For our last installment of our trilogy of pieces focusing on the mighty Exhumed Films Horror-thon extravaganza we decided to give you a special treat. All images in this entry will be in 3-D!!! That's right folks. Break out your cyan/red 3-D glasses and view some images never before seen in the third dimension. Some quick notes before we begin: Make sure the blue lens is over your right eye. Try to stay about two feet from your monitor for optimal viewing. You may need to wait a second or two for your eyes to adjust to the awe inspiring third dimension (because you don't see in it every day right?). Also, you might consider turning off the lights and clicking on each image to isolate each one. Some folks are biological unable to use anaglyphic 3-D glasses so this may not be your cup of treacle. Please enjoy and have fun. Don't know where to find retro 3-D glasses, drop us a line and we'll help you out.
By now you should be well aware of my adoration for a little horror movie marathon put on by Exhumed Films. We have recapped some of the previous year and given you some of the basic underlying principles of the horror-thon. We've let you in on some of the more important rules and traditions. We've even heard from Dan Fraga himself, one of the four horseman of horror-thoning. I would like to tell you a tale of a boy and his horror-thon. The fifth of its kind, the Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horror-thon was as magnificent a time as one might have in the pits of a theater with some three hundred dedicated horror fans eating vegan food; that's a pretty special image for most of you. I'm still amazed that horror fans eat vegan food. I guess we watch enough gore to force leafy greens into our diets, but I digress. 2011. The New Beginning. Let's go!
If you remember anything about the weekend of October 28th, 2011 and live in the Northeast most likely you remember that we received a foot or more of snow in many locations. What you further remember was that the leaves remained on all the trees, ever so green and very well equipped to catch and hold snow. What you further may remember was NO POWER! That's right. PA, NJ, NY and beyond were swattled ever so gently and viciously with an intense and furious dump of snow that took down branches and trees leaving our homes black as pitch. My own dear, pregnant wife was in NJ while I sat in Philadelphia as branches fell around our house and threatened to take down one or two neighbors' residences. During the marathon I was sent pictures of the damage as it happened, warm in my theater but absolutely shocked at the furor of mother nature. By morning the snow had gone, but many friends of mine were left without power or heat during an arctic blast. This lasted for up to a week in some cases. There's something special about an October doomsday snow fall. It's even more special when work and school are eventually cancelled on your favorite holiday, Halloween. I think we're all still trying to recover from that storm, but that weekend is cemented in my mind like few in recent memory. The show went off without a major hitch. The snow really missed Philly. The only thing we had to fear was sleep itself. The Exhumed 24 Hour Horror-thon had me!
I do not believe there is any better venue to host a marathon of this caliber than the i-House (that's the International House to the unbelievers) in Philadelphia. This place accomdates some of the most dedicated, smelliest and ruckus bunch of fun loving fans and does it gracefully. This is the first year that I was forced to find one of their sleeping/quiet rooms and doze off. I'm not sure that it was due to the film selection per say although I'm not going to give Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde the highest of marks. I found that the first half of the night was filled with movies that were filled with such energy, such applause worthy material that I tired myself out while simply sitting in my seat: laughing, clapping, cheering. If you need to venture into the "quiet room" it'll be after several hours of an Exhumed Horror-thon. How many movie marathons can boast secluded, darkened sleeping rooms (to enter at your own risk)?
There were some standard vendors this year inclucluding the Grindcore House who introduce me to Seitan, vegetarian wheat meat and not the dark lord. If you need a pick me up at 4am and you're at a 24 hour horror movie marathon you need Grindcore House's coffee. You don't even know how bad you need it until you've had it. I speak from personal experience. Diabolik DVD was on hand with a nice variety of DVD's, Blu Ray and VHS including one copy of Arrow's release of The Beyond which I procured, watched and adored. Diabolik seems to bring their A game to events like these. They've got everything from hard to find Euro titles to unreleased VHS to DVD transfers not to mention plenty of Blu Ray to go around. I almost walked away with a copy of VHS/DVD release of House of the Devil. I saved my money for some of their posters from past and present horror-thons and a T-shirt from a previous year. I'll need to remedy this oversight later, but I couldn't resist some new artwork for the walls and for my flab.
