Archive for the movie marathon Category

Very late but worth the — no, not really.

Posted in An American Werewolf in London, Brainscan, Death Bed: The Bed that Eats, douchebag, Dusk-To-Dawn Horrorthon, Hack-O-Lantern, movie marathon, podcast, Popcorn, ramblings of a loser, Shocker, The Tingler, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2017 by efcontentment

 Link to the podcast version of this post, for those with no time to read (right click and save)

It was the evening of October 28th in this foul year of our Lord, 2017, and the weather in Santa Monica was finally feeling something resembling “autumnal”. The marquee over the entrance to the Aero Theatre said that this was the 12th Annual Dusk Till Dawn Horrorthon and I thought Wow, I don’t even know how many of these I’ve attended by this point — which is really my loss, because the Horrorthon is always a good time.

Not that I always 100-percent felt that way. If you read my earlier blog entries on previous Horrorthons, you’ll find that it took me a few years to get the stick out of my ass about the full freak flag flaunting at these fine festivities — the screaming host, the audience members wearing costumes, the call-and-response gags between the screen and the audience during the on-screen interstitials, the on-stage theatrics featuring characters with names like Corn Gorn, Abraham LinkedIn, and Wizard Policeman — but I can now assure you that a combination of age mellowing me out as well as an overwhelmingly apocalyptic sense of the outside world has taught me to enjoy myself whenever and wherever, making this particular exit cavity stick free.


Once we were all inside and ready for the 12 or so hours of horror films both goofy and non-goofy — intentional and unintentional — the evening began with our host, Mr. Grant Moninger, running up on stage, mic in hand, welcoming us the same way he’s welcomed us in past Horrorthons: with explosive energy expelled at the audience as if he had too much in him and had to make room for even more building up within him that also had to come out violently. Of course, it riled us all up and so we responded in kind with cheers and hoots and hollers — maybe not at him but at something, that’s for sure.

The marathon began with the now-traditional use of the 1980s television series T.J. Hooker, starring William Shatner, where we watched portions of an episode while fake credits featuring the names of  Horrorthon attendees popped up on-screen. Following that were the first round of interstitials that would play between films throughout the night, beginning with some of the old favorites such as the Corn Gorn prayer song, the “Alan” marmot, the Red Roof Inn commercial, both versions of Dennis Parker’s song “Like an Eagle“, the Energizer commercial, and Brent, among others. There were some new ones too, such as the takeoff/recreation of old advertisements for 1-900 or 976 numbers that featured the song “Library” from the album “Floral Shoppe” by Macintosh Plus; the music is from the Vaporwave genre, and I think they came up with the name “Vaporwave” because “White People Appropriating The ‘Chopped & Screwed’ Genre From Black People” was too long.

This year, Telly Savalas was introduced into the Horrorthon cast of characters; we watched on-stage as the Bride of Corn Gorn ran off with the bald-headed actor (portrayed by a volunteer wearing a Telly Savalas mask), and we also watched the real Mr. Savalas on the big screen in a couple of clips. The first was from some 70s television program — which had a distinctly European feel to it — where our man Telly stood before a black void, smoking a cigarette and wearing a black velvet jacket with matching shirt that was unbuttoned to expose both his manly chest and various gold necklaces, as he performed his spoken word cover of the song “If” by the group Bread.

The second Telly clip was from an Australian television series called “The Extraordinary“, one of those shows where people tell stories about their experiences with the paranormal, otherworldly, and yes, extraordinary. Celebrity guest Savalas told a story from his younger days — accompanied by a cheesy reenactment — where he found himself stranded in the middle of the night on a highway in an automobile with no gas, even though he had just come from a date and you would think he’d make sure he had more than enough gas to cover any possible detours, I mean, who knows how fun this date could’ve ended up, you have to be prepared for such possibilities.

So Telly’s walking down the road, gas can in hand, when a Cadillac pulls up and a creepy high-pitched Good Samaritan offers him a ride to the nearest filling station. The man offers to lend Savalas’ broke ass some money to pay for the gas, and again, I have to chide Mr. Savalas for not thinking ahead, because he clearly only had enough money to cover the date — barely, at that, and I’m sorry, but if you can barely afford something, that really means you cannot afford it.

That goes for dates, that goes for car purchases, that goes for buying a house, buying clothes, all of that. Trust me, lady and gentleman, always give yourself financial breathing room before going in on any kind of purchase: it’ll keep the repo man away, it’ll keep your inbox clear of Past Due notices, and most importantly, it’ll keep you from catching a late night lift from some creepy high-pitched Good Samaritan — who turned out to be a ghost, by the way, there’s the ending to that story.

The first film of the evening was An American Werewolf in London, from 1981, written and directed by master decapitator John Landis. Oh, I kid the head chopper — I used to be hard on the poor guy about that snafu on the set of the Twilight Zone movie that ended three lives and ruined countless others, but now that it’s coming out how frighteningly rape-tastic Hollywood is, I find his crimes are now rather innocent in comparison. Dude pulled the Fuck It card as far as safety was concerned, but who hasn’t thrown caution to the wind when it involved somebody else’s life? It’s not like he grabbed Vic Morrow by the pussy and he certainly didn’t fuck those little kids — well, not sexually, anyway.

David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are two young dudes out backpacking in England’s countryside, and for a couple of guys talking about chicks they want to bang, they’re actually kinda likable, all things considered. I bet you if they were to make the same movie today, they’d be douchebros right out of an Eli Roth film. Anyway, they end up veering off the road and out comes el hombre lobo to massacre one of them, leaving the Dr. Pepper guy barely breathing.

The rest of the film involves David recovering from his wounds in London, where he hits it off with his nurse, followed by just straight up hitting it. The nurse is played by Jenny Agutter, and if you’ve seen her in Walkabout or Logan’s Run, you’d want her as your nurse too. I’m not into the domination thing — on either end — but that part where Agutter is trying to get Makin’ It over here to eat his food at the hospital and she says “Shall I be forced to feed you, David?”, ay dios mio. I started feeling really weird in a good way and when she says after that, “Will I have to take such drastic action again, David?”, I don’t know why, but I felt like she was talking to me and my response was YESSSS YES YOU DO NURSE JENNY AGUTTER FORCE ME TO EAT.

I’m just kidding, you never have force me to eat. I eat everything, man. Anyway, David turns into a werewolf.

I first saw this in 2004 and hadn’t seen it since, but my opinion remains the same: when John Landis was on, he was ON, and this might be my favorite of his films. Landis balances horror, comedy, drama, and sex with Jenny Agutter in a shower all so effortlessly. Lots of credit of course goes to Rick Baker and his terrific effects work; the sequence where David goes through his excruciating transformation from man to werewolf still stuns, and by the end of it, when you see the shot of the full moon while hearing David do the Altered Beast howl, the audience broke out into applause.

The second film was the 1991’s Popcorn, directed by Mark Herrier (who was replacing original director Alan Ormsby). Jill Schoelen stars as Maggie, a film student studying at a college in the Central Coast of California — or at least that’s what I assumed based on the look of the locations, so imagine my delightful surprise when I found out the entire film was shot in Jamaica.

Maggie and her fellow film students — played by Profile from Heartbreak Ridge, Ellen Sue from A League of their Own, and the dyslexic girl from Summer School who was trying to get her driver’s license, among others — come up with the idea to raise money for the film department by throwing an all-night horrorthon at an old theater that is set to be wrecking ball’d in a few weeks. When the idea is brought up, the words “all-night horrorthon” are actually used, so of course all of us in the Aero cheered wildly upon hearing that.

You don’t get much movie geek chat during the film class scenes, which in 1991 would probably consist of debating who was the better director: Orson Welles or Alfred Hitchcock. Maybe they’d go on about guys like Lucas and Spielberg too. Had the film been made a few years later it would be Quentin Tarantino, or it would be like the film class scene in Scream 2 but less insufferable. You make Popcorn today at this very moment, you probably couldn’t get them to shut the fuck up about Edgar Wright and Baby Driver.

While cleaning up the place to make it all presentable for the people who are going to spill popcorn, soda, and god knows what else all over the place on movie night, the students and their professor discover an old film that contains a legitimately freaky short called “Possessor”, made by a cult leader who went on to pull a Shosanna Dreyfus by setting fire to the theater playing “Possessor”. So maybe that has something to do with the murders that occur later on during the Horrorthon, right?

I remember seeing the television ads for this film back in ’91; it was sold as a straight-up horror film worthy of being included with Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, I mean they actually mention those films in the ads; I dismissed it as some wannabe slasher that clearly wasn’t going to be as good as those films. When I finally caught it on HBO a year later — where it played back-to-back with the Tom Savini remake of Night of the Living Dead — I was surprised by how much I liked it. I was also surprised by the tone; Popcorn qualifies as a slasher, but not a particularly bloody or brutal one. It’s a much lighter — even comedic — film compared to the one that was advertised.

The films-within-the-film that play during the horrorthon are the biggest source of humor in Popcorn; they are all from the 50s and 60s and include William Castle-style gimmicks; the first is about a giant mosquito, which means a fake giant mosquito flies over the audience; the second is about an prison escapee going on a rampage with his new power to kill with electric shocks, so of course there are shock buzzers placed under the theater seats; and the third is a dubbed Japanese movie about a killer gas (?) which plays while nasty odors get pumped in through the air vents of the auditorium.

I liked it even more during this second go-round; watching it with an audience at an actual all-night horror movie marathon added to the fun and I recommend it as part of your own all-nighter playlist. Or maybe as part of a double feature with Joe Dante’s Matinee, which also involves William Castle-esque gimmickry.

Speaking of William Castle gimmickry, our third film of the night was an actual William Castle joint: 1959’s The Tingler, directed by Castle and starring Vincent Price. The film begins with a prologue where Castle tells the audience how there’s nothing wrong with screaming if the fear gets to be too much, because sometimes screaming might save your life. See, in the world of The Tingler, we all have a centipede living on our spine, rent-free, never so much as taking out the trash every once in a while and god forbid it remembers to replace an empty toilet paper roll with a new one.

I mean, really, what kind of fucking asshole doesn’t replace the toilet paper? I don’t get it. It takes two seconds to take the empty roll out and put a new one in. This is why I prefer the company of myself — I wash dishes as soon as I’m done using them and I replace the toilet paper roll. Whenever I see an empty toilet paper roll, I can only assume that the lazy motherfucker who used the toilet last is walking around with a shitty ass because he or she prefers to stay dirty down there rather than put up a fresh roll so they can finish the job properly. Anyway, motherfuck a Tingler.

A Tingler lives on your spine and when you get scared it grows like my anger towards people who don’t replace toilet paper rolls. It grows and grows and if you don’t scream or stop being scared, the Tingler grows stronger and eventually crushes your spine, the way I would crush the spine of some motherless fuck who won’t replace the goddamn toilet paper roll.

Price makes friends with the owner/manager of a silent movie theater, who like every other man in this film wears a suit to work. Even the middle-aged employee working the ticket booth is wearing a suit. Go to your average revival movie house today and if you see an employee wearing a suit at work, he’s probably wearing it with a day-glo tie over a t-shirt displaying a rainbow or a unicorn, and he’s probably sexually harassing the female volunteers. Anyway, that dude has a deaf-mute wife who figures into the plot, and his movie theater figures into the climax in a clever way that involves both the on-screen audience and those of us watching this in an actual movie theater.

This was lots of fun; even the non-Tingler stuff is a hoot, like the scenes between Price and his unpleasant wife where everything they say to each other is dripping in Fuck You. Or the scene where Price takes acid as a way to work up his fear to test his inner Tingler, giving a play-by-play into one of those old-school dictation machines the entire time. That reminded me of the time I recorded myself on a microcassette recorder after I took shrooms. I ended up composing some weird Bobby McFerrin-esque tune with gibberish lyrics. Then I lost the tape.

I got a kick out of how everybody in this movie operates on various levels of Asshole; Price can be short with people who ask simple questions, his wife’s a bitch, the deaf-mute woman refuses to shake hands with people, and Price’s partner leaves a poor dog in the car with the windows rolled up and because it’s the 1950s nobody cares.

This was originally released with a Castle-designed gimmick called “Percepto” with seats in the theater that would give out a vibrating buzz in order to freak the audience out into thinking that the Tingler was doing its thing on them. The screening at the Aero didn’t have that setup, so instead they had volunteers walk up and down the aisles whipping out these long furry snake-like vibrators onto our laps. At least I hope that’s what it was, and not a bunch of well-endowed pervs having their way with us.

Anyway, get a bidet. They’re awesome.

The fourth film was the 1988 masterpiece Hack-o-Lantern (aka Halloween Night), directed by Jag Mundhra, a name that should be familiar to anyone who has watched more than his or her fair share of late-night Skinemax in the 90s; with titles like Night Eyes, Last Call, Sexual Malice, and Improper Conduct under his belt, Mr. Mundhra gets my eternal respect for riding in like a knight in shining armor wielding the legendary Shannon Tweed sword to slay the dragon that is Teenage Horniness.

The movie puts the name of actor Hy Pyke before the title, causing most of the audience to react like “Are we supposed to know who this guy is?” It wasn’t until later that I found out Pyke appeared in Blade Runner, which I guess made him the default name actor for this low-budget production where he plays a piece-of-shit farmer type who once raped his daughter on her wedding day and then later went on to murder her husband.

He’s also a Satan worshiper who often makes the sign of the horns with his hands, and every time he did, most of us in the audience would cheer because like him, we are all fans of Ronnie James Dio. I applaud the filmmakers for casting a guy who looks like a beer-swilling hayseed because I have a feeling that’s what your average Devil worshiper looks like, not some sinister-yet-distinguished-looking gentleman like Christopher Lee.

Anyway, this grandpa now dotes on his daughter’s kid (who for all we know might actually be his, the fuck) and while some grandfathers teach their grandkids how to fish or why ethnic people can’t be trusted, this one is getting the little boy all up in the Devil business. Years later, the kid grows up to become Gregory Scott Cummins aka Mac’s Dad from “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” aka The Devil in Snoop Dogg’s “Murder Was The Case” video and I believe this marks the third time I’ve seen him pop up at one of these horror movie marathons. He was in Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge at the marathon at the Cinefamily, he was in Blood Games at the New Bev all-nighter, and now here he is in this movie at the Aero.

Anyway, his character’s got a pretty sweet life going; living in his mom’s basement with movie posters and neon beer signs on the wall, wearing his black shirt with the sleeves cut off, sporting a pair of shades, smokin’ cigs, working out on his weight bench while wearing a Rambo-style headband. All that’s missing are some sweet nunchucks to practice some Bruce Lee moves with. I could see hanging out with him, spotting each other while we do bench presses, watching horror movies, smoking some of his weed (which is fuckin’ schwag but it’s free), and listening to fuckin’ Slayer, man!

He has also has a hot 80s-style platinum blonde who doesn’t believe in pants to speed off with in his bitchin’ Pontiac Fiero. Unfortunately, he can’t have sex with her because his grandfather insists that he has to remain pure in order to perform some Satanic ritual on Halloween night. So in the meantime, Mac’s Dad has to release his pent-up I Wanna Fuck energy in other ways, like beating up his sister’s boyfriend on some Tony Montana-shit, or worshiping the dark lord in his closet where he keeps a Helga Pataki shrine to Lucifer, or listening to that evil rock music on his Walkman, which causes him to have dreams about being in a rad band playing a guitar that turns into a pitchfork which is then shoved into his neck by an evil devil woman who also happens to be the only African-American in this otherwise lily White cast.

There are murders with decent levels of blood and gore, lots of scary rituals involving the Satanists giving props to their horned master, and most disturbing of all, a scene where a random character at a Halloween party makes a few casual comments, but rather than moving on, he keeps talking and that’s when I realized that this guy is doing an honest-to-goodness stand-up comedy set! He goes on to make fun of strippers, asks why nude pictorials in adult magazines include bios, and acts out the plight of a turkey before Thanksgiving.

This movie is goofy as hell. It’s also that special kind of bad, that Samurai Cop or Dangerous Men kind of bad that can only be achieved by having a foreigner with a shaky grasp of his or her second language in charge of the proceedings — which makes me wonder if there are American filmmakers in other countries making terrible movies that people in those countries like to goof on.

Between films, as per usual, the volunteers at the Aero began serving out the free eats and drinks; pizza from Little Caesars, Monster Energy drinks, wraps, sandwiches, Rice Krispie Treats, candy, Hostess cakes, coffee. As in past Horrorthons, Grant threw and tossed various Blu-rays and DVDs and candy at audience members. With each year, there seems to be a larger crowd of people gathering near the front of the stage to catch movies or gather the ones that land on the ground — and with special edition Blu-rays of John Carpenter’s The Thing and Society up for grabs, I don’t blame them. By the end of the night, it was mostly bargain multi-movie packs for public domain titles that were left — plus a lot of Vicente Fernandez joints. I ended up with a DVD triple pack of Valentin Trujillo flicks; and if you don’t know about him, then you don’t fuckin’ know, bro.

Two of those movies in my triple pack turned out to be among my brother-in-law’s favorite films, so Happy Birthday to him, I guess. And Happy Birthday to my niece, who ended up with the Corn Gorn shirt I purchased in the lobby, which despite being labeled as X-Large, fit me like an O.J. Simpson glove. So my advice to any Horrorthon-ers who want to buy a shirt next year is to take that thing to the restroom and try it on before going home — not that going to the restroom was an option for a few hours that night.

To the best of my knowledge, a water main broke or a major clog backed something up, and the upstairs restrooms had to be closed for a while — another reason I was glad to have held off of eating that day. Eventually, plumbers were called in and the restrooms were reopened but the stairs leading to them were wet and sticky and it had made it’s way down to the carpet of the Aero’s lobby, leaving behind the unmistakable smell of water that should’ve remained in pipes.

On our way out for some fresh air between films, my friend guesstimated the high price for the overnight plumbing job; he also said that the carpet would have to be shampooed as well, adding more to the bill. I asked him how long something like that would take and he said it would take a while — there’s also the amount of time needed for the carpet to dry to consider. I told him that the Aero had a screening of the classic horror film The Haunting scheduled the following evening and his response was a look that I could only interpret as “Good luck with that”.

The fifth film of the night was the 1989 Wes Craven picture Shocker, starring Peter “You gotta join the Army, motherfucker” Berg as Jonathan, a college jock who gets mixed up with a serial killing television repairman played by Mitch Pileggi because they have some kind of psychic connection and what-not. This murderer has a thing for taking out whole families and he’s so full of rage, this dude, he’s not like some creepy calm type of psycho, he’s seething and pissed off about who knows what. And he kills the shit out of them! He’s just so mad! Angry all the time! He’s like me, only I haven’t started to kill people yet, but give me time. And your address.

During the opening credits sequence we watch inserts of a television set being repaired with various tools by a muttering, grumbling Pileggi — so of course it’s the angriest muttering and grumbling, and it’s a pretty good sequence and I think a big part of it is the title song performed over it by a band called The Dudes of Wrath that’s comprised of guys from KISS, Whitesnake, Motley Crüe, and Van Halen. There’s also a cover of “No More Mr. Nice Guy” by Megadeth on the soundtrack, which you might want to look up the music video for because it’s hilariously obvious that that lead singer & guitarist Dave Mustaine is so high on smack he can barely stand,so they never show him play guitar and sing at the same time, it’s always in separate shots, and even then he’s never in sync.

Anyway, the movie. I found myself feeling so sorry for Peter Berg’s character for the multiple wringers he gets put through early on; I apologize for getting all spoilery here but the movie IS nearly 30 years old so here goes — he loses his entire family save for one foster dad to angry murder-happy Pileggi, and shortly after they’re buried, Pileggi leaves Berg’s oh-so-pretty girlfriend dead in a bathtub of her own blood. Berg really plays the hell out of his despair, breaking into tears and rage at these situations, so when they finally catch the killer and Berg demands to his police lieutenant father that he be seated front row to the motherfucker’s execution, I was like “Fuck yeah, son, you earned it! Watch that motherfucker fry like bacon, record the goddamn thing so you can watch it over and over again!” — and I’m against the death penalty!

I feel OK spoiling this much of the film because this is really only a third of the entire story and where it ends up going after this left me incredibly amused and surprised at Craven’s audacity. I heard of Shocker over the years but never bothered watching it, because I was under the impression that it wasn’t one of Craven’s better films — the funny thing is, had I watched it back then as a kid, I probably would’ve felt that my impression was correct, and the culprit would’ve been the running time. You see, Shocker is nearly two hours long and half of it doesn’t feel like a horror film at all but rather a very dark crime drama with a light touch of the paranormal — or should I say, “extraordinary”? And little kid me would’ve been like “Hey, I thought this was supposed to be Freddy Krueger all over again!”

But as a patient adult who recently purchased Tarkovsky’s Stalker on Blu-ray, I was able to enjoy this and go “Oh, this IS Freddy Krueger all over again, only this time we get the prequel to how he became the Freddy Krueger we all know and love for the first 45 minutes or so”. Once Pileggi’s character reaches his full horror villain potential, the movie gets downright nutty in where it goes. It really feels like the part of Craven’s brain that would stop to question him on whether an idea made sense or not was on vacation while he was writing this script, and I really appreciate that because it makes for a fun movie that had me laughing and clapping at times — actually, to be specific, it makes for a fun second half of the movie in which I laughed and clapped, because to be honest, that first half about Pileggi making Berg’s life hell got a little too grim at times for my liking at four-in-the-morning and I was even considering stepping out for some fresh air.

By the way, I was so entranced by Peter Berg’s girlfriend in the film that I looked her up like a goddamn Internet stalker. Her name is Camille Cooper and she no longer acts; she became a citizen lobbyist in the 90s and got the Commonwealth of Virginia to include women and African-Americans in their school textbooks, and has since gone on to become the Director of Government Affairs for PROTECT, “a national bipartisan pro-child, anti-crime lobby whose sole focus is making the protection of children a top political and policy priority at the national, state, and local levels”. And now I’m probably on some kind of list for looking her up.

From one attempt to create a new Freddy Krueger-style franchise, we went to another attempt to create a Freddy Krueger-style franchise with the sixth film of the marathon, the 1994 cyber-horror Brainscan, written by Andrew Kevin Walker of Se7en fame and directed by John Flynn of Rolling Thunder and Out for Justice legend. It stars Edward Furlong as Michael, this kid who I think is supposed to be a kind of withdrawn anti-social type except he has at least one friend and he has a horror movie club at his high school, which means one actual friend and a handful of acquaintances to me, and it sure as hell takes more than a modicum of effort to set up a goddamn club.

I don’t remember there being anything like a horror movie club at my high school, at least not some kind of official deal that you could actually go to on campus. Shit, I wasn’t able to find people my age who were into movies the same way I was into them, the best I could do was find a guy who was really into Sailor Moon. He would listen to the soundtracks of that series in his car, and he had posters of those anime chicks all over his room; there was one looming over his bed, so that was cool, knowing what he jerked off to.

