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Fright sights: Spooky holiday brings suspense, scares to TV


Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak starred in Vertigo, one of the masterpieces of director Alfred Hitchcock.


Listen up, fright fans.

With Halloween lurking in the shadows, what could be better than a weeklong celebration of that legendary master of movie suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock?

Turner Classic Movies is serving up seven nights of the iconic English director's best movies, starting at 9 p.m. Monday with Vertigo (James Stewart, Kim Novak), which many consider to be among Hitchcock's best.

A total of 36 Hitchcock films will be shown during TCM's salute, which will run through Oct. 30, when it wraps up with Mr. and Mrs. Smith - the original 1941 version, of course, starring Robert Montgomery and Carol Lombard, not the glossy Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie remake.

All the Hitchcock classics are here, from To Catch a Thief (Cary Grant, Grace Kelly) to North By Northwest (Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint), from Spellbound (Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck) to Rear Window (James Stewart, Grace Kelly) and Torn Curtain (Paul Newman, Julie Andrews).

Also included are little-known gems from Hitchcock's early directing days, like The Lodger (1927) and Juno and the Paycock (1930).

There's even a double entry for The Man Who Knew Too Much, with the original 1934 version followed by Hitchcock's own 1956 remake featuring James Stewart and Doris Day. (Doris Day? In a Hitchcock movie?)

Oh, yeah, and there are a couple of other little films included that you may or may not have heard of: Psycho and The Birds.

In addition to the feature films, the festival includes three documentaries and a couple of rarely seen propaganda shorts the famed director made during World War II for the British Ministry of Information.

There are interviews with daughter Patricia Hitchcock, and actress Tippi Hedren, who starred in a pair of Hitchcock films, The Birds and Marnie.

Each night of the festival features a different aspect of Hitchcock's career, with themed evenings focusing on such topics as "Romantic Suspense," "Political Intrigue," "Everyday Killers," and "Hitchcock's Blondes" (which, if you're interested, include Kelly and Hedren, among others).

Hitchcock, who died in 1980 at the age of 80, was nominated for an Academy Award five times but never won. Nevertheless, he is recognized as one of the most talented directors of all time, and his techniques influenced later generations of directors ranging from John Carpenter to Steven Spielberg.

If Hitchcock's movies aren't enough to make your hair stand on end, the movie channel AMC will feature nine days and nights of horror films when it kicks off its ninth annual Halloween film festival, Monsterfest 2005, on Sunday.

The festival will feature more than 200 hours of movies, from Arachnophobia to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, from the Halloween and Friday the 13th movies to Village of the Damned, from Carrie to Pet Sematary.

On the first night of the festival, AMC will feature DVD TV: Friday The 13th, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the classic horror film. At 6 p.m., the full-screen version of the movie will be shown, followed at 8 p.m. by an enhanced version containing original, DVD-like extra programming content below the "letterboxed" print, plus interviews with original cast members and the director.

At 10 p.m., the network will premiere Friday the 13th Part IV.

Another highlight of the Monsterfest is a new episode of AMC's original series Movies That Shook the World, which gives an in-depth look at certain films from the perspective of how popular culture influenced their creation and how they, in turn, influenced society once they were released.

The episode, which is scheduled to run on Oct. 28, will focus of what some consider to be the scariest horror movie ever made, The Exorcist. It explains how the 1973 film stretched the R rating and includes interviews with star Linda Blair and William Peter Blatty, who wrote the screenplay based on his own novel.

Contact Mike Kelly at: mkelly@theblade

or 419-724-6131.

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