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Welcome to the Crypt!

Enter the Crypt as John "The Unimonster" Stevenson and his merry band of ghouls rants and raves about the current state of Horror, as well as reviews Movies, Books, DVD's and more, both old and new.

From the Desk of the Unimonster...

From the Desk of the Unimonster...

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03 April, 2010

Growing a MonsterKid

ARTICLE TITLE: Growing a MonsterKid



As I rush headlong towards middle-age, I find myself drawn deeper into a hobby that first took root when I was barely five years old. While I had many influences in my gradual transformation from somewhat normal toddler to thoroughly addicted MonsterKid, that transformation wouldn’t have begun, or have continued to grow, without the help of my two older sisters, and a kindly old “Uncle” whom I’ve never met.

My earliest monster memories involve one of my favorite books when I was very young: Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are”. I soon moved on to watching the Saturday afternoon creature-features in my sisters’ room. They had a 13” black & white set on their dresser, a dinosaur of a television even then. Still, it did offer an alternative to the unceasing cavalcade of sporting events that dominated the living room set when our Dad was home. Though I would one day come to share his love of sports, at that age football and baseball took a poor second to lying on my sister’s bed, listening to Lugosi intone “…I am… Dracula.”

Occasionally, my sister Dee would watch these movies with me, providing me with a reassuring presence should a monster prove a little too frightening. Such an occasion marked the first Horror film I can remember watching, William Castle’s 13 GHOSTS. I can still, nearly forty years later, recall hiding my eyes every time someone on screen would put on the goggles that let them see the ghosts.

Soon, I had progressed to the point where the efforts of Castle, Corman, and the like no longer had the power to frighten me like that first viewing of 13 GHOSTS. I watched every monster movie and creature-feature I could find on TV… at least, every one I could get away with. I was also going to the matinees and “kiddie shows”, and seeing movies that had yet to reach television.

Most of these films were pretty tame stuff… the Universal B-movies of the ‘50’s, Toho’s Kaij├╗ films, the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films. Even the occasional Hammer would cross my path… though not the more salacious ones, of course. HORROR OF DRACULA and THE MUMMY we got. LUST FOR A VAMPIRE and COUNTESS DRACULA would wait for another day.

But as innocuous as these films seem, they fueled my hunger for Horror. I loved them all—Godzilla and Tarantula; Creature from the Black Lagoon and the Woman in Green. They opened my eyes to the variety of horror that was available, and like a pre-schooler first discovering the thrill of “See Spot Run.”, it led me to begin what would amount to a lifelong education in Horror and Science-Fiction.

The first of these was perhaps the most profound influence my young love of horror would find, a magazine that seemed to be written just for me: Famous Monsters of Filmland. Forrest J Ackerman had turned his life-long love of Horror, Fantasy, and Science-Fiction into a career, and in 1958 began a quarter-century long run as editor of James Warren’s new horror film magazine.

Known to his legion of fans by many names, such as Dr. Acula, FJA, 4E, or simply Forry, Ackerman was able to speak to kids at their level, almost as one of them. He didn’t talk down to us; he was, in a real sense, one of us. He understood what we wanted from Horror movies, and understood why. And his magazine had a way of connecting to kids that is still helping shape the direction of the genre.

The second source for new avenues of Horror for exploration was my oldest sister, Wanda. Around the time I turned 10, she began taking my brother, my cousin, and me to the movies. Not the ‘Kiddie Shows’ we were used to going to by ourselves; no, these were the real thing, at the local Drive-In.
Wanda Susan, ever-thrifty, would conceal the three of us in the trunk, and set us loose when she parked. If she were alone, we’d usually get to stay in the car; but if she were with a date, or one of her friends, we would be banished to the no-man’s land out in front of the vehicle. We’d toss down a blanket, set one of the speakers on the ground beside us, and settle in for a more-or-less pleasant evening of viewing.

And what made us put up with all that? Well, beyond the reality that when you’re a 10-year old boy that kinda stuff is F-U-N, there was the fact that my sister had rather liberal views on what was appropriate viewing material for us. In short, if we asked to see it, or just if she wanted to see it… well, we saw it. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE WIZARD OF GORE, BLOOD FEAST, CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT… I had seen them all by my 11th summer. If there were any type of cult or exploitation film that was left out of my curriculum, then I’d be hard pressed to identify it.

If there was a graduation day for me, then it was the 11th of July, 1975… the day I stood in line for three hours, with parental approval, to see JAWS on it’s opening day. The single most frightening film I’ve ever seen; no movie, before or since, has had such a profound impact on me. So deeply was I affected that, even today, more than thirty years later, I still can’t stand the thought of swimming in the ocean… something I once loved to do.
Well, that was a lot of years ago, and yet my love of the genre continues to grow. And like anyone who has a hobby or pastime they are passionate about, I wonder where the next generation will come from, and who will nurture their love of all that’s scary.

While there’s not much I can do to substitute for my older sisters, and in many ways I doubt that would be advisable, there’s much that we, as horror fans, collectors, and vendors, can do. We can, in some small way, be Forry.
If you have a child who is interested in monster movies, encourage that interest. Get them age-appropriate Horror and Sci-Fi films to watch, and watch them together. Show them the classics, and explain just why they are ‘classic’. Help them to find appropriate books to read, and feed their interest in both Horror and reading.

