Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Late night, and there's a Tom Snyder-sized hole in my soul

So I can't sleep. So I blog. So I'll be (relatively) brief here.

I think.

Last Saturday, I went to the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica for the 9th Annual Dusk-to-Dawn Horrorthon. It had been a while since I last attended; the Horrorthon was always an on-and-off thing for me. Part, if not all, of my not-so-commitment stems from the fact that it's a different environment over there. The All Night Horror Show at the New Bev and Cinefamily was/is more about going to enjoy the films, while the Aero is more about going to enjoy yourself enjoying the films. It's more of a party atmosphere. I never really was much for parties; even my past usual states of inebriation were preferred in gatherings of one.

This is something that I discussed with my friend who went to the Aero with me; whereas the All Night Horror Show has brief intros and plays trailer reels between films, the Horrorthon is as much about what happens between the films, as it is about the films themselves -- maybe even more than the films. And what does happen between films there? Insanity, mainly.

As I've "written" before, the Horrorthons are hosted by Grant Moninger, film programmer at the American Cinematheque, who in the few screenings I've seen him at comes off pretty normal -- but during the Horrorthon he lets his freak flag fly and becomes some sort of wild coked-out preacherman with an internal volume control setting of Infinite. He aims to keep everyone awake and in the proper mood for the night. Dude works himself up into a red-shaded face that goes "beyond tomato", to quote my friend. He also has a cannon for an arm, with the way he launches various candies and DVDs to people in the audience. Damn near everyone left with a Blu-ray of National Treasure (from the "treasure chest"); I didn't, but I did end up with three copies of Boys on the Side and some breath spray. I can only imagine how much more I'd walk away with had I actually tried.

Over the years, he's introduced various characters and gags to the Horrorthon; among them, the Corn Gorn, who is a guy in a Gorn (from Star Trek) costume that gives away cans or ears of corn. This year, the Corn Gorn and his Bride welcomed their first child, a chair. He also pops up during the lengthy interstitials that play between films and come from the Tim & Eric school of odd/random/wrong. Some are ads from television, some are clips of films or music videos or public access, and their presentation in the context of the Horrorthon either lends them a surreal aspect or flaunts the weirdness they always had.

The old faves like the Red Roof Inn commercial ("Muuuuulti-tasking!") and the Stop Using Dirty Catheters clip showed up, as well as some new (to me) ones like a back-and-forth between a helicopter and a washing machine which left me hating both. My personal fave is probably the music video to Dennis Parker's ode to cocaine-fueled self-confidence and delusion titled "Like an Eagle", which is so evocative of the late 1970s, particularly the dark specter of The Party's Over slowly creeping in, hovering ominously in the night sky. I can practically taste the paranoia and desperation that a porn star would feel while recording this song.

There were also the usual TJ Hooker clips with added credits including the names of audience members; my favorite from this year is some dude credited as "Gamer-Gator: The alligator that hates feminism". There was also one that credited Heavy Midnites' Phil Blankenship as "the man who hates Horrorthon"; that as well as Grant even referring to one of his on-stage characters as hating the Horrorthon "more than Phil Blankenship" made me wonder whether this was a friendly jibe between programmers or a legit Fuck You. I don't know and I don't care.

You cared enough to write about it, though.

I've talked about all this stuff before, and maybe I'm just getting older, but while I understand that it's part of the have-a-good-time party atmosphere, it's gotten to the point that frankly, they tire me. So once I sit through the first couple of breaks, I usually use that time the rest of the night to get some fresh cold night air mixed with cigarette smoke. Outside, I got treated to nice sights like one of the Aero volunteers bringing out popcorn to the people in the stand-by line.

I am not a people-watcher, even though I'm sure my ramblings might draw you the opposite conclusion; I was born/cursed with a gravitational pull that pulls such precious humans into my orbit and so I feel I must mention them because they seemed to make it obvious that they wanted to be noticed. This time, I had a group of three in the row ahead of me, consisting of two guys and a girl. I immediately assumed the guy furthest away from the girl was the third wheel (takes one to know one), but later I concluded that it was the girl.

She was the girlfriend or wife or whatever of the guy in the middle, and he averaged about one kiss to her cheek or forehead every four minutes. Usually he would lean in and whisper something to her, and then SMOOCH SMOOCHITY SMOOCH SMOOCH. Never did she lean in or even give off the air that she wanted a kiss; she gave off the air that she wasn't necessarily hyped up to be there. She ended up falling asleep by the second film; before the third film -- a masterpiece -- both guys told her that she was going to/had to stay awake for it, because it was that good. She fell asleep for that one as well. The boyfriend would occasionally hold up his stubby beer bottle for him and the douchebag sitting behind him to see in the glowing light of the cinema screen. My favorite moment was when he started getting into the Like an Eagle video, and in the middle of doing the White Guy Sitting Down dance he looked over to his lady, who could not be any less amused or enthused. She gave him nothing. This only made him dance harder. They all left after the third film. I am single.

Then there were the two ladies who were in the row behind; they arrived shortly before the first film began. They saw that there were three available seats but they were reserved; no problem there, just tear two of the Reserved signs right off and sit down! One of them said something to the effect of "Well, I paid $19 for a seat" and then she kissed her friend on the forehead. They then proceeded to do their best impression of two assholes who think they're in the funniest episode of MST3k never made.

