Movies to See in New Orleans this Week 6/6/19 – 6/12/19

Here’s a quick rundown of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Ma Octavia Spencer stars as an unhinged spinster who terrorizes a group of idiot teens who just want a place to party. Along with other recent titles like the Isabelle Huppert thriller Greta and the Lifetime Original Movie camp fest Psycho Granny, this looks to be part of an unexpected revival of the psychobiddy horror film, a genre we’ll be discussing on next week’s podcast.

The Souvenir Joanna Hogg’s A24-distributed British drama about a 1980s film student who falls in love with a potentially dangerous man. Features a supporting performance from the always-reliable Tilda Swinton and is now playing at AMC Elmwood, just a few short months after making waves at Sundance.

Movies We’ve Already Enjoyed

BooksmartThis may not be the most consistently hi-larious example of the femme teen sex comedy (in the Blockers/The To Do List/Wetlands tradition), but it is one with an unusually effective emotional core and more Gay Stuff than the genre usually makes room for. It’s very reassuring just to see that the kids are more than alright.

The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) – The Frank Oz-directed musical comedy was filmed on location in New York City, features a cavalcade of 1980s somebodies, introduced the world to The Muppet Babies, and was the final Muppet film completed before Jim Henson’s death. Playing only at The Prytania as joint programming for their Summer Kids’ Movies series and their ongoing Classic Movies series.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans This Week: The Overlook Film Fest Edition

Last year’s sudden appearance of the Overlook Film Festival on the local calendar was an unholy, unexpected blessing. There are only a few substantial film fests that are staged in New Orleans every year, so for an international horror film festival with world premieres of Big Deal genre movies to land in our city was a major boon, almost too good to be true. I attended the festival as a volunteer, catching three artsy-fartsy creature features (all directed by women) and a couple live podcast recordings over the course of a few days, hungry (bloodthirsty?) for more. This year, Swampflix will be attending Overlook with legitimate press credentials, meaning we’ll be able to cover even more films playing at the fest – a prospect I’m incredibly excited about.

The trick is knowing what films to cover. There are 23 features and 18 shorts from 11 different countries screening at the festival over the course of a single weekend. It’s overwhelming. Self-described as “a summer camp for genre fans,” The Overlook is centrally located, corralling all of its movie screenings to just a few venues: Le Petit Theatre for its more prestigious premieres, the UNO Performing Arts Center for a repertory screening of The Faculty (with Robert Rodriguez in attendance), and what is now the ghost of the old Canal Place theater for the bulk of its heavy-lifting. That means you can pack in a lot of movies in a very short time. You just need to know how to narrow down your selections.

Personally, I like to use film fests as an opportunity to see smaller films that are unlikely to get wide theatrical distribution otherwise, as opposed to bigger movies I know I can see at a corporate multiplex just a few weeks later. It’s incredibly cool that The Overlook will be hosting early screenings of Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die, the follow-up to Goodnight Mommy (The Lodge), and the upcoming Octavia Spencer psychobiddy revival Ma, but I plan on catching those a little later down the line. Listed below are ten genre films I’m incredibly excited about that are screening at The Overlook Film Festival this weekend but most likely will not play in a proper New Orleans cinema otherwise. Take advantage of this super cool genre film extravaganza before they leave us for another city (which is entirely possible, given the recent death of the Canal Place theater) by catching something offbeat & adventurous that you wouldn’t be able to see projected large & loud in any other context.

In Fabric : “At the height of winter sales in a modern UK department stores, a cursed dress passes from owner to owner, leaving a path of destruction in its wake in this wry, visionary comedy from the director of Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy.Friday, May 31st – 4:30 PM – Le Petit Theatre & Saturday, June 1st – 7:15 PM – Canal Place

Greener Grass : “Writers, directors and stars Jocelyn DeBooer and Dawn Luebbe create a hilariously deadpan hellscape of competitive suburbia with a boldly stylized absurdist chain of events that unfurls with increasing fervor after one soccer mom asks her best friend for her baby.” Friday, May 31st – 8:00 PM – Canal Place & Saturday, June 1st – 9:45 PM – Canal Place

