Murnau’s acclaimed Dracula adaptation, Nosferatu (1922) is still one of the most chilling horror movies ever made – and probably the most influential. So if you’re looking for a cool halloween night out, you can’t beat watching Max Schreck’s shadow creeping up those stairs with Minima’s heavy rock soundtrack. Luckily, then, there will be a few chances for you to catch the Nosferatu-Minima show this witching season. They’re playing two gigs in London, at Stoke Newington International Airport on 29 October 2011 and at the Prince Charles Cinema on 24 November. Check out the venues’ website for times and ticket prices, and if you live outside London, have a look at Minima’s website for performances of Nosferatu in Devon, Hertfordshire and Somerset.
And if you prefer a more traditional silent film accompaniment, Nosferatu is also playing at the Brentford Musical Museum, with a live organ score by Donald Mackenzie on 19 November 2011. Tickets cost £10. For more information and to book, visit the museum website.
Call it a spooky coincidence, but there are three screenings of The Phantom of the Opera (1925) coming up in the London area this month. Could it be that Halloween is approaching?
From the novel by Gaston Leroux, Lon Chaney creates one of his most grotesque performances as the crazed man without a face, who lives in the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, and falls in love with the voice of a young opera singer. Infatuated, he kidnaps her, dragging her to the depths below where she will sing only for him.
The Phantom of the Opera is a spectacularly grand horror film – from its Paris Opera House setting, to lead actor Lon Chaney’s gruesome makeup, and the early use of Technicolor in the Bal masqué sequence. You really can’t beat seeing this on the big screen – and with live musical accompaniment, of course. And this month, you have two chances to do.
On 19 October 2011, you can watch The Phantom of the Opera in a very unusual location: the medieval Croydon Minster in Surrey. The screening will be accompanied by David Griggs, who will improvise a score on the church organ. Tickets cost £10 and are available by emailing email@example.com or calling 020 8688 8104. For more details, visit the Croydon Minster website.
The Phantom of the Opera is haunting the West End too. On 27 October 2011, the Prince Charles Cinema will be screening the film with piano accompaniment by Costas Fotopoulos. The PCC’s silent screenings always have a great atmosphere, so this should be a suitably spine-tingling way to kick off the the Halloween weekend. Tickets cost £11 or £7 for concessions and are available from the PCC website.
And the Phantom can also be found at London’s newest cinema. The box-fresh Hackney Picturehouse hosts a screening of the film, with a live soundtrack by Wirral band the Laze.
This Halloween they bring Picturehouse their bespoke score for the classic silent horror Phantom of the Opera (1925). Influenced by a history of horror soundtracks, from Bernard Hermann & Angelo Badalamenti to Goblin & John Carpenter, The Laze implement elements of Progressive Rock, Classical, Jazz, Doom and Electronica in their auteur musical accompaniment.
Wurlitzer organs were once a familiar sight in British cinemas but that was a very long time ago. Happily, there are some places, such as the Musical Museum in Brentford, which maintain these fantastic instruments and put on concerts and film screenings to show them to their best advantage.
The next event on the Musical Museum’s “silent” schedule is a Sunday afternoon compilation of Laurel and Hardy films. There will be two silent shorts before the interval: Flying Elephants (1928) and Putting Pants on Philip (1927). Donald Mackenzie will accompany both films on the museum’s Regal Wurlitzer, and after the break he will give a short performance before a screening of the sound film The Music Box (1932).
The Laurel and Hardy screening takes place on Sunday 25 September at 3pm, at the Brentford Musical Museum, near Kew Bridge Station. Tickets cost £10 and you can find out more details on the museum’s website here.
This is one of London’s more unusual venues for a silent film screening: the Musical Museum in Brentford, Middlesex, which is just down the road from Chiswick. The museum boasts a magnificent Wurlitzer and regularly shows films with organ accompaniment – every so often we get a silent film in the mix, too. The silent film they are showing next is Carmen (1915), and although the online programme sports a very sultry picture of Theda Bara in the role, I have it on very good authority that they are showing the version directed by Cecil B DeMille, featuring opera star Geraldine Farrar.
Carmen, which was based on the novel by Prosper Mérimée rather than the opera, was a huge hit at the time, first prompting a rival studio to produce the version starring Bara and then inspiring Chaplin to make A Burlesque on Carmen (1916). Was that one of the first spoof movies?
Farrar plays Carmen, a beautiful Gypsy who seduces a soldier in order to distract him from his post and allow her fellow smugglers to sneak contraband into the city of Seville. Well, it all ends rather messily as you probably know, but it’s a classic tale – and the bullring sequence is fantastic. Also, I’m very pleased to see the Musical Museum showing such an early film, rather than the more familiar 1920s fare.
The Wurlitzer, which was originally installed in the Regal cinema in Kingston Upon Thames, will be played by Donald Mackenzie. Carmen (1915) will screen at the Musical Museum, Brentford, on 26 March 2011, at 7.30pm. Tickets, which are £10, are available here, along with all the information you need.
This blog is primarily, but not exclusively, about silent film screenings in London – but when there are festivals, exhibitions or special screenings elsewhere in Britain they deserve a place on these pages too. Which is my excuse for telling you about this show coming up in Lincolnshire in May.
The Kinema in the Woods is a former concert pavilion, which began showing films in 1906 and continued to do so until it burned down in a fire in 1920. Two years later the Pavilion Kinema was rebuilt as a purpose-built cinema, with a rear-projection screen and the Phantom Orchestra providing the tunes.
These days, the Kinema in the Woods (named for its rural location) is still running, showing current releases and classics in its gorgeous 1920s-style building. So what better place could there be to watch a 1920s film? Particularly a 1920s film set in a 1920s cinema? I am hugely pleased that the Kinema in the Woods will be screening Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr (1924) on Sunday 8 May 2011. It’s a beautiful, hilarious film about a projectionist who falls asleep in the booth and has a strange dream that he is a movie detective, prompting a series of fantastically inventive gags. Music will be provided by Alan Underwood on the Kinema’s Compton organ and a short film will be shown also.
You can buy tickets and find out more about this unusual cinema on the website here, and there is a particularly entertaining Twitter feed too.
Sherlock Jr screens at 2.30pm on Sunday 8 May 2011 at 2.30pm.