I, obviously, am a perfect human being of no flaws, who judges and scorns everyone else for not being perfect me.  Realizing this, I forced myself to join in the fun and make comments a couple times but it was just that, forced. It gave me no fun either way to listen or be part of it. I just...I just can't, man. I like to actually watch the movie and save my comments for afterward, preferably over a meal -- preferably a meal that you're paying for. Even then, I'd rather just eat. The lesson here kids is: Don't ever hang out with me, don't ever watch a movie with me, I am an old man.

So, the films. The first one was Creepshow, written by Stephen King and directed by George A. Romero. This is one of those movies that I hadn't seen in so long (decades, really), that it was like watching it for the first time. I forgot that Ed Harris and Ted Danson were in it. I forgot how disgusting the roach story was; I can handle damn near everything in a movie, I mean, I can eat pasta during a zombie movie, but the roach story (starring E.G. Marshall) actually made me lose my appetite once the free sandwiches were given out in the lobby, following the film. Even the smell of those sandwiches made me sick. (I regained my appetite for the free pizza following the second film.)

But I enjoyed it, this anthology joint inspired by the old horror comics, like Tales from the Crypt. My favorite of the five stories is "The Crate", starring Hal Holbrook and Adrianne Barbeau. I think that one had the best mix of humor and horror, the two H's -- four H's if you count Hal Holbrook. What I didn't remember from my last viewing (when I was still in grade school) was how most of the characters in this film were painted with many shades of Unlikable. But I guess that's how those old EC comics rolled, and it didn't matter if they were unlikable or stupid or even innocent, they're gonna get theirs one way or another.

The second film was Gargoyles, a TV-movie from 1972, starring the lovely Jennifer Salt and muthafuckin' Cornel Wilde. It's about this doctor, I guess he's like a demon doctor or something -- basically something about anthropology -- and his daughter going to Arizona because they heard that those dirty Mexicans have no rights there, making it Nirvana for the Whites. Actually, that's not why they went, because those rules hadn't become a reality yet and I'm projecting. No, they go there to talk to some old dude out in the middle of nowhere, and he shows them this odd-looking skeleton while telling them about the "nakatakachinko" or however the fuck it's spelled. All I know is every time this old dude said the name, the audience burst into hysterics and I bet I looked like fuckin' Daria in the movie theater.

Why do you hate fun?

Wilde doesn't believe this shit, and it's around that time that the naka-naka-not-gonna-work-here-anymore attack his shack and it ends with the old man unconscious and on fire. I hope he didn't wake up in the middle of being cooked, that would suck. Anyway, these attackers are real life gargoyles, played by real life actors in real life rubber suits. They skulk around the desert in stuttery post-production slow-motion, which I guess is a way to make them look less lame. Somewhere along the way, young Scott Glenn and his gang of slacker dirt bikers get involved, and the head Gargoyle is an asshole played by Bernie Casey. He's an asshole because even as a gargoyle, he treats women like objects and even smacks his lady Gargoyle friend on the ass like some secretary during the good ol' days. I was born way too late. Anyway, it's a dull TV-movie presented with fade-to-blacks where I guess the commercial breaks were supposed to come in. Everyone else thought the film was hilarious though, and my friend liked it even more than one of the other films, so I'm just hating on fun again.

The third film was John Carpenter's The Thing -- the masterpiece I referred to earlier. If you don't know about this film, then you just don't fuckin' know and you have to fix that ASAP. I'm not going to try to convince you by writing more about it. There are better pieces on this film elsewhere. Unlike the previous films, this was presented on DCP. It's give and take with these formats; you lose the magic (yes, I said magic) of watching a 35mm film print, but you also get a great looking picture. Look, I prefer 35mm, but in the end, I just want to enjoy these movies with a crowd -- provided the crowd's coming correct.

Thankfully, everybody turned off their Make Fun Of switch and took in this film for the classic that it is. I mean, Wilford Brimley's in the film and nobody even made a Diabeetus joke! He doesn't have his mustache in this, though, so maybe they just couldn't recognize him. Like Samson and his hair, Brimley needs his walrus stache to conjure up the winds of Beetus. Also, he's credited as "A. Wilford Brimley" here, so maybe people thought he was merely A Wilford and not The Wilford.

My friend had never seen the film before, so it was a real treat after to hear him talk about how much he liked it. We discussed the ending and then some dude stepped up and told us about the short story titled "The Things" and how it is told from the Thing's point-of-view. I haven't checked it out, but I've heard good things about The Things.

The fourth film was a reddish-but-clean 35mm print of The Night of a Thousand Cats, a 70s joint shot in Mexico by Mexicans, and unfortunately I have to say that mi gente have made much much better films than this ordeal. It stars Hugo Stiglitz (nice to see he made it out of that German bar OK) as this rich bearded playboy type who likes to chopper around Mexico City in his helicopter, scoping out for hot chicks and then getting as close to them as his 'copter will allow, staring at them through his sunglasses. Rather than flip him off or call the cops, the ladies find this intriguing and/or romantic and he usually drops down a ladder so they can climb up and be taken away to his sprawling castle estate. There, he wines and dines them, introduces them to his creepy mute man-servant, and serves them brandy (or is it cognac) in a giant snifter.

Then he kills them, puts their heads in glass cases, and feeds the remains to his "thousand" cats in a pit.

