A lot has been said about all the strange, dark, kinky sex in Canadian cinema, so much that you’d think we were a nation of perverts, contrary to the popular image of Canadians as nice and, well, boring. But how could anyone be bored? Our directors offer necrophilia, nyphomania caused by parasites, wound fetishes, a woman with two vaginas who sleeps with twin brothers… well! Maybe we are perverts after all, but we just repress it (another particularly Canadian theme).
1. David Cronenberg. If I were to make a top ten list of weird sex films, Cronenberg's work could fill half of the spots. There’s Crash, based on the book by J.G. Ballard, about a subculture of car crash victims who get off on car accidents and the resulting scars and injuries; Shivers, where parasites turn people into unstoppable sex maniacs; Dead Ringers, about twin gynecologists who share women without them knowing, until one of them falls in love with a woman with, er, strange parts.
2. Atom Egoyan. Egoyan’s films are all about obsession, alienation and sexual dysfunction. Fun stuff! Exotica has a man grieving over his daughter’s death and dealing by obsessing over a stripper dressed as a schoolgirl; The Adjuster has a rich couple staging voyeuristic sex games for strangers.
3. Guy Maddin. All of Maddin’s work evokes adjectives such as eccentric, surreal, and weird, but they are also very funny. Some of his many short films, such as Sissy Boy Slap Party (exactly what the title implies!), are all out delightful romps with near-naked bodies; in the more serious feature film Careful, sex is root of all evil.
4. Lynn Stopkewich. Her first film, Kissed, is about a young woman who is sexually obsessed with the young male corpses that come into the morgue where she works; her second film, Suspicious River, is about a young woman subjecting herself to unpleasant sex with strangers who stay in the hotel where she works.
5. Denis Arcand. His Decline of the American Empire is a comedy about a group of intellectual couples who spend their time talking about sex… and discovering that one of them is tied up, literally, in a S&M relationship with a biker-type, while another is sleeping with every spouse in the circle. Love and Human Remains, adapted from a play by Brad Fraser, also has an S&M mistress in a subplot, and a serial killer on the loose.
Special mention should go to Jean-Claude Lauzon, who died after making only two feature films. His magic realist masterpiece, Leolo, includes a protagonist who thinks his mother was impregnated by a tomato, who masturbates with a piece of liver which his mother later cooks for dinner, and whose friends abuse a cat. Yet, the film manages to be tender and sensitive, lyrical and devastating, all at the same time.
If you are interested in reading more about Canadian cinema, check out Weird Sex and Snowshoes and other Canadian film phenomena by Katherine Monk. She writes not only about kinky cinematic sex, but landscape, alienation, pluralism, and other significant themes in Canadiana.
Have I missed anyone you think is significant? Let me know! Post a comment.