The 2012 edition of the Massacre (no longer the Music Box Massacre as it’s been moved to the Portage Theater) was held over Saturday, October 20, and Sunday, October 21, 2012.
This is the third Massacre I’ve written up for Forced Viewing, so hopefully you’ve read the earlier write-ups and you know what’s going on. Short version of the story: 24-hour horror movie marathon with proceeds benefiting Vital Bridges, a charity that provides health and nutrition services to low-income HIV patients.
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Here’s the lineup:
- Un Chien Andalou (Silent with Live Organ!)
- The Black Cat (Karloff & Lugosi!)
- The Curse of the Werewolf (Oliver Reed & Hammer Horrors!)
- The Witchfinder General (Vincent Price!)
- From The Drain (Cronenberg Rare Short!)
- Spider Baby (director Jack Hill in person!)
- Return of the Living Dead (Linnea Quigley in Person!)
- Phantasm II (The Ball is Back!)
- The Captured Bird (Guillermo Del Toro Producer!)
- A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (Freddy!)
- Hausu (Japanese Insanity!)
- Nightmares (’80s Anthology Awesomeness!)
- Prince of Darkness (Carpenter Cult Film!)
- Dead Snow (Modern Monster Mayhem!)
- Frenzy (Classic Hitchcock!)
- Halloween II (The Original!)
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I don’t know if it was the same guy as Terror 12. If it was, I still don’t know his name.
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Godzilla, King Of The Monsters; Night Of The Living Dead; The Raven; Blood Of The Vampire; Black Zoo; Konga; Curse Of The Werewolf; The Devil’s Partner; Black Sunday; Terror In The Haunted House
Most of these were familiar from previous Massacres and Terrors.
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Un chien andalou (Luis Buñuel, 1929)
Got me a movie, I want you to know! Slicing up eyeballs, I want you to know!
But seriously, I really liked this one. It’s weird, really weird–but obviously, that’s what you’d expect from Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. But it also looks beautiful (from an artistic point of view; from a cinematic point of view, it’s definitely a relic of its time), and seems to have more of a plot than I’d expected. (Or maybe than Buñuel and Dalí intended.)
As a silent film, it had live organ accompaniment, and I’m pretty sure that at various points the organist was playing segments of the Portishead song “Glory Box.” (Or maybe of some piece Geoff Barrow sampled for “Glory Box”…)
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The Black Cat (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1934)
This one was a lot of fun, very suspenseful and enjoyable, with a fantastic performance by Karloff. I also loved the architecture of the house. Oh, and people keep on picking up Jacqueline Wells and carrying her around, which I thought was really hot. (I’m weird like that.) The one weak link is, at least for me, Bela Lugosi–I’m not much of a fan of his work, as I think I’ve mentioned in the past. I think the character of Werdegast would have been a lot more effective if he’d been played with more subtlety, but Lugosi is in full-on theatrical mode.
Meanwhile, back at the theater…one of the projectors starting having problems during The Black Cat. I believe Rusty said that the belt snapped. So there were some pretty significant gaps between reels (during which auctions were held), which continued on into the next feature.
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The Curse Of The Werewolf (Terence Fisher, 1961)
I was really looking forward to this, because I’m a fan of Hammer, but I was really disappointed. For the most part the visuals are great (not surprised, with the director of Horror Of Dracula behind the camera) and most of the performances are really good. But the beginning drags; it really takes the plot too long to get going. And Oliver Reed is just horrendous, overacting all over the place, and it’s almost impossible to take his character seriously. Fisher really, really needed to take some steps to rein Reed in.
Anothing thing that I think might have hurt the experience for me is the projection problems. I don’t want to complain, really, because these sorts of issues are the trade-off for the positives you get from screening from film (and when it comes to the theatrical experience, I will take film over digital any day). But I don’t think there’s any question that the gaps between reels threw off the pacing for me.
The guy who played the Mayor–I think that was Peter Sallis, the voice of Wallace in the Wallace & Gromit cartoons.
I think it was about halfway through Curse Of The Werewolf (it might have been during Witchfinder General) that Rusty announced they’d pulled in another projectionist from halfway across the city to work on the faulty projector. So they mostly had stuff fixed by Witchfinder, although there were a couple of occasional issues throughout the night.