I'm sure to your average reader of Fifty Shades of Grey, this is fucking hot, but to me, a man who prefers to abuse women with words, that whole deal sounds fucked up and horrible. By the way, I put "thousand" in quotes because I'd say it's more like a hundred cats that he has. Still, it's an alarming number of kitties. I mean, even cat ladies would be a bit unnerved by this number. And don't get it twisted, that whole premise might sound like it would make an interesting film, except the filmmakers didn't make that film. Instead, they made a boring slog that would be better titled The Night of a Thousand Helicopter Shots. Most of the film consists of shots of the helicopter, close-ups of Stiglitz's blank face (probably some Kuleshov-style directing going on here), shots of the city, inserts of his hand on the cyclic, shots of attractive women. Aside from the shots of the women, I was fuckin' done with this movie by the 20-minute mark -- and there were still about 40 minutes of movie left. Yup, this is flick is barely over an hour and it still felt like three. The original cut is an hour-and-a-half, but no thanks, I gave at the office.

I tried to find things to enjoy, like looking at 1970s Mexico City, the fashions, the interior decorating, and of course, the ladies. On occasion, there would be something to jolt me awake, like Stiglitz grabbing a cat and throwing it up in the air so hard and fast, you'd think Grant Moninger threw that cat. Oh yeah, there's some good ol' fashioned cinematic animal cruelty going on here, but that is to be expected. At least none of the cats appear to get killed, they only get thrown around -- or thrown at people. What else can I say? Oh, there was one part where Stiglitz helps himself to one of the raw pieces of meat that used to be a beautiful woman, and then his man-servant takes a piece and holds it up to a flame, slightly cooking it before handing it to him. It shows that he was looking out for his boss. Aside from that, don't watch this film. Watch this instead.

It was about 5 in the morning by the time the fifth film (out of seven) came on; a wonderfully beat-up/scratched-up 35mm print of Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn (the on-screen title, anyway -- it's actually just The Deadly Spawn, for brevity's sake) from 1983. I've seen bits and pieces of this over the years, but never in its entirety, so it was cool to see it for the first time on the big screen. It's a fun little low-budget alien flick; obviously made for $2 and a dream, but it does the job and the alien effects are impressive. The main Deadly Spawn itself is pretty cool and scary looking, just a giant penis with hundreds of razor sharp teeth.

Like most films of its ilk, this opens with a meteorite coming down to Earth, and of course, the contents of this fallen star include Bad News. They are the titular Spawn, and they're all about the OM NOM. They mostly hang out in the basement of a house, waiting for the hapless and expendable to come downstairs and face the chomping. Eventually, they get bored and decide to venture upstairs and out into the open. One of the characters is this kid who loves him some horror movies; he's got posters and creature masks all over his room (he even has a Gorn head on his shelf). Meanwhile, his older brother is the more responsible one; he wants to borrow his parents' car and take his friends out that night after their study session -- and I got the feeling he actually would get his studies out of the way first before going out. Good for him. Work hard, play hard, brother.

Speaking of playing hard, for a film that doesn't take itself seriously, it still managed to surprise me when it came down to Who Gets Got. I think if this was a studio film -- or at least, a higher-budgeted film with more investors -- I think the filmmakers would've faced some opposition on certain characters being killed off, insisting that things play out in more of a "safe" (and boring) manner. I mean -- SPOILERS YOU SENSITIVE SOULS -- by the end of the movie, the two brothers survive but goddamn, the older one is shell-shocked and the younger one became a Man way too fuckin' early in his life. Neither is gonna be happy or content for quite a while. Their parents died horrible deaths, and the awesome girl who was clearly supposed to end up as the older brother's girlfriend is currently on the front lawn without a head (that particular death bummed me out while simultaneously making me applaud the filmmakers). Early on, this movie takes it sweet time in between feedings, but once it gets going full speed, it does not fuck around. END SPOILERS SWEETIE

The sixth movie ended up being the last movie for me and my friend, which I'll explain later: a DCP or Blu-ray of the 1982 exploitation/horror-ish film Basket Case, from Frank Henenlotter, who has gotten a good amount of representation at these marathons for the past few years. The film's about this dude Duane who shows up at a seedy hotel in New York City with a big basket and a fat wad of cash. What is this seemingly nice guy about? Revenge, my man, revenge.

This guy Duane, he's actually carrying his Siamese twin bro Belial in the basket, and things didn't turn out so well for the other bro. Because, uh, he's living in a basket. Yeah, he's all small and deformed, but don't fuckin' judge Belial because of his handicap. Judge him because he's a murderous fuck and kind of a player hater too. Both he and Duane are looking to take out the doctors responsible for separating them, and while things seem to work out on that end, Duane also hooks up with this chick Sharon or Susan because there's always something, right?

Let me get what I didn't like about this movie out of the way. Henenlotter loves screaming. There's evidently never enough screaming in his films -- and the longer, the better, the louder, the better. It doesn't help that the sound mix and/or the theater's sound system had a love affair with the high-end and the unholy consummation resulted in a child by the name of Audience's Bleeding Ears. Like nails on a goddamn chalkboard, it was.

Aside from that, I dug this movie (which I last watched a couple years ago). My friend liked Gargoyles better, proving that he can get it wrong when it comes to movies and friends. Anyway, Basket Case has that awesomely grimy feel and look that cannot be duplicated unless you took a film crew with you into a time/location machine and went to 42nd Street in the early 80s. I always felt the movie had an interesting mix of humorous and slight melancholy -- I can't explain the latter because I'm just a sad fuck in general, but when I say humorous, I don't mean laugh-out-loud, I mean it's just got this goofy sense to most of it. I don't remember any actual jokes or punchlines, most of the humor just comes from casting the most interesting looking/sounding people in the roles. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to take away from Henenlotter's writing and directing, if anything this just shows good he is at getting the tone he is clearly going for. The actors are not only playing characters, they seem like they're genuine characters themselves.

