July 17, 2017

Event Recap: Exhumed Films Presents - 3-Dementia!

If you know me, you know my love for genre films and the Hudson Horror Show. Even if you don’t know me, there is a good chance that you still know this about me. While Hudson Horror may be local genre marathon saviors they are hardly the only game around. There is a group based out of Philadelphia, PA, called Exhumed Films that has been in the game for twenty years, delivering all manner of genre movie marathons, all from 35mm prints. On July 16, 2017, the group put on what may be the most unique show they have ever had. The show was called 3-Dementia and, you guessed it, was comprised entirely of 3-D films. It also happened to be the first Philadelphia set show of theirs that I have attended.

3-Dementia is unique in that guys behind Exhumed Films had to recreate the 3-D technology. All of the films shown were from the 70’s and 80’s and do not use the red/blue cardboard and cellophane glasses you may recall being given at movies like Jaws 3-D. As it turns out, these were just a workaround. While the real technology more closely resembles what is used today, but not quite. At the start of the show, it was explained how special it was and the effort that went into, essentially, reverse engineering the technology so that it could be projected and viewed properly. This fact made it so that this screening was unique and not something that could be replicated anywhere else. Pretty neat, right? The five movies show today, who knows when the last time where projected. So, everyone in the audience got to wear brand new 3D visors.

The first film up is easily the best known of the bunch and would be easy to call my favorite of the day. The movie was none other the Friday the 13th: Part 3 - 3D. This entry in the classic slasher series is notable for featuring the first appearance of Jason Voorhees in the classic hockey mask. The film is chock full of things poking out of the screen to take advantage of the 3D. Watching the movie flat makes these “supposed” 3 D effects look a little silly. The print itself looked great and I always love hearing the disco mix of the theme music. It was fun watching Jason thrust spears at the camera and other characters fling yo-yo’s at others and whatnot. Director Steve Miner made sure to make use of the gimmick. On a side note, I have always loved Richard Brooker’s performance as Jason Voorhees.

The second film on the docket is an oddity of 1983 called Treasure of the Four Crowns. Within seconds of the feature beginning, all manner of things are being hurled at the viewer. This is certainly a movie that wants to get its money’s worth from the 3-D process. Directed by Fernando Baldi (who also helmed the 3-D feature Comin’ At Ya) and written and starring Tony Anthony, this movie is nothing more than an extended 3-D effects reel with the thinnest of plots hung along to keep it together, somewhat. It really is just an Indiana Jones clone that centers on the search for magic crowns that contain scrolls of infinite powers. I have to be honest, this was enjoyable but I could care less about the plot, it really is just crazy 3D effects and goofy character interactions led by Anthony’s JT Striker character.

As we got to the third film, we were introduced to a special guest, director Worth Keeter. He directed the next two movies to be played, Rottweiler (aka Dogs of Hell) and Hit the Road Running. He came out and gave a brief introduction to the films talking about the difficulties of shooting in 3-D and how the second film was a bit easier because it took place in daylight. He also mentioned being worried about how they have held up, not having watched them himself in awhile.

Rottweiler is not a great movie, but it is another that makes good use of 3-D technology. The story tells of a group of rottweilers that have been trained to kill with the intention of being used as replacement soldiers. The problem is that the truck that has been transporting them crashes, unleashing the murderous pups on a small, unsuspecting town. It may be a low budget feature, but it is pretty well made. If you can look past the suspect acting and the pedestrian plot, it is quite easy to enjoy. There is good use of the killer dogs surprising people and racking up an impressive body count, and I liked how some of the dogs were dispatched, at least the effect that was used. It feels a lot like it was inspired by Jaws, but with a military bend.

Movie four is Hit the Road Running, a car chase comedy film that offers sporadic laughs and a lot of ho-hum boredom. At least that is how it felt to me, a few of my friends really enjoyed it. It was like a 3-D mashup of Smokey and the Bandit, Dukes of Hazard, and Convoy. It tells the story of Beau Jim, with songs and narration by David Allan Coe, and how he traveled the world and returned to his small hometown to find it ruled by a rich and cruel man. He gets hired as a deputy and works to thwart his thuggish efforts, until our villain finds out and sets his sites on poor ole Beau Jim. It is comical and Jim likes to quote inspirational advice from his world travels as he smugly avoids capture. It has some good car chases, but it quickly becomes repetitive and feels longer than it should. On top of that, for being a 3D feature, it never feels as if it is being used all that much. This was my least favorite of the day.

After this film ended, Worth Keeter returned to the microphone for a brief Q and A. Most of this focused on Rottweiler. One interesting bit was learning the dogs had actually been trained as attack dogs and not nice stunt dogs, this led to his being bitten at one point. We also learned that the dogs liked bologna, so the actors would have the meat on their faces to encourage the dogs to go after them, alternatively, they would have the meat on a fishing line they would pull out of frame as a shot began to avoid it being seen. I did particularly like hearing about the building of a half scale house to burn down, because using a miniature would betray the scale due to how the flames looked. We also learned the Worth Keeter spent a lot of time directing episodes of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, VR Troopers, and Masked Rider.

The final film of the day was the martial arts flick Revenge of the Shogun Women (aka 13 Nuns). This one tells a somewhat unfocused story of a town that is attacked by bandits, robbed, and its women raped. The rape victims are sent to a convent where they are trained to fight and be Buddhist Monks. Time passes and the town regroups, but a prominent wedding draws the attention of the bandits again, the women and children are sent out of town for their protection while the men stay behind to fight the bandits. Of course, this doesn’t go quite as planned and the rape victims turned monks from the start leave the monastery and fight the bandits with a whole different result. The story is a little hard to follow and the martial arts on display are not exactly the best, but i found a river of energy running through in the undercurrent of the story. There is also the great use of in your face 3D gimmicks. We get all manner of crazy weapons thrust at the screen. The last third is a crazy fight that pretty much has to be seen to be believed. While the story leaves a lot to be desired, it makes a great use of the reason for its existence, the 3D gimmick! You cannot take that bit of crazy away from it.

Overall, Exhumed Films Presents: 3-Dementia was a total success. We got to see films they way they were intended, from 35mm prints and in 3D. I did not like all of the films, but there is nothing that can get in the way of the fun to be had watching them with friends and a large crowd. It was a long day to be sure, but it was a singular experience and that cannot be taken away.

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