Festival of Fantasy, Horror & Science Fiction
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The dog days of summer are once more upon us, and what better
way to beat the heat than a darkened, air-conditioned theatre featuring movies that are
macabre and malevolent, murderous and mysterious!! What do you get when you put together a
Paul Verhoeven double feature (ROBOCOP, STARSHIP TROOPERS), an Arnold double bill (CONAN
THE BARBARIAN, CONAN THE DESTROYER), a British horror evening (THE INNOCENTS, CURSE
OF THE DEMON), Steven Spielberg (CLOSE ENOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND), the
original KING KONG and an In-Person Tribute to actor John Saxon (ENTER THE
DRAGON, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET), not to mention other classic sci-fi? Why you get the
American Cinematheques 2006 Annual Festival of Fantasy, Horror &
Science-Fiction. Please join us for two weeks worth of great shudders and thrills!
Looking for more horror this summer?
Check out the Roger Corman Festival at the Egyptian Theatre
August 25 - 27! Triple features of early Corman films and did we mention that Corman
himself will be there on opening night?
Thursday, August 3 - 7:30 PM
John Saxon In Person Double Feature!
ENTER THE DRAGON, 1973, Warner Bros., 97 min.
Dir. Robert Clouse. Widely hailed as the legendary Bruce Lees finest
film, ENTER THE DRAGON also helped break down the doors of American mainstream culture for
the martial arts genre. Spectacular non-stop kung fu action as Lee and co-stars John
Saxon, Jim Kelly, Bolo Yeung and Robert Wall compete in a deadly martial
arts tournament on the island fortress of drug overlord Han (the deliciously evil Kien
Shih). With memorable dialogue "Boards dont hit back!"
by screenwriter Michael Allin, and a killer score by Lalo Schifrin (TVs
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, 1984, New Line
Cinema, 92 min. Wes Craven created one of his most famous movie milestones with
this supremely entertaining horror opus, melding influences from Polanski to Bunuel to
Argento to achieve a bizarrely subversive box office hit. NIGHTMARE
went on to
become a certifiable goldmine of a franchise and ushered in surrealism to the masses. Dead
child killer/dream demon Freddie Krueger (Robert Englund) proves a formidable
homicidal anti-hero but finds a more than worthy opponent in feisty, brainy teen Heather
Langenkamp. With Johnny Depp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakely. Discussion in between films with actor John Saxon.
Friday, August 4 - 7:30 PM
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, 1977, Sony
Repertory, 132 min. We are not alone. Reuniting with Richard Dreyfuss (JAWS),
director Steven Spielbergs 70's blockbuster which became a
cultural phenomenon is a well-crafted, awe-inspiring story of first contact. Featuring Francois
Truffaut, Terri Garr, mashed potatoes and the most famous five-note song in
history by composer John Williams.
THX 1138,1971, Warner Bros., 88 min. Director George
Lucas first (and most adult) picture outdoes 1984 and Brave New World
in painting a bleak, dehumanized future where every person is given pills to quiet
emotions, eliminate sex drive, increase work production and prevent the questioning of
authority. This excellent films comparatively cool reception at the box office
inspired Lucas to henceforth aim more for escapist fare on a grand scale (i.e. the STAR
WARS films). With Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasence.
Saturday, August 5 - 7:30 PM
Paul Verhoeven Double Feature:
ROBOCOP, 1987, MGM Repertory, 102 min. Peter Weller
stars as a murdered Detroit police officer who is brought back to life as an unstoppable
cyborg cop in director Paul Verhoevens action-packed satire of the future of
corporate America. Nearly twenty years after its release, the film still packs an enormous
punch with its savage violence and ferociously dark sense of humor. Several brutal scenes
had to be trimmed to reportedly keep the film from garnering an X-rating for violence.