One Cut of the Dead : “In one of the year’s most crowd-pleasing surprises, this twisty horror comedy sees chaos ensue when a low-budget film crew, hard at work on a zombie flick in a WWII bunker, comes face to face with real terror lurking outside.” Friday, May 31st – 3:30 PM – Canal Place & Sunday, June 2nd – 7:45 PM – Le Petit Theatre

Paradise Hills : “With razor-sharp artistic direction and searing wit, Alice Waddington’s directorial debut tells the story in which a young girl is sent to a mysterious reform school specializing in crafting ladies to be more ‘proper.'” Friday, May 31st – 12:30 PM – Canal Place & Sunday, June 2nd – 7:15 PM – Canal Place

Horror Noire : “A free community screening and panel discussion of this refreshing and incisive documentary tracing the history of Black Americans in Hollywood within the horror genre. Hear from Jordan Peele (Get Out), Tony Todd (Candyman), Rachel True (The Craft), Keith David (The Thing) and many more about representation in our favorite genre from the beginning of cinema to today.” Sunday, June 2nd – 2:45 PM – Le Petit Theatre

Come to Daddy : “Norval, a troubled young man travels to a small seaside town to answer a letter from his long-lost father. When he gets there, the two begin to reconnect, but Norval can’t shake the feeling that something is drastically off. Elijah Wood stars in this hilarious and terrifying twisty thrill ride, the directorial debut of lauded horror producer Ant Timpson.” Friday, May 31st – 7:00 PM – Le Petit Theatre

Knives and Skin : “Calling upon echoes of Twin Peaks, artist and filmmaker Jennifer Reeder serves up an eerie teen noir punctuated with haunting 80s covers and unforgettable imagery centering around the effects of one girls’ disappearance on a small town.” Saturday, June 1st – 2:45 PM – Canal Place & Sunday, June 2nd – 12:15 PM – Canal Place

Satanic Panic : “When a pizza delivery girls’ final order of the night turns out to be for a blood-hungry group of Satanists thirsting for a sacrifice, all hell breaks loose…literally. From the Overlook alum writers of We Are Still Here and Paperbacks from Hell, and director Chelsea Stardust comes the goriest of comedies.” Friday, May 31st – 9:30 PM – Le Petit Theatre & Sunday, June 2nd – 7:00 PM – Canal Place

Vast of Night : “First-time filmmaker Andrew Patterson smashes onto the scene with the elegant telling of a 1950s radio DJ and his switchboard operator companion, who stumble upon a strange frequency that may be carrying evidence of other-worldly life.” Saturday, June 1st – 12:00 PM – Canal Place & Sunday, June 2nd – 12:30 PM – Le Petit Theatre

Porno : “Equal parts hilarious and grotesque, this take-no-prisoners horror sex comedy sees a group of ultra-Christian movie theater employees face their worst fears when a mysterious set of pornographic reels releases a little more than their repressed desires.” Thursday, May 30th – 9:30 PM – Canal Place & Saturday, June 1st – 4:30 PM – Canal Place

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans This Week 5/2/19 – 5/8/19

Here are the few movies we’re most excited about that are playing in New Orleans this week. Just in case you haven’t already gotten your superhero fill with Endgame‘s chokehold on the majority of the city’s screenspace, Fathom Events’ month-long celebration of the Batman franchise is pretty exciting for anyone who was too young to catch the Tim Burton run the first time it graced the big screen.

Tim Burton’s Batman Movies

Batman (1989) – Returning to the big screen for its 30th Anniversary, Burton’s goth superhero epic/Prince dance party is a stylistic wonder. From our review for the Roger Ebert Film School series: “Burton’s mixed media visual accomplishments in Batman are stunning to this day, a distinct personal artistry that doesn’t require a strong narrative to justify its for-its-own-sake pleasures. Although he wouldn’t make his most fully personal Batman film until Returns, you can still feel his own idiosyncrasies creeping in through the influence of Nicholson’s goofy-scary Joker and an overall production design unmistakably of his own.” Screening Saturday 5/4 via Fathom Events .

