At last, October is here. While for many that means hoodies, watching the leaves change color, and pumpkin spicing everything edible, for horror fans it means there is a convenient excuse to cram as many horror films in one month as humanely possible. Ok, maybe we do this every month, but it’s that time of year we don’t feel any sort of regret for doing so. Due to a wealth of fantastic independent cinemas, New Yorkers are presented with a immense range of choices each year. There are at least three yearly marathons, as well as an array of retrospective screenings. If you can’t find something to watch, you aren’t trying hard enough.
Diabolique’s favorite NYC-central theatre, Nitehawk Cinema, is leading the charge this year by lining up perhaps their best October selection of horror titles ever. The overall series, simply titled “Halloween at Nitehawk,” transforms the entire month into a celebration. This means that, in addition to their already impressive collection of carefully curated new releases, they have arranged over 20 special engagement events and films, which wraps up with their yearly Halloween night party, “A Nite To Dismember.”
Nitehawk Cinema will kick things into gear this weekend with hits from both the past and present, with Friday and Saturday midnight screenings of David Cronenberg’s 1977 sexual-anxiety thriller, Rabid, complimented by visual effects artist-turned director Jason Lei Howden debut feature Deathgasm. Following its world premiere at SXSW last year, Deathgasm has been a festival darling, with its brand of outlandish effects and black metal aesthetics captivating audiences worldwide. Additional midnight screenings include Jeff Lieberman’s rarely screened counter-cultural, drug frenzied Blue Sunshine (not to be missed!); Stuart Gordon’s bloody musing on HP Lovecraft, Re-Animator; John Carpenter’s masterpiece Halloween; Frank Henenlotter’s politically incorrect but humorous cult classic Frankenhooker (an excellent companion to Re-Animator); George A. Romero’s revolutionary zombie opus Night of the Living Dead; and concludes with a 35mm presentation of Richard Stanley’s cybertronic creature feature Hardware, simply one of the finest horror films ever made.
If staying up late is not your thing, don’t fret because Nitehawk Cinema has got you covered. All month long, their signature weekend brunches will be invaded by ghosts and ghouls, monsters and slashers, and witches and vampires. So, satisfy your afternoon appetite with the oh-so-90s The Craft. Not into 90s horror? Well, maybe the string of classic horror films like The Fly (1958), The Invisible Man (1933), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), and James Whale’s still-effective monster film Frankenstein (1931). Other brunch titles include, 1985’s Fright Night, Day of the Dead, fan-favorite Ghostbusters, and — best of all — Dario Argento’s brilliant giallo Deep Red (simply a must for those who still have it resting atop their list-of-shame).
In addition to the staple brunch and midnight screenings, Nitehawk has a handful of special engagement screenings. Sadly, both “Spoons, Toons & Booze” (their cartoon brunch series) and the October 13th Film Feast presentation of Friday the 13th are already sold out. However, there are still tickets left for one of Nitehawk Cinema’s best monthly events — a series that no NYC-based cinephile should miss — The Deuce. For October, the programmers of The Deuce have arranged a screening of 1982’s Alone in the Dark, which is seldom screened. Given that this event is made even more rare by the 35mm print, it’s kind of shocking that tickets still exist but we assure you that they won’t for long, so act fast. While Alone in the Dark is guilty of having a better premise than script, its still a wildly imaginative and oft-forgot 80s slasher with a cast of beloved character actors and scenery chewers. October 29th, Comedian Kevin Maher will return to Nitehawk to “Geek out” on the films of Stephen King: “In this pre-Halloween edition of Kevin Maher’s comedy-variety show, Kevin and guests obsess over Stephen King stories. Especially the scary ones. The evening covers 40 years of film and TV projects, with close readings of the famous and infamous Stephen King adaptations: the good, the bad, the good-bad and the bad-bad.” Finally, there are special screenings of this year’s Ava’s Possessions, as well as the October 7th screening of Manos: The Hands of Fate, the famed so-bad-its-good masterpiece.
