7TH FESTIVAL OF FANTASY, HORROR & SCIENCE-FICTION in HOLLYWOOD
Source: American Cinematheque
7TH FESTIVAL OF FANTASY, HORROR & SCIENCE-FICTION
August 2 – 26 at the Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028
In collaboration with scienceplusfiction, Trieste International Science Fiction Film Festival, Italy
After skipping 2006, our Festival of Fantasy, Horror and Science-Fiction is back at the Egyptian with an extra huge helping of genre favorites, classics and rare gems in urgent need of rediscovery. As a result of the resounding success of our Golden Age of British Horror series last year, we’ve included more hard-to-see British horror and sci-fi from the 1960’s – 1970’s (several in new 35mm prints!) with THE DEVILS, BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW, CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB, KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN, CRACK IN THE WORLD, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, THESE ARE THE DAMNED, NEVER TAKE SWEETS FROM A STRANGER, MANIAC, CURSE OF THE FLY, THE PROJECTED MAN, HORROR HOTEL and DEVIL DOLL. We’ve also shamelessly indulged our weakness for scary, entertaining 1950’s drive-in masterpieces, including INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, WORLD WITHOUT END (impossibly rare, and we’ve got a gorgeous new 35mm print!), FIEND WITHOUT A FACE, THE RETURN OF DRACULA, THE VAMPIRE, I BURY THE LIVING, THE BLACK SCORPION, THE WEREWOLF and MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS. Plus a healthy dose of European treasures, some new (the premiere of Lamberto Bava’s latest, GHOST SON, the Swedish vampire film FROSTBITE and French mockumentary OUR EARTHMEN FRIENDS) and some old (Roger Vadim’s dreamy lesbian vampire classic BLOOD AND ROSES, Mario Bava’s SHOCK, Pupi Avati’s ZEDER, a Jess Franco double bill of THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF & VENUS IN FURS and Ovidio Assonitis’ exhilarating – and unintentionally hilarious – BEYOND THE DOOR). There’s a Kurt Vonnegut tribute double bill (SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE), a pair of Peter Lorre’s best (MAD LOVE and THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS), a free admission memorial matinee of Curtis Harrington’s GAMES, the Los Angeles premiere of ULTRAMAN MEBIUS AND ULTRA BROTHERS (for all you Giant Monsters fans!) and three of the best Jules Verne adaptations ever: JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (in a brand new 35mm print!), 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA and MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. Then there’s an evening of exceptional Sci-Fi and Horror Shorts, with several local filmmakers In-Person! Last, but not least, to open up the festival, we’ve got a special treat: the Los Angeles premiere of TRAPPED ASHES, the anthology horror opus produced and written by former American Cinematheque programmer, Dennis Bartok (check out our write-up on the film to see some of the fabulous directors he’s gotten on board!) The film will continue for a week run afterwards in the Spielberg Theatre. Cool down from that oppressive summer heat outside with this great month-long package of chills!
Series programmed by Chris D., with the assistance of Martina Palaskov Begov and Alan K. Rode. Shorts programmed by Andrew P. Crane.
Special Thanks: LIONS GATE; Dennis Bartok, Yuko Yoshikawa & Yoshifumi Hosoya; Adriana Chiesa; Harry Guerro; Emily Horn/PARAMOUNT; Paul Ginsburg/UNIVERSAL; Amy Lewin/MGM REPERTORY; Marilee Womack/WARNER BROS.; Suzanne Leroy, Shirley Couch, Grover Crisp & Helena Brissenden/SONY REPERTORY & SONY FILM SERVICES; Caitlin Robertson & Schawn Belston/20th CENTURY FOX; Michael Hyatt; Quentin Tarantino; Julie McLean; SOLID ENTERTAINMENT; FILMS 13; Richard Gordon/GORDON FILMS, INC.; Brian Meacham/AMPAS; Todd Wiener & Joe Hunsberger; Brad Warner/TSUBURAYA PRODUCTIONS; Mary Tallungan/DISNEY; Joe Dante.
Ticket prices to the theater are $10.00 general, $8.00 students and seniors, and $7.00 for American Cinematheque members. Tickets can be purchased at the theater box office and on fandango.com. Check the American Cinematheque website for complete ordering instructions, parking info, directions and additional information.
Thursday, August 2 – 8:00 PM Los Angeles Premiere!
