Creepy ‘Cabinet’: 1920s horror flick screens at Kings Theatre

Ragtime band: The 1921 silent horror film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” will screen at Kings Theatre on Oct. 31, with a live score from the jazz band Rags and Roots.
Brooklyn Daily
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It’s going to be spook-tacular.

On Halloween night, the Kings Theatre will tumble back in time to the 1920s, screening a silent horror film from the Weimar era while a vintage jazz band plays an original score. “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” an expressionist black-and-white film about a sinister hypnotist, is not just a spooky flick — it’s also a cinema landmark, said the night’s organizer.

“ ‘Caligari’ isn’t just a classic, but it’s a work that defines an entire film movement,” said Piers Playfair, artistic director of the Catskill Jazz Factory, the group behind the event.

The company first tried out its live score for the film in 2014, at a creepy estate in the Catskills, and Playfair said that the experience will be bigger and better for its Kings Theatre show.

“It’s been exciting for us to revamp the concept and create a total package experience with the Kings Theatre team, this time with a full ensemble and both pre- and post-show entertainment. Jazz is experiencing a modern renaissance, and we wanted to make sure to deliver an authentic experience, and genre, to the time period of the film’s creation,” said Playfair.

The jazz band Rags and Roots plays music from the same era as the 1921 film, so the seven-piece ensemble got the nod to score the motion picture.

In addition to the action on screen, the entire art deco theater will ring with music. Before the show, Bushwick jazz singer group Tatiana Eva-Marie and her Avalon Jazz Band will play 1920s-style Gypsy jazz in the lobby, and a classical trio will perform a haunting Tchaikovsky number. Afterwards, South African jazz singer Melanie Scholtz will play a session.

And Playfair would not reveal details, but said that “Caligari”-inspired surprises will greet visitors as they approach their seats.

“Audiences can definitely expect moody and haunting,” he said. “The idea is to not only produce an authentic visual and auditory experience but to provide a full authentic experience from the time you walk through the doors.”

“The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” at Kings Theatre [1027 Flatbush Ave. at Duryea Place in Ditmas Park, (800) 745-3000,]. Oct. 31 at 8 pm. $25–$45.

Updated 1:34 am, July 10, 2018
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