Fright Breed: Hudson Horror Show XIII

hudson horror xiii flyerOn Saturday, May 16th, I traveled to Poughkeepsie, NY for my a much-needed dose of 35mm awesomeness at Hudson Horror Show XIII! After a bit of a late start, and a tiny hiccup with our tickets, my friends and I arrived just in time, and prepared to be dazzled by one of the strongest lineups in Hudson Horror history! After the reading of the (currently) nine sacred rules, the trailer reels fired up and helped get us in the mood for what was to come.

MOVIE #1: FIRST MYSTERY MOVIE
Unfortunately, a big rule at Hudson Horror Show is NEVER mention the name of the mystery movies. If you weren’t there, you’ll never know what played! All I can say about this first film, is that it was provided by the American Film Genre Archive, and is a somewhat obscure creature feature. It played well with an audience, and though it is ultimately forgettable, it was still fun to watch with a crowd. After the movie, I went out to the lobby and began seeking out items that were on my Hudson Horror wishlist, and surprisingly I didn’t go too overboard with my spending.

During this first break, I met author Lou Pisano who was selling copies of the book he co-authored (with Michael A. Smith), namely Jaws 2: The Making of a Hollywood Sequel. We both geeked out a bit about JAWS 2, and he shared some cool anecdotes about the production of the movie. Naturally I snapped up a copy of the book, had him sign it, then headed to Vinegar Syndrome’s table to grab DOLEMITE and THE BEES on Blu-ray. After that, it was back into the theater to enjoy the next film on the roster.

 

MOVIE #2: DOLEMITE (1975)
I was eagerly anticipating this particular film ever since it was announced. While I am familiar with Rudy Ray Moore, and own the complete Dolemite series on DVD… I’ve honestly never watched any of them. So it was definitely a real treat to pop my Dolemite cherry with a 35mm print of this legendary blaxploitation flick. DOLEMITE follows the exploits of the title character (played by Rudy Ray Moore), a kung-fu pimp that was wrongfully imprisoned after being set-up by a rival pimp named Willie Green (D’Urville Martin).

Once released from prison, Dolemite, backed up by his small army of chop-sockey prostitutes, takes the fight to Willie Green, and several dirty cops. What follows is ninety minutes of blaxploitation gold, full of bad fight choreography, lengthy rap sessions (e.g. Shine & The Great Titanic), and an antihero who says “motherf*cker” in a manner that can never be replicated.

I really got a kick out of DOLEMITE, and it was a definite crowd-pleaser. Because of this movie, throughout the remainder of the night, there wasn’t a single conversation that didn’t contain at least one Dolemite quote or reference. On several occasions, I found myself standing in a small circle of people calling each other “insecure honkey mothaf*ckas,” which resulted in fits of laughter.

During the break after DOLEMITE, I picked up more swag from vendors. I visited Rob (of Orange Ulster Horror Club fame), and picked up a kick-ass FRIDAY THE 13TH beer mug (which I grudgingly chose over a MY BLOODY VALENTINE mug). I also got a sweet ROBOCOP poster from those magnificent fellows from Grey Matter Art! I was eying it up during the last Hudson Horror Show, but failed to buy it before they left. (Consider this one regret fully remedied!) After my shopping spree was over, and it was time to take in the next movie.

 

MOVIE #3: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. (1984)
I developed a taste for Horror cinema at a very young age, due mostly in part to the time I spent at a daycare center. Some of the older kids would bring in scary movies they recorded on a blank VHS tape, and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. was one of them! So seeing this film in (nearly pristine) 35mm on the big screen was a big deal for yours truly!

For those of you who haven’t seen it, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. revolves around a supernatural slasher named Freddy Krueger (played by the inimitable Robert Englund). He stalks the teenagers of Elm St. in their dreams, and murders them. Why? Well, Krueger was a child-murderer who was captured and ready to go to trial for his heinous crimes. But due to a technicality, he was allowed to walk. Enraged, a group of parents exacted vigilante justice upon Krueger and burned him alive.

Somehow he found a way to come back and exact his revenge, and only one brave girl stands in his way: Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp). After her friends begin dying off, she eventually develops a plan to drag Krueger into the real world, and capture him. Not only will this allow her to avenge her friends, but it will prove to her parents that she isn’t going insane. This all boils down to a great third act where Johnny Depp (in his feature-film debut) becomes a fountain of blood, and Nancy faces off against Krueger for the final time. (Until A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. 3: DREAM WARRIORS that is.)

Craven’s A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. is a great little movie that has withstood the test of time. Though some of the effects are a little dated now, most of them hold up surprisingly well, and Charles Bernstein’s “Freddy’s Theme” is still as effective as ever. NIGHTMARE is an atmospheric Horror picture that walks the line between dreams and reality effectively, and it’s easy to see why this movie generated a remake, franchise crossover, and numerous sequels.

After A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. had ended, we all had another break before the projector was fired up again for…

 

MOVIE #4: JAWS 2 (1978)
Years after saving Amity Island from a rogue Great White Shark, Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) must once again rescue his community from another aquatic threat. But unlike the first film, which was more of an adventure tale/buddy movie, JAWS 2 is more of a Horror movie. Brody exhibits signs of PTSD, and desperately tries to warn the mayor and town council about the impending disaster. As a result, he loses his job.

In the meantime, the new Great White kills an Orca, devours divers and a water skier, then stalks a group of teens doing some recreational boating. The shark, disfigured by an explosion earlier in the film, attacks the teenagers, and snacks on any who are unfortunate enough to fall in the water. Their situation seems hopeless, until Brody arrives on the scene to save the day, leading to an electrifying showdown between man and nature!

