THE SENTINEL: WOMEN, THE DEVIL AND NEW YORK

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Nitehawk’s Senior Film Programmer Caryn Coleman writes on the devil, women, and New York in The Sentinel for Shock Til You Drop. Get Tickets to our 35mm screening of The Sentinel this weekend at midnite, part of our The Works: Jeff Goldblum

Are you one of the Legion?…

The devil certainly has a thing for New York women; at least in film. Like its striking satanic predecessor Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Michael Winner’s The Sentinel (1974) is rooted within an everyday reality. This makes it intimately relatable and, therefore, appropriately terrifying. These films exploit the familiarity of our shared experiences: who hasn’t been sad, wanted a family, or had trouble with a significant other? They place the idea horror within the context of the “home” which, as a literary Gothic staple has been going since the 1800s, but cinematically it represents that postmodern shift into the urban space where your neighbors, friends and lovers are whom you should now fear the most. This is especially true if you’re a young woman and only exacerbated if you’re a young woman living in a chaotic city like New York…READ THE REST

Stabby Scary Spooky Time: October at Nitehawk

dismember-splash2It’s October! Our favorite time of the year. The weather is just right, you get to wear all kinds of fancy new clothes, and you can binge on horror movies without any guilt whatsoever.

We have a whole slew of horror and more in store for you this month, including our massive series on horror’s most fearsome foe: the Final Girl. Also a special presentation of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford with Casey Affleck in house; a special screening of NY graffiti-doc Style Wars and a special 20th anniversary screening of Pulp Ficiton! Plus, out all-nite Halloween horror movie marathon: A Nite to Dismember! It’s all below. Bewaaarreeeee

Dreaming of INLAND EMPIRE

inlandempire-blogThe July program for our Summer of Surrealism series begins this Friday with two midnite 35mm (direct from Lynch) screenings of David Lynch’s epic Inland Empire (get tickets!). 

We’re happy to have Adam Lowenstein back at Nitehawk to introduce the film on Friday night, his forthcoming book Dreaming of Cinema: Spectatorship, Surrealism, and the Age of Digital Media is the inspiration for the series. Adam has also written the following essay for us, Dreaming of Inland Empire, that not only gives a fantastic perspective into Inland Empire but also speaks to the spirit of our slightly off-kilter surrealism series too. Let’s get weird…

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Dreaming of Inland Empire
Like Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr. before it, Inland Empire traces a path back towards David Lynch’s early experimental films and first feature Eraserhead, rather than building on the more conventional narrative structures of The Elephant Man, Dune, and The Straight Story or even the narrative strangeness of Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, or Twin Peaks. Inland Empire heightens the proclivities for loops in time, for character doubling and dispersal, for ominous tone over explicit explanation, and most of all, for dream logic, that characterize both Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr.

So is Inland Empire, with its embrace of dream logic, an example of Lynch as surrealist? Yes, at least to a certain extent. The doubling of characters here echoes Luis Buñuel’s tendencies to do the same, and the game Lynch plays to involve his audience in dream logic by first offering hints of familiar plot elements (the affair, the inside Hollywood production story, the Eastern European crime syndicate, the endangered prostitute) as well as familiar trademarks of his authorship (Lynch stalwarts Harry Dean Stanton, Diane Ladd, Grace Zabriskie, and of course, the truly magnificent Laura Dern all appear in the film, along with a number of signature “Lynchian” touches) echoes some of Buñuel’s game-like enticements of his audience.

Buñuel may have had more overtly political aims in mind when he engaged his viewers in games of perception and interpretation, but some of the goals are the same: to elevate the realm of dream to the realm of reality, to show how the former should not languish in the shadows of the latter but instead emerge as its revealer. For Lynch, “dream” will always be tied much more closely to the “dream factory” of Hollywood than for Buñuel, and one of the strengths of Inland Empire is its ability to sketch the complex network of desires between actor, character, production crew, and audience that gives Hollywood its special power of fascination. Inland Empire is not a Hollywood film nor an anti-Hollywood film; it is neither wholly surrealist nor wholly non-surrealist. It is Hollywood dreaming of surrealism, surrealism dreaming of Hollywood, and an exhilarating invitation to have us join that dream.

 
 

Jack Nicholson on HEAD

monkees-blogFriday, April 26 at midnite: HEAD (Bob Rafelson, 1968) | Buy Tickets!

We’re pretty excited to have Eric Lefcowitz (author of Monkee Business: the Revolutionary Made for TV Band) in house this Friday night to introduce our screening of Bob Rafelson’s cult film, Head. Here’s an excerpt from his book in which Jack Nicholson (co-screenwriter and 77th birthday boy) proclaims his love of this strange avant-garde film that illicit various reactions upon its release, including none at all!

monkee-biz-coverIn a 1970 profile written by Rex Reed for the New York Times, Nicholson made his only known comment about the film. “Nobody ever saw that, man but I saw it 158 million times. I loved it,” he said. “Filmatically, it’s the best rock and roll movie ever made. I mean, it’s anti-rock and roll. Has no form. Unique in structure, which is very hard to do in the movies.”

*copies of Monkee Business will be available for sale and to be signed by Lefcowitz after the screening. There will also be a special treat for the first 10 audience members!

