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December starts off with a cinematic bang; Grindhouse Wednesdays return

Shock Corridor
Shock Corridor
Criterion Collection

This December 1st you have more than a couple of interesting choices when it comes to the great silver screen. We had our first snowfall and we have to start thinking of more indoor activities for the family. Although the things I usually recommend are not usually family friendly … usually.

The Concordia University Alumni Association has joined forces with the McGill Alumni to present their latest Book-to-Big Screen Event. Most people have perhaps come across or read the classic Gothic novella “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James, a twisted ghost story about a governess who takes care of two children that may or may not be evil, and are being haunted (or maybe not) by the ghost of their old governess (and the whole thing may or may not be in the governess’ head). A very short but powerful read, and while there have been more straightforward adaptations to the big screen, most famously with The Innocents from 1961, Concordia and McGill want to invite you to start a discussion on how this story turned into the brilliant horror puzzle that is Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others (2001) starring Nicole Kidman.

I see the connection on the surface, but not as an adaptation. It is almost like saying that Twilight is based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. OK, that is a bit pushing it, but it should lead to an interesting discussion. Screening is at 6pm, and discussion at 8pm, at the Frank Dawson Adams Auditorium of McGill University. You may have to be an alum and you may have to call in advance since seating in minimal.

In other news, the brilliant Grindhouse Wednesdays boys are back this week, and this time they are carrying more than the usual punch. More than the usual fun bad-movie experience, this month’s choice, Samuel Fuller’s 1963 psychotic Shock Corridor, is a brilliant piece of almost forgotten filmmaking. Sam Fuller has been more than praised in recent years for his amazing career in cinema, with classics such as The Big Red One (1980) and Pickup of South Street (1953), but thanks to surreal but meaningful attempts such as Shock Corridor and Naked Kiss (1964), some still consider him a B-movie schlock master (master nonetheless). Although very controversial at the time, his early films cannot be seen today as anything less than innovative and yet still shocking.

Usually the story is the least important aspect of films like these (a reporter locks himself up in an insane asylum to solve a murder and ends up going crazy himself), when important 1960s issues are carefully raised such as racism and the treatment of asylum patients. Shock Corridor is still surprising and hard to watch at times, and having paved the way for films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Shutter Island, there is no arguing that this is a classic.

Once again, the screening will be held at Cinema L’Amour, with The Black Void performing and DJ Sarcastic spinning some tracks (and obviously proceeds go to Head & Hands), all this starting at 8:30pm, so get your tickets early. And for those interested, newly remastered editions of both Shock Corridor and Naked Kiss will be released next month on the Criterion Collection.


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