Thursday, November 3, 2011

People don't say "Excuse me" anymore, they just squeeze past you and maybe just maybe, they'll give a passing glance loaded with a kingly disdain that only the truly assholish deserve to receive. And that's you: the asshole who committed the crime of being in their way and not having the decency to read their minds and curtsy the cunts.

"Provisions!" said the lady with the packed knapsack, to her friends in line in front of the Aero Theater for the American Cinematheque's 6th Annual Dusk-to-Dawn Horrorthon. She wasn't the only one; as usual with these all-nighters, people came loaded for bear -- blankets, pillows, backpacks full of snacks, coolers packed with drinks -- even though the fine folks at the Aero would supply free snacks and beverages, leaving me to feel like Sgt. Elias in Platoon, wanting to tell these groups of Chris Taylors that they're humping too much stuff, but I guess it's fun to do that kind of thing, so what do I know? Absolutely nothing, dear reader, absolutely nothing.

Some arrived in costume; I spotted 3 vampires, a young couple in old couple drag (and a wheelchair), a Bride of Frankenstein, and a group of dudes in full Droog wear -- they walked in whistling "Singin' in the Rain", which amused me for the same reason I was amused watching the departing patrons of the New Beverly Cinema whistle "Singin' in the Rain" following a screening of A Clockwork Orange: they're referencing a scene in the film where A WOMAN IS RAPED AND HER HUSBAND IS FORCED TO WATCH WHILE GETTING BEATEN HALF TO DEATH. There was also a chick dressed like Richie Tenenbaum, there was a devil (or The Devil, if you're not into the whole brevity thing), and even a couple of the concession stand peeps got into the spirit of things; one guy was wearing what I want to say is that mask Max from Where the Wild Things Are had on (but I'm probably very wrong about; Totoro, maybe?), and one girl in an all-black outfit was going as a hot chick. Either that, or she was just simply a hot chick.

Inside, there was music playing on the sound system, but unlike last year's Horrorthon, it didn't make me want to jump out of a building, punching birds and windows on the way down. Instead, I remember hearing "Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)" from that sleeping-on-live-tv motherfucker, and the theme to The Munsters television show, among others. There's eavesdropping and can't help but hear: A girl passed by me with her date; she excitedly told him "My God! We have so much in common!" and then they discussed college majors as they sat down. Then I overheard one dude telling his bud that he needed to sit on the aisle seat because he was on a low-carb diet, and that plus his heavy H20 intake guaranteed quite a few trips upstairs to R. Kelly the porcelain. I have that same problem too, but I'm not on some diet, that's for fuckin' sure. I probably just have The Beetis.

A particular group of people sat in the back corner of the auditorium, and I bet these award-winners sit there every year, because that back corner has always been the noisiest one in past Horrorthons -- the dreamers who fantasize themselves as The Second Coming Of MST3K. They gave out some warning shots before the film by starting with the Alan Alan Alan shouts. One of them was an older gentleman wearing a Panama hat and I bet he was the leader. I don't know when I became such a fuckin' no-fun-having grouch, but there you have it. I decided to do something about it though; I left my coat on my seat and went back outside to my car, where I proceeded to pack my portable vaporizer with soul-saving sativa and then placed it on my person, in case the shit just got too fun for my no-fun-having ass during the night. As I walked back, I noticed some newly-posted signs on the sidewalk near the Aero, something about Temporary No Parking on Saturday Oct. 29th from 10pm to 10am.

Mr. Grant Moninger then came down to the stage and began the evening with his usual Horrorthon routine; screaming and doing damage to his vocal cords in an effort to set the crazy mood of the event. I used to be absolutely fuckin' flabbergasted (and a wee bit scared) by Grant's extreme delivery, but now I'm more prepared for it, and plus reading this article kinda helped me get more in tune with what Mr. Grant was going for. At least I now know that his is just a performance, not a frightening cry for help. Even his rocket-speed launching of candy and movies wasn't so bad this time -- ending up with 3 bags of M&M's didn't hurt either. Also, you know, the weed.

The lights went down and we watched the latest Horrorthon intro by Mr. Damon Packard; this time it was "Galactica '80" and "The New Adventures of Wonder Woman", and as usual, the on-screen cast credits consisted of a mix of Horrorthon attendees with various other names. I might as well list the other clips, videos and shorts that were shown between features -- the ones I can remember, anyway, since I waited about five days to write about this and my memory of the evening is dissipating like so much vaped bud. Old faves from previous Horrorthons were also included, but I already wrote about those last time, so go here if you want to read about 'em:

-- 2 old Brit ladies trying out reclining chairs on some BBC show

-- A clip from the TV-movie Where Have All The People Gone, featuring James Arness' brother, Kurt Russell's wife from Breakdown, and some other dude eating the fuck out of an abandoned kitchen.

