Suspiring : The Horror Film

Wednesday, January 16 at 7pm

SLEEPAWAY CAMP

Robert Hiltzik (U.S. 1983) 84 min. With Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Karen Fields. 35MM.

A cult slasher film, Sleepaway Camp follows the painfully shy and slightly traumatized Angela (Rose), as she moves in with her aunt Martha and cousin Ricky following a family tragedy. Martha sends the kids to Camp Arawak, and soon after their arrival a series of bizarre and increasingly violent accidents begins to claim lives… Sleepaway Camp is remarkable for its undeniable queerness, for being one of the few camp slashers to actually feature adolescent actors and for its final revelation of the killer’s identity – one of the most shocking climaxes in the history of American cinema (Hollywood Theater program notes). Print courtesy of the Phil Blankenship Collection at the Academy Film Archive.

PLAYING WITH

THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE

Amy Holden Jones (U.S. 1982) 77 min. With Michael Villella, Michelle Michaels, Robin Stille. 35MM.

The ultimate driller killer thriller is also the only female directed slasher of the 80s, written by feminist Rita Mae Brown and intended as a sleazy parody of an already sleazy genre. Director Amy Holden Jones thought otherwise, flipping Brown’s cheeky script into straight horror. The result is self-aware and subversive, while still delivering on good old teenage sex and violence. The story is appropriately ridiculous, about a girls’ basketball team hosting a slumber party that’s stalked by an escaped lunatic – and it isn’t long before the long showers and sexy phone calls give way to a mounting pile of mangled bodies (Nitehawk Cinema program notes). Print courtesy of the Phil Blankenship Collection at the Academy Film Archive.

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Wednesday, January 23 at 7pm

SUSPIRIA

Dario Argento (Italy 1977) 98 min. With Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci. Italian with English subtitles. 35MM.

A fairy tale construction at once grim and florid, Italian Giallo master Dario Argento’s best-known film finds an American ballet dancer arriving at an exclusive academy in Germany where she discovers a dark past and occult forces at work. With some of Argento’s most perversely ingenious set pieces, a plum part for former Fritz Lang muse Joan Bennett, and a spine-tingling theme by Goblin that will haunt you to the grave, Suspiria screens in a recently discovered uncut Italian 35mm print that – until it was found last year and toured the country – hadn’t been shown since at least 1978 (Metrograph program notes).

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Wednesday, February 6 at 7pm

THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE – 40th Anniversary Restoration

Tobe Hooper (U.S. 1974) 83 min. With Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain. DCP.

Two siblings visit their grandfather’s grave in Texas along with three of their friends and are attacked by a family of cannibalistic psychopaths. Tobe Hooper’s infamous film was years ahead of its time, an unfathomably terrifying look into the American divide that shaped an entire generation of horror film lovers (Montclair Film program notes).

PLAYING WITH 

HEIDI

Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley (U.S. 1992) 63 min.

Heidi is the radical and disquieting meta-cinematic adaptation of Joanna Spyri’s classic Swiss children’s novel, made with gross rubber figures and the intention “to create convoluted associations between Heidi, the purity myth in America and Europe and the media view of family life, horror movies and ornamentation” (Paul McCarthy). Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York and the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, Los Angeles.

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Wednesday, February 20 at 7pm

EYES WITHOUT A FACE

Georges Franju (France 1960) 90 min. With Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Juliette Mayniel. French with English subtitles. 35MM.

At his secluded chateau in the French countryside, a brilliant, obsessive doctor (Brasseur) attempts a radical plastic surgery to restore the beauty of his daughter’s disfigured countenance — at a horrifying price. Eyes Without a Face, directed by the supremely talented Georges Franju, is rare in horror cinema for its odd mixture of the ghastly and the lyrical, and it has been a major influence on the genre in the decades since its release. There are images here — of terror, of gore, of inexplicable beauty — that once seen are never forgotten.

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Wednesday, February 27 at 7pm

CAT PEOPLE

Jacques Tourneur (U.S. 1942) 73 min. With Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway. 35MM.

The first Lewton thriller is still the definitive one, for the way it locates horror in the unseen — not only on the level of technique, with its suggestive shadows and offscreen sonic shocks, or of psychology, with its Freudian sublimations, but in the nuances of social relations. A Serbian immigrant (Simon) yearns for companionship but fears that a lover’s kiss will activate an ancestral curse. Her suitor cleaves to others of his kind, like his office confidante. While sexual jealousy escalates the plot, the conflict between unassimilated imagination and amiable ordinariness is at the heart of the film’s tragedy. Lewton is compassionate toward both the alien and the Americans: one woman’s tragedy is another’s happy ending (Pacific Film Archive program notes). Preserved by the Library of Congress.

