It was that magical time of the year again! That time when Phil Blankenship hosts his Third Annual All Night Horror Show at the fabulous New Beverly Cinema here in L.A. I’ve attended the first two all nighters and I was there again for another heaping helping of scary flicks shown over a 12 hour period. It’s a serious endurance test for all horror movie maniacs and if you can make it all the way to the end, you’re one of the proud, the brave and the insane. This year was without a doubt, the best one I’ve ever attended. Each selection made me very happy and I’m marking the days on my calendar ’till next year’s all nighter. The following is a hazy recollection filtered through various chemicals (actually it was only a lot of caffeine and sugar this year ’cause I’m on the wagon):
DARIO ARGENTO’S TENEBRAE (1982) is my second favorite giallo of all time, right after Argento’s DEEP RED. It was a joy to watch this on the big screen with an audience. This fun filled and extremely violent movie is about a famous giallo writer who has come to Rome to promote his new book, Tenebrae. In an unsuspected bit of unwanted publicity, a black gloved killer is slicing women up and stuffing pages from the book in their mouths. Argento is clearly having fun with the genre as everyone is a suspect in this flick and the red herrings are tossed around like a trip to an Asian fish market. At one point even a vicious doberman is a possible killer (by the way, the dog is one of the best actors I’ve ever seen, and at one point it actually sizes up a tall fence, backs up and jumps it in a single bound). Even the actual killer turns out to be a red herring for yet another mysterious killer! The bloody murders are incredibly stylish as usual, especially one where a woman has her arm chopped off with an ax that sprays a geyser of blood against a wall like an abstract artist painting his canvas. The audience ate this one up and it was a great way to start things off.
What better way to follow up a great Italian horror movie then with another great Italian horror movie. LUCIO FULCI’S THE GATES OF HELL (A.K.A. THE CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD) is a wonderfully insane supernatural zombie flick. It’s about a priest who happens to hang himself in a cemetery over one of the 7 portals of Hell, in a town call Dunwich. Bad choice, because all kinds of crazy hell breaks loose, literally. Before long the residents are having the back of their heads ripped off by zombies that can actually teleport. Let me tell ya, there is nothing more unfair than a zombie that can just materialize out of thin air directly behind you. You can’t defend yourself against that. How about the suicidal priest coming back as a demon who can telepathically make your eyes bleed and cause you to puke out your guts? Not cool. And just when you thought everyone was safe and sound inside the house, cue the maggot storm! That’s right, real maggots showering you from head to toe. These events have their toll on the towns people’s patience, as clearly shown when a protective father shoves a guys head through a power drill because he catches him smoking weed with his daughter. This movie’s plot is all over the map and concludes with a final shot that I still don’t really understand, but I don’t care. I love this movie and it really plays well with an audience. Nobody does crazy fucked up horror as well as the Italians do. Bravo!
THE EVIL is a creepy little haunted house movie from 1978 that I’ve never seen before. Richard Crenna and Joanna Pettet play a couple who have just purchased an old, cob web filled mansion. They invite a group of friends and some former psychiatric patients of Crenna to help clean the place up. But when Crenna opens up a door in the basement that’s sealed with a weird looking crucifix (bad sign) an evil presence seals the home up making escape impossible. A ghostly apparition tries to help, but one by one the guests drop like flies. There are lots of electrocutions, a dog pushes a woman down a flight of stairs, Andrew Prine (wearing a weird pair of sailor pants) gets stuck in quick sand, and Victor Buono plays the goddamned Devil. What more can I say?
