Presented by the Music Box and Movieside Film Festival, this 24-hour marathon of horror movies begins at noon on Saturday, October 13, in the Music Box's main theater, 3733 N. Southport. Tickets for the whole marathon are $29, and ticket holders may leave and reenter the theater. Showtimes are approximate; for more information call 773-871-6607 or visit musicboxtheater.com.
The Cat and the Canary This hoary stage thriller had already become camp by the time it was filmed in 1927, and director Paul Leni (a German expatriate) treats its masked killers, secret passageways, and sliding panels with tongue bulging in cheek. Like most spoofs, it wears thin fairly quickly. With Laura LaPlante, Creighton Hale, and Tully Marshall. 74 min. (DK) a Noon.
R Freaks If the heart of the horror movie is the annihilating Other, the Other has never appeared with more vividness, teasing sympathy, and terror than in this 1932 film by Tod Browning. Browning flirts with compassion for the sad, deformed creatures of his sideshow--most played by genuine freaks from the Ringling Brothers circus--but ultimately finds horror and revulsion as the outsiders take their climactic revenge. A happy ending, shot by Browning but deleted when the film was rereleased, resurfaced after many years: it shows the midget couple reunited under the condescending gaze of the "normal" friends, firmly reestablishing the complacent sense of "separateness" the body of the film has worked so hard to undermine. With Leila Hyams, Wallace Ford, and Harry and Daisy Earles. 64 min. (DK) a 1:45 PM.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein Bud and Lou as two delivery men with an oblong package for Frankenstein's castle. As burlesque and later radio comics, Abbott and Costello found their metier in bizarre patter routines; they never got the hang of the kiddie slapstick Universal assigned to them, and their physical comedy is low, heavy, and graceless. This 1948 effort is probably the last of their watchable films, though it's a long way from their best. Critics used to complain that their films weren't plotted; these days, they look like Dickens. With Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., and Glenn Strange. Charles Barton directed. 83 min. (DK) a 3 PM.
Equinox This 1970 cult favorite recently enjoyed a blue-chip DVD release from the Criterion Collection, though its genesis story is more entertaining than the movie itself. Made for $6,500 by a trio of teenage horror geeks, abetted by Famous Monsters of Filmland publisher Forrest J. Ackerman, it's a charmingly amateur retread of H.P. Lovecraft: four teens discover a Necronomicon-style book of supernatural secrets and get chased around by a winged demon and a giant apelike creature. The beasts are rendered in cool Ray Harryhausen-style stop-motion animation, though there isn't enough of it to compensate for the flat dialogue and colorless acting. A Hollywood producer bought the film and assigned Jack Woods to shoot a few more scenes; Woods took sole directing credit, though one of the kids, Dennis Muren, has gone on to become the industry's premier visual effects designer. 82 min. (JJ) a 4:30 PM.
R Peeping Tom Michael Powell's suppressed masterpiece, made in 1960 but sparsely shown in the U.S. with its ferocity and compassion intact. The German actor Carl Boehm plays a shy, sensitive British boy (Powell doesn't try to cover his accent, which is typical of the film's deliberate sacrifice of realism for effect) who loves movies with all his heart and soul because he knows what they're really about--sex and death. This seductive, brightly colored thriller isn't about the "problem" of voyeurism as much as the sub-rosa fascinations of the cinema. It's an understanding and at times even celebratory film--attitudes that scandalized critics years ago and are still pretty potent today. The uniformly excellent cast includes Anna Massey, Moira Shearer (the ballerina of Powell's The Red Shoes), and Maxine Audley. 101 min. (DK) a 6 PM.
The Monster Squad Seventh-grade horror fanatics come to the rescue when their town is invaded by Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, the Wolf-Man, the Mummy, and the Creature From the Black Lagoon. Released in 1987, this kiddie comedy has accumulated a sufficient glaze of nostalgia to win a 20th-anniversary DVD package. But as a former seventh-grade horror fanatic, I was seriously put off by it: even a burlesque like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein managed to create some sense of genuine menace, yet the monsters here seem less reminiscent of the Universal classics than of a Universal Studios tour. Fred Dekker directed a script he cowrote with Shane Black, who moved on to greener pastures with the Lethal Weapon series. PG-13, 82 min. (JJ) Dekker will attend the screening. a 8 PM.
