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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Spooooky October Classic Film Screenings in Greater Boston

Now that we're well into fall, it's time to think about seeing some scary movies on the big screen, classic style.  Luckily, if you live in Boston you have many options to get your fright fix.  Get out your calendar and mark it up with these:

Coolidge Corner Theater
Thurs Oct 27:  Two years ago, I had the privilege of seeing the classic silent film Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney in the title role, at the Coolidge, with the world premier score composed and performed live by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra based at Boston's Berklee School of Music.  I've written before about the special one-of-a-kind relationship between the Berklee School of Music film scoring department and the Coolidge.    On October 27th is a repeat performance of this film with the live Berklee score -- if you haven't seen it you absolutely must.  A special part of the score is an actual soprano vocalizing as part of the orchestration, to create an eerie experience, almost if you're in the audience at the opera!
Lon Chaney & Mary Philbin star (from
Mon Oct 31: Jumping ahead several decades, the Coolidge is presenting, on Halloween night, a double feature of Hitchcock's horror/thriller Psycho (1960) in 35 mm, followed by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), "perhaps the most frightening film ever made."  These special screenings are part of the "Big Screen Classics" series.

Mon Oct 10:  This one is a don't miss, The Manchurian Candidate, directed by John Frankenheimer, released in 1962.  It's a powerful surrealist and darkly comedic trip through international political intrigue and dysfunctional family dynamics, and with its study of subversive forces in politics, it's speaks to our time in some ways.  Terrifically acted by Laurence Harvey, Angela Lansbury, Frank Sinatra and others.  It was a thrill for me to see this for the first time at the 2016 TCM Film Festival with Angela Lansbury present to share her experiences making the film.
Angela Lansbury & Laurence Harvey
Brattle Theatre
Not to be outdone, the Brattle is presenting must-see classics of spooky cinema on Halloween weekend:

Sun Oct 30
Nosferatu (1922) tells the Dracula legend in FW Murnau's classic silent film, and will be screened along with live music by the Andrew Alden Ensemble.  I'm not familiar with this group, but they have ties to the Berklee School of Music Film scoring department, as Mr. Alden himself is a graduate.  He lives now in Rochester, NY, and his group of professional musicians performs in New England and New York to silent films, among other gigs.  Their new score for Nosferatu sounds like it shares more modern, electronic elements that we are familiar with from the Alloy Orchestra, which is also originally from Boston.
Max Schreck as the 'undead' in Nosferatu
Mon Oct 31The Bride of Frankenstein (1933) this 35mm screening is free! Director James Whale reunited Colin Clive and Boris Karloff from his Frankenstein (1931) and brings in Elsa Lanchester to be the 'bride.'  This is highly satisfying and entertaining film, which served as an inspiration to the parody Young Frankenstein from director Mel Brooks starring the late Gene Wilder.

While not specifically spooky-themed films, some of the programming of the Harvard Film Archive and the Somerville Theatre deserves mention:

Harvard Film Archive
Marlen Khutsiev
The HFA is running special retrospective series with films from Russian director Marlen Khutsiev, the "unsung master of the modern cinema."  I will admit to being completing unfamiliar with his films, but with him appearing in person, at age 91, at the HFA for screenings on October 9 and 10, this might be really cool.

Continuing the theme of Russian cinema, several offerings in the HFA series on Russian and Soviet Film "Beyond Potemkin" look intriguing.  This series provides an opportunity to see some films on the big screen that may never come around again.  Included are:

Sun, Oct 16: Bed and Sofa (1927, Dir Abram Room).
Sun Oct 23, 5 PMThe House on Trubnaya Square (1928, Dir. Boris Barnet), with live piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin.
Sun Oct 23, 7PM Outskirts (1933, Dir Boris Barnet), an acclaimed WWI film.

Virginia Mayo
Somerville Theatre
The Somerville's classic big screen offerings in October are a pleasing blend of silent adventure, drama, comedy, mystery and noir.
Sun Oct 2:  Silents Please The Mark of Zorro (1920, Dir. Fred Niblo), with Douglas Fairbanks at his peak.
Wed Oct 5:  I love the combination here: a special double feature of The Thin Man (1934, Dir. W.S. Van Dyke) and Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962, Dir. Fred Nelson, written by Rod Serling).
Sun Oct 23:  A Virginia Mayo Double feature of White Heat (1949, Dir. Raoul Walsh) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947, Dir. Norman Z. McLeod).

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