Yes, it’s that wonderful month. We love Hallowe’en here at Filmspot, and seeing as how we are thinking in an extra terrestrial way at the moment, because of our upcoming ET screening (see below for details), we thought we’d give you a few scary alien picks, ready for Hallowe’en. If these are all a bit gruesome and threatening for you, then fear not! We have a softer, cuddlier, fuzzier alien film list coming next week!

Village of the Damned [1960]

Based on ‘The Midwich Cuckoos‘ by John Wyndham, this film doesn’t explicitly tell us that what we’re dealing with are aliens, but I’m  going along with the assumption that they are. The horror in this one comes purely from the uncanny behaviour of the unworldly-looking children. Martin Stephens, who played David (the leader of the alarming youths), is eerily cold and emotionless – his startlingly precise diction is one of the most unsettling elements of the film.

The Thing [1982]

John Carpenter’s remake of the 1950s flick ‘The Thing from Another World‘ is a gruesome festival of ridiculous gore. The special effects were cutting edge, and the antarctic setting gives the film a strange atmosphere from the very beginning. The alien we are dealing with here is about as horrific as you can imagine – a parasitic, shape shifting monster that assumes the form of every living thing it kills, and it certainly kills a lot during its 109 minutes… I think, given the choice, I’d rather encounter ET, thank you very much (these two films were released in the same year!)

Mars Attacks! [1996]

One of Tim Burton‘s finest, made before he went all family friendly on us. It’s a homage to the sci fi films he loved as a child, and is based on a series of Topp’s trading cards from the 1960s. The cast thoroughly enjoy every minute that they are on screen, playing up the schlock-factor, while the quirky humour, lush visuals and completely ridiculous gore give the film a freshness that Burton’s recent work has lacked. My only regret (being an animation fan) is that the original plans to have stop motion aliens, created by the  masterly Barry Purves, never came to fruition because of the escalating budget.

The Day the Earth Stood Still [1951]

Directed by the wonderful Robert Wise (who directed, amongst many others, The Haunting AND The Sound of Music!), this is one of the original, and finest, alien invasion films. Steeped in cold war paranoia,  the film is surprisingly thoughtful and optimistic. Although I have included it in the Hallowe’en ‘horror’ list, the aliens here are far from evil monsters – in fact, the humanoid Klaatu (Michael Rennie), has come to Earth to give an ultimatum to end our violent ways.  The theremin soundtrack instantly conjures up schlocky B-movie connotations, but bear in mind, this came before all of that. This is the real deal.

Alien [1979]

Alien is probably the scariest extra-terrestrial film of all time. It is almost also the goriest (but misses out to ‘The Thing’, above) mainly from one particular, infamous scene. The film works by playing on the claustrophobic atmosphere of the spaceship, Nostromo. Ridley Scott instructed the set builders to create the ship in dimensions to feel as claustrophobic as possible on camera, and it certainly works. Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is also one of the best female protagonists of all time. Scott’s usual eye for detail together with H.R.Giger’s horribly sophisticated set designs make for a film that looks and feels like nothing else.

So… after all of those, I should think will need something a little bit more uplifting. Well, as promised above, here are the details of our E.T. screening!

Filmspot present a special 30th anniversary screening of
E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial
at Newhaven Fort, 3 November 2012, 3pm (film starts at 3.10pm)
Based on an imaginary friend created while his parents were divorcing, Spielberg’s iconic ‘E.T.’ broke box office records on release, and is one of the most successful science fiction films of all time. The story is centred on the friendship between E.T, a stranded alien visitor and Elliot, a lonely ten year old. Although it has its feet firmly set in the science fiction genre, the film is an utterly convincing portrayal of friendship and childhood – both charming and moving. By the end, there won’t be a dry eye in the house!

The historical setting of Newhaven Fort is the perfect setting for this special film event, which promises to be very atmospheric. There will be some special twists to set the scene, including light projections, 80s film trailers, specially chosen music and themed sweet treats for every audience member.

Tickets cost £6 for adults, £4 for children, and include entry to the Fort Museum. Advance booking is strongly recommended. Telephone Newhaven Fort for tickets: 01273 517622.


Ont un style-français printemps, Filmspotters!

Everyone loves Paris in the Springtime… and the rest of France for that matter! So, while we’ve been thinking about Jean-Pierre Jeunet in advance of our screening of A Very Long Engagement at the Redoubt, Eastbourne (see below for details), we thought we’d have a think about a few films to give your springtime a distinctively Gallic flavour…

1. French Cancan [1954]

Jean Renoir‘s colourful and nostalgic celebration of fin-de-siècle Paris, stars Jean Gabin as the impresario Danglard who decides to launch his new club, the ‘Moulin Rouge’ by reviving the French Cancan. A musical full of  memorable characters and joie de vivre, Renoir’s film is a tribute to the Paris painted by his father and the impressionists.

2. Les Demoiselles du Rochefort (Young Girls of Rochefort) [1967]

Another musical, but with a very different feel. Jacques Demy’s follow up to the highly acclaimed ‘Umbrellas of Cherbourg’ is fun, colourful and breezy, and includes some wonderful musical numbers. It stars Catherine Deneuve with her real-life sister, Françoise Dorléac as a pair of twins who work as a ballet teacher and a music teacher, respectively. Set over a weekend in Rochefort, when the fair comes to town, they film follows the girls and their search for romance.

3. Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (The Lovers on the Bridge) [1991]

Leos Carax’s ‘Les Amants du Pont-Neuf’ is a simple love story between two homeless people who meet on the oldest bridge in Paris, the ‘Pont-Neuf’. Alex (Denis Lavant) is a street performer who is struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, and Michele (Juliette Binoche) is a painter who is gradually loosing her sight. Not exactly a ‘feel-good’ romance, it feels very un-Hollywood, and is certainly all the better for it.

4. The Red Balloon [1956]

You can watch this enchanting evocation of childhood in its entirety on YouTube. We would definitely recommend it. Written and directed by Albert Lamorisse, and starring the Director’s son, the beauty of this short film is its simplicity. It depicts a friendship between a young boy and a helium balloon, which has a mind of its own. With almost no dialogue, the charming score  is far more effective than any kind of script could be.

5. Micmacs [2009]

Finally, to give a final plug to our filmmaker of choice for April – Jean-Pierre Jeunet –  with his most recent feature. Uplifting, but not as saccharine as ‘Amelie’, ‘Micmacs’ has all the classic Jeunet hallmarks – many of his favourite collaborating actors pop up (for example, Dominique Pinon and Yolande Moreau), the eccentric characters and steampunk-eque gadgetry. Although not the quite the ‘satire on the world arms trade’ that the film bills itself as, its charm, wit and warmth make it delightful viewing.

We’re looking forward to presenting another of Jeunet’s films, the soaringly romantic ‘A Very Long Engagement’, at Eastbourne Redoubt on 21st April. See for full details, and contact Eastbourne Redoubt for tickets on 01323 410300.