The BAMcinématek’s whimsical and now annual genre blast covers the gamut, from old-school California gothic like Tod Browning’s Mark of the Vampire (1935) to newer wilted lilies like John Landis’s Innocent Blood (1992). But there are still rare freakouts you’ve only read about, best of them being Kuroneko (1968), Kaneto Shindô’s follow-up to Onibaba and a kind of feudal-era Japanese ghost version of I Spit on Your Grave, with rape revenge perpetrated in a shadowy bamboo grove by a mother/daughter-in-law pair of feline vampire demons. Half as resonant but twice as crazy, Masahiro Shinoda’s Demon Pond (1979) is more like a lysergic fantasy about a village pond and its vast array of Wackyland creatures, inhabiting a chintz-set landscape evocative of Gold Diggers of 1935.
That George Romero’s sublime Martin (1977)—the wisest and most upsetting vampirism- as-pathology film in the American canon—is playing alongside Roy Boulting’s dreary Twisted Nerve (1968) and George Mihalka’s justly hated My Bloody Valentine (1981) merely demonstrates how little there is left to choose from. But like last year, the programmers have found an unknown oddity from Finland, 1952’s The Witch, in which a sexy enchantress is brought back from the dead to haunt a couple on an archaeological dig. Nudity got this crusty jewel banned in the U.S., and the print, it is proudly noted, is vintage and has its various glimpses of nipple blacked out by hand.