It's hard to pick a favorite performance, but it just might be the actress who plays Dr. Kutter. She's one of the 3 doctors marked for gruesome death-by-Belial and she's a real trip to watch. Her character is introduced having dinner with a younger man and plying him with more alcohol than he probably needs or wants at the moment. Poor guy already has a few buttons open on his shirt, and she's got this slightly creepy way about her while she calls him "Cuddles". I think the creepiness might have to do with her apparent trance-like state while saying the lines, her eyes just a tad too wide and not quite looking at the person she's talking to (or she's looking at his forehead). It's almost like she's reading from a cue card. Except when she gets into bitch mode, the trance ends and suddenly she's fully engaged with the other person. Was that a choice that the actress made? Like it's only natural for Kutter to be unlikeable, but being nice is such an alien concept to her that she can only "act" nice, and even then she's terrible at it?

Whatever the case, it's a suitably weird performance for such a film.

It was about 8 in the morning and at that point, my friend and I were both more excited about breakfast than in watching the final film, Zombie Holocaust (aka Dr. Butcher, M.D.). I had seen it before in both the Euro and U.S. cuts, and honestly, I didn't feel they were great shakes in either form. It starts out pretty promising, with some gory moments in a hospital that culminate in some dude jumping off a building, and becoming a mannequin upon hitting the ground -- which results in the mannequin's arm coming off. Cut to the next shot and the mannequin is now an actor again, arm magically reattached.

Then the film travels over to some godforsaken island somewhere and becomes a cannibal flick with zombies sprinkled throughout the boredom. I watched the Euro cut on DVD and was disappointed. I saw the US "Butcher" cut at the New Bev during one of their Grindhouse nights and was pretty fuckin' drunk, so I enjoyed it a little more. I wasn't necessarily amped up to see it again at the Horrorthon, except for marathon completion's sake.

But, as mentioned earlier, we were both hungry + my friend had a particular place in mind where he really wanted to go eat and where it pays to show up early + I had the movie on DVD if he was truly curious about seeing it = Let's Go. And so we did.

The food was kick ass.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Someone needs to give anti-depressants to the depressed drama queen dog in my neighborhood who always lets out a fuckin' three-minute lament every time a siren is heard. And I live in a shitty neighborhood, so it's sirens, like, every 10 minutes.

Yeah, I'm sure you know what's going on over New Beverly Way, some crazy shit that either you don't care about or you've gotten yourself worked into a Cujo-like frenzy of foamy mouth. As for me, times have proven time and time again to be too interesting to get worked up about it, or anything, for that matter. Par for the course on this island Earth, my fellow castaways. All I can say is pack plenty of lube and condoms, 'cause before it all ends, you're getting fucked or you're doing the fucking. And once/if you realize that you can also observe the whole ride as some kind of fucked-up cinematic masterpiece playing out in real time (directed by an aloof/petulant asshole tyrant) you'll be able to derive pleasure, regardless of position. And me, dear reader, I like to feel good ALL the goddamn time. Those tears in my eyes? Shit, bro, that happens whenever I yawn.

Anyway, the marathon that I know and love -- the All Night Horror Show -- is now at the Silent Movie Theatre/Cinefamily a couple miles away, where the seats have it in for your ass. Now, I've done all-nighters at Cinefamily before, but I was as drunk as Mariah Carey on a good day during those, so it wasn't like I gave a shit and plus they had pillows back then. Now, in my sober state I've learned that apparently your ass raped and killed the Cinefamily seats' family some time ago and now the seats wanna go Paul Kersey, introducing your cheeks to Jesus Christ via .357 caliber bullets. Speaking of Jesus Christ, that's who your ass is. Playing the part of the Romans -- the Cinefamily seats. What I'm trying to say here, people, is that the seats -- specifically the folding chairs placed along the aisle -- are uncomfortable.

But no one is forcing you to go to this theater, sir. You coulda stayed home on your comfortable hipster bean bag and watch all the fuckin' films you wanted with no buttock pain. You wanted to go. You needed to go. So why you don't just shut your fucking mouth and continue rambling about the marathon?

OK, fine. But just give me one more seat digression: Before the show started, I overheard some guy standing in the aisle (waiting to use the Juan) complain to his friend that he bought a ticket for a couch seat (Cinefamily's first two rows consisting of couches that cost extra) and that his assigned comfy couch seat was located in the far left. He said something like "I paid $25 for the worst fucking seat in the house" and strangely enough it wasn't followed by him saying "Wow, I sound like an asshole saying this near people sitting on folding chairs put out on the aisle a few inches from me".

And you sound like an asshole typing this to people who didn't attend. But such is your custom, so sail on, sailor.

It was nice to see Heavy Midnites' Phil Blankenship and Grindhouse Film Festival's Brian Quinn join forces in programming this motherfucker. It felt good to see them stand together on stage, it was not unlike watching Michael Dudikoff and David Bradley get together to kick ass in American Ninja 4: The Annihilation. During their intro, Phil and Brian brought up how they chose films that hadn't been screened in quite some time, rather than go for more obvious choices. They thanked not only the various archives and personal print collectors that made these films available (all in 35mm), but the studios themselves for hooking them up.

