Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 7pm
Martha Colburn's Evil of Dracula + Erle C. Kenton's Island of Lost Souls

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

Evil of Dracula, Martha Colburn, 1997, 16mm, 2 mins
Island of Lost Souls, Erle C. Kenton, 1932, 16mm, 70 mins

This Halloween, Light Industry presents a very special creature double feature. Erle C. Kenton’s pre-Code Island of Lost Souls, the first sound-era adaptation of H.G. Wells, occupies a distinctive place in the history of the horror film. Though long admired by creepshow auteurs like Dario Argento and Joe Dante (as well as a range of artists outside the genre, from playwright Charles Ludlam to Devo), it never attained the iconic status of Universal’s monster movies from the same period. Instead, as critic and curator Dave Kehr observed, “Island of Lost Souls remains an island unto itself: one of those unique, unaccountable objects the cinema produces at widely spaced intervals. As if they had sprung directly from the collective unconscious.”

The picture concerns a man, adrift on a lifeboat in the South Pacific, who is rescued by a passing cargo ship, only to find himself on an uncharted island populated by humanoid creatures, scurrying about on the edges of the film frame. They are the product, we soon learn, of one Dr. Moreau, a rogue scientist played with decadent wickedness by Charles Laughton. A catalog of perversions may have caused Island of Lost Souls to run afoul of the Production Code Administration when the studio sought a re-release in 1935, but it’s ultimately a work whose force often derives from suggestion, elision, and restraint. Music is largely eschewed in favor of an eerie stillness; the “House of Pain” where Moreau conducts his chimeric experiments is more alluded to than seen; shadows cloak the cast throughout. Like the excavation of a thought repressed, Kenton’s film had to be pieced together from surviving prints when restored in the 21st century; the original 35mm negative is lost.

As counterpoint and prelude, we’ll also be screening an early work by Martha Colburn, Evil of Dracula. “The uniqueness of Martha Colburn,” Jonas Mekas once remarked, “is the explosive energy and craft with which she brings up-to-date, and pushes further, the film form of found-image-collage.” Originally shot on Super-8 as part of Colburn’s furious streak of labor-intensive animations in the 1990s, Evil of Dracula delivers a febrile 119 seconds wherein smiling magazine ads gleefully transform into blood-sucking ghouls, with collaborator Jad Fair providing the freaked-out soundtrack. “A Hypno-Physycho-Vampiric spasm,” Colburn promises, “in FANGTASTIC color.”

Tickets - Pay what you can ($8 suggested donation), available at door, cash and cards accepted. Free entry if costumed.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 6:30pm.