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The horrors of Halloween hit Greensboro’s Carousel Cinemas

by Mark Burger

The horrors of Halloween hit Greensboro’s Carousel Cinemas

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the movies…. The Mixed Tape Film Series continues to make moviegoing the most bizarre pastime possible in the Piedmont Triad region, and there’s no better example of this aberrant behavior than during Halloween season.

Where does all the movie madness take place? Why at the Carousel Luxury Cinemas (1305 Battleground Ave., Greensboro), of course. Each week will feature a different film (overall quality is optional) and a different theme.

The series certainly kicks off this Thursday, and on a high note, with Ivan Reitman’s 1984 comedy smash Ghostbusters (“Who ya gonna call?”), starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Harold Ramis, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson, William Atherton and David Margulies (as the Mayor). The Oscar-nominated theme song, which was maddeningly inescapable throughout the 1980s, was by Ray Parker Jr.

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., and the film is rated PG. Be aware: This is as close to a “family-friendly” offering as the series has to offer.

Next Thursday, Oct. 8, the laughs come fast and the gore comes faster in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1986), starring Bruce Campbell as the indefatigable Ash, battling the minions of evil in a haunted cabin. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., and the film is not rated. That means it wasn’t submitted to the MPAA (because it surely would have gotten something more than an R), and in fact inspired the distributor (De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, founded by the indefatigable Dino De Laurentiis) to create Rosebud Releasing for this one film.

As a bonus, members of the UNCG Theatre Department will present a live sneak preview of its upcoming production, Evil Dead: The Musical, which opens Oct. 23.

Tickets for each film are $4, with $1.50 beer specials and $1 for pastries and slices of pizza. The Halloween theme continues with “Midnight Madness: Friday Night Frights,” a series of big-screen shockers that will run on consecutive Fridays at midnight.

This Friday offers a doozy: Sleepaway Camp (1983). If you’ve seen it, you know it… and you know it’s bad. It’s the only movie in which veteran character actor Mike Kellin (The Boston Strangler, Midnight Express) earned top billing — and it was also his last film, as he died before it was released.

There’s the scene with the curling iron… the scene with the beehive… and the film’s final, unforgettable image. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve seen this film multiple times, whereas I’ve never watched Singin’ in the Rain.

The costume theme is to dress as something from the great outdoors, such as a tree, a hiker, a bear or something along those lines.

On Friday, Oct. 9, we’ve got the direct-to-DVD sequel Shark Attack 3: Megaladon. It’s also rated R, and the theme is “worst costume ever.” Dress as a shark, dress as a whale, dress as yourself… whatever.

The selection for Friday, Oct. 16 is comparably upscale by a wide margin: Takeshi Miike’s award-winning 1999 scarefest Audition, based on the novel by Ryu Murakami and a favorite of horror fans the world over. The theme for this screening is “Turning Japanese,” so anything with a Japanese motif (i.e. Godzilla, a samurai, an anime character) fits the bill.

On Friday, Oct. 23, things go precipitously downhill again with the 1983 schlock slasher classic Pieces (“It’s exactly what you think it is!” blared the newspaper ads — and I remember them well), in which a black-clad chainsaw killer stalks the campus of an esteemed Boston university. To approximate the Boston locations, many of the film’s interiors were shot in Madrid, Spain — a dead ringer for Boston.

The cast includes Christopher George, his real-life wife Lynda Day George, Edmund Purdom and Paul L. Smith (who was better as Bluto in Popeye). Essentially, it’s a whodunit, although hardly in a league with Agatha Christie. In addition, the film features one of the most gruesome groin gags one is likely to see in a motion picture. It ain’t pretty folks; it’s Pieces. (“Pieces” of what I’ll not venture to say, this being a family newspaper.)

The costume theme is simple but rife with possibilities: Slasher victim. Be slashed. Be gashed. Play dead. Dress dead.

The program culminates on Friday, Oct. 30, with the screening of Peter Jackson’s 1992 Kiwi classic Dead/Alive, one of the most outrageous zombie films ever committed to celluloid. It’s weird, it’s wild, it’s funny and it’s unbelievably gory. In short, it’s a masterpiece. The costume theme reaches its apex at this screening, with the winner receiving $100 in cash.

Tickets for Midnight Madness screenings are $5 and include a free collector’s cup to be filled with beer or soda. (For some of these movies, something stronger may be warranted!) For more information, call 336.662.5691 or see www.CarouselCinemas.com.

• • •

During a chat with Andrew Rodgers, executive director of the RiverRun International Film Festival, he revealed that the 2010 festival will stretch out over two weekends — thereby fulfilling one of the aspirations he’s had for the festival for quite some time.

It’s way too early to start unveiling what films and/or filmmakers will be coming to the festival, but it’s clear that the event is getting bigger each year. In the meantime, however, Rodgers has his hands full: He’s getting married next month, and his favorite baseball team (the St. Louis Cardinals) is in the thick of the playoff hunt.

For more information, see http://riverrunfilm.com.

E-mail your comments to marksburger@yahoo.com

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