‘Tis the season….no, not that one, the other one! The Bijou Theatre will be celebrating Halloween by screening two classic horror films, “White Zombie” (1932) and The Last Man on Earth” (1964) on Thursday, October 26th.
As your friendly, neighborhood Bijou Blogger I feel compelled to come clean: I’m not a horror fan. Seriously, I more or less stopped sleeping post-viewing of Scream. After I saw Psycho, I could hardly take a proper shower because I was ripping the curtain open every thirty seconds just to, you know, be sure.
When I saw these classic horror flicks on the Bijou agenda I was a bit nervous because I’m rather attached to both sleep and showers, but I womaned-up and watched them both for you, Bijou fans…and they were brilliant. Classic horror has very little to do with the trends of excessive gore and torture-porn we often see in contemporary horror.
“White Zombie” is credited as being the first zombie film ever. It is also the inspiration for Rob Zombie’s band name. Vassar Professor Mia Mask says horror movies reveal social anxieties of the time. Mask asserts that Zombies are often used to represent our rampant consumerism. “White Zombie” takes place in a colonized Haiti, where zombies are forced to work in the sugar mill as laborers. The Heroine is turned into a Zombie because of a very rich man’s desire for her. The film is full of gender, colonial and racial commentary and criticism, whether it is conscious of it or not. The campiness and datedness of “White Zombie” are a good time – you don’t want to miss Bela Lugosi’s naughty voodoo master faces – and eyebrows.
“The Last Man on Earth” is the first film rendition of Richard Matheson’s novel “I Am Legend.” The fact that there have been four feature length renditions of the book suggests that there is something important, some cultural archetype displayed, or individual need met in this story. In addition to the four films, “I Am Legend” is also said to have influenced “Night of The Living Dead” and “28 Days Later.” The film causes us to contemplate isolation, loneliness and loss: the true horror of being abandoned, of surviving tragedy. Vincent Price carries the film wonderfully – it’s difficult to be a proper actor when you are essentially the only character. The most significant words spoken out-loud are to a black poodle. This one is really worth seeing.
Why is horror such a lasting and successful genre, anyway? What does it have to offer in a world overflowing with true horrors and through a medium that’s primary purpose is arguably to help us escape from reality? Perhaps in a civilization where we are no longer running from saber tooth tigers on a day-to-day basis, our Basal Ganglia brain-parts crave that mix of terror and adrenaline. Maybe it’s a psychological need we have to come face to face with our death and to live through it, or sometimes to even laugh about it.
All of this contemplative nonsense aside, come check out The Undead Among Us Double Feature. Zombie expert (yes, that’s definitely a thing) Dr. Kim Paffenroth will be joining us and there will be a costume party!!! Grab your popcorn and your Superman footy pajamas and come celebrate Halloween at The Bijou Theatre!