They talked about how one helped the other out in setting this up; I want to say it was Phil who offered his help to Brian, but I'm not too sure because my hearing frequency was picking up signals from the other station, where the DJ's were helping latecomers find seats and telling them that they would have to split up their group and have two sit in one section and one could sit in another a few rows down. This group seemed slightly perturbed, this group that showed up late.

Anyway, Phil and Brian were doing things a little different this time. Past All Night Horror Shows always had one Secret Film that would keep the audience excited and guessing, but this entire night was going to be all Secret Films. Aside from Phil, Brian, and the projectionist, no one else knew what would screen that night. So that was pretty cool, thought the blogger.

After a trailer reel, the first film turned out to be Bad Taste, the world's introduction to Peter Jackson. This was his first movie, shot on 16mm with his mates on weekends over a four-year period. It's a funny gross-out joint about aliens coming down to a small New Zealand burg to harvest humans for their fast food chain. Based on what the head alien tells his minions, with this new addition to the menu, the "Crumb's Crunchy Delights" chain is going to smash the competition -- which made me wonder about the other fast food establishments there must be in outer space.

I mean, if Crumb's is going to dole out human flesh like they were Big Macs, that would make them McDonalds, right? Well then, if I was a space alien I'd invest in creating the extraterrestrial version of Chick-fil-a, and I can come up with cute/lame advertising of aliens in human costumes defacing billboards with cutesy misspelled scrawls like "EAT MOR BOGHOGZ" or whatever the fuck other choices are out there for aliens to eat.

Anyway, to figure out what the fuck is going on, the government sends down "The Boys", who I guess are supposed to be a badass investigation/disinfestation squad, but look more like a group of regular dudes with day jobs at the local newspaper -- which is what they are, being Jackson's buddies and all. Various gags ensue, with plenty of jokes, gore, and EWWW. It's entertaining in an El Mariachi sort-of-way, watching what Jackson was able to do with very little money and a whole lot of passion.

I remember watching the behind-the-scenes doc on the DVD and tripping out on how Jackson had to build most of what he worked with; he created his own Steadicam, his own camera jib, he created the alien masks using his mum's oven, he even built his own (fake) guns. The effects were homemade & handmade, whereas if this movie were made today, he'd do all that shit on his computer, and no one would give a shit about his film because those days are over. He'd have to go to Kickstarter and promise to fellate his investors just to work up the same exact budget for his follow-up. Fuck that shit.

Phil told us that nachos, pizza, and various snacks were made available outside at the patio, and beer was available for purchase as well. Some people brought their own, though; the group in the row in front of me had stubby bottles and pillows and sure enough, they later took turns nodding off.

The next trailer reel came courtesy of Quentin Tarantino, who is either the savior or Antichrist right now, because there is no such thing as in-between. They were mostly for giant monster films like Gamera the Invincible and Varan the Unbelievable, as well as one of those beach flicks starring Frankie and Annette.

The second film, according to Brian, hadn't been screened in L.A. for about 30-40 years. It was a beautiful print of The Monster of Piedras Blancas from 1959, a Creature from the Black Lagoon knockoff that was pretty silly but good times nonetheless. This would've been great on MST3k, but I guess I'll accept a Rifftrax version, if that's what it takes.

It's about a lighthouse keeper who's kind of a grumpy dick of an asshole but he has a soft spot for the scaly fuck who feeds on the meat scraps the old man leaves behind for him. Everything seems OK until one fateful day, when the lighthouse dude shows up to see the local butcher/storekeeper/insurance agent named Kochek and finds out this man with the indeterminate accent sold his meat scraps to some other dude. Because of this, the impatient creature ends up going out into town to get his own food, which means he ends up decapitating motherfuckers and drinking all their blood because that's where the flavor is.

The Monster, he does not discriminate, he will kill male and female, old and young. Speaking of young, that was one of my favorite parts of the movie, where this catatonic father is carrying his little girl's body with a sheet draped over her, with only her tiny Mary Jane-clad feet dangling out. This was an image I found both tragic and fucking hilarious, for some reason. All that was missing was the girl's limp bloody hand dropping into view, still clutching onto a giant lollipop. Sorry for your loss, though, pops.

At one point, there's a close-up of a severed head in the Monster's hand, which I'm sure freaked many a moviegoer out back in '59, that shit was probably as scary as Communism. But there isn't that much monster action in this movie, because back then, you were able to pace yourself with that shit, plus, it's cheaper to film people talking about the monster than to actually show it (I don't think you even see it until the last half hour or so). But the people in it are interesting to watch, like the sheriff with the fucked up ears, or the doctor who will quickly prescribe sedatives in zero seconds flat. He hands them out like candy to some scared lady. Those were the days. Nowadays, you need to tell these motherfuckers a whole sob story about the despair that comes with being in your thirties and having accomplished nothing, just for a couple pills to help keep you calm on an airplane.

One scene involving the doctor has a pretty awesome punchline, although I'm not sure if it was supposed to play that way (the audience thought it was great); one of the townspeople barely manages to survive a scrape with the Monster and is face up on a table, all fucked up, face all bloody. Dude is damn near motionless as the doctor looks him over, and you're wondering what's going to happen to the guy. In the same room, the hunky former Marine/current marine biologist and the sheriff are trying to figure out who/what is this Creature of the White Rocks and what to do with him. When the scene ends, the doc sits the wounded man up and then damn near pushes him out the room, telling him he's good to go. The American health care system at work, folks.