With a terrific supporting cast including Nancy Allen, Kurtwood Smith, Ronny Cox
and a brilliantly amoral Miguel Ferrer as the head honcho behind the RoboCop
STARSHIP TROOPERS, 1997, Sony
Repertory, 129 min. Dir. Paul Verhoeven. This underrated sci-fi masterpiece based
on the book by author Robert A. Heinlein is a dark political satire about an
overly-militarized world, disguised as a violent space opera. Campy, melodramatic
rock-jawed heroes (Casper Van Dien, Parick Muldoon), Archie and Jughead-type
characters (Neil Patrick Harris, Jake Busey) and sexually aggressive amazons (Dina
Myer, Denise Richards) cavort in the fascist future fighting intelligent, insectoid
monsters! In the age of public relations-designed, political catch-all slogans like
"The Axis Of Evil", the film seems more prescient than ever. Great performances
by Clancy Brown and Michael Ironside. "Would you like to know
Sunday, August 6 - 7:30 PM
THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, 1953, Paramount, 85 min.
Dir. Byron Haskin. Gene Barry and Ann Robinson battle invading
Martian war machines in this still amazingly visceral, comic book-style feast of
apocalyptic images - one of the defining science-fiction films of the past 50 years, seen
here in a beautiful new 35 mm. print courtesy of Paramount Pictures! Produced by George
Pal, based on the classic novel by H.G. Wells. Discussion
following with actress Ann Robinson and other guests.
Wednesday, August 9 - 7:30 PM
British Horror Double Feature:
THE INNOCENTS, 1961, 20th Century Fox, 100
min. Director Jack Clayton also directed British New Wave gems ROOM AT THE TOP and
THE PUMPKIN EATER, but his most famous film remains this goose-pimply, shuddery adaptation
of Henry James classic ghost story, Turn Of The Screw. Deborah Kerr is a
repressed governess who is convinced that the ghosts of the last governess and the
womans equally dead, cruel lover, Quint (Peter Wyngarde) haunt the mansion
and grounds of her innocent young charges (Martin Stephens, Pamela Franklin).
Reality, superstition and warped psychology collide in this riveting, brilliantly
photographed jewel of a film (lensed by future horror director, Freddie Francis).
CURSE OF THE DEMON (aka NIGHT OF THE DEMON),
1957, Sony Repertory, 95 min. Jacques Tourneurs masterful chiller about a
mysterious string of deaths caused by a black magician (Nial MacGinnis in a great
performance inspired by necromancer Alastair Crowley) is one of the most highly-regarded
shockers of the 50s, even in its original 83 minute US release. Although
prints of the unedited version have circulated for years, they were from
umpteenth-generation dupe material and looked pretty awful; this new restoration vividly
brings back all the details of Ted Scaifes photography and Ken Adams sets. Dana
Andrews stars, with support from Peggy Cummins (GUN CRAZY) and Maurice
Thursday, August 10 - 7:30 PM
KING KONG, 1933, Warner Bros.,
100 min. Dir. Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. 70 years after it first
premiered, KING KONG remains the 8th Wonder of the World, a marvelous,
mysterious blend of awesome prehistoric monsters and new-fangled technology (including
airplanes, subway trains and the Empire State Building). Fay Wray lights up the
screen as the Beauty who drives the Beast to distraction, with support from Robert
Armstrong, Bruce Cabot and the astounding visual effects work of Willis OBrien. Introduction to screening by sci-fi/fantasy legend Forrest
Ackerman, creator of "Famous Monsters" magazine.
Friday, August 11 - 7:30 PM
WESTWORLD, 1973, Warner Bros., 88 min. Dir. Michael
Crichton. Bored suburbanites, Richard Benjamin and Jame Brolin, embark
on a weekend at a new-fangled amusement park offering a deceptively "real,"
idealized fantasy experience. It just so happens, theyve chosen Westworld, where
immersion in the cowboy experience of frontier times is the order of the day. Unhappily,
theyve picked a weekend where electronic glitches in the parks security
suddenly make the parks androids go on the fritz. Once things go haywire,
theres one very aggressive gunslinger robot in particular (a maniacal Yul Brynner)
that seems to have it in for the boys. And he pursues them relentlessly as fantasy
devolves into a nightmarish reality.
THE OMEGA MAN, 1971, Warner Bros., 98 min. Dir. Boris
Sagal. Whiskey-drinking, WOODSTOCK-watching scientist Charlton Heston faces the
possible extinction of mankind, while bug-eyed Anthony Zerbe and his legions of
soul-brother vampires prowl the night, in this whacked-out adaptation of Richard
Mathesons classic novel I Am Legend. Here, Heston remade himself as an
über-cool 1970s action star, cruising the plague-ridden streets of L.A. in a
Saturday, August 12 - 7:30 PM
CONAN THE BARBARIAN, 1982, Universal, 129 min.
