Halloween weekend elect is upon us. (Since Halloween falls on a Thursday this year, most people are opting to celebrate about five days early … because we all know that holiday decorations must go up at the crack of dawn on Nov. 1.) So don’t even pretend you want to see anything other than blood, bones, gore and mayhem. Here are the best options for repertory and limited-release entertainment this week:
Tuesday, October 22: The Thing (Theatres at Mall of America)
Reviled upon its initial release, and retroactively accorded status as maybe the greatest thing John Carpenter ever directed, the remake of Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks’ The Thing is one of the chilliest, most desolate horror movies ever, with an ending that would make even Sylvia Plath and Cormac McCarthy muse, “Oh dear, that’s a bit too bleak, don’t you think?” A group of men stationed in remotest Antarctica discover a spaceship that’s been buried in ice for millennia. Taking it for granted that nothing could still be alive inside, they end up at the mercy of a shape-shifting alien who picks them off one-by-one by imitating them with scary perfection. The existential conclusion, underpinned with a beautifully understated Ennio Morricone score, is truly haunting.
Thursday, October 24: The Uninvited (Heights Theater)
One of the most elegant and rapturous classic haunted house films (it’s sometimes credited with really establishing the genre), The Uninvited is among the most respected 1940s horror films that doesn’t carry on its marquee the name of Val Lewton. Though, much like Lewton’s films, The Uninvited does treat its horrific events with a bewitching seriousness. Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey play siblings to decide to purchase a house before discovering that it is possessed by something paranormal. Charles B. Lang’s cinematography was nominated for an Oscar.
Friday, October 25 & Saturday, Oct. 26: I Used To Be Darker (Walker Art Center)
A volatile teenager goes to live at the home of her aunt and uncle, who are both musicians, not realizing that the two of them are about to separate. Director Matthew Porterfield (Putty Hill) cast real-life musicians Kim Taylor Coleman and Ned Oldham to play the film’s extended song sequences, and focuses on the minutest details of his characters interactions. Porterfield will be present at the Walker Art Center this weekend to present his film.
Friday, October 25 through Sunday, Oct. 27: Night of the Living Dead (Trylon Microcinema)
Little more needs to be said about Night of the Living Dead, other than that it more or less invented what is the most quintessentially American form of monster movie — the zombie epic. Oh, and it’s maybe the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, give or take. I’m a bit of a purist, so I’m recommending the Trylon Microcinema’s weekend screenings of this with a grain of salt, because they’re shutting off the original soundtrack (with all those perfectly-chosen needle-drops from the creepiest library music of the ’50s and ’60s) and inviting the Poor Nobodys to accompany the film. Still, the movie could probably be paired with the soundtrack of Moulin Rouge and still emerge highly unnerving.
Friday, Oct. 25 through Thursday, Oct. 31: The Wicker Man (Uptown Theater)
If not the scariest movie of all time, The Wicker Man (the 1973 original, that is, not the Neil LaBute one where Nicolas Cage gets to inhale an entire hive of bees) is certainly among the most unique genre films out there. Edward Woodward stars as the world’s most pious Christian police detective, who responds to a missing girl alert on an island off the coast of Scotland and finds himself at odds with a Pagan community. The contrast between the sergeant’s rigid religious absolutism and the island inhabitant’s charming (and occasionally sexy) outlook sets up one of horror cinema’s most perverse moments of line-blurring between good and evil.