Another part I really liked in the film is when a kid discovers the body of yet another monster victim; he ends up running to a funeral currently in progress (cause of death: MONSTER) and interrupts it. Almost immediately, everyone there is getting ready to take off because I guess it's cooler to actually look at a corpse at the scene of the crime, rather than look at a box with a corpse inside. The fuckin' minister actually has to tell them to stop because he's not finished yet. You can damn near hear the disappointment in the crowd, even from the victim's family.

If there was another intro before the third film, I missed it because I was using the facilities; this French-Canadian attempt at supernatural horror is called Cathy's Curse, from 1977. This movie -- holy shit, this fuckin' movie, man. It's hilarious. Were I the kind of dude who used a grading/rating system, I'd give it zero stars for what it tried to do, but for unintentional results, I'd give it all the stars in the heavens above.

The movie starts out with a title card explaining what's going on, and not in a Star Wars "the story so far" sort-of-way, but in a "we fucked up and don't know how to tell a story, so here's some help after the fact" way. It's 1947 and some father comes home to find that his daughter Laura has been left alone; she tells him that mommy ran off with the son and his response is "Your mother's a bitch!" And I guess God must be a woman, because a few minutes later, homeboy and his daughter accidentally drive their car off the road and become human barbecue.

The word "bitch" is used a lot in this film to the point that I kept waiting for Queen Latifah to eventually burst through the wall like some kind of Kool-Aid Man of Feminism, booming out "WHO YOU CALLIN' A BITCH?!" There is an actual female dog in the film (named Sneakers), so maybe that's what all the bitch talk was referring to.

So yeah, this movie, right? It's about this family that moves into the same house that we saw at the beginning, only now it's the 70s, and the father (looking like a cross between Will Forte and Kelsey Grammer) happens to be Laura's brother, now grown up and with a wife and daughter (the titular Cathy). Faster than you can say "cliched phrase", the evil spirit of Laura possesses the daughter (via a doll found in the attic -- everyone refers to it as a "rag") and the rest of the film consists of various examples of what a Sneakers this Cathy/Laura is. She does such naughty things like driving an old handyman to drink or an old nanny to throw herself out the window. Come on, that's what non-possessed children do to adults all the time!

The wife is a real nutty broad who declares out loud that she had a nervous breakdown in the past, even though she's saying this to her husband who already knows, because the screenwriters love expositioning the fuck out of the dialogue for the stupid audience's sake. Anyway, the wife is a hoot because she's supposed to be in a better mental state since her breakdown, but you'd never know it by the way she acts -- or "acts", because the actress playing her is pretty terrible. For all I know, she's better in other projects, but in this flick, she is as bad at acting as I am in making something of myself. It is so fucking bad and laugh-inducing, I felt I was watching a lost SCTV sketch, featuring Count Floyd showing yet another lame horror film and trying to convince the viewers at home that it's very scary.

The biggest mistake made by the filmmakers -- besides making this film in the first place --  is never giving the viewer a chance to know Cathy before she gets Laura'd up. As a result, one never really can tell the difference between them. For all I know, Cathy was already kind of a troublemaker, and there are scenes where Cathy begs her parents to stay with her and I still don't know if that was genuinely Cathy or if that was Laura setting some shit up. But if the filmmakers were trying to pull some shit like "eh, perhaps there never was a difference, mon ami", well then that flew over my head.

Cathy's Curse is awful, mean-spirited, and as far away from scary as a horror film can be. It is very funny though, and highly recommended if you need about ninety minutes of WTF. A woman gets called a "female cow" in it, so there's that. Also, it's very Canadian in that even after a little girl nearly gets her eye poked out by Cathy/Laura during a play date/mother's coffee klatch, the mom still remembers to thank Cathy's mom for the coffee while carrying her crying/bleeding child away.

In Phil's opinion, the fourth film of the night is also the best horror film ever made, some real gauntlet-throwdown shit. As bold a statement as one could make, one that got the audience hyped up. He said it was a film from the 70s, and then he and Brian gave us a warning that this was a UK print, meaning it was censored in some parts. I guess in exchange for free health care and not having to worry about being gunned down at school, UK citizens have to give up the freedom of seeing some good gore. Phil and Brian felt that the best way to cushion that blow was to look at it from a positive angle: This is what UK audiences saw in movie theaters back in the 70s, and it still made Classic status over there. Immediately, I thought of myself in a UK cinema back then, probably watching this late at night and following it up with a few pints at the local pub before ending the night with an early morning English fry-up.

(Oh, how I love an English fry-up! It's tied with an old-fashioned American breakfast as my choice for a last meal, which I hope never comes to pass because I never want to die. Someone needs to find a cure for Death as soon as humanly possible.)

The trailer reel that followed consisted of horror sequels like Evil Dead II, Exorcist II: The Heretic, Phantasm II, and I'm sure a couple I forgot about. With each trailer, I grew more excited because my guess hadn't shown up as a trailer and I felt that the film they were going to show might actually be my 35mm holy grail. The one film I've always wanted to see for the past two decades projected on honest-to-goodness film in an honest-to-goodness movie theater with an honest-to-goodness crowd. And it turned out that my guess was correct and my hopes were actually met for once because the film turned out to be...


Sorry for that outburst. But I really like this film, easily one of my all-time favorites. You know, the first time I went to the New Beverly Cinema, I remember seeing a guestbook in the lobby where you could write down requests for future screenings. Immediately I wrote down Dawn of the Dead, and that was back in '99, but since then I've never heard of any 35mm screenings anywhere -- except for one in New York a few years ago as part of a weekend of films that Paul Giamatti hosted at some museum somewhere. And for all I know, that shit was actually on DVD.