TRAPPED ASHES, 2006, Lions Gate, 105 min. Seven strangers are trapped inside an infamous “House of Horrors” during a Hollywood movie studio tour and forced to tell their most terrifying personal stories in order to get out alive. In the twisted tradition of classic anthology horror pictures such as TALES FROM THE CRYPT and THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, this very entertaining multi-story film was co-produced and written by former American Cinematheque programmer Dennis Bartok. Joe Dante (THE HOWLING; GREMLINS) directed the wraparound narrative with episodes helmed by masters Ken Russell (THE DEVILS), Sean Cunningham (FRIDAY THE 13th), Monte Hellman (TWO-LANE BLACKTOP) and John Gaeta (Oscar winner for visual effects on THE MATRIX Trilogy). In addition, the multi-Academy-Award-winning Robert Skotak (TERMINATOR 2; ALIENS) supervised the visual effects and acclaimed composer Kenji Kawai (who scored the original Japanese versions of RING and DARK WATER) supplied the music. With a super cast that includes Henry Gibson (NASHVILLE), John Saxon (NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET), Lara Harris (AMERICAN PIE); Jayce Bartok (THE STATION AGENT; RED DOORS), Amelia Cooke (SPECIES III) and Ryo Ishibashi (AUDITION). Discusion following with writer/producer Dennis Bartok, directors Monte Hellman, Sean Cunningham, actors John Saxon, Scott Lowell, Rachel Veltri, producers Yuko Yoshikawa and Yoshifumi Hosoya, and production designer Robb Wilson King
Friday, August 3 – 8:00 PM New European Horror Showcase – Lamberto & Mario Bava Double Feature:
Los Angeles Premiere! GHOST SON, 2006, Adriana Chiesa, 96 min. Director Lamberto Bava’s ghost saga begins with very much in-love couple Stacey (Laura Harring, of MULHOLLAND DRIVE) and Mark (John Hannah) living a dream life in the South African veldt. Then Mark suffers fatal car crash injuries in the remote countryside. Soon after, he appears to Stacey in a dream. Or was it real? The couple make love, and Stacey gradually begins to lose her grip on reality. After examinng her, doctor Pete Postlethwaite is astonished to find her pregnant. Everyone assumes the child was conceived before Mark’s death, but we know otherwise. When the baby is delivered, nightmarish events mushroom for Stacey, and she realizes that Mark’s clinging ghost – nourished by the rich, local culture of ancient African spirit lore – wants to pull her out of this world and into the next through their son. NOT ON DVD
SHOCK (aka BEYOND THE DOOR II), 1979, 92 min. Mario Bava’s last feature film (co-directed with son Lamberto, uncredited) revisits themes first explored in KILL, BABY, KILL and WHIP AND THE BODY as Daria Nicolodi (DEEP RED) and her child are haunted by the ghost of her first husband, a drug addict. Actor Ivan Rassimov (MAN FROM DEEP RIVER), who usually played a villain in 1970’s Italian pictures, does a rare good guy turn here as Nicolodi’s concerned doctor. With John Steiner (TENEBRE) as Nicolodi’s current, almost-never-at-home airline pilot husband. Contains some of maestro Bava’s scariest, most impressive effects.
Friday, August 3 – Wednesday, August 8 [Spielberg Theatre] Showtimes 7:30 PM Daily
TRAPPED ASHES, 2006, Lions Gate, 105 min. [See description, August 2 – Egyptian Theatre]
Saturday, August 4 – 7:30 PM Euro Vampire Double Feature:
Rare! IB Technicolor Print! BLOOD AND ROSES, 1960, Paramount, 74 min. Roger Vadim (BARBARELLA) directed this sumptuously beautiful adaptation of J. Sheridan LeFanu’s vampire classic, Carmilla, updating it effectively to a contemporary setting. Carmilla (Annette Vadim) suffers pangs of jealousy when her beloved cousin Leopoldo Karnstein (Mel Ferrer) becomes engaged to ravishing Georgia (Elsa Martinelli). Carmilla soon comes to believe she is possessed by her ancient, undead ancestor, the vampire Millarca, and begins a reign of terror on the grounds of Leopoldo’s estate. Director Vadim and cinematographer Claude Renoir concentrate on the story’s sensuality, creating a dreamlike, ethereal quality that is unpretentiously poetic and positively entrancing. Unfortunately, American censors snipped several minutes of footage to tone down the lesbian slant in the narrative. The exceptionally rare French version is even harder to see than this English-language release. It is a testament to Vadim, cinematographer Renoir, music composer Jean Prodromides and the cast that the film remains so poignant and haunting, embodying the spiritual anguish of the characters as well as the horror. An underrated, hard-to-see classic. NOT ON DVD
KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, 1963, Universal, 88 min. Edward de Souza and Jennifer Daniel are honeymooning British newlyweds in rural Bavaria circa 1910 when their car runs out of gas. They find shelter in a virtually deserted hotel and soon learn that the nearby village lives in fear of the neighboring castle. And castle owner, Dr. Ravna (Noel Willman) is only too glad to extend his hospitality to the stranded pair. Sinister Ravna and his equally predatory son and daughter have their own agenda, hoping to recruit unawares beauty, Daniel, into their secret society of degenerate bloodsuckers. Clifford Evans (CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF) is a reclusive, alcoholic professor who has already lost his daughter to the vampires, and he helps de Souza fight the undead when Daniel suddenly goes missing. “…one of Hammer Films’ finest moments. The entire cast is stellar down to the last extra.” – Christopher Dietrich, DVD Drive-In; “…a typically effective score by James Bernard, quality performances, and it both bathes in tradition and extends it. Those are all good reasons to seek this film out, but the best is that restrained but prolonged tension and ghostly ambience that Hammer did so well. While there are films that achieve it as well as KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, few achieve it better.” – Classic-Horror.com
Sunday, August 5 – 7:30 PM Witch Hunters Double Feature:
THE DEVILS, 1971, Warner Bros., 111 min. Director Ken Russell’s still-shocking adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s “Devils Of Loudun” was vilified as blasphemous and excessive upon its initial release, and remains one of the most disturbingly memorable films from the early 1970’s. The film’s allegory of a corrupt power structure equating sexual activity with satanism, all for the sake of political and religious repression, is more relevant today than ever. In the 17th century, French Cardinal Richelieu’s minions use the womanizing of activist priest Urban Grandier (Oliver Reed) as a pretext for the Inquisition to investigate his “diabolic possession” of the local nuns, including demented, hunchback Mother Superior Sister Jeanne (an unforgettable Vanessa Redgrave). With support from an excellent cast that includes Dudley Sutton, Gemma Jones and Michael Gothard. NOT ON DVD