PLAYING WITH 

ISLE OF THE DEAD

Mark Robson (U.S. 1945) 71 min. With Boris Karloff, Ellen Drew, Marc Cramer. 35MM.

From the corpse-strewn Balkan War battlefield of the opening scenes to the Greek cemetery island where the plot plays out, a sepulchral whiff of mortal decay wafts through Isle of the Dead. In his first film for Lewton, Boris Karloff plays General Pherides, a grim patriot who inexplicably takes time out from his official duties to visit the titular isle. When a plague suddenly strikes the place, there is talk of ancient spirits that drain humans of life. “We don’t believe the old tales anymore,” insists the general, declaring his allegiance with the visible and the living, but, this being a Lewton film, atavism will have its way (Pacific Film Archive program notes).

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Wednesday, April 3 at 7pm

AUDITION

Takashi Miike (Japan 1999) 115 min. DCP. With Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki. Japanese with English subtitles.

One of the most well-crafted, impactful and infamous J-horror films ever made returns to the big screen after far too long a break! Audition was the turn-of-the-millenium flash point signaling the talent of Takashi Miike: a film artist twice as prolific as Fassbinder, a provocateur as multifaceted as Von Trier and a genre-bender as bent as David Lynch. Shocking art houses worldwide with its white-knuckle finale and ingeniously Sirkian slow-burn lead up, Audition trail blazed a fresh Asian horror wave for which we’re eternally grateful.

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Wednesday, April 10 at 7pm

THE FETISHIST

Jim Trainor (U.S. 1997) 38 min. 16MM.

“Animated biography of the 1940s serial killer William Heirens. I regret the title, which suggests something kinky and fun. A better title, from which I was dissuaded because it sounded too much like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, would be The Window, the Knife and the Toilet. As a matter of taste – not usually my strong point – I declined to depict the murders themselves” (Jim Trainor).

PLAYING WITH

CANIBA

Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel (U.S. 2017) 92 min. DCP. With Issei Sagawa, Jun Sagawa. English and Japanese with English subtitles.

A new documentary from the pioneering filmmakers behind Leviathan, Caniba reflects on the discomfiting significance of cannibalistic desire in human existence through the prism of one Japanese man, Issei Sagawa, and his mysterious relationship with his brother, Jun Sagawa. As a 32-year-old student at the Sorbonne in Paris, Issei Sagawa was arrested on June 13, 1981 when spotted emptying two bloody suitcases containing the remains of his Dutch classmate, Renée Hartevelt. Two days earlier, Mr. Sagawa had killed Hartevelt and began eating her. Declared legally insane, he returned to Japan. He has been a free man ever since, ostracized from society, but making a living off his crime by writing novels, drawing manga, appearing in innumerable documentaries and sexploitation films in which he reenacts his crime, and even becoming a food critic.

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Wednesday, April 17 at 7pm

DRACULA – Centennial Restoration Print

Tod Browning (U.S. 1931) 75 min. 35MM. With Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners.

Based on Bram Stoker’s novel and a wildly successful stage adaptation by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, Tod Browning’s realization bears the influence of both. While the film’s compositions have been characterized as betraying the source material’s theatrical origins, Karl Freund’s moody and atmospheric photography adeptly displays the cinematic influence of German Expressionism and Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922). One of the earliest sound horror films, Dracula eschewed a musical score for the most part, the better to accentuate every creak, footstep and wolf howl against an ominous silence (Adapted from UCLA Film & Television Archive notes).

PLAYING WITH

VAMPYR

Carl Dreyer (France/Germany 1931) 75 min. With Julian West, Henriette Gerard, Jan Hironimko. German with English subtitles.

With Vampyr, Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer’s brilliance at achieving mesmerizing atmosphere and austere, profoundly unsettling imagery (The Passion of Joan of Arc) was for once applied to the horror genre. Yet the result — concerning an occult student assailed by various supernatural haunts and local evildoers in a village outside Paris — is nearly unclassifiable, a host of stunning camera and editing tricks and densely layered sounds that create a mood of dreamlike terror. With its roiling fogs, ominous scythes, and foreboding echoes, Vampyr is one of cinema’s great nightmares.

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Wednesday, April 24 at 7pm

FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN

Paul Morrissey (Italy/U.S./France 1973) 95 min. 35MM. With Dalila Di Lazzaro, Joe Dallesandro, Udo Kier.

Maverick filmmaker Paul Morrissey reevaluates the horror film in Flesh for Frankenstein, a movie infused with satiric wit and sexuality that deviates quite a ways from the Mary Shelley story. Morrissey’s X-rated tale of the mad Baron Frankenstein and his perverse creative urges involves the obsessed scientist’s construction of a pair of sexually promiscuous “zombies” to serve as his monstrous Adam and Eve. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to witness Morrissey’s monster masterpiece on the big screen in beautiful stereoscopic 3D!

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