Top Ten Canadian Horror Films

Happy Canada 150, my fellow proud Canadians and adoring non-Canadians! Here are my favorite scary Canuck movies to watch after the fireworks, or hungover the next morning, accompanied by Canada’s top snacks.

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10. The Brood  (1979)

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One of four Cronenburg and sons films on the list, it’s about a woman driven by her psychologist to do some pretty strange things, among them, lead a brood of lumpy lawn gnome look-alikes. The skin sack is a hard image to forget, so you may want to have a couple 2-4s and mickeys on hand.

Canadian Snack: Watch a woman lick her bloody baby while you nosh on some flavour-packed Lays ketchup chips and guzzle down a spicy Caesar with a green bean.

Review here

Trailer here

 

 

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9. Terror Train (1980)

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A satisfying New Year’s Eve slasher movie about med students at a costume party held on a train who are killed off by a masked murderer. What a kerfuffle with everyone stuck on that train. Better grab your toques and runners and get a move on.

Canadian Snack: In order to stay up past midnight you’re going to need some caffeine. But since we’re on a moving train, better reach for a Coffee Crisp instead.

Review here

Trailer here

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8. The Fly (1986)

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Jeff Goldblum and Gina Davis are surrounded by a hefty helping of that goopy, slimy, eighties blood and gore. It’s pretty much every superhero story, without the superhero part, leaving just- man turns into fly, and it doesn’t go too well.

Canadian Snack: If there’s one thing that flies like, it’s sugar. So give them what they want in a sweet, buttery treat: the butter tart.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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7. Black Christmas (1974)

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This is a film about a woman calling for her cat, Claude… I mean… it’s about sorority girls trapped in a house with a mystery killer. And also Christmas! So it’s snowing and no one is really around to help. Better than the 2006 version by a million kilometres, but not necessarily thrilling.

Canadian Snack: Our country doesn’t really have much to do with Christmas dinner, so instead, grab a Tims double double with a maple-glazed donut for breakfast.

Review here

Trailer here

 

 

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6. Dead Ringers (1988)

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Who wouldn’t want to watch a movie about twin gynecologists addicted to drugs, both played by Jeremy Irons? I generally dislike it when a movie is two or more hours long, but I didn’t mind it in this case. Felt like I was just watching a few episodes in a row of Twin Peaks. It’s labeled as a drama / horror / thriller, but it doesn’t have the typical tension of a horror or thriller; I found it heavy on the drama end.

Canadian Snack: Nothing goes better together than a Montreal-style bagel and Montreal smoked meat.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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5. Antiviral (2012)

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A film about a business that offers diseases (carried by celebrities) to the public, in order to allow the fans to feel closer to the famous person they’re obsessed with. So strange, and so creative with such a fantastically interesting lead character played by Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out). Lots of drug hazes, needles galore, and so many blood-soaked white things that even Tide couldn’t clean.

Canadian Snack: Some good ole fashioned brand-name KD with a dollop of ketchup. The Canadian way.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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4. Cube (1997)

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Out of the three Cube movies, the first has the best ending- with a twist. A group of people are trapped in a room-filled structure, where each room has a different violent booby-trap waiting for them.

Canadian Snack: We’re too hip to be square, but a homemade nanaimo bar is to die for, and angular enough to accompany this franchise.

Review here

Trailer here

3. American Mary (2012)

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A revenge flick about a med student turned underground body modifier is American only by title.

Canadian Snack: To go with the American theme, believe it or not, the popular sushi order, California roll, was invented by a Japanese sushi chef who moved to Vancouver in the seventies.

Review here

Trailer here

2. Ginger Snaps (2000) 

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Good things come in threes, but the original of the well-known Canadian trilogy is the best. Nothing beats some simplistic teen werewolf angst, eh?

Canadian Snack: Unfortunately, ginger snaps aren’t really Canadian, so instead how bout some Chinese food? Surprisingly, ginger beef was invented right here in Calgary, AB. I think a werewolf would prefer meat over cookies anyway.

