American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre Presents...
Making Movie History for Over 80 Years!

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Series Compiled by: Chris D.
Special Thanks to: Michael Schlesinger, Susanne Jacobson, Grover Crisp & Helena Brissenden/SONY REPERTORY; Caitlin Robertson & Schawn Belston/20th CENTURY FOX; Cary Haber/CRITERION FILMS; Marilee Womack/WARNER BROTHERS; Snowden Becker/ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURES; Todd Wiener/UCLA FILM AND TELEVISION ARCHIVE; Emily Horn/PARAMOUNT REPERTORY; Lisa Jackson, Rick Senat and Terry Ilott/HAMMER FILMS, UK; Simon Hill/CINESERVE; John Herron/CANAL + IMAGE, UK; Wade Williams; Michael Hyatt; Bruce Chambers.

 

SOLD OUT SCREENINGS: There will be a waiting line for Sold Out screenings. Tickets often become available at the door the night of an event.

Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.

 

 

All guests are subject to availability. The Cinematheque will offer a refund due to guest cancellations only IF the refund transaction is complete PRIOR to the start of the show.

Tickets available 30 days in advance. Tickets are $9 general admission unless noted otherwise.
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The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Randall Michelson. Detail of Egyptian Theatre Ceiling.

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<<< June 8 - 25, 2006 >>>

The Golden Age of British Horror: 1955 - 1975

 

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This series is an Egyptian Exclusive!

 

Although there was an occasional horror thriller hailing from British shores pre-1955 (such as DEAD OF NIGHT), it wasn’t really until 1956 that Great Britain, initially represented by Hammer studios, took the bull by the horns. As the story goes, esteemed writer Nigel Kneale’s crackerjack sci-fi TV mini-series, THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT, was so popular, Hammer secured the rights to turn it into a film. They hired American character actor Brian Donlevy to play the no-nonsense scientist Quatermass, veteran filmmaker Val Guest to direct and lopped off the first ‘E’ in the film’s title (as in ‘XPERIMENT’) to play up the picture’s British X rating. The result was immensely successful, especially considering the movie’s budget. It was a stunning achievement – a sci-fi thriller edited at a rollercoaster pace with a wellspring of nearly gothic horror imagery. Hammer deduced that the gruesome tone gripped audiences most, as well as for its sequel QUATERMASS II. For their next efforts, they decided to go all the way with the macabre, gothic slant. Before you knew it, superb in-period chillers CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and HORROR OF DRACULA were hitting cinemas worldwide and raking in returns at the box office. The rest, as they say, is history. Sequels (REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN, BRIDES OF DRACULA, et. al.) and other spinetingling, gorgeously-shot one-offs (TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL, THE GORGON, PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, et. al.) followed from Hammer. Other small UK studios, most predominantly Anglo-Amalgamated (HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM), Amicus (TORTURE GARDEN, THE SKULL, et. al), Independent Artists (BURN, WITCH, BURN) and Tigon (CORRUPTION, BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW), as well as indie producers like Robert Baker & Monty Berman (THE CRAWLING EYE, JACK THE RIPPER, et. al.), Robert Lippert (WITCHCRAFT) and Harry Alan Towers (FACE OF FU MANCHU) followed suit.

Please join us for this spectacular, three week retrospective of some of the most chilling pictures from this classic era, including new prints of such films as REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HORROR OF DRACULA, THE GORGON, TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL, WITCHCRAFT and THE NANNY (one of Bette Davis’ best later films) as well as ultra-rare screenings of FACE OF FU MANCHU, CORRUPTION, THE SKULL, QUATERMASS II and I START COUNTING (featuring one of Jenny Agutter’s first leading roles). Note: If you don’t spot some of your favorite vintage British horror films listed, it’s either because we have shown them fairly recently or because decent prints were just not available!

 

 

Thursday, June 8 - 7:30 PM

Peter Cushing/Terence Fisher Double Feature:

New 35mm Print! REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN, 1958, Sony Repertory, 94 min. Director Terence Fisher’s sequel to the first film, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, is the high point of the series, and one of Hammer studio’s most satisfyng gothics. Working incognito in a hospital for the poor, "Dr. Stein" (Peter Cushing) transfers the brain of his deformed assistant into the body of the "perfect man" (Michael Gwynne), but fails to account for the transplanted brain’s nasty image of itself. With Francis Matthews.

