Friday, December 1, 2017

Very late but worth the -- no, not really.


Podcast version for those with no time to read:





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

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

Stick.


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, get a bidet. They're awesome.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Then it'll just be women preying on women.

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

I mean that as a compliment, by the way.

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

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



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



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