Some said they were insane! Some said it couldn’t be done! But on Saturday, December 12th, 2015, Chris Alo and the rest of his Hudson Horror team pulled it off – They screened six horror and exploitation films in TWO packed movie theaters! Due to the overwhelming success of Poughkeepsie’s preeminent film festival, Hudson Horror Show had finally outgrown its home at the Empire South Hills 8. But rather than find a new venue, a bold plan was developed to screen films in two theaters, to two different audiences, AT THE SAME TIME! And it totally worked!
After an uneventful drive, I arrived at the theater at 11:00 AM with my fiancee and several friends in tow. We waited in line to get our wristbands, then went through the motions of claiming our seats before splitting up to canvas the vendors’ tables. We scoped out the goods being peddled by Inked-Up Merch, Vinegar Syndrome, Grey Matter Art, VHSPS, and various other sellers, and I briefly got to catch up with a few familiar faces (most of which were seated in the opposite theater).
The highlight of my mini-shopping spree was watching Vinegar Syndrome’s James Neurath attempt to talk my fiancee into allowing me to purchase some of their classic pornographic titles. Much hilarity ensued, and though I didn’t get PRETTY PEACHES or SEX WORLD, I did purchase a trio of Blu-rays, namely DEMONOID, FRIGHTMARE (based on a recommendation from Doc Terror), and NIGHTMARE WEEKEND.
I also picked up a cool metal MONSTER SQUAD sign made by my buddy Rob, the man behind Orange Ulster Horror Club, DVD-Rs of UNMASKED PART 25 and TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS from my pal Sean from VHSPS, and the limited 2-disc IFUKUBE 100: A LEGACY OF MONSTER MUSIC CD set from the Symphonic Fury gents. As soon as I heard Godzilla music blaring from that particular vendor’s table, I simply needed to have it!
My allotted spending money depleted, I ventured into the soon-to-be-christened Theater #1 to hear the ritualistic reading of the sacred Hudson Horror Show rules. (e.g. puke in the toilets, not the urinals, no children allowed, no talking, etc.) And with that, things were underway for this unprecedented event!
MOVIE #1: DEMONOID (1981 – A.K.A. MESSENGER OF DEATH, A.K.A. MACABRA)
Approximately fifteen minutes after the theater across the hall began watching STUNT ROCK, we began our day-long cinematic journey with DEMONOID. Presented by Vinegar Syndrome, this cult oddity from Mexico puts an interesting spin on the whole “killer hand” sub-genre of Horror. (Which includes the likes of EVIL DEAD II, IDLE HANDS, THE HAND, THE CRAWLING HAND, et al.)
When miners uncover a tomb in Mexico, an evil force is unleashed that possesses the left hand of British industrialist Mark Baines. But once it is done with him, the evil left hand of Satan claims another victim, and another, leaving behind a string of violent murders and missing limbs. All that stands in the way of the satanic southpaw is the recently widowed Jennifer Baines (Samantha Eggar) and her ally, Father Cunningham (Stuart Whitman). Together they attempt to halt the killing spree of the unholy hand, leading to one of the more entertaining conclusions in Horror history.
I saw DEMONOID on VHS many years ago, and barely recalled much about it, and that’s a total shame because this movie was insane! Though slow at times, the movie is “helped” along by a ridiculous premise, random acts of violence, and goofy dialogue. Plus the film’s final moments are so wonderfully dumb, that DEMONOID had clearly won over the unsuspecting audience by the time the credits rolled.
There were some technical issues with the film (the movie suddenly stopped about three-quarters of the way through) but the show went on soon after with no other major problems. Well, at least until HALLOWEEN II began to roll…
MOVIE #2: STUNT ROCK (1980)
After a fifteen-minute break, we all gathered back into the theater to scope out a gorgeous print of STUNT ROCK! I was very curious about this film and went into it blindly, knowing only that 80s fantasy-metal group SORCERY would be featured in the film. After watching it, all I can say is that STUNT ROCK certainly lives up to its name. First it gives you stunts! And then it gives you rock! And then you get stunts again! And then more rock! Wash, rinse, repeat.
This isn’t a typical film with a beginning, middle, and end. It’s more like a feature-length demo reel for Australian stunt legend Grant Page, as he does death-defying stunts that typically result in him being engulfed in flames. After showcasing some of his stuntwork, the film then leaps into a Sorcery concert where we see “The Prince of Darkness” duel with “The King of the Wizards.” At first this is all fun and interesting, but STUNT ROCK rapidly became an endurance run once we all realized that it was all style and no substance.