Batman Returns (1992) – While Batman ’89 is a more compromised vision, Returns is pure Tim Burton – an untethered, perverted goth kid rampage that broke free from studio exec influence to hide Batman as a background character in his own movie so total freaks like Danny DeVito’s Penguin & Michelle Pheiffer’s Catwoman could run amok in a horned-up kink nightmare. It’s my personal favorite Batman movie and easily among my favorite Burton pictures (behind only Pee-wee’s Big Adventure & Ed Wood). Screening Monday 5/6 via Fathom Events .

Non-Batman Films

High Society (1956) – A Technicolor movie-musical remake of The Philadelphia Story, featuring a Cole Porter score, musical performances from Louis Armstrong, and the final big-screen appearance of Grace Kelly before she became Princess consort of Monaco. Screening as part of The Prytania’s Classic Movies series Sunday 5/5 and Wednesday 5/8.

Black Mother An artsy, cinematography-focused documentary exploring the culture clash between sex workers & the pious in modern Jamaica. Appears to echo the economic anxiety & poetic fine-art portraiture of Hale County This Morning, This Evening. Playing only at the new & improved Zeitgeist cinema in Arabi.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans This Week 4/25/19 – 5/1/19

Here are the few movies we’re most excited about that are playing in New Orleans this week and don’t slowly kill off all your favorite superheroes for three hours solid.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Rope (1948) – Hitchcock’s first Technicolor picture is a real-time thriller made to look like it was filmed in one continuous shot. Screening as part of The Prytania’s Classic Movies series Sunday 4/28 and Wednesday 5/1.

Amazing Grace A 1972 Aretha Franklin concert film that wasn’t fit for distribution until this year because of technical issues in its production (original director Sydney Pollack forgot to use clapperboards while filming, making editing the footage together a logistical nightmare). A one-of-a-kind theatrical experience nearly a half-decade in the making.

Family A heartwarming, R-rated indie comedy about a makeshift family shaken up when a troubled teen runs away from home to become a Juggalo.

Movies We’ve Already Enjoyed

High Life Claire Denis launches the same fascinated disgust over human bodily fluids she exhibited in Trouble Every Day into outer space in an eerie, slow-moving sci-fi horror. This is divisive, artsy-fartsy filmmaking that has even split the opinions of the Swampflix crew, but it’s something that demands to be seen in the immersive dark of a proper movie theater. Playing only at The Broad.

Buckjumping A local documentary on New Orleans dance traditions that captures the spirit of the city in a way few films do. It often feels like a 2010s update to Always for Pleasure, which I mean as a high compliment. Playing only at The Broad.

Us Jordan Peele follows up his instantly iconic debut feature Get Out (Swampflix’s favorite film of 2017) with a surreal freak-out about doppelgangers & class-disparity. From Boomer’s review: “Us is more ambitious than its predecessor, meaning that sometimes it swings a bit wider but ultimately has the same meticulous attention detail, from literal Chekovian guns to a multitude of characters being literally and metaphorically reflected in surfaces both pristine and cracked.”

-Brandon Ledet

Movies Screening in New Orleans This Week 12/27/18 – 1/2/19

Here’s a quick round-up of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week, including one of the most grotesque films of the year and one of the greatest films of all time.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Border A Swedish fantasy-horror about a twisted creature-on-creature romance. This is supposed to be one of the most divisive, what-the-fuck cinematic freak-outs of the year, a repulsive nightmare. So why not watch it in public with fellow squirming weirdos? Only playing at Zeitgeist.

Roma – Alfonso Cuarón’s black & white period-piece epic & personal memoir is all but guaranteed to be a major Oscar contender in the next few months, but most people will only have a chance to see it at home on Netflix. We’re one of the few cities where audiences can fully immerse themselves in its lush cinematography & meticulously detailed sound design on the big screen. Only playing at The Broad Theater.

