What’s Showing Today? Friday, October 31
Click venue names for ticket info & directions
It’s the perfect Halloween screening: tonight Jack Hill is in attendance for the New York premiere of a new 35mm print of Spider Baby, his gonzo cult classic about a family of inbred mental children preying on unexpected house guests. Tickets are only $5, and, because you can’t have too much of a good thing, Maniac director (and incredible Q&A moderator) William Lustig is in attendance to introduce.
An unabashedly silly and seedy, inbred take on the Old Dark House formula, Spider Baby begins, much like the films of Russ Meyer, with a wry nod to the industrial film, as a pipe-chewing ham in a smoking jacket reads from the so-called Dictionary of Rare and Peculiar Diseases. He opens the page to the Merrye Syndrome, a mental condition afflicting descendants of one Ebeneezer Merrye, described as a progressive age reduction beginning at the tenth year: “It is believed that eventually the victim of the Merrye Syndrome will even regress beyond the prenatal level, reverting to a prehuman condition of savagery and cannibalism.”
And so begins the story of “that fateful day, ten years ago” of his own encounter with the Merrye family: nymphoid sisters Elizabeth and Virginia and their primal brother Ralph, played by a young, career-best Sid Haig in his first major starring role. They’re looked after by hapless caretaker Lon Chaney Jr., and when a pair of cousins and their attorneys arrive to take control of the family estate, Chaney does his best to keep the family skeletons in the closet amid creepy, crawly dinners, and homicidal libidinous advances.
The casting of Wolf Man Lon Chaney is apt: the film is a knowing, low-budget riff on the classic Universal horror films of James Whale (who, granted, never worked with Chaney), raising their barely latent perversity to new levels of gleeful camp abandon. And although it was shot in Los Angeles (at the landmark Victorian Smith Estate, the former home of a noted occult researcher), the feel is pure southern goth: Baby Doll by way of Flannery O’Conner. Though the forumla is apparent, the film is singular: none so perfectly blends classical horror tropes with the fledgling exploitation genre, creating something that is both eminently pleasurable and genuinely disturbing.
The print was preserved by the Academy Film Archive, and its therefore presented at The Academy Theater in midtown, which spotlights the Orphan Film Symposium all weekend with a program titled “The Real Indies.” The programs are uniformly fantastic, so be sure to check out the full schedule. —Jon Dieringer
- Spider Baby (Jack Hill). Details. Introduced by Jack Hill and hosted by William Lustig. Brand new 35mm print. 1967. 81 min. 7:30 pm.
- Abby (William Girdler) Details. 16mm. 1974. 89 min. 7:00 pm.
- Homebodies with Live or Die (Larry Yust). Details. 35mm/16mm. 1974. 96 min. 9:30 pm.
- The Devils (Ken Russell). Details. 35mm. 1971. 109 min. 2:00, 4:30, 7:00 and 9:30 pm.
- Cub (Jonas Govaerts). Details. DCP. 2014. 85 min. 6:00 pm.
- What We Do in the Shadows (Taika Waititi & Jemaine Clement). Details. DCP. 2014. 86 min. 8:00 pm.
- They Drive by Night (Raoul Walsh). Details. 1940. 95 min. 1:30 pm.
- Poppy (Kenji Mizoguchi). Details. 1935. 73 min. 4:30 pm.
- Miss Okichi (Tatsunosuke Takashima). Details. 1935. 64 min. 6:30 pm.
- Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper). Details. 35mm. 1982. 114 min. 7:30 pm.
ABCs of Death 2 (Various) at IFC Center. Details. HD. 2014. 125 min. 12:00 am.
True Romance (Tony Scott) at IFC Center. Details. 35mm. 1993. 118 min. 12:10 am.
El Topo (Alejandro Jodorowsky) at IFC Center. Details. 35mm. 1970. 125 min. 12:15 am.
Friday the 13th (Sean S. Cunningham) at IFC Center. Details. DCP. 1980. 95 min. 12:20 am.
The Monster Squad (Fred Dekker) at Landmark Sunshine. Details. 1987. 82 min. 12:00 am.
The Curse of Ghoul Friday at Spectacle. Details. 90 min. 12:00 am.
Braddock America (Gabriella Kessler & Jean-Loïc Portron) at Anthology Film Archives. Details. digital. 2013. 100 min. 7:00 pm & 9:15 pm.
Touch of Evil (Orson Welles) at Film Forum. Details. DCP. 1958. 112 min. 12:45, 4:40 and 9:00 pm.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene) at Film Forum. Details. DCP. 1920. 77 min. 3:00 and 7:15 pm.
Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard) at Film Society of Lincoln Center. Details. 3D DCP. 2014. 70 min. 11:45 am, 1:30, 3:20, 5:30, 7:30, 9:20 pm.
Goodbye to Language (Jean-Luc Godard) at IFC Center. Details. 3D DCP. 2014. 70 min. 10:35, 12:05, 1:45, 3:30, 5:15, 7:05, 8:50, and 10:30 pm.
- Nam June Paik “Becoming Robot” at Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, Upper East Side. Admission $12 general/$10 seniors/$7 students. Free admission Friday from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. Ends January 4.
- ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s at The Guggenheim Museum. $22 General/$18 Students and Seniors, Free Saturdays after 5:45 pm. Closed Thursday. Closes January 7.
- “Cut to Swipe” at MoMA, Midtown. Work by Dara Birnbaum, Rosetta Brooks, Kevin Beasley, Ken Okiishi, Luther Price, James Richards, Hito Steyerl, and The Otolith Group with Chris Marker. $25 general/$14 students/$18 seniors. Free Fridays 4:00 to 8:00 pm. Closes March 22.
- “Letters to Afar: By Péter Forgács” at Museum of the City of New York, Upper West Side. $10 general/$6 students and seniors. Open 7 days a week. Ends March 22.
- View all exhibitions at Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, Queens. $12 general/$9 students and seniors/$6 ages 3 to 18. Free admission Friday 4-8 pm. Closed Monday.
- Ragnar Kjartansson “A Lot of Sorrow” at Luhring Augustine Bushwick, 25 Knickerbocker Avenue. Open Thursday-Sunday, 11:30 am to 6:00 pm. Closes December 21.