‘Twas the night before Halloween, when all through the city
Not a theater was open, not even FilmScene
But what to my wondering eyes should appear,
Five horrifically fun movies to stream virtually — with a beer.
The spooky tradition of FilmScream is just one of the dozens of FilmScene’s programming initiatives that has been reworked digitally to allow patrons to stay safely connected through the arts. Instead of the brutally rewarding all-night binge from 8 p.m. – 8 a.m., the theater instead is celebrating Halloween throughout this whole “Halloweek” until Oct. 31.
“We didn’t want to leave that audience out in the cold,” Ross Meyer, Late Shift at the Grindhouse and Halloweek founder and programmer, said of the transition. “We’re a mission-driven cinema … At the same time, we also like a fun, silly movie — a scary movie in the crisp fall weather.”
During Halloweek, the public can access five frightening films for $25, allowing them to create their own all-nighter from the comfort of home. Members can stream the package for $20. Each film is also available individually. The virtual format is staying true to the FilmScream tradition, showcasing B-level horror cinema. The films include Die Screaming Marianne, Hercules in the Haunted World, Kill Me Please, The Blood Beast Terror and The Nude Vampire.
There is something for everyone in the mix, Meyer said: a couple of European films, films in English and some with subtitles; mostly older films ranging between the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s — but one film (Kill Me Please) is a fairly modern Brazilian offering written and directed by a woman (Anita Rocha da Silveira), something still rare within the horror genre.
Unlike with the beloved FilmScream, “the classic experience isn’t forced on people,” Meyer said. You can spread out your viewing as you please (even watch during the day, if you’re less intrepid). The picks for Halloweek are exclusively from the Kino Lorber, Inc. distributing company, a choice made in order to streamline the process and program Halloweek in record time. FilmScene’s digital platform, the AgileLINK app, launched earlier this month.
Yet, as we have all come to realize in great despair, virtual options still lack the cherished community we once had. To help ease this dread, FilmScene built a ten-minute trailer and vintage snack bar commercials before each film to try and replicate a small portion of the in-person experience of FilmScream. And of course you can always purchase a Friday concessions bundle to accompany your viewing.
There also remains a small, dedicated group of FilmScene Facebook followers who hold regular discussions of virtual film offerings in the comment threads. Meyer said he loves to see the community still thriving in many cases among people who met in the theater, either through Late Shift at the Grindhouse or FilmScream, and now rent private showings together.
If you are still unsure where to even begin as we embark on this Halloween weekend, Meyer suggests starting with Hercules and the Haunted World — “not terribly scary but [a] monster movie with a slight cross with your fifth-grade mythology class.”
As creatures crawl in search of blood to terrorize y’all’s neighborhoods, the local theater is still dark to the public — but that won’t last forever.
“What I really want is to open back up and gather together with a group of people in a dark theater,” Meyer said. “In the beginning we’ll be strangers, and by the end of the night I hope we’re friends, and someday we’ll get back to that.”
Until then, Happy Halloween to all, and to all a good fright!