Review here

Trailer here

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1. Silent Hill (2006)

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This dreamlike fantasy horror about a mother searching for her daughter in an eerie, ash-covered town gets the top spot. This fantastic goth film is an adaptation of a survival video game and couldn’t have been done better. Around every turn is a mysterious creature, its details creatively imagined. I’d pay a lot of loonies and twoonies to see this at the theatre in 3D.

Canadian Snack: The number one spot deserves nothing but the number one Canadian food. So versatile and comforting, you can’t do better than a proper poutine.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

 

BONUS! The legendary tv show, Are You Afraid of the Dark, is of course, also Canadian.

Looking for more? Try Pontypool, Hobo With a Shotgun, Pin, The Changeling, Videodrome, The Shrine, Prom Night. 

The Clinic (2010)

Score: 6.5/10

Length: 94

Rating: R

Language: English (Australia)

Categories: 2000s, murderer, recommended, SPOILERS

This well-developed story is about a mother who is kidnapped and surgically robbed of her child. She wakes up in a bath of ice in some sort of factory warehouse and soon finds out that she’s not the only one searching for her baby. There are lots of twists, and it’s a film that keeps you guessing. Although parts of the reveal are quite silly if you think about it, I didn’t feel any disappointment about how the film closed. The only thing I may have liked to catch a glimpse of was what happened to the other babies. This felt like a lady-version of Saw, with strong, emotional acting and an engaging and original plot. I don’t even really have anything sarcastic to say about it, because I can’t think of any part that was stand-out bad. The tension is there in many different scenes, but at the same time, nothing bad happens to the dogs or the cows! Just the right amounts of gore, tragedy, and build-up make this movie well worth a watch. (Unless you’re pregnant, maybe.)

Inferno (1980)

Score: 5/10

Length: 207

Rating: R

Language: Italian, English

Categories: 80s, supernatural, witch, murderer, gore, haunted house

I haven’t been to Italy yet, but it must be really windy, because this movie’s wind game is STRONG. Seriously, I felt like gasping due to so much air. Lots of horrible screechy noises as per usual Dario, and some cruel cat abuse, with a side of a man getting eaten by rats.  My biggest issue with Dario films tends to be that the scenes are a little too far drawn out, and this one has multiple instances. The acting also isn’t great, but the film is artsy, and a good transition from Suspiria to Mother of Tears. I really liked the underwater scenes in the beginning of the film, they’re quite memorable. The house has the same wall colours and unsettling interior decor as Suspiria that I love.  And I mean, this is a gory movie about witches, so I can’t dislike it too much. It’s simply about a girl who finds a book about the mothers and believes her house is inhabited by a witch. The more you know, the more you die. These films seem to decay more with each addition, with Suspiria as the best and Mother of Tears the worst. This middle movie is definitely 50/50 on the good and the bad, but worth a watch, especially if you’re into Dario.

Mother of Tears (2007)

Score: 4/10

Length: 102

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, supernatural, murderer

Let’s start off with some fun facts about this film:

  • It’s a Dario.
  • It stars his daughter, Asia.
  • The third of The Three Mothers trilogy, it focuses on Mater Lachrymarum.
  • Mater Lachrymarum is the witch of tears.
  • Mater Suspiriorum, the Mother of Sighs, appears in Suspiria and Mater Tenebrarum, the Mother of Darkness is the witch in Inferno.

It’s about an evil witch who brings with her terror and violence when she is released by a student inspecting her urn. The acting is watchable I guess, but I really could have done without the sketch cartoons accompanying the story flashbacks. There is lots of gore and boobs, and mystery in the typical Dario-fashion. A mix of cheesy and decent effects, and the dream-demon scared the shit out of me, good lord. As per often there were definitely some unnecessary bits such as the screeching monkey and the metal rod up the vagina bit. And speaking of screeching, with all the hyena-laughing and obnoxious sound-effects, I wouldn’t recommend this for headaches. Maybe it’s an Italian thing, because all of Dario’s films seem to have these qualities, maybe with the exception of Suspiria, which is probably why it’s my favorite. The Mother of Tears is definitely not the best of the three, but I should probably watch Inferno again since I haven’t reviewed it yet. I know it’s not as bad as this one, though. Scenes such as the ghost mom wrestling the man on fire really don’t help. Who would have thought that things could easily be resolved by burning a shirt?

