Get Spooked With Salt Lake Film Society’s Tower of Terror Series


Tower of Terror at Broadway Centre Cinemas (Courtesy Salt Lake Film Society)

By Megan Fisher, Arts Writer


Have you wondered what it would have been like to have seen “Halloween” or “The Shining” in the movie theater when they first came out? Well, with the help of the Salt Lake Film Society you can find out. Every Friday and Saturday during the months of September and October, the Salt Lake Film Society is screening a different horror movie at the Broadway Theater.

A Utah tradition since 2003, The Tower of Terror series brings cult classics, both old and new, back to the big screen. According to Rachel Getts, marketing coordinator for the Salt Lake Film Society, one of the goals behind the movie series is to foster a sense of community. “A scary movie in the dark … should be a shared experience,” Getts said.

Chance to See Classic Horror on the Big Screen

SLFS will be screening some of the greatest, most terrifying horror movies ever made. They were all made specifically to be watched in a movie theater. Watching the movie in a pitch-black room, without a cell phone in your hand to cause distractions, surrounded by two hundred other frightened people will only make the experience scarier.

“It’s fun to create a spooky atmosphere,” Getts said. “We hope people leave the theater talking. Too often watching these movies is a disposable activity.” For each screening, the theater is tailored to fit each movie, with appropriate and specific decorations.

I attended the screening of “Halloween” and when I walked into the movie theater I was greeted by a fake skeleton wearing Michael Meyer’s jumpsuit. Attendants of “The Thing” screening had the chance to get a petri dish of fake blood. Before each screening there will be trivia games and swag giveaways.

What Movies Will I Be Able to See?

One of the movies that you will have the chance to see on the big screen is Stanley Kubrick‘s adaptation of “The Shining.” If you have never seen “The Shining” and have any interest in scary movies, or good movies in general, don’t miss out on this chance.

The set-up for “The Shining” is simple. Recovering alcoholic and struggling writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes his wife and son to stay at the Overlook Hotel where he has gotten a job during the winter off-season. While snowed-in at the empty hotel, each member of the family has supernatural encounters.

The bare bones of the plot are nothing that hasn’t been seen in a hundred other movies, but Kubrick uses it to delve into the dark recesses of the human mind. Things that have scared every single one of us, the fear of ourselves, the fear of how we can hurt the ones we love, are impeccably captured. With the help of the Steadicam, the camera floats around the hotel, turning the viewer into a ghost. Its hypnotic quality is one that could only be improved in the pitch black movie theater.

Another one of the movies being screened with the Tower of Terror series is “The Exorcist.” Legend has it that people vomited and ran from the theater during the first run of “The Exorcist.” There’s a viscerality and immediacy to the way that William Friedkin tells the story of a priest’s quest to help a teenage girl that has been possessed by a demon.

It’s a movie that can be felt. You are trapped in the upstairs bedroom of a Georgetown townhouse. You can feel the cold air and smell the vomit. The power is added to through the naturalism of the central performances from Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Max von Sydow and Linda Blair. They don’t feel like movie stars up on the big screen, but real people that you could pass by on the street. Even if the central conceit of “The Exorcist” centers around the supernatural, it taps into real fears, the fear of physical pain and mental anguish, the fear of watching a loved one in pain, fears concerning faith and religion.

Not even nearly 50 years of countless parodies have been able to dull the impact of “The Exorcist.” By the the time the closing credits roll you feel as though you have just gone 10 rounds in a boxing ring.

Scary movies are lame by yourself. Come and get scared with a crowd.

Pricing, show times and more information are available on the Salt Lake Film Society’s website.


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