Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Beverly's 3rd Horrorthon

Regardless of what month it is I love watching horror movies. Horror is probably my favorite genre of film. I say probably because I hate choosing. I love all genres of film, but horror just seems to stick the most, so instead of choosing one specific genre over the rest why don't I say its one of my favorite genres. Anyways, this last weekend my favorite Los Angeles based revival theaters hosted their 3rd Annual All Night Horror Show. 7 movies over a span of 12 hours. Sound daunting? Well maybe for some people it is, but for me and the rest of the sold out crowd it was a spooktacular evening. Check out the full rundown below...

My good friend Cat (or @cahcat for those of you on Twitter) has talked me up about the Bev's Annual All Night Horrorthon since we met and when the date was finally announced I made sure to get my ticket. Phil Blankenship who runs a majority of the midnight programming at the swankiest and coolest revival theater in Los Angeles teased a line-up over the course of August and September and by the time the official line-up was announced, I was boiling with excitement for my first all nighter at the Bev. An event I had to coax my wife into attending. Now my wonderful wife loves the movies, just like me, but she was a little hesitant about 12 hours of straight movie watching. We've done it before, but that was on our own and in the leisure of our own home. Watching 7 movies in a row in a theater is a whole different beast not to mention 10 times better. There is something indescribable about a sold out crowd all ready to enjoy 12 hours plus of horror.

I'd like to start by talking briefly about the line-up itself. Out of the 7 movies scheduled to run I'd seen 2 of them previously. Well I'd actually seen 3 of them, but I did not know that until the movie began. Let me explain, of the 7 movies scheduled to play, 1 of them remains secret until it runs. So again going in I only knew for sure I'd seen 2 of the movies. Scheduled to play were Dario Argento's "Tenebrae," Lucio Fulci's "The Gates of Hell" aka "The City of the Living Dead," Gus Trikonis's "The Evil," Fred F. Sears's "The Giant Claw," Tim Kincaid's "Breeders," Tom Daley's "The Outing" and last but not least a secret movie. The secret movie actually played in 4th spot of the evening and was something everyone was buzzing about. What could it be, would it be another dud, or possibly a home run. I say dud, because apparently Phil's last secret movie at the 2nd Annual Horrorthon did not go over too well. That was not the case this time! The secret movie is a mainly an unknown gem titled "Trick or Treat" directed by Charles Martin Smith. A movie that feels like it disappeared out of existence, but thankfully our pal Phil Blankenship located it for us to see and enjoy.

As for all the films that played, Phil did an immaculate job of matching them up. All 7 of the films seemed to have a number of running themes that carried throughout the 12 plus hours of movie watching. Themes such as when creatures (or animals) attack, being impaled, electrocuted, and let us not forget being bullied. Whoa, I almost forgot, boobs. Yes, boobs was another running theme. Especially in "Breeders" which featured a number of 1980's circa breasts. Phil also did a phenomenal job of adding fillers. All of the old trailers, commercials and cartoons were spot-on and even teased a few of the movies not to mention kept the running themes going. I loved that he played an old cartoon called Honey Halfwitch and the episode shown was "Trick or Cheat." Yes, this played just before "Trick or Treat" and was the only real clue to the secret movie.

Before I get into the meat of the post and get more in depth on each film showcased I want to talk a little more about all of the awesome programming in between. Like I said earlier, Phil did a knock out job of keeping a running theme throughout everything. The evening began and ended with Halloween themed Woody Woodpecker cartoons. Both were hysterical and a time machine to my youth. I loved Woody Woodpecker as a kid, that damn bird always had me in stitches. Nothing much has changed either, I laughed my ass off watching the reminiscent cartoons. We also got a classic Mr. Magoo cartoon. One that conveniently kept the running theme of when animals or creatures attack. The difference was, no one EVER harms Mr. Magoo. Even though crocodiles and other vile creatures tried their best to get him, Mr. Magoo always escaped their clutches inadvertently turning the tables on them. As for the trailers played, most were amusing and horror films that horror fans should make time to see (especially if they've previously not seen them). Highlights of the trailers were "Meat Cleaver Massacre," "I Dismembered Mama," "Beyond the Door," "King Kong Lives," "The Blob," "Humanoids from the Deep" and "Xtro." Their were plenty of other trailers that tickled the sense, but those previously listed took home top honors.

Instead of covering the night and movies featured beat for beat, I've decided to cover them in order of best to worst.

The first film of the evening just happened to also be my favorite of the all night horror fest, which was Dario Argento's "Tenebrae" aka "Unsane," "Tenebre" or in Japan "Shadow." Tenebrae which is Argento's return giallo (crime), is a masterpiece. It's not my favorite Argento film, but its definitely in my top 3. Tenebrae is one of a rare few Argento's films I have not seen. While it may not be outright horror, it is still a wicked ride with some wonderful kills and blood. One thing I couldn't help laugh about while watching Tenebrae was all the sheer white clothing he outfitted the women in. Every female in this movie seems to refuse to wear a bra and are all wearing see through white shirts. I'm not complaining because every woman in the film is stunning to look at. It is worth mentioning how addicting the score to Tenebrae is. So much so, I heard a number of patrons whistling the entrancing theme during the short break between the first two films. Tenebrae has a number of memorable kills, particularly the impalement near the end, but the best crowd reaction throughout the night was the vicious doberman pincher that attacks a unsuspecting girl. This dog might as well be Superman's sidekick. There is no fence too high for this dog to scale and be weary it ever gets close to you, because if it does, you are sure to be shredded.

