FLM 200: The MSU Film Collective

We are the professors, students, filmmakers, screenwriters, and cinéphiles at MSU who gather weekly in the course FLM 200 to watch and discuss good films. In the spirit of the Cinémathèque française and the generation of film critics and French New Wave directors it inspired, our collective abides by the principle that good film writing and good filmmaking (and just plain good living) begin with serious film watching.

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Supported by the Mechanic Family Film Studies Endowment Fund

Fall 2020: Dissemination of Dread: Global Horror Cinema

Horror cinema has been one of the most popular cinematic genres with its consistent presence both at the center and fringes of the mainstream as well as in alternative forms of cinema, including the B movies and the avant-garde. Scholars have argued for its lowly status during the beginnings of cinema, and its relative obscurity in terms of big budgets and steady outputs during the studio era, and thereafter its gradual emergence as a respectable genre. Nonetheless, if we look at the history of cinema, the concept of dread or anticipation with profound apprehension or fear has attracted talented filmmakers to the genre from its very beginnings. The horror genre has provided a space for interrogating our personal as well as sociocultural anxieties in its myriad forms, for instance, through our desire for invention and fears surrounding the unknown (monsters like Frankenstein), our investment in exploring the ornate as well as the apprehension surrounding the unfamiliar (gothic), our disquiet regarding finitude or fear of death and attraction to the supernatural and curiosity about the paranormal, among others. In this class, we will focus on the way dread has been given form through the images and sounds crafted in horror cinema over the last century. Such a distinct reading of horror cinema across the globe will enable us to reflect on our anxieties surrounding the personal and the sociocultural, in contemporary times.

 
Screenings will be asynchronous—all screenings undertaken individually prior to the Thursday discussion. All films will be available on public platforms (Netflix, Kanopy, YouTube, etc). 
Open discussion will take place over Zoom on Thursdays at 8pm EST: 
Zoom Link
Password: Film


a still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari with an old man wearing a black coat and tophat walking in a mysterious hallway

9/3 – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (dir. Robert Weine, 1920)

Kanopy
YouTube

At a carnival in Germany, Francis (Friedrich Feher) and his friend Alan (Rudolf Lettinger) encounter the crazed Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss). The men see Caligari showing off his somnambulist, Cesare (Conrad Veidt), a hypnotized man who the doctor claims can see into the future. Shockingly, Cesare then predicts Alan’s death, and by morning his chilling prophecy has come true — making Cesare the prime suspect. However, is Cesare guilty, or is the doctor controlling him?

 


a vampire creature

9/10 – Nosferatu (dir. F.W. Murnau, 1922)

Academic Video Online
YouTube

In this highly influential silent horror film, the mysterious Count Orlok (Max Schreck) summons Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) to his remote Transylvanian castle in the mountains. The eerie Orlok seeks to buy a house near Hutter and his wife, Ellen (Greta Schroeder). After Orlok reveals his vampire nature, Hutter struggles to escape the castle, knowing that Ellen is in grave danger. Meanwhile Orlok’s servant, Knock (Alexander Granach), prepares for his master to arrive at his new home.


a still from Vampry with a young woman sleeping while a shadow of a scythe is cast on the wall behind her

9/17 – Vampyr (dir. Carl Dreyer, 1932)

YouTube

After Allan Gray (Julian West) rents a room near Courtempierre in France, strange events unfold: An elderly man leaves a packet on Gray’s table, and shadows that are seemingly alive lead him toward a castle. At a nearby manor, he witnesses the same man being murdered and gradually learns about the curse of the Vampyr. As Gray faces the horrors of the castle, he attempts to save the victim’s daughters — one of whom, Léone (Jan Hieronimko), has fallen ill after mysteriously being bitten.


a still from Mahal, a woman and man with dark hair look to the right

9/24 – Mahal (dir. Kamal Amrohi, 1949) 

YouTube

A man (Ashok Kumar) becomes obsessed with a beautiful ghost (Madhubala) after moving into a mansion that is said to have a tragic history.


a still from the film

10/1 – Les Bonnes Femmes (dir. Claude Chabrol, 1960)

(Les Bonnes Femmes is unavailable online)

Four young women work for a lecherous boss and entertain a variety of suitors in a search for Mr. Right.