In the end, I was glad to catch such a pristine print of this film, but it was kind of disappointing to see that no one involved with its creation realized that maybe they should have snuck a plot in there somewhere.
MOVIE #3: THE MYSTERY MOVIE (????)
After a much-needed dose of caffeine, we took our seats and prepared to be dazzled by the day’s “Mystery Movie.” I cannot divulge the identity of the film, but I can tell you this much: It was a Horror film from the mid-90s that I think was criminally underseen. It has a stellar cast, cool effects, and after this screening, I’m certain that it garnered dozens of new fans. Chalk up another win for Hudson Horror Show’s continued tradition of having a mystery film in the lineup!
After it ended, I strolled across the hall to the other theater in order to give out prizes (earned via trivia questions), and do a quick introduction for FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2! Afterwards, I got a little fresh air before heading back in for the day’s next film.
MOVIE #4: HALLOWEEN II (1981)
John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN is a heralded classic that will never fade away, and the same should be said for Rick Rosenthal’s followup. Taking place immediately after the events of the original, HALLOWEEN II gives us “more of the night HE came home.” Despite being shot six times (a fact Donald Pleasance’s Sam Loomis repeatedly shares with anyone that will listen), Michael Myers is still on the loose in Haddonfield, IL on Halloween night. And for some reason he is hellbent on finding, and brutally murdering poor Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).
The bulk of the film takes place at Haddonfield General Hospital, where Laurie and Michael play a game of cat & mouse until Dr. Loomis arrives to save the day. As the film winds down to its explosive ending, the connection between Michael and Laurie is revealed, and the franchise “ends” on a high note. I say ends because Michael is clearly dead by the end of the film, resulting in the wrongfully maligned HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH.
HALLOWEEN II is a really solid sequel with some inventive kills and should have been where Michael Myers’ legacy ended. However, we know that isn’t the case as he was brought back for HALLOWEEN IV: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS and the increasingly terrible sequels that followed. It was a real treat to see HALLOWEEN II in 35mm, especially since I missed out on seeing it at last year’s Salt City Horror Fest.
The print was a little rough, but mostly in great condition, and it played flawlessly. However, it was during this film that Hudson Horror Show experienced another technical issue. I’m not entirely sure how or why, but music from another source began to creep into the background of HALLOWEEN II. Whether it was the soundtrack from another movie, or just generic “muzak” emanating from the PA system, is still a mystery to yours truly. What I do know for certain is that it was kind of hilarious.
Tender acoustic guitar music intruded during silent moments in the film, and provided a little levity to what is actually a pretty tense thriller. While most of us had a good chuckle about it, I know some filmgoers were a little upset, as evidenced to the handful of people that stormed out of the theater to alert the event staff. Eventually the issue was resolved, but honestly, HALLOWEEN II is good enough that the audio snafu didn’t hurt the presentation much at all.
With Michael Myers defeated, it was time for another break to allow everyone to stretch their legs, and snap up a few items from the vendors that were beginning to close up shop. Tara and I headed out to the car so that I could self-medicate (I was taking shots of cough syrup in between each film just to stay ahead of the cold I had). But on the way back into the building, I looked to my left and suddenly there he was: Bag-headed Jason Voorhees!
The one thing I never see a lot of at Hudson Horror Show is cosplay, and this kid knocked it out of the park with his Jason costume! (Apparently he was also dressed as “The Shape” earlier in the day, and somehow I missed him.) I snapped a quick photo with this young horror fan, then went back inside to pass out more prizes and intro FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 to the crowd in my theater.
Again the prizes flew fast and furious (Hudson Horror fans are some of the most knowledgeable genre fans you will ever meet), and then I prepared everyone to the film I had sponsored.
MOVIE #5: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1981)
Released the same year as HALLOWEEN II, and even featuring a similar kill (a cop gets a hammer embedded in his skull in both films), this sequel is the first in the FRIDAY THE 13TH series to show Jason Voorhees in action. A camp counselor training center opens next door to the fabled “Camp Blood,” and a sack-masked hillbilly Jason will have none of it. So on a dark and stormy night, he infiltrates the counselors’ main cabin and begins knocking people off one by one.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 is an important film in the franchise, and gives us a slasher-in-training. Jason, still miffed about his mother’s demise, is quite territorial of Crystal Lake. And though he manages to pull off some rather inventive kills, it’s during the finale that we see just how inexperienced, and clumsy Jason truly is: He hasn’t “fully leveled up” yet. Ginny (Amy Steel), whom we learn is going to college to become a child-psychologist, uses this knowledge against her attacker during the climax, and its a truly brilliant twist.
