This past weekend was just a warm up for the real Halloween celebrations, and the Denver Film Society has a solid line-up of seasonal entertainment planned for the Sie FilmCenter. Don't worry -- none of these events will require you to be dressed as slutty Abraham Lincoln or to do multiple pumpkin-flavored shots. Not that you can't, mind you, but this trio of treats all work just as well when you're wearing street clothes, without swallowing anything more intoxicating than popcorn.
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The scares start at 7 p.m. Wednesday, October 30 with a special, one-night presentation of the classic Swedish silent The Phantom Carriage. The film is a Gothic tale of a man doomed to spend a year collecting the souls of the dead, but the real draw -- at least for anyone who's not a fan of nearly 100-year-old Swedish cinema -- is the reimagined score, performed live by Paul Buscarello. Utilizing a combination of electronic and acoustic instruments, Buscarello has created a soundtrack that's a melange of horror cinema's most iconic sounds.
"He is sort of updating the soundtrack, referencing John Carpenter's stuff and more ominous electronic stuff, while working in the more classical stuff, like Bernard Herrmann did for Hitchcock," says Ernie Quiroz, programming manager for the Denver Film Society. "Then there's some more modern [sounds], almost techno or industrial."
After providing the soundtrack for your nightmares, the Denver Film Society is bringing the garish, lunatic pleasures of Dario Argento's Dracula to its screen for a single showing at 9:30 p.m. Halloween night, on Thursday, Octobe 31.
"It's cheesy and really bad, in a good way," Quiroz says. "It's a typical Italian [horror movie], drenched in sex -- people having sex and naked women for no apparent reason. And he cast his own daughter in it! It's a blood fest, gore fest, sex fest. It's got all those things."
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Once Halloween is all over and you need a chance to come down from pretending to be a creature of the night, there's Zero Charisma (7 p.m. Saturday, November 2), a film about adult men who use dice and miniatures to facilitate their own make-believe. "It takes place within the world of [tabletop] gaming," Quiroz says. "I think gamers will get a kick out of it and, good or bad, recognize themselves in one of the characters."
The film tells the story of a group of gamers ruled over by a metalhead game master who has his imaginary fiefdom upset when a new gamer joins, disrupting the group dynamic and challenging his power, forcing him to take extreme measures -- something anyone who's ever played a game with a pal who takes it a bit too seriously can appreciate.
"I've played some of those games, and the dungeon master, they're the alpha male of their little world," Qurioz says. "When they get challenged, that's the one thing they have in life. For those couple hours they rule the world and if you challenge that, it has consequences."
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Tickets for The Phantom Carriage are $12, or $10 for DFS members. Tickets for Dario Argento's Dracula and Zero Charisma are $10, or $7 for DFS members. For more info, trailers and tickets, visit the Denver Film Society website.