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The Criterion Channel’s October 2021 Lineup

On the Channel

Sep 29, 2021

The Criterion Channel’s October 2021 Lineup

The Criterion Channel’s October 2021 Lineup

On the Channel

Sep 29, 2021

Something spooky this way comes! This October, look back to the origins of the Hollywood horror movie at the studio where some of cinema’s most legendary monsters were born. Or test your stamina against the white-knuckle shocks of film history’s most chilling home-invasion thrillers. And if real-life killers, swindlers, and crooks are your thing, don’t miss our eclectic True Crime series. There are also spotlights on Wayne Wang, Curtis Mayfield, Cicely Tyson, Kirk Douglas, Lynne Sachs, and more.

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* indicates programming available November 1
** indicates programming available only in the U.S.


Universal Horror

Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Wolf Man: some of the most legendary movie monsters of all time originated at Universal Pictures in the 1930s, when the studio produced a string of gothic horror classics that would influence the development of the genre for decades to come. Featuring pioneering special effects and makeup, atmospheric mise-en-scène influenced by German expressionism, and stars like Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, these unforgettable nightmares—including the longer (and racier) Spanish-language version of the original 1931 Dracula and James Whale’s protocamp masterpiece Bride of Frankenstein—have left an enduring mark upon our collective cultural imagination.

FEATURING: Dracula (Spanish-Language Version) (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), The Black Cat (1934), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Raven (1935), The Wolf Man (1941), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Home Invasion

Home is where the terror is in these unsettling explorations of one of our most primal fears: an unwanted intrusion into the sanctity of one’s own home. It’s a disquieting premise that has inspired filmmakers for decades, as seen in these gripping noir classics (The Desperate Hours, In Cold Blood), paranoid explorations of surveillance and technology (The Anderson Tapes, Demon Seed), boundary-pushing art-house provocations (Violence at Noon, Funny Games), and shockingly visceral horror nightmares (Angst, Inside). Ranging from darkly comic to nerve-shreddingly intense, these films are profoundly disturbing because they suggest that nowhere, not even your own home, is truly safe.

FEATURING: Blind Alley (1939), The Desperate Hours (1955), Private Property (1960), Viridiana (1961), Cape Fear (1962)* , Cul-de-sac (1966), Violence at Noon (1966), In Cold Blood (1967), Night of the Living Dead (1968), The Anderson Tapes (1971), The Visitors (1972), Black Christmas (1974), Demon Seed (1977), The Plumber (1979), Angst (1983), To Sleep with Anger (1990), Bad Influence (1990), Funny Games (1997), Them (2006), Inside (2007)**

Starring Kirk Douglas

A magnetically intense presence who practically exploded off the screen, Kirk Douglas was one of the last living giants of Hollywood’s golden age when he passed away last year at age 103. Embodying the cynical flip side of the postwar era, the vigorous, chin-dimpled actor rose to fame playing tightly wound, often defiantly unlikeable characters: a backstabbing boxer in the hard-hitting noir Champion, an unscrupulous reporter in Billy Wilder’s venomous media exposé Ace in the Hole, and a ruthless Hollywood producer in Vincente Minnelli’s Tinseltown melodrama The Bad and the Beautiful. Cementing his tough-guy image with the numerous westerns (including Lonely Are the Brave) he made throughout the 1960s and ’70s, Douglas harnessed a bold and expressive performance style to become one of American cinema’s most indelible stars.

FEATURING: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Out of the Past (1947), I Walk Alone (1947), Champion (1949), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), Young Man with a Horn (1950), Ace in the Hole (1951), Detective Story (1951), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), The Big Sky (1952), Lust for Life (1956), The Vikings (1958), Last Train from Gun Hill (1959), The Devil’s Disciple (1959), Spartacus (1960)*, Lonely are the Brave (1962), Two Weeks in Another Town (1962), Is Paris Burning? (1966), The Way West (1967), The Brotherhood (1968), There Was a Crooked Man . . . (1970), Posse (1975), A Father . . . A Son . . . Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2005)

Adventures in Moviegoing with Edgar Wright

British director Edgar Wright, the avid genre remixer behind Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Baby Driver, and Last Night in Soho, sits down with critic Alicia Malone to discuss his early moviegoing memories (including sneaking into Gremlins as a child), his abiding love for popular genres, and what he looks for in a good horror movie. The films he has chosen to present reflect his omnivorous embrace of art house and grindhouse alike, with the British teen exploitation shocker Beat Girl and Mario Bava’s hyperstylish giallo classic Blood and Black Lace rubbing shoulders with masterpieces by Max Ophuls, Ingmar Bergman, and Luis Buñuel.

