Monday, October 22, 2012

Halloween Film Fest 2012

Boo! Did I scare ya?

No? Well, what could I tell you that will truly scare you? The problem is that most things people fear are actually quite subjective. For instance, what if I said that Romney is going to win the election? You see, that's only scary to a select audience. A whole other faction would be just as scared if I stated the prospect of Obama winning a second term. See what I mean? Very few things can be universally fearful or dreadful, unless we're speculating on the current state of society. You know what I find scary? The prevalence and popularity of such things like: Honey Boo Boo, Real Housewives of any place, the songwriting of Taylor Swift, Liam Neeson action movies and tacos with Doritos shells. Oh, and Tim Curry as a clown. But I digress...

Horror movies on the other hand... is another thing entirely. Large audience can be lured in and terrified by scary movies. While I admit that some horror films are empty and boring gore fests, there's still something universal in how these visceral movies effect us. There's always a market for horror movies, as evidenced by the umpteenth PARANORMAL ACTIVITY that just came out.

Yet for every dozen lame scary movies, there is likely one genuine horror gem. Luckily for us, The Paramount and Stateside theatres are presenting some modern classics of the genre. These are some of the best of the best, and there's something for everyone: thrills, chills and spills of blood.

The fun starts in a unique way on Friday with...

This (ahem!) cult classic is being presented by Austin's ColdTowne Theater, an improv group who is presenting this film as a "Flip The Script" presentation. During the film's screening they will replace the music and dialogue with their own improvisation, and I'm willing to bet that this 1962 horror classic will probably not be this entertaining ever again.

Oh, and by comparison, other films released in 1962 were TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and a little film you may have heard of called LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. Yeah, this movie is not of that caliber.

Saturday and Sunday, The Paramount presents a double feature of THE EXORCIST and THE LOST BOYS. Do I even need to explain THE EXORCIST?? If you don't know, it's... ummm... intense.

THE LOST BOYS is actually a very cool take on the vampire genre, and the film celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Released in 1987, this was back when vampires actually fed on blood and scared people. Now, there's just glittery mopes that inexplicably fall in love with Kristen Stewart. Also, Kiefer Sutherland was a bad ass waaay before Jack Bauer.

Saturday and Sunday at The Stateside, there is another double feature of TRICK 'R TREAT and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

A 2007 anthology film, TRICK 'R TREAT gained life at a few festival screenings, but really gained acclaim after being released as a direct-to-DVD title. Comprised of four stories and featuring a cast of Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker and Brain Cox, the film is a devilishly fun tribute to everyone's favorite fall holiday.

The other half of the double feature, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is the cinematic precursor to the cult TV show that younger audiences are likely more familiar with. While the cast is different, the mythos is the same, as is the same tongue-in-cheek storytelling from screenwriter/creator Joss Whedon.

Mark your calendar for Monday, because it's Special Event time!
Who's down for a pub run in celebration of the undead? Zombie shuffles are so yesteryear after the advent of films like 28 DAYS LATER, the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake and television's "The Walking Dead," so if you're a zombie-clad attendee you can put the "run" back into "pub run."

On Monday, partake of running, drinking and screaming in delight at Cuba's horror comedy JUAN OF THE DEAD. Here, Fidel Castro's not the only Cuban that just won't die.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the double features resume. At The Paramount, two of my all-time favorites return to the big screen. POLTERGEIST and ALIEN.

Oh, POLTERGEIST. The story of dangerous specters in the midst of a normal American household traumatized me as a little kid. After thrilling my imagination, Steven Spielberg (and Tobe Hooper, of course... wink wink) filled the tank of my mind with nightmare fuel. Now, as I've touched the boundaries of parenthood myself, the film's sense of terror has only intensified. In many ways, it's a gift of fear that keeps on giving. And what rough beast, it's hour come round at last, slouches itself back into my terrified heart once more to be reborn?

But wait! It gets better. The second part of the double feature is Ridley Scott's masterpiece, if you ask me. ALIEN was basically a space-plotation terror film that somehow transcended in haunting and primal ways that no one could've ever imagined. It's the film that launched a few sequels of descending quality and a recent prequel that has brought a level of reception that we hadn't seen since STAR WARS: EPISODE I. So what better way to wash the bitter aftertaste of PROMETHEUS out of your mind than by revisiting the original (and arguably the best of what Scott had to offer)?

Meanwhile, at The Stateside...
The last of the double features conclude with THE OMEN and THE FLY. One is the original, the other is the remake, but both are the vastly superior versions out there.

Richard Donner's THE OMEN is the tale of a powerful family whose son may well be the Anti-Christ. Derided by some as trashy and others as terrifying, it nevertheless gets under your skin with its graphic depictions of death and mayhem.

Young Damien the Anti-Christ appeared in a couple of sequels and Donner went on to direct SUPERMAN, LADYHAWKE, THE GOONIES and the LETHAL WEAPON franchise. Can you say, "deal with the devil?"

The other half of this twin bill is another favorite moment of Kindertrauma from my youth. David Cronenberg's 1986 version of THE FLY is an entirely different creature than the 1958 cult classic. Jeff Goldblum appears here as a scientist whose experiments with teleportation go horribly, horribly wrong. This movie shocked audiences with its graphic content and bombastic score, and kick started a new phase of Jeff Goldblum's career as "that scientist guy." Yet JURASSIC PARK and INDEPENDENCE DAY were nothing like this. You may want to keep the popcorn in your lap for this one. Now that I can watch it with a stronger stomach (and eyes that aren't tightly welded shut), it stands as a true classic that touches on our own fears about technology, disease and loneliness. Like a telepod that goes awry, the film fuses the DNA of terror and humanity that has rarely been seen before.

So there you have it, folks. Ten films to terrorize and thrill the most discerning tastes and the hardest of horror movie connoisseurs. It doesn't matter how subjective your sense of fear is, these movies are gonna scare the hell out of you.

Enjoy it while it lasts, because come next month we can turn our phobias back to society's ills, like the fallout from the Presidential election or yet another season of "American Idol." Me? I'll be fine until next spring when I consider something else genuinely scary: the Houston Astros' chances in the AL West. It's sure to be a bloodbath for the Texas baseball team...


Halloween Film Fest

The Stateside
Friday at 8:00 pm

The Paramount
Saturday 7:00 pm

The Paramount
Saturday 9:30 pm

The Stateside
Saturday 5:55 pm
Sunday 4:00 and 7:40 pm

The Stateside
Saturday 4:00 and 7:35 pm
Sunday 5:50 pm

The Paramount
Pub Run at 6:00
Movie at 7:30 pm

The Paramount
Tuesday 7:00 pm
Wednesday 9:25 pm

The Paramount
Tuesday 9:30 pm
Wednesday 7:00 pm

The Stateside
Tuesday 7:15 pm
Wednesday 9:20 pm

The Stateside
Tuesday 9:35 pm
Wednesday 7:15 pm

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