The days leading up to Halloween just got a little scarier — and hairier — thanks to an enterprising archeologist, Canada’s loose tax laws in the 1970s, and a long-forgotten relic that had been gathering dust for decades. On Oct. 25, Vancity Theatre hosts a rare screening of the long lost circa-1974 cult film Sexcula.
Shot in and around Vancouver by a group of free-loving exhibitionists, the low budget horror film is considered one of Canada’s earliest, perhaps only, entry into the “porno chic” genre of the untrimmed 1970s, when X-rated movies such as Deep Throat and Behind the Green Door flirted with mainstream success. Made for approximately $80,000, the film was rumoured to be produced as a tax write-off, and after failing to find a distributor sat untouched and unseen in the Canadian Archives for 40 years.
Former Courier contributor and self-described “porn archeologist” Dimitrios Otis says unearthing Sexcula after all these years was a lot like finding the Holy Grail, albeit one that features a lusty vampiress, a sexually frustrated hunchback, a lumberjack and a sex robot.
“First of all, the print spent years in the archives, so try and find another 40-year-old sex movie that’s been preserved in an archive — the copy of the film is pristine,” Otis says. “And it’s a funny movie. A fun little silly horror spoof. It’s dark and moody, but it’s corny. It’s half-way between intentionally corny and just plain corny.”
According to lore, the film had only been shown once, in North Vancouver, to cast, crew and a group of B.C. film industry types who weren’t told of the film’s sexually graphic nature. After failing to secure distribution, a copy of the film was sent to the Canadian Archives in order to fulfill its tax credit obligations, with rumours of the movie’s existence popping up occasionally on the Internet and in the 2004 book They Came From Within: A History of Canadian Horror Cinema.
After a little digging by Otis and Canuxploitation.com’s founder and contributing editor Paul Corupe, the archived print was transferred onto DVD and released earlier this year by Impulse Pictures, with Otis writing the liner notes. The film’s director and producer were then located. Although both men no longer want to have anything to do with the film, the producer agreed to lend his original unused print of the film and a whack of never-before-seen on-set photos for the Oct. 25 screening.
“It did well when we showed it in Toronto,” says Otis. “There was only 15 people, but they all laughed.”
As for the surprisingly plot-heavy film’s fear factor, which borrows from Dracula, Frankenstein and a dash of time travel, Otis jokes that the scariest aspect of the film is its dialogue. Then, of course, there are the naughty bits.
“It’s definitely audience friendly, but they do deliver the goods,” says Otis. “It’s really more of a nudie erotica film that’s also hardcore — it’s got hardcore — but more often than not it’s got a bunch of nudity and skits. Then there’s a girl who does an interpretive dance with a gorilla. It’s got someone in a gorilla costume, so that tells you a lot right there.”
Oct. 25, 10:30 p.m. at Vancity Theatre
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