"If God did not exist," Voltaire wrote, "it would be necessary to invent him." Similarly, if the holiday we know as Halloween didn't exist, U.S. retailers would surely be forced to create it. Even so, there are ways of recognizing the special nature of the season that aren't about fulfilling retailers' wet dreams and rotting out your teeth. Take the John Rivers Communications Museum, for example – as noncommercial an institution as you're likely to find, yet it and curator Rick Zender are making the most of the holiday buildup with an Early German Film Series for local fright-lifers' Halloween amusement.
The six-film series runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Oct. 19-Nov. 9, featuring a half-dozen masterpieces of German horror and expressionism (or is that redundant?) from the 1920s, cinema's early heyday. Each free screening starts at 7:30 p.m. and is accompanied by a brief intro from Zender and museum displays to put the films into context. On Oct. 19, it's master director Fritz Lang's Destiny from 1921, pitting death personified against a woman trying to save her beloved. On Oct. 24, it's F. W. Murnau's Haunted Castle, an expressionistic murder mystery from 1921. On Oct. 26, just before the witching date, you can catch the über-classic horror flick Nosferatu, also from Murnau, with Max Schreck as the timeless vampire Count Orlok (made even more legendary by Willem Dafoe's creepily convincing performance of him in 2000's Shadow of the Vampire). All the films are free at the John Rivers Communications Museum at 58 George St. Call 953-5810 for more info. And don't forget to bring your beret. –Patrick Sharbaugh
The Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program at the College of Charleston recently landed a $4,750 S.C. Arts Commission grant to help fund the completion of Hallowed Ground, a documentary film by S.C. filmmaker Stan Woodward about the centuries-old traditions of Lowcountry camp meetings. Hallowed Ground has been a five-year-long effort, during which Woodward has captured hundreds of hours of footage at two camp meetings near St. George, S.C., that have been meeting annually for over 100 years. Woodward will host a public symposium on camp meeting tradition by screening portions of his film at 7 p.m. on Nov. 2 at CofC's Arnold Hall. For more info, visit www.cofc.edu/atlanticworld. –PS