Hollywood Gothique
LA Cinema Gothique

Halloween horror at Silent Movie Theatre

The Cinefamily is in the middle of an intense month of horror movie programming at the Silent Movie Theatre in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, offering an eclectic mix of classic and cult films so wide that it is sure to include something to please everybody, from Hammer horror to Asian exploitation to slasher movies. Titles include the silent masterpiece HAXAN (Witchcraft), APRIL FOOL’S DAY, MY BLOODY VALENTINE (the uncut original), DON’T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS, HORROR OF DRACULA, REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HAUNTED COP SHOP, CHOPPING MALL, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, several movies from Brazilian cult auteur Coffin Joe, plus a documentary on television horror-movie hosts. Check out the schedule below…

Title: American Nightmare (aka Combat Shock)

  • A different kind of terror, American Nightmare (aka Combat Shock) is a gritty post-Eraserhead exploration of the horrors of reality. No monsters, no vampires, no masked slashers — this film relies on war, junkies, muggings and waiting in line at the welfare office to carry and punctuate its nihilistic saga of a Vietnam vet’s desperate pursuit to save his wife and mutant Agent Orange-poisoned child from the horrors of poverty and urban squalor. Ending with one of the most brutal climaxes ever committed to celluloid, it is an unforgiving and controversial masterpiece. Director Buddy Giovinazzo will bring his original uncut 16mm answer print, a batch of early shorts he made, and join us for a Q & A!
    Date: October 20 at 8:00pm

Title: Haxan (w/ new live score by Eddie Ruscha)

  • The beautifully disturbing 1922 granddaddy of all shockumentaries, Haxan employs a variety of techniques to weave its historic tale of the occult. Mixing and mashing actual documentary footage with “re-enactments” and slide shows (one of such slide shows was so famously used in the opening of The Exorcist), Danish director Benjamin Christensen made a film full of vivid and haunting visuals just waiting to be underscored by an audial equivalent. Enter Eddie Ruscha (of Future Pigeon), a gifted artist and electronic experimental musician with a score he composed to complement the film, one that wowed audiences at the Hammer earlier this year. Dir. Benjamin Christensen, digital presentation, 1922, 74 min.
    Date: October 21 at 8:00pm

Title: Holliday Horror Triple Feature

  • My Bloody Valentine (uncut version!): The name My Bloody Valentine evokes various things, like the recent 3-D remake or the ‘90s shoegazer band. But what it all too seldom communicates is what a great friggin’ slasher movie the 1981 film version is. First of all, it has an iconic slasher in “Harry Warden,” its gas-masked, pick-axe-wielding miner. Secondly, the working-class characters are a cut above the usual teen victims; you actually find yourself giving a shit about them. And, the stalk n’ slash finale takes place in a mineshaft! C’mon! There are many great kills, which sadly were themselves brutally hacked by the MPAA, but are finally shown here in this rare uncut 35mm screening! Of all the slasher knock-offs of the early ‘80s, this was the most deserving of a franchise, but alas, it was not to be. Best viewed with a heart-shaped box of chocolates by your side. Director George Mihalka will be in person for a Q & A! Dir. George Mihalka, 1981, 35mm, 90 min.
  • April Fools Day: Depending on your frame of reference, this 1986 gem is either late for the party or ahead of its time. Sharing much of the same post-modern sensibility that would make Wes Craven’s Scream a hit ten years later, April Fools Day explores the tropes of the slasher genre without descending into spoof. Your mileage may vary on the whodunit aspect of the plot, but the film is a pretty classy affair for a horror film of the era, and the cast is stocked with great ‘80s B-listers like Deborah “Valley Girl” Foreman, Amy “Friday The 13th Pt. 2” Steel, and the guy who played Biff in Back To The Future. Good fun to the last twist. Dir. Fred Walton, 1986, 35mm, 89 min.
  • Don’t Open ‘Til Christmas: You want to see Santa Claus get killed, right? Well, this movie really targets your demographic. In an alternate-universe London conveniently overpopulated by street corner Santas, one man finds it his duty to thin the herd — so you get to see all manner of Santacide in this sleazy British slasher. We’re only showing it on VHS, but c’mon, this is the one Christmas horror movie you haven’t seen ten times, and it’s a blast. Besides, you’ll have already watched two prints tonight! Let’s do this! Dir. Edmund Purdom, 1984, 86 min.
  • Date: October 22 at 8:00pm