We do have some handicaps to overcome that did not exist in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. One, the availability of cheap monster toys and models to fuel young imaginations. Even adjusted for inflation, the $1.49 that an Aurora Monster kit cost in the late ‘60’s doesn’t begin to approach the price of a modern, high-tech resin kit.

Also, the genre as a whole has become less kid-friendly. Now, I’m certainly not arguing that every horror film should be PG, but I think the interests of all are served with the occasional MONSTER SQUAD or MUMMY.
And unless you live in a few select locations, the days of the hosted horror show have gone the way of the dinosaur and the dodo bird. The medium that eagerly fed our voracious appetites for scares has been co-opted by infomercials and late-night talk shows.

Perhaps the most difficult hurdle we have to overcome is the fact that Famous Monsters is no longer there to guide and inform young minds. While it’s true that there is no shortage of magazines devoted to the genre, most are simply not suitable for young children. Rue Morgue, Fangoria, Amazing Figure Modeler… all great magazines, and I read all of them regularly. But none are something that I would feel comfortable letting a 10-year old read. And most of the mags that are family-friendly are simply unreadable for anyone over 6.

But these are problems that can be surmounted. While cheap toys aren’t as easy to locate as they were in our childhoods, you can find ones that won’t require a second or third mortgage. While modern Horror is decidedly adult, rather than bemoaning that fact use it as an excuse to introduce a youngster to the joys of classic horror films. Though you might not be able to find a locally-produced horror host, many now make tapes or DVD’s of their programs available by mail-order. If all else fails, make up your own commentary as you watch a cheesy B-pic with a kid or two.

And perhaps it’s time for a new magazine, one that, while suitable for children, doesn’t talk down to them. A magazine that is able to entertain the adult horror fan as well as the next generation.

Perhaps it’s time for a new magazine, not one that copies what Forry did, but tries instead to pick up where he left off… and keeps the genre moving forward.





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Grindhouse-- Good ol' Boy Style

ARTICLE TITLE: Grindhouse—Good ol’ Boy Style



While the term Grindhouse is usually associated with New York City’s Times Square, with seedy, inner-city storefront theaters showing cheaply-made sleaze, it wasn’t completely a New York tradition. The Deep South had the equivalent of Grindhouse films in the person of the Drive-In Movie.

Drive-In Movies came into being in the middle of the 1950’s. Obtaining first-run features had always been tremendously difficult for Drive-Ins, as the distributors refused to provide any film until it had completely exhausted it’s potential at conventional theaters. Owner/operators were desperate for better films to screen, and James Nicholson and Sam Arkoff formed the American Releasing Corporation in 1954 to meet that need. They would soon change the company’s name to American International Pictures, becoming in short order the dominant force in the production and distribution of Drive-In Movies.

The term Drive-In Movie may be confusing to those who have never had the pleasure of watching a movie, as Drive-In critic Joe Bob Briggs so eloquently puts it, “… outdoors, in the privacy of your own automobile the way God intended.” Even those fortunate enough to have patronized one of the remaining Drive-In theaters in all probability saw the same first-run blockbuster that was playing at the Cineplex at the mall. To those who may be unaware, the Drive-In Movie is not a type of film, or a genre of film, or even a measure of the quality of a film. It is a state of mind.

The original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is a prime example of the Drive-In Movie. Yes, you could see it in conventional theaters when it premiered in 1974, or watch it today on disc, two-stroke engine roaring in full-throated glory through surroundsound, as Leatherface chases Marilyn Burns across a 60” plasma screen. But nothing can compare to the thrill I felt sitting out on a blanket on a hot Florida summer night when I was eleven or twelve, back against the bumper of a Chevrolet Bel-Air, watching the wheelchair-bound Franklin (the single most-annoying character in any Horror film—ever) catch hot chainsaw death full in the face. It’s a movie that almost demands to be seen that way, out in the elements, your imagination filling the black shadows of the treeline beyond the screen tower with hordes of hygienically impaired cannibalistic psychopaths. I’ve seen the movie at least a dozen times since then—but never have I enjoyed it more.

That’s the essence of a Drive-In Movie. It’s the experience of watching a movie, as much as it’s the movie itself. Aficionados of Grindhouse speak fondly of the experience of watching movies in theaters that quite frankly I wouldn’t have wanted to enter unarmed. Though the Drive-Ins I frequented were much friendlier establishments, they had drawbacks and pitfalls of their own. Many of these were problems endemic to the industry, such as poor picture and sound quality as compared to conventionals. Some were due to the vagaries of being outdoors, in the subtropical climate of north Florida, the insect capital of North America. Others were idiosyncratic, unique to a specific theater. Those idiosyncrasies are what made the experiences memorable, whatever the movie may have been.

And as for the movies themselves—while these weren’t great movies, they do stand out in the mind’s eye, even 35 years on. The best Drive-In Movies, at least, in my opinion, were the ones that the critics gave the worst reviews. Movies such as THE EXORCIST or STAR WARS weren’t really Drive-In Movies. You might see them at a Drive-In, but that didn’t make them Drive-In Movies.

