Monday, May 2, 2016

A Nightmare on Elm Street (From a Dependent Brat)

The Astral Theatre in CFB Borden, Ontario, was a veritable movie funhouse of eclectic and varied flicks, old and new. In essence it was a rep cinema. Most new and big releases, and anything of prestige, were on the other side of the base at the mighty Terra Theatre.

One of many films I saw in or about my thirteen year had a very special trailer. A preview which ended up haunting me: Triple Avalanche of Terror

The hook was a certain sustained shot that was more important to me, ultimately, than the variety of quickly cut clips that followed. This affecting scene -- shot in a mental institution, apparently -- was the real keeper. While substantial image grain danced before our eyes, an ominous voice-over explained that 'this man watched Triple Avalanche of Terror and went insane'. (Really? Seriously.)

A straight-jacketed wretch squirmed as two attendants hovered over, comforting him as he did the bit of business taught in acting school when one wants to evoke "crazy". "No!...No!!..."

As advertised, in order to watch the film one had to accept an insurance policy before entering the theatre. Cool. It's not something I'd want to have to cash in, but cool.

I bought it, the preview, that is, so much so that I knew I had to see the film, even though it was to be a midnight presentation. Oh, no.

As we left the theatre after watching the now forgotten feature presentation, my friends and I discussed the trailer, that spooky trailer. One friend, Glen Scott, seemed to know that we'd been had:

"It's a publicity stunt!

"It's a publicity stunt!", he reiterated as the rest of us, in his eyes, were overly concerned that we too would go insane.

But, we all agreed: Must see movie.

This is where trouble followed.

The next day I raved enthusiastically to my mother about the nerve-splitting trailer I had seen, and in the process I let it out that the anticipated movie itself was to be shown as a late-late show. She wasted no time in saying "no". When the day got closer, I asked again:


Mum, I wanna see Triple Avalanche of Terror!

I told you, you're not seeing it.

Why not?!

Because...I don't want you prancing about at all hours of the night.
Now that's final.

("I guess I'm not going to be seeing Triple Avalanche of Terror.")

I wish I had possessed the verbal wit of Family Guy's "Stewie": "How dare you deprive me of some devilishly gruesome entertainment. I shall be forever stunted by your absolute malicious disregard for my personal development!"

I didn't get my mother's reasoning. Geographically speaking, the Astral was not far from Elm Street, our street. The route consisted of a quick walk to School Street, then along Maple Drive; up a little further was the palace of dreams.

How was the Terrible Avalanche, you ask? The next day I asked Glen what he thought. After all, he and the gang were allowed to walk about at all hours of the previous night.

"It wasn't very good."

Of course, to a pre-teen, that was code for: "It was awesome!" Either that, or I was becoming concerned for Glen's sanity.

"Carry On Camping is on this Saturday?" I was allowed to see that one, however. Not a lot makes sense when you're a kid. (Those of you who have seen that British comedy classic, or just about any Carry On movie, for that matter, will know what I'm getting at.) Now I know why Camping was acceptable fare: It was shown during regular business hours. The prevailing issue wasn't so much one of content.

The Astral, along with all the PMQs (houses) on Elm, School, Hemlock, and Maple Drive, is now gone as that part of CFB Borden was razed a few years ago, but my memories of that special dream-maker always remain strong -- even if a certain title is missing.


Greg Woods said...

Good post! As you know, I encourage personal anecdotes about our pop cultural past... Any idea what comprised the "Triple Avalanche of Terror"? The only really relevant Google search result of that phrase is your post! Was it a triple bill of feature films? That means it would've ran till 4:30 or 5 AM... if that was true, no wonder your mom didn't want you to go!


Tibor said...

Nicely written...and funny!

Simon St. Laurent said...


I realized the day after posting it that I've long thought "Triple Avalanche of Terror" to be a Canadian film. I'm now pretty sure the mental institution was supposed to be in Montreal.

The way I remember it is the title was a packaging device for three (of course) featurette-length flicks. Friend Glen added that one story was okay; he said it with little enthusiasm.

No, it was not a 4-5 hour film.

I too looked this one up a few years ago and got no results. Even though I fancy myself a fine researcher I did not go any further (but now I will). My basic guess is it may have been something a company like Cinepix produced. Which reminds me: "Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS" played at the Astral Theatre quite a bit, but I never saw it for some reason.

Mum, can I see 'Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS'

Sure you can, dear.

("Neat. Things are looking up.")

DonaldAR said...

There's a 1975 made for TV "Trilogy of Terror" featuring Karen Black. It looks pretty scary to me.
Your Mom was way cool! I wouldn't ever have been able to see Ilsa. Of course I was much younger than you back then... :)

Simon St. Laurent said...

I saw "Trilogy of Terror" when it first aired. The final segment is classic.

Speaking of a "cool" mother: Soon I will post a story about watching "Monty Python's Flying Circus" when PBS started running them in 1974. ("Should I be watching this?")