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Article ID: 3674
Age Group: Adult
Posted: October 21st. 2001
Witch Cinema 03
by Peg Aloi
Usually the month of October is full of old reruns of classic horror films on TV, from the wonderful Hammer horror films with Christopher lee as Dracula, to the silly made-for-TV fare of the 1970s with stars like Linda Blair or any of the young actresses in the Waltons. So check your local listings for a chance to tape any of the wonderful movies full of monsters and mayhem shown this month. Many pagans seem to balance their solemn Samhain rites with some festive celebrations, since so many people around us see this time of year as one to cut loose and defy death's imagery. This year in particular, some are uneasy about spending time out in public on holidays. So why not stay in and watch movies? Be sure to stock up on cider, donuts, cider donuts, candy and whatever else you enjoy during this season; a night in for some deliciously scary or pagan movies might be a nice peaceful way to spend the season, instead of raucous parties. At the end of the column I list some of my favorite Hallowe'en season films; look for them on local networks or in your video store.
We often see horror films arrive in theatres at Hallowe'en, too; although this year there are surprisingly few of them. Everyone is gearing up for the premiere of Harry Potter in November, but that can hardly be counted as a horror film (unless you are asking the Religious Right of course). Speaking of young Harry, I was in a foreign language bookstore in Boston yesterday and they have an amazing display of Harry Potter books translated into dozens of different languages.
The big one this year is From Hell by the Hughes brothers, adapted from the graphic novel by Alan Moore. It is a lush and thrilling look at the mystery that paralyzed turn-of-the-century London: the murders committed by serial killer Jack the Ripper. The Ripper was fond of brutally mutilating prostitutes and mailing their organs to the police. His identity was never discovered and many theories persist to this day as to who he may have been. Moore's book and now this film posit look at what may have been the Ripper's occult activities; specifically his connection the the Masons. Modern witches may find this film of particular interest, since the pentagram is briefly looked at for its Masonic and occult significance. The detective investigating the murders (Johhny Depp, excellent as an opium-addicted but hyperintelligent Cockney copper) finds a pentagram-shaped pattern to the locations of the killings.
Word has it that a new version of The Blair Witch Project> will appear on the FX channel this month; with previously excised footage. I have not been able to obtain any preview information on this so I invite anyone who sees this film to write me and let me know what you think.
And now, some of my favorite horror films to watch in the Hallowe'en season, in no particular order:
- The Devils (1970) Ken Russell's brilliant anachronistic portrayal of the trial and execution of Father Urbain Grandier, tried for heresy in medieval France. With Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed. Over-the-top in Russell's inimitable style: lascivious nuns, way too much torture, and one scene-stealing young witch-hunting hippie studmuffin!
- The Wicker Man (1973) The thrilling tale of modern pagans on a remote Scottish island and the hapless cop who gets drawn into their lure... amazing performances by Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward. It's also a musical! Lots of song, dance and lust. This cult classic is now available in a new extended version DVD or VHS version!
- The Dunwich Horror (1970) A delightfully-cheesy but satisfyingly scary low-budget film based on the novel by H. P. Lovecraft, starring a young, geeky Dean Stockwell as a man who has erhaps studied the Necronomicon a bit to closely, and Sandra Dee as his perhaps too-willing acolyte. Don't miss the opening titles!
- The Other (1976) A subtle but horrific psychological thriller starring Uta Hagen. Based on Thomas Tryon's great novel about two young twin boys who seem to be at the heart of some unfortunate mishaps on the family farm. One horrifying segment involves the changeling myth.
- Theatre of Blood (1973) Vincent Price stars as a disgruntled actor whose modern Shakespeare performances are blasted by critics, upon whom he decides to exact melodramatic (and appropriate) revenge. Also with the beautiful Diana Rigg. Borders on black comedy at times; a must-see!
- Night of the Living Dead (1968) George Romero's classic black and white low-budget film which redefined the horror genre. A brother and sister visiting their mother's grave discover unspeakable horror as the dead rise, walk and, well, eat among us. Be sure you get Romero's original with the original music score; several versions exist of this film.
- Gothic (1987) Another over-the-top comic horror piece from Ken Russell; a dark stormy night on Lord Byron's estate finds Percy Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft , Dr. Polidori and Claire Claremont telling ghost stories and giving birth to the modern horror novel. Oh and plenty of Victorian style sex and drugs. With Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson, Julian Sands and Timothy Spall. Sands is so bad it hurts but Byrne and Spall are worth the price of admission.
- Edward Scissorhands (1991) Not particularly scary but delightfully atmospheric. Tim Burton's best work. Johnny Depp is amazing as the boy whose inventor left him unfinished, and Winona Ryder is the suburban girl who learns to accept him. An opening cameo from Vincent Price as the inventor is lovely.
- Exorcist 3: Legion (1988) directed and written by William Peter Blatty, author of the original Exorcist novel. This sequel is much overlooked and it is actually very good. George C. Scott as a police detective investigating murders in Georgetown which may be connected to Damien Karras's exorcism of years before. Brad Dourif is terrifying as the killer.
Well, see you all next month! Don't forget the cider donuts.
Media Coordinator - The Witches' Voice
Saturday, October 22nd 2001
Email: [Staff Email]
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