And we all know what Michael is jerking off to: his video recordings from his peeping tom sessions of the girl next door played by Amy Hargreaves, an actress who was in her early 20s but she’s supposed to be like 16 or 17 here which makes it weird to see these brief shots of her topless here — and now that I think about it, wasn’t Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High supposed to be underage too, as was every other actress in a teen comedy or teen horror film in the 80s?

See, but that was OK for me when I saw those movies because *I* was underage, and when I first saw Brainscan on cable, I was still underage. But now, I’m an adult and I’m watching another adult show me her titties and we’re supposed to be all tee-hee-hee about it because she’s pretending to be a fuckin’ kid. It’s kinda why the whole schoolgirl thing bothers me — and by bothers me, I mean makes me rock hard because I’m a man and the sooner the women of this planet turn Amazon and murder everything with a penis, the better.

Then it’ll just be women preying on women.

Anyway, I’m like fuck this Michael, he’s living the life, as far as I’m concerned. Sure, his mom died in a horrible accident and his father is never around, but he’s still living the life. Wait until you see his room; his situation is like homeboy from Hack-o-Lantern except his room is in the attic, and it’s one of those huge attics like that spoiled fuck Kevin McCallister had in Home Alone. This place is big enough to be the main set of a sitcom, that’s how big it is. He’s got the stereo, he’s got the widescreen television — which for 1994 is really bleeding edge — and it’s all hooked up to his voice-activated computer with the Internet hooked in and everything. You don’t see him ever going online to chat or face off against Zero Cool and Acid Burn, though. I think he just sticks to computer games.

The Internet was some slow dial-up shit back then, you couldn’t download games the way we can now. Shit, back then it took me seven months to download Ini Kamoze’s “Here Comes the Hotstepper” MP3, that shit was played out on the radio by the time I got the complete song, so who knows how long a fuckin’ game would take. No, you needed a CD-ROM if you wanted in on some sweet computer game action — which is what happens here when Furlong’s buddy tips him off to a new game advertised on Fangoria. So he gets the CD-ROM and jacks in — or whatever was the cool term back in ’94 — to this new experimental game called “Brainscan” which gets into the player’s brain and scans it, I guess. Whatever the case, the player is sent on kill missions that require breaking into a house, finding a murder weapon, and taking out a chosen victim. So this movie kinda sorta predicted open-world assassination games like the “Hitman” and “Assassin’s Creed” series.

Unlike those games, Brainscan does not result in shitty film adaptations but rather in the horrifying aftermath of the killings; after Michael takes out some dude in the game, he finds out that some dude in his neighborhood was killed in the exact same way. He immediately freaks out and tries to jack out, but that’s when the mascot of the game enters the real world to fuck with Michael’s shit big time. His name is Trickster and he’s played by T. Ryder Smith, a stage actor who has a really good write-up about his Brainscan experience on his website.

As with most of John Flynn’s filmography, this is a movie that is way better than it has any right to be. I liked the film when I first saw it back in ’94 and I really liked it this second go-round; it’s got a tiny little bit of a teeny-bopper Videodrome vibe going on with the main character’s obsession to find the ultimate experience becoming way more than he bargained for. Or maybe I just got that vibe because it was filmed in Canada. Either way, it’s a well-made film and it’s early 90s as fuck — which for me, is a big, big plus but for others could be a hindrance. But it’s a hindrance that I feel the film manages to work with by telling an involving story and featuring good performances by everybody who isn’t Edward Furlong, who is adequate at best. (Sorry, Edward.)

Unlike the previous six films which were all presented in 35mm, this seventh and final film of the Horrorthon was presented via DCP and I wouldn’t be surprised if a 35mm print no longer exists, or ever existed, for the shot-in-16mm Death Bed: The Bed that Eats. Written and directed by George Barry, Death Bed began production in 1972 and was completed in 1977, just in time to show that Star Wars movie a thing or two about how to blow the minds of the audience.

The film mostly takes place in the basement of an old abandoned mansion where the titular bed resides, suffering from a chronic case of the munchies, with only the trapped spirit of an early 20th century artist chilling out behind a painting on the wall to keep it company. The artist narrates the film while occasionally making disdainful comments to the bed, which it deserves because the bed’s an asshole.

The bed waits for any unfortunate schmucks who enter the basement for whatever reason — in the case of the opening sequence, it’s a couple looking for a place where they can fuck and eat fried chicken — and once they get on the bed, yellow foamy liquid rises to the surface and suddenly the bed becomes a swimming pool of oblivion as they fall in and are eaten or digested or whatever it is the bed does to them because sometimes you hear chomping, sometimes you don’t hear anything. I like that the bed is susceptible to indigestion and has to take Pepto Bismol, and at one point, the bed gets a bleeding ulcer. This helps to humanize the demonic man-eating bed.

The movie is broken up into several acts with cute title cards like “Breakfast”, “Lunch”, and “Dinner”. We watch various people become food for the bed in between flashbacks to previous meals over the past few decades and it’s all done in a goofy manner — except for the parts where it’s not being goofy and is being deadly serious instead. Because for every wacky scene of the dad from “Boy Meets World” sticking his hands in the bed and then pulling them out as skeleton hands, there’s a sadistic moment of the bed using its powers to slowly saw into a sleeping woman’s throat with her necklace. But the constant changing and blending of tones actually worked here and rather than being jarring, it created this unsettling sense of overwhelming creepiness with dashes of perversion — like maybe the guy who made this is not all right psychologically and/or mentally.

I mean that as a compliment, by the way.

Based on what I heard about this film over the years, I went into Death Bed: The Bed that Eats assuming it was going to be a really shitty failure in the “so bad it’s good” category, but I feel this is too strange and unique to be dismissed that way. It doesn’t feel like weird for weird’s sake, it feels like it comes from a sincere place and it’s a genuine exhibition of George Barry’s bonkers sensibility. It definitely suffers from the pitfalls of a first-time filmmaker working from a super low-budget; of its many flaws, I feel its biggest one is that even at 77 minutes the movie overstays its welcome. But that only left me wishing Barry was given a shot at making another movie with a bigger budget so we can really see him rock and roll.

Doesn’t look like that’ll happen, though. After completion, the film failed to secure distribution and languished in obscurity; Barry didn’t even know there was a cult following until nearly 30 years later after finding out about his film making the bootleg circuit. I don’t know how old Barry is but it looks like he gave the movie game a shot, it didn’t work out for him and he’s since moved on, which is too bad. Who knows what weirdo shit the guy could’ve been giving us for decades had Death Bed: The Bed that Eats been given a chance back in the 70s?

And so ended another Horrorthon at the Aero Theatre, sometime around 9 in the morning; of the remaining survivors, some got up and made their way out to the lobby, others walked towards the screen to plunder the leftover loot inside the cardboard boxes left on the stage, while my buddy and I surveyed the damage in the auditorium. So much trash was left between the rows of seats and throughout the aisles — because apparently garbage cans don’t exist — plus the extra dirty business with the plumbing problems earlier that night, left me not envying the clean-up crew one bit.

We then left to have our traditional post-movie-marathon breakfast; this time we went to Milo & Olive on Wilshire and had their breakfast pizza which I highly recommend — just ask them to add an extra egg to it, if you’re like me and want more protein and calories. It’s got some kick to it as well, so be sure to have something to drink to cool down. Then I went home and took a nap. When I got up later that day, I checked my Facebook and saw a post from the Aero Theatre. It said that the screening of The Haunting had been cancelled. So much for luck.


Smokes and Red Bull and Cherry Coke and Cronuts

Posted in Creepers, Deep Red, douchebag, movie marathon, Phenomena, Profondo Rosso, ramblings of a loser, Suspiria, Tenebrae, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Cat O' Nine Tails, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2017 by efcontentment

It was a Friday night, not my preferred night for a movie all-nighter because, you know, work and all that that entails: a long night preceded by a long day, making it harder to get through both. But hey, that’s when they scheduled it and if I really had a problem with it I wouldn’t have bought the ticket — which is why I didn’t buy a ticket. But then I was given one by a friendly party who had to cancel at the next-to-last minute. Hooray for girlfriends who cancel on friends!

Ticket to what, you ask? The Dario Argento All Nighter at the New Beverly Cinema: six of the Italian horror maestro’s films, the titles remaining secret to the audience until they are projected onto the screen.

It was a packed house, and because we got there later than my preferred arrival time, I ended up sitting between two individuals — in front and behind me — who were Down With The Sickness based on their all-night non-stop wet phlegm-hacking coughs (one would later use his empty cup to dispense of his inner slime wads). It made for an even more tense night than expected because I didn’t have Emergen-C or a face mask with me. I was unarmed and afraid, having already gone through The Sickness a couple weeks earlier. And now I was stuck between these two jokers. Would I be Down again?

I don’t know what the refund policy is with the New Bev and/or Brown Paper Tickets (who sold the online-only tickets to this event), but assuming it’s Too Late Jack, I would still think that when it comes to being sick on Show Day, perhaps it’s better to go Needs Of The Many over Needs Of The Few — in this case, the few who felt it was more important to share The HIV with the rest of the audience, rather than just stay home. Throughout the night, my mind would suddenly make unwelcome detours into the scene from Outbreak where one of the infected coughs up Death Germs in a movie theater.

There were foreign posters on the wall and lobby cards in the, uh, lobby for Argento’s films throughout the night and the selection would circulate; where a poster for The Bird with the Crystal Plumage was placed early in the evening, there would be lobby cards for Tenebrae later. These were supplied by a gentleman I only heard referred to as “Rich” during the introduction. There was also a laserdisc jacket for the Dario Argento’s World of Horror documentary placed near the door to the ticket booth, but I don’t know who that belonged to.

Speaking of which, around 7:30pm, Phil Blankenship came up front with a lady whose name I don’t know, but she was wearing a cap and had been working the concession stand earlier. Because I was sitting between Dolby Stereo Cough-Cough, the best I could make out was that the films and trailers were selected by both Phil and New Bev owner Quentin Tarantino, and the lady then said something about Phil being “humble” in what I assume was him downplaying his contribution to the evening.

Phil then told us that anything we liked were his choices, to which we laughed and perhaps some of us (one of us) wondered how much of that was a joke and how much of that was how he really felt about Mr. T’s choices; later he mentioned the $4 coffee cups being sold that were good for all-night refills, adding that “you’re going to want to stay caffeinated for some of these”. He then asked us not to be inconsiderate with the chatting and phone-using; he felt that those actions were “lame” and not something the “cool” audience would/should do.

The lady then told us that the prints were mostly 35mm but at least one was a 16mm print, then quoted/paraphrased Quentin by saying that some of these prints had been “enjoyed immensely a lot of times by a lot of audiences” which I believe was her way of saying that these weren’t exactly going to be sparkling DCPs — which is fine by me, that’s part of the fun of watching old prints.

The night’s entertainment began with trailers for two Westerns co-written by Argento; The Five Man Army (starring Peter Graves) and Once Upon a Time in the West (not starring Peter Graves). Then the first movie of the evening: 1970’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (or as it was called in this print, The Phantom of Terror).

Uncle Pete from The Pope of Greenwich Village plays an American in Rome who witnesses a woman inside an art gallery getting a little of the ol’ in-out knife-style, and tries to save her by getting stuck between two glass doors because that’s gonna help, I’m sure. He finds an old man staring at the two of them impassively, which is either Argento’s way of heightening the horror by adding helplessness via neutral observation, or it’s just the first of many examples throughout the night that Mr. Argento isn’t really that interested in acting as much as he is interested in camera and editing.

But c’mon, honey, I say to myself — nobody watches a Dario Argento flick for the great acting. They go to get creeped out and see black-gloved mystery peeps stalking and killing women, as in the case of this film. And also to see everyone else give non-reactions to otherwise crazy stuff. I mean, maybe in the Argento-verse, your reaction to having a hatchet miss you by thismuch in the middle of morning fog would be to just shrug it off and casually mention it to your hot girlfriend later on before going in on some Netflix And Chill Minus The Netflix, but not in my ‘verse; for one, I don’t even have a girlfriend, let alone a hot one — and yet I’ve had people try to chop my head off many times.

So yeah, there’s a serial killer taking pictures of potential victims, followed by fulfilling their potential with a little stabby slash slash. Uncle Pete, like most early Argento film protagonists, becomes obsessed with solving this case despite there being qualified individuals known as Detectives who do this sort of thing for a living. Along the way, Uncle Pete runs into fruity antique dealers and stuttering pimps, the latter of which made me wonder if R. Kelly had seen this film before; his last run of “Trapped in the Closet” featured a stuttering pimp named Lucius played by Mr. Kelly in an attempt to become like the Eddie Murphy of R&B singers who like to pee on underage girls.

This seems to be considered one of Argento’s best, which is interesting because this is also one of his tamest; it’s not a particularly gory film, at least not this print, but I don’t remember this movie ever having much in the blood department to begin with. And while the movie has plenty of well-composed shots (by Vittorio Storaro), save for one trick, Dario hadn’t started dosing his cameras yet. But it is very Argento in that it’s a good movie.

Before the second film, we saw an old Pepsi Challenge ad, followed by trailers for Last Stop on the Night Train (aka Night Train Murders and like 20 other titles) and Strange Shadows in an Empty Room (aka Blazing Magnum and like 30 other titles), then it was 1971’s The Cat O’ Nine Tails, starring Karl Malden and James Franciscus.

The reddish print looked like it might’ve been the 16mm one mentioned earlier, and when Ennio Morricone’s score played, it sounded like the Maestro was trying something new by having his music performed by the Royal Underwater Orchestra. But then the movie stopped playing and everything went dark, and suddenly we were all sitting in a black void filled with the sounds of OHHHH! and AHHHH! and WHAAAA?

Then a voice entered the void, telling us that they were going to fix the problem with the sound. A minute later, the film came back on and everything now sounded non-gargley. The film appeared to have a narrower aspect ratio than 2.35:1, like on some Hateful Eight shit, or maybe it was just my eyes. Hell, at least I can see, unlike Malden’s character who lost his sight years ago. Now he has to do the sunglasses and cane combo, his only companion a little girl because I guess it’s cheaper than a seeing eye dog.

I guess Argento wasn’t having the American-in-Italy thing with this one; instead, our Yank protagonists are named Carlo Giordani and Franco Arno, giving us something not unlike an Arnold Schwarzenegger character, who despite his heavy Austrian accent was playing guys named John Kimble and Ben Richards. Anyway, Franco overhears some dude talking in his car about blackmail, and a couple days later his seeing eye girl reads to him from the newspaper that the same dude did a header onto a oncoming train — which is pretty awesome, I have to admit; there’s a slow-mo close-up as the front of the train straight-on BOOOOOOSHs this poor man’s head, followed by a wide shot of his dummy body going all spinny spin down the platform while his Italian loafers go flying off his feet. In real life, that would horrify me, but in a movie that shit is comedy, bro.

Franco goes to the reporter covering this, Carlo, and soon they are both doing the detective thing and it involves shady shadiness at some medical institute. In between them looking at photos and breaking into crypts, you get a couple strangulations and a slashing. Again, like the previous film, this one doesn’t really get too bloody, but there’s quite a bit of drool during one killing, if that’s what you’re looking for to cover the bodily fluid angle.

Another thing I noticed appears to be Dario’s fascination with alternative lifestyles, namely trans and gays or both. In Crystal Plumage, there’s a scene where a police lineup is made up of “perverts” but among them is a transvestite named Ursula Andress. The lead detective then yells out something like “I told you, Ursula belongs with the transvestites, not the perverts” which I’d like to think was kind of a progressive judgment call from Argento, kinda like he’s saying “Just because this dude identifies as a woman doesn’t mean she’s a pervert” but who knows, he could be all Italian macho about them, like “Eyyyy it’s-a just-a another category of-a sick-a people!”

And in this film, one of the characters turns out to be gay, and considering this was made in 1971, his representation could’ve been a lot worse. Even the gay bar he hangs out in isn’t some kind of Cruising-style fist-tacular, it’s just a bunch of dudes hanging out listening to sad trumpet music with slightly happier piano accompaniment. The worst you get is some dude with a few too many buttons left unbuttoned on his shirt, exposing his hairy chest. Nothing against that, I mean, I’d wear my shirts like that too were it not for the obvious farmer’s tan I’d expose, making me look like a White dude who got a head transplant from some Mexican that nobody will ever miss BECAUSE HERE IN TRUMP COUNTRY WE GRAB FRESH BEANERS BY THE PUSSY, FAGGOT

This one is less of a thriller and more of a straight-up mystery and it’s well made and all, but I gotta be honest with you, lady and gentleman, this was my first time watching Cat O’ Nine Tails and it got a little tiring for me. It’s nearly two hours long and for extended stretches — like 90 percent of the film — I forgot I was watching a Dario Argento film. You could’ve replaced his director credit with Massimo Dallamano or maybe even Alberto De Martino and you could’ve convinced me it was one of their movies. It’s my understanding that this is Argento’s least favorite film of his, and I’m not going to argue that with him — but I haven’t seen Dracula 3D either, so maybe I would?

It has its moments (especially in the last half hour or so — also there’s an insert of a pocket watch that looks damn near like the insert of the pocket watch in Pulp Fiction, just wanted to point that out), but occasionally I was tempted to rest my eyes and let my ears pick up the slack (I did naaaaht, though). Was it the movie’s fault? Or maybe it was the effects of a long day getting to me at that point? I don’t know but what I do know is that the third film of the night felt like getting a bump of some of Bolivian’s finest following the warm glass of milk that was this film.

And what was, in fact, the third film, the one that played after the trailers for Twisted Nerve and Blow-Up? Why, it was the 1975 joint Deep Red (better Italian title: Profondo Rosso), which upon the title being revealed had the audience applauding up a storm, the loudest yet. Maybe they were just happy that we didn’t get another early work like Four Flies on Grey Velvet or worse, his non-horror non-giallo joint, The Five Days of Milan — because let’s be real, I can totally see Quentin doing something like that, regardless of what time it was or how tired we were.

The film stars David Hemmings as a pianist who witnesses his psychic neighbor getting terminated with extreme psychic-hating prejudice by a hatchet-loving killer, so obviously he becomes obsessed with figuring out Who and Why because that’s how Argento protagonists do in these joints. He’s joined by a reporter played by Daria Nicolodi, and the only thing more awesome than her character is the interactions between her character and Hemmings’sesesss.

There’s a scene that had quite a few women in the audience cheering, as well as men who would love the touch of a female (like me), where Nicolodi responds to Hemmings’ skepticism over women’s strength with an arm wrestling challenge. I loved that scene, and I remember there being a few more like that in the full uncut version that runs over two hours, but what we watched that night was the “export version” which is about 20 minutes shorter.

As much as I like those extra scenes between them in the longer version and as much as I’d love to imagine that in an alternate universe there exists a series of films with their characters solving mysteries, I actually prefer this shorter version and I’m glad that’s the one we watched that night. It moves like a freight train carrying boxcars of plot, whereas the longer cut has more of a hangout vibe to it — and we certainly had enough hanging out with the previous two films.

So I guess around this time began the real life couple-ship of Nicolodi and Argento, because from here on, she would show up in his films or co-write them, but whatever the case I’m thinking that it can’t be a coincidence that once Daria came on the scene, Dario upped his freak-out game in his movies. It shows, man, it shows, not just in the storytelling getting more and more out there but his filmmaking was also going up some notches. Deep Red is when he really started going “You know what? I’m not dollying and crane-ing this camera enough, I mean, they have wheels and levers and shit for these things, I might as well start using them!” It could also be a budget thing, but I also think something about this lady brought something out of this man.

He also dropped Ennio Morricone for Goblin or The Goblins or whatever the fuck name they go by, and the music scores in this film and his following ones became less traditional and more Fucking Awesome. The coughing gentleman in front of me and his uninfected friend started rocking out to some of the tunes at this point, bobbing their heads to the point that I almost expected home-cough to raise his hands and go “YASSS DIS MY JAAAM!”

By the way, I’m not dissing Morricone here. Don’t get it twisted, friend, he’s my favorite composer and he did good work in the previous films. But Goblin and Argento go together like transgenders and fucked-up characters in Dario Argento flicks.

Yeah, he continues the trans tradition here, with a minor character popping up wearing makeup and a girly bathrobe and an Adams Apple, and had the Internet existed back then they would probably be breaking Dario’s balls about this stuff the way we break Tarantino’s balls about his thing for bare feet — or we’d give Argento shit for his thing for drooling victims because I think there are two cases of that in this movie. Maybe it was his way of making stuff more violent without boring us on the red stuff. Maybe this was Argento’s drool period or something.

The kill game gets upped here as well, because the blood really starts to flow and now the killer is doling out death with a hatchet, hot water, and corners of tables and shelves. There are also other creative kills involving otherwise innocent everyday things that are only an unfortunate schmuck away from getting caught up in it and dying the hard way. There’s also a freaky doll that pops up at one point, and I felt bad for the few people sitting near the front who got temporary vision impairment when a guy decided to pick that moment to return to his seat, meaning they were treated to a far more frightening sight — his big ass in their faces.

This was the halfway point, and those who stuck around (nearly everybody) after this third film got a sweet treat courtesy of some sweet treats from a bakery or donut shop or something, I can’t remember the place. Doughnuts, ham & cheese croissants, and cronuts were brought to the stage and anybody who wanted one got one. In the end, there were still croissants available for anyone who wanted them. I usually stay away from them during all-nighters to keep from sugar-crashing, but I was in What The Hell mode and grabbed a cronut.

Trailers for the Argento-edited European print of Dawn of the Dead (known to these universal health care-having motherfuckers as Zombie: Dawn of the Dead) and the U.S. edit of The Beyond (titled 7 Doors of Death) came up next. The trailer for the latter gives away nearly every character’s fate and included praise blurbs from Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel that were made humorous by the announcer replacing some of the on-screen quotes with different words and mispronouncing the names. After that we had the fourth film, Suspiria — which drew even louder applause than the previous film.

At this point, Argento was well into dipping his quills into the crazy ink, and I bet you it was co-writer Nicolodi who was hooking him up with said ink. There’s a lot of Just Because in this movie, starting with the narration that begins over the opening credits pretty much telling you everything about the main character’s trip to Germany except what they served on the flight, and then it just trails off, fading away and never returning for the rest of them film just because. I mean most of this film is going to leave you begging for that narrator to return to help you understand Why anything happens, but Dario Argento has no time for your needs — unless your need is to get fully owned by Pure Goddamn Cinema.