Opening announcements were hilarious and impassioned as usual with the Exhumed Jack O' Lantern front and center. The raffle prizes this year were various posters and toys the highlight of which was a The Thing poster signed by Mr. Carpenter himself. Exhumed Films traditionally offers a chance to guess which films are to be shown based on hints provided in a bulletin. The person who gets the highest number of correct answers wins a most excellent prize. This year it was a Retron game console which is used to play many of our favorite old cartridge games from classic game systems. This prize pack also included a copy of the NES game Friday the 13th (fun, but bad of course) and Rolling Thunder on NES. This is a true nerd prize. I am still in awe of it. I wonder who Rolling Thunder would work with the Power Glove? What do you think the chances of this being made available on demand vis the Wii's game online game store?
The horror-thon starts with a special crafted Exhumed Film bumper that we have discussed on numerous occasions. For me, it is the thing that let's me know that it's REALLY HAPPENING. Well, this year there was a tech glitch that had the bumper play without sound. At first I was disheartened. Was this going to be a precursor to what was to come for the rest of the horror-thon? Nay! You want to know how you know that Exhumed Films attracts the best friggin' people in the world? The entire crowd sang the music from the bumper in full chorus! That's dedication. It's that kind of camaraderie that assure you that you are "an Exhumed man" (or woman as the case may be). So the bumper ends and the movies lurk on to the screen...
The Death Wheelers (1973)
I only recently saw this film under its alternate title Psychomania as part of my review of the Fangoria 300, a list of 300 movies deemed to be must watch or influential films in horror history compiled to celebrate Fangoria's 300th issue. My first viewing of this film left me wanting something more exciting out of motorcycle men with death wishes who go beyond the grave to become immortal. I can't say I noticed how absolutely hip the music was on my first viewing, but 35mm will do something to a movie. To this day I cannot get that wonderful half psychedelic, half horror theme music out of my skull. Somebody get me a motorcycle and a skull and cross bones helmet STAT. This has become a favorite picture of mine and Exhumed helped.
The second film at the Exhumed Films Horror-thon is classically been a giant monster movie. This year was no different featuring Rodan, future Kaiju enemy of Godzilla. I'm not always a huge giant monster fan. I like mine more manageable. Human size. I'm a giant pussy I suppose. What impressed me about Rodan was not the creature effects, but the abundance of blood. I can watch little plastic army vehicles shoot fireworks all day long and expect every one of them to hit their target, but the minute you put a little gore in a movie from the 50's I'm shocked. It was nice to see this picture having glazed over this "solo" flight for years. I was not the only one in the audience who felt this way. Many had not seen the solo shot from Rodan. Makes me wish I still had my plastic toy Rodan from my childhood. Moving on.
I'm in the lobby buying a second poster and a T-shirt because I had money to burn after missing Chiller Theater in Parsippany, NJ the night before. I then move on to the vegan food counter, pick up a half a sandwich (which was totally bad ass). I overhear someone say, "Frightmare's the next movie". Well that pretty much let me down completely. I had watched Frightmare as a result of the Fango 300 earlier this year and was unimpressed. So I slowly gathered my goods and walked down the theater aisle to discover A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FRIGHTMARE! The Frightmare that Exhumed was showing was from 1983 and featured none other than Jeffrey Combs! Conrad Ragzoff Lives! What a perfect homage to our favorite Hammer actors of the 50's and 60's. What a perfect blend of gothic horror and 80's sex humor combined with just a hint of punk and some unexpected gore. I left the theater a changed man. I longed for a horror baddie like Conrad and was happy to have discovered that the Frightmare I had seen was not the 1974, psychodrama from England (kinda boring folks). This is a must see for those that enjoy 80's horror. I expect that to be everyone who reads this damn thing.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
When I was a kid this movie terrified me. I couldn't watch it because I couldn't separate out that rape fiction isn't rape happening and, when shown in the proper light, can enhance a story or inspire powerful feeling of disgust. This disgust can be absolutely essential to bridging the gap between character and movie goer. Well, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer has grown on me. I'm able to tolerate its painful torture/kill sequences. I'm deeply impressed by the actors. The soundtrack is impeccable and eerie (no wonder Fantomas covers it). I find myself having a the slightest crush on Tracy Arnold which even I will admit sounds strange. Just slight. Keep the snickering down, peanut gallery.
