The American Nightmare explains the hidden 
    depths of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's 
The American Nightmare explains the hidden depths of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Leatherface.
Courtesy of Women in Film & Television/Houston

The Horror

WED 10/29
In the land of Nerdville, cultural theorists are kings. While other bookish types busy themselves with arcane subjects, cultural theorists get paid to wax philosophical on popular topics like bad TV and B movies. In the grand spirit of pop-culture pontification, the folks at the Angelika Film Center have put together an evening of horror and theory called "Masters of Horror and Psychic Phenomena." It begins with a screening of The American Nightmare, a documentary that tries to explain how many classic horror films can be viewed as metaphors for the larger societal conflicts of their times. Several cultural theorists will lecture following the screening, including the acclaimed director of the documentary, a distinguished professor of philosophy and…well…a famous psychic. Okay, so two out of three ain't bad.Director Adam Simon kicks off the pedagogical portion of the evening with a talk about both the making of The American Nightmare and the ups and downs of working in Hollywood. Then professor Cynthia Freeland will offer an intriguing appraisal of the uneasy attraction and repulsion we feel toward popular horror films. By showing how scary movies can give us insight into the nature of evil, Freeland seeks to defend the much-maligned genre. Horror is icky for a reason, and we shouldn't feel bad for liking it. Finally, psychic Elizabeth Baron will close the show. Her credits include performing the first live televised exorcism in history -- on The Geraldo Rivera Show. Go figure. 6 p.m. Wednesday, October 29. Angelika Film Center, 501 Texas. For more information, call 713-788-8075 or visit $25 to $40. -- Keith Plocek


Found and Lost
THU 10/23

No work of art is permanent. No matter how much an artist smothers a piece with lacquer, the work -- just like everything else in this world -- is in a constant state of flux. Atoms move. Colors bleed. Everything disintegrates. Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas recognizes this dynamic decay, and his body of work rejoices in it. His sculptures are collections of found objects with limited life spans, including rows of leaves parching on the wall and stacks of candles bending under the weight of existence. His exhibition opens at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 23, and runs through January 4. Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose. For information, call 713-284-8250 or visit Free. -- Keith Plocek


Third-Coast Cribs

If you're into cool architecture, or you dig the voyeuristic thrill of tromping through a stranger's trendy, expensive digs, then Galveston's annual Downtown Lofts Tour is for you. Not nearly as crowded as the city's annual homes tour, the self-guided lofts tour is as funky as Galveston's mishmash of architectural styles. Many of the lofts emerged during Galveston's recent economic boom; visitors will see finished living spaces and works-in-progress in the historically significant buildings that also house the Strand's stores and eateries. This year's best bet: Grab your walking shoes and check out the completely renovated 1909 Star Drug Store building, designed by Houston architectural wunderkind Nicholas Clayton. Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, October 25, and Sunday, October 26. Tickets and map available at 2020 Post Office Street in Galveston. For information, call 800-821-1894. $10; $7 in advance.-- Greg Barr


Fab Sap
André Leon Talley's autobiography is not the bitchy exposé you might expect
THU 10/23

Hold on to your Burberry trench: Famously feisty fashionista André Leon Talley is more of a sentimental lamb than a shade-throwing bitch. At least, that's how he paints himself in his recently published autobiography, A.L.T. -- A Memoir. Yes, beneath Talley's haughtier-than-thou exterior beats a sappy heart. Most of his book is given over to teary-eyed remembrances of his grandmother's North Carolina home and his mentor Diana Vreeland's divine understanding of fashion. The book does mention wild nights in the discos and Talley's thoughts on Karl Lagerfeld, but only on its quick way back to praising the hard work of the women who shaped him.Talley will be the featured speaker at Thursday's Society for the Performing Arts fund-raising luncheon. He will be well dressed, but will he wag his tongue about Warhol? We're guessing no. 11 a.m. Thursday, October 23. River Oaks Country Club, 1600 River Oaks Boulevard. For information, call 713-632-8103. $100.-- Lisa Simon


She's Got Talent
WED 10/29

Sexism can be as subtle as a linguistic slip or as flagrant as a casting couch. For the Xotic Xtreme talent search, male contestants are required to bring videos showcasing their skills in an extreme sport, along with their beachwear. Female contestants are required to bring only their bikinis. And if they happen to have a video of themselves performing an outrageous athletic feat, then the folks at Bar Houston won't count it against them. It's also a sure bet the talent will be lured up on the bar with promises of watered-down shots. 8 p.m. Wednesday, October 29. 534 Texas. For information, call 713-227-5516 or visit $7. -- Keith Plocek


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