Film | by Shane “Really, Really, Bad” Hnetka
Another year of my 31 Days of Horror column has come and gone (well, almost gone — the annual series wraps up Tuesday, Oct. 31). This year’s theme was Canadian cinema, and it taught me quite a few things (I’m always learning stuff for this column, which is pretty cool). Now, I’m sorry if this feels like a rant, but Canada is 150 and cinema in general is over a century old, and looking at one specific genre in one country has made one thing clear to me: Canadian cinema is not at the level it deserves to be at.
The Horror of Canadian Cinema
Maybe we really need to support Canadian movies more. American influence has stunted our industry since Hollywood’s birth in early 20th century. Canada has been making movies since the advent of film, but the fact that the first Canadian horror movie, The Mask, also known as Eyes Of Hell, wasn’t made until 1961 is baffling and shocking to me. How can a country spend almost half a decade making nothing but documentaries and dramas? There’s nothing wrong with them, but man, what a boring, one-dimensional film industry.
Of course, once the tax shelter era started in the 1970s things quickly reversed, and now Canada has the same problems as most countries in terms of finding a balance between homegrown cinema and just letting Hollywood dominate screens. Yes, it does get tricky with Hollywood shooting a ton of movies up here using Canada crews and tax credits to make essentially American movies — I don’t think anyone would consider the Resident Evil series Canadian. With all the co-productions, it’s sometimes hard to say what’s a Canadian movie and what’s a multi-country effort.
There are a lot a really good Canadian horror movies out there, from classics like Black Christmas and The Changeling to more recent stuff, like 5150 Elm’s Way. But there are also a lot — and I mean a lot — of really, really, really, really, really bad Canadian horror flicks. I’m not sure I’m exaggerating to say there’s way more bad than good. Maybe I’m wrong, but it sure seems that way. It’s probably because horror is a cheap genre to make movies in so there’s more idiots churning out crap.
I think that we can do better. We can do better, because we’re already doing great work that Hollywood takes credit for.
I know that we can do better.
Shane Hnetka is a made-in-Saskatchewan film and comic book nerd.