Horror from beyond the grave


July 29, 2005|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. are all long dead, but that isn't stopping them from co-starring in a movie having its world premiere at this weekend's FANEX 18, Baltimore's annual celebration of the horror film genre.

Terror in the Tropics, screening at 9 p.m. tomorrow, uses 1930s and 1940s horror-film footage featuring Karloff, Lugosi and Chaney, the three mainstays of horror films from that period (most produced by Universal Studios). Writer-director Susan Svehla, who doubles as the FANEX chairwoman, mixes those scenes with new footage featuring local actors, including Mark Redfield (who heads Glen Burnie-based Redfield Arts Studios), Kimberly Hannold, Jonathan Ruckman and Jennifer Rouse.

Anyone familiar with 1982's Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is familiar with the process. In that film, Steve Martin and Rachel Ward starred in a parody of film noir that used clips from many classics of the genre. The technique not only allows a new scene to play immediately after an old scene, with the transition being barely noticeable, but also allows film to be manipulated so that modern actors can share the screen with their 1940s counterparts -- Martin to be in a scene alongside James Cagney, for instance.

With a great sense of glee, Terror in the Tropics pays tribute to vintage horror not only by featuring the biggest names of the era, but also by including nods to dozens of period films (most notably King Kong, which seems to be referenced every few minutes). In the film, a disparate group of travelers (including a pair of tough-talking reporters hot for a scoop!) have been summoned to remote Fog Island, where they may find themselves the unlikely beneficiaries of a dead man's final request ... if they can survive!

Tickets to FANEX, which runs 5 p.m.-11 p.m. today and 10 a.m.-midnight tomorrow, are $5 a day. In addition to tomorrow's premiere, the gathering, at the Embassy Suites in Hunt Valley (213 International Circle), will feature panel discussions, vendor tables, even a discussion of how to build your own home theater. The whole thing is sponsored by Midnight Marquee, publishers of all sorts of wonderful books on classic cinema, everything from Hitchcock to The Creature From the Black Lagoon.

For more information, visit www.midmar.com.

Horror at the Charles

Speaking of horror, Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks' 1951 sci-fi/horror classic The Thing, starring James Arness as an angry alien stalking a group of intrepid South Pole scientists, is this weekend's entry in the invaluable Saturday Revival Series at The Charles.

Tickets are $5, and showtime is noon tomorrow, with encores scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday and 9 p.m. Thursday.

Call 410-727-FILM or visit www.thecharles.com.

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