The Dead (2010)
I had recently written a review of this film for the Blood Sprayer. I hope you find this film as compelling as I did. I hope you appreciate that socio-political overtones. I also wish the directors well. They have the chance to take back the zombie genre from those who have sought to undermine the real horror that the genre can represent that being the horror perpetrated by man, not zombie. Zombie films are not just about the gross out, but should definitely include a gross out. We've seen zombie films go from a point of intellectual stimulation to having the only brains involved with the viewing of a picture be spilled out on the floor and slurped by the undead. I love that movies like The Dead try to keep this tradition alive. I hope the filmmakers make more like it and tackle as many relevant social issues as need be tackled. We were promised a 35mm print which was not available as NO 35mm prints were created for this film. Not a problem. The Dead holds up well on the big screen, but I'd say that a smaller screen captures a sense of claustrophobia that might help you get creeped out. The smaller screen seems to disguise some of the make up flaws. That's just me knit picking. Good choice of film and announcing it ahead of time was the right call (they never do that).
Trick or Treat (1986)
This was my pick for movie of the night. It was toss up between this, Frightmare and the second to last film of the night which you will soon discover unless you've skipped to the end. I pretty much was Marc Price in this movie circa 1995. I had the black hair. The metal shirts and vinyl. I had posters all over my walls and tried to play records backwards. The popular folks at school pushed me around and talked down to me. I was a total metal dork. I very much still am a metal dork. It's been said there's a link between heavy metal and the love of horror movies. I'll be the first to admit that's true. What this picture does ever so well is to bring a little humor to the table while telling OUR story. The pushed around and downtrodden get their say with minimal whining. We get to fight the high school. Hell, we don't even have to use guns or knives. We get to use HEAVY METAL and SATAN of course. That's a given. If you love the 80's metal like I do then this is a must see picture. The crowd laughed their asses off. Best enjoyed in a group for a laugh or by yourself for personal reflection. Enjoy the cameos by Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne. As someone put it in the theater, "how come Gene Simmons didn't act more?" Why indeed.
Night Warning (1982)
Also entitled The Butcher, The Baker, The Nightmare Maker, this film is perverse and hilarious. I haven't seen anything quite like it. Surrogate mother is absolutely in love with her inherited son and tries to make the moves on him at every turn. These moves are not limited to but include trying to keep him out of college, out of a big basketball scholarship and without girlfriend. Now the first half of the movie left me a little bored. A couple scenes had me deeply impressed and thinking that I might change my mind later, and then I was abruptly slapped in the face by Susan Tyrell's transformation into stark raving lunatic. Her face is a total creep out and her vision of the world is sublimely demented. By the end of the movie you've got her crazy eyes burned squarely into the back's of your retinas.
Classic Henenlotter and released on Blu Ray shortly after this viewing, Frankenhooker is some fun body humor that makes the Modern Prometheus the Ultra Oversexed Modern Prometheus. Take a bunch of spare parts from some exquisitely 80's hookers and then sew them all together and you've got a hooker fit for a mad scientist. Now I enjoy the film as a whole, but nothing does it for me like the first 10 to 15 minutes of the film. There's nothing like a freak lawnmower accident to get the blood pumping. Check out the Blu Ray coming at you from Synapse Films. You'll be glad you did.
Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde (1976)
While I love a good Blaxploitation film as much as the next guy, this one just wasn't for me. I can't say whether this one just came on too late for me or whether the film was just that bad. Done by the same director as Blacula, I think that Blacula is able to make some of its play with stereotypes and expressions less obvious; funnier because the punchlines aren't spelled out for you. The make up effects are quite good. Nice and campy, but the film dragged me along. Too quiet for the after hours when it was shown. It was nice to see Bernie Casey in a role before Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
The Legend of the Wolf Woman (1976)
I can't say that I enjoyed this picture either despite the absolutely astounding amount of nudity. I'm a fan of Italian cinema from the 70's and naked women and werewolves to boot. I think it may have been the wrong film for such a late hour just as Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde was, however, maybe Exhumed designed the horror-thon that way. When something this slow moving and quiet comes on you have the chance to get a couple minutes shut eye and hope the guy next to you isn't wearing a trench coast ready for a peepshow (actually happened to me my frist year). I think back to other movies that were shown in this time slot and it was usually something somewhat obscure. Hercules in the Haunted World or Trauma. I'll give it another go some time. Hopefully this film is more than just a really great poster with a more rested eye.
