Sinister Cinema Film Series 1932-1989 Playing Now in Greensboro

Sinister Cinema Film Series, 1932-1989

My film series at the Greensboro School of Creativity is well underway, and I wanted to share with readers the remainder of the screenings.  All films are shown on the School’s incredible 120″ screen, and many of these films will be screened in glorious blu-ray.

Since the dawn of cinema, horror films have remained consistent popular attractions. Playing on primal fears, while providing a safe and controlled space for their exploration, horror cinema also engages social and cultural issues, providing subtle and often allegorical commentary on contemporary problems, doubts and, of course, fears. All of the films in the Sinister Cinema Film Series have been chosen according to these two criteria: They are rollicking roller coasters of primal pleasure, terrifyingly good entertainment, and they speak to underlying issues in our psyches and social organization—from the freaks vs. “normals” social dynamic in the 1932 Freaks to the religious manias and private perversions on display in the 1989 mindbender Santa Sangre—that are just as timely today as they were at the films’ initial release.  Whenever chilling possible, films will be shown in glorious blu-ray on The Greensboro School of Creativity’s 120” screen. Each film will include educational discussion. Bring your own refreshments, or enjoy the refreshments for sale. The full lineup for the remaining screenings of Sinister Cinema is below:

Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1966, 105 min.)
Saturday, October 8, 2011 – 9:00 p.m.

Roman Polanski followed up his international breakthrough Knife in the Water with this controversial, chilling tale of psychosis. Catherine Deneuve is Carol, a fragile, frigid young beauty cracking up in her London flat when left alone by her vacationing sister. She is soon haunted by specters real and imagined, and her insanity grows to a violent, hysterical pitch. Thanks to its disturbing detail and Polanski’s adeptness at turning claustrophobic space into an emotional minefield, Repulsion is a surreal, mind-bending odyssey into personal horror, and it remains one of cinema’s most shocking
psychological thrillers.

Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kümel, 1971, 100 min.)
Saturday, October 15, 2011 – 9:00 p.m.
International screen icon Delphine Seyrig (of Last Year at Marienbad fame) stars as
Elizabeth Bathory, an ageless countess with a beautiful young companion (Goth
goddess Andrea Rau) and a legendary legacy of perversion. But when the two women seduce a troubled newlywed couple (French beauty Danielle Ouimet and John
Karlen of Dark Shadows), they unleash a frenzy of sudden violence and depraved desire that shocked both art house audiences and grindhouse crowds worldwide.

The Baby (Ted Post, 1973, 85 min.)
Saturday, October 22, 2011 – 9:00 p.m.

Social worker Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) is assigned to a new case: the Wadsworth family, which consists of an abusive, alcoholic mother (Ruth Roman, costar of Strangers on a Train) two demented and oversexed daughters (Suzanne Zenor and The Godfather Part II’s Mariana Hill) and “Baby”—a grown son who lives in a crib, gurgles incoherently and is treated like an infant! As Ann slowly learns the dark secrets behind the family, she sets her sights on liberating Baby from his seeming captivity. But a bizarre revelation about Ann’s own past leads to a shocking and twisted denouement which will send chills creeping down your spine. Spend some time with one of cinema’s sickest families ever and rediscover a little-seen thriller that ranks as one of the most perverse and unique mainstream films produced in the 1970s. Directed by Ted Post (Magnum Force, Beneath the Planet of the Apes) and with a moody musical score by Gerald Fried (Paths of Glory, The Killing).

The Crazies (George A. Romero, 1973, 103 min.)
Saturday, October 29, 2011 – 9:00 p.m.

Its code name is “Trixie,” an experimental government germ weapon that leaves its victims either dead or irreversibly insane. When the virus is accidentally unleashed in Evans City, Pennsylvania, the small community becomes a war zone of panicked military, desperate scientists and gentle neighbors turned homicidal maniacs. Richard France (Romero’s Dawn of the Dead), Lynn Lowry (Shivers, Cat People) and Richard Liberty (Day of the Dead) co-star in this masterpiece of modern horror written and directed by George Romero that remains one of his most chilling and disturbing films ever.

Deathdream (Bob Clark, 1974, 88 min.)
Saturday, November 5, 2011 – 9:00 p.m.

