There are nine days to go until Halloween and also nine days left of Beyond Fest, a self-described “horror, sci-fi, fantasy and badass cinema” series that is celebrating its inaugural year in Los Angeles this month. Packed with obscure repertory screenings, independent film premieres and performances from the likes of Halloween
composer Alan Howarth and Italian giallo film legends Goblin, Beyond Fest also delegated some curatorial duties to Death Waltz
, the ultra-prolific, London-based horror score reissue label run by former Rough Trade East manager Spencer Hickman. Because we couldn’t think of anybody better to help get us in the Halloween mood, we asked Hickman and Beyond Fest co-producer Christian Parkes to share some of their favorite, spine-tingling musical moments from cinema history. Check out the remaining screenings and performances at Beyond Fest here
, and take a dive in the Death Waltz archives here
A Field in England, 2013, directed by Ben Wheatley
HICKMAN: Ben Wheatly continues to be one of the most interesting and exciting British directors working today. Not only are his films unique and uncompromising, but he uses pre-existing music unlike any other director since Richard Kelly debuted Donnie Darko. His knack for matching pop music with visuals is masterful, and this clip from A Field in England manages to be both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. I am really excited to be screening this in LA as part of Beyond Fest.
Xtro, 1983, directed by Harry Bromley Davenport
HICKMAN: Xtro was an extremely gruesome British sci-fi movie from 1983 that featured a scrappy alien creature and increasingly outrageous splatter FX kills, all delivered on a low budget with an absolutely killer synth soundtrack. It a firm favourite from my youth. As part of Beyond Fest, we are showing Almost Human [October 25, at the Egyptian Theater] by Joe Begos, which is an absolute spiritual cousin of Xtro. It’s got tons of enthusiasm, heart and a willingness to shock. It features a great synth score that I would love to release through Death Waltz and nails the low-budget, ’80 aesthetic perfectly. Made on a shoestring, Almost Human kind of reminds me of the first Evil Dead flick. It has an everything AND the kitchen sink vibe to it, and you can’t help but think you are watching a director that is going to go on to truly great things within the horror genre.
The Fearless Vampire Killers, 1967, directed by Roman Polanski
PARKES: As part of Zack Parker’s night at Beyond Fest, the young director is screening Roman Polanski’s epic Satan-rape paranoia trip, Rosemary’s Baby, to accompany his own film, Proxy [October 29th at the Egyptian Theater]. Inspired by this, I’m picking Polanski’s criminally overlooked The Fearless Vampire Killers. With Cul de Sac and Repulsion firmly under his belt, a young Polanski held a hot hand as he entered the US in 1967, and quickly got to work on this dark spoof of vampire mythology. Killers principally follows the Professor Abronsius and his apprentice (played by Polanski) as they travel through mid-19th century Transylvania hunting vampires. Unfortunately for them, not only are they totally incompetent in slaying the undead, but they stumble into a vampire-infested town. What sets Killers apart is a black-as-night tone that smolders tightly under the humorous veneer delivered by its two bumbling leads, and a bleak, oppressive ending that has become trademark Polanski. This scene perfectly displays the macabre comedic tension that Polanski mastered, and is punctuated by Krzysztof Komeda’s mesmerizing and terrifying score. Coupled with the knowledge that this is where Polanski met Sharon Tate (who is simply stunning) makes Killers required, if uneasy, Halloween viewing.
Suspiria, 1977, directed by Dario Argento
PARKES: At Beyond Fest, sonic Italian prog rockers Goblin are playing LA for the first time in their 40 year history [October 21st-23rd at the Egyptian Theater]. In honor of this, I’m going with Dario Argento’s most infamous murder scene from his genre-defining Suspiria. The story follows a young Jessica Harper as she joins a dancing school, only to discover it’s a haven for a particularly nasty coven of witches. However, with Suspiria, the plot is not what we came for… Suspiria is a watershed film for Argento, as it reflects not only his most excessive deployment of hyper-violence and murder on beautiful women, but it is a film in which his nightmarish, technicolor visuals are most perfectly aligned with the pulsating soundtrack of Goblin. A defining statement of the Italian giallo genre, Suspiria has cemented its place in the list of the all-time horror classics, and rightly so, as no film has come close to eclipsing the terrifying symbiosis of Argento’s lavish splendor and Goblin’s possessed opera.