Dir. John Milius. Before he was the Terminator, before he was the Governor, he was
the Barbarian. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in the film adaptation of the Robert E.
Howard novels. Writer/director John Milius intelligent and visceral sword and
sorcery film features Ron Cobb and William Stoudts beautiful production design and
an inspiring score by Basil Poledouris. Also stars James Earl Jones and Max Von
CONAN THE DESTROYER, 1984, Universal, 103 min.
Dir. Richard Fleischer. A kinder, gentler Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
leads Akiro (Mako) and Zula (Grace Jones) on a quest to save a princess.
Also stars Wilt Chamberlain (!) and Tracey Walter. Written by Marvel Comics
titans Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, stunningly photographed by the incomparable Jack
Cardiff and saturated with a more go-for-broke, gonzo appeal than its slightly more
serious predecessor. Actress Sandahl Bergman who played
Valeria will appear in person for discussion between films.
Sunday, August 13 3:00 PM
NEVER ENDING STORY, 1984, Warner Bros., 102 min.
Dir. Wolfgang Petersen. One of the only modern childrens films that can be
said in the same breath as the Wizard of Oz. A true kids classic about courage,
friendship and the magic of reading. Filled with giant turtles, rock creatures, and furry
blue Luck Dragons it captures kids imaginations. With a theme song you will sing for
the rest of your life.
Sunday, August 13 7:30 PM
BRAZIL, 1985, Universal, 142 min. Director Terry
Gilliams surreal black comedy combines past and future with anarchic glee,
creating a world of pneumatic tubes, giant samurais and lilting South American ballads
where harried Everyman Jonathan Pryce tries to escape from a maze of crushing
conformity to pursue elusive love Kim Greist. Featuring fellow-Python Michael
Palin as upwardly mobile Jack Lint and Robert DeNiro as an outlaw heating
engineer. The film holds special pride of place for the L.A. Film Critics Society, who
championed the full-length version of the film and Gilliams unique vision in the
face of studio interference and a radically-shortened cut. (Note: This is the European cut
of the film, 10 minutes longer than the U.S. version.) "Its really about
someone who doesnt take reality seriously enough." - Terry Gilliam.
Thursday, August 17 - 7:30 PM
Lasting Impressions Series with Ed Crasnick!
GALAXY QUEST, 1999, Dreamworks, Dir. Dean Parisot.
Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell, Tony Shaloub and Enrico
Colantoni star in this delightfully daft send-up of the STAR TREK films and TV series.
The has-been cast of a STAR TREK-like television show, reduced to appearing at fan
conventions, are suddenly kidnapped by an alien race who believe their TV show broadcasts
were real, and the performers can somehow help them save their planet from total
destruction. Discussion following with director Dean Parisot
and actor Enrico Colantoni.
Friday, August 18 - 7:30 PM
THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE, 1961, Canal
+, 99 min. Dir. Val Guest. Widely hailed as one of the most gripping science
fiction films of the 1960s, this is a chillingly prescient warning of ecological
disaster. The U.S. and Russia set off simultaneous nuclear bombs at opposite poles,
resulting in the Earth tottering off its axis to head for the sun. Edward Judd
delivers a career-making performance as an embittered, alcoholic journalist who finds
last-minute redemption through the love of Janet Munro and the salty advice of
fellow reporter Leo McKern. When we screened it a few years ago at the Egyptian
Theatre, the entire audience gave a 5-minute standing ovation at the end come and
youll see why.
LAST MAN ON EARTH , 1964, MGM Repertory, 86 min.
Dir. Sidney Salkow (co-dir. Ubaldo Ragona, uncredited). Terrifying, vastly
underrated adaptation of Richard Mathesons landmark sci-fi horror novel, I
Am Legend (shot in Italy), with Vincent Price as the lone survivor of a
vampire plague that has left the world population a shambling, nocturnal undead race
thirsty for immune Prices blood. Full of starkly surreal, nightmare images that are
aided immeasurably by the films desolate, Italian suburban locations. Once seen, who
can forget Prices haunting, daily pilgrimages to the smoldering pit where he
transports the bodies of the undead to be burned? An underrated gem.