Mary Queen of Scots Saoirse Ronan & Margot Robbie square off in a not-quite-historically-accurate costume drama directed by a legitimate mainstay of the British stage.  The reviews are generally positive, and this seems like the exact kind of buttoned-up period piece that earns Oscars attention, but that’s not why I’m excited. I just like to watch actors play Queen Elizabeth I, because it’s a role that invites them to chew scenery while dressed like a maniac, and I’m sure Margot Robbie is up for the task.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

Citizen Kane (1941) – It’s near impossible to live up to the hype of being The Greatest Film of All Time, but Citizen Kane does a damn good job of it. Here’s a pull-quote from when I reviewed it for my Roger Ebert Film School series a couple years ago: “It’s tempting to label Citizen Kane as the first modern film, the birth of an auteurist fever that wouldn’t fully take hold of the industry until the New Hollywood movement got rolling three decades later. Citizen Kane’s punishing rhythm and hands-off-the-handlebars fragmentation feels strikingly modern even at today’s standards.” Playing Sunday 12/30 & Wednesday 1/2 as part of Prytania’s Classic Movies series.

The Favourite  Yorgos Lanthimos follows up the stubbornly obscure The Killing of a Sacred Deer with his most accessible feature yet: a queer, darkly funny costume drama about a three-way power struggle between increasingly volatile women (Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz). It’s both a gorgeous laugh riot and a pitch-black howl of unending cruelty & despair. Fun!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse In the abstract, the concept of a 2010s CG animation Spider-Man origin story sounds dreadful. In practice, prankster screenwriter Phil Lord explodes the concept into a wild cosmic comedy by making a movie about the world’s over-abundance of Spider-Man origin stories (and about the art of CG animation at large). Spider-Verse is a shockingly imaginative, beautiful, and hilarious take on a story & a medium that should be a total drag, but instead is bursting with energetic life & psychedelic creativity.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans this Week 12/5/18 – 12/12/18

Here’s a quick rundown of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Mirai – A tender animated drama about a young child’s jealousy of his newly arrived baby sister that eventually transforms into a time & space defying fantasy adventure, boosted by Miyazaki-style anime artistry.  Screening Saturday 12/8 via Fathom Events.

Creed II – I’m not much of a sports movie fanatic, but Ryan Coogler’s 2015 boxing drama Creed was enough of a knockout to punch past my genre biases and knock me on my ass.  It’s one of a very select few sports movies I can think of that made me weep instead of lulling me to sleep. Coogler is not involved with this scrappier follow-up, but reviews have mostly been positive and supporting actor Tessa Thompson is already in three of my favorite releases of the year (Annihilation, Dirty Computer, and Sorry to Bother You), so it still seems to be worth a look.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

Widows  Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen cashes in some of his prestige points to make a heist picture about a group of ordinary women who reluctantly transform into violent criminals, a collaboration with Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn. I was surprised by how much of his one functions like an ensemble cast melodrama instead of the action-thriller that was advertised. Not disappointed, just surprised. It feels like a movie custom built for people whose all-time favorite TV show is still The Wire, which, who could blame ‘em?

Overlord– This is less the Nazi Zombie Movie tedium delivered in Dead Snow than it is an over-the-top descendant of Re-Animator, reinterpreted as a WWII video game. It’s cartoonish schlock with a big studio budget behind it – a deliriously fun, cathartic middle finger to the Nazi grotesqueries of the modern world. Only screening at Canal Place, likely its final week on local big screens.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans this Week 11/29/18 – 10/5/18

Here’s a quick rundown of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week, including a couple one-time-only specialty events.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Snow White (1916) The Silent Era fairy tale classic that famously inspired Walt Disney’s first animated feature.  The Historic New Orleans Collection will be screening the film at the William Research Center on Sunday 11/2, with live piano accompaniment.

Shakedown A documentary about the underground black lesbian strip club scene in early 2000s Los Angeles, this one appears to be an essential, rowdy, aggressively political addendum to 2018’s other black dance circuit doc This One’s for the Ladies . . .  Playing Friday 11/30 as part of Shotgun Cinema’s Full Aperture series.

