By Zachary Houle
Declining crowds have forced the organizers of a monthly exploitation film program held at a Byward Market bar to scrape the bottom of their barrel in an attempt to lure more people out.
Chris Robinson and Lee Demarbre, organizers of Reel Mondays at Zaphod Beeblebrox, located at 27 York St., say that this Monday’s program will contain the crème de la crème of grotesque and bloody films.
“I had an idea of handing out barf bags on the way in, but I couldn’t find any,” said Demarbre, while noting the “really intense” nature of the films. The movies begin rolling at 8 p.m., and there’s a $3 cover charge to get in.
For instance, the evening’s revealing main feature — a porn film called Double Agent 76 — stars Chesty Morgan as a private eye with a hidden camera surgically implanted in her left breast.
Also on tap is a film featuring the late punk shock-rocker G.G. Allen, who had a fondness for rubbing himself in his own excrement and flinging it at his audience. Another film to be screened on hemorrhoid removal caused one person to faint when Robinson and Demarbre showed it at the bar last year.
The pair also raised some eyebrows when Ottawa-Carleton Regional Police were called in to monitor a showing of a documentary about pedophiles last year, while two people protested outside. (The film contained no scenes of child porn and was not illegal to obtain.)
Although Robinson and Demarbre say they enjoy pushing limits, the recent drop in attendance combined with their hectic work schedules have forced the pair to wonder if the program is worth continuing.
If the gross and outrageous films can’t attract a following, the two say they could call it quits in March.
“We might pack it in,” said Robinson. “We never run out of ideas (or films to show), but you never know who’s going to come out. We’ve started getting demoralized.”
Most of the films shown on Reel Mondays — which began in October 1996 — are culled from the vaults of the Canadian Film Institute, where Robinson works. But a few of the films to be shown on Monday have been obtained by contacts in the American underground film industry.
Demarbre says he thinks at least one of the films, Aftermath, may have been banned in Canada. A call to a Canada Customs border crossing revealed that the film isn’t listed with authorities.
However, Demarbre says the flick contains some of the most convincing, but faked, gory sequences on film involving sex with corpses.
Despite the content of these films, Zaphod’s owner Eugene Haslam says he won’t step in and demand the pair tone down Monday’s bill.
“One thing I’ve learned is to not be a censor for the arts community,” said Haslam. “These films are made, and it’ll be up to the arts community to debate the value or non-value of them.”
The organizers argue that, despite their grotesque nature, the films serve a purpose.
“It’s not just shock-based,” said Robinson. “We’ve become so obsessed with political correctness (in society) … and we’re trying to get people to think about that.”