IB Technicolor Print! FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED, 1969, Warner Bros., 101 min. One more came afterwards (FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL), but director Terence Fisher’s last major gothic was really the end of the Hammer FRANKENSTEIN cycle as he had originally envisioned it. Shot through with images of dementia and decay – drug trafficking, rape, etc. – this remains the most grimly realistic of the series. Peter Cushing’s performance is murderously monstrous – his Dr. Frankenstein is a demon in human form; the equivalent of a concentration camp doctor. With Simon Ward, Freddie Jones, Veronica Carlson.

 

Friday, June 9 - 7:30 PM

Christopher Lee Double Feature:

HORROR OF DRACULA, 1958, Warner Bros., 82 min. Director Terence Fisher and screenwriter Jimmy Sangster’s stripped-to-the basics, expertly-paced take on Bram Stoker’s popular bloodsucker remains one of the most satisfying, just plain exciting gothic horror films ever made. From Christopher Lee’s revelatory, broodingly romantic performance as Dracula (introducing a sexual frisson to the proceedings) to Fisher’s masterful direction, from Peter Cushing’s Professor Van Helsing to Jack Asher’s atmosphere-drenched cinematography and James Bernard’s superb score, this is perfection. One of Hammer studio’s most enduring masterpieces!

IB Techinicolor Print! TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, 1970, Warner Bros., 91 min. Young director Peter Sasdy’s fourth film in the Dracula series (along with Fisher’s DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS) is commonly-acknowledged as one of the most satisfying Christopher Lee-starring sequels to the groundbreaking original. Three Victorian "gentlemen" (Geoffrey Keen, John Carson, Peter Sallis) with a habit of looking for new experiences, (i.e., decadent thrills) to "broaden their horizons," make a pact with black magician Ralph Bates, who promptly reanimates the undead count (Lee) from his dried blood and cape. Dracula then proceeds to destroy the men through their vampirized teen-age children (including nubile Linda Hayden), surely one of the most subversive subtexts ever in a Hammer film. Handsomely shot, this was one of the last Hammer pictures to truly look as gorgeous as their earlier efforts.

 

 

Saturday, June 10 - 6:00 PM

Giant Monsters Double Feature!

X, THE UNKNOWN, 1956, Warner Bros., 80 min. Director Joseph Losey (!) was originally scheduled to helm this surprisingly persuasive sci-fi chiller, but because of the impact of the HUAC blacklist (usually not felt in the UK), he had to drop out. Leslie Norman directs this Quatermass-style knock-off with atomic scientist, Dean Jagger, going up against a blob of intelligent (!), radioactive lava ravenous for any nearby nuclear material. A serious crisis looms as it grows more voracious, threatening a brand new nuclear power plant. The film combines nocturnal gothic imagery with a sober sense of scientific inquiry, bearing all the earmarks of Nigel Kneale’s style (although in fact this was Jimmy Sangster’s first feature-length screenplay).

THE CRAWLING EYE (aka THE TROLLENBERG TERROR), 1958, Wade Williams, 85 min. Dir. Quentin Lawrence. U.N. investigator Forrest Tucker travels to the Alps to check out a radioactive cloud and soon discovers a herd of one-eyed, octupus-like aliens using the cumulous mist to hide their presence! Also starring the haunting Janet Munro as a girl with psychic links to the invaders. With Jennifer Jayne, Laurence Payne.

 

 

Saturday, June 10 - 9:30 PM

Horror Exotica Double Bill:

IB Technicolor Print! FACE OF FU MANCHU, 1965, Warner Bros., 89 min. Maverick producer Harry Alan Towers inaugurated his long-planned-for string of films based on pulp master, Sax Rohmer’s master criminal with this slambang thriller from director, Don Sharp (KISS OF THE VAMPIRE). Easily the best in the Fu Manchu series, it’s Hammeresque in look and tone, with Christopher Lee perfectly cast as the supremely evil mastermind. The underrated Nigel Green is ideal as Inspector Nayland Smith, the arch-villain’s nemesis. Shot in and around Dublin (substituting for 1920’s London), with a great sense of period atmosphere. Co-starring Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Dor, Howard Marion Crawford and Tsai Chin. NOT ON DVD.

STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY, 1960, Sony Repertory, 80 min. Director Terence Fisher works wonders on a meager budget with this ultra-rare, underrated shocker. Intelligent British officer, Guy Rolfe, runs into bureaucratic stupidity as well as cultural snobbery from his superiors as he investigates the mushrooming number of strangling murders afflicting merchant caravans in India. When he gets too close, the Thuggee cult responsible ("Kill! Kill for the love of Kali!"), marks him for death. James Bernard embellishes this sadian saga with one of his most frenetic, over-the-top scores. Merchant-Ivory Productions and director Nicholas Meyer (SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION) remade it in 1988 as THE DECIEVERS starring Pierce Brosnan in the Rolfe role. NOT ON DVD.

 

Sunday, June 11 - 7:30 PM

Black Magic Double Feature:

CURSE OF THE DEMON (aka NIGHT OF THE DEMON), 1957, Sony Repertory, 95 min. Jacques Tourneur’s masterful chiller about a mysterious string of deaths caused by a black magician (Nial MacGinnis in a great performance inspired by necromancer Alastair Crowley) is one of the most highly-regarded shockers of the ‘50s, even in its original 83 minute US release. Although prints of the unedited version have circulated for years, they were from umpteenth-generation dupe material and looked pretty awful; this new restoration vividly brings back all the details of Ted Scaife’s photography and Ken Adam’s sets. Dana Andrews stars, with support from Peggy Cummins (GUN CRAZY) and Maurice Denham.

BURN, WITCH, BURN (aka NIGHT OF THE EAGLE), 1962, Sony Repertory, 90 min. Dir. Sidney Hayers. Professor Peter Wyngarde, a fervent debunker of all things supernatural, discovers that his scholastic success is due to voodoo spells cast by wife, Janet Blair. When he forces her to give up her talismans and spells, the demonic forces of darkness descend, in this much-underrated horror classic that rivals THE INNOCENTS and CURSE OF THE DEMON in intelligent, hair-raising chills. Adapted by screenwriters Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson from Fritz Leiber’s novel Conjure Wife. NOT ON DVD.

 

 

Wednesday, June 14 - 7:30 PM

Black Magic Double Feature:

New 35mm Print! WITCHCRAFT, 1964, 20th Century Fox, 79 min. Director Don Sharp’s ultra-rare occult scarefest has been one of the most difficult-to-see of all British horror films from the era – until now. Twentieth Century Fox just struck this splendid, brand new black & white 35mm print, and we’re delighted to reintroduce audiences to it. Lon Chaney, Jr. stars as Albert Whitlock, scion of an ancient family of witches and warlocks, who doesn’t take it kindly when his family graveyard is bulldozed by developer, Bill Lanier (Jack Hedley) and his callous partner. Long-suppressed resentments erupt – the Lanier family had persecuted the Whitlocks for witchcraft in the 17th century – and before you know it, age-old witch, Vanessa (Yvette Rees) is back from the dead. Director Sharp, per usual, evokes great atmosphere from limited resources and keeps things moving at a fast clip. Comparable to HORROR HOTEL and BURN, WITCH, BURN for stark shivers, with a great Barbara Steele-ish turn by Rees as the vindictive sorceress. NOT ON DVD.

THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (aka THE DEVIL’S BRIDE), 1968, 20th Century Fox, 95 min. Director Terence Fisher brings Dennis Wheatley’s novel to life, with the Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) unearthing a satanic plot to steal the souls of young man, Simon (Patrick Mower) and the mysteriously beautiful Tanith (Nike Arrighi). Charles Gray is suavely sinsiter as Mocata, the occult high priest who’ll stop at nothing to get his way. Among master director, Fisher’s most intelligent, accomplished achievements, with a briskly fluid camera, a suspenseful patchwork of escalating nightmare setpieces and a perfect evocation of the 1920’s. Exciting from beginning to end. (Print is slightly faded.)