My second favorite film of the horrorthon was the 1957 creature feature "The Giant Claw." Also a movie I had not seen. The Giant Claw is a laugh-out-loud B SciFi that is reminiscent of other mega-monster films like "Tarantula" or "Them." The movie was a blatant slap in the face of the reoccurring theme of when animals or creatures attack! It is also outfitted with the traditional heartthrob for both men and women. Although I did wish Mara Corday who played Sally didn't have to add extra lipstick to her lips to make them look full. A very small complaint, but one the kept diverting my attention. Jeff Morrow who plays Mitch is a riot. His deliveries are non-stop ham. The guy honestly reminded me of a 1950's Ben Affleck. He constantly has this serious look on his face, but you just can't take him seriously. Especially when the dude kept talking about his pants! The entire movie is filled with stuff to giggle at. The dialogue, the special effects, the acting, everything is absolutely hysterical. As for the giant bird itself, oh my god, you must see it for yourself. It is the goofiest looking bird I have ever seen. Apparently the bird also had a undying love for Elvis Presley because it had one helluva pompadour. Watching a film like The Giant Claw makes you appreciate technology. This bird can barely open its mouth or flap its wings, but I couldn't imagine enjoying this movie if it were made today. I'm not saying it can't be done, just that there is no way it would be as memorable as this 1950's classic.

The third best film of the evening was Lucio Fulci's "The Gates of Hell." A horror that is sure to have you scratching your head a number of times. Fulci's 'Hell' is the craziest zombie movie I've ever seen. A zombie movie in where the zombies don't eat you, but instead rip out your brain from the back of your head. I remember seeing this movie a long time ago as a kid and it not being all that memorable. Boy was I dead wrong, this flick is a mind numbingly stupendous. This is one that leaves you questioning just what the hell happened on a variety of levels. Seeing The Gates of Hell or otherwise known as "The City of the Living Dead" again reminded me I want to see the complete Fulci's unofficial trilogy which includes "The Beyond" and "The House by the Cemetery." The one thing everyone who sees this movie will remember is the character Rosie puking out her intestines. It is truly one of the grossest and coolest practical effects shots of the entire 1980's horror genre. Gotta really give Phil a huge hug for bringing the film back to the front of my memory. Another thanks must be made to Grindhouse Releasing for providing the stellar print we watched. Another added bonus for collectors was the poster that was made especially for the New Beverly's 3rd Annual Horrorthon featuring both The Gates of Hell and Tenebrae.

The 4th film screened was also my 4th favorite movie of the evening. "Trick or Treat" which is a rarely seen and nearly forgotten horror/comedy that stars Marc Price or better known as Skippy from televisions Family Ties. The movie centers around Skippy or as he refers to himself in this movie Ragman. Ragman is a metal head whose favorite rocker just passed. When Ragman gets the only copy of the recently deceased Sammi Curr's latest album he realizes that Curr wants his life back and is using Ragman as the gateway to do so. Trick or Treat plays much like the later released Wes Craven horror "Shocker." Truthfully after re-watching Trick or Treat, I felt Shocker wasn't as original as I remembered it. I far prefer Ragman taking on the evil Sammi Curr to Jonathan Parker taking on Horace Pinker. 'Treat' is also dosed with a healthy amount of one of the other reoccurring themes of the night, bullying. Doug Savant mostly known for his role as the gay guy on Melrose Place plays a bully who is constantly picking on Ragman aka Skippy. As a fellow blogger and New Beverly regular @EFContentment pointed out in his rundown of the evening, Trick or Treat features an 80's metal head (Skippy) who is mysteriously a loner in a period of time when 50% of teen males were actually metal heads. Regardless of the fact Ragman is a loner, he must defeat his metal idol who is trying to return from the afterlife while still showing off his teased hair and leather straps. Trick or Treat also has two rock legends cameos, but I'm not going to spoil them. You need to track this movie down yourself and find out who they are. Cheaters can just go to, but I suggest watching the movie and letting it be a surprise.

The next film going by my rankings would be "The Evil" directed by Gus Trikonis. A film that features a haunted house that like all haunted houses, doesn't want anyone to leave. The best thing about The Evil is that Colonel Samuel Trautman aka Richard Crenna is the lead. Not only is Crenna the lead, but being the late 70's, he is sporting a mighty well groomed beard along with some of the tightest jeans I've seen in a number of years. Actually I find myself thinking more about the fashion and hairstyles within The Evil or also known as House of Evil and Cry Demon more than the movie itself. Seriously, there are some hideous outfits throughout. I can now say I know what male camel toe is. Never before had I seen men's genitalia so stuffed into a pair of pants. Not just one male, but all of them. The print we saw hailed from Uruguay and while it seemed to be missing a couple key moments, it played perfectly to the sold out crowd. The Evil also continued a couple running themes including when animals attack, with a German Shepherd that becomes not as friendly as you'd hope and also death by electrocution!

