I find it funny how a simple invite to Hudson Horror Show IV: The December to Dismember, was the first and last time I was just a plain ole member of the audience. Since then, Chris Alo and his dream team of friends that help him run (what I consider to be) one of the best film festivals on the East coast, have allowed me to become a fixture of the show. I’ve helped introduce movies, sponsored several films, and always dispense a ton of cool prizes during the trivia contests.
And I have absolutely no problem pouring hundreds of my hard-earned dollars into this event every year, because I love it so much. Why? Because twice every year, I find myself surrounded by a small, but dedicated community of fans that love, and celebrate, Horror, Cult, and Exploitation cinema! It’s like a bi-annual family reunion (that you actually want to go to), and there’s a lot of positive energy in the air. It’s just fantastic!
For their eleventh show, Chris and the gang truly outdid themselves with the day’s lineup of films. Also, along with the usual assortment of cool vendors, there were some cool guests on hand to sign autographs and meet fans. Bill Diamond (whom I refer to as “The Muppet Master”) was on hand, and brought along a life-size mock-up of the Great White Shark’s head from JAWS, so people could do photo ops. Naturally, I couldn’t help but shove my head into the toothy maw of “Bruce” for a quick snapshot.
Also on hand were four gentlemen who helped create the 1982 backwoods slasher flick MADMAN. Among them was producer Gary Sales, and stars Tom Candela (a.k.a. – Jimmy Steele), Paul Ehlers (Madman Marz himself!), and Michael Sullivan. They were having a blast promoting their film and meeting fans, and were in high-spirits the entire evening!
Before things officially kicked off, my fiancee Tara and I wandered the vendors’ tables, and I blew the day’s spending money in under an hour. (Whoops!) I picked up NECA’s “Godzilla 1985” figure, a wooden MY BLOODY VALENTINE sign (from my buddy Rob, head of the Orange Ulster Horror Club), some cool fridge magnets, horror-themed keychains, and several films from the Vinegar Syndrome table, including their new MADMAN Blu-ray, plus DVDs of SUPERSOUL BROTHER, and IN SEARCH OF BIGFOOT & CRY WILDERNESS.
We took our treasures back into the theater, and soon the show was under way. Hudson Horror front man Chris Alo did the ceremonial reading of the rules, and then it was time for he and I to introduce the audience to the day’s first film: THE MYSTERY MOVIE.
MOVIE #1: THE MYSTERY MOVIE
I sponsored the enigmatic first film and gleefully handed out little trivia tidbits to get everybody psyched, but never mentioned the title. Some figured it out, but I think quite a few were pleasantly surprised when the film’s title flashed across the screen. In past shows I had sponsored INFRA-MAN and LADY TERMINATOR, both of which went over very well, so I had some huge expectations to fill. Luckily it seems that everyone really enjoyed the mystery movie, as I wasn’t tarred and feathered after it! I guess that means my perfect record still stands!
What was the mystery movie? Well… yeah I’m not allowed to say, but I assure you that it is a severely underrated gem that probably would have made some bank had the company that produced it not gone tits-up back in the 80s.
MOVIE #2: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE
Egads! When I first saw A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. 2 as a child, I knew something felt off about it. It wasn’t the complete lack of Charles Bernstein’s trademark “Freddy Theme,” or the tiny amount of screentime for everyone’s dream demon. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. But decades later, having watched it again, and read up on it, I now understand why my younger self was confused about the tone of the movie: It’s a overtly homo-erotic horror flick. Though screenwriter David Chaskin, claimed that he meant for the homo-eroticism to as subtle as possible, he has more recently come out and said that it was all intentional.
The film stars Mark Patton as Jesse, the new kid on the Elm St. block. He and his family (fathered by Clu Gulager) have moved into Nancy Thompson’s old house, which is haunted by the evil spirit of Fred Krueger (the inimitable Robert Englund). Terrorizing Jesse in his dreams, Krueger plans to possess, and take over Jesse’s body in order to come back to life and renew his work as the Springwood Slasher.
The film plays like a strange rip-off of AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION, and had the audience in stitches because, to be quite frank, it is so very gay. From the odd S&M murder of Jesse’s gym teacher, to his unwillingness to have sex with his hot girlfriend, to the NO CHICKS sign on his bedroom door, there’s just an overt amount of homosexuality in the film. Though we all had fun watching this one, I had the distinct feeling that this was the audience’s least favorite film in the lineup.
MOVIE #3: MS .45
I had seen this film last August at “Vengeance Fest” at The Place Theater in Syracuase, NY, and it won me overly immediately. Thana (Zoe Lund) is a mute seamstress who gets raped twice in one day. During the second attack, she manages to kill her rapist, and then slowly descends into madness.
She begins dressing more provocatively to attract men, then murders them with her handgun. Though many of her victims deserve to be violently punished, by the end of the film, she cannot discern good men from bad. During the film’s climax, Thana is dressed as a sexy nun as she goes on a shooting spree at a Halloween party, where no man is safe!
Abel Ferrara’s MS .45 is a gritty, and often darkly humorous rape/revenge flick that you should definitely check out. It runs a bit slow at times, but when it’s good, it’s GOOD! The audience definitely ate this one up, and many seemed to have the music from the movie’s climax stuck in their heads afterwards. (Listen to it HERE.) Dammit! Now it’s stuck in my head again!
MOVIE #4: MADMAN
Holy cow! I finally popped my MADMAN cherry, and what better way to do it than watch a nice clean 35mm print WITH the producer, and stars in attendance?! MADMAN is a cool little backwoods slasher flick, featuring Paul Ehlers as “Madman Marz.” As legend tells it, Marz was a mean-spirited farmer that murdered his family with an axe. He was brought to justice by locals, who hung him, but somehow he escaped, and disappeared with the remains of his wife and children.