GATOR BAIT, EATEN ALIVE, A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, THE BIG BIRD CAGE, ENTER THE DRAGON—these were the true Drive-In Movie classics. They might or might not have impressed the critics, but they impressed the hell out of the crowds lined up waiting to get into the old University Blvd. Drive-In in Jacksonville. As I’ve mentioned before in this column, [Growing a MonsterKid—See Above] I was blessed with an older sister who had somewhat unorthodox ideas on just what type of movies were appropriate for my younger brother and myself. As long as we didn’t mind entering the premises curled up around the spare tire in the trunk, and immediately vacated the car, leaving her and her boyfriend alone for the duration, she’d take us to see anything—a situation we never failed to exploit.

We didn’t mind those inconveniences, of course. We would’ve been out of the car at the first opportunity anyway, running up to the swing set just to the front of the screen tower, or heading to the concession stand to spend what cash we could wheedle out of Mom or Dad. Obviously, there were children just as lucky in the supervision department as we were, as there were always other kids doing the same.

But the movies were why we were there—at least, why I was there. The first time I saw Herschell G. Lewis’ BLOOD FEAST was at the Drive-In; the same goes for such ‘classics’ as THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK, IT’S ALIVE, and THEATER OF BLOOD. The first time I heard the words, “They’re coming to get you, Barbara,” as well as “Take your hands off me, you damn dirty apes,” was at the Atlantic Drive-In. My love of movies is ingrained in my DNA, but the types of movies I love are due to the formative years I spent feeding mosquitoes on a weekly basis every summer.

Technology has given us a way to preserve those movies, and watch them as often as we wish in the comfort of our homes. But it can’t duplicate the sensation, the experience, of spreading an old blanket out on the ground under the stars, cranking the pole-mounted speakers up as high as possible, and watching the latest gorefest play out on-screen. That can’t be duplicated and preserved technologically, and sadly, the opportunities for experiencing it in actuality are dwindling away.

However, there are those who still keep the faith, tending like devoted acolytes the aging projectors and weather-beaten screens of surviving Drive-Ins. If you’re fortunate to live within an easy drive of such a shrine, be sure to make a pilgrimage to it soon. Recapture, if only for a brief time, the joys of a bygone day. Better yet, introduce someone who’s never known that experience to the fun of the Drive-In Movie.

Cineplexes and Home Theater systems may be more comfortable and convenient, there’s no doubt of that. That doesn’t make it better—that doesn’t make a memory.




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The Last Drive-In?

ARTICLE TITLE: The Last Drive-In?


It cannot be a secret to my regular readers that I have a special affinity for Drive-In theaters, and the type of films that used to be their staple product. Some of my fondest memories from childhood are associated with Drive-Ins, and I love going to the Drive-In to this day.

However, Drive-In’s are a dying breed, and have been since the ‘60’s. Many factors contributed to this decline, and I don’t intend for this to be an in-depth look at the socio-economic causes for the death of the Drive-In. Instead, I want to talk about the death of just one… my local Drive-In.
Three summers ago as I write these words, the speakers at Clermont Drive-In went silent forever, as they ended their last season. Many events played a part in the Clermont’s demise, from sagging attendance to skyrocketing property taxes, and the owners could no longer contest the issue. The knowledge that the Clermont’s neighbor, a large auto-racing venue, was interested in the property for development finally won out.

When the news came that this would be the Clermont’s final season, it brought home to me the fact that so many of these institutions have disappeared in recent years, as real estate development swallowed whole the large tracts of land required for even a single screen outdoor theater. To the best of my knowledge, there’s only one Drive-In still operating within an hour’s drive of my home.

Now, it had been several years since I’ve been to the Clermont, though it was a favorite Friday night ritual for my ex-wife and I. It was cheap; it was convenient; we could load up the car with our own drinks and food; and we could relax and enjoy the movies, much more comfortably than we could in an indoor theater. For me, the Drive-In experience was part of my childhood, part of my love for genre movies.

I’ve written previously here regarding some of my early Drive-In trips… how my older sister used to sneak my brother and I in hidden in the trunk, how the first time I saw Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was during an all-night horror-thon at the Atlantic Drive-In; and of how much I love the whole Drive-In culture. There’s so much to be said for the whole concept of the outdoor theater… the pleasure of relaxing under the stars, nestled close to someone special; the value of bringing your own snacks in with you, not having to fork over five bucks for a coke or three-fifty for a box of popcorn; the comfort attendant in watching the movie from your own enclosed space, rather than crammed into small theater seats surrounded by obnoxious strangers. In so many ways, it is the ultimate way to enjoy a movie… especially those Horror, Sci-Fi, and Exploitation movies that have long been the staple diet of the Drive-In nation.

Like many of the treasured memories of my younger days, the Drive-In is a rapidly disappearing landmark, receding into the distance of my rear-view mirror. That’s really too bad, because that robs future generations of one of the greatest simple pleasures of my youth, and robs me of yet another touchstone to happier times.




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Uni's Trip from the Crypt: HorrorHound, 2010

ARTICLE TITLE: Uni’s Trips from the Crypt: HORRORHOUND Indianapolis 2010


About three years ago I wrote a piece describing my trip to the Wonderfest convention in Louisville, Kentucky and subtitled it “A Unimonster in Paradise.” Perhaps I should subtitle this piece “Paradise Regained,” for that is truly how rejuvenated and refreshed I feel after having spent three days at HorrorHound magazine’s Indianapolis convention.