Blood Diner (1987)
This was my first time seeing the infamous Blood Diner. What a fun movie and such a great film to see with a large group of sickos. I love that it pulls its central plot from Herschell Gordon Lewis' gore fest, Blood Feast. The gore is off the chart funny and when it's not its disgusting. Another classic for fans of 80's cinema and the professional wrestling afficiando. One of the cannibalistic brothers gets to have a wrestling match with a Nazi. You'll have to catch it on VHS for now, but isn't that the best way to watch movies that are this filled with raw cheese?
The Burning (1981)
Exhumed Films has never shown the same movie twice at a horror-thon. The have previously shown the Burning, but this version was more complete and an absolutely beautiful copy. Jason Alexander is a laugh riot. No really. He's funny, but maybe in that way that only pre-Seinfeld actors can be funny. People compare this with Friday the 13th more often than not and I'll say that I prefer Friday the 13th, but without a definitive reason why I can only assume its because I've been familiar with the Cunningham classic long before this first Weinstein effort. It's growing on me. This was the third time I had seen this film this year, so I wasn't amped to see it again. I had seen it just the week before. I still love that maggotty, worm infested skull the boys use to frighten Cropsy. It would make me set myself on fire and kill teens with a pair of gardening sheers.
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Ever since I was a kid I have wanted to see this film on the big screen. This was my chance and it was everything I could have wanted. One guy in the lobby mentioned that it was the only movie he couldn't stand to sit through because he found it so utterly boring. I find that many a Stephen King fan loves to pan this one as an inferior effort. Well, he directed it and I adore it. The trucks look great especially the green goblin faced toy hauling rig. After seeing this movie I find it hard to go to a soda machine or near an electric knife. I still think my friggin' lawn mower might just start up and try to attack me. Couple all of those newly found neurosis and you have a picture with one of the rockin-est soundtracks in all of horror film history designed by AC/DC. 35mm gives these trucks crystal clarity and the big screen gives them presence. Thank God they shot down that damn UFO! My only complaint about this film and it's more about the horror-thon itself... I was aching for an animal attack movie. Yes sir. I had a real hankering for one. That's a strange desire. Maybe I'm just low on some nutrient. I think I'm just bitter about having to miss the end of Horror-thon 4 do to circumstances beyond my control. Imagine you miss Bug and House by the Cemetery on the big screen. Hurts doesn't it?
Meet the Feebles (1989)
Typically the Exhumed Films folks end the horror-thon with a zombie pictures. Nope. Not this time. I'll say that it was an absolutely pleasure to see Peter Jackon's "muppets with vices" film on the big screen. I'm sure this was a rare screening, and I'm proud to say that I was in the audience when it was one. I think that from a matter of taste (and we're talking about a loose definition of taste) I'm kind of over this one. Its got some classic laughs and some even more classic gross outs, but once you've seen it a number of times it does tend to get old. Still glad to have seen it even though I would have preferred an out and out horror film here. Does seeing this film on the big screen give you bragging rights? You bet your sweet ass it does.
That's the horror-thon. My cousin's husband and I drove home from Philly north heading into the early blizzard of 2011. We were tired with red eyes and stinking of theater and snack food. We agreed that nothing was missing from this intensely different set of films, and that the "new beginning" that the name of the Exhumed Films fifth installment promised was clearly realized in both film selection and placement within the horror-thon. We'll be back for more next year if my ass can take it. For me, it's not staying awake for 24 hours that's the problem. It's getting up at 7am the day of and then making the long trek to Philly to wait online plus 2 hour drive home that makes it a challenge. Sleep deprivation is supposed to be worse than drunk driving. I'm sure that sleep deprivation after a night of seriously debauched films on the big screen is more like the non-drug equivalent of angel dust. Lesson for the day: Watch Responsibly. Horror-thon at your own risk.
Thanks again to Exhumed Films for the amazing horror-thon, Diabolik DVD for having such impressive wares, Dan Fraga for a fun and inspirational interview and the Grindcore House for making the best damn cup o' coffee I've had in years.
One last thing before I go. The unofficial highlight of my evening was seeing the trailer for Elvira Mistress of the Dark. Life changing movie. Please consider this film for future horror-thons.
Feel free to stop by my "home blog" over at Dr. Terror's Blog of Horrors to view more images in three dimensions from our recent Dr. Terror's 3D Halloween Edition.