In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Trash Palace

Last Friday, I finally visited an establishment that I had been trying to check out for several months. Toronto’s Classiest Cinema: Trash Palace.

My journey began with a trip to Suspect Video. Since Trash Palace screenings are held in a secret location, one must purchase a ticket from Suspect, at which time you will be given the actual address. I was lucky enough to snag the last available ticket (the place only holds fifty people). A few blocks away, down a back alley and some stairs and I was finally there. It really is a sight to behold. The pictures below don’t really do this cinematic nostalgia factory justice.

Trash Palace is run by film fanatic and collector Stacey Case and his friend Dan Lovranski. Like Phantascope (which is a bicycle repair shop by day), Trash Palace doubles as a printing press studio. Every second Friday, all the equipment gets moved to the side and the area becomes a makeshift theatre. Stacey looked especially ecstatic with the turnout, iterating that he hates to watch these old films by himself. His philosophy is this -

“These old movies should be seen by an audience. Fourty or fifty got together and wrote, shot and acted in something they were passionate about. Then someone spent another six months editing it together. These people cared about this stuff, so why shouldn’t we?”

It’s an interesting theory. It’s hard for me to apply to some of the dreck I’ve endured over the years, but I certainly admire Stacey’s enthusiasm. You can just see it in him when he talks.

Now, onto the reason why we were all congregated in downtown Toronto on this ungodly cold night. It was for the 1978 Canadian film Plague.

Plague was made in Toronto in the winter of ’77 for under $100,000. Stacey had managed to procure a special guest for the showing, co-writer Barry Pearson. He said a few words before and after the screening and looked as equally thrilled as Stacey with the full house.

While watching this movie I was struck with an enormous sense of déjà vu. Dead birds. Twitching hands. The gray haired dude from those old Nabob coffee commercials. Yes. I had seen this movie before, many years ago on late night television. When I told Barry this, he said it was quite possible because Global (a large Canadian television company) had put money into the film. I enjoyed Plague even more this time. It’s low budget, but somehow it makes it all the more charming. The filmmakers tried to be as scientifically accurate as possible, consorting with science icon David Suzuki on many occasions. Experimenting with DNA was still a new thing in the late seventies, so the film was pretty fresh in that regard. Other elements of the film shine, as well. The score by Eric Robertson is perfect and there are countless shots of Toronto back in the day (including some cityscape shots taken from atop a newly built CN Tower).

After filling up on candy, popcorn and Pabst Blue Ribbon, it was time to call it a night. My trip to Trash Palace was a blast! I’ll totally be hitting more of these in the future. I mean, Frogs! Come on! How can I not go back?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

hey - stacey case here! i can't see your pictures of the space! i haven't even taken pix yet! can you email em to me at for the website or something? help a brother out! thanks for the props WHOOOOOOOOO i love pbr glug glug....