It’s been almost a year since we had a proper Terror in the Aisles (unless there’s one that I’m forgetting and never wrote up), so it’s high time we had another one. As with the 2013 Massacre, this one was held at the Patio Theater. The lineup featured the Midwestern debut of Devil in My Ride, with director Gary Michael Schultz as special guest, alongside Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Lucio Fulci’s The Black Cat.

Unfortunately, the heat was either entirely out or only sporadically functional, forcing me to leave before The Black Cat, but I still got to see some great stuff.

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I was pretty impressed with everything I saw, so all reviews get a rating of pro.

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The evening began with two shorts, M Is for Mess (dir. Zach Lorkiewicz, 2013) and M Is for Muck (dir. Tony Wash, 2013). Both are entries for the “26th Director” contest competing for the “M” slot in the upcoming ABCs of Death 2. Neither made the short list of finalists, but both are highly entertaining little freakouts. Advantage goes to Muck, because I’m pretty sure that one was filmed on location in my id.

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Next up was a teaser trailer for Leaf Blower Massacre 2. I’ve heard quite a bit about the first Leaf Blower, but have never actually seen it. Judging from the teaser, the sequel looks hilarious.

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A scene from DEVIL IN MY RIDE.

The first feature was Devil in My Ride (dir. Gary Michael Schultz, 2013), the story of Travis, a van-driving, redneck drifter who steals a cursed necklace and gives it to his little sister as a wedding present (as one does); when the blushing bride finds herself possessed by a demon, Travis and his new brother-in-law take an epic road trip to get her ass exorcised.

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about the film at first–it kind of feels like a mash-up of The Exorcist and The Evil Dead with Larry the Cable Guy in the lead, and I’m simply not a fan of that kind of humor. But it soon won me over, in part because the screenplay understands that Travis is a dope, but mostly because of spirited performances from all involved. Sid Haig and Llou Johnson have received a lot of praise for their performances, and rightly so, but the film belongs to the leading trio–Frank Zeiger as Travis, Erin Breen as the possessed Doreen, and Joey Bicicchi as the hapless hubby Hank–with Breen stealing just about every scene she’s in.

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A scene from SUSPIRIA.

Suspiria (dir. Dario Argento, 1977) was up next. I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about it–I’m mainly a story guy, and the story in Suspiria is a means to an end for Argento, something to hang his scenes on. And of course he’s always been like that, but I do prefer his gialli, where the plot is just a little bit stronger.

That being said, while I’m entirely sure I’d say that Suspiria is the sort of movie you have to see on the big screen, it definitely does benefit from being part of a more immersive cinematic experience. It’s definitely Argento’s strongest film in a purely visual sense, and the theatrical format also bulks up Goblin’s atypically harsh and dissonant score. (With the exceptional of the occasional Simonetti-standard synth flourish, Suspiria is Goblin’s least Goblin-esque score.) Daniel’s death scene, in particular, is a lot more intense and powerful.

I’m not sure I’d give Suspiria any higher than the three stars I’ve habitually given it since I first saw it back in the early double-oughts, I’m glad I got a chance to see it on a big screen.

(I wrote a full review of Suspiria back in 2011.)

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That’s it for this one. I’ll get to The Black Cat within the next month or so. Seeya later!

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