Boo! It’s Halloween Season! FSLC’s Scary Movies Returns for 8th Edition
By: Ellis Nassour
How does the Film Society of Lincoln Center (FSLC) follow one of is biggest and most successful New York Film Festivals [the 52nd]? With one of its most popular, Innovative, and very scary series: the seven fright by days/fright by nights jolt of doom and gloom Scary Movies series, 8th edition. From October 31 – November 6, there’s nowhere to hide except behind a giant bucket of buttered popcorn at FSLC’s Walter Reade Theatre. You might find some safety in the arms of directors and actors making personal appearances.
What makes Scary Movies a standout is that it’s not just a collection of popular "Halloween" flicks, but a sophisticated collection of international blood curdlers.
Just when you thought it was safe to go into very dark, windowless rooms with only two aisles as an escape path, Scary Movies opens with Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s hilarious reinvention of the worn-out mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows [Unison Films/Paladin, 2014, New Zealand, 86 minutes], a Sundance hit they co-wrote and co-star in about vampire roommates trying to get by in a modern world that’s not hospitable to the undead. As the minutes tick by to the witching hour, join the vampire-themed Halloween party and bob for apples.
Closing night, with films followed by a Viva Radio "holiday" reception, there’s a pair of rarely-screened ’80s gems: Dick Maas’s long out of U.S. circulation
black comedy police-procedural/slasher mashup Amsterdamned [1988, Netherlands, 109 minutes; Dutch, Spanish, and Mandarin with English subtitles and English] starring Monique van de Ven; and Gerald Kargl’s demonic, once-banned and still deeply disturbing serial-killer masterpieces Angst [1983, Austria, 83minutes, German/English subtitles].
Revival selections include the dreamy but controversial and genuinely unsettling Gothic psycho-thriller A Reflection of Fear [1973, 89 minutes] from the late five-time Oscar nominated cinematographer William A. Fraker [Rosemary’s Baby, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Heaven Can Wait, Looking for Mr. Goodbar] and which stars Robert Shaw, Mary Ure, Sally Kellerman, and Sondra Locke; and Robert Clouse’s The Pack.
Also making frightening wrapping noises are Adam MacDonald’s 2014 Toronto Film Festival audience award winner Backcountry; a rare 35mm big-scream screening of Robert Clouse’s 1977 dogs-gone-wild treat The Pack; and a series first, David Gregory’s documentary Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau.
Highlights will be John McNaughton’s first film in 15 years The Harvest [2013, 104 minutes], a homage to the darkest corners of Grimm’s fairy tales which harks back to the depravity that made his 1986 debut Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer a horror milestone [Michael Shannon, Natasha Calis, Charlie Tahan co-star]; and Among the Living, [France, 2014, 90 minutes, French/English subtitles] from the dynamic French duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury [genre classic Inside; and the shelved in the U.S. Livide], the final installment in their trilogy of American-inspired horror flicks, which follows three teen boys into the blood-curdling night they stumble across an abandoned movie backlot and witness a real-life horror movie.
To cram this series with fright-worthy fare, programmers FSLC’s Film Comment editor Gavin Smith and magazine managing editor Laura Kern, with fiery torches in hand tramped the world so you could be scared, very scared.
Also showing are first-rate creature features, Jack Heller’s old-school monster movie Dark Was the Night [2014, 94 minutes, with Q&A with Heller and actor Kevin Durand]; and Adrián García Bogliano’s Late Phases [2014, 95 minutes], about an blind retirement-home resident (Nick Damici), contending with monster attacks that coincide with the full moon [post-screening Q&A with character actor Damici].
Want a little show biz with your horror? Then, November 2, 8:30 P.M., is for you as Starry Eyes [2014, MPI/Dark Sky, 98 minutes], a modern masterwork depiction of the gruesome lengths some go to in the name of success, unreels. You’ll identify with a young actress (Alex Essoe) who violently disengages as she auditions for the lead in The Silver Scream.
FSLC receives year-round support from Royal Bank of Canada, Jaeger-LeCoultre, American Airlines, The New York Times, HBO, Stella Artois, The Kobal Collection, Variety, Trump International Hotel and Tower, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts.
Scary Movies single tickets are $13; $9, students/seniors (62+); and $8 for FSLC members. A three-film package is $30; $24, students/seniors; and $21 for FSLC members. Purchase at the Reade box office. The All Access Pass (one ticket, every screening), available exclusively online, is $99.
There’s much more of Scary Movies 8. For synopsizes and schedules, creep over to your computer and very quietly by low-beam flashlight type in www.filmlinc.com. If you survive that, you can follow @filmlinc on Twitter.