The Palm Springs Classic Science Fiction & Horror Festival is alive!

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Aliens! Monsters! Mutants! Throw-backs! Things! Dopplegangers! I’ll say it again… Dopplegangers! Something out-of-this-world is going to happen in the California desert! No, it’s not an invasion of the earth… it’s the inaugural Palm Springs Classic Science Fiction and Horror Festival… and you’re all invited!

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Running October 23rd through the 25th at the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs, and featuring such classics of the atomic age as IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1954), THE FLY (1958), THEM! (1954), THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954), and THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (1957) — all projected on the big screen the way God intended — the Palm Springs Classic Science Fiction & Horror Festival is the brainchild of Alan K. Rode, a name which classic film fans might more readily associate with film noir. Director and treasurer of the Film Noir Foundation, Alan has helped program and curate festivals devoted to film noir at such acclaimed venues as the Egyptian Theatre and the Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood, the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD — among others — and has been the producer and host of the annual Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival for the past nine years. Alan is the author of Charles McGraw: Portrait of a Film Noir Tough Guy (McFarland and Company) and his forthcoming biography of Michael Curtiz is due to be published in 2016 by the University Press of Kentucky. Additionally, Alan can be heard on commentary tracks for such home entertainment releases as BLACK WIDOW (1954) and NEW YORK CONFIDENTIAL (1955), as well as the forthcoming Blu-ray of  TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949), due out in early 2016 from the Film Noir Foundation and Flicker Alley. I recently had an opportunity to ask Alan a few questions in preparation to kicking off the first-ever Palm Springs Classic Science Fiction & Horror Film Festival.

7ZfEDNOcYou’re a film noir guy. Why horror-sci-fi? Why now?

My cinematic passions encompass a wide swath of styles and genres: I’m a movie guy! Before becoming transfixed by the dark alleys and side streets of film noir (along with the jutting jaw of Charles McGraw), I was a monster kid. My earliest cinematic experiences include watching RODAN and GORGO on the big screen, buying every copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland and Castle of Frankenstein magazines while being a faithful devotee of CHILLER THEATER every Saturday night on WPIX Channel 11 in New York City. This festival is something new for me, but it was intermittently discussed for quite awhile, dating back to yakking about sci-fi films with my late pal Art Lyons. Thanks to my loyal sponsors at the Palm Springs Cultural Center who have unstintingly supported my production of the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival for the past eight years, the Palm Springs Classic Science Fiction Festival is now a reality.

You’ve got some great guests lined up to appear at the fest — including one of my first childhood crushes!

For me, there is nothing more gratifying than having the opportunity to chat with the stars of these classic films. David Hedison is a wonderful gentleman and superb actor who I grew up watching on VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. Julie Adams is an absolute doll that I’ve been privileged to chat with at a number of different screenings- including CREATURE- as well as conducting an extended interview for the audio edition of her recent memoir. Ditto for Kathleen Hughes with whom I’ve also had as a guest at several film noir screenings along with her late husband Stanley Rubin. They became good friends and Kathy is still going strong. I’ve been privileged to enjoy enriching relationships with some of these legendary performers: It is definitely the sweet spot of this business.

Had you ever had the chance to see any of these movies on the big screen? How do you compare the cinematic experience with what most of us are more familiar with at home?

I missed seeing THE FLY on its first run when my Mother rightfully decided that I was too young so I was banished, howling my disagreement, to a baby sitter as the rest of the family took it in at the local drive-in. I’ve seen several of these films subsequently on the big screen but was too young or not even a glimmer in my parents eyeballs when they were initially released. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing these films in a darkened theater as they were originally intended. Let’s face it: the big screen of the Camelot Theater is the optimum way to properly appreciate Ray Harryhausen’s Rhedosaurus wrecking havoc on lower Manhattan!

Not to sound like an egghead of Cornthwaitean proportions, but what is the cultural legacy of these movies versus that of film noir?

