May 16, 2011

Post Mortem: Hudson Horror Show III - A Tale of Two Holocausts

Credit where credit is due, Chris Alo and his gag of gore-loving cohorts have done it again. Hudson Horror Show III is now a thing of the past, but it has provided the Hudson Valley with its third dose of vintage horror in less than a year. I must apologize as I doubt I can be objective when it comes to these shows, they are just way too much fun, even when they show a film that is not quite that popular it is hard not to like it. This show proved every bit as fun as the first two and in short order Chris has gotten started what will hopefully turn into a long running series, perhaps even introduce side shows for science fiction and action/martial arts films? Lord knows how many cult films are out there to show and there will always be an audience of at least me.

The doors opened at the Silver Cinema in the South Hills Mall in Poughkeepsie, NY, right around noon. There was already a good sized crowd lining up in the hallway as some vendors got their tables setup and the show runners went about their final preparations. I lined up, got my wrist band and complimentary official show vomit bag (complete with a couple of bloody gummi body parts) and went inside where a few more vendors were setting up. I went into the theater and found a seat about halfway down on the aisle, left hand side, as I usually do, put my bad out and went back out to check out the vendors.

I picked up a couple of bootlegs of rare/hard to find stuff and went back inside to await the start of the show. I said hi to Chris, Glen, Tad and others with the team along the way. It was clear they were as excite as anyone of us for the show to start.

First up was a series of DVD shorts and internet clips that were all pretty entertaining and helped put us all in the right mood. The highlight of the bunch was Roid Rage. It is not what you think, and wholly more entertaining. It is a short about an ordinary fellow who discovers a problem, he has a mutant hemorrhoid growing out of his ass, and it is with this thing that he must survive. He lives on the run, those responsible for the mutation are on his trail. Seriously, this is a funny, bloody short that is well worth checking out.

All right, with that out of the way, we can move onto the quintuple main event, complete with some hilarious/great trailers before each one. To get an idea of the sort of trailers we got, here are a few of the titles I can remember: Captain America, Rappin', Corruption, The Big Bird Cage, Gymkata, Duel of the Deadly Fists, Dracula's Dog, The Burning, Rolling Thunder, The Beyond, Phantasm, Phantasm II, and Army of Darkness. There were definitely more there, but those are the ones I remember. Love this stuff. They really don't make trailers like these anymore.

The first movie of the day is the 1980 mutant reptile movie Alligator. John Sayles wrote it, Lewis Teague directed it, and Robert Forster stars in it. This was, believe it or not, my first time seeing the movie and it was an absolute blast. It sure has cheesy charms, some bad dialogues, inexplicable scenes, and feels more than a little like Jaws, but this has something else going for it. Alligator is all sorts of fun. See it with a crowd to see what I mean. I certainly need to see it again, but if you like fun flicks, this will definitely fit the bill.

Next up is an early giallo from Dario Argento, which also features director of photography Vittorio Storaro and composer Ennio Morricone. The movie is called The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, although this print was a re-release (same cut) and goes by the title The Phantom of the Terror. This is not really a horror film, more of a serial killer thriller. Still, it has a nice style, a weird whodunit tale, and is a good early example of Argento's developing style. This was the weakest of the evening's films, but still. to see it with a crowd all wanting to like it made up for it. It is on to see, no doubt about it. Like Alligator, this was the first time I have seen it, despite owning it on DVD for some time.

The third film was one I had eagerly been looking forward to, although I was not sure just what effect it would have on me. I had seen it before and it messed me up for a long time (read about it here). I don't know if I love it or hate, but it is certainly effective and definitely a rough watch. Anyway, after requisite warnings from the Hudson Horror team (some people, understandably don't want to see the movie or its animal violence), the movie got under way and as the Riz Ortolani music began playing over an aerial view of the Green Inferno, I could not help but get a little tense. My stomach knotted itself up and I steeled myself for te movie.

The big screen only amplified the film's effect. It really messed with me something fierce. The animal scenes (particularly the turtle) felt much more intense, and the scenes of fake human on human violence felt even more disturbing. Even with the sometimes corny dialogue and unrealistic scenes, the cumulative impact of the movie is still palpable. It is certainly something to experience on the big screen, just be prepared to look away on occasion. I don't care how hardcore you are, this is rough stuff.

Some movies made today make you wonder what they were thinking when they wrote it, some movies of the past make you wonder what they were thinking when they made the movie. Cannibal Holocaust is one of those movies.

All right, lightening the mood some is our fourth feature, Dr. Butcher, MD. This is a rarer version of the film that has a different cut on DVD called Zombie Holocaust. I am not sure what the differences are, but I sure did get a kick out of this movie. The movie borrows heavily from other genre outings and seems to mash a few things up. You have scenes in the US with people stealing boy parts which leads to the revelation of the cannibal people who live on an island called Kito. So our heroic duo, led by Ian McCulloch, head off to find the island. They do find it and find natives, cannibals, and zombies. Not to mention a mad doctor who likes to switch brains. Nothing really fits together all that well, and there is that one scene that looks like it was shot in someones backyard, complete with evergreens (in a jungle!).

The final film of the night, and easily most popular and well known of the bunch was Return of the Living Dead. You know, I wanted to see this, but I cannot say I felt overly excited going in. I think that may be because I was so familiar with it already, having reviewed a couple of releases of it over the years. Still, as soon as it started, I was in. Seriously, this was an extraordinary amount of fun. Some great gore, some big laughs, Clu Gulager, and Linnea Quigley and her memorable dance sequence. It may not be as infamous as Cannibal Holocaust or odd like Dr. Butcher, but it is still so much fun. It is a movie that is as timeless as it is trapped in time. It is so much a product of the era and that just gives it more to love.

From top to bottom, this was a fun day and I was there by myself. I think that says a lot for the crowd that was there. This is not the same as your regular movie going experience. This is much more of a communal experience. Everyone is there because they want to be there, no kids looking for something to do or whatever. Hudson Horror Show attracts horror fans. We gather, we commune, we talk horror, we talk about what we are about to see, what we want to see, what we just saw, you name it. It is a singular experience, each time out, 12 hours of movies, trailers, giveaways, conversations, it is not to be missed.

If you like horror, you are going to want to come to next show. Granted, you have to wait until December 3,2011, but look at what you will get to see: Werewolf vs. Vampire Woman, Rolling Thunder (not horror, but that's all right), The Beyond (Yes! Classic Fulci), Silent Night Deadly Night (it is Christmas time, after all), and the big daddy Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original of course). I have also heard rumors of a bonus movie, no guarantees, but even without, those are 5 solid movies.

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Joel said...

That evergreen moment in Dr. Butcher actually is the primary difference in cuts, from what I remember - it was filmed pretty much in post-production. I think there's a different score, too, and maybe different opening credits?

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