So you have the lovely Jessica Harper — all wide-eyed innocence — headed for a ballet school, and the poor girl already has to deal with assholes as early as the arrival gate at the airport. Taxi cabs are just whizzing past her in the hard rain, and when she finally gets a driver he pulls that shit Euros do to filthy Muricans by pretending they have a comprehension problem with your simplest request. But my girl Harper, she’s smart — she has the name of the school written down on a piece of paper which she plasters onto the glass divider all like HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES? and now he has no choice but to take her there.

See, this is why Uber is fucking your shit up, cabbies.

I have to give credit to Harper’s character for immediately feeling uneasy upon unpacking once she’s at the school. Everybody is acting strange or doing that really asshole move of what I call “passive-aggressive friendly antagonism”, but I think she kinda shrugs it off at first because she figures “Hey, this is Germany” and that’s how the Deutschlanders get down. At least she doesn’t try to tell a joke, like I did there once — ONCE — because there leads the path to heartbreak and embarrassment. Humor? No. Beer? Hell yes.

But things are even weirder than she should accept, because she hasn’t even spent one full day there and she’s already getting the vapors during practice and passing out. That was either because some lady flashed her a glowing triangle blade thingy five minutes earlier (that scene looks beautiful, by the way) and that put her whole system on tilt, or because she’s wearing borrowed ballet shoes and they’re probably two sizes too small for her. Cuts off the blood circulation, I think. Or maybe she’s like me and finds the idea of wearing someone else’s worn dancing shoes kinda gross. Fuck that shit, you give me that as my only choice and I’m hittin’ the floor sans footwear like my man John McClane.

Immediately, the town doctor is telling her she has to eat bland and down red wine every meal because red wine is good for the blood. Red wine is good for everything, bro. I feel I’m letting myself down by not having a glass or two everyday.

I’m not going to go too much into plot because there isn’t that much plot, to be real with you. Also, what there is is best discovered on your own. Then again, the soundtrack is literally telling you with voices going WITCH WITCH WITCH, so there’s your road map, honey. I’ll just bring up a couple things that stood out that aren’t intense violent kill scenes (honestly, I think Argento literally and figuratively shot his wad with the murders during the first 15 minutes).

Some poor servant at the school has some big white chompers on him; turns out they’re fakes he got after gingivitis had their way with his former gum partners. He’s so proud of them and I would be too, if I were Gary Busey. You know what? That wasn’t nice, and I shouldn’t judge. Considering that my own sugar-to-brushing ratio is wrongly one-sided, and the upcoming dental work I’m having done, I’m sure I will eventually eat those words with teeth bigger than either of those guys.

Also, Udo Kier shows up looking young (which he was) and sounding American (which he’s not) and that was cool to see.

What was kind of not cool was that the print of Suspiria we watched was the edited R-rated cut. It didn’t really hurt the film though, it’s missing a couple shots here and there and that kind of threw me off to not see what I had seen before. And sometimes the sound/music would suddenly skip as a result of the trims, which kinda added to the off-feeling of this nightmarish film. So that’s kind of the unintentional bonus of such edits — or I just know how to make some bomb-ass lemonade out of these lemons.

And besides — the print was beautiful! I’m sure you already know the story of how this was one of the last films printed (not shot) using the three-strip Technicolor process, really making the colors pop on this movie — which combined with the already color-saturated lighting and production design makes for the tastiest kind of candy overkill. But if you didn’t know, I just told you. It also sounded as intense as it looked, with the volume turned all the way up to wake up even the sleepiest in the audience — or at least drown out the sounds of the snoring (which if there was, I didn’t hear at all. At least not where I was, sitting in the eye of the germ storm.)

Following the break, they showed us trailers for Dressed to Kill and Inferno (the Argento film, not the Forrest Gump & Jyn Erso buddy film). I had only seen Inferno once, and I had forgotten there was a scene involving someone getting attacked by cats and it made the audience laugh. It reminded me of a similar scene in an SCTV sketch that involved John Candy getting cat-tacked, and I wonder if the SCTV guys saw this movie or if it was just a coincidence (given the film and SCTV were around at the same time).

The fifth film immediately had the audience do the boisterous applause cheer thing because the first thing we saw was the title printed on a book: Tenebrae (or Tenebre, depending on which of the Berenstein/Berenstain alternate universes you live in). This was the second time I watched Tenebrae on the big screen; the first time was right here at the New Beverly Cinema during the third All Night Horror Show, back in 2010. I’m going to take the easy way out and kill myself post an excerpt from that blog post (which you can read in its entirety here, if you want):

In a rare departure for Argento, this film features scenes of people dying harsh deaths at the hands of a killer wearing black leather gloves; someone is killing people in Italy and sending letters to mystery writer Peter Neal (who’s there promoting his new book), informing him that he will be the last to go, because they’re all filthy slimy perverts and he’s the corruptor or some shit like that. But never mind that, let’s talk about the best character in the entire movie — let’s talk about that awesome fuckin’ Doberman.

There’s a scene where this cute jailbait chick (I can say that because I’m sure the actress was above legal age — I hope, otherwise Chris Hansen’s gonna walk in and ask me to take a seat over there) is walking home and she gets a little too close to a fence. RAWR RAWR RAWR goes the guard dog Doberman, and rather than keep walking, Cute Jailbait Girl picks up a stick and starts banging it against the fence. What the fuck, Lolita? That dog is just telling you to stay away, fool (’cause love rules, at the do-oo-og shack) and you gotta get all indignant on homedog? He’s just doing the job he was hired to do; he’s a blue collar dog trying to put Alpo on his litter’s table. Oh, you sure showed him.

Well, this dog, he’s not having it, he jumps the fence and runs after her — what’s up now, bitch? At one point, she climbs over a tall fence and you figure that’s the end of the line for the Doberman. Nah man, this dog, he walks up to the fence, looks it over, does the calculations in his dog brain, backs up a couple yards, runs and fuckin’ parkours that goddamn fence. This dog rules. Even when she hides inside the killer’s Underground Room of Murder Planning, that dog still manages to find a way to get to a window(!) to show her that he hasn’t given up. The Doberman can’t be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, remorse, or fear and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are bitten numerous times. That’s what he does, that’s all he does!

The actor who plays Peter Neal had this slightly George Takei-esque way of pronunciation that I’m going to probably mimic for the next few days in everyday life. What else, oh yeah, pretty much all the women in this film are attractive in a They Probably Don’t Shave kinda way, even this flashback sequence chick who’s pretty hot for having a dick and balls in real life. The title more or less translates as Darkness, so naturally Argento had his cinematographer blast everything with bright light, thinking he was trying out some daring shit but ultimately giving the proceedings a look reminiscent of low-budget Mexican genre films.

The camerawork is still aces, though, especially that There’s-No-Reason-To-Do-It-This-Way-Except-That-It’s-So-Fucking-Cool shot where the camera starts at one end of a house, goes over the roof, then ends up on the other side; Johnny La Rue would’ve killed for that kind of crane shot. This is one of my favorite Argento flicks, the print looked great (it came from Australia) and I’m pretty sure nothing was missing since this wasn’t the U.S. “Unsane” edit of the movie.

I’m going to add a couple new things here. I’m still going on with my Argento-fascinated-by-alternative-lifestyles deal, so here we go; at one point in the film, an interviewer brings up how Neal’s latest book displays a point-of-view on how “deviant behavior” affects our lives, pointing out that one of the “deviants” is gay, which Neal immediately responds with something to the effect of “the character is gay, but he’s portrayed as being perfectly happy” and that it doesn’t make him a deviant.

It’s like Argento is saying that sometimes how we perceive art doesn’t mean that’s how the artist intended it to be perceived. We bring our own beliefs and baggage to it, and yet we’ll condemn the artist for something he or she never thought. So, one can see an Argento film and the women being killed in them as being the product of a misogynistic mind, or one sees the appearance of a gay character in his films as being some kind of judgment call on that particular lifestyle. Doesn’t necessarily mean that, though.

Kinda like how I’m seeing all these trans and gay people pop up in his films and I’m thinking more like, maybe he’s just intrigued by it. Or maybe he’s disgusted by it. Or maybe he’s turned on by it. Who knows but the man himself (and maybe his loved ones)? I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore, I’ve been writing this all night, I have to get ready for work in an hour, and I’m so goddamn tired. I just want to post this today before the 20th, otherwise if I finish then, that means by the time I get to the bar it’s going to be packed with decent human beings getting fucked up and burying their faith in their fellow man or woman, sitting on my favorite seat and drinking up all the Maker’s Mark. Then where am I supposed to sit? What am I supposed to drink? Which girl am I going to drunkenly wink at before the inevitable drink-in-face? FUCK THAT SHIT ESE. I’ll finish today.

After one final break, the lights came down and we saw trailers for Demons (co-written and produced by Argento) and Two Evil Eyes (directed by Argento and George A. Romero), then I decided to make a run for the restroom because the Red Bull I drank during Tenebrae was fuckin’ done with me, but as I left, I recognized the Swiss countryside and 1.66:1 aspect ratio as belonging to Phenomena — except the title card said Creepers, meaning this was the shorter U.S. cut. When I returned, the lights were back on and the screen was blank, so I’m guessing there was a technical issue. A few seconds later, the light went down and the movie came up and everything was A-OK again.

Like Tenebrae, I had seen this at the New Beverly before at the very first All Night Horror Show back in 2008. Unfortunately for lazy me, I didn’t have a blog yet back then, so I didn’t ramble about this movie or that evening. I’ll just have to ramble about the flick here.

Some girl is killed in the first five minutes, and she’s played by Dario Argento’s daughter Fiore, because Dario is on some Stuart Gordon shit by killing off loved ones in his films, I guess. Then Jennifer Connelly steps in, she’s the star, and wow, man, wow. I’m not gonna get all pervy because she was underage at the time, so I’ll just imagine that if a girl who looked like her went to my junior high school, I would definitely ask her out in my imagination while saying nothing to her in reality because being rejected sucks.

Jennifer Connelly plays Jennifer Corvino, a movie star’s daughter who is a new student at a Swiss boarding school, and the knives and claws are out for our girl because these other girls are some low self-esteem-having motherfuckers who are threatened by this beautiful newcomer. When it comes out that she’s a sleepwalker and a bug-lover (not in *that* way, you ass, she thinks of bugs the way I think of dogs and cats — they are more deserving of love than most humans), I was surprised Dario didn’t have the girls drool over this new tender spot in her soul to flick at.

By the way, that second thing of hers, the bug thing, it appears that the bugs love her back; they won’t sting or bite her and even a firefly will help her walk through a dark forest.

My most Corvino-esque moment in my youth was when I was in the first grade and during recess, some of my fellow students were gathered around the sandbox, where they had trapped a few ladybugs and were stabbing them with sticks. (Of course, they were all boys.) They were laughing and MWAHAHAHA-ing the way most of Argento’s villains laugh and MWAHA, and it really brought me down. But even back then I knew not to protest because they would then do to me what these fucking asshole Swiss boarding school students do to precious Jennifer (she’s so precious); incessantly mock her in the manner that only the heartless young (a redundancy, I know) can.

Thankfully, Precious Jennifer finds a friend in a wheelchair’d Donald Pleasence, and luckily he’s an entomologist, so they can both geek out about insects. There’s definitely a kind of grandfatherly vibe coming from him, and I liked watching their scenes together. I’ve only seen the longer Phenomena cut once back in ’99, so I can’t remember if there were more scenes between them, but the Creepers cut did leave me wanting more of that. Hell, I would’ve been fine with a movie that was just about their friendship.

But this is Dario Argento we’re talking here, baby! And if the way these films were programmed that night tells us anything, it’s that home-paisan has been getting nuttier and nuttier over the years with his stories. No way is he going to start dialing it down to something like a movie about two friends who bond over insects, no fucking way! No way Jose.

Instead, there’s someone or something out there, man, out there in the forest, and whatever it is, it sure loves getting head from schoolgirls — which is to say, he murders them and leaves behind their severed heads. Wait. Actually, my attempt at telling one of the hackiest R-rated jokes ever in the history of hacky R-rated jokes makes no sense at all. He takes the bodies, he ain’t getting head. He doesn’t want it.

Shit, maybe the Germans were right not to laugh.

I’ve heard that this is Argento’s favorite of his films; I’d have to watch the longer cut again to confirm, but what I remember from that one and what I do remember from the Creepers cut definitely makes it one of my favorites. My only quibble would be this: I like heavy metal and I like Dario Argento movies, but I was never a big fan of the both of them combined, which he does here and in Opera.

It’s a slow burner but by the end, Phenomena/Creepers goes completely off its rocker and if you’re not digging it, then you’re not digging vida, my friend. When this played at the first All Night Horror Show, it was the first film of the night and the audience loved it. They were particularly big on Inga The Chimpanzee With A Prolapsed Anus, for reasons I won’t give away, but yeah, her scenes were real crowd-pleasers. It played just as well with this audience too, who were a little more muted and slow to respond in comparison, probably because it was already around six in the morning and everybody was tired, but by the last ten minutes, everybody was up and jacked up by the cine-meth supplied by the film’s climax.

By 7:30 am, we had reached the end of the Dario Argento All Nighter.

Those of us who made it to the end (quite a few, actually) were rewarded with this coffee mug:

My girlfriend-less buddy and I then went to Little Dom’s in Los Feliz to try out their breakfast pizza, because I saw it on a rerun of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Cooking Channel. You know the Cooking Channel, right? If there’s an actor you haven’t seen in a while, he or she is probably hosting a show on that channel. Because suddenly everybody is a fucking chef now.


Posted in Brain Damage, Devil Fetus, douchebag, Dusk-To-Dawn Horrorthon, Hell Night, Humanoids from the Deep, movie marathon, Phantasm II, ramblings of a loser, The Blob ('88), The Entity, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2016 by efcontentment

Hi lady and gentleman! How are you doing? Me, I’m very tired. You see, I went to Vegas the previous weekend and I paid good money to go on a tour via a time machine to go back to the past. It got kinda boring, once the initial surprise of being in the past wore off, so I passed the time (haha) by sneaking away from the tour group and then I got chased by a T-Rex! It was totes kewl, you guys! Anyway, I’m back now and I’ve noticed things are different. It appears that everybody except the assholes are so down about something. Sad!

Usually I don’t bother rambling about something once it’s been a week after the fact but I can’t go outside because there’s people blocking the streets protesting something so here I go about last month — October 29th, to be exact — when my buddy and I attended the 11th Annual Dusk-to-Dawn Horrorthon held at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.

Among the people in line waiting for a good time — and among those waiting to be let into the Aero Theatre for the Horrorthon — were the usual pajama wearers and the provisioned and the ones already tucking into said provisions, all of them guaranteeing a more difficult time getting through this all night marathon scheduled to begin at 7:30pm and end sometime around ???

But as the wizened ol’ prostitute was wont to declare, different strokes for different folks. Personally what helps is to try to have an at-home movie marathon the night before in order to acclimate my sleeper to the demanding overnight schedule. (This used to be easier when I was unemployed and each day and night blended together in a nightmarish amorphous d’night or n’ay impossible to distinguish from each other.) That way I can sleep all day and get up a couple hours before the festivities all refreshed and ready to take these flicks on.

Also, I keep it light in the sustenance department, if possible I only have a cup of coffee (in the big time) and nothing else until the marathon, where even then I’d tread lightly — maybe some popcorn — until they bring out the pizza (this usually happens after the second film) and not treading at all on sugar and/or caffeine and/or energy drinks until the last couple of films where the eventual crash won’t set in until the end.

It was a packed house, as always. Many people wearing costumes or maybe those were just regular everyday wear because I’m old and un-hip and can’t tell the difference. Official Horrorthon trading cards were being sold in the lobby and I bought three packs. The cards featured many of the characters that have popped up on stage in past Horrorthons, like the Corn Gorn, Wizard Policeman, and Frost Nixon, among many others. The back of the cards had stats and a “credit score”; the credit score was used throughout the night during raffles for stuff like Horrorthon action figures. They’re pretty cool, these cards, and I have already started putting them away and I guess I have to thank the Horrorthon peeps for turning me into a card collector. Looking forward for next year’s set, if they continue with it. In the meantime, I’m gonna slam these cards on a table in front of all those Magic the Gathering nerds and be all like “WHAT! MAKE A MOVE, SON!”

So, as per usual the host Grant Moninger came down and got us all riled up and hyped up and brought on said characters — usually turning around with his back to the crowd in order to do the voices for some of them — and it’s funny how throughout the years I slowly stopped being a fuddy duddy about it and have grown to enjoy these inter-movie segments of All Out Fuckery. (Or maybe not, considering I just used the word “fuddy duddy” which feels like something only fuddy duddies would say.) I still wear earbuds during these high-volume moments, though. I like my shout-fests slightly muffled, unless I’m the one shouting.

(Little pre-show digression: So I went to the bathroom before the show started and I saw Grant walking out into the lobby. One of the volunteers called out to him “Grant” and then he called him again and Grant then turned around and said a kind of too-loud “WHAT?” in a tone that I have chosen to interpret in two ways:

1) It’s a loud raucous room and he is only trying to make himself heard.

2) Throwing a Horrorthon — or any event, really — is some stressful shit. It’s tough enough to throw a party, knowing that even if you’re throwing it and it’s at your house and it’s in your honor, you will be the one most likely NOT to have a good time. Because you really shouldn’t. You should be too busy making sure everybody is comfortable, the food and drink is steadily flowing, making sure nobody is fucking in the bathroom, making sure nobody is putting out their Kools on your floor, etc. Now imagine *that* on an all-nighter like at the New Beverly or here at the Aero. What do we, the guests, know what is going on behind-the-scenes? It could all be on the verge of falling the fuck apart at any moment for all we know. And that could be some stressful shit, man. Anyway, I’m just saying for all the shit I talk, I appreciate what guys like Grant and company at the Aero — and everybody at the New Beverly — have to go through in order to give us a good time. Unless they’re not having a difficult time and are actually enjoying themselves — which in that case, I take it back, go pound sand, ya bastids.)

And so we were shown the “T.J. Hooker” clips where the opening credits would include names of people in the Horrorthon audience along with the names of the characters they supposedly play on the show, and the credits would continue on into the events of the episode itself. Too much time passed between that night and today, and I don’t take notes for these things, and for some reason my head begins to throb with pain and my eyes begin tearing up blood if I try to remember anything past last Tuesday, so I couldn’t tell you some of the character names given to various people in the audience. I only remember some of the events on-screen where I think a donut shop was robbed and T.J. and his partner chase after the suspect and I think the suspect was really young and he gave up because he had his whole life ahead of him or whatever. If that even happened at all, I might just be making this up because I think that’s what happened.






Whew! Sorry about that guys. Something happened there, my head started throbbing again and blood was coming out of my mouth, ears, nose, eyes and…let me check….nope, that’s it for orifices. I have a spot of grey hair on one side of my scalp now. Weird. Anyway, where was I?

I would be far beyond remiss to not mention the two different music videos for “Like an Eagle” by Dennis Parker that always gets the crowd worked up. I’m gonna say it, I legitimately dig the fuck out of this song. It makes me want to go on that time machine again and take it to the late 70s where I would do all the cocaine while rocking out to this song.

They also showed this all night.

We were given a nice serving of nostalgia before each film; it was the old KTLA 5 intro for “Movies til Dawn”, which I remember from way back in the day. You see, kids, before informercials some of your local television stations would air movies in the middle of the night. You watched and you discovered stuff this way, rather than spending 45 minutes going through Netflix’s ever-dwindling library before deciding on one and then only watching two minutes of it before going back to the library for another one.

The first film was the 1988 remake of The Blob, directed by Chuck Russell and co-written by Russell with muthafuckin’ Frank Darabont. So I guess it’s no surprise to tell you that this is much better than you’d think. The movie stars Shawnee Smith from the Saw movies and Kevin Dillon from that HBO show about Hollywood douchebags and like the original it takes place in a Small Town U.S.A. where a meteorite lands and out of it comes this gelatinous mass — a Blob, if you will — and one unfortunate hobo later, this thing is on a rampage, getting larger and larger with each human it engulfs.

I’ve seen this three times while I’ve only seen the original once, and that was a long time ago, so until I watch the 1958 version again it’s unfair to say that clearly the remake is better. But it certainly feels like it’s better. Unlike the original you spend time with some of these characters and you’re not sure who’s getting blobbed and who isn’t, and sometimes it’ll surprise you with its choices. For example — fuck it, I’m spoiling everything here — the movie introduces Donovan Leitch’s character before anyone else and spends enough time with him that it’s a shock — at least it was to me, the first time — that he ends up #2 on the Blob list.

Then you have the kind waitress and the tough-but-kinda-fair-except-to-Dillon’s-character sheriff and they clearly have a thing for each other; they’re barely making that shift from Friendly to See Me After My Shift is over. Their final moment together is a giddily fucked-up one; she’s trapped in a phone booth outside the diner which is getting all Blobbed up, calling for the sheriff. The operator tells her that he’s unavailable because he left for the diner. The waitress looks to the side and there’s the sheriff’s body floating by her in the Blob — right before the Blob enters the booth to make sure she and the sheriff go on their first and final corrosive date together.

I liked those characters — shit, I liked all the characters, save for a couple — and that’s one of the things that makes this remake of The Blob at least feel like it’s better to me at the moment. It does not fuck around. Anybody can get Blobbed — even little kids get it — and when they do it won’t be pretty. Or fast. It’s definitely gorier and more disturbing, where it didn’t go more detailed than just seeing someone get jelly all over himself and fall out of frame. This one, you see these poor people try to scream but they got Blob all over them, you see faces melt or stretch out, you get the sense that the victims do not go quick.

And that right there I find fucking terrifying. If you are chased by Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers and you are caught, the horror ends one sudden machete swing or knife stab later. You don’t have to worry about a Jason or a Michael anymore. However they kill you, sure it’ll be painful but it’ll be quick. (At least in the originals, because I know they’re more sadistic in the remakes.)

But the Blob? Shit, man, the horror begins when it gets you. How fucking long does it take to be digested by that thing? Too long, whatever the answer is. OK fine, I’m sure the Sarlaac has it beat in that department, but at least the Sarlaac is stationary and as long as you stay away from it you’ll probably be fine. But the Blob is coming for you, bro.

Of the two people I was glad to see blobbed, one was a sleazy dude up at some make-out point with a girl. He’s trying to Cosby her shit up something awful with booze he mixed up from his portable bar in the trunk of his car. He had given her a ring, I guess to prove that she’s the one — but back in the trunk we see he has a box full of them. A lady in the audience then yelled “Get him, Blob!” and we all laughed. Then after he finally got blobbed, the same lady then yelled “Let that be a lesson to you boys!” and we all laughed and applauded.

The other was the head scientist from some shady government agency; whereas the Blob in the original was from outer space, this one was a bio-weapon to use against our enemies, like the Commies. This movie was made in the 80s when that was some real shit, being all Rocky vs. Drago with Russia. I’m sure that bit then got dated in the 90s when we were all right with the Reds. But now here we are in 2016 and we’re back at sub-zero Cold War levels with Putin Country and so the shit is back to being timely again. Haha.

