Monday, May 11, 2009

Movies: Praise Tod.

If you are in the NYC area and can get yourself to the Film Forum, you will be rewarded with a Tod Browning film series.

Today's double feature is the Browning classic Freaks - the now cult classic that brought Browning's fantastic post-Dracula popularity to a crashing end – and his silent era landmark The Unholy Three. The latter, which was called the "source for all that is best in the horror movie," will be shown with live musical accompaniment.

The series will also include the bizarre horror flicks The Devil Doll and The Unknown. Browning fans should also try to catch his 1928 flick West of Zanzibar. This sleazy revenge drama, a fave of indie director-hero Guy Maddin, was not only labeled "an outpouring of the cesspools of Hollywood" on its release, but it contains the first use of the "chicken-human" shot that would Browning would repurpose for Freaks.

For pro-am horror historians, the series also includes Mark of the Vampire, Browning's remake of his now vanished London After Midnight. The remake was notable in that it parodies the horror conventions that Browning, with his Dracula just four years previous, had helped cement. One of early satires of the horror genre, Bride of Frankenstein beat it to theaters by just three days.

If that wasn't reason enough to get there, the Forum is also hosting a series of prison films. This brilliant series includes double feature of Pre-Code women's prison picks: Ladies They Talk About, featuring Barbara Stanwyck, and Ladies of the Big House, a melodrama written by an actual convict.

Good times.