Saturday, October 22, 2016

Outer Space (1999)

Screen capture from Other Cinema DVD "Experiments In Terror"
WHO: Austrian filmmaker Peter Tscherkassky created this.

WHAT: One of those experimental short films that has the power to impress open-minded cinephiles who normally find themselves too bored, confounded, or otherwise alienated from the 'avant-garde' to enjoy non-narrative underground filmmaking, Outer Space is a triumph, both conceptually and in terms of the painstaking processes that created it. Tscherkassky started with a print of Sidney J. Furie's horror film The Entity, in which Barbara Hershey plays a single mother who survives repeated attacks from a ghostly rapist who has invaded her suburban home and ultimately attempts to defeat the titular assailant with the qualified aid of a team of parapsychologists. He manipulated footage of some of the film's spectral assaults on a light table, creating a film in which Hershey appears to be attacked by the material of film itself. It's an astonishing film, and the highlight of the Other Cinema Experiments in Terror DVD, but it works best when seen on its native 35mm format.

WHERE/WHEN: Screens 9:30 tonight only at the Castro Theatre

WHY: The Castro doesn't frequently show experimental short films in front of the feature-length films that are its bread and butter, but when it does it's a cause for celebration among fans of this mode of filmmaking. Unfortunately it's not always a cause for celebration among all viewers. I heard reports that when Outer Space played before John Carpenter's The Thing in March 2007, there was a great deal of consternation from certain audience members who couldn't wait an extra ten minutes to see a gory remake of a Howard Hawks alien invasion movie. I heard that audiences were better behaved when it played there along with its more natural companion The Entity in early 2013. Here's hoping tonight's Halloween horror crowd is ready for its visceral scares when it plays between two established classics.

I'm pleased to announce that Tscherkassky's most recent film, The Exquisite Corpus, is also planned to screen in San Francisco soon; to be specific at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on a bill with a new (digitally-distributed) documentary about film projection called The Dying of the Light, playing there November 3rd and 6th. I'm excited to see both, but the 35mm print of The Exquisite Corpus is the special draw for me; I've been waiting for this one since his last film Coming Attractions played here more than five years ago.

HOW: 35mm print preceding the 9:30 35mm screening of Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist (note: NOT the 4:30 PM screening as well), the second half of a double-feature also including the digital director's cut of William Friedkin's The Exorcist.

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