The last two films shown were a tremendous dip in quality. While they provided some form entertainment, they were honestly more tedious to get through then the earlier 5 films. The good side of this was anybody struggling to stay awake really didn't miss much. Actually I'm jealous they were able to sleep through them, while I only dozed off for a small amount of time here and there. At the start of the evening Phil gave us all breaks in between the films, but from feature number 4 on, we just slammed straight through until daylight.

"The Outing" or otherwise known as "The Lamp" follows a group of teens who encounter a Jinn or Genie. Being a horrorthon, this genie wasn't singing or dancing, but instead impaling, beheading and talking in a rumbling voice that is extremely hard to understand. Seriously at the end of this flick the Jinn explains why it must kill, or at least I thought that is what it was saying. I couldn't really understand, it sounded like someone shoved a sock in its mouth and was forcing it to talk. The Outing also featured another sequence of animals attacking this time with cobras killing a would-be victims. We also get a healthy amount of bullying from two pals that seem to be way more than just friends. The crowd really got a few good laughs out of the homo-erotic notions presented by the two bullies. The Jinn in The Outing is absolutely ridiculous. For a majority of the movie we do not see it, instead it possess one of the teens, but when we finally get to see the evil Jinn, boy you are in for a good laugh. The Jinn is 75% practical effects with a crappy green cgi glow that surrounds him. It is terribly stiff and looks like it is being rolled around worse than the warthog in the Ozploitation horror "Razorback." The Outing isn't a good movie by any means, actually it is not even an ok movie, but it is a enjoyable experience to watch nonetheless. Its a film that you'd probably find on super late at night on Showtime or The Movie Channel, but you wouldn't want to watch. It is a film that deserves to be seen with a crowd in the wee hours of the morning when you are already delirious from being up all night. Or even more specifically its a movie that needs to be made fun of with a crowd. It is devilishly awful but still manages to entertain on some mouth breathing level.

The worst and most booby filled movie of the New Bev's 3rd Annual Horrorthon was "Breeders." This movie can be summed up to the movie I wished I slept through. Actually, I tried to, but would only get long blinks in, no real sleep. The movie gets points for continuing the running theme of when creatures/animals attack. The entire movie is about a sex driven creature (which looks like a fly) attacking, raping and converting virgins into I'm not sure what. They'd basically fall into a coma, then awake in a trance where they proceeded to a bath that looked to be full of alien semen. Right, that's the plot! Not a surprise that director Tim Kincaid went on to direct adult titles. The surprising part is that he went on to make gay porn under the guise of Joe Gage. A look at his filmography reveals classy titles such as Jock Park, In the Name of Leather and a trilogy called Men's Room. Basically a bunch of titles I will never ever watch. Outside of Kincaid's recent stint in the gay porn industry, Breeders just didn't sit well with me. The film was painful to sit through and I now believe that Phil only programmed it as a slot for people to catch some Z's. At least I hope that is why, because it is terrible. Not even in a best/worst way. If this movie had a face, I would punch it!

The final reel of the Horrorthon was something only those of us born before the days of cable would remember. It was the sing-along Star Spangled Banner our National Anthem that use to run at the end of operating hours. Yup, that's right, TV hasn't always been 24 hours a day. Anyways the Bev ran the Anthem and just like in my classroom a majority of the attendees sang along. It was a perfect closing to an awesome event. As we stumbled out of the New Beverly we gave Phil props for a wonderful evening and began to reminisce with friends outside. Being my first all nighter at the Bev, I can't wait for more. I am already excited for next year's 4th Annual Horrorthon with 7 more wildly entertaining films. Bring it on Phil, I'm ready for whatever you throw at me! To everyone I shared the experience with, thank you. It was a magical evening, one that I will never forget.


Great rundown! I also couldn't understand what the jinn was saying in THE OUTING, the same way I couldn't understand half of what that bearded doctor was saying in BREEDERS near the end. Your write-up also reminded me of something else these films all had in common -- they all have awesome posters! Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts (and for linking me)!

trevor / great to read about even though i was there / thanks for sharing

Trevor!!! Great rundown and your faves were almost in the same order as mine. I'm glad you felt as I did with BREEDERS, it's been the subject of debate between a few of us. Thanks to for the links. I am so glad you and Jess could be there to join the fun and here's to many many many more fun movie watching adventures for us all. That goes for EFC and ME too. :D

I couldn't fall asleep during BREEDERS either but I wanted badly. Even going back and reading about GIANT CLAW has me cracking up, I loved that film so much...especially the one photo of the bird looking straight into the camera.