This is the fourth year I’ve attended HorrorHound, and it’s grown each year—this year to impressive, and I must say disconcerting, proportions. It’s not that I’m not pleased to see how healthy and vital our world of genre fandom is, especially in our current economic climate. The fact that so many people are willing—and able—to come out and support those artists and entrepreneurs who make it possible for us to carry tangible memories home is terrific.

But when the exhibit floor is so closely packed with people that movement is for practical purposes impossible, when the line of people waiting to enter that exhibit hall stretches the length of a football field, with an even longer line of people waiting to purchase their admission, it is obvious to anyone who’s used to conventioneering that this event, as it’s now organized, has completely outgrown it’s current home. Part of the problem is the combination of three events—HorrorHound, the HMA Mask-Fest, and the Dark Carnival Film Fest—under one umbrella. A great idea in theory, but the practice of it will require some effort be put forth to improve traffic flow and overcrowding.

Still, it isn’t my intention to write a complaint letter. Despite the hassles of the too-large crowds in the too-small space, I must say that the HorrorHound folks do know how to put a great convention together. There is a reason so many people came out to the Indianapolis Marriott East last weekend (26-28 March), and that reason is easy to see—big stars, big events, and, on this occasion, two of the biggest names in horror: George Romero and Clive Barker.

But they weren’t the only draws at this convention, as you’ll soon see. Join the Unimonster, accompanied at times by the Uni-Sister (the Crypt’s official photographer, by the way), the Uni-Niece, and the Uni-Nephew, for a day-by-day, no-holds-barred look inside—HorrorHound Indy!
[Ed. Note: There is one sad note to Friday’s events, one I was unaware of until the following Tuesday. John McGarr, a California-based actor-producer, was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver on his way into the venue. McGarr, whose most recent project was the 2009 independent film HOUSE OF THE WOLF-MAN, was 45. We at the Crypt wish to extend our deepest sympathies to his loved ones.]


Day One—Friday:

The contingent from the Crypt arrived bright and early for the convention, just before 4pm local time. The getting checked-in process was a little rough, but soon we were inside the exhibit hall, checking out the dealer’s tables.

For those who’ve yet to experience a Horror convention in person, the dealer’s floor can best be described as a true horror fan’s Fantasyland. It’s like a Flea Market from Hell—but in a good way. Virtually any type of Horror memorabilia one can imagine, from T-Shirts and DVD’s to original works of art, can be found for sale on the dealer’s floor, most at very reasonable prices. It’s a monstrous, blood-and-gore-drenched version of Wal-Mart, only without the crappy Muzak. And the Unimonster’s group certainly did some shopping. Whether a new book for the Crypt’s library or a set of Monster-themed rubber ducks for the Uni-Niece’s collection, we did our share for the industry.

As much fun as buying from dealers at these conventions is meeting them, along with thousands of one’s fellow fans. The joy of ‘fitting in’, of being in the company of people who share your tastes and interests, who see nothing unusual in your own love of the Monsters and the genre, cannot be overestimated. When I say how refreshed I always am after a good convention, this is usually the reason for that refreshment.

Another great thing about these conventions is the opportunity to connect with new friends and reconnect with old ones. I’m always guaranteed to meet up with my good friend and former colleague at CreatureScape, Elizabeth Haney. Elizabeth typically wears many hats when attending conventions, whether assisting friends who are here as part of Mask-Fest, or helping out with the Universal Monster Army’s Rondo-nominated display of monster toys and Halloween costumes from the ‘50’s, ‘60’s, and ‘70’s. A tireless advocate for those who strive to put forth their own take on classic horror, as well as those whose efforts run towards the modern, Elizabeth is a important presence on the Chicago horror scene.

We had the opportunity to reunite with our former boss at CreatureScape, former editor Sean Kotz. Sean, now head of Horse Archer Productions, was here to screen his new documentary, which was previously reviewed here in the Crypt [DVD Review: VIRGINIA CREEPERS: THE HORROR HOST TRADITION OF THE OLD DOMINION, 6 March 2010]. Seeing the movie on the big (well, bigger than my TV, at least…) screen, with my fellow fans in attendance, only improved my enjoyment of the film. Another reason for that improved enjoyment was the fact that several of the hosts featured in that documentary were in attendance at the convention, most notably Count Gore De Vol of Creature Features: the Web Program, and Karlos Borloff, of Monster Madhouse.

These two hosts were at HorrorHound to take part in the largest assemblage of Horror-Hosts ever gathered in one spot. More than eighty of their number—Penny Dreadful, Joe Bob Briggs, Dr. Ghoulfinger, and the Bone Jangler among them—were in attendance, meeting old fans and making new ones.

The second film on the evening’s schedule, C. W. Prather’s EVERY OTHER DAY IS HALLOWEEN, examining the career of our favorite vampire Count Gore De Vol, was the one blemish on the first night’s festivities. This was not the fault of the movie itself [reviewed below], but rather the fact that technical difficulties kept it from being shown. A replacement copy was secured for the next day; unfortunately, the scheduling did not permit it to be screened.

