Jeff Lieberman's Squirm
Late-night frights are back at the Film Society this summer. In July and August, our Freaky Fridays start at 11pm and will feature mind-melting, gross-out horror as well as rarely screened classic cult favorites in 35mm, curated by Film Comment Editor and Film Society programmer Gavin Smith.
Kicking off the series is Jeff Lieberman's debut film, Squirm. The 1976 horror filmm features an attack of the earthworms. The slimy critters can be called to the surface with electricity, but somehow it also turns them into vicious flesh-eaters. As luck would have it, a storm downs some power lines and that sets off a man-eating earthworm invasion as they dine on some unlucky locals.
Squirm features makeup design by the legendary Rick Baker, who won his first of seven Academy Awards for An American Werewolf in London (he also worked on Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video and, most recently, Maleficent). Another “first” includes Pumpkinhead, the directorial debut of special-effects wizard Stan Winston (who won Oscars for Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Jurassic Park).
Best Director Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow's late-80s vampire Western Near Dark is also on tap for the series. The feature follows a young man who reluctantly joins a traveling “family” of evil vampires because the girl he tried to seduce is part of the group. The film had top critics like Time’s Richard Corliss hailing it as “weird (and) beautiful” and Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers as “gory and gorgeous.”
Additional films include David Cronenberg’s “Body Horror” classic The Brood (1979); Herk Harvey’s trippy cult film, Carnival of Souls (1962); and Mary Harron’s American Psycho (2000), featuring a memorable star turn by Christian Bale. Also on the “Freaky” slate are two rarely screened features: Paul Morrissey’s one-of-a-kind take on the vampire genre, Blood for Dracula (1974) and Liliana Cavani’s kinky The Night Porter (1974), with Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling.
Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark
Said Gavin Smith: “Freaky Fridays will get an earlier start each evening this year, but the selections will once again hit that ‘Midnight Movie’ sweet spot, running the gamut from fan favorites like Mary Harron’s American Psycho and Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark, to the cult staples like Carnival of Souls and Paul Morrissey’s Blood for Dracula. Throw in the literally creepy-crawly Squirm, the underrated Pumpkinhead, and the disturbing The Night Porter, and the Film Society’s Fridays should be freaky indeed.”
Freaky Fridays Lineup:
Jeff Lieberman, USA, 1976, 35mm, 92m
A horde of flesh-eating worms driven into a feeding frenzy by a downed power line devour the inhabitants of a backwoods town in Georgia. Can our city-boy hero overcome the crazed worm-ridden redneck and save his girl and her sister from being eaten alive?
Friday, July 11, 11:00pm
Mary Harron, USA, 2000, 35mm, 101m
Christian Bale is sheer genius as Patrick Bateman, a suave Wall St. investment banker and blithe serial killer, in this hilarious yet unsettling satire on 1980s conspicuous consumption and yuppie narcissism, based on Bret Easton Ellis’s notorious novel.
Friday, July 18, 11:00pm
Mary Harron's American Psycho
Stan Winston, USA, 1987, 35mm, 86m
With the help of the local witch, a country storekeeper (Lance Henriksen) summons a marauding 15-foot demon to avenge the death of his son, accidentally slain by a group of teens on vacation. Brought to you by the SFX genius behind Aliens and Jurassic Park.
Friday, July 25, 11:00pm
Carnival of Souls
Herk Harvey, USA, 1962, 35mm, 78m
In this haunting, dreamlike cult indie rediscovered in 1989, the sole survivor of a car accident is haunted by a ghoulish apparition and finds herself caught up in a series of terrifying uncanny events. What does it all mean?
Friday, August 1, 11:00pm
The Night Porter
Liliana Cavani, Italy, 1973, 35mm, 118m
Reunited by chance in Vienna, a Holocaust survivor (Charlotte Rampling) and a former SS officer (Dirk Bogarde) resume their sadomasochistic relationship 13 years after the end of the war. A surefire mix of sex, Nazis, and kinky victim/persecutor role reversal!
Friday, August 8, 11:00pm
Blood for Dracula
Paul Morrissey, Italy, 1974, 35mm, 103m
Produced by Carlo Ponti, filmed at Cinecittà, and written, cast, and directed by Paul Morrissey (director of Heat and Trash), Blood for Dracula began shooting the day after the completion of Flesh for Frankenstein. It is a unique and individual version of Bram Stoker’s character, Count Dracula, played by the German actor Udo Kier. Searching for virgin blood, he comes upon three beautiful daughters of an aristocratic landowner (Vittorio De Sica), but is interfered with by the estate caretaker (Joe Dallesandro). As interesting now as it was then.
Friday, August 15, 11:00pm
David Cronenberg's The Brood
David Cronenberg, Canada, 1979, 35mm, 91m
A bitter divorce literally spawns monsters in the most terrifying of the Canadian master’s “Body Horror” cycle. While an unorthodox psychiatrist (Oliver Reed) treats a psychotic patient (Samantha Eggar), her ex-husband tries to protect his daughter as a series of vicious murders befall those connected to him.
Friday, August 22, 11:00pm
Kathryn Bigelow, USA, 1987, 35mm, 94m
A pistol-packing outlaw family of bloodsuckers in an RV drift across Midwestern farm country in search of prey in this classic vampire road movie. Kick-ass action, hilariously gory setpieces, a mesmerizing Tangerine Dream score, and brilliant performances by Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton: it’s finger-licking good!
Friday, August 29, 11:00pm