June 6, 2010

Post Mortem: Hudson Horror Show I (5/22/10)

First let me apologize for this. I had planned on writing this two weeks ago. But you know how life sor of creeps up on you and distracts you from the important things? Yeah, that's how it goes. Now, on with your regularly scheduled programming.

I don't recall exactly when it was, but it must have been last Fall sometime that I came across a link on Twitter announcing screening dates for a 35mm print of The Evil Dead. Of course I had to click on it, the opportunity to see the splatter classic on the big screen was too big of a draw. However, I was not holding out much hope that there would be one all that close to me. To my surprise there was a date right in my backyard, it was May 22. 2010 in Poughkeepsie (spelled Pukipsie), NY, at something called the "Hudson Horror Show."

Hudson Horror Show? Never heard of it. So, I did a little more looking and discovered that it was going to be a full day of horror held at a local cinema that was to be headlined by The Evil Dead. All right, I was sold.  I read a little more and found that the day would also include a series of trailers and shorts that would be followed by nor only the Sam Raimi classic but the experimental Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated, and 35mm prints of Pieces (which I had surprisingly never seen), and the Lucio Fulci masterpiece Zombie (aka Zombi 2). To say I was just a little bit excited would have been an understatement.

Now the only problem was waiting the months until the show happened. Well, the wait proved to be well worth it. As the day came, passed, and went I cannot help but reflect on how much fun the day was. Yes, it was very long, but it is not an experience I would give up. Were all of the films shown quality? No, that would be silly talk. Despite the sometimes spotty early going, it built up a head of steam that would lead right into the the trio of 35mm presentations.

Doors opened a little past noon. I was there with the collection of of horror fans of all ages, anxiously anticipating what was to come. We got our wristbands and hand stamps and headed inside. In the theater's main hallway we found vendors selling t-shirts, DVDs, CDs, posters, and other items. They included Heretic Wear and Grindhouse Releasing (sponsors of the event, providing said prints). During the evening I picked up copies of Pieces and Cannibal Ferox, as well as a mini-poster for the Hudson Horror Show. They also had a very cool tour poster for The Evil Dead.

The show got underway right around 1:00 with a series of shorts and trailers. Let's take a look at them, shall we? The only problem is that the delay in getting this together has robbed me of some details, but I will do the best I can.

Domination: Rellik Vs. The Black Rose Killer (Festival intro). This short pits a couple of slasher types against each other in the woods with the life of a young woman at stake. It is not so much a short film as it is a clever introduction the festival. I would be interested in checking these guys out in their own film and get a little more story on them.

Toolshed of the Living Dead (trailer). I do not remember much about this trailer other than it being pretty funny. It sort of takes Ash's (The Evil Dead) to the next level with all of the tools available to dispatch the dead.

Devil Sister (trailer). This trailer was pretty darn awesome. It had a grindhouse feel and was a total rip on The Exorcist. Seriously, I would like to see how bad this sister gets in a feature length film.

Party Girl (short film). This one was pretty trippy, like a horror acid trip. It centers on this girl, dubbed "Party Girl" by the press. She draws the perverse men of the community into a den of ill repute where she proceeds to kill every one of them in most gruesome fashion. Not one of my favorites but I think it would make an interesting feature subject.

Evolver (trailer). Another one whose details escape my memory. I do recall people yelling "It's evolving!" and that alone makes me chuckle.

No Trespassing 2: No Exit (short film). This was pretty good, although it felt rather familiar. A couple sneak into a closed haunted house attraction and in their attempts to have a good time and do what young couples do discover that here is more to this house than meets the eye. The attractions come to life with bad intentions. Fun as a short subject, would have been derivative as a feature.

Dark Night of the Demon House (trailer). This is a fake that delivers in the old school fashion where titles get repeated over and over again, much like Edgar Wright's Don't trailer for Grindhouse.

Dead Bugs on the Carpet (trailer). This is one I really wish I remembered. I remember loving it, it was seriously strange and the final title call was classic.

Cookie Monster Roast (short film). This vulgar claymation was very funny, although I am not sure I would call it horror. It is set up like a classic roast with various denizens of Sesame Street take the microphone and rip on each other and Cookie Monster. Funny stuff.

& Teller (short film). This short sees a zombie outbreak through the eyes of one of its survivors, Teller of Penn & Teller. He is holed up in and picking of zombies. Humorous, bloody, existential, delightful.

& Teller 2 (short film). The continuing adventures of Teller. He has left his bunker and is traveling the desert with his own personal zombie. The existential horrific humor continues.Strong stuff. I think this stuff would make a great feature.

Sins of the Father (trailer). Sadly, I do not remember this one at all.

Girlkiller (trailer). This is another that I am drawing a blank on. I truly apologize for not putting thoughts to page earlier. Life just gets in the way and steals the time away from under you.