The second film was Devil Fetus, a Hong Kong joint from 1983. I don’t know who was responsible for this film, but this dude or chick must be the Chinese Larry Cohen, because it shares the similarity with his work in that it feels like the screenplay wasn’t written with a beginning/middle/end plot outline but just made up as it goes along. Only this Chinese Larry Cohen dials it up to 11.

The movie begins with a lady purchasing a small sculpture of a cock & balls at an auction and she takes it home and while her hubby is out of town, she starts fondling it and somewhere along the way the Creature from the Black Lagoon with a white wig is fucking her and Blade Runner music is playing during it. The husband then comes home and freaks out, taking the sculpture and smashes it, which immediately results in his face falling apart and so he throws himself out the window.

They have a funeral, she comes home, her husband’s voice scares her, a cat jumps out and she falls over the stair rail and now there’s another funeral. At the funeral, a priest uses his x-ray vision to look through the coffin and sees that the dead lady’s belly is growing and growing and growing until a small demonic baby — a Devil Fetus, if you will — bursts out but the priest puts the kibosh on that shit and everything is OK again at the funeral.

He tells the dead girl’s sister that in order to help the dead lady and her dead husband move on to reincarnation, she has to keep some seals (the good luck kind, not the sea creatures, or Heidi Klum’s ex-husband squared) over the pictures of the deceased or the ashes or whatever for ten years and DO NOT DISTURB THEM don’t mess with the seals whatever you do.

Almost ten years later, guess what in the fuck ends up happening to those seals?

OK, you probably guessed that, but you won’t guess anything else that happens in this fucking nut-pourri of a motion picture. Some girl who is either a cousin or something in the family ends up fucking with the seals and then it all goes down, man. The family dog goes nuts and has to get samurai sword’d, then the evil inside the dog inhabits one of the other family members and then, oh I don’t know how I’m gonna do this. I’d be telling you the whole movie.

What I’ll do is just give away elements like possessed cars, party guests eating maggot cake, one dude goes full trans for one scene and jerking off until the film suddenly cuts to a can of Coke being popped open with full foamy discharge, old wise priests with their special effects laden wizardry, a room that closes in and crushes some dude like a watermelon, keeping dead dogs under beds (then eating them), keeping dead girls under beds (then eating them), music taken from John Carpenter, Brian Eno, and Vangelis, Evil Dead style shenanigans, all of that shit.

It’s a wacky movie, and I will acknowledge that my lack of knowledge when it comes to ghostly spiritual myths that are part of Chinese culture could be part of what makes Devil Fetus so WTF and off-putting. But if I had to guess, maybe Hong Kong audiences were probably kind of like Whaaaa? about the events in this film too, this film that doesn’t even care to really explain things or even give us a legitimate way to end it (the movie pretty much just stops). This print came from the American Genre Film Archive, and it had those ultra-dodgy subtitles in both English and Mandarin that you see in films like these, so maybe the movie would make more sense had the dialogue not been handed off to someone with a vague handling of the language.

Of course they gave us free pizza after the gross-out we just witnessed. An Aero volunteer in a Mike Love costume kept announcing to everybody as we stepped out into the lobby, “soylent pizza, get your soylent pizza”. My friend and I went outside to eat our slices (and our pizza) and when we came back ten or so minutes later, Mike Love was still doing the “soylent pizza” call — only now his voice was damn near gone. This guy, you could never doubt his commitment to Sparkle Motion, that’s for sure. During the first five minutes of the following film, Mike Love stepped into the theater and silently offered the rest of the leftover pizza to people in the aisles and you bet your ass me and my buddy grabbed a couple more.

Between films, we had more Moninger madness with him bringing out the various Horrorthon characters, kind of like live-action stage interstitials before the video interstitials. He (and Randy and Corn Gorn and everybody else) was giving away so much candy and movies, it was beautiful. He’d even give away stuff on his way out the auditorium before the film would start, handing stuff over to people on the aisles. This might be the best all-nighter I ever attended, for the most selfish reasons of all — 5 of them, to be exact. By the end of the night, I ended up with Blu-rays of Gravity (3D), American Sniper, Walk the Line, Enemy of the State, and Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau. We all wanted those movies and candy (from Randy!) so much, but Grant noticed it was a lot harder to give away copies of Dallas Buyer’s Club, which is an excellent film with an excellent performance but c’mon, it’s not exactly anybody’s idea of a fun time, unless that somebody is Mr. AIDS.

The third film of the night was 1982’s The Entity, directed by Sidney J. Furie and starring Barbara Hershey. The film begins with a typical day in the life of single mom Carla Moran, as she works by day, goes to night school by, uh, night, and then comes home to see that neither one of her three kids took the time to wash the goddamn dishes. It’s tough enough to deal with that shit but on this particular night things go from typical to Jesus Christ Please Let This Be A One Time Thing when she is violated by an unseen force — an Entity, if you will.

Unfortunately this does not turn out to be a one time thing as Moran is repeatedly attacked by this thing, anywhere and anytime, at home, in a car, at a friend’s place, even in front of her family. They’re rough, these scenes, as they should be. Up front, I’m telling you this was the toughest film of the night for me to watch. For one thing, I’ve always been squeamish about rape scenes in films — unless it’s happening to a guy.

I’m kidding, of course. That shit is just too real for me, I mean, you grow up playing cops and robbers and being killed and shit like that but who the fuck plays at getting raped? Does that make sense? I’m not desensitized to stuff like that, I guess. It might as well be the real thing to me. I don’t know, I can’t really explain it. Maybe I need a psychiatrist to help me out here.

Speaking of which, that’s what Carla does by going to see the late great Ron Silver’s character, Dr. Ron Silver (can’t remember his character’s name). No, she doesn’t go to see why I’ll fast-forward a rape scene in a movie, she goes to see if what is happening to her some kind of psychological issue or what. In between the horror of the rape scenes is a lot of talk, but the talk — at least for me — had my full attention. What also had me at full attention was the way Ron Silver spoke in the film; if you’ve ever seen Silver speak in a film, he has what I guess is best described by Jamie Foxx as “juicy mouth” or actually you know what? It’s the opposite of that. Silver always seems to have a dry mouth in need of moisture, that’s what it sounds like after every sentence. He needs a glass of water or a nice wet kiss to fix that dryness, so how about it, Ron I’M YOUR BOYFRIEND NOW WRRRRRAAAAAA

The writing by Frank De Felitta (based on his book) is of course top notch, but I have to say that it’s the acting that really takes this to the next level beyond mere exploitation (a murky water which the movie does occasionally dip its toes into). Hershey, above all, is fucking phenomenal. She totally sells it as an ordinary woman (albeit one who looks like Barbara Hershey) being forced into an extraordinary situation, and having to maintain her sanity while fearing the possibility that she is losing it, or worse, already lost it or even worse than that — this unexplained phenomena is actually happening to her. Because at least if she’s crazy, she knows she can go get professional help. But how do you explain fucking ghost rape?! There are Oscar-worthy clips throughout her performance, but my favorite is probably after her friend witnesses one of the attacks, telling her she saw it, and the way Hershey keeps responding with “You saw it” and she is so exhausted in every way possible it kinda broke my heart while feeling hope for her situation.

It was like watching a really good play at times, but Furie and cinematographer Stephen H. Burum cinema the shit out of it with their chosen anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio. I’m talking split-diopters and lots of canted angles; I bet this movie was the canted angle champion until Battlefield Earth came in and man-animal’d the title away. And there are scenes that are shot in a manner that I fear is becoming more and more rare; there’s a post-coital conversation between Carla and her boyfriend (played by the late great Alex Rocco, who had worked previously with Hershey on The Stunt Man) and the whole conversation is covered from one angle favoring Carla, slightly behind the boyfriend to where we only see his side profile at most (and even then slightly out-of-focus). Nowadays most movies are shot for the edit; just cover it from every angle and figure it out in post. But this looks like one of those flicks that actually had every angle figured out before hand for maximum effect. In the case of this scene, our attention should be on what Carla is saying and her reactions as well.

I remember reading somewhere that Hershey felt that movie would’ve been better if it focused more on the stuff between Carla and her family and her doctor, which I kinda get. I mean, the last third of the film basically turns into the second half of Poltergeist, which is weird because this movie came out the same year as Poltergeist despite being shot two years before Poltergeist. Poltergeist poltergeist poltergeist ULTRAAA COMBOOOOOOO!!!!! But yeah, as much as I dug the last third, I actually found myself more interested in the more everyday less fantastical stuff (or as ‘less fantastical’ as fucking ghost rape can be considered).

The film plays the “based on a true story” card at the very end, which I’ll have to look up to see how true they kept things, or if it’s like many films based on a true story, in that in both the film and the real events one of the characters had a cup of coffee once. But who knows, it could be all true. And if so, that’s some frightening shit. As is the fact that in one scene in a meeting room full of doctors, they had them all smoking the fuck out of cigarettes, pipes, and cigars as if it were Good Night, and Good Luck. in that motherfucker.

Aside from the applause, I think the ultimate compliment this movie got from the audience was early on when someone in the audience tried to be Mr. Funny Riffer — twice! — and got shushed the fuck up. That shit didn’t happen with any of the other films that night, in fact, it was kinda encouraged, but this was something else and it certainly wasn’t the kind of film to make “funny” comments at the screen.

The fourth film of the night was 1988’s Phantasm II, the sequel to the waking nightmare that was Phantasm, a film about who the fuck knows what except there was a scary tall old man, jawas, and a flying sphere that would bore into its prey’s skull and drain all the blood out. I had seen it before at a midnight show at the New Beverly Cinema and rambled about it on this here blog. My thoughts on it remain the same, so you can just go to this link to read them in full or you can read this here excerpt and get the gist:

The first film felt and looked like a bad dream, an atmosphere that is kinda missing in this one (which feels more like a straight horror flick), but in exchange we have bigger set-pieces, gooier special effects, and most importantly, nudity. I don’t remember anything particularly new added to this film aside from a new type of Flying Killer Ball and some explosions; it’s like Coscarelli was loathe to answer any questions in the first place, if anything, the ratio of Questions Answered to Questions Raised is probably like 1 to 10. He’s more interested in adding more to the characters of Mike and Reggie than he is in explaining to you why the Tall Man is doing what he’s doing.

But I guess that’s part of the fun with this movie; it still manages to entertain you with some pretty awesome shit while remaining coy about What The Fuck Is Going On in this motherfucker. While I missed the nightmare logic of the first film, I still think this sequel is an improvement in overall Good Times. In addition to the creepy and unnerving settings, it’s got some cool action moments and it’s a genuinely scary film at times. I can see re-watching this one anytime I felt like it, while the first one you gotta be in the proper mood to watch (I watched part one around 4 or 5 in the morning and it felt perfect for that time period).

The fifth film of the night was 1981’s college slasher Hell Night, and whaddya know? I saw this one at the New Beverly Cinema (for their all-nighter) and rambled about it as well! Here’s the link and here’s an excerpt:

Anyway, this was one of the better 80’s slasher films, with some creepy moments that I’d rather not spoil…the first half was better than the second half, because it was tighter (there are some scenes involving characters walking through the dark estate that crosses the line from Deliberately Paced to All Right Already, Get To The Fuckin’ Point) and because the characters start pulling stupid Because It Was Written That Way In The Script bullshit during the second half.

And I still feel that way; the second half made me very impatient with how draggy it felt. I figured the filmmakers were padding it out to make a decent running time but the shit’s already 101 minutes. That’s more than enough time.

So on to the sixth film, Frank Henenlotter’s Brain Damage from 1988, a film about a dude who hooks up with a talking creature that will inject him with a most euphoric liquid in exchange for human brains, and whoa, you’ll never guess in a million years what I’m about to tell you — I saw this at another all-nighter — the same one featuring Hell Night! just like this all-nighter — AND I rambled about it too! Link and excerpt:

Keep in mind that I haven’t seen Henenlotter’s latest, Bad Biology, when I say this: Brain Damage is his fuckin’ masterpiece…this flick is pretty awesome in that it’s both gleefully nasty/trashy exploitation and About Something, kinda like old-school Romero; this is really a story about a man throwing his life away on drugs, because the results are the same: he misses out on work, alienates his loved ones, commits serious crime — all in the name of getting another hit from his supplier. Except the drug isn’t heroin or crack being pushed by Superfly, it’s some Windex-looking shit that you inject through back of your neck and the supplier is a talking slimy phallus.

This flick is like a Henenlotter best-of; gross-out gags, gore, comedy, drama, way-too-real seedy New York locations. But it also has a couple things that represent some of his not-so-best qualities, like wide-eyed motherfuckers screaming in only the worst, most shrill manner possible; the first five minutes or so were very tough to take, since they feature some old lady screaming and screaming and screaming in that horrific combo of anguish & annoying (if I only knew what was in store for me in about another couple of hours). So I’d probably watch the first five minutes on Mute, next time. Otherwise, damn good flick.

I actually took the opportunity at the beginning of this film to go move my car closer to the theater, sparing me all that old-people-screaming in the first five minutes or so. This time I wasn’t as, uh, high on this movie this time; maybe it just doesn’t hold up to repeat viewing but compared to how I felt about it last time, I found it to be good but not *that* good, and I’ve noticed that Henenlotter’s films (still haven’t seen Bad Biology) can be kinda depressing for me, even when they’re funny. Your mileage will most likely vary. I think I’d call Frankenhooker his masterpiece nowadays, if only because I don’t feel so down at the end of that one.

Before the last film, Grant came up on stage one last time to give out the remainder of the loot and to give away another action figure. He asked for people in the audience who had a credit score higher than 1000 in their Horrorthon trading card (I forgot which particular one) to come up on stage. I went up along with a bunch of others but I didn’t make the cut, instead it came down to a little boy who cut in front of me in line. I shouldn’t have let that slide, because he was a White kid and is probably going to be used to that privilege times 100, now that we have President Elect Trrrruuuuuuuussoij0f394jpowierjfpwe9fj5poiwerjfow[eijrgpowierWEARETHETHINGSTHATWEREANDSHALLBEAGAINDEADBYDAWNDEADBYDAWNDEADBYDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWNNNNNNNNNNN………………………………………



Whoa, hold up. I got it. I’m good. Don’t know what happened there, I saw my eyes starting to roll up in the reflection of this monitor and then my vision went profundo rosso all of a sudden. Almost caught slipping there, sorry. Anyway, he was just a little kid and it’s not like I could pick a fight with him, he’d fucked my shit up big time. But yeah, it came down to a kid and this other dude, and they were tied, but Grant gave it to the dude because the kid already won before and the dude had so many packs of cards, so many! 3 packs cost 10 bucks and I think he had somewhere close to 100 bucks in cards, by the look of that fat stack. Even Grant was kind of flabbergasted by this and knew that he just had to give it to this guy, and so he did.

The seventh and final film of the night/morning was actually supposed to be played earlier but they were having problems setting up the projection, which I think was a DCP or Blu-ray for this one: the 1980 film Humanoids from the Deep, or as it was called on this print, Monster. It stars Doug McClure (who was part of the inspiration for the Troy McClure character on the “The Simpsons” but who I know best as the Mayor from the sitcom “Out of the World”) and Vic Morrow (who was part of the inspiration for irresponsible directors who are into decapitation) and it takes place in a small fishing burg somewhere off the coast of Northern California.

The salmon population is dwindling and that’s making the fishermen get even more upset and drunk, and it might have to do with Big Salmon having moved into town. “Nay nay!” says the Big Corporation, because they are going to open a new cannery that is going to help with business for everybody, they’re gonna have more salmon than you can shake a broken thermometer at! Most of these ol’ beer-drinking salts are super jazzed for this while the Native American community (which apparently is comprised of one Latino actor) is not at all down for it. The success rate for the Natives in stopping this cannery is about par with the success rate of the Natives trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Which is to say: Beat it, woo woo feathers. Manifest destiny all day, every day. We took it, it’s ours. #MAGA

When you let Big Salmon do their thing unencumbered by the laws of science or human decency, you end up with these motherfuckers going beyond GMO-ing the salmon and straight into some Tampering In God’s Lo Mein territory. Now there be Mutant Fishmen here, roaming the shore, killing all the dogs (NOOO!), killing the men (eh…) and raping the women (here we go with this shit again). Between this film, The Entity, Devil Fetus, and White Cosby in The Blob, the theme of this year’s Horrorthon appeared to be RAPEITY RAPE RAPE. But I guess, horror and rape go together like peanut butter and jelly, or Polanski and youth.

The story goes that the director of this film, Barbara Peeters, turned in her cut of the film to producer Roger Corman, who thought it needed to be jazzed up. She did not agree, so he got another director to film new moments with gore and forced sex without the original cast & crew’s knowledge, so that must’ve been a very interesting premiere for them.

At 80 minutes including closing credits, it’s not a long film but I kinda wanted it to end the whole time I was watching it. Maybe I prefer the older-school versions of these fuckin’ things, like Horror of Party Beach, or maybe I like the good versions of these things, like Creature from the Black Lagoon. Or maybe I just didn’t care for the whiplash storytelling going back and forth between Rapefish and No Blood for Salmon, where I actually was more into the drama between the pro-cannery fishermen and the anti-cannery fishermen.

Like, that shit was really interesting, how the asshole fishermen don’t like the Injun ’cause he’s getting in the way of their money but You Just Fucking Know there’s also some racial waters boiling in the kettle of their actions. But then we cut away from that and I’d have to see two stupid young people canoodling before some slimy fuck comes in and paws the stupid young man’s face off before inseminating the stupid young lady with stupid mutant fishman jism and I guess I’m supposed to be like FUCK YEAH AWESOME OH BRO MY DICK IS SO FUCKING HARD BRO I don’t know. Kind of the point of the movie, right? Watching sea creatures kill and rape? But try convincing me of that back while I was watching it.

Or maybe I’m just *done* with these kind of movies.

Or maybe I was just tired. I mean, I *was* chowing down my free M&M’s and downing my free Monster Energy Drink at this point.

I know I’m in the minority with this movie (you’ll always be the minority, beaner), which appears to be well-reviewed and received (Leonard Maltin gave it three stars in his book and even appears in the DVD/Blu-ray supplements interviewing Corman, yet he’ll give a dismissive snarky two-sentence BOMB review to David Cronenberg’s faaaaaaaaaarrrrr superior The Brood, the schmuck) I’ll admit that sometimes I’ll get in these temporary moods where I become an Angry Old Man and even reason can’t enter this dojo, and for all I know one day I’ll catch this again at another all-nighter or somewhere else and I’ll be happily chomping on my popcorn open-mouthed like Michael Jackson in the “Thriller” video while digging the ever-lasting fuck out of this movie. Who knows when that will be, if that will ever be.

But as of now, all I’ll think about — if I think about this film — is that around 8:45 – 9:15am that Sunday morning, during the climax where the fishmen attack the village salmon festival, ripping dude’s heads off and grabbing pussy celebrity-style while the biggest asshole of the film (Vic Morrow’s character) actually gets fuckin’ redeemed while other characters I liked got Humanoid’d or exploded and the whole time the same fucking female scream keeps going on in the background on a fucking loop — all that was going through my mind was I Don’t Care.

At least the score by a young James Horner (RIP) was pretty good in that James Horner way. I think I even heard a Blaster Beam here and there.

It was about 9:30am when it was all over. There seemed to be more people sticking around compared to previous Horrorthons, and yet it didn’t seem as messy in the aisles or between seat rows — at least around our area. Some of the people leaving got free vinyl albums of something, but the rest of us ran out towards our vehicles because it was starting to rain and you know how deadly *that* stuff is. But yeah, man, this year’s Horrorthon was Good Times, just like the other Horrorthons. I look forward to number 12 in 2017 — and now I’ve jinxed it, I’m sure. Here’s an album of pics of that night on the Aero Facebook page.

My friend and I went then decided to try out a place called Bru’s Wiffle for breakfast and we both got the fried chicken and waffles. They were OK. You know what else is OK? My phone. In order to finance my Vegas jaunts and Hollywood Bowl visits, something had to get the fuzzy end of the financial lollipop stick and that ended up being my cell phone. So, enjoy this subpar mid-00s quality video of selected Horrorthon giveaway madness. And may God have mercy on us all non-rich/non-white/non-straight people because now we have to deal with Presidennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnttttttttttttttttowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwjfffffffffffffff,laksfj;aljf;oiajs;oigheroi;jjjjjjjjjjjaklsaaaareferj;askldfjalksjd;lakmcas;lka;sdjfasd











have to have asdoijas;dljfas;djf


a little !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

faith in people


To Cathie, who unfortunately was once again unable to attend the All Night Horror Show

Posted in A Bay of Blood, All Night Horror Show, douchebag, movie marathon, Race with the Devil, ramblings of a loser, Rawhead Rex, Slaughter High, The Horror of Party Beach, Ticks, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2016 by efcontentment

October 15, 2016

Dear Cathie,

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 CrushMan’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.

Всего хорошего,


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!

To Cathie, who could not attend the All Night Horror Show this year

Posted in All Night Horror Show, Blood Games, Children of the Corn, Dead People, douchebag, Fright Night Part 2, Fright Night Part II, I Bury the Living, Messiah of Evil, movie marathon, ramblings of a loser, Screams of a Winter Night on November 5, 2015 by efcontentment

November 5th, 2015

Dear Cathie,

Long time, no write, eh? I hope this letter finds you well, given recent events in your life. The man to whom I’ve given this letter told me that you had to go visit one of your mines overseas because of some kind of “uprising” that you had to “neutralize”. These people with their weird business terminology! Anyway, I’m sorry you were unable to attend the latest All Night Horror Show at the New Beverly Cinema last Friday (Oct. 30th).

Yeah, I can’t believe it either — they brought it back to the New Bev! I liked last year’s all-nighter at The Cinefamily, and I like that theater, but I always associated this marathon with the New Beverly and it’s nice to see it back “home”. I don’t know if a change of venue resets the count of how many of these have been thrown, but if it doesn’t, then I believe this makes it the 8th All Night Horror Show.

As with previous All Nights, programmers/hosts Brian Quinn and Phil Blankenship were there; I went ahead and decided to make things awkward by introducing myself to Mr. Blankenship, thereby closing yet another chapter in the I Hide Behind My Blog book. (First chapter was you Miss Cathie, and the last chapter will be me looking in the mirror with a razor blade.) By 7:30pm, they both came down to welcome the audience; they talked about going over to Cinefamily for last year’s all-nighter but now they’re back to a place that has a little more room, is a bit more spacious, and with slightly more comfortable seating.