-- Clip from one of Charles Manson's parole hearings. Christ Almighty. Those guys must show up with popcorn if his rants are always this entertainingly bonkers. Anyway, fuck that Steve Railsback-looking motherfucker, watch this clip instead.

-- A clip of some movie where some chick asks this dude if he wants to stick around and watch some motherfucker in a crazy monkey mask dance some crazy tribal dance. The gentleman declines.

-- A bunch of kids in Halloween costumes singing that Mulberry Bush song, led by a kid in a dragon costume, and he's apparently a child actor in his Fat Jim Morrison phase because he's all fucked-up & confused, and the song itself is a slow, dark, drugged-out cover. Dragon Kid is obviously tripping balls, discovering new things about his inner self during this vision quest he's taking while leading his friends on this sing-along jaunt through the woods. Soon, he will Tame The Snake and Become The Dragon.

-- After what feels like five minutes of a computer-animated castle (graphics highly reminiscent of something out of Video Toaster or Amiga) intercut with those evil Wiccans, New Agers and general various Non-Christians, we finally discover that we're watching an intro to a program called Pagan Invasion and today's episode is about Halloween and how evil that fun shit is. This must've been before these guys tried beating those evil heathens at their own game with that "Trunk Or Treat" idea.

-- Creating Rem Lezar. Some blue superhero in NYC is walking with two kids he probably snatched from unsuspecting parents, and along the way one of the kids claims to have seen the Twin Towers while the other kid is like Bullshit, and somehow that leads to this.

-- A clip from a series written/directed by Grant Moninger (edited/sound designed by Damon Packard) titled Olympic Blvd.

-- Action sequence from some foreign flick; a gas station in the country is hit by a group of professional assassins, the kind of professionals who shoot everything and everyone willy-nilly, so it's hard to gauge if they are in fact, professionals. They are effective, though -- they kill EVERYONE, even the kids get it (in fact, they get it the worst, since it appears the child actors were outfitted with adult-sized blood squibs).

-- Another foreign joint. Cops catch some punk-ass rapist and his victim is there to HAHAHA his ass. Then the narrator cuts in and tells us that the rapist still went to jail despite his bigshot father's connections, and the rape victim is, like, a banker or something in New York City and I think the narrator misses the Big Apple, I don't fuckin' know. The End.

-- The first minute of an old Horrorthon favorite, the Homework Hotline show. Pay attention to the dude sitting next to the host; he's about as awkward as I am whenever I'm sober, or when I'm talking to one of the preciously few readers of this here blog (more on that later).

-- A Dog's Love. Holy shit, I thought this was an expertly-made fake joint recreating a silent film, but this is an actual silent short from 1914. Goddamn. Even back then, they were putting out some harsh flicks. The Aero only showed about a couple minutes, but trust me, I've since watched the whole thing and without a snickering crowd all pepped up on WOO! and HAHAHA!, it's kinda tough to watch, in the way that NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF DOG MOVIES ARE HARD TO WATCH. Here it is, if you dare. I'm a pussy, and I'm even more of one when you involve a dog. Thank God for that final shot. By the way, you know they probably beat the fuck outta that dog to get a performance out of him, that's how they rolled back in the 10's. And yet that dog probably got to eat great food in the Whites Only section. Ain't that a motherfucker.

-- "Dracula Live From Transylvania". George Hamilton collects a paycheck hosting a special on these bloodsucking bastards. He interviews some lady who claims to be a vampire expert and ol' Georgie's keeping his best straight-face during that bullshit, like he has been for most of his career.

-- That anti-drug all-star music video Robert Evans produced, as a way to superficially atone for getting caught smuggling Scarface-sized amounts of co-fuckin-caine while making Popeye, because Evans' spinach was that muthafuckin' yeyo. I remember in that documentary of his, Evans refers to this event as "a happening". Yeah, something's happening, all right -- sure as fuck ain't *this* shit.

Anyway, the movies!

First off was Pet Sematary, starring Time Trax, Tasha Yar, and Herman Munster. I'm sure you know what this shit's about; family moves to a new house, which is located right next to a busy road frequented by many a semi -- in other words, the perfect place to live if you have young children who tend to wander off and cats who think they can control automobiles with their minds or something. Guess how that shit works out? Oh well, at least there's that old Indian burial ground (this was made in 1989, you could still call 'em Indians back then) that brings dead motherfuckers to life. I'm sure that's gonna work out well for everybody.

