NO FREE ZONE: Two Films By Stephanie Black

This March, Spectacle presents a diptych of blistering econo-graphic deep dives by celebrated documentarian Stephanie Black. H-2 WORKER profiles migrant laborers flown from Jamaica to Florida to cut sugarcane, at the behest of big-box food manufacturers taking advantage of the extranational economy. LIFE AND DEBT, the more famous of the two, returns to Jamaica to methodically dissect Clinton-era loan policies and import/export subsidies, while pitting the island nation’s jawdropping poverty against its tourist-friendly image. Black – whose career originated in environmental activism – has clearly cultivated a unique relationship to the island nation, and yet these are anything but grass-is-greener reaffirmations of exotic stereotypes. Instead, her films show us the Caribbean we know, deep down, we’ve been seeing all along: a mirage of paradise operated by an elite few, kept for the foreign dollars of a few more.

DVDs of both H-2 Worker and Life and Debt will be available for purchase at Spectacle during this series. 

H-2 WORKER
dir. Stephanie Black, 1990
USA/Jamaica. 70 mins.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9 – 10:00 PM
TUESDAY, MARCH 15 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY, MARCH 24 – 7:30 PM – ONE NIGHT ONLY ON 16MM FILM Q&A with filmmaker Stephanie Black
SUNDAY, MARCH 27 – 5:00 PM 

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

GRAND JURY PRIZE WINNER – 1990 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

Shot guerilla-style over the course of two years, H-2 WORKER is an unmissable document of pre-NAFTA neoliberalism, made at a time when over ten thousand Jamaican men per year were coming to toil in the sugarcane fields of Florida. (The filmmaker herself appears with her back to the camera, when the crew is not-so-subtly advised to cease shooting at one of the company stores where laborers can buy snacks, toothpaste, etc.) Aided by legendary cinematographer Mayrse Alberti (Creed, Crumb), H-2 WORKER captures a microcosm of indentured servitude: dimly lit dormitories, dusk-to-dawn shifts, brutal deductions in pay from both the sugar company side (and upon remittance to Jamaica.)

While the beyond-cheap labor is defended by sundry American executives as a lucky break for Jamaica’s depressed economy – the opposite of a “handout” – cane harvesters inevitably begin organizing for the purposes of work stoppage. With heartbreaking snatches from letters written by the workers to their families back home, Black’s debut exposé wears its advocating spirit on its sleeve, brazenly appealing for a change in the status quo in classic advocacy-doc style. The H-2 program was ultimately disbanded after a fifty-million-dollar class-action lawsuit, but the film’s contemporary pertinence speaks for itself: the wages offered these men are paltry to the point of destitution, but they’re working a job with no real claimants on the U.S. side. Sound familiar?

“H-2 WORKER does not pretend to offer any answers, but it solidly frames issues about the economy, employment and the treatment of workers who seem just steps away from slavery.” – Caryn James, The New York Times

LIFE AND DEBT
dir. Stephanie Black, 2001
USA/Jamaica. 80 mins.

MONDAY, MARCH 7 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY MARCH 15 – 10:00 PM
THURSDAY, MARCH 24 – 10:00 PM
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30 – 10:00 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

“Every native of every place is a potential tourist, and every tourist is a native of somewhere. Every native would like to find a way out. Every native would like a rest. Every native would like a tour. But some natives – most natives in the world – cannot go anywhere. They’re too poor to escape the realities of their lives, and they’re too poor to live properly in the place where they live – which is the very place that you, the tourist, want to go.”

Narrated by Jamaica Kincaid (reworking the second-person narration of her 1988 classic A Small Place), Black’s breakout 2001 documentary interrogates the power structures imposed by the Bretton Woods organizations on so-called “developing” economies, and the psychological chasm that separates a nation’s exported reputation from reality on the ground. LIFE AND DEBT investigates International Monetary Fund levers in agonizing detail: “structural adjustments” designed to keep Jamaica’s post-colonial government in permanent debt, brutal export subsidies on agriculture, and loopholes for American fashion companies – many of whom are directly namechecked in the film, via first-hand testimonies from textile workers, paid an infinitesimal wage by American standards.

Not unlike the reggae-intensive soundtrack (featuring tracks by Peter Tosh, Buju Banton, Sizzla and the Marleys), the film finds melancholy drenched in beauty. While it’s a tired trope to call a film’s cinematography “sumptuous”, Black and her team of cinematographers (including Malik Sayeed) use their 35mm palette to sharply play Jamaica’s endemic lushness against itself, interrogating tropical tourist desire as its own system of imaging and control. Arguably the most rigorous dissection of postcolonial economic policy ever committed to film, LIFE AND DEBT is a penetrating critique of what the “New World Order” actually means for millions, and a sober-eyed ode to a culture in embattled flux.

“In Stephanie Black’s devastating, artful, and intelligent documentary, Jamaican farmers tell of the downward spiral of one livelihood after another: Cheap American-imported powdered milk usurps the local dairy supply, Chiquita squashes Jamaican banana farmers, Idaho potatoes nudge out regionally grown crops.” – Lenora Todaro, The Village Voice

“After the structural adjustments, the cuts in public expenditure, the removal of tariffs on imports, the privatisations and devaluations, Jamaica is still plagued by financial crisis. Development plans have been abandoned as the vision of independence recedes. LIFE AND DEBT is a very powerful weapon in the arsenal of the global movement for a more equitable economic order.” – Linton Kwesi Johnson, The Guardian

F IS FOR FRAME

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ONE NIGHT ONLY – WITH LIVE PERFORMANCE
SATURDAY, MARCH 12 – 7:30 and 10:00PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

“I’m a female Charlie Chaplin, I could have made slapstick comedy. I’m thinking more and more about acting again, in my films. My body in a movie is very important, it says something by itself, it has the weight of the Real. I can’t have actresses playing my clumsiness.” – Chantal Akerman

F is for Frame features a series of short video works by artists who use the camera to reframe, unframe, and construct feminists performances and identities. The artists use their bodies in a number of ways, ranging from minimal cameos and the use of childhood home video footage to staged performances created for the camera. Dialoguing with the history of feminist artists who positioned their bodies as sites for production and political intervention, the range of selected videos create a constellation of contemporary feminist strategies produced by and for the camera.

curated by bottom.

bottom is Millie Kapp & Georgia Wall’s curatorial project. F IS FOR FRAME is their second curatorial endeavor. bottom will be introducing the evening with a live interview generated from platonic lyfe partnership.

    ARTISTS AND WORKS:

Basma Alsharif
we began by measuring distance (excerpt) 3:30

Maliea Croy
You Go Girl 4:48

Mary Helena Clark
Palms 8:23

EJ Hill
Girl 2:52

Rachel James
How to make work that messes up temporality and puts you beside yourself while making a process 7:49

Anne Kunsmiller
on chopping wood, or something, while dying in the wood, or else 8:11

Marissa Perel
If you are the desert, i’ll be the sea 4:47

Alex Schmidt
Adults with Braces: Trude Donovan 5:00

Colin Self
AVIDDIVA (excerpt) 5:59

Martine Syms
Notes on Gesture 10:27

Lili White
I: SNAKEFOOT 5:22

LIFESTYLE PORN, PT. II

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still from O FANTASMA, directed by João Pedro Rodrigues

LIFESTYLE PORN PT. II
Special thanks to João Pedro Rodrigues, Joaquim Sapinho, and Rosa Films.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9 – 8:00 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Curated by Gabriel Abrantes, Alexander Carver, Benjamin Crotty and Daniel Schmidt, LIFESTYLE PORN, PART II is a rejoinder to a program of short queer films screened at Light Industry (LIFESTYLE PORN, PART I) from the last 60 years, marking a shift in the cinematic stylizations of homoeroticism from the guise of criminal marginality to bourgeois “lifestyle” fetishism.

The Spectacle program features LE MURA DI SANA, a short film made in Yemen by Pier Paolo Pasolini as an appeal to UNESCO, against what he perceived to be the corrupting forces of global economic development. Pasolini’s films and activism alike championed a certain romanticization of poverty and the “pre-modern” lifestyle as vitalist and sexually liberated, as a viable alternative to the repressive architecture of the burgeoning global-capitalist world of rampant consumerism and mono-culture. Whereas modern subcultural lifestyles have often exploited and have been exploited by cinematic form to various political ends, Pasolini sought to politicize the entirety of the developing world in service of his cinematic, aesthetic and personal anti-modernist politics.

The feature presentation is O FANTASMA, by contemporary Portuguese filmmaker João Pedro Rodrigues: a meditation on the alienated sexual encounters of a Lisbon garbage collector whose obsessions are the film’s sole subject. Here the refuse of the fully modernized city becomes the debased medium through which the protagonist’s burgeoning sexual fetishisms arise. Rodrigues’ ‘Fantasma’ can be seen as the ghost of Pasolini’s eccentric idealisms.

Structured as a “before and after” of ‘Late Capitalism’, the program will begin with a radical Marxist’s direct political appeal to curb capitalistic destruction of the “good life”, and thus to preserve and valorize the perceived innocence of pre-modern sexual freedoms and political naiveté. The “after” of these fantasies are imaged in O FANTASMA as the vast landfill of Lisbon – a monument to the rotting detritus of consumer culture that has displaced Pasolini’s unalienated innocence.

Friends with Benefits, a retrospective of works by Abrantes, Carver, Crotty, and Schmidt, will run at the Film Society of Lincoln Center from February 5-11. LIFESTYLE PORN, PART I plays Light Industry on Tuesday, February 2nd.

ELEKTRO MOSKVA

ELEKTRO MOSKVA
Dir. Elena Tikhonova and Dominik Spritzendorfer, 2013
Austria, 89 min.
In Russian and English, with English subtitles.

** One night only! **
FRIDAY, APRIL 15 – 8:00 PM
Co-Director Dominik Spritzendorfer in attendance to perform a live DJ/VJ set!

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE



We are bringing back one final screening of ELEKTRO MOSKVA with a live DJ/VJ set following the screening!
When we screened this in February, Dominik Spritzendorfer was unable to attend/perform due to an unforeseen change of his schedule. It’s all set this time so get your tickets now before they sell out!

Welcome to a weird and definitely wired world of avant garde rock musicians, DIY circuit benders, vodka-swilling dealers and urban archaeologists/collectors, all fascinated with obsolete Soviet-era electronic synthesizers: primitive and ungainly beasts like the Polyvox, ESKO, Yunost and the fabulous ANS Photo-Electronic Synthesizer, a surreal device that translates abstract drawings into sound. This strange universe of “cosmic chill-out tunes,” Space Age dance music and electronic chirps & tweets has been rescued by directors Elena Tikhonova and Dominik Spritzendorfer in this fascinating & cheeky documentary incorporating rare archival footage including the last 1993 interview with famed inventor Leon Theremin. In a bizarre twist, many of these instruments were a by-product of the KGB and Soviet military, created in the off-hours by scientist/inventors cobbling together spare transistors and wires – including Theremin’s Rube Goldberg-esque “Rhythmicon” from 1932, the world’s first rhythm machine, described by a museum curator as “space wreckage.” A new generation of avant garde rock musicians has embraced the unpredictability and chaos of these instruments: as “Benzo” (aka Richardas Norvila) admiringly says, “On a Western device, you push a button and get a result … On a Soviet instrument, you push a button and get something.” Rooting through discarded storage units for cracked and yellowing keyboards, pulling apart cheap toys and re-wiring their inanely cheerful voice boards, these guerilla circuit benders are creating new cosmic sounds from these forgotten “instruments with expanded abilities.”

