The Curse of Meatballs

As my interest in Canadian horror films and slashers has started to dovetail, I’ve begun to recognize some of the character actors who worked steadily in films during the late 70s/early 80s era of cinema gold in the Great White North.

I’ve also been surprised to find out that certain films were Canadian productions. For example, Meatballs (1979). If you are from my generation, you probably grew up with this movie in one way or another. Personally, I never saw the whole thing all the way through until recently. But I can recall watching parts of it on TV since I was a kid. In honesty, I was traumatized by the pranks that were pulled on the geeky characters Fink and Spaz. I figured this was the fate that awaited me once I became a teenager. Thanks to Meatballs, I had an irrational fear that girls were going to take my pants off and run them up the flagpole to humiliate me. (It didn’t take long for me to realize that most women had no interest whatsoever in taking my pants off, for any reason.)

Hapless Victims

Being a self-centered American, I assumed that the movie was shot in the good ole U.S. of A. But as it turns out, Meatballs was filmed in Haliburton, Ontario, and several Canadian actors were employed. This was during the time when teen comedies and slashers were big business, so the Canadian film industry was put to good use churning out classics like Screwballs (83) and Terror Train (80). This also meant that Fink and Spaz were in for a far worse fate than being de-pantsed by teenage girls.

You see, The Curse of Meatballs meant that several of the actors would go on to play victims in Canadian slasher films. Here is a partial list of the ones I’ve discovered. Feel free to leave a comment if you recognize any other victims from Camp Meatball (or whatever it was called).

Victim #1: Fink

Keith Knight would go on to play likable coal miner Hollis in My Bloody Valentine (81), where he would meet a horrible fate at the end of a nail gun.

Victim #2: Spaz

Jack Blum would portray yet another misunderstood geek, Alfred, in Happy Birthday to Me (1981). Despite his superior mask-making skills, he is stabbed in the stomach with a pair of gardening shears.

Victim #3: Hardware

Matt Craven meets the business end of a shish kebab in Happy Birthday to Me, although he does not appear on the iconic poster depicting this scene.

Victim #4: Camp Mohawk Basketball Player

Before he failed to locate side one of Led Zeppelin IV in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (82), Brian Backer was an extra in Meatballs. After that, he starred in The Burning (81), which in many ways was an evil version of Meatballs. I can’t remember if his character gets killed or not, but he definitely suffers worse trauma than losing the basketball game.

And last, but not least:

Victim #5: Morty

Harvey Atkin turned in a memorable performance as the hapless camp director in Meatballs. Unfortunately, his character in Visiting Hours (82) dies at the hands of Michael Ironside, who presumably kills him because he’s Jewish. Or maybe it was the awful jokes. Either way: Not cool, Ironside!

(For further reading check out Canuxploitation, an invaluable resource about Canadian cinema.)

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3 Responses to “The Curse of Meatballs”

  1. Harvey Atkin is also in Funeral Home I believe, but honestly I can’t remember if he gets killed or not, but I think he might…

    I had no idea spaz was Alfred of the infamous Crawford’s Top Ten. How cool is that? He’s definitely hotter in Happy Birthday to Me!

    An interesting link to those movies is Lesleh Donaldson, who appeared in both Happy Birthday to Me and Funeral Home.

    This is a great post. I have walked away learning something!

    And yeah, Hollis. How I love thee!

    • roarvis Says:

      I’m not familiar with Funeral Home at all. I’ll have to check it out.

      We just watched Happy Birthday last night. The ending was so confusing and ridiculous, I thought I was watching an Italian thriller for a minute there.

  2. you also forgot that Bill Murray meets an untimely demise in the cult classic ‘Zombieland’ recently … it still fits in my book!

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