When an alien invasion hits a South London “block” (or housing project if you’re in America), it’s up to a local teenage gang to defend their home. Joe Cornish's debut film casts its heroes as some of the most marginalized residents of the community, a subversive play on nationalism, class and racism. Attack the Block doesn’t involve the military, police or anyone outside of the Block in a meaningful way. The cavalry never arrives creating a tense, nervy sci-fi parable for contemporary class relations which become all the more relevant in the shadow of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire. Featuring John Boyega in his breakout role as the would-be gang leader Moses who wonders if the aliens were sent by the government to wipe out the lower classes, Attack the Block is funny, inventive and a scarily urgent commentary on modern class warfare.
The Blob may seem like the worst instincts of the horror genre, a rolling gelatinous piece of murderous goop that unsuspecting nitwits can’t get out of their own way to avoid. However, The Blob is more than its title. Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont’s reimagining of the 1958 film places the emphasis on likeable characters and some truly messed up body horror. When a small town in California comes face to face with the titular Blob, who’s far more cunning than expected, it’s up to the few people who are aware of its existence to try and save their town. Russell and Darabont, coming off their previous collaboration Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, bring the paranoia of Philip Kaufmann’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers and startlingly gruesome practical effects into an 80s teen b-movie. Set during the height of Reagan-era politics, The Blob showcases that Mom and Dad definitely don’t know best.
Delving into a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and finally embraced them, Horror Noire traces the untold history of Black Americans in Hollywood through their connection to the horror genre. Adapting Robin Means Coleman’s seminal book, HORROR NOIRE will present the living and the dead, using new and archival interviews from scholars and creators; the voices who survived the genre’s past trends, to those shaping its future. A SHUDDER ORIGINAL.
Few films are tense, paranoid, grisly and awe-inspiring as John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing. When an American research station in Antarctica is besieged by an unknown assailant who they soon discover it is an alien life form that can infect anyone of them. The Thing bombed at the box office upon its release but has become known as one of the greatest horror films of all time. While many invasion films focus on the us-versus-them approach, The Thing posited that the call could be coming from inside the house so to speak. By nature of the alien being able to assume control of anyone on the base, it mirrored the neurosis of the age from the emerging AIDS crisis to the ongoing Cold War, a horrific enemy was no longer denoted by fangs and a cape, it was already walking among us.
Didn’t your parents tell you to never get in a car with a stranger? Stranger Danger may have cooled off by 2013, but Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin did everything it could to reignite that fear. When the alien Laura (Scarlett Johansson) enters our world as a female for a very specific task her determination begins to diminish the more she interacts with humanity. Under the Skin is about an invasion of one, a sole woman who both entrances and distances us, who is familiar but unknowable. It is an examination of those live on the fringes of society and what happens when we turn a blind eye to the plight of others. Under the Skin remains one of the most chilling and unsettling portrayals of what remains of humanity when we begin to strip away our layers.
Edward Davis Wood Jr aka Ed Wood was an outcast and eternal optimist who wanted to tell stories. An aspiring filmmaker who helped create the cult and midnight canon with films like Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) and Glen or Glenda (1953), Wood was a disastrous pioneer and visionary who believed in the power of storytelling so much so he often didn’t worry about the details. Tim Burton’s lovingly camp and satirical biopic of Wood came at a time when Burton could have done almost anything after hits like Beetlejuice (1988), Batman (1989) and Edward Scissorhands (1990). The film doesn’t shy away from the queer aspects of Wood’s life such as cross-dressing making it part of Wood and his humanity rather than something to laugh at. Ed Wood is one of the strangest films about filmmaking and one of the most joyful films about being yourself.
John Waters will stop at nothing to destroy the hypocritical American Dream. In his work Waters constantly returns to the theme of confines and asks his heroes to shatter them and maybe take a shit on them. He detests moralism, puritanism and certitudes with his films working to obliterate those fallacies in the most outlandish ways possible. Serial Mom is somewhere between a studio film and Waters’ own DIY punk aesthetic lending itself to its construction as a Trojan Horse inviting a larger audiences in with a Hollywoodized aesthetic and leading woman then demolishing social constructs once the theater lights have gone down. As Beverly, Kathleen Turner shines as a mildly put-upon housewife who gets her kicks by disposing of some of the community’s more troublesome neighbors. The brilliance of Waters’ film is how effortless he and Turner depict Beverly’s actions as sensible and not in the least bit desperate.