Mirai A tender animated drama about a young child’s jealousy of his newly arrived baby sister that eventually transforms into a time & space defying fantasy adventure, boosted by Miyazaki-style anime artistry.  Screening Thursday 11/29, Friday 11/30, and Wednesday 10/5 via Fathom Events.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

Overlord– This is less the Nazi Zombie Movie tedium delivered in Dead Snow than it is an over-the-top descendant of Re-Animator, reinterpreted as a WWII video game. It’s cartoonish schlock with a big studio budget behind it – a deliriously fun, cathartic middle finger to the Nazi grotesqueries of the modern world. Only screening at Canal Place, likely its final week on local big screens.

Widows  Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen cashes in some of his prestige points to make a heist picture about a group of ordinary women who reluctantly transform into violent criminals, a collaboration with Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn. I was surprised by how much of his one functions like an ensemble cast melodrama instead of the action-thriller that was advertised. Not disappointed, just surprised. It feels like a movie custom built for people whose all-time favorite TV show is still The Wire, which, who could blame ‘em?

Venom – A C-grade superhero movie that treads water for at least a half-hour, then mutates into an A+ slapstick body-horror comedy with an outright Nic Cagian lead performance from Tom Hardy. Venom is a less satirically pointed, big-budget version of Upgrade or a modernized Henenlotter, but its highs are also much funnier (and surprisingly queerer) than either of those reference points. It’s a lot of fun if you maintain your patience through the first act.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans This Week 11/15/18 – 11/21/18

Here’s a quick rundown of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week, a healthy balance of prestigious Oscar contenders and schlocky genre pictures.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Widows Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave, not Bullitt) cashes in some of his prestige points to make an action-thriller heist picture about a group of ordinary women who reluctantly transform into violent criminals. I’m always on the hook for an artfully staged genre picture, and I’d love to see this one’s pedigree land an action flick in Oscar contention.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? An Oscar Season actor’s showcase for a once-goofy-now-serious comedian in a tonally muted biopic would normally not be something I’d rush out to see. The talent on-hand here is too substantial to ignore, however, as the comedian in question is the consistently-compelling Melissa McCarthy and the director behind her is Marielle Heller, whose previous feature The Diary of a Teenage Girl might just be one of the best dramas of the decade.

Castle in the Sky (1986) Another classic Hayao Miyazaki anime re-released into national distribution thanks to animation saviors G-Kids. I don’t know much about this one in particular except that its title promises plenty of the gorgeous animation of flight Miyazaki is incredibly skilled at. Screening November 18, 19, and 20 via Fathom Events.

Movies We’ve Already Enjoyed

Overlord This is less the Nazi Zombie Movie tedium delivered in Dead Snow than it is an over-the-top descendant of Re-Animator, reinterpreted as a WWII video game. It’s cartoonish schlock with a big studio budget behind it – a deliriously fun, cathartic middle finger to the Nazi grotesqueries of the modern world.

Halloween (2018) –This David Gordon Green-directed, Danny McBride-cowritten, Blumhouse-produced soft-reboot of the eponymous John Carpenter 1978 proto-slasher has to satisfy two entirely different audiences: people who want to know what Original Final Girl Laurie Strode is up to 40 years later and first-weekend horror audiences who just want to see some interesting slasher kills. I believe it did a great job of satisfying both sides of that binary in two separate tracks, then converging them in a thoughtful way that has a lot to say about Fate, senseless violence, and the obsessive thought-loops of trauma recovery.

Venom A C-grade superhero movie that treads water for at least a half-hour, then mutates into an A+ slapstick body-horror comedy with an outright Nic Cagian lead performance from Tom Hardy. Venom is a less satirically pointed, big-budget version of Upgrade or a modernized Henenlotter, but its highs are also much funnier (and surprisingly queerer) than either of those reference points. It’s a lot of fun if you maintain your patience through the first act.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies Screening in New Orleans This Week 10/25/18 – 10/31/18

Here’s a quick rundown of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week, focusing on some spooky selections to help boost your Halloween celebrations.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Halloween (2018) – 40 years (!!!!) after the John Carpenter original helped Shape the early stirrings of the slasher genre, this timeline-resetting sequel promises to return the series back to its grounded, horrifying roots. The early buzz is strong, the creative team (fronted by David Gordon Green & Danny McBride, of all people) seems genuinely passionate, Jamie Lee Curtis is back to afford it legitimacy, and it’s the exact right time of the year to see this kind of thing big & loud with a first-weekend crowd. Hell yeah.

