The Museum of the Moving Image recently celebrated the essence of the Halloween season with a gala costume party held on the premises. Located in Astoria Queens, New York – a neighborhood linked to the filmmaking industry for over 100 years – the museum offers visitors a detailed look at the historical and technological gestation of the art of cinema.
Hosted in partnership with YELP, museum members and invitees enjoyed a Mexican themed buffet and refreshments by QSNY Cocktails before partaking in the seasonally themed tours and competitions. Throughout the night DJ AI spun a solid block of dance floor classics, from “Electric Slide” to Michael Jackson hits, ensuring a good time for the costumed party go-ers.
Head Spinning Highlights…
Highlighting the event were flashlight illuminated tours of the scariest parts of the museum’s collection. Escorted by a masked guide, guests saw production sketches and set miniatures from Silence of the Lambs, outsize physical FX props from the A Nightmare On Elm Street series, and sculpts for the make-up appliances from The Elephant Man.
The most unique exhibit was a collection of artifacts documenting the production of The Exorcist (1973,) still considering of of the most chilling cinema excursions of all time.
The life-size model of actress Linda Blair as Regan, the movie’s possessed youngster, sat menacingly in a show case. This is the prop used for the 360 degree head-spinning scene. It is quite a bizarre piece of film history and holds a creep factor that was accentuated by the dimly lit surroundings.
The Exorcist exhibit also includes examples of make-up artist Dick Smith’s ingenuity. Of special interest was the apparatus that was fitted to stand-in Eileen Dietz to achieve the famous pea soup projectile vomiting scene.
Projections of the Past…
To conclude the tour we were treated to a live Magic Lantern show. Magic Lanterns were the progenitors of film projectors. A beautifully restored 1890s era lantern was operated by Joel Schlemowitz, a collector and conservator of vintage audio-visual inventions. He featured an appropriately spooky selection of glass slides, that included burial scenes and hordes of skeletal apparitions. Schelmowitz explained the workings of the machine and how its dual lens system allowed for seamless slide changes and effective collaging of images. For a truly old school effect, the presentation was accompanied by a recording played on a vintage Gramophone.
During the heart of the evening revelers participated in several competitions. Drag performance personality Avant Garbage MC’d a multi-round costume contest.
Avant Garbage is noted for a found item, trash aesthetic, fashion sense. For example, a rag-mop wig is one of the clever hallmarks of the performer’s look. In addition to hosting duties Avant Garbage took center stage with a scary lyrical rap while transforming into Freddy Krueger.
Later in the evening Mike Drake, author of Contemporary Krampus: A Modern Look At An Ancient Legend, posed a batch of brain busting questions on horror movie minutiae. Guests had an impressive knowledge of some pretty obscure facts about scary cinema. Winners received an assortment of prizes contributed by sponsors Factory Entertainment, Paragon FX Group, Universal Films‘ Exorcist: Believer, Eric Pigor’s Toxic Toons, Trick or Treat Studios, Warner Bros.’ IT and the TerrorVision Haunted House.
The Museum of the Moving Image can be visited throughout the year. It offers a rotating schedule of film screenings in addition to the onsite exhibits. On-going exhibits include a career spanning look at the work of Jim Henson (The Muppet Show, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal) and the aforementioned space dedicated to production of The Exorcist.
Please check MoMI’s website (linked above) for upcoming presentations and information on membership opportunities.
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