FEATURING: Black Narcissus (1947), The Earrings of Madame de . . . (1953), Sapphire (1959), Beat Girl (1960), Blood and Black Lace (1964), Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), Persona (1966), Belle de jour (1967), Don’t Look Now (1973)

True Crime

While most genres wax and wane in popularity over time, one thing remains constant: our unending fascination with true crime stories. Real-life murderers, mobsters, and swindlers have provided models for popular horror, disquieting psychological realism, and avant-garde experiments alike. Inspired by some of the most infamous cases of all time—including the Papin sisters (Les abysses, La cérémonie), John Dillinger (Dillinger), Jack the Ripper (From Hell), and the Zodiac Killer (Zodiac)—these ripped-from-the-headlines tales of notorious killers and outlaws prove that truth is often stranger, and more shocking, than fiction.

FEATURES: M (1931), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)**, Try and Get Me! (1950), Salvatore Giuliano (1962), Les abysses (1963), In Cold Blood (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)*, The Honeymoon Killers (1970), 10 Rillington Place (1971), The Valachi Papers (1972), Dillinger (1973), The Day of the Jackal (1973), Man on a Swing (1974), In the Realm of the Senses (1976), Vengeance Is Mine (1979), Smooth Talk (1985), Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), Landscape Suicide (1987), Reversal of Fortune (1990), A Brighter Summer Day (1991), Let Him Have It (1991), Swoon (1992), To Die For (1995), La cérémonie (1995), Deep Crimson (1996), From Hell (2001), Zodiac (2007), Gomorrah (2008), Polytechnique (2009)**

SHORTS: Fry Day (2017), Blood Kin (2018)

Strangers in Paradise: 9 Films by Jim Jarmusch

Dryly deadpan, stylishly minimalist, and effortlessly cool, the films of American indie pioneer Jim Jarmusch are so idiosyncratic that they practically constitute a genre unto themselves. Forging his singular sensibility amid the creative ferment of New York’s downtown scene, Jarmusch emerged as one of the most original voices of the 1980s independent-film boom with his breakout road movie Stranger Than Paradise, which established his fascination with outsiders on enigmatic journeys to nowhere in particular. Drawing on cultural heroes from Howlin’ Wolf and Elvis Presley to William Blake and Jean-Pierre Melville, Jarmusch has transformed a variety of genres—revisionist western (Dead Man), modern samurai movie (Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai), vampire love story (Only Lovers Left Alive)—into fresh and surprising vehicles for his inimitable brand of haiku-like existential poetry.

FEATURING: Permanent Vacation (1980), Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Down by Law (1986), Mystery Train (1989), Night on Earth (1991), Dead Man (1995), Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)**

Indecent Desires: Six Films by Doris Wishman

“When I die, I’ll make films in hell!” declared exploitation auteur Doris Wishman. Though she may have been the most prolific woman director in the history of American cinema, Wishman has long been overlooked because she worked in the critically disreputable realm of roughies, nudie cuties, and pornography. Nevertheless, her extensive and fascinating body of work is ripe for rediscovery for its singularity of vision (Wishman not only produced and directed but wrote, cast, and edited most of her films), subversive feminist themes, and unique place within the context of experimental and DIY cinema. Provocative, erotic, and often bordering on the surreal, these films from Wishman’s rich 1960s and ’70s period—including the twisted fantasy Indecent Desires and Let Me Die a Woman, an unclassifiable quasi-docmentary about transgender people—are an introduction an innovative director whose work seems to exist in its own wild and wondrously warped parallel universe.