…And we’ve saved the best for last: Nitehawk’s “A Nite to Dismember.” Now in its third year, the annual 12-hour marathon is one of the city’s best Halloween parties, complete with cereal for all those brave enough to make it all night. The line-up for this year is packed with some of the genre’s best outings from the last 60 years. Read More Below:
Get schooled on horror history with A NITE TO DISMEMBER: DECADES OF HORROR as we screen five classic movies from the past fifty years. Starting at midnight on Halloween, Nitehawk celebrates films that punctuated each decade like a knife to the heart: Poltergeist (1980s), House on Haunted Hill (1960s), Bay of Blood (1970s), and Scream (1990s) with a surprise spanking new horror release right in the middle so secret that it will only be revealed moments before we show it!
As we do each year at A NITE TO DISMEMBER, there will be a costume contest (with prizes!), trivia (more prizes!), horror short films (pint sized fear!), and complimentary Nitehawk breakfast (eggs and tots!). This year there will also be a complimentary cereal bar courtesy of POST Cereal and guests will receive a special “survival” gift bag that, amongst other treats, includes a discounted fare from Uber. And we’ve got you covered on the drink front with complimentary coffee from Fazenda Coffee and a specialty cocktail with Owl’s Brew. Plus, sweets from our neighbor SweetHaus! Hosted by Shudder’s Sam Zimmerman and Nitehawk’s Kris King.
Forget trick-or-treating, spend the nite with us!
Films (in order of screening)…
POLTERGEIST (Tobe Hooper, 1982) – DCP
Come into the light Carol Anne…
Poltergeist took the haunted house in film into a whole new era. Brought to you by the director of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Steven Spielberg, it shows the quick evolution from excitement to fear as the young Freeling family discovers their shiny new home in Cuesta Verde comes with a bad case of the evil spirits. Basically, the first in the Poltergeist series eviscerates middle class America in the 1980s by attacking them where it counts, their planned housing communities, with the technology of the time. Trust us, a television has never been so scary.
HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (William Castle, 1959) – Digital
They’re coming for me now…and then they’ll come for you…
Speaking of haunted houses, you’d be hard pressed to find one more outlandishly fun than this Vincent Price classic. Starring as an eccentric millionaire, Price invites five strangers to spend the night in a “haunted” house and whomever survives will get one million dollars. (Disclaimer: you don’t get money for surviving Nite). Directed by the ultimate film showman William Castle, House on Haunted Hill is full of plot holes but the film’s charm is part of the fun-loving gimmick experience of the time period that would make Castle a legend. Just beware the flying skeleton in the theater.
MYSTERY FILM (2000s)
A BAY OF BLOOD aka TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (Mario Bava, 1971) – 35mm
Gee their good at playing dead, aren’t they?…
Violent, sexy and (yes) humorous, Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood or Twitch of the Death Nerve or the near countless other titles, is the film that inspired a generation of American horror. In fact, you may notice that one scene’s “inspiration” is outright copied in Friday the 13th: Part II. One the one hand, the story has a homicidal inheritance race. On the other, there’s a group of unaware sexed up, boozed up teenagers camping out in an abandoned house in the family bay who get caught up in the murderous mix. Like all of Bava’s films, A Bay of Blood is pure magic; pure gratuitous, gory magic. Know the original.
SCREAM (Wes Craven, 1996) – DCP
What’s your favorite scary movie?…
Wes Craven’s Scream has been called the movie that marks the end the American horror film as it folds in all of the genre’s tropes of the previous twenty years into one meta experience. With one of the more shocking first scenes in horror history (akin to Hitchcock killing off his main character in Psycho), it establishes everything you need to know about the ride you’re about to go on. Most important, the film doesn’t take itself too serious. In fact, it’s incredibly fun to watch this group of mid-90s high school students ponder the “rules” of horror movies while a masked killer cleverly guts their peers. At the center of it all is our Final Girl Sidney, a virgin who seems to be the target of the killer’s affection. And yes, there will be test at the end of the Nite so study up!