October 15, 2016
How are you? Oh, what am I talking about — I know how you’re doing because I know you just recently celebrated a very special anniversary. Yup, it’s been one year since you received a letter from me about the New Beverly Cinema’s yearly horror movie marathon! Please keep your composure, it is a very emotional time for all of us, I’m sure. But I will try to keep the tears of joy from flowing if you can do the same.
Circumstances beyond your control with all of the control going to the powerful cold mistress of Fate kept you from attending this, the 9th Annual All Night Horror Show, and I fear that next year perhaps someone else will be writing me about the 10th. I say this because this year’s tickets were sold out online in under a minute — 45 seconds, if I heard correctly from marathon hosts Brian Quinn and Phil Blankenship — and so it has gotten to the point that by next year, seats could go to someone else aside from yours truly if for no other reason than I was a millisecond too slow on the trigger.
But that is to worry about next year! For now, let us — let me — tell you how it went down last Saturday.
Quinn/Blankenship welcomed the packed house and asked us how many were attending this thing for the first time, and I swear nearly half the place raised hands/cheered, which was cool because that meant so many people were going to have this new experience and hopefully they would enjoy it. But then there was this other dark part of me that didn’t want them to like it, anything that would cut down on ticket competition for the following year. A purely selfish thought to have, I know, but I shook it off immediately and remembered that “you can’t always get what you want”, to quote a song by a world famous band that’s made millions upon millions of dollars and made millions of fans and are loved everywhere and have gotten everything they — YOU KNOW WHAT? THE ROLLING STONES CAN KISS MY ASS WITH THAT BULLSHIT ALONG WITH THAT ARBY’S HAT WEARING SON-OF-A-BITCH PHARRELL WITH HIS “HAPPY” SONG.
Rather than focus on films that have been screened/seen ad nauseam around this time of year, Quinn/Blankenship picked stuff that hadn’t been screened in L.A. for at least ten or twelve years, or never made it out to the city at all, or if they did, they were very limited releases, or they went straight to video and never had an official theatrical release. We wouldn’t know the titles of the six films chosen until they played on screen. (Phil: “I will give one hint, though: there are *six* Police Academy movies.”)
We were given a way to guess the films via the trailers screened before each one; before the first film, we saw trailers for Lucifer’s Women, Rosemary’s Baby, To the Devil a Daughter, Satan’s Cheerleaders, and House of the Devil. It had to be something involving Ol’ Scratch one way or the other, and sure enough the first film of the night was 1975’s Race with the Devil, about a couple of Texan Men taking their Texan Ladies on a road trip to Aspen, Colorado.
To be real with you, I would’ve been fine watching a movie about these characters going to Aspen and back, and I don’t think it’s necessarily because the characters are so interesting but because the actors playing them are Peter Fonda and Warren Motherfucking Oates. Clearly I’m not alone in this thought because those two starred in three films together (the others being The Hired Hand and 92 in the Shade), but this one not only has them, it also has Loretta Swit and Lara Parker and Satan worshippers and a sweet RV so this movie is filled with all kinds of Right On.
No joking about that RV; even in its dated state nowadays, I found it impressive. It had a color TV with a good antenna and the sound system had four channels! People in the audience laughed at that the way people now laugh when Argyle in Die Hard goes on about the limo having “everything” like a CD player, CB radio, analog television and a VHS player. Me, I get wistful for a time when we were just as scared shitless then as we are now, only now we know how the past worked out so it looks much better in retrospect.
VHS and square televisions might have gone out of style, but bringing uninvited guests will always be in fashion. Por ejemplo, Oates is showing off his RV to Fonda and then we hear a noise — it turns out Fonda and his wife brought along their dog for the ride. What fucking balls to do that — to plan out a road trip with your homie and the motherfucker never thought to let you know about the four-legged stowaway until it was too late. It wasn’t even a real dog, you know, a big dog like a German Shepherd or a Boxer or a Phoebe, it was one of those little dogs but not too little. Small enough to get easily smooshed but not small enough to carry in your purse, where it would presumably shit all over your gum and tampons.
