Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein Bud and Lou as two deliverymen with an oblong package for Frankenstein’s castle. As burlesque and later radio comics, Abbott and Costello found their metier in bizarre patter routines; they never got the hang of the kiddie slapstick Universal assigned to them, and their physical comedy is low, heavy, and graceless. This 1948 effort is probably the last of their watchable films, though it’s a long way from their best. Critics used to complain that their films weren’t plotted; these days, they look like Dickens. With Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., and Glenn Strange. Charles Barton directed. 83 min. (DK) Screening as part of a double feature with The Creature From the Black Lagoon (see separate listing). a Sun 10/29, 2 PM, Portage.

RBride of Frankenstein James Whale’s quirky, ironic 1935 self-parody is, by common consent, superior to his earlier Frankenstein (1931). Whale added an element of playful sexuality to this version, casting the proceedings in a bizarre visual framework that makes this film a good deal more surreal than the original. Elsa Lanchester is the reluctant bride; Boris Karloff returns as the love-starved monster. Weird and funny. 75 min. (DD) DVD projection. Screening as part of a double feature with Frankenstein (see separate listing). a Wed 11/1, 7:30 PM, Beverly Arts Center.

The Cat and the Canary This hoary stage thriller had already become camp by the time it was filmed in 1927, and director Paul Leni (a German expatriate) treats its masked killers, secret passageways, and sliding panels with tongue bulging in cheek. Like most spoofs, it wears thin fairly quickly. With Laura LaPlante, Creighton Hale, and Tully Marshall. 74 min. (DK) Jay Warren will provide live organ accompaniment. a Fri 10/27, 8 PM, Univ. of Chicago Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn, 773-702-7059.

The Creature From the Black Lagoon Archetypal 50s science fiction–light on brains and heavy on sexual innuendo (1954). But director Jack Arnold has a flair for this sort of thing, and if there really is anything frightening about a man in a rubber suit with zippers where the gills ought to be, Arnold comes close to finding it. All in all, somewhat better than The Mole People. 79 min. (DK) Screening as part of a double feature with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (see separate listing).

a Sun 10/29, 2 PM, Portage.

RDawn of the Dead George Romero’s 1979 sequel to Night of the Living Dead is a more accomplished and more knowing film, tapping into two dark and dirty fantasies–wholesale slaughter and wholesale shopping–to create a grisly extravaganza with an acute moral intelligence. The graphic special effects (which sometimes suggest a shotgun Jackson Pollock) are less upsetting than Romero’s way of drawing the audience into the violence. As four survivors of the zombie war barricade themselves inside a suburban shopping mall, our loyalties and human sympathies are made to shift with frightening ease. Romero’s sensibility approaches the Swiftian in its wit, accuracy, excess, and profound misanthropy. 126 min. (DK) TV monitor. a Sat 10/28, 6 PM, Delilah’s, 2771 N. Lincoln, 773-472-2771. F

Dracula Universal’s classic from 1931, directed by Tod Browning. The opening scenes, set in Dracula’s castle, are magnificent–grave, stately, and severe. But the film becomes unbearably static once the action moves to England, and much of the morbid sexual tension is dissipated. Browning remains one of the most intriguing directorial enigmas of the 20s and 30s: he could be flat, dull, and clumsy, but once he connected with the underlying perversities of his screenplays, his films lit up with a diabolical grace. Dracula is disappointing next to Freaks and The Devil-Doll, but it still offers the highly satisfying spectacle of Bela Lugosi packing six volumes of innuendo into the line “I never drink . . . wine.” 75 min. (DK) a Sat 10/28, 8 PM, Portage.

RThe Dybbuk A beautiful restoration of the 1937 Yiddish film directed in Poland by Michal Waszynski. Based on S. Ansky’s play Between Two Worlds, it takes place in several small, remote eastern European Hasidic towns (or shtetlach) near the end of the 19th century and contains various supernatural and folkloric elements that are roughly analogous to magical realism–though a more precise genre description would be Hasidic grotesque or Hasidic gothic. An interesting document of Yiddish theater and a watershed in Yiddish cinema, with expressionist touches in both the acting and Waszynski’s direction. With Abram Morewski, Lili Liliana, Dina Halpern, and Leon Liebgold. In Yiddish with subtitles. 125 min. (JR) Screening as part of a double feature with The Golem (see separate listing). a Sun 10/29, 6 PM, Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation, 5029 N. Kenmore, 773-561-0435.

