Canadian horror cinema turns 50

If a modern-day horror film were shot in the Royal Ontario Museum, a director might be inclined to set some action in the museum’s bat cave. But the revered exhibit didn’t exist 50 years ago when Julian Roffman directed The Mask, a psychological 3-D horror film which made use of the museum’s iconic totem pole. Premiering at Toronto’s Downtown Theatre on November 10, 1961, it ushered Canadian cinema into the horror genre established by Hollywood…

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The Downtown Theatre

The Downtown Theatre

  by Hal Kelly “Going to the movies is my hobby. I go to other theatres, but the Downtown is my favorite. I like westerns, especially ones with Audie Murphy, but ANY good action or adventure picture usually gives me my money’s worth.” – Irvine Exley, 55, war pensioner The Downtown Theatre was located one short block south of Dundas at the north east corner of the largely vacant Yonge and Dundas Square right across…

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Michael Gough, star of British horror films, dies at 94

Like many kids of my generation, my introduction to British actor Michael Gough was through his appearance as the butler Alfred in Tim Burton’s Batman, but the man also had a lengthy career starring in schlocky British horror films from the ’50s through the ’70s, many of which appeared on Toronto screens. My intention was to find an ad for Freddie Francis’ fantastic Trog, where Gough plays a scientist alongside Joan Crawford, but then I…

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Tales from the Downtown Theatre

With the awful blaze that decimated the former Empress Hotel at 335 Yonge St. over the weekend, I’ve been thinking about the evolution of the Yonge and Dundas area — the former Yonge Street Strip. One of the most noticeable changes over the past decades is the disappearance of store-front movie theatres and their sky-jutting, neon-lit pylons. In the above day-and-night photos taken by John Wallington in March of 1972, behold the long-forgotten Downtown Theatre,…

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