FEATURING: Nude on the Moon (1961), Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965), Indecent Desires (1968), Deadly Weapons (1974), Double Agent 73 (1974), Let Me Die a Woman (1977)


Film About a Father Who


Featuring seven short films and a new introduction by the filmmaker

Over a period of thirty-five years between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot 8 and 16 mm film, videotape, and digital images of her father, Ira Sachs Sr., a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Park City, Utah. Film About a Father Who is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to her parent and a sister to her siblings. Like a cubist rendering of a face, Sachs’s cinematic exploration of her father offers multiple, sometimes contradictory, views of a seemingly unknowable man who is publicly the uninhibited center of the frame yet privately shrouded in mystery. With this meditation on fatherhood and masculinity, Sachs allows herself and her audience to see beneath the surface of the skin, beyond the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, she discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal.

This exclusive streaming premiere is accompanied by a selection of experimental short films by Sachs, many of which also reflect her probing exploration of family relationships.

SHORTS: Which Way Is East (1994), The Last Happy Day (2009), Wind in Our Hair (2010), The Washing Society (2018), Girl Is Presence (2020), E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo (2021), Maya at 24 (2021)


Island of Lost Souls (Erle C. Kenton, 1932)

Criterion Collection Edition #586

Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi star in this mad-science shocker, a twisted treasure from Hollywood’s pre-Code horror heyday based on the novel by H. G. Wells.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary featuring film historian Gregory Mank; a conversation between filmmaker John Landis, makeup artist Rick Baker, and genre expert Bob Burns; and more.

After Life (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 1998)

Criterion Collection Edition #1089

If you could choose only one memory to hold on to for eternity, what would it be? Hirokazu Kore-eda’s revelatory international breakthrough is a quietly profound meditation on memory, mortality, and the power of cinema.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary featuring film scholar Linda C. Ehrlich, interviews with Kore-eda and cinematographers Masayoshi Sukita and Yutaka Yamazaki, and more.

Kagemusha (Akira Kurosaswa, 1980)

Criterion Collection Edition #267

In his sumptuous late masterpiece, Akira Kurosawa returns to the samurai film and to a primary theme of his career—the play between illusion and reality.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by scholar Stephen Prince, appreciations by George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, and more.

When We Were Kings (Leon Gast, 1996)

Criterion Collection Edition #998

This essential documentary portrait of Muhammad Ali captures the boxing legend’s charm, grace, and defiance as he trains in Kinshasa for one of his most consequential fights: the Rumble in the Jungle, which pitted him against the younger powerhouse George Foreman.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Interviews with director Leon Gast and producer David Sonenberg.

A Raisin in the Sun (Daniel Petrie, 1961)

Criterion Collection Edition #945

The original stars of Lorraine Hansberry’s immortal play A Raisin in the Sun—including Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee—reprise their roles on-scren in this deeply resonant tale of dreams deferred.

SUPPLEMENTAL FEATURES: Interviews with Hansberry, director Daniel Petrie, and scholars Imani Perry and Mia Mask; an excerpt from the documentary Black Theatre: The Making of a Movement; and more.


Queersighted: Class Acts


In this latest edition of Queersighted—an ongoing series that takes a look at film history through a distinctly queer lens—curator Michael Koresky and special guest Caden Mark Gardner present a selection of films that explore how queer identity intersects with social class. With their keen observations about how sexuality is expressed, hidden, and wielded on a terrain of social inequality, these stories—drawn from the outskirts of New York City, working-class South East London, the backstreets of Seattle and Memphis, the margins of Frankfurt and Brussels—foreground class identity and stratification as much as they engage in matters of queer identification.

FEATURING: Je tu il elle (1974), In a Year of 13 Moons (1978), Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982), Streetwise (1984), The Salt Mines (1990), The Transformation (1995), Beautiful Thing (1996)**, The Delta (1996), Brother to Brother (2004)

Observations on Film Art No. 44:
Aspect Ratio in Vivre sa vie


One of the peaks of Jean-Luc Godard’s extraordinary 1960s creative run, Vivre sa vie finds the filmmaker combining brilliant visual design with a tragic character study of a young woman (Anna Karina) on a downward spiral. In this edition of Observations on Film Art, Professor David Bordwell examines Godard’s bold choice to shoot the film in the boxy, 4:3 aspect ratio that was then quickly becoming outmoded in favor of widescreen. Pushing aesthetic boundaries as always, Godard uses the format’s tight framing to maintain a rigorous, almost obsessive focus on his central character, resulting in a work of true cinematic portraiture.