Bad Times at the El Royale Six whole years ago, Drew Goddard’s debut feature Cabin in the Woods brought the meta-horror of Wes Craven works like New Nightmare & Scream to a new level of comedic what-the-fuckery. His only credits as a director since have been a couple (excellent) episodes of The Good Place, so this twisty, star-studded neo-noir follow-up feature is much-anticipated (and is supported by one of the year’s best trailers).

Hell Fest It’s the final week of October, which means it’s time to indulge in as many gimmicky, mainstream horrors as possible before Halloween comes & goes. This one is set at a haunted house amusement park, appearing to fall halfway between the grime of The Funhouse & the slick production of the Final Destination series in its basic aesthetic. It almost doesn’t even matter if it ends up being any good; it’s just the exact right season to see a ridiculous horror movie big & loud with a multiplex crowd.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween I didn’t expect to love 2015’s Goosebumps movie nearly as much as I did, but it ended up excelling as a children’s primer for life-long horror fandom, like a Monster Squad update for a generation raised on CGI.  I’m going into this sequel with a much higher level of anticipation, for better or for worse.

The House with the Clock in Its Walls Eli Roth made a name for himself in one of horror’s worst creative slumps: the torture porn nu-metal aughts. He hasn’t been of much interest to me as a result, but recent tongue-in-cheek pranks like the Keanu Reeves head-scratcher Knock Knock have been slowly changing my mind on that, so his directing a PG-rated haunted house comedy for children certainly has an unignorable allure to it. I’m foolishly optimistic.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

Psycho (1960) – Alfred Hitchcock’s infamous proto-slasher is likely the classiest way you can celebrate Halloween on the big screen. The Prytania’s semi-regular screenings of The Master of Suspense’s greatest works are always worth attending, but rarely are they this seasonally appropriate. Playing Sunday 10/28 & Wednesday 10/31 as part of Prytania’s Classic Movies series.

Hocus Pocus (1993) – Returning for its 25th Anniversary (via AMC Theatres), this horror-themed Disney comedy has become something of a Halloween-season standard, but it can rarely be seen in a proper theatrical setting. Comedic performances from Bette Midler, Kathy Najimi, and (my personal favorite) Sarah Jessica Parker as the Sanderson Sister witches are obviously the main draw, but may I suggest that the brief cameo from Mr. Gary Marshall as Satan is the secret highlight?

Ghostbusters (1984) –  Another big-budget horror-comedy crowd-pleaser that most of us likely grew up with on VHS instead of experiencing it on the big screen in its initial run.  Playing Saturday 10/27 & Sunday 10/28 as the final events of Prytania’s fantastic Kill-o-Rama series.

Venom A C-grade superhero movie that treads water for at least a half-hour, then mutates into an A+ slapstick body-horror comedy with an outright Nic Cagian lead performance from Tom Hardy. Venom is a less satirically pointed, big-budget version of Upgrade or a modernized Henenlotter, but its highs are also much funnier (and surprisingly queerer) than either of those reference points. It’s a lot of fun if you maintain your patience through the first act.

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) – Even if you’re not the kind of person who regularly attends audience-participation Rocky Horror happenings, there’s no better time than Halloween to give it a go, as it’s pretty much a self-contained horror/sci-fi costume party. Playing (at midnight!) Friday 10/26, Saturday 10/27, and Wednesday 10/31 (with an extra 10pm showing added for Halloween night).

Happy hauntings!

