Podcast: Jason Pichonsky on Restoring Julian Roffman’s THE BLOODY BROOD (1959) + PHOBIA (1980)

April 25, 2020 | By

Just because National Canadian Film Day has passed doesn’t mean we can’t continue digging into our past & present accomplishments for the big & small screen, and with the bug forcing the shuttering of cinemas, many opportunities to experience CanCon online through various streaming and download platforms ensure our cinema history could still be enjoyed.

A nice surprise was the availability of The Grey Fox (1982), that classic western-drama both myself and others keep citing because it’s one of many fine films that deserves to be in circulation forever.

The 4K restoration continues to be available via Virtual Cinema Rooms prior to its likely fall 2020 or winter release via KINO Lorber, who also released the suspense classic The Silent Partner (1978), filmed soon after the Eaton Centre’s opening. Check out the link for screening dates that extended from April 22 to as late as April 30th.



Tied to NCFD is a podcast featuring a conversation with film historian and home video producer Jason Pichonsky, with whom I discussed the restoration and release of Julian Roffman’s The Bloody Brood (1959).

The Q&A took place soon after the film was screened at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in the fall of 2019, and the film’s release on DVD and Blu-ray by KINO Lorber, the indie label who’s expanded its catalogue of titles to include a lot of CanCon productions, including Roffman’s 3D classic, The Mask (1961).

This blog is packed with a lot of links, so bear with me, as there’s a number of topics and titles touched upon in my roughly half-hour chat with Pichonsky, available via GooglePlay, iTunes, Libsyn, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and YouTube as an audio-only stream / download.

I’ve updated the prior review of The Bloody Brood, as KINO’s disc features several rare shorts directed by Roffman, and I’ve updated my review of Phobia (1980), John Huston’s long-unavailable thriller which also contains a great commentary by Pichonksy and fellow Rue Morgue writer /Canuxploitation.com founder & curator, Paul Corupe.

Phobia may be Huston’s worst film, but being largely Toronto-shot and Toronto-set, it is fun to watch local actors in what was a high profile production during the peak of the tax shelter era that yielded many genre productions, ofteny shot during the cold late fall / early winter months to make that tax write-off deadline.

Son Peter Roffman edited a great narrative of his father’s letters, and alongside reviews of several films mentioned in his book Dear Guelda: The Death and Life of Pioneering Canadian Filmmaker Julian Roffman (2018), there’s a lengthy podcast interview + related links, plus a separate book review + additional film reviews.

Also mentioned within the podcast are the not-quite classic CanCon TV series The Starlost (1973) and the stillborn TV pilot Our Man Flint: Dead on Target (1977); the cult film Death Ship (1980), marketed with one of the best horror posters ever; and Happy Birthday to Me (1981), one of several important entries in the slasher genre.

And finally, with Premier Doug Ford extending the emergency lockdown for the bug for at least another 2 weeks, as I state in the podcast’s opening op-ed, this will make it tougher for indie businesses to survive what’s an already month-long closure.

Personally, I see the closures remaining fixed until the end of the month – it makes sense to keep things locked until it’s clear the curve’s been bashed on the forehead and is twirling downward to the sidewalk – but both the federal and provincial governments need to do more for businesses and landlords. The closure of non-essential businesses is already killing restaurants who’ve been public with their struggles, their permanent closure alerts, and citing intractable landlords demanding full rent payment.

The ideal is support for both affected businesses and landlords, but those landlords wanting full payment and following through with eviction and lockout makes no sense – if they’re aspiring to attract a wealthier franchisee or multinational, they’re thoroughly delusional. We’re in the midst of a pandemic where any reopening will be slow and gradual; where physical distancing will limit the amount of customers within any location; where outside lineups will continue; and where restarting and paying bills will be an uphill battle for the rest of the year.

Add the potential for a second wave to hit in the fall / winter, and the strategy of pushing out long-term tenants in what’s still a pricey rental market is beyond absurd; it’s spite redirected at oneself, and will lead to empty storefronts for months, and possibly years.

A mass of permanent closures will also hit a city already losing valuable revenues from a 70% drop in transit use, land transfer taxes, property taxes, parking revenue, and more. Mayor Try needs to push harder, or offer a solution if he wants to avoid a soulless city.

Indie businesses offer variety and augment our culture, which is why every business matters, including cinemas and video stores – two streams of entertainment that were doing great until the bug hit.

I look forward to catching a silent classic at the Revue Cinema with live music when it reopens, a cult flick at the Royal Cinema; checking out the recently restored Paradise and its sometimes dizzying offering of film & music performances, festival screenings; and interacting with customers & co-workers at Bay Street Video, one of the last video sales & rental shops in Toronto.

For both the cinemas and video shops, you can maintain support through memberships and gift certificates, so visit the sites for further info on how you can contribute to their ongoing position as hubs of entertainment and film culture, and their symbiotic relationship with local businesses and communities.

The same goes for magazines that are similarly navigating the changes affecting access to their physical product. Rue Morgue’s site and social media pages have further info on the magazine’s continuing slate of digital and print offerings, and their YouTube channel continues to host original Rue Morgue TV programming.

And one more shameful act of self-promotion: those interested in some rare vintage analogue video gear might be interested in some details on a Showmaster Video Colorizer, a rather trippy video colorizer that I managed to fix.

The gizmo turns footage into oversaturated colours that pulse with video inputs, circa 1985 or so. The blog at Big Head Amusements features stills and links to video clips on Vimeo, YouTube, and Instagram.

Coming next: Peter Lorre’s lone directorial venture, the underrated suspense-thriller Der Verlorene / The Lost One (1952), from Germany’s Arthaus.

Thanks for reading,



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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Category: EDITOR'S BLOG, INTERVIEWS, podcast

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