'Freaks' was an influential horror flick

The Baltimore Sun

Freaks, a film that so unnerved 1932 audiences that it was pulled from circulation after only a few weeks and was practically disowned by its studio, MGM, will be shown tomorrow night at the Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave., in the old Patterson Theatre. Directed by Tod Browning, hot off the mega-success of his previous year's Dracula, the film stars Harry Earles (whom Browning had worked with on both the silent and sound versions of The Unholy Three) as Hans, a circus midget performing in a traveling carnival, who falls in love with the conniving (and normal-sized) Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova), who exploits their relationship in hopes of getting rich. Little does she know that the sideshow "freaks" watch out for one another and don't appreciate being exploited. The film, which would prove to be one of the most influential horror flicks of the early sound period, counts among its cast Baltimore's Johnny Eck, who was born without legs and got around by running on his hands. Tomorrow's screening will be accompanied by a display of Eck memorabilia and a performance tribute to him. Tickets for the 5:30 p.m. screening only are $6; for the screening and performance, tickets are $13, $11 for alliance members. Tickets for a separate dinner, at 6:30 p.m., are $8. Information: 410-276-1651 or creativealliance.org.

Dizzying Hitchcock

The Charles Theatre's six-month Alfred Hitchcock retrospective enters the home stretch with tomorrow's showing of what many critics regard as his masterpiece, 1958's Vertigo. James Stewart stars as a former police detective whose fear of heights led to the death of a colleague. He then becomes a private detective. Hired by a husband concerned for his wife's sanity, his vertigo gets in the way of his preventing another death. Or does it? Kim Novak, another in the long procession of icy blondes that Hitchcock cast in his films, plays Stewart's obsession. Showtime is noon tomorrow; encores at 7 p.m. Monday and 9 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $6 tomorrow, $8 other times. Information: 410-727-3456 or thecharles.com.

Students' best work

The best of the 2008 Towson University Student Media Arts Festival, showcasing the work of students in the school's media arts program, will be shown at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the auditorium of Van Bokkelen Hall on the school's campus, 8000 York Road. Free. Information: 410-704-3755 or pages.towson.edu/faller/MAFHomePage.html.

Puccini opera

A performance of Giacomo Puccini's Il Trittico, taped at Milan, Italy's famed La Scala Opera House, will be shown at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Charles Theatre, 1711 N. Charles St. Tickets are $21 and include an introduction, beginning at 6:30 p.m., from Jonathan Palevsky, a radio host from WBJC, 91.5 FM. Information: 410-727-3456 or thecharles.com.

Lynch's 'Eraserhead'

Eraserhead, a 1977 film from director David Lynch that "surreal" doesn't even begin to describe, will be showcased in a new 35 mm print beginning tonight at the American Film Institute's Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road in Silver Spring. The film -- starring Lynch mainstay Jack Nance as a big-haired guy who works as a printer, and whose girlfriend gives birth to a baby that looks like a cross between E.T. and the chest-bursting monster larvae from Alien -- defies decryption, understanding and comprehension, but in a good way. Besides tonight's midnight screening, Eraserhead is also set to play at the Silver at midnight tomorrow, 9:30 p.m. Sunday, 9 p.m. Monday and 9:45 p.m. Thursday, as well as at midnight May 16 and 17. In addition, the 84-minute documentary Lynch, made while he was working on his most recent film, Inland Empire, will be shown at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets and information: 301-495-6700 or afi.com/silver.


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