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November 22, 2012

Echoes from the Sleep Room: Medical Terror in Canadian Horror Cinema

They were some of the darkest, most disturbing revelations in Canada’s recent history. In the 1940s and ’50s, the Québec government and the Catholic Church sent thousands of orphans to psychiatric institutions where they were subject to isolation, electroshock therapy, lobotomies and abuse. At almost the same time, the CIA was conducting brainwashing and mind control experiments on unwitting volunteers at McGill University using similar techniques. These latter experiments, known as Project MK-ULTRA, included erasing memories and preparing test subjects for psychological reprogramming by triggering drug-induced comas in what was called the “Sleep Room.”

This lecture will explore how Canadian horror cinema has tapped into national anxiety over these incidents of physical and psychological torture, which uncomfortably recall the Nazi medical atrocities of just a few years earlier. From deadly doctors and mind control to unauthorized surgical procedures and patient revenge, we will discuss how medical terror has become one of the defining themes of Canada’s horror films.

November 22, 2012 at 8pm
Projection Booth – East, 1035 Gerrard Steet East, Toronto
Cost: $15 at the door

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Instructor: Paul Corupe

The creator of Canuxploitation.com, Toronto-based writer and editor Paul Corupe has been exploring and documenting the secret history of Canadian B-movies for more than a decade. A regular contributor to Rue Morgue magazine, he has also written about genre movies for The Toronto Star, Take One Film and Television in Canada, Offscreen.com and This Magazine. In addition to scripting two seasons of On Screen!, a TV documentary series on landmark Canadian films, he has appeared in numerous DVD extras as well as the documentary Nightmare in Canada: Canadian Horror on Film.

3 Responses

  1. […] By now, anyone keeping up with us on social media probably has heard of The Black Museum, a new Toronto-based lecture series that we launched this fall with Andrea Subissati at the Projection Booth – East. For our final lecture on November 22, I’m going to be delivering a modified version of a course I taught last year at the Miskatonic Institute in Montreal on how real-life medical atrocities in Canada have had a profound effect on the themes of Canadian horror films. November 22 will be the first time I will be presenting the course in Toronto. […]

  2. […] Museum, the east end’s horror exhibition, will host Echoes from the Sleep Room: Medical Terror in Canadian Horror Cinema tomorrow, November 22, 2012 at 8:00pm. Toronto-based writer and Canuxploitation.com creator Paul […]

  3. […] (Go here to read my Q&A with the curators.) It was Thursday, November 22 and the topic was “Echoes From The Sleep Room,” an examination of the history of medical experimentation in horror cinema. The presentation was […]