You Scared, Eh? II: More Great (and Underrated!) Canadian Horror Films by Decade

By Emily Gagne ● October 20, 2017 14:00

It’s that time again. Time to put on your comfiest sweater, brew all the tea you can find, and settle in with a slew of suitably spooky films sure to …

Wait, what’s what? You can’t for the life of you figure out what to watch this year? You’re not really in the mood for the traditional Halloween fare? You have a minor sugar high from spending too long browsing the Supernatural Thrillers section of Netflix? Well, no need to fear. We’ve got just the thing(s) to save your night (and season).

Without further adieu, here are a few of our favourite “lesser-known” Canadian horror films from the past few decades.

A man and a woman stand in an elevator

The '70s: Shivers 

This early feature from David Cronenberg (and produced by fellow budding Canadian creator Ivan Reitman!) may not be his best foray into body horror (see: Videodrome, The Fly, Dead Ringers), but it’s still a fun watch, even if just for its historical relevance.

Graphically tracking the evolution of an infection that results in a raging desire for human flesh (wink, wink), Shivers was deemed extremely controversial upon its release, especially since it was partially funded by the Canadian Film Development Corporation (soon to become Telefilm Canada). The film was so provocative, in fact, it got Cronenberg kicked out of his apartment (according to his landlord, his work went against a “morality clause”) and sent a certain horror-loving writer’s mother running to a nearby screening of The Apple Dumpling Gang instead.


A lifesize dummy

The '80s: Pin 

While your mom might not be able to handle Shivers, you yourself might end up on edge after watching this underrated and uncanny 1988 horror film.

Based on Andrew Neiderman’s novel of the same name and directed by the writer of The Amityville Horror, Pin tells the tale of a two siblings (Leon and Ursula) who get a little too close to the anatomically correct dummy (a.k.a. “Pin”). It would ruin the film to reveal anything else, but let’s just say that you’ll never be able to wipe Pin (or his face!) from your memories.

P.S. – If that’s not enough to sell you, David Hewlett (of CFC Features film CUBE) plays Leon, Terry O’Quinn (Lost) plays the father, and Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad)—spoiler alert!—voices Pin himself!


A man lies in a bloody bathtub

The '90s: Blood & Donuts

The ‘90s were, admittedly, a bit of a low point for Canadian horror films. There are a few exceptions though, some of which came to be thanks to the CFC. 

Before producing what might be one of the most memorable genre films of the decade (CUBE), CFC Features brought this small, but smart horror comedy about a vampire trying to find his place in modern society to life. Directed by alumna  Holly Dale (who went through the first-ever CFC film program and now works on hit TV series like alumni project Mary Kills People), this film has some fun surprises, including cameos from the CN Tower and the aforementioned Mr. Cronenberg himself.

WHERE TO WATCH: DVD (can be hard to find!)

Family stands with zombies

The ‘00s: Fido

Let’s cap off this list with some brainsssy fun, shall we?

Yes, this 2006 zom-com is another CFC-adjacent project, having been directed by former Directors’ Lab resident Andrew Currie and co-written by Executive Producer in Residence of the Bell Media Prime Time TV Program Dennis Heaton. But we promise it really is something worth digging up (or revisiting), especially if you like your gore served with a side of giggles.

Fido follows a family in a retro-styled fictional town as they take in a zombie in as a sort of macabre pet. Think Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie with fewer dogs, more laughs and an irresistibly international cast lead by Carrie-Anne Moss, Dylan Baker and Billy Connolly.


What are your favourite Canadian scary movies? Share them in the comments!

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Emily Gagne

Specialist, Social Media & Digital Communications