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Monster Mash

Bijou curates a summer horror film series

Fans of scary monsters and super creeps will have a lot to feast on in coming days, as the Bijou Classic Series unleashes its “Monster Blockbuster” tribute, featuring screenings of a handful of legendary films moderated by local film buffs.

Coordinated by Joshua Purvis, Bijou marketing director and founder of the Eugene Film Society, the series puts together a chilling variety of freaker classics — from Jaws to Invasion of the Body Snatchers — pairing each with a moderated Q&A and discussion that will tackle critical, historic and technical aspects of the film.

Purvis says he’s hoping to inspire audiences to look anew at classic horror blockbusters, and to see both their value and their influence on movies as a whole. “These films are intelligent films that work well,” he says of such offerings as King Kong and Alien, noting that these movies signify a transition in cinematic history from films with more artistic or informative concerns to those that seek primarily to titillate and entertain while still retaining cinematic value. The idea, Purvis says, is to take a second look at monster blockbusters like Jaws and see them as more than escapist spectacles — to see where they have merit and influence, both good and bad, in the history of cinema.

Taking horror films seriously is a radical concept, given the ghetto that’s been created by an endless stream of slasher flicks and monster movies that forgo elements like plot and characterization in the rush to shock and disgust the audience with buckets of blood. But fear, like lust, is a primal emotion, and when a great director like John Carpenter (Halloween) taps into our deep creeps, the results are no less artistic for being totally scary.

“We are a college town,” Purvis says. “We have the population that can be engaged with this type of programming. The conversation element, as opposed to having a lecture, is what gives voice to all the other components of the film culture, that sense of give and take.”

That give-and-take kicks off with a bang at Bijou Metro on Saturday, July 19, with a screening of Jaws, followed by a discussion moderated by EW’s Alex Notman and including input from DIVA “Behind the Lens” host Tom Blank, LCC media arts prof Ian Coronado and film researcher Mary Erickson.

Alien screens the following week, with the Q&A moderated by yours truly and featuring input from LCC’s Coronado and Kate Sullivan, as well as film critic Doug Hennesy. These screenings are followed by the original 1933 King Kong (July 30), Aliens (Aug. 1-3), Philip Kaufman’s 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Aug. 8-10), Jurassic Park (Aug. 15-17) and ending with John Carpenter’s excellent remake of The Thing Aug. 22-24. Bijou will also host a July 30 screening of the original King Kong (1933) at Kesey Square as part of Eugene’s “Summer in the City” series.

Bijou Metro’s Monster Blockbuster series runs July 18 though Aug. 24; times and titles at bijou-cinemas.com