Happy Mittel-Halloween

She may not be frothing, but I still wouldn't advise approaching...

It’s the middle of the Halloween weekend, and with Monday being the official day of Free Candy, horror films are naturally saturating the airwaves, theatre screens, and general consciousness of the populace, unless you happen to attend two Calgary schools where kids will attend “caring assemblies” the morn of the 31st because the school bigwigs believe the overall nature of Hallow’s Eve has gotten out of hand.

Yes, an under-10 year old dressed as a knife-wielding zombie out for blood is kind of startling, but how were you absorbing horror as a child? In my grammar school, the kids who lived too far to go home for lunch would trek with two ‘grade mothers’ to the local library, where we had tables & chairs and free milk to eat the lunches packed by our parents, after which there was time to read books and mags in the library before a return to grade school drudgery.

I knew looking at coffee table books of eyeless werewolves, staked vampires, and other assorted gore stills from U.S. and British shockers would and did provide nightmares, but I still did it, and the need to peek over the pillow and see what monster is making that ongoing bone-crunching sound hasn’t really left (hence the continuous writing and reviewing of horror films, TV material, and of course horror music).

The moral: you can’t quell a child’s interest in the morbid; they'll either grow out of it, temper it, balance it with other interests, or develop a healthy sense of humour. They don’t grow up to be Jeffrey Dahmers, nor go around micturating on crosses and sacred consecrated graves at midnight.

One of these days I’ll be able to catch a Bava film on the big screen – they always happen when I’m working, and it’s always a doozy. Last year it was Planet of the Vampires (1965) and Black Sunday (1960), and this past Friday it was Black Sabbath (1963) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. If you love Bava, missing a chance to see his work on the big screen really, really hurts. Black Sabbath is one of the few Bavas I haven’t seen, so I snapped up Vol. 1 of Anchor Bay’s Bava Box (which is apparently going, or already is our of print) and I’m saving the viewing for this week.

Meanwhile, at the Film Society at New York City’s Lincoln Center there’s a very cool roster of films and appearances which started screening on the 27th and end the 31st. Among the gems are prints of Roger Corman’s House of Usher (1960), Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist [M] (1982) which I never caught in theatres, and Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator (1985). One can only hope some programmer in Toronto is aware of these, and is planning a Tobe Hooper retrospective, a Corman retrospective, and a Gordon retrospective, now that he / she knows prints are in circulation. AHEM.

Also playing in NYC in December is Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession (1981) at the Film Forum, as reported earlier by Fangoria. It’s an uncut 35mmm print of one of the strangest films ever made, starring Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani. If you’ve never seen a Zulawski film, I don’t if that’s good or bad. It’s more fascinating to watch the performances than comprehend the stories because the actors are often pitching their emotions at levels which are a hair-trigger away from total unrestrained psychosis. There’s a singular shot of Neill rocking back and forth in a chair that’s indicative of the director’s weird view of human behaviour, and I’d love to hear Neill discuss the experience of being directed by Zulawski.

Meanwhile, tonight at the U of T’s Innis Hall (8pm), under the umbrella of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival we have Israel’s first horror film, Rabies / Kalevet (2010). More info is here, plus a link to an interview with the directors. Tickets are $10 smackaroonies. The film’s not on DVD in Region 1 land, but is distributed by Mongrel, so its home video release (I would presume) is inevitable in Canada.

Yesterday I caught Susan Ray’s documentary Don’t Expect Too Much (2010) about the making of Nicholas Ray’s experimental film We Can’t Go Home Again (1972-1979), the latter of which screens today (4pm) at the TBL, and is preceded by an intro from Ray’s widow. I’ll have reviews of the two films up by Monday morning, plus reviews of Julian Roffman’s The Mask (1961) and The Bloody Brood (1959).

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Mark R. Hasan, Editor
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