A giallo murder-mystery thriller and science fiction-inspired horror film series at University of the Arts, presented by Lightbox Film Center.
Philly’s floating Lightbox Film Center has always been at the alternative axis of smartly strange and stranger when it comes to its choices in screenings and cinematic curation. Now, starting November 3 with its Weird Wednesdays series, Lightbox Film Center at South Broad Street’s University of the Arts (freshly partnered with Mondo and AGFA) will focus on macabre giallo murder-mystery thrillers to science fiction-inspired horror.
Jesse Pires, the longtime Director and Curator at Lightbox Film Center at University of the Arts says that his usual choices make up, by nature, an intriguing list of cinematic escapades.
“At Lightbox we are very interested in film preservation. It’s important to provide a space for overlooked and underappreciated work, even films that tread heavily in the realm of kitsch. While these are not necessarily masterpieces they are uniquely original artifacts that have contributed to the rich history of film culture in their own way.”
And regarding Weird Wednesdays which start on November 3 at 8 p.m.: “These four films seem like a good overview of genre cinema. Anyone interested in truly bizarre films will find a lot to love here.”
Here are Lightbox’s four Weird Wednesday flicks with Pires’ own descriptions. All are dosage MAGAZINE recommended and take place at 8 p.m.
November 3: “The Visitor”
The sci-fi/horror epic that 1979 couldn’t handle. An intergalactic warrior joins a cosmic Christ figure in battle against a demonic eight-year-old girl and her pet hawk, while the fate of the universe hangs in the balance.
“The Visitor” is a head-spinning mishmash of The Omen, The Birds, Rosemary’s Baby, Star Wars and Close Encounters – but even that barely hints at the fervor with which director Giulio Paradisi hurls his cast (John Huston, Glenn Ford, Shelley Winters, Franco Nero, Lance Henriksen and, yes, even Sam Peckinpah) into the cinematic void.
November 10: “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage”
In 1970, young debut director Dario Argento (Deep Red, Suspiria) indelibly redefined the giallo genre of murder-mystery thrillers with Crystal Plumage, catapulting him to international stardom.
Sam (Tony Musante, We Own the Night) is an American writer living in Rome, and witnesses a brutal attack on a woman (Eva Renzi, Funeral in Berlin) in a modern art gallery. Powerless to help, he grows increasingly obsessed with the incident. Convinced he saw something that night which holds the key to identifying the maniac terrorizing Rome, Sam launches his own investigation parallel to that of the police, heedless of the danger to him and his girlfriend (Suzy Kendall, Spasmo).
November 17: “The Velvet Vampire”
Directed by Roger Corman protegee Stephanie Rothman and laced with an addictive psych score, this endearing cult item remains best experienced on the big screen in all its gaudy, color-coded glory.
Dune buggies, rattlesnakes and hippies aren’t common staples of your average vampire movie, but then again, there’s never been anything like this outrageous desert paean to bloodsucking and partner-swapping. Michael Blodgett (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls) is caught between his vanilla girlfriend Sherry Miles (The Todd Killings) and exhibitionist and art gallery devotee Celeste Yarnal, but soon it looks like he might be out of the picture once the two ladies develop eyes for each other.
December 1: “Dark Star”
This outrageously unique sci-fi semi-spoof was the first feature from genre film emperor John Carpenter. The film originally began as a 45-minute University of Southern California student film project by Carpenter and collaborator Dan O’Bannon (Alien, The Return of the Living Dead) that was eventually expanded into a feature-length production. The film takes place on the deep-space cruiser Dark Star, where a crew of laid-back astronauts, including O’Bannon himself, are assigned the task of blowing up planets with unsuitable life forms in order to make the universe safe for the human race. The leader is Commander Powell (Joe Sanders), who’s cryogenically frozen after being killed in a freak accident. Next in line is Doolittle (Brian Narelle) who tries to keep the rest of the crew in check, which, due to the onset of alien creatures and intergalactic existential hysteria, is a much tougher job than expected.