In advance and celebration of Mayhem Film Festival’s 10th anniversary, Broadway cinema is hosting the appropriately titled Mayhem X throughout the week leading up to the main festival, “looking at the history and context of the X certificate in films” with five specially chosen and disparate screenings…
SUNDAY 26TH OCT
DRESSED TO KILL (1980)
Brian De Palma’s most overtly Hitchcockian thriller and one of the most sumptuously shot films of the eighties, Dressed to Kill wears its influences on its debonair sleeve and still stands proud as a genre, decade and director-defining film in its own right. Dealing with at-the-time taboo issues around female sexuality and Trans* issues in the framework of a taut killer thriller, the film’s sexual explicitness (particularly the infamous opening scene) was controversial and led to an X rating which, naturally, only added to the film’s reputation.
Controversial and a classic, it also gave Michael Caine a chance to tackle a character of a different nature – the concerned and yet sardonically ambivalent Doctor Robert Elliott, who becomes increasingly concerned one of his patients is offing women with a straight razor. It’s worth catching for its marvelous and ingenious use of cinematography alone, not to mention the bravura and silent museum stalking scene.
MONDAY 27TH OCT
THE BEAST (LA BÊTE) (1975)
With a recent Arrow box set of five of his features (including this one) and a collection of shorts, interest in Polish provocateur Walerian Borowczyk is on the rise. This Monday screening of one of his most famous and archetypal, 1975’s La Bête (The Beast), is the perfect chance to get acquainted with his taboo breaking work. Inspired by the tale of ‘beauty and the beast’, the tale leans more towards the story of King Kong than Disney or Cocteau with its focus on animalistic behaviour and sexual obsession rather than a love for the ages.
TUESDAY 28TH OCT
X THE UNKNOWN (1956)
The legendary Hammer Studios really hit its stride with X: The Unknown, bringing quality British genre filmmaking to cinemas. Aside from the Quatermass films, X is probably the most well-known and regarded Hammer sci-fi production, detailing a hole in the ground and an unstoppable monster…
WEDNESDAY 29TH OCT
STRAW DOGS (1971)
While the majority of the rest of the films in this lineup have become less effective over time, Straw Dogs still retains its controversial power to shock. Master of brutal, realist violence Sam Peckinpah presented relatively sedate audiences with a cautionary tale about pacifism and the breaking point everyone has.
Most known for its still problematic and question-raising rape scene, Straw Dogs remains a film that demands to be seen because of, rather than in spite of its controversy.
THURSDAY 30TH OCT
NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1957)
Easily the film in this lineup with the most disparate legacy (how many horror films have signalled the start of a Kate Bush song?), Night of the Demon is one of the great iconic British horror films, providing viewers with satanic cults, curses and a bloody great big monster.
Directed by the legendary Jacques Tourneur (I Walked With a Zombie, Cat People), the tale follows that British staple of a lone skeptical investigator getting in over his head with supernatural forces (see also: The Wicker Man) and soon wishing he hadn’t. Despite containing now slightly dated visuals of the titular creature, Demon still maintains a sinister and eerie edge.
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