Horror is coming to the big screen while we approach the Halloween season, though not in the way you would typically expect. Montreal’s film screening group, Le Cine? Club – The Film Society is holding a screening of classic silent films from the 1920s and 1930s at the Rialto theatre on the Oct. 17 and 24. The films are being projected on their original prints, with a “reel” projector, as they were intended to be seen.
This is a cool way for cinephiles to see some classic horror flicks on the cheap, in a classic atmosphere to boot: the Rialto is a Neo-Baroque Montreal movie theatre from the “20s that is visually dramatic itself. The de?cor alone is worth checking out.
On Oct. 17, two classic German expressionist entries in the film noir genre are being shown: 1920’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, about a sleepwalking murderer and the 1922 vampire film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror (the one with the creepy bald blood-sucker). On Oct. 24, American films The Black Cat, with horror icons Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, and 1934 zombie thriller White Zombie, will be screened. Throw all that in a bag, mix it up, and you’ve got wicked evening at the pictures.
Live musical accompaniment will also provide the soundtrack on Oct. 17. Eric Kaplin and Justin Wright, both Concordia students in animation and biology, respectively, and musicians in Montreal band Sweet Mother Logic, have accompanied film screenings before. They shared what it’s like playing live music to movies.
How is doing this kind of thing different than the other kind of music you get to perform?
E- Yeah, the other shows are obviously different. I’m in a rock band and it’s definitely
a loud rock show with lots of different elements going on. This is more quiet, melodic, and intimate, so it’s definitely a different vibe.
J- It’s a bit easier to work with one other person, other than that its not that different. It’s arranged a lot less then the stuff my band plays. It’s more of a compromise between the two of us. But it’s cool in other ways, sometimes we’ll talk
during the movie to try and work different stuff out.
Why the live band and not just a soundtrack?
E- The organizer for this event got the original prints, so he’s really trying to create
an authentic viewing, and when these films were first screened there was no
soundtrack, just live musical accompaniment. This was the way it was done in the past and the organizer [Philippe Spurrel] is really into making it authentic, because he wants it to be like you’re watching a movie in the 1920s.
J- Philippe likes things done traditionally, he’s actually working as the projectionist during it. We’re going to dress up as two musicians might have in the silent film era. It’s a fun event.
So are you trying to create a creepy atmosphere or are you just linking up the sounds with the image onscreen?
J- Yeah, most of it’s improvised, so it’s different every time. Before we would follow
a certain event in the movie and try and match the sounds, but we don’t like that approach as much, we call it “Mickey Mousing.” This time we’re doing it more abstract. Mickey Mousing gets a bit corny.
E- We try to make a different sound for each of the movies, we don’t Mickey Mouse and try to make something silly to fit Halloween. We try to come up with something that fits the movie but also something that’s our own and is original to us.
Is it weird playing for an audience that isn’t supposed to be paying attention to you?
E- It’s a little strange, since we don’t see a lot of immediate reaction… it’s a bit harder, yeah, but it’s kind of cool actually. I sit back and watch the movie myself sometimes, it’s a much more intimate way to perform.
J- Yeah, that’s true but that’s our job, to be the background artists. I’m excited to be
doing it at the Rialto. We’ll be dressing up, the ambience is great, it’s a really cool venue to be doing a screening like this and I really think it fits the mood.
The screenings are being held Oct. 17 and 24 at the Rialto Theatre, 5723 ave. du Parc (corner Bernard Ave. O.) Doors open at 6 p.m. Student tickets are $7 for Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu and $5 for White Zombie and The Black Cat. Finger foods will be offered as well as beer, wine, and “(dead) spirits” to throw down your gullet.