RThe Evil Dead Sam Raimi directed this 1983 horror feature fresh out of film school, and his anything-for-an-effect enthusiasm pays off in lots of formally inventive bits. The film is 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, like some exotic species of new-wave interior design. 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. With Bruce Campbell and Sara York. NC-17, 85 min. (PG) DVD projection. a Sun 10/29, 8 PM, Morseland, 1218 W. Morse, 773-764-8900. F

RFrankenstein Mary Shelley’s modern Prometheus story is altered (giving the monster the brain of a madman) to produce one of the most deservedly famous and chilling horror films of all time (1931). Boris Karloff as the monster and James Whale’s direction (he was to top himself with Bride of Frankenstein four years later) combine to create an effectively frightful mood. Even after all these years, it’s still not all that camp or funny. With Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Edward Van Sloan, and Dwight Frye. 70 min. (DD) Screening at Beverly Arts Center as part of a double feature with Bride of Frankenstein (see separate listing).

a Mon 10/30, 8 PM, Portage; also Wed 11/1, 7:30 PM, Beverly Arts Center.

RThe Golem Of the four extant versions of this perennial horror classic, Paul Wegener’s 1920 version remains the best. Wegener both directs and stars in this extraordinarily vivid, magical, brooding film. His hulking claylike monster is an archetype, and the astonishing, angular, teetering sets by Hans Poelzig are an example of the nightmare world of the occult made breathtakingly concrete. Carl Boese codirected. 75 min. (DD) Screening as part of a double feature with The Dybbuk (see separate listing). a Sun 10/29, 6 PM, Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation, 5029 N. Kenmore, 773-561-0435.

RHalloween John Carpenter’s 1978 tour de force, perhaps the most widely imitated film of the 70s. As a homicidal maniac stalks the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois, Carpenter displays an almost perfect understanding of the mechanics of classical suspense; his style draws equally (and intelligently) from both Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock. Though the film seems conscious of no significance beyond its own stylistic dexterity, its buried themes of sexual transgression and punishment appear to have touched something deep in the soul of the American teenager. The film, in its duplicitous way, makes a powerful plea for the comfort and security of puritanism. With Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, and P.J. Soles. 93 min. (DK) a Tue 10/31, 8 PM, Portage; also Tue 10/31, 7 PM and 11:59 PM, Univ. of Chicago Doc Films.

The Haunted House As part of its family music program “Hallowed Haunts,” the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will accompany a screening of Buster Keaton’s silent short The Haunted House (1921), cowritten and codirected by Edward F. Cline. Tickets range from $13 to $46, $9 to $34 for children.

a Sat 10/28, 3 PM, Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114.

House of Frankenstein An all-star Universal Pictures monster show (1944) about a mad scientist (Boris Karloff) and a hunchback (J. Carrol Naish), not to mention the Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange), Dracula (John Carradine), and the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.). Director Erle C. Kenton was no James Whale, but he made this fairly enjoyable; Edward T. Lowe and Curt Siodmak collaborated on the script. 71 min. (JR) Screening as part of a double feature with Mark of the Vampire (see separate listing). a Sat 10/28, 8 PM, LaSalle Bank Cinema.

Little Otik Veteran animator Jan Svankmajer adapts a creepy Czech folktale for this 2000 live-action feature in which a childless couple nurtures a tree stump until it becomes a monstrous baby with a boundless appetite. After the husband locks it in the cellar a neighbor girl with a precocious interest in sex and reproduction becomes its protector, feeding it with other residents of their building when her resources run out. The film parodies horror movies but also considers the irrationality of a mother’s love and the unintended consequences of trying to control nature; it’s mordantly funny, but the stop-motion animation of Little Otik reminds one that horror movies are generally least interesting when showing the beast. In Czech with subtitles. 127 min. (FC) DVD projection; screen is stained. a Sat 10/28, 8 PM, Hotti Biscotti, 3545 W. Fullerton, 773-486-4093. F

RMark of the Vampire One of the classics of the horror genre, this extremely clever and surprising 1935 film by Tod Browning (Freaks, Dracula) stars Lionel Barrymore as a professor, an expert on vampire lore, who solves the mystery of vampiric attacks on a young girl in a derelict castle. With Lionel Atwill, Elizabeth Allan, and Bela Lugosi. 61 min. (DK) Screening as part of a double feature with House of Frankenstein (see separate listing). a Sat 10/28, 8 PM, LaSalle Bank Cinema.

