New Beverly All Night Horrorthon (2017)

OCTOBER 7, 2017

GENRE: EVERYTHING!
SOURCE: THEATRICAL (REVIVAL SCREENING)

For the past couple years I've written up my New Beverly All Nighter experiences for BirthMoviesDeath, but I had to post something else this week and HMAD's been getting neglected so I figured I'd bring it back here for a change. It was a fitting one to do it with - for the first time ever, I had seen every film that they showed, which I attribute to truly HMADing it all those years ago (i.e. not the couple times a month thing I do now). Four of the movies indeed have HMAD reviews tied to them, and the other two I had seen before I started the site; I was legit kind of stunned that Phil Blankenship and Brian Quinn - who go out of their way to find rarely shown stuff rather than expected "draws" - didn't find anything even I had never unearthed. I assume that it will never happen again, so let me pat myself on the back a bit for this one-time achievement.

Of course, regular readers know how much I "love" to fall asleep during the movies, so thankfully I didn't miss anything I hadn't seen before when I inevitably dozed off. A couple of the films they've shown in the past were so rare that you can't really find them (such as Screams of a Winter Night, which Amazon doesn't even stock on used VHS, let alone DVD or whatever), making my naps frustrating as I can't see what I've missed, but this year's crop, while obscure (and largely to my liking), have all been released on DVD, some even on Blu-ray. But as they assumed, I had never seen any of them on 35mm before, and given that they played one of my all time favorites on what is said to be the only surviving prints, I have no complaints about the lineup overall. Nor did the crowd, it seemed - only a small handful of people left during the evening, a far cry from years' past where the (always sold out) theater would be only about half full by the end.

This is, of course, due to the secretive nature of the marathon, as we are not told the titles of any of the films that are playing. It's only when the title (or, if you're a credit junkie like me, the "So and so presents" card) appears on screen that you know what you're about to watch, and so it's hard to justify leaving when you could be denying yourself the chance to see a favorite film on the big screen, possibly the only chance you'll ever get to do so. Sure, you can leave when the 6th film starts if it's not to your liking, but there's always a reward for staying and they tend to be worth waiting another 90 minutes to obtain, in addition to the bragging rights. So what did we see this year? What was our prize? Read on to find out!


4:40pm - I leave my house. I wanted to leave earlier, but my wife had things to do and I was watching our kid. Luckily my friend Jared, as always, got there insanely early to tough it out (it was 90+ degrees that day - October in Los Angeles kind of sucks) and ensure we got our preferred seats in the second row, which has slightly more leg room than the other rows - a godsend for me as I broke my big toe (the right one) the other day and was not particularly comfortable, so every little extra bit of room I could get, I wanted. There was some attempt at a "no seat saving" system where people got numbered tickets to file in, and those people could only save one adjacent seat, which was stressing folks out as we waited outside. I don't think it's particularly fair to try to break friends apart when they might be unable to get there as early (would they rather people cut the line?), especially when so few seats open up during the evening, but I can see how people saving excess number of seats until the minute it starts would be a problem. Hopefully they can rethink this process and do it fairly for future events.

6:15pm - The doors open and the numbered folks file in, but the system kind of falls apart and we all get to sit together anyway, and everyone else seemed to be happy with their seats as well (nor did anyone ask "Are those free?" for the two or three seats that were vacant as other friends were still waiting to get inside). Had the system worked as intended, I might have been stuck far away from my friends all night, which sucks when I was the one who secured our damn tickets! But whatever; it all worked out - no harm no foul! For the next hour and change we just yak about the usual stuff: what will show? When should we get pizza? How often am I going to fall asleep? I also buy two holiday themed sodas: a pumpkin cola and a ginger beer that had a werewolf on it (I no longer recall what the werewolf had to do with the ginger beer part of it). I decided that I would refrain from sugary stuff this year as it tends to give me a little energy boost but then crash, increasing my likelihood of falling asleep, but I can't pass up a pumpkin cola. Plus I knew I'd be getting pizza later and ain't nothing tastes better with pizza than a cold soda, dammit.

