Oh, the Humanity! The Films of Larry Fessenden and Glass Eye Pix

March 30-April 19, 2022

For more than 40 years, Larry Fessenden has not only reinvented and reinvigorated the horror and fantasy genre through his contemporary re-imaginings of mythic archetypes—the chimera, the vampire and the Leviathan, the Wendigo and the Modern Prometheus—he has also, as the founder in 1985 of the scrappy and resolutely independent New York production company Glass Eye Pix, nurtured the early careers of a diverse array of talents including Kelly Reichardt (River of Grass and Wendy and Lucy), Ti West (House of the Devil and The Innkeepers), Rick Alverson (The Comedy), Graham Reznick (I Can See You), Jim Mickle (Stake Land), Ilya Chaiken (Liberty Kid), and James Felix McKenney (Automatons).

Celebrating his extraordinary career as a writer, director, producer, actor, cinematographer, editor, and songwriter, this major retrospective of Larry Fessenden and Glass Eye Pix presents more than 20 feature films screened in MoMA’s theaters as well as an additional selection of features and shorts streaming on our virtual cinema platform (available to MoMA members across the US). Perhaps the true terror—and the liberating promise—of Fessenden’s work, which includes Habit (1997), No Telling (1991), Wendigo (2000), The Last Winter (2007), and Depraved (2019), is the extent to which the world today, our so-called Anthropocene epoch, has come to mirror his own uncanny visions of existential crisis: of ecological collapse and worldwide plague, historical trauma and amnesia, the dehumanizing effects of technology and a profound alienation from the animal world and ourselves through a failure of the empathic imagination.

Organized by Joshua Siegel, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.

In The Virtual Cinema at www.moma.org:
BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD (Rob Kuhns) MARKIE IN MILWAUKEE (Matt Kliegman) DARLING (Mickey Keating) THE ROOST (Ti West) SWEATING BULLETS: MAKING STRAY BULLETS (Glass Eye Pix BTS)

THAT CREEPY OLD DOLL (Beck Underwood) WILD RIDE (Larry Fessenden) ORIGINS (Larry Fessenden) NEXUS (Larry Fessenden) AN EXQUISITE TASK (Beck Underwood)
WHITE TRASH (Larry Fessenden) THE PAST INSIDE THE PRESENT (James Siewert) IMPACT ADDICT (David Leslie & Larry Fessenden) HOLLOW VENUS Diary of a Go-Go Dancer (Larry Fessenden) THE MAKING OF NO TELLING (Glass Eye Pix BTS)
FEVER (Larry Fessenden) THE SOUVENIR (Merrill Rauch) UNCLE BEN (Beck Underwood & Melissa Stern) PERFECTLY PERFECT (Beck Underwood) CHINATOWN (David Leslie & Larry Fessenden) 
SWOLLEN ARCHIVE (Glenn McQuaid) THE ESTATE OF THINGS (Beck Underwood) LIFELINE (Larry Fessenden) THERE IN SPIRIT (Beck Underwood) TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE Season 3 Trailer (Beck Underwood)

THE FILMS

March 30 — 4:00 PM
NEXUS (2014, Larry Fessenden, 5 minutes. Michael Vincent, Lauren Molina, Aaron Beall) On Halloween in NYC, a man hurries to meet his girlfriend for a costume party while a cabbie speeds through the street with his attention on the missing letter of his crossword puzzle.
DEPRAVED (2019, Larry Fessenden; 112 mins. David Call, Joshua Leonard, Alex Breaux, Ana Kayne, Maria Dizzia, Chloe Levine, Owen Campbell and Addison Timlin) Henry, a field surgeon suffering from PTSD after combat in the Middle East, creates a man out of body parts in a makeshift lab in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The creature he creates must navigate a strange new world and the rivalry between Henry and his conniving collaborator Polidori.

March 30 — 7:00 PM
FEVER (2020, Larry Fessenden, 8 minutes. Larry Fessenden, Jack Fessenden, Beck Underwood) A short film created during the COVID lockdown of May 2020.
HABIT (1995. Larry Fessenden 112 mins. Larry Fessenden, Meredith Snaider, Aaron Beall, Patricia Coleman, Heather Woodbury, Jesse Hartman) Autumn in New York. Sam has broken up with his girlfriend and his father has recently died. World-weary and sloppy drunk, he finds temporary solace in the arms of Anna, a mysterious woman who draws him away from his friends and into a web of addiction and madness.

March 31 — 4:00
RIVER OF GRASS (1994 Kelly Reichardt 81 mins; Lisa Bowman, Larry Fessenden, Dick Russell, Stan Kaplan, Michael Buscemi) A drowsy, sun-drunk road movie in which a would-be Bonnie and Clyde never really commit a crime, fall in love, or even hit the road.

March 31 — 6:30
WENDY AND LUCY (2008 Kelly Reichardt, 80 min; Michelle Williams, Will Oldham, John Robinson, Walter Dalton, Will Patton, Larry Fessenden) Wendy Carroll is driving to Ketchikan, Alaska, in hopes of a summer of lucrative work at the Northwestern Fish cannery, and the start of a new life with her dog, Lucy.

April 1 — 4:00
WENDIGO (2001, Larry Fessenden, 91 mins. Patricia Clarkson, Jake Weber, John Speredakos and Eric Per Sullivan) A blue Volvo makes its way through the fading light this chilly winter evening in Upstate New York. Kim, George and their eight-year old son, Miles, are city dwellers stealing a weekend away at a friend’s country farmhouse. But a fluke accident sets off a chain of events that alters their lives forever and conjures up the ferocious spirit of the Wendigo, a Native American Myth made manifest in Miles’ imagination.

 

April 1 — 6:30
THE LAST WINTER (2006, Larry Fessenden, 101 mins) Ron Perlman, James Le Gros, Connie Britton, Zach Gilford, Kevin Corrigan, Jamie Harrold, Pato Hoffmann, Joann Shenandoah and Larry Fessenden) In Arctic Alaska, a team of oil explorers succumb to an unknowable fear….

April 2 — 1:30
BITTER FEAST
 (2010, Joe Maggio 103 mins) James Le Gros, Joshua Leonard, Amy Seimetz, Larry Fessenden, Mario Batali. Peter Grey (James Le Gros), an overly zealous television chef, kidnaps J.T. Franks (Joshua Leonard), an influential and notoriously snarky food blogger after a particularly nasty review deals the final blow to Grey’s already plummeting career. A tense thrill-ride served up with wicked wit and culinary flare, BITTER FEAST is an exploration of the creative impulse gone tragically and ferociously awry.

April 2 — 4:00
STRAY BULLETS
 (2016, Jack Fessenden, 83 min) Asa Spurlock, Jack Fessenden, James Le Gros, John Speredakos, Larry Fessenden, Kevin Corrigan. In upstate New York, two teenage boys are tasked with cleaning out their father’s old mobile home on an abandoned property, but the boys are in for a surprise when they discover three crooks on the run have taken refuge in the trailer.

April 2 — 6:30
FOXHOLE  (2019, Jack Fessenden, 95 mins) James Le Gros, Motell Gyn Foster, Cody Kostro, Angus O’Brien, Alex Hurt, Andi Matichak, Alex Breaux, Asa Spurlock. Unfolding over the span of 36 hours in three separate wars—The American Civil War, World War I, and Iraq—”Foxhole” follows a small group of soldiers trapped in a confined space as they grapple with morality, futility, and an increasingly volatile combat situation.

April 3 — 1:30
NO TELLING (1991, Larry fessenden, 93 mins. Miriam Healy-Louie, Stephen Ramsey, David Van Tieghem) When Lillian Gaines moves to the country with her husband for a quiet summer retreat, she never suspects that meeting activist Alex Vine will force her to confront her deepest fears about the man she married, and the bizarre experiments under way in his lab.

