Beetlejuice, Ghostbusters, Texas Chainsaw Massacre – yes, you can see all of the usual Halloween-type fare at Vancouver theatres this year. But thanks to the imaginative programmers at Vancity Theatre, you can also check out some more obscure (but no less worthy) fright flicks – including what is sure to be the highlight of pumpkin season, screenings of the 1922 cult classic Haxan, Witchcraft Through the Ages – with live musical accompaniment.
Haxan, Witchcraft Through the Ages (Oct. 26, 8 p.m. & 31, 7:30 p.m. at Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour) – The belle of the ball, so to speak, of Vancity’s Halloween series Witches, Haxan is a truly original 1922 silent film that tries to pass itself off as a documentary but is anything but. In seven distinct chapters, director Benjamin Christensen (who also plays the devil in the movie) guides us through a history of witchcraft. Featuring crowd favourites like grave robbing, torture, possessed nuns and a satanic Sabbath, Haxan is a nearly 100-year-old treasure that needs to be seen to be believed. And what better way to see it than on a big screen with an audience and a live band, Funerary Call, playing a specially commissioned score? Tickets: vancity-tickets.
Black Sunday (Oct. 27 at 10 p.m., Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour) – Also part of Vancity’s Witches series, this 1977 film stars Barbara Steele, who became an icon for horror fans for her double role as both the innocent Katia, and the witch-vampiress Asa Vajda, who returns to life in 1830, 200 years after she was tortured and executed. This black-and-white Mario Bava feature is considered a gothic classic for its creepy atmosphere and unforgettable shots. Tickets: vancity-tickets.
Inferno (Oct 29, 8:45 p.m. and Oct. 31 10 p.m. at Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour) – For fans of international horror, Dario Argento (along with Mario Bava, above) is one of the top dogs. This follow-up to his breakout hit Suspiria (1977) concerns a poet in New York, Rose (Irene Miracle), who becomes convinced that she is sharing living space with one of the mythical Three Mothers, the Mother of Darkness. “Inferno is a masterpiece of absolute film, perhaps the most underrated horror movie of the 1980s.” Kim Newman, Nightmare Movies. Tickets: vancity-tickets.
Sexcula (Oct. 25 at 10 p.m., Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour) – A BC-made x-rated horror spoof from 1973. What more do you need to know? Tickets: vancity-tickets.
The Devils (Oct. 26 at 10 p.m., Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour) – Oliver Reed on the defensive as a priest accused of seducing a nun (Vanessa Redgrave). Lots of plummy accents in this Ken Russell flick, which also features Derek Jarman’s eye-popping production design and an electrifying score by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Tickets: vancity-tickets.
Nosferatu (Oct. 31, 6:30 at Cinematheque, 1131 Howe) – Cinematheque trots out the 1922 German expressionistic classic, known best for Max Schreck’s hideous makeup as the dreaded Count Orlok. Tickets thecinematheque.
Halloween (Oct. 25 at 11 p.m., Rio Theatre, 1660 E. Broadway) – Look out, he’s behind you! John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher film gets the near-midnight art-house screening it deserves. Starring one-time scream-queen Jamie Lee Curtis. Tickets: riotheatre.ca.
Ghostbusters (Oct. 26 at 7 p.m., Rio Theatre, 1660 E. Broadway) – You know it, you love it. Tickets: riotheatre.ca.
Polgergeist (Oct. 26 at 9:15 p.m., Rio Theatre, 1660 E. Broadway) – Does Steven Spielberg’s ghost thriller stand the test of time? Tickets: riotheatre.ca.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Oct. 26 at 11:30 p.m., Rio Theatre, 1660 E. Broadway) – Leatherface, chainsaws, people running for their lives – in a post-Rob Zombie age, is the original 1974 movie – which has been subjected to sequels and remakes – as horrifying as we remember it? Tickets: riotheatre.ca.
Gremlins (Oct. 28 at 7 p.m., 200 West 1st Avenue) – Movie-lovers are encouraged to bike, walk or take transit to take in Gremlins on a four-storey inflatable screen. Organizers are only selling 300 tickets, so get them while you can here. ($20 per car.) More info at halloweendrivein.ca.
Beetlejuice (Oct. 29 at 7 p.m., 200 West 1st Avenue) – Same deal as above, this time for the Michael Keaton after-life comedy.