Suspiria Review 

Absentia (2011)

Score: 7/10

Length: 87

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, monster, alien, animal, underground, recommended

I love a good mystery-horror! And this one is quiet, sad, and haunting. Another monster movie with an “underneath” (it seems like everything good these days has some sort of Malcovichian land and/or a demon-bug). My favorite thing about this low-budget film, is that the only way you can tell it’s not on movie posters at the theatre is because the characters look like normal people. And that’s quite exciting really, because you can imagine them in your apartment building, checking their mailbox and walking their dog. They don’t look like celebrity New Yorkers or muddy red-neck farmers. They’re pretty relatable, though maybe still your run-of-the-mill characters (a woman falls for a cop after her husband disappears, the drug addicted sister, you know). But our main gal is pregnant and going through some major life drama, and the emotions along with the horror tension really make this film one I’d recommend. The story is similar to that of Stranger Things (even though it came first) in that people go missing in a underworld inhabited by a supernatural creature. I liked the filming, I liked the jumps and the twists. It was a pretty decent movie that was really careful to not be over-the-top and to leave a little mystery.

Get Out (2017)

Score: 6.5/10

Length: 104

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, almost horror, psychological

This film was very hyped-up with super reviews but I was careful not to let it get my hopes up, just in case. It’s a good movie, with an original idea, but it seems to be more of a mystery-thriller than horror to me. Perhaps it was all the TSA jokes. It felt like a combination of The Skeleton Key, Being John Malkovich, and Under the Skin, (which are all fantastic films) and I enjoyed the mix of psychology and sci-fi. I was glad to not have to yell at the screen when things made no sense. The characters were well-thought out and well-developed. Daniel Kaluuya (you’ll probably know him from Black Mirror) is very relatable in his roles, and Allison Williams was an easy choice for the waspy white girl. The movie is about a guy who goes to meet his girlfriend’s family, but something is not right- all the help, who just so happen to be black, seem to be dazed and acting fake like they’re existing in some sort of deluded pleasantville. It’s clear they’ve been brainwashed into being servants and sex slaves, but it’s a little bit more tricky and strange than that. I thought I’d save this to the end- this is the first movie directed by Jordan Peele. You might not recognize the name, but you’ll recognize his face. He’s a comedy TV actor mostly, but appeared recently in Keanu. The comedic flare to this film makes quite a bit of sense now, but I’m still pretty shocked that he directed it.

Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

Score: 5/10

Length: 99

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, ghost, devil, supernatural, good-bad, recommended, murderer

Let’s get right to the point here. Of course, this had nothing to do with “the origin of evil”. Obviously there were some bad, over-the-top CGi bits (including the increasingly popular, exaggerated mouth-stretching). There were even parts that only made sense to stoned people drinking chocolate milk. But much to the shock of my lower than low expectations, this wasn’t so bad! I actually had the opportunity to watch it several times over the last year and passed, because I assumed it was going to be awful. So tonight I got under the covers, turned off all the lights, and make sure my dog was making weird little yelping noises in her sleep before I pressed play. I didn’t even have to try that hard to enjoy it! There were lots of positive things about the film. I love a recent release that’s set in the fifties, sixties, or seventies eras. It gives it a sort-of alien, while also somewhat relatable, vibe to the story. It’s nostalgic, yet off-putting. I’m not sure that if The Box was set in the eighties or nineties I would have liked it enough to have watched it twice. The story is also pretty good. It’s about a mom and her two daughters who run a (fake) seance business. After the teenage daughter tries the board at a party, mom adds one to her supernatural set-up. After almost everyone ever plays with the board a million times, the youngest daughter becomes possessed, considering no one followed the pretty-basic and super easy rules. I really liked that the story was clear and structured all the way through, but not so that things were overly obvious. It was focussed around one ghost who had a somewhat creative history which I can really appreciate against the tangled-web offering of some similar movies that feel like their characters are an awkward Scooby-Doo monster mash-up.  The human characters were likable for the most part, and in a rare event *SPOILER ALERT* the ending wasn’t all sunshine and ambulances. Even IMBD rated the sequel higher than the original, so I’m not totally crazy. But honestly, I barely remember the first one. If you don’t recall it either, you can read about it here.