Instead, we were treated to a recording of the 1986 Creature Features airing of THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE, complete with a live introduction from Count Gore himself, (with an assist from Karlos Borloff). This is the broadcast that featured Forry Ackerman as Gore’s guest, and is one of the best from the storied archives of Count Gore. Not as much fun as seeing EVERY OTHER DAY IS HALLOWEEN would be, but still enjoyable.
The first day ended well, aside from the problems with Gore’s movie, and I left the convention hall with my appetite whetted for even better experiences to come.


Day Two—Saturday:

Saturday morning at HorrorHound began with a quick circuit of the exhibit floor, taking some photos and meeting and greeting people, including a personal high point for the Unimonster, Mr. “Drive-In Critic” himself, Joe Bob Briggs. Then, after a visit with Count Gore, the Crypt’s photographer and I wandered over to the Mask-Fest room to check out that portion of the convention. Sponsored by the Halloween Mask Association, Mask-Fest 2010 was a chance for those who follow in the legendary footsteps of Don Post to display their wares to the monster-loving masses. Dozens of artists and craftspeople were assembled to show off their work, much of it truly spectacular.

Also to be found in the Mask-Fest room was the Universal Monster Army exhibit. This traveling showcase of Monster toys and collectibles from the ‘50’s through the ‘70’s is a Rondo nominee for Best Fan Event, and is something that these tired old eyes of mine always delight in seeing. The display includes Halloween costumes, decorations, and novelties, as well as the monster toys, and for the Unimonster is like a trip into his own childhood. The UMA (Pvt. Unimonster, reporting as ordered) is dedicated to preserving the MonsterKid experience of the middle decades of the last century, when Baby Boomers were children, and monsters and Horror-Hosts were our idols. It’s a fantastic display, and should be on every monster-fan’s list of must-see events.

Located next to the UMA exhibit was the display set up by Cortlandt Hull, of the Witch’s Dungeon. Partly done in tribute to his uncle Henry Hull, star of THE WEREWOLF OF LONDON, this is an incredible display, and Cortlandt’s site is one of the best devoted to classic horror. Their latest project is a documentary exploring the wonderful history of the Aurora Monster models, trailers for which can be seen at the Witch’s Dungeon.
Saturday, at least for the Unimonster, was a day for soaking it all in—the feel, the sights and sounds, absorbing the essence of the convention. As Cathy stayed busy taking the fantastic photographs used to illustrate this article (Ed. Note: more of which can be viewed at my Facebook Photo Album), I meandered about, talking to people, checking out display tables, watching the comings and goings. Conventions are very organic entities—they have an ebb and flow, a pulsebeat, and one needs to step back a little to tune into it.

In addition, Saturday, as is typical for Horror conventions, was the busiest day of the weekend, a fact made clear by the early afternoon. As the exhibit hall filled up, a line was formed to get in to the area. Another line was going in to get autographs from George Romero, yet another for Clive Barker—all essentially motionless. Those already inside had no desire to leave, as they realized the difficulties they’d have getting back in. Those in line were determined to do what they had come to do, and between them, there was simply no breathing room.

By the end of the second day of HorrorHound, it was obvious that this was a successful convention. It had been a great day, if an exhausting one, and I left looking forward to what the next day’s events would bring.


Day Three—Sunday:

Her photographic work completed, the Uni-Sister skipped the final day of the convention, and I arrived ready for some serious networking—the primary objective of the third day. Part of the reason for anyone other than a casual fan to attend a convention is to connect with others in the world of fandom, and that’s certainly true of the Unimonster. One of the connections I was able to make early on in the convention was with the folks who run the Rondo-nominated web-site The Horror Society, Mitchell and Jessica Wells. This is an excellent site devoted to independent horror, and the Wells are great advocates for young filmmakers.

One of the important features about HorrorHound Indy is the close proximity to Chicago, and it’s active indie-horror scene. One of the up-and-coming players on that scene is Dean Millermon, of Acme Design, Inc. Dean has a short film that he directed, and a copy of which I was asked to review. That short film is GARGALESE: THE TICKLE MONSTER, and a weirder seventeen minutes of film you’ll seldom see. It’s also an enjoyable, entertaining seventeen minutes, and I love the wackiness of the concept. You will get a full review of it in May, but it definitely gets a YES vote from the Unimonster. It may not be great filmmaking, but it is more enjoyable than most of what Hollywood churns out year after year.

Another Chicago filmmaker who’s also making a name for himself is Emil Hyde, of Massive Ego Productions. The company’s latest venture, THE LANDLORD, is an original, entertaining Horror-Comedy on the order of SHAUN OF THE DEAD or BUBBA HO-TEP. While not the equal of those films in quality, it is an enthusiastic, fun little movie that never takes itself too seriously. THE LANDLORD is scheduled for a widespread release on the Tempe Video label, with a drop date of 25 May, and as with GARGALESE, a full review will be posted for the May update.
An Indiana filmmaker who was taking advantage of the opportunity to promote his project close to home is Marv Blauvelt, producer / writer / cast member of SCULPTURE. Distributed by Screamkings Productions, directed by Pete Jacelone, and starring Raine Brown, Misty Mundae, and Dustin Kerns, SCULPTURE is currently in release, and will be reviewed in the near future.

