Few would argue that the subject of Canadian horror films produced during the Tax Shelter years, isn't worthy of its own documentary, but Tax Shelter Terrors just doesn't measure up. For a start, its indecisive about whether it wants to be a documentary specifically about Canadian horror films or a documentary about Canadian cult cinema -which would also encompass Canadian sexploitation and exploitation films- and isn't comprehensive when it comes to either. Ultimately, it feels like the subject matter was dictated by whoever they could get to talk about their work. Thus, you'll hear here about the sexploitation origins of the Cinepix company, and since they got to interview Dyanne Thorne, the Ilsa movies. Absent from discussion though are tons of bona fide Canadian horror films from the period, Cannibal Girls, Deranged, Corpse Eaters, American Nightmare, Deadly Eyes/The Rats, all go undocumented. While later 1980s Canadian schlock like Zombie Nightmare, Rock N' Roll Nightmare, Black Roses, Food of the Gods part 2 were presumably too goofy to fit in with this documentary's scholarly tone. As one of the Ginger Snaps guys was to hand, the doc also extends its scope to those films, produced years after the Tax Shelter era. Which begs the question then why the Soska sisters are not represented here (save for a poster for one of their films hanging around in the background of one of the interview segments). Admittedly, I've been underwhelmed by the two films of theirs that I've seen, but the impression I get is that the pair are currently considered the great white hope of the great white north's horror cinema.
Sadly this is one of those 'glorified DVD extra' documentaries where the talking heads are asked to do all of the heavy lifting. Its 95% talking heads, while the films themselves are only represented by stills, trailers (which look VHS sourced) and fan art. A done on the cheap approach that -rightly or wrongly- gives the impression that the filmmakers weren't pulling their weight when it came to bringing the subject matter to life, and expected the talking heads alone to carry the film. A gamble that doesn't always pay off. Whenever the film's subject matter threatens to burst into flames -such as Bill Lustig's excited reminiscence about seeing Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS on 42nd Street- a British academic is on hand to throw a bucket of water over it. Chalk up Canadian horror films as another subject British academics are able to suck the life out of. Don't get me wrong, there is much that can be learned from this doc (the problems during the making of Scanners, and Cinepix's connection to Lionsgate, were new ones on me) but Canuxploitation should make for a far more exciting history lesson than Tax Shelter Terrors can muster up.
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