This movie would make a good double feature with Judgment Night; both are tales about why you shouldn’t drive your RV off the beaten path on the way to your destination because it will result in you and your people witnessing something you shouldn’t have seen which then means you’re going to be chased by those who prefer to remain unseen. In the case of this flick, our Texans witness a human sacrifice and because this was a White girl and not some illegal border crosser, this is a bad thing to them. This bad thing gets worse because even though they get away and report the incident to the cops, the rest of their trip is now tainted with traces of Fucking Unsettling. Every stranger is now even stranger-er and the film does a great job in making you feel that everyone our characters run into could be Satanists as well.
I like how the film starts out as a good ol’ boy fuckaround, goes into horror, shifts into a paranoia tale, turns back into horror, then goes straight out 70s car-crash actioner in the final stretch. Regarding that last section, the audience would frequently burst into cheers and applause. I think it was both seeing the baddies getting theirs while also seeing some genuine old school Holy Shit car stunts done by real stuntmen, probably some real Hooper types, you know? Like, I bet there was a lot of drinking going on after every shooting day with these stuntmen. I imagine a lot of bottles were shot at too in their off time, and no one gave a shit or called the cops because guns in 70s Texas were probably like iPhones in L.A. — who *doesn’t* have one? Well, me, for one. I roll with an Android, but I think you get what I’m saying, right?
Race with the Devil was written by Lee Frost and Wes Bishop, which meant nothing to me back when I first saw this in 2007 at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, but a few months later a series of double-feature DVDs came out called “Welcome to the Grindhouse” (remember that brief period in ’07 when we all thought the movie Grindhouse was gonna be huge and suddenly you had DVD sets like that one and “The Grindhouse Experience” and other similar attempts at cashing in?) and it seemed like half of those movies were written & directed by Frost and Bishop.
They had a pretty good run with these 70s exploitation joints and Devil is really a big-budget studio version of those kinds of films — and it would’ve been more like those kinds of films if Frost hadn’t been fired as director. The studio ended up bringing in Jack Starrett (aka that asshole Galt from First Blood) who I feel doesn’t get enough love as a director, at least it seems that way to me. I think only Tarantino (of course) has sung his praises for flicks like this and The Gravy Train aka The Dion Brothers, which I went to see back in 2007 at the Aero Theatre as part of a double feature. That film was written by Terrence Malick under a pseudonym, but the second film, Race with the Devil was written by Lee Frost and Wes Bishop — IT’S ALL CONNECTED, MAN!
A raffle followed and prizes like comic books, shirts, collectibles, and Blu-rays were given away. We then watched a classic Popeye cartoon called “Ghosks is the Bunk” followed by another trailer reel: The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies, Muscle Beach Party, Psycho Beach Party (featuring Amy Adams!), Blood Beach, The Beach Girls and the Monster.
I started putting two and two together with the beach parties and monsters and began to get a sinking feeling. I whispered said sinking feeling to my friend and my fear became reality when the second film of the evening turned out to be The Horror of Party Beach from 1964. My reason for sinkin’ was that I had seen the film before on “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and so I assumed it was going to be one of those Manos: The Hands of Fate situations where it would be even tougher to watch a terrible movie in its un-riffed state. But hey, at least the print looked really spiffy! I said to myself.
So you have all these young gals and guys doing the beach thing in the East Coast (somewhere not too far from New York), dancing to a group called The Del-Aires and/or fighting on the sand over women who are just not worth it. Meanwhile, this town must have a 60s equivalent to Terry Silver living nearby because a bunch of radioactive waste is being dumped into the water and all over the skeletal remains of what I’m assuming was someone who snitched on the local mafiosi long ago — anyway, the toxic sludge-plus-skeletons-plus-whatever else was living under the sea end up forming into a new kind of life: walking bug-eyed scaly creatures with super-sized sausages permanently taking up residence in their wide-open maws. I’d feel sorry for these ugly/awkward things were it not for their taste for human blood.
