contract that gave them distribution rights (the exact thing they were trying to sell in Cannes). It's lucky for Goldberg that they did this without knowing he had a third of the film still in his car, and he promptly told them he'd sooner drive his car, and the reels, off a cliff than hand them distribution rights. Somehow, Goldberg got the full film to Cannes in time for their screening, Reitman was able to sell off the distribution rights, they were just barely able to pay off the debt they racked up making this little flick, and were able to go on and make more films together. [There's a great interview with these 2 on the Blu Ray that is totally worth watching, there's far more to that story and it's all pretty interesting.]

PIN: A Plastic Nightmare:  This is a story of a deeply disturbed boy (Leon), his sister, and their two very cold parents. Their father is a doctor who enjoys teaching the kids about anatomy using his full size anatomy doll "Pin" (short for Pinocchio). He uses Pin like a ventriloquist dummy, and because of this young Leon believes Pin is real. But, he also might believe Pin is real because he begins talking to Leon on his own (voiced by Jonathan Banks). Also not helping his delusions is Leon's extremely overprotective mother who won't let him be around other kids, so Pin is also pretty much his only friend. Obviously Pin starts telling Leon to start killing people, but that's not even the full weirdness of this, very strange and very dark, movie that blurs what's real and not for the audience the whole way through. (Fair warning: this might be a good weird flick, but it's also a movie that leaves you feeling pretty gross by the end.)

Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century: The Italian knock-off productions were always looking for a deal, so the Canadian tax incentives were obviously on their radar. And man, are we grateful they were! That's how we got this part King Kong, part Lassie all filtered through an Italian/Canadian lens epic that is Yeti. The titular Yeti is more of a gigantic guy with a beard and feathered hair wearing most of a gorilla suit who RELENTLESSLY communicates through wacky facial expressions and drastically shifts size from scene to scene depending on how he's being superimposed on screen. The Lassie part of this gem revolves around a young a mute boy, his sister, and their Lassie-looking dog who repeatedly comes to their rescue. There's also subplot with the millionaire who funded project thaw-the-Yeti ("scientist" thaw him from his frozen solid state using electric shock, an oscilloscope, and a helicopter) who's trying to capitalize on the Yeti through savvy marketing and cheap merchandising. This whole film is exactly as ridiculous as it sounds, and is on Amazon prime right now! See for yourself how off the wall this thing gets, we implore you.

Murder by Phone (aka Bells): This is a movie about killer phone calls. That's right, phone calls that KILL! Someone is calling people and playing a series of high pitched sounds through their phone that causes the person on the other end to go into a trance, convulse, and bleed from their eyes and face until lighting shoots out of their phone blowing them and everything else in the room to smithereens. Oh boy, is this a fun and ridiculous one!! There's a VHS rip up in its entirety on Youtube, you're welcome.

October 29, 2017

Canuxploitation: Rituals

This mid-seventies horror film follows five alcoholic surgeons who go on a trip into the Canadian wilderness. Everything's fine and dandy until it becomes very apparent they're being hunted. But who (or what) is hunting them?

Rituals, also know as The Creeper (which is a FAR more fitting title), was marketed as a straight forward slasher, but it's more of a wilderness survival story. The campers are less tormented by whatever's hunting them and are more being forced to fend for themselves as they try to escape the wilderness. While trying to make their way to safety, they experience interpersonal conflicts, have to fight against nature, and are scared out of their wits, but almost none of that is due to their stalker intentionally striking fear into their hearts.

This film's initial script also differed drastically from what ended up in the film. The script left audiences not knowing the identity of the killer at all but, the end of the film gives us the full on slasher reveal of a madman with a thirst for vengeance. Knowing that, the disjointed film makes more sense. However without that tidbit, the film feels inconsistent in tone to say the least.

However, where this film lacks in a number of areas, it makes up for that in grit. Rituals was shot entirely in chronological order in the real Canadian wilderness, letting the actors use the wear and tear of shooting in the wilderness show through in their performances. Not only that, but essentially everything that happens to the characters actually happened to the actors on set: the campers were really swarmed by bees, the filmmakers used deer heads from previously living deer, they really drudged through swamps, and really fought in the shallow waters of a river. This Canadian film crew definitely veered away from a classic hollywood production and produced a really intriguing (though confusing) horror film.

Izzi Xiques is a regular contributor to the Tape Freaks blog, an illustrator, and lover of all things cinema.  

October 28, 2017

November's Mystery Movie: Second Clue

Clue #2: One of the editors of this month's movie went on to be a sound designer for multiple world famous nature documentaries including March of the Penguins and Winged Migration.

Tape Freaks Presents: November's Mystery Movie at the Trylon Cinema, Wednesday, November 1st @ 7:00pm, only $5!

****Purchase advance ticket here****

October 27, 2017

Canuxploitation: Canadian Slashers!

The slasher boom of the 80s had a huge impact, including a huge influence on our neighbors to the north Here are 7 classic slashers that came out of the Canuxploitation boom.

