“If Canadian horror movies were people at a house party, they’d be the graceless eccentric slouching in a corner of the kitchen and drinking Extra Old Stock, their sodden woolen socks piled at their heels. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with a person like that?” (pp 12-13)

“No horror film is truly mainstream,” David Cronenberg has said, and it is for this reason that even the lowliest of them may be worth consideration. In They Came From Within, Caelum Vatnsdal adjusts the focus in Canadian horror films, and unwinds the history of this neglected genre to learn “why we fear what we fear and how it came to be that way.”

From the early Canadian infiltration of Hollywood in the thirties, to the flowering of Canuck horror films in the sixties and seventies, to the surreal products of the “tax-shelter” eighties and beyond, Vatnsdal shows how the Canadian horror film industry has, unwittingly or not, created a complex social, economic, and political portrait of a nation.

Engagingly written, extensively researched, and lavishly illustrated with rare stills and poster art, They Came From Within is an invaluable addition of Canadian film criticism.

Not only is They Came from Within a riveting read it’s also quietly hilarious….With They Came from Within Caelum is finally giving the much maligned (both at home and abroad) Canadian horror movie industry the kind of recognition it deserves.

Justin Kerswell

It only makes sense, somehow, that a Manitoban would be the author of this first major work on the meaty Canuck horror genre, and Winnipeg’s Arbeiter Ring Publishing has really pulled out the stops. They Came From Within is a sweet-looking book, with a black-and-white still on every page and a gorgeous full-colour glossy centrepiece showcasing reprints of movie posters in all their glory. But all the pretty pictures only serve to offset the true intrigue of Vatnsdal’s comprehensive research.

Melora Koepke, Hour.ca

Much of this information has never surfaced before, making this book a delight to paw through, even for a jaded Canadian b-film buff like myself—who knew there were so many custom vans in Canadian horror films? Also included are hundreds of black and white film stills and 14 full-colour pages, which highlight some of the better poster art of the genre. For fans of this site and Canadian film in general, this is an essential read!


Subject Performing Arts/Film & Video/History & Crticism
Published September 2004
Price $28.95 CDN
Pages 256 pp (Paper)
Dimensions 7″ × 9″ × 0.75″
ISBN-10 1894037219
ISBN-13 9781894037211

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  • canuxploitation.com writes:

    Strange then, that never before has anyone synthesized a complete history of our national nightmares caught on celluloid. It’s a conspicuous gap in our film criticism, especially given the popularity and abundance of Canadian horror films. Thankfully, Caelum Vatnsdal’s well-researched and often humorous new book, They Came From Within, finally sets the record straight on hoser horror—a revelation for Canadian film buffs and a wealth of information for horror fans.

  • Melora Koepke , in Hour.ca writes:

    Vatnsdal quickly transcends the usual Where’s Waldo of Canuck talent that goes on when culture critics enumerate our involvements in Hollywood. Though Vatsndal is more aficionado, he’s brave enough to analyse with his teeth bared, giving a comprehensive history not only of the whats and whos of the Canadian horror genre, but the whys as well.

  • Justin Kerswell, in Hysteria Lives writes:

    Even in these enlightened times, when we hear that a movie is being shot in Toronto we naturally assume this is just some money saving exercise, rather than a renaissance of Canadian genre film making. To even suggest they was ever a Canadian horror movie industry of any note is sure to bring snorts of derision from some corners. Caelum Vatnsdal’s excellent They Came From Within is here to put the record straight (or at least hammer a few kinks out of it).

  • Tanya Huff, in Globe and Mail writes:

    Caelum Vatnsdal—author, screenwriter, filmmaker and cultural critic for CBC Radio’s Definitely Not the Opera—not only loves horror movies, he’s fond of them. Love can be blind, but fond sees both the potential and the flaws. Fond enjoys, and that enjoyment is evident in every word of They Came From Within. Enjoyment and enthusiasm and a sense of humour that is, like all good humour, as truthful as it is funny….This Canadian book is damn good.

About the Author

Caelum was born and bred in that legendary hotbed of sub-polar culture, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Movies were an obsession from an early age, with titles like The Pug-Dog Crisis, Revenge of the Birds (a prize-winner) and Crawdads, the result.

He went to the University of Manitoba, followed by an apprenticeship of sorts on Guy Maddin’s film Careful. Caelum learned about the nuts and bolts of filmmaking by working as a camera assistant in Winnipeg and Toronto, while making his own films: shorts like Mr. Banana and Kundalini Unbound, and a feature entitled Black as Hell, Strong as Death, Sweet as Love.

Caelum formed Mighty Kraken Films to make the feature, and has gone on to make award-winning music videos for The Weakerthans and other Canadian bands. Acting, cinematography, script-writing and book-writing (Kino Delirium: The Films of Guy Maddin; They Came From Within: The History of Canadian Horror Films) are some of his other pursuits. He is currently working on more music videos, documentary pieces for the CBC, and another feature screenplay.

Also by Caelum Vatnsdal