Because this is a monster movie made long ago, these creatures prefer their blood to come from women and for the most part I think the movie has a little bit of the “eh, these bitches were asking for it” attitude. Like, this entire slumber party gets attacked and this was after we see them tee-hee’ing about the prank they were gonna pull on some visiting boys. Then later in the film we follow three independent Noo Yawkah types as they drive into town in their convertible and flirt with the poor gas station attendant who ends up ejaculating his sexual arousal all over the place except this is a movie and they can’t be literal about that shit, so instead it’s done with him accidentally pumping too much gas into the car and spilling it all over.
At the beginning of the film, we’re introduced to our main dude Hank, and he’s just about had it with his girl Tina for having fun. They argue, she tries to get him pissed off by getting some other dude’s attention, a fight breaks out between the two dudes, then the two dudes go their separate ways, leaving the lovely lady in the lurch. So off she goes for a swim to, I don’t know, find something out there to keep her nether regions occupied. Well, honey, I hope you like hot dogs because here comes a monster with a mouth full of them. Much screaming and bloody pawing ensues.
In this movie — and hell, most of these kinds of movies — if you are a girl who busts some dude’s balls or intends to in any kind of way, you’re gonna be punished for it. On the other hand, if you are a nice girl who needs a man, you’ll probably do OK and live a nice long life like our chick Elaine. Tina’s body is not even cold and Elaine is telling her scientist father about how she feels all weird because suddenly she’s catching feelings for her late friend’s boyfriend and ol’ Dad straight up hits her back with “Because he’s free now?” and holy shit we all laughed out loud in the audience.
Hell, we laughed quite a bit throughout this one; I’m happy to report that the movie is entertaining enough on its own without Mike and the Bots making quippy comments towards it. It’s a goofy low-budget movie — like many of its time — but also features some surprisingly nice visual compositions and editing every once in a while. Also, there’s the housekeeper Eulabelle who has more sense than anyone else in the movie and as far as I’m concerned is the goddamn hero of this movie, since she pretty much is the reason the scientist finds a way to kill the monsters.
I’m just bummed for poor Tina, a girl after my own heart — she liked to party and then she’d give you some alone time when you needed it. Sure, she would spend that time in the arms of another man, but hey, they can’t all be perfect.
One more raffle followed and I didn’t win anything so of course BOO All Raffles, right? The following trailer reel consisted of Clive Barker joints: Hellbound: Hellraiser II; Nightbreed — and that’s when I thought “Cool, I wonder which Clive Barker film we’re gonna watch?” Then the trailer for Midnight Meat Train came up. “OK, so I guess not that one. Maybe Lord of Illusions? Or Candyman? Or maybe one of the other Hellraisers? Hopefully the first or second.” Candyman and Lord of Illusions were the next trailers. “Uh, hmm. Well maybe it’ll be the third Hellraiser, that wouldn’t be so bad. Hell I’m willing to accept the fourth one or even the ones that went straight to video. I mean as long as it’s not –”
When the title Rawhead Rex filled the screen I found myself shouting FUCK! in my mind while most of the audience applauded and cheered even though they cheered for every movie because everybody’s all happy to be there. Let’s freeze frame on my disappointed face and go back in time to explain why:
So I’m at work, right, and as per usual I’m listening to a podcast through my earbuds because for some reason my co-workers love talking to me about the every day bullshit going on in their lives. I never asked for that but there we go. The day before the marathon I had been listening to an episode of the Outside the Cinema podcast and they just happened to be reviewing Rawhead; they trashed it mercilessly. I was familiar with the film, having seen bits and pieces of it on local television years ago while I was playing with my Ninja Turtles or something. I don’t remember giving much of a shit; I only remembered the titular monster looking both cool and goofy at the same time, oh and I remembered reading about how Clive Barker wrote the screenplay to the film (based on one of his “Books of Blood” stories) and hated the final result. Later I found out that this was the second time director George Pavlou directed a Barker screenplay; the previous was a film called either Underworld or Transmutations and Barker hated that one too. Holy shit. Fool you once, Clive….
