The Horror Picture Show

Something wicked this way comes, again, and just in time for Halloween: A witch’s brew of spooky, campy, gory and/or otherwise terrifying short films made lickety-split by aspiring auteurs right here in Eugene. Upwards of 35 teams have signed up for Eugene Film Society’s 72-Hour Horror Film Competition, which should make for a fun night of fright when Bijou Art Cinemas on 13th holds its “Audience Award” screenings of the top entrants at 8 and 10:30 pm, Oct. 31. 

That same night, the “Jury Prize” winner will debut prior to each showing of The Exorcist at Bijou Metro downtown. Also playing is silent film Nosferatu, accompanied by the music of Mood Area 52, and after that is camp gold The Rocky Horror Picture Show

[Insert Vincent Price voice here] Let’s reacquaint ourselves with these creepy classics, shall we?

The Devil Does Care

William Friedkin’s The Exorcist remains the King Kong of devil-does-care flicks, and the benchmark by which all satanic-possession movies are judged. This 1973 film, based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, has not only aged well but is just as scary — just as shockingly heretical and psychologically unnerving — today as when it was unleashed upon a jaded, weary American public whose sniffer for pure evil had been overwhelmed by Vietnam, Watergate and the sniped death of ’60s counterculture idealism. 

Rewatching The Exorcist, one is struck anew by the masterful way Friedkin juxtaposes the autumnal atmosphere of Georgetown, with its secular politics and mauve urban decay, against the spiritual flailing of the central characters, from Ellen Burstyn’s lonely single mom to Jason Miller’s Father Karras, a man of the cloth who may be losing faith. And then there is Linda Blair’s Regan, the cute, precocious girl who, suddenly inhabited by the Prince of Darkness, starts puking up pea soup and banging herself bloody with a crucifix. It is this tension between the mundane and the gothic, as well as the collision of the venal and the holy (personified in the worn dignity of Max von Sydow’s Father Merrin) that gives The Exorcist its frisson, its pervasive feeling of lurking insidious evil.

The Exorcist screens at 6:30 and 9:15 pm Friday, Oct. 31, at Bijou Metro on Broadway.

Silent but Violent

Interview with a Vampire and Twilight can scram! Nosferatu is considered the first vampire flick, or at least the first one that mattered. Directed by F.W. Murnau (who blatantly lifted the story from Bram Stoker’s Dracula), the 1922 silent film’s chief bloodsucker Count Orlock (played by no less than Friedrich Gustav Maximilian Schreck) is hands down the scariest vampire to grace the silver screen, with a frozen stare, ghoulish white complexion and spindly long fingernails. Murnau’s use of shadow is genius, proving that what you can’t see is scarier than what you can. Not convinced? This film is a “German Expressionist horror film” — it can’t get more frightening than that. For the perfect viewing companion, take a look at Shadow of the Vampire, a 2000 film starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe about the making of Nosferatu

Nosferatu screens with music by Mood Area 52 at 7:30 pm Friday, Oct. 31, at Bijou Art Cinemas on 13th.

The Other Rocky

The Rocky Horror Picture Show has everything you could possibly want from a musical comedy horror movie made in 1975: mad scientists, aliens, show tunes, big hair and bigger makeup, pent-up sexual tension, Tim Curry in a corset, Susan Sarandon in a bra and a homicidal Meat Loaf on a motorcycle. While Rocky Horror wasn’t an instant hit, the flick has developed a massive cult following at midnight movie showings. Now screenings are performances in themselves — worldwide audiences are encouraged to come dressed as a character and sing along with famous ditties like “The Time Warp,” “Sweet Transvestite” and “Toucha-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me.” There’s a reason this event is 18-plus.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show screens at 11 pm Friday, Oct. 31, at Bijou Art Cinemas on 13th.