Title: Psychedelic Coffin Joe Night

  • Awakening Of The Beast: Banned for almost 20 years, this surreal and insane catalogue of debauchery was Marins’ most controversial, experimental, and provocative film — and with a full-on, twenty-minute Technicolor trip sequence inside of Coffin Joe’s world, it was also Marins’ most explicitly psychedelic. The movie links together episodic scenes of drug use, orgies, and general moral inequity with a Charlie Kaufman-like meta-story with José Mojica Marins/Coffin Joe debating with critics on the detrimental effect of drugs and phenomena like his films on Brazilian culture. And the climax is a real monster — a bizarre “experiment” sequence in which our hosts oh-so-scientifically dose four degenerates (of various class and demographics, of course) with LSD, give them a Coffin Joe poster to stare at, and watch them all enter a brightly multi-colored hellscape of Marins’ devising. Marins’ relationships with authority had always been mutually acrimonious, but here he sets out to make a film that includes everything the establishment didn’t want to see. Awakening of the Beast was a cinematic act of defiance and an aesthetic revolution. Incredible. Dir. José Mojica Marins, 1970, DigiBeta, 93 min.
  • Finis Hominis (End of Man): Financially crippled by the banning of Awakening of the Beast, and threatened with imprisonment if he ever dared release it, Marins decided with his next film to abandon his gruesome obsessions, and emphasize the fantastical imagination and elemental myth-making skills that led critics to compare him to Bunuel, Arrabal and Jodorowsky. So exit Coffin Joe, and enter Finis Hominis – -a wholly new archetypal creation that, in a sly wink to his censors, is the Jungian opposite of his evil-embodying Coffin Joe character. Or is he? Who is this benevolent, messianic Christ-figure who emerges naked from the sea, puts on the outfit of a sideshow fakir, and goes about leaving a trail of happiness and spiritual fulfillment wherever he goes? Stripped of the horror elements that usually cloak Marins’ vision in blood and guts, what is laid bare by Finis Hominis is a director capable of focusing his feelings and observations into intriguing and personal parables — a philosopher, and an artist. Dir. José Mojia Marins, 1971, DigiBeta, 79 min.
  • Date: October 23 at 8:00pm

Title: Horror of Dracula, plus Revenge of Frankenstein

  • Horror of Dracula:  The poster child for pre-Exorcist modern horror, Hammer’s thrilling and unapologetically blood-stained adaptation of the Bram Stoker novel made bona fide movie stars out of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. And, fifty years after the fact, Horror of Dracula remains a tent pole of the horror genre. Director Terence Fisher and cinematographer Jack Asher use the lush palate of Technicolor to create the first romantic and fully seductive vampire film. Not since the heyday of the Universal monster rallies had a nightmare-scape seemed so palpably alive, and able to infect the waking world. Lee brings to his undying Count all of the “wrath and fury” that Jonathan Harker wrote home about. “This is better than Citizen Kane,” somebody once said. “And it’s in color.” Technicolor, to be precise. Dir. Terence Fisher, 1958, 35mm, 82 min.
  • Revenge of Frankenstein: The true superstars of Hammer horror — director Terence Fisher and DP Jack Asher — are back in action for this first sequel to the taboo shattering The Curse of Frankenstein. Tossing Mary Shelley right out the window, Hammer advertised the entirely original creation as “the World’s Greatest Horrorama” in “Supernatural Technicolor.” While British critics declared it “a crude sort of entertainment for a crude sort of audience,” your mileage may vary. Peter Cushing is in top form as the indefatigable Baron F, but the one to watch is Michael Gwynne as Frankenstein’s Monster, a devilishly handsome sod who passed through society’s meat-grinder to become a slobbering hunchback with a ravening hunger for human flesh. Hammer’s crowning glory is its “Frankenstein” series, of which this entry is one of the best. Dir. Terence Fisher, 1958, 35mm, 89 min.
  • Date: October 24 at 8:00pm

