Want to hear something kind of crazy Vault Dwellers? I have to drive two-and-a-half hours to enjoy all Hudson Horror Show events. That’s five hours round trip! And I do it without hesitation because I love this show! It has a vibe that some of the other special screenings and film festivals I attend are lacking.
I guess the best way I can explain it is that Hudson Horror Show feels like attending a family reunion that is exclusively populated by all of your cool cousins. We’re all fans, we all get along, and there’s a palpable excitement in the air during each show! That is a definitely a huge reason why Hudson Horror Show continues to sell out again and again!
In between their two big festivals (typically mid-May and early December) Chris Alo and the Hudson Horror crew have been putting on smaller 35mm screenings at The Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, NY. Though I missed the kick-off show, I’ve made it to every single one since, seeing the likes of BLOOD BEACH, THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION, SPOOKIES, and THE TOOLBOX MURDERS on the big screen!
As was the case with last year’s MARCH MADNESS TRIPLE FEATURE, three more films were screened at the Drafthouse on Saturday, March 5th. While there weren’t any special guests in attendance, that in no way ruined the sold-out crowd’s enjoyment of the following trio of Horror classics:
MOVIE #1: HELL NIGHT (1981)
I own the long out of print Anchor Bay DVD of HELL NIGHT (which also contains FADE TO BLACK), but and I haven’t watched it since I bought the disc back in 2003. I recalled liking the movie but forgot most of what happens, so a 35mm presentation was definitely the best way to get a refresher on this flick!
The bulk of the film takes place at Garth Manor, where four college students must stay until dawn to be initiated into their respective frat house and sorority. Before being locked in, the pledges (which include THE EXORCIST’s Linda Blair) are told of the mansion’s dark history.
It was originally owned by a wealthy recluse named Raymonde Garth, a man that went mad after siring several disfigured children. Disgusted with his monstrous offspring, Raymonde murdered them all before committing suicide. However, several bodies were never recovered, and it is said that the eldest son, Andrew, still lurks among the empty halls of Garth Manor.
Helmed by Tom DeSimone (director of CHATTERBOX and REFORM SCHOOL GIRLS) HELL NIGHT was a good start to the evening and whetted our appetites for what was to come. For an 80s slasher film this movie is remarkably tame. There’s next to no onscreen violence or gore (the kills seem to have been all heavily edited) and not a single bare breast! (Which should answer your question of “Do you see Linda Blair’s boobs in this movie?”)
Still, HELL NIGHT is a fun, and often cheesy Horror film that has rightfully garnered a cult following over the years. The audience really enjoyed this movie, and after a fifteen minute break and some cool giveaways, everyone was amped up for the next film on the evening’s roster.
MOVIE #2: CHILD’S PLAY (1988)
During its inital theatrical release, CHILD’S PLAY caused quite a stir. Protestors surrounded the entrance at MGM, claiming that this film would inspire children to commit violent acts. Of course this is total malarkey because if anything, this movie made children absolutely terrified of creepy ginger dolls.
My other half (a.k.a. Tara, the Vault Mistress) is a prime example, as she claims she had a “Good Guy Doll” growing up. (Most likely a “My Buddy” doll, which Chucky’s design was based on.) After seeing CHILD’S PLAY at a young age (originally intended to be called BLOODY BUDDY because BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED was already taken) she became wary of her once fond inanimate plaything. The movie did such a number on her that to this very day, CHILD’S PLAY is not allowed to get much play here at Vault HQ.
But that was not the case this time, as Tara was my prisoner and could not escape the theater! (Mwhahahaha!) But you know what? I was terribly disappointed to find that the film no longer had its desired effect on her. Who knew that watching this movie with a Hudson Horror crowd would be the cure for her irrational fear of Chucky?
CHILD’S PLAY stars Brad Dourif as Charles Lee Ray, a murderer who transmits his soul into a Good Guy Doll via a voodoo spell. Masquerading as a harmless plaything, “Chucky” commits acts of murder, and only young Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) knows the truth. Naturally nobody believes, what they consider to be, a troubled young child.