James Whale’s Frankenstein not only helped define and popularize the horror film at its outset, it is also one of the most openly queer-coded films ever made. Working with Mary Shelley’s classic text of a doctor so desperate to prevent death he creates a monster; Whale imbued the fearsome tale with iconic images while also creating sympathy for Frankenstein’s monster. Whale was one of the few men in Hollywood (particularly in the 1920s and 1930s) who lived as an openly gay man and many of gone from speculating to outright saying that Whale’s sexuality had nothing to do with his filmmaking. While the art can always be separated from the artist it’s difficult to overlook the film’s sensitive portrayal of monster cast out from society without a queer lens. Frankenstein ultimately asks us to question who is truly a monster versus who we are told is a monster.
Some films are just destined to become fan favorites. After being denied a theatrical release, Trick ‘r Treat steadily gained its status as one of the all-time classic Halloween films through word of mouth after it was released on DVD. An anthology which follows five storylines over the same Hallow’s Eve, Michael Dougherty’s films boasted a wickedly dark tongue and cheek tone, a notable cast including Anna Paquin, Brian Cox and Dylan Baker as well as gruesome effects that point to the importance of behaving yourself on Halloween when the barrier between the living and the dead is its weakest and anything can happen. Especially if you’re don’t respect the rules of Sam(hain).
Following up from his efforts on Frankenstein, director James Whale returned to the helm for its sequel Bride of Frankenstein a film that asks, what if the monster wants to be human? Donning the iconic Frankenstein Monster makeup once more Boris Karloff returns and this time he wants to be “normal”, to mate and be accepted, but of course, it all goes horribly wrong. Incorporating the constructs and confines of marriage, the early drag aesthetic of Elsa Lanchester’s Bride (dead, but makes it fashion), the widely read for filth queer villainy of Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) and the winking nods of the Hermit, Bride of Frankenstein rejects and problematizes so-called normalcy and asks its audience to open itself to a brave new world filled with gods and monsters.
Well before Samara came out of your TV and before the Lords of Salem were played over the airwaves, metal god Sammi Curr (Tony Fields) came back from the dead to wreak havoc in the lives of his fans when the teenage Eddie (Marc Price) plays Sammi’s posthumous release backwards conjuring Sammi’s spirit. A riff on the conservative 1980s fear that shock rockers could invoke Satan at a moment’s notice, Trick or Treat embraces its camp to examine fandom and the mainstreaming of Metal. With cameos by Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne, Trick or Treat is a unique combination of the horror of Metal and the music industry with a slasher narrative, Parental Advisory sticker not included.
The heart of Antrum is the titular cursed feature, which purports to have been shot in the late 1970s by unknown filmmakers. It spins the tale of two siblings who perform an occult ritual in the woods, seeking closure after the death of a beloved pet… but their seemingly symbolic act may have truly unleashed Hell on Earth.
Director Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator adapted from H.P. Lovecraft’s serialized story Herbert West: Reanimator eschews Lovecraft’s seriousness while keeping his terror and mythology. Featuring Jeffery Combs in a cult-star marking turn as West, the fun, violence and gore doesn’t let up in Gordon’s version, nor does the body count. The film both resituates Lovecraft’s work in a modern context while also letting it do most of the work with humor extending from the strangeness of West’s unrelenting pursuit of reanimating the dead within the confines of academia taking education from the ivory tower and bringing to the sublimely absurd.
When the horror genre was occupied with the bodily destruction of Torture Porn in the 2000, director Oren Peli wanted to go back to basics to scare his audience. A young couple Katie and Micha are experiencing strange phenomena in their home so Micha sets up a video camera in their bedroom to figure out who or what the culprit is. As the unseen force becomes more powerful and continues to defy explanation Micha and Katie have fewer and fewer options as they grow increasingly worn down and the entity becomes more powerful. With an ingenious marketing campaign that focused on real audiences’ terror and a voting feature which allowed curious viewers to demand a screening at their local cinema, Paranormal Activity became a grassroots-driven phenomenon with a worldwide gross of almost $200 million. Katie and Micah’s plight is at once intimate and universal, reinventing the haunted house genre for the new millennium.