In this shattering variation on The Monkey’s Paw, grief-stricken suburban parents (Academy Award nominees John Marley of The Godfatherand Lynn Carlin of Faces) refuse to accept the news that their son Andy (Richard Backus) has been killed in Vietnam. But when Andy returns home soon after, something may be horribly wrong: Andy is alive and well…or is he? Produced and directed by Bob Clark (Black Christmas) and written by Alan Ormsby (Deranged), Deathdream became one of the very first films to confront the domestic ravages of the Vietnam War. More than thirty years later, it remains one of the most chilling horror films of its time. Deathdream was released under several different titles, including Dead of Night, The Night Walk and The Night Andy Came Home, and marked the grisly debut of gore effects legend Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead).

Dressed to Kill (Brian De Palma, 1980, 105 min.)
Saturday, November 12, 2011 – 9:00 p.m.

One of Brian De Palma’s most divisive films, Dressed to Kill is a spine-chilling Alfred
Hitchcock update for the late 1970s. Sexually frustrated wife and mother Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson) visits her New York psychiatrist, Dr. Elliott (Michael Caine), to complain about her unfulfilling erotic life. When she then goes to meet her husband at a museum, she meets an anonymous man whom she follows out to a cab. After an afternoon of satisfying sex, Kate discovers that the man has a venereal disease, but that information becomes a moot point when a razor-wielding blonde woman slashes Kate to ribbons in the elevator of the man’s building. Blonde prostitute Liz (Nancy Allen), who caught a glimpse of the murderer, becomes both the prime suspect and the killer’s next target. With the police less than willing to believe her story, Liz joins forces with Kate’s
son Peter (Keith Gordon) to get the psychopath themselves.

Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1982, 89 min.)
Saturday, November 19, 2011 – 9:00 p.m.

When Max Renn goes looking for edgy new shows for his sleazy cable TV station, he stumbles across the pirate broadcast of a hyperviolent torture show called Videodrome. As he struggles to unearth the origins of the program, he embarks on a hallucinatory journey into a shadow world of right-wing conspiracies, sadomasochistic sex games, and bodily transformation. Starring James Woods and Deborah Harry in one of her first film roles, Videodrome is one of writer/director David Cronenberg’s most original and provocative works, fusing social commentary with shocking elements of sex and violence.
With groundbreaking special effects makeup by Academy Award-winner Rick Baker,  Videodrome has come to be regarded as one of the most influential and mind-bending films of the 1980s.

Santa Sangre (Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1989, 122 min.)
Saturday, December 3, 2011 – 9:00 p.m.

Circus horrors cross over into the mundane world in this terrifying, psychedelic film from Alejandro Jodorowsky, the man who brought you the infamous El Topo. Fenix (Adan Jodorowsky, the director’s son) is the son of a circus strongman (Guy Stockwell)
and an aerialist (Blanca Guerra). One night, the mother sees from her high perspective that her husband is fooling around with the tattooed lady. She later confronts him and throws acid on him in retaliation. He saws off her arms in return and kills himself. Fenix, witness to all this, runs away raving. Years later, Fenix (now played by older brother Axel Jodorowski) is released from an insane asylum by his armless mother. She wants to go on a murderous revenge spree, and maybe play a little piano, and she needs Fenix to be her arms for both tasks.

$5 admission covers cost of room rental.  Refreshments available for purchase or feel free to bring your own.  Hope to see you at a screening soon!

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About Budd Wilkins

Budd Wilkins is a writer, film critic and instructor. He is a Staff Critic for Slant Magazine, and his work has also appeared in the Nordic Issue of Acidemic Journal of Film and Media. He is currently writing a chapter for an anthology on international horror directors to be published by Intellect Press and distributed by University of Chicago Press. Mr. Wilkins was born and raised in Hollywood, Florida. He attended Penn State for several years before moving to North Carolina in 1994, where he earned his Bachelor's in Religious Studies and a Master's in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Film Studies from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His primary focus is film history, film literacy and criticism, with the goal of bringing obscure, foreign and films that are labeled "difficult" to the attention of film aficionados of all kinds. Other interests and focus of critique include comparative religion, black humor, 19th century European literature, horror and graphic novels. Mr Wilkins lives in Greensboro, North Carolina with his wife, Tina. Follow @buddwilkins on Twitter.
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