Back in September of 2014, the Hudson Horror Show crew joined forces with The Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, to bring fans of cult horror cinema a double feature of TOURIST TRAP and TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (a.k.a. REVENGE OF THE PLANET APE). I sadly missed out on this chance to pop my Drafthouse cherry, so I vowed that I would not miss out on their next collaborative effort. I finally fulfilled my pledge on March 14th, and attended Hudson Horror Show’s MARCH MADNESS Triple Feature at the greatest movie theater I have ever been in!
After a bit of a late start, I rounded up my film fest buddy Anthony (who has attended nearly every Hudson Horror event with me), and hit the road for Yonkers, NY. Roughly two and-a-half hours later, we had arrived at our destination, but in a rare occurance, we were extremely early. To kill some time, we wandered over to the nearby mega-Best Buy, where I snagged a copy of WOLFCOP.
Afterwards, we returned to the theater, and both gazed in wonder at the lobby. I wish I had whipped out my camera to snap a few photos now, but at the time I was too caught up in being at the Alamo Drafthouse for the first time. The ticket counter doubled as a bar and had numerous beers on tap, and there were Mondo posters all along the walls. And every so often, I’d see a server walk by with trays full of delicious-looking food. Did I die? Was I in heaven?!
Eventually we took our seats in the theater, which was much larger than I had anticipated, and clean! Do you know how long it has been since I walked into a movie theater without having my shoes stick to the floor?! A long table ran the length of each row of seats, and up on the screen, there was a variety of trailers and shorts playing to whet our appetites for the night’s films.
Also, to further dote on the Drafthouse, I have to mention that they had specialty drinks on the menu to go with the triple feature. For SLEEPAWAY CAMP, they had “Bug Juice,” which hilariously came with a penis-shaped straw. For THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION, there was “Spider Venom,” and for BLOOD BEACH there was a special cocktail that was served in an I.V. bag! How freakin’ awesome is that?!
Once the dinner orders were all put in, and all the eager horror fans were situated, Chris Alo kicked things off. He brought the night’s special guests, SLEEPAWAY CAMP’s Felissa Rose (Angela) and Frank Sorrentino (Peter), up front to introduce the film and soon things were underway!
MOVIE #1: SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)
I had seen SLEEPAWAY CAMP in 35mm at SALT CITY HORROR FEST last April, and it plays quite well with a crowd. Even if you know what’s coming at the climax, its still a fun (and totally politically incorrect) little slasher film that never fails to entertain. The movie follows a young girl named Angela Baker, who goes to summer camp with her cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten).
She’s an odd girl, and the camp bullies immediately begin singling her out. However, anyone that messes with Angela soon comes to a horrific end. Is she the culprit? Is it her cousin? Or is there a third party that is violently defensive of the strange pre-teen girl?
Though relatively bloodless, SLEEPAWAY CAMP boasts a few shocking kills (you’ll never look at a curling iron the same way again) and a huge plot twist that will make your jaw drop. Bearing this in mind, I discovered that a young teenager sitting next to Anthony and I raised his hand when Felissa Rose asked the audience if there was anyone present who had not seen the movie before. Knowing this, I made sure to watch this kid’s reaction at the movie’s climax, and it was priceless. His eyes went wide, and his mouth (which he soon covered with his hand out of pure shock), was agape.
Once the film ended, Felissa Rose and Frank Sorrentino returned to the front of the theater and did a quick Q&A session with the audience. It was a total blast, and I for one could not do it justice with mere words. Thankfully, the whole thing was recorded and put up on Youtube for the world to see. Check it out!
MOVIE #2: THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION (1975)
After some quick giveaways, the night’s second film was fired up on the ole 35mm projector, namely THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION. It is a super low-budget creature feature from Wisconsin’s very own Bill Rebane. Mostly famous for getting hilariously skewered on Mystery Science Theater 3000, this 70s cheapie involves rednecks battling arachnid invaders from another dimension.
