Archive for movie marathon

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.

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,

EFC

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!