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As part of the Flashback Weekend nostalgia convention, which runs through Sunday, the west parking lot of the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare in Rosemont will be converted into an open-air theater. Patrons are invited to bring blankets and lawn chairs (the “drive-in” part is purely sentimental).

Friday night’s program features a screening of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1983, NC-17, 85 min.), introduced by star Bruce Campbell (see Critic’s Choice in Readings & Lectures) and other members of the cast and crew. Reader reviewer Pat Graham described the film as “ferociously kinetic and full of visual surprises, though its gut-churning reputation doesn’t seem fully deserved: if anything the gore is too picturesque and studied, an abstract decorator’s mix of oozing, slimy color. There’s a weird comic energy in the frenetic physical playing–hysterical actors running in and out of rooms, zombies popping up from the floorboards and out of wall cabinets like jack-in-the-boxes–and the mad Punch-and-Judy orchestration takes on an almost choreographic quality at times (this may be the first commedia dell’arte horror film). There are lots of clever turns on standard horror movie formulas, and one image especially lingers in the mind: a woman splintering into an infinity of hairline cracks, like the suddenly shattered surface of a ceramic vase.”

Also screening on Friday is Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses (2003, R, 88 min.), which J.R. Jones described as an “energetic but ultimately tiresome tribute to the no-budget gorefests of the 60s and 70s. Four young people researching a book on roadside attractions arrive in the dead of night at the Museum of Monsters and Madmen, but the real sideshow is up the road at the home of a depraved surgeon and his weirdo family (which includes Karen Black). Universal Pictures bankrolled the film and allowed Zombie to use footage from some of its horror classics in the creepy low-resolution montages that periodically erupt on the screen, then refused to distribute it–no doubt his juxtaposition of Karloff with real-life monsters like Ed Gein exceeded the corporate comfort zone.” Stars Sid Haig and Bill Moseley will introduce the screening.

Campbell will return on Saturday to introduce his big-screen directorial debut, Man With the Screaming Brain. Following that will be John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980, R, 91 min.), which Dave Kehr described as “a ghost story with overtones of Hitchcock (The Birds) and Hawks (The Thing). It’s also a disappointment, but only when judged by the high standards Carpenter set for himself. For the first time, he’s trying to generate some emotion between his characters, instead of concentrating exclusively on that between the screen and the audience. But with the increased complexity has come a weakened grip on the strategies of suspense that have been Carpenter’s forte. It’s a failure, but it’s a failure in the right direction.” Stars Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, and Nancy Loomis will be on hand to introduce the film.

When: Fri 7/29, 8:45 PM, Sat 7/30, 9 PM

Where: Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare, 5554 N. River Road, Rosemont

Price: $15, $5 for children 12 and under

Info: 847-478-0119 or flashbackweekend.com