Title: Haunted Cop Shop

  •  Before he hit the big time with Chungking Express, sensitive art house director Wong Kar-Wai cut his teeth by writing this knockabout scream-fest, starring a young Jacky Cheung who went on to star in many of Wong’s biggest films. Still pretty obscure, and hard to find with English subtitles, it’s the first in a string of “spooky police” films — this case pits a precinct against a horde of vampiric foes on the day of “The Feast of the Hungry Ghosts,” complete with dire warning from an ex-cop monk. Surprisingly creepy, often hilarious and sometimes wildly tasteless, this 1987 oddity feels like a better version of the Joe Piscopo vehicle Dead Heat with a healthy dose of Eastern action mayhem. Lots of exorcisms, acrobatic feats and a grisly game of mahjong add seasoning to a fun stew that manages to take its scares very seriously while tickling your funny bone. Dir. Jeffrey Lau, 1987, 35mm.
    Date: October 24 at 11:00pm

Title: Plan 9 from Outer Space, plus Ed Wood

  • The Cinefamily presents a 50th anniversary screening of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, commonly considered the worst film ever made. It is doubled billed with ED WOOD, the 1994 bio-pic of PLAN 9’s auteur, starring Johnny Depp in the title role.
    Date: October 25 at 8:00pm

Title: TV Horror Host Night featuring “American Scary”

  • Hey, who was your horror host? If you’re tempted to respond, “Whaddaya mean, my horror host?”, you probably grew up in the post-local television era. Which means you spent your childhood without a mordantly sardonic costumed creep to introduce (and heckle) your Z-grade shock/shlock fare when you were staying up way too late. Horror hosts are one of the folkways of TV, beginning in the 1950s when broadcast was both local and live, with the indelible Vampira. Each station spawned its own variations on the theme, from the classic “cool ghoul” Zacherley in New York, to Chicago’s undead hippie, Svengoolie, to Cleveland’s beatnik-styled Ghoulardi (director P. T. Anderson’s father!) It just gets weirder from there, in the documentary “American Scary,” which digs deep to discover that before Mystery Science Theater 3000, there was a whole world of campy characters for every kid — and stoned sophomore — to call their own. And we’ve got our own host, Mr. Lobo, to share even more great goodies and treats that they couldn’t pack into the film…..and then, continuing the fine tradition, we’ll all watch a rare surprise TV-movie feature from the 70s!
    American Scary Dir. John E. Hudgens, 2006, digital presentation, 91 min.
    Date: October 27 at 8:00pm

Title: Hell’s Bells

  • If Halloween is the Devil’s favorite holiday, then surely heavy metal is his favorite music. Cinefamily’s Sound of Horror series ends with a mind-bending, soul-stealing, ear-shattering tribute to the Satanic roots of heavy metal — from the born-again perspective. As our primary source material, we’re doing a remix of Hell’s Bells — an incredibly well-argued and researched Craig Baldwin-esque video essay exposing heavy metal’s awesome power to corrupt our youth. Witness how rock and roll mocks Christ, tempts the libido and promotes the worship of Satan, all through album covers, music videos, backwards messages and occult iconography. Convincing as hell, you’ll believe rock n’ roll is stuff of Beelzebub — turn it up! And, as the final piece of damning evidence, Cinefamily presents a live performance from hell’s houseband Nilbog, specializing in covers of themes from favorite horror movies.
    Date: October 28 at 8:00pm

