Prepare yourself for the week of horrors to come with our roundup of Halloween film screenings around the Milwaukee area.
The recent proliferation of repertory screenings in and around Milwaukee (even the major local chain Marcus has gotten in on the fun throughout the past year) means that Halloween can now be a week-long celebration of the cinematically macabre shared in a room of strangers with the same spooky obsessions. So to make sure you’re prepared for the week of horrors to come, here’s a handy-dandy guide to help you navigate the sticky red river of karo syrup that is next week’s spate of screenings.
Monday, Oct. 26: Crimson Peak (open in wide release locally, check local listings) & Goodnight Mommy (playing at the Oriental Theatre)
Start your week off with two selections currently in wide release. Crimson Peak is not doing so hot at the box office, which is a shame. It’s exquisitely designed, impeccably cast, and just an extraordinarily lush viewing experience (try to catch it in IMAX if at all possible). Goodnight Mommy is similarly not exactly a horror movie per se, more of a thriller in point of fact, but the craft on display cannot be disputed in this story of twin boys who suspect the woman who has returned home from surgery is not their real mother. I’ve been wrestling with this movie since I saw it weeks ago, and what better indicator of a scary movie’s effectiveness?
Tuesday, Oct. 27: Vampyr (16mm print!) (7 p.m., UWM Union Cinema)
UWM Film Department’s Cinema Arts Archive brings us a 16mm print of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s disorienting entry into the horror genre. Soft, gauzy focus, purposefully disorienting editing and atmosphere so thick you could cut it with a knife highlight this 1932 classic. More than likely the only actual film print you can take in over the week.
Wednesday, Oct. 28: Dracula (1931) (2 p.m. – also at 7 p.m. - Select local Marcus Theatres) & Vertigo (7 p.m., Select local Marcus Theatres)
Let’s stick with the classics – Vertigo is arguably not a horror film at all (more a psychological melodrama), but its gothic sensibility fits in neatly with the season. No argument at all on Dracula (although it would have been cool for them to play the Spanish version shot concurrently, generally agreed to be the superior film), Lugosi’s turn as the titular vampire is iconic for a reason.
Thursday, Oct. 29: Halloween (7:30 p.m., Select local Marcus Theatres)
I’ve previously described watching Halloween as the horror fan equivalent of pilgrimage to Mecca, a sort of cinematic religious experience. John Carpenter’s mastery of the frame, focus and editing in bringing this story of Michael Myers and his faceless, unrelenting evil to life is unparalleled. If it’s the first or forty-first time you’re catching this, it will suck you in all the same.
Friday, Oct. 30: Scream (7 p.m., UWM Union Cinema) & The Exorcist (Midnight, Times Cinema)
Although the sequels that followed might ever-so-slightly have diluted its impact (a running theme in the history of horror cinema), Scream is still historically significant and highly entertaining. Sort of unfairly attributed to the genius of Wes Craven (I think the film’s success should be more aimed towards screenwriter Kevin Williamson), it ushered in an era of post-modern horror that lasted for over a decade. The Exorcist meanwhile, is visceral and terrifying – I love it to pieces. Take someone who’s never seen it before as a treat to yourself.
Saturday, Oct. 31: Beetlejuice (11:30 a.m., Times Cinema), The Thing (7 p.m., UWM Union Cinema), & Nightmare on Elm Street (Midnight, Rosebud Cinema)
Sure, you could dress up as Sexy Bernie Sanders or Sexy Pizza Rat or Sexy Motivational Shia LeBeouf and go be social and/or drunk – but you could also wend your way through a delightful day/night movie binge enveloped by darkness watching nightmares unfold on screen. I know where my vote lies. Start the day off light with Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice and then dig into the heavy stuff – The Thing is not just one of the best horror movies or portraits of rampant paranoia, it’s one of our very best movies full stop. And Nightmare on Elm Street is the perfect way to pay tribute to the late Wes Craven, as his cinematic fever dream introduced us to the iconic Freddy Krueger. Though the series continued to diminishing returns, the impact of the original can still be felt when you watch it today – it’s a visceral, upsetting motion picture whose dream logic will weasel into the corners of your mind.
Sunday, Nov. 1: Psycho (5 p.m., UWM Union Cinema)
Sure, Halloween is technically over and the Packers are coming off a bye week, but what better option do you have than topping off your weeklong horror bender with a Psycho chaser? Hitchcock’s slasher film is one of the most important in cinematic history (and still works, jump scares and all!). Anthony Perkins’ performance is subtle and brilliant, and Hitch’s whole bag of editing and directorial tricks are in use here. A solid capper to a weeklong marathon of mutilation.
On the Marquee
Wednesday, October 21: Back to the Future II
Screenings are happening everywhere (Avalon, Oriental, Marcus), most start around 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 21 through Sunday, Oct. 25: The 30th Annual Milwaukee LGBT Film Festival continues and concludes
Wednesday, Oct. 21: Fire Over England
7:30 p.m. @ Charles Allis Art Museum ($7/$5/free for seniors/students/museum members)
Thursday, Oct. 22: The Rocky Horror Picture Show
10 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Click here for tickets)
Friday, Oct. 23: Jem and the Holograms, The Last Witch Hunter, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Rock the Kasbah, Steve Jobs & Goodnight Mommy all open locally
Check local listings for showtimes/pricing
Friday, Oct. 23 through Sunday, Oct. 25: Tangled
10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. & 3:00 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Buy tickets here)
Friday, Oct. 23 & Friday, Oct. 24: The Shining & Alien
Midnight @ Times Cinema, Avalon Theatre (Shining) & Rosebud Cinema (Alien)
Saturday, Oct. 24: I Walked with a Zombie
7:30 p.m. @ The Church in the City, 2648 N. Hackett Ave. ($3)
Sunday, Oct. 25: Dracula (1931)
2 p.m. & 7 p.m. @ Select local Marcus Theatres (Click here for tickets)
Sunday, Oct. 25: Beetlejuice, The Addams Family & Ghostbusters
11:30 a.m. @ Times Cinema, Avalon Theatre & Rosebud Cinema respectively ($5)