Edit: Oh! I just realized why this wasn’t too bad! Mike Flannigan (Hush, Occulus) directing. Although I expect WAY better from this guy, I’m hoping to blame it on a low budget.

The Bunnyman Massacre (2014)

Score: 2/10

Length: 90 mins

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: recent, murderer, animal, gore porn, slasher, woods, Painful Movie Mondays

This shit starts off hard, with someone in a white bunny costume chainsaw-slicing a school bus full of kids. I figured it was going to be a little more cornier and to be frank, I expected the quality to be worse. There’s some sex- check. Some blood- also, check. And of course, they have’t forgotten the big, fake boobs on a gal who lasts about thirty seconds. In a lesser-used perspective, the movie is focussed more around the killer and his story then the victims. Although you don’t really get the chance to root for any of the victims, you don’t exactly tend to side with the killer either, since we don’t get to see what he looks like until…  I mean, it’s not as wonderful as I’m making it out to be. People are quickly and randomly slaughtered throughout the movie, and it gets old fast. It’s like a an episode of Game of Thrones, except everyone dies in the only episode. Nothing special and not very memorable, but something to watch around Easter. Maybe while eating rabbit, if you’re into that sort of thing. I didn’t actually realize that this was a sequel until later, but I’m not rushing to see the original Bunnyman. Perhaps next year.

 

 

Masters of Horror: Pelts

Masters of Horror is a 2000s television series with a different director for each of the thirteen episodes in the season, running about an hour long.

Directed by: Dario Argento (Suspiria, Opera, Inferno)

Evil Category: the cursed revenge of the trash pandas

Score: one out of five dry-cleaning bills

I put off watching this episode for quite some time just based off the title, and rightfully so. It’s about a big, greasy man who is in the fur business. He’s in love with a stripper who he tries to rape, and when he comes across some fine pelts, it allows him to present a (ridiculous) business proposition to her. He’s going to make her a fancy fur coat so she can wear it and be a fashion model. Seriously?! Don’t worry, the raccoons get their revenge, of course, on the coat wearers. I didn’t realize raccoon fur was so coveted and rare… Not even the gory baseball bat to the face and the headfirst plunge into a trap could save this episode’s stupidity. It’s so not something I needed to watch, and I read a book while watching most of it anyway. Point is only for gore.

The Monster (2016)

Score: 7/10

Length: 91

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, monster, woods, recommended

I unintentionally came across The Monster while searching for 2016 horror movies to watch. I was actually surprised to not have heard of it considering it looked good and was directed by Bryan Bertino who also did The Strangers. Apparently it seems that said director has only done three movies, and has produced only a few others. I’m hoping to see more from him in the future, as I loved The Strangers for its tension and realness of characters, and The Monster follows suit. The plot is not complicated- a young, alcoholic mother and her daughter get into an car accident when trying to avoid a wolf on the road. The car is damaged and they are stuck in the pouring rain waiting for help, when they discover a bigger fear than the missing wolf- the monster who took it. The movie is highly symbolic- it’s obvious that the monster represents addiction, and it is easy to see that the mother will have to try to overcome this beast to protect her child. The acting from Zoe Kazan is outstanding, and Ella Ballentine as the daughter isn’t bad either. What really brings everything together is how real-life the characters are and how it’s easy to feel empathy or compassion for them, even if they aren’t the best people. You are always routing for the characters to succeed instead of being pleased when they’re killed off. The masculine, ebony-skinned monster is revealed part-way through, but we never get to see every detail of him, even though he isn’t hiding in the shadows. There’s no bad CGI or weird monster movements that seem created by a computer. Everything about this movie is solid, except that although the tension is strong, it isn’t overly scary.