My Bloody Valentine (1981): A lot of Canuxploitation movies try to hide how Canadian they are, but this movie lets it's Canadian-ness shine. It's shot in Nova Scotia, set in a rural coal mining town and all the actors sport pretty thick accents; it's very Canadian. But it's also a really fun slasher flick featuring a killer equipped with a gas mask and pick axe! When it was originally released, the MPAA cut approximately 5-9 min out of the film to get it to an R rating cutting all of the kills out. Thankfully the gore bits were reassembled for a release in 2009, with only one kill still missing due to the deterioration of that section of film. (My Bloody Valentine also features a closing song that will defiantly stick with you for while...)

Prom Night (1980): This is a cheap cash in on the success of Halloween, so much so that they got Jamie Lee Curtis to star in it! This one always felt pretty forgettable and boring to us, but honestly we've only seen it a couple times on a really bad VHS copy so maybe there's more to it that we're missing. Though, it does feature a ridiculous disco soundtrack that prompted a number of critics to dub this a cross between Halloween and Saturday Night Fever!

Terror Train: Another Jamie Lee Curtis movie! This one gets a lot less love than Prom Night, but we feel this one's superior in many ways (you can check out our previous gushings about it here). This one's shot by John Alcott (long time Kubrick Cinematographer) so the movie looks amazing and is surprisingly flush with creative lighting and camera work. It's all shot on a train, which could get dull pretty quick, but the filmmakers incorporate stuff like unique masks used by the killer, Vanity in a leading role, and an on-train magic act preformed by none other than a young David Copperfield, so there's hardly a dull moment! Scream Factory put Terror Train out on Blu-ray, it's well worth picking up to see this flick in all it's glory.

Curtains: This unique slasher revolves around a movie director (played by John Vernon) who convinces his long-time leading lady that, in order to properly research her next role, she must be briefly (and covertly) committed to an asylum. However, his actual intentions are to just leaver her there forever. While she's desperately trying to escape the asylum, he holds additions for new lead actresses at his secluded estate, where masked killer picks them off one by one. This is a really interesting movie, but it's also a disjointed mess, and it's likely because of all the production problems. The crew shot 45 min of film before production stopped for a rewrite, and they didn't resume filming for over a year. The director, Richard Ciupka, wanted to make an art-house horror film, but producer Peter Simpson (who produced all 4 original Prom Night movies) wanted a more "marketable" film. Ciupka left the project when production shutdown, had his name removed from the film, and insisted the director credit go to the fictional director in the film, Jonathan Stryker.

Happy Birthday to Me: A pretty straightforward mystery-slasher, but also a really fun one! That's likely due to the fact that it was made by the veteran director J. Lee Thompson. Though, Thompson had never directed a straightforward horror movie before, he had directed multiple Planet of the Apes films as well as the original Cape Fear. After filming this horror gem he directed a bunch of Charles Bronson movies for Cannon films, but we're glad he took a stab a the horror genre when he did!

Black Christmas: Made four years before the original Halloween, this horror classic spawned countless holiday slasher films. This film also came almost a decade before director Bob Clark made his other holiday staple: A Christmas Story. This classic also features a star (and going to be star) studded cast: Margot Kidder, Olivia Hussey, Andrea Martin, Keir Dullea, and John Saxon just to name a few! This is also the first feature film to use the "calls are coming from inside the house" trope, and one of the first to use POV shots from the perspective of the killer to obscure their identity from the audience. We could go on and on about this one, it's one of our faves inside and out!

October 26, 2017

Canuxploitation: Food of the Gods II

Usually when I write up movies each month, I spend a considerable amount of time researching each film. That's partly because I don't trust myself to remember all movies I watch accurately, but it's also partly so I don't retrospectively impose too much of my personal interpretation onto the film. But the sequel to Food of the Gods is one I have very strong memories of, and I've decided that this is the writeup where I'm going to lay those memories out unfiltered.

Who I was when I watched this film: I didn't start watching horror movies until I was in my late teens. Up until then I didn't know they ranged from silly to absolutely terrifying, so I had avoided them pretty universally. But once I knew there were fun ones out there, I went all in. Those were the heydays, and the height of that was when Tim and I (and our other friend Tim) would rent piles of horror movies from Discount Video, including one Food of the Gods. I can honestly say I remember nothing from that movie, save for the fact that we discovered there was a sequel, and that we DESPERATELY needed to see it.

Oh the horror!!
What happened when we watched it?: We hadn't a clue what kind of specifically strange adventure we were in for when we rented this inexplicable sequel, but what stands out in my memory the most from watching this, is how we changed the title after seeing it to Food of the Gods: part Bobby. This movie is literally a movie about a toddler named Bobby that grows to a monstrous size and terrorizes his increasingly hapless creators. Very likely the inspiration for Honey I Blew Up the Kid (or at least the inspiration for the screenplay Disney ripped off to make the aforementioned movie), because as far as I can remember, it's absolutely not about rats; it's about Bobby the gigantic toddler.

Like what's happening here? I DON'T REMEMBER PEOPLE MELTING!

Ok fine, I'll look it up to see what's what: Oh boy... I CLEARLY need to revisit this flick, as the stills I found around the web feature loads of stuff I don't recall. Were there actually rats in Food 2, or were those just flashbacks to the previous film? When was there so much carnage, how could my memory be so clouded by the giant toddler that I forgot about the gore? So, I'll have to watch this one again, but until that day (and likely after as well), this will be Food of the Gods: part Bobby to me.

October 25, 2017