Demons 2 Director Lamberto Bava and writer-producer Dario Argento reteamed for this 1987 sequel to their gore hit of the previous year. With Asia Argento and Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, the latter of whom will attend the screening. R, 88 min. a 10 PM.
Videodrome This 1983 shocker by David Cronenberg comes about as close to abandoning a narrative format as a commercial film possibly can: James Woods plays the programmer of a sleazy Toronto cable channel who stumbles across a mysterious pirate emission--a porno show called "Videodrome" that features hideous S and M fantasies performed with appalling realism. Knowing a ratings winner when he sees one, Woods sets out to find the producer and quickly becomes involved with a kinky talk-show hostess (Deborah Harry), expanding rubber TV sets, a bizarre religious cult, and--almost incidentally--a plot to take over the world. Never coherent and frequently pretentious, the film remains an audacious attempt to place obsessive personal images before a popular audience--a kind of Kenneth Anger version of Star Wars. 90 min. (DK) a 12:15 AM.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch Tommy Lee Wallace directed this 1983 horror flick, a sequel in name only to the John Carpenter classic, in which modern-day druids plan to kill 50 million children with deadly Halloween masks. Good--more candy for us. R, 96 min. (JJ) a 2 AM.
The Raven Vincent Price and Boris Karloff are dueling sorcerers in a sloppy but appealing 1963 horror parody directed by Roger Corman. Peter Lorre appears as Price's assistant; at one point, a vengeful Karloff transforms him into the bird of the title, and Lorre spends the rest of the film waddling around in black feathers. When the gags misfire, the old-trouper charm of the stars keeps things going. With Hazel Court and a callow Jack Nicholson as the teenage identity figure. (DK) a 3:50 AM.
It's Alive Larry Cohen's cultish 1974 horror film. The plotting is never less than clever and suggestive: it reduces the Exorcist ethos to its essentials, in the figure of a mutant baby that murders the doctors and nurses in the delivery room and goes on to attack society at large, happily gurgling all the while. It's certainly a vivid image of something deep and dark within the nuclear family, though it's hard to say exactly what. This rough, vague film has attracted the interest of psychoanalytically inclined academic critics, who've found plenty of room to maneuver within its broad symbolic outlines. Still, it isn't that well made--it seems more potent in retrospect. With John Ryan and Sharon Farrell. 91 min. (DK) a 5:30 AM.
R Dead of Night When writer-director Bob Clark died earlier this year, he was eulogized mainly for his nostalgic comedy A Christmas Story (1984), but he got his start with a string of eerily effective horror flicks like this 1974 feature (also known as Deathdream and The Night Andy Came Home). Four years before The Deer Hunter and Coming Home, it centers on an elderly couple (John Marley, Lynn Carlin) devastated by the news that their son (Richard Backus) has died in Vietnam. When he turns up on their doorstep they're overjoyed, not realizing he's a zombie that needs periodic injections of fresh blood. ("I died for you," he tells one victim. "Why shouldn't you return the favor?") The equation of post-traumatic stress disorder with the zombie genre's living death is a stroke of pop-culture poetry worthy of George Romero, and Joe Dante drew heavily on the movie for his recent antiwar chiller Homecoming. PG, 88 min. (JJ) a 7:20 AM.
The Demonology of Desire A short by Roberto Gudino. a 9 AM.
The Shining If God can be a big black slab from outer space, why can't the devil be a bartender named Lloyd? Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror movie completes the cosmology begun in 2001 by turning a specimen (Jack Nicholson) loose in the inner space of a deserted, snowbound hotel. He, too, is reborn--not as a space baby, but as a grinning, wisecracking ax murderer. Kubrick is after a cool, sunlit vision of hell, born in the bosom of the nuclear family, but his imagery--with its compulsive symmetry and brightness--is too banal to sustain interest, while the incredibly slack narrative line forestalls suspense. With Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, and Danny Lloyd. 142 min. (DK) a 9:30 AM.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Dead of Night.