April 3 — 4:00
BENEATH (2013, Larry Fessenden, 90 mins. Daniel Zovatto, Bonnie Dennison, Chris Conroy, Jonny Orsini, Griffin Newman, with Mackenzie Rosman and Mark Magolis) When a group of young friends commemorating their high school graduation take a trip to the remote Black Lake, their celebration turns into a nightmare with the sudden appearance of a relentless menace from beneath. Stuck in a leaking boat with no oars, the teens face the ultimate tests of friendship and sacrifice during a terror-stricken fight for survival.

April 4 — 4:00
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009, Ti West 95 mins. Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig, AJ Bowen, Dee Wallace) College girl Samantha responds to an ad for a babysitter to land some quick cash for a new apartment.  Her skeptical pal Megan drives her deep into the woods  and deposits her at a big, creaky Victorian house lorded over by a creepy old couple with big plans to celebrate the night’s rare lunar eclipse.

April 4 — 6:30
THE INNKEEPERS (2010 Ti West, 101 min, Sara Paxton, Pat Healy) After over one hundred years of service, The Yankee Pedlar Inn is shutting its doors for good. The last remaining employees—Claire and Luke—are determined to uncover proof of what many believe to be one of New England’s most haunted hotels. 

April 5 — 4:30
WENDY AND LUCY (2008 Kelly Reichardt, 80 min; Michelle Williams, Will Oldham, John Robinson, Walter Dalton, Will Patton, Larry Fessenden) Wendy Carroll is driving to Ketchikan, Alaska, in hopes of a summer of lucrative work at the Northwestern Fish cannery, and the start of a new life with her dog, Lucy.

April 5 — 6:30
AN EXQUISITE TASK (2020, Beck Underwood, 5 min) A vintage doll, a mysterious barn spirit and some mischievous farm critters come together in this stop-motion short about motherhood, creativity, and letting go.
MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND
 (2016 Ana Asensio, 91 mins. Ana Asensio, Natasha Romanova, Brett Azar, Caprice Benedetti, Nick Tucci, Larry Fessenden) One harrowing day in the life of Luciana, a young immigrant woman struggling to make ends meet while striving to escape her past, who finds herself a central participant in a cruel game played for the perverse entertainment of a privileged few.

April 6 — 4:00
LIKE ME 
(2017, Robert Mockler, 80 min. Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden) A reckless loner, desperate for human connection, sets out on a crime spree that she broadcasts on social media. Her reality quickly splinters into a surreal nightmare that escalates out of control and all in time for Christmas.

April 6 — 6:30
THE RANGER 
(2018, Jenn Wexler, 80 mins. Chloë Levine, Jeremy Holm, Granit Lahu, Jeremy Pope, Larry Fessenden) Teen punks, on the run from the cops and hiding out in the woods, come up against the local authority – an unhinged park ranger with an axe to grind.

April 7 — 4:00
AUTOMATONS (2006, James Felix McKenney,  83 min. Christine Spencer, Angus Scrimm, Brenda Cooney) Somewhere in the distant future, The Girl is alone. She is the last of her people, the others having died in a generations-long war that the girl continues to fight with the assistance of a group of antiquated robot helpers and soldiers.

April 7 — 6:30
I CAN SEE YOU (2008, Graham Reznick, 97 mins. Ben Dickinson, Duncan Skiles, Christopher Paul Ford, Heather Robb, Olivia Villanti, Larry Fessenden) Three aspiring ad-men take a weekend in the wilderness, brainstorming for their first assignment: to overhaul the image of a once popular cleaning product, Claractix. While in the woods, a girlfriend’s mysterious disappearance sparks a harrowing descent into unreality. Personalities contort into extremes and visits are made by a specter from Claractix campaigns of the past as the film careens towards it’s startling climax.


April 8 — 4:00
ORIGINS (2010, Larry Fessenden, 9 min. John Speredakos, Jack Fessenden, Eleanor Hutchinson)
STAKE LAND (2010, Jim Mickle, 98 min. Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, and Kelly McGillis) Martin was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster. A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation’s abandoned towns and cities, and it’s up to Mister, a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent’s New Eden.

April 8 — 6:30
TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE SEASON 3 TEASER 
(2015, Beck Underwood, 1:13 mins) Animated Teaser for the Glass Eye Pix Radio Series by Glenn McQuaid and Larry Fessenden
I SELL THE DEAD (2008, Glenn McQuaid. Dominic Monaghan, Larry Fessenden, Ron Perlman, Angus Scrimm) 19th century justice has finally caught up to grave robbers Arthur Blake and Willie Grimes. With the specter of the guillotine looming over him, young Blake confides in visiting clergyman Father Duffy, recounting fifteen years of adventure in the resurrection trade. The colorful and peculiar history of Grimes and Blake is one filled with adventure, horror, and vicious rivalries that threaten to put all involved in the very graves they’re trying to pilfer. Never Trust A Corpse.

April 9 — 1:30 PM
FEVER (2020, Larry Fessenden, 8 minutes. Larry Fessenden, Jack Fessenden, Beck Underwood) A short film created during the COVID lockdown of May 2020.
HABIT (1995, Larry Fessenden 112 mins. Larry Fessenden, Meredith Snaider, Aaron Beall, Patricia Coleman, Heather Woodbury, Jesse Hartman) Autumn in New York. Sam has broken up with his girlfriend and his father has recently died. World-weary and sloppy drunk, he finds temporary solace in the arms of Anna, a mysterious woman who draws him away from his friends and into a web of addiction and madness.

April 9 — 4:00
THE LAST WINTER (2006, Larry Fessenden, 101 mins) Ron Perlman, James Le Gros, Connie Britton, Zach Gilford, Kevin Corrigan, Jamie Harrold, Pato Hoffmann, Joann Shenandoah and Larry Fessenden) In Arctic Alaska, a team of oil explorers succumb to an unknowable fear….

April 9 — 6:30
WENDIGO (2001, Larry Fessenden, 91 mins. Patricia Clarkson, Jake Weber, John Speredakos and Eric Per Sullivan) A blue Volvo makes its way through the fading light this chilly winter evening in Upstate New York. Kim, George and their eight-year old son, Miles, are city dwellers stealing a weekend away at a friend’s country farmhouse. But a fluke accident sets off a chain of events that alters their lives forever and conjures up the ferocious spirit of the Wendigo, a Native American Myth made manifest in Miles’ imagination.

April 10 — 2:00
BENEATH (2013, Larry Fessenden, 90 mins. Daniel Zovatto, Bonnie Dennison, Chris Conroy, Jonny Orsini, Griffin Newman, with Mackenzie Rosman and Mark Magolis) When a group of young friends commemorating their high school graduation take a trip to the remote Black Lake, their celebration turns into a nightmare with the sudden appearance of a relentless menace from beneath. Stuck in a leaking boat with no oars, the teens face the ultimate tests of friendship and sacrifice during a terror-stricken fight for survival.

April 10 — 4:00
THE RANGER 
(2018, Jenn Wexler, 80 mins. Chloë Levine, Jeremy Holm, Granit Lahu, Jeremy Pope, Larry Fessenden) Teen punks, on the run from the cops and hiding out in the woods, come up against the local authority – an unhinged park ranger with an axe to grind.

April 11 — 4:00
THE INNKEEPERS
 (2010 Ti West, 101 min, Sara Paxton, Pat Healy) After over one hundred years of service, The Yankee Pedlar Inn is shutting its doors for good. The last remaining employees—Claire and Luke—are determined to uncover proof of what many believe to be one of New England’s most haunted hotels. 


April 11 — 6:30
ORIGINS (2010, Larry Fessenden, 9 min. John Speredakos, Jack Fessenden, Eleanor Hutchinson)
STAKE LAND (2010, Jim Mickle, 98 min. Conor Paolo, Nick Damici, and Kelly McGillis) Martin was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster. A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation’s abandoned towns and cities, and it’s up to Mister, a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent’s New Eden.

April 12 — 5:00
NO TELLING (1991, Larry fessenden, 93 mins. Miriam Healy-Louie, Stephen Ramsey, David Van Tieghem) When Lillian Gaines moves to the country with her husband for a quiet summer retreat, she never suspects that meeting activist Alex Vine will force her to confront her deepest fears about the man she married, and the bizarre experiments under way in his lab.