7:30pm - Phil and Brian take the stage for their intro. They promise that one of the prints that will be playing had never been shown anywhere before, and that the others probably hadn't played since their original release. They also note that they have a cutoff date of ten years, so if a film had played around 2007 or later, it would be ineligible. Since that's when I started going to the theater a lot, that dramatically increased the likelihood that I hadn't seen any of the films on 35 before, as they rarely show the sort of films I would have been able to see in my multiplex back in the day.


7:37pm - The lights dim for the first time and we are treated to an insane Disney short about the history of Halloween, hosted by a mushy pumpkin puppet and peppered with clips from Mickey cartoons, The Headless Horsemen, the Haunted Mansion ride, etc. It was ostensibly meant for kids, but I suspect any 4 year old watching it would have nightmares and/or hate the holiday as a result, since it actually goes into its Druid origins ("DRUIDS!!!" the narrator bellows at you) and warns about poisoned candy. As an adult? It might have been my favorite thing of the night, because it was so misguided and insane (like some of the films were) but also MEANT FOR CHILDREN.

7:45pm - Trailer reel #1! Traditionally, the trailer reel hints at what the movie will be, though it can be tough to decipher the clues as it could just be that a star from the trailer is in the movie, or they have similar settings, or were just also out during the same year - or a combination of those things. Inexplicably, I had a guess after the first trailer (April Fool's Day) because it was another movie from 1986, but then the next few trailers were sorority slashers (House on Sorority Row, Sorority House Massacre, Hell Night) and I started doubting my first choice, although I couldn't think of anything else that would fit. But then the trailers ended and the title came up - and I was right! Somehow from "also 1986 slasher" I managed to guess...

7:55pm - KILLER PARTY (1986)
Turns out the 1986 thing was a coincidence - the trailer was included because both films are set on, you guessed it, April Fool's Day, an element I had forgotten as I hadn't seen Killer Party in about twenty years. All I really remembered is that the film had a double fakeout opening (it starts on a scene that turns out to be a movie someone is watching, and then it turns out that someone is the star of a music video that our heroine is watching), that the killer wore one of those Bioshock-style diving suits, and that Paul Bartel was in it. Things I didn't realize then and was delighted by now: it was written by Final Chapter's Barney Cohen (who named Bartel's character after TFC director Joe Zito), the requisite nerdy guy was played by Ralph Seymour from Fletch, and it was shot at the same college used for Urban Legend.

It's also a total blast; the pacing is a bit wonky but there is plenty of humor (intentional and not) to keep things lively in between kills, and it's got a great inversion of the usual "Final Girl" stuff as the one you expect to take on that role ends up being possessed and offing everyone (though two people die before the possession happens so I'm not sure who killed them). It's got some Porky's/Police Academy level pranks that an uptight blogger might refer to as "problematic" today because they don't understand that attitudes change over time, but thankfully the New Bev crowd has an open mind and is largely intelligent enough to put a thirty-plus year old film in its proper context instead of judging it by today's less cavalier attitudes. That said, it's also a product of the time when the MPAA had no tolerance for blood, so the movie often feels like a TV edit - but in a way it kind of adds some mystery to the movie. Given the April Fool's setting and off-screen kills, it's possible to suspect everything is just a big prank, and then be surprised when it turns out that our heroine really did just murder like ten people because she was possessed by some vengeful ghost.

9:25pm - The movie ends with rapturous applause. In retrospect, it was probably the winner of the night, as it was one of the least seen movies out of the six and it was arguably the most crowd-pleasing, as the others lacked the comedic angle that made Killer Party such a great way to kick off the festivities. At this point I order pizza with some friends, and miss part of the trailer reel to run across the street and pick it up. In keeping with my "no sugar" rule I skip the dessert pizza for the first time ever, but I do get the garlic knots. I ain't kissing anyone, so whatever.