New 35mm Print! BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW, 1971, MGM Repertory, 93 min. Dir. Piers Haggard. One of our most-requested titles is back in an encore screening, in the first new print in over 30 years! In 17th century England, a farmer (Barry Andrews) unearths a hideous, fur-covered claw in his field, unleashing a wave of superstition, hysteria and devil worship by the village youth. Ranks with Michael Reeves’ WITCHFINDER GENERAL as one of the most chilling and evocative horror films of the late 1960’s. With Patrick Wymark, Linda Hayden. “Every scene is soaked in the lush greens and browns of a damp British summer, giving it a sense of time and place which…helps suspend disbelief and sucks the viewer in – it’s almost like the Tigon crew traveled back in time to film it. It is this quality that amplifies the horror, making you believe that what is happening on the screen actually happened.” – British Horror Films (UK) NOT ON DVD
Wednesday, August 8 – 8:00 PM Kurt Vonnegut Tribute Double Feature:
SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE, 1972, Universal, 104 min. Director George Roy Hill and screenwriter Stephen Geller (TV’s “Mission: Impossible”) adapt Kurt Vonnegut’s sardonic exploration of the timeless madness of human existence, from wartime atrocity to middle-class mediocrity to interplanetary euphoria. Middle-aged optometrist, Billy Pilgrim (Michael Sacks), who survived the hellish WWII firebombing of Dresden, simultaneously exists in the past as a young POW in a German prison camp and in the far future as an elderly resident in a zoo on the planet Tralfamadore (where he is memorably pampered by Valerie Perrine as the libidinous starlet, Montana Wildhack). With Ron Leibman, Sharon Gans, Holly Near, Perry King and Eugene Roche. “Mr. Hill’s achievement in SLAUGHTERHOUSE -FIVE is in transferring to film…the author’s ebullient senses of humor and chaos…Second to THE GODFATHER, SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE is probably the most perfectly cast film in months, mostly with actors who have had little previous film experience…” – Vincent Canby, The New York Times
Rare! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE, 1971, Sony Repertory, 105 min. Director Mark Robson adapts Kurt Vonnegut’s satiric play puncturing arrogant Anglo Saxon machismo. After being lost for eight years in the Amazonian rain forest and given up for dead, big white hunter Rod Steiger returns home with his sidekick (and dropper of the Nagasaki A-bomb), William Hickey (PRIZZI’S HONOR). But macho blowhard Steiger is in for a surprise when he finds that his former-carhop wife (Susannah York) is now highly educated and enamored of a gentle, pacifist doctor (George Grizzard). Don Murray (BUS STOP) is yet another new fixture on the scene, an over-eager vacuum cleaner salesman hoping to charm his way into York’s heart. Pamelyn Ferdin is the couple’s deceased progeny, Wanda June, playing shuffleboard with Jesus in heaven. Vonnegut’s priceless verbal sparring ensues, with often hilariously barbed results. “Rod Steiger shines as the self-deceiving ultra-masculine hero, returned from eight years in the Amazon jungle, to find that not only has his loving wife, a former pinheaded carhop (played brilliantly by Susannah York), become a levelheaded intellectual equal but has gone to his extreme opposite in seeking another soul mate.” – Variety NOT ON DVD
Thursday, August 9 – 8:00 PM Peter Lorre Double Feature:
THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS, 1946, Warner Bros., 88 min. Dir. Robert Florey. Volatile (and dead) concert pianist Francis Ingram (Victor Francen) has left his Italian estate to his American nurse (Andrea King), much to the chagrin of an avaricious brother and nephew. Peter Lorre is the dead musician’s astrology-obsessed, mentally unbalanced librarian who becomes convinced that his late employer’s left hand — now missing from the corpse — is creeping about the villa, bent on murdering all those who oppose Ingram’s last testament. The rest of the household, including King’s paramour Robert Alda and police commissoner J. Carrol Naish, soon become convinced he may be right. The over-the-top Max Steiner score ably punctuates the deranged proceedings. NOT ON DVD
MAD LOVE, 1935, Warner Bros., 68 min. Dir. Karl Freund. “Dead hands that live…and love…and kill!” More macabre shenanigans involving amputated hands. Grand Guignol theatre star Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake) goes to brilliant — but crazy — surgeon Dr. Gogol (Peter Lorre) as a last resort when her concert pianist husband Stephen (Colin Clive, of FRANKENSTEIN) has his hands mangled in a train accident. Gogol, insanely in love with Yvonne, and willing to do anything to steal her away, transplants the hands of a guillotined murderer onto the comatose Stephen. Counting on the highly-suggestive nature of the neurotic pianist, Gogol makes him believe he also possesses the dead killer’s personality. An intense, delirious adaptation of French writer Maurice Renard’s oft-filmed novel, The Hands Of Orlac.
Friday, August 10 – 7:30 PM Fifties Cinemascope Sci-Fi Double Feature:
New 35mm Print! JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, 1959, 20th Century Fox, 132 min. Dir. Henry Levin. Along with Richard Fleischer’s 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, this is one of the finest versions of a Jules Verne novel ever filmed, with James Mason beautifully cast as an obsessive Scottish geology professor who descends into the depths of the Earth with eager student Pat Boone, alluring widow Arlene Dahl, and sinister nemesis Thayer David. The dazzling underground crystal caves, ferocious dinosaurs and mushroom forests are among the most delightful Hollywood creations of the 1950’s. Produced and co-written by Charles Brackett (Billy Wilder’s longtime partner), with a terrific stereo score by the maestro Bernard Herrmann. Rarely revived since its original release. Discussion after the film with actor Pat Boone.