So now let’s get back to me at the New Bev and un-freeze frame that shit to me shouting FUCK! in my mind while everybody else around me cheered. I thought: OK, here we go, a movie I recently heard about being terrible but let’s just keep an open mind and maybe we’ll get through it all right and hell, I might just like it.
The movie takes place in a town in Ireland where some guys try to knock over this huge stone pillar, unaware that the pillar wasn’t just sticking out of the ground, it was keeping our titular pre-Christian demon underground where he’s been stewing, man, just stewing over having his big time spot taken by a couple of perpetrators named God and Jesus. Well, now he’s out and about and is making everyone shout right before he claws them and bites their faces off looking like an 80s metal album cover on bath salts and I think the filmmakers missed an opportunity to get some band to compose the music score to this film, at least whenever Rawhead showed up. It would’ve been so cool to watch Rawhead burst through a door while some long-haired coked-out vocalist high-pitches his best over some hardcore shredding on the gee-tar.
Instead you have that oh-so-orchestral score as Rawhead knocks over tables and shelves all half-assed like Tommy Wiseau at the end of The Room, and when he’s not doing that he stalks all around town because you know he’s automatically attracted to humans — he just starts killing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kill. He doesn’t even wait. And when you’re a powerful demon god, they let you do it, you can do anything. Grab them by the neck. You can do anything.
Even though the hero in this is some dude who kinda looked like Steve from “Married…with Children”, my favorite character has to be this priest named Declan who is introduced leading his parish in hymns and looking very much like someone going through the motions. Then he puts his hand on the altar which apparently doubles as a griddle (for pancake breakfast fundraisers, I reckon) because some asshole forgot to turn it off so now not only is Declan’s hand filled with burning pain but his soul is filled with the unholy ghost — and his mouth should be filled with soap for all the swearing he lets loose with throughout the film.
Yup, Declan is all about the Rex-Dawg now and it’s fucking hilarious. It’s like watching Rev. Lovejoy in “The Simpsons” when he was convinced the Movementarians were “the real thing” and suddenly he’s not about The Jesus anymore. Like Lovejoy, he gets rid of his clerical collar. Unlike Lovejoy, Declan allows his new God to baptize him R. Kelly style, all happy about it. Later on, Declan’s boss, the good Reverend Coot, finds out about his new alliance with Rex and asks him something like “What is he going to do with you when he’s finished with you?” and Declan responds with “KILL ME! (then he closes his eyes and gets all tingly inside) I HOOOOOPE!” because this is what happens when you don’t let priests get married. They get so hard up they’re either diddling the altar boys or working up some pre-cum over the possibility that their new Pagan God boyfriend is going to murder them.
Hooray for lowered expectations, because I found this watchable. Would I watch it again? Fuck no. But it didn’t hurt during those ninety minutes. The monster has funny eyes and I can see why Barker was the opposite of pleased with the cinematic look of his literary creation — or the cinematic everything of his literary creation. There are some good lines here and there, and there are elements that certainly feel Barker-esque (like the Declan character), but except for the nutty climax it all feels like it’s being performed in the key of Blah.
We saw a Laurel & Hardy short called “The Live Ghost” where our boys play a couple of fuckin’ crimps who make some money shanghai-ing sailors and we all laughed as the unconscious sailors were dumped into the cargo hold, one on top of the other, and you know that shit was real and bones were probably broken but fuck ’em — they didn’t have unions on set in those days, I bet.