While it initially showed up a little low on my personal Friday the 13th rankings, I feel that I should go back and update them to put this film (and THE FINAL CHAPTER) much higher on the list. It felt like a natural extension of the first film, and helped usher in a lasting horror icon. Though the opening of the movie still doesn’t make sense (there’s no chance in Hell that Jason tracked down Alice from the first movie, so I’m declaring it a dream sequence), it’s a small hiccup in a mostly perfect slasher sequel.
It seemed like everyone really enjoyed FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, so I do believe that I am still batting a thousand with the prints I’ve sponsored (which have included INFRA-MAN, LADY TERMINATOR, and a mystery movie in the past). I’ll try to keep that perfect record going when Hudson Horror Show XIII rolls around next May!
Once this film ended, our theater got one more break in order to use the bathrooms, and hit up the snack counter one final time. While the opposite screen was polishing the night off with HALLOWEEN II (minus the tender musical interludes), we were about to finish up with a film that’s been on my 35mm bucket list for some time.
MOVIE #6: THE WARRIORS (1979)
I was first introduced to THE WARRIORS by my good friend Chris (who sadly missed out on this screening, but will have another chance in April at the next Salt City Horror Fest) in it’s bastardized “Director’s Cut” form. Up until December 12th, I had never seen the original theatrical cut of THE WARRIORS, so I was super excited to finally watch it on the big screen with a crowd!
The film takes place in NYC, where hundreds of gangs rule the streets. They easily outnumber the cops, but because they are all so divided, they’re mostly kept in check. That is all about to change, because Cyrus, the leader of the Grammercy Riffs (the largest gang in the city) plans to bring them all together to form one mega-gang that will control everything. During a huge meeting that includes all of the cities colorful gangs, Cyrus is gunned down, and his death is blamed upon “a real live bunch from Coney:” THE WARRIORS.
Outnumbered and trapped in hostile territory, Swan, Ajax, Vermin, Snow, Rembrandt, Cowboy, Fox, and Cochise, must “bop” their way back to their turf on Coney Island. It’s fight or flight as they encounter various rival gangs and police officers in their quest for home, leading to a showdown with those responsible for framing them.
As Joe Walsh’s “In the City” blared from the speakers, the remaining audience members marched out of the theater, as equally exhausted as The Warriors themselves. Though some folks were in and out of the theater all day, many were there from start to finish and watched all six films. To you brave souls who sat in the theater, quietly enjoying every film from start to finish, congrats. You are officially Hudson Horror Show Warriors!
After bidding Chris Alo and the rest of the Hudson Horror crew a good night, we made the long trek back home, stopping at a Perkins for some food and coffee. I asked around the table if everyone enjoyed the show, and the consensus was that it was an outstanding time! Yes, it looks like another successful Hudson Horror Show was in the books, and somehow, with minimal issues, they managed to screen six films (albeit in a different order) to two separate audiences simultaneously! It was a hell of a risk, but it paid off and more people got to enjoy this film fest than ever before!
Hudson Horror Show keeps growing, and just keeps getting better and better! This bi-annual event is something I look forward to every year, and (as I’ve stated elsewhere) it’s like a huge family reunion. But it’s a family reunion that you actually want to attend! Everybody is respectful and there’s always a lot of positive energy in the air. It’s a celebration of Horror and Exploitation cinema, and everybody is just so awesome! Gosh, I can’t wait to attend the next one!
Speaking of which, Hudson Horror Show XIII is tentatively scheduled for May 14th. That’s a long way off, but luckily, we’ll all be able to get our Hudson Horror fix at the Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers, NY on March 5th, 2016! Starting at 6:00 PM, enjoy a triple feature of 35mm classics, featuring a rare screening of HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP! Advance tickets are $15 each, so save the date, and get them as soon as they go on sale!
To close this out, I just want to give a huge thanks to Chris Alo, Sean McDonnell, Dan Deyo, Glen Baisley, and the rest of the Hudson Horror crew for putting on such a smooth-running film fest. Also big thanks to the projectionists, the fans, and vendors – without all of you, this event wouldn’t be heading into its thirteenth show!