Ultra-Rare! New 35mm Print! WORLD WITHOUT END, 1956, Warner Bros., 80 min. Dir. Edward Bernds (RETURN OF THE FLY). Allied Artists was trying to shed their “poverty-row” Monogram-roots when they produced this relatively big budget sci-fi epic. Indeed, it was one of the very first science-fiction pictures to be lensed in Cinemascope and color. Hugh Marlowe (EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS), Rod Taylor (THE TIME MACHINE), Nelson Leigh and Christopher Dark are a quartet of scientists catapulted far into Earth’s future when their spaceship, returning from a Martian orbit, goes through a freak energy belt. After crash landing, they find giant cave spiders, cavemen mutants and an elite underground civilization afflicted by sterilization from repeated atomic wars. This extremely hard-to-see cult movie supplies well-acted, pulp sci-fi thrills in the best Saturday matinee tradition. With Nancy Gates (SUDDENLY) and Shawn Smith (IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE) as the future girls-next-door. With Lisa Janti. Discussion in between films with actress Lisa Janti (WORLD WITHOUT END). NOT ON DVD
Friday, August 10 – 7:30 PM [Spielberg Theatre]New European Sci-Fi/Horror Showcase – Double Feature:
FROSTBITE, 2006, Solid Entertainment, 98 min. Moscow-educated director Anders Banke delivers this alternately scary and funny horror movie, one of the very few Swedish vampire movies. In midwinter, medical doctor Annika and her 17-year-old daughter Saga have just moved to Lapland for Annika’s new job. The little town with its seemingly endless polar night appears to be just as boring as Saga thought it would be. Saga quickly meets new friends through Vega, a Goth girl who acts as though she has known Saga for years. But things are amiss in the biting winter cold. Annika finds out that there is something not quite right at the hospital, and the little community is suddenly struck by mysterious deaths. There is something hunting in the night, and when the world around her disappears into a maelstrom of snow, ice and blood, the last thing she wants to hear is that there’s more than a month until dawn! With Petra Nielsen, Grete Havnesköld, Jonas Karlström. NOT ON DVD
OUR EARTHMEN FRIENDS, 2006, Films 13, 84 min. French director Bernard Werber delivers a bizarrely funny mockumentary. In order to observe human subjects in the wild and under controlled situations, the aliens pluck two strangers, a man and a woman, from a forest and drop them – naked – into a clear cage suspended in darkness. Exhibit A is painter Agathe, whose volcanic temper is offset by the confused brooding of Exhibit B, musician Bertrand. As the narrator speculates on the uses of everyday objects, including toilets, chickens and felt-tipped pens, one of each item is obligingly dropped into the cell to see what the humans will do with it. Meanwhile, Exhibit A and B’s respective spouses meet and soon begin an uneasy cohabitation observed in all its messy confusion by the unseen aliens. With Annelise Hesme, Audrey Dana, Thomas Le Douarec. In French, with English subtitles. NOT ON DVD
Saturday, August 11 – 6:30 PM Tribute to Composer Gerald Fried – Fifties Horror Triple Feature:
I BURY THE LIVING, 1958, MGM Repertory, 76 min. Former colleague of John Huston, Albert Band (director of the virtually lost classic, FACE OF FIRE) helmed this scary, low budget sleeper. New cemetery chairman Richard Boone (TV’s “Have Gun, Will Travel”) discovers that he seemingly has the power of life and death over the town citizenry with the black and white stickpins placed in the graveyard’s map of burial plots. Theodore Bikel is the strange, elderly caretaker who may know more than he is letting on. Gerald Fried (PATHS OF GLORY; THE KILLING) supplies another great score. “…tense little psychological thriller… it succeeds through its dark style and its unbending, relentless pursuit of the oddly imaginative, yet simple premise.” – Josh Hickman, Film Threat
THE VAMPIRE, 1957, MGM Repertory, 75 min. Small town doctor Paul Beecher (the excellent John Beal) mistakenly takes some pills he found on a dead researcher’s body and immediately becomes addicted. Sheriff Buck Donnelly (Kenneth Tobey, of THE THING) connects the dots when people start turning up dead, and, before long, tormented Beal realizes he is the vampire killer. Coleen Gray (NIGHTMARE ALLEY) is his devoted nurse, hoping to stay alive as she tries to help him. A fast- moving, well-acted little gem of a thriller punctuated with an awesome, chills-inducing score by composer Gerald Fried. Director Paul Landres and crew manage to create a creepy California Gothic ambience out of the shadows of a quiet suburban neighborhood – no mean feat! The powerful climax was shot in Griffith Park. NOT ON DVD
THE RETURN OF DRACULA, 1958, MGM Repertory, 77 min. Director Paul Landres and screenwriter Pat Fielder, aided by composer Gerald Fried, concoct a supernatual variant on Hitchcock’s SHADOW OF A DOUBT. Francis Lederer is a quite effective Dracula in this chilling, low budget classic. When the undead count is stalked by an intrepid vampire hunter (John Wengraf) in Eastern Europe, he murders a man headed to the USA, assuming his victim’s identity. Teenage Rachel (Norma Eberhardt) and family are happy to welcome their visiting European uncle (whom they’ve never met before) to their sleepy southern California town. But they begin to find it odd when they never see him in the daytime. Soon, disturbing things occur, including the sudden death of blind friend Jenny, and the charmingly sinister bloodsucker focuses on making Rachel his next vampire bride. Another one of Hollywood’s many 1950’s horror pictures to utilize Bronson Canyon cave as one of its locations. Discussion in between first two films with actor Theodore Bikel (I BURY THE LIVING),and between 2nd and 3rd films with actress Coleen Gray (THE VAMPIRE), writer Pat Fielder (THE VAMPIRE, RETURN OF DRACULA) and producer Arthur Gardner (THE VAMPIRE, RETURN OF DRACULA). NOT ON DVD
Sunday, August 12 – 2:00 PM Curtis Harrington Memorial Screening:
New 35 mm. Print! GAMES, 1967, Universal, 100 min. Beautiful people James Caan and Katherine Ross live in a fun townhouse filled with Pop Art and pinball games – until mysterious charlatan Simone Signoret (DIABOLIQUE) drops in, and the parlor games turn devilishly sinister. Director Curtis Harrington (NIGHT TIDE) sustains a remarkably convincing and frightening sense of decadent indulgences carried beyond the pale, with predictable mushrooming fear and personal disaster waiting in the wings. Co-starring the underrated Don Stroud (COOGAN’S BLUFF) as the ill-fated, punk grocery delivery boy. NOT ON DVD FREE ADMISSION!
