TCM Offers ‘Creepy Cinema’ Tuesday Nights in October 2023
Spooky season is upon us here in 2023, and Turner Classic Movies is getting into the spirit of things.
Among other spooky programming on the network throughout this month, each Tuesday evening in October (including Halloween night), TCM airs programming blocks devoted to creepy classics divided by two themes per night.
Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie in 1983’s The Hunger
Creepy Cinema Blocks on TCM — Tuesdays in October 2023 (Lineups Begin 8pm ET)
Tuesday, Oct. 3: Creepy Cinema — “Hitchcock & De Palma” & “Women in Horror”
The first Creepy Cinema theme on Oct. 3, “Hitchcock & De Palma,” begins with Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense classic Shadow of a Doubt (1943), about a young woman (Teresa Wright) who slowly grows to suspect that her charming and sophisticated uncle (Joseph Cotten) is a wanted serial killer.
Following that is director Brian De Palma’s 1980 thriller Dressed to Kill, led by Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson and Nancy Allen, which offers a great example of how De Palma’s work has often been informed by Hitchcock; in this case, Psycho is a particularly notable influence.
After that, heading into late night and early morning, the theme switches to notable horror films led by women, and not just in victim roles, but often as the main menace.
This lineup features the Val Lewton-produced/Jacques Tourneur-directed Cat People (1942), starring Simone Simon; The Hunger (1983), with Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon; Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), a Hammer horror film starring Susan Denberg as the new creation of Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing); and The Wasp Woman (1959), a Roger Corman film with Susan Cabot as the owner of a cosmetics company whose use of a serum in an effort to reverse the aging process tends to transform her into a murderous half-woman/half-insect creature.
Tuesday, Oct. 10: Creepy Cinema — “Mad, Mad Mitchum” & “’70s Horror”
1972’s Blacula comes with a strong endorsement by the Count Dracula Society
In the first two films on Oct. 10’s Creepy Cinema, you’ll see legendary actor Robert Mitchum starring in two of his most memorably evil roles, which rank among the greatest villain portrayals in screen history and should have both gotten him at least Oscar nods.
Leading off this “Mad, Mad Mitchum” block is the suspenseful noir thriller Cape Fear (1962). Mitchum plays Max Cady, a convicted rapist who, upon his release from prison, proceeds to stalk the lawyer (Gregory Peck) who helped put him away, and the man’s family.
As compelling as Mitchum’s performance is as Cady, he went even deeper and creepier into his villainous role in the next film, The Night of the Hunter (1955). Here he plays Reverend Harry Powell, who marries a widow (Shelley Winters) and ultimately kills her then pursues and torments her children, who know where their real dad has hidden the $10,000 in stolen money Powell desires.
Starting later in the evening and into tomorrow morning, the theme shifts to four fright flicks from the early 1970s: From Beyond the Grave (1974), led by Peter Cushing and the last of the notable horror anthology movies produced by Britain’s Amicus Productions around that time; Blacula (1972), which stars William Marshall as the title vampire and is one of the earliest and better of the horror-themed movies to come out within this era’s wave of “blaxploitation” titles; House of Dark Shadows (1970), directed by Dan Curtis and based on Curtis’ gothic soap opera Dark Shadows; and The Night Digger (1971), a British thriller starring Patricia Neal and with a screenplay by Roald Dahl.
Tuesday, Oct. 17: Creepy Cinema — “Bette & Joan” and “Strange Occurrences”
Bette Davis in Hush… Hush Sweet Charlotte
Oct. 17’s Creepy Cinema begins with two creep-fests starring a couple of the most famous leading ladies in Hollywood history: Joan Crawford and Bette Davis (interestingly, the lineup does not include a famous fright film the actresses made together: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?)
First up is A Woman’s Face (1941), a George Cukor-directed film noir about a female blackmailer (Crawford) with a facial scar who meets a plastic surgeon offering her the possibility of looking like a normal woman. This is followed by the 1964 crime drama Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte, which centers around an aging reclusive Southern belle (Davis) who is plagued by a long-ago murder and descends into madness. Costarring with Davis is fellow legend Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotten, Victor Buono and Agnes Moorehead.
Following Bette and Joan, in late night and into tomorrow morning, is the “Strange Occurences” block of films, starting with the classic haunted house thriller Poltergeist (1982), from producer/cowriter Steven Spielberg. After that comes the TCM premiere of 1988’s The Blob, a remake of the 1958 classic that is pretty good in its own right. Concluding the lineup are two films based on the 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham: Village of the Damned (1960), about a group of eerie platinum blond children with supernatural powers to make others do what they want them to do, and Children of the Damned (1964), a sequel that features another group of eerie children with similar powers.
Tuesday, Oct. 24: Creepy Cinema — “Demented Dudes” & “Vincent Price”
The double feature encompassing the first Creepy Cinema theme on Oct. 24, “Demented Dudes,” starts with Magic (1978), led by Anthony Hopkins as a ventriloquist at the mercy of his own malicious dummy. That is followed by the mystery thriller Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), in which Faye Dunaway plays a woman who can see through the eyes of a serial killer as he commits his crimes.
The next several films this evening/early tomorrow star legendary horror star Vincent Price. First, he plays man who comes back from the dead to seek revenge on the doctors he blames for his wife’s death using nine biblical plagues in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), which is followed by its sequel, Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972).
Vincent Price as The Abominable Dr. Phibes
Next, in House of Wax (1953), a remake of the 1933 film Mystery of the Wax Museum, Price plays Professor Henry Jarrod, a wax sculptor whose business partner sets their museum on fire and returns unexpectedly 18 months later with a new, possibly disturbing exhibit. After that comes William Castle‘s crime horror mystery House on Haunted Hill (1959), which centers around five people who agree to be locked up in a large spooky house overnight with an eccentric millionaire and his wife for the chance to win $10,000. The final Price-led film is The Bat (1959), about a crazed killer on the loose in a mansion full of people.
Tuesday, Oct. 31: Creepy Cinema — “Terror’s on the Phone”
TCM is airing a two-day “Terror-Thon” Monday, Oct. 30, through Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023, and included as part of that is its final Tuesday evening of Creepy Cinema-themed titles. The double feature on the evening of Oct. 31 focuses on films that have famously shown how horror and suspense can be generated via a phone call.
First, Best Actress Oscar nominee Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster star in the noir thriller Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). Stanwyck plays a bed-ridden woman who happens to overhear a murder plot on the phone, and works with her husband to try to prevent the crime.
After that comes one of the most famous horror flicks to memorably use the telephone: When a Stranger Calls (1979). Its chilling opening scene plays off that old urban legend about the babysitter (Carol Kane) being tormented by threatening calls from a killer, eventually finding out that the calls are “coming from inside the house!!!!” Charles Durning, Colleen Dewhurst and Tony Beckley costar.