We love a good horror film here at SevenStreets and we always appreciate it when Liverpool’s cinemas make the effort to celebrate Halloween with a bucket of corn syrup.

The ODEON on London Road used to stage midnight Halloween horror double bills years ago; now we can expect uncanny delights from all the city’s picture houses.

We’re kicking off at FACT, with a veritable horror season that includes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Shining and, er, Labyrinth.

All are great films but there’s quite a spread there. Although it was originally written off as exploitative nonsense, with a lurid title that certainly didn’t help matters, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a lesson in gothic Americana that continues to spawn imitators to this day.

It’s quite brilliantly directed by Tobe Hooper, with a disturbing soundtrack of rattles and screeches that make the sun-blasted landscape seem as alien and hostile as a different planet. While the plot will seem familiar – a cast of hardbodies, plus a comic relief fatty – come unstuck in sunny nowhere and come across a ramshackle house and equally ramshackle family – there are some disturbing set pieces that mine the depths of black humour.

Another of Hollywood’s most famous bogeymen can be seen in A Nightmare On Elm Street, a film that seems quite cosy these days. It’s another blackly comic entry into the genre, but that doesn’t take the edge off some disturbing scenes that show Wes Craven’s instinct for a fright that lingers in the memory.

At the other end of the scale is The Shining, Stanley Kubrick’s only horror film. No humour here, just the unsettling ambiguity of a modern haunted house story (or is it?) and Kubrick arguably at the height of his technical powers. New Brighton’s Light Cinema is also showing The Shining, so you needn’t cross the water if you’re keen on seeing it.

Nosferatu, FW Murnau’s expressionist silent take on Dracula, always looks stunning on the big screen but will be boosted by a live soundtrack from Minima. Max Schreck’s unmistakeable visage remains an enduring horror creation. The Capstone will also be showing Nosferatu, with a soundtrack from a.p.a.t.t.

Labyrinth? Well it’s not an obvious pick for a Halloween film, but we’ve sung its praises before so why not tick that one off again?

Over at the Woolton Picture House there’s 1993 bit-of-fluff Hocus Pocus, although there can’t be too many opportunities to see this Bette Midler vehicle at the cinema very often.

Sadly, the ODEON only has Paranormal Activity 4. Now that is a frightening prospect.

Friday 26 October, 9.30pm
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
FACT

Saturday 27 October, 10.00pm
A Nightmare On Elm Street
FACT

Sunday 28 October, time tbc
Labyrinth
FACT

Wednesday 31 October, 5.30pm
Hocus Pocus
Woolton Picture House

Wednesday 31 October, 8.30pm
The Shining
FACT

Wednesday 31 October, time tbc
The Shining
Light Cinema

Monday 1 November, 7.30pm
Nosferatu (with score from a.p.a.t.t.)
The Capstone Theatre

Monday 5 November, 6.30pm
Nosferatu (with live score by Minima)
FACT

FACT

Light Cinema New Brighton

Woolton Picture House

Liverpool ONE ODEON

  • Ramsey Campbell

    No humour in The Shining, Robin? Maybe my sense of humour is perverse, but – “Heeeeeeeeere’s Johnny”? “Wendy, light of my life” (Kubrick quoting his previous work again)? “Little pigs, little pigs…”? I confess to finding Nicholson’s Torrance a great comic creation along with much else.

    But alas, the film has been restored in the ratio Kubrick disliked.

  • http://www.robinbrown.co.uk/ Robin Brown

    I suppose it’s a question of whether you find it funny. Gives me the willies. I think it is, though, the last great performance by Nicholson who manages to stay on the knife edge between mania and out-and-out ham.

    I’m a bit puzzled by the new cut – I’m sure I read somewhere that Kubrick personally wrote to al the projectionists in the Uk to tell them not to show the US cut?

  • Ramsey Campbell

    Yes, but he’s dead! That’s also why Fear and Desire, which he refused to allow to be shown, has now been restored on DVD and Blu-ray.

    And how could I not have mentioned “Give me the bat” – a Three Stooges line in a horror film before their influence became overt in Evil Dead!

  • http://www.robinbrown.co.uk/ Robin Brown

    Speaking of, Evil Dead’s being remade. And I definitely don’t think there’s going to be any humour in that one!