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THE DUSTY ROAD TO HELL

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Two starkly different visions of friendship and honor in the Old West.

COMPAÑEROS
Dir. Sergio Corbucci, 1970
Italy-West Germany- Spain, 118 minutes
In Italian, Spanish and English with English subtitles

SATUDAY, FEBRUARY 6 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10 – 10:00 PM
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16 – 10:00 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21 – 5:00 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Corbucci’s COMPAÑEROS eschews the grim pessimism of his early DJANGO and THE GREAT SILENCE in favor of a more fun, freewheeling take on the Mexican revolution, with a wry sense of anarchic humor and leftist politics that call to mind Leone’s DUCK, YOU SUCKER!/FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE.DJANGO’s Franco Nero and Spgahetti Western mainstay Thomas Milian are a suave arms dealer and a village idiot, respectively, who come together reluctantly first in order to survive, then in the name of the revolution to rescue an intellectual political prisoner (Fernando Rey). Their main obstacles along the way are an uncomfortable disdain for one another, shared affection for a beautiful local revolutionary (Iris Berben), and the malicious efforts of malevolent, wooden handed John (Jack Palance), who perches a falcon on one hand and an omnipresent joint between his lips. It’s all set to one of Morricone’s best and most underrated scores.

FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE
Dir. Lucio Fulci, 1975
Italy, 104 minutes
In Italian and English with English subtitles

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25 – 10:00 PM
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26 – 7:30 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

On the opposite end of the spectrum, FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE is a Lucio Fulci film, with a tone and outlook (and gore) that would not be out of place in the director’s later horror films. FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE is unrelentingly grim, a story of reluctant partnerships formed solely for the sake of survival, often resulting in tragedy. Fabio Testi leads a band of misfits convicts (including cult actress Lynne Frederick, character favorite Michael J. Pollard and Harry Baird as Bud, who provides one of the film’s most shocking moments). This quartets trek across the badlands, simply looking for a way to survive, is interrupted by the attentions of brutal bandit Chaco (Companero’s own Thomas Milian), who develops an eye for Ms. Frederick. In contrast to the sometimes frenetic pacing of COMPAÑEROS, FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE is decidedly Fulcian in its measured pacing, nihilistic outlook and dreamlike visuals. These films are yin and yang, with COMPAÑEROS’ good-naturedness and cynical-but-somewhat-inspiring political outlook in sharp contrast to Fulci’s unrelenting grimness and deeply existential philosophical palette.

EYES STEP: THE INFERNAL TANGOS OF DORE O.


Special thanks to Dore O. and The Filmmakers’ Co-op.

This February, Spectacle is proud to host New York City’s first-ever film retrospective of interdisciplinary German artist Dore O., featuring a rare screening of her breakthrough work KALDALON on 16mm film.

Trained as a painter, O. was cofounder of the Hamburger Filmschau, alongside with her husband and collaborator Werner Nekes. For all the psychedelia of her early work, subsequent films are rigorous in refractory experimentation: rear-projections, double-impositions, repeated frames and breathtaking lunges of the handheld camera, which seems bolstered as much by raw impulse as it does by any guiding principle of onscreen organization. O.’s work establishes its own space-time linearities, then argues them against each other–sometimes content with a mild flicker, a closing or opening aperture or a flurry of blunt smears. This is a playful and often freefalling visual poetics, best left to wash over you pure and analyzed later (or better yet, not at all.)

“Landscape exists only as a view through windows and doors, individual images are in opposition to themselves, growing closer together or dissolving into each other. Besides compressed images, the breaking of spaces and of course time, there are shots which have been left undoctored. Attraction, amalgamation, and removal of half of the image with the goal of a sensual topology are the principal formal means of the chosen language. One image devours the other.” —Dore O.


PROGRAM ONE
JÜM-JÜM. 1967. 11 min. Co-directed with Werner Nekes.
ALASKA. 1968. 16 min.
LAWALE. 1969. 28 min.
Total running time: 55 min.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18 – 10:00 PM
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23 – 10:00 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Starring a very young Dore O., JÜM-JÜM centers on a single frame: a girl sitting on a swing, billowing from one side to the other against a static tri-color painting of, indeed, a gigantic, hand-painted phallus. The film derives its syntax from its editing, timed to Nekes & O.’s auditory textures–which sound, alternatingly, like pots and pans being banged together, and/or a sped-up audio track of a child giggling. Shorn from these simple filmic materials, JÜM-JÜM is the first of many works by Dore O. that abound in suggestion while defying easy lateral (or literal) interpretations.

Described only by its maker as “an emigration film”, ALASKA marks a startling declaration of intent: post-Freudian and anti-dialectical, smacking of intimacy while it declines even the meagerest sketches of a concurrent plot. Dore O’s camera cautiously tracks structures and partitions before centering its field of vision on an ebbing tide at magic hour. The beach’s lapping waves grow more discomfiting as flashes of still-and-moving reminiscences are intercut, often held tantalizingly out of focus. ALASKA’s soundtrack–a rising and falling string section, as steady as it is erratic–allows the entire film to hang as one long moment of semi-conscious suspense. Shots are not juxtaposed so much as shot lengths.

Both LAWALE and ALASKA use their editing schemes to create points of contact and departure, frustrating accommodating narratives until the images have no choice but to plateau–say, a young woman floating adrift in the ocean in ALASKA, an elderly relative playing piano in LAWALE. In the latter film, scenes of familial life pile up with Fassbinder-ian tidiness, only occasionally thrown against moments of internal reprieve or looseness of the outward-facing frame. If ALASKA was intimate, LAWALE is (for the rigor of its language of remembrance) the far more explicitly autobiographical film: the unwillingness to remember, the inability to forget.

“The austere images in LAWALE tell more about the completely individual process of a young woman’s emancipation than whole novels do.” –Peter Steinhart, Rheinische Post, 1969

“I almost became addicted to these pictures, but they were not sufficient to dispel the gloom.” –Wilhem Roth, Filmkritik, November 1969


PROGRAM TWO
KALDALON. 1970/1. 45 min.
BLONDE BARBAREI. 1972. 25 min.
FROZEN FLASHES. 1976. 30 min.

Total running time: 95 min.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3 – 10:00 PM
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11 – 10:00 PM
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23 – 7:30 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

ONE NIGHT ONLY ON 16MM FILM!
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17 – 8:00 PM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17 – 10:00 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Shot on a trip to a spectacular glacial lagoon in Iceland, KALDALON broadly expands the the scenographic overtures of O.’s first films while teasing out new subtexts of control and romance, bathing the viewer in gorgeous images that nonetheless fail to linger quite long enough. It’s rumored that the film began as an attempt to recapture the Northern Lights on celluloid – but it’s also the first of O.’s shorts (since JÜM-JÜM, anyway) to use wall-projection as its own technique of superimposition. The camera works here as birdlike spectator, fastidious indexer, topographical scanner and – with two discrete shots uneasily sloped together in the frame’s center – as a remarkable simulacra for human eyesight.

Shot in black and white but sepiatoned in post-production, BLONDE BARBAREI represents a partial test-run for what would become KASKARA, again engaging notions of spectatorship – albeit shrouded in far darker context this go-round. A camera tenuously considers the world outside its paneled apartment windows, foregrounding a woman’s silhouette (Dore’s?) in its reluctant and never-voyeuristic sweeps of the lens.

FROZEN FLASHES is O.’s first film in total silence, again taxonomizing (you could almost say taxidermy-ing) disparate moments – here, a sequence of insinuating and, indeed, frozen poses, flash-photographed in erstwhile darkness – to probe the role of the static image in the barely-conscious. Finally, BEUYS – co-directed, again, with Nekes – is a ten-minute long, single-shot portrait of Joseph Beuys, begging the question of verisimilitude often left unaddressed (to say the least) in O.’s other works.

“KALDALON is simply one of the most beautiful pieces of ‘personal’ filmmaking I’ve ever seen, but I don’t want to limit it to a particular category, because it is also very much a film about film, and the processes which make it up.” – Tony Reif, Vancouver Cinematheque

“Perhaps coming closest of her works to the Brakhage aesthetic, KALDALON is a very beautiful and complete work.” — Jonas Mekas, The Village Voice

“Yes, the windows are factory windows, each consisting of many various glass panes which accounts probably for an association of church windows. But as in a church, it is the closed-in atmosphere, the sadness, the tendency to move slowly, that counts. “So that BLONDE BARBAREI is a metaphor, for the life certainly of a woman (but then of men too?), lives imprisoned in the worlds around them, bourgeois marriage, bourgeois professions, everything that looms above & around us, ‘inescapably.” — Andreas Weiland, Filmmaker’s Co-op


PROGRAM THREE
KASKARA. 1974. 21 min.
BEUYS. 1981. 11min. Co-directed with Werner Nekes.
BLINDMAN’S BALL. 1989. 35 min.
Total running time: 71 min.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15 – 10:00 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 20 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25 – 7:30 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

KASKARA retains the freedom that marked ALASKA’s underside, with little-to-none of the nausea – but the film additionally “builds” on the questions of kinship and memory haunting O.’s earlier work via its exercised myopia, making it a game of pictures: how many ways can one look at a house (including views outside from within)? If KALDALON mediated its images by their means of acquisition – the airplane, the car, the boat, the river, the screen – KASKARA is content to divide and unite the same constituent fields of preexisting space, all but exhorting viewers to do the same while contemplating their own surroundings (domestic or otherwise).

BLINDMAN’S BALL again implements the glassy refractions of O.’s early work, using the filmmaker’s signature double-exposures as discrete narrative idioms unto themselves. The appearance of a front-projected “screen” for memories within the bigger frame is a form of vindication for the nameless victim and his nurse. Other reminiscences are stirred into tactility by unexpected turns in whatever exists of the film’s drama, so the tearing of a piece of fabric guides the eponymous Blindman into a queasy reverie about childhood haircuts. If this is O.’s bleakest work yet, it’s also the most resplendent in its rear-view on internalized trauma and repressed memory, assigning specific colors and optical procedures to the kinds of haptic memories rarely distilled into the moving image.

“KASKARA is less a synthetic than an antithetical work: it poses the window as the way out, as a promise of space and peace. Each half, in a play of reflections and multiple exposures, seems to be an echo of the other.” — Dominique Noguez, L’art Vivant, February 1975

“Beuys speaks about his conception of art for ten minutes with his face pointed at the wall, his back to the camera. This radical, simple form appears fully adequate for the film’s topic. There were, however, vociferous protests by the audience…The question appears to be mainly of a rhetorical nature, in which way Beuys could have come closer to meeting its subject’s works. More briefly, more precisely, unelaborated does not seem to be possible – a great artistic film.”Info-Medium, 1981


PROGRAM FOUR
CANDIDA. 1991. 45 mins.
XOANAN. 1994. 11 mins.
EYE-STEP. 2000. 25 mins.
Total running time: 81 min.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 7 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28 – 5:00 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Perhaps O.’s most expansive production yet, CANDIDA is an adaptation of Frans Masereel’s 1920 woodcut-novel “The Idea”. The story concerns the form of a woman (Jara Bernardes) – whether she’s concocted from scratch like Maria in Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS, or merely raised in darkness, remains open to interpretation – thrown from her prison-like domicile, only to make a crazed sprint for the city. O. introduces her eponymous heroine first as an object of patriarchal lust: naked in a glass reflection, painted over – literally! – one brush-stroke at a time by her scraggly-haired creator. Next we see him facing a wall, which the film transforms into a window with its next cut: a handheld perspective out a high-up apartment building. The frame tilts sideways, upside-down, pans down to the street and back up to the brick structure, as if weighing the camera’s own sense of gravity against its dizzying surroundings. O. cuts back to the wall/window, but this time with a superimposition of Candida hanging over the “edge” – again, these filmic devices leave much to the viewer’s imagination – arms flailing in slow motion.

