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Savannah’s Psychotronic Film Society screens rare Italian horror film to raise much-needed funds

  • “Suspiria”

Savannah’s Psychotronic Film Society screens rare Italian horror film to raise much-needed funds

07 Nov 2017

Savannah’s longest-running film society faced a possible blackout earlier this year.

For 14 years, Savannah’s Psychotronic Film Society has regularly screened obscure movies, mostly foreign, cult and independent feature films that would not have a home in regular theatrical settings.

“The society is meant to be both entertaining and educational,” PFS founder, executive and artistic director Jim Reed said. “I strive in my curation of the ongoing series to not merely program films which I personally like, but rather films which I feel are of great worth and will appeal to an unusually diverse range of adventurous movie lovers.”

Using The Sentient Bean as a home base, the PFS has held between 60 and 80 screenings each year. But a robbery earlier this year has threatened the society’s existence.

Reed’s house was broken into and his expansive archive of obscure films was obliterated, along with equipment he uses for the regular screenings. All told, Reed lost about 1,400 rare films, some of which were irreplaceable master copies purchased from private collectors. The estimated economic loss was about $25,000.

“I seriously considered shutting the entire organization down at the time, because I did not feel it could survive such a loss,” Reed said. “A lot of people beseeched me and said, ‘We really like what you do, we’ve been coming to your film screenings, please don’t stop.’ Even something as peculiar as this, when you do it in a town for 14 years, there’s bound to be people who appreciate it.”

Reed was able to recover about 200 films from a pawn shop. He had to buy them back, since he had no proof of ownership. Some discs, which were thought to be useless because they were in foreign formats which don’t play on American DVD players, were tossed in the garbage.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help the PFS recover from the loss. So far, they’ve raised about $5,000 of the $10,000 goal.

Two recent happenings, however, have opened a door for the PFS to raise funds to continue the society while doing what they do best. The Lucas Theatre will once again play host for PFS as they screen a 4K restoration of a rare cult film that has only received about 40 screenings ever in the U.S.

In the society’s early years, Reed attempted to do at least one or two screenings a year at the Lucas. This worked until new management came along and were not open to Reed’s proposals. Earlier this year, the management at the Lucas shifted rather abruptly, opening a door for the PFS to work with the theater once again.

“From my personal experience, over the last few years the management at the Lucas had become rather disinterested in working with local independent film promoters,” Reed said. “At a certain point, I simply gave up trying to put on events at the Lucas, because it was obvious to me there wasn’t the will on the part of the management.

“When the management changed at the Lucas, I immediately noticed a lot of positive changes going on there in terms of programming,” Reed continued. “I was so happy and impressed with the variety of what the Lucas was putting on and the enthusiasm … My No. 1 idea was ‘Suspiria.’ They were enthusiastic, friendly and helpful. I am thrilled to be back presenting films at The Lucas and I hope to do more in the future.”

The second bit of good fortune for the PFS was the release of a 4K restoration of the 1977 Dario Argento cult horror film “Suspiria.” The film is regarded as one of the most beautiful horror films ever made and received critical acclaim for its use of color, accompanied by a powerful soundtrack.

Four years ago, Synapse Films began a restoration project of “Suspiria” from the original 35mm uncensored camera negative, which was unintentionally discovered somewhere in Europe. The restoration process, which took years because of the condition of the negatives, was helmed by Synapse Films president Donald May Jr. as well as the film’s original director of photography, Luciano Tovoli.

“It is considered one of the most beautiful horror movies ever made,” Reed said. “Personally, I put it up there with ‘The Shining.’ Every frame looks like a painting. It’s beautifully composed, beautifully lit.

“One of the keys of the movie is the color palette. The film is super lurid and vivid and oversaturated with color. It’s a surreal horror film. The color palette is not supposed to be realistic, it’s supposed to invoke a dream or nightmare. It’s very unrealistic. It’s both surreal and unreal. It had, or was thought to have, one of the loudest soundtracks ever. The soundtrack was mastered in a such a way that it was designed to scream out of the speakers.”

The PFS will screen “Suspiria” at the Lucas Theatre on Nov. 10 as a fundraiser and a celebration of its mission of the last 14 years. There will be raffle tickets available, with several valuable prizes given away before the film. Graveface Records & Curiosities, which also runs the horror film soundtrack label Terror Vision, has come onboard as a co-sponsor for the event.

“I am crossing all my fingers and toes that there will be a good turnout for this,” Reed said. “It is a fundraiser. The whole idea is to raise money to keep my film society in business. We just got hit with this double, triple whammy. It warmed my heart that there were people out there that felt this way about my project.”


What: Psychotronic Film Society fundraiser: “Suspiria” 40th anniversary restoration

When: 8 p.m. Nov. 10

Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.

Cost: $12 or $10 for students