But there's this recently dead dude named Pascow, and because Time Trax tried to save him (he's a doctor) while everyone else was like Fuck That Guy, Pascow figures he's gonna do this dude a solid before moving on to the next world by warning him about that bad Indian burial ground. Man, Pascow has some extra time on Earth and he's gonna spend it trying to help out a stranger? Maybe he doesn't have any higher priority peeps on his list, like family or friends, or maybe he's like Fuck Those Guys because he's an asshole. Good thing they don't know about this shit he's pulling; what wasted unconditional love, on somebody who doesn't believe in the stuff (or a helmet). Oh well.

Unfortunately for Pascow, he's dealing with a man who is now past being rational about anything because, well, because shit happens that I'm not sure I should get into, even though this is a 22-year-old film and I don't want to spoil something so recent. Haha, just kidding -- both the cat and kid get smushed by the semis. NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

No, seriously -- NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

You know, that scene kinda fucked me up as a kid when I first saw this flick; that was also the only time I had seen it. I didn't like Pet Sematary back then, and I'm sorry to say I didn't care for it last Saturday either. The NOOOOO scene, perhaps it is a strong scene, following up Time Trax's anguished scream with snapshots of the young boy he just lost but when you're in a room full of laughing audience members, well, you know, when in Rome (starring Kristen Bell)....

Even with my fellow Horrorthon-ers laughing, Pet Sematary was still a surprisingly morose & depressing experience for me (for the most part), and since the movie kinda sucks, well, that means it's not the good kind of morose & depressing. I don't know, that's how I reacted both times with this flick. People go on about how scary that whole deal with the Zelda character is, but I was more saddened by it because it made me think of real-life versions of that shit. Mary Lambert directed this; she also directed an episode of Tales from the Crypt ("Collection Completed") that also depressed the shit out of me. I know she recently directed a SyFy movie, and while I haven't seen it, I bet that shit's depressing too. But then again, her Sega CD game Double Switch was all right and I wasn't too depressed with that one. It's no Sonic CD, though, that's for goddamn sure.

The cool thing is that Herman Munster's character is fun to watch with his New England way of saying words like "road", and Tasha Yar is nice to look at in that Androgynous Cabin Boy/Girl way (she also plays tense & confused pretty well), and there's also that hilarious painting in Tasha Yar's parents' crib to look at. Occasionally, they really overdo it with the melodrama, to the point that you can't help but laugh, giggling audience or not. I mean, that scene between the grandfather and Dr. Time Trax during the kid's funeral, they pretty much did that same scene in Scary Movie 3, only that movie was a comedy and this one is a dead serious horror joint -- but they are both damn near the same in idea and execution (albeit one goes like a minute longer, but still, yo). In other words, when I wasn't too busy wallowing in a Pet Sematary funk, I was flying high on Pet Sematary's shitty goofiness. Fuck, now that I think about it, either this movie is bipolar or I am. 

Stephen King wrote both the book and the screenplay, and because of that, he has no right to ever complain about Kubrick fucking up The Shining. Also, he made Maximum Overdrive so he really needs to simmer down now. But I can see what he was going for with the depressing shit, I think he wanted to do what George A. Romero did with the O.G. Night of the Living Dead; King has brought up that movie many times as something that genuinely scared the shit out of him, in particular the scene where the girl does that thing to that character (trying not to spoil a 42-year-old movie for you). I think he was going for that here, with the little boy and fat English cat dying and Tasha Yar's sister getting all fucked up with spinal meningitis, maybe that was supposed to make the audience go all Oh Shit He Went There or something, I don't know, I'm tired. In any case, this movie deserves to have its Achilles tendon slashed open and its throat adorably chomped by a zombie toddler, because it's not that scary and not that entertaining, but I'm obviously the asshole in this equation because the fuckin' thing was a hit at the box office.

The second film was Tourist Trap, and unlike Pet Sematary, this movie was pretty fuckin' tight. That bad muthafuckin' rifleman, Chuck Connors, plays this lonely dude out in the country slash desert, living in his out-of-business museum (nobody comes by these parts anymore, on account of that new highway detouring potential customers). But here comes a group of teens or college students -- whatever they are, it's one dude and three chicks and you Just Fucking Know the guy has at least had 14 passing thoughts of becoming the Mack with these honeys in, like, the past 5 minutes. Anyway, they're on the kind of road trip that these future body-bagees usually take in these flicks, and they have a flat tire. One of their friends has already gone out to find a garage or something, but he hasn't come back yet, so now they're here, looking for this asshole.

Well, they found Chuck Connors instead, checking out the three lovelies swimming in one of them there waterin' holes they have in these country/deserts, carrying his huge phallic-symbol of a shotgun. Like his 6'6 stature wasn't enough. They're understandably creeped out a tad by him, but he appears to mean well, and he's invited them to his little museum, so why not?

