Frightening Flicks

Consult your doctor! Bring your seat belts! The 13 greatest shocks of all time! This is no public service announcement from the National Safety Board, but a warning to all who dare enter the realm of the Miami Beach Cinematheque this Halloween weekend for a trio of events. Those also happen to be promotional tag lines to the 1959 film House On Haunted Hill, starring the king of horror schlock himself, Vincent Price. The story follows five guests of the creepy Frederick Loren, played by Price, who offers them each a tidy $10,000 if they can last through the night at his scary mansion. Of course, Loren makes the game interesting by giving each a pistol and pulling all the tricks from his sinister sleeve to push them over the edge. Which is kind of what the director of the film, B-movie fright-meister William Castle, was trying to do to his audience. And while Castle was known for making high-quality low-budget horror flicks, especially during his heyday in the 1950s, he may be more famous for his over-the-top showmanship and marketing gimmicks, like rigging the theater seats with electric shocks or swinging a skeleton over the audience. The Cinematheque plans to offer a few Castle-like surprises of its own during the film tonight. The Halloween thrills keep coming Friday night, when locals come out to give a visual presentation and reading of Scriptures, a play by Joseph Meneguzzo that delves into Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Despite the contemporary setting, this reading includes the character, and narrator, of the original story -- Robert Walton. Rounding out the ghoul-fest at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday is yet another telling of the classic vampire tale -- Dracula: Pages From a Virgin's Diary (2002). Coming from idiosyncratic Canadian director Guy Madden, this is no typical Dracula story line but a nonlinear, beautifully stylized, expressionistic creation, adapted from a Royal Winnipeg Ballet performance.

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John Anderson

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