JAWS 2 had an incredibly troublesome journey from script to screen. John Hancock, the film’s first director, was fired, there were numerous rewrites, and Scheider, who was contractually obligated to do the film, was apparently a handful on the set. But in the end, the final product is a relatively good thriller, with some nifty camera shots and stunt sequences. Roy Scheider puts in a strong performance as the somewhat unbalanced Chief Brody, and John Williams’ themes (both new and old) help raise the bar substantially.

I’m a big fan of JAWS 2, and I consider it to be one of the best sequels ever made. So you can imagine how much it killed me to temporarily leave my seat to visit the theater across the hall. After doing some quick giveaways and a quick intro for NIGHTBREED, I rushed back to my theater to finish watching the movie! (The sacrifices I make for you guys and gals…) And for those of you scratching your heads, Hudson Horror Show’s lineup now plays on two separate screens! For details on how that is accomplished, read about the last show HERE.

After the “shocking” finale of JAWS 2 came and went, it was time to take another break. At this point of the night, things were starting to wind down. Vendors were beginning to pack up and depart, and you could tell that some folks were starting to get a bit tired. Luckily I planned ahead and brought along several energy drinks (in lieu of booze) to help recharge the ole batteries. After chugging one, I was ready for Hudson Horror’s next feature film.

 

MOVIE #5: SECOND MYSTERY MOVIE
That’s right, another mystery movie Vault Dwellers, which means I cannot really go into detail about it at all. What I can say is that I had seen a different print of this film years ago at (I think) Salt City Horror Fest in Syracuse, NY. This print was in decidedly better shape, though it completely lacked a title during the film’s opening.

Also, I forgot that this movie has a really dark and twisted sense of humor (not surprising because of who directed it), and was rather mean-spirited. (Few films put children in as much peril as this one does!) There were a few moments that elicited shocked gasps, and a few that earned cheers, but overall it was a little hard to gauge the audience reaction to it. After this ended, there was one more break before we finally got to the day’s final film.

 

MOVIE #6: NIGHTBREED (1990)
Since Hudson Horror Show VII, I’ve been sponsoring a movie at each all-day film festival. I do it because I love the event, and because Chris Alo and friends are just plain awesome. As I’ve said elsewhere, every Hudson Horror event feels like a family gathering, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t want this biannual reunion to end! I want this show to succeed and continue happening twice a year, so I’m more than happy to help out monetarily because I know how expensive it is to put on an event of this magnitude.

That being said I think I can safely say I’m still batting a thousand with the films I have sponsored over the years, which have included one mystery movie, INFRA-MAN, LADY TERMINATOR, and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2. Now NIGHTBREED has joined this pantheon of cinematic excellence!

Yes, THIS was actually screened at a past Hudson Horror Show, and yes, everyone LOVED it!

Yes, THIS was actually screened at a past Hudson Horror Show, and yes, everyone LOVED it!

After doing some quick giveaways, I delivered a brief introduction about the film before handing the mic back to Chris Alo and sitting down to enjoy this Clive Barker classic in glorious 35mm! NIGHTBREED is the story of Boone (Craig Sheffer), a seemingly normal fellow that frequently dreams of a place called Midian. This thought-to-be fictional city is where monsters live and hide away from humanity. But it turns out that Boone’s dreams are actually prophetic in nature, as he discovers Midian, and the Nightbreed: A race of monsters and shapeshifters that were nearly hunted to extinction centuries ago.

Eventually disaster strikes when Boone’s crazed psychologist Dr. Decker (David Cronenberg) helps convince authorities to descend upon the ancient graveyard where Midian is located. A battle between the gun-toting yokels and the creatures of the night ensues. Will the Nightbreed finally be eradicated, or will a hero rise to defeat the hateful humans and save the Tribes of the Moon? Seek out a copy and find out for yourself. (But make sure its the original theatrical version as it flows better and has a cooler ending!)

What I find interesting about NIGHTBREED is that it was a major flop during its initial theatrical run. Clive Barker was butting heads with the studio (who overdubbed Doug Bradley and recut the movie), and the marketing for the film was completely botched. Apparently a movie where monsters are the actual heroes was considered too hard sell to audiences, so NIGHTBREED was advertised as just another generic slasher film.

But thankfully this movie found an audience once it hit home video, and began to build a huge cult following. Fast forward to today, and NIGHTBREED is now regarded by many as a classic, and rightfully so! All the creatures in Midian are different (no two Nightbreed are the same) and the makeup and f/x that brings them all to life is top notch! This movie also has a solid cast, a cool premise, and a fantastic score by Danny Elfman! It warms my heart to know that NIGHTBREED finally received the love it deserved, even it was nearly thirty years later.

As the credits rolled on NIGHTBREED, that bittersweet moment arrived where everyone had to say their goodbyes until the next show. In the lobby I bid adieu to Chris Alo, Dan Deyo, the dual McDonnells, and the rest of the Hudson Horror crew. Then, after a slight detour, I was finally on the long road home, and by 4:30 AM I was finally in bed, with visions of monsters dancing in my head.

Hudson Horror Show XIII was a complete success, and I had a blast as always! There were no audio issues with any of the films, the prints were in great shape for the most part, and the crowd was well-behaved as usual. This show’s excellent track record continues! My only regret this time around was not getting a photo-op in the screen-used anti-shark cage from JAWS! I may never again get the chance unless another JAWS sequel appears in a future Hudson Horror Show!

So with another fest completed, I now set my sights on early December for Hudson Horror Show XIV, and October 8th for a Hudson Horror double feature at The Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, NY! Details on what films will be screened and what special guests (if any) will attend are forthcoming. As I get more info, I’ll be sure to share it with the rest of you Vault Dwellers and Hudson Horror acolytes! Stay tuned!