- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: ARP Books; 1st edition (March 15 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1894037219
- ISBN-13: 978-1894037211
- Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.9 x 22.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 612 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #583,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
They Came From Within: A History of Canadian Horror Cinema Paperback – Mar 15 2004
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About the Author
Caelum Vatnsdal is an award-winning writer and filmmaker, and a frequent culture commentator for CBC Radio. His book Kino Delirium: The Films of Guy Maddin (ARP 2000) won the 2001 Carol Shields City of Winnipeg Book Award.
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So of course you might well understand how delighted I was when I came across Caelum Vatnsdal's "They Came From Within: A History of Canadian Horror Cinema" and decided I had to have my own copy.
Having read it, can I say that it the definitive tome on Canuck exploitation films? Sadly, no.
An eccentric volume, it does offer a wide-ranging history of genre cinema up here from the silent era and old NFB safety shorts up through the sputtering attempts of the sixties and seventies through the Cronenberg controversies to the Tax Shelter era and beyond, but it is a deeply flawed book.
There are glaring omissions (much mention is made of the obscure 1976 shot-in-Vancouver Christopher Lee flick "The Keeper" but none at all of the same year's much better known West Coast-lensed aboriginal sorcery shocker "Shadow of the Hawk" starring Chief Dan George and Jan-Michael Vincent which still shows up on TV from time to time) and much claiming of films as Canadian that were actually shot in other countries ("The Pit" and Bob Clark's "Deathdream" were shot down in the States while "The Vulture" was filmed across the pond in jolly old England).
And to make matters even worse, the author has an annoying tendency to cover films under the title he likes rather than the one they were officially released under and to list them by the year they were made rather than the actual release date which, let me tell you, makes them a right devil to track down on the Internet!
Do I still recommend this book though? Well, as long as you go into it with both eyes open, yes.
It's like the tap-dancing horse... it may not be Fred Astaire but it is a major achievement that it exists at all, and it will certainly do until the folks at the highly recommended Canuxploitation website get around to putting out a book of their own.
The Canadian tax credit film boom also contributed a number of classic films to the genre.
Despite the literally horrific content the book is often very funny. Vatnsdal appears to have coined three genres whose names are likely funnier, more interesting and more memorable than any of the films that make them up: "Maple Syrup Porn", "Ontario Gut-Munchers" and "Canadian Losers."
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
A great inclusion in my underground film library.
In They Came From Within author Caelum Vatnsdal and written the definitive history of Canadian horror flicks. Every page of this book has been exhaustively researched and cross referenced in what had to have been a herculean feat of researching fervor. I cannot believe the amount of information dispensed in this unassuming book. I mean the damn thing isn’t even that thick, it’s just that the author doesn’t waste time nor space. You can learn a bundle just by skimming a few pages. It really is mind boggling to me. If that sounds like the book would be deathly boring you are very wrong. The book is written in a fun voice that keeps the eye glazing at a minimum. The book had me smiling ear to ear while reading it. It felt like I was hanging out with a very well spoken friendly guy telling the story of Canadian horror. The book could easily have been a collection of information, organized in order and laid down for posterity for future PhD students. It isn’t. It is an entertaining, thorough, and lighthearted history of Canadian Horror that I know I will go back and dig into each time I watch a horror flick from there.
This revised edition updates the book all the way to the very end of 2014 so above everything that I have listed above, it’s also a current history of the genre which is even more impressive. Often books like this never get a chance to be re-published and I’m so glad that this one was.
If your only exposure to Canadian horror are the early Cronenberg films and maybe My Bloody Valentine, do yourself a favor and educate yourself with this fantastic book.