January chills at EFF

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This month, we’re bringing two haunting classics from the 1940s back to the big screen: Jean Cocteau’s ravishing gothic fairytale La Belle Et La Bête (1946), and, in our latest Cult Film Club night in collaboration with the University of Northampton, the hugely influential horror Cat People (1942), which will be followed by a Horror Film Quiz.

Screening on Sunday 26 January at 2pm, La Belle Et La Bête is French poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau’s strange, opulent, heady take on the Beauty And The Beast story. Cocteau’s lover Jean Marais imbues the Beast with a deeply moving humanity, ‘lonely like a man and misunderstood like an animal’ (Roger Ebert). Georges Auric‘s beguiling music and Henri Alekan‘s crystalline cinematography – according to Cocteau “precisely the opposite… from what fools think is poetic” – contribute to the intense, hallucinatory atmosphere. Almost seventy years after its release, La Belle Et La Bête remains one of the most magical, transportative experiences in cinema, recently described by Guillermo del Toro as ‘the most perfect cinematic fable ever told’.

The first of the legendary psychological horrors produced by Val Lewton for RKO Studios, Cat People (Wednesday 29 January at 6.15pm) was adapted from Lewton’s own short story. Simone Simon is superb as a troubled young woman who fears that she will transform into a panther if aroused to passion. On its release, Variety shrewdly hailed the film as ‘a weird drama of thrill-chill caliber, with developments of surprises confined to psychology and mental reactions, rather than transformation to grotesque and marauding characters for visual impact on the audiences’. Skilfully directed by Jacques Tourneur, who also helmed I Walked with a Zombie, The Leopard Man, and exemplary noir Out Of The Past, the film set a new standard for beautifully crafted, high-tensile horror.  

Our Cult Film Club screening of Cat People will be followed by a free Horror Film Quiz to test your knowledge of the genre, its history, stars, and special effects. Teams will convene in the Crown Room at 7.45pm, to vie for a host of exciting prizes for the winners, with a night in an iron maiden/Wicker Man/haunted crypt for the losers. Come and demonstrate your expertise of all things cult and horror!

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