Hudson Horrow Show 8 – Hell Bent For Russell!

Hudson Horror Show 8 flyerHudson Horror Show 8 has come and gone, and I’m left simultaneously exhausted and rejuvenated! This event is a much needed break from the daily grind, and allows me to mingle with people that share the same intense interest in Horror and Exploitation cinema that I do. It also allows me to escape into various fantasy worlds full of monsters, madmen, heroes, and damsels in distress. (Or heroic “final girls” if we end up watching a slasher flick.)

It is totally worth the nearly six-hour round trip that I make twice a year with my fiancée and friends. The Hudson Horror crew always puts on a great event (many thanks for inviting me back again and again guys) and this latest one was no exception.

After a rather uneventful morning drive to Poughkeepsie, which consisted of breakfast, a (seemingly) malfunctioning GPS, and the flaming wreckage of a minivan on I-84 East (which nearly led to a collision with a police car), we arrived at our destination. Though we showed up a few moments after the doors opened, there was already a huge line out in front of the theater.

Armed with wads of cash and a stack of pillows, we eventually got inside, got our official Hudson Horror Show t-shirts, and staked out our seats in the theater. With this important task out of the way, we took a stroll and scoped out the variety of vendors that were set up in the main entrance and hallway to the theater.

Besides the usual assortment of folks selling DVDs, Blu-rays, CDs, vinyl records, action figures, and t-shirts, there were also a number of artists selling homemade toys, exclusive Hudson Horror Show prints, and tons of custom artwork. The awesome Jeff Zornow (whose work has been featured in IDW’s Godzilla comics, as well as many Fright-Rags t-shirts!) was there doing custom sketches and selling prints. Another guy was even drawing and printing up new designs on the spot from his computer! (Too cool!)

Hudson Horror 8 poster

When the clock struck 1:00 PM the word went out that the show was about to begin, and everyone filed into the theater to be read the Hudson Horror riot act. (i.e. The rules that attendees needed to abide by, including no kids, no talking, no texting, etc.) What was really cool about this is that they edited a great video outlining the rules and featuring footage from various horror and cult films! The audience totally dug it!

This was followed up with the first round of 35mm trailers, which focused entirely on sexploitation films. Crowd favorites included the goofy prehistoric sex comedy WHEN WOMEN HAD TAILS (1970), and PANORAMA BLUE (1974) which showcases people having sex in all sorts of ridiculous scenarios. The opening of the trailer has a couple getting it on in the front seat of a rollercoaster to the main theme from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY! It was hysterical! I gotta get my paws on a copy of that movie!

These trailers totally set the mood for the event’s first film INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS (under its alternate title THE GRAVEYARD TRAMPS), an insane sexploitation sci-fi thriller from director Denis Sanders. When the sexually exhausted bodies of men begin popping up all over Peckham, California, it’s up to Agent Neil Agar (a young William Smith) and local scientists to discover  the cause.

It turns out that an experiment has gone horribly wrong at the nearby Brandt institute, resulting in voracious “bee girls,” who are acting on an instinctual need to mate and produce a queen bee. This leads to a sometimes tonally uneven film that delivers some laughs, nonsensical pseudo-science, and tons of bare breasts! (Or in this case, “boo-bees.”) Needless to say, it was a lot of fun and got the show off to a great start!

Next up was the night’s mystery film and… oddly enough… I can’t recall it… I know there was a bunch of cool trailers beforehand, for some great 80s horror flicks like CHILDREN OF THE CORN, THE STEPFATHER, NEAR DARK, and HOUSE. But I’ll be damned if I can recall what we watched. Somehow I must have blacked out for ninety minutes; all I can recall was a feeling of total satisfaction when I came to.

After a brief fifteen-minute break, and a couple of giveaways, the trailers started anew, and featured the likes of SLITHIS, PRAY FOR DEATH, and TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972)! Then HORROR EXPRESS conquered the screen for the next hour-and-a-half, and cemented itself as a new favorite for yours truly.

I have owned a bargain-basement DVD of the HORROR EXPRESS for some time (but have since upgraded to Blu-ray!), but never watched it. I’ve also caught a few snippets of it here and there on television over the years, but this was my first full viewing of this classic film. Christopher Lee stars as Prof. Sir Alexander Saxton, an anthropologist who has discovered “The Missing Link” in the icy mountains of Manchuria.

He attempts to bring his prize back to Europe via the Trans-Siberian express, only to discover that his find is still alive and not of this world. Soon the evil, brain-draining creature is loose among the passengers of the train, and only the combined powers of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (and to a lesser extent, Telly Savalas) can stop it!

This movie was incredible! It was so much fun, and embraced its absurd storyline with gusto. The cast is ridiculously awesome, and the music is at times haunting and beautiful. (Take a listen, won’t you? CLICK HERE!) Along with the experience of seeing 35mm prints on the big screen with an audience that can truly appreciate them, discovering gems like this is what makes Hudson Horror Show worth the long drive!

After declaring HORROR EXPRESS as my favorite movie of the night (despite what was to come) we had a forty-five minute break to chow down on some eats. Attempts to find sustenance outside of the theater in a timely fashion failed, so we returned and satiated our hunger with nachos, hot pretzels, and popcorn.

After the break, it was my time to get up in front of the audience to promote the Vault and give away lots of cool stuff. I asked the crowd various trivia questions and handed out probably thirty or more flicks, including DVDs and/or Blu-rays of the night’s five films. However, my insane generosity set the show back about ten minutes, so once I emptied my box of goodies, I immediately sat back down so the show could go on!

