Since it’s been almost a year since I last attended a Terror in the Aisles, here’s the rundown. The concept is similar to the Music Box Massacre, with special guests, vintage and modern trailers, short films, merch auctions, and dealers in the lobby. Proceeds benefit Vital Bridges.
The two differences are that Terror is a shorter event (it’s held in a single night) and it’s held at the Portage Theater, which is on Milwaukee just north of Irving Park. (I think I prefer the Portage to the Music Box, honestly, because the sight lines are better. But the Music Box has better ambiance.) I’ve also noticed a couple of other differences over the years: recent movies (since 2000) have become gradually less likely to appear at the Massacre and more likely to be run at Terror events. I’m not sure if that’s deliberate on the part of Rusty Nails and Movieside, the events’ organizers.
Terror in the Aisles 9 (hereafter Terror 9) was held on Friday, October 21. Historically Terror programs have been triple features, but this time around there were four films on the program:
- Shaun of the Dead
- An American Werewolf in London
- Dance of the Dead (not the episode of Masters of Horror)
The special guests were David Naughton, who played played the lead role of David Kessler in An American Werewolf in London, and Gregg Bishop, director of Dance of the Dead.
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My friend and I arrived about 20 minutes late, so I assume we missed Trailer Trash (vintage trailers). It also looks like we missed something called Treevenge, which looks to be a short film by the director of Hobo with a Shotgun.
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Shorts & Trailers
Short film: Brutal Relax
When we walked into the theater, they were screening a movie in Spanish about a chubby guy fighting monsters on a beach. It was kinda funny. For some reason I kept thinking about Godzilla movies.
Note: YouTube has age-restricted the video, so you may need to have an account and be over a certain age to view it.
Short film: Flesh Eating Fog
Amazingly enough, this movie is about a flesh-eating fog. It kinda reminded me of Street Trash. It’s pretty funny in its early stages, but it goes on a bit too long.
Trailer: Dead Weight
This one looks like a plague-apocalypse road movie–I guess kind of like a cross between The Stand (without the supernatural elements), The Road, and the British TV series Survivors. I’m really looking forward to it.
Trailer: Frankenstein: Day of the Beast
This one looks like it’s going to be a Hammer-style gothic costume drama. Release date on this one is November 27.
Short film: Other
This was easily my favorite short of the night. It’s a mid-’80s-Cronenbergesque tale about a guy who responds to a diagnosis of terminal cancer by building a machine that appears to teleport his cancer cells outside his body. I love stuff like this.
Short film: The Legend of Beaver Dam
A wonderful musical short about a deformed monster menacing Boy and Girl Scouts at a campsite. “The politically correct term for ‘stumpy’ is ‘residual limb’!”
Short film: School’s Out 4Ever!
This short is from Zoran Gvojic’s LowCarbComedy (whose hilarious Saw parody Sawnnimon Toast was screened at Terror 7). It’s about a slasher whose equipment includes a gas mask, razor-fingered glove, and machete, and he’s eagerly awaiting the next throng of horny teenagers who are even now on their way to the isolated cabin or summer camp or whatever where he makes his lair. I laughed my ass off.
Unfortunately, this one doesn’t seem to be available online, so here’s what I assume to be a parody of Annoying Orange.
Short film: T is for Touch
This is another film that’s being considered for the “T” slot in Drafthouse Films’ “ABCs of Death” series (see my writeup of Massacre 7 for T is for Testosterone Replacement Therapy). I liked it, but not as much as Testosterone.
NSFW, as like Testosterone, this one contains genital trauma.
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Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004)
Shaun seems to have lost a bit of luster over the years, and while I will readily admit that Hot Fuzz probably is a better movie, I still have a lot of love for this one. It knows exactly how to balance humor with horror. It’s got one of the greatest casts ever assembled. The pastiches and references are usually subtle (this was the first time I noticed that when Shaun describes his plan to rescue Liz and his mum, the music cue used is a Goblin song from Dawn of the Dead). The confrontation between Shaun and David in the pub is the textbook example of how to do a scene where the asshole is right and the hero is wrong.
Plus, Shaun likes the second Stone Roses album.
