TV Eye

Scary Things

The Return of Dracula airs on the Oct. 31 episode of <i>Frontline World</i>, at 9pm on PBS.
"The Return of Dracula" airs on the Oct. 31 episode of Frontline World, at 9pm on PBS.

When I was growing up, there wasn't much room to hide. I shared a three-room apartment with my mother and little brother, so it was hard to escape Creature Feature night at our house. That was Saturday night, the night my mother allowed my brother to invite a friend or two over to watch scary movies on our black-and-white console TV, polished with lemon Pledge.

My mother made popcorn in a cast-iron pot. As they all munched, slurped Kool-Aid, and shrieked, I hid in the bedroom, avoiding Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Tingler, and Lon Chaney's transformations into a werewolf (which I later came to enjoy). Yeah, I was a big weenie. In retrospect, I don't know what I found so frightening, except that I must have believed that some part of what I heard them watching on the other side of the curtain was possible.

Damn, we was po' -- but I kind of miss those days. Not the poverty, but the innocence that came with not knowing there were bigger, more troubling, unspeakable things to be frightened of. Things as frightening as Lourdes Portillo's acclaimed Señorita Extraviada.

No, Portillo's film is not a traditional "scary movie," but I defy anyone to watch her troubling, miasmic documentary without losing sleep. Señorita Extraviada is part of the P.O.V. (Point of View) series (postponed from August for KLRU fundraising). It is a pensive -- and very brave -- film that dares to ask: Who's killing the young women of Juarez, Mexico?

Nearly 300 (and counting) women have been kidnapped, brutally raped, and found dead in the surrounding desert since 1993. The authorities have been of little help. And as the film unfolds, the realization that something bigger and uglier than incompetence or indifference may be at work will make you ill.

Señorita Extraviada is not for the delicate. It is a film that ultimately honors the women and families who've suffered unspeakable misery. Most of all, it allows the victims to be heard and seen, instead of passing as faceless ghosts into the night.

Señorita Extraviada airs Tuesday, Oct. 29, 9pm, and Wednesday, Oct. 30, 12:30am, on PBS.


Live From Romania

Romanian writer Andrei Codrescu provides an insider's view of a country trying to re-invent itself in "The Return of Dracula," a segment from Frontline World: Stories From a Small Planet. After four decades of totalitarian rule, Romania finds itself struggling to create a modern identity. One way of doing this is marketing the vampire myth to Western tourists, including government plans to build a Dracula theme park. "The Return of Dracula" airs on the Oct. 31 episode of Frontline World, at 9pm on PBS. Other segments include another scary figure from history -- Cambodian leader Pol Pot -- and the lasting effects of his Khmer Rouge regime. A third segment focuses on an alleged terrorist plot to attack U.S. military forces in Germany.


Prof. Griffin Ushers in Halloween

If it's October, Prof. Griffin must be lurking nearby! Austin's own horror movie fan and host of Prof. Griffin's Midnight Shadow Show is the man about town these waning days of October, hosting a number of Halloween-themed events in person and onscreen. Prof. Griffin and co-hosts Dan-Dan and a character known only as "the beautiful Usher" will host a Movies in the Park event at Republic Square Park (Fifth & Guadalupe), featuring Rear Window on Oct. 29. Fun and games begin at 7:30pm; film starts at 8pm. Free and open to the public. Over the air, Prof. Griffin and company shuttle between KVC-13 and Fox affiliate KTBC Oct. 26 and Oct. 27, hosting Halloween screenings of A Nightmare on Elm Street II, The Omen IV: The Awakening, Tales From the Hood, and Candyman. Check listings for airtimes. Prof. Griffin's Midnight Shadow Show airs Fridays, 11pm, on Cable Access Channel 16. For more information, visit www.midnightshadowshow.com.


And on Cable --

The Sundance Channel features a horror double feature on Halloween night with two gems from Japan. The first is Spiral (Uzumaki). Based on a popular comic book (or manga), Spiral tells the bizarre story of a quaint little town suffering from an evil curse. Strange visions and phantoms plague a movie set in Don't Look Back (Joyurei) aka Ghost Actress. The double feature begins at 8pm on Halloween night on the Sundance Channel.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Sundance Channel, Spiral, Don't Look Back, Ghost Actress, Prof. Griffin's Midnight Shadow Show, Andrei Codrescu, The Return of Dracula, Frontline World: Stories from a Small Planet, Señorita Extraviada, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Tingler, Lourdes Portillo

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