Spooktacular screenings at MOMI, Karloff honored

Spooktacular screenings at MOMI, Karloff honored
By Tammy Scileppi

In the past, Queens horror enthusiasts have reported seeing ghosts and zombies on All Hallow’s Eve. Rumor has it these otherworldly creatures have been visiting our borough — once called the Land of Cemeteries — in large numbers. Here, the dead outnumber the living more than two-to-one.

To commemorate Queens’ spooky sensibility, the Museum of the Moving Image will host frightening film screenings for Halloween. The See it Big! series will feature classic thrillers and horror flicks Oct. 28-30, including “Frankenstein,” “Alien,” “The Shining,” and “Little Shop of Horrors” on the museum theater’s big screen¸

In homage to the 80th anniversary of “Frankenstein,” Sara Karloff, daughter of the iconic actor, who played the monster in this 1931 film, will be acquainting fright fans with Boris Karloff’s personal life, playing for the audience a reel of home movies on Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s alive!”

Boris Karloff was known for his macabre persona and sinister characters (“The Mummy,” “Mask of Fu Manchu,” “Phantom of the Opera”). He once said, “The monster was the best friend I ever had” and, “Thank God for the monster!”

After all, it was mad scientist Frankenstein’s peculiar creation that boosted Karloff’s acting career, making him an overnight star after 20 years in the business. It was a tough role to play: a bulky costume, 4-inch platform boots, and a torturous makeup routine. But the British-born actor literally breathed life into the creature, giving it a personality of its own — menacing yet gentle, with a smidgen of humanity.

In a phone interview, Sara Karloff, 72, from her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., discussed her “modest, self-effacing” father: “A good dad who never brought his career home.” She recalled meeting his friends, fellow actors Lon Chaney (“The Wolf Man,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Hunchback of Notre Dame”), and Bela Lugosi (“Dracula,” “The Raven”).

The former real estate broker and widowed grandmother, who lived in Beverly Hills, said she has protected the “wonderful personal and professional legacy my father left for his fans” since his death at 81 in 1969. Her favorite films are “Targets” (1968), in which her father plays an aging horror film star, “because I see my father as himself in it,” and “The Comedy of Terrors” (1963) with Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. In both films, the actors spoofed their boogey men images. In her 20s, Ms. Karloff visited both movie sets and watched her father and his actor buddies play practical jokes on each other.

A philanthropist, Grammy winner, Tony nominee, and a founder of the Screen Actors Guild, Boris Karloff was “loved by those who knew him, and respected by those who worked with him.”

When trick-or-treat bags are full, no better way to end the Halloween celebration than on a spooky note — with a demo by master special-effects makeup artist Mike Marino (“Black Swan,” “Men in Black 3”), who will transform an audience member into a moon-baying werewolf.

The See It Big! series opens with “Alien” on Oct. 28, continuing through Jan. 1 with classics from all genres. The series concludes with Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon” on Jan. 1 at 6 p.m.. Recommended ages 10 and up.

For a full listing of screenings visit movingimage.us or call 718-777-6800.

More from Around New York