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Fright Night 

"Experiments in Terror" is a night of films creepy enough to unnerve even jaded moviegoers

Wednesday, Mar 27 2002
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It's easy for moviemakers to spook teenagers already unnerved by puberty and the specter of impending adulthood. Scaring grown-ups is a whole different set of knives, but too many horror flicks settle for the dull blades of extreme gore or self-mocking camp.

With "Experiments in Terror," Noel Lawrence, the filmmaker and collaborator in the underground film series Other Cinema, has assembled a cabaret of chuckles and chills that's creepy enough to unnerve even jaded adults. The title is a play on words, since the compilation of shorts draws on the waking nightmares of (mostly local) experimental filmmakers. David Sherman's Tuning the Sleeping Machine establishes an eerie mood through wordless, flickering glimpses of tinted antique footage. Pulses will soon rev for Martha Colburn's Spiders in Love: An Arachnogasmic Musical. Her manic, cathartic outbursts of crimson cutout animation joyfully wring every drop of blood and semen from the ever-popular coupling of sex and death.

Plumbing the subconscious with reckless disregard for the demons that dwell there, "Experiments" features glimpses of devil worship, occultism, vampirism, and campfire girls in distress. The lineup includes a blood feast of hysterical (in both senses) trailers for classics like Roger Corman's 1960 House of Usher, as well as forgotten oddities like The Possession of Joel Delaney (from Shirley MacLaine's scary early-'70s period). Also on the bill is the immortal Psycho trailer that includes Alfred Hitchcock's mordant tour of the Bates Motel.

This Werepad show doubles as a launch party for the program's spring tour of Europe, so Lawrence has also booked a slew of live shockmeisters. Caravida will enthrall with her popular horror lounge act, and Mystic Marlow will demonstrate magic's darkest facet. J.X.Williams, a late-stage Bela Lugosi heir (and Lawrence's alter ego), hosts the bloodletting.

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Michael Fox

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