Tuesday, October 20, 2015

'Cat and Canary' thriller on 10/22 in Plymouth;
then 'Nosferatu,' 'Dr. Jekyll' and 'Unknown'

A gripping tale: Haunted house thriller 'The Cat and the Canary' comes to the Flying Monkey on Thursday, Oct. 22.

Last weekend brought Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Lodger' in Vermont, two Buster Keaton features in New Hampshire, and a flat tire.

This week brings haunted house thriller 'The Cat and the Canary' (1927) on Thursday night, then 'Nosferatu' (1922) on Saturday.

Then that's followed by two shows on Sunday: a matinee of 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' (1920) in New Hampshire, then an evening screening of Lon Chaney in 'The Unknown' (1927) down in Massachusetts.

All I can say is: glad I got the flat tire out of the way last weekend.

Last Saturday's 'Lodger' brought an end to the 2015 silent film season at Brandon (Vt.) Town Hall and Community Center, which uses the programs to raise money for ongoing renovations.

The Halloween-themed program was dubbed "chiller theater" in part because the vintage building lacks any kind of central heating.

Marie Ault and Ivor Novello take the chill out of "Chiller Theater."

Turnout was a little light, but only when compared to the capacity crowds we got for several shows this summer.

Music for 'The Lodger' came together effectively, I thought, despite me being slightly rattled by having to swap out a tire on the way there.

I used a strings-only texture until the last 10 minutes, when the film's action begins to take place on a wider scale, which I feel calls for a more robust orchestral palette.

Response in Brandon is never less than enthusiastic, and this time included a jar of homemade apple/rhubarb preserves left for me at the keyboard after the show was over.

The next day's program in Charlestown, N.H. was a hoot because nearly 30 years ago, I covered the town as a reporter for the Claremont Eagle-Times, a local daily paper.

The show was jointly sponsored by the Charlestown Historical Society and the Silsby Free Library, and was held in the library's basement function room.

It turns out that in the first half of the previous century, movies were a regular attraction at what's called the old "Town Hall" in Charlestown. (Town offices long ago moved out to a modern building.)

The "Town Hall" of Charlestown, N.H.

The woman from the historical society, which now looks after the building, told me the original projector is still in place in a booth far up the rear wall.

There wasn't time to check it out on Sunday, but I've added it to my list of places to explore when I get a chance. Who knows what might be up there?

Looking ahead: first up is this year's only screening of 'The Cat and the Canary' (1927), one of my own Halloween favorites. It's on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center, 39 South Main St., Plymouth, N.H.

More details are in the press release below. I'll post info about the other screenings later this week.

Thanks, and remember: "In Silent Film, No One Can Hear You Scream."

* * *

Martha Maddox and Laura LaPlante in 'The Cat and the Canary' (1927)

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 • jeffrapsis@gmail.com

'Cat and Canary' (1927) to play Flying Monkey with live music on Thursday, Oct. 22

Just in time for Halloween: Creepy haunted house silent film thriller to be shown after sundown

PLYMOUTH, N.H.—'The Cat and the Canary' (1927), a haunted house thriller from Hollywood’s silent film era, will be screened with live music on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center, 39 South Main St., Plymouth.

Live music for the movie will be provided by silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis. Admission is $10 per person.

'The Cat and the Canary' stands as the original movie thriller—the first picture to feature the reading of a will in a haunted mansion complete with clutching hands, a masked killer, disappearing bodies, and secret passageways.

Silent film starlet Laura LaPlante leads the cast as a young heiress who must spend the night in the creepy old mansion, which is filled with relatives who all have motives to frighten her out of her wits. Meanwhile, a dangerous escaped lunatic is loose on the grounds. Can she and the others make it through the night?

Created for Universal Pictures by German filmmaker Paul Leni and based on a hit stage play, 'The Cat and the Canary' proved popular enough to inspire several remakes, including one starring Bob Hope. It was also the forbearer of all the great Universal horror classics of the 1930s and '40s.

The Flying Monkey screening will use a fully restored print that shows the film as audiences would have originally experienced it. 'The Cat and the Canary' will be accompanied by live music by New Hampshire composer Jeff Rapsis, who specializes in silent film scoring.

Rapsis will improvise the score on the spot during the screening.

"Silent film is all about the audience experience, and this one is a perfect Halloween crowd-pleaser," Rapsis said. "It has something for everyone—spooky scenes, some good comedy, and it's all fine for the whole family."

Critics praise the original 'Cat and the Canary' for its wild visual design and cutting edge cinematography.

Film reviewer Michael Phillips singled out the film for using "a fluidly moving camera and elaborate, expressionist sets and lighting to achieve some of the most memorable shots in silent film, from the amazing tracking shots down the curtain-lined main hallway to the dramatic zooms and pans that accompany the film's shocks."

Leonard Maltin called the original 'Cat and the Canary' a "delightful silent classic, the forerunner of all "old dark house" mysteries."

The Flying Monkey originally opened as a silent film moviehouse in the 1920s, and showed first-run Hollywood films to generations of area residents until closing several years ago.

The theater has since been renovated by Alex Ray, owner of the Common Man restaurants, who created a performance space that hosts a wide range of music acts.

Movies of all types, however, are still a big part of the Flying Monkey's offerings, and the silent film series is a way for the theater to remain connected to its roots.

'Cat and the Canary' will be shown on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Flying Monkey Moviehouse and Performance Center, 39 South Main St., Plymouth, N.H. Admission $10 per person. For more info, call (603) 536-2551 or visit www.flyingmonkeynh.com. For more about the music, visit www.jeffrapsis.com.

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