Jennifer’s Body


This sleeper cult classic from director Karyn Kusama and screenwriter Diablo Cody infuses the teen horror movie with a dark wit and a subversive feminist sting.

Office Killer**


Celebrated photographer Cindy Sherman toys knowingly with slasher-movie conventions in her fascinating, darkly comic sole foray into feature filmmaking.

More women filmmakers featured in this month’s programming: Indecent Desires: Six Films by Doris Wishman, Smooth Talk (1985), The Salt Mines (1990), The Transformation (1995), Beautiful Thing (1996), In the Cut (2003), A Father . . . A Son . . . Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2005), Fry Day (2017), Too Late to Die Young (2018), Stuffed (2019), White Echo (2019), Between You and Milagros (2020), Film About a Father Who (2020)


Stories of Resistance: Documentaries by Arthur Dong


Over the course of a career that spans five decades, Oscar-nominated activist documentarian Arthur Dong has established himself as one of American independent cinema’s most daring pioneers, bringing powerful untold stories that center queer and Asian American experiences to the screen. Whether exploring the devastating effects of antigay prejudice (Coming Out Under Fire, Licensed to Kill), the complexity and vitality of Asian American culture (Forbidden City, USA; Hollywood Chinese), or the extraordinary life of a survivor of the Cambodian genocide (The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor), Dong approaches each project with a rare rigor and a quietly forceful empathy, braiding personal, historical, and political strands into compelling narratives. Taken together, his body of work serves as a stirring testament to the power of individual resistance and resilience in the face of social oppression.

FEATURING: Sewing Woman (1982), Forbidden City, USA (1989), Coming Out Under Fire (1994), Licensed To Kill (1997), Family Fundamentals (2002), Hollywood Chinese (2007), The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor (2015)

Rat Film


Theo Anthony’s dazzling directorial debut blends history, sci-fi, poetry, and portraiture to dissect how racial segregation, redlining, and environmental racism built the unequal, rat-infested Baltimore we see today.



This gorgeously photographed look at the much-misunderstood art and science of taxidermy reveals it to be, paradoxically, full of life.

Porto of My Childhood

A ninety-three-year-old Manoel de Oliveira revisits the city of his birth in this collage-like journey through a distant past that echoes into the present.

More documentaries featured in this month’s programming: Let Me Die a Woman (1977), Streetwise (1984), The Salt Mines (1990), The Transformation (1995), When We Were Kings (1996), A Father . . . A Son . . . Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2005), Film About a Father Who (2020)


Three Starring Cicely Tyson


Legendary actor Cicely Tyson, who passed away in January at age ninety-six, brought a powerful presence, dignity, and strength to each of her pioneering performances, which were instrumental in advancing the depiction of Black women on-screen. This tribute gathers three of her finest performances: her standout turn as a daughter defying her dying father’s wishes in the screen adaptation of Carson McCuller’s southern gothic classic The Heart is a Lonely Hunter; award-winning portrayal of a woman whose life spans the era of slavery and the civil rights movement in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman; and heartwarming collaboration with Richard Pryor in the sweetly irreverent comedy Bustin’ Loose.

FEATURING: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968), The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974), Bustin’ Loose (1981)

Chinatown Chronicles: Three Films by Wayne Wang


Featuring a new conversation between Wang and critic Dennis Lim

With his 1982 indie breakthrough Chan Is Missing—a noir-inflected comic mystery set in San Francisco’s Chinatown—Wayne Wang became the first Asian American director to achieve widespread critical recognition, paving the way for a pioneering and eclectic career that helped introduce Chinese American stories to mainstream cinema. Exploring issues of assimilation, identity, and generational conflict, this trio of playful, insightful films from Wang’s extraordinary 1980s output overflow with both tender humor and deep emotion, drawing on influences ranging from the French New Wave and Yasujiro Ozu to old-fashioned Hollywood musicals and romantic comedies in order to capture a wide variety of immigrant experiences.