Then we saw a trailer reel that had me guessing this was going to be a Mario Bava joint because the trailers were all for Mario Bava joints: Black Sabbath; Evil Eye; Baron Blood. Then the last two trailers — Friday the 13th parts 1 and 2 — helped me narrow my guess for the fourth film of the night, and so I whispered the title to my friend, who at this point was fucking DONE with the hot fetid breath of the douchebag next to him hitting his ear: the 1971 Italian film A Bay of Blood (aka Twitch of the Death Nerve aka Carnage aka so many other akas). Phil told us that he had been wanting to screen this film for the marathon for nine years and it took that long to find the absolute best print for it and it sure looked fantastic.
People who kill people are the killing-est people in the world — that’s the name of the game here. The film takes place in and around a property off the bay; you have this old rich lady in her wheelchair looking lonely, but don’t cry for her, she’ll have plenty of company soon in the afterlife thanks to some dude who suicides her. That dude then gets stabbed to death and the rest of the movie is just one person after another getting taken out hard — in one case, literally hard, as he and his lady are skewered while doing the horizontal mambo.
You know what, if I was suddenly killed right now I would be deserving of it for using “horizontal mambo”, but don’t get me wrong, I’m not Declan from the last movie, I’m not hoping for that to happen to me so allow me to apologize for that, Cathie — just in case you have the same kind of inclination to Bay of Blood the fuck out of people who annoy you.
I don’t remember where I first saw this — I want to say it was late at night on some UHF channel back in the day, maybe it was that “Horror Kung Fu Theatre” program hosted by The Nightshadow? — I just know I’ve seen it before. A Bay of Death Carnage is brought up most of the time in movie geek circles as the grandfather or godfather or much older pervy uncle to the slasher genre; some of the kills here were in fact straight up jacked and used in the first two Friday the 13ths, which is why we saw trailers to those movies in the reel. When I finally caught this film I had already been well-acquainted with how Jason Voorhees got down, so I was surprised with how effective — no, *more* effective the murders were here. Mainly it’s because Mario Bava is a much better director than Sean S. Cunningham or Steve Miner — in addition to the stylishly shot kills, homeboy is great at atmosphere and tension and all that.
(To be fair, I don’t know if Bava could’ve made My Father the Hero or Forever Young any better than Miner, but even if he couldn’t, it would’ve been an impressive effort given that Bava would’ve already been dead for over twenty years by then.)
In addition to atmosphere, I think there’s also how music is used differently between Blood Twitch Nerve and Friday the 13th; in the latter you have Harry Manfredini’s famous ki ki ki ma ma ma whispers and heavy use of strings and stings underscoring the hapless camp counselors inevitable bloody fates whereas in the former you have, well, most of the time you don’t really get anything music-wise from Stelvio Cipriani. I remember one kill that had some pulse-pounding chase music leading up to it, otherwise what little music there is usually won’t cue up until after someone is dead, and even then there’s nothing Horror about it. It’s unsettlingly lovely, sounding more sad and serene rather than sharp and scary.
This movie belongs in the 70s Italian horror sub-genre I like to call Quiet As Fuck For The Most Part; I don’t know if it’s a result of being dubbed and not adding much foley work to the proceedings or if that’s how Bava wanted it to sound but yeah, this is one of those where the only thing you can really hear in this movie is the dialogue in between the dim hissing in the background. It’s the kind of movie that you’ll probably raise the volume so you can hear what the characters are saying better and then suddenly glass will break and it will be the loudest glass breaking sound effect you’ve ever heard and you’re frantically reaching for the volume control while cursing yourself for watching this in the middle of the night with your window open so now your nosy retired neighbor is already turning his light on and reaching for the ol’ Ruger SP101 .357 Magnum.
The kills are good, the women look good, the music is good, and the ending is better than good — it’s fucking hilarious. Also, some asshole fisherman chomps on a fuckin’ squid he just pulled out of the water and I bet it’s some macho Italian thing, it’s not enough for him to gobble up some calamaaaaaaar(i) at the local ristorante. Whatever. If you can only see one Mario Bava film in your life, then you are going to die having missed out on even more good shit out there.
