The Mask of Sanity: Psychological Horror Films

  1. The Mask of Sanity:
  2. Psychological Horror Films

Lecturer: Jim Trainor

We complete a series of fourteen programs entitled The Mask of Sanity: Psychological Horror Films, with weekly lecture/discussions by Jim Trainor, Associate Professor of Animation in the Department of Film, Video and New Media at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The series is made possible in part through the sponsorship of American Airlines, the Film Center’s Educational Underwriter, and is presented in cooperation with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism. Additional screenings of the films on Friday or Saturday do not include Prof. Trainor's lecture. Admission to all The Mask of Sanity programs is $4 for Film Center members; usual admission prices apply for non-members.

—Martin Rubin

The most terrifying monsters are often not supernatural or extraterrestrial but all too human. Borrowing its title from Dr. Hervey Cleckley's classic 1941 clinical study, The Mask of Sanity will downplay ghosts, vampires, and aliens in favor of psychopaths, paranoids, and perverts. Lecture/discussions will focus on close analysis of individual films, the director's history and creative vision, specific techniques and their origins, and the relationship of films to contemporary events or anxieties.

—Jim Trainor



Fri, May 6th at 6:00pm
Tue, May 10th at 6:00pm
Average: 5 (5 votes)
  1. 1986, David Lynch, USA, 120 min.
  2. With Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini

Lynch’s consensus classic is a brilliantly sick, funhouse-mirror image of Our Town. Roses bloom on the picket fence, but fat, juicy beetles feast on the rot beneath, an opening metaphor for a story with a severed ear for a calling card. A naïve but curious college boy (MacLachlan) and his sunshiny sweetheart (Laura Dern) get to know the neighbors on the neo-noir side of town: ferociously sadistic Frank (Dennis Hopper) and Dorothy, the bruised-plum nightclub singer forced to become his sexual slave (Rossellini in the achingly vulnerable performance of her career). 35mm widescreen. (BS)

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All of these movies have violent rape scenes. What's with that?



Fri, Feb 18th at 6:00pm
Tue, Feb 22nd at 6:00pm
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  1. CACHÉ
  1. (aka HIDDEN)
  2. 2005, Michael Haneke,
  3. France/Austria, 117 min.
  4. With Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche,
  5. Annie Giradot

CACHÉ (HIDDEN) begins with a seemingly innocuous view of the Parisian home of TV host Georges Laurent (Auteuil) and his wife Anne (Binoche). Pulling the rug from under us for the first of many times, the film reveals this image to be a videotape sent to the Laurents by an unknown surveillant. It is followed by anonymous phone calls, disturbingly crude drawings, and more videos pointing straight to an ugly secret buried deep in Georges’s past. Profoundly unsettling and at times truly shocking, Haneke’s tight, tense metaphysical thriller might be the most effective film ever to capture the vertiginous dread of the post-9/11 world. In French with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)

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