Noteworthy screenings in the Metro Area…

October 6, 2017 – House (1977)


House (1977)

1977’s House is a Japanese movie that defies conventional genre. It is easily one of the strangest films. It’s a horror movie, yet it is a film that is so cheery and puzzling it might cause H.R. Pufnstuff creators Sid and Marty Krofft to scratch their heads. The plot is a simple haunted house premise. Oshare (Kimiko Ikegami) is angry with her father and changes her vacation plans so as to get away from him and visit an estranged aunt who has a house in the country. She brings her girlfriends along for the ride; each has a descriptive nickname. Prof (Ai Matsubara) is smart and calculating. Kung Fu (Miki Jinbo) is good at Kung Fu. As the girls begin to disappear, a Nancy Drew sort of investigation ensues.

The film tells the story of a haunting through a hodgepodge of strange special effects, cutesy animation, and unorthodox editing. There is a constant musical score that alternates between tedious and evocative. Schizophrenic excursions into side stories are jarring, no doubt due to director Nobuhiko Ôbayashia’s extended work in commercials. House is his feature-length film debut, and it is difficult to determine if the film is ingeniously meticulous or magically incompetent. I don’t know if it is possible to film a bad dream, but the anarchic use of transitional techniques and the bizarre attitudes of the victims lend the film a nightmarish quality. Not the sort of nightmares where a man with claws comes blazing out of a wall with children’s heads hanging off his belt, but the sort of nightmares where a child’s head hovers out of a well giggling and you engage the head in conversation as if nothing much is wrong. If you are like me, there are films you find yourself thinking about the next day. I don’t know who to recommend this movie to, but I’m definitely going to see it again.

Director: Nobuhiko Ôbayashia
Japan, 1977, color, 88 min. In Japanese with English subtitles.
Friday, October 6, 2017- 9:20
AFI Silver Theater
8633 Colesville Road
Silver Spring, MD 20910

October 10, 2017 – Wild Zero (1999)


Wild Zero (1999)

If you’re tired of the obvious zombie narrative being played out over the past few years, try seeing zombies blown to bits by Nagasaki’s overdriven rock ‘n’ roll gods Guitar Wolf. The band’s 1999 sci-fi classic about aliens reanimating the dead to use as an army to take over the world (cult hounds will find the plot familiar) is more than a conduit for their music. It’s a zombie massacre with hotter cars and better hair. Ace (Masashi Endô), a rock enthusiast and Guitar Wolf fan, helps the band out of a jam and finds himself integral to the fate of the world. With loads of shotgun blasts and guitar feedback, Wild Zero is all energy and necessary for fans of Japanese punk.

Wild Zero
Director: Tetsuro Takeuchi
Japan, 1999, color, 98 min.
Playing Sunday, October 10, 2017- 8:00
Suns Cinema
3107 Mt Pleasant St NW
Washington, DC 20010

October 12, 2017 – Deep Red (1975)


Deep Red (1975)

Dario Argento preceded his iconic horror film Susperia (1977) with the genre-defying Deep Red. As a mystery/thriller with heavy horror tropes and gory special effects, Deep Red helped spurn the unique genre Giallo, the Italian word for “yellow,” symbolizing the pulp paper influential pulp stories were printed on. Argento peppered this mystery narrative with gruesome death scenes that would become the standard for Giallo including a man being dragged behind a garbage truck, a creative use of creepy puppets, and a head exploding scene that would go on to influence David Cronenberg in his classic paranoid thriller Scanners (1981). Deep Red also set a standard for Italian horror by employing the now legendary prog band Goblin for the soundtrack. Deep Red is moody and gory backed by lofty Italian rock. It’s meant for the screen.

Deep Red
Director: Dario Argento
Italy, 1975, color, 106 min.
Playing Tuesday, October 12, 2017- 8:00
Suns Cinema
3107 Mt Pleasant St NW
Washington, DC 20010

October 13, 2017
October 14, 2017


Halloween (1978)

What else can be said about this movie? It launched long-standing trends in horror. It has been written about extensively academically. It helped establish several horror tropes. Maybe all that’s left to convince you to go is to say it was made to be seen in a theater at midnight. Halloween never gets old because it was well done. The lighting, music, and attention to reveals make the film high artistry in the horror genre.

My favorite piece of Halloween trivia is the great horror actor Christopher Lee was offered the roll of Dr. Loomis and turned it down. He later told John Carpenter it was the biggest mistake of his career.

If you haven’t seen it, the season approaches…

Director: John Carpenter
USA, 1978, color, 91 min.
Friday, October 13- Midnight
Saturday, October 14- Midnight
E Street Cinema
555 11th Street
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 783-9494