But man oh man, what a wonderful treat to finally get to see it, even in a censored print (titled "Zombies", looked great too!) and even with some guy in the audience who occasionally snored super-loud like some asshole who should've just gone home or should've just taken a nap in his car or something. It took a while before someone managed to work up the strength to get up and not slowly decapitate this asshole with a plastic spatula, nudging him awake instead.

Some of the more memorable gory parts were missing, along with some choice headshots -- but thankfully, the Brit censors still retained their sense of humor when it came to the helicopter blade scene. Compared to shit on television today like The Walking Dead, this cut of Dawn would barely rate as a light R. And you know what? The film still worked. One could even argue that taking out the most extreme gory moments made it less over-the-top in a comic book way, and more disturbing in a real life situation sort-of-way. (Two could argue against it.)

It also helps that this movie isn't only about the gore and zombie make-up, which come on, let's be real, some of that shit does look downright quaint nowadays -- the situation, characters, and point-of-view is what really makes George A. Romero's film a bona-fide classic. Earlier in my life, this film was good times as far as watching people try to survive while shooting muthafuckin' zombies in the head. But as the years go by and I get older, I find myself more and more scared and disturbed and depressed beyond my goddamn wits with each viewing -- and it has fuck-all to do with the zombies.

"I think Foster's right. We're losing."

"We're blowing it ourselves." 

I could go on and on and on but I gotta keep this short. So before I move on, I'll say this: considering the thoughts and feelings and prayers -- holy shit, PRAYERS, can you fuckin' believe that shit -- this film stirs up within me, I'd have to disagree with Phil's statement about Dawn of the Dead being the best horror film ever made. It is the second best. Number one would be the film we're currently all starring in -- because this all has to be a movie, right? I mean, nobody would be this stupid and petty and bullheaded in real life, right? For God's sake, somebody fire the screenwriter and get someone talented to rewrite this shit!

Phil said that the fifth film was not only made in the 80s, it IS the 80s. After watching it, I would say it's most definitely the late 80s compressed into a 90-minute running time: Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge, starring some guy I don't know, some girl I don't know, the dude from "Silk Stalkings", Morgan Fairchild, the Most Interesting Man in the World from the Dos Equis ads, Mac's Dad from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia", and the juice-weezer himself, Sir Pauly Shore.

Oh, and in a very welcome appearance (based on the audience's applause), one of the stars of the previous film, Ken Foree, as the main security guard of the mall. Poor guy just can't keep away from those shopping centers, I guess. Hey, by the way -- why didn't any of you tell me that Foree was in the film adaptation of Water for Elephants? What a pleasant surprise, right up there with Franco Nero showing up in Letters to Juliet DON'T JUDGE ME

A mall has recently opened up in town, giving many people many jobs for little money; among the new employees is this chick named Melody who can sure use the extra bucks, not to mention the distraction that keeping busy will provide. See, about a year ago, her boyfriend Eric died under mysterious circumstances, the kind of mysterious circumstances that involve burning to death along with his house that was not-at-all-coincidentally located where the mall stands today.

Eric, it turns out, is still alive (only he's very badly burned) and now resides somewhere in the dark, dirty recesses of the mall itself, using the transportation system that is Creeping Through The Air Ducts and having set himself up a living space bigger than my apartment. Fuck this guy, living rent free with his weight machine and multiple television setup complete with top-of-the-line double tape deck stereo system. As for how he eats, I can only assume he has his pick from the many fine eateries in the building after hours. As for how he showers, I'm pretty sure he doesn't, which means some of the stinkier members of the Cinefamily audience could sympathize. What did deodorant DO to these people for them to avoid it so much?!

But Eric ain't just a-squatting, he's a-killing -- introducing eternal darkness to anyone who fucks with his girl Melody. My favorite kill is probably the dude who sits down on the toilet and suddenly a cobra pops up and chomps on his package -- King Cobra? More like Queen Cobra, amirite bros? -- causing him to go out like Pavarotti, with the kind of scream he belts out. That's what he gets for being a pianist (plays for the mall) with a penis (tries to rape Melody).

The Most Interesting Man in the World plays The Most Douchey Guy in the Film, the owner of the mall who obviously had some hand in the mysterious fiery circumstances that led to Eric's current situation. I wouldn't have recognized this dude as the Dos Equis man except the lovely Erin from Seven Doors of Cinema pointed it out in her much better review of this film. His son is also a real douchey shoplifting/skateboarding asshole -- typical rich kid, if you ask me. Oh, I'm talking about the son in the film, not the son of the actor in real life; if he has a son, I'm sure he's a decent dude. Sorry, Dos Equis Man.

This Eric, he's a Freaky Psycho Jason and all that, but he's also very much a young man in that stage of his life between Teen and Adult, and is as susceptible to painfully awkward personal behavior that comes with not having really Lived Life. When he's not shoving some dude's face into a fan or crossbow-ing pervs, he spends his alone time watching videotaped footage of Melody while playing some love ballad on his tape deck for musical accompaniment. Bro, you need to get over it. Move on. Find a half-burned girl and have some half-burned kids. Get a half-burned dog. Name him "Lucky".