Exterior, again: the image de-escalates from one floor to the next in a soothing drop, and cuts back to the now-completed superimposition: overladen with the sound of a cartoonish slide whistle, Candida flails her limbs, the camera pirouetting around her, and we realize we’re watching Bernardes wriggle, prostrate, on a floor someplace. Bound by rising and falling synthesizer leitmotifs, her story is told almost entirely in these kinds of stripped-down, exploded modernist tableaux. Swallowed and spit out by the cityscape (embodied in both swarms of rapacious dudes, and transient location footage from Hamburg/Paris/Bahia/Vienna/NYC), Candida finds solace ultimately in the multiplication of her own image – not merely persisting, but ultimately dominating. As ever, O.’s forever loosening and tightening multiple exposures carry their attendant compositions far beyond simple equations of montage.

More description-defying still is XOANAN, O.’s portrait of the painter Afrane Adje Twumm. Fabric finds another onscreen metaphor for the plastic arts, wherein bodies and walls are draped in cloth, doubling back on the hazy double-projected daydreams of ALASKA. O. trains her camera on a body of water as it passes the promenade, capturing idling youths and passing families as specks of silhouette crossing the film’s unnamed territory, bound only by rocks at the screen’s bottom and the sky above. EYE-STEP – the latest work in the program – traces a series of forever-winding staircases like liminal excerpts from an endless memory-spool, asking the viewer which spaces their eyes may have taken for granted along the ambling path. Scored to a lilting, plaintive accordion tango with no apparent beginning, middle or end, the frame tiptoes from suicidally vertiginous to borderline-sacrosanct in the space of a few beats, before circling back to retrace its steps yet again.

FRANS ZWARTJES’ MEDEA

FRANS ZWARTJES’ MEDEA
Dir. Frans Zwartjes, 1982.
Netherlands. 46 min.
In Dutch with English subtitles.

also screening:

FRAGMENTS
Dir. Frans Zwartjes, various.
Netherlands. 9 min.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4 – 8:00 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

All images courtesy of EYE Filmmuseum.

Spectacle Theater is excited to host a screening of Frans Zwartjes’ lost classic MEDEA, introduced by Zwartjes’ collaborator and producer, Schtinter.

Unseen since 1989, when it was screened in New York by Susan Sontag, MEDEA is Frans Zwartjes’ adaptation of Euripides’ tragedy, originally produced for stage by the actresses Josee Ruiter and Canci Geraerdts. This is one of several screenings in the U.S.A. through February, presenting a newly restored copy of the film, in association with purge.xxx and EYE Filmmuseum.

Zwartjes is largely known for the stream of voyeuristic, sexually charged and hugely influential experimental films he made in the 1960s and 70s. Hailed by Susan Sontag as “the most important experimental filmmaker of his generation,” Zwartjes is also a painter, craftsman and musician: a polymath who defies categorization.

The feature will be preceded by ‘film fragments’ (FRAGMENTS), a selection of never-before-seen cinema sketches by Zwartjes, and soundtracked by recent purge.xxx releases of Zwartjes’ music (copies of The Teacher and Zwartjes X Schtinter will be available on the night).

Schtinter is an independent filmmaker and programmer based in Athens and London. He works with “film as liberating application in the margins in search of the proper world,” and can be found at http://purge.xxx

ANTI-VALENTINE’S 2016

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This February, join us in celebrating ANTI-VALENTINE’S: a salute to all the things that make love so awful.



THE BURNING CRUCIBLE w/ live score by Stephanie Neptune
aka Le Brasier Ardent
Dir. Ivan Mosjoukine, 1923.
France. 96 min.
In French with English subtitles.

** One night only! **

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27 – 10:00 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

“One day, I saw Le Brasier Ardent. The audience howled and whistled, shocked by a film so different from their usual fare. I was ecstatic…I decided to abandon my trade, ceramics, to try to make films.” – Jean Renoir

Too surreal to be straightforward romance, too sweet and sentimental to be anything but, silent oddity THE BURNING CRUCIBLE combines French amour-fou with Russian mystical melancholy in this tale of a detective who falls in love with the ‘lost wife’ he’s honor-bound to return to her doting husband.

The only directorial feature by Russian star Ivan Mosjoukine (who also wrote and played 11 different roles in the film), THE BURNING CRUCIBLE reflects the unique synthesis that made Mosjoukine himself so popular in his adopted country. Described by one admirer as ‘the subtle alchemist of passion and pain’, here he plays famous detective ‘Z’, who haunts the dreams of young wife Elle (played by Mosjoukine’s real-life wife Nathalie Lissenko). Elle and her husband, a doting, wealthy businessman, have grown apart. Tormented by jealous visions, the husband chases her through the streets of Paris in a scene worthy of Buster Keaton, accidentally stumbling into a unique detective agency dedicated to finding lost items – including the affection of wives. Unwittingly hiring the very man Elle’s dreamt of, he puts Z on the case, but in trying to discover the root of Elle’s apathy, Z uncovers a shared passion for Paris and a growing attraction to the lively young woman.

All this takes place on sets far too large for the human scale, amid truly bizarre set pieces including a dance contest literally to the death, a secret society with rooms of disembodied organs, and the swankest bedroom in Paris. Less ‘anti-‘ and more valentine to the bittersweetness of falling in love,THE BURNING CRUCIBLE’s earnestness is constantly tempered by a hefty dose of surreal humor.

In the same spirit, Spectacle presents the film with live score by DJ Stephanie Neptune (aka SPACE JAM). Having opened for everyone from Kode9 to Laurel Halo to Robert Hood as a resident at TURRBOTAX®, she now runs CLEAR USA, a record label dedicated to releasing subterranean electronic music from between the coasts.

 

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SUBMISSION
aka Scandalo
Dir. Salvatore Samperi, 1976
Italy. 102 min.
In Italian with English subtitles.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1 – 10:00 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22 – 10:00 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

[WARNING: Contains simulated scenes of sexual degradation and statutory rape.]

France, 1940: Right before the Nazis invade… a pharmacist named Elaine (Lisa Gastoni) trapped in a dull marriage has her desires sharply re-awakened when her store’s shopboy Armand (Franco Nero) mistakenly gropes her, thinking it was the younger shopgirl. Instead of firing Armand, Elaine allows the groping to happen again.

Soon enough, Elaine enters into a heavy sado-masochistic relationship with him, in which Armand continually upps the ante regarding dominance and humiliation. The more he pushes, the more control she loses. Once nude public shaming, knives, and ether sniffing enter the picture, there’s no turning back, and the film careens wildly towards a nihilistic, apocalyptic conclusion.

Italian director Salvatore Samperi made a career out of erotic films, mostly in the ‘Italian sex comedy’ sub genre. His dramatic works, however, are complex studies of unusual sexual relationships. SUBMISSION is, by far, his most intense and disturbing, with the historical backdrop acting as a political allegory and heightening the film’s subversive power.

“Dynamic!… Spectacular! Sex is used as a lethal weapon. A unique display of erotic fireworks!” –Playboy

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LES BICHES
aka Bad Girls.
Dir. Claude Chabrol, 1968
France. 94 min.
In French with English subtitles.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8 – 10:00 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26 – 10:00 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

The bored bisexual millionaire Frédérique (Stéphane Audran) picks up a homeless young street artist named Why (Jacqueline Sassard), invites her back to her apartment, and seduces her. Frédérique then whisks her away to her chic villa in Saint-Tropez for the winter season. They soon meet the dashing architect Paul (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and both fall for him, setting in motion a ‘ménage à trois’ of flirtation and deception…

Featuring knockout performances and sumptuous cinematography, LES BICHES is a showcase of Claude Chabrol’s trademark tension and atmosphere. While a tortured lesbian relationship is certainly scandalous material, Chabrol telegraphs a controlled but still sexually charged approach that elicits a stylish, icy eroticism.

Often referred to as the film that kickstarted Chabrol’s golden age, LES BICHES is a hypnotic tapestry of jealousy, possession, and sexual ambiguity.

“… a moody, quiet, highly personal expression.” -Roger Ebert

“A calm, exquisite study… Impeccably performed, often bizarrely funny, the film winds, with brilliant clarity, through a maze of shadowy emotions to a splendidly Grand-Guignolesque ending.” -Time Out London

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BEHINDERT
Dir. Stephen Dwoskin, 1974
Germany. 94 min.
In German with English subtitles.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 7 – 5:00 PM
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12 – 10:00 PM
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24 – 10:00 PM

Part of the Best of Best of Spectacle series.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Special thanks to The Estate of Stephen Dwoskin

Described by Stephen Dwoskin as “a documentary without being one,” the basis of BEHINDERT is autobiographical: the story of a physically disabled man and a physically normal woman- played by Dwoskin (who has a post-polio disability) and Carola Regnier- who confront the difficulties of a relationship. The two were no longer a couple at the time Dwoskin made the film, yet it burns with the passion and intensity of true love.

With minimal dialogue and a stirring drone score by Gavin Bryars, Dwoskin uses extended takes and extreme close-ups of Regnier’s eyes, feet, hands, and face to create a sustained, hypnotic atmosphere that is simply unparalleled.

An intimate, unsentimental and haunting evocation of desire.

OFFICIAL SELECTION – 1974 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL – DIRECTOR’S FORTNIGHT

“Nothing short of a revelation… this is Dwoskin’s masterpiece. Indeed, I have come to regard it as one of the greatest works in cinema history… BEHINDERT remains Dwoskin’s most daring and artistically successful attempt to splice his “first person” mode of cinema with a staged fiction—creating a kind of cubistic complexity from the constantly shuffled perspectives. The ‘fourth look’ which Willemen intuited – not exactly the look of the characters, the spectator, or even the camera-eye, but some other, more forbidding look, like the gaze of society itself – hovers over the interstices between these images, these tableaux, these scenes from a relationship. From a film-history standpoint, Dwoskin’s breakthrough here is prophetic. Anticipating the ongoing novelistic autobiography of Philippe Garrel’s work since the 1980s, BEHINDERT plays a thrilling, almost vampiric game with the proximity of real-life experience to its fictive recreation—especially as its principals are the actual former lovers!” -Film Quarterly

“The mere mention of a film concerned with the subject of physical disability conjures up preconceived notions and images as to the type of film it is. It is put aside as a medical/social document of little importance, particularly by film people who think of films as ‘political,’ ‘narrative,’ ‘entertainment,’ ‘poetic,’ or ‘structural.’ This film is about the physically normal and disabled in confrontation, but not literal relations. It is a documentary without being one. The content lies beneath the film. The material is treated subjectively, and crosses fiction with realistic documents, without a clear distinction.” -Stephen Dwoskin

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THE RED SQUIRREL
aka La Ardilla Roja
Dir. Julio Médem, 1993.
Spain. 114 min.
In Spanish with English subtitles.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6 – 10:00 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14 – 5:00 PM
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19 – 10:00 PM

Part of the Best of Best of Spectacle series.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

A bruising satire of pop musicianship more than a little indebted to the Hitchcockian identity-swap, THE RED SQUIRREL is a painfully unsung masterpiece, maybe the pinnacle of Julio Médem’s white-hot 1990s streak (beginning with COWS in 1991 and culminating in the more famous SEX AND LUCIA a decade later.) On the verge of taking his own life, a grunge musician named Jota (Nancho Novo) witnesses a motorcycle accident on the beach, suddenly tasking himself with helping coax Lisa (Emma Suarez) – a beyond-voluptuous blonde – out of her thick fog of amnesia. The two strike up a romance based just as much on his lies as their latent (and undeniable) chemistry; they hit the road in matching leather outfits, and cozily absorb themselves into a suburban family’s vacation at a gossipy campsite – the nominal Ardilla Roja, in a region between Basque country and Castile.

