How the TCM Classic Film Festival Killed My Fear

This first post has been written and re-written several times over the last couple of weeks. The very existence of this journal space has been in question since we redesigned the Horrible Imaginings website in January. As I have struggled with actually publishing these words, I have understood one important thing:  the biggest obstacle toward my committing to this project is fear.

After all these years considering the nature of fear, surrounding myself with expressions of fear in films, literature, and other forms of art, and curating or discussing those representations of fear with audiences and other artists, it still fascinates me how much fear or anxiety still manages to take control of my actions. I know it is a part of our mission to keep these conversations regular--the Horrible Imaginings Podcast was the outlet for many years before sudden fatherhood put that on indefinite hiatus--but doubts have kept me from actually sharing my thoughts with all of you.

Getting to know our fears is an important part of getting to know ourselves. This is why I spend so much time consuming, sharing, and discussing dark stories. It is also interesting to get to know what can help us overcome those fears. I am posting this today because I just spent the day with my daughter on Hollywood Boulevard on the day before the 10th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival. This will be my ninth year attending the festival, that last six of which having covered it as press for the Horrible Imaginings Podcast. In that time, the attention that Horrible Imaginings apparently captured from both the festival and the audience manifested itself in several inquiries about future podcast episodes.

This is not the first time I have been asked about the podcast’s return since I get emails about, but there was something about the concentration of questions from people in person that kickstarted this writing. Something that finally overcame the obstacle of doubt about the whole project of regularly communicating with all of you about the festival, the philosophies behind Horrible Imaginings, the stories we encounter, and more. It is not lost on me that the in-person validation of others is seemingly what was needed to finally do this. I will have to work on that. Also, none of this is to say that the Horrible Imaginings Podcast will never return, but in the meantime I will put these thoughts here in writing.

I have decided to call this blog “Present Fears,” which relates closely to the name of our film festival. I also like how the name also suggests the topics or feelings that I am considering in the moment of writing. I have had a whirlwind of thoughts, for example, after the “What is Horror” panel that HorrorBuzz invited me to be on a WonderCon. Look for a post about that soon. I also have come thoughts about the latest news about Netflix’s negotiations to purchase part of The Egyptian Theatre. In the meantime, though, I will be spending four days at the TCM Classic Film Festival all over Hollywood Boulevard! This is one of my favorite festivals of all time, and I am thrilled.

Since a big part of the festival is the challenge of choosing one film over others on their multi-track programming, I will end this entry with a bit of fun by sharing my choices. My general rule is to choose a film I haven’t seen before over one that I have, but other considerations come into play, including rare presentations or who is presenting.

Thursday, April 11:

6:45 PM: Night World (1932)

Starring both Boris Karloff and Mae Clarke from the previous year’s landmark FRANKENSTEIN! This is a pre-code crime film I have never seen, and it will be presented by the always lovely Sara Karloff!

9:30 PM: The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)

I’ve never seen this comedy starring Myrna Loy, Cary Grant, and a teenage Shirley Temple, but it will be one of the few presentations on nitrate stock.

Friday, April 12:

9:00 AM: The Clock (1945)

Starting the morning with this Judy Garland film helmed by her soon-to-be husband Vincente Minelli. Honestly, I think I chose this one specifically because it will be introduced by Mario Cantone.

12:00 PM: What’s Not to Love About Republic Serials?


Anytime there is anything about the heyday of wild serials, I am so there. I can’t wait!

2:00 PM: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Yes, I have seen this a billion times, BUT it will be introduced with a presentation by sound designer Ben Burtt and VFX artist Craig Barron. These two are some of my all-time favorite film presenters, consistently giving an insider’s view into the making of films that is both hilarious and informative. I am shaking with excitement about this one.

5:30 PM: Vanity Street (1932)

More pre-code fun from the (at the time) poverty row house of Harry and Jack Cohn’s Columbia Pictures. Presented on 35mm.

