Mixed tape series scares up a diabolical duo for Halloween, remembering Ava

by Mark Burger

The Mixed Tape Film Series is also getting into the spirit of the season with a pair of big-screen fright fests — one an absolute Hollywood classic, the other a funky cult classic with a freakish streak of black humor — which will be screened at the Carolina Theatre (310 S. Greene St., Greensboro).

On Thursday, Oct. 13, the original 1973 version of The Exorcist will again be possessing viewers. Based on William Peter Blatty’s bestselling novel (which was inspired by a true incident) and set in Georgetown, the film depicts the demonic possession of an average young girl (Linda Blair) — and in horrific fashion.

One of the biggest boxoffice hits of all time, The Exorcist won Academy Awards for Blatty’s adapted screenplay and Best Sound, with additional nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (William Friedkin), Best Actress (Ellen Burstyn), Best Supporting Actor (Jason Miller), Best Supporting Actress (Blair), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration and Best Editing. The cast also includes Max Von Sydow (in the title role), Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn and Jack MacGowran, The Exorcist is rated R — With good reason! — and has lost none of its power.

On Thursday, Oct. 20, Earth is invaded by malevolent aliens that take the form of circus clowns in 1988’s Killer Klowns from Outer Space, starring Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson and veterans Royal Dano (The Trouble With Harry) and John Vernon (Dean Wormer of National Lampoon’s Animal House fame). Said critic Leonard Maltin: “[It] plays its premise to the hilt, all circus bases touched. A cult favorite.” The film is rated PG-13. Audience members who arrive in clown makeup will receive free cotton candy.

Each film will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for each film are $5 a piece, and can be purchased at the box-office or via

For more information, e-mail Her name was Ava Gardner (1922-’90) and she was unquestionably one of the most beautiful women to ever step in front of a camera. Her marriages included Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw and the Chairman of the Board himself, Frank Sinatra. Her movies included The Killers (1946), The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), Bhowani Junction (1956), The Sun Also Rises (1957), On the Beach (1959) and John Frankenheimer’s 1964 adaptation of Seven Days in May. She earned her only Oscar nomination as Best Actress in John Ford’s Mogambo (1953) under the direction of John Ford.

Ava Gardner was born in Smithfield, and for the last 11 years, the Ava Gardner Museum (325 E. Market St., Smithfield) has paid tribute to the actress’ life and career, culminating in the Ava Gardner Festival, which opens this weekend.

This year’s festival will begin Friday with a gala evening at the Howell Theatre in downtown Smithfield with a musical tribute to Frank Sinatra by Phil Bruschi of Wilmington. Following the entertainment, a one-of-a-kind cake from Frank’s hometown of Hoboken, NJ will be unveiled, and a toast will be made celebrating the new exhibits at the Ava Gardner Museum. Tickets to this Gala Reception are $25 per person.

Throughout the weekend, there will be special screenings of selected films starring Gardner or Sinatra, including From Here to Eternity (1953), for which Sinatra won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor (thereby launching a major career comeback); the original Ocean’s Eleven (1960) featuring Sinatra and the Rat Pack (Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, et al); and the aforementioned Bhowani Junction, which paired Gardner with Stewart Granger. The screenings coincide with the museum’s new Frank & Ava exhibits. All-day admission to the museum during the three-day festival will be $7 for all ages.

In addition, tours will be scheduled throughout the day (9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.), in which visitors will tour points of interest in Smithfield, including Gardner’s birthplace, the Brogden Teacherage where she was raised, and eventually her gravesite in Sunset Memorial Park. Tour passes are $12 per person.

“Expanding the activities to three days will give our visitory options they haven’t had before”, said Todd Johnson, executive director of the Ava Gardner Museum, in a statement. “Having the museum exhibits, movies and heritage tours all in one day, didn’t allow enough flexibility, so we have made some changes — hopefully bring in more visitors to enjoy the weekend in Smithfield.”

An Ava Gardner Festival Package rate is available for $99 per couple, which includes the Friday gala, Saturday tour and museum admission, as well as a commemorative T-shirt.

The festival will run through Sunday. For a more comprehensive list of events, call 919.934.5830 or visit the museum’s official website: The museum’s regular operating hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. General admission is $7; $6 for senior citizens, military personnel, teenagers and groups; $5 for children ages 6-12.