The Growth (short film). This short sees a man taken over by a fungus. The man slowly disappears under the spreading growth despite his attempts to cut pieces of it off until he is discovered by a friend. Is it too late? The effects in this short are pretty good too.

Dracula’s Daughter vs Space Brains (short film). THis short features the biggest star of the evening (excepting the almighty Bruce Campbell, of course) in Neil Patrick Harris. This film features a pair of vampires seducing Harris as their next meal only to find something else on the menu. I have to admit that this was a lot of fun and I would love to see it stretched out a little bit.

Chemical 12-D (short film). Another short, another blank.

The Lycanthrope (short film). This one I remember. It was really quite good. A man calls his friend over in the middle of the night with a big problem. You see, he has a mauled woman in his bed who wants to take a bite out of anyone who gets close. It becomes a what do you do story when you know you are a violent werewolf. Very nicely done.

Next up was an extended trailer for a new DVD centering on the band Toxik. This is notable because we had band member, and graphic designer for companies such as Grindhouse Releasing, Tad Leger was in the house to introduce it. Now, it is not exactly horror, but horror and metal have gone hand in hand for decades now. The trailer features new interview footage of the band cut with an old concert recorded in front of a hometown crowd in Peekskill, NY. I am not familiar with the band but the footage was great, rough but great.

Now it was time to prepare for the feature film portion of the evening. The first film up was Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated. This is something I was keenly interested in, yet came away somewhat disappointed.

It is a fascinating idea. They took the original soundtrack and dialogue from the classic Romero film and set it to animation. They employed hundreds of artists who created thousands of pieces of artwork that were all cut into the movie. Stills, animation, stop-motion, claymation, pencil drawings, computer creations, oil paintings, Furby's, all manner of media were used in the creation of the video accompaniment. SOme of it worked beautifully while other moments were a bit of a bore. I believe people were given the option of what they wanted to create for and they all chose the more exciting portions of the movie. Still, I love a lot of the effort, love the concept, and generally enjoyed the finished product. I would love to see this concept expanded to other films.

Now that all of the preliminaries are out of the way, it was time for us to get down to the nitty gritty and the real reason why the majority of us came out. The 35mm projected portion was about to begin.

The first film to roll was the 1983 "classic" Pieces. I had never seen the film before, although I had heard of it. Let me start by saying the film is not good by any stretch of the imagination. That said, it is also a fantastic movie. What made it even better is the audience. It was a collective experience with everyone laughing, cheering, clapping together as the incomprehensible film unfolded before us.

I am not going to review the film, but I will say if you are a fan of old school slashers and like nonsensical tales, this is for you. Chainsaw killings, hilarious dialogue, terrible acting, and a conclusion that defies explanation, this has it all. It is a relatively obscure horror film but it is worth looking for. This is a movie made by people who just don't care about sense, they throw it all on the screen, including the most ridiculous appearance of a martial artist ever.

Seeing this on the big screen with this audience was a great and memorable experience afforded by the Hudson Horror Show. Now, the print did show its age, but it was in very good shape considering its age and its low budget origins.

As the night rolled on we made it to out second feature, Lucio Fulci's classic Zombie. This is a film I have seen many times in the past, but never on a big screen and never with an audience. It worked wonderfully on the big screen. Fulci is a master of atmosphere and he knows how to use the blood and guts. The dialogue and acting are more serviceable than good but they fit the movie Fulci is making. The pacing is slow, building to punctuations of gore.

Again, the print showed its age, but was in very good shape all things considered and it was a blast seeing it on the big screen in all o its gut munching glory.

The third film of the 35mm trifecta is the great Sam Raimi film The Evil Dead. Going in I had it stuck in my head that it was going to be The Evil Dead II. I was wrong, but not disappointed. This is the prototypical house in the woods horror film. Star Bruce Campbell and friends head out into the woods to spend a weekend in an old abandoned cabin. Here they find the research of an archaeologist into the Necronomicon. Before you can blink, the evil is unleashed on them.

This movie is even better and more fun on the big screen. Campbell has great presence although he isn't quite the character we came to love in the second two films. You know, it had been awhile since I have seen this and did not realize how many times he gets shot in the face with various fluids. You have to feel sorry for the guy.

The print looked really good, although it was presented widescreen when I believe it was originally shot 1.33:1. No matter, it was still great to see with a crowd that was clearly into it.

That brought the show proper to an end, but it was not over. Not completely.

The show programmers had a special extra film for those souls who still wanted more. It is not a horror film. It was a rare concert film from 1980 called Black & Blue. It was a concert featuring none other than Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult. It was a great film. The print had seen better days, but the sound was just fine. It was recorded early in the Dio era of Sabbath and  he sounded great. Excellent way to end a long day of films.

Credit to Chris Alo and the rest of the team who put the show together. It seemed like everyone had a good time. Looking forward to the second installment hopfully come October.



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