Hudson Horror Show 9 – Hudson Horror Fights Back From the Grave

Official flyer for Hudson Horror Show IX!

Official flyer for Hudson Horror Show IX!

Hudson Horror Show experienced a very close call this year. The South Hills Cinema that had been the home of Hudson Horror since November 2009, briefly closed and changed hands. Under new ownership, the fledgling cinema was to be given an overhaul, including new digital projectors for all of its screens.

Luckily the Hudson Horror crew, led by the intrepid Chris Alo, cut a deal with the Empire Cinemas’ new owners, and got them to keep one 35mm projector on the premises! With negotiations completed, the biannual film fest would continue! This was a huge victory because 35mm is most definitely an endangered species these days.

Since six films were being screened at this show, the doors opened an hour earlier than normal so that attendees could shop around at all the vendors, as well as meet Ron Chaney (the great grandson of Lon Chaney) and Bill Diamond. I arrived with my friends around noon, and we staked out our seats, then glanced around at all the toys, comics, DVDs, Blu-rays, artwork, and other cool stuff that was on hand.

I made sure to meet Ron Chaney first, and he was a super nice guy, and, oddly enough, it turned out we both know the gents working on TALES OF DRACULA. I also met Bill Diamond, and after an embarrassing moment of talking to the wrong person, I was warmly greeted by Bill himself. For those not in the know, Bill worked alongside Jim Henson on FRAGGLE ROCK, THE DARK CRYSTAL, and many of the MUPPET films.

While we were chatting it up, I purchased a cool Lon Chaney art print from Bill, and had both he and Ron sign it for my podcasting partner “Silent” Steve. Then I was off to spend more of my hard-earned cash on things I supposedly don’t need. I came across a cool table full of vintage-style movie posters from the 70s and 80s. They were made to look aged, and created on sheet metal with pre-drilled holes.

orange ulster horror club swag table

I would have bought them all if I had enough money.

After agonizing over which ones I wanted, I finally settled on mini-posters for PROPHECY (the 1979 mutant bear flick), ALLIGATOR, and GRIZZLY. (I loves me some nature strikes back flicks!) I also procured a Tokyo Vinyl Mechagodzilla figure from another vendor, then carried my treasures into the theater, because the Hudson Horror Show was in full swing!

Before the projector was fired up, Ron Chaney and Bill Diamond stood before the audience and announced that they are working on a new project: A remake of LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT! The original is a lost film in the most literal sense, and they plan on shooting a faithful reconstruction of it. Here’s hoping they pull it off as it may be the closest we ever get to seeing what Lon Chaney had originally intended so many decades ago!

Side Note: Universal apparently pulled the plug on this project. So for the time being, the LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT redo is not happening. It looks like you’ll just have to watch MARK OF THE VAMPIRE with Bela Lugosi until Universal decides to play nice.

After the dynamic duo of Chaney and Diamond said their piece, Chris Alo did the usual introduction and reading of the sacred rules. Then things officially kicked off with some cool vintage trailers. In particular, I was shocked to see one for BLUE MONKEY, a film that has nothing to do with apes, and everything to do with body-melting and giant bugs. There was also a trailer for DOGS that got a pretty good reaction from the audience. I’m going to have to track that one down!

The first two films of the night were the much-touted MYSTERY MOVIES, and due to politely requested secrecy, I cannot mention the names of the films. I will say that the first one was a real treat for yours truly (considering how much I love killer animal flicks), and the second film (a slasher film with an amazing ensemble cast) was extremely well received. I wish I could say more, but first rule of Hudson Horror Show Mystery Movies is that you don’t talk about them… even though I just did… ummm…. QUICK! TURN AROUND! BEHIND YOU!

After a short break from the films that shall not be named, THE BURNING was screened. Directed by Tony Maylam and produced by the fledgling Weinsteins (of MATRIX infamy), this slasher one-hit wonder has become a huge favorite of mine. (Read my review for it HERE.) When a group of adolescents at a Summer camp play a prank on an abusive caretaker named Cropsy, things to horribly wrong.

Cropsy is accidentally set ablaze and ends up with third-degree burns across most of his body. Though he undergoes a series of skin grafts, none prove successful. Five years later, disfigured and insane, Cropsy returns to his old stomping grounds. Armed with a huge and wickedly sharp pair of hedge clippers, he soon begins pruning the cast with his deadly gardening tool.

After murdering a raft full of youngsters (the best scene in the movie!), Cropsy is eventually defeated by an unlikely hero. THE BURNING boasts great gore f/x by Tom Savini, and features several very young actors before they were stars. (e.g. Fisher Stevens, Holly Hunter, and Jason Alexander) It’s a great slasher flick that hits all the right notes.

You get your typical POV shots where we see the world through Cropsy’s eyes (he has severe tunnelvision), the requisite nudity, great gore, and a handful of jump scares. The crowd really dug THE BURNING, and the print looked GORE-geous! Surprisingly, all of the prints were in great shape (the first mystery movie being the only exception), which was especially amazing when you consider the evening’s next film: LADY TERMINATOR!

Sponsored by yours truly, this insane supernatural rip-off of THE TERMINATOR was a dark horse on the roster of Hudson Horror Show IX. (Much like INFRA-MAN was for show number seven.) I actually heard a handful of complaints (in person and through second parties) that it didn’t belong in the lineup. I was kind of shocked at how closed-minded some folks were being.

I urged several naysayers to stick around, assuring them that they wouldn’t want to miss out on this movie. In the end, I’m pretty sure they were glad they listened to me. LADY TERMINATOR was made in Indonesia in 1989, and featured an international cast with former Penthouse Pet Barbara Anne Constable as the lead.