But eventually Chucky’s secret gets out, and it’s up to Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) and a cop named Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon) to take down the pint-sized killer before he swaps souls with young Andy. It’s a race against time to rescue Karen’s son, and stop the Lakeshore Strangler’s killing spree once and for all.
CHILD’S PLAY was directed by Tom Holland (FRIGHT NIGHT, THINNER) and features one of cinema’s most memorable slasher villains. Brad Dourif absolutely kills it as Chucky, so it’s no surprise that the murderous doll became a pop culture Horror icon. The cast of the film is great (Alex Vincent is easily one of the better child actors I’ve seen in a genre film), Joe Renzetti’s score is superb, and Kevin Yagher’s design and execution of Chucky is brilliant!
With CHILD’S PLAY conquered, another fifteen break followed by more cool giveaways, allowing those that remained to catch their breath before the night’s final feature.
MOVIE #3: HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980)
While I was excited to see HELL NIGHT and CHILD’S PLAY in 35mm, HUMANOIDS was the main reason I made the exodus to Yonkers. Ever since I first discovered HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP many years ago on VHS tape, I’ve been a diehard fan! Produced by Roger Corman, and featuring music by James Horner, this 80s creature feature fully delivers on everything its trailer promises.
In the small fishing village of Noyo, something is amiss. The local fishermen are at odds with the Native American residents over the installation of a cannery. Amid their quarreling, there are strange accidents at sea, multiple disappearances, and mass dog mutilations that largely go unexplained. Eventually it is revealed that a recently evolved race of fish-men have staked a claim near the sleepy fishing hamlet!
According to a scientist named Susan Drake (Ann Turkel), the creatures see humanity as competition, and have a strong urge to mate with our womenfolk in order to further their evolution! As the film heads towards its climax, Noyo’s annual fish festival is cut short when a small army of the aquatic horrors attacks.
Men are violently clawed to death, children are put in peril, and young beauties are nearly deflowered by hormonal humanoids. Unfortunately for the poon-starved sea monsters, the panicked townsfolk eventually pull together and carry out a counteroffensive. Though the humanoids are soon routed, the final shot of the film let’s us all know that the nightmare isn’t over.
HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP is unapologetic with its gore and gratuitous nudity, and that’s a big reason why I love it. The cast is a mixed bag here: Vic Morrow is superb as the quasi-racist Hank Slattery, while Doug McClure just seems out of place. James Horner’s score is eerie at times and lends itself well to the proceedings (though the super loud ding of a bell heard during monster attacks gets annoying), and the creatures themselves (designed by a young Rob Bottin) are pretty neat to look at.
The most interesting aspect of the film however, is the fact that Roger Corman was not satisfied with Barbara Peeters initial cut of the film. The selling point of this exploitation flick was that the monsters would copulate with female victims. Peeters’ version would either cut away from, or obscure the implied acts of slimy monster sex. To “fix” this, Corman had second unit director James Sbardellati film new scenes and insert them into the film.
This was done without the knowledge of the cast or director, whom took issue with the new scenes. However, Corman refused to back down, and released the version he wanted, leading to a respectable two-and-a-half million dollars at the box office. (Lesson learned: Never doubt Roger Corman because he is a damned genius!)
This latest March Madness Triple Feature was a definite success! The seats were sold out, the staff was mostly on point (though for some reason our server abandoned us during CHILD’S PLAY), and the prints of the films were in better shape than I had anticipated. And aside from one person receiving a warning, the audience was well-behaved and no one got booted out! Chalk up another victory for Hudson Horror Show!
With this triple feature a fond memory, I now count the days until HUDSON HORROR SHOW XIII arrives in May! The lineup is absolutely killer, boasting the likes of DOLEMITE (sponsored by Vinegar Syndrome), A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST., JAWS 2, NIGHTBREED (sponsored by yours truly), and two mystery movies! There will be a ton of cool vendors, JAWS movie props (for photo ops!), giveaways, and other cool surprises in store for all those that attend!
If you want to become part of the growing Hudson Horror Show family, or simply want to attend what is arguably the best Horror & Exploitation film festival on the East Coast, then head over to www.hudsonhorror.com! Order your tickets ASAP and hopefully I’ll see you there on May 14th!