Years later, some counselors are passing this tale on to a group of kids around a campfire, ending the tale with “if you speak Madman Marz’ name above a whisper, he will hear you and come for you.” Naturally a smart ass kid named Richie (Jimmy Steele) shouts out Madman Marz’ name, and everyone soon learns that the legend is true!
MADMAN was pretty fun, with a cool folktale-style theme song, and a handful of awesome kills. Marz is a monstrous hillbilly (definitely part of the inspiration for Adam Green’s Victor Crowley in the HATCHET series) that’s pretty quick on his feet, and far more clever than you could imagine. He’s a great character, and it’s a total shame that we never got a sequel. The crowd really dug it, and after a short break, we got to enjoy a quick Q&A with the MADMAN crew.
THE MADMAN Q&A
Gary, Tom, Paul, and Michael fielded questions from the audience and some of it was quite enlightening (and entertaining). Here are a few highlights from the panel:
* Paul Ehler’s wife was pregnant while shooting the film. Late one night while filming, his beeper went off, and he rushed to the hospital covered in fake blood and still mostly dressed in his Madman Marz makeup. Some hilarity ensued.
* Michael Sullivan (Dippy) played the lead in GREASER’S PALACE, which was directed by Robert Downey Sr. He has also been a prop maker, an animator, and puppet builder. His most recent work can be seen at RoboMike.com, which was described to us as “stop-motion robot porn.”
* Paul Ehlers can still do the Madman Marz roar, and hold it for an impressively long period of time. Why is this man not the lead singer of a heavy metal group?!
* Gary Sales is gearing up to bring back Madman Marz with a “reimagining.” The script is completed (as are scripts for a sequel and prequel), all he needs is funding and a few big names to attach to the project to help get funding. He says he’s been hounding Quentin Tarantino for the role of Max, and also may have Sarah Hyland in mind for a role.
MOVIE #5: JAWS (40TH ANNIVERSARY SCREENING)
There’s not much to say about JAWS except that is a sacred cow that should never be remade. It’s my all-time favorite movie, and in my eyes, it is perfect. (If you want my thoughts on it, read my review HERE, and check out the JAWS-centric Vault-Cast episode HERE.) All you need to know about JAWS is that I love it dearly, and seeing a surprisingly good 35mm print of it was akin to having a religious experience.
Since I’ve said plenty about how awesome the movie is in the past, let me instead, share with you a few fun anecdotes about this screening of JAWS.
Prior to Hudson Horror Show XI, I had purchased two tickets for a couple of close friends. But as the weeks ticked by and the show got closer, they dropped out. One guy went to a Taylor Swift concert instead (true story), while the other contested that it wasn’t worth the trip because he only wanted to see JAWS. So I ended up selling my two spare tickets to a Hudson Horror acolyte named Brian who missed out on them when they first went on sale. (Mainly because tickets sold out in less than an hour!)
I didn’t scalp the tickets; I sold them at the price I paid, and out of gratitude, Brian hooked me up with a few cans of NARAGANSETT BEER, the official brew of Quint! As far as beer goes, it’s on the lower end of the spectrum (a step below Bud Light some would say), but I couldn’t care less. I was about to see JAWS in 35mm, with a crowd of JAWS enthusiasts, and I had the same brand of beer that Robert Shaw was drinking in the film! All was right with the world!
As JAWS began I cracked open the first can and nursed it until it was empty. I held the second beer in reserve, waiting for a very special moment in the film. (If you’ve seen JAWS you probably know where this is going.) Finally, the scene arrived, and as Quint sat up there on the screen and cracked open his beer, I followed suit. I chugged the entire can, and just as he crushed his empty beer can, so did about a dozen other people in the audience (myself included)! It was hilarious and awesome!
And when the “scar scene” rolled around, I looked at the guy next to me (I believe his name was Steve) and saw a flask suddenly appear in his hand. He glanced at me and said “I’ll drink to your leg.” Having nothing but a Gatorade at that point, I tipped my bottle towards him and said “Let’s drink to our legs.”
Eventually JAWS came to an end, to thunderous applause, and as the lights came up, everyone began filing out of the theater, stretching, yawning, and smiling like sons of bitches. Another highly successful Hudson Horror Show was in the bag, and we were all exhausted and ready to call it a night.
My eternal gratitude goes out to Chris, Dan, Sean, and everyone else that helps put this event together. Thank you so much for continuing to put on a quality event, and thanks for allowing me to participate in it. It is a distinct honor and a privilege to have gotten to know you all!
Also, it was awesome getting to hang out a bit with James from DocTerror.com, Chris Beaumont from Critical Outcast, as well as Michael Gingold from Fangoria. And I sincerely enjoyed meeting Gary Sales, Paul Ehlers, Tom Candela, and Michael Sullivan: You guys are all so damned cool! Thanks for making the day even better!
Additional thanks to Brian for the beers (you rule dude!), and to all the attendees who proved to be extremely knowledgeable (couldn’t even stump them with movie taglines), friendly, and well-behaved.
So what is next for the juggernaut that is Hudson Horror Show? Well, they’ve got a double feature coming up at the Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, NY on September 19th. Though listed as “mystery movies” on the flyers, Chris revealed that they are showing THE TOOLBOX MURDERS and SPOOKIES. Also, there has been talk about expanding Hudson Horror Show so that more people can come and enjoy the films. Details on that have yet to be worked out, but as soon as they are, you can bet that I’ll be the first to start spreading the good word!