I don’t quite recall correctly, given that I waited too fucking long to write about this, but I think it was at this point that Quinn/Blankenship and company brought out donuts for everyone to enjoy. Tempting as it was, I ended up not partaking in all that sweet sweetness for fear of the eventual sugar crash before the end of the marathon. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, what helps me get through these marathons (which is getting tougher for me as I get older) is to keep it light in the food department and pace myself when it comes to caffeine and other stimulants.
So once I saw what we were all in line for, I got out of line to go outside and get some fresh air and that’s where I saw a gentleman by the name of Andrew with a lady by the name of Elle (I will keep their last names secret out of a sudden irrational fear that overcame me just right now that somehow being associated with this blog will hurt them in their respective careers, because really, what kind of degenerate do you have to be to be connected to me — right Cathie?). Andrew confirmed that she was indeed The Elle and so there we were.
Elle is the lady who bestowed the name “Princess Sparkle” upon me on Twitter years ago during EFC version 1.0 but I never met her until now — then — that night. I said Hi and then I said Bye and she was nice and he was nice and even in that brief exchange I overstayed my welcome. But it was good to see her and close another chapter in that particular book.
Quinn/Blankenship let us know that as per usual, the last two films would be presented back-to-back with no breaks. The trailers preceding the fifth film were all early 80s school slasher films like The Dorm that Dripped Blood (aka Pranks); Graduation Day; Final Exam; The Mutilator (aka Fall Break); and the spoof Student Bodies. Then the Vestron Pictures logo came up which caused damn near everyone to cheer because that’s the kind of geeks we are, the kind who know Vestron means Good Times. The film was Slaughter High (aka April Fool’s Day), which I had only seen the final twenty minutes of on TNT or TBS a long time ago, back when those channels used to show cool shit late at night. (Or maybe it was USA’s “Up All Night”?) Since then, I’ve only heard about it mentioned by horror geeks on horror geek websites and such, so it was cool to finally watch the whole thing.
This is a movie that takes place in a strange high school filled with people who are so scholastically challenged that they’ve been held back over and over for at least ten years, which would explain why they would do something as stupid as prank the everlasting fuck out of the nerd-in-resident, some schmuck named Marty. It wasn’t enough that they leave him with blue balls after making him think he’s gonna get some from Caroline Munro (playing one of the assholes, not as Caroline Munro), they also pull some extra heinous shit that ends with him getting even more hot and bothered, only in a literal-type way, as he ends up getting a little acid fire action. Dude ends up getting plastic surgery for about six months or so, meaning he’s gonna have an even harder time trying to get laid.
I couldn’t tell you if that ever happens for him, because the movie doesn’t tell us. Instead it flashes forward to the high school whatever-year-reunion — the students are probably in their mid-forties by now — and as we re-meet all of these assholes, we (me) notice a couple things: first, most of them carry with them a heavy air of The Best Years of My Life Were Ten Years Ago (with the exception of Munro’s working actress character), and second, they don’t have the best grasp on their fake American accents.
That’s probably because this was a British production that tries to fool us by planting American flags around the campus, but they might as well have kept the Union Jack up on those poles because everyone to varying degrees of un-success will end certain words with a different inflection than most of us Yanks are accustomed to. My favorite example doesn’t involve the students but the rockin’ DJ on the radio who pronounces “weekend” with a kind of gap between “week” and “end” which is something I’ve noticed my cousin-in-law and first-cousins-once-removed do.
See, I have family from the U.K.; my cousin married an English girl and has been living over there for twenty-something years. Nowadays when he speaks he sounds kind of like the actors in this movie, only that’s because the English accent is creeping into him, not out of him. At most, he has that Richard Lester expat accent, where he still sounds Murican like 70-80 percent of the time. He wasn’t full of shit like Madonna back when she was Mrs. Guy Ritchie, who after two seconds across the pond came out speaking The Queen’s like a born-and-bred fish & chipper. Didn’t Elijah Wood pull that shit for a little while too after filming a movie there? C’mon Frodo, you’re better than that, bro.