9:45pm - Trailer reel #2! I missed most of it, but it was H-Man, Frankenstein 1970, Konga, and Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (I walked in during the tail end of Konga). Since movie #2 was always a black and white film, and I missed the first couple of "clues", my only guess from Konga (a simian) and Transplant (mad science) was that it was The Ape, a dreadfully slow poverty row thing with Karloff that I watched on one of my budget packs, but it turned out to be...

10:00pm - THE MANSTER (1959)
I was close! It was another mad scientist movie I saw on a budget pack, though it was much better than The Ape. I forgot how much I loved the film's protagonist, an average Joe who is injected with a drug that not only turns him into the titular monster, but also loosens his inhibitions and leads him to start boozing it up and cheating on his wife. The "highlight" is when his wife, who expected him to return home by now (he's an American working in Japan), shows up and tells him to choose her or his girlfriend. He walks up to his wife, seemingly ready to apologize, then turns to the mistress and snarls "Come on, let's go find someplace and finish the evening!" I also loved how the actor was my age but looked way older (and said he was only 35, which brought the house down even though it was pretty close to the truth), and the abrupt ending is even funnier with a crowd. I dozed for a little chunk of the middle and missed my favorite line, however (click on the full review for the explanation, I hate repeating myself) so that was a bummer.

11:15pm - The movie ends and I take one of many trips to my car to get another bottle of water, as I will be skipping the usual coffee this evening as well. I realized last year that it's pointless - I fall asleep anyway, but then start feeling weird because of all the extra caffeine in my system (we get free refills all night - I usually partake two or three times). I figure water is healthier, and then leaves my system free of caffeine so I can actually drink a cup at the normal time in the morning.

11:30pm - Raffle time! I don't win anything.

11:40pm - It's tradition to show more than just movies, and we get one such extra now: a 1983 short film named Disciples of the Crow, based on Children of the Corn, making it a "dollar baby" I believe. It's pretty faithful to the story until the ending - Vicki and Burt are not killed, but drive off (albeit with an overheating car), hoping to find rescue. It's basically how The Mist story ended, actually. I guess it was released on VHS with some other dollar babies, and you can see it on Youtube if you're interested - it was fun to see it adapted without all of the padding that the two feature films had added (King's story is only like 20 pages), but the abrupt ending was disappointing.


12:00am - Trailer reel #3 kicks off with Madman, relieving me as that meant the movie would not BE Madman, which I have little patience for. It's followed by Pranks (aka Dorm that Dripped Blood) and I realize that they're both slashers from 1982. I have a guess, but it's too good to be true and I've never considered myself that lucky. Then we get Visiting Hours and The Slayer, both also from 1982, and I start getting hopeful as 1982 wasn't a huge slasher year and there aren't a lot of options. Then Without Warning comes up, showcasing Jack Palance and Martin Landau, which all but confirmed I was right and we were about to see...

12:10am - ALONE IN THE DARK (1982)
Yes! YES!!!! I love this movie and always requested it for HMAD screenings, but a print could never be found. Phil finally dug one up, and while it wasn't exactly pristine (faded and scratched - though no disruptive damage except around the tails) I was beyond ecstatic to finally see it on the big screen. I was actually just talking about it a few days ago with Eric Vespe ("Quint") as it was on TCM or one of those and he was taking shots at Valentine for stealing the nosebleed thing (and I of course had to defend my boy Jamie Blanks, who freely admitted he was paying homage to the film, rather than pretend it was a coincidence as some filmmakers do), but didn't even dare assume it might show up at this or any other screening since the prints were apparently impossible to find. Oddly, I could have seen Erland van Lidth ("Fatty") on the big screen twice this week, as he also appeared as Dynamo in The Running Man which showed at Beyond Fest, but I bailed after Predator (it was a double feature with Arnold Q&A) as my foot was hurting real bad and missed out. Didn't realize he had passed away, making Phillip Clark (The Bleeder himself) the only surviving member of the four psychos that terrorize the Potter family. Donald Pleasence is gone too, of course, so they better get cracking on a special edition of this underrated gem before there's no one alive left to talk about it.