When a comet lands in the fields behind the Kester farm, tarantulas begin popping out of strange diamond-filled geodes. This turns out to be the first wave of the attack, because a giant spider (built out of a VW bug) eventually emerges from the meteor site and starts snacking on the locals. Armed mobs and heroic deputies are powerless before the rampaging behemoth, so who can humanity turn to during this crisis?!
Our salvation rests entirely on two really dull scientists that spout techno-babble back and forth in a high school chemistry lab, and a useless sheriff (Gilligan’s Island‘s Alan Hale) who rarely leaves his desk! Together, they sort of do something to close the interdimensional portal, resulting in a big gooey mass of spider guts at the film’s climax.
Rebane’s GIANT SPIDER INVASION is super cheesy, poorly written, and takes a while to get going. But once the giant spider comes into play, the movie becomes fairly entertaining! While I’m glad that I got to see this particular movie in 35mm, I think I’ll stick with the MST3K episode if I decide to revisit it.
MOVIE #3: BLOOD BEACH (1980)
Prior to this film starting up, I briefly joined Chris Alo in front of the remaining audience members and did a lightning fast giveaway for a Limited Edition NIGHTBREED Blu-ray set and poster. I’ve had this “spare” kicking around the house for months, and I figured that my first time at the Alamo warranted a big prize. I’d like to give a big congrats to the guy that walked away with it; I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed my own personal copy. It’s a fantastic release from Scream Factory!
After I was done, Chris doled out some more prizes with some tough trivia questions (but not tough enough for a Hudson Horror crowd), so that we could get to the evening’s final movie: BLOOD BEACH! I am a big fan of this oft-forgotten monster flick, and have been ever since I first laid eyes on the film’s VHS box art.
I remember seeing it on the shelf at my local mom & pop video store when I was a kid, and being entranced by the image of a bikini-clad woman being sucked down into the sand. The film’s brilliant tagline of “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… YOU CAN’T GET TO IT!” was forever burned into my mind.
The movie follows the police of Venice Beach, California as they investigate a series of strange disappearances. Citizens and vacationers alike are sucked under the sand by an unknown terror. What is it? How can it be stopped? No one knows!
The cops are stumped, the local businesses are hurting, and Harry Caulder (David Huffman), the leader of the harbor patrol, is totally benefiting from this whole scenario. Because of the “Blood Beach Creature,” he is reunited with his childhood sweetheart, so I guess the monster isn’t so bad after all! (Ha!)
Eventually, with a little detective work, the monster’s lair is discovered and rigged with TNT, leading to an explosive climax for this otherwise slow-moving monster movie. But as the credits roll, we discover that even though the creature was blown to smithereens, doing so resulted in some dire consequences.
BLOOD BEACH is a criminally underseen movie, that boasts a cool concept, and a pretty awesome cast (which includes John Saxon and Burt Young). Though it has gained a large cult following over the past few decades, it still remains largely out of print. Until an official DVD (or Blu-ray) release becomes available, the only way to watch it is on YouTube.
Many thanks to Chris Alo and the rest of the Hudson Horror gang, and also to staff of the Alamo Drafthouse, for putting this event together. And of course, thanks to the crowd for being so well-behaved. It was good to see that no one got booted out for talking or texting!
With this event out of the way I now gaze forward to HUDSON HORROR SHOW XI on June 13th! The lineup is incredible, with yours truly kicking things off with a MYSTERY MOVIE! I’ve had two big successes in the past (INFRA-MAN and LADY TERMINATOR), so I hope I can keep the trend going!
After that is MADMAN (which will feature a Q&A by the film’s stars and producer!), MS. 45 (a rape/revenge flick that is full of dark humor), A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE, and finally JAWS! All five films will be featured in 35mm, and will be preceded with cool giveaways and vintage trailer reels as usual! Pre-order your tickets as soon as they become available, and hopefully I’ll see some of you there!