Title: Slasherpalooza – a Night of Gonzo Slasher Films 

  • Chopping Mall: In this ridiculous hybrid of Friday The 13th, Dawn of the Dead and Short Circuit, four pairs of teens who work in the local shopping mall plan an after-hours booze-n-sex party. Their fun is soon interrupted by the mall’s malfunctioning “high-tech” robot security guards, who attempt to slice the kids into sashimi using lasers, claw arms and assault rifles. The spoofy premise is well-served by thumbs-up doses of nudity, screaming, slit throats, outdated technology and nerdy filmic in-jokes (the mall’s sporting goods store is called “Peckinpah’s”). An early effort by wildly prolific trash king Jim Wynorski (Deathstalker II, The Bare Wench Project III, Ghoulies IV), the script features such timeless bon mots as “I’m sorry for getting hysterical –I guess I’m just not used to being chased around a mall in the middle of the night by killer robots.” Dir. Jim Wynorski, 1986, 35mm, 77 min.
  • Shakma: Remember hearing about the California man whose pet chimp went ape and ripped off his face and testicles? Did it make you flinch, covering your own parts in sympathy? Get ready to flinch once again, for Shakma will swipe at your jewels in a blood-thirsty rage. Christopher Atkins (the deeply tanned star of The Blue Lagoon) and his friends hang out after-hours in their med school building playing (what else?) a D&D-like role playing game run by game master (or as he pronounces it, “Gay Master”) Roddy McDowall, and proceed to have their throats ripped out by an angered, psychotic lab test baboon who hunts them down one by one. The real stars of the film are the production’s animal handlers, who managed to not get themselves or the filmmakers killed while their baboon actor forcefully hurled itself at doors, windows, its co-stars or anything else in its path, screaming bloody murder all the while in a truly terrifying electric rage. Dirs. Tom Logan & Hugh Parks, 1990, 35mm, 101 min.
  • Night of the Demon (brand-new HD transfer!) Night Of The Demon breaks major slasher conventions by introducing one of the most unusual and allusive psycho killers of all time — BIGFOOT! Who is Bigfoot, and why is he doing these terrible things? Our furry friend has gone completely homicidal, leaving a trail of dead girl scouts, castrated bikers and raped teenagers in his wake. This Z-grade doozy packs a bloody whallop — this is one of the most absurd and comically gory movies we’ve ever seen. The audiene reaction to this film is gonna be half the fun. DO NOT MISS IT. Director James C. Wasson and producer James B. Hall will be here in person!
  • Date: October 29 at 8:00pm

Title: Embodiment of Evil, plus Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind 

  • Embodiement of Evil: “Higher than God. Lower than Satan.” Marins’ demonically anticipated, decades-delayed finale to the “Zé do Caixão” trilogy is finally here! More than 45 years after the underbelly of Brazilian cinema was re-carved in his image, Marins has been blessed with the biggest budget ever afforded to him, giving him access to larger, crazier sets and state-of-the-art special effects through which he could unleash his most twisted of visions. This is also the first time that Marins has made a film entirely free of censorial constraints. There will be moments when you absolutely will not believe what you’re seeing! Grotesquery and surrealism abound, drenched in sex, poetry, blasphemy and blood. Spiders crawl over torsos both living and dead, Zé takes a fantastical journey through a giant uterus, hooks tear flesh, and bodies tear in half. Politically charged and unrepentantly transgessive, Embodiment of Evil marks the return of a wildly unique maverick of the fantastic, rougher, freakier, more perverse than he’s ever been before. Your blackest prayers are about to be answered. — Mitch Davis, Fantasia Festival. Dir. José Mojica Marins, 2008, DigiBeta. 94 min.
  • Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind is a flat-out freakout multi-movie montage of the most insane footage censored from Marins’ entire career up to this film’s release, and framed by a self-reflexive plot about a man driven to madness by the films, who’s convinced that Coffin Joe will come to steal his wife. Marins himself is brought in to cure the man, requiring him to scream in his ear repetitively, “Coffin Joe does not exist! Coffin Joe does not exist!”, among other things. During the extended hallucination sequences that make up the bulk of the film, everything, (and we mean everything), is infused with a tripped-out delirium. The soundscapes are distorted and hypnotic, the compositions radical, the colors lurid, the editing associative and assaultive, and the images ripe with potent imagery. We can say without hesitation this is one of the top ten mind-blowers in head film history. Dir. José Mojica Marins, 1978, DigiBeta, 86 min.
    Date: October 30 at 8:00pm

Title: Cinefamily Halloween Party & Fundraiser
Description: Details to be announced
Date: Saturday, October 31 at 8:00pm

Location: Silent MovieTheatre – 611 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angele 90036s
Website: Click here