Oh yeah, so, these assholes are back and they notice that the school is run down and closed down and nobody else is there except the caretaker (he’s always been the caretaker) and one classroom full of food and drink and each of their lockers containing their old gear. One of these morons picks up a Pabst Blue Ribbon, downs it, and then his stomach explodes because only hipsters can stomach that swill, not former jocks like Guts Man over here. Something’s up, and it might have to do with the masked creep wearing a letterman jacket and jester hat stalking the halls and c’mon, we know it’s Marty getting revenge — not that he actually has to do anything, because these idiots who are lucky to have made it this far in life without winning a Darwin Award set themselves up in death traps like washing up in bathtub filled with acid, or my favorite, getting it on on a bed that just happens to be there even though friends are dying all around them.
The movie doesn’t take itself seriously — Jesus, at least I hope it wasn’t — and while it’s tempting to call this a “bad” movie, I feel this was exactly the movie the filmmakers wanted to make. At times it feels like a more restrained Troma production. The three (three!) writer/directors know what you want — to see people die horribly — and they give it to you while making no bones about not giving a shit about any of the characters. These are terrible people, all of them, and even though my sympathies were mostly with Marty because of all the shit that was done to him, he takes out the caretaker who to my knowledge wasn’t involved in the pranks. That means Marty is really all about getting revenge for himself, rather than cleansing the Earth of mean-spirited fuckwads (which I would be down with) and he’d probably consider the caretaker collateral damage. Marty can go fuck himself too.
Aside from that, this is a fun and nasty ride worth a look-see; this was the theatrical version, meaning the gore was cut down but it still did the job of making us in the audience react audibly to it. I understand the DVD and streaming versions reinstate it, so I’ll probably check that version out next Halloween season.
Immediately following Slaughter High, we saw a trailer reel where all the films had one thing in common — they were all released in 1993: The Crush; Man’s Best Friend; Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday; Leprechaun; Return of the Living Dead 3. I then went to the restroom to do to the urinal what Rawhead Rex did to Declan and I thought I heard the trailer to Warlock: The Armageddon, but don’t hold me to that.
The sixth and final film of the night turned out to be Ticks (aka Infested), directed by Tony Randel (Hellbound: Hellraiser II) and starring Seth Green who Michael J. Fox’s it the fuck up in his role as a misunderstood kid named Tyler who is forced by his concerned dad to join some kind of group camp retreat for fellow troubled teens. Thankfully Tyler isn’t an asshole, the way young protagonists are in these movies. Alfonso Ribeiro, on the other hand, plays a character named Panic (“…’cause I never do!”) who has a higher asshole quotient because he’s one of these guys who tries to show you how hard he is to others. While I had no problem buying Green as a put-upon kid with some issues, it took me a few minutes to buy Carlton from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” as a muthafucka from the hood.
What I liked about their relationship is that it turns into a kind of grudging “You ain’t that bad yourself, bro” kind of deal. It didn’t turn into what I expected to be Panic constantly fucking with Tyler and pushing him towards some kind of moment where he’d have to Stand Up For Himself or something. That also goes for the relationship between them and the other problem children along for this ride into the woods — a blonde bimbo, a brown himbo, an quiet Asian girl, Ami Dolenz — they pretty much get along and they’re led by some lady and Peter Scolari from “Bosom Buddies”, a program he starred in with Tom Hanks, who by this time was winning accolades and Oscar buzz for his role in Philadelphia.
