As a life-long film buff (self-proclaimed of course), one of my favorite things about movies is how subjective they all are. Movies are liked by some and despised by others, with the exception of a few movies that are pretty much universally hated (i.e. Gigli, Catwoman, and just about anything by Uwe Boll). Nowhere is the difference between a good movie and a horrid movie more obvious than in the science fiction and horror genres. There is a fine line between being ridiculously awesome and just plain ridiculous. The worst types of genre movies are those that make every attempt to be taken seriously, even though they are screaming to be put out of their cinematic misery. I’ve seen more movies than I can count that turned into utter schlocky garbage, even though every actor made an attempt to relay their lines in the most serious tone of voice and used their facial expressions to their full potential.
I think, in my own opinion as a horror movie fan, that good quality horror movies are quite rare, especially nowadays when each director feels the need to throw buckets of blood all over the screen and label it as “horror”. A good horror film has something about it that makes it stick with you long after it’s over with. For me, since I’ve started watching horror movies, there are only a handful that have left me thinking about them long after they were over with. A short-list of the ones I consider great (for whatever reason that may be) would include the following;
The Descent – (A superb movie; the first half leaves you claustrophobic while the second half has you white-knuckling your chair and taking your claustrophobia to an entirely new level)
Exorcist III – (To this day, the lady crawling across the ceiling still makes me shudder)
Evil Dead Series – (This is my BOOM stick! Need I say more?)
Cabin In The Woods – (A completely awesome take on the whole horror genre; loved every minute of this one)
Now that all my preamble-type-stuff is out of the way, I spent this last Friday night at The Loft in Tucson for their All-Nite Scream-O-Rama. Beginning at 9pm on Friday night and running until 9am on Saturday morning, it had an almost “lock-in” feel that I haven’t had since high school. I’ll get this out of the way right now; I had a blast. The vibe in the air was one of fun. Throughout all the movies (Rec was actually relatively quiet because people were too busy whimpering in their seats), people were hollering lines at the screen and it made the entire experience feel like a fun time sitting around with your friends. Honestly, if I hadn’t seen some of the movies already, I may have been a bit more annoyed with the unscripted yellings of my fellow moviegoers but as it stood, it was a blast. I’ll drop a list of what they showed throughout the evening and some quick thoughts on them.
My Bloody Valentine – I had never seen the original version of this movie. The extent of my “bloody valentine” viewing was the 2009 remake with Jensen Ackles in it. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have the original to compare it too. One interesting bit of trivia they told us before firing up the movie was that it had scenes of violence cut to put it in the “R” rating area instead of the “X” rating. I know what you’re thinking; an “X” rating always (at least when I was younger) usually had you thinking of sexual content. Not the case in this one. The “X” rating was a result of some horrifying death scenes, that actually looked pretty comical now. A genre favorite among horror fans, this was my first time watching it and it was worth the time spent. Hilarious acting and plenty of gore to make it feel like an 80’s horror classic.
Dead Alive – I tried to watch this one when I was in the Navy and had a tough time making it through, due to the ludicrous amounts of gore. This time around, I made it all the way through and, although not a favorite of mine, didn’t mind it too much. Very odd thinking that this was one of Peter Lord-Of-The-Rings Jackson’s first films.
Phantasm – Aah, the spiked, flying ball. When you think of the Phantasm series, the object that gets the most play is that ball. A flying sphere of death, it’s actually funny that it doesn’t really have much screen time in this first in the series. The tall man, however, is quite creepy. Watching this one, I realized that it’s truly not a great movie and I’m unsure what I liked so much about it on my first few viewings of it. The fact that I was started to get pretty drowsy probably didn’t help matters much either. I’d been up since 4:15am and Phantasm started a little past midnight and my long day was starting to get to me. I honestly think I drifted off quite a bit during this movie.
Christine – Having seen this one half a dozen times over the years, I saw an opportunity to grab a catnap in my car. Considering they were showing classic grindhouse movie trailers and having contest giveaways in between each movie, I didn’t actually wander out to my car until I was sure it was safe. I know this one is another favorite of horror fans but, although I like it, I’m not a die-hard fan of the boy-meets-car tale.
Rec – The highlight of the evening, BY FAR. This is one of the ones I was excited about. I’d seen this one a couple years back in it’s original Spanish film. The American remake “Quarantine”, while basically the same movie, just didn’t pack the same punch as this one. A firefighter’s call gone wrong, this one is another pedal-to-the-medal film that doesn’t let go of you once it’s grabbed you. A fun, roller coaster ride of a movie.
The Manitou – I had never even HEARD of this one. Starring Tony Curtis, this was one of those classic angry Native American movies where all the white people are running around trying to figure out how they’ve angered the Native American gods and how to fix things. As the emcee pointed out, it’s probably one of the only movies you’ll ever see where a woman gives birth from HER BACK.
Creepshow – A George Romero movie that’s NOT about zombies? Uh, ok, I’ll bite. An interesting collection of vignettes (one actually starring Stephen King himself!), this is a great collection of younger actors. Ed Harris with hair? Hal Holbrook before he became 156 years old (on a sidenote, my wife LOVES Holbrook; it just makes for an easy joke), Stephen King as a hillbilly farmer, Adrienne Barbeau as a spiteful, loud wife. Ted Danson and Leslie Nielsen as well (did Leslie Nielsen EVER look young?). Once again, not one of my favorites but still a lot of fun.
I would absolutely do this again. I had a blast and even got a “Survivor” pin for staying the entire night (some people started leaving around 2am, but us die-hards were there all night long). Supposedly they will be putting together another All Nite Scream-O-Rama in September and I hope to see you there!