Yeah, I know, it’s really a good while till Halloween, but I want to get an early start on at least one aspect of it this year. I’m sure most of you reading this know that I’m involved with the Thursday Horror Picture Show. In point of fact, the programming of it and just about everything else about it is in the hands—and warped minds—of Justin Souther and myself. It’s very much like the Asheville Film Society, but on Thursdays and with horror movies. It’s also in the hands of the people who come to the movies. Now, nothing says horror pictures like Halloween, so I’d like this Halloween season to be something special.
Readers and viewers might recall that last year the topic of Halloween horrors came up, but it came up long after the October schedule had been set and printed. This year I want to throw open the doors to the possibility of habitué and even sons of habitués of the Thursday Horror Picture Show making some suggestions for this year’s October offering. As it stands right now, the only THPS date that’s pretty much etched in stone is Oct. 20, which is Bela Lugosi’s birthday. Unless someone has a better idea, we’re going with his signature film, Tod Browning’s 1931 Dracula. No it’s not his best film, but it’s his most iconic role—and it’s the film that started the whole talkie horror genre.
The closest we get to Halloween is Oct. 27, so I guess that’s the big title, though I’d be OK with taking suggestions for the whole month—just no Bava and no Fulci. (By Bava, I mean Mario. I would be curious to see Lamberto’s 1985 film Demons again.) I know at least one person suggested a picture called, I believe, Trick ‘r Treat (2007) last year. (Wasn’t that you, Dread P. Roberts? I seem to think it was.) I still haven’t seen it, but I have nothing against giving it a try for the Oct. 27 title. Also, let’s draw the line at Halloween (1978), which has been done to death and isn’t really much connected to Halloween.
Last year we also took over the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina and ran a couple days’ worth of silent horror movies. It was not what I’d call a raging success. The only film that was attended in any number was The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919). I’m not sure why this was, except that overall there wasn’t much promotion. This year the weekend is Oct. 29 and 30. If anyone has any suggestions we might consider trying something again—assuming we can get the space. My immediate feeling is that silent horror—no matter how appealing I find the concept—isn’t the way to go with this, judging by last year. That might have been a promotional problem as I suggested. Then again, this could prove to be a good opportunity to replay some of the THPS’ more popular titles.
Halloween itself is obviously on Monday. It’s probably pointless to try anything then. Only the Halloween hardcore are going to come out on a Monday and more likely than not, they’re in more of a party mindset than a movie one. Still, I admit I have toyed with the idea of a (cheap) ticketed event in an actual downstairs theater—probably consisting of a pair of “poverty row” horrors like King of the Zombies (1941) and The Corpse Vanishes (1942)—movies of that ilk. If there’s a groundswell of support, I’ll pursue this possibility. It’s worth remembering that the only thing the studios have lined up for us this Halloween season is Paranormal Stupity...er Paranormal Activity 3. (The only thing that could make me regret the lack of a new Saw movie is another of these tedium terrors.) I suppose a case can be made for the prequel to The Thing—also called The Thing—coming out on Oct. 14 kind of counts. Surely, we could do better—even if it’s just better cheese.
So have at it, you fans of the genre. Throw out some ideas here. I know you’ve got them. Bring ‘em on. And while you’re rolling this around in your mind, it wouldn’t hurt to be thinking about this year’s Thanksgiving Horror Turkey. I confess that at the moment I’m leaning toward the sublimely awful The Giant Claw—a movie like no other—and, if we can track a copy down, the utterly fascinatingly bad Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (1957). Here we have not only the most downright peculiar take on Messrs. Jekyll and Hyde imaginable, but one that spends a good deal of its running time—despite the title—determining that the daughter of Dr. Jekyll is in fact the daughter of Dr. Jekyll. (Plus there’s John Agar spending a lot of the movie wearing a candy-striped blazer that looks like he forgot to take off his pajama top.) And while you’re doing that, there’s still the one-two punch of Christmas and New Year to consider.