Summer horror in the city

Forget the Bahamas, horror fans. This summer, New York is your paradise. That’s because three of the city’s nerd movie presenters deli...


Forget the Bahamas, horror fans. This summer, New York is your paradise.

That’s because three of the city’s nerd movie presenters deliver ambitious and adventurous horror movie series with enough scares for everyone from tricky newbies to hardened connoisseurs.

The big problem is “Horror: sending messages to the monstrous”, which lasts 10 weeks at the Museum of Modern Art. With over 110 features and shorts, the series dives deep into sociopolitical horror cinema, with sections dedicated to gender, race, sexuality and other concerns.

The other programs are just as enterprising. Film at Lincoln Center and Cinecittà, the famous Italian film studio, are teaming up to “Beware of Dario Argento” a retrospective of 20 films by Argento, the master of horror film best known for “Suspira”. The director himself will be present at certain screenings.

And the Moving Image Museum welcomes “Movies of the Dead: Romero & Co.”, an 11-film series devoted to zombie films by and inspired by maverick horror filmmaker George A. Romero, who is dead in 2017. It is a companion of “Living with ‘The Walking Dead'” (Jun 25-Jan 1, 2023), an exhibit on the origins and impact of the AMC series. A second film schedule, “White Zombies: Nightmares of Empire,” will follow in August.

Caryn Coleman, guest curator of the MoMA series, said it’s no surprise that all three organizations are turning to horror to “treat the world”.

“We are certainly in a moment of collective unrest, so it seems only right that New York should welcome horror programming as both a tool for discussion and celebration,” she wrote in an email.

To make your decision-making less scary, here’s a guide for horror lovers on what to watch.

Modern Art Museum, moma.org

What happens when a female director (Amy Holden Jones) and feminist writer (Rita Mae Brown) team up to make a movie about a deranged murderer with a power drill who kills high school kids on a night out pyjamas ? You get this crazy classic from the golden age of slashers, a movie that keep inspiring new generations of female horror filmmakers.

Wes Craven wrote and directed this revenge rape film about two young women brutalized by psychopaths. This one is a can’t-miss movie only for people with a strong constitution and a morbid curiosity about a groundbreaking yet unsettling exploitation film. Consider This: Howard Thompson, revision for The Times, called it “sickening guts” and said he was out before the film was finished.

A terrific rediscovery in the series is this horror-fantasy film from New Zealand. Directed by Garth Maxwell, it stars Alexis Arquette and Sarah Smuts-Kennedy as twins who reunite as adults after being separated and raised in broken homes. At his time examStephen Holden called it a “superior” genre film with “hallucinatory power and psychological sophistication”.

Writer-director James Bond III stars as a young man who travels to New York to see a friend (Kadeem Hardison), but falls for a succubus (Cynthia Bond). A supernatural investigator (Bill Nunn), a psychic (Melba Moore), and a preacher (Samuel L. Jackson) all attempt to keep evil at bay. For a low-budget horror-comedy, the film takes a surprisingly candid look at the Black Gen Xers and presents issues of friendship, gender, and faith.

Movie at Lincoln Center, filmlinc.org

Argento’s psychopathic thriller stars Jennifer Connelly as a young student at a Swiss girls’ school who discovers she has supernatural powers to control insects. Donald Pleasence is the scientist who helps her use this power to find a killer. The big screen is the best way to experience the film’s spectacular flesh-dissolving bug attack.

Argento’s first film, for which he also wrote the screenplay, is an elegant prototype of the Italian giallo. Set in Rome, it’s a thriller about an American writer who becomes entangled in a murder mystery after witnessing a woman stabbed by an intruder inside a gallery. The gore is mild compared to Argento’s later films. But giallo’s visual signatures – plunging razors, menacing lighting, killer chic leather – are plentiful.

One of the movies I can’t wait to see is Argento’s latest, His first film since badly received “Argento’s Dracula 3D.” Ilenia Pastorelli stars as a prostitute who struggles to adjust to a new life after being blinded during her escape from a killer. True to Argento form, the film looks as elegant as it is deranged.

Moving Image Museum, movingimage.us

When Romero’s pioneering black-and-white hits the big screen, go for it. Romero stood up for the underdog, and for his feature debut he cast Black actor Duane Jones as the man who protects a group of outsiders trapped on a rural Pennsylvania farm besieged by the walking dead chewing flesh. Movies that see horror through a lens of social justice, especially as it relates to American racism, bow to this one.

by Shinichiro Ueda film is an absurdly gory horror-comedy about a film crew shooting a zombie movie interrupted by real, hungry zombies. Instead of cutting and running, the director forces his cast and crew to keep rolling. What happens next is a meta-marvel of slapstick, butchery, and, surprisingly, heart.

I have a soft spot for this talkative apocalyptic story, written and directed by Romero. Set in a dystopian future America – one of Romero’s favorite places to visit – it’s about a literally underground group of scientists and soldiers (with fragile egos) who battle the zombies left above ground after an apocalypse. Tom Savini’s gruesome special effects gave me the heebie jeebies then, and still do.

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