Our 13 Favourite Canadian Horror Films
More than any other genre, horror is where Canada has really left its mark on the world of film. It doesn’t hurt that one of the world’s greatest horror filmmakers (David Cronenberg) is a Toronto native—as you might expect, he has three films on this list—but there’s more where that came from. With that in mind, here are the horror films you should be celebrating this Canada Day.
13. [Tie] Cube / Ginger Snaps
During a brief window between 1998 and 2001, these two films helped resurrect the reputation of the Canadian horror film. Years later, Cube co-writer Graeme Manson and Ginger Snaps director John Fawcett joined forces to create Orphan Black.
12. Cannibal Girls
No one’s definition of a great film, this micro budget schlockbuster put several Canadian comedy icons on the map, namely Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, and director Ivan Reitman.
11. Prom Night
Two years after Halloween established Jamie Lee Curtis as a new generation’s scream queen, she traveled to Toronto to shoot this Genie-nominated drive-in favourite. Three sequels and a 2008 remake followed.
10. The Mask 3D
Jim Carrey wasn’t even born when this 3D oddity about a mask with strange powers arrived in theatres. Frequently described as the first Canadian horror film, this cult classic is currently in the midst of a TIFF-funded restoration. If you don’t feeling like waiting for that, you can watch the entire film on YouTube.
Fresh off his memorable turn in All the President’s Men, Hal Holbrook came to Canada to make this underseen horror gem about five doctors who are tormented in the wild. Deliverance never got an official remake, but Rituals is pretty close.
After making his mark with Shivers, Rabid, and The Brood, David Cronenberg stepped further into the mainstream with a film best remembered for an exploding head.
7. The Changeling (1980)
In spite of its major American stars (George C. Scott, Melvyn Douglas) and Hungarian director (Peter Medak), this haunted house classic won the first Genie for Best Canadian Film.
If it wasn’t for David Cronenberg, Bob Clark (the diverse talent behind Porky’s and A Christmas Story) might be remembered as Canada’s greatest horror director. Also known as Dead of Night, this unsettling Clark classic shows what happens when a dead soldier returns to his family—in zombie form.
5. Dead Ringers
Anything but a traditional horror film, Dead Ringers deals with the downward spiral of identical twin gynecologists. Believe it or not, this Cronenberg favourite is loosely based on a true story.
Released months before The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this is a more dramatic (if still very creepy) take on the life of the notorious Ed Gein. If you still have your doubts about the sanity of Home Alone’s Old Man Marley (Roberts Blossom), Deranged will only validate that perspective.
3. My Bloody Valentine
Less famous than the band it inspired (and the terrible 2009 remake), this slasher film about ax-wielding miners is ideal viewing for anyone with a low tolerance for Valentine’s Day.
Arguably David Cronenberg’s finest and most representative work, Videodrome strikes a perfect balance of the cerebral and the psychotronic. Finding disturbing potential in TV and video, this film paved the way for countless copycats, most notably Ringu and/or The Ring.
1. Black Christmas
Another horror triumph by Deathdream director Bob Clark, Black Christmas lacks the artful sophistication of David Cronenberg’s best work, but on horror terms alone, you can’t do much better than the film that inspired Halloween—and arguably the whole slasher film subgenre.