Castro Theatre is calling

  • by David Lamble
  • Tuesday May 7, 2019
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Castro Theatre is calling

May flowers at the Castro Theatre.

"Little Shop of Horrors" (1986) Frank Oz reboots this Roger Corman classic about a very strange plant store. This version benefits not only from big-budget technology but also from a magnificent ensemble led by Disney studio actor Rick Moranis as the nerdy Seymour, Ellen Greene as his squeaky-voiced love interest, and Steve Martin as a brutal S/M biker. John Candy contributes to the black comedy as a local radio DJ.

"Rocky Horror Picture Show" (1975, UK) Jim Sharman directs this classic Midnight Movie with a campy script. Great example of a film that failed in prime time distribution but found a teen/20something audience who saw it an amazing number of times, bringing props like rice for the wedding scene. Notable for Tim Curry's sexy MC and Susan Sarandon's early career turn as the naive Janet who, with her cleancut boyfriend (Barry Bostick), stumbles into the Transylvanian coven. (both 5/10)

"King Kong" (1933) This early sound classic from director Merian C. Cooper takes its cues from "Beauty and the Beast." With Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong.

"Godzilla" (1954, Japan) Monster movie from director Ishiro Honda was inspired by Japanese reaction to the American atomic bomb attacks that ended WWII, and started an endless fear of radiation and the monsters (literal and figurative) that arose from the atomic age. (both 5/11)

"Giant" (1956) Edna Ferber's novel became an instant classic with stellar performances from two queer icons, Rock Hudson and James Dean, for whom it was a last screen performance, released after his death in a California road accident. It's about Texas' evolution from a cattle and agriculture economy to an extraction economy based on oil.

"There Will Be Blood" (2007) Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano are bitter rivals in this astonishing drama about the origins of the Western oil industry. Day-Lewis is the oil wildcatter whose great wealth turns him into a near-psychotic tycoon and sets him up for a life-and-death struggle with a duplicitous preacher (Dano). Based loosely on Upton Sinclair's novel "Oil!," adapted for the screen by director Paul Thomas Anderson, the film won Oscars for Day-Lewis and its cinematographer, Robert Elswit. (both 5/12)

"The Big Sleep" (1946) Howards Hawks helms this Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall postwar noir. Based on Raymond Chandler's first novel, it benefits from the script by moonlighting William Faulkner, Jules Furthman & Leigh Bracket.

"The Drowning Pool" (1975) Paul Newman reprises his turn as private detective Lew Harper (1966's "Harper"), based on characters created by Ross McDonald. Director Stuart Rosenberg keeps the proceedings slick and entertaining. (both 5/15)

"Escape from New York" (1981) John Carpenter's take on dystopian society: 1997 Manhattan has been turned into a prison colony. Veteran cast includes Disney hand Kurt Russell, Western vet Lee Van Cleef, mad dog Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, soul singer Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton.

"The Fog" (1980) John Carpenter ghost story is set in a California coastal town haunted by a century-old shipwreck. Top-notch cast includes Jamie Lee Curtis, Hal Holbrook, Janet Leigh, John Houseman. (both 5/16-17)

"The Exorcist" (1973) Helmer William Friedkin presents William Peter Blatty's bestselling novel in a screen version either frightfully scary or funny, depending on your background. With Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller, Lee J. Cobb.

"Amityville II: The Possession" (1982) A Long Island-set horror film that's absolutely not for everyone. (both 5/24)

"War and Peace" (1968, Russia) Definitive version of Leo Tolstoy's novel gets sublime production from director Sergei Bondarchuk. Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film, shown in a restored widescreen version, slightly over six hours. (5/25)