-Brandon Ledet

Movies Screening in New Orleans This Week 10/18/18 – 10/25/18

There’s a wonderful overlap of goings-on in the city this week, as New Orleans Film Fest is descending upon us just as we approach Halloween. There are hundreds of titles screening all over the city for NOFF and we plan to cover at least a dozen or so of all types and shapes and genres for the site in the coming weeks. For the purposes of keeping our weekly Now Playing feature spooky all October, I’m only going to highlight a few horror-related NOFF titles here, so you can work the festival into your regular Halloween-season movie binging. Happy hauntings!

Spooky Movies Screening at New Orleans Film Fest

Pig Film A vision of a post-Apocalyptic hellscape that accentuates its microbudget production values with Eraserhead-quality industrial grime, set on a rust-coated hog farm. Of the few Halloween-adjacent selections I found in NOFF’s lineup, this one appears to fall closest to pure horror. Pig Film is screening (for free!) in its US Premiere at the The Advocate’s headquarters Sunday 10/21, 4:15pm, and at the Contemporary Arts Center Tuesday 10/23, 3:45pm.

Empty Metal Another psychedelic dystopian nightmare, this time about a punk band that gets recruited by a violent, revolutionary militia of gun-toting weirdos. Early descriptions of the film position its aesthetic somewhere between Green Room & Born in Flames, a combo that easily has me on the hook. Empty Metal is screening at The Advocate’s Headquarters Saturday 10/20, 8:30pm, and Tuesday 10/23, 3:45 pm.

Chained for Life This one’s inclusion is a bit of a cheat, as it’s clearly a drama, not a horror film. However, it’s a drama that’s reported to explore the way horror cinema has historically exploited & objectified disabled & disfigured performers on the screen, with particular connections to Under the Skin and Tod Browning’s Freaks (even borrowing its title from a thriller starring Freaks-standouts The Hilton Sisters). Chained for Life is screening (for free!) at the Contemporary Arts Center Thursday 10/18, 3:00pm, and at The Advocate’s headquarters Sunday 10/21, 9:00pm.

The “Late Night” Shorts Program I’m going to try my best to attend more short-film programs this year, as it’s a branch of the film fest experience I usually miss out on. The “Late Night” Shorts program seems to lean closer to Halloween-adjacent content more than most of the other packages, including films about nervous breakdowns, murderous cheerleaders, unicorn-eating dinosaurs, and zombie-like gentrification invasions. The “Late Night” Shorts are screening at the Contemporary Arts Center 10/19, 9:00pm, and at The Advocate’s headquarters Tuesday 10/23, 8:15pm.

Spooky Movies Screening Elsewhere

Halloween (2018) – 40 years (!!!!) after the John Carpenter original helped Shape the early stirrings of the slasher genre, this timeline-resetting sequel promises to return the series back to its grounded, horrifying roots. The early buzz is strong, the creative team (fronted by David Gordon Green & Danny McBride, of all people) seems genuinely passionate, Jamie Lee Curtis is back to afford it legitimacy, and it’s the exact right time of the year to see this kind of thing big & loud with a first-weekend crowd. Hell yeah.

Venom A C-grade superhero movie that treads water for at least a half-hour, then mutates into an A+ slapstick body-horror comedy with an outright Nic Cagian lead performance from Tom Hardy. Venom is a less satirically pointed, big-budget version of Upgrade or a modernized Henenlotter, but its highs are also much funnier (and surprisingly queerer) than either of those reference points. It’s a lot of fun if you maintain your patience through the first act.

Bad Times at the El Royale Six whole years ago, Drew Goddard’s debut feature Cabin in the Woods brought the meta-horror of Wes Craven works like New Nightmare & Scream to a new level of comedic what-the-fuckery. His only credits as a director since have been a couple (excellent) episodes of The Good Place, so this twisty, star-studded neo-noir follow-up feature is much-anticipated (and is supported by one of the year’s best trailers).

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween I didn’t expect to love 2015’s Goosebumps movie nearly as much as I did, but it ended up excelling as a children’s primer for life-long horror fandom, like a Monster Squad update for a generation raised on CGI.  I’m going into this sequel with a much higher level of anticipation, for better or for worse.

-Brandon Ledet