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Short film: The Secret Cinema (Jason Coffman, 2012)
Jason Coffman’s Tape was one of the highlights of Terror 11…and when your film is one of the highlights of an event that features three very good Clive Barker movies, you know you’ve accomplished something. The Secret Cinema is a loose follow-up to Tape, also featuring the wonderful character of Mr. Lake (Unusual Services), and made as an entry for the A.V. Club’s Parameter contest. I think I liked it a bit more than Tape, actually–the story is a great deal weirder than that of its predecessor, and I’m all about the use of the short subject to explore the weird, bizarre and just plain insane. Mr. Lake is a great creation. I could quite easily imagine watching an entire feature film about him, as long as it didn’t spoil too much of the mystery.
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Witchfinder General (Michael Reeves, 1968)
I am the very model of a Witchfinder General, with information occultist, demonic and rabbinical… (Thanks to Mike Albright for that second line, by the way.)
Not going to go too much into this one, because it’s one of the two movies that I saw that are going to get full writeups. All I’m going to say for the moment is that I think I have a new favorite Vincent Price movie–and his isn’t even the best performance in the film.
Also, I’m really, really happy to have discovered where Chris & Cosey got those samples that they used in “Confession” and “Vengeance.”
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Short film: From The Drain (David Cronenberg, 1968)
I’d been looking forward to this because I’m a huge Cronenberg fan, and I haven’t seen any of his pre-Shivers work. I was disappointed with this one, which is, I believe, one of his earliest film-school works. It’s a good basic premise, but the acting is horrible and the execution of the story is just plain dull. There also seemed to be some issue with the print’s sound quality–there was quite a bit of dialogue I couldn’t make out.
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Spider Baby (Jack Hill, 1968)
When I reviewed this last year I gave it three stars. This time around, I don’t see a lot of the flaws I picked apart during my first viewing and I think if I were to rate it again I actually might give it a four. Definitely at least three and a half…if someone would allow half-star ratings. *glower*
The print looked gorgeous, and apparently Hill had tweaked it by removing twenty or so frames from a scene towards the end (when Bruno tells Uncle Peter to run).
Jack Hill Q&A
Hill seems like a really, really nice guy. Obviously, he talked a lot about Spider Baby (he was really excited when one of the audience members recognized the make and model of Bruno’s car) but he’s also responsible for Foxy Brown, Coffy and Switchblade Sisters. He had some great stories about how difficult it was to get AIP to fund Foxy Brown and Coffy, and another story about a studio exec (he did not name either the studio or the exec) who passed on one of his projects because he felt it was “too high-quality for black audiences.”
Favorite anecdote: when asked about the inspiration for Spider Baby, he mimed smoking weed. Runner-up: Bruno’s car cost “as much as an Acura” to rent on a daily basis.
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The Return Of The Living Dead (Dan O’Bannon, 1985)
Haven’t seen this one since I was a kid. My memory tells me that the first time I saw this, I would have seen it with my parents when it was first released on VHS. But that memory has to be faulty somehow, because I don’t think I would have watched something with this much nudity with my parents at that age. (I remembered Linnea Quigley getting naked, but I don’t remember her staying naked for pretty much the entire movie.)
I like it fine, but I’m not able to shake the feeling that I should like it a lot more than I actually do. I think my issue with it is the humor. I understand that the point of it is that it’s supposed to be a comedy, and there are some satirical moments that work very well (anything to do with the military, for example). But I think I would enjoy it a lot more if it were played a bit straighter, if the comedy weren’t quite so broad. One memory I have from seeing this as a kid was that, dumb as Frank and Freddy were, I actually felt sorry for them (Frank’s death scene made a particular impression on me), and I think that should have been played up a bit. But I guess it works just fine as it is.
From a technical point of view…it felt like there was too much compression of dynamic range on the soundtrack; a lot of the time, the music would be playing at around the same level as the dialogue, drowning it out. I don’t know if that’s a problem with the sound mix of the film itself, or the quality of the print, or something to do with the sound mix at the theater. I have noticed that it’s a common issue for ’80s films with glammy or hard-rock soundtracks; I had a similar issue with Demons at Terror 9 last year.
Linnea Quigley Q&A
Quigley talked a little bit about her career in general but mostly what she talked about was Return Of The Living Dead. There were the usual questions about the guy who played Spider (Mark Venturini, who passed away from lukemia) and about working with Dan O’Bannon (they got along just fine, but other cast members had issues with him). I meant to ask her about the horror aerobics workout video she did in the early ’90s, but I forgot.
Favorite anecdote: the appliance she wore to cover her genitals during the nude scenes was known as the “Barbie patch.” (She heavily implied, but didn’t outright confirm, that the production execs insisted she wear it because she shaved–not something you saw a whole lot of in 1985. Now that I think about it, maybe I didn’t see it as early as I thought I did…because that would have made a huge impression on me at age 11/12.)