Brian and Phil then gave us a quick rundown of what to expect: six feature films in 35mm (and I believe on in 16mm), along with trailers, raffles, and other bonuses. Just like they did last year, all six films would be kept secret up until they came up on screen. The idea behind this is to try to keep the audience’s interest throughout the whole night, people are more likely to stick around for all the films — or at least up until the opening credits of the sixth film. This worked last year at the Cinefamily because the night ended with the house in 80-percent capacity which is pretty damn good. Keeping the films secret also serves another purpose, said Phil: it allows him and Brian to show movies the audience doesn’t want to see.

And so the night began; a trailer reel featuring sequels to The Amityville Horror, Child’s Play, Return of the Living Dead, and one non-sequel, Fright Night (the original). This led up to the first film of the night, Fright Night Part 2 (again, the original) from 1989 and once again starring Roddy McDowall and Herman’s Head and I had never seen it before except for the first 20 minutes or so waaaaay back in the day at a sleepover. Yeah, sleepover, that’s how long ago it was. Still not convinced how long ago it was? The movie we watched before it was An American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West, and I guess all those animated mice and cats dozed me out before I could properly enjoy the vampire flick.

The sequel picks up some time later after the events of Part 1 with Herman’s Head having gone through three years of therapy (Pumbaa from The Lion King!), and has now convinced himself that the fanged bad guy who kidnapped his girlfriend and turned his boyfriend was not a vampire but instead some kind of crazy creepy cultist serial killer. Now he’s in college and he has a new girlfriend (the old one now batting for the home team) played by Traci Lind, who I remember having a crush on from Class of 1999 and My Boyfriend’s Back. I can’t recall whether the crush was returned or not.

So he’s in college and is pretty sure that the vampire thing never happened and McDowall’s horror film star Peter Vincent is still hosting his late night creature feature program and everything seems fine and dandy BUT — who is this enchanting enchantress showing up at Herman’s door? She is Regine, played by Julie Carmen (raza!) and it turns out she is the sister of Chris Sarandon’s vampire baddie from the first film, but what’s even scarier is that she’s a performance artist. Hitching along with Regine on the revenge/fuck-with-his-head ride is Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite and the Night Slasher from Cobra, so you know the odds are stacked against our boy Herman’s.

I liked how Vampire Chick’s revenge plan is to make Herman’s her slave for eternity, while Peter Vincent gets a lesser punishment — she gets him fired and takes over his show, which I figure to a guy like him might as well be Hell on Earth. Somewhere along the way she hooks up with Herman’s Head’s friend and/or roommate, played by the late Merritt Butrick aka Admiral Kirk’s Son, and I bring that up because Butrick was also in a film (Death Spa) from the previous week’s marathon over at the Aero. But it doesn’t stop there, lady and…uh, just lady (forgot I was writing a letter here!).

This sequel was directed by Tommy Lee Wallace (who also co-wrote) who also had a film play at the Aero Dusk-to-Dawn Horrorthon (Halloween III: Season of the Witch), making it two horror film marathons in a row that opened with one of his joints — and no wonder, he makes good flicks for the season. They also look good; they were both shot in Scope and have this atmosphere and texture that seems to be missing from film nowadays. Now is that because those were shot on film and everything’s shot digitally now? I’m not ready to mount my flagpole onto that particular trailer hitch yet, so I’m just going to say it has to do with the talents of Wallace and his cinematographers (Dean Cundey and Mark Irwin). Maybe it’s an 80s thing too; lots of foggy sets in this joint and I’m just a sucker for that look. Anyway, the movie looked great and I’m glad I saw it this way for my first time; it looks like there’s no official Blu-ray for it and the DVD is pan-and-scan garbage, so if you see it playing on some HD channel, DVR that sucker on the double-quick!

I was pleasantly surprised by how much Fright Night Part 2 holds up against the first film. It’s a good follow-up that despite a change in writers and director manages to maintain the same kind of tone and style of the original — just the right amount of chills, laughs, seriousness, and goofiness. Now to guys like Leonard Maltin, who gave it two stars against the original’s three, this is considered “more of the same” in a negative way. I prefer to look at it as “more of the same” in a positive way. Sure, it doesn’t take Fright Night to another level, but it doesn’t drop some levels either. It’s only disappointing if you’re expecting Coppola or Cameron levels of sequeltude.

Following a trailer reel for the first eight Friday the 13th films was the second film of the night, Messiah of Evil — or as it was titled on this print, Dead People. Phil and Brian called this one of the best horror films of the 70s — a stone cold classic! — and I wholeheartedly agree having now seen it three times. The first time was a few years back on one of those 50 Horror Films DVD sets that cost ten bucks and carried mostly garbage but also had a few gems hidden throughout — and this film was one of them.

I had come home around 3:30 in the morning and was still pretty faded so I popped this movie in while hitting the Vapor Genie (RIP) and waiting for the gallon of preemptive-strike hangover water I just drank to settle. It was a shitty/squeezy pan-and-scan job, and I figured it’d be Trash Movie good times but hell no! I ended up getting the Code Red Blu-ray and it was even better the second time around because it was cleaned up and presented in its full Techniscope ratio. But watching a beat-up print (complete with the weird theme song that was removed from the Blu-ray) in a packed house with plenty of newcomers to this tale might’ve been the best viewing yet.

The film starts with Walter Motherfuckin’ Hill getting his throat slashed by a girl who figured she was saving him from working on Supernova in the future, but never mind that because then we meet Marianna Hill (no relation) as Arletty, some chick who drives into an underpopulated California beach town called Point Dune that is supposed to be an artist’s colony. I don’t know why I wrote “supposedly”, because after you see the weirdos that occupy this place, you would definitely call it a place full of artists. Arletty stops at a gas station and finds the dude working there firing his revolver at something out there in the distant darkness. He sees her, puts the gun away, wipes his hand with a rag before asking “Fill ‘er up?” and telling her he was shooting at stray dogs but you just fucking know there’s more to this than just some fuckin’ dogs. Then later he strongly whispers “GET OUT” and she’s like Whatever.

Arletty’s looking for her dad, and instead she finds a diary he left behind at his groovy pad. Turns out this is one of those creepy diaries where each entry gets increasingly unnerving while the reader is demanding more inquiries. More and more information is given to her (and the audience) about what the hell is going on in this book, and God forbid that anyone in these kinds of movies actually reads the entire diary in one look, rather than every few hours or day by day. Understand what I’m trying to say? If you put me in a situation like that I ‘d read it cover to cover in one sitting, because I need to know the ending in case there’s some lifesaving shit in there or something.

If there’s a theme to this movie, it’s probably not the theme I came up with: Stop Acting So Cool And Disaffected About Increasingly Weird And Freaky Shit, Or Else The Weird And Freaky Shit Will Become Horrifying Abominable Shit And Then It’ll Be Too Late Because It’ll Be Gnawing On Your Pancreas And You’ll Be Too Busy Going AIIIIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!

Sorry to write that last part like a Spike Lee tweet, but I feel strongly about the lack of reaction throughout most of the film by the main character . Some of the people she runs into also suffer from the same low-key symptoms, specifically some Portuguese motherfucker named Thom who dresses all 70s natty-like and has two foxy ladies with him at all times. He’s one of these rich bored assholes who spends his money traveling around and paying hobos in booze for some stories he can record on his reel-to-reel. You know the kind. And he’s such a languid son-of-a-bitch too. Wait, what am I saying? They’re ALL languid sons-of-bitches!

No joke, mostly everyone here seems too doped up to react to all this weird shit in town — and if this were a bad movie, that would be an issue. But it’s not. It’s pretty damn great, this movie. Maybe the actors were directed to underact that way or maybe those were the best actors they could get for the money, actors with names like Joy Bang. But along comes Elisha Cook Jr. for one scene (which I’d reckon is all they could afford with him) and he’s the most animated in this film, albeit a kind of dialed-down animation because he’s probably been directed/medicated by the filmmakers too.

I know one group of actors who had good reason to appear down and listless; the extras in this film, mostly made up of middle-aged unemployed aerospace workers. They look like they got lost on their way to their real jobs, and snatched up by a van filled with casting department personnel. I try not to think about it too much or I get sad. Fucking Randolph worked hard, went to school, got his degree, got his aerospace gig, gave the company TWENTY FUCKING YEARS OF HIS LIFE and then here comes the pink slip. His son doesn’t even look at him with fear and respect anymore — he looks at Randolph with worry. Is this what’s left for Randolph? Chewing on raw meat at a supermarket in front of a camera for a bunch of long-haired liberal peacenik fucks?! Randolph used to believe in this country. Now he only believes in himself — and he’s losing faith fast.

This is one of those movies where you can tell they didn’t have much to work with budget-wise, location-wise, everything-wise, but they made the best of what was available — like the beach house that belonged to Arletty’s father. I don’t know what the deal is with that place, if it’s a real house or a set, but either way it’s impressive. The bed hangs from the ceiling and has a record player on it. I freak out if I find out I slept with my phone on the bed. The place is covered wall-to-wall with paintings that would be terrible to look at in an altered state of mind. All of this is shot beautifully by Stephen Katz who frames his shots in a way that treats the backgrounds (like those paintings) as if they were characters as well. The color scheme is what I’d call American Argento, which I understand is also the name of an 80s movie starring Mitch Gaylord?

The whole thing has this dream feel to it — this takes place in a universe where there is no such thing as Logic — but for long periods it feels like the kind of unsettling dream where you’re not in control and you’re not entirely sure if this is going to be one of those good dreams where Genesis Rodriguez is beckoning me to her bedroom for cookies and milk, or one of those bad dreams where Paul Rodriguez is beckoning me to listen to his stand-up while fucking me in the ass. Please don’t get that last part wrong; I’m not afraid of getting fucked in the ass. I’m just not a fan of his comedy.

(I mean, I respect him for being a Latino comedian and all that, but after a certain age his stuff started to sound hacky to me and I’m thinking, maybe it always was?)

OK, so. Messiah of Evil — it’s got some eerie stuff going on and not much of it makes sense, but that’s part of the fun. It’s not really a BOO! scary-scare-scare kind of flick, it’s more like the slow kind of scared you feel, little by little, until it’s all over you and you’re ready to climb out of your skin because you’re riding with some strange driver who talks funny and then pulls out a rat and chomps on it but he’s willing to share it with you — which is what happens in this movie, by the way.

This was written & directed by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, who’ve since gone on to work with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg on various projects. They also went on to direct films like Best Defense and Howard the Duck, but even with better actors and bigger budgets they were never able to match the quality of their first film. Maybe if those films featured stuntmen jumping through skylights then eating shit on the way down as they slam against the narrow walls bordering said skylights, like they do in Messiah of Evil, they would’ve had better luck.

After the break, Phil told us that there were four movies left and coincidentally there are four Ghoulies movies. Oh man, what if? What if that’s what the rest of the marathon played? Oh man. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case — after a raffle where DVDs and figures were given away, Brian introduced the third film of the night by telling us that it was a black-and-white film from the 1950s that was one of his favorites and that Phil had never seen it. Before that, we saw a trailer reel consisting of the first Return of the Living Dead, Army of Darkness, and Pet Semetary.

I can’t remember where, it might have been before this film or the next film or maybe they split them between these films, but I remember seeing the short film Bambi Meets Godzilla and a Little Rascals short called “Spooky Hooky”. Let me ramble a bit about the latter; Alfalfa, Spanky, Porky, and Buckwheat are like Fuck School and decide to leave a forged doctor’s note on the teacher’s desk so they can go to the circus the following day. Turns out that the teacher is taking the whole class to the circus on that day, so the boys decide to break into the classroom that night to take the note back. My favorite thing about this short is this kid Porky, who at least in this episode comes off as an agent of chaos who does things for the lulz, like scaring his friends by putting a sheet over himself and playing as a ghost, even though I’m sure he knows that on this dark and stormy night the last thing his friends want to deal with is a ghost.

The third film turned out to be a nice print of the 1958 film I Bury the Living, starring Richard Boone and directed by Albert Band. Band was the father of Charles Band, who ran Empire Pictures in the 80s and then Full Moon Pictures in the 90s and onward. I used to follow Charles on MySpace and he always opened up his updates with “Dudes!” and it always came off desperate to me but then I recently listened to the audio commentary on the Trancers Blu-ray and he throws off “Dudes”, “Dude” and variations of it so much it was clear that he really does talk like that (or tries really really hard to talk like that). He also threw a couple gay jokes in there for good measure. Oh, and during the end credits, Tim Thomerson mentions doing coke back in the day, and based on his distance from the microphone at that point, I don’t think he knew he was being recorded.

What does that have to do with this film? Absolutely nothing, but this is a short movie so I figured I needed to pad it out with something. So anyway, this film is about Boone’s character, Kraft, who’s the new chairman over at some department store and I guess part of the breaking-in period for new chairpeople is to watch over a cemetery. It doesn’t seem so bad because all the actual hands-dirty work is done by this old Scotsman named McKee, who is kinda like what Groundskeeper Willie would be like if he ever grew old and out-of-shape and calmed down and began working at a cemetery. So I guess that means he’s nothing like Groundskeeper Willie, except for being Scottish. Anyway, McKee seems more than OK with his job and even though he’s been told by Kraft that it’s time to retire and live off a pension, he’s not in a rush to find someone to replace him.

I get that, retirees wanting to stay busy so they end up finding part-time jobs or begin doing volunteer work. I just don’t feel it, because it’s weird for me to want to do that, but that’s because I’m a genuinely lazy fuck (notice how it’s taken me days to write this letter to you, Cathie?) who would love nothing more than have a pension to collect while I sit back watching movies and doing nothing else. I’m probably a minority in the minority; there are more people out there like McKee who are taken aback by the idea that they’re supposed to just take the money and not work. Also, I’m not Old old, I’m more like I’m Not 20 Anymore old — maybe if/when I become an old man I’ll change my tune. And the tune will sound like “Sentimental Journey” because that’s old music and I’d be an old man.

Another thing McKee does that seems alien to me is giving the impression that he’s made peace with dying. He shows Kraft a big map of the cemetery on the wall inside the caretaker’s office; it displays all the plots with the names of the people who own them. On the plots are pins; the white ones mean the plot is empty but owned by someone, and the black pins mean they’re occupied by the owners, if you know what I mean. Well, McKee shows Kraft his particular plot and with the tone of voice that he uses, you’d think he’s talking about the place where he’s going to do all his fishing when he retires. I guess — I hope — that kind of peace comes with age, because at my particular age I am scared to death of dying. Cathie, no joke, I’d sell so many people out, I’d throw so many under the bus — literally throw them under a bus! — if it’ll extend my time on Earth. I’d throw YOU under the bus for just one more day.

So things seem OK enough at this cemetery and both McKee and Kraft get along with each other and all that. But then that clumsy scatterbrain Kraft accidentally places black pins on a newlywed couple’s recently purchased plots, and later that day the news comes in that they died in a car accident. It creeps him out, but not enough to pay attention to where he places his pins because he does it again — lousy numbskull — putting a black one on an empty purchased plot and whaddya know? The owner of that plot drops dead later that night! Kraft slowly begins to realize that this eerie coincidence is becoming more coincidental each time he puts a black pin on a plot that should have a white pin on it, and it starts weighing heavily on his soul and his sanity. HE BURIES THE LIVING! (but only after killing them)

I first caught I Bury the Living late at night; I left the television on and the pounding score by Gerard Fried woke me up and I ended up watching most of it before sleep took me back. (Notice how all these movie discovery stories begin with me coming home late at night or waking up late at night.) Having now watched it in its entirety, I can say that I liked it. It felt like an extended above-average Twilight Zone episode, right down to what looked to me like a lower production value more suited to television; it’s not a particularly flashy film and most of it takes place inside the groundskeeper’s office. But it’s got enough style to get you into the decreasingly stable mindset of the main character, who seems to be a decent enough dude so you end up feeling bad for him as this situation becomes more and more of a living nightmare that he cannot escape. HE BURIES THE LIVING, CATHIE! FOR GOD’S SAKE! And if you still don’t get that things are getting more messed up for him, the music score will remind you.

Before the next film, we were shown a trailer reel featuring some of the late Wes Craven’s films like Shocker, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, Deadly Blessing, Deadly Friend, and if there were others, I missed them or I can’t remember. What I can remember, unfortunately, was that the fourth film of the night turned out to be Screams of a Winter Night from 1979 — where it belonged and should’ve remained.

This movie, Cathie. I just can’t. I just can’t waste my time but here I am, wanting to ramble about everything shown that night. This wins the Spookies award for Worst Film of a Horror Marathon — so it makes sense that this film and Spookies were the fourth films of their respective marathons. I’ll give it this, though: I like the title, which I like to think is a play on Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night. Oh, how I love the films of Ingmar Bergman, and oh, how I couldn’t fucking stand this one. I would’ve rather watched the extended cut of Fanny and Alexander in the place of this film, even at that time of night. That’s not a slam against Fanny, no ma’am, that film is fucking great.

Look. I give all movies a chance, in fact I was kinda excited about this one when the title came up because I almost caught it a few years ago when it screened at the New Bev during that two month period back in ’07 when Tarantino was promoting Grindhouse by screening a bunch of grindhouse joints (I’m sure that’s when it screened). But I missed it, so I tried watching it through less reputable sources (Lord forgive me) and I ended up only catching the first ten minutes before it got all corrupted. I was left thinking “Hmm, those opening credits were kinda awesome and the following ten minutes were pretty amusing, after that I’m sure things really got good!”

CUT TO: Me at the New Bev watching the first ten minutes of this award winner and thinking the same thing — for another 30-40 minutes.

OK, so this movie starts with a group of people who I’m thinking are supposed to be in their twenties but look like they’re in their late thirties (just like Spookies!) heading off in their van to a cabin in the woods for whatever it is these kids do up there in them cabins in the woods, like drinking the alcohol, having the sex, and perhaps a cigarette or two containing the devil reefer. Or maybe they are in their twenties; I’m sure you’ve seen old high school yearbook photos, where the further back in time you go, the older those kids look. By the time you get to the 1960s, you got these 17-year-old boys looking like unemployed aerospace workers on their way to the set of Messiah of Evil.

On the way to the cabin, they stop at a gas station manned by a no-fucks-to-give attendant (young Herman’s Head!) and some weirdo backwoods types; they’re warned about some Native American legend and blah blah blabbity blah blah be careful blah don’t go up there blah that’ll be eight bucks blabbity blah. So they’re in the cabin, this motley assortment of regular looking folk (my favorite is Geek Supernerd with his squinty face and Rick Moranis-in-Ghostbusters gait) sit around and entertain themselves by telling old urban legends and campfire tales. Yeah, that’s the movie: three stories I’m sure you’ve heard before, but played out on the big screen. Oh, and these versions suck.

The first story is a variation on the one about a car getting stuck in the middle of nowhere, so the guy half of the couple goes out for gas while the girl half stays to get spooked out. Here it’s boring and way too drawn out. The second is about three dudes staying overnight at some haunted house as part of a frat initiation over at what must be the University of Fathers because these mothers look old. Boring and way too drawn out. The third is about some wallflower type who of course would turn me down, so who does she end up with? Some beefy fuck who won’t accept No for an answer, so in its place he must accept getting killed. The girl gets away with it and then goes off to Mom College where she and her equally middle-aged-looking roommate are, like, total opposites. That particular story wasn’t too boring or drawn out, so I guess that’s the best one in the film.

I thought it was a pretty clever touch to have the actors telling the stories in the cabin also play the characters in the stories themselves. It’s almost like that’s what the characters telling/listening to the stories are picturing in their heads. It’s also a way to save money by eliminating the need to cast more actors. I missed the intro before the film, but according to a helpful audience member (who in the movie of her life would be portrayed by Amanda Seyfried in glasses), Brian and/or Phil warned everybody that this movie was a little “kooky” or “goofy” or whatever term was used to prepare us for this burned-out s’more of a film.

I’ll admit there are quite a few funny moments throughout, unintentional or otherwise (one character is named “Jukie” and another character straight up cops Steve Martin’s old “Excuuuuuuse me!” bit). Also, the last five minutes are the best thing next to the opening credits sequence (which is basically the ending played out over black screen), and it’s all scored to what sounded like rejected tracks from 70s television sitcoms and dramas. But goddamn all that decency is spread way too thin, all the amusing stuff is few and far between this interminable slog. Screams of a Winter Night would make a good condensed 5-minute YouTube clip, but I’m not putting one together, I wasted enough time on this shit.

Just like Spookies in the last marathon, this piece of shit drained me of way too much energy and made the rest of the night a bit tougher to get through. I went outside and tried my best to let the fresh air and nicotine do its magic, then returned to find Phil introducing what he called “the very very very Phil movie of the night…oh my God, so fuckin’ inappropriate”. He said that this film was directed by a woman (which got applause) and that the print featured more footage than the official VHS release. Brian told us that this film went straight-to-video back in 1990 and that this screening would be it’s West Coast theatrical premiere. One more raffle, followed by a final warning that the next two films were going to be played back-to-back with no breaks, and then it was on —

The fifth film of the night was Blood Games, directed by Tanya Rosenberg, starring a bunch of actresses who I can’t remember by name (but I can certainly remember their shapes GRRRROOOOOWWWLLL I’m a sad pervert), Ross Hagen, The Devil from Snoop Dogg’s “Murder was the Case” aka Mac’s Dad from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, and George “Buck” Flower. It’s not so much a horror film in a ghost/monsters/zombies/slasher sort-of-way, this is way fuckin’ scarier than that pussy shit because we’re dealing with Human Nature. The worst!

Of all the films shown tonight, this one had the best looking print. It looked beautiful! I felt like I was watching a Grindhouse-style throwback minus the scratches and film damage, like some film shot today but everyone was made up and clothed to look like it was 1990. Why would they do that? I don’t know, but a man can dream. The sound — specifically the dialogue — had some issues though, like it hadn’t been ADR’d and smoothed out yet. So you end up with parts of the film where the dialogue is drowned out by the background sound, or other parts where one side of a conversation has more ambient hiss or hum than the other side.

Blood Games opens with a softball game out in some small town in the woods and it’s a bunch of sweaty rednecks versus sweaty hotties and guess which sweatiness I find alluring and which sweatiness I find disgusting. Yup, you guessed it: I find both hot! (Because it’s heat the causes sweatiness of the human body, you see.)

The sweaty hotties are known as “Babe and the Ballgirls” which I think is kinda messed up because it’s clear they are separating lead ballgirl Babe from the other girls, like she’s special. But then I see that Babe is the coach’s daughter, and everything is made clear. I mean, this guy coaches the team, drives the bus, handles the business end — what he says, goes, and if he wants to put his little princess front & center, it’s his right to do so. Yeah, it’s a business, I think; I guess they go around to parties or get-togethers and play softball while looking hot. You know, I wouldn’t mind doing something like that — provided I’m not paying. But I can see convincing a friend to call up Babe and the Ballgirls for a bachelor party or something. Or better yet, forget the girls, forget the bachelor party. Let’s just get together and read the Bible, hold hands.