1:40am - The movie ends and I go to my car to charge my phone, as it's nearly dead by now and I need it to keep track of the times for this very article. I lucked out this year and got a spot on Beverly a block away - I'm usually way down on one of the side streets, which would have been a nightmare with my foot making me hobble around. I think this is when I took all the pictures too.

1:55am - Trailer reel #4 has Demon Seed, Rosemary's Baby, The Brood, The Seventh Sign, and Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. I guess Manitou early on, and kept holding out hope even though I knew the evidence was starting to point directly at...

2:05am - IT'S ALIVE (1974)
Hadn't seen this one since I reviewed it, which was long before I had a kid of my own. So now I totally get the dad trying to save the thing at the end of the movie, and felt horrible for the poor "baby" when it howled or whatever. It's crazy how I take completely different things away from some films when I watch them as a dad, and I hope time allows me to revisit others in the same vein, as it might be worth writing about in some fashion. Anyway, the print was a bit faded, but it was a great find and turned out to be the last movie of the evening that I saw more than I slept through (I went out for about 20 minutes in the middle somewhere).

3:45am - The movie ends and as has been tradition for the past couple years, a large supply of donuts are delivered to give everyone a sugar high to power through the final two films, which will be presented without intermission. I am tempted, but I stick to my "no sugar" rule and settle for a now-cold slice of our pizza. I retrieve my phone, which didn't charge up as much as I wanted (turns out I still had a few apps running in the background, slowing its ability to recharge) and send out my last tweet of the evening, as I'm too tired to bother until later. From here on the times are VERY approximate as I was also too tired to keep notes.


4:00am - Trailer reel #5 kicks off with The Dead Are Alive, followed by The Blood Drinkers, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, The Rats are Coming! The Werewolves are Here, and The Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman. I had guessed it was a Paul Naschy film from Phil and Brian's intro (promising an international horror icon whose films don't show here all that often), but I was so tired I couldn't remember his name, coming up with a jumbled version of his Waldemar Daninsky character ("Vladimir Pazinsky", I think) instead. Jared reminds me of it when I say "They did a Scream Factory boxed set this year", though since he has so many films I was not expecting it to be one of the films that was actually on that set, namely...

4:10am - NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF (1981)
This print was actually titled The Craving, as it was the US release that was also slightly cut from what I understand, though hell if I know what was missing. This is one of his slower paced films, but they usually like to show such fare in this slot in case people WANT to take a nap, and many do. At one point in between my own frequent dozes (I had just rewatched the movie when the boxed set came out) I looked around and except for Jared, everyone I knew was asleep. It's a pretty good movie, and I was very happy to see the lovely Azucena Hernández on the big screen (not to mention my first time seeing a Naschy film on 35), but it's just not the sort of thing any reasonable person could stay engaged with at 4 o'clock in the morning. If you were there and hadn't seen it before, give it a shot under more suitable conditions!

5:50am - Trailer reel #6 offered Dr. Giggles, Lawnmower Man, Candyman, Dead Alive, and Army of Darkness - all films from 1992 (yes, pedantic people, Army of Darkness came out in 1993, but it is listed as 1992 on IMDb due to festival appearances). Our only other clue came earlier from Phil, who told us that the film had only made $5,000 during its theatrical run. I couldn't guess for the life of me; the only thing I could come up with was Popcorn, but I seemed to recall that it made a lot more than that (and it turned out it was from 1991 anyway), but Jared, soundtrack expert that he is, heard maybe three notes of the opening theme and correctly identified...

