September 21, 2015

Screening Report: Hudson Horror Invades the Alamo III (Alamo Drafthouse, 9/19/15)

If you did not know, the Hudson Horror Show is a pretty big deal. You go somewhere and mention them, people know what you are talking about, their eyes light up with excitement. There is a growing camaraderie amongst the horror marathon that is amazing. Go to these shows and you instantly become a member of the family. Anyway, this past weekend the Hudson Horror crew spearheaded their third invasion of the Alamo Drafthouse, and it was a sold out affair. This double feature played to a lively crowd and went over extraordinarily well.

I spent the afternoon the day of the show working on my own screenplay. In case you are wondering it is an Italian flavored and Fulci influenced piece (it's going to be great). I then made sure to get down to the Drafthouse on the early side so that I had some time to hang out with the guys behind Hudson Horror, Chris, Sean, Errol, Marcos, and others, fellow writers like Jimmy from and Jordan from the, not to mention the regular Alamo crew, Carl, Brian, Jolene, and Laura. Also got to catch up with some friends who were vending, Dan of Inked Up Merch, and Tad Leger. Certainly a worthwhile thing to do.

The first movie was one I had never seen before, surprising right? It only helps to continue the streak of very Hudson Horror event having at least one movie I had never seen before. With that said, I still think it is a movie I should have seen by now, it is a somewhat prominent title that has even gotten the remake treatment, albeit straight to video route despite having Tobe Hooper at the helm. Beyond that, the sequel even had a direct to video sequel. The movie? None other than The Toolbox Murders.

What a movie. Seriously, I really rather liked it and think I should pick up that nifty Blu-Ray release. The film was directed by Dennis Donnelly, his one and only feature film, his career before and since has been in the television realm, where is likely did very well, but this movie is the reason to remember him. On the writing side of the coin, the screenplay duties were handled by Neva Friedenn (Supervan), Robert Easter (Out for Blood), and Anne Kindberg.

The Toolbox Murders is delightfully grimy, palpably gritty. It is the sort of movie that makes you want to shower when it's over. It is not quite Maniac or I Spit on Your Grave, but that is not meant to diminish it. It is also front loaded on the violence, meaning most of the kills and violence is in the first third of the movie, do not fret, the last act ups the weird factor. The movie gets seriously odd the closer it gets to the climax.

For me, this was was the movie of the day. We get some crazy bloody kills at the outset then it becomes a bit of a procedural. Still, it has so, crazy characters, silly dialogue, and is just flat out good. I am it sure it rises to the level of greatness, but it does fly high for me. Definitely a winner.

After the movie came to a close we went into a break. Got to chat some more with friends, check out the vendor wares, picking up a newly minted Hudson Horror trucker hat and a The Thing knit beanie. Also checked out the items Tad brought, picking up a first pressing vinyl release of the Blood Farmers' Headless Eyes, a doom metal band that Tad is a member of.

Alright, back to it, the back half of the double feature was definitely the weaker of the two. The movie is called Spookies. The story about how the movie came to be is more interesting that the movie itself. I do not regret seeing it, quite the opposite, but I do not think I would have been sad had it been a different movie. Still, we did get the bonus of having three folks involved with the film on hand for a post screening Q and A.

During the production of the film, the control, and everything else, was taken away from the director (I see three credited, but I am not sure who the original was). The producer later went and hired another director and brought in another cast to shoot additional and replacement footage for the movie. The original cast had no idea this had happened until they saw the movie for the first time. To listen to them talk about being on the set, it seems like they had fun, but nobody liked anyone else.

In the movie, a group of friends, I guess they could be called friends, end up at this secluded and abandoned mansion (that is said to be actually haunted). Once inside, they find a crazy ouija board and then become accosted by a number of different demons, creeps, and apparitions, including some farting monsters in the wine cellar (which sort of looked like zombie on the boat at the beginning of Zombie). Everything is played out under the watch of some old wizard fellow, his vampire son, and ghoul wife.

I don't know. It is silly at times, goofy at others, never really good. I have certainly seen worse. It did make me interested to see what the original vision for it was. The post screening session with the cast members was fun. In particular Peter Iasillo Jr. was particularly entertaining, the guy is just full of energy. It was fun listening to them rip on the producer and talk about unfinished effects, original ideas, and how he, meaning Peter, has made a career of playing homeless guys. The other two in attendance were Anthony Valbrillo and Thomas Sciacca. The whole thing seemed to take on a level of performance art.

After all was said and done, came the sad time of saying good bye to everyone. As much as I would like hang out with these guys more often, there are only so many opportunities.

On the bright side, they did announce the next Hudson Horror Show event, it will be on December 12th in Poughkeepsie, NY, and will feature 6 films projected from 35mm film, complete with vintage trailers. Tickets are not on sale yet, but the titles should get you a little excited. They are:
Stunt Rock
Friday the 13th Part 2
Halloween 2
The Warriors
And one more secret film, I know what they said at the announcement, but not sure I can tell you yet. I will say I am a big fan of this one and saw it upon its initial release some years ago.

So, as always, keep an eye on the Hudson Horror Facebook page for details on when tickets will be available (note: if you are seriously interested, make sure you do this, the last show sold out in just over an hour!). Also, be sure to visit The Alamo Drafthouse, it is a great theater.

And finally, if you happen to see me out and about, say hi!

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