April 12 — 7:30
AUTOMATONS (2006, James Felix McKenney,  83 min. Christine Spencer, Angus Scrimm, Brenda Cooney) Somewhere in the distant future, The Girl is alone. She is the last of her people, the others having died in a generations-long war that the girl continues to fight with the assistance of a group of antiquated robot helpers and soldiers.

April 13 — 5:00
I CAN SEE YOU (2008, Graham Reznick, 97 mins. Ben Dickinson, Duncan Skiles, Christopher Paul Ford, Heather Robb, Olivia Villanti, Larry Fessenden) Three aspiring ad-men take a weekend in the wilderness, brainstorming for their first assignment: to overhaul the image of a once popular cleaning product, Claractix. While in the woods, a girlfriend’s mysterious disappearance sparks a harrowing descent into unreality. Personalities contort into extremes and visits are made by a specter from Claractix campaigns of the past as the film careens towards it’s startling climax.

April 13 — 7:30
LIKE ME 
(2017, Robert Mockler, 80 min. Addison Timlin, Ian Nelson, Larry Fessenden) A reckless loner, desperate for human connection, sets out on a crime spree that she broadcasts on social media. Her reality quickly splinters into a surreal nightmare that escalates out of control and all in time for Christmas.

April 14 — 4:30
STRAY BULLETS
 (2016, Jack Fessenden, 83 min) Asa Spurlock, Jack Fessenden, James Le Gros, John Speredakos, Larry Fessenden, Kevin Corrigan. In upstate New York, two teenage boys are tasked with cleaning out their father’s old mobile home on an abandoned property, but the boys are in for a surprise when they discover three crooks on the run have taken refuge in the trailer.

April 14 — 6:30
BITTER FEAST
 (2010, Joe Maggio 103 mins) James Le Gros, Joshua Leonard, Amy Seimetz, Larry Fessenden, Mario Batali. Peter Grey (James Le Gros), an overly zealous television chef, kidnaps J.T. Franks (Joshua Leonard), an influential and notoriously snarky food blogger after a particularly nasty review deals the final blow to Grey’s already plummeting career. A tense thrill-ride served up with wicked wit and culinary flare, BITTER FEAST is an exploration of the creative impulse gone tragically and ferociously awry.

April 15 — 5:00
FOXHOLE 
 (2019, Jack Fessenden, 95 mins) James Le Gros, Motell Gyn Foster, Cody Kostro, Angus O’Brien, Alex Hurt, Andi Matichak, Alex Breaux, Asa Spurlock. Unfolding over the span of 36 hours in three separate wars—The American Civil War, World War I, and Iraq—”Foxhole” follows a small group of soldiers trapped in a confined space as they grapple with morality, futility, and an increasingly volatile combat situation.

April 15 — 7:30
LIBERTY KID (2007, Ilya Chaiken, 92min. Al Thompson, Kareem Savinon) Two young friends struggle to survive after losing their jobs at the Statue of Liberty tourist site due to 9/11. Derrick, courted by Army recruiters, seeks a life outside of their Brooklyn neighborhood, while Tico leads him on a detour into the street-hustling life.

April 16 — 2:00
RIVER OF GRASS 
(1994 Kelly Reichardt 81 mins; Lisa Bowman, Larry Fessenden, Dick Russell, Stan Kaplan, Michael Buscemi) A drowsy, sun-drunk road movie in which a would-be Bonnie and Clyde never really commit a crime, fall in love, or even hit the road.

April 16 — 4:30
AN EXQUISITE TASK (2020, Beck Underwood, 5 min) A vintage doll, a mysterious barn spirit and some mischievous farm critters come together in this stop-motion short about motherhood, creativity, and letting go.
MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND
 (2016 Ana Asensio, 91 mins. Ana Asensio, Natasha Romanova, Brett Azar, Caprice Benedetti, Nick Tucci, Larry Fessenden) One harrowing day in the life of Luciana, a young immigrant woman struggling to make ends meet while striving to escape her past, who finds herself a central participant in a cruel game played for the perverse entertainment of a privileged few.

April 16 — 6:30
THE COMEDY 
(2012, Rick Alverson, 94 min. Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim) On the cusp of inheriting his father’s estate, Swanson is a man with unlimited options… As Swanson grows restless of the safety a sheltered life offers him, he tests the limits of acceptable behavior, pushing the envelope in every way he can.

April 17 — 2:00
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
 (2009, Ti West 95 mins. Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig, AJ Bowen, Dee Wallace) College girl Samantha responds to an ad for a babysitter to land some quick cash for a new apartment.  Her skeptical pal Megan drives her deep into the woods  and deposits her at a big, creaky Victorian house lorded over by a creepy old couple with big plans to celebrate the night’s rare lunar eclipse.

April 17 — 4:30
NEXUS (2014, Larry Fessenden, 5 minutes. Michael Vincent, Lauren Molina, Aaron Beall) On Halloween in NYC, a man hurries to meet his girlfriend for a costume party while a cabbie speeds through the street with his attention on the missing letter of his crossword puzzle.
DEPRAVED (2019, Larry Fessenden; 112 mins. David Call, Joshua Leonard, Alex Breaux, Ana Kayne, Maria Dizzia, Chloe Levine, Owen Campbell and Addison Timlin) Henry, a field surgeon suffering from PTSD after combat in the Middle East, creates a man out of body parts in a makeshift lab in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The creature he creates must navigate a strange new world and the rivalry between Henry and his conniving collaborator Polidori.

April 18 — 4:30
TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE SEASON 3 TEASER 
(2015, Beck Underwood, 1:13 mins) Animated Teaser for the Glass Eye Pix Radio Series by Glenn McQuaid and Larry Fessenden
I SELL THE DEAD (2008, Glenn McQuaid. Dominic Monaghan, Larry Fessenden, Ron Perlman, Angus Scrimm) 19th century justice has finally caught up to grave robbers Arthur Blake and Willie Grimes. With the specter of the guillotine looming over him, young Blake confides in visiting clergyman Father Duffy, recounting fifteen years of adventure in the resurrection trade. The colorful and peculiar history of Grimes and Blake is one filled with adventure, horror, and vicious rivalries that threaten to put all involved in the very graves they’re trying to pilfer. Never Trust A Corpse.

April 19 — 4:30
THE COMEDY (2012, Rick Alverson, 94 min. Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim) On the cusp of inheriting his father’s estate, Swanson is a man with unlimited options… As Swanson grows restless of the safety a sheltered life offers him, he tests the limits of acceptable behavior, pushing the envelope in every way he can.

April 19 — 7:00
LIBERTY KID (2007, Ilya Chaiken, 92min. Al Thompson, Kareem Savinon) Two young friends struggle to survive after losing their jobs at the Statue of Liberty tourist site due to 9/11. Derrick, courted by Army recruiters, seeks a life outside of their Brooklyn neighborhood, while Tico leads him on a detour into the street-hustling life.

ON-LINE

THE ROOST (2005 Ti West, 80 min. Tom Noonan, Wil Horneff, Vanessa Horneff, Karl Jacob, Sean Reid, John Speredakos, Larry Fessenden, Barbara Wilheid, and Richard Little) Following a near-death car accident, four friends on their way to a Halloween wedding,venture to a secluded farm for help. Little do they know however, they will soon disturb an ancient evil with far more ghastly plans in store for them!

DARLING (2015, Mickey Keating, 78 min. Lauren Ashley Carter, Sean Young, Brian Morvant) A lonely girl begins a violent descent into madness after taking a job as the caretaker of a mysterious Manhattan mansion.

UNCLE BEN (2013, Beck Underwood & Melissa Stern, 3 mins) Animated excerpt from the feature doc AMERICAN JESUS by Aram Garriga.
BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD
 (2013, Rob Kuhns  76 min. George A. Romero, Jason Zinoman, Larry Fessenden, Mark Harris, Gale Anne Hurd) How Romero gathered an unlikely team of Pittsburghers — policemen, iron workers, teachers, ad-men, housewives and a roller-rink owner — to shoot, with a revolutionary guerrilla, run-and-gun style, his seminal film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.