After trailers for I COME IN PEACE, RED SCORPION, TOMBSTONE, COBRA, and TANGO & CASH, the theater was more than prepared for John Carpenter’s ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. In the not too distant future of 1997 (haha!) with the world at the brink of war, the President of the U.S. has been taken hostage. Though he escapes from Air Force One with a crucial cassette tape, the prez lands in the largest penal colony in America: NEW YORK CITY!

With only twenty-four hours to save the President and prevent the next World War, a lone man is sent into NYC to rescue the leader of the free world from the “Duke of New York.” His name is Snake Plissken and he is bad-ass incarnate. If you haven’t seen this movie before, you are missing out. This was John Carpenter at the peak of his game (as a director and composer), backed up by an astounding cast, including the likes of Isaac Hayes, Adrienne Barbeau, Kurt Russell, Donald Pleasance, Tom Atkins, Lee Van Cleef, and Ernest Borgnine!

Once the film ended, the crowd erupted in applause and everyone headed out one last time to stretch their legs, grab a last minute snack from the concession stand, and scope out the remaining vendors’ tables for the final time. My fiancée and I scored ourselves some action figures during this break: I got NECA’s “Friday the 13th Part IV” Jason Voorhees, and she got Amok Time’s awesome TINY Killer Klown figure! After the fifteen minutes quickly passed, we all returned to our seats to take in the final round of trailers and John Carpenter’s THE THING.

The final trailer reel was eclectic to say the least, as it with previews of THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1,2,3, PHANTASM, THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD (an early Disney film featuring Kurt Russell), THE WILD BUNCH, and THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE. Afterward, the audience sat quietly as the opening moments of Carpenter’s THE THING began to unfold.

The entire night was building up to this movie, as every film we saw beforehand had some sort of connection to THE THING. INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS had an offhand bit of dialogue where a character says something along the lines of “I’m going to dig under the Antarctic and see what’s under the ice.” (This was made in reference to a married man planning to knock the bottom out of a woman he earlier referred to as an “ice queen.”)

The mystery movie even had a close tie to THE THING, as the gent who did the creature effects in “___________” aided an exhausted Rob Bottin with some of the special makeup f/x! HORROR EXPRESS, much like THE THING, has an alien being trying to hide among humans in a claustrophobic setting in a frozen locale, and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK obviously shares the same devastatingly cool team of John Carpenter and Kurt Russell. Clearly, all roads lead back to Carpenter’s THE THING.

THE THING (to those of you who have somehow never seen it) is John Carpenter’s take on the novella “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr. An alien being sneaks onto a United States Antarctic outpost and begins assimilating the trapped researchers. When it becomes clear that a creature lurks among them, paranoia spreads throughout the crew, resulting in accusations, mutations, decapitations, and incineration!

This is one of the greatest films that has ever been made in the genre, and it deservedly got a huge ovation from the audience when it reached its nihilistic conclusion. As the credits rolled, everyone shuffled out into the now empty lobby (by now the vendors had closed up shop and went home) and said their goodbyes. I made sure to touch base with Chris Alo and it’s looking like Hudson Horror Show 9 is a definite reality. (How could it not be? Tickets sold out online a few days before this show!)

The only thing standing in the way of HHS9 is the fact that the current venue for the film fest is going digital next Spring. It was inevitable (Hollywood is trying to do away with 35mm after all) so here’s hoping that the theater hangs on to its 35mm projector. I’m sure the show would continue on with digital prints if it came down to that, but it just wouldn’t be the same. (For the record, I’d still attend anyway!)

Though the future may be a bit uncertain, I’m pretty positive that Hudson Horror Show will endure, and keep bringing the thunder every time. They always put together a damned good film fest, and the crowd is always one of the most well-behaved and fun-loving groups of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing a theater with.

So now you may be wondering, what Hudson Horror Show 9 holds in store for you next May/June? Well, you’ll get at least five movies for your ticket, there will be the usual assortment of kick-ass vendors, there will be lots of giveaways, and one of the films will quite likely be sponsored by myself!

If you recall, I forked out the dough to inflict INFRA-MAN on the crowd at Hudson Horror Show 7 and it went over better than I expected. This time I have a wishlist full of crazy flicks, but Chris Alo and I were talking about one movie in particular. It’s about as insane as INFRA-MAN but leans more towards a supernatural/horror theme. That’s all I can say at the moment, but details will slowly be released as the next fest comes together.

Many thanks again to Chris Alo, Dan Deyo, Sean & Erroll McDonnell, and all the other guys and gals responsible for Hudson Horror Show. Thanks for putting on such a stellar event, for running it so damned smoothly, and for giving me the opportunity to take part in it every year. You guys rock and I can’t wait to see you all again next time!

But before I finish up here, I’d like to give some shout-outs to fellow online scribes that attended the show: James Harris from DOCTERROR.COM was there, but had to leave after the second movie. (A crying shame I tell ya!) Also Chris Beaumont from Critical Outcast, it was good to meet you after it was all over. I’ll be sure to seek you out sooner next time and we’ll chat it up!

Hudson Horror Show is a guaranteed good time and hopefully you get a chance to experience it for yourself! If I’ve convinced you to join us for a future show, you can get more info about this fantastic biannual film fest at www.hudsonhorror.com! Also, once tickets go on sale SNAP THEM UP IMMEDIATELY because Hudson Horror Show now sells out before the actual day of the show!

Thanks for reading and maybe I’ll see YOU at the next Hudson Horror Show!