Expat-friendly movie night: Two classic British horrors
The multiplex cinemas are full of mainstream movies. There are independent film festivals, too. But not at all is it common to see an interesting movie personally chosen and beforehand reviewed by a film critic in an expat-friendly environment.
That is what Lee Adams is trying to bring to Brno. His first double bill movie night at The Immigrant took place at the end of November and you can enjoy another one this Sunday, Dec 7 at 8 pm at the same place. It is free entry.
Why do I find it worth paying attention to? For starters, you learn. I always end up looking words up when editing Lee’s articles on the Brno Expat Centre blog. I am always introduced to pieces of trivia I did not know about. And I have fun. Not only does Lee educate his followers, he does it in a witty way, too.
Also, The Immigrant provides a nice social atmosphere to expats and cosmopolitans. Accompanied with a pint of cider and the best burger in Brno, it is the perfect setting for a British film connoisseur to screen his movies.
This Sunday we are showing two classic British horror films guaranteed to make your journey home a little more terrifying!
We begin with Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon, rated by Martin Scorsese as one of the eleven scariest films of all time. Dana Andrews plays Dr John Holden, a scientist visiting a small island off the coast of Europe to help expose the leader of a devil worship cult.
The cult leader, Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis) is not too happy about this, and slips Holden a parchment bearing ancient runic symbols. Karswell gives the openly sceptical Holden three days to live. Unless Holden is able to pass the message back, a terrifying demon will appear to claim him.
“Terrifying” probably isn’t the first word that will spring to the modern viewer’s mind when seeing the demon, infamously forced into the proceedings by the film’s producer, Hal E Chester. The creature appears in all its two bob glory in the opening scene, and it is a testament to Tourneur’s skill at building suspense that we’re looking forward to seeing it again, aswell as dreading it.
Andrews and Peggy Cummins make typically square 50s leads, yet the movie feels remarkably fresh, thanks to the witty, intelligent script and MacGuiness’s superb performance as the courteous, proud and easily offended cult leader. The film is also packed with memorable set pieces, including a tempest at a kid’s tea party and an alarming freakout from a catatonic satanist.
Next we visit Summerisle, a small island off the coast of Scotland, where Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) arrives to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. The locals are all cheerfully unhelpful in his inquiries, and the devoutly Christian copper is horrified to find the islanders openly revelling in the worship of their pagan Gods.
After encounters with the landlord’s daughter Willow (Britt Ekland) and the island’s colourful laird Summerisle (Christopher Lee), Howie suspects the missing girl may have been offered up as a human sacrifice…
The Wicker Man started life as a B-movie on a double bill with Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, and has spent the last forty years building its own cult following. One of the strangest films ever to work its way into popular culture, it is a nudie folk horror musical set mainly in broad daylight.
Director Robin Hardy maintains an atmosphere of creeping dread, derived from the peculiar details of the pagan community’s rituals and the sense that Howie is very, very far away from home if something goes terribly wrong. Which of course it does, resulting in one of the most horrifying conclusions in movie history…