My favorite scene is when he has Melody over at his lair (she's passed out on his couch) and when she wakes up, she finds him a few feet away, slowly working on his lats with the pulldown bar. This sad fuck was probably staring at her for a while, waited until she started to stir, and then rushed over and began working out, probably counting out "one-hundred and five, one-hundred and six" even though he probably only did like 8 reps total.

Anyway, the movie's OK. I think the circa 1989 vibe helped keep things interesting in between the kills -- there's little to no gore, and the most horrific sight in the film is Pauly Shore's exposed ass -- and I can't hate on a film where Morgan Fairchild plays the mayor. Whenever she pops up in anything, she makes me smile, even when she's reminding me that death is coming to get us all. The most 80s thing about the entire film would have to be the end credits song, where the word "retard" is used because the mentally challenged didn't qualify as human beings back then. But hey man, it's The Vandals!

Following a trailer reel of sword, sorcery, and loincloth flicks, the final film of the night/early morning began: Lucio Fulci's Conquest, starring Mexican star of Mexican screen, Jorge Rivero -- or as he's credited here "George Rivero". Homeraza never really found success with the English speaking crowd, he's probably most famous over here for his role in the 1996 film Werewolf, which made for one of the better MST3k episodes.

Now, technically this film shouldn't qualify as horror; it has more in common with movies like The Beastmaster and the Ator series. But there is enough nightmarish imagery here (thanks Lucio, you sick fuck) that I can see why it was chosen. Also, the combination of the hazy soft-focus cinematography, the crispy-clear loud electronic score by Goblin's Claudio Simonetti, and the many strange moments that make you question whether or not you're truly awake or dreaming this shit up -- well, it made this film perfect for bleary-eyed early morning viewing after a long night.

Rivero plays Mace, your typical badass barbarian type who doesn't give a shit about anyone but himself -- and birds, he likes birds too. He fucks people up with these extra thick bone nunchucks and his relationships with the opposite sex are of the "love 'em and leave 'em" category, except he does return to them occasionally just to love 'em and leave 'em again. Until the next time.

He ends up partnering with this young dude named Ilias, who's more of the idealistic type. It's like Mace is from the hood and had no parents and had to fend for himself, while Ilias is like a rich kid from a loving family. But Ilias ain't just some geek off the street, he can be handy with the steel too. He has this awesome bow-and-arrow set that not only uses real arrows but can also conjure up these glowing laser arrows with the use of magic or Jesus' love or some shit. It's awesome and he never runs out. Later in the film, he even upgrades that shit to fire multiple magic arrows. Fuck Hawkeye.

OK, maybe a bow & arrow doesn't qualify as "steel", but you know what I mean.

So these dudes end up traveling the fantastical fantasy lands where it's always foggy/windy and there's always a body of water close by and it's always dusk or it's always dawn. They do this because some evil chick named Ocron has a hard-on for them and is sending her army of Asshole Chewbaccas to take 'em out (to the movies? to a ballgame?). Why is she doing this? Shit, son, I've been trying to figure women out for most of my life, but alas, they are all a lovely mystery that even Hercule Poirot couldn't fuckin' solve.

Oh wait, I remember now -- Ocron had a vision of some faceless dude showing up with his bow & arrow and giving her a few shots. She didn't ask for that, she doesn't want that, so she's gonna stop that before it even comes close to becoming that. And if she has to slaughter a whole bunch of Mace's peeps, thereby actually beginning the process of Mace and Ilias going to look for her so they can bow & arrow her into the next world, then fuck it, a masked girl's gotta do what a masked girl's gotta do.

Yeah, I forgot that part. Ocron wears a golden mask covering her entire face but that's about it for modesty because she's pretty much naked the whole time. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess that she's probably hiding a world of hurt under that mask -- it takes a rocket scientist who has seen more than a few films in his or her lifetime.

You got yourself some beasts, an master-of-disguise assassin made of metal, typical Fulci zoom-in shots of blood spewing out of freshly created wounds, an evil chick getting off on snakes while petting her bewildered dog, evil killer Chewbaccas grabbing a poor girl by each leg and splitting her open, dirty people chanting, a couple of genuine surprises in the plot, and a whole bunch of nicely shot (if a little too hazy for my taste) scenes. In other words, freaky good times.

Most of it makes little to no sense, but this is a Fulci film, after all. I'll be honest, when this movie started I wasn't feeling it, and I wasn't looking forward to sitting through the rest of its bullshit, but by the final shot of Mace walking away (over to Kirk Douglas' house, I reckon), this wonderfully strange, borderline hallucinatory, and occasionally off-putting movie had succeeded in rocking my barely awake world.

Following the film, the National Anthem came on, followed by a Tom & Jerry cartoon that was basically Sorcerer with a cat and mouse. Then we were treated to free breakfast at the patio: Scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, cereal, and coffee. A couple dudes ahead of me in line tried working up the munchies with the help of some medication and a spoon pipe. Me, I need no help working up an appetite when it's free.

And so ended another All Night Horror Show. I'll be honest here: Would I have preferred the original venue? Yes. I like the Cinefamily but I guess I'm just more of a New Bev guy (to speak only of the Torgan era, I haven't been to the New-New Bev yet) as far as vibes go -- whatever the fuck that means. Then again, free breakfast! But make no mistake via my bitching -- I thank the Goddess for allowing both of them to exist in this universe.

Ultimately, it's the movies that matter, and since it was Phil and Brian picking 'em, we were in good hands. In the end, all one can do is Go or Not Go. I went -- and I had a good time. My ass, on the other hand, begs to differ.