In the case of Blood Games, Babe and her gals are playing against these rednecks for the occasion of Roy “Mac’s Dad” Collins’ birthday, which sounds innocent enough except these are Extra Strength Rednecks who love beer, ballcaps with stupid sayings written on them, giant Confederate flags that I’m sure in no way celebrate slavery, but most of all, treating women like the lesser species they see them as. It’s an increasingly uncomfortable ball game that seems to go on forever, starting with the rednecks making inappropriate comments, moving on to touching them, and eventually straight out copping feels. Maybe they feel entitled to that shit because they’re getting their asses kicked big time. Whatever the case, all that asshole treatment isn’t doing it for our bad guys, so Ron decides to take it to the next level by elbowing one of the girls in the fuckin’ face!

Man, the audience was like Holy Shit at that moment. But don’t worry, dear Cathie, because Ron then gets his courtesy of a fastball to the nuts. As a man who loves karma, I thought that was awesome. But as a man with testicles, I couldn’t help but get a little choked up for this piece of garbage Ron. Testicles unfortunately don’t get to choose who they’re attached to, they must accept all the good AND bad that comes with the man who carries them.

So you figure OK, getting hit in the nuts makes it even so let’s move on. Nope. After the game, we find out that the coach made a bet with Ron’s creepy asshole father and is trying to collect. Or maybe the Ballgirls were playing for free and Coach Dad decided to make a wager? Damn, this movie is intriguing. Whatever the case, would it surprise you that the father doesn’t pay up what’s owed? Next thing you know, Coach busts into the town watering hole to take what’s rightfully his from Ron’s father. A fight ensues and more disturbing than the violence that arose out of Ron’s father’s petty act of obstinateness is the plain and simple fact that Ron’s father was on the toilet in the middle of taking a shit when this confrontation took place and hadn’t had a chance to wipe or wash his hands yet. It was getting to be too much for me, watching that.

This all ends up leading to Babe and the Ballgirls running for their lives as All The Rednecks are after them through them redneck woods brandishing guns, knives, crossbows, and boners. Yup, what we have here is the makings of a chase movie and the end result is something approaching Deliverance if it were written and directed by Andy Sidaris. The girls are trying to make it to a safer area, at least one that isn’t populated by crazed woman-hating good ol’ boys — I mean, I don’t recall seeing a single female in this town aside from the ballgirls. Maybe this was some kind of weird colony where every vehicle is stocked with a full gun rack and the only people living there are all misogynist menfolk. Coach should’ve done a better job researching this area before booking the baseball field there.

It’s ridiculous and at some moments laughable, but it still delivers the B-movie goods: boobs and violence. You cheer for the ballgirls and hiss the fuck out of the bad guys. Actually, that’s my main problem with the film — it does a good job making you hate the bad guys so much that you (me) want to tear the armrest from your (mine) seat, but when it comes time for these guys to get paid back in full for their evil behavior, it holds back. These guys needed to get PUNISHED and they only got punished in small letters. I mean, these dudes get rapey and for that we needed to see them get longer beatdowns, slower deaths, and overall more painful comeuppances. Don’t give me shit for my bloodlust, you! This movie knew what it was doing when it worked it up in me, but it then committed the crime of not satisfying my need to see more BLOOOOOOOD.

I remember one part where the girls are beating some dude down and it was BASH BASH and that’s all. He’s dead. Nah, fuck that — this guy’s been chasing you around, resulting in one girl getting arrowed to a tree, another was raped, and you’re just gonna give a couple lousy bashes? No way — you keep on bashing until there’s nothing left but white meat and red sauce! Pull up your sleeves and give this creep a little taste of Rosie the Riveter! Put your back into it, ladies! We can do it!

But hey, it ain’t no major crime, it’s more like a misdemeanor. Because Blood Games does a lot more right than it does wrong. Or did right/wrong. My use of tenses and proper grammar go out the fuckin’ window when I’m on a tear.

There was a Stephen King trailer reel somewhere in the night, so I’m betting it was before the sixth and final film of the night/morning: 1984’s Children of the Corn, which was greeted by cheers and sudden exits. I hadn’t seen this film since I was a children of the corn myself so I stuck around. A lot of this was pretty much new to me in my old age; my childhood viewing reduced to memory fragments. The opening of the film, where the young’uns of Gatlin, Nebraska start murdering all the olds in town is pretty fucked up. The narrator is this little kid from town and he’s just trying to drink his milkshake at the diner when all this slicin’ and dicin’ gets going. He’s watching people drop dead from poisoned coffee, getting slashed up, chopped up, and some poor guy gets his hand shoved into a meat slicer!

Years pass and the town of Gatlin is all kid, all the time. Running shit is a child preacher named Isaac (the one responsible for The Kiddening) and he’s got these kids’ hearts, minds, and souls, selling them on some crazy shit about He Who Walks Behind The Rows. No adults left but one who helps lead over an adult or two into town for the children to sacrifice. Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated part of the film, we have Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton playing husband and wife on a road trip. We’re first introduced to them in a motel; Hubby’s got a doctor gig waiting for him in the city of Who Gives A Shit and Hamilton wants to bang him, but apparently he’s suffering from I-Have-a-New-Job Dick and can’t get it up because that’s the only reason you’re gonna turn down young Linda Hamilton.

You’re not going to believe this, but get this — Horton & Hamilton’s path crosses with the Corn Children. They take a few wrong turns on the road and end up running over a kid. Isn’t it weird how one of the most horrible things one could witness in real life is also one of the funniest things you can see in a movie? You can’t blame Horton for anything but ensuring a closed casket; the kid was damn near dead already from being neck-slashed. Now where could that kid have been coming from? Could it be…Gatlin?!? DUN DUN DUN

The child cult stuff is far more entertaining than the Horton & Hamilton show (Monday to Friday, 7 – 9am, 790 KABC-AM), so of course more time is spent with the latter — at least it felt that way. I think this movie is at its best once the cat’s out of the bag and things finally move beyond the adult couple looking confused at everything, not knowing the whole story. But the stuff with Isaac and his right hand enforcer Malachi is fun to watch; the actor who plays Isaac, John Franklin, is great at being evil without having that gleam in his eye because Isaac sure as fuck doesn’t seem to enjoy what he does, nah, he’s got that fuckin’ sour puss that only the most humorless and devout can display. Or long sentence short: he’s good at being a crazy extremist. With Malachi, you get the feeling that he gets a kick out of using extreme force against betrayers and outlanders. You can tell he’s already at that stage of his henchman lifespan where he probably looks over at his boss, this shrimp with the old face, and thinks to himself “I’d be a lot better at his job”.

The poor kids get the worst of both worlds in this new world; music and games are forbidden, and you just fuckin’ know that if they can’t have that then junk food is also out of the question. Fun is a past concept long extinct in Gatlin. Isn’t the whole point of an adult-free society to be able to do all the things they wouldn’t let you do? (I wanted to be able to do everything as a kid — now I just want to be able to get eight hours of sleep every night.) And it’s so fucking bland in Gatlin too! Overcast skies and monochromatic clothing. They killed all the adults for this? How did these dumb kids fall for this garbage? Hell, how do we stupid humans fall for this garbage? Oops, my answer is in the question itself!

It was all right, this movie. I was tired by then, but the movie (and free coffee refills for the night) kept me up as I wanted to see how this played out, like, I remember the large bulge burrowing under the cornfields but didn’t remember the context of it — so it was cool to be see that part again for the first time. I honestly wasn’t left wanting to see the twenty sequels they made for it, but I can understand why people would still be interested in the Parent-Killing God-Fearing Asshole Cult Kids saga, because it definitely is an intriguing concept — as is most anything Stephen King comes up with. Speaking of which, I remember reading his thoughts on this particular film adaptation somewhere long ago. I don’t remember exactly what he said but I do remember the word “rape” being used, so it’s probably safe to say that there must be major differences between novel and film.

Following the last film, we were treated to a Woody Woodpecker cartoon which I’m sure I’ve seen before at a previous All Nighter. I don’t remember the name but it was about Woody being chased around a mad scientist’s castle by a feather-plucking robot. Then we had the National Anthem (this year’s marathon had the most people singing along to it), giving the night a sendoff not unlike the way television stations used to end a broadcast day.

As we stepped out into the lobby preparing our eyes for the morning light of Halloween morning (about 7:30, as planned), we were each given a gift for surviving this, the (8th?) Annual All Night Horror Show:

I had a good time, just like the other times. I really liked seeing the All Night show return to its original home, and I look forward to next year’s marathons — both New Bev and Aero. (And anywhere else that wants to have them!) It’s an interesting contrast of crowds at these things; the previous week’s Aero Dusk-to-Dawn Horrorthon was more of a rowdy affair while the All-Night Horror Show feels more like hanging out with people who actually want to watch the film. At breakfast, I was talking to my friend about that and he said that he preferred the crowd at the Aero. Me, I’m more of a New Bev guy. So we agreed to disagree on that one thing but agreed on another: the IHOP on Sunset and Orange is no good.

Here’s my friend’s list of his most to least favorite films that night:

1. Children of the Corn

2. Blood Games

3. Fright Night Part 2

4. Messiah of Evil

5. I Bury the Living

6. Screams of a Winter Night

And here’s my list:

1. Messiah of Evil

2. Fright Night Part 2

3. Blood Games

4. I Bury the Living

5. Children of the Corn

6. Screams of a Winter Night

Anyway, that’s it for now, Cathie. I forgot I was writing a letter! Please get back to me when you have time. I know the diamond mining business is a tough one but according to the man in charge of your correspondence, you seem to have the willpower to see your plans through and the firepower to overcome all obstacles. Take care and be well.

Your friend in time,

EFC, esq.

P.S. Remember when I asked you to keep your voice down at the New Bev and you responded by pulling that butterfly knife out of your boot and putting it to my throat and then you said something about how “the only sight more beautiful than seeing the light go out in a man’s eyes is the sight of tears coming out of them”? Here’s my question: what movie was playing that night? I want to say it was Cabin Fever but my friend says it was Grease.

But I forgot to buy a shirt

Posted in Anguish, Dead & Buried, Death Spa, douchebag, Dusk-To-Dawn Horrorthon, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, movie marathon, Pieces, ramblings of a loser, Spookies on October 30, 2015 by efcontentment

It felt like only yesterday when I decided to ramble about the 10th Annual Dusk-to-Dawn Horrorthon at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica last Saturday night — because it was yesterday when I decided to do that. But yeah — wow, ten years. Can you believe it?

As with the other Horrorthons and hopefully more to come, around 7:30pm Grant Moninger ran out and hosted in his inimitably high-energy maximum volume style. I have to give it up to him; I sit through these 12-14 hour nights and feel worn out by the end of them while he is out there pacing and screaming and doing voices and being funny and tossing candy (from Randy!) and DVDs and dealing with whatever behind-the-scenes bullshit and he doesn’t look as bad as he should by the end of it. Does he take naps in between films? Meditation? Caffeine? B-12? Bolivian flake? I should’ve just asked him, huh?

Grant let us know that the Living God Corn Gorn, mascot/godhead of all things Horrorthon was running late because of that good ol’ Los Angeles traffic. He led the entire audience in a prayer that Corn Gorn overcome this problem and arrive soon, and by the next film, he had and he did. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. There were the usual nutty and out-there interstitials and music videos that I’ve mentioned in my ramblings of previous Horrorthons including old favorites like Red Roof Inn; Stop Using Dirty Catheters!; the Energizer/Aerogizer commercial; a series of Corn Gorn related clips; the goofy musical sequence from Creating Rem Lezar; a religious hymn singalong about the Living God where the lyrics don’t quite match the vocals (and remixed with cameos by the Corn Gorn); a remix of Alan Alan Alan; and my personal fave, the 1970s disco cocaine porno white man’s experience that is Dennis Parker’s Like An Eagle.

And we can’t forget the “TJ Hooker” clips where the cast credits playing over them included names of audience members playing roles such as “General Stonewall Jackson”, “Spencer Hickman teenage prostitute”, and “Bill Cosby” (which brought out some groans). This particular TJ Hooker episode starts with a young fresh-faced Everydaughter in a light pink 1980s sweater and tangerine 1980s jeans who clearly doesn’t belong on these mean city streets. And yet, there she was, running for her teenaged life. She makes it to an alley, but alas, she doesn’t make it out. Surrounded by two sleazy/scary dudes, she lets out a terrified scream beseeching an uncaring God who doesn’t have time for that shit. He’s too busy blessing football players and county clerks.

CUT TO: Sgt. TJ Hooker and that hot piece of ass Romano patrolling the suburban neighborhoods, and Hooker talks about how back in his rookie days the old vets would call him a “flaming liberal” but now he’s closer to a conservative. His definition of a conservative? “A liberal who got mugged.” They eventually make it to the Alley of Death where the body of the poor girl is found. Cause of death? Shot up with heroin and then thrown off a building. Tough break, kid.

Every movie had an old ABC Saturday Night Movie intro for it, with a new voiceover telling us the film about the begin, which in the case of the first one was Halloween III: Season of the Witch, co-producer/co-composer John Carpenter’s attempt to turn the Halloween franchise into an anthology series unrelated to the Michael Myers saga. Growing up, I was under the impression that this was not only the worst of the series, but a terrible film in general. I don’t know where I got that impression, because I can’t think of specific sources other than the occasional word-of-mouther telling me how Michael Myers isn’t even IN this piece of this shit! and all that.

But after finally seeing it last October at a midnight screening at the Nuart, and catching it again last Saturday, I can safely say that this is a not bad horror/mystery/science fiction-y mix. You got Tom The Fuckin’ Man Atkins playing a real Man’s Man of a doctor; he neglects his kids and ex-wife because he’s got better things occupying his time like the Three B’s: beer, booze, and bagina. But then one of these asshole patients interrupts his cool nurse-flirting lifestyle by getting himself brutally dead, and to make things worse, the killer went Buddhist protester on himself with a gas can and a lighter, so no answers from that guy.

To find out just what in the fuck is going on, Atkins starts doing the detective thing with the dead patient’s daughter. She’s played by Stacey Nelkin, the chick Muriel Hemingway’s character in Manhattan was based on. And much like her relationship with Woody Allen, the very young Nelkin eventually Gets It Awwwnnn with the much older Atkins but thankfully for Atkins, she’s in her early twenties, so don’t mark him down for being a criminal, chalk it up to being a stud!

The trail leads to a sleepy Northern California small town, not to be confused with every other sleepy Northern California small town because this one is home to the Silver Shamrock Novelties factory run by The Old Man from Robocop, but I’m sure everything is on the up and up. Surely there can’t be any suspicious going-ons going on in this town, right? It’s standard operating procedure to have a sundown curfew in an American town every day with cameras all over the place like it was post-9/11 in this bitch. It’s normal to have Carpenter-style silent creepy Men In Suits patrolling the area, and I’m sure by now everybody’s used to The Old Man getting around town in a limo cruising down the street so slow, the motherfucker might as well have come installed with hydraulics with “I’m Your Puppet” blasting from the speakers.

I honestly don’t get the hate this film received over the years (if it did, because it sure feels like it did); I’m guessing it comes from there being no William Shatner-looking motherfuckers stabbing up a fool or two. But I think writer-director Tommy Lee Wallace did a good job playing out this story on a slow-burn tip with the occasional nasty shock thrown in; I still feel this film features the most evil scene in the entire series, when the true purpose of those Silver Shamrock masks is revealed via a Bond villain-esque demonstration. And can I just toss in yet more praise to master cinematographer Dean Cundey? I’m particularly a fan of the way he shoots in anamorphic scope and the DCP print we saw at the Aero (and Nuart) did a great job reminding us how good he was and still is — it’s just the movies that got worse over the years.

Anyway, this was an even better crowd to watch it with than at the Nuart; we’d clap along to the Silver Shamrock jingle every time it came on, and cheer/applauded whenever the date or location came up on-screen or when someone clapped on-screen. The occasional person in need of validation would yell something at the screen, but otherwise it was good times. My favorite moment was Dan O’Herlihy as Shamrock big boss Conal Cochran telling sex-god Tom Atkins to “enjoy the Horrorthon” which of course brought on some cheers from those of us in the audience who appreciate stuff in the unintentional meta-hood.

Before the second film of the night, Grant ran up on stage to do some more of his thing, only this time he was joined by the Corn Gorn, who was wearing his trenchcoat and chomping on a stogie (his wife Bride of Corn Gorn was having another kid). During this, Grant managed to stay in scream-y weirdo character while telling the audience that while going nuts during the interstitials is fine and even encouraged, screaming sentence-long attempts at being MST3K during the films should be kept to a Never. I agree; it’s one thing to make a quick little quip or whatever, but if your comment goes for more than three seconds then you’re just being an arse.

Oh man, what a wacky series of events the next film turned out to be! We start out with a pretty cool long take which begins with a view of the Hollywood skyline and then we crane down to the exterior of the hot new gym called the Starbody Health Spa, which thanks to lightning striking the neon sign causes most of the letters to go out and change its name to Death Spa, and then the camera continues moving in through the entrance until we’re inside following Brenda Bakke around. She almost gets Death Spa’d when the steam room starts letting out chlorine gas, leaving her with burns and bandages over her eyes for the majority of the film.

Why did this happen? And why is it happening again and again throughout the film in the form of fucked-up violent “accidents” like tiles shooting out at the ladies in the shower room, or the pec deck machine causing some dudes chest to crack open a little to let some air in/blood out, or fucking acid coming down from the fire sprinklers? Speaking of that last one, oh man, I felt bad for the girl who got that treatment. She was barely in the movie and she didn’t seem like a bad person, just some chick who wanted to get it on with the owner of the gym. Her punishment for this crime is she gets melted down to something vaguely resembling the remnants of a human body. When someone else finds her remains later on, we see that her exposed heart is still beating! And we can hear her faintly whimper! Because this is the world of the Horrorthon — a world where both horny exercising chicks and young pink sweater & tangerine jean clad daughters can get the shit end of the death stick. No one is safe, no flesh shall be spared.

Anyway, who is responsible for all of this Death Spa-ing? Could it be the guy in charge of the computer system, played to an asshole T by Admiral Kirk’s son? He’s clearly still messed up over his late sister, who the previous year did her impression of the guy who killed Stacey Nelkin’s father in Halloween III: Season of the Witch by dumping gasoline all over herself and getting all Flame On with it, so maybe that has something to do with the accidents and the constant mysterious messages the gym owner (and former husband of Burnt Girl) is getting on his computer.

Yeah, this Burnt Girl had the double whammy of Suck released upon her when she tried to give birth and only succeeded in a miscarriage and spinal cord damage, and the despair took her to making that unfortunate final life decision. To her credit, she burned up beautifully, I mean, that was a pretty damn good full body burn there — so good that her husband still has dreams about it. I’d call them “nightmares” but he doesn’t do the Hollywood shorthand of sitting up in his sleep all sweaty and shit, maybe a little scream or gasp for flavor.

The gym is pretty impressive in a 1980s kinda way; everything is electronic and members use their ID cards to activate the equipment and open the locker doors, but all I could think about was how often these people probably lose their cards. Not only that, but can you imagine how often that system messes up, and no matter how many times you slide the card it doesn’t do shit? But aside from that, I liked that this big place has damn near everything you need, and it’s all done up in that Day Glo-ish, multi-colored Memphis style that was big back then.

The gym is also pretty impressive in that no one seems to really give too much of a shit when the bodies start dropping. Or are they dropping at all? Maybe the guy with the cracked chest survived? You don’t actually see him die and they never mention him again but people are still working out there. I know the owner’s lawyer keeps insisting that they shouldn’t deactivate the computer system and go manual or close the place down entirely until after the gym’s annual party, but Jesus Christ, didn’t the clientele notice the guy with blood shooting out of the new orifice in his chest?! That was in full public view. Shit, even if you weren’t there, I’m sure you would’ve gotten word-of-mouth on something like that. Sure, there were other killings that were hidden from the other members but it only takes one to freak them out, and Cracked Open Chest Dude was most definitely that one.

It’s a low budget flick but ain’t THAT low budget. It has decent production design, a little flash & pizazz to the filmmaking (thanks to director Michael Fischa, who also directed the equally wacky flick Crack House starring Jim Brown), lots of tits, and there are plenty of recognizable names in the cast like Brenda Bakke, Admiral Kirk’s Son, Lisa from The Omega Man, the principal from Summer School, Lyles from On Deadly Ground, the poor girl who was raised her whole life to marry Eddie Murphy in Coming to America and become his queen but his punk ass flew to Queens instead, Joe Hallenbeck’s wife from The Last Boy Scout, Hilary from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, and my man, Mr. Ken “When There’s No More Room in Hell, the Dead will walk the Earth” Foree.

It’s kind of a bummer that these movies don’t really get made anymore, these horror joints with low-but-not-that-low budgets that had small theatrical releases but were really more about the video market. Now they either play in theaters as the latest found footage sensation, or they’re way too cheap and play on SyFy without any sense of shame. I hate that shit, the Asylum-a-nation of horror and sci-fi, but there you have it.

It’s the talent both in front and behind the camera that boosts this film up to a level that resembles “Respectable Horror Entry”, or it would were it not for the script veering back and forth between “Competently Written” and “Dictated From A Whacked Head”. Sometimes the movie feels like your standard 80s horror flick and sometimes it feels like John S. Rad or Richard Park or Claudio Fragasso stepped in to take over for a scene or two. Some scenes feel like they can be picked up and dropped into another part of the movie and it would make about the same amount of sense.

it’s never boring and always entertaining, featuring plenty of gore and goofiness, and there are lots of shots of L.A. in the 80s that definitely give you a strong sense of How It Used To Be. That makes me wonder: I was barely alive during that period but I do have memories of that time, however vague and fleeting. But these kids today, they look at stuff from the 80s, a decade they weren’t even alive for and it might as well be what the 50s were/are to me — a long gone time when things were simpler. Holy shit…my lawn…it needs tending to. It’s bad enough to go on YouTube to look up some junior high jams and read comments like “I was born in 1999 but I love oldies like this!” and I’m like “Wait! ‘Tell Me’ by Groove Theory is considered a fuckin’ oldie now?!”

At this point, I missed most of Grant’s shenanigans — no offense to him but the scream-yell coming through the speakers was making my ears feel unwelcome, so I mostly hung out outside between films and contemplated the world in my head while talking to my friend. While we were outside, I noticed some people outside were wearing special Aero Horrorthon shirts that had a big X in front (as in Malcolm Ten) and behind the shirt was a list of all the films from Horrorthons past. I made a note to get one during the night.