6:00am - THE VAGRANT (1992)
Oof. I was NOT a fan of this one when I watched it in 1995 or 1996, despite the starring trio of character actors I loved (Bill Paxton, Michael Ironside, and Marshall Bell), and while I was curious about a revisit, I dozed through two big chunks (including the ending) so I can't provide a reasonable "second look" opinion. I can say that for the first 30-35 minutes I saw before falling asleep the first time that I was still baffled as to who exactly the movie was aimed at, as it was a horror-comedy without any real scares or funny jokes. Bell's makeup as the title character is outstanding and it's fun to see Paxton as a beta male, but it felt like one of those movies that got made without anyone giving the script a second draft. Scream Factory recently released the film on a pack with a few others, so I'm sure I can borrow it from someone to see if what I missed will make the movie click for me, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Just watch Of Unknown Origin instead - it's similar (yuppie white collar guy sees his house torn apart by an unwelcome guest, becomes unraveled) but doesn't feel like it came out of the oven before it finished baking. I should have left, but I wanted my prize, dammit!

7:30am - Vagrant ends and we are treated to a typically insane Woody Woodpecker cartoon where he attempts to murder a witch who stiffed him 50 cents on broom repair, followed by the National Anthem (no one makes any kneeling jokes, that I heard anyway). We pack up our things and head to the lobby, where we are gifted with... pint glasses commemorating the event! I recently acquired a love of vanilla whiskey mixed with ginger ale, and the glass is perfect for such a concoction (I down them while playing Friday the 13th - JGrayland23 is my PSN name if anyone ever wants to try to play) so I was very glad I suffered through what I saw of The Vagrant instead of heading home earlier. Normally everyone takes a picture in front of the marquee but in a span of ten seconds I saw most of the people I was sitting with walk off in different directions, so I shrugged and headed for my own car, taking solace with the thought that I'd be getting that much more sleep when I got home.

As I get older it gets harder and harder for me to stay awake for any reasonable amount of time for these things, but I'd rather die than keep trying. It's just too fun overall to decide to skip it just because I end up unconscious for sizable chunks of it (and really, with a 40 minute drive home after, it's really for the best that I am not trying to do it when I've been awake for what would be nearly 24 hours at that point). Even if I've seen every movie, it's been on VHS or DVD and probably by myself - ever since they switched to an all secret lineup there has only been a single film that I had seen on the big screen before (Messiah of Evil in the 2015 edition, which I had seen at another repertory theater seven or eight years prior). As time goes on that could change, as they might start showing films I managed to see during their original run (I wouldn't be surprised to see something like Tales From The Hood or Man's Best Friend show up in the lineup someday), but thankfully Phil and Brian's tastes (and collections) are too eclectic to predict, and I highly doubt there will ever come a day where I have no reason to be excited about their selections. And if my kid ends up liking horror movies, maybe someday I can take him, so I have even more reason to want to see this tradition continue. As the show literally sold out in two seconds it seems to be popular enough to sustain (though as rental fees and the like go up, I'm not sure how profitable it is compared to showing a single film), so hopefully it continues until we're all dead in 2046.

What say you?

Tweet

5 comments:

  1. https://youtu.be/d6LgVn4HRpk
    Was this the Disney shortfilm?

    ReplyDelete
  2. KILLER PARTY and ALONE IN THE DARK will definitely be the films everybody remembers from the 2017 all-nighter. I feel like the sequencing was a bit off from last year's perfect programming (RACE WITH THE DEVIL thru TICKS), but "in Brian and Phil we trust".

    ReplyDelete
  3. With pleasure I read a new post, although it was difficult to keep attention, whether because of non-native English, I'm Russian by birth, or because of age! Of all the films, I saw It's alive (1974), I hope to see the rest. And by the way, did you see The Night of the Devils (1972)? If so, I did not find your feedback! It would be interesting to know your opinion! By the way, I also hurt my thumb on my right foot, not so much, really, like you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi! It's me a female ruskie horror film lover again. Turned out I watched Alone in the dark twice already!How could I have forgotten? Loved the film, which I can not say about The killer party (1986). I don't know, I just wasn't scared despite all the efforts made by all.

    ReplyDelete

Movie & TV Show Preview Widget

Google