Scary Movies 4 Returns to the Lincoln Center

See Black Death, Stake Land & tons of classics

The Film Society of Lincoln Center unspools its annual frightening festival Scary Movies (Wednesday, October 27th through Sunday, October 31st). In its fourth unearthly year, Scary Movies 4 returns with an onslaught of spine-tingling flicks – new premieres, rarities, classics, and more.

This year will include such scares as the World Premiere of Village of Shadows (directed by Fouad Benhammou), the New York Premieres of Stake Land (review), Christopher Smith’s Black Death and Triangle, and The Clinic (directed by James Rabbitts); along with a slate of classic frights. Here’s the breakdown of what’s to come!

Handpicked from only the finest horror stock, the spooktacular lineup will feature an eclectic selection of both classic and contemporary eras-sure to surprise, delight, and just maybe scare you silly. Running 5-days, and presenting 13-movies along with featuring many special guests, if you needed an excuse to prepare for Halloween, now you have one. Other Scary Movies 4 highlights include the closing night film The Loved Ones (directed by Sean Byrne), a Q&A with director Fouad Benhammou, and such repertory titles as Carrie (directed by Brian De Palma) and The Creeping Flesh (directed by Freddie Francis).

Scary Movies 4 is programmed by Laura Kern & Gavin Smith.

New Titles


Stake Land

New York premiere! With Kelly McGillis in person!

Jim Mickle, USA, 2010; 96m

Forget Twilight and True Blood and all those other touchy-feely vampire soap sagas-Jim Mickle’s down-and-dirty Stake Land brings the horror back to the blood-sucking genre, with a vengeance. Mickle’s vampires are truly grotesque, feral quasi-zombies, created by a virus that sweeps across America, leaving small rural enclaves of the living struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic Wild West frontier culture (think Road Warrior). A young boy and his laconic vampire-slaying mentor head East in search of sanctuary, pick up Kelly McGillis’s nun on the run along the way, and clash with The Brethren, a ravaging militia of fire-and-brimstone fundamentalists who see the vampire plague as the Lord’s work. A gritty, pull-no-punches reimagining of horror’s most enduring myth.

Black Death + Triangle

New York theatrical premieres!

Christopher Smith, U.K./Germany + U.K./Australia, 2010/2009; 102m & 99m

As if the bubonic plague that swept mid-14th-century Europe wasn’t ghastly enough, Black Death injects apparent necromancy into the mix. Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne respectively play knight and monk sent with a team of mercenaries to investigate a village mysteriously unscathed by the pandemic. Hard to categorize, the film combines elements of period adventure, religious allegory, and gothic horror, and just might be the most accomplished effort yet from a leading light among the new breed of genre directors.

Smith’s dazzling Triangle, made directly prior to Black Death, inexplicably never made it to American theaters. It begins as a straightforward terror-at-sea yarn, in which the survivors of a capsized yacht (led by Melissa George) take refuge on an ominous-looking cruise liner. It then embarks on an unpredictable voyage into the psyche: nothing is what it seems in this smart, complex puzzler, whose fractured pieces may only fit into place after multiple viewings.

The Clinic

New York premiere!

James Rabbitts, Australia, 2010; 94m

A couple on a road trip in the middle of the outback makes a pit stop at a sketchy motel… Sound familiar? Don’t be fooled, for everything that follows this seen-it, done-that setup is anything but routine. When Cameron (Andy Whitfield) leaves his very pregnant wife Beth (Tabrett Bethell) alone in search of food, she’s abducted and wakes up in a remote clinic, with her belly sewn closed and her newborn nowhere to be seen. She soon joins forces with four other similarly distraught women in a search for answers-and their babies. The Clinic takes its place alongside Inside and Grace in a recent vogue of memorable motherhood-as-the-ultimate-nightmare flicks.

Village of Shadows (Le Village des Ombres)

World premiere! Followed by a Q&A with the director.

Fouad Benhammou, France, 2010; 103m

France’s cinéma fantastique renaissance continues with this supernatural variation on Ten Little Indians, strong on atmosphere and light on gore. After a prologue in which petrified Nazi soldiers face an unseen threat in 1944, the action jumps to the present as a group of twenty-somethings take a weekend road trip to the mysterious village of Rouiflec. Three of them inexplicably vanish just outside town, and their friends search for them in the deserted village-but are soon fighting for their own lives against an implacable menace whose origins lie in the village’s ancient past.


