USC to Premiere 'Shock Value' Film on Unsung Student Heroes Who Reinvented Horror Movies
The horror, the horror — and it all came from USC in the '60s
USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive's Dino Everett premieres his anthology film Shock Value The Movie: How Dan O'Bannon and Some USC Outsiders Helped Invent Modern Horror at USC Frank Sinatra Hall on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m., with a panel featuring Alec Lorimore, Terence Winkless, Diane O'Bannon, Mary Burkin, and New York Times reporter Jason Zinoman, whose groundbreaking book Shock Value inspired the film.
"USC is thought of as a school of blockbusters because of George Lucas, but Star Wars is a genre film, so it's not shocking that USC students would be so influential in redefining the horror genre -- Halloween and all those torment-the-babysitter movies," says Everett, who champions the influence of Dan O'Bannon. "He's an unsung hero, a fountain of creativity who went from the USC short Judson's Release [one of the rare films seen in Shock Value] to the failed Alejandro Jodorowsky Dune to Alien to Total Recall. He was always a bad businessman, but he often provided the creative spark that started a project, but he would often get cut out of it."
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"There are shots that are very similar in Judson's Release and Halloween," Everett continues. "The babysitter is frantically banging on the door, shot in high angle looking over her shoulder back up the stairs — I can pull that shot right out of Halloween and show them side by side. Alec [Lorimore], who did editing on it, said John Carpenter was in the USC edit bays at the same time, and Carpenter even chimed in with some suggestions when they were editing."
O'Bannon, who died in 2009, won his first notice with the 1969 USC short Bloodbath. "It's a dark comedy about a guy who commits suicide out of boredom — gory, gruesome, but funny at the same time," says Everett.
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"It's apt that the creators of Alien and Halloween met over a screening of a movie named Bloodbath," says Zinoman. "While most of the audience was disgusted, Dan O'Bannon's short, ghoulish little film formed an early bond between him and John Carpenter, who went on to help create two of the most oft-imitated killers in film history. It's thrilling that Bloodbath returns to USC, along with several other forgotten scary films from that formative era that provide essential clues to the origins of classic horror, in particular the slasher movie."
The screening is free and open to the public, but viewers must click here to reserve a seat. After the Oct. 17 world premiere, Shock Value will screen at the 25th Horror and Fantasy Film Festival in San Sebastian, Spain, and a Film Society of Lincoln Center curator is in talks with Zinoman and Everett for a potential screening event in New York. Screenings will help raise funds to restore some of the rare, influential films whose importance Zinoman's book and Everett's film establish.