Long before Lisa has taken to donning herself in a sleevelss tee with nothing on it but a gigantic xerox of Jota’s face, things have gotten weird. A mysterious stranger from the past inevitably threatens to upend Jota’s reprieve from real life, and soon you’ll realize the film has begun – without asking permission – to peel back the membranes separating memories from dreams, and dreams from desires. Anchored by the meticulous, insinuating performances of Novo and Suarez, THE RED SQUIRREL is a serpentine head trip with erotic frisson to spare – one of the sharpest and most vivid un-romances to ever hit the big screen. (Bonus factoid: legend has it this film had Stanley Kubrick recommending Médem to Steven Spielberg for the job of directing THE MASK OF ZORRO, which the Spanish auteur duly declined.)


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LES SAIGNANTES
Aka The Blood-lettes
Dir. Jean Pierre Bekolo, 2005.
Cameroon. 97 min.
In French with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5 – 10:00 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13 – 10:00 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28 – 7:30 PM

Part of the Best of Best of Spectacle series.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

LES SAIGNANTES is the best African sci-fi vampire political satire with homoerotic overtones you’ve ever seen. Best friends Majolie and Chouchou are two beautiful young women trying to get ahead in a near-future Cameroon. After accidentally killing a powerful politician during sex, the two come up with a plot to dispose of the body, and get into the glamorous wakes that have taken over the local nightlife.

As the girls tear their way through the corrupt ruling class, using their their feminine wiles and magical powers, Bekolo drops inter-titles into the film, commenting on the difficulties of filmmaking in an oppressive political climate. With a feminist subtext and cinematography like a blacklight rave, LES SAIGNANTES is a beautiful, disorienting, and truly original work.


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THE MONSTER AND THE STRIPPER
(Aka The Exotic Ones)
Dir. Ron Ormond, 1968.
USA. 91 min.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6 – MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 20 – MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26 – MIDNIGHT

Part of the Best of Best of Spectacle series.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE 

Any attempt at classing up this sleazy 60s gem stopped with its original title, THE EXOTIC ONES, and even that failed as it switched to the more accurate THE MONSTER AND THE STRIPPER on rerelease. With a lot more stripper than monster, this film is pure 60s trash GOLD, and the last made before director Ron Ormond turned toward moralizing Christian fare.

What a film to go out on though – beginning with a gloriously overlong open call for “talent” at a “New Orleans” burlesque joint (actually a claustrophobically-shot Methodist Church), we’re treated to a bevy of beauties featuring star dancer Titania (I couldn’t make this up) and her famous Fire Dance strutting their stuff to the running Dada commentary of the film’s co-producer and wife of Ron Ormond, June Carr.

Ormond himself plays demented Tony Clifton doppleganger/club owner Nemo, first seen torturing a man foolish enough to steal his money with the contents of a spittoon. Word reaches Nemo a monster’s been murdering hillbillies in the swamps of Louisiana, and Titania suggests a Beauty and The Beast act with the beast ripping off all her clothes. NO OTHER ACT will do, and Nemo finds himself in the monster-hunting business. With a team led by son Tim Ormond (a trifecta of Nashville’s First Family of Film!) they wander into the swamps and capture the beast, played by rockabilly also-ran Sleepy LaBeef (dare I say the Meatloaf of rockabilly?).

Back at the club, Little Timmy befriends the monster, who in turn falls for one of Titania’s new dance rivals. The whole town is abuzz and eager to see the Monster and the Stripper, but will the show go off without a hitch? Of course not.

For all the supposed sleaze, this exploitation film doesn’t feel exploitive – it’s a bizarro family affair where nothing makes a lick of sense, but everyone’s having a damn fine time onscreen. SEE a man get beaten with his own arm! WATCH a couple play dueling oversized harmonicas! MARVEL at hair and eye makeup that would make Divine puke with jealousy! HEAR dialogue that sounds like it was written with Noir Cliché refrigerator magnets! WITNESS – THE MONSTER AND THE STRIPPER! (and a lot of other strippers too)

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BEST OF SPECTACLE MIDNIGHTS 2015

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 8: LOVE ME DEADLY
SATURDAY, JANUARY 9: THE VAN

FRIDAY, JANUARY 15: DEVILHELM
SATURDAY, JANUARY 16: LOVE ME DEADLY

FRIDAY, JANUARY 22: NEON CITY
SATURDAY, JANUARY 23: DEVILHELM

FRIDAY, JANUARY 29: THE SHINING BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS



LOVE ME DEADLY
Dir. Jacque Lacerte, 1972
USA, 95 min.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 8 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, JANUARY 16 – MIDNIGHT

“A beautiful child woman doomed to love only the dead!”

Before Karen Greenlee’s mortuary escapades there was “Love Me Deadly,” the story of Lindsay Finch and her lust for the dead! Ms. Finch is a beautiful California blonde who cruises funerals looking for her next lover. Alas, there are only so many funeral homes in LA, a beautiful woman in provocative mourning attire is sure to be noticed. Lucky for Lindsay she catches the eye of a funeral director who just happens to be the leader of a necrophiliac sex cult! Will Lindsay give into lust or will a chance reading of an obituary lead her to true love?

LOVE ME DEADLY is a sweet and gruesome film made delightfully perverse by its usage of romantic ballads and upbeat songs as a soundtrack. Its juxaposition of soap opera style flash-backs and embalming tables is absolutely sickening in the best possible way. Watch out for the extras in the first funeral scene, they were all members of the original Church of Satan.


THE VAN
Dir. Sam Grossman, 1977
USA, 92 min.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 9 – MIDNIGHT

Later retitled CHEVY VAN to make the most of the Sammy Johns song in the soundtrack (despite the fact that the van in the film is a Dodge), THE VAN was the second of the Marimark Pictures series (the first being last year’s Superchick). Stuart Goetz (who later went on to a long career in film music; he won a daytime Emmy for his work on ALF!) plays Bobby, a red-blooded red-headed Californian who wants nothing more than to graduate high school and invest his life savings in his brand-new custom van, the (ahem) Straight Arrow. Bobby’s desperate attempts to turn himself into a van guy and find decadent imbroglios by the moonlit Pacific are not as easy as he hoped; between his increasingly complicated nature of his relationship with Tina (Deborah White — both White and Goetz would go on to be in the brain-rot epic Record City), the bad advice of his best buddy Jack (Harry Moses) and his boss Andy (Danny DeVito!), not to mention the constant bullying from local thug Dugan (Steven Oliver, who we’ll meet again later in this series) — how the hell is Bobby supposed to do any FUN TRUCKIN’? Van expos, boneheaded pranks, drunk driving, tasteful plot-required nude scenes — no, this is not a hidden gem of west coast cinema verite’, it’s a drive-in movie about vans, and that’s all right with me.


NEON CITY
Dir. Monte Markham, 1991
USA, 101 min.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 22 – MIDNIGHT

“Take a deep breath: it may be your last.”

As the dust settles from Mad Max: Fury Road, some of us here at Spectacle figured it was time to blow the dust off of Monte Markham’s high (but technically running-on-low) octane dystopian action disasterpiece NEON CITY, starring the one and only Michael Ironside. Tasked with transporting a gorgeous prisoner (Vanity – yes, that Vanity) across a frozen desert hellscape via overcrowded megabus, Ironside’s flinty-eyed and ponytailed bounty hunter Stark gets bumped into by it all: motorcycle gangs of mutants, cannibals, gearheads, a pissed-off ex-wife and a bus driver nicknamed “Bulk” – played by Oakland Raider Lyle Alzado, who died a year after reaching Neon City – who he personally sent to prison for five years. Spellbinding chase sequences as needless post-oxygen hijinks ensue long before the inevitable Wizard of Oz-xeroxing conclusion.

BEST OF BEST OF SPECTACLE

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Each year in December or January, Spectacle selects some of our favorite films that we’ve shown over the past 12 months for our “Best of Spectacle” series. This year we are starting a new tradition; to celebrate Spectacle’s first five years in existence, we will present some of our favorite discoveries from past installments of “Best of Spectacle” and feature them each month throughout 2016 as part of “Best of Best of Spectacle”.

As we look forward to our next five years, Spectacle would like to acknowledge the audiences, artists and distributors who have pitched in their support, vision and feedback. Thank you for five brilliant years!

October: Bakeneko: Spirit of Vengeance / The Snow Woman
September: Viy / Head Against the Wall
August: Women in Revolt / Riddles of the Sphinx / Extreme Private Eros
July
: Naked Killer Dorothea’s Revenge Boxer
June: Don’t Deliver Us from Evil / School of the Holy Beast / Der Fan
May: Go Down Death / Digital Man / The Killing of America / Death Promise
April: Hawk Jones / Little Marines
March: Final Flesh / Magic of the Universe / Marquis / Themroc
February: Les Saignantes / Behindert / The Monster and the Stripper / The Red Squirrel / Offshore TV
January: Panelstory / The Shining Backwards and Forwards and Inwards and Outwards in High Definition Anaglyph 3D / Devilhelm


THE SNOW WOMAN
aka Kaidan Yukijorô
Dir. Tokuzô Tanaka, 1968
Japan, 79 min.
In Japanese with English subtitles

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1 – 5:00 PM
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, OCTOBER 17 – 10:00 PM

GET YOUR TICKETS!

The story of Yuki-Onna, the Snow Woman, who kills any man who sets his eyes upon her, is best-known to western audiences as one of the segments in Masaki Kobayashi’s 1965 portmanteau horror classic KWAIDAN. Made just three years later, Tokuzô Tanaka’s poetic and haunting feature-length interpretation adheres to the basic outline of the folk tale (which is also referenced in Kurosawa’s DREAMS), infusing it with added emotional depth and political subtext and one-upping Kobayashi’s version with some truly inspired and terrifying set-pieces.

Shigetomo, a master sculptor, and his apprentice Yosaku set out for the Mino Mountains to find the suitable wood from which to carve the Buddhist statue for the state temple. Caught in a blizzard, they take refuge in a hut, where the Snow Woman finds them asleep. She murders the sculptor but, struck by Yosaku’s “youth and beauty”, impulsively decides to spare him if he promises to never tell anybody what he witnessed. He returns safely to his village but soon falls in love with a new arrival named Yuki, who is really the Snow Woman disguised as a human.


