Don’t open it! Possession and Other Eastern European Nightmares

One of the most acclaimed psychological horror films of all time, Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession has finally been given a proper restoration. To accompany our limited run of this iconic film starring Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill, we bring you a selection of five other Eastern European nightmares to help you get into the spirit of Halloween.

Come out for the absurd horror of Juraj Herz‘s disturbing The Cremator (1969, Czechoslovakia) or György Pálfi’s stomach-turning Taxidermia (2006, Hungary), the carnivorous mermaids in Agnieszka Smoczynska’s playful horror-musical mashup The Lure (2016, Poland), a metaphysical journey with Andrei Tarkovsky‘s postapocalyptic retina burner Stalker (1979, Soviet Union), or for Klaus Kinski and pre-Possession Isabelle Adjani in Werner Herzog’s haunting Transylvanian romance Nosferatu the Vampyre (1978, Germany). There is something for everyone in Don’t Open it! Possession and other Eastern European Nightmares.

More showtimes may be added for select titles. Individual tickets are $13. Buy a pass to see all 6 for $60. Free or discounted for members.

Special thanks to Metrograph Pictures, Janus Films, AGFA and Here Media.


Possession

Starts October 15

Banned upon its original release in 1981, Andrzej Żuławski’s stunningly choreographed nightmare of a marriage unraveling is an experience unlike any other. Professional spy Mark (Sam Neill) returns to his West Berlin home to find his wife Anna (Isabelle Adjani, in a role that earned her Best Actress at Cannes) insistent on a divorce. As Anna’s frenzied behavior becomes ever more alarming, Mark discovers a truth far more sinister than his wildest suspicions. With its pulsating score, visceral imagery, and some of the most haunting performances ever captured on screen, Possession is cinematic delirium at its most intoxicating.

A film by Andrzej Żuławski. 1981. France, Germany. 124 min. 4K restoration. Metrograph Pictures.

Showtimes/Tickets for Possession available here.


The Lure

October 20

In this bold, genre-defying horror-musical mashup – the playful and confident debut of Polish director Agnieszka Smoczynska – a pair of carnivorous mermaid sisters are drawn ashore in an alternate ’80s Poland to explore the wonders and temptations of life on land. Their tantalizing siren songs and otherworldly aura make them overnight sensations as nightclub singers in the half-glam, half-decrepit fantasy world of Smoczynska’s imagining. In a visceral twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s original Little Mermaid tale, one sister falls for a human, and as the bonds of sisterhood are tested, the lines between love and survival get blurred. A savage coming-of-age fairytale with a catchy new-wave soundtrack, lavishly grimy sets, and outrageous musical numbers, THE LURE explores its themes of sexuality, exploitation, and the compromises of adulthood with energy and originality.

A film by Agnieszka Smoczynska. Poland. 2015. 92 min. DCP. Polish with English subtitles. Janus Films.

Showtimes/Tickets for The Lure available here.


Nosferatu the Vampyre (New Restoration)

October 22

Werner Herzog’s only horror film is as rich with artistry and tragedy as his most grounded, human work. It is 1850 in the beautiful, perfectly-kept town of Wismar. Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz, DOWNFALL; WINGS OF DESIRE) is leaving on a long journey over the Carpathian Mountains to finalize real estate arrangements with a wealthy nobleman. His wife Lucy (POSSESSION’s Isabelle Adjani) begs him not to go and is troubled by a strong premonition of danger. Despite her warnings, Jonathan arrives four weeks later at a large, gloomy castle. Out of the mist appears a pale, wraith-like figure with deep-sunken eyes who identifies himself as Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski). The events that transpire slowly convince Harker that he is in the presence of a vampire. Even still, he doesn’t realize the magnitude of danger he, his wife and his town are about to experience. The film is set primarily in 19th-century Transylvania and Wismar, Germany, the third-largest port city in former East Germany.

A film by Werner Herzog. West Germany. 1979. 107 min. DCP. German with English subtitles. Restoration courtesy of Shout! Factory and the American Genre Film Archive.

Showtimes/Tickets for Nosferatu the Vampyre available here.


Taxidermia

October 22

György Pálfi’s ghastly, audacious assault on the senses leaps from generation to generation of Magyar men and a genetic disorder that results in more body dysfunction than Cronenberg’s entire oeuvre. An ode to unseen stories of sadness, love and mutation, from harelipped masturbating peeping toms to Olympian speed-eating, grotesque sex, strange infants, penises that shoot fire and gigantic house cats – well, you get the idea. This hilarious yet ghastly broth of Monty Python-style shenanigans and Eastern European gloominess is not recommended for all tastes, but those seeking a bizarre and utterly audacious experience will be in goggle-eyed heaven. Prepare to let your eyes, ears and mind feast on this one-of-a-kind cinematic buffet. CONTENT WARNING: This film contains some graphic and shocking content that goes beyond an R rating.

A film by György Pálfi. Austria / France / Hungary. 2006. HD Digital. 91 min. In English, Hungarian and Russian with English subtitle. Here Media Films.

Showtimes/Tickets for Taxidermia available here.


The Cremator

October 29

Czechoslovak New Wave iconoclast Juraj Herz’s terrifying, darkly comic vision of the horrors of the Nazi racial ideology stars a supremely chilling Rudolf Hrušínský as the pathologically morbid Karel Kopfrkingl, a crematorium director in 1930s Prague who believes fervently that death offers the only true relief from human suffering. When he is recruited by the Nazis, Kopfrkingl’s increasingly deranged worldview drives him to formulate his own shocking Final Solution. Blending the blackest of black gallows humor with disorienting expressionistic flourishes—queasy point-of-view shots, distorting lenses, jarring quick cuts—Herz’s controversial, long-banned masterpiece stands as one of cinema’s most trenchant and disturbing portraits of the banality of evil.

Directed by Juraj Herz. 1969. Czechoslovakia. 100 min. Czech with English subtitles. Janus Films.

Showtimes/Tickets for The Cremator available here.


Stalker

October 30 & 31

One of the most immersive and rarefied experiences in the history of cinema, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker embarks on a metaphysical journey through an enigmatic post-apocalyptic landscape. A hired guide—the “Stalker” of the title—leads a writer and a scientist into the heart of the Zone, the restricted site of a long-ago disaster, where the three men eventually zero in on the Room, a place rumored to fulfill one’s most deeply held desires. Adapting a science-fiction novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, and making what would be his final Soviet feature, Tarkovsky created a challenging and visually stunning work, his painstaking attention to material detail and sense of organic atmosphere further enriched by this vivid new digital restoration. At once a religious allegory, a reflection of contemporary political anxieties, and a meditation on film itself—among many other interpretations—Stalker envelops the viewer by opening up a multitude of possible meanings.

A film by Andrei Tarkovsky. 1979. Soviet Union. 161 min. In Russian with English subtitles. Janus Films.

Showtimes/Tickets for Stalker available here.


More showtimes may be added for select titles. Individual tickets are $13. Buy a pass to see all 6 for $60. Free or discounted for members.