MARKIE IN MILWAUKEE (2019, Matt Kliegman, 88  mins) Assembled from over 10 years of footage, Markie in Milwaukee tells the story of a midwestern transgender woman as she struggles with the prospect of de-transitioning under the pressures of her fundamentalist church, family and community.

THE PAST INSIDE THE PRESENT (2015, James Siewert 13 mins. Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Schuyler Helford) An allegorical tale of a couple who attempt to renew their dying relationship by plugging directly into recordings of their memories. When their illusion breaks, they must face the barren reality of the present.


MAKING “NO TELLING (1990, Mark Daniels, 30 mins) Behind the scenes making the 1990 film NO TELLING.

SWEATING BULLETS (2016, 55 mins) Behind the scenes making the 2016 film STRAY BULLETS.


EARLY FESSENDEN FILMS
WHITE TRASH (1980, Larry Fessenden, 7 mins)
LIFELINE (1981, Larry Fessenden 13 mins)
IMPACT ADDICT (1987, David Leslie & Larry Fessenden, 9 mins) 

CHINATOWN (1986, David Leslie & Larry Fessenden, 6 mins)
HOLLOW VENUS Diary of a Go-Go Dancer (1989, Larry Fessenden, 58 mins)

HABIT TRAILER (1995, Larry Fessenden, 2 mins)

 

WORK BY BECK UNDERWOOD
THAT CREEPY OLD DOLL (1998, Beck Underwood, 2 mins) 
PERFECTLY PERFECT (2009, Beck Underwood, 3 mins)
THE ESTATE OF THINGS (2020, Beck Underwood, 2 mins)
THERE IN SPIRIT (2020, Beck Underwood, 5 mins)


CREEPY CHRISTMAS FILM FESTIVAL
THE SOUVENIR (2008, Merrill Rauch, 2 mins)
SWOLLEN ARCHIVE (2008, Glenn McQuaid, 2 mins) 

WILD RIDE (2019, Larry Fessenden, 4 mins) 

FROM THE MoMA CATALOGUE

ABCs of Death 2: N for Nexus. 2014. USA. Directed by Larry Fessenden. 5 min.
Not since Alfred Hitchcock blew up a small child on a London bus in Sabotage have we witnessed a form of vehicular homicide as grisly or suspenseful as in Fessenden’s brilliantly staged short, made for a Fantastic Fest movie anthology. Courtesy Magnet Releasing

Depraved. 2019. USA. Written and directed by Larry Fessenden. With David Call, Joshua Leonard, Alex Breaux. DCP. 114 min.
Lest we forget, the first true horror novel was written by a woman in 1818: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. Now, a remarkable 200 years later—and 18 after his first stab at tackling similar themes in No Telling (screening on April 3 and 12)—Larry Fessenden has put his own contemporary spin on Shelley’s myth while remaining true to its tragic spirit of hubris and pathos, human aspiration and godly delusion. While infamous for its toxic canal, Gowanus, Brooklyn, seems also to be a seedy enclave of Big Pharma profiteering and trafficking in body parts, as well as the makeshift factory lab of a Gulf War field surgeon whose PTSD and loneliness drive him to grotesque ends, a broken man desperate to be whole again. Courtesy IFC Films.
March 30, 4:00 T2 (Introduced by Larry Fessenden), April 17, 4:30 T1

Fever. 2021. USA. Directed by Larry Fessenden. 8 min.
While many filmmakers have chronicled their COVID cabin fever these past two years, few but Larry Fessenden have done it with such panache and deadpan (bedside?) humor. It’s as if woebegotten Sam from Habit, having finally settled down with a wife and a kid, fled the now-gentrified city into his worst upstate nightmare. From the anthology film Isolation. Courtesy Gravitas Ventures.

Habit. 1995. USA. Written and directed by Larry Fessenden. With Fessenden, Meredith Snaider, Aaron Beall. DCP. 112 min.
“The first thriller to draw metaphorical links between AIDS, sex and vampires” (John Anderson, The Wall Street Journal), Habit is not only one of the truly erotic and sinister horror films of our time but also one of the greatest New York films of all time. In the 10 years since Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, the city has become soul sick and ravaged by disease and greed, Griffin Dunne’s yuppie yokel transformed into Fessenden’s grief-stricken, self-mulilating alcoholic Sam, who spends a lost weekend hungering for sex and oblivion. Courtesy IFC Films
March 30, 7:00 T2 (Introduced by Larry Fessenden), April 9, 1:30 T2

River of Grass. 1994. USA. Written and directed by Kelly Reichardt. With Lisa Bowman, Larry Fessenden, Dick Russell. DCP. 76 min.
For the past 30 years, Glass Eye Pix has been a remarkably successful incubator of young talent, and Larry Fessenden himself a nurturing and fiercely protective den mother to then-unknown filmmakers like Kelly Reichardt, the writer-director who would go on to make Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy (also produced by Fessenden, screening on March 31 and April 5), Meek’s Cutoff, and First Cow. Reichardt astonished critics with this quasi-road movie, a melancholy noir set along the lost highways of South Florida that recalls Wim Wenders’s lonely visions of America—even as it deconstructs that peculiarly American theme of lovers on the lam, as seen in such films as You Only Live Once, Gun Crazy, and My Own Private Idaho. Courtesy Oscilloscope Pictures.
March 31, 4:00 T2 (Introduced by Larry Fessenden and Kelly Reichardt), April 16, 2:00 T1

Wendy and Lucy. 2008. USA. Directed by Kelly Reichardt. Screenplay by Reichardt, Jonathan Raymond. With Michelle Williams, Lucy, Larry Fessenden, Will Patton. 35mm. 80 min.
Michelle Williams’s career-defining portrait of a resilient but vulnerable drifter, stuck in Oregon with the vague promise of a decent job at an Alaskan fish cannery, her only companion her flaxen-furred mutt Lucy, brings to mind Barbara Loden’s Wanda, Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and Gena Rowlands in any John Cassavetes film: adamantine women on the razor’s edge of destitution and abandonment. Jim Hoberman in the Village Voice writes, “This prescient tale—which, like her previous feature, Old Joy (2006), Reichardt adapted from a story by Jon Raymond and shot in the Pacific Northwest—is haunted by lonesome freight trains, hobo jungle solidarity, and the idea of redeeming empty beer bottles for gas money…. [If] the filmmaker weren’t so doggedly, unsentimentally prosaic, she might have called this ballad Pictures of the Gone World or even ‘I Ain’t Got No Home.’” Courtesy Oscilloscope Pictures.
March 31, 6:30 T2, April 5, 4:00 T2

Wendigo. 2001. USA. Written and directed by Larry Fessenden. With Patricia Clarkson, Jake Weber, Erik Per Sullivan. DCP. 91 min.
In Fessenden’s truly terrifying Wendigo, a comfortable and complacent white family spending a wintry weekend upstate accidentally encounter, or imagine they encounter, a shape-shifting chimera, half-deer, half-man, that brings out their own suppressed rage—seen through the eyes of an awfully frightened child. Once again ahead of his time, Larry Fessenden makes a deeply unsettling yet culturally sensitive horror film that draws on a Native American mythical creature, the Wendigo, to make subtly profound observations about our nation’s Original Sin: the rape of a land and its Indigeous peoples. “Fessenden has set himself a challenging project: to approach the themes and thrills of the classic American horror movies through a determinedly modern approach, as if John Cassavetes had been working for Universal in the early ’30s…. [F]or those in search of something different, Wendigo is a genuinely bone-chilling tale” (Dave Kehr, The New York Times). Courtesy IFC Films.
April 1, 4:00 T2, April 9, 6:30 T2

