Well, first things first.In last week's Film Scene, I hepped you to the estimable CinemaSavannah organization's recent opening night co-promotion of the new Woody Allen dramedy "Blue Jasmine" - and by all accounts, turnout for last Friday's evening show on the Southside was better than expected. It appeared from anecdotal evidence that many in the crowd learned of the event from DO. So, if you are one of the folks who decided to attend based on this column, thanks not only for reading, but for doing your part to support local, independent cinema presentations.I'm happy to report CinemaSavannah has yet another first-run, arthouse-style release on tap for Aug. 30. It's acclaimed Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan's provocative new fantasy-thriller "Byzantium," starring Gemma Arterton ("Quantum of Solace," "Clash of the Titans," "The Disappearance of Alice Creed"), Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement," "The Lovely Bones," "Hanna") and Jonny Lee Miller ("Trainspotting," TV's "Dexter" and "Elementary"). "Byzantium" finds Jordan sinking his teeth into vampire lore once more (see what I did there?), as he has done previously to both critical and box office derision (1988's "High Spirits") and enthusiastic praise and commercial success (1994's "Interview with the Vampire").In this new effort, a mother-and-daughter vampire team's 200-year history weighs down on them as they seek refuge in a dilapidated resort hotel on England's coast. The story sprawls from the Napoleonic Wars to contemporary times, and finds the female ghouls' anonymity compromised by their affections for two men who work at the resort.Jordan, who won Best Original Screenplay for his own 1992 drama "The Crying Game," as well as the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival for 1997's "The Butcher Boy," has added what the New York Times calls a "punctuating flourish," to the ever-growing vampire canon with this fresh spin on a genre most would have thought would have skulked back to the crypt by now. In recent years, however, worldwide fascination with vampire legends and their updating has given adventurous viewers a handful of outstanding cinematic interpretations re-imaginings, such as 2008's Swedish gem "Let The Right One In" and the 2009 South Korean sleeper "Thirst," directed by "Oldboy" auteur Chan-wook Park, about a priest who is accidentally stricken with vampiric tendencies and forced to rethink his calling (if you appreciate thought-provoking horror cinema, seek this one out). The Village Voice calls Jordan's latest "the right vampire movie for today," describing it as "poetic and elegant in an artfully tattered way," while New York Magazine dubs it "gorgeous, mesmerizing, poetic; (its lyricism) actually heightened by harsh jets of gore."This one-night-only engagement finds CinemaSavannah back in the very comfy digs of the Muse Arts Warehouse (located downtown at 703 Louisville Road, just a few hundred feet west of the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Liberty Street). Showtimes are at 5 and 8 p.m. only, and admission is $8 (for mature audiences only).Speaking of harsh jets of gore, most folks who recognize the name Ivan Reitman will likely connect the producer and director with some of the most successful, mainstream blockbuster comedies of the late-'70s through the mid-'90s. Just some of the titles he has helped to create and/or direct include "National Lampoon's Animal House," "Meatballs," "Stripes," "Ghostbusters," "Howard Stern's Private Parts" and "Kindergarten Cop." Throw in such tame family fare as the Charles Grodin/pack of loud dogs "Beethoven" franchise and you'd be forgiven for associating Reitman solely with slightly raunchy humor.However, before he hit the incredibly big time with "Animal House" in 1978, he produced a handful of disturbing, violent and controversial "grindhouse" movies up in Canada. Those included David Cronenberg's early sci-fi/horror hybrids "Rabid" and "They Came From Within," the Nazi-fetishizing sexploitation flick "Ilsa, the Tigress of Siberia" (which he perhaps wisely left his name off of) and the infamous "roughie" being screened Sept. 4 at The Sentient Bean.Alternately known as both "Death Weekend" and "The House By The Lake," this brutal revenge thriller made quite a stir upon its debut in 1976, taking home the Grand Prize at the International Terror Film Festival. It was subsequently banned in the U.K., which only helped to cement its legendary status.Shot on a miniscule budget, it concerns a wealthy playboy whose weekend at a secluded lakefront vacation home turns ugly and shocking when he and his beautiful model girlfriend (played with phenomenal fright by the underrated Brenda Vaccaro - best known as the female lead in 1981's forgotten farce "Zorro: The Gay Blade") are savagely attacked by a gang of thugs, precipitating the model's methodical revenge on their assailants.The leader of the gang is played by none other than Don Stroud, a hulking, brooding, time-bomb of an actor who's played variations on this sort of role for decades (he most recently surfaced in Quentin Tarantino's latest exploitation homage/pastiche "Django Unchained"). Stroud turns 70 on Sept. 1, and this rare public showing of the uncut version of this cult classic - which has never been officially released on DVD - is their tribute to his unique onscreen presence.Similar in tone to other nasty '70s revenge pics like "I Spit On Your Grave," "Last House On The Left" and "Straw Dogs," it is not for the faint of heart and definitely not for kids. $6 admission, 8 p.m. showtime.See you at the movies, and turn off that cellphone. Jim Reed directs the award-winning Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah - presenting indie, foreign, classic and cult cinema year-round. Read more from Jim on Savannah's film scene at filmsavannah.com.
IF YOU GOWhat: "Byzantium"When: 5 and 8 p.m. Aug. 30Where: Muse Arts Warehouse, 703 Louisville RoadCost: $8, mature audiences onlyInfo: www.musesavannah.org What: "Death Weekend" aka "The House By The Lake"When: 8 p.m. Sept. 4Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.Cost: $6, mature audiences onlyInfo: www.sentientbean.com