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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fall, a Chilling Season for Movies

In a memorable moment from "The Birds," the Daphne du Maurier novel turned classic horror film by Alfred Hitchcock, a woman claims she knows who is to blame for the inexplicable onslaught of vicious killer birds -- the Russians.

In reality, though, Russians have never had much of a taste for terror on the screen, perhaps finding everyday life frightening enough. But as time passes, more and more filmgoers here have begun to indulge in the pitch-black thrill of horror movies. For those who have come to appreciate a healthy fear of the dark, this weekend brings together an eclectic assortment of Western thrillers guaranteed to titillate.

The most unusual offering is "Un Chien Andalou," a 17-minute avant-garde cinematic collaboration between film director Luis Bu–uel and Salvador Dali made in 1928, being shown at the Central House of Artists. A literal representation of the irrational, illogical pace of the two men's dreams, the film features a seemingly meaningless chain of shocking images, including a gruesome closeup of Bu–uel himself slicing a woman's eyeball open with a razor, and Dali, as a monk, being dragged along with a heavy cargo of pianos and the putrefying bodies of dead donkeys.

The film, which won its makers instant acclaim among Parisian surrealists and avant-garde artists, was designed purely to excite and surprise its audience, rather than preach, Bu–uel emphasized at the time. "We ruthlessly threw away everything which might have any meaning," he said. "Nothing in this film symbolizes anything."

Another example of Dali's fruitful flirtation with film art is the lushly romantic "Spellbound," Hitchcock's brilliant 1945 movie, also being shown at Central House of Artists. Dali is responsible for the film's famous two-minute, 49-second dream sequence, which provides a visual illustration of the subconscious of an amnesiac with a violent past, played by Gregory Peck. The dynamic film romance between Peck and Ingrid Bergman is heightened when Bergman, hiding her lover from the police, reveals the nature of his violent act with the help of her former professor (played by Michael Chekhov, the nephew of the Russian playwright), who quickly reveals his guilt complex with psychoanalysis.

The most traditional horror film on offer is "Dracula," Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic 1897 novel. The film, which has brought in more than $80 million since its release, gives a stylish look to the long-standing institution of big-screen vampires, following the Transylvanian prince (Gary Oldman) as he moves, after centuries alone in his crumbling castle, from Romania to 19th-century London. The film also stars Winona Ryder as Mina, a British aristocrat who appears as the reincarnation of the count's lost love.

Dozens of version of the Dracula tale have been put on film, including F. W. Murnau's classic 1921 "Nosferatu," Tod Browning's 1930 "Dracula," starring Bela Lugosi and featuring a Tchaikovsky score, and even "Dracula's Dog," a 1978 drama about the count traveling to Los Angeles in search of his last living descendant, accompanied by his bloodthirsty canine companion. Coppola puts his own postmodernist twist on his version of the film, mixing a wide variety of styles, allusions and modes of production.

The film, officially premiering in Moscow on Friday at the Americom House of Cinema, is scheduled to be distributed by Gemini Film to 900 Russian and Ukrainian movie theaters in mid-September. It has been professionally dubbed.

"Except for Coppola's 'Godfather' saga, none of this renowned director's films have been distributed in Russia," said Sergei Fiks, a Gemini spokesman. "This is a quality production that will help us fight against cheap Western-made films."

"Un Chien Andalou" will be shown at 4 P.M. Friday and 7 P.M. Saturday. "Spellbound" will be shown at 7 P.M. Friday and 4 P.M. Saturday. Both films are being screened at the Central House of Artists, 10 Krymsky Val. Tel. 238-1245 or 238-9634. The Americom House of Cinema premiere of "Dracula" is by invitation only. The film will begin screening in Moscow movie theaters after Sept. 16. All films will be shown in Russian.