Toronto: Late Canadian Horror Legend John Dunning Celebrated at Autobiography Release Party this Week


John Dunning, the pioneering creative force who, with partner Andre Link, co-founded and ran iconic exploitation cinema house CINEPIX (See FANGORIA #309) is getting his autobiography posthumously released and his son Greg Dunning has put together an event, right in the middle of TIFF.

YOU’RE NOT DEAD UNTIL YOU’RE FORGOTTEN: A MEMOIR by John Dunning & Bill Brownstein relates Dunning’s adventures nurturing such talents as Ivan Reitman and David Cronenberg and creating an industry based on sex, violence and action. The making of such amazing pictures as SHIVERS; VALERIE; ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS; MEATBALLS; HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME and many, many more all make their way into the book, framed by an amazing story of Dunning’s life, a child of cinema who changed the rules of censorship in Canada and etched a remarkable legacy for himself, his family and a legion of filmmakers.

From the press release:

Much to his chagrin, John Dunning was born into the movie business. But once he came to accept his career fate, he developed a great passion for making movies, and ultimately became Canada’s preeminent B-movie producer, with a knack for developing young talent.

In You’re Not Dead until You’re Forgotten, Dunning, in forthright and charming fashion, recounts his rough-and-tumble upbringing in the Montreal suburb of Verdun in the 1930s, his modest start in the film industry behind the candy counter of his family’s movie theatre, and later, his ventures into film distribution and production. In the 1960s Dunning, along with financial wizard André Link, founded Cinepix, which eventually merged into the Lionsgate Entertainment film colossus. Specializing in such exploitation genres as raucous comedy, groundbreaking Québécois “maple syrup porn” and horror films, Cinepix churned out cult classics like ValérieShiversIlsa: She Wolf of the SS, and Meatballs. Dunning’s detailed recollections of making these movies provide a rare, candid, and witty take on how the film industry really works. Driven to succeed in the face of arbitrary censors, parochial Canadian critics, and controlling government funding agencies, Dunning and Link developed a formula for producing controversial, moneymaking movies, and helped launch the careers of such luminaries-to-be as David Cronenberg, Ivan Reitman, and Don Carmody.

Cronenberg has called John Dunning “the unacknowledged godfather of an entire generation of Canadian filmmakers.” Illustrated with personal photos and film stills, You’re Not Dead Until You’re Forgotten finally gives this pioneer Canadian filmmaker his long-overdue spotlight.

Greg Dunning invites you to join McGill-Queen’s University Press and Ben McNally Books (366 Bay Street) in celebrating the launch of YOU’RE NOT DEAD UNTIL YOU’RE FORGOTTEN: A MEMOIR on Thursday, September 11th at 6:30 pm at Ben McNally Books. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

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About the author
Chris Alexander

Author, film critic, teacher, musician and filmmaker (not to mention failed boxer) Chris Alexander is the editor-in-chief of FANGORIA Magazine. He got his first professional break as the “Schizoid Cinephile” in the pages of Canadian horror film magazine RUE MORGUE before making the move to FANGO in 2007. His words have appeared in The Toronto Star, Metro News, Wired, Montage, The Dark Side, Tenebre and many other notable publications and he appears regularly on international television and radio.

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