BAKENEKO: A VENGEFUL SPIRIT (aka THE CURSED SWAMP)
Dir. Yoshihiro Ishikawa, 1968
Japan, 86 min.
In Japanese with English subtitles.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 9 – 5:00 PM
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, OCTOBER 31 – 7:30 PM

GET YOUR TICKETS!

Lord Nabeshima, who rose to power by murdering his master, demands that the young Yujiki become his concubine. When she refuses to submit, he murders her and her fiance Yuki. Yujiki’s cat consumes her blood and becomes her avenging spirit, possessing one of Nabeshima’s wives and murdering his vassals, his concubines and his only son.

Ishikawa was one of the writers of BLACK CAT MANSION, and though he directed few films, Bakeneko displays directorial genius. Beginning in a quietly haunting vein reminiscent of UGETSU, BAKENEKO descends into a nightmarish parade of splattered blood, decapitations and ghosts gnawing on severed limbs.


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VIY
Dir. Konstantin Yershov and Georgi Kropachyov, 1967.
Soviet Union. 78 minutes.
In Russian with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2 – 10:00PM
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 -10:00PM
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 – 7:30PM
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 – 7:30PM

GET YOUR TICKETS!

A young student must pray for 3 days over the body of a recently deceased woman – believed to be a witch – while her restless spirit and a gang of ghouls temp, prod, and terrorize him to no end. Based on the story (also called Viy) by Nikolai Gogol, the film boasts some excellent effects work and a beautiful score.


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HEAD AGAINST THE WALL
(aka LA TETE CONTRE LES MURS)
Dir. Georges Franju, 1959.
France. 95 min.
In French with English subtitles.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4 – 7:30PM
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 – 7:30PM
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 – 10:00PM

GET YOUR TICKETS!

Anouk Aimee. Charles Aznavour. A shimmering black motorcycle jacket. Georges Franju’s Head Against The Wall taps into cinema’s inherent attractions but renders its own utterly untenable, less a cautionary tale than a smoldering portrait of loss. Behind the gates of a countryside sanitorium lives young Francois (future filmmaker Jean-Pierre Mocky), the hotheaded son of a stuffy lawyer – a wild one in the Brando tradition on the outside, bored to sedation within. Francois knows he’s sane, but while waiting for this latest convulsion of The System to pass, all he can do is look at the people around him – and now, without the comfort of his on-and-off girlfriend Stéphanie (Aimee), his visage isn’t pretty.

Blessed with the same magisterial stillness and dark beauty that gave Eyes Without A Face its inimitable power, Franju’s feature debut is both straightforward and serpentine. The screenplay (adapted from a Herve Bazin novel) posits man’s place in society as anything but certain; as Francois seeks validation from parties neutral to his domineering father, his individuality seems to vanish. What develops is not a critique of doctors or hospitals, but instead of French paternalism at large. Under the heel of a society founded on class expectations, Francois doesn’t lose his freedom so much as he realizes it never existed in the first place.

“He seeks the madness behind reality because it is for him the only way to rediscover the true face of reality behind this madness… Let us say that Franju demonstrates the necessity of Surrealism if one considers it as a pilgrimage to the sources. And Head Against The Wall proves that he is right.” – Jean-Luc Godard, Cahiers du Cinema

“Whether it’s the weird, eerily erotic gaze of a female inmate or a strange gathering of doves or a cityscape by night that seems as dank and claustrophobic as the asylum walls themselves, Franju’s mastery and palpable adoration of effect is ever evident.” – Glenn Kenny, The Auteurs



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WOMEN IN REVOLT
Dir. Paul Morrissey, 1971.
USA, 97 min.
In English.

MONDAY, AUGUST 8 – 10:00 PM
SUNDAY, AUGUST 14 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, AUGUST 19 – 5:00 PM

Featuring Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, Holly Woodlawn and Jane Forth. With music by John Cale.

What do you mean “Come down off the trapeze and into the sawdust”? That’s circus talk.

Three of the most indelible transgender icons of all time play militant feminists in this incredible film, which is so much more than parody. Jackie Curtis and Holly Woodlawn have had it with men and their foul ways, so they join a militant feminist organization called PIG (Politically Involved Girls). Candy Darling is a wealthy socialite from Park Avenue (or Long Island – they can’t keep it straight) who they draw into the group to give it legitimacy, but it turns out that she’s having an incestuous relationship with her brother. Regardless, the three quickly become enemies: “I could just plunge a knife right into her back.” “Oh no, it’s too bloody!” “Well, I could do it and just not look.” Holly Woodlawn becomes a Bowery bum and Jackie Curtis can’t stop hiring male prostitutes, while Candy becomes a famous actress: “I’m sick of incest and lesbianism. I’m ready for Hollywood.”

After Women in Revolt previewed on 59th Street, it was protested by a feminist organization, who mistook the film for a caricature of feminism rather than a caricature of the popular discourse around feminism, not to mention a caricature of traditional gender roles. Candy Darling reportedly declared, “Who do these dykes think they are anyway? Well, I just hope they all read Vincent Canby’s review in today’s Times. He said I look like a cross between Kim Novak and Pat Nixon. It’s true – I do have Pat Nixon’s nose.”



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RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX
Dir. Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen, 1977.
UK, 92 min.
In English.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 5 – 5:00 PM
SATURDAY, AUGUST 13 – 10:00 PM
THURSDAY, AUGUST 25 – 7:30 PM

Laura Mulvey, author of the seminal essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, helped to establish feminist film theory as a legitimate field of study. With Peter Wollen, she directed one of the most visually stimulating, theoretically rigorous films to emerge from the 1970s. RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX is a landmark fusion of feminism and formal experimentation that seeks to create a non-sexist film language. Its title figure, the legendary creature of antiquity, terrorized Thebes and self-destructed only after Oedipus correctly answered her riddle. Invoking and challenging traditional interpretations of the Oedipus story as a movement from matriarchal culture to patriarchal order, the film also probes representation in film itself. The central narrative section, about Louise, a middle-class woman, and her four-year-old daughter Ana, is an inquiry into the arbitrary nature of conventional film techniques that captures Louise’s struggles with motherhood in a patriarchal society. — Women Make Movies

Special thanks to Women Make Movies.



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EXTREME PRIVATE EROS: LOVE SONG 1974
Dir. Kazuo Hara, 1974.
Japan, 98 min.
In Japanese with English subtitles.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 4 – 10:00 PM
SUNDAY, AUGUST 21 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, AUGUST 30 – 10:00 PM

Shot over several years, EXTREME PRIVATE EROS: LOVE SONG 1974, a documentary about Hara’s ex-lover was a clarion call against a historically reserved Japanese culture. The film follows Miyuki Takeda, Hara’s ex and father of his son, as she navigates new relationships (first with a woman, and then with an American GI in Okinawa), raises her son, and explores life in 1970s Japan as an outspoken feminist. But the film isn’t just a portrait of the vulnerabilities of a radical feminist single mother, in a time when that wasn’t heard of; Miyuki often takes the opportunity of being filmed by her ex to let loose with what she really thinks about him as a partner, as a lover, and as a filmmaker.

As well as a portrait of two complicated, damaged people, the film is a portrait of Okinawa as a dysfunctional city, damaged by two decades of American military presence. Hara films the GI bars and the underage prostitutes that frequent the bars for business. Hara takes a detour into the life of a 14-year-old “Okinawa girl” Chichi, whose life converges and diverges from Miyuki’s story in intriguing ways.

Released around the same time as the groundbreaking PBS series An American Family (and predating the similarly-themed SHERMAN’S MARCH by a decade), EXTREME PRIVATE EROS takes a long, hard look at gender roles, romantic relationships, and what it means to be a family in 1970s Japan. Hara’s out-of-sync sound and hand-held photography are disorienting and intimate at the same time, giving the feel of an experimental film to a film with very real content. The results are bitter and sometimes hard to watch, but always compelling.

Special thanks to Tidepoint Films.


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NAKED KILLER
Dir. Clarence Fok Yiu-leung, 1992
Hong Kong, 93 min.
In Cantonese with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, JULY 1 – 10:00 PM
FRIDAY, JULY 8 – 5:00 PM
TUESDAY, JULY 12 – 10:00 PM
TUESDAY, JULY 19 – 10:00 PM

GET YOUR TICKETS!

A gleefully sleazy, over-the-top CAT III camp romp about dueling lesbian contract killers and the impotent policeman caught in the middle, NAKED KILLER is a joyous ode to all things (s)excessive.

Following a traumatic crime bust gone awry, Hong Kong cop Taninan can’t seem to perform in the line of duty or in the bedroom… until he meets the enchanting seductress/killer Kitty. Their tango is soon cut short by Sister Candy, a veteran assassin who snatches Kitty away and teaches her the ways of professional execution and how to tap into her sensual side. Almost just as quick, two of Sister Candy’s previous students show up to murder their former teacher, prompting an all-out lesbian assassin war.

With tongue planted firmly in-cheek, director Fok Yiu Leung crosses titillating eroticism with a strong sociological undercurrent denouncing male piggishness. But he also knows how to entertain, and wildly so: copious amounts of milk drinking, dick slicing, office shoot-’em-ups, underwater knife fights, and Skinemax soft-core lesbian playfulness all wrapped up in a engrossing amount of 90s neon bliss… it’s all here and then some.

This is the 1992 summer action blockbuster you deserve.

“Imagine the erotic world of Basic Instinct exaggerated into a kung-fu cartoon of sexy lesbian avengers executing quadruple leaping somersaults in a deadly assault against the opposite sex.” —The New York Times

“John Woo on acid… Naked Killer breaks Mach 5 within the first 10 minutes and never lets up. Bursting with colorful lighting, angles, and set pieces, it’s a panoply of Nineties sex and violence, decadence for decadence’s sake, with little moralizing thrown in. A genuine crowd-pleaser…” —The Austin Chronicle

“It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before… a stylized girlie graphic novelization of psycho hot babe killers as channeled through and re-imagined by Quentin Tarantino… Naked Killer is girl power gone gonzo, a geek’s wet dream doused with libido lightening messages about Chinese society’s misogyny.” —Pop Matters


DOROTHEA’S REVENGE
aka Dorotheas Rache
Dir. Peter Fleischmann, 1974
West Germany/France, 92 min.
In German with English subtitles

TUESDAY, JULY 5 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, JULY 11 – 10:00 PM
FRIDAY, JULY 22 – 10:00 PM
SATURADY, JULY 30 – 10:00 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

The shortlist of fans for Fleischmann’s sex satire is nothing to scoff at. Among its most ardent fans were several household names of European arthouse: Bernardo Bertolucci, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Claude Chabrol. Then there’s the post-surrealist group the Panic Movement (comprised of Fernando Arrabal, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Roland Topor) who liked the film so much that they even decided to bestow upon the film a little reward—the “prix du group panic.”

Dorothea is a 16-year old girl from Hamburg, brought up in a typical, bourgeois family. This changes one day when she comes down for breakfast and her parents find her completely disheveled—a Martian has just raped her. So begins Dorothea’s sex odyssey, as she seeks to understand her body and its various uses in an incereasingly consumerist society. The key to the film is that she approaches these question of sex with every ounce of naiveté common to a young girl. She tries to make softcore porn with her friends, and when that doesn’t work, she gives prostution a turn, and so on and so forth. There’s seemingly no end to this excursion.