The Last Winter. 2006. USA/Iceland. Directed by Larry Fessenden. Screenplay by Fessenden, Robert Leaver. With Ron Pearlman, James Le Gros, Connie Britton, Kevin Corrigan, Jamie Herrold. 35mm. Courtesy IFC Films
Guillermo Del Toro has called Larry Fessenden “one of the most original voices to emerge in the horror field, and The Last Winter is his most accomplished work to date. He brings the Gothic trappings of the old classics to shocking new life.” Fessenden conceals his alarming and farsighted vision of global warming within a tale of horror and mystery worthy of Melville or Poe. When an American oil company sends an advance team to set up a drilling site in the brutally unforgiving Northern Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, inexplicable madness and death follow closely behind. In 2006, The Last Winter appeared on more than a dozen critics’ Best of the Year lists, and at the end of the day—or in this case, imminent global mass extinction at the End of Days—it will endure as a monumental indictment of human folly.
April 1, 6:30 T2, April 9, 4:00 T2

Bitter Feast. 2010. USA. Written and directed by Joe Maggio. With James Le Gros, Joshua Leonard, Amy Seimetz. DCP. 95 min. Courtesy MPI Media
To the sort of person who looks at a Jackson Pollock and says, “My kid could do that,” Joe Maggio offers his wickedly funny and nasty riposte Bitter Feast. Inspired by New York Times food critic Frank Bruni’s skewering of a Gordon Ramsey restaurant, a review Maggio himself reviewed as “odd, middling, lazy…totally ridiculous and unfair,” the film stars Fessenden-favorite James Le Gros as a pompous celebrity television chef who kidnaps and imprisons a smug food blogger (the deliciously insufferable Joshua Leonard), subjecting him to a torture chamber of culinary trials. “Maggio reveals a fluency in the horror-genre vocabulary while also translating it to his own twisted ends…. Technical credits are tops, notably Jeff Grace’s score and its recurrent themes, and the beautiful work of cinematographer Michael McDonough (Winter’s Bone)” (John Anderson, Variety).
April 2, 1:30 T2 (Introduced by Joe Maggio), April 14, 6:30 T1

Stray Bullets. 2016. USA. Written, directed, edited, and scored by Jack Fessenden. With James Le Gros, John Speredakos, Jack Fessenden, Larry Fessenden, Kevin Corrigan. DCP. 83 min. Courtesy Variance Films.
Sixteen(!!!)-year-old auteur Jack Fessenden made this feature debut during the summer between his sophomore and junior years in high school. With his killer aesthetic sensibility, comic timing, and deft balancing of quiet character study and explosive violence, his Stray Bullets plays like a bloody Ealing comedy (Lavender Hill Mob?) involving a couple of kids in way over their heads, a gang of thieves who can’t shoot straight, and a hitman who likely can. ”An enjoyably blood-soaked thriller with unexpectedly lyrical interludes—made very much in the shadow of classic genre forebears and on what was clearly a constrained budget—this is a strikingly impressive calling-card” (Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter).
April 2, 4:00 T2 (Introduced by Jack Fessenden), April 14, 4:30 T1

Foxhole. 2021. USA. Written and directed by Jack Fessenden. With James Le Gros, Andi Matichak, Alex Hurt. DCP. 95 min.
Situating an existential human drama in the most claustrophobic, terrifying, and monotonous of settings—a battlefield trench—has been an irresistible lure to filmmakers like Howard Hawks, Lewis Milestone, Samuel Fuller, Stanley Kubrick, and G. W. Pabst. Jack Fessenden’s ambitious contribution to this wartime genre achieves an almost abstract beauty as it spans 36 hours across three separate wars: the American Civil War, World War I, and the Gulf. Remarkably, Fessenden, who grew up watching his parents, Larry Fessenden and stop-motion animator Beck Underwood, make movies, and who began making movies of his own at age seven, wrote the script for Foxhole while still in high school, shot the film after his first year at Wesleyan, and cut and scored it while isolated in upstate New York during the pandemic. Courtesy Samuel Goldwyn Films.
April 2, 6:30 T2 (Introduced by Jack Fessenden), April 15, 5:00 T1

No Telling. 1991. USA. Directed by Larry Fessenden. Screenplay by Fessenden, Beck Underwood. With Miriam Healy-Louie, Stephen Ramsey, David Van Tieghem. DCP. 93 min.
“This sexual, political, environmental thriller is the year’s real Sleeping with the Enemy” (Jay Carr, The Boston Globe). Subtitled “The Frankenstein Complex,” No Telling is Larry Fessenden’s unholy cross between romantic pastorale and Grand Guignol horror, wherein the lovely Liliian Gaines, setting out to paint landscapes and get pregnant during her quiet summer retreat, discovers that her scientist husband has something far crueler on his mind. Trashed on its first release, No Telling has nonetheless aged well (like a finely cured bresaola?), an upsetting meditation on animal rights and environmental despoliation that has only deepened over time. Courtesy IFC Films.
April 3, 1:30 T2, April 12, 5:00 T1

Beneath. 2013. USA. Directed by Larry Fessenden. Screenplay by Tony Daniel, Brian D. Smith. With Bonnie Dennison, Daniel Zovatto, Jon Orsini. DCP. 90 min.
In his ingenious mashup of Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, Joe Dante’s Piranha, and Jack Arnold’s Creature from the Black Lagoon, Fessenden finds endlessly inventive ways of spoiling a camping reunion of ruthlessly selfish, horny teenagers cast adrift on a lake of (g)ill repute. Eric Kohn of Indiewire observes, “After a while, the lake itself takes on allegorical dimensions, the survivors trapped in an amoral purgatory of their own making in which virtually all allegiances fade in favor of cold, Darwinian logic. ‘I wanted to make it very, very spare,’ Fessenden [has said,] ‘almost classical.’” Courtesy IFC.
April 3, 4:00 T2, April 10, 2:00 T2

The House of the Devil. 2009. USA. Written and directed by Ti West. With Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov. DCP. 95 min. Courtesy MPI Media.
In what is surely the worst babysitting gig in film history, Ti West’s slow-burn chiller stars Jocelin Donahue as a pretty college girl of questionable judgment who ignores the advice of her best friend (Greta Gerwig), as well as her own two eyes, by spending the night of a lunar eclipse deep in the woods at the Victorian home of a pair of aging weirdos (Tom Noonan and Mary Wonorov, natch). Jason Zinoman in Vanity Fair writes, “Mr. West—a thinking man’s horror director whose film borrows its title from Georges Melies’s 1896 silent short, widely considered the first horror movie—understands that to truly terrify, you must first do the heavy lifting of suspending an audience’s disbelief.”
April 4, 4:00 T1, April 17, 2:00 T1 (Introduced by Ti West)

The Innkeepers. 2011. USA. Written and directed by Ti West. With Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis, Lena Dunham, Alison Bartlett. 35mm. 101 min. Courtesy Magnolia Pictures.
Paying homage to classic suspense films like Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963) and William Castle’s House on Haunted Hill (1959), cult favorite Ti West shot this tidy, tense little ghost story in only 17 days at the same cozy Connecticut hotel where he and his cast and crew holed up during the shooting of The House of the Devil. After 100 years, the rundown Yankee Pedlar Inn is scheduled to shutter permanently. As they while away the hours at the front desk, a couple of meddling kids (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy) uncover the hotel’s checkered history of paranormal activity, encountering oddball psychic Kelly McGillis and oddball barista Lena Dunham along the way. “Innkeepers stretches Devil‘s withholding further and creates a blank canvas of nonevents against which the slightest incident, like a piano key that pounds down by itself, takes on an undue significance and becomes something monumental” (Nick Pinkerton, The Village Voice).
April 4, 6:30 T1, April 11, 4:00 T1

An Exquisite Task. 2020. USA. Directed by Beck Underwood. 5 min.
“A vintage doll, a mysterious barn spirit and some mischievous farm critters come together in this stop-motion short about motherhood, creativity, and letting go” (Beck Underwood).