The Loved Ones

Sean Byrne, Australia, 2009; 84m

Winner of an audience award at the Toronto film festival, this choice piece of prom-night horror shows the gory good times to be had from low self-esteem. When Brent turns down Lola, she doesn’t take no for an answer, and decides she wants him all to herself… Continuing evidence of the genre zeal from the current wave of Australian filmmakers.

Repertory Titles:


Brian De Palma, USA, 1976; 98m

High school: a special time to remember and cherish… In the coming-of-age classic from the Stephen King novel, a mousy outsider’s journey to womanhood is beset by a psycho-religious mom, cruel classmates, and telekinesis. Starring Sissy Spacek at her most Spacek and Amy Irving as mean girl.

The Creeping Flesh + Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors

Freddie Francis, both U.K., 1973 & 1965; 98m & 94m

Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee face off as half-brothers and Victorian-era scientists vying for the same prestigious prize. Cushing plays a paleontologist seeking a cure for evil, whose obsession with his latest discovery (a huge skeleton that slowly begins to transform into a living monster) alienates his daughter, whom he keeps close to home out of paranoia-or perhaps with good reason. Lee, meanwhile, plays a doctor seeking a cure for insanity-unconventionally, to say the least. Skin-crawling, campy fun all the way.

A wonderfully wicked Amicus anthology film made up of five stories comprising a fistful of horror staples: lycanthropy, vampirism, killer vegetation, voodoo, and disembodied hands. Each story unfolds as eccentric fortune-teller Dr. Schreck (Peter Cushing), aka “Dr. Terror,” employs his nifty Tarot cards (his “house of horrors”) to predict the destinies of the five travelers (Christopher Lee, Donald Sutherland, Alan Freeman, Neil McCallum, and Roy Castle) with whom he shares a train compartment one dark, fateful night.

Dead of Night

Charles Crichton, Alberto Cavalcanti, Basil Dearden & Robert Hamer, U.K., 1945; 103m

Films like Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (not to mention shows like The Twilight Zone) owe everything to Dead of Night, the granddaddy of the horror omnibus. This most atypical of Ealing Films consists of six tales of the unexpected that lean heavily on the supernatural, and are seamlessly woven into one cohesive whole. It’s best known for the classic segment that has forever immoralized ventriloquist dummies as vessels of evil, and it’s no wonder-Michael Redgrave’s brilliant performance as the sanity-challenged puppeteer alone makes Dead of Night essential viewing.

The Legend of Hell House

John Hough, U.K., 1973; 95m

Four brave souls accept the offer to spend one week at Hell House, the “Mount Everest” of haunted houses in this “Mount Everest” of haunted-house movies. The unwelcome guests include a scientist and his wife (Clive Revill and Gayle Hunnicutt), a psychic (Pamela Franklin), and a medium (Roddy McDowall), the lone survivor of the last Hell House excursion. What emerges is a human battle of science vs. mysticism and a head-on collision with raging paranormal forces. An influential classic of Seventies British horror, written by Richard Matheson, based on his own novel.

Messiah of Evil

Willard Huyck, 1973, USA; 90m

In a tiny coastal ghost-town, a woman searches for her estranged painter father amidst over-curious undead residents in otherworldly surroundings-shot in Antonioni-esque wide-screen. With veteran character actors Royal Dano and Elisha Cook Jr., and a very special appearance by Walter Hill.

“One of the most undeservedly buried American horror films of the Seventies, it has the hypnotic power of a vivid, half-recalled nightmare… Like a grimly wistful fusion of Edward Hopper and Carnival of Souls.” -Film Comment

The Mutations aka The Freakmaker

Jack Cardiff, U.K., 1974; 91m

Paying homage to Tod Browning’s classic, Freaks, cinematographer Jack Cardiff’s The Mutations relies on real-life carnival attractions to propel the action in this peculiar and intensely creepy tale. The commanding Donald Pleasence is actually only the sideshow here as a mad scientist-is there any other kind?-whose medical college students are abducted by his deformed lackey (a terrific pre-Doctor Who Tom Baker) to become the subjects of strange genetic experiments involving plant DNA. Not to be missed by fans of the bizarre.

Source: Shock Till You Drop


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