Fleischmann proved that he could produce biting political commentary within the confines of fiction in HUNTING SCENES FROM BAVARIA. Eschewing the traditional narrative scaffolding and riding on the back of a sex wave in European cinema—Vilgot Sjöman’s I AM CURIOUS (YELLOW), Dušan Makavejev’s WR: MYSTERIES OF THE ORGANISM, and the films of Walerian Borowczyk are key predecessors—Fleischmann enlists a slew of experimental techniques, like having the characters routinely break the fourth wall and construing a hodge podge of stylistically contradictory scenes, from conversations with Christ on the cross to BDSM rituals. Moreover, humor is a constant presence, something that can’t be said for many of the period’s Eurotrash sexploitations. In one scene, there’s a shot of three men getting an erection, played to brassy, courtly music. It’s the promise of entertainment that gives an otherwise powerful political satire its enduring glow.


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BOXER
Dir. Shûji Terayama, 1977.
94 min. Japan.
In Japanese with English subtitles.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 13 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, JULY 23 – 10:00 PM
WEDNESDAY, JULY 27 – 10:00 PM

GET YOUR TICKETS!

Dense with glorious tints and nail-biting moments, Shûji Terayama’s Boxer pits avant-garde and crowd-pleaser sensibilities against each other with downright jugular results.

The story is old as sin: a withered ex-champion, fueled by bitterness and drink, takes a young drifter under his wing. In a society that rewards cowardice and conformity, the student’s values are shaken by his mentor’s discipline and focus, but it’s hard to tell if the retired boxer is steady, or just plain berserk.

Spectacle favorite Terayama (Pastoral, Emperor Tomato Ketchup), who wrote boxing commentary as a hobby between plays and movies, gives the story a dazzling palette and lightning swiftness, but also a necessary sense of respect for the body – and the weight of its punishment.


DON’T DELIVER US FROM EVIL
Dir. Joël Séria, 1971.
110 min. France.
In French with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, JUNE 3 – 10:00 PM
SUNDAY, JUNE 12 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY, JUNE 16 – 10:00 PM
MONDAY, JUNE 27 – 7:30 PM

GET YOUR TICKETS!

“Really about the obsessive nature of female friendship, of girls suffering a tedious, square world filled with hypocrisy and becoming hopped up by literature and the forbidden and hellfire and all the stuff that’s so intense when you’re 15, [DON’T DELIVER US FROM EVIL] is a fiendish paean to the freaky bad girl—girls who, when staring into that bland void would rather, quite literally, burn out than fade away.” —Kim Morgan, Sunset Gun

Special thanks to Pete Tombs and Mondo Macabro

Trigger warning: attempted sexual assault of a minor


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SCHOOL OF THE HOLY BEAST
Dir. Norifumi Suzuki, 1974.
91 min. Japan.
In Japanese with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, JUNE 3 – 5:00 PM
THURSDAY, JUNE 23 – 10:00 PM
MONDAY, JUNE 27 – 10:00 PM

GET YOUR TICKETS!

Special thanks to Nico B and Cult Epics.

Something foul is afoot at the Sacred Heart Convent, as Yumi Takigawa discovers after cloistering herself to search for traces of her mother, who had disappeared into the monastery years before. Once there, she becomes privy to dark secrets and sadistic games. In the hands of brilliant director Norifumi Suzuki, Sacred Heart is a wonderful and terrifying world of sensuality and violence rendered with masterful visual panache. Equally notorious for its exploitational extremes as its stunning artistry, School of the Holy Beast is a twisted rabbit hole of sin and vice that absolutely lives up to its legendary cult reputation.


DER FAN
Aka Trance.
Dir. Eckhart Schmidt, 1982.
Germany, 89 min.
In German with English subtitles.

TUESDAY, JUNE 7 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, JUNE 12 – 5:00 PM
FRIDAY, JUNE 24 – 10:00 PM

GET YOUR TICKETS!

Special thanks to Pete Tombs and Mondo Macabro.

In the wake of films like CHRISTIANE F., studies of displaced, dysfunctional German youth were a dime a dozen. However, the forerunner in the sweepstakes for the most memorable and disturbing entry would have to be DER FAN.

Like every other teenager in school, Simone has a crush on a rock star. When her idol, the lead singer ‘R’, comes to town to make a television appearance Simone is gripped by a trance-like state, leaving school, friends and parents behind her. However, when Simone comes to realize the shallow nature of the ‘glamorous’ music industry and of ‘R’ himself, she plans a calculated, ritualistic and bloody revenge on her obsession.

An unsettling blend of new wave pop culture, adolescent angst, and full-blooded horror, this nasty little art house shocker caught more than a few unsuspecting viewers off guard and earned a bit of a cult following in the process. Imagine a John Hughes film with Michael Haneke in the driver’s seat and you’re getting close…

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GO DOWN DEATH
Dir. Aaron Schimberg, 2013.
87 min. USA.

Village Voice Critics Pick!

SUNDAY, MAY 1 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, MAY 10 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY, MAY 19 – 10:00 PM
FRIDAY, MAY 27 – 10:00 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

In early 2014 Spectacle presented the first–and only?–narrative feature run of Aaron Schimberg’s staggering debut feature GO DOWN DEATH. Acclaimed as one of the most distinctive, visually stunning, and greatest undistributed films of 2013, it sits uneasily among rote indie festival programming. Naturally, we feel we make a great pair.

GO DOWN DEATH is a wry, sinister realization of a strange new universe, a cross-episodic melange of macabre folktales supposedly penned by the fictitious writer Jonathan Mallory Sinus. An abandoned warehouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, stands in for a decrepit village haunted by ghosts, superstition, and disease, while threatening to buckle under rumblings of the apocalypse. Soldiers are lost and found in endless woods, a child gravedigger is menaced by a shape-shifting physician, a syphilitic john bares all to a young prostitute, and a disfigured outcast yearns for the affections of a tone-deaf cabaret singer. Highlighted by offbeat narrative construction, stunning black-and-white 16mm cinematography, and immaculately detailed production design, GO DOWN DEATH is a distinctively original film informed by American Gothic, folk culture, and outsider art.

#1 Best Undistributed Film of 2013 —Christopher Bell, IndieWire’s The Playlist

AN ASTONISHING, OUT OF NOWHERE FILM. Amidst all the cookie-cutter indies, Aaron Schimberg’s Go Down Death casts a mysterious spell. A dreamy, highly stylized affair recalling early David Lynch. Highly recommended.” —Scott Macaulay, Filmmaker Magazine

A UNIQUE, STRANGE, UNFORGETTABLE FILM, a half-remembered dream that will trouble and beguile the subconscious long after you’ve moved on. (A-)” —Gabe Toro, IndieWire’s The Playlist

“One of the best films of the year! An uncompromising feast of vision and atmosphere.” —Kentucker Audley, NoBudge

“Robert Altman meets Tod Browning…an immaculate, offbeat triumph. Rarely do homespun independent filmmakers convey such a distinctly original vision.” —Jon Dieringer, Screen Slate

“Irresistible! Evokes the great novels of William Faulkner, even as Go Down Death offers us a resolutely modern filmic experience. Schimberg appropriates the language of cinema and obeys only the rules he sets out for himself. The result is a thrilling leap into the unknown.” —Simon Laperrière, Fantasia

“Go Down Death is as eccentric and daring as American indie cinema gets.” —Matthew Campbell, Starz Denver

Distributed by Factory 25


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DIGITAL MAN
Dir. Philip J. Roth, 1995.
Nevada. 91 min.
In English.

FRIDAY, MAY 13 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, MAY 28 – MIDNIGHT

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Hot on the heels of 2013’s sold-out screenings of Richard J. Pepin’s Hologram Man, Spectacle offers up this late-night cyberwar curio fielded from the pixelated precipice between Atari and The Matrix. Starring an Altmanesque corps of noteworthy surnames, Philip Roth’s Digital Man concerns a glitch in national security so cruel, it’d be divine if it weren’t so damn digital: a time-traveling supercyborg touches down in the small-town Southwest just in time to hijack an apocalypse’s worth of nuclear launch codes.

Fresh off a realm too insane in its violence and punishment for mere humans  to enter, the Digital Man must be stopped – and it’s up to a motley crue of wisecracking heavyweights (some military experts, some shotgun-toting salt of the earth) to take him out, analog style. Tons and tons and tons and tons of fireball explosions (replete with slo-mo backflips and brutal, spaghetti-worthy shootouts) ensue, culminating in one night you can’t merely “attend” while on your laptop.

Digital Man is a very entertaining movie, with good acting, excellent photography and outstanding F/X. It does suffer from a mediocre script however. A very good, overall effort from a bunch of actors who fall  into the category of “where have I seen them before?” A rating of 8 out of 10 was given. – VCRanger, IMDB

lets get down to brass tax where can we get this movie someone upload cmon it cant be ilegal look at it buying it would be a magor crime – Jamie Mcfayden, YouTube

I’ve seen Digital man almost a decade ago when it came to video. My dad rented me this movie to watch over the weekend since he was leaving with my mom. I loved it so much that I’ve watched it five or six times in 48 hours !!! – thebigmovieguy, IMDB

Don’t just settle for T2 ,experience this equal ,yet lower budget Sci-Fi action outing,with martial arts giant Matthias Hues in the lead. – “A Customer”, Amazon

I rented this when it came out on video. I remember thinking the special effects and costumes were pretty cool back then. And in the early-to-mid-1990s computer animation was a novelty, so that added to the movie’s appeal. (And back then CGI looked cooler with those smooth surfaces.) – felicity4711, YouTube


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THE KILLING OF AMERICA
Dir. Sheldon Renan & Leonard Schrader, 1982
USA, 90 min.

TUESDAY, MAY 10 – 10:00 PM
MONDAY, MAY 16 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, MAY 27 – 7:30 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

ALL OF THE FILM YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE IS REAL. NOTHING HAS BEEN STAGED.

So begins the 1982 shockumentary THE KILLING OF AMERICA, a film that, even among its mondo movie contemporaries, stands out as one of the grimmest and most infamous films ever produced. So much so, in fact, that to this day it remains effectively unreleased in The United States.

If violence is the disease, then THE KILLING OF AMERICA is the microscope. Compiled almost entirely from news broadcasts, security camera footage, etc, THE KILLING OF AMERICA chronicles nearly every major violent incident of the era, from the JFK assassination onward. The America presented here is land characterized by widespread burnout and disillusionment. Add to that the increasing pervasiveness of the mass media, as well as an obscene overabundance of firearms, and you are left with a sobering portrait of a sick society, in which insanity and paranoia breed easily. Meanwhile, three decades later…

Directed by Sheldon Renan & Leonard Schrader (brother of Paul Schrader), and featuring a noteworthy narration by voiceover master Chuck Riley.


DEATH PROMISE
Dir. Robert Warmflash, 1977
USA, 95 min.

FRIDAY, MAY 27 – MIDNIGHT

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

After the murder of his father, a young vigilante targets a cabal of extremely corrupt landlords and their army of henchmen to restore justice in a city gone mad.

The holy spawn of DEATH WISH and ENTER THE DRAGON, DEATH PROMISE is a kung-fu revenge epic set against a sweltering Manhattan backdrop that features the greediest landlords ever put on film, a Kung Fu master living upstate, bags of hungry rats tied to heads, defenestrations, street fights, rooftop fights and a soundtrack that brings the FUNK from a band calling themselves Opus.