Then a long-haired gentleman on a Skywalker (NOT a Hoverboard) rolled up to us and asked my buddy for a cigarette. In a show of appreciation, the gentleman reached into his pocket, pulled out a cigarette pack of his own — and before I could say “Hey but you already have cigarettes!” he opened it revealing that the pack was packed with buds. Weed buds, not ear buds. He pulled one out and handed it to my friend who does not smoke weed. He then told us there was more where that came from, giving us his address and telling us that there was plenty of that, plenty of *makes the international gesture for snorting a line*, and plenty of women, and that they would be up all night.

We considered ditching the Horrorthon to see what this guy was all about, this salesman, or at least stop by for a bump to make sure I get through the night, but I’m such a fuckin’ nerd that I’ll choose Movie Time over Party Time. Plus, the paranoia got the best of me and I started wondering if maybe I was living in an Eli Roth film and I’m one of his many douchebag characters and going to this party would lead to torture and mutilation and somehow this is some kind of statement about Slacktivism and Social Justice Warriors and Giving A Fuck About Other People and just stop talking, Mr. Roth, just fucking stop.

It was past midnight at this point and the third film of the night was 1987’s Anguish, written and directed by the late Bigas Luna. I’m gonna have to be that guy who doesn’t want to spoil a 28-year-old movie by telling you as little as possible about it because it’s that kind of movie! I’ll give you this much, though: Michael Lerner plays a mild-mannered ophthalmologist’s assistant, and when he’s not dealing with annoying yelling patients who won’t give enough time to get used to their new contact lenses, he’s slurping up sliced bananas in a bowl of milk. At least that’s what it looked like to me, I didn’t see any cereal in that bowl or anything, but I’m pretty sure those were bananas.

Lerner lives with his mother (played by Zelda Rubenstein) in this big old dark apartment with birds in cages and snails in fishbowls. When they’re not petting snails with their fingers or pulling birds out of tight spaces, they get into some serious hypnosis sessions. I’m talking hardcore with spinning spirals and lights and echoes and it’s all very overwhelming and kinda scary despite the film’s opening disclaimer telling you that it’s all perfectly harmless but if you’re gonna be a pussy about it, then leave.

But seriously, don’t leave. You would be cheating yourself out of an experience, like some Real Cinema type shit going on here. Again, I can’t go on any further because I feel you should go into this as unspoiled as possible. Anguish is one of them there foreign films shot in English and it kinda has that Argento in the 80s vibe to it, in that it’s visually stunning but gives fuck-all about logic or sense — sometimes maddingly so. And aside from Lerner and Rubenstein and a couple others, the movie suffers from that foreign-film-shot-in-English problem where they cast actors who speak English but aren’t necessarily the best actors.

And this where I make it worse: this film really needs to be seen in a movie theater. I know that it’s kind of a asshole thing to say because again, this is an old movie and it’s not the most popular film either, so there’s less of a chance of that happening. I mean, if this movie gets screened at all it would be at repertory houses and other similar cool theaters. Shit, I just looked it up and you can’t even stream the motherfucker. You gotta go DVD (or Region 2 Blu-ray) if you want to see it. Speaking of “see”, there’s a lot of attention paid to eyeballs in this movie, so if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing (like me), tread lightly.

OK fine. You most likely won’t be able to see it an theater anytime soon, but if the opportunity arises JUMP ON IT. I’m not saying you’ll like it, because I overheard a few people say exactly that after the film, but that’s there problem. Maybe you’ll have a better shot. If you watch it at home, you need to watch it at night with ALL of the lights off and the blinds closed and shut off your cell phone and your tablet and tell your fucking stupid kids to go for a fucking walk for 90 fuckin’ minutes. If you have a baby, put that baby outside, it’s good for the baby, it’ll toughen the baby up.

From Anguish on, a young woman sitting nearby decided to register anything remotely cute or touching with a loud “Awww” or “Ohhh” in the Awww manner. To be more specific, it was more like “Awww-oh-aww”. It began to unnerve me, little by little, and a couple times when something really disturbing happened, I was tempted (but fought it off) to go AWWW or OHHH in a similar manner towards her. Speaking of audience members I wanted to icepick in the medulla, there was a guy in the row in front of me who had a habit of sneezing (lots of sneezers and coughers in this crowd) and then rubbing his nose with his hand. You. Piece. Of. Shit. This is why when it all goes Alpha/Omega in this world, it’ll be because of dickheads like him spreading the fuckin’ Ebola-Hiv without consideration for his fellow human.

Speaking of consideration, how about you be considerate to the fuckin’ staff of the theater and clean up your fucking mess? Holy shit, throughout the night I’d look around my surroundings and find that I was surrounded by discarded half-eaten slices of Little Caesars (thanks Aero! I will show my appreciation to your floors!) and spilled popcorn and cups and wrappers and DVDs that Grant had tossed them and I’m like There is an invention called the fucking trash can, people! Use it! All I know is that if I were a volunteer for this theater and was part of the clean-up crew, I would come in the following year with the biggest chip on my shoulder, staring down every fucking audience member I come across and they’d be like “What’s his problem?” while kicking over a slice of pizza to the next row like somehow that makes it OK.

The fourth film of the night was Spookies. Fuck that shit.

The fifth film of the night was Dead & Buried. And unlike the piece of shit that played before it — fuck.

I guess I can’t just skip one, huh? OK, so Spookies. Sigh. OK. Now I never heard of Spookies until I read an article about it last year in the now sadly defunct website The Dissolve; it’s a really good piece where they interview some of the people who were involved with that film. I’m telling you, I would highly recommend reading that article and then immediately watch something else. You will save yourself lots of time and a different kind of anguish by skipping Spookies. On the other hand, there are people who love that movie and I wish I could be one of them, but I can’t. I am the man who came out of that movie pissed off at how bad it was.

This is not “so bad, it’s good”, this is just bad. It’s not incompetently made like Birdemic: Shock and Terror or all the way up its own wacko ass like The Room, this is just a movie that fails to be whatever the fuck it’s supposed to be. And what is that? A haunted house movie? A monster movie? Horror? Comedy? It’s all of that and succeeds at none of them.

In some mansion out in the middle of nowhere, some undead psychic-power-having oldster has been pining over some chick in a coffin who I’m guessing is dead but looks about as fresh as a daisy, so maybe she’s just in suspended animation — so basically he’s like Lo Pan and she’s his Miao Yin. I guess to complete whatever needs completing in order to bring her back, he needs fresh souls and whaddya know? Here come two carloads full of them! Time to unleash zombies, muck men, an Evil Dead-style possessed chick, Ghoulies, an adorable tyke with fangs who’s dressed like a Jawa, something that looked like one of the Eye Creatures but with a tentacle tongue, among others. There’s also a kind-of half-man, half-cat? that reminded me of Michael Jackson, particularly early on when he’s chasing a little boy all over the place.

With a Monster Party scenario like that, it should’ve been awesome, but it didn’t even reach half-decent. I was into it at first in a bad movie sorta way, tripping out on the victims who I’m guessing are supposed to be young adults but look more like they’re in their thirties, and there’s a couple who look more like they’re in their forties and fifties. My favorites had to be The Guido and Stuck Up British Woman; I don’t remember their names, I just remember what they played. The Guido in particular was funny with his all-leather or pleather or latex or whatever the fuck it was ensemble; I could see this dude stepping out of an IROC-Z headed to the local discotheque, or maybe he has a “Sin Bin” like those paisan Dog Brothers from MTV’s “Sex in the 90s”. Or if Eddie Murphy had made another stand up film in the 80s, he would’ve worn something like that Duke Guido wears here.

It just got so fuckin’ tiresome, man. Literally tiresome. I was good to go for the rest of the night, but after Spookies, I was worn out and I on a film-to-film basis at that point. What else can I say. I can’t find things to talk about because I’m so done with this flick. It has its moments, but even those moments didn’t do that much for me. Oh Jesus, I just remembered the “comic relief” which I put in quote because that was his designation but he sure as fuck didn’t live up to it. Really annoying dude with his hand puppet. It takes forever and a day before he finally gets his, courtesy of an Asian spider woman. Oh and the Grim Reaper shows up and that was kinda all right — but it shouldn’t be “kinda all right” it should be HOLY SHIT THE GRIM REAPER!!! AWESOME!!!!

I will give the benefit of the doubt to the original filmmakers; according to the Dissolve piece, this was originally called Twisted Souls but the financier fired them and took the film away, then hired another team to step in and shoot new scenes without the original actors. The end result, Spookies, supposedly comprises of only half of the original footage and the other half is new shit. This would explain the disjointed feel throughout, not to mention a real messy mix-up of tone. There’s a scene that pretty much is Spookies in a nutshell: two of the hapless victims-to-be are attacked by muck men who rise from the ground. These muck men slowly approach them while farting. According to the original filmmakers (and even the replacement director), this was insisted upon by the financier who was big on scatological humor and even pulled the ol’ “pull my finger” gag on set often.

I’ll also give Spookies points for fucking up a little boy and burying him alive. I say that because when he was introduced, Aww Girl was Aww-ing up a storm and when he got his, it took all my energy not to go AWWWWWWWWWW in her direction. And that made me tired.

Now, the fifth film of the night was similar to Spookies in that they were presented on 35mm. That’s it. Dead & Buried, written by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shussett and directed by Gary Sherman, is a creepy atmospheric horror/mystery film with the occasional slasher moment. Got that? It’s good stuff, though, really good stuff. Like Halloween III, this one is a bit more of a slow-burner although I’d argue that the occasional harsh moment in this film comes off stronger, even though it’s less graphic than Halloween.

The film begins with a photographer taking various photos with his Mamiya over at Potter’s Bluff, a New England small town. In the middle of this, a pretty blonde (the late Lisa Blount) steps in to flirt and get pictures taken of herself. At one point she flashes her breasts at the camera and upon observing this topless composition I’m thinking “Why, that there is an incredibly nice and considerate young lady!” and then…it all goes so very wrong — as it should, because we all know this Penthouse Forum shit never happens in real life, and when it occasionally does, it’s because there’s some terrible ulterior motive involved.

So now Sheriff James Farentino is on the scene, investigating that “accident” as well as an unrelated murder — but of course, we know they’re related, because we in the audience saw exactly what happened. But Farentino doesn’t have the benefit of knowing that he’s in a movie, he’s busy trying to piece things together while wondering why his wife is acting a little off. And speaking of a little off, the people in this town have something off-kilter about them — probably because it’s a small town and small town folk make me a little nervous, the way they know all your business, flashing warm knowing smiles as a result of it. There’s something claustrophobia-inducing about a small town for me and movies like this do not help.

On the other hand, this pretty blonde of this small town is also a nurse and to that I say Hello Nurse. I mean, she still made me nervous every time she came on screen but what a nice way to get that way. Competing for slots in my heart along with the blonde nurse we have the sheriff’s wife and a cute hitchhiker. And hell, I’ll throw a shot at the Sheriff too, why not?

The sheriff is all alone in his quest for Justice and all that jazz, I don’t recall there being a deputy but I might have nodded off for a second there. The closest thing he has to help in Potter’s Bluff: the town doc and the town coroner/undertaker. Now let’s talk about this guy, this dead people guy; he is a little too in love with his work, calling himself an artist at one point — or at least that’s what I remember, back then I was fighting off sleep because of that bullshit Spookies and Aww Girl draining my will to stay up. By now I was downing my complimentary Monster Energy Drink. (Then I threw the can in the recycling bin — like a gentleman!)

But you know what? He’s right. He talks about how much work he does to make the dead look as good if not better than they looked while they were alive and he is totally right. Because it’s one thing to make over someone who died in their sleep, but try having to reconstruct someone’s face after Death By Being Bashed In The Face By Big Rock. That ain’t no cake walk, pal. That’s both skill and artistry at work. And yeah, you see him do that particular fix-it job and it is creepy as the Dickens, that creepy bastard. Anyway, he’s played by Jack Albertson aka Grandpa Joe from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, so it was nice to see him again in what turned out to be his last theatrical feature.

Now as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m kinda dancing around the details of this movie, particularly its plot. That’s because, like Anguish, this joint is better smoked without knowing too much of what’s inside it. But unlike Anguish, this doesn’t demand a theatrical viewing, you can go right ahead and watch this at home, hell, watch it with the lights on, blinds open, shades drawn, in the middle of the day, with your stupid kids and baby beside you and it won’t take away too much. So yeah, I dug the hell out of this movie. It’s technically a horror film but it also had a bit of a, I don’t know what you’d call it, like a horror/detective noir hybrid kind of feel, like Angel Heart or some shit like that — where maybe it’s best not to know the answers to your questions, if you get my drift.

It’s too bad Gary Sherman never really broke out the way I think he should have; he preceded this with Death Line which is pretty good and followed this with Vice Squad which is really goddamn good; Martin Scorsese called the latter the best film of ’82 and Steven Spielberg dug it so much he recommended Sherman for the Poltergeist sequels — unfortunately the one he got was part III, which is maybe why things didn’t go as big as they should’ve for him. Whatever man, the dude had chops and probably still has chops and I’m gonna fuckin’ chop you if chop Dead & Buried out of your life. What are you gonna do? Watch Pitch Perfect 2 again? Fuck that shit, get Dead & Buried or you’ll be dead and buried when I get through with you.

Jeez. Sorry for getting like that at the end of the last paragraph. I was overwhelmed.

But seriously, I’ll kill you.

The sixth movie of the night was Pieces, the infamous chainsaw slasher joint with the taglines “It’s Exactly What You Think It Is!” and “You Don’t Have To Go To Texas For A Chainsaw Massacre!” which is true in both cases. There is more chainsaw violence here than in the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and it’s not even implied like in that film, you straight up see flesh get torn through a few times. It’s not anywhere as good as the Tobe Hooper joint, but it has its own thing going for it.

So the movie begins in 1942 Boston, where this little boy with no friends reciting “Humpty Dumpty” while putting together a naked chick jigsaw puzzle gets caught by his mother. She’s only in this movie for about a minute but I already knew everything about her; she is way too fuckin’ angry in the way that only the most hard-up and in serious need of a good or mediocre banging are. I guess her kid’s father skipped out or something, the way she talks about him. And I guess she sees that with the nudie jigsaw her son is very much Daddy Jr. so she takes out her anger/sadness on him, smacking the little bastard and fucking up his puzzle. Then she orders him to go get a plastic bag to clean up the mess, but because plastic bags wouldn’t be invented for another twenty years, the kid doesn’t know what to do. Just trying to comprehend the idea of such a far-out concept as a BAG MADE OF PLASTIC is too much for the little boy. So he snaps and comes back with an axe and gives Mommy the Lizzie Borden treatment.

Flash forward to the totally awesome 80s where many a Bostonian youngster is attending this unnamed university and none of them sound like they’re from Beantown but look like they’re from Spain, because it was shot in Spain. Because of this, the whole movie is dubbed, mostly covering up Spanish accented English for some of the cast members, but I’m kinda disappointed they didn’t give the new voices hardcore Pahk-the-cah accents: “Hey what’s dis fahkin’ hahd-on doin’ wahkin’ arahnd like he’s da fahkin’ Shadow ovah heah?! Hey you, Shadow! It’s wicked hot, bro, and you’re runnin’ arahnd in a fahkin’ coat? And get da fuck outta heah wit dat gay fahkin’ chainsah, bro!” And so on.

What’s this about The Shadow and a chainsaw? I’ll get to that right now. So now in 1980s “Boston” some skateboarding coed is out enjoying life the way the very young tend to do, but she makes the mistake of not looking at what’s ahead of her and next thing you know, there’s a huge mirror in her way. She’s got a good twenty feet or so to do something about it, but instead she stares and screams as she approaches and eventually makes contact with it, shattering the mirror and her dreams of going through life without ever running into a giant mirror. I guess that incident what sets off our now grown-up killer, bringing up memories of dismembered Mama, causing him to pull out box containing his late mother’s red-stained dress and shoes (wouldn’t the blood be brown by now?) and his old nudie jigsaw puzzle. Now he’s out prowling the campus — mostly in broad daylight — dressed up like The Shadow and carrying the kind of huge professional-grade chainsaw you’d see modern-day Paul Bunyans use in the forest. But he ain’t sawing down trees, he’s sawing down Shes.

Yup, this is a grade-A example of the kind of horror film that gets decried in feminist cinema pieces and they’re right. There’s no defending this kind of movie against charges of misogyny because the women in this film are here to look pretty and then look dead and that’s it. If you are an attractive lady in Pieces, you are not long for this world and when you leave it will be gruesome. Even the female lead (Lynda Day George) doesn’t really do so much compared to the manly men cops (Christopher George and some other dude) of advanced age here, hell, even the youngblood skinny college dude (Ian Sera) is more active in pursuing The Shadow than she supposedly is.

But if you’re willing to make peace with Pieces as being very much a film of its time, it’s worth a watch because of its serious heaping servings of WTF — no, not the Marc Maron podcast, otherwise you’d have to sit through 15 minutes of the killer disappearing up his own ass before getting to the good stuff — and it makes for a very amusing watch. Paul Smith aka Bluto in Popeye is in this movie as Red Herring the maintenance man, and based on the look on his face, he found the whole thing amusing too.

And despite coming off as a classic example of He-Man Woman Hater Cinema, the ending can be interpreted as pro-Respect-The-Ladies, maybe? I was talking about it to my friend later over breakfast and I felt that’s how it was supposed to come off, considering what happened and who it happened to. He felt the ending was the most horrific thing he witnessed the entire night. The audience whooped it the hell up. Your mileage may vary.

The tone of the film is dead serious (with the exception of one out-of-nowhere scene involving a kung fu master) and yet I was laughing/chuckling throughout for most of it. And yeah, once you get past the fact that the film’s attitude towards the ladies seems to reflect the killer’s POV of them, those kill scenes are pretty impressive and have kind of a nightmare vibe to them. For example, the first campus kill takes place outdoors in broad daylight on the campus grounds. The poor girl is laying down on a blanket reading a book and here comes Chainsaw Shadow to take away all her worries about graduating — and her head. Most of these films have their killings take place at night but half of the deaths here happen with the sun still out, and they’re not out in the middle of nowhere, they’re in areas where people aren’t too far away.

Also, you see a dude walk around with his dick out, and that’s pretty nightmarish if you ask me.

The director of the film is Juan Piquer Simon aka the director of MST3K fave Pod People. He also directed a movie called Supersonic Man which I saw when I was about 10 or 11 and I had the chicken pox. It was late at night and I was covered in calamine lotion and up came this cheesy Superman knockoff on channel KDOC-56 and it was good times. Anyway, I thought you would give a shit about that, that’s why I mentioned it.

Before the final film of the night (now morning), Grant came up and had a Horrorthon contest where volunteers were lined up on stage and each had to name a film that played in any of the Horrorthons, keep naming them, and those who couldn’t were out. One guy couldn’t name a single film, even though we just saw six movies that night. Grant couldn’t believe it, he even asked him what the name of the movie we just saw was called. Nope, he couldn’t do it. I’ll chalk that up to sleep deprivation or getting stage fright or both. Shyness kept me from going to play, otherwise I think I’d have done all right. I’m not saying I would’ve won, but I definitely wouldn’t have been out by the first round. It went pretty fast, this game, and the winners received trophies with the Corn Gorn on them. I think. Maybe I was getting sleep deprived myself at that point.

By now, the theater was an embarrassing mess that almost made me feel ashamed and guilty by association. Pizza, popcorn, cans, DVDs, bags, everything all over. You could’ve had a crying Native American to represent every aisle. Then you could take those Native Americans and form a war party out to scalp every one of those goddamn litterbugs. My friend saw a discarded DVD of Pirates of the Caribbean on the floor and took it. Waste not, want not, I guess. I ended up going home with DVDs of Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard and Benny & Joon (which I actually have been wanting to get for a while). We decided to leave instead of sticking around for the seventh and final film, the 1988 Roger Corman-produced gross-out fest The Nest. No offense to Mr. Nest, but we were hungry and the idea of watching a film filled with cockroaches before breakfast didn’t sit well with our stomachs. That was cruel programming right there, on purpose I’m sure.

So for the second year in a row, I cannot claim to have survived the entire Horrorthon, because I didn’t. The last time I did, it was in 2012 (didn’t go to the 2013 one) and those of us who made it got a Corn Gorn certificate for a free popcorn. I couldn’t tell you if that’s what this year’s survivors got, but I’m sure one of them can tell you. The only thing I can tell you is that the Breakfast Sampler I got at the IHOP next to the Best Western Hotel was good but the hash browns serving could’ve been bigger.

(UPDATE 11/1/15)

Just to make it clear where my friend and I stand on the movies of this Horrorthon, from most to least favorite:

1. Pieces
2. Death Spa
3. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
4. Dead & Buried
5. Anguish
(refused to put Spookies on the list because it doesn’t deserve it)

1. Anguish
2. Dead & Buried
3. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
4. Pieces
5. Death Spa
(likewise on my friend’s opinion of Spookies placement)

When you can’t sleep and decide to ramble about something you barely remember

Posted in douchebag, From Dusk Till Dawn, From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter, movie marathon, Planet Terror, ramblings of a loser on October 22, 2015 by efcontentment

Later this month, every seat in the New Beverly Cinema will be warmed by asses male-female-trans-liberal-conservative-anarchist-fat-skinny-nice-pleasant-douchebag-asshole-etc. because tickets to the All Night Horror Show marathon are now sold out. That wasn’t the case for the From Dusk Till Dawn marathon I attended on October 9th at midnight; about 30, maybe 35 people total were in attendance that night.

Why so few when it felt like there should’ve been so many? Who knows? The ticket sales to these things are like the twisters in Twister: you can’t explain ’em, you can’t predict ’em. And killing yourself sure as hell won’t bring Helen Hunt’s father back.

So yes, the first From Dusk Till Dawn followed by a direct-to-video sequel and a direct-to-video prequel, and after that, Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. All four films were presented in 35mm, which I guess is obvious considering that owner Quentin Tarantino laid down the law last year when he found out they were showing films in digital and to him digital is like a woman born without feet — Fuck Dat Chit Mang it’s 35mm or nada up in this bitch. But yeah, these were all his personal prints, so that was cool.

There were a couple of vampire trailer reels during the night and the first one included the fun Fright Night (ramblings for it somewhere here); The Lost Boys starring saxy/sexy man-god Tim Cappello and some other actors; and the criminally slept-on Innocent Blood, directed by everybody’s favorite irresponsible filmmaker/decapitator, John Landis.

I hadn’t seen the first FDTD for about 16 or 17 years when I listened to the audio commentary on laserdisc, and so much had happened between now and then; back then I thought Rodriguez/Tarantino were the beginning and end of Film and I was filled with a seemingly eternal optimism for the future of me and my fellow Earthlings. Those were the days. Remember those days? I think about those days a lot, bros. A LOT.

