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Marathons, Monsters & Madness: October Horror Movie Events Round-up

By Joel Wicklund in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 6, 2014 7:00PM

Vincent Price in "House on Haunted Hill."

Winter can be brutal, the politics often shady, and the baseball usually lackluster, but Chicagoland treats horror movie fans right. Naturally, that's especially true in October, as Halloween fever builds. We can't cover all the cinematic goodies here (and you're invited to fill in some of the gaps in our comments section), but here are several great ways to get the willies.

Horror Movie Madness at the Logan
All of October. The Logan Theatre.

Popular genre flicks play every night except Sunday throughout the month, including Rosemary's Baby, Poltergeist, Scream, Carrie, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Trick 'r Treat, Creepshow, Gremlins, Child's Play, Night of the Living Dead, Beetlejuice, The Shining, Army of Darkness, Candy Man and Halloween. Plus there are Saturday and Sunday matinees with slightly more kid-friendly fare: The Monster Squad, Beetlejuice, Coraline, Hotel Transylvania, and a free screening of the beloved TV special, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Victoria Price presents The House on Haunted Hill
Tuesday, Oct. 7, 6:30 PM. Portage Theater.

If you're not a Vincent Price admirer, your horror fan credentials should be revoked. His daughter Victoria, author of a very good biography of the screen great, will host a multimedia presentation on her father's life and work and introduce William Castle's House on Haunted Hill, which is especially fun to see with a crowd. And it's free admission, so how can you lose?

Horror Wednesdays at Comfort Station
Oct. 8, 15, 22 & 29, 7:30 PM. Comfort Station.

If your movie-going budget is tapped out, take advantage of the free DVD-projected screenings at this Logan Square cultural space. Along with co-presenters Daily Grindhouse, they are showing oddities from the '50s, '70s and '80s: The Hypnotic Eye (Oct. 8), The Uncanny (Oct. 15), The Psychopath (Oct. 22), and Rocktober Blood (Oct. 29). The last feature will be accompanied by 50 minutes of trailers for hard-rockin' movies, hosted by Mike "McBeardo" McPadden, author of the recently published book, Heavy Metal Movies.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (restored)
Opens Oct.10 (multiple days and showtimes). Music Box Theatre.
Also Friday, Oct. 31, 7:00 PM. Block Cinema (Evanston).

This defining work of expressionist horror is shown all the time, but the silent masterwork is often distributed in mutilated versions, shoring as much as 20 minutes on some copies. Long in the public domain, it has also been common to see really lousy prints. So word that this 4K digital restoration (made largely from the original camera negative) is not only the most complete version available, but probably the best looking, is cause for celebration. Film purists may balk, but it's good to know this landmark German film will still be around and visually impressive for the DCP era.

"The Editor" (Photo: Astron-6)
After Dark at CIFF
Oct. 10 - 22. AMC River East 21.

The Chicago International Film Festival isn't big on genre films, but their After Dark programming series throws a few skeleton bones to horror devotees. This year's selections include a French soccer zombie epic (Goal of the Dead), an international horror anthology (ABC's of Death 2), a bloody Belgian feature (Alleluia), an Australian chiller (The Babadook), pandemic horror from Hong Kong (The Midnight After), a Canadian horror-comedy (The Editor), and three American scare flicks (Creep, It Follows and The Well). There is also a horror-themed shorts program. Check the CIFF schedule for dates and showtimes.

Fall Throwback Drive-In Chills
Oct. 10 & 11, 17 & 18, 24 & 25, 7:30 PM. McHenry Outdoor Theater.

Who says drive-in season ends when summer does? Bring a blanket to keep warm as the McHenry Outdoor Theater polishes off their Fall Throwback series with weekend double features of both Ghostbusters films (Oct. 10 & 11), The Thing and the not-so-scary E.T. (Oct. 17 & 18), and a pre-Halloween finale triple feature of Universal classics: Dracula, The Wolf Man and The Mummy (Oct. 24 & 25).

An Evening with Rich Koz: Celebrating 35 Years as "Svengoolie"
Friday, Oct. 10, 6:00 PM. Museum of Broadcast Communications.

OK, so this really isn't a movie event (although one yet to be announced will be shown with "Svensurround" wisecracks), but countless Chicago area monster movie maniacs had their love affair with the genre stoked by Svengoolie telecasts. Bozo is gone, but Svengoolie remains, and a bygone era of low-budget local TV entertainment programming survives almost exclusively through him. This well-deserved tribute will include an interview with Koz, the MBC's debut of its new Svengoolie exhibit, and a costume contest, in addition to the TBA film.

"The Phantom Carriage"
Music Box of Horrors
Saturday & Sunday, Oct. 11-12. Music Box Theatre.