 

 

Friday, June 16 - 7:30 PM

Christopher Lee/Terence Fisher Double Feature:

New 35mm Print! THE GORGON, 1964, Sony Repertory, 83 min. One of director Terence Fisher’s most eerie and underrated masterworks focuses on a German village haunted by Megara, the still potent spirit of the gorgon of Greek mythology, bent on transforming all those who gaze upon her into figures of stone. Local doctor, Peter Cushing, is engineering a cover-up to protect someone (perhaps his beautiful assistant, Barbara Shelley?). Returning Richard Pasco, whose brother and father were petrified-to-death, wants to get to the bottom of the mystery, but gets sidetracked when he falls for Shelley. Soon, desperate Pasco sends for his prickly, sarcastic mentor (Christopher Lee) who proceeds to track down the monster. Filled with a chilling ambience, it remains one of the most dreamlike of Hammer films. NOT ON DVD.

New 35mm Print! TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL, 1960, Sony Repertory, 88 min. Hammer producers decided to bring in well-regarded writer, Wolf Mankowitz, to pen this revisionist version of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, switching around some elements (such as making good Jekyll homely and evil Hyde a handsome rogue). Terence Fisher directs Paul Massie in the dual role, with Dawn Addams as Jekyll’s promiscuous wife dallying with Jekyll’s best friend, wastrel, Christopher Lee. Neither Massie’s Jekyll or Hyde are whole persons – the "good" doctor is bent on scientific pioneering at the expense of his marriage while seductive, sadistic sociopath, Hyde is obsessed with indulging his senses as well as every egotistical impulse. Fisher, cinematographer Jack Asher and Hammer’s production designers conjure up a gaslit, Victorian London, a place where all manner of debauched, amoral characters cavort right below the surface. NOT ON DVD.

 

 

Saturday, June 17 - 7:30 PM

Memorial Tribute - Director Val Guest Double Feature:

QUATERMASS II (aka ENEMY FROM SPACE), 1957, Hammer Films, 84 min. Director Val Guest collaborates with writer, Nigel Kneale, adapting Kneale’s QUATERMASS XPERIMENT sequel and turns out possibly the finest of the 1950’s alien invasion pictures. Not available on the big screen in the USA for over fifty years, we’ve brought over a 35mm print especially from the UK to rectify the situation. It easily remains the nerve-shredding British equivalent to Don Siegel’s INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, with a furiously relentless pace and no wasted moments. Space expert, Quatermass (Brian Donlevy in a no-nonsense performance) investigates a strange shower of meteorites. Like a ball of string unraveling, he first unearths a plot to take over the British government, then discovers a swarm of protoplasmic creatures living inside pressurized domes at a mysterious industrial plant. With another spine-tingling James Bernard score.

THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (aka THE CREEPING UNKNOWN), 1956, Sony Repertory, 82 min. Along with its sequel QUATERMASS II and Siegel's BODY SNATCHERS, one of the scariest science-fiction films from the 1950’s. Brian Donlevy stars as writer Nigel Kneale's brusque rocket scientist Quatermass, bent on unlocking the mysteries of space, even if it means his only surviving astronaut (Richard Wordsworth in an amazing performance) slowly mutates into an amoeba-like blob monster! Directed by master, Val Guest, the film hurtles along at breakneck tempo, and served as storm warning of more Hammer horrors just over the horizon. NOT ON DVD.

 

 

Sunday, June 18 - 7:30 PM

New 35mm Print! THE NANNY, 1965, 20th Century Fox, 93 min. Director Seth Holt, who had previously worked as an editor and producer at Ealing studios, directed barely a handful of films, and, two of the best were done at Hammer shortly before his premature death at the age of 47. This is arguably his masterpiece and surely one of Bette Davis greatest later pictures, a brisk, shuddery psychological suspenser, masterfully orchestrated to its nailbiting climax. Devoted nanny, Davis, long in the Fane family household, is beset by rancorous persecution from her young charge, Joey (William Dix) when he returns from an institution. Joey’s parents (James Villiers, Wendy Craig) are beside themselves because bratty Joey won’t give up the idea that Davis was responsible for his little sister’s bathtub drowning years before. Teenager Pamela Franklin is the only one wondering if maybe he’s right. Watch for the scene between Joey’s aunt (Jill Bennett) and Davis near the end, surely one of the most disturbing in any 1960’s shocker. NOT ON DVD.