7:30 PM: Open Secret (1948)

A film noir on 35mm that was shot by George Robinson of House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula fame! I am always one to point out the comfortable relationship between horror and films noir, and the atmosphere is certainly one of those aspects! Hmm. . .I sense a future post.

9:00 PM: Do the Right Thing (1989)

It is the 30 year anniversary of Spike Lee’s masterpiece! Ruth Carter (Oscar-winning costume designer), Joie Lee, and casting director Robi Reed are discussing this, which just solidifies my choice.


Santo Vs. The Evil Brain (1961)

I absolutely live for the TCM Underground midnight screenings, but this one has to be one of most exciting for me! El Santo is coming to Hollywood--FOR TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES! Fellow Film Geeks SD programmer Beth Accomando and I always try to eventize these midnight screenings with giveaways and treats. This one is no different. If you are in town, the midnights rarely sell out completely--so come join us!

Santo Vs Evil Brain

Saturday, April 13th

9:00 AM: All Through the Night (1942)

Bogie and Conrad Veidt starring in a farce pitting gangsters against Nazis? I’m there! Larry Blamire’s co-producer Michael Schlesinger will be presenting this. He also wrote and produced the US version of Godzilla 2000, but we won’t hold that against him--much.

11:45 AM: Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

Tarzan and His Mate

More Ben Burtt and Craig Barron again? And this time to talk about the skin-baring pre-code version of Tarzan? Starring the Jane of all Janes Maureen O’Sullivan? Will it be too early for this much steam? Time will tell!

2:45 PM: Tom Mix Double Feature: The Great K&A Train Robbery (1926) and Outlaws of Red River (1927)

TWO Tom Mix cowboy action silents with live organ accompaniment! This one will require popcorn!

5:15 PM: Blood Money (1933)

I have seen this crazy pre-code a few times, but never on the big screen and never presented by the Rialto founder Bruce Goldstein.

7:30 PM: Life Begins at 40 (1935)

I’ve never seen this, but it has Will Rogers starring as a newspaper man and it is short enough to bridge the gap between Blood Money and . . .

9:30 PM: Samson and Delilah (1949)

On Nitrate stock! The role that introduced me to Victor Mature and Cecil B. DeMille as a kid. Hedy Lamarr is the best Delilah, and Angela Lansbury lights up the screen, too! I would be remiss not to mention my excitement at enjoying this presentation with my dear friend Victoria Mature, who will co-present her father’s film!


MIDNIGHT! The Student Nurses (1970)

Saturday’s midnight fun comes from producer Roger Corman and Velvet Vampire Stephanie Rothman! Just one of many nurseploitation films, but this one is definitely made more interesting with Rothman’s touch!


Sunday, April 14th:

9:15 AM: Mad Love (1935)

A creepily bald Peter Lorre in this iteration of an oft-revisited story about what happens when a pianist’s hands are replaced with those of a murderer. Lorre is the surgeon, Colin Clive is the unwitting pianist, and poor Frances Drake is in the middle of it all. Introduced by Bill Hader.

Mad Love

11:45 AM: Magnificent Obsession (1954)

Douglas Sirk directs Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. I know I have seen this years ago, but I don’t remember it so well. I love Sirk, though, so this is my choice!

2:30 PM Cold Turkey (1971)

I have not seen this comedy about an entire town trying to quit smoking, but it stars Dick Van Dyke and Jean Stapleton, and it will be introduced by its director Norman Lear!

5:15 PM: A Woman of Affairs (1928)

I’ve seen this many times, but who can say no to a Greta Garbo silent with live orchestra? Not me!

7:30 PM: Buck Privates (1941)

Abbott and Costello in one of their earliest comedies. This one is a pure nostalgia pick for me, but I love seeing these comedies with the right audience. I am hoping our shared laughter will make a great cap to the festival!

Well, that’s it! You can see how crazy it will be, so bear with me if I am late returning messages. Thank you for visiting the first entry to Present Fears Blog. See you next time!