Sunday, August 12 – 7:30 PM Hammer Films Double Feature:
New 35mm Print! THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB, 1964, Sony Repertory, 81 min. Michael Carreras (son of Hammer’s co-founder, James Carreras) directed this first sequel to Hammer’s successful remake of THE MUMMY that starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. This time out Terence Morgan is the reincarnation of ancient Egyptian royalty who uses his mummy brother (Dickie Owen) to target the English archaeologists (Jack Gwillim, Ronald Howard) and an American carnival huckster (the great Fred Clark) who have defiled an ancient burial site, attempting to cash in on the mummified remains and artifacts. Morgan is also bent on bewitching the sensual Jeanne Roland, Howard’s paramour and the daughter of one of the slain explorers. Otto Heller’s lush color cinematography effectively and atmospherically disguises the low budget. “…a solid, serious thriller which tells a good tale and even manages to have a twist near the end…It also has what must rank as one of the top ten nasty movie deaths, when the monster, having broken into the hero’s house hotly followed by the ineffectual police, stamps on a cringing Egyptian’s head.” – British Horror Films (UK) NOT ON DVD
IB Technicolor Print! FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN, 1967, 20th Century Fox, 86 min. Dir. Terence Fisher. In this thoroughly bizarre fourth film in Hammer’s FRANKENSTEIN series, the Baron (Peter Cushing) and his assistant (Thorley Walters) retrieve the body of their young helper, Hans (Robert Morris) after he has been guillotined for a murder three rich young wastrels committed. Hans girlfriend, crippled Christina (Susan Denberg), kills herself. Frankenstein transplants the soul of Hans into Christina’s body, inadvertently creating a sensual blonde engine of vengeful destruction who seeks out the true culprits of the original homicide. This is the UK version of the film. “…this stylishly directed and memorable affair is considered by genre aficionados to be one of the best Hammer productions. Cushing’s female creation is far from the traditional Boris Karloff monster and centres more on soul transference than body parts, and gore is sacrificed in favour of a gothic tale of love and revenge. Playboy magazine model, Susan Denberg (Ms. August, 1966) supplies the heaving bosom and titillation that would become commonplace with future Hammer productions.” – Britmovie (UK)
Wednesday, August 15 – 8:00 PM
FANTASY, HORROR & SCI-FI SHORTS Approx. 79 min. Join us for this scintillating night of special genre shorts, with several from local filmmakers. Trevor Murphy’s “Eye Spy” (Ireland, 3 min). A sci-fi tale in which our fears about cameras watching us all the time takes on a horrifying dimension. Yvette Mangassarian’s “Left Behind” (USA, 14 min). A child ghost does not want his past to be forgotten. Justin Guerrieri’s “Rocketboy” (USA, 13 min). A depressed accountant meets a strange young visitor from outer space. Bobbie Peers’ “Sniffer” (Norway, 10 min). In a gray society of the future, one man defies routine convention. Jesse Eisenhardt’s “Schattenkind” (USA, 13 min). Three college grads who find shelter in an abandoned cabin find that even in the middle of nowhere….they are not alone! Brad Kean’s “Entity Nine” (USA, 16 min). When a brilliant robotics engineer refuses to continue working under his corrupt superior, he finds himself stalked by an android bearing his exact likeness; Stacey Steers “Phantom Canyon” (USA, 10 min). This animated surreal fantasy was created from over 4000 hand-made collages featuring the work of Eadweard Muybridge. Discussion to follow with filmmakers Yvette Mangassarian (“Left Behind”), Justin Guerrieri (“Rocketboy”), Jesse Eisenhardt (“Schattenkind”) & Brad Kean (“Entity Nine”).
Thursday, August 16 – 8:00 PM Italian Horror Double Feature:
ZEDER, 1983, 89 min. Director Pupi Avati (THE HOUSE OF LAUGHING WINDOWS) offers up one of his most spine-tingling features. Freelance writer Stefano (Gabriele Lavia) follows the thread of a dangerous story after finding cryptic remarks on the ribbon of a second-hand typewriter. Before long, he unravels a bizarre, post-WWII conspiracy between the government and religious leaders to suppress discovery of mysterious areas of land known as K-zones, where the dead can be spontaneously brought back to life (a plot device later used by Stephen King in Pet Semetary.) Discovering research done by a man named Zeder, he finds himself on the trail of a shadowy ring of renegade scientists still conducting secret tests on an abandoned site. But Stefano’s life and sanity – as well as that of girlfriend Alessandra (Anne Canovas) – is soon put in extreme jeopardy. Avati serves up some supremely sustained scary sequences, giving ZEDER the distinction of being one of the most frightening Italian horror films of the 1980’s.
Rare! BEYOND THE DOOR, 1974, 99 min. Director Ovidio G. Assonitis (THE VISITOR) directed this so-bad-it’s-good, possessed-by-the-devil knock-off that was immensely popular when it was originally released to grindhouses worldwide. Heavily influenced by THE EXORCIST and ROSEMARY’S BABY, the story unfolds as pregnant housewife Juliet Mills (AVANTI) is suddenly given to obscene outbursts, vile physical transformations and dangerously violent fits. Gabriele Lavia (ZEDER) is her hapless husband and Richard Johnson (THE HAUNTING) a mysterious man who shows up, perhaps to help. “…when Jessica (Juliet Mills) begins to turn green and talk like the Big Bopper, the movie’s just conventionally disgusting. We get green vomit, brown vomit, blood, levitations and other manifestations of the devil… It’s all trash, but it’s scary trash.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times NOT ON DVD.
Friday, August 17 – 8:00 PM British Sci-Fi Double Feature!
