Thursday, October 6, 2022

All Monsters Attack at The Grand Illusion Cinema: Oct 7 - Nov 3

To my mind, the months of October and November could always do with more in the way of programming around Halloween season genre film and its disorienting frights, crepuscular surrealism, and discomfiting atmospheres. Thankfully, Scarecrow Video annually steps up with their curated Halloween section of domestic and international horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and psychotronic selections. The Psychotronic Challenge also returns in its seventh installment, challenging viewers to select a new theme category for every day in October from the deep trivia of the cues on offer. While we're here, let's talk the incomparable one-of-a-kind resource that is Scarecrow, and how if you live in the Northwest and are a fan of cinema, it's essentially your personal obligation to ensure their doors stay open for business. For horror and genre aficionados, there is no other resource in North America like that offered by Scarecrow Video and their abundant catalog of obscure, foreign releases, out of print, and ultra-rare editions, and with nearly 150,000 films on offer, no singular online streaming resource can compare. In previous years, the annual citywide cinematic offerings for the months of October and November have seen a great set of films exploring desolate worlds, classic Japanese horror, a vampiric romaticism double feature and a night of music from a maestro of Italian horror. Also in the way of recent Halloween seasons of note, the local arthouse cinemas presented an abundance on the theme of the haunted house in 2015, and 2013 saw no small number of invaders from beyond. 2017 was heavy on 1970s psychedelic and psychological horror from Europe, particularly from the era of abundance seen in the subgenres of French Fantastique and Italian Giallo. 2018's programming was highly attuned to American 1980s horror, as was the case with the 2019 installment, alongside a bold mix of decades of classic European, Asian, and Italian genre material. Making a return after the long pandemic hiatus, 2021 also diversified with a strong set of films that never saw a theatrical release during the 2020 season.

One of the longest running, and most consistently satisfying of the local Halloween series has been The Grand Illusion Cinema's month-long All Monsters Attack calendar of horror, creature features, classic thrillers, sci-fi, and cult cinema. A highlight from last year's programming returns with a memorial night for Seattle's most dedicated cinephile, music lover, and man-about-town, William Kennedy. Before his passing in 2021, Bill wished for nothing more than his friends and cultural compatriots to join together for a screening of David Cronenberg's classic body-horror techno thriller, “Videodrome”. Two slices of celluloid magic from the black and white era are on the slate for the first week of programming, James Laughton's dreamily peculiar showcase for Robert Mitchum's malevolent preacher in "Night of the Hunter", and the slasher that birthed the genre, Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" in an extended cut. Switching modes to 1980s fare, there's Frank Henenlotter's absurd and excessive, "Brain Damage", and what might contestably be the greatest horror film of the decade, John Carpenter's audacious remake of "The Thing" from Another World. 1980s blockbuster fare can be seen in John McTiernan's Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, "Predator", and emerging from the Japanese cinema explosion of the 1990s, "Versus" put Ryûhei Kitamura on the map. A trio of diverse vampiric features are next on the slate; Francis Ford Coppola's slick and operatic 1990s hit "Bram Stoker's Dracula", the weighty atmosphere of F.W. Murnau's silent era "Nosferatu", and the sole directorial effort from child actor James Bond III, "Def by Temptation" which shares rarified company with films like Bill Gunn's single horror entry. Two long-running series at The Grand Illusion return with a VHS Über Alles double feature promising a night of Student Slasher Thrillrides from the Scarecrow archive only released on VHS, and The Sprocket Society present their usual array of rarities on 16mm. This year screening 1932's infamous "Freaks" by Tod Browning, alongside a secret pre-code shocker second feature, and a set of spooky shorts and cartoons. No Halloween season would be complete without a SATANAGEDDON! double feature presenting two ultra-rare 16mm slices of Satanic Panic-era madness. And rounding off the season, Italian horror and Giallo are essential components to the genre, and few have produced more entries in both than Lucio Fulci. Memorable for the tropical island setting of his "Zombie", also known as "Zombi 2", the film pairs the director with longtime collaborator Fabio Frizzi. In recent years the composer has toured his extended body of music made for the films of Fulci, particularly "The Beyond: Composer's Cut", which features Frizzi’s expanded score for the film, presented here in a new 4K restoration.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

The Criterion Channel Presents 30 Film 1980s Horror Showcase: Oct 1 | Genre Streaming for Cinephiles

Looking online this month for seasonal genre film offerings, Shudder remains the home for horror streaming. Their catalog alone could fill any avid viewer's calendar, and while it is more than a bit hyperbolic, Screenrant isn't too far wrong proposing "How Shudder Is Single-Handedly Keeping 2020 Horror Movies Alive". Don't overlook Shout Factory TV's lineup, and the excellent Arrow Films, and their genre imprint, Arrow Video, have also entered the game in recent years, inviting us to "Join the Cult: The Arrow Video Channel". Annually the online cinema that is Mubi offer up a selection of arthouse and deep cult cinema cuts on their platform spanning October. Such as the Trick or Flick: Halloween Horror showcase found in their Library section. But the true motherload can be found nestled in the bounty of The Criterion Channel's October lineup. Much like their previous 1970s Horror showcase of 2020, this year they dive deep into the explosion of the genre the following decade, with a showcase dedicated to the classic Universal Horror, Japan's kaiju king Ishiro Honda, a set of Vampire films, and a 30 title showcase of 1980s Horror. The latter seemingly taking a cue from Nick Pinkerton's Sight & Sound feature, and their "The Other Side of 80s America" focus on the decade of independent and genre cinema issuing from the United States. Concurrent with the pop culture revelry of Reaganite family-oriented dramas, action, teen movies, and sci-fi blockbusters, a more rebellious and independent strain of US movie making explored the darkness on the edge of mainstream society. Anne Billson's supporting article "A Nightmare on Main Street" plumbs the deeper realms of the decade's more assertively subversive low-to-medium budget genre fare, often “unburdened by notions of good taste". These manic explorations of class conflict, Cold War dread, ecological disaster and suburban paranoia defined a decade of cult film issuing from an era that was transgressive, politically voracious, and boundary-pushing. From the Criterion Channel; “The 1980s were defined by style and excess, and the era’s horror movies were no exception. Innovations in practical effects made the nightmares more vivid than ever, and thanks to the rise of home video, the call was now coming from inside the house. While established talents such as Dario Argento, Werner Herzog, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Lucio Fulci, David Cronenberg, Michael Mann, Ken Russell, and Paul Schrader, brought terrifying spectacles to the screen, often with the help of Hollywood studios, home video opened up a new market that allowed the independents to take the genre to unexpected and—in the case of the UK’s censorship of infamous “Video Nasties”—controversial new heights. Curated by Clyde Folley, this ghastly tour through the decade of greed features ambitious art-pulp hybrids, a Hitchcock-inspired trucker movie, old-fashioned creature features, vampiric outsiders, Japanese punk cinema, astute political commentary, and absolutely unclassifiable cult oddities, bringing together some of the eighties’ most stylish, haunting, and outrageous visions.”