Most Beautiful Island. 2017. USA. Written and directed by Ana Asensio. With Asensio, Natasha Romanova, David Little. DCP. 80 min.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW, Ana Asensio’s psychological thriller has more on its mind than simple twists and chills. It also follows a day in the life of an undocumented immigrant woman in New York—a day from hell, it turns out, as she flees her dark past while being compelled to satisfy the perverse indignities, cruelties, and whims of the rich and entitled. As the writer, director, producer, and star of the film, the Spanish-born Asensio is a true microbudget indie auteur, her Most Beautiful Island, with its prying, almost ethnographic Super 16 photography by Noah Greenberg, likened in many reviews to the films of a young Roman Polanski. Courtesy Samuel Goldwyn Films.
April 5, 6:30 T2 (Introduced by Beck Underwood and Ana Asensio), April 16 4:30 T1

Like Me. 2017. USA. Written and directed by Robert Mockler. With Addison Timlin, Larry Fessenden, Ian Nelson. DCP. 80 min. Courtesy Kino Lorber.
Robert Mockler’s debut film imagines a new breed of social media influencer, Kiya (an excellent Addison Timlin), who goes on an increasingly lurid and unhinged crime spree in a desperate bid for Internet fame. Like a clever riff on Katherine Bigelow’s Strange Days, about the vicarious mediated pleasures of watching other people suffer, Mockler’s Like Me revels in hallucinatory imagery and sound that leaves his characters (and us) unmoored from reality and thrust into a state of atavistic loneliness and dread.
April 6, 4:00 T2, April 13, 7:30 T1 (Introduced by Robert Mockler)

The Ranger. 2018. USA. Directed by Jenn Wexler. Screenplay by Wexler, Giaco Furino. With Chloe Levine, Jeremy Holm, Granit Lahu. DCP. 77 min. Courtesy Shudder.
Longtime Glass Eye Pix producer Jenn Wexler made her feature debut as a writer-director on this tongue-in-cheek throwback to 1980s punk-slasher movies, following a deranged, rules-obsessed park ranger who offers his victims—obnoxious teenage miscreants—sandwiches with the crusts cut off before cutting them to ribbons, only to meet his match in a feral girl from his past. “The film doesn’t take place in the actual ’80s,” Wexler notes, “but just to the left of reality, in a comic-book, fairy-tale-esque world that I dubbed ’80s Dreamland. In my mind’s eye, it was a world where ’80s punk movies like Return of the Living Dead, Smokey-the-Bear PSAs, and Lisa Frank colors collide.”
April 6, 6:30 T2, April 10 4:00 T2

Automatons. 2006. USA. Written and directed by James Felix McKenney. With Christine Spencer, Angus Scrimm, Brenda Cooney. DCP. 83 min.
“Automatons is what happens when Eraserhead and Tetsuo the Iron Man bong themselves into oblivion and collaborate on a minimalist avant-garde sci-fi cheapie shot in a toolshed. Making excellent use of “Robo-Monstervision” (a/k/a what looks like some combination of Super 8 and cheap consumer video) underground auteur James Felix McKenney (CanniBallistic!) updates the post-apocalyptic robot-run-amok flick by downgrading the production values to mesmerizing retro effect. The bleary, stroboscopic black-and-white image parts a grungy curtain on the Girl (Christine Spencer), survivor of some vaguely explained war of the worlds, who’s holing up in a low-tech compound with her robot friends (dudes in cardboard suits). When the ‘bots aren’t going bonkers under the influence of a video signal beamed in by the Enemy Leader (Brenda Cooney), the Girl studies the video diary of the Scientist (Angus Scrimm), whose recounting of the global apocalypse doubles as an allegory of the war on terror. Whatever. Robot radness achieved! Budgets are for bitches” (Nathan Lee, The Village Voice).
April 7, 4:00 T2, April 12, 7:30 T1 (Introduced by James Felix McKenney)

I Can See You. 2008. USA. Written, directed, edited, produced, and co-scored by Graham Reznick. With Benjamin Dickinson, Duncan Skiles, Christopher Ford. DCP. 97 min.
If you’ve ever fantasized about a bunch of hipster Williamsburg creatives getting what’s coming to them during a weekend in the woods—or even if you haven’t—I Can See You will delight, disorient, and unnerve. Graham Reznick puts his background as a brilliant sound designer to mind-altering use on this self-described “psychedelic campfire tale.” Nathan Lee in the New York Times observes, “David Lynch is the key influence here, and Mr. Reznick proves himself a keen disciple of the master. I Can See You heralds a splendid new filmmaker with one eye on genre mechanics, one eye on avant-garde conceits and a third eye for transcendental weirdness.”
April 7, 6:30 T2, April 13, 5:00 T1

Stake Land. 2010. USA. Directed by Jim Mickle. Screenplay by Mickle, Nick Damici. With Connor Paolo, Kelly McGillis, Gregory Jones, Traci Hovel. DCP. 98 min.
The absolutely, horrifyingly fun Stake Land is to The Walking Dead what Night of the Living Dead was to the creation of Glass Eye Pix: a lodestar, an ur-text, transforming timeless mythologies of zombies, vampires, and gunslingers into a contemporary allegory of Mourning in America. Behold, as the gnomically named Mister (cowriter Nick Damici), a drifter, a samurai, a sherpa with a stake, guides his young charge Martin (Connor Paolo, of Gossip Girl!) across a pale landscape of devastation and loneliness—wraithlike shades of Badlands and They Drive by Night—dodging bloodsuckers, flesh eaters, and a Bible-thumping Aryan militia toward a “New Eden” along the Canada border. Courtesy MPI Media.
April 8, 4:00 T2, April 11, 6:30 T1

Tales From Beyond The Pale Season 3 Teaser. 2008 USA. Animation by Beck Underwood. DCP 1.5 minutes)

I Sell the Dead. 2008. USA. Written and directed by Glenn McQuaid. With Dominic Monaghan, Larry Fessenden, Ron Perlman, Angus Scrimm. DCP. 85 min.
Burke and Hare, the notorious ”Resurrection Men” of Victorian England who furnished doctors with freshly exhumed corpses while murderously creating a few of their own along the way, have been irresistible fodder for the movies, most notably in Val Lewton and Robert Wise’s Body Snatcher, Freddie Francis’s The Doctor and the Devils (produced by Mel Brooks and adapted from a screenplay by Dylan Thomas) and, most irresistibly, John Gilling’s The Flesh and the Fiends, starring Peter Cushing, on loan from Hammer Films. As they bring out the dead—and the undead—Irish director Glenn McQuaid and his grave-robbing, scenery-chewing actors Larry Fessenden and Dominic Monaghan infuse the lugubrious proceedings with an absurdly Pythonesque gallows humor, with faraway Staten Island, Long Island, and Manhattan Island standing in for “fog-drenched, blood-soaked” 19th-century Ireland. Courtesy IFC Films.
April 8, 6:30 T2, April 18, 4:30 T2

Liberty Kid. 2007. USA. Written and directed by Ilya Chaiken. With Al Thompson, Kareem Savinon, Anny Mariano. DCP. 92 min.
“There is not a single wrong note in Liberty Kid,” Jeannette Catsoulis observed in the New York Times. Indeed, Ilya Chaiken’s “poignant drama” is one of the few films to meaningfully capture the feeling of living in New York in the aftermath of 9/11, as Chaiken evokes the unforeseen consequences of an unthinkable tragedy on the lives of working-class immigrant families. Al Thompson and Kareem Savinon are touching as a pair of South Williamsburg friends forced to make impossible choices when they lose their jobs at a Statue of Liberty concession stand after the terrorist attacks.
April 15, 7:30 T1 (Introduced by Ilya Chaiken), April 19, 7:00 T2

The Comedy. 2012. USA. Directed by Rick Alverson. Screenplay by Alverson, Robert Donne, Colm O’Leary. With Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, James Murphy. DCP. 95 min.
In the 10 years since Rick Alverson (Entertainment, The Mountain) collaborated with the merry pranksters Tim & Eric and James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem) on The Comedy, America seems to have become an even less forgiving and hospitable place, making this study in sneering entitlement and sour irony all the more piquant. “Could there be a more unsympathetic character in today’s culture than a well-born white male who uses his privilege irresponsibly?,” asked Karina Longworth in the Village Voice. “A highly improvised fictional exposé in search of the elusive heart and soul of hipster nihilism, The Comedy stars alt-comic superstar Tim Heidecker as Swanson, a trust fund 35-year-old hanging out in Williamsburg, fucking around, and waiting for his sickly dad to die.”
April 16, 6:30 T2 (Introduced by Rick Alverson and Larry Fessenden), April 19, 4:30 T2