I’ve programmed some of “the best of the best” for this inaugural festival.  These are genre masterpieces that have transcended cult status while continuing to hold up as superb entertainment. These pictures also retain significant historical relevance from the middle of the last century. I remember asking the late Kevin McCarthy if it bothered him that the first or second sentence of his obituary would doubtlessly mention his starring role in INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.  He told me absolutely not as that particular film had withstood the test of time to become a classic.  “I am very proud of that picture” McCarthy declared. I think Kevin spoke for all of these films. They are also a lot of fun to watch on the big screen and that’s what this festival is all about.

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The Venue:

The Camelot Theatres 2300 East Baristo Road, Palm Springs, CA 92262. (760) 325-6565

Festival Schedule:

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Friday October 23, 7:30 p.m. THE FLY (1958). Director: Kurt Neumann. Starring Vincent Price, David Hedison, Herbert Marshall, Patricia Owens, Charles Herbert, Kathleen Freeman. Scheduled Special Guest: David Hedison.

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Saturday October 24, 10:00 a.m.: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956). Director: Don Siegel. Starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Carolyn Jones, Larry Gates, King Donovan, Whit Bissell, Richard Deacon, Dabbs Greer, and Sam Peckinpah.

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1 p.m.: CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) 79 minutes. Director: Jack Arnold. Starring Richard Carlson, Richard Denning, Julie Adams, Whit Bissell, Nestor Paiva and Ricou Browning/Ben Chapman as The Creature. Scheduled Special Guest: Julie Adams.

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4 p.m.: THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS  (1953) 80 minutes. Director: Eugéne Lourié. Starring Paul Christian, Paula Raymond, Cecil Kellaway, Kenneth Tobey, Ross Elliott, King Donovan, and Lee Van Cleef.

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7:30 p.m. THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (1957) 81 minutes. Director: Jack Arnold. Starring Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, April Kent, Paul Langton, Raymond Bailey, William Schallert, and Orangey as Butch the Cat.

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Sunday Oct. 25, 10 a.m. THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951). Director: Christian Nyby. Starring Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, Dewey Martin, Robert Nichols, Paul Frees, Eduard Franz, John Dierkes, and James Arness as The Thing.

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1 p.m. IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1954). Director: Jack Arnold. Starring Richard Carlson, Barbara Rush, Charles Drake, Joe Sawyer, Russell Johnson, Dave Willock, and Kathleen Hughes. Special Guest: Kathleen Hughes.

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4 p.m. THEM! (1954). Director: Gordon Douglas. Starring James Whitmore, James Arness, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon, Onslow Stevens, Sean McClory, Fess Parker, Olin Howlin, Strother Martin, William Schallert and — look fast — Leonard Nimoy!

Palm Springs Classic Science Fiction Festival, Oct. 23-25, Camelot Theaters, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs, www.psscififilmfest.org/wordpress/

Classic Sci-Fi Promo Sheet

5 Responses The Palm Springs Classic Science Fiction & Horror Festival is alive!
Posted By chris : October 14, 2015 7:56 pm

Now I find out about this! Sounds fun! Too bad that weekend is already booked for me. I hope everyone has a great time.

Posted By swac44 : October 14, 2015 8:43 pm

Glad to hear Too Late for Tears is finally getting a restoration, every copy I’ve ever seen looks like a dupey 16mm print that’s been dragged behind truck over 40 miles of bad road. Looking forward to another great A.K.R. commentary!

Posted By swac44 : October 14, 2015 8:47 pm

Also, I wonder if It Came From Outer Space will be screened in 3D? I’ve never had the chance to see it that way, although a 3D trailer for it is included on the new Flicker Alley blu-ray 3D Rarities, which looks so great I just want to finally see it in all it’s tru-vision glory!

Posted By Arthur : October 14, 2015 9:40 pm

I remember seeing THEM in the movie theater when it first came out. I was only 4 or 5. I was so scared I jumped out of my seat and ducked down behind the seat in front of me. My older brother laughed at me.

As for THE THING, I have watched it many, many times. There are two versions, one is about 10 minutes longer than the other. I can’t decide which is better.

Posted By Jane : October 16, 2015 12:51 am

Seeing “Creature” in 3D (a revival, not the original) is one of my most cherished big screen experiences – the underwater scenes were great, with the constant bubbles of the breathing apparatus – it was such an unexpected delight. I’ve not often found a 3D effect since, that has matched that enjoyment.

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