Last year’s surprise movie almost created a near riot when three episodes of TALES FROM THE CRYPT were shown and met with a fairly negative reaction. Well, Phil made up for it this year with a very well received presentation of the 80s Heavy Metal Horror classic TRICK OR TREAT (1986). It was just what everyone wanted at exactly the right time. The fourth film in the night is the RALLY movie where you really need to invigorate the crowd and this one did just that. I’ve never seen TRICK OR TREAT before, so it was a great TREAT for me to finally see it on the big screen with an extremely enthusiastic crowd. The plot concerns a high school metalhead named Eddie Weinbauer (played by Marc Price A.K.A. Skippy from FAMILY TIES) who is constantly being bullied by a group of mean jocks. He is the number one fan of a devil worshipping metal God named Sammi Curr, who is killed in a accidental hotel fire. Heartbroken Eddie seeks support from a metal DJ named Nuke (Gene Simmons) and is given a rare demo album the deceased rock star cut before his untimely death. Eddie soon realizes that Sammi Curr is trying to return to life through the backwards passages on his record. Before long, he starts getting back at the bullies who’ve wronged him as the homicidal rocker returns to the world of the living. This movie was a lot of fucking fun! The awesome music was by the hair band FASTWAY and it was directed by actor Charles Martin Smith (AMERICAN GRAFFITI, STARMAN). Rock on!
Global panic ensues when it is revealed that a mysterious UFO is actually a giant bird that flies at supersonic speed and has no regard for life or architecture. – IMDB plot description for THE GIANT CLAW.
I remember seeing scenes from THE GIANT CLAW (1957) as part of the incredible MOVIE ORGY that Joe Dante edited together along with a handful of other shlocky creature features from the 50s. This one peaked my interest because it featured a giant rubbery looking vulture swooping down and destroying buildings and knocking airplanes out of the sky. This was an inspired choice. A nice taste of old school monster movie madness. It’s about a hot shot jet pilot (are there any other kind?) who spies a UFO “as big as a battleship” one day while flying a test mission. He’s dismissed as a crackpot, but when it becomes apparent that there is actually a giant bird destroying shit and gobbling people up, he becomes the hero who must save the day. Turns out the creature is from some antimatter universe and can only be destroyed with antimatter weaponry (pure nonsensical 50s logic). This movie was a surprising amount of campy fun that kept me chuckling as we pressed further into the early morning hours.
BREEDERS (1986) had been described to me previously as “80 minutes of alien rape” and that’s exactly what it was. This was the HOLY FUCKING SHIT movie of the night and at a time when my attention was drifting towards sleep, it perked me up and kept me glued to the screen with its ridiculous plot, cheesy gore, excessive nudity and the worst acting ever committed to film. The single women of New York are being attacked and raped by a creature that mutates from human form into a nasty, slimy monster with tentacles and a huge penis-finger. The women are all virgins, which is a tough nut to swallow considering all the actresses are in their late twenties, live in the largest city in the world and it’s the 80s. One of the virgin victims is a bathing suit model who snorts cocaine for lunch and does nude aerobics in the studio. The only two people who can crack the case are the world’s dumbest police detective and an equally dumb female doctor with huge hair, who also happens to be a virgin. They uncover a hidden lair in the subway tunnels where the rape victims bathe in a hot tub full of alien semen so they can transform into something more horrifying. This movie was like SEX AND THE CITY meets HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP. Pure madness and I loved every second of it.
I blacked out from exhaustion following BREEDERS, but I managed to stir awake just in time to catch the last half of THE OUTING (1987). Another wacky 80s horror flick that I somehow missed back in the day. This one (from what I can gather) was about a group of teenagers who somehow awaken an evil monster genie from a bottle. The kids have decided to spend the night in a museum and that’s where the genie starts magically killing them off one by one. One girl is bitten to death by cobras while she takes a bath and two wannabe rapist jocks are murdered with their own masks. It all leads to a showdown with the giant rubber genie chasing the main girl and her parents through the museum as they attempt to destroy the magic lamp. I always thought genies were supposed to be helpful and grant you three wishes and shit. This movie felt like a surreal dream that I was having or how I really wanted NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM to actually play. It closed the All Night Horror Show with a bang!
My fellow Horror Show veteran, Grae Drake (who couldn’t make it all the way through last year) and I stumbled out into the bright early morning sun feeling like we really accomplished something. Anyone can hang for part of the night, but it takes a certain kind of geek warrior to make it ’till the very end. It’s what separates the men from the boys. Or the normal from the crazy. Can’t wait until next year!