Virtual Cinema – March 30 – April 19

PROGRAM 1: The Early Films of Larry Fessenden and Glass Eye Pix

See Larry Fessenden at his most primitive! Explore 1980s downtown New York at its most outrageous and obscene! This selection of rarities features the death-defying pratfalls of David “Impact Addict” Leslie and the performance-art stylings of go-go dancer Heather Woodbury. Program 95 min.
White Trash. 1980. USA. Directed by Larry Fessenden. Restaged for the opening sequence of Kelly Reichardt’s River of Grass, Fessenden’s Super 8 film White Trash imagines a rather unusual form of murder and an even more unusual form of compost. 7 min.
Lifeline. 1981. USA. Written and directed by Larry Fessenden. Out of the primeval soup, the muck and maw of prehistory, a man resembling Larry Fessenden discovers fire. He uses it to ward off predators and evil spirits while also creating light, heat, and moving pictures. 13 min.
Impact Addict. 1987. USA. Directed by Larry Fessenden, David Leslie. The Evil Knievel (Gallagher? Jackass?) of downtown 1980s New York, David “Impact Addict” Leslie risked life, limb, and self-pride to relieve his childhood fantasies of kung fu fighting and leaping off tall buildings in performances at the Kitchen and the Public as well as the Staten Island Ferry and Morton Downey Jr. This is his story. 9 min.
Chinatown. 1986. USA. Directed by Larry Fessenden, David Leslie. Ringing in the Chinese New Year on a bustling Chinatown street, David Leslie sets himself afire and metamorphoses from Tiger to Hare. 6 min.
Hollow Venus: Diary of a Go-Go Dancer. 1989. USA. Directed by Larry Fessenden. Screenplay by Fessenden, Heather Woodbury. With Woodbury. Hollow Venus is a forgotten gem, a heady cocktail of 1980s East Village burlesque, performance art, and quasi-improvised restagings of Heather Woodbury’s many strange encounters as a topless dancer. 58 min.
Trailer for Habit. 1995. USA. Written and directed by Larry Fessenden. Of Fessenden’s many jarring, funny movie trailers, Habit is one of the best. The film screens in MoMA theaters on March 30 and April 11. 2 min.

PROGRAM 2: Glass Eye Pix: Independent Voices

The Past inside the Present. 2016. USA. Directed by Wolfgang Siewert. With Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Schuyler Helford. A couple rekindle their marriage by plugging into a hallucinatory memory machine. 11 min.
The Roost. 2005. USA. Written and directed by Ti West. With Tom Noonan, Karl Jacob, Vanessa Horneff. With a ghastly turn of the screw and a cadaverous Tom Noonan as our late-night TV host, Ti West refreshes the hoariest of horror tropes: A group of naive teenagers, stuck in the middle of nowhere after their car breaks down, wind up scaring themselves to death. 80 min.
Darling. 2015. USA. Written and directed by Mickey Keating. With Lauren Ashley Carter, Sean Young, Brian Morvant. For a lonely girl in the big city, what begins as a plum gig—housesitting a Manhattan mansion—turns into a terrifying descent into madness. While this jarringly effective psychological horror has been compared with It Follows, The Babadook, and Repulsion, Mickey Keating found himself equally inspired by less obvious sources like Robert Altman’s Images, the Coen Brothers’ Barton Fink, and the video game Silent Hill. 78 min.

PROGRAM 3: Glass Eye Pix: Making It Reel

Providing a master class on no-budget filmmaking at its best—the trials and tribulations, thrills of glory, and spills of gory—Larry Fessenden (No Telling) and Jack Fessenden (Stray Bullets) pull back the curtain on the making of their breakthrough feature films.
The Making of No Telling. 1991. USA Produced by Larry Fessenden. 24 min.
Sweating Bullets: Making Stray Bullets. 2016. USA. Produced by Larry Fessenden . 54 min.

PROGRAM 4: Glass Eye Pix Docs

Uncle Ben [excerpt from American Jesus]. 2013. USA. Directed by Beck Underwood. Beck Underwood animated this scene for Aram Garriga’s documentary about devout followers of Jesus in every corner of America, from bikers and cowboys to surfers and artists. 10 min.
Birth of the Living Dead. 2013. USA. Directed by Rob Kuhns. This definitive documentary about the making of Night of the Living Dead features an extensive and illuminating interview by George Romero, as well as reflections on the movie’s immortal place in film history and popular culture by Gale Ann Hurd (producer of The Walking Dead) and the critics Jason Zinoman, Mark Harris, and Elvis Mitchell. 76 min. Courtesy First Run Features

PROGRAM 5: Glass Eye Pix Docs

Markie in Milwaukee. 2019. USA. Directed by Matt Kliegman. Drawing upon 10 years of home movies, Matt Kliegman creates a heartbreaking profile in courage as midwestern evangelist Mark Wentzel, a seven-foot, 400-pound middle-aged man with the gentlest of souls, begins transitioning into a woman named Markie Ann. Shunned and mocked by her family and community and forced to confront her own demons of uncertainty and guilt, she—he—makes a decision that is difficult, lonely, and brave. 92 min. Courtesy Icarus Films

PROGRAM 6: Celebrating Stop-Motion Animator Beck Underwood and Creepy Christmas

A producer, production designer, and art director on many Glass Eye Pix productions, including Hollow Venus, No Telling, Stake Land, and Stray Bullets, Beck Underwood is also an award-winning animator who creates “perfectly perfect” little eccentric worlds mixing stop-motion and live action. She is also the creator of the kids-friendly zine ZuZu and the founder of the Creepy Christmas Film Festival which, she recalls, “began as a large diorama I built, became a printed advent calendar, and eventually inspired two online film festivals, the first in 2008 and another in 2018. Twenty-five filmmakers were invited to create a short film based on images from the calendar or holiday-themed words.” Separately, Underwood’s short film An Exquisite Task screens theatrically with Most Beautiful Island, and Uncle Ben streams online with Birth of the Living Dead. Program 20 min.

Beck Underwood: Four films
That Creepy Old Doll. 1998. USA. Directed by Beck Underwood. Underwood made her first 16mm animation while a student at SVA. 2 min.
Perfectly Perfect. 2009. USA. Directed by Beck Underwood. Music video for Elizabeth and the Catapult. 3 min.
The Estate of Things. TKTK. USA. Directed by Beck Underwood. 2 min.
There in Spirit. 2021. USA. Directed by Beck Underwood. 5 min.

Creepy Christmas: Three films
Souvenir. 2019. USA. Directed by Merrell Rauch, with Sam, Maude, and Gareth Brown. 2 min.
Swollen Archive. 2008. USA. Directed by Glenn McQuaid. Music by Nico Muhly. 2 min.
Wild Ride. 2019. USA. Directed by Larry Fessenden. Music by Will Bates. 4 min.

IN PERSON at MoMA

Beck Underwood, Jack Fessenden; MoMA host and curator Josh Siegel; Fessenden minds the posters; director Kelly Reichardt; I Sell The Dead and Stake Land crew members Matthew Cryan, David Bell, Beck Underwood, Peter Phok, Brent Kunkle; Fessendens with Foxhole dp Collin Brazie, producer Adam Scherr; Foxhole Q&A with Jack Fessenden and host Josh SiegelThe House of the Devil director Ti WestAn Exquisite Task director Beck Underwood and Most Beautiful Island director Ana Asensio (with son); I Can See You dp Gordon Arkenberg; Automatons creator James Felix McKenney; No Telling dp David Shaw; Like Me director Robert Mockler and producer James Belfer; Liberty Kid director Ilya Chaiken, with actors Kareem Savinion, Anny Mariano; The Comedy director Rick Alverson.