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Trailers (possibly fake?)
Nightmare In The Shadows; The Guy Who Wouldn’t F’n’ Die; Snuff; Expired
Not sure if these were trailers for actual movies. I think this was supposed to be for some sort of contest, because after screening them Rusty read the names off and asked us to applaud for the one we liked the best. I applauded for Expired, but I think it was Snuff that got the best reaction (probably due to the genital trauma).
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Phantasm II (Don Coscarelli, 1988)
This one had some enjoyable bits but overall I was disappointed. The story never really gels (I honestly hoped that would have been one of the things Coscarelli would have worked on) and often isn’t as clear as it needs to be (I had assumed that the dead woman’s corpse on the slab was real, so I was confused when Mike told Reggie he saw Alchemy “in a dream”). The Mike/Liz connection is a bit too silly for me to take, even by the standards of a Phantasm movie. The Alchemy subplot feels unnecessary, and the outright comedy of the sex scene is at total odds with the feel of the rest of the film. Reggie Bannister isn’t any better of an actor in 1988 than he was in 1979.
On the other hand, the scenes that focus on the Tall Man and his minions in Perigord, it’s just as good as the first–creepy, freaky and weird.
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Short film: The Captured Bird (Jovanka Vuckovic, 2012)
I skipped a little bit of this to go pick up a poster for a friend (actually, the mother of my goddaughter) and have Jack Hill sign it. What I saw was very pretty–very digital-effects-heavy, but they were pretty damn good for CGI–but I didn’t really get the story, and I’m not entirely sure whether that’s because I missed the beginning. Guillermo Del Toro produced it, which fits.
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A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (Chuck Russell, 1987)
Of the Elm Street sequels I’ve seen this (along with New Nightmare) is one of the better ones (or at least one of the ones I’ve liked more…but then again, and I think I’ve said this in the past, I don’t have a lot of affection for the major slasher franchises, even when I’m a fan of the first films in the various series)…but I still can’t say I was all that impressed with it. It started off pretty good, but there was a point (“Welcome to prime time, bitch!”) at which it just completely went off the rails. And the dream personae were ridiculous.
Lackey’s Rules Of Horror Movies, #206: if you gang together with a bunch of your neighbors to dispense vigilante justice to a murderer of children, make sure you give him a Christian burial once you’re done killing him.
I’d been making the occasional comment on Twitter throughout the night, but by this point my phone was on the verge of dying, and since I also take event notes on my phone, I’d pretty much stopped tweeting to conserve juice. Still, I’m pleased that I managed to squeeze this gem out:
Apparently Taryn’s dream power is that she’s Lisbeth Salander? #TheMassacre
— Forced Viewing (@ForcedViewing) October 21, 2012
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Short film: Unhealthy Doug (Zoran Gvojic, 2012)
Another gem from Zoran Gvojic and LowCarbComedy, in which a run-of-the-mill guy (named Doug Bradley, which I’m sure is complete coincidence) hires Jason Voorhees to be his personal trainer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have been posted to the LowCarbComedy YouTube page yet. Damn you, Zoran! *shakes fist*
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Hausu AKA House (Nobuhiko Ôbayashi, 1977)
Like Witchfinder, this capsule review is going to be brief because the movie’s getting a full write-up next week. Basically, this is one of those movies you either get or you don’t get, and I don’t. It’s just so relentlessly and aggressively insane that I don’t know what to take away from it. I’m willing to cut it some slack because the sort of stuff it pulls may be much more acceptable in its cultural context, but ultimately I didn’t enjoy it.
And it gave me a headache. The last time the actual experience of watching was this unpleasant was when I saw Hard Rock Zombies.
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I’d planned on staying through Nightmares but the experience of House turned out to be too much for me. Still, I’m not disappointed: I was there for sixteen hours and saw eight features, and since I bought my ticket early I only paid $15. (Price is a major factor in why I skipped the previous weekend’s marathon, the Music Box Of Horrors: even the early-bird price was something like $25 or $30 and I wasn’t particularly impressed with the lineup.)
What’s up next? Well, I might do Days Of The Dead in mid-November…or I might not (I have a lot of other things going on that weekend as well). I’m definitely going to be at the next Terror In The Aisles (13!) at the end of November, featuring Phantasm, Society (a late-’80s Brian Yuzna movie I’d never heard of) and a “secret mystery” movie. Seeya later!