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Music Box Massacre

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Presented by the Music Box and Movieside Film Festival, this 24-hour marathon of horror movies begins at noon on Saturday, October 14, in the Music Box's main theater, 3733 N. Southport. Tickets for the whole marathon are $24, and ticket holders may leave and reenter the theater. A costume contest takes place at midnight. Showtimes are approximate; for more information call 773-871-6604 or visit www.musicboxtheatre.com.

SATURDAY14

RThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Robert Wiene's groundbreaking 1919 silent, the most famous and influential work of the German expressionist cinema, involves a mad doctor (Werner Krauss) and the somnambulist who does his bidding (Conrad Veidt). Aided and abetted by one of Carl Mayer's best scripts and remarkable, distorted sets painted by Hermann Warm, Walter Rohrig, and Walter Reimann, this is more than just a textbook classic; the narrative frame creates ambiguities that hold certain elements of the story in disturbing suspension. A one-of-a-kind masterpiece. 69 min. (JR) a Noon

RBride of Frankenstein James Whale's quirky, ironic 1935 self-parody is, by common consent, superior to his earlier Frankenstein (1931). Whale added an element of playful sexuality to this version, casting the proceedings in a bizarre visual framework that makes this film a good deal more surreal than the original. Elsa Lanchester is the reluctant bride; Boris Karloff returns as the love-starved monster. Weird and funny. 75 min. (DD) a 1:35 PM

It Came From Outer Space Directed by Jack Arnold and scripted by Ray Bradbury (though his hand isn't readily apparent), this scary black-and-white SF effort from 1953 was shot in 3-D, and on occasion it's shown that way. Richard Carlson and Barbara Rush star, and there's a chilling cameo by an oversize extraterrestrial eye. 81 min. (JR)

a 3 PM

RThe Masque of the Red Death Roger Corman's 1964 adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story is a work of consummate imaginative power and originality. In medieval Italy, the devil-worshipping Prince Prospero (Vincent Price) abducts an innocent village girl (Jane Asher) and tries to interest her in his diabolical goings-on while the plague rages outside his castle. This is both beautiful and horrifying, with a fine sense of ambiguity and a wealth of subtleties. 86 min. (DD) a 4:30 PM

Homecoming Made for the Showtime anthology series Masters of Horror, this 2005 satire by Joe Dante (Gremlins, Small Soldiers) virtually stands alone as a mainstream protest against the Iraq war. Its anger and wit are invigorating: as George W. Bush (or someone very much like him) stands for reelection, dead American soldiers emerge from their coffins to vote him out of office (and incidentally give an Ann Coulter clone some payback). Sam Hamm adapted a story by Dale Bailey. 58 min. (JR) a 6:06 PM

Piranha A rip-off of Jaws from Roger Corman's New World Pictures, with all the New World virtues intact: it's fast, well-made, and entertaining, with enough cheap thrills for the action trade and plenty of in-jokes for the cognoscenti (the script is by John Sayles). Bradford Dillman accidentally releases a tank full of mutant piranhas into a mountain stream, and as they swim downriver, they attack Keenan Wynn, a summer camp counseled by Paul Bartel, and a beach resort managed by New World stalwart Dick Miller. Director Joe Dante betrays hardly a trace of humanity, but his cutting is the most evocatively Eisensteinian since Russ Meyer's Vixen. R, 92 min. (DK) Dante will answer questions after the screening. a 7:10 PM

Let's Scare Jessica to Death A young woman released from a sanitarium moves into a picturesque New England house with her husband and his friend, but her recovery is threatened by a strange love child who's been crashing there. John Hancock directed this 1971 feature. PG-13, 89 min. Hancock will answer questions after the screening. a 10 PM

Sunday15

The Thing John Carpenter's only official remake (1982) of a Howard Hawks film turns out to be his least Hawksian effort. There is no cohesion within the male group at Carpenter's antarctic research station; when the shape-shifting monster comes in for the attack, it's every man for himself. And although the group members are played by familiar, well-defined character actors, the terse banality of the dialogue makes them all sound and seem alike--it's hard to tell who's being attacked, and hard to care. Carpenter's direction is slow, dark, and stately; he seems to be aiming for an enveloping, novelistic kind of effect, but all he gets is heaviness. With Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Richard Dysart, and Richard Masur. R, 108 min. (DK) a 12:30 AM

Night of the Creeps In a college town, two fraternity pledges accidentally thaw out a frozen corpse, and it begins infecting the townspeople with a virus from outer space. Fred Dekker directed this 1986 feature. R, 88 min. a 2:25 AM

Zombie Long a favorite of splatter freaks, this Italian horror item by Lucio Fulci was released in 1979 to capitalize on the success of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Its most interesting set pieces are nautical: on a seemingly derelict boat found sailing near Staten Island, an obese zombie rises from the hull like Nosferatu's Count Orlock; later a topless woman scuba diver is attacked by an oceangoing zombie who then gets into a fierce scrap with a shark. Eventually the action leads to an uncharted island, where the film devolves into an explicit but unoriginal gorefest. The European title was Zombi 2, a reference to the Romero film's Italian-release title, Zombi. With Tisa Farrow, Richard Johnson, Ian McCulloch, and Al Civer. 93 min. (JJ) a 4:10 AM

Friday the 13th Part 2 Jason returns in this 1981 sequel to the slasher hit. Steve Miner directed. R, 87 min. a 5:50

Imprint Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) directed this short film for Showtime's Masters of Horror anthology series, but the violence was so extreme the cable channel refused to air it. 63 min. a 7:25 AM

Deep Red An Englishman in Rome (David Hemmings) witnesses the killing of a psychiatrist in this 1976 Italian horror thriller directed by Dario Argento. Daria Nicolodi costars; also known as The Hatchet Murders. R, 126 min. a 8:50 AM

An American Werewolf in London John Landis's 1981 attempt to recast the classic horror film into the flip, self-mocking style of his Animal House while retaining the thrills and chills. It's a failure, less because the odd stylistic mix doesn't take (it does from time to time, and to striking effect) than because Landis hasn't bothered to put his story into any kind of satisfying shape. It's the Blues Brothers syndrome again: a lot of dissociated segments left hanging in midair. Still, this may be one of Landis's most personal films: passages of adolescent sexual fantasy alternate with powerfully expressed guilt over dirtier fantasies of family murder and rape. The director may be more in tune with the Freudian subtext of the werewolf fable than his carefully maintained surface cool might indicate. With David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, and Jenny Agutter. 97 min. (DK) a 10:35 AM

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