Hawk Jones
Dir. Richard Lowry, 1986.
USA, 88 min.
In English.

SATURDAY, APRIL 2 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, APRIL 16 – MIDNIGHT
SUNDAY, APRIL 24 – 7:30 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Part of the Children on Fire series.

Minitropolis is under siege by gangster Antonio Coppola, whose reach extends throughout the city, all the way to the police department, where the Chief of Police does everything in his power to aid Coppola and thwart the one person who can rid the city of this scourge once and for all – HAWK JONES! Against all odds, Hawk uses an arsenal of weapons to take down Coppola’s army of thugs and anyone who stands in the way of justice.

We should mention the average age of the cast is eight years old.

Those of you expecting Disneyfied goofs should beware – this is a film well in line with shoot-em-all 80s action. There’s no mugging to the camera, no soapy morality lessons, no relentless merchandising. What you do get is Uzi-toting shootouts, crooked cops, milk-slinging speakeasies and a hero more in line with Fred Williamson than Fred Rogers. In other words, perfect for Spectacle!


Little Marines
Dir. A. J. Hixon, 1991.
USA, 87 min.
In English.

FRIDAY, APRIL 1 – MIDNIGHT
SUNDAY, APRIL 24 – 5:00 PM
SATURDAY, APRIL 30 – MIDNIGHT

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Part of the Children on Fire series.

Awkwardly shot like a pervert peeking on these kids in the woods, A.J. Hixon’s LITTLE MARINES is the story of three turds that go camping. It’s not really an adventure film since it is mostly just a series of mishaps and fuck-ups and offers no resolutions to these kids problems. Most famous for its really long shaving scene featured at the Found Footage Film Festival, LITTLE MARINES has many more precious moments including bizarre flashbacks to their friend who died of cancer, a cool dude that tries to give them a handful of joints, a not so cool dude that is probably a child molester, a bully that has a gun, and a moment when the fatty admits that his father never said he loved him and the fatty’s friends say nothing. Its what you can expect from good ol’ Christian entertainment.

For this screening, the Spectacle will be screening the VHS tape that features the original music they probably couldn’t get the rights to when it came out on DVD!


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FINAL FLESH
Dir. Vernon Chatman
USA, 71 min.

TUESDAY, MARCH 8 – 10:00 PM
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16 – 10:00 PM
FRIDAY, MARCH 25 – MIDNIGHT
SUNDAY, MARCH 27 – 7:30 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Writer/director Vernon Chatman of PFFR (WONDER SHOWZEN, XAVIER: RENEGADE ANGEL) discovered the existence of “websites whereupon one can hire professional porn production companies to do the sick and custom bidding of your panting loins’ darkest yearn.” He chose four different custom-porn-making sites, and submitted segments of a highly detailed script, or as he called it, his “purest truths”, to each of them. The results form the “8-part prepocolyptic triptych in D minor” (or perhaps the 4-part “cinematic exquisite corpse”) that is FINAL FLESH.

This epic and disturbing saga cannot be adequately explained or summarized, but by way of an attempt, it concerns the Pollard family (who shape-shift in their representation by the four different smutmakers).

The family is calmly discussing their impending death by atom bomb when Mrs. Pollard recounts a dream in which she sensually bathes herself in the “Tears of Neglected Children”. Daughter Pam goes to the Psycho Sexual Burn-Ward (the bathroom) and reads the Koran on the toilet: “Yahweh ordered a double-latte. When the barista handed it to him, it was too hot, so Yahweh threw it in the janitor’s face. The end.” Pam then gives birth to an egg (“this is so hot”) and a piece of raw steak which she names Mr. Peterson and breastfeeds. Mrs. Pollard and Pam then hatch a plan to convince their patriarch to return to the womb (“get up in there”), before Mrs. Peterson recounts her life’s regret: “I didn’t want to have a family, I wanted to murder the president. I wanted to use his blood to oil the machinery of capitalism.” The atom bomb drops but the adventure continues as they re-emerge in God’s womb, reincarnated as a different set of amateur porn actors…

If FINAL FLESH is not the greatest film of the 21st century, then I just creamed in my demon. “It’s the same thing every Thanksgiving. Remember?”


MAGIC OF THE UNIVERSE
Aka Salamamgkero / The Magician / Monster of the Universe.
Dir. Tata Estaban, 1986/1988.
Philippines. 84 min.
Dubbed in English.

BELIEVE in MAGIC. A wizard accidentally loses his daughter to an unimaginable evil. He risks hat and wand to make things right. Cast of tens includes humans and puppets.


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MARQUIS
Dir. Henri Xhonneux, 1989.
France. 78 min.
In French with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, MARCH 4 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, MARCH 14 – 10:00 PM
FRIDAY, MARCH 18 – MIDNIGHT
SATURADY, MARCH 26 – 10:00 PM
THURSDAY, MARCH 31 – 10:00 PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Clumped in your history book between the chapters on French Revolution and pioneering 18th century erotic fiction grows a horny, pornographic mold called MARQUIS.

Immersed in a world in which uncanny animal masks mirror the spirit of the character within, a canine Marquis de Sade serves a prison sentence for allegedly raping the bovine Justine… but the situation may be more complicated than it seems. In between bouts of banter with his anthropomorphic, meter-long penis Colin, the Marquis gets down to writing a few of his more infamous scenes—many depicted in surreal claymation. Before too long the Revolution has begun, but where will it leave the Marquis?

Co-written by Henri Xhonneux and Roland Topor—animator of 1973’s inimitable surrealist classic “Fantastic Planet”—MARQUIS’s bizarre tone swings at will between irreverent perversion and clear-headed satire, never failing to entertain and utterly confound.

“This is one of the strangest movies I have ever seen. I found it to be discomforting and just weird. It makes you squirm in your seat and wonder what the people making this are like in real life. It’s definitely entertaining and it sort of sucks you in, especially if you don’t know French and have to read subtitles. It is certainly not American and it is certainly very peculiar. I have never seen a movie where everyone is wearing life-like animal costumes and acting like humans in very abnormal ways. This movie gives me the chills. However, I would watch it again just because it is so fascinatingly WEIRD.” —IMDB user ‘ethylester’

“NOT FOR THE PRUDISH.” —Variety

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THEMROC
Dir. Claude Faraldo, 1973.
France. 110 min.
In grunts.

FRIDAY, MARCH 4 – MIDNIGHT
MONDAY, MARCH 7 – 10:00 PM
THURSDAY, MARCH 17 – 10:00 PM
SATURDAY, MARCH 26 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY, MARCH 31 – 7:30PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

With only a vague U.S. release and a blind eye turned by all but the most annoyingly nerdy film buffs, this surreal French satire doubles as a pitch-black freak-out. But when writer/director Claude Faraldo starts to lose it and settle for straight absurdism, THEMROC’s bizarre view of working-class revolution is, as Shock Cinema puts it, “worth a look, if only for its audacity. The most inspired aspect of this Working Class Rant is the fact that nobody on-screen utters a single word of intelligible dialogue, with the entire story told in grunts, howls or simple gibberish. At first glance, the middle-aged Themroc (Michel Piccoli) seems like your typical, brutish, dirty-undershirted factory laborer. And his day goes straight into the crapper once he arrives at his dreary job, and is called onto the carpet after playing voyeur on a manager and his leggy secretary. With a lifestyle this demeaning and repetitious, it’s no big surprise when Themroc suddenly goes bonkers, and for the first time in his miserable life, breaks free of his 9-to-5 shackles. The second he gets home, this disgruntled wacko wrecks his apartment (unlike modern-day Americans, who’d prefer to grab a gun and shoot their boss) and begins acting like a modern-day Neanderthal.


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LES SAIGNANTES
Aka The Blood-lettes.
Dir. Jean Pierre Bekolo, 2005.
Cameroon. 97 min.
In French with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5 – 10:00 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13 – 10:00 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28 – 7:30 PM

Part of the Anti-Valentine’s series.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

LES SAIGNANTES is the best African sci-fi vampire political satire with homoerotic overtones you’ve ever seen. Best friends Majolie and Chouchou are two beautiful young women trying to get ahead in a near-future Cameroon. After accidentally killing a powerful politician during sex, the two come up with a plot to dispose of the body, and get into the glamorous wakes that have taken over the local nightlife.

As the girls tear their way through the corrupt ruling class, using their their feminine wiles and magical powers, Bekolo drops inter-titles into the film, commenting on the difficulties of filmmaking in an oppressive political climate. With a feminist subtext and cinematography like a blacklight rave, LES SAIGNANTES is a beautiful, disorienting, and truly original work.



BEHINDERT
Dir. Stephen Dwoskin, 1974
Germany. 94 min.
In German with English subtitles

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 7 – 5:00 PM
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12 – 10:00 PM
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24 – 10:00 PM

Part of the Anti-Valentine’s series.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Special thanks to The Estate of Stephen Dwoskin

Described by Stephen Dwoskin as “a documentary without being one,” the basis of BEHINDERT is autobiographical: the story of a physically disabled man and a physically normal woman- played by Dwoskin (who has a post-polio disability) and Carola Regnier- who confront the difficulties of a relationship. The two were no longer a couple at the time Dwoskin made the film, yet it burns with the passion and intensity of true love.

With minimal dialogue and a stirring drone score by Gavin Bryars, Dwoskin uses extended takes and extreme close-ups of Regnier’s eyes, feet, hands, and face to create a sustained, hypnotic atmosphere that is simply unparalleled.

An intimate, unsentimental and haunting evocation of desire.

OFFICIAL SELECTION – 1974 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL – DIRECTOR’S FORTNIGHT

“Nothing short of a revelation… this is Dwoskin’s masterpiece. Indeed, I have come to regard it as one of the greatest works in cinema history… BEHINDERT remains Dwoskin’s most daring and artistically successful attempt to splice his “first person” mode of cinema with a staged fiction—creating a kind of cubistic complexity from the constantly shuffled perspectives. The ‘fourth look’ which Willemen intuited – not exactly the look of the characters, the spectator, or even the camera-eye, but some other, more forbidding look, like the gaze of society itself – hovers over the interstices between these images, these tableaux, these scenes from a relationship. From a film-history standpoint, Dwoskin’s breakthrough here is prophetic. Anticipating the ongoing novelistic autobiography of Philippe Garrel’s work since the 1980s, BEHINDERT plays a thrilling, almost vampiric game with the proximity of real-life experience to its fictive recreation—especially as its principals are the actual former lovers!” —Film Quarterly

“The mere mention of a film concerned with the subject of physical disability conjures up preconceived notions and images as to the type of film it is. It is put aside as a medical/social document of little importance, particularly by film people who think of films as ‘political,’ ‘narrative,’ ‘entertainment,’ ‘poetic,’ or ‘structural.’ This film is about the physically normal and disabled in confrontation, but not literal relations. It is a documentary without being one. The content lies beneath the film. The material is treated subjectively, and crosses fiction with realistic documents, without a clear distinction.” —Stephen Dwoskin

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THE MONSTER AND THE STRIPPER
Aka The Exotic Ones.
Dir. Ron Ormond, 1968.
USA. 91 min.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6 – MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 20 – MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26 – MIDNIGHT

Part of the Anti-Valentine’s series.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE 

Any attempt at classing up this sleazy 60s gem stopped with its original title, THE EXOTIC ONES, and even that failed as it switched to the more accurate THE MONSTER AND THE STRIPPER on rerelease. With a lot more stripper than monster, this film is pure 60s trash GOLD, and the last made before director Ron Ormond turned toward moralizing Christian fare.

