I recently had the good fortune of attending the book launch for Andrew Burke’s Hinterland Remixed: Media, Memory, and the Canadian 1970s, a deep dive into the true north’s televisual archive and collective memory that includes considerations of the Hinterland Who’s Who vignettes, Michael Snow’s La Région centrale (1971), and SCTV. Professor Burke’s discussion and accompanying presentation diverted into a number of unexpected areas – the L’Atelier national du Manitoba film and art project, Kern-Hill Furniture Co-op commercials, electronic musicians Boards of Canada, the With Glowing Hearts short film (Ted Remerowski, 1979) – however two contemporary works stood out: Caroline Monnet’s Mobilize (2015) and Brett Bell’s Sign-off (2011).
Caroline Monnet, a Canadian artist of French and Algonquin heritages, obtained access to more that 700 films from the National Film Board of Canada to create Mobilize, an intense and passionate portrait of Canada’s indigenous people. With footage from the rural north and urban south, from traditional crafts to modern industry, Monnet captures the dynamism of the indigenous Canadian experience and, with the feverish score of Inuk artist Tanya Tagaq, provides a kind of sizzle reel made up of what the filmmaker calls “images of indigenous people kicking ass on screen.” MMC! fans may recognize scenes from Don Owen’s High Steel (1966)! Brett Bell’s Sign-off presents an absurdly nightmarish take on With Glowing Hearts and the anachronism of the television station sign-off culminating the day’s news and entertainment with a collage of landscapes and symbols set against the patriotism of the national anthem. Bell, born and based in Regina, Saskatchewan, creates something wonderfully weird and distinctly Canadian in Sign-off and for that MMC!’s heart does glow.
Maybe it’s because Arrow Video made their announcements while I was at the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival. Maybe I’m just asleep at the wheel. Either way, MMC! is overdue in noting that Arrow Video will be releasing Robert Harmon’s The Hitcher (1986) at the end of this month, albeit not in the hi-def Blu-ray edition previously proposed here but rather in a scholarly monograph.
Arrow describes the book on its website as:
Robert Harmon’s 1986 film The Hitcher is a complex beast: reviled at the time of its release, it has been adored in the long term as one of the most intoxicating, unrelenting highway cult films ever made. Starring Rutger Hauer in the title role whose alluring villainy would give his turn as Blade Runner’s Roy Batty a run for its money, The Hitcher – both the film and the character – is simultaneously of its time and of the now, a film about the real and the mythic, and a film that challenges our assumptions about masculinity and femininity. Its horrors unfold as The Hitcher tracks and tortures the film’s protagonists across the highways of Nowhere USA, and the film reveals a tangle of contradictions: it is, at times, simultaneously dense, shallow, obvious, subtle, absurd and deeply intelligent.
The critical paths into The Hitcher that this book explores are rich and plentiful, and through an exploration of its origins and production history, a close analysis of the film itself and a consideration of the immediate fallout following its release and its longer legacies, this book celebrates one of the greatest highway horror movies ever made.
Alexandra Heller-Nicholas is a film critic and academic from Melbourne, Australia, who has written four books on cult, horror and exploitation cinema.
Featuring new artwork by Gary Pullin and original stills.
Sounds good! I’ll definitely be picking this one up.
And once again, MMC! shapes the boutique film label world. You are welcome, cinephiles.