Event Report: BLACK CHRISTMAS Reunion at the Hamilton Film Expo

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To time with Anchor Bay’s new Blu-ray release, SHOCK reports on the BLACK CHRISTMAS reunion in Hamilton, Canada.

We all know what an Expo or fan Convention is about. A wild, fun adventure filled with Vendors, Celebs, Cosplay, pop culture and more! In our first year doing the Hamilton Film Expo, and going forward, we wanted to earn our name. “Hamilton” is not just the city the event is staged in, it’s where I live and work. “Film Expo” is not just a way to drop all of pop culture on people. “Movie Stuff” is our tagline and that is what we wanted to deliver. Year 1, we accomplished that with our All-Canadian celebrity guests, & movie-themed vendors.

Backing up one day, the night before the Expo, Anchor Bay Canada gave us permission to screen BLACK CHRISTMAS for a free midnight screening to raise awareness and items for the Eva Rothwell Centre. All week, the 10th Annual Hamilton Film Festival had been running a promo for the ‘Season’s Greivings Editon’ of BLACK CHRISTMAS on Blu-ray. Basically, we were getting pumped…

Backing up to August 2015, I had a Facebook conversation with actor Art Hindle. I had never met him but we had mutual “friends.” I reached out and asked him if a) he would be interested in doing an introduction at the 10th Annual Hamilton Film Festival for a showcase of Michelle Latimer’s work (art had worked with her on the syndicated TV show PARADISE FALLS), and b) would he be interested in being a part of our first Film Expo. He did his research, got back to me and his response to me was “I want to help you grow this.”

Not only is that a massive compliment to the years of work we have put in, but a real example of a good person who is interested in giving back to the film & TV community. “Just doing my part” is how he worded it. This lead almost immediately to two more guests. BLACK CHRISTMAS co-stars Lynne Griffin and Doug McGrath. In the matter of a few days I had a mini BLACK CHRISTMAS reunion!

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During the panel discussion (moderated by Aaron Allen of Hamilton’s Fright Night Theatre Film Festival, pictured above), Doug discussed the importance of his early work in Canadian cinema, but not in an egotistical way. It was in a way that a teacher is proud of seeing a student become successful. BLACK CHRISTMAS, PORKY’S and GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD all paved the way for films that hadn’t been made yet. Doug was very optimistic that Canadian cinema has, and will continue to have, it’s own identity but more importantly that it has this vast legacy of movies to point to.

Lynn Griffin (who also starred in Canadian slasher classic CURTAINS) is a warm soul with a genuine smile and a passion for the arts. It’s obvious when you first meet her. She recalled Bob (Clark) asking her to imagine that she was hearing some scary things on the phone. Then when she saw the movie, had no idea it would be so disturbing! She talked about “the bag” and went on to explain that she was a swimmer and could hold her breath for a long time. “Probably why I got the part.” She said.

A lesson for filmmakers in the horror genre, came from Art Hindle. He never missed a chance to bring a laugh into the conversation, and said as much about horror filmmaking. “Bring humour into your films.” The “fellatio” scene comes (ahem)  to mind across the panel. Later on, a question was asked to the panel, “what prop would you most like to have from the movie?” Art Hindle, without missing a beat said “Olivia Hussey.”

An nice addition to the panel, or audience I should say, was when a question regarding the audio of that scary scream from Olivia at the banister, was asked. The panel wasn’t 100% sure…but an audience member was certain. Bruce Craig worked on the film 40 years ago doing sound special effects work out of a studio (Mirrophonic) at King and Spadina streets in Toronto. The scream was also a mix of their receptionist’s screams! He talked fondly about mixing the film while Bob Clark bounced his new bride on his knee. Bruce also remembered being scared at the premiere, even after seeing it so many times while editing. Bruce is also optimistic about the future. “We felt we were leading edge at that time, but with the equipment and personnel now smaller productions can have longer reaches around the world.”

What was an incredible, intimate, meeting of these wonderful Black Christmas alumni, also turned out to be a great discussion about the Canadian film industry. That is something that we can truly be proud of.

Nathan Fleet is an award winning filmmaker / composer and is the director of the 10th annual Hamilton Film Festival and the organizer of the 1st annual Hamilton Film Expo.

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