Director Stuart Gordon returned to the world of H.P. Lovecraft with his follow up to Re-Animator, From Beyond a fully realized look at Lovecraft’s preponderance with Cosmic Horror, the kind of horror that exists around us but just out of reach of our perception. When Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel) manufactures the ability to extend the perception of the penal gland in the human brain it not only extends his consciousness but turns him in to something monstrous. Combining the terror of Lovecraft’s time, most notably confinement to a sanitarium or psychiatric ward and the conditions within them, and all the ooey-gooey 80s effects celluloid could handle, From Beyond an inter-dimensional journey into horror you won’t soon forget.
At the end of the last millennium three film students went into the woods and were never seen again. Or that’s what the marketing guru’s behind The Blair Witch Project would have you believe. Between the film’s premiere at the Sundance Festival which traumatized the unsuspecting crowd to the Curse of the Blair Witch TV special which aired in the lead up to the film, it was hard to believe the plight of Heather, Mike and Josh wasn’t real. Directors Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick created a premise simple enough to be believable while weaving in enough backstory about the Blair Witch herself to make her seem like a real part of Colonial folklore. In the 20 years since its release The Blair Witch Project has re-envisioned the American Nightmare.
'That’s la Morte: Italian Cult Cinema and the Years of Lead' is a new 80 minute documentary that considers how cult and horror film cycles came to reflect wider anxieties within 1970s Italy.
Sneaking in just before the, ahem, tail-end of the Pre-Code era in Hollywood, during which there was no ratings board to represent the moral majority and classify films, Island of Lost Souls presents a gruesome and shocking filmic realization of one of H.G. Wells most famous stories. When Edward Parker (Richard Arlen) is shipwrecked on a strange island he is taken in by the sinister Dr. Moreau (Charles Laughton). Parker soon realizes the strange creatures on the island are not born of nature but of Moreau’s own hand. Banned in twelve countries and cut by State censors in the US, Island of Lost Souls still caused a moral panic across the country cementing its place in the horror canon.
Part of the Classic Universal Monster series, James Whale’s The Invisible Man based on H.G. Wells’ novel shook film audiences to their core with groundbreaking special effects. Featuring the American screen debut of Claude Rains as Dr. Jack Griffin who discovers the formula for invisibility he decides to test the formula on himself driving him mad. While Griffin is seemingly free from society’s restraints, he is unable to control his urges and he begins to lose his humanity at a terrifying pace. The Invisible Man is one of Wells’ more insular stories focusing on the intimate relationship between the individual and social constructs both condemning and reinforcing them. Under the direction of James Whale The Invisible Man remains a timely allegory for the cost of unmitigated power.
When Michael Haneke remade his own film Funny Games ten years after the original Austrian version, he was uncompromising. A near shot-for-shot remake changed only by the language spoken on screen (English) and a cast made up of recognizable Hollywood actors Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and Michael Pitt, Funny Games 2007 was less reimagined for a new millennium and more of an amplification of Haneke’s warnings of our appetite for violence. Haneke is a provocateur with an axe to grind, an enfant terrible who remained petulant enough ten years after the original failed to provoke a response in North America beyond the art house circle to return to the story. Haneke was determined to make Funny Games accessible to a larger audience having heard that the film would not play well with subtitles in North America. His fable of a well-to-do family whose summer home is invaded by a pair of erudite young men is not only unrelentingly violent; it is an unflinching look at its audience if they are brave enough to return the gaze.
After Orson Welles scared the bejesus out of millions of unsuspecting listeners with his radio play of War of the Worlds, Hollywood created its own version laying the foundation for the apocalyptic blockbusters to come. Director Byron Haskin’s retelling of H.G. Wells’ iconic book updates the threat from Victorian London to present day California. As the aliens invade destroying everything in their path it’s up to a few Americans to figure out how to fight for survival. For a world still reeling from the fallout of World War II, War of the Worlds is indebted to its groundbreaking special effects which made the film seem all too real for a world trying to forget a violent past.
