Wednesday, May 9, 2012

125 Rooms of Comfort

I subscribe to a Facebook group You know you grew up in St. Thomas Ontario when . . . and I really enjoy the variety of conversations.

Recently we were talking about movies made in St. Thomas:  125 Rooms of Comfort (1974),  Mr. Headmistress (1998), Silent Hill (2006), Total Recall (2012).  If you know of any others please let me know.

I lived a few doors down from Alma College on Moore Street for many years, including the time they were filming Mr. Headmistress.  We were witness to a great deal of excitement during that week or so.  My youngest son Tim, who at that time didn't know he wanted to be an actor, kept trying everything he could to get on set but they caught him every time.  He was only 9 at the time.  My niece was in one of the scenes and was paid $75 for the day's work.  Her bit ended up on the cutting room floor unfortunately.

Well, one night the production people asked that we not park on the street.  They placed safety cones up to discourage parking and they brought in a local volunteer security group to keep an eye on things. Wouldn't you know, there was a disturbance during the wee hours of the morning when a neighour arrived home in less than sober condition and ran right over the cones so she could park out front of her home.  The security people tried to get her to move without success and then the police were called.  After a bit of an argument, the neighbour took a swing at the police officer and she was handcuffed and taken away.  We went back to bed because we wanted to be up to watch the early morning filming so I can only assume a tow truck was called to remove the car.

I loved watching Mr. Headmistress, pointing out any people or locations I recognized.  So I was very interested when 125 Rooms was mentioned on the Facebook group.  I can barely remember what the Grand Central looked like.  I was never inside.  My ex worked there for about a week on the demolition (1979) before he quit or got fired (depending who you asked).  He did bring home a newel post from the stair case.  I kept that piece of wood for years but cannot recall whatever happened to it.  I knew some of my friends had squatted in the Grand Central during the late 70s but at the time was not curious enough to ask questions or see it myself.  Now I wish I'd gone in.

So my curiosity was aroused when I heard that this awful film, 125 Rooms, was filmed in the Grand Central.  I immediately went online and bought a copy of the video.  I paid more for shipping than I did for the actual tape.  It arrived yesterday.  The movie was so bad I can't even tell you what it was about except that it was definitely a man's movie with nudity and stupidity abounding, even a scene where the "star" is cross dressing for no reason whatsoever . . . but there was a lot of great scenery including a Talbot Street parade.  I miss the good old days when parades had lots of bands and clowns and majorettes smiling and tossing their batons.  There were quite a few shots of Port Stanley, St. Thomas and the psychiatric hospital in the film.  And it was a great tour of the Grand Central in its last days.