It’s getting to be that crepuscular time of year when the Veil between the Worlds grows thin and many people develop an inexplicable hankering for the spooky and the paranormal. Upstate Films in Woodstock is kicking off the Halloween season in style this Sunday with a visit from everybody’s favorite undead star of the silver screen, Count Orlok. Max Schreck plays the Transylvanian with the worst manicure in the history of silent movies in F. W. Murnau’s unsettling 1922 German Expressionist horror masterpiece Nosferatu, which was based more than a little on Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula (there were copyright infringement lawsuits involved).
While it’s always skin-crawly fun to experience Nosferatu in a real cinema – you may come out of it feeling about rats the way a lot of people feel about spiders or snakes – what makes this weekend’s presentation extra-special is the musical accompaniment. An Austin-based band called the Invincible Czars is touring with the film, playing a new score that it has arranged based on Béla Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances. Violin, glockenspiel, organ, flute, bass clarinet, vocals, music box, loops, electric guitar, bass, singing bowl and percussion all play prominent roles in the score.
Come see Nosferatu with the Invincible Czars beginning at 5:45 p.m. on Sunday, October 9 at Upstate Films at 132 Tinker Street in Woodstock. Tickets cost $15 general admission, $13 for seniors, $11 for youth under age 16 and Upstate Films members.
If you miss the days when Halloweeny horrors were something a bit less prosaic than a guy with a grudge, a mask and a chainsaw, you also might want to consider joining up with a new reading group being organized by Oblong Books – the first in a series called “Adaptations” that will pair book discussions with screenings at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck.
It’s the centennial of Shirley Jackson, you see, which is something worth celebrating. Jackson had an extraordinary gift for conveying the deeply creepy without being overly explicit about what there was fear, taking a “less-is-more” psychological approach to literary horror that kept readers awake at night without whacking them over the heads with potentially cheesy or corny gory details. No one ever forgets her iconic short story “The Lottery,” but all too many of us never went on to read the rest of her considerable oeuvre.
Well, now’s our chance: Lovers of classic horror lit are reading Jackson’s 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House this month in preparation for a screening and discussion of the 1963 film adaptation at Upstate Films on Sunday, October 30 at 2 p.m. Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Russ Tamblyn, Richard Johnson and a deliciously brooding New England mansion star in Robert Wise’s film, with a script by Nelson Gidding that interprets Jackson’s story as being as much about mental breakdown as it is about ghosts. Oblong has the book for sale, of course, and also Ruth Franklin’s new biography, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life. For more info, visit http://upstatefilms.org and www.oblongbooks.com.