Seven years after the events of 9/11, Americans were afraid. War was raging overseas and the tide of hatred and intolerance within America’s borders was rising. People craved a safety that no longer existed and maybe never did. Being home at the beginning of the new millennium has never been more terrifyingly realized than in Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers. Pseudo-ly based on true events, the film is about the impossibly gorgeous couple James (Scott Speedman) and Kirsten (Liv Tyler) who arrive at James’ family cottage after a wedding and are unrelentingly attacked by a group of masked individuals. Despite the film’s insistence at it being based on true events, Bertino took inspiration from the Tate/ Labianca murders, the Keddie Cabin Murders, and a spat of home invasions that took place in the neighborhood he grew up in. So while The Strangers is a work of fiction, the events are eerily plausible.
What better way to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day than with a bunch of murderous travelers fleeing the law, determined to set up shop on a new terrain at any cost? The Critters, knowns as Crites, are a dangerous alien species who wreak havoc wherever they go. When they escape from intergalactic jail they make their way to Earth to breed and infest our home. It’s up to the residents of a small town in Kansas and two space bounty hunters to stop them, repeatedly. Luckily for us, the Critters franchise kept replicating with each entry more entertaining and bonkers than the last.
Doctor Louis Creed moves his family to Maine, where he meets a friendly local named Jud Crandall. After the Creeds' cat is accidentally killed, Crandall advises Louis to bury it in the ground near the old pet cemetery. The cat returns to life, its personality changed for the worse. When Louis' son, Gage, dies tragically, Louis decides to bury the boy's body in the same ground despite the warnings of Crandall and Louis' visions of a deceased patient.
Directed by Mary Lambert
1hr 43m | Rated R
Annabelle comes home… to Salem for a special visit! In celebration of the Annabelle Comes Home - Advance Screening at CinemaSalem, Warner Bros. is sending the real Annabelle doll to Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery for a limited engagement - one day only! Tour the incredible gallery of monsters and pop into the Vault of Horror screening room for a refresher course on The Conjuring Universe!
Set in the 1957, an unmarried, pregnant conwoman seeks refuge in a southern convent where she is forced to atone for her sins. Protected within the confines of what first appears to be an ideal environment to raise her child, Mother Superior’s house of God descends into terror as the nuns inflict psychological warfare and brutal violence upon their unholy captives.
When it was released in 1987, The Monster Squad was deemed a failure by critics and was, according to the box office, a film no one cared about. But over the last three decades, word of mouth has turned this sleeping hit into a cultural phenomenon.
Over the course of its three volume run, Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories introduced children to gothic tales of terror with notoriously ghastly illustrations making them the most banned books of our time. This documentary follows the author’s son, Peter Schwartz, in an exploration of the collection’s legacy, folklore, and many controversies with interviews from iconic children’s authors R.L. Stine, Debbie Dadey, Bruce Coville, and Q.L. Pearce.
Fans flock to a festival celebrating the most iconic horror movies, only to discover that the charismatic showman behind the event has a diabolical agenda. As festival attendees start dying off, three teenagers - more schooled in horror-film cliches than practical knowledge about neutralizing psycho killers - must band together and battle through various madmen and monstrosities to survive.
Justice wields a mop in this landmark of DIY punk production from the shameless world of Troma. While fleeing a group of bullies, 98-pound weakling, Melvin Ferd, stumbles into a vat of toxic waste. This transforms him into the Toxic Crusader— a monstrous superhero who is hellbent on vanquishing the feckless and corrupt evildoers of Tromaville.
A group of well-meaning teens comes face to face with a hunger-dumb Tarman and a horde of acid rain zombies after a toxic gas leak reanimates the dead at a medical supply warehouse. This punk rock, horror-comedy spinoff of The Night of the Living Dead features the first instance of brain-eating zombies.
Horror icon and legend Cassandra Peterson will host a 30th anniversary screening of her film Elvira, Mistress of the Dark at the opening night reception of Salem Horror Fest following the Salem Haunted Happenings Parade. With opening remarks from keynote speaker Ryan Turek (Blumhouse Productions VP), the evening program will also feature a panel discussion diving into the history and legacy of the world's most famous horror host! A pre-screening VIP reception will be offered for a very select few to meet and talk with Cassandra Peterson before the festivities begin.