Late December into January tends to be the slowest time of the year for film exhibitors, but before things come to a grinding halt with the holidays, here is a roundup of the best non-holiday retrospective film events in Philadelphia this month.
Reelblack presents a special 45th anniversary presentation of Melinda, the first feature film produced by a major studio entirely written, produced, and directed by African-Americans. Firmly within the Blaxploitation genre, Melinda tells the story of a smooth-talking DJ framed for his lover’s murder and out to avenge her death. The screening will be followed by a special presentation of audio interviews with surviving members of the production, recorded for an upcoming Reelblack podcast. It’s screening one night only on Friday, December 8 at 8pm at the Bank (3750 Lancaster Avenue). Entry is pay what you wish, with a suggested donation of $7.
Frankenstein and Dracula exhumed
The following evening, Saturday, December 9 at 8pm, join Exhumed for a special double-bill presentation of Frankenstein's Bloody Terror 3-D and Dracula vs. Frankenstein at the Lightbox Film Center. Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror is a legendary cult film shot in 3-D, but after a handful of screenings, producer Samuel Sherman decided to revert to flat prints due to a series of projector lens malfunctions. Presumed lost forever, the Independent International Archives has turned up the original 3-D elements, and a new 35mm print was produced by Garagehouse Pictures, which Exhumed will be bringing to the big screen for the first time in nearly 50 years. Despite the title, neither Frankenstein nor his monster make an appearance in the film. Instead, the plot includes a werewolf curse and a handsome young nobleman. The film will be followed by Dracula vs. Frankenstein, another classic horror film by the same producer whose title is truer to its plot. Tickets for the whole night are $15 ($10 for Lightbox members).
‘Un Flic’ and ‘Rocky Horror’
From December 7 through 16, Lightbox is hosting a traveling retrospective of French auteur director Jean-Pierre Melville for his birthday centennial. Melville’s maverick status within the French film industry and his then-unorthodox methods of independent production served as a model and inspiration for many of the French New Wave directors. Each of the five films appearing here are worth seeing, but in particular I recommend Un Flic — Melville’s 13th and final film, about a cop who doesn’t see the crook under his nose, a nightclub owner orchestrating daring, high-stakes heists, and the beautiful lady between them. Un Flic screens Saturday, December 16 at 8pm. Tickets are $10 ($8 for students/seniors).
This next one is an oldie, but a goodie, and if you’ve never been to a midnight screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show, you’ll have your chance on Friday, December 15 at Ritz at the Bourse, with the film scheduled for 11:59pm. Billed by the Ritz as “the longest-running midnight movie of all time,” this camp classic stars Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter, “the kinky yet endearing ‘transsexual from Transylvania.’” The crowds who accompany this film (equal parts horror satire and musical melodrama) typically make for an interactive experience. Tickets are $10.25.
Too much cheer?
The last film on this list is a bit on the nose in terms of its anti-holiday theme, but those of you who are particularly fed up with holiday cheer should check out Christmas Evil on Thursday, December 21, 7:30pm at PhilaMOCA. An obsessive toy factory worker suffers long-term trauma after finding out Santa Claus isn't real. As a result, he embarks on a yuletide killing spree dressed as none other than the jolly old gent. The screening is being held as part of a release party for Canadian micro-publisher Spectacular Optical’s new book Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television, a comprehensive collection of essays and critique that span nearly 200 Christmas horror films. Contributing author Chris Hallock will be in attendance with copies of the book available for purchase. Admission costs $5 at the door.
At right: See Santa gone wrong in Christmas Evil on December 21. (Film still via IMDB.)