So off they go, into what I thought was the Northern California woods. I’ll be honest, I got up a couple times to get some coffee refills so I missed some details here and there. Maybe it’s supposed to be Southern California, and I think I got confused because there’s a whole subplot about marijuana farmers and I associate that stuff with the Emerald Triangle up north. All I know is that Panic gets all upset and runs off to hitchhike back to Los Angeles after his canine companion dies after getting all swollen up and jello-jiggly because of being infected by giant steroid’d ticks. So I don’t know how long of a ride he’s got ahead of him.
Not that it would matter anyway. He won’t get far, nor will anyone else in this film. Because of the titular ticks, you see. They’re giant because fuckin’ Clint Howard wasn’t paying attention while trying to soup up his killer strain of Kush, he didn’t notice the ticks were getting some of those good-ass ‘roids until it was too late. A giant egg lands on his face and it looked familiar to me, that moment, and that’s when I realized that this clip was part of the montage MTV put together for their tribute to Howard when he received his Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie Awards, joining fellow awesome recipients like Jackie Chan and Chewbacca. Howard was so genuinely touched by the honor that MTV discontinued it after, feeling there was no way to top that.
Anyway, he gets a fuckin’ egg to the face and spends the rest of the movie infested internally by these bloodsuckas. The ticks get loose and oh woe is you if you’re infested too. It’s not so bad if they just bite you and inject some of that sweet sweet toxin in you, because then you start tripping LSD-style. But most likely you’re gonna get pregnant behind the middle school from these things and then it will be very bad. It’s all very gross and a mite disturbing but this is what movies like Ticks are all about, right? Grossing you out and shit? That’s probably why sadists like Quinn/Blankenship scheduled this movie last, so close to breakfast.
This feels like a 90s version of a 1950s-60s creature feature, the way it starts off kinda slow and serious and the characters are even painted a slight shade of Human but then after the ticks show up, it all goes out the window and suddenly you have not just these things skittering about (which would occasionally bring about the occasional yelp and scream from a female audience member somewhere near the front), you then have these half-dimensional cardboard villains (marijuana farmers) and that’s when it starts getting goofy and chaotic. The kind of movie they used to make — like The Horror of Party Beach.
Clearly it’s a low-budget film, but the practical effects are cool and there’s even what looks to be front-projection and matte effects thrown in. If this were made today, it would be produced by The Asylum and it would be charmless and cynically thrown together with the amount of effort it would take to just upload footage into a fuckin’ hard drive. These kids today, they miss out on shit like this. Everything has to be fuckin’ Sharknado now.
As the end credits began to roll, Quinn showed up and told us not to leave yet because the night wasn’t officially over yet. So we sat back down, most of us, anyway — some still left and some like my friend would stand in the aisles — and we waited until the very last frame of the Ticks print. A Bugs Bunny cartoon called “A Witch’s Tangled Hare” followed, and after that, the same National Anthem film that always closes out the marathon.
As far as the 9th Annual All Night Horror Show is concerned, we made it. My buddy and I then walked down a few blocks to a restaurant called BLD; I’d heard about it while watching a rerun of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Cooking Channel. This one chef, Aida Mollenkamp, raved about the Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes there — and I have to agree. They are pretty damn good, Cathie. If you make it to the next All Nighter, you should give them a try.
Oh I almost forgot! Right after the marathon, we were each given a gift in the lobby for making it through the night: a pair of sunglasses to help our walk into the morning light. The glasses were legit, and they most definitely fit. I wore them the rest of the day even though I have a pair of prescription sunglasses, but I was so tired I forgot about those until I was driving down the freeway and noticed things weren’t as clear as I was used to seeing them. That was a fun drive. I don’t know if my friend felt the same way.
OK, that’s it. I have plenty of things to do. These votes aren’t gonna tamper themselves and these e-mails aren’t gonna be leaked on their own. Take care and be well, comrade.
P.S. I suggest that you [REDACTED] [REDACTED] when they start to [REDACTED] everyone while the [REDACTED] [REDACTED] before the [REDACTED] in [REDACTED]. Just looking out for my friends!