Rare! IB Technicolor Print! CRACK IN THE WORLD, 1965, Paramount, 96 min. Terminally ill scientist Dana Andrews believes he can siphon off geo-thermal energy from the earth’s core by firing a nuclear missile deep below the planet’s crust. Colleague Kieron Moore thinks it’s a bad idea and tries to stop Andrews before it’s too late. But, inevitably, the missile is fired, and a crack starts to appear gradually circling the globe, threatening to break the world in half! Complicating matters on a personal level, Andrews wife Janette Scott is in love with Moore (Moore and Scott were a real-life couple at the time and had previously co-starred as a pair of married scientists in DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS.) The alarmingly real special effects and production design were by veteran master Eugene Lourie (director of BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS). There’s also a pulse-pounding score by John Douglas and a good cast at fever pitch. Andrew Marton (co-director of KING SOLOMON’S MINES) helmed this rarely screened, hard-to-see sixties classic. NOT ON DVD
New 35mm Print! QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, 1967, 20th Century Fox, 97 min. Dir. Roy Ward Baker. A brilliant fusion of apocalyptic sci-fi and supernatural mystery, based on writer Nigel Kneale’s original teleplay, as Professor Quatermass (Andrew Keir) excavates a centuries-old alien spacecraft in the London subway. Unfortunately, the military insists it is an unexploded weapon from Nazi Germany that was inadvertently buried during the London Blitz. The resultant political bureaucracy hamstrings Quatermass and his colleagues as the dangerous psychic link and telekinetic Martian threat from eons past grows more dire. With Barbara Shelley, James Donald.
Saturday, August 18 – 5:30 PM Hammer Films Triple Feature:
Restored and Uncut! THESE ARE THE DAMNED (aka THE DAMNED), 1963, Sony Repertory, 96 min. Released cut by nearly ten minutes in the US, this is the restored version of director Joseph Losey’s stunning parable of the atomic age. Wandering American Macdonald Carey and British teddy girl Shirley Anne Field flee from a gang of delinquents led by her brother Oliver Reed, and inadvertently stumble upon a nightmare government project to breed children who can survive a nuclear holocaust! With Alexander Knox, Viveca Lindfors. “In Mr. Losey’s hands the Orwellian secret, involving a group of children raised in isolation under the austere protection of an all-seeing television eye, becomes frighteningly plausible…Mr. Losey, proceeding with grim logic toward his apocalyptic climax, has made a strong comment about the nuclear age — while arrestingly demonstrating just how much a gifted filmmaker can accomplish with limited means.” – Eugene Archer, The New York Times NOT ON DVD
Saturday, August 18 – 9:00 PM
Ultra-Rare! New 35mm Print! NEVER TAKE SWEETS FROM A STRANGER, 1960, Sony Repertory, 81 min. Cyril Frankel directed this excellent, nearly-impossible-to-see Hammer experiment in socially-conscious, psychological horror that was barely released – perhaps because it was just too creepy and nerve-wracking for most audiences. Peter Carter (Patrick Allen) is the new principal of the local high school in a pastoral Canadian community. He and his wife (Gwen Watford) become just a tad alarmed when they find that their pre-pubescent daughter (Janina Faye, from HORROR OF DRACULA) and her best friend have danced naked in front of demented, old Clarence Olderberry (Felix Aylmer), a rich scion of the town’s founding clan. Olderberry’s son (Bill Nagy), a hardnosed businessman, steamrollers everyone in his path in order to quash the investigation and to discredit Carter’s family. But even though the son seems to triumph, the elderly Olderberry is tragically not quite done with his obsessions. The last twenty minutes of this compact little thriller, where the elderly Olderberry stalks his two young prey through the lonely woods to a deserted lakefront, is about as nail-bitingly unnerving as anything you’ll ever see. NOT ON DVD
New 35mm Print! MANIAC, 1963, Sony Repertory, 86 min. Director Michael Carreras (CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB) helmed this Jimmy Sangster-penned psychological thriller that has much in common with the suspense mysteries coming out of France at the time. Indeed, it is set in Southern France, with American drifter Paul (Kerwin Mathews, of THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD) suddenly finding himself caught between the affections of beautiful young Annette (Lillian Brousse) and her scheming stepmother, inn-owner Eve (Nadia Gray, of LA DOLCE VITA). Eve’s husband resides in an insane asylum ever since he blowtorched-to-death the man who raped Annette, and Eve convinces Paul to help her break him out of his confinement. But after the breakout, homicidal complications set-in, and Paul’s ability to tell what is really going on suffers proportionately – especially after he starts noticing the flickering light of an acetylene torch coming from the inn’s ancient garage late at night! With Donald Houston. NOT ON DVD
Sunday, August 19 – 7:30 PM British Sci-Fi/Horror Double Feature:
CURSE OF THE FLY, 1965, 20th Century Fox, 86 min. Although nominally set in Canada, this third and final entry in the original FLY series was shot in Great Britain by Hammer veteran director Don Sharp (KISS OF THE VAMPIRE; FACE OF FU MANCHU). Beautiful, escaped asylum inmate Patricia (Carole Grey) marries tormented Martin Delambre (George Baker), a man in thrall to his mad scientist father Henri (Brian Donlevy) who is bent on continuing the family tradition of teleporter experimentation. Although there are no human fly hybrids here, there is plenty of madness and mayhem. Particularly nightmarish are the sequences with mutants from botched experiments that Donlevy keeps locked in sheds behind their mansion. Low budget but stylish, fast-moving and very entertaining. With Burt Kwouk (PINK PANTHER series). “Sharp offers up some suitably horrific moments with steaming mutated masses arriving in teleport booths or the moment Grey finds the mutant remains of Baker’s former wife playing the piano.” – Richard Scheib, The SF, Horror and Fantasy Film Review NOT ON DVD
THE PROJECTED MAN, 1967, Universal, 77 min. Dir. Ian Curteis. This much underrated sci-fi horror opus owes much to a blend of the early FLY films as well as Boris Karloff’s INVISIBLE RAY, with pioneering scientist Bryant Haliday (TOWER OF EVIL; DEVIL DOLL) metamorphosing into a disfigured mutant with a deadly touch after a teleportation experiment goes awry. Mary Peach excels as his no-nonsense colleague who wants to help him as well as get to the bottom of what appears to be sabotage by Haliday’s duplicitous superiors. The saga moves at a fast clip and delivers some surprisingly grisly shocks. Most people are unaware of the fact that leading man Haliday was an American-born actor who not only co-founded Boston’s Brattle Theatre, but also the esteemed, arthouse film distribution company, Janus Films! NOT ON DVD
Wednesday, August 22 – 8:00 PM British Horror Double Feature:
HORROR HOTEL (aka THE CITY OF THE DEAD), 1960, 76 min. Dir. John Moxey (“The Night Stalker”). “Ring for Doom Service!” was the legendary tagline created by co-producer Max Rosenberg for this atmospheric Gothic thriller. The lovely Venetia Stevenson stars as an unsuspecting college student who goes to Whitewood, Massachusetts to research the history of witchcraft in the area, only to find it still very much alive, thanks to professor Christopher Lee and his followers — some of whom, like warlock Jethrow Keane (Valentine Dyall) and witch Elizabeth Selwyn (Patricia Jessel), are well-over 200 years old! It’s up to minister’s daughter Betta St. John and student Dennis Lotis to set things right. There’s atmosphere to burn courtesy of Desmond Dickinson’s evocative black and white cinematography and the very effective, mist-shrouded Whitewood set. Highly recommended.