Thanks to the artists and audiences that came to the shows…
and thanks to The Museum of Modern Art for hosting

MoMA Retrospective Celebrates
the Films of Larry Fessenden and Glass Eye Pix

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) have fittingly entitled their new Glass Eye Pix retrospective “Oh, the Humanity! The Films of Larry Fessenden and Glass Eye Pix.” Running from March 30 through April 19 at MoMA and online, it’s a more comprehensive survey of Glass Eye’s various filmmakers, and thus a better showcase for their general spirit of camaraderie, than even the preceding 2010 program at the (now gone) reRun Gastropub in Brooklyn.

Fessenden’s presence can be seen throughout MoMA’s selections, both in front and behind the camera for his own directorial work, but also in the range of artists he’s fostered in his capacity as a producer, including the transcendental minimalist Kelly Reichardt (“Wendy and Lucy,” “Meek’s Cutoff”) and the genre purist Ti West (“The Innkeepers,” “The House of the Devil”). MoMA’s retrospective puts a welcome spotlight on a few other worthy filmmakers, like psychedelic sound designer turned writer/director Graham Reznick and production designer turned stop-motion filmmaker Beck Underwood.

Focusing primarily on Fessenden’s work, from his early short movies to his recent COVID-themed “Fever” short, not only encourages an appropriate cinematheque vibe for this Glass Eye Pix tribute: it also encourages attendees to see Glass Eye Pix as the indie horror equivalent of a neo-romantic artists’ collective. That’s a welcome and essential shift in the way that Glass Eye’s successes have been understood, since, for years now, even their smartest boosters have praised the studio as a springboard for bigger and better things.

In 2011, the New York Times (Eric Kohn) described Fessenden as a “kingmaker in the realm of cheapie horror”; in 2010, the Village Voice (Michael Atkinson) suggested that “Fessenden’s work as impresario” is “perhaps more influential than” Fessenden’s directorial credits. And in 2009, Fessenden himself told Filmmaker Magazine (Lauren Wissot) that “I have always encouraged people to move on as soon as the Glass Eye approach becomes oppressive or limiting.” That perspective seems especially timely since MoMA’s retrospective begins less than two weeks after the theatrical release of “X,” the latest movie directed by Glass Eye alum Ti West. “Larry validated us by thinking we were talented” West said in the Times (in 2011).

MoMA’s deep focus on Fessenden’s work as a director also inadvertently shows why his movies—and Glass Eye Pix by extension—are uniquely associated with the horror genre. When most people think about Glass Eye Pix, they’re probably thinking about the movies that were either produced for or because of Scareflix, a genre-centric Glass Eye sub-division that was spearheaded by filmmaker James Felix McKenney (“Automatons,” “Satan Hates You’). There are also a few exceptional non-horror-related Glass Eye Pix titles, like Reichardt’s “River of Grass,” which Fessenden co-stars in and served as associate producer on. But even Fessenden will tell you that he sort of fell into the latter role “by accident,” as he said to Filmmaker Magazine, “just by sticking with it so long.”

Fessenden’s central role in bringing Reichardt to prominence not only illustrates both his uncommercial generosity and his ability to attract and help cultivate “like-minded directors,” according to the Times. You can also see what drew Reichardt to Fessenden in “Wendy and Lucy,” a sort of neo-neorealist drama about a woman (Michelle Williams) and her missing dog. Sight & Sound (Atkinson again) keenly describes Reichardt’s approach to representing her movie’s working class milieu—”decaying infrastructure, Wal-Mart sustenance, gone-to-weed neighborhoods, lives ruled by petty commerce”—as being “less restricting” and “less self-conscious” than Reichardt’s better-known international arthouse contemporaries.

Most of Fessenden’s movies—as well as the audio plays that he wrote and directed for Glass Eye’s delightful “Tales from Beyond the Pale” audio play series—could also be described as “less self-conscious” and “less restricting” in their “horror vérité” style, to borrow Fessenden’s description of “Habit,” a 1995 remake of his 1982 feature debut. “Habit,” a horror drama about an alcoholic (Fessenden) who fears that his new lover may be a vampire, is a psychological drama first, and then a horror movie. In 1998, “Habit” cinematographer Frank DeMarco gave American Cinematographer (Michael Ellenbogen) some insight as to what makes “Habit” a Larry Fessenden movie: “Because we were so inconspicuous, I could steal shots of our environment. I kept an eye open for, and often captured, those ‘happy accidents’ when amazing or unusual or insane New York City moments would unexpectedly cross through the plane of our fiction.”

Fessenden also steals moments in time in the “Impact Addict” shorts that he filmed in 1987 with the post-Evel Knievel/pre-“Jackass” performance artist David Leslie. Fessenden and Allyson Smith shot Leslie as he beat and/or blew himself up in a variety of NYC settings, including a Chinatown Lunar New Year parade that looks like it was filmed with stolen cameras and then edited by an aspiring impressionist painter. The “Impact Addict” films will screen at MoMA in a terrific bundle of early Glass Eye shorts along with “White Trash,” a Fessenden-helmed short that would later be reworked as the opening scene of Reichardt’s “River of Grass.”

The horror genre is just the commercial mold that Fessenden and his fellow misfit filmmakers have tried to refashion to their lo-fi sensibilities and alienated tastes. It’s to Fessenden’s credit that each new directorial credit seems to be his best, including “Skin and Bones,” his fantastically creepy episode of the short-lived 2008 prime-time TV horror anthology series “Fear Itself.” “Skin and Bones” feels like an extension of Fessenden’s signature interest in the Wendigo, a flesh-eating Algonquin-American wraith who, in Fessenden’s “Wendigo” and “The Last Winter,” heralds either an ecological paradigm shift or a hallucinatory sort of mass psychosis. The most horrifying conceit in Fessenden’s movies is that while we could be living in a beautiful world, we definitely aren’t and the future doesn’t look great either. So what does that feel like, sinking into exhaustion with a mix of dread and excitement? What does a perpetual and inevitable collapse feel like, tiptoeing up to and then splashing apart on the edge of yourself?

Fessenden’s gothic dramas are about a weirdly intimate sort of apocalyptic guilt that is; they’re his way of protesting the post-industrialized world that his movies exist in spite of. It’s fitting then that “Beneath,” the only so-so entry in Fessenden’s body of work, is also included in MoMA’s program. That shrill, tongue-in-cheek horror pastiche is the only time Fessenden’s semi-successfully shoehorned himself into a prefabricated mold. At one point, Fessenden also worked on an unproduced remake of “The Orphanage”; there was also some talk about adapting Marvel Comics’ Werewolf by Night series, though that sadly appears to have been more of an unfulfilled desire than a tentative plan. Maybe it’s a good thing that those dream projects never materialized. Who wants a Larry Fessenden remake or a Larry Fessenden comic book movie when we’ve instead got “Depraved,” Larry Fessenden’s characteristically inventive and soulful riff on “Frankenstein”?

If Glass Eye Pix has become known for its horror movies, that’s only because their most exciting filmmakers share Fessenden’s anxieties about the future. McKenney’s “Automatons” feels like an un-nostalgic jeremiad as well as an avant-kitschy homage to both the schlocky B-movies of the 1950s and the ingenuous no-budget sci-fi student movies of the 1970s, like “THX 1138” and “Dark Star.” Robert Mockler’s “Like Me” is a macabre post-beatnik/post-Facebook road movie that sometimes resembles a cross between “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “Natural Born Killers.” And Reznick’s “I Can See You” is a Lynchian meltdown about a young ad photographer’s frustration at not being able to properly visualize his father’s face (among other Freudian anxieties). Fessenden has memorable on-screen roles in all three movies.

Horror filmmakers have become increasingly obsessed with the fiction, style, and preoccupations of H.P. Lovecraft, but Fessenden was always more Poe than Lovecraft. Speaking of his movies’ recurring interest in ecological collapse and global warming in particular, Fessenden told the Times that “The horror that really interests me is this horror of self-betrayal.” Somehow, Glass Eye Pix’s titles all fit under that generous thematic umbrella, which always seems big enough to accommodate just a few more.

Read at RogerEbert.com