Ladies of the '80s: A Decade of Horror Directed by Women - Pet Sematary & The Oracle Double Feature!

Presented by HEAVY MIDNITES & Women of Cinefamily!

During the golden age of big screen fright fests and savage video store shockers, a new wave of female filmmakers emerged to put their personal mark on some of the best genre films of the decade. This weekend’s showcase highlights some of their leading contributions, with all films screening from insanely rare 35mm prints! To get us started, the boney grip of undead terror rises from the grave, with two eerie chillers that will pump ice through your veins! What better way to kick off your weekend than with a bonafide cult classic AND a wild exploitation obscurity—paired on the same ticket?

PET SEMATARY

In the ‘80s Stephen King was a legitimate brand name, the ubiquitous Master of the Macabre, and multiplexes were inundated with a deluge of big-screen adaptations. But Pet Sematary isn’t just one of the good ones, it’s one of the absolute greatest—and not just because King wrote the screenplay himself. Director Mary Lambert (then a young filmmaker making music videos for Madonna and Janet Jackson) manages to mine genuine scares and dread from an admittedly goofy but simple premise: a burial ground outside of a small-town pet cemetery has the power to resurrect whatever—or whoever—is buried in it, but like in all good versions of “The Monkey’s Paw,” there’s a catch. Lambert shows particular skill at incarnating King’s creepiest characters in the flesh: the late great Fred Gwynne’s take on “Jud Crandall”, the nightmare-inducing invalid shut-in “Zelda” (in a daring cross-gender casting coup, played by Andrew Hubatsek), and the skin-crawling presence of murderous baby revenant “Gage Creed.” Plus, you’ll be tapping your toes to the raging Ramones theme song that closes the end credits.

Dir. Mary Lambert, 1989, 35mm, 103 min.
35mm Print Courtesy of the Academy Film Archive

THE ORACLE

Enter the weird, grimy world of Roberta Findlay, legendary porn pioneer, exploitation maven, and 42nd St goddess. She’s a one woman wonder, grinding out sleazy classics like Snuff and sex obsessed nightmares with titles like Liquid A$$ets. She photographed, edited, and directed The Oracle, a creepy, soft-focus tale of spiritual possession across the sweat-stained streets of vintage NYC. While a mysterious killer lurks in the shadows, an unearthly force communicates with the beautiful new occupant of a cursed apartment, pushing our heroine towards House of Psychotic Women hysteria, while highlighting her on-point wardrobe (maroon overalls, puffy sleeves, chokers). Filled with dime store drama, one-take magic, ineffectual men and Argento-styled lighting, The Oracle showcases Findlay’s unique brand of somnambulant anti-cinema. Oh, and did we mention this is a Christmas-themed film complete with lo-fi synthesizer carols?

Dir. Roberta Findlay, 1985, 35mm, 94 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!