Video: Japanese Prank for THE RING

Remember when I wrote about how THE RING scares the crap out of me? Well, this would have probably made me poop my pants…

The Ring plays at midnite on Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15 at Nitehawk. Get your tickets and have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Scariest Films Ever: THE RING

ring_7THE RING (Gore Verbinski, 2002) | This Friday & Saturday at midnite | Get Tickets

From the scariest film I’ve ever seen division comes The Ring

Now before anyone starts, I also think that the original Ringu is the scariest movie ever along with pretty much every other J-Horror film I’ve ever watched (other examples: Juon to Audition). I just can’t. Japanese horror films tap into that especially dark place deep inside of me but, really, they express the cultural traumas experienced by Japan from WWII and, since I’m not Japanese, I can only think that these kinds of wounds are felt universally across all generations.* Plus, that black, wet hair. 

A long-time lover of horror films, I went to see The Ring one sunny afternoon in Los Angeles, at the Grove no less. It scared the shit out of me from the start: the distorted faces, the inescapability of a horrible death, the completely whacked out surrealist dream scenarios. Everything in the film is black, blue, and sopping wet. But what most terrified me, and this is also what I think is most brilliant about the story, is that the audience watches the killer video; we become complicit in the act but are held unaccountable. Instead, we see what happens to the others at a very safe distance but all the while checking our blissfully benign television monitors.

Nitehawk Naughties: Reclaiming 1970s Porn

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I am a woman and I programmed a year-long dirty film series at Nitehawk Cinema.

It seems important to point this out given that some of the recent press covering the series and the current interest in “vintage porn” has had a distinctively male voice. I suppose it’s natural to assume that porn equals “just for men” but there is so much more to screening these older films now than to arouse a man.

I took the helm of our 2014 signature series Nitehawk Naughties program last year originally intending to highlight older sex pics ala Doris Wishman, of whom I’m a huge fan and who is an essential influence for both porn and mainstream cinema. However, my idea truly formalized when a friend posted a link to Vinegar Syndrome’s digital release of The Sexualist and I went down the proverbial rabbit hole discovering their commitment to restoring and historizing a golden era of porn and cult films (see the New York Times feature “Smut, Refreshed for a New Generation”). Learning of their archive made it impossible for me to think of any other direction of the series. This is reason number one: preserving cinema of any genre so that it can reach new audiences is vital to cultural history and should be an integral consideration in film programming.

Essay: Black Christmas & Bob Clark Love

phone-blackchristmasBlack Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974)
December 6 & 7 at Midnite | Buy Tickets

Nestled in between the great giallo explosion (1960s – early 1970s) and the American slasher phenomenon (late 1970s – 1980s) is the great Canadian film that connects the two, Bob Clark’s Black Christmas. Clark would go on to make another holiday classic, A Christmas Story, along with other notables like Porky’s, Rhinestone, Breaking Point and, yes, Baby Geniuses, but it’s his foray into the horror genre found in his early works like Black Christmas, Deathdream and Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things that are clear markers of his stylistic influence on cinema. So while it carries the giallo tradition of an unseen/masked serial murderer preying upon innocent young women, Black Christmas marks the turn into North American territory where things hit a whole lot closer to home.

It would be hard pressed, for instance, to not notice the influence of Black Christmas (as well as films by Mario Bava and Dario Argento) on John Carpenter’s Halloween. As Halloween ushered in a new era of horror in the United States, Clark’s Black Christmas didn’t exactly become forgotten but somehow it never really received the attention it deserves. And this is a shame because it’s truly the foundation for the nearly the next twenty years of horror filmmaking: the sorority, the questionable boyfriend, killer prank callers coming from inside the house, distrust of the home, ambiguous ending, and the discord between the good and bad girls.

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Black Christmas begins with its own homage to Italian horror with a tracking shot that scans the facade of a sorority house; what the camera shoes is the killer’s viewpoint. He enters into the attic and continues along with his barrage of what would still be considered today truly obscene phone calls. It rattles the sorority girls but they are more focused on leaving for the holidays or dealing with unwanted pregnancies to take it all too seriously…that is until a friend goes missing. From here it’s that glorious mixture of comedy and horror that Bob Clark manages to produce so very well (the drunken sorority mother is divine, Margot Kidder steals every scene, and John Saxon’s cop is the eager hero) as we go down girls getting murdered on the “who done it” road. Clark manages to take a story occurring during a particularly joyful time of year into dark waters by making the film very black, night time seems to permeate everywhere, with the jarring glow of Christmas decoration lights punctuating the frame. I don’t know why but I find this to be particularly frightening, it’s as if we’re being told not only is it not safe inside your house but it’s not even safe during Christmas!

Recently Black Christmas has been revisited, mainly due to its long-awaited Blu Ray release and the hideous remake we won’t discuss here, and that’s a very good thing. A bona-fide Christmas classic along with Clark’s A Christmas Story, Black Christmas is the pre-slasher, the post-giallo film that horror fans should flock to this time of year and on Halloween as much as any other cemented genre staple film we’re all too aware of.  And while you’re at it, watch Deathdream.

Long live Bob Clark!