Audiences of 1968 flocked en masse to a no-budget movie about zombies tearing into|Provided1/3
Audiences of 1968 flocked en masse to a no-budget movie about zombies tearing into|Provided
Rick Moranis sings, dances and kills his way through 1986's "Little Shop of Horror|Provided2/3
Rick Moranis sings, dances and kills his way through 1986's "Little Shop of Horror|Provided
The entirety of 2014's "Unfriended" unfolds on a laptop screen.3/3
The entirety of 2014's "Unfriended" unfolds on a laptop screen.
Multiplex movie audiences are terrible; repertory audiences are amazing. (Well, some of the time.) That goes triple if it’s horror. The perfect horror audience gets riled up but doesn’t talk back to the screen. They hoot and holler but draw the line at shouting that joke they thought up on the subway ride. You all feel like you had a collective experience, getting jerked around by that most manipulative of genres. Even if you don’t get the perfect audience, you’ll still get cinema that deserves to be taken at least a little more seriously than it is.
Instead of staying in and queueing up whatever morsels live on Netflix, spend the extended Halloween weekend with an old movie, amongst actual strangers.
'Cat People' (1942) @ BAM
We love Paul Schrader’s sexed-up 1982 remake (also showing during the same BAM series) — the one where Malcolm McDowell will die if he doesn’t bang his sister. But we love the original even more, which is, perv-wise, the exact opposite. Simone Signoret plays a Euro beauty convinced if her new man touches her, she’ll get so hot and bothered that she’ll turn into a ravenous panther. That never happens (at least onscreen), not just because it was 1942 but because there was no money. This was the first hit for producer Val Lewton, the poster child for making the most with nothing at all. Here he hit on his formula: Come up with a juicy title then reverse-engineer the story with the lowest budgets RKO could offer. The lack of huge scares leads to goose-bumpy tension; the dearth of money means cheap sets cloaked in deep, chilling shadows. And a movie that can’t act on its urges to go big becomes a deeply transgressive movie, heading to freaky places that we’re still afraid to visit. Sat., Oct. 29, 6:40 p.m.
‘Night of the Living Dead (1967) @ The Nitehawk
In a weekend that also promises “Psycho” and another George A. Romero staple, “Creepshow,” Nitehawk gives you Romero’s breakthrough — a little indie that could and did, becoming one of the year’s biggest and grossest hits. Romero was always more than a gorehound, savaging consumerism (“Dawn of the Dead”), sticking it to government competence (“The Crazies”) and erecting an empathetic portrait of isolation (“Martin,” eccentric even for an eccentric vampire opus). Lurking under the gritty, grainy, newsreel-y footage of the undead munching on flesh is all the class, gender and racial disharmony going on outside the cabin that holds our wouldbe survivors. It even has a black hero, but leaves you to notice how rare that once was. Or still is.The film will be scored live by Morricone Youth. Mon., Oct. 31, 9:30 p.m.
‘The New York Ripper’ (1980) @ Anthology
Lucio Fulci made movies that weren’t horror, but it’s no wonder it’s the horrors for which he’s most remembered: They’re among the sickest, most disgusting and — in the case of this wonderfully putrid little number — most repellent slogs in the canon. Fulci gets a big to-do at Anthology this weekend, with many of his rank classics getting screened. But make sure you at least pencil in this highly unpleasant movie, that’s ostensibly a serial killer movie but is really just a wallow in hopeless depravity. If you’re of the right mind, you’ll love it. Sun., Oct. 30, 9 p.m.
‘Little Shop of Horrors’ (1986) @ Film Forum
It’s about as scary as “Young Frankenstein,” but Frank Oz’s loudly colored, excitable take on an Off-Broadway show — which goofs on a Roger Corman movie shot in two days — still has one of the highest and silliest body counts this weekend. Transport back to a time when Rick Moranis, now retired, was a marquee star by watching him croon ballads while Levi Stubbs voices a flesh-eating plant. And it appears the version being shown is the 103-minute director’s cut, with the original, cheerfully apocalyptic ending that preview audiences rejected. This is technically a kids’ show — part of the Film Forum Jr. series — but we’re all kids at heart, especially if it involves watching Steve Martin being hacked up, his severed limbs tossed into a puppet’s mouth. Sun., Oct. 30, 11 a.m.
‘The Monster Squad’ (1987) @ Alamo
Technically it’s on Monday, aka Halloween Day, but that might be the perfect day to acquaint yourself with Brooklyn’s new Alamo Drafthouse — the one that brings food and booze directly to your seat, and won’t let you talk over the movie. And what better way than by taking in this ’80s semi-classic. Written by “Lethal Weapon”’s Shane Black — and released the same year — it’s a loving ode to Universal monsters (Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster and The Mummy) that’s a lot more soulful than the new Cinematic Universe that Universal has planned. Nards. The 7 p.m. show will feature an in-theater apperance from star Andre Gower, who is now 43, because you're old, too.Mon., Oct. 31, 7 and 9 p.m.
‘Unfriended’ (2014) @ Anthology (via Screen Slate)
Most horror series want you to unplug your brain; the one hatched by Screen Slate wants to blow it up. Lofty enough to cite Marshall McLuhan in its title, “The Medium is the Massage” surveys the way horror has played with, even exploited rising technologies by pairing famous movies with experimental cinema unpacking similar ideas.You get monsters in a movie theater (“Demons”), a smart-house terrorizing Julie Christie (“Demon Seed”) and two films that poisoned the image of the TV set (“Videodrome,” “Poltergeist”). You also get “Unfriended,” which was dropped into Halloween season 2014 like it was a rando “Paranormal Activity” knockoff. Instead it was an academic’s wet dream: Set entirely on a laptop, populated by chatting friends terrorized by a spirit with wifi, and plundering our digital landscape for both frights and scathing commentary. Come for the boos, leave with a grad school paper already written in your head. "Unfriended" will play as a double feature with the new avant-garde film "Cory Archangel." Sun., Oct. 30, 8 p.m.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge