Now Playing! Mad Woman Elisabeth Moss Haunts Alamo Drafthouse

Still from 'Queen of Earth.' (Courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse)

Close the laptop, drop that tablet, pause the smartphone and join your fellow humans in Bay Area theaters this week with recommendations from our film critic Michael Fox.

Queen of Earth

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 10:15pm
Alamo Drafthouse, San Francisco
Tickets: $6
Poster for Lewis' 'Two Thousand Maniacs!'
Poster for Lewis' 'Two Thousand Maniacs!' (Courtesy of Horror Society)

It may have escaped your notice that the pioneering filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis died Sept. 26 at his home in Florida. Lewis was notorious for inventing the low-budget splatter film with the grindhouse hits Blood Feast (1963) and Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964), which won new fans in the '70s on the college and midnight movie circuits.

The Godfather of Gore, as some wit dubbed him, went on to a decades-long career as the dean of direct-mail marketing. (No joke. Your trusty correspondent corralled him for a brief interview at Moscone Center in the early 2000s after Lewis finished leading a seminar at a direct-mail conference.)

Still from 'Queen of Earth.'
Still from 'Queen of Earth.' (Courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse)

It’s no leap at all from H.G. Lewis to the multiplicity of Halloween horrors that shroud our screens and invade our dreams this time of year. As a “gentle” lead-in to the rivulets of crimson and revelations of depravity coming to theaters later this month, Alamo Drafthouse screens indie up-and-comer Alex Ross Perry’s little-seen 2015 crack-up drama Queen of Earth this Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 10:15pm. (Steal a nap at work the next day.)

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Elisabeth Moss (from Mad Men and Perry’s previous feature Listen Up Philip) gives an astonishingly vulnerable performance as a woman reeling from the twin blows of her father’s death and boyfriend dumping her. She retreats to the company of a friend (Katherine Waterston) who’s house sitting in the country; needless to say, things go from bad to hellacious. Drafthouse programmer Mike Keegan describes Queen of Earth as “a New England riff on Persona by way of R.W. Fassbinder,” and if that doesn’t scare the bejesus out of you, nothing will.

The film plays Drafthouse’s ongoing Weird Wednesday series in a new, straight-from-the-lab 35mm print. As Keegan notes, “For do-or-die 35mm purists, this is as clean as it gets, and for those of you interested in psychological thrillers, this is as dark as it gets.”

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