LINKS TO THE PORT MANTEAU OF HORROR

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

ITALIAN HORROR WEEK - HELL OF THE LIVING DRIVE-IN



Late October is probably too cold to be hanging at the drive-in, but my buddy Lou and I realize that the Super 130 in Edgewater Park, NJ won’t be open – at least for this season – much longer.

And who knows? The land is prime space located just off busy Route 130. How much longer can the owner resist the siren song of retailers looking to put their strip mall or big box store where the giant screen, pot-hole-filled lot, terrifying snack bar (who eats those “Spring Rolls”?!) and projection booth/security hut sit?

Though we’ve spent the summer months hitting up every hardtop theater in the area in order to get our recommended daily allowance of trash and schlock from studios like Cannon, New World and Troma, the Super 130 has become our home away from home. Not content with the latest Seagal actioner or franchise horror outing, the last great area drive-in has been trotting out a mind-boggling array of lineups featuring re-titled action, horror and sexploitation like SWITCHBLADE SISTERS, LA STREETFIGHTERS and VAMPIRE HOOKERS. And as it gets closer and closer to winter the offerings get weirder and more obscure.

So when the Friday paper comes out and we spy a listing for something called ZOMBIE INFERNO our plans are cemented. It sounds vaguely Italian and definitely zombieish, both of which are right up our alley. And remember gang this is the late 80s we’re talking about. There was no IMDB to consult for alternate titles, no worldwide pals on Twitter and Facebook to hit up looking for info. We can either pour through stacks of fanzines for more info or simply grab some takeout Chinese and load up my 1980 Honda Prelude with lawn chairs and cheap beer.



I have a feeling you know which route we chose.

Same Make and Model. Not Actual Car
I don’t recall the evening’s first couple flicks but by the time the final feature starts a chilly fog and spotty drizzle had settled over the drive-in. The remaining cars can be counted on two hands and a quick glance around confirms that we’re the only numbskulls still sitting in our lawn chairs on what is quickly turning into a frosty October evening. We’re also the only same sex attendees so that might explain all the fogged up car windows.

Despite the fact that every sound in the near-deserted lot is carrying for miles we haven’t been sought out by the security guard/projectionist for the pile of empty Meister Brau cans crushed beneath our feet. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I have not jumped atop my car and exhorted fellow attendees to beep loudly at what I consider a shitty movie. (I’m looking at you FRIDAY THE 13TH 7: THE NEW BLOOD!)

As the snack bar ads end and the first frames of the final feature hit the screen both Lou and I chuckle and turn to bang together our cans of cheap, frosty brew. It only takes moments for us to realize that the vaguely Italian zombieish feature is none other than Bruno Mattei’s 1980 classick slice of gut-munch sinema, HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD.


Ironically – or due to the fact that we had no lives at the time – Lou and I had just watched Mattei’s polarizing zombie flick a few weeks back as NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES and we’d loved, Loved, LOVED every Romero-channeling, stock-footage-packed, Play-Doh mask-wearing minute. In other words, it was time to kick back, crack another brew and enjoy…

What the fuck?!

I can’t remember which of us noticed it first – years, booze and many, many trashy films have intervened – but something was amiss. Events that we were sure took place later in the film were happening earlier in the film.

“Does this seem fucked up?,” I asked Lou. “It seems fucked up to me.”

“It’s fucked up. Let’s take a walk,” Lou replied as he pried his form from the lawn chair.

Cheap beer. 
Usually I would have argued with what I considered such a preposterous and potentially evening-ending proposition. In other words, we were clearly drunk off our asses. We’d been parked in those lounge chairs for two films over four hours with countless cheap beers and even cheaper Chinese grub taking up residence in our guts. And despite our capacity for ingesting large amounts of thinking liquor, Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey and cheap beer by the troth-full, our chief nemesis – The Super 130 Security Guard – was also the projectionist. This seemed foolhardy, but given what was at stake (ie, nothing) we felt we couldn’t sit back and let our handful of totally disinterested fellow drive-in attendees suffer the ignominy of watching NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES with the reels out of order.

To be frank, I think the last thing the billy-club-packing, “badge”-wearing security guard was expecting was for two drunken gorehounds to stagger out of the mist and complain about the reels of ZOMBIE INFERNO being shown out of order. But that’s what he got on this chilly October night and his reaction was just as confused as you might expect.

“I know,” he confessed after we informed him the reels were out of order. “I just didn’t think anybody would notice. Or care.”

And with that Lou and I looked at one another, shrugged our shoulders, and trudged back to our lawn chairs – secure in the knowledge that we’d done our part to preserve the integrity of Italian trash cinema.

Even if nobody else seemed to notice. Or care.

NOTE FROM THE DOCTOR: Make sure to stop by Drive-ins.com to learn about more about Super 130 and see some pics.

WRITER: DAN TAYLOR
By day, Dan Taylor is just a nice guy who happens to write a fan magazine. He's dedicated to preserving the movies we love, the history that surrounds them and the stories that must be passed down from generation to generation to make sure the little creepies get it right for their own little creepies. At night, Dan Taylor is one of the men beyond Exploitation Retrospect, a friends publication of horror and terror and suspence and all the words the comic code of the 50's would love to strike from the cover of the magazines you love to read. Dan and I have sat in the same room during many an Exhumed Films horror presentaiton, but we met on the internet. I'm glad to know him. 

Please follow Exploitation Retrospect HERE. Pick up a copy HERE. Look out for the new issue this fall and make sure you enter our giveaway to win Issue #51 HERE! Thanks for the aweomse giveaway opportunity, Dan.

No comments:

Post a Comment