Completely redubbed (by voice artists still working in film and video games today) and chock full of nudity, scrotal violence, and a slew of “WTF?!” moments, this cult oddity got the largest audience reaction I’ve seen in some time! As the film opens, we see the legendary South Seas Queen claim a male victim by removing his member via her magical eel-infested vagina.

She is soon defeated by a virile gent garbed in white, who declares that she is now his wife and must stop the killings! Angry at being bested by a male, the Queen vows vengeance and exclaims that she will return in a century to kill the hero’s great granddaughter. (Oddly specific victim to choose, no?)

Skip ahead a hundred years and an air-headed “anthropologist” named Tania becomes possessed by the South Seas Queen. She becomes an unstoppable killing machine with unlimited ammunition in all of her guns! As she seeks out her target, an up and coming pop-star named Erica, the “Lady Terminator” must battle her way through Indonesia’s SPESIAL SEKURITI forces, a whitebread hero, and his team of special forces buddies!

Along the way she viciously murders every man that crosses her path with her guns and her lady parts, leading up to a hilariously explosive showdown at an airport! As the film ended, the crowd went absolutely nuts with one of the biggest applauses I’ve ever heard in that theater! I think it is safe to say that LADY TERMINATOR was the unexpected hit of the fest! Now my only worry is finding something to top it at a future Hudson Horror Show.

After another fifteen-minute breather we all re-entered the theater to take in William Lustig’s MANIAC. Released in 1980 and starring Joe Spinnell (Gazzo the loanshark in the first two ROCKY films!) as the titular villain, MANIAC is kind of a downer. Frank Zito is a troubled man who has some major mental and emotional issues. Abused during his childhood, Frank now seeks solace with his bizarre collection of mannequins that have the scalps of his victims tacked onto their heads.

After committing several heinous murders (including blowing off Tom Savini’s head with a shotgun in the film’s best scene), Frank comes across a beautiful photographer named Anna (the always gorgeous Caroline Munro). He is taken by her and soon seems to start up an almost normal relationship with her. Could it be that Frank’s killing days are over? Has he found true love?! Will beauty finally tame the beast?! Well… let’s just say that these two are no longer dating by the end of the film.

MANIAC is one of the few films directed by Bill Lustig I have failed to see, so it was nice to scratch this one off my list. While I can’t say I’m a big fan of it, I will say that Joe Spinnell puts in one hell of a performance as Frank Zito. He’s a monster, but he seems genuinely saddened by the murders he commits, and comes off as a decent guy when not stalking or scalping women. He makes the leap from normal to insane rather fluidly, and you almost sympathize with him. Almost.

With MANIAC finished, a noticeable portion of the crowd departed, leaving only the most hardcore of us Hudson Horror fans behind to take in the sixth and final film: MAD MAX! When I originally watched the Mad Max movies growing up, I saw the first movie last. (Which, if you may recall, I also did with Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy.) Because of this, I was rather disappointed with it and thus wrote it off as the weakest film in the series. I have since realized how terribly wrong I was.

MAD MAX takes place in the almost post-apocalypse of the Australian outback, where nomadic motorcycle gangs run rampant. But law and order still exists in the form of a small, but devoted, police force that attempts to keep the chaotic raiders in check. However, after the psychotic “Night Rider” is killed during a car chase by officer Max Rockatansky, he and his pal Goose become targets of Night Rider’s friends, led by The Toe Cutter!

After taking their vengeance out on the people Max cares the most about, the once-retired hero dons his uniform, and hops behind the wheel of “the last of the Interceptors.” What results is an exciting and suspenseful vengeance spree, where Max tracks down Toe Cutter and his gang, and makes them all pay!

As the credits began to roll, everyone applauded, then tiredly exited the theater. We all bid one another adieu before going our separate ways, and thus put another successful Hudson Horror Show in the books. I had a total blast at this show (as I do every time) and I was extremely happy that LADY TERMINATOR went over so well.

I have to give a huge thanks to Chris Alo for allowing me to take part in this awesome event, as well as all the others that help make Hudson Horror Show possible, including Dan Deyo, and the double threat of Errol and Sean McDonnell. Also a big thanks to the audience for being so fun and well-behaved! Your enthusiasm for the movies makes the Hudson Horror Show experience so much more satisfying! If only you could all go to every film fest I attend!

Also I’d like to give shout-outs to my extended film fest family, which includes Chris Beaumont, proprietor of the world famous Critical Outcast, and James Harris, the mastermind behind Doc Terror’s Blog of Horrors and HorrorSexy.com! You guys are awesome!

Also awesome: Bill Diamond and Ron Chaney!

Oh, and Bill Diamond and Ron Chaney, you guys are awesome too!

With Hudson Horror Show IX a fond memory, what does the future hold for my favorite film festival? Well on September 20th at 8PM, Hudson Horror Show will be invading the Alamo Drafthouse (a.k.a. my Graceland) in Yonkers, NY with a cool 35mm double feature! For a measly $12.00, you can enter the portals of the greatest theater chain on Earth, and see 35mm prints of TOURIST TRAP and TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD!

But does this mean that Hudson Horror Show has moved on to greener cinematic pastures? Hell no! Later this year, HUDSON HORROR SHOW X will rise and give us another five (or maybe even six) feature-length films to go crazy over. The official date and roster of films have yet to be decided, but it will still take place at the same venue!

Having talked recently to Chris Alo online, it seems like they’ve got a really cool lineup in the works. Nothing is set in stone just yet, but you might see some zombies, bullet ballets, and horrifying sequels on the big screen at the next Hudson Horror Show!