Today, I haven’t 100-percent enjoyed one of Rodriguez’s joints without defense since Planet Terror, which makes me wonder if it’s a coincidence that his decline began after leaving his wife Elizabeth Avellan for Rose “Hey, I can be Lexi Alexander too!” McGowan, kinda like the way shit started going downhill for Peter Bogdanovich after he left Polly Platt for Cybill Shepherd? Maybe just maybe there’s something to that whole Behind Every Great Man line. All da single ladies say YEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHH!!!!

Hey kids, in case you don’t know who Peter Bogdanovich is, he was like the Quentin Tarantino of the 1970s in that he made a fuckin’ masterpiece and everybody loved him for it, which he then misunderstood as meaning everybody wanted to see HIM: in movies, talk shows, magazines, all that shit. He thought people gave a shit about the man who made the movies and his thoughts on everything when all they gave a shit about was the movies themselves. But unlike Tarantino, he stopped hitting home runs and could only occasionally score a double at sparsely attended games.

I feel that Mr. Bogdanovich was born in the wrong time — he should’ve made his bones nowadays when he could’ve been on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram where hundreds, thousands, even millions of people would’ve given a shit about literally his latest shit. I mean, he could’ve taken a pic of his bowel movement and it would have likes, favorites, retweets. Oh man, all the love he could’ve gotten from the loveless, people don’t give a shit about their fellow men and women but give a shit about every passing thought of a celebrity who doesn’t know them and honestly couldn’t give a shit about them except in the departments of How Many Tickets Will You Buy?, Don’t You Agree With Me?, and How Awesome Is My Life? (but with the occasional I’m Just Like You thrown in to keep the waters from boiling).

All the comments on Twitter that he can look at and refuse to respond to even when the comment merits a response! All the occasional commenters who don’t want to be seen as an ass-kisser so he or she makes some insult in order to get attention and when he or she does, he or she says IMA JUSS KIDDIN-UH! And then somewhere along the way in all this Twitter/Facebook/Instagram ego knobswalloing, Bogdanovich would make a very human mistake and say something stupid like we all do and then AND ONLY THEN can the backlash begin! And then! Then he’ll discover the Block button! Cuz haters gonna hate, right Boggy?

Where was I? Oh yes, Mr. Rodriguez long ago directed a film from a Mr. Tarantino’s screenplay and it was titled From Dusk Till Dawn. I liked it then. And guess what? Do you give a shit? Of course not, but here I go anyway: I still like it! Not only that, I like it a little more now! If anything has kinda changed over the years between viewings, it’s that I now prefer the first half over the second half. And for those who — believe it or not! — haven’t seen this film yet, the first half is about two asshole criminal brothers on the lam (Quentin Clooney plays one, Tarantino plays/wishes he were the other) who kidnap a broken family (former pastor Harvey Keitel, his daughter Juliette Lewis, and an Asian dude) and make a run for the Texas/Mexico border. The second half has them all in Mexico, hanging out at a distant desert biker/trucker bar called the Titty Twister, where they end up having to fight off various strippers, bartenders, barkers, and bouncers because the aforementioned staff also happen to be vampiric motherfuckers. They should’ve known something was up when they saw my man Danny Trejo working behind the bar (Hi Danny!)

You know bros, I’ve been so used to the newer Rodriguez joints that I forgot how his older stuff used to feel a bit more chill. That is to say, filmmaking-wise homeboy was nice until it was time not to be nice, know what I mean? No? OK. What I’m saying is that his style in this movie is to keep shit kinda restrained with the camera moves and cutty cuts cuts if the scene doesn’t call for it. I mean, shit man, that entire first half is mostly one long slow burn — with the exception of the opening liquor store shootout, but sheeeeeiiiit that shootout was preceeded with a hell of a monologue by Michael Parks that is done with a minimum of cuts and a nice slow & steady zoom at one point. A-PLUS, mi amigo.

And goddamn, I said goddamn what a performance by Clooney! No joke, this guy, he’s not going crazy or chewing up the scenary or anything like that, he just plays a good badass asshole. I can’t compare his work here to his work as Dr. Ross on “ER” because I only watched two episodes of that show: the East Coast feed of “ER Live” and the West Coast feed of “ER Live” (We had an old-school giant satellite dish back then). But I watch him here and I totally buy him as a deadly & dangerous dude who will deal out death and assbeatings if need be, but has limits to his evilness. When he gives his word to Keitel that no harm will come to his family if they don’t fuck around, I always felt that he meant it. You’d be scared of this guy, but you can trust him to adhere to his flimsy-as-fuck moral compass.

You can’t say the same about Seth’s brother, though. Quentin Tarantino gives his best performance ever/so far as Richie Gecko, who is kinda like Lennie from “Of Mice & Men” only instead of petting rabbits this motherfucker rapes and kills women. (Yeah, I know: to-may-to, to-mah-to.) He’s a scary motherfucker here too in that he’s one of these creepos who can go from speaking in a fakey soft-spoken manner to flipping out angry/agitated in a second. In other words, he acts like Tarantino probably does when he runs out of coke or Cristal or feet. That was me trying to be funny right there, I have no proof he does any or all of that shit. So, I take that back. See, I kid the coke-snorting, Cristal-swilling, foot-sucker.

My favorite Richie Gecko moment is when he goes to the soon-to-be-kidnapped family’s motel room door; Keitel answers the door and it’s our boy Q.T. pretending that he needs to borrow their ice bucket for him and his “lady friend”. After he delivers his request, Seth does this thing with his mouth where his lips are — shit, my vocab is fucked and I don’t know if there’s a correct word for this but the best way to describe it is that he purses his lips inward. It’s like some shit you’d see a little kid do when he knows he’s being bad.

(Reason #10,402,901 why I can’t stand children.)

The only other time I’ve seen someone do this in a movie — that I can remember at this moment — is Pauly Shore in AFI’s #101 pick for Top 100 Army Comedies Starring Former MTV VJ’S, In the Army Now; Lynn Whitfield is Shore’s drill sergeant and she’s giving him shit because he can’t maintain a straight “gig line” (keeping the line of your shirt even with the edge of your belt buckle and seam of your zipper) during routine inspection and he’s like “I guess my gig line needs straightening, huh?” and that’s when he gives her the Richie Gecko rape-mouth. And it’s kinda like rape right there because he did that shit on purpose so now she has to adjust his shirt and pants for him while he’s making “UHHH!” and “OHHHH” noises. She should’ve full-force clutched his fuckin’ trouser weasel and forced him to weez a little juu-uuice.

Anyway, it’s good times and if you haven’t seen it, then that’s most likely because you’ve never gotten around to it. It’s full of blood and gross-out gags and yet the grossest thing in the movie is knowing Quentin Tarantino probably had a stubby chubby going on while they were shooting the scene where Satanico Pandemonium (well hello, Salma Hayek) sticks her foot in his mouth. Even grosser is knowing that despite judging Tarantino for that shit, I know that if I had Tommy Wiseau money I’d cast myself in a movie where every other scene is me banging chicks. And the scenes in between those would be about chicks raving about having banged me or crying because they haven’t. Yet.
(Working title: The Chick Banger)

There might have been one or two more trailer reels between movies, but I can’t remember because my lazy ass took too long to get around to writing this shit, but I remember some of the vampire flicks in the reels included Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (which I remember catching in the theater and not digging at all); The Fearless Vampire Killers (which I still haven’t seen but based on the trailer looks like unfunny ass, but hey, Leonard Maltin gave it three-and-a-half stars AND it was directed by famed child rapist Roman Polanski, so it deserves a shot); Blade (from Stephen Norrington, a talented visualist who I wish would make another movie even though I’m sure he was instrumental in Sean Connery’s retirement from cinema, which is a mortal sin that cannot be forgiven); and Near Dark (yay Kathryn Bigelow!).

Somewhere between the breaks, Matt (from Matt and Cat Have Back Issues) the dude who was conducting the all-night festivities gave away prizes to lucky audience members that included prizes like Grindhouse on Blu-ray, the From Dusk Till Dawn box set, and something else I can’t remember. I didn’t win any of them, so fuck ’em.

Anyway, the second movie was From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money. Yeeesh. I remember catching this movie back in ’99 on good ol’ VHS from an establishment called Blockbuster Video. Now gather around, kiddies, as I tell you about this Blockbuster Video. Back in the day the world used to be filled with buildings that were stocked with “video cassettes” of films and you would go to the building, and inside you would look at the cover art of the video cassette and based on that and/or word-of-mouth and/or the plot description on the back of the box, you would then “rent” (or “hire” for our non-Murican friends) it for a day or two. Then you would take the movie home and hope it lived up to your expectations or surpassed them.

See, back then we didn’t have Netflix or Amazon Prime or YouTube or Hulu or Vudu or Dudu or Hudu or Tubby and Little Lulu, any of that shit. Back then, if the movie sucked five minutes into it, you couldn’t just stop playing it and move on to the next cine-stream, you continued watching because you made a commitment, goddammit! You kept watching and hoped it got better. If it didn’t, shit, that’s life in the big city. If it did, then you felt good about keeping the faith. Besides, it’s not like you were going to waste gas money and drive back to the video store and get another one. And if you did, God help you.

Anyway, soon another set of buildings known as Blockbuster Video stores started popping up everywhere. They specialized in Top 20 films, and you would think that plus higher rental prices would’ve doomed them, but no, they were making money hand over fist and soon it made it harder for the other video stores to stay in business. This sucked because then it became harder to find lesser known films or films that were unrated or NC-17 because Blockbuster didn’t stock those. Eventually when it came time for Blockbuster to also meet Jesus, we actually shed tears for those fuckers because at that point that was all we had left. Today, people looking to rent movies now stand in long lines in front of a Redbox like commies waiting for toilet paper.

I wasted all that time talking about that shit because I honestly don’t have much to write about with Texas Blood Money, other than I didn’t care much for it back in ’99 and I liked it even less now. But I guess I should talk about it, huh? I should try. I can’t quit now, I’m too far in to this waste of time. OK, so this was a direct-to-video movie directed by Scott Spiegel, who in his various duties as part of the Raimi crew also co-wrote films like Evil Dead II, Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except, and the Clint Eastwood/Charlie Sheen epic The Rookie. As a director, he had only done one complete feature (the supermarket slasher Intruder) and some uncredited work on The Nutt House. Based on Intruder and this movie, his specialty appears to be clever camera angles like a camera following a oscillating fan, camera following the up-and-down movements of Tuco from “Breaking Bad” doing push-ups, a neck bite shot from the inside of the vampire’s mouth, and he even throws in a sex scene done Dolemite-style from the POVs of the banger and bangee.

The movie starts with Bruce Campbell and Tiffani Thiessen being attacked by bats in an elevator, then you realize that it’s a film-within-a-film being watched on television by Robert Patrick. The weird thing is that both the film-within-a-film and the “real” film don’t feel any different from each other at all. We interrupt this shitty low-budget horror/comedy to bring you another shitty low-budget horror/comedy now in progress. This movie is fucking corny, dude. The effects (particularly the bat effects) are like the late-90s version of the kind of effects from low-budget movies that would show late at night with some creature feature host interrupting it. Knowing how everyone in the Raimi crew rolls, I’m positive that shit was on purpose and that’s the tone Spiegel wanted but I guess I wasn’t in the mood for that shit both times I watched this fuckin’ thing.

Patrick plays an ex-con who is still down for some crime time, so he rounds up the ol’ gang to meet up with their escaped convict buddy Duane Whitaker for a job in Mexico. On the way there, Whitaker takes a unexpected detour that leads him to the direct-to-video version of the Titty Twister  (Hello again, Danny Trejo!). He gets bit, takes off, meets up with the boys, and it’s like being a vamp is cutting into his bandit time because he still goes on with his plan to rob a bank. And at this point TBM feels like more of an Innocent Blood sequel than a FDTD sequel because much like Robert Loggia’s character in the former, Whitaker decides that the more vamps in his crew, the stronger it’ll get. And the stronger the crew gets, the easier it’ll be to make money and eventually run shit. In comes a homie, and out comes his fangs.

The idea of the movie and the plot on paper sounds pretty cool, so why did it feel like such a slog to me? I think it comes down to a script filled with dialogue that has the intention of clever, funny, and occasionally badass — but intention don’t mean shit if you can’t pull it off. I’ll admit that maybe I’m just being a humorless asshole here, but I just wasn’t getting into the jokey vibe of this one, or maybe the jokey vibe just plain sucked here. The execution is kinda off too, with so much (if not damn near the entire fucking film) emphasis on the “cool” shots over everything else that it quickly became tiresome, giving the proceedings a hotshot student film vibe. I bet you this movie plays better with the sound off, just some cheesy looking movie with weird shots that’s kinda boring in the first half but then gets a little interesting when the bank robbery goes down with shootouts, flying bodies, broken glass, and vamp action.

Yeah, I think the best way to watch this movie is in the background of some hipster bar amid the din of clinking glasses, too many loud conversations about who knows what, and someone’s iTunes playlist blaring through the speakers — and even then, someone at the bar would turn to the screen and watch some of it before saying “This looks dumb.” And I’ll be watching from across the bar, judging that person and everyone else in that bar who isn’t me, while secretly wanting to be a part of them.

The third film of the night was From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter, and man, comparing this film with the last one — you wanna talk about apples and oranges? Fuck that, this was more like apples and fetuses. Part tres is pretty goddamn good, which ups my previous just plain “good” opinion when I saw it a few years ago on DVD (which I won along with a Stroker Ace DVD at a midnight screening of Grindhouse at the Nuart). I don’t know if following up the last film helped it play better this time around or if it really did get better for me over time. But what I know for sure is that this one was much better made. This director P.J. Pesce, he handled this movie like he wanted to make an honest-to-goodness Movie and not a parody/approximation of a movie like fuckin’ Spiegel over here.

I don’t know if this one had a bigger or smaller budget than Texas Blood Money, but I’m sure it was low-budget all the same. The difference between these films is that in their 35mm presentations, TBM felt like a cheapie direct-to-video joint unnecessarily blown up for the big screen — a child wearing grown-up clothes — while The Hangman’s Daughter did not, it looked expensive (even if it wasn’t) and it felt like it had some scope to it and therefore it felt right at home projected in the New Bev.

There are clear Leone homages here and there (particularly the “here” part) but it’s not all ripoff shit, this Pesce dude has a really cool style that employs great compositions, the occasional left field use of gore when you least expect it, gore when you totally expect it, slow-motion, and none of it feels gimmicky. It all left me wondering why this dude hasn’t been given a bigger canvas to paint on since this flick. He made a TV-movie called The Desperate Trail for Turner a few years before this, and that was pretty damn good. He also made a direct-to-video sequel to Smokin’ Aces which was better than it had any right to be. Looking at his CV, his wheelhouse nowadays is direct-to-video sequels; I haven’t seen his Lost Boys sequel nor his Sniper 3, but shit, but based on what I’ve already seen of his work, I’ll give ’em a look-see for sure.

The funny thing is that Part III has a less original story than part II, yet is the better film. Not dissing on part III’s story, I only mean that it’s less original because this is pretty much just FDTD’s basic outline in a different time period (early 1900’s Mexico — yup, this is a prequel). Stepping in for the Gecko Brothers anti-hero slot you have a real Mexi-bastard named Johnny Madrid (played by Marco Leonardi from Cinema Paradiso and Like Water for Chocolate), who escapes public execution thanks to a rifle-wielding fan named Reece (Jordana Spiro, who’s been in a lot of things but who I’ll always remember from USA’s “The Huntress” even if you don’t — but I sure as fuck do! USA was dead to me for a while when they cancelled that one) and to show his appreciation he nooses her to a cemetery cross and leaves her dangling.

But hey, that dirty girl was seriously damaged goods, so you can’t feel too bad for her. She didn’t help her situation either by asking Madrid to show her the outlaw ropes because she wanted to be a “monster” like him. Hey Reece, did you ever consider the possibility that this guy might be sensitive to being called names like that, even though damn near everything he does justify such names?

And see, that right there is one of the many improvements Tres has over Deuce in this series; the main character is a complicated fucker of a human being. There’s no arguing Reece’s scouting report on Madrid but of course he’ll beg to differ via attempted murdering her ass. He’s a bad dude but apparently harbors some kind of deep-seated belief that he has something resembling Honor, which he demonstrates when he decided to let Ambrose Bierce live after a violent stagecoach robbery (a stagecoach of which Bierce was a passenger and of which Madrid was jacking).

Oh yeah, didn’t I tell you? The author of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” figures into this story, and he’s played by Michael Parks and I dug how the filmmakers took the author’s real life disappearance and made it part of this story. If The Hangman’s Daughter is to be believed (seeing as this is clearly a reenactment of true events), when Bierce took off for Mexico to ride with muthafuckin’ Pancho Villa, along the way ran into Madrid and his crew. (He also ran into Rebecca Gayheart’s Jesus freak and her pussy-whipped husband, but fuck ’em.)

As for Madrid and his crew — and the titular Hangman’s Daughter with whom he ran off (played by the lovely Ara Celi), they are horse-powering their way through old-school Mexico doing the bandito thing with the Hangman on their tails until they make a stop at a bar/whorehouse (Danny Trejo! Dude, we keep running into each other!) that seems a lot like an old-fashioned version of the Titty Twister, complete with a Satanico Pandemonium-esque lady (played by Sonia Braga) running shit. Could it be?

Shit man, I don’t know. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.

I’ll say this again, the story is basically the first FDTD all over again, particularly the second half where it all goes SPOILER Titty Twister on us with gore and gross-outs. It was a tad disappointing to see everything get resolved in such a routine manner though; the film does such a great job building everything up by having all the characters run into each other at this location, all of them with various beefs of various sizes. There was so much potential as far as what could happen between them while trying to fight off the vamps and survive, but most of it was left un-potentialized. So much tension and animosity and hatred and straight out I’MA KILL YO ASS between these people and you felt very little of it between them because it felt like the filmmakers were more interested wrapping things up. I get it, there are bigger things to worry about when you’re surrounded by vampires, but they could’ve taken their time leading into that mode. I was hoping for some score settling, but I had to settle for keeping a survival tally.

But I honestly just spent more time and words on something that only bugged me a little. This is still very much a good little flick worth a watch, a true part of the FDTD saga. Because as far as I’m concerned, the DVD boxed set might include three films but there are only two From Dusk Till Dawns: the first one and The Hangman’s Daughter. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who felt that way; the applause that this film received at the end credits made a strong contrast with the silence that greeted the end of Texas Blood Money.

There was a very quick break between films, and my buddy and I used it as an opportunity to increase our chances of getting lung cancer. While doing so, I noticed a guy go up to the ticket booth to ask Matt about purchasing a ticket for the fourth and final film of the night, Planet Terror. It was around 5am at this point and I thought that was a geeky-cool thing to do, to be like “You know what? I’m up early (or up late) and I just want to catch this one film!”. I overheard Matt telling him that the ticket was for the entire night, though, which would be about $20, and at that point my friend and I went inside. So I don’t know if the guy ponied up the $20 for this one film or if a deal was worked out. But I swear I saw him in the theater, or maybe I was too bleary-eyed to distinguish the handful of remaining cinemagoers in the crowd.

Yup, I started getting sleepy and nodded off throughout Planet Terror, but c’mon you can’t blame me for that. I refuse to take responsibility for that. This was a Friday night/Saturday morning and I had a long day at work that started early the previous day and I didn’t have time for a nap before taking off to the New Bev. That doesn’t change anything, people. I can roll with the big boys and girls from dusk till dawn, I’m the real thing when it comes to all-nighters, I’M BONA FIDE!!!

Anyway, this was the extended version of Planet Terror, which is about 15 minutes longer than the version that played in the Grindhouse double feature with Tarantino’s Death Proof. It’s also presented in Rodriguez’s preferred 1.78:1 aspect ratio rather than the 2.35:1 used for Grindhouse. It’s worth a watch, just to see what was taken out put back in, but I feel that the shorter cut is the better viewing experience. I’ve said this before in my previous ramblings (which is why I won’t go on too long about this film) but the shorter Grindhouse cut of PT fuckin’ moves, man! It’s fast-paced without overwhelming you. The additional scenes and moments in this longer cut make some of the previously relentless sequences play out in stops and starts — speed bumps in the Autobahn.

My favorite example of the longer version hurting the overall pace is when the character of Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) arrives at the hospital to save his girl Cherry Darling (Rose!), followed by the Sheriff and his Deputy (Michael Biehn and Tom Savini). In the Grindhouse cut, he rolls his Killdozer in front of the hospital, gets out, and heads straight inside and we cut to the interior of the hospital. Immediately Wray begins stabbing every zombie-like “sicko” who gets near him, only stopping or slowing down to kill as he makes his way to Cherry’s room. It’s a fucking awesome scene that is all pure propulsion made even more propulsion-ier by Rodriguez’s pulsing electronic score on the soundtrack.

In the extended version of this scene, after Wray enters the hospital the film cuts to Savini keeping watch outside the place with his gun drawn. He’s a nervous nelly, this Savini; his eyes dart in every direction as patients and medical staff and infected are running all around him then BLAM!!! He fires out at someone who only appeared to be a sicko but was unfortunately just a very sickly patient. Biehn witnesses this and calls Savini a dumbass. Then we get an additional moment of a character inside the hospital getting torn apart by sickos and THEN we finally get to Wray wrecking shit inside the hospital.

Maybe Rodriguez needs to make shorter Grindhouse cuts of his most recent work because I feel like Planet Terror was the last time he knew exactly the right pace for the moment. You know what, I kinda take that back because Sin City: A Dame to Kill For was clearly cut down to the bone in comparison to its source material. Even the first Sin City had an extended cut released somewhere along the line. Maybe a longer version would actually improve that one.

OK, I don’t want to end up on another three paragraph rant about an unrelated topic, so I’ll just wrap it up now. It was a good time at the New Bev, and I dug the shorter all-nighter format. Not because I’m becoming an old man who needs to sleep at night, but because I think it opens up the possibilities of future mini-all-nighters. Because I need shit to do on a weekend night, guys. I’m too lame for clubs and too cheap for bars, but fuck yeah I wouldn’t mind paying to see a bunch of movies in the middle of the night. Get working on it, people!

Let’s see, what haven’t I mentioned yet OH YEAH — at the ticket booth, we were each given a Japanese program for From Dusk Till Dawn. It was pretty cool and I’ll put that right up there with my Che program from the roadshow screening at the Nuart. I don’t speak/read Japanese so I miss out on what’s written inside but maybe I can get one of those losers who learned Japanese so they can watch Anime without dubbing or subtitles to translate it for me. I’ll say “What’s up, loser who learned Japanese just to watch Anime better! How’s it going?” and then he’ll say “Not bad, I’m doing all right. So how are you doing, guy who watched Max Max: Fury Road 25 times at the movie theater?” and then the guy standing next to us who learned French so he could watch Luc Besson’s early work without subtitles or dubbing will high-five the Anime guy and say “Touché!”