FEATURING: Chan Is Missing (1982), Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart (1985), Eat a Bowl of Tea (1989)

Three Scored by Curtis Mayfield


Featuring a new introduction by critic Greg Tate

A prolific singer-songwriter who fused an innovative soul sound with a social consciousness that spoke to Black American struggle and empowerment, Curtis Mayfield also left his unmistakable stamp on a small but memorable handful of films as a composer. In addition to the Blaxploitation classic Super Fly, which features some of the artist’s grooviest songs (including the hit “Freddie’s Dead”), this Mayfield sampler includes the beloved, Supremes-inspired backstage musical Sparkle and the gritty prison drama Short Eyes, based on the groundbreaking play by Nuyorican writer Miguel Piñero (and featuring Mayfield in a supporting role).

FEATURING: Super Fly (1972), Sparkle (1976), Short Eyes (1977)


Lubitsch Musicals


Renowned as a silent-film pioneer and the man who refined Hollywood comedy with such masterpieces as Trouble in Paradise, The Shop Around the Corner, and To Be or Not to Be, Ernst Lubitsch also had another claim to fame: he helped invent the modern movie musical. With the advent of sound and audiences clamoring for “talkies,” Lubitsch combined his love of European operettas and his mastery of film to create this entirely new genre. These elegant, bawdy films, made before strict enforcement of the Hays morality code, feature some of the greatest stars of early Hollywood (Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins), as well as that elusive style of comedy that would thereafter be known as “the Lubitsch touch.”

FEATURING: The Love Parade (1929)**, Monte Carlo (1930), The Smiling Lieutenant (1931), One Hour with You (1932)


Creature from the Black Lagoon


The amphibious terror known as the Gill-man was launched into pop-culture immortality by this 1950s creature-feature classic.

Robinson Crusoe on Mars


Special-effects wunderkind and genre master Byron Haskin won a place in the hearts of fantasy-film lovers everywhere with this gorgeously designed journey into the unknown.

Miss Minoes


This charmingly original Dutch family favorite is catnip for all friends of felines.

Wombling Free


The furry, potbellied, litter-collecting creatures known as the Wombles made their big-screen debut in this lightly psychedelic cinematic spin-off.

The Time of Their Lives


Comedy greats Abbott and Costello plus prankster ghosts make for a rib-tickling fantasy farce.


Short + Feature: Lucid Dreams
Please Speak Continuously and Describe Your Experiences as They Come to You and Paprika


Two prodigiously inventive filmmakers imagine what happens when the barrier between dreams and reality breaks down in these sci-fi head trips.

Short + Feature: The Present Past
Blessed Land and The Naked Island


History intertwines with the present day in these haunting and hypnotic evocations of worlds seemingly unstuck in time.

Short + Feature: Endings and Awakenings
Between You and Milagros and Too Late to Die Young


The age of innocence comes to an end for two young women in a pair of visually sublime, South American–set teenage reveries.

Short + Feature: Psychic Connection
White Echo and Séance on a Wet Afternoon


Grab a ouija board, light a candle, and settle in for two spine-tingling exercises in the occult arts.


Double Feature: In a New York Minute
The Clock and After Hours


A pair of Manhattan meet-cutes set off all-night odysseys across the city that never sleeps in Vincente Minnelli’s magical romance and Martin Scorsese’s black-comic urban nightmare.

Double Feature: Women on the Verge
Diary of a Mad Housewife and A Woman Under the Influence


Carrie Snodgress and Gena Rowlands deliver unforgettable, Oscar-nominated performances as frustrated 1970s housewives unraveling under the crushing pressures of domesticity.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Existential Dread
Bright Future and Creepy


A surreally apocalyptic tale of alienated youth and a shocking murder mystery show off the chilling vision of Japan’s master of the metaphysical thriller, Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

Double Feature: Sleeping with Danger
Klute and In the Cut


Jane Fonda and Meg Ryan deliver two of their finest performances as women drawn into the hunt for a killer in a paranoid classic and a fascinatingly subversive, unsung feminist thriller.

Double Feature: Blood Feasts
Vampyr and Only Lovers Left Alive**


Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer’s experimental horror milestone inspires indie existentialist Jim Jarmusch’s equally idiosyncratic take on the vampire genre.

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