Even in something as impersonal as these calendars, you can probably tell that I’m thrilled about fall returning. After all, fall means football, perfect weather, great fashion, heavier beers, and, critically, Halloween.
Fall is a threshold season. In the heart of summer, threats of death and terrible consequences ring a bit hollow. In the depth of winter, they lose their impact amid constant reminders of dead things; it’s just piling on. But in fall, with your back to summer and your eyes dead set on winter, the frights become tantalizingly, terrifyingly potent.
Just like every Halloween, you’ve got a chance to scare the hell out of yourself in one of the best places in Birmingham to see a movie, the Alabama Theatre. The Alabama is running its traditional week of horror movies from October 23-30, rounding up a slate of classics sure to turn the kindly old establishment into a Grand Guignol, at least for a little while.
The week begins with Jonathan Demme’s classic The Silence of the Lambs, about the budding relationship between a young FBI agent and a cannibal with a genius-level IQ, in addition to practical tips regarding what red wine you should pair with your liver and fava beans. The week continues with gruesome stalwarts A Nightmare on Elm Street (featuring a young Johnny Depp in one of the all-time horror film gross-outs) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tobe Hooper’s gritty, gory no-budget that has aged into an unlikely grand old man of genre filmmaking.
After an earnest run at horror early in the week, the Alabama’s schedule eases into some more simply fun events, like the now-traditional Rocky Horror Picture Show masquerade ball and costume contest. (I’m sure you’re waiting with antici…pation.) You can find a full list of acceptable items to toss around like a goofball at the Alabama’s website.
The week moves into more family-friendly territory over the weekend, with a double-feature of the original Dracula and Frankenstein on Saturday night, and a Sunday matinee of The Phantom of the Opera, which is sure to make plenty of hay out of the theatre’s Mighty Wurlitzer. Things close out with The Birds, whose now-dated shocks may find a new verve in the Alabama’s old-timey environs, and Mel Brooks’ masterpiece, the incomparable Young Frankenstein (incomparable to Dracula: Dead and Loving It, anyway).
All in all, it’s a week that starts off with uncompromising terror and concludes with an aperitif of timeless comedy, and it’s a once-in-a-year treat that’s a ton of fun throughout.
The Alabama Theatre is located at 1817 3rd Ave. N. Each horror week movie screens at 7 p.m., with the exception of the Rocky Horror ball (8 p.m.) and the Sunday matinee of The Phantom of the Opera (2 p.m.). Nighttime movies are $8, Rocky Horror is $23, and Phantom is $12 adults, $6 for children. For a full listing of events, visit www.alabamatheatre.com.