Edmonton Cinema to Screen Long-Lost 'Sexcula' (1974)

EDMONTON, Alberta—Long-lost Canadian adult horror comedy Sexcula will rise from its cinematic grave for a special screening May 17 at the Metro Cinema in Edmonton, courtesy of American production company Synapse Films. The movie is also now available for purchase as a DVD on the company's website.

Tucked away for 40 years since its one and only screening in 1973, but still listed on an archive of the Canadian Feature Film Database, Sexcula was finally noticed last year by a Toronto-based film historian who quickly realized the movie’s unique standing in Canadian cinema.

"It's an important landmark,” said the historian, Paul Carupe. “As dubious as some people think [it is], it's definitely one of a kind.”

The “lurid tale of a nymphomaniac vampirewas filmed in August 1973 by director John Holbrook in and around the Lower Mainland, and only screened once in 1974.

“The making of the vanished film then became an underground legend among local filmmakers,” reported CBC News. “Supposedly, another movie was made about the making of Sexcula, though that too has disappeared.”

But Sexcula still existed, even if its original producer, listed in the dabase as one Clarence Frog, no longer wanted anything to do with it. He’d only made the thing to improve his tax situation.  

“He needed the tax credits that were being offered by the Canadian Film Development Corp. to help him out of a $70,000 tax bill,” reported the CBC. “Library and Archives Canada owns the only known print, the unwaxed preservation master copy made from a negative print at Alpha Cine Service Ltd. in downtown Vancouver.

“Since Corupe re-discovered the film last year,” the article added, “an American production company [Synapse Films] decided to transfer the 4,000 feet of film to a digital format, and release it as a DVD.”

Porn archeologist Dimitrios Otis wrote the liner notes for the DVD of Sexcula, which Metro Cinema describes as “stuffed with vampires, Frankenstein monsters, hunchbacks, fembots, a gorilla named ‘Rape Ape,’ and even a lumberjack. But Sexcula is more than just a cheeky throwback to the golden age of adult cinema; it's also a notable landmark in the history of homegrown cinema that strongly refutes the popular perception of Canadian filmmaking as little more than sleepy prairie dramas and international art house fare.”

Metro also provided the following synopsis: “Sexcula is a campy horror romp that follows female mad scientist Dr. Fallatingstein's (Jamie Orlando) attempts to satisfy her sexual needs by creating a male monster in her basement laboratory named Frank (John Alexander). But when she discovers Frank is impotent, Fallatingstein calls in her cousin, Countess Sexcula (Debbie Collins), who hatches a plan to reignite Frank's libido by implanting ‘sex cells’ she collects from a series of able-bodied Canadian males.”

According to Otis, Sexcula will remain inexorably notable because it is literally one of a kind and also because it is good. "This appears to be the only, what you call an X-rated, sex movie ever made in Canada during that whole era of film production," he explained. "It's entertaining. It's titillating. So I think it's a successful movie and they should be proud of it. There's not a lot of what we call 'artsy filler.' It kind of delivers the goods."

It also, he added, was effectively underwritten by the government.

"Canada effectively funded a porn movie via the CFDC tax credits,” he said. “That's pretty interesting.”

And also plenty enough reason to go see its only planned public screening, May 17 at 11:30 p.m., as part of the Metro Bizarro series at the Metro Cinema in Edmonton. More info about that can be found here.

Image: A scene from Sexcula, and the new DVD boxcover.