What a film to go out on though – beginning with a gloriously overlong open call for “talent” at a “New Orleans” burlesque joint (actually a claustrophobically-shot Methodist Church), we’re treated to a bevy of beauties featuring star dancer Titania (I couldn’t make this up) and her famous Fire Dance strutting their stuff to the running Dada commentary of the film’s co-producer and wife of Ron Ormond, June Carr.

Ormond himself plays demented Tony Clifton doppleganger/club owner Nemo, first seen torturing a man foolish enough to steal his money with the contents of a spittoon. Word reaches Nemo a monster’s been murdering hillbillies in the swamps of Louisiana, and Titania suggests a Beauty and The Beast act with the beast ripping off all her clothes. NO OTHER ACT will do, and Nemo finds himself in the monster-hunting business. With a team led by son Tim Ormond (a trifecta of Nashville’s First Family of Film!) they wander into the swamps and capture the beast, played by rockabilly also-ran Sleepy LaBeef (dare I say the Meatloaf of rockabilly?).

Back at the club, Little Timmy befriends the monster, who in turn falls for one of Titania’s new dance rivals. The whole town is abuzz and eager to see the Monster and the Stripper, but will the show go off without a hitch? Of course not.

For all the supposed sleaze, this exploitation film doesn’t feel exploitive – it’s a bizarro family affair where nothing makes a lick of sense, but everyone’s having a damn fine time onscreen. SEE a man get beaten with his own arm! WATCH a couple play dueling oversized harmonicas! MARVEL at hair and eye makeup that would make Divine puke with jealousy! HEAR dialogue that sounds like it was written with Noir Cliché refrigerator magnets! WITNESS – THE MONSTER AND THE STRIPPER! (and a lot of other strippers too)

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THE RED SQUIRREL
Aka La Ardilla Roja.
Dir. Julio Médem, 1993.
Spain. 114 min.
In Spanish with English subtitles.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6 – 10:00 PM
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14 – 5:00 PM
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19 – 10:00 PM

Part of the Anti-Valentine’s series.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

A bruising satire of pop musicianship more than a little indebted to the Hitchcockian identity-swap, THE RED SQUIRREL is a painfully unsung masterpiece, maybe the pinnacle of Julio Médem’s white-hot 1990s streak (beginning with COWS in 1991 and culminating in the more famous SEX AND LUCIA a decade later.) On the verge of taking his own life, a grunge musician named Jota (Nancho Novo) witnesses a motorcycle accident on the beach, suddenly tasking himself with helping coax Lisa (Emma Suarez) – a beyond-voluptuous blonde – out of her thick fog of amnesia. The two strike up a romance based just as much on his lies as their latent (and undeniable) chemistry; they hit the road in matching leather outfits, and cozily absorb themselves into a suburban family’s vacation at a gossipy campsite – the nominal Ardilla Roja, in a region between Basque country and Castile.

Long before Lisa has taken to donning herself in a sleevelss tee with nothing on it but a gigantic xerox of Jota’s face, things have gotten weird. A mysterious stranger from the past inevitably threatens to upend Jota’s reprieve from real life, and soon you’ll realize the film has begun – without asking permission – to peel back the membranes separating memories from dreams, and dreams from desires. Anchored by the meticulous, insinuating performances of Novo and Suarez, THE RED SQUIRREL is a serpentine head trip with erotic frisson to spare – one of the sharpest and most vivid un-romances to ever hit the big screen. (Bonus factoid: legend has it this film had Stanley Kubrick recommending Médem to Steven Spielberg for the job of directing THE MASK OF ZORRO, which the Spanish auteur duly declined.)


OFFSHORE TELEVISION
Dir. Mark Hudson, 1988(?).
64 min.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13 – MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 27 – MIDNIGHT

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

As a child in Cincinnati, Ohio, artist C. Spencer Yeh views a bizarre late-night sketch comedy show that leaves an unshakable impression. It remains ellusive over many years, and Yeh begins to question its existence and the integrity of his own memory. As recent as the late 2000’s, Yeh is unable to discover any information or even trace of its existence—until following up on a faint mention from an obscure message board lands a dub of a fan’s VHS tape in hand.

Tonight, C. Spencer Yeh teams up with Screen Slate to present three of the five known extant episodes of:

Long-forgotten late 80’s television show OFFSHORE TELEVISION. Defined by its lo-fi video fuckery, excessive celeb cameos, and no-laugh jokes, “Offshore Television” is totally dumb and stoned; a lost classic for no-one.

Despite the comprehensive fansite from which the Hudson Brothers biographies and the filmography were taken from, there is NO information about OFFSHORE TELEVISION on the internet. The only acknowledgement of its existence is a comment on the website jumptheshark.com in regards to the mid-70s “Hudson Brothers” variety show:

“I was crazy about the Hudson Brothers! Brett (my fave!) and Mark did a show around 1990 called Offshore Television–I still laugh when I think some of the skits from that one! The Hudson Brothers did a movie in ’83 called Hysterical, but it wasn’t as funny as the TV shows.”


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PANELSTORY
Dir. Věra Chytilová, 1979.
Czechoslovakia. 100 min.
In Czech with English subtitles.

MONDAY, JANUARY 4 – 7:30PM
SATURDAY, JANUARY 16 – 7:30PM
THURSDAY, JANUARY 21 – 10PM
SUNDAY, JANUARY 31 – 7:30PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Vera Chytilova’s 1966 Daisies may be her best known work of radical cinema, but it’s neither her last, nor arguably most significant. A decade later, at time when most of her Prague Spring contemporaries had fled Czechoslovakia or drastically reigned in once-experimental visions, she came back with the equally daring and essential Panelstory. Framed as a sort of ensemble comedy circulating among the many lives contained within a new Soviet-bloc housing complex, the film is actually a scathing satire shredding every available ideal of home and family. The whole film can be understood by its audaciously critical setting: lost in a wasteland of debris and stalled construction, still incomplete yet already falling into disrepair, riddled with half-functional elevators, the housing complex precisely mirrors the disintegrating families contained within, whose individual stories form a catalogue of bleakly hilarious dysfunction and despair. It might have been all too believably familiar to those living under similar conditions in Czechoslovakia at the time, but Chytilova’s disillusionment, as always, extends far beyond her immediate surroundings to call into question the thwarted utopian hopes of an entire industrialized world.

As with all Chytilova’s best work, form here deftly follows function. The urban malaise is caught near-entirely in verité-style hand-held camerawork decades ahead of fashion, and rhythmically fragmented under anarchic editing that mixes apartment interiors with dystopian architecture and massive earth-moving operations. Even the sound design follows suit, as the characters are beset by cataclysmic atonal score (contrasted against a synth-funk interlude straight out of an aspirational 70s home furnishings showroom). What Panelstory may lack in Daisies’ sheer stylistic invention, it makes up for in thematic cohesion.

After the collapse of the Prague Spring, Chytilova was among those directors cut out of the studio system for their brilliant excesses, which meant that she spent the years from 1970 to 1976 secretly directing commercials under the name of her husband (Jaroslav Kučera, her frequent cinematographer and collaborator). Pressures from international film festivals and a bold letter from directly to the president restating her sincere Socialist values allowed Chytilova release The Apple Game in 1976. But if that work seemed comparatively restrained, she pulled out all the stops for Panelstory. It’s unbelievable that such a film could have been produced under the noses of the state censors, and following its release, Chytilova found herself banned for another two years for her troubles. Seeing Panelstory again, all these years later, it seems well worth the risks of getting it made.

While the film opened up our series at the Museum of Art and Design in summer 2014, this will be the first time it’s shown in the Spectacle itself since the theater’s earliest weeks.


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THE SHINING BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS AND INWARDS AND OUTWARDS IN HIGH DEFINITION ANAGLYPH 3D (CHAOS MIX)
1980/2011/2013.
USA. 146 min.

The Shining Backwards and Forwards Returns in a Soul-Searing 3D Re-Remix!

THURSDAY, JANUARY 7 – 10PM
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20 – 10PM
FRIDAY, JANUARY 29 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, JANUARY 30 – 10PM

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

Dark Side of the Rainbow for the 21st century, THE SHINING BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS is a hallucinatory palindromic mindfuck, an accidental profundity resulting from a literal reading of MSTRMD’s comment that “The Shining is a film meant to be watched both forwards and backwards.”

Conceived by John Fell Ryan and executed with Spectacle’s Akiva Saunders behind the controls, it became one of the most successful events in the sprouting days of the theater, and it returned October 2011, when it was performed live with Saunders mixing multiple additional layers of superimposition with realtime audio manipulation by Tony Lowe and Jason McMahon.

In the meantime, it has become instant legend, followed by stagings at Fantastic Fest and the Seattle International Film Festival inspired by the attention of Shining obsessives doc ROOM 237, in which JFR is one of the primary participants and Spectacle receives a hearty shout-out. In fact, the footage shot inside Spectacle appears to be the only non-archival live footage in the film.

And now TGHNEISNHIIHNSIENHGT has been radically re-rendered by Jon Dieringer as THE SHINING BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS AND INWARDS AND OUTWARDS IN HIGH DEFINITION ANAGLYPH 3D (CHAOS MIX), in which The Shining Backwards and Forwards now also movies Inwards and Outwards in High Definition Anaglyph 3D. The superimposed channels now intersect not only chronologically but depth-wise. Each forward and backward channel has been individually post converted to 3D. Subsequently, they are both mixed overall at different depths so that the superimposed backwards channel(s) initially appear to float above the forwards track(s). The depths then gradually converge to meet each other in the center, and the forwards channel(s) then rises to the top. This configuration foregrounds the more sinister latter half of the film over its tranquil beginning like a spectral premonition of violence; therefore, we’re calling it the CHAOS MIX. This diagram elaborates:

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Special thanks to John Fell Ryan, Akiva Saunders and Jon Dieringer.


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DEVILHELM
Dir. Craig Rahtz/Hibachi Chicken Films, 1999.
USA. 96 min.
In English.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 15 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, JANUARY 23 – MIDNIGHT

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE

“When the Dark Elves, driven by hatred and greed, steal an evil relic known as the Devilhelm, chaos threatens the peaceful valley.  Only three ninja have the power and courage to stop this evil, and protect the earth from the ravaging powers of the Devilhelm.”

“Intense martial combat combines with supernatural wizardry to make Devilhelm an unforgettable adventure.”

Made over the course of three years in the woods of southwestern Ohio in the late 90s, Devilhelm is a virtually unknown exemplar of autodidactic backyard moviemaking.  Unconventional energy and invention is firmly on display, from the ambitious makeup and sets, to the primitive computer graphics and original soundtrack; most importantly, Devilhelm rides that right line of irreverence and sincerity that we all love when we hear the phrase “shot-on-video.”
‪Ninja stars are thrown, riddles are spoken, the re‬ ‪d stuff sprays freely, ‬ ‪and some pagan raver vomits up a ____.‬

Originally released on VHS mostly to family and friends, Spectacle Theater is excited to reintroduce Devilhelm into the audience and dialogue where it belongs.