But movies weren’t all that were on my mind on this weekend—not when I had the equivalent of Michael Myers’ yard sale to pick through. First, the guys from Kitley’s Krypt are always near the top of my list of dealers to visit, and this year was no exception. A fair portion of the Crypt’s library has come from Kitley’s, including this year’s acquisition of The Films of Boris Karloff. It always pays to check out their table, if non-fiction books on the genre are on your shopping list.

Another type of item that ranks high on my list of needful things is the ubiquitous horror tee. I love my Monster T-shirts, and never pass up an opportunity to add to the collection. I looked at a lot of great shirts this weekend, and finally settled on a beautiful Sir Graves Ghastly Tee. The product of Benjamin Harley’s The Screen Printing Factory, it features a stylized image of the host with the words, “I Dig Graves.” I could’ve taken another twenty shirts home easily, and would have, if not for the fact that the Unimonster’s not a wealthy man.

Then of course are all the fantastic masks and props on display as part of Mask-Fest 2010. As a child, some of the first things I can remember lusting after were the masks that Captain Company offered in the back of Famous Monsters magazine. One in particular, the Mummy, was the object of as much desire as a ten-year-old Unimonster was capable of mustering. Captain Company may be long gone, but it’s legacy lives on in the person of hundreds of skilled, talented artists, men and women who like me were inspired by their childhood love of the monsters. Unlike me, however, they have the talent to create the masterpieces in latex and resin that I saw on display. Among the dozens of mask-makers assembled for the show, several stood out among their fellows.

One of the best of these was Monte Ward’s Masks and Monsters. That table featured several spectacular examples of the mask-maker’s art, and I immediately felt the rekindling of that old love of monster masks. Also notable were the works of Kreation X, Trick or Treat Studios, and Safari Anomalous. Some of these are less masks than wearable sculptures, and are truly impressive.

As the final day’s events were winding down, I was privileged to witness the highlight of the convention, a truly historic moment in horror fandom. The occasion was a memorial service for Vampira, and all the great horror-hosts who have passed on. As images of those departed hosts flashed on the screen, accompanied by a funereal dirge, a slow candlelight procession of horror-hosts made their way to the stage, extinguished their flames, then took their seats. The master of ceremonies, Dan Roebuck’s Dr. Shocker, led the assemblage in a very fitting, very well deserved tribute to Vampira, and her alter ego Malia Nurmi. At the ceremonies conclusion, the gathered hosts formed up on stage for a group photo, which captured 83 horror-hosts in one place at one time, easily setting a record for such an occurrence.

As the convention drew to a close, I said my farewells, gathered my loot, and exited the hall. The convention itself had been exhausting, that is true. But as always, such events have a regenerative effect on me.
Anything can become tiresome, even something that you love. Conventions such as HorrorHound, however, serve to remind one of just what they love about the genre, and why they love it. For me personally, it’s a reaffirmation of the purpose served by the Crypt, which is to promote and foster a love for and understanding of the Cinema Fantastica—the movies with which I’ve had a forty-year love affair.

From Edison’s FRANKENSTEIN of 1910, to 2010’s THE CRAZIES, our genre is rich with macabre beauty and morbid wonder. Occasionally, even the Unimonster needs to be reminded of that.


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Junkyardfilms.com’s Moldy Oldie Essay of the Month!: AIP Goes to the Drive-In

Title: AIP Goes to the Drive-In


It's the late 40's and, with the World War 2 behind it, the nation experienced a new-found prosperity. Returning servicemen and women wanted a new suburban home with a new car in the driveway and 2.7 kids in residence. And, as these children grew into teenagers in the 50's, a new type of entertainment was called for. They were tired of their parents movies. They wanted movies to which they could relate. Then, one day in 1954, the planets aligned and Hollywood lawyer Samuel Z. Arkoff met James H. Nicholson, sales manager of RealArt Production Company. The two joined forces and formed American Releasing Corporation (ARC), later renamed in 1956 as American International Pictures (AIP). The two men were the first to recognize the potential buying power of the teen audience and for the next thirty years, they bombarded teens with action, adventure, exploitation, sci-fi, horror and comedy films.

Teens were big business in these post-War years of prosperity. So, AIP made movies for teens. The AIP publicity department went by The Peter Pan Syndrome:
1. A younger child will watch anything an older child will watch
2. An older child will not watch anything a younger child will
3. A girl will watch anything a boy will watch
4. A boy will not watch anything a girl will.

Therefore, to catch your greatest audience you zero in on the 19-year old male.

And, what did these teenage boys want? For one, fast cars and juvenile delinquency movies and AIP readily provided them. Titles such as DADDY-O (1958), HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS (1958), REFORM SCHOOL GIRL (1957) and GIRLS IN PRISON (1956) shared double-billing with HOT ROD GANG (1958), DRAG STRIP GIRLS (1957) and THE COOL AND THE CRAZY (1958). In 1966, AIP launched the biker-craze with THE WILD ANGELS, directed by Roger Corman, who would leave AIP a year later to form his own production and distribution company, New World Pictures.
Rock 'n roll was also very popular with teens and AIP obliged them with SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROCK (1956) and ROCK ALL NIGHT (1957). Titles such as BLOOD OF DRACULA (1957), HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM (1959) and I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN (1957) guaranteed your date would cling to your arm in fright! Easily their most lucrative horror film to date was I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (1957), shot for $82,000, which grossed over $2,000,000—this in a time when the average ticket price was just 68¢.

