Halloween Horror Weekend at the Egyptian

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Dusk-to-dawn film breakdown

The American Cinematheque (6712 Hollywood Blvd.) in Hollywood is embracing the spirit of the season with a weekend-long horror marathon. Here’s the full schedule:

Thursday, October 30th @ 7:30 PM

Hammer Peter Cushing/Terence Fisher Double Feature:

HORROR OF DRACULA, 1958, Warner Bros., 82 min. Director Terence Fisher and screenwriter Jimmy Sangster’s stripped-to-the-basics, expertly paced take on Bram Stoker’s popular bloodsucker remains one of the most satisfying, just plain exciting gothic horror films ever made. From Christopher Lee’s revelatory, broodingly romantic performance as Dracula (introducing a sexual frisson to the proceedings) to Fisher’s masterful direction, from Peter Cushing’s Professor Van Helsing to Jack Asher’s atmosphere-drenched cinematography and James Bernard’s superb score, this is perfection. One of Hammer’s most enduring masterpieces!

THE BRIDES OF DRACULA, 1960, Universal, 85 min. Dir. Terence Fisher. When Christopher Lee temporarily balked at getting typecast as the undead count, Hammer had to create a new bloodsucking villain, Baron Meinster (David Peel), for its second Dracula installment. Chained in his castle lair by his conflicted mother (Martita Hunt), the Baron is unwittingly released by a stranded French schoolteacher, Marianne (Yvonne Monlaur), and proceeds to wreak havoc amongst the local female population. Luckily, Marianne is rescued by traveling vampire hunter Professor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) and the battle of good and evil begins in earnest. A rip-roaring tall tale and one of Hammer’s most rewarding vampire pictures.

Friday, October 31st @ 7:30 PM

DUSK-TO-DAWN HORRORTHON:

Take refuge from the Halloween insanity out on Hollywood Boulevard in the cozy Egyptian, seeing a sextet of mind-numbing, brain-frying grindhouse horror favorites!

SANTA SANGRE, 1989, MGM Repertory, 123 min. Director Alejandro Jodorowsky used this long-awaited return to the big screen (after cult faves EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN) to conjure up a feverish nightmare of gaudy, surreal images — some sacred, some profane and many just plain shocking. Coming on like Ken Russell during THE DEVILS era, he fashions a dreamlike odyssey of an emotionally scarred youth (Alejandro’s son, Alex Jodorowsky) still suffering from the sight of the bloody battle to the death of his carnival showman father (Guy Stockwell) and mother (Blanca Guerra). Imagine Fellini and Bunuel getting together to remake PSYCHO in backwater Mexican slums with nods to old Universal horror as well as masked Mexican wrestling (!) and ‘70s Euro giallo films thrown in, and you’ll get an idea of the wonderful strangeness on display. Produced by Dario Argento’s brother, Claudio. NOT ON DVD New 35mm Print!

PIECES (MIL GRITOS TIENE LA NOCHE), 1982, Grindhouse Releasing, 89 min. Dir. Juan Piquer Simon. In this infamous grindhouse thriller, a young boy with twisted ideas about sexuality due to his overly prudish mother, grows into a serial killer on a rampage, collecting body parts to assemble his jigsaw puzzle of the ideal woman. Christopher George (TV’s “Rat Patrol”) is the hardboiled cop on his trail in a bizarre college town. Filmmaker Simon keeps the absurd number of red herrings coming at breakneck speed. With Paul Smith (MIDNIGHT EXPRESS).

SCREAM…AND DIE!, 1973, Grindhouse Releasing, 96 min. This scary, atmospheric chiller about a psycho sex killer was directed by José Ramon Larraz (VAMPYRES) and marketed in America as THE HOUSE THAT VANISHED (in a bid to lure LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT fans). But this British/Spanish co-production has more in common with the Italian giallo thrillers of the era (Note: The killer sports black leather gloves!). Model Andrea Allan and her shady boyfriend break into a house in the woods. When the owner unexpectedly returns, the two uninvited guests hide in a closet and end up witnessing a murder – though they never see the killer’s face. Allan escapes into the forest, hides in a junkyard and returns to her flat in the morning, only to find her beau missing. Soon, several unusual people enter her life, including a bizarre downstairs neighbor who raises pigeons and an artistic young man (Karl Lanchbury) who makes masks. Allan’s fears are confirmed when her roommate is the next to die… NOT ON DVD

ATOM AGE VAMPIRE (SEDDOK, L’EREDE DI SATANA), 1960, Holland Releasing, 87 min. Dir. Anton Giulio Majano. This variation on Franju’s EYES WITHOUT A FACE still remains one of the most gonzo versions ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting audience. An obsessed scientist (Alberto Lupo) bent on restoring the beauty of a scarred runaway stripper (Suzanne Loret) with skin grafts and radiation therapy, periodically transforms himself into a hideous monster to kill women to retrieve the pituitary glands required for the treatment. This essential Italian sleaze-horror classic has only been available in seriously-cut-for-TV prints for decades, missing big chunks of footage. We’ve got the original American theatrical release version.

NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES (LA HORRIPLANTE BESTIA HUMANA), 1969, Grindhouse Releasing, 83 min. Veteran Mexican genre director René Cardona remakes his earlier DOCTOR OF DOOM in color with added gore and nudity. A doctor desperate to save his dying son gives him an ape heart transplant, with periodic transformations into a brutish simian killer as the unintended consequence. Throw in a slow-witted cop (Armando Silvestre) and his girlfriend — a female wrestler (Norma Lazareno) conscience-stricken after accidentally putting her opponent in a coma — and you have the ingredients for mucho entertaining drive-in fare.

BURIAL GROUND, 1981, 85 min. Dir. Andrea Bianchi. An archeology professor invites friends down to his villa for the weekend. While awaiting their arrival, he visits a nearby Etruscan tomb, not guessing that he will be the catalyst for a mass resurrection of the ancient undead. Bourgeois couples become zombie fodder almost from the time they arrive, amping up the gruesome gore factor like few other Italian zombie films. A laugh-out-loud, so-bad-it’s-good lollapalooza of politically incorrect guts-and-grue that is best viewed with an audience to be fully appreciated. With Karin Well, Gianluigi Chirizzi and Peter Bark as the weird, incestuous manchild, Michael. (This original print has wear-and-tear and is slightly faded.)

Plus great classic horror trailers between the films, one free popcorn per patron and other surprises! 10% off coupons for nearby Mel’s Diner (open 24 hours) available to hungry patrons. Special ticket prices: General $15; Senior/Students: $12; Members: $10.

Saturday, November 1st @ 7:30 PM

Hammer Horror Terence Fisher Double Feature:

THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, 1961, Universal, 93 min. Director Terence Fisher’s atmospheric thriller not only has the distinction of being Oliver Reed’s first leading role, but also Hammer Studios’ only werewolf film. And a chillingly fine werewolf film it is, with cursed Reed the offspring born on Christmas Day to a mute servant girl (Yvonne Romain) raped by a bestial beggar (Richard Wordsworth) in the dungeons of the sadistic Marques Siniestro (deliciously depraved Anthony Dawson). Kindly Don Alfredo (Clifford Evans) raises Reed in a good home, but when the sensitive young man reaches puberty and his desires are thwarted, the result is a frenzy of bloody carnage.

New 35mm Print! THE GORGON, 1964, Sony Repertory, 83 min. One of director Terence Fisher’s most eerie and underrated masterworks focuses on a German village haunted by Megara, the still potent spirit of the gorgon of Greek mythology, bent on transforming all those who gaze upon her into figures of stone. Local doctor Peter Cushing is engineering a cover-up to protect someone (perhaps his beautiful assistant, Barbara Shelley?). Returning Richard Pasco, whose brother and father were petrified to death, wants to get to the bottom of the mystery, but gets sidetracked when he falls for Shelley. Soon, desperate Pasco sends for his prickly, sarcastic mentor (Christopher Lee) who proceeds to track down the monster. Filled with a chilling ambience, it remains one of the most dreamlike of Hammer films.

Sunday, November 2nd @ 7:30 PM

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Double Feature:

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, 1941, Warner Bros., 114 min. If not for the classic status of this Robert Louis Stevenson story, it’s doubtful either MGM boss Louis B. Mayer or the Hays’ censorship office ever would have let it be released. It’s almost as daring as the Pre-Code 1931 version and, in subtle ways, it goes even farther out on a limb. The erotic chemistry between Spencer Tracy (as the good Jekyll and his brutish doppelganger) and Ingrid Bergman (as Ivy, the doomed barmaid) is frighteningly intense. Mr. Hyde’s emotionally abusive treatment of the vulnerable girl is the most convincing depiction of a sadomasochistic relationship put on screen in mainstream motion pictures until the 1970s. Likewise, Tracy’s insistence on a minimal amount of make-up in the early Jekyll/Hyde transformations brings a welcome realism to the story. Performances by Tracy, Bergman, Lana Turner as Jekyll’s upper-crust fiancée and Donald Crisp as her prudish father are among their best. Director Victor Fleming (GONE WITH THE WIND) evokes a gas lit Victorian London and cooks up one of the trippiest, most surreal dream sequences of the ‘40s this side of SPELLBOUND.

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, 1931, Warner Bros., 97 min. Although it’s not as nuanced as the later Tracy version, many people prefer this Pre-Code shocker. Fredric March won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance, going way over the top with facial tics and bestial mannerisms in his Hyde persona, coming off like an urbane, simian werewolf with the gift of speech! Miriam Hopkins is the unfortunate barmaid Ivy, and Rose Hobart is Muriel, Dr. Jekyll’s devoted fiancée. Director Rouben Mamoulian and cinematographer Karl Struss make revolutionary use of the camera, doing things way ahead of their time in movement, point of view and editing, endowing many sequences with a fluid feel in what is essentially a set-bound piece. The characters of Muriel (Beatrix in the Tracy version) and her father did not appear in Stevenson’s original story, but were invented later by playwright T. R. Sullivan in an 1887 stage adaptation.

Source: American Cinematheque