A still from Kwaidan, five people stand wearing robes in front of banners and torches burning

10/8 – Kwaidan (dir. Masaki Kobayashi, 1965)

Amazon (rental)
YouTube (rental)

Taking its title from an archaic Japanese word meaning “ghost story,” this anthology adapts four folk tales. A penniless samurai (Rentarô Mikuni) marries for money with tragic results. A man stranded in a blizzard is saved by Yuki the Snow Maiden (Keiko Kishi), but his rescue comes at a cost. Blind musician Hoichi (Katsuo Nakamura) is forced to perform for an audience of ghosts. An author (Osamu Takizawa) relates the story of a samurai who sees another warrior’s reflection in his teacup.


A still from Repulsion, a blonde woman is on the floor holding a phone to her ear

10/15 – Repulsion (dir. Roman Polanski, 1965)

Amazon (rental)
Vudu (rental)

A young manicurist Carole (Catherine Deneuve) suffers from androphobia (the pathological fear of interaction with men). When her sister and roommate, Helen (Yvonne Furneaux), leaves their London flat to go on an Italian holiday with her married boyfriend (Ian Hendry), Carole withdraws into her apartment. She begins to experience frightful hallucinations, her fear gradually mutating into madness.


10/22 – Valerie and Her Week of Wonders

Kanopy
Criterion Channel

Valerie (Jaroslava Schallerová), a Czechoslovakian teenager living with her grandmother, is blossoming into womanhood, but that transformation proves secondary to the effects she experiences when she puts on a pair of magic earrings. Now seeing the world around her in a different light, Valerie must endure her sexual awakening while attempting to discern reality from fantasy as she encounters lecherous priest Gracian (Jan Klusák), a vampire-like stranger and otherworldly carnival folk.


Still from

10/29 – Picnic at Hanging Rock (dir. Peter Weir, 1975)

Criterion Channel
Amazon (rental)

In the early 1900s, Miranda (Anne Lambert) attends a girls boarding school in Australia. One Valentine’s Day, the school’s typically strict headmistress (Rachel Roberts) treats the girls to a picnic field trip to an unusual but scenic volcanic formation called Hanging Rock. Despite rules against it, Miranda and several other girls venture off. It’s not until the end of the day that the faculty realizes the girls and one of the teachers (Vivean Gray) have disappeared mysteriously.


still from

11/5 – The Shining (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

Vudu (rental)
Amazon (rental)

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.
 

a still from

11/12 – Ringu (dir. Hideo Nakata, 1998)

Kanopy
Shudder

When her niece is found dead along with three friends after viewing a supposedly cursed videotape, reporter Reiko Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima) sets out to investigate. Along with her ex-husband, Ryuji (Hiroyuki Sanada), Reiko finds the tape, watches it — and promptly receives a phone call informing her that she’ll die in a week. Determined to get to the bottom of the curse, Reiko and Ryuji discover the video’s origin and attempt to solve an old murder that could break the spell.


a still from

11/19 – Pan’s Labyrinth (dir. Guillermo del Toro, 2006)

Netflix
Amazon (rental)

It’s 1944 and the Allies have invaded Nazi-held Europe. In Spain, a troop of soldiers are sent to a remote forest to flush out the rebels. They are led by Capitan Vidal, a murdering sadist, and with him are his new wife Carmen and her daughter from a previous marriage, 11-year-old Ofelia. Ofelia witnesses her stepfather’s sadistic brutality and is drawn into Pan’s Labyrinth, a magical world of mythical beings.


a still from

12/3 – Let the Right One In (dir. Tomas Alfredson, 2008)

Hulu
Amazon (rental) 

When Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a sensitive, bullied 12-year-old boy living with his mother in suburban Sweden, meets his new neighbor, the mysterious and moody Eli (Lina Leandersson), they strike up a friendship. Initially reserved with each other, Oskar and Eli slowly form a close bond, but it soon becomes apparent that she is no ordinary young girl. Eventually, Eli shares her dark, macabre secret with Oskar, revealing her connection to a string of bloody local murders.

 


a still from

12/10 – Get Out (dir. Jordan Peele, 2017)

Amazon (rental)
YouTube (rental)

Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.