However, if your young and adventurous audience wanted more, there were always the science-fiction movies. IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1956), TERROR FROM THE YEAR 5000 (1958), AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN (1957) and TEENAGE CAVEMAN (1958) flooded silver screens across the nation. Big bugs on small budgets made EARTH vs. THE SPIDER (1958) and ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES (1959) big business.
Roger Corman's Poe series took AIP in a very different direction. The first of these was HOUSE OF USHER (1960), staring Vincent Price in the title role of Roderick Usher. Shot for $270,000, it's lavish looks belied AIP's former black and white double-features and quickly became AIP's calling card. It was well-received and seven more movies based loosely on Poe's works were released from 1960-64. These were THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961), THE PREMATURE BURIAL (1962), TALES OF TERROR (1962), THE RAVEN (1963), THE HAUNTED PALACE (1963), THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964) and THE TOMB OF LIGEIA (1964).

Another lucrative money-maker for AIP was the Beach Party movies, starring perpetual teen heart-throbs, Frankie Avalon and post-Mickey Mouse clubster, Annette Funicello. The first, BEACH PARTY, was released in 1963. Shot on a budget of only $350,000, it grossed over $4,000,000 (to date) and six more Beach Party movies were released in the next three years, ending with FIREBALL 500 (1966), a film that featured the more grown-up and wilder side of these former beach-ballers.

James H. Nicholson died in 1971 but AIP kept going strong, providing horror movies such as THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972), THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971) and BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB (1971). Blaxploitation movies were in vogue and AIP distributed BLACK CAESAR (1973), COFFY (1973), HELL UP IN HARLEM (1973), SLAUGHTER'S BIG RIP-OFF (1973) and FOXY BROWN (1974) to name a few. Blaxploitation blended with horror to bring eager audiences BLACULA (1972) and SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM (1973). Women in prison movies were still popular so AIP obliged with PRISON GIRLS (1972), BLACK MAMA WHITE MAMA (1973), HOUSE OF WHIPCORD (1974) and SAVAGE SISTERS (1974). Also, during the late 1960's, AIP began importing foreign movies. Previously unheard of directors like Franco, Bava and Fulci flooded the American markets with foreign imports that had decidedly more lax censorship rules.

By the late 1970's AIP had greater financial freedom and began eschewing it's cheaper productions for big-budget films. THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, CHOMPS, MAD MAX and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, which personally netted the studio over $86 million dollars, all made money but over-spending spelled the end for AIP. In 1979, AIP merged with Filmways (later purchased by Orion Pictures) and Samuel Arkoff formed Arkoff International Pictures. However, the former glory days were gone and, with only a dozen more pictures under his belt, Samuel Z. Arkoff died in 2001.

Fans of AIP pictures owe a debt of gratitude to Nicholson and Arkoff for making fun genre films and their genius will be remembered whenever one of those film's air. Thanks for the good times, guys!

Bobbie




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DVD Review: EVERY OTHER DAY IS HALLOWEEN

Title: EVERY OTHER DAY IS HALLOWEEN

Year of Release—Film: 2009

Year of Release—DVD: 2010

DVD Label: Broadcast At This Time Pictures


[Ed. Note: If you happen to be a horror-host with a current program, and would like to see it reviewed here, please contact me at unimonster64@gmail.com.]

One of the few MonsterKid touchstones that I missed was the experience of having a Horror-Host of my own. While we in Jacksonville did have a “Creatures Features” type Horror movie program, it was unhosted. Though I was familiar with the concept of the “Horror Host” by the time I entered my peak MonsterKid years, I was never fortunate enough to experience the phenomena in my youth. Technology has finally come to the rescue for those of us who were so deprived some thirty or forty years ago, with the advent of home video and the internet. Now, it is possible to enjoy Hosted programs from every corner of the country, and thousands of us ‘Baby-Boomers’ are busily making up for lost time.

Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to sample many of these programs, from hosts both old and new. I’ve enjoyed Las Vegas’ Sinister Minister, Chicago’s Undead Johnny, and New England’s Penny Dreadful among many others. And along the way I’ve shared my opinions of various hosts and their programs with you the reader. One of the hosts that I’ve enjoyed immensely over the past several years is Count Gore De Vol, formerly of WDCA-20 in Washington, D.C., and now the host of Creature Features: the Weekly Web Program. Count Gore, aka Dick Dyszel, is the subject of a new documentary; EVERY OTHER DAY IS HALLOWEEN, due to be released 20 April (Ed. note: available on both Amazon.com and Count Gore’s own web-site).

EVERY OTHER DAY…, directed and produced by C. W. Prather, is a fascinating look, not just at Dyszel’s more than 35-year run as Count Gore, but at his career in local television in general, including stints as Bozo the Clown and Captain 20. It’s a fond look back at a time when there was such a thing as local TV, when stations made their own programming, much of it live. That’s a time long gone, and as with many areas of life, progress often leaves much to be desired.

We are also treated to a close look at the Count’s current home, Creature Features: the Weekly Web Program. On-line since 1998, Dyszel led the way in horror-hosting on the internet back when streaming feature length video was barely a dream. Since then, he’s become the dean of active hosts, inspiring and aiding many in their quest to take up the profession. Through participation in the Horror Host Underground, he is spreading his influence far from his northern Virginia home.