Ultra-Rare Screening! I START COUNTING, 1969, Sony Repertory, 105 min. An underrated, unusual, low-key mix of coming-of-age story and serial killer thriller that never saw release here in America. Jenny Agutter gives arguably her finest performance as a teenager who develops an obsessive infatuation for her older, foster brother (Bryan Maxwell). Complications multiply as she starts to wonder if perhaps he’s the homicidal maniac loose in their suburban neighborhood. But is he really? Agutter’s strict, Catholic school upbringing, her romantic fantasies and burgeoning sexuality, her precocious best friend (Clare Sutcliffe), all conspire to pull the wool over her eyes. When the veil of fantasy is brutally ripped aside and cold, hard reality hits, watch out! Director David Greene skillfully puts Agutter’s teenage concerns in the forefront, with the sex killer subplot simmering in the background, until the harrowing, last twenty minutes – akin to a glass of ice water in the face and surely one of the creepiest, most-unnerving sequences ever from sixties cinema. With Simon Ward in a small, but important, part as a bus conductor. NOT ON DVD.

 

Wednesday, June 21 - 7:30 PM

Peter Cushing Double Feature:

New 35mm Print! TORTURE GARDEN, 1967, Sony Repertory, 93 min. Director Freddie Francis follows up Amicus studio’s initial omnibus horror film, DR. TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS, with this expertly-handled compendium of four fright tales, all strung together by the spiel of sideshow fortune teller, Dr. Diablo (Burgess Meredith). Five carnival customers (Michael Bryant, Beverly Adams, Barbara Ewing, Michael Ripper and Jack Palance) are offered a look into their possible futures, with ghastly results. Especially macabre is the final entry with Poe fanatic, Palance, paying a visit to the home of fellow collector and Poe-phile, Peter Cushing, something that results in a disagreeably unexpected revelation.

HORROR EXPRESS, 1973, 90 min. Spanish Eugenio Martin (CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL) directs an international cast at a breakneck pace in this splendid, turn-of-the-20th-century thriller. Trans-Siberian Express passenger, Professor Saxton (Christopher Lee) is transporting what he believes to be the remains of the missing link, much to the disappointment of his rival, Professor Wells (Peter Cushing). What the two feuding scholars don’t realize is that the huge corpse is really a revived alien creature from outer space. Before long, the monster is boiling the brains of its victims with its red-eyed stare, absorbing their intellects and throwing the train into a panic. A countess, a beautiful spy, a Rasputin-like monk and a cruel Cossack (Telly Savalas, in fine form) are just a few of the characters making life difficult for our stalwart English heroes as they try to thwart the devilish fiend. (Print is slightly faded.)

 

 

Sunday, June 25 – 7:30 PM

Peter Cushing Double Feature:

CORRUPTION, 1967, Sony Repertory, 91 min. Dir. Robert Hartford-Davis. You won’t believe some of the things that sedate surgeon Peter Cushing gets up to in this deliciously trashy, Mod reworking of Franju’s EYES WITHOUT A FACE. When his young model fiancee (Sue Lloyd) has her face disfigured by a falling arc lamp, Cushing becomes convinced that the pituitary gland from another woman will put her right. But he’s chagrined when the healing effect wears off. Soon Cushing descends into a hellish rampage of murder - usually by decapitation - to obtain glands! When the couple decide to lower their profile, they make a getaway to a seacoast cottage. However, a gang of violent hippie beatniks (is there such a thing?) invade their haven, more deaths occur and Cushing’s laboratory laser goes out of control. Great pulp mayhem. NOT ON DVD.

THE SKULL, 1965, Paramount, 90 min. Director Freddie Francis pours on the atmosphere in this fine adaptation of the Robert Bloch short story, what amounts to the most blood-freezing of Hammer studio’s rival, Amicus’ many horror efforts. Peter Cushing, a collector of black magic antiquities, covets the skull of the Marquis De Sade, despite its lurid, some say cursed, history. Once it’s in his ill-gotten possession, all manner of things start to go terribly wrong, including vividly surreal nightmares and people dying in horrible ways. The great cast includes Christopher Lee as a rival collector, Patrick Wymark as a sleazy dealer, Jill Bennett as Cushing’s spouse, with a cameo by Nigel Green as a police inspector. NOT ON DVD.