I'll tell you why not; way-too-lifelike animatronic dolls, like the kind they have at Disneyland, all over the place. Yeah, it's one of those joints -- and that, coupled with Connors' being way too friendly and helping (and being Chuck Connors), you can pretty much guess this is going somewhere that these characters don't wanna go, but we in the audience wanna see. Specifically, a house located next door to the museum that Connors is very clear about them staying away from; that's because there's a scary dude in a freaky mannequin mask living there. Because it's a scary dude in a freaky mannequin mask, and because this is a movie, you know his deal isn't that he's freakishly private or something (besides, that's my deal), there's something else going on, and it ain't good.

Chuck Connors is great in this, he's Chuck-o-riffic, he really brought some Connors to the table. When I was a kid, I only knew him as the dude from Soylent Green and as the guy Bob Costas had a hetero crush on. But then I caught The Muthafuckin' Rifleman reruns on KDOC-TV a couple years later, and while I still didn't want to be his boyfriend, like fuckin' Costas over here, I gladly had another person to add to my badass file. I'm sure Mr. Connors would've been elated to hear that news, that some little kid added him to a non-existent file that the "writer" of a blog 20 years in the future would make up for a paragraph that had no point, let alone a punchline. But hey, you know what other show Connors was in? Fuckin' Branded. I didn't even know until recently that fuckin' Larry Cohen created that show. Larry Cohen! And Sam Peckinpah created The Rifleman! Back to the movie!

The other cool part of his performance is that on occasion, I swear, he morphs into latter-day Rutger Hauer in both looks and mannerisms. It's uncanny. The chicks are great too, but to be honest, I really wasn't paying attention to what the fuck they were saying, I was just checking them out. It was just BLAHBLAHBLAHWAHWAHWAH coming out of nice lips. Whenever all three stood together in the same shot, I felt like I was at Rekall, picking out my preferred type of woman for my memory implant; Slim, athletic, voluptuous? Demure, aggressive, sleazy? (Be honest.) Tanya Roberts is one of the girls and this is the first time I've seen her with dark hair, and she rocks that look just as well as her blonde look. I don't know who the other two chicks are but they wear the uniform representing their character types very well. The guy with them? He's a douche, exposing his flabby arms like that's gonna get him all the 70's pussy or something. It's almost as bad as Vernon Wells' showing-off-my-lack-of-definition outfit in Commando.

Pino Donaggio composed the score, and it reminded me of his work on the DePalma joints; I know I've heard those breathy female vocals before in at least one of those movies, or at least it felt that way while watching it. David Schmoeller directed this, and based on his other flicks, this is easily his best. But I'm not grading-on-a-curve, this movie is Good Times all the way.. The whole mannequin deal is creepy, making Tourist Trap something like a preemptive antithesis on Mannequin with Kim Cattrall. Hear me out; the latter's gonna leave lonely losers lusting after those dolls in real life, praying to whatever god they pray to in hopes that somehow that fake chick's gonna turn into a real chick. (I'm not speaking for myself, obviously. No way. No way Jose.) But Tourist Trap is gonna leave people kind of wary of those fuckin' things, next time they find themselves at a Macy's or something.

The killer in this particular horror flick is a trip, man. He speaks in one of those old fashioned Evil voices and wears that fucked up mask, while delighting in the harsh shit he does to his victims; my favorite scene involves him slowly plastering up this poor girl, and he's describing to her how she's going to die, the stages and everything (he's obviously done this enough to know). He tells her how the plaster will feel like it's burning her face; that means it's hardening up. Then he says that she won't be able to breathe, but it won't be the suffocation that'll kill her, it's the fear-induced heart explosion that will end her. Tensed me up something awful, that scene. By the way, my band Fear-Induced Heart Explosion is playing the Arby's on Sunset next Sunday night. (Free with a two Beef & Cheddar minimum.)

I'm gonna say this (write, actually) right now: Tourist Trap is a PG-rated slasher flick with no actual slashing and a minimal body count (for a joint like this, at least). And yet, I'd sooner watch this movie than the unrated cut of Friday the 13th (the real one, not that Marcus Nispel bullshit) again. It's creepy, tense, and never boring -- which I hate to admit all the F13 flicks suffer from at one point or another. Also, PG titties.

Directly following the film, either Grant or another volunteer (can't remember) came out and told us that based on a miscommunication from The City of Santa Monica, and Southern California Edison to the Aero Theater -- that was what the Temporary No Parking Signs were about -- it looks like the Horrorthon would be cut short after only two films, because what these SoCal Edison guys have to do involves shutting down all the power in the immediate area, including the Aero. For the rest of the night. This would be a good place to stop.

Click here for the second half of this stupid, badly-written waste-of-time.