Screening: THE KIRLIAN WITNESS (Los Angeles)

Sun. Aug. 25, 2019

Can spider plants sense pain? Is fern telepathy feasible? The empathic, ecophilic Laurie (Nancy Boykin) thinks so, most days eschewing human interactions in favor of quality time with her fiddle-leaf fig tree. After a sudden tragedy, her sister Rilla (Nancy Snyder), a photographer and the film’s narrator, subsumes Laurie’s plant obsession, believing that certain secrets lie within their leaves. Beautifully shot by João Fernandes (Bloodrage, 1980), The Kirlian Witness is a botanical thriller of dendritic proportions, and an essential entry in the tiny but rich horticultural horror canon.
PLUS! Enjoy a pre-screening reception in the gardens of the Velaslavasay Panorama.

THE BAD TRIP: PSYCHEDELIC HORROR CINEMA, 1967-1972 (London)

Thu. Sep. 12, 2019

Within psychedelic culture the threat of the bad trip hovers like an ominous presence. Psychedelic or ‘Mind-clearing’ drugs may promise wisdom, visionary insight or a fabulous holiday for the brain, but they can also release the horrors of the id, tear the veil of sanity and pull you into the void. This class will chart the emergence of psychedelia across the Sixties and will examine the incorporation of its visual language in horror cinema during the period 1966-1972. Rather than seeing the films in question as acts of exploitation, the talk will frame them as radical works of acid horror, a from which in the case of The Dunwich Horror is used to conjure the cosmic vertigo integral to H. P. Lovecraft’s writing. Further, the talk will also read back from the films to the wider drug culture to uncover a sense of horror underpinning the psychedelic experience as a whole.

MURDER SEASON: CRIME-SOLVING PLANTS AND OTHER VEGETAL HORRORS (Los Angeles)

Thu. Sep. 12, 2019

Like the human cadaver, every plant, tree, flower and fungus has a story to tell. But when it comes to how plants tell stories, there are essentially two schools of thought: In the 1970s it was a popular belief – aided by unorthodox experiments, the proliferation of New Age publications and the mass-marketing of Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird’s 1973 book The Secret Life of Plants – that, despite their lack of a nervous system, plants were sentient and emotional, and could communicate their feelings to humans with the help of electronic devices. Conversely, the scientific community found more practical ways of gleaning what plants had to tell us, through the examination of trace elements at crime scenes in the field of forensic botany.

Expanded from an article commissioned for Nicolas Winding Refn’s website ByNWR.com, Murder Season takes a look at the ways that a disillusioned generation became obsessed with plants, not only in their homes and gardens as part of the burgeoning environmentalist and earth mysteries movements that summoned people back to their rural roots, but in laboratories and recording studios that aimed to document the ways plants experienced and witnessed the world around them and how they could communicate knowledge to us – whether imparting ancient wisdom or fingering a murderer.

LIVE FROM MISKATONIC: GARY SHERMAN IN CONVERSATION (London)

Mon. Nov. 18, 2019

In association with the Abertoir Film Festival, we are pleased to welcome Gary Sherman to the Miskatonic Institute for an evening of history, anecdotes and practical tips from his 50-year career in filmmaking, including iconic genre films such as Death Line (1972), Dead & Buried (1981), Vice Squad (1982), Wanted: Dead or Alive (1986), Poltergeist III (1988) and more.

GOD OF THE OUTSIDERS: SATAN IN LITERATURE, CULTURE, AND ENTERTAINMENT—OLD MYTH AND NEW INSIGHT (NYC)

Thu. Sep. 19, 2019

Tracing the earliest origins of humanity’s conception of an opposing force in the Eastern and Western worlds, Mitch Horowitz (author, Occult America) explores some of history’s most bracing and provocative interpretations of the Satanic—from the work of Milton and the Romantic poets (William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell; Lord Byron’s Cain) to more recent fiction and nonfiction literary efforts (Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s The Club Dumas; Anton LaVey’s The Satanic Bible; Michael Aquino’s The Diabolicon), and examines how even some of our most recognized supernatural films (Devil’s Advocate; Rosemary’s Baby; The Ninth Gate) enunciate Satanic themes with penetrating classical validity. In the process, Mitch strips away historical and cultural preconceptions, misunderstandings, and shibboleths to open an entirely fresh window on the intellectual and cultural idea of the Satanic in Western history and contemporary life. He shines a new light into ancient myths, canonical literature, legends, and pop culture to trace out an authentic outsider tradition of Satanic thought. Join us for a challenging and eye-opening evening. You will come away with an entirely new conception of a “familiar devil.”