One of the city's two 24-hour horror movie marathons, this is the Music Box's answer to The Massacre (see below). There is a rivalry here for sure, but die-hards don't have to choose with the events on different dates. The lineup isn't final yet, but includes some rarely screened items, including the silent Swedish classic The Phantom Carriage; The Borrower (from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer director, John McNaughton, who will appear live); the lurid '80s slasher film Nightmare; grindhouse favorite Don't Look in the Basement; and a killer baboon obscurity called Shakma. (Gotta love a killer baboon movie!) Takashi Miike's unforgettable slow-build shocker, Audition, also plays; while fans of classic fare have Boris Karloff in The Man They Could Not Hang and Hammer's Curse of the Werewolf to look forward to; and splatter comedy fans can anticipate Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead. Oddities from found footage archivists Everything Is Terrible and a VHS cover art exhibit are some of the garnishes.

Blvd. of the Dead
Sunday, Oct. 12, 3:00 PM. Hollywood Blvd. (Woodridge).

Woodridge may be too far for most Chicagoans, but some area zombie fanatics are sure to make the drive for this triple bill of the original Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and the season premiere of TV's The Walking Dead. Zombie make-up makeovers and other attractions add to the flesh-eating fun. Separate admission for each of the Romero classics gets you free admission to the big screen showing of The Walking Dead. The popular cinema, bar and eatery has a few other fright flicks on their schedule as well.

Silent Horror Film Festival
Oct. 12-14. Portage Theater.

The Silent Film Society of Chicago presents three eerie silent films over three days, with live organ accompaniment by Jay Warren. That's especially appropriate for The Phantom of the Opera (Sunday, Oct. 12, 3:00 PM), with Lon Chaney at the keyboard onscreen. Lesser known (but a better film), The Hands of Orlac (Monday, Oct. 13, 8:00 PM) has had its tale of transplant terror remade or ripped off countless times. Chaney returns in the rarely shown The Monster (Tuesday, Oct. 14, 8:00 PM), and attendees can participate in a mad scientist costume contest for that finale.

The Massacre
Saturday & Sunday, Oct. 18-19. Portage Theater.

Before the Music Box of Horrors, there was the Music Box Massacre. When event organizers Terror in the Aisles went their own way, they took the moniker with them. With the closing of the Patio Theatre, The Massacre moves back to the Portage. The impressive schedule includes Vincent Price in Roger Corman's The Haunted Palace, Peter Bogdanovich's debut Targets (with Boris Karloff's last great role), Tod Browning's twisted silent classic The Unknown (with Lon Chaney), seminal '70s shocker Black Christmas, the late Hammer vampire entry Twins of Evil, George Romero's Day of the Dead, DIY monster flick Deadly Spawn, Italian horror god Dario Argento's Tenebrae, the gory and hilarious Cemetery Man, Tobe Hooper's Eaten Alive, and the original The Town that Dreaded Sundown. Guests are Deadly Spawn director Doug McKeown and colorful hack filmmaker Jim Wynorski, whose Chopping Mall (supposedly one of his more watchable efforts) is also showing. Also featured are 17 short films or videos, vintage trailers, live music from the Marshmallow Ghosts, and free haunted ghost bus rides.

Ben Wheatley & Kill List at Horror of Humanities 2
Wednesday, Oct. 29, 6:00 PM. DePaul Humanities Center.

The Center's Halloween event features a screening of the recent rough and stylish British horror/crime hybrid, Kill List, plus a Q&A session with writer-director Ben Wheatley. Before the movie, you can also take in an interactive, avant-garde haunted house exhibit.

Fatal Frame: Avant-Garde Horror on 16mm
Thursday, Oct. 30, 7:00 PM. Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Southside Projections teams up with the Chicago Cinema Society and Co-Prosperity Sphere to present a program of experimental film works with a spooky or strange edge. Acclaimed artists like Peggy Ahwesh and Maya Deren are represented in a group of five films that spans from the silent era to 1998. More details here.

"Son of Frankenstein" re-release poster.
Son of Frankenstein 75th Anniversary Screening
Thursday, Oct. 30, 7:30 PM. Pickwick Theatre (Park Ridge).

The third of Universal's classic Frankenstein films was also the last to feature Boris Karloff as the monster. This Park Ridge Classic Film series event includes an appearance by Donnie Dunagan, who as a child actor played the son of the son (Basil Rathbone) of the original Dr. Frankenstein. A costume contest for kids and pre-film music from busy organist Jay Warren round out the night's entertainment.

Also in October: look for midnight showings of Dead Snow 2, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and possibly more horror fare at the Music Box; WGN radio's Nick Digilio presents The Cabin in the Woods (Oct. 7 at the Rosemont 18, formerly Muvico); and several horror films are being released nationwide, including the just-opened Annabelle, Dracula Untold, The Town That Dreaded Sundown (remake), Ouija, and Horns.

(One caveat on events at the Portage Theater: presentation quality and projection capabilities have been an issue there for a while, but there are signs of a new direction. My suggestion is to take in the Victoria Price event—a freebie—and make up your mind on future attendance afterward.)