DEVIL DOLL, 1964, Gordon Films, Inc., 81 min. Director Lindsay Shonteff (plus supposedly an uncredited Sidney J. Furie) and producer Richard Gordon deliver one of the creepiest evil puppet movies this side of DEAD OF NIGHT. Svengali-like ventriloquist Vorelli (Bryant Haliday, of THE PROJECTED MAN) hopes to mesmerize desirable heiress Yvonne Romain (CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF) into becoming his slave, thus jettisoning long-term mistress Sandra Dorne. But wooden Hugo, who has a peculiar hold over Vorelli, has plans of his own. The strikingly gritty black and white cinematography is by Hammer veteran Gerald Gibbs. With William Sylvester (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY). “The film is aided immensely by a darkly charismatic performance from Bryant Haliday who plays with a cold arrogance that seems to have been closely modeled on the usual screen manner of Christopher Lee…Best of all are the battles of wills between he and Hugo which contain great psychological tension…Shonteff adds quite a sado-sexual element, one which was quite a bit more upfront than usual for the film’s time…The surprise ending comes as a great shock.” – Richard Scheib, The SF, Horror and Fantasy Film Review
Thursday, August 23 – 8:00 PM Jess Franco Double Feature:
VENUS IN FURS, 1969, 86 min. Director Jess Franco reached a mesmerizing, surreal zenith with a quartet of pictures in the late 1960’s/early1970’s – SUCCUBUS, VAMPIROS LESBOS, SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY – and this bewitchingly dreamlike ghost story. Tormented jazz trumpeter Jimmy (James Darren) cannot reconcile his music with his often chaotic personal life. After finding the body of Wanda (Maria Rohm), an innocent girl sucked into the game-playing lives of three wealthy sadists (Dennis Price, Klaus Kinski and Margaret Lee), washed up on the Turkish shore, Jimmy starts to lose his cool. Fatally obsessed, he later glimpses Wanda seemingly alive again at various parties – and watches as the three rich perverts start dying. Sultry chanteuse Barbara McNair (who sings the catchy title tune) is Jimmy’s girlfriend who finds her man slipping away into the arms of a ghost. With an appropriate twist ending and a memorable jazz rock fusion score by Mike Hugg and Manfred Mann. Franco reportedly modeled Darren’s character on tragic jazzman Chet Baker. “Franco exhales Albert Camus existential smoke, but really the film is like a Marvel Team-up between Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Russ Meyer set loose in the Hammer Studios. Translation: It’s trippy and campy as hell.” – Wesley Morris, The San Francisco Examiner
THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF, 1962, 90 min. Director Jess Franco, obviously inspired by everything from Universal and Hammer scare-fare to Franju’s EYES WITHOUT A FACE, spins the tale of Dr. Orloff (Howard Vernon), an amoral 19th century surgeon who abducts and experiments on young women hoping to heal his daughter’s burned face. Franco is one of those strange, film-obsessed cult directors who has made close to two hundred movies since the late 1950s – some dreck, some mediocre and some out-and-out masterpieces. He’s worked with everyone from Orson Welles to sleazy Euro porn stars. When he’s on the mark, his films convey a delightful love of genre and sense of atmosphere. This was his breakout international hit and the first successful Spanish horror film, originally released here on a double bill with the now virtually lost Riccardo Freda gem THE HORRIBLE DR. HICHCOCK. Be sure to watch out for Orloff’s blind zombie slave, Morpho (Riccardo Valle), one of the great monster creations from 1960’s Euro horror.
Friday, August 24 – 7:30 PM Fifties Sci-Fi/Horror Triple Feature:
New 35mm Print! THE WEREWOLF, 1956, Sony Repertory, 79 min. Fred F. Sears (EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS) directed this compact, nightmarish chiller full of remarkable atmosphere. Steven Ritch (who co-wrote as well as appeared in the noirs PLUNDER ROAD and CITY OF FEAR) gives a nuanced performance as an amnesiac traveling salesman who has been experimented on by two ruthless scientists after he’s been in a car accident. He gradually comes to realize that he is the savage werewolf terrorizing a snowbound mountain community. Don Megowan is the sheriff investigating, and Joyce Holden is the lawman’s compassionate nurse girlfriend who wants to help Ritch – after all, the tragic monster is also a victim. A suspenseful, well-done little sleeper that deserves to be rediscovered. Great use of Big Bear Lake locations. NOT ON DVD
THE BLACK SCORPION, 1957, Warner Bros., 88 min. Dir. Edward Ludwig. Along with THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (1959), this is one of the last films to feature the stop-motion animation effects of the great Willis O’Brien (KING KONG). Two geologists, American Richard Denning (TARGET EARTH; THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED) and Mexican Carlos Rivas investigate a volcanic eruption in rural Mexico and are surprised to find a number of mysterious deaths occurring in the countryside. Teaming up with beautiful ranch-owner Mara Corday (TARANTULA), they discover a legion of giant scorpions emerging from a newly created fissure in the earth. Although hamstrung by budget, O’Brien creates many memorably scary sequences, and the film moves along at a fast pace as the scientists and military struggle to find a way to stop the killer arachnids before they reach urban areas.
MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS, 1958, Universal, 77 min. “Co-ed beauty captive of man-monster! Campus terror! Students victims of terror-beast!” Director Jack Arnold (CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON) follows absent-minded professor Arthur Franz in his obsessive research. When the dedicated scientist is accidentally contaminated by poisonous blood from a prehistoric fish, he starts periodically transforming into a Neanderthal killer stalking his college community. Joanna Moore is his longsuffering girlfriend. Troy Donahue has an early role as Franz’ prize pupil whose dog is briefly turned into a saber-toothed canine. This epitome of 1950’s drive-in hokum is a wonderfully entertaining guilty pleasure. “…particularly funny is the bizarre lengths the script has to go to keep getting Arthur Franz’s scientist re-infected all over again while still unaware of what is happening – with him cutting his hand on a dog’s tooth, while the scene smoking dragonfly blood dripped into a pipe bowl should have left the film a cult classic for the ‘head’ set ten years later.” — Richard Scheib, The SF, Horror and Fantasy Film Review Discussion in between first two films with actress Joyce Holden (THE WEREWOLF).
Saturday, August 25 – 6:00 PM Los Angeles Premiere!
ULTRAMAN MEBIUS AND ULTRA BROTHERS (UROTORAMAN MEBIUSU ANDO URUTORA KYODAI), 2006, Tsuburaya Productions, 119 min. Dir. Kazuya Konaka. As a 40th Anniversary celebration of the Ultraman franchise, we are treated to this new battle royale of Ultra heroes versus a veritable legion of past evil alien foes. Ultraman Mebius (Shunji Igarashi), the current Ultraman incarnation on Japanese TV, investigates a mysterious, sinister presence surrounding the city of Kobe, only to be outnumbered by the space invaders. The Ultraman Brothers – Ultraman, Ultra Jack, Ultra Seven and Ultra Ace – must return from civilian life to help Mebius overcome the monsters led by the malevolent Yapool and Ultra Killer Zarus. Smash bam CGI special effects re-energize the giant monster action while the look of our heroes goes a bit retro in homage to the 1970s heyday of Ultraman hijinks. Screened from digital video elements. NOT ON DVD
Saturday, August 25 – 8:30 PM Fifties Sci-Fi/Horror Double Feature:
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, 1956, Paramount, 80 min. Director Don Siegel (DIRTY HARRY) and screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring adapted Jack Finney’s novel into a brilliant, utterly compelling sci-fi story of a small Southern California town overtaken by alien seedpods that mutate into emotionless doppelgangers of the human inhabitants. Still one of the most frightening movies ever made and a paranoiac’s delight, the picture has been credited as a metaphor for the Red Scare’s McCarthyism. Kevin McCarthy is excellent as the returning-from-a-trip doctor who gradually realizes the insidious changes going on right under his nose. The exceptional supporting cast includes Dana Wynter, Carolyn Jones (Morticia of TV’s “The Addams Family”), King Donovan, Larry Gates and a cameo by a young Sam Peckinpah (!).
FIEND WITHOUT A FACE, 1958, Gordon Films, Inc., 74 min. Dir. Arthur Crabtree. In this staggeringly weird blend of science-fiction, nuclear paranoia and Lovecraftian imagery, Marshall Thompson is sucked into a whirlpool of sabotage and death at a U.S. Air Force base in Canada, only to discover the guilty party is a legion of flying brains addicted to sucking out human cerebral matter from the back of the neck! A must-see cult favorite from producer Richard Gordon, and yes, yet another film set in Canada but shot in England! With Kynaston Reeves, Kim Parker, Terence Kilburn. “…executed in crisp and efficient fashion by veteran director Arthur Crabtree (HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM). Crabtree, a former cinematographer, knew how to take tight spaces and milk every last drop of tension out of the scenes…some of the scariest looking and most grotesque monsters in genre history.” – Harold Gervais, DVD Verdict
Sunday, August 26 – 7:30 PM Jules Verne Double Feature:
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, 1954, Disney, 127 min. Director Richard Fleischer’s most beloved film captures both the childlike sense of awe and the more sober nature of Jules Verne’s classic novel: James Mason is the perfect Captain Nemo, an idealistic intellectual, but fanatical anti-war crusader using his futuristic submarine to sink the battleships of every nation. When he picks up salty dog Kirk Douglas, scientist Paul Lukas and faithful valet Peter Lorre, after sinking the warship on which they were passengers, the adventure begins. Academy Award-winning art direction and special effects highlight this surprisingly adult Disney fantasy.
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, 1961, Sony Repertory, 101 min. Based on Jules Verne’s sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND follows a group of Union soldier prisoners during the Civil War who escape using an enemy balloon, only to find themselves blown off course to a remote island, populated by monstrous creatures and the enigmatic Captain Nemo (Herbert Lom) himself! Directed by Cy Endfield (ZULU; TRY AND GET ME) in a rare fantasy outing, with a superb score by maestro Bernard Herrmann. With Michael Craig, Joan Greenwood, Michael Callan, Gary Merrill. Discussion in between the films with actor Michael Callan (MYSTERIOUS ISLAND).