Jen and Sylvia Soska's American Mary
Halloween. All Hallows' Eve. Samhain. The time of the year when the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest and the supernatural becomes natural—the metaphysical, physical. Or, you know, a chance to get ripped and scare the bejesus out of yourself with some great horror movies! We can't promise that the ghost of Walter Reade will be "in person for an extended Q&A" following any of these screenings—they're in the Film Center this year, anyway—but our popular Scary Movies series has definitely got you covered with all sorts of freaky fare.
Dive in Friday night with a double feature (we've got a package for that!) of gory flicks about female med students gone wrong. First up is the whacked-out slasher/zombie/romance hybrid Sexykiller. Despite having been released in Spain in 2008, this romp is only now making its New York premiere and it definitely lives up to its title. After that, we're psyched to have the New York Premiere of the much-hyped new film from twin Canadian filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska, American Mary. Even if you haven't seen their low-budget debut feature Dead Hooker in a Trunk, which genre big boy Eli Roth called "fucking awesome… the violence is incredible and the stunts are fantastic," you still won't want to miss this story of a disillusioned doctor-in-training who quits med school to enter the lucrative and stomach-turning world of illegal body modifications. Plus, female horror filmmakers are (sadly) few and far between, but over the years they've been responsible for some of the most original scares out there: Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark, Mary Harron's American Psycho, the Karen Walton-scripted Ginger Snaps (also Canadian!), Mary Lambert's Pet Cemetery and Antonia Bird's Ravenous, to name a few.
John Schlesinger's The Believers
If you're in the mood for an overlooked classic, check out The Believers (1987) from Academy Award-winning director John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy). This creepy voodoo tale stars Martin Sheen as a single father trying to save his son from a Santeria cult. Pair it with another father's-burden flick: new Irish fright Citadel, which won the Midnight Audience Award at this year's SXSW. An agoraphobic dad whose wife lies in a coma after a violent crime in their down-and-out estate block (read: housing project) becomes obsessed with ridding the world of the hoodlums who attacked her. Or if the young ruffians angle is more your speed, combine Citadel with James Watkins' chilling Eden Lake (2008) starring Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender as a couple on a romantic camping trip who find themselves terrorized by a gang of sadistic teenagers.
Good horror remakes don't come around often, but we're pleased to report that Franck Khalfoun's Maniac is an exception to the rule. William Lustig's beloved 1980 grindhouse flick was a gross and gritty slasher starring (and co-written by) the ick-tastic Joe Spinell. Elijah Wood takes over in the remake, which uses first-person camera work to take the viewer even deeper inside the mind of a tortured killer. Khalfoun (P2) will be in person for a Q&A at the New York premiere on October 27. And on Halloween proper, we're excited to host the North American premiere of Conor McMahon's gory horror comedy Stitches, about a zombie clown out for revenge.
Adrián García Bogliano's Here Comes the Devil
Take in a demonic double feature with two films that wear their devils on their sleeves. First up is rarely-screened italo-horror gem The Night of the Devils (1972), based on a story by Aleksei Tolstoy (Leo's bro) that also served as the inspiration for a segment of Mario Bava's epic masterpiece Black Sabbath. Then check out the new supernatural terror Here Comes the Devil from Argentinean director Adrián García Bogliano (Penumbra). Fresh off its buzzy premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, the film starts out as a tale of possession and revenge and builds to all-out otherworldly chaos.
Finally, what's a Scary Movies series without some Wes Craven? This year's lineup includes one of his rarer gems: Deadly Blessing (1981), starring Sharon Stone in one of her very first roles. This Amish country-set crazed killer flick also stars Ernest Borgnine as a gonzo religious leader, a role which (unfairly, in our opinion) earned him a Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actor. Never released on DVD, the film may be available on Netflix streaming but it's cropped to all hell and trust us when we say you'll want to see this one in its full, big-screen glory. Double up with another piece of horror history, The Last Man On Earth. Mid-century horror stalwart Vincent Price (House of Wax, The Fly, House on Haunted Hill) stars in this 1964 adaptation of Richard Matheson’s classic novel I Am Legend.