The Mummy Karl Freund, former cameraman for Lang and Murnau in Germany, directed and photographed this creditable 1932 entry in the Universal horror cycle. The drama may be clumsy, but Freund’s lighting is a wonder. The charmingly egregious Boris Karloff stars, with support from Zita Johann, a first-rate actress who never really made it in the movies, thanks mainly to roles like this one. 72 min. (DK) a Fri 10/27, 8 PM, Portage.

Plan 9 From Outer Space Bela Lugosi died during the making of this low-budget science fiction programmer, but that didn’t faze director Edward Wood: the Lugosi footage, which consists of the actor skulking around a suburban garage, is replayed over and over, to highly surreal effect. Wood is notorious for his 1952 transvestite saga Glen or Glenda? (aka I Changed My Sex), but for my money this 1959 effort is twice as strange and appealing in its undisguised incompetence. J. Hoberman of the Village Voice has made a case for Wood as an unconscious avant-gardist; there’s no denying that his blunders are unusually creative and oddly expressive. With Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Joanna Lee, and, of course, Lyle Talbot. 79 min. (DK) a Fri-Sat 10/27-10/28, midnight, Music Box.

Planet of the Vampires Mario Bava’s affectingly sleazy but elegantly conceived 1965 genre piece (also known as Demon Planet) puts warm-blooded Barry Sullivan on a seriously anemic planet. Another qualified triumph from the director of Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs and Hercules in the Haunted World; as Bava again demonstrates, there was more to 60s Italian film than Fellini and Antonioni. 86 min. (DK) DVD projection. a Thu 11/2, 11 PM, Loyola Univ. Damen Hall, 6525 N. Sheridan, 847-845-2427. F

Psychomania Not the 1963 American indie exploitation item but a British job about biker ghouls, made ten years later. George Sanders stars and Don Sharp directed; also known as The Death Wheelers. 95 min. TV monitor. a Sun 10/29, 6 PM, Delilah’s, 2771 N. Lincoln, 773-472-2771. F

The Rocky Horror Picture Show This 1975 film version of the bisexual-chic rock musical tries its damnedest to be outrageous, but finally has a hard time justifying its R rating. The picture might have made a pretty good college show–with Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry) sewing up a homemade stud to the accompaniment of a sexually ambiguous kick line (the chorines all look strangely like Lina Wertmuller). But the wit is too weak to sustain a film, and the songs all sound the same. Of course, the movie itself is beside the point by now–the real show is in the audience. I suspect this listing belongs in the theater section. 95 min. (DK) Fri-Sat 10/27-10/28, midnight, Music Box.

Scream, Blacula, Scream! William Marshall returns as the title bloodsucker in this 1973 sequel to Blacula, American International’s goofy blaxploitation horror film. Bob Kelljan directed; with Pam Grier. PG, 95 min. (JJ) DVD projection. a Thu 11/2, 9 PM, Loyola Univ. Damen Hall, 6525 N. Sheridan, 847-845-2427. F

They Live John Carpenter’s 1988 SF action thriller about aliens taking over the earth through the hypnotic use of TV. The explicit anti-Reagan satire–the aliens are developers who regard human beings as cattle, aided by yuppies who are all too willing to cooperate for business reasons–is strangely undercut and confused by a xenophobic treatment of the aliens that also makes them virtual stand-ins for the Vietcong. Carpenter’s wit and storytelling craft make this fun and watchable, although the script takes a number of unfortunate shortcuts, and the possibilities inherent in the movie’s central conceit are explored only cursorily. All in all, an entertaining (if ideologically incoherent) response to the valorization of greed in our midst, with lots of Rambo-esque violence thrown in, as well as an unusually protracted slugfest between ex-wrestler Roddy Piper and costar Keith David. R, 97 min. (JR) DVD projection. a Wed 11/1, 9 PM, Loyola Univ. Damen Hall, 6525 N. Sheridan, 847-845-2427. F

RYoung Frankenstein More about the myth of Karloff than the monster, this Mel Brooks pastiche (1974) is probably his best early film: within limits, it has unity, pace, and even a dramatic interest of sorts. Its satisfying look, which Brooks has yet to equal, is probably due to Dale Hennesy’s production design and Gerald Hirschfeld’s polished black-and-white cinematography. With Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, and Kenneth Mars. PG, 104 min. (DD) DVD projection. a Tue 10/31, 7:30 PM, Katerina’s, 1920 W. Irving Park, 773-348-7592. F