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I’ve seen Shaun several times, so I skipped the first fifteen minutes or so to check out the dealer tables. Specifically, I’d gotten the impression that Dead Weight was actually for sale and I wanted to buy it. It turned out it actually wasn’t, but I did get to have a quick chat with the filmmakers.
David Naughton was already on the premises and doing signings, so we went over to meet him. My friend bought a signed photo (at her request, he signed it “You’re a Pepper”) and we had our pictures taken with him.
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An American Werewolf in London (John Landis, 1981)
Introduction: David Naughton, star of An American Werewolf in London
He didn’t seem at all annoyed that the disco-inflected theme song to his late-’70s sitcom Makin’ It was played over the P.A.
I stand by my original review of this: the structure is a bit too ramshackle, there’s too many diversions, there’s too much clunky exposition, the love story doesn’t work, and the ending is too chaotic. But I still love the hell out of this movie: great primary cast (Naughton, Griffin Dunne, Jenny Agutter), great supporting cast (John Woodvine, Brian Glover), consistently hilarious from start to finish. And, of course, best werewolf transformation ever.
Q & A: David Naughton
Lots of great stories about working with Landis and Rick Baker, and about American Werewolf’s many nude scenes. Best story: whenever Naughton drinks soda, he still uses what he calls the “Dr Pepper grip,” making sure his hand isn’t obscuring the product logo.
If I’d remembered he did the Amityville sequel with Terry O’Quinn, I would have asked about working with him.
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Dance of the Dead (Gregg Bishop, 2008)
This is, I think, the second or third time I’ve seen this movie, and I haven’t liked it yet. I dislike it for pretty much the same reasons I dislike Night of the Comet: its sensibility is a bit too rooted in the ’80s, and I find it very hard to root for the characters. Now, Comet was made in ’84, so of course it’s a very ’80s movie, and I could at least understand why the filmmakers would expect audiences to like Reg and Sam even though I personally didn’t. Most of Dance’s characters genuinely aren’t worth liking (especially Jimmy, the film’s nominal protagonist). It doesn’t help that the one likeable character in the entire film (Steve, the reluctant geek) dies about fifteen minutes before the end. I can kind of understand why people like this–it’s got great production values, it’s got a couple of funny moments, and I suspect a lot of people dig the overall ’80s vibe. Personally, though, I don’t really care for it.
Q&A: Gregg Bishop
Favorite revelation: the lead character was a originally female character with some knowledge of the occult whose actress dropped out right before the production started. Instead of recasting, Bishop and the screenwriters decided that “we care about Jimmy and Lindsey” and rewrote the script to make them the leads.
Unfortunately I had the same problem with my camera that I had at Massacre 7, which is that most of the pictures came out too dark, even with the flash on. The one above is the best one I could get. There were a couple taken closer up, but they were too blurry.
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Demons (Lamberto Bava, 1985)
There are a lot of cool moments, beautiful design work and great locations in this one, and I really wanted to like it, but it’s too padded (too much time is spent establishing the joyriding punks) and has too little credible cause-and-effect (helicopter? Sure, why not). The movie-within-a-movie conceit isn’t fully explored (it’s no Anguish), the dubbed voice acting is terrible, and the soundtrack (a real this-is-1985 assortment of hair metal, more hair metal, and even more hair metal, with a bit of synthpop and some attempts by Claudio Simonetti to mimic Cabaret Voltaire thrown in for good measure) is atrocious.
It’s co-written by Dardano Sacchetti (who had a hand in a lot of the seminal Italian horror movies of the late ’70s and early ’80s, including Fulci’s golden-age stuff, Cannibal Apocalypse, and…um…Massacre in Dinosaur Valley) and Dario Argento, so I was probably unreasonable in expecting it to make any sense.
Plus there’s a brief appearance by that damn kid from The House by the Cemetery.
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That was it. The event wrapped up at around 3:30.
Despite my mixed feelings towards the second half of the program, it was still a good time: David Naughton was a great speaker and a helluva nice guy, it was great to see Shaun again, and I did find things to appreciate about Dance even if I still don’t particularly like it.
A full review of Demons will be published next week, and I’ll also do a full review of Shaun before the year’s out.
See you at the next Terror!