All Monsters Attack! @ The Grand Illusion

Monsters in the building 👹

📸: The Grand Illusion

Runs 10/7 to 11/3

You’re bounding about the U District and, suddenly, something calls you to a particular building on the corner of 50th and the Ave. As you head up the stairs, step by step, you recall legends that this used to be a dentist’s office. You walk through the door, hang a right, go through the curtains, and take a seat. Then you realize the truth: There are monsters in the building! Thankfully, they’re trapped in a sort of Phantom Zone, reduced to two dimensions, their spirits projected just over your head and onto a wall.

You’ve made it to All Monsters Attack!, the Grand Illusion Cinema’s long-running annual celebration of shocks, shrieks, creeps, kills, mutants, and mayhem. One month, 15 films, infinite screaming.

It’s a monster mash of varied offerings, including an extended cut of Hitchcock’s Psycho, a 35mm presentation of the 1955 masterpiece The Night of the Hunter, Coppola’s gorgeous 1992 campfest Bram Stoker’s Dracula, two different Fulci films (1979’s Zombie, 1981’s The Beyond), and the John Carpenter movie that made a former housemate nope out in the first act from the still-jarring monster effects (1982’s The Thing).

If I could pull out any two as major highlights, the first would be the 16mm screening of Freaks (now celebrating its 90th birthday) presented by the Sprocket Society. Tod Browning’s controversial, banned 1932 shockfest about a carnival sideshow troupe defending one of their own will be followed by a secret pre-Code movie of similar disrepute.

The other highlight is the 4K restoration of 1988’s Brain Damage, written and directed by schlockmeister Frank Henenlotter (Basket CaseFrankenhooker). The plot? A man becomes host to a brain-eating, parasite penis beast. It’s completely disgusting, perversely funny, and not for everybody, a.k.a. my kind of a horror recommendation.

(Full disclosure: Grand Illusion is 100% run by volunteers, and I am one of them.)

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Marcus Gorman

Marcus Gorman is a Seattle-based playwright and film programmer. He once raised money for a synagogue by marathoning 15 Adam Sandler movies in one weekend. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter @marcus_gorman.