THURSDAY 2 - Depths of the Grindhouse
Programmed by: Max Newman and Brian McKendry
Grindhouse theaters have a reputation for being home to sleazy films. Screening films mostly made with low budgets that didn’t shy away from
oo topics or thrills, the grindhouse came to represent an underbelly of the film industry. Despite a reputation of pure sleaze, these theaters gave platforms to a wide variety of films and emerging artists and filmmakers. However, many of these films are left out of discussions about the great movies of history and often go underseen. This series is meant to give a survey of filmmakers based in NYC who showed their work through New York grindhouse theaters in the height of the theaters' boom in the late 60s to early 80s. Across these nine movies, a glimpse into the wide range coming out of the grindhouse world are shown. Films like Driller Killer and Basket Case give a taste of the sort of horror being made, while Seeds, God Told Me To, Combat Shock, Ganja & Hess, and A Woman’s Torment all take inspiration from horror but mark very different directions in which this inspiration is taken. With Seeds, the sleaze of Andy Milligan, meant to displease viewers, is put on full display. God and Combat offer more of a thriller approach, whereas Ganja & Hess is most in line with an arthouse film. The sexploitation side of the grindhouse is also shown in its different shades through A Woman’s Torment, Red Roses of Passion, and Bad Girls Go to Hell.
God Told Me To (1976)
Larry Cohen · 91m · DCP
A series of mass shootings and murders carried out by seemingly unconnected people all claiming God told them to are investigated by New York City detective Peter Nicholas. Shit spirals out of control as Nicholas’ childhood is put into question and possibly related to the incidents. Larry Cohen creates a tense thriller that incorporate science-fiction and horror elements, all against the backdrop of the bustle of 70s NYC—with an Andy Kaufman cameo.
9:30PM Thursday, September 28th
The Driller Killer (1979)
Abel Ferrara · 96m · 35mm
Abel Ferrara directs and stars in this overlooked horror masterpiece about a painter whose lack of success, rent, and noisy neighbors cause him to begin a murder rampage around the city with a power drill. Cleverly capturing many of the anxieties induced by the city and offering one of the strangest performances you’ll see from an actor, The Driller Killer is one of few movies to have a no-wave soundtrack, which complements the atmosphere perfectly.
9:30PM Thursday, October 5th
Basket Case (1982)
Frank Henenlotter · 91m · DCP
Shot on 16mm and a low budget, Basket Case has become a cult classic horror movie. Duane Bradley goes around New York City carrying a mutant creature who can talk to him telepathically in a basket. Together, they are on a mission to get revenge on the doctor that did them wrong in the past. How are they related, and what wrong was done? Basket Case is a classic good time with cheap but surprisingly good gore effects and an atmosphere of grime.
9:30PM Thursday, October 12th
Red Roses of Passion (1966)
Joseph W. Sarno · 80m · DCP
In this sexploitation film, Carla is sick of life with her aunt who berates her for her relationships with men. After being introduced by a tarot card reader to a cult that worships Pan, Carla uses the erotic power of roses to make her Aunt and cousin sex-crazed. Soon, though, she starts to see the cult as a more sinister force… This movie is soaked in the atmosphere of a noir but incorporates hints of fantasy and other genres to create something unique.
9:30PM Thursday, October 19th
Ganja & Hess (1973)
Bill Gunn · 112m · DCP
An anthropologist stabbed with an ancient dagger by his assistant turns into a vampire. When the assistant’s wife comes looking for her husband, she finds out the anthropologist's secret and falls in love. Tasked with creating a ‘Black vampire film,’ Bill Gunn created one of the most unique pieces of horror (and art) with beautiful, experimental cinematography, structure, and a distinct atmosphere birthed partly from its low budget. Not to be missed.
9:30PM Thursday, October 26th
A Woman's Torment (1977)
Roberta Findlay · 84m · DCP
Originally a porno, we offer director Roberta Findlay’s preferred R-rated cut. Don and Frances are having marriage problems, in part due to Frances’ deeply traumatized sister Karen who overhears them discussing sending her to an asylum. Karen runs away to an empty beach house and starts killing people as her mental state deteriorates. This horror sexploitation film’s clever editing and distinct approach to horror make for a compelling experience.
9:30PM Thursday, November 2nd
Seeds (of Sin) (1968)
Andy Milligan · 84m · Digital
A family of shitty kids and a miserable-ass mother get together for Christmas dinner. Drama ensues as secrets are revealed and soon a killer starts murdering the family members in gruesome ways. To some, this movie is just perverse and full of bad taste, reeking of a 42nd Street crowd's appetite, but beneath it there is a claustrophobic vision that may be of interest to enjoyers of such visceral experiences.
9:30PM Thursday, November 9th
Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965)
Doris Wishman · 65m · DCP
Doris Wishman’s 1965 sexploitation film pushes the genre into something much more horrifying (and perhaps honest). A woman kills the person who sexually assaulted her and goes on the run in New York City, but the city proves to be a layer of hell as she is abused again and again. With a unique editing style and a jazz score, Wishman creates an interesting, almost surreal atmosphere. Definitely a heavy watch.
9:30PM Thursday, November 16th
Combat Shock (1984)
Buddy Giovinazzo · 91m · DCP
One of the most nihilistic anti-war movies to exist. A Vietnam vet returns home to New York, where his inability to get a job, grimy lifestyle, and lasting PTSD plunge him further and further into losing grip on his sanity until the shocking end. Everything in this movie feels bleak and like the world is crumbling. Combat Shock marks the beginning of Buddy Giovinazzo’s career as a director and stars his brother Rick in the leading role.