Movie Theaters Near Porstmouth NH Sprung From Local Productions
During the early silent era of film, it wasn't unusual to find films made in the New England states, such as New Hampshire. The start of their film output mirrored that of the American republic, with films such as Benedict Arnold (1909), Ralph Once's Battle of Bunker Hill (1911) and Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (1914). New England's scenic backdrop and seasonal climates encouraged filmmakers to shoot pictures there and the lack of complicated equipment and regional, rather than national, distribution made it possible. Thomas Edison's film company was one who opted to schedule film shoots there during the summer. Even in the modern, major studio driven market, some filmmakers still film their movies there in the same manner.
Other filmmakers were attracted to the land's representations of contrast; community and isolation, darkness and light. Horror as a film genre in New England goes back to 1900, when Thomas Edison's studio released a haunted house story, Uncle Josh in a Spooky Hotel. Only ten years earlier there was a child born in Rhode Island who would grow up to be a legendary influence on horror fiction: H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft's numerous tales of terror in pulp magazines often took place or were influenced by the history and land of his home region. Lovecraft wouldn't live to see any of his stories appear on the big screen as the first, Haunted Palace, based loosely on his "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," was released in 1963 and he died in 1937. From that start, there have been nearly 30 screen adaptations, the setting of which frequently features a spooky New England backdrop. The author also inspired a number of other authors and filmmakers to use his established created universe (the Cthulhu Mythos) in their own works, including director John Carpenter. In Carpenter's macabre In the Mouth of Madness (1995)—a tribute to "At the Mountains of Madness" —an author is tasked by Arcane Publishing to investigate the disappearance novelist Sutter Cane in Hobb's End, New Hampshire, located squarely in Lovecraft country.
Horror writer Stephen King has created a similar mythos for his own characters. King's Lovecraft-like take on New England life is detailed in film adaptations of his stories in Dead Zone (1983), Misery (1990) and Needful Things (1993). "[Stephen King has] probably done more to shape popular culture images of New England than anyone since Eugene O'Neill...and has an obsession with looking behind the picket-fences facades of the small town," notes historian Michael Sletcher. One can draw an almost direct line from the genre fiction of Lovecraft and King to the literature of fellow New Englander Nathaniel Hawthorne. For instance, Hawthorne made good use of the region's infamous Salem Witch Trials in his stories. Films such as Maid of Salem (1937), The Devonsville Terror (1983) and Warlock (1989) all are based on the terrible events that transpired in Salem at that time.
Some of the area's best known films concern not evils from the past but those in modern New England. These include New Hampshire filmmaker Louis de Rochemont's socially conscious films, Lost Boundaries (1949) and Whistle at Eaton Falls (1951), about racism in and labor issues in New Hampshire, respectively. Portsmouth is home to the New Hampshire Film Festival, one of the preeminent independent film screenings in the northeastern United States, and some of the great New Hampshire movie theatres. Throughout New England similar events are held, both preserving and pushing forward the region's film history.
Film in New England, as it happens, is benefiting from technological progress. Historian Phil Hall attests, "The digital video revolution has encouraged a great many filmmakers, particularly in New England..." Hall does worry, however, that too much product can flood the marketplace: movie theaters in Portsmouth, NH and those "around the country need to exhibit movies that are going to turn a profit...faced with exhibiting Angels and Demons or a no-budget movie made in Vermont, their choice is clear." A soon up-and-coming movie theater company close to eastern NH is O’neil Brickyard Square Cinemas. Online communities and social media have given these filmmakers new venues for distribution, however, so that New England may once again come to rival Hollywood.