The film is well-constructed, using a good mix of vintage clips, stills, and interviews to create a thorough overview of Dyszel’s career to this point, and the future of horror-hosts in general. Many of these clips are of Dyszel’s performances as Bozo, including a great sequence where a child wins a contest they hadn’t thought anyone could win, thus had no prize to award. We also get to see Dyszel’s various guises as “Captain 20,” the host of WDCA’s afternoon children’s programming.

Part of Count Gore’s charm is the fact that he wasn’t targeted at kids, as were many of the earlier hosts. Gore was certainly loved by children during his WDCA heyday, but his humor had an edge that adults found refreshing and entertaining, and they were his true audience. With Hollywood starlets, Forry Ackerman, and the Penthouse magazine’s Pet of the Year among his frequent guests, Gore clearly knew his viewers, and how to appeal to them.

When the coffin lid closed for the final time on Dyszel’s WDCA career as Count Gore, most people would’ve been content to let sleeping vampires lie, but Dyszel had other thoughts. He began the Creature Features: the Weekly Web Program web-site in 1998, and now, instead of being content just reaching those who can get his television signal, he can reach everyone with a computer and internet access. It’s been quite a journey for Dick Dyszel, from a 19” black-and-white in Bethesda to streaming on an iPhone in Bucharest, and through this documentary, we get to follow along. And we realize by the end of the film that the best thing about that journey is that it’s not over yet.



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DVD Review: TARGETS

Title: TARGETS ~aka~ BEFORE I DIE

Year of Release—Film: 1968

Year of Release—DVD: 2003

DVD Label: Paramount



THE MOVIE

When you think of the films of Roger Corman, this probably isn’t the first one that comes to mind. In fact, most fans would be hard pressed to identify this as one of Corman’s (famous for ultra-cheap creature designs and period Poe adaptations…) titles. However, not only does it belong to him, it just might be the best movie to list “Roger Corman” anywhere in the credits. Though the film is far from the typical Corman production, how it came about is vintage Roger.

With Boris Karloff under contract for two days worth of work, Corman told Director Peter Bogdanovich that he could make whatever film he desired, as long as he: One, used up the time left on Karloff’s contract, and two, used stock footage from THE TERROR (1963) to save money. Bogdanovich came up with this, an excellent film and Karloff’s finest performance of latter portion of his career.

The plot is layered and complex, based in part on the Charles Whitman case in Texas. On August 1st, 1966, Whitman, a deranged Architectural student at the University of Texas in Austin climbed to the observation deck of the University Clock Tower with a stockpile of weapons, food, and ammunition and proceeded to kill 14 people, while wounding 30 or so. Police and armed citizens finally stormed the tower, killing Whitman. Bogdanovich skillfully weaves this plot thread with one concerning the decision by an elderly Horror star (Karloff, in a perfect performance…) to retire from public life, following one last live appearance at a southern California Drive-In. The two threads run in their paths, seemingly unconnected until brought together at the last.

This is a great movie, and it easily qualifies as Karloff’s best work since 1945’s THE BODY-SNATCHER. It should, as he was basically portraying himself. It’s difficult not to draw parallels between Karloff’s Byron Orlok, and John Wayne’s John Bernard Books in his final film, THE SHOOTIST. Both men are in the end portraying, if not themselves, then the public’s perception of who they are, or rather, were. There’s a poignancy to both performances, a sadness that transcends the events of the movies themselves. We, the viewers, know that both men, both icons, will soon be gone, and this time there will be no director yelling “Cut, print!” and setting up for the next shot.



THE DISC

The Paramount DVD is the high-quality offering you’d expect from a major distributor, and really is without flaw. The transfer is beautiful and clear, presented in anamorphic widescreen. There are even subtitles; always a factor in my enjoyment of a disc. Overall, it’s a great DVD treatment.



THE SPECIAL FEATURES

Though the list of special features is not long, what’s there is well-done and informative. There’s an introductory documentary featuring the screenwriter / director, Peter Bogdanovich, discussing the making of the film, and while there’s nothing earth-shattering in the short, it is an interesting look at one of this troubled director’s earliest works.

Likewise the commentary, also by Bogdanovich, contains little that might be revelatory. While it’s interesting enough, listening to a one-person commentary, no matter how informative, can be too much like attending a film-school lecture to be truly enjoyable.

Personally, I would have enjoyed a few deleted scenes, or maybe reminiscences from cast and crew about working with the Master himself.



IN CONCLUSION

Though this is not the usual type of film that I review, I felt it was important enough to discuss it here, especially in light of it’s historical context. Few will argue that Boris Karloff, in his prime, was the brightest star in the Horror firmament. He certainly was one of the most gifted actors to ever work in genre films, and this performance does much to confirm that opinion. With a $9.99 list price (Deep Discount DVD has it for as low as $5.99…) you can’t afford NOT to own this one.















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Horror-Host Review: Penny Dreadful's Shilling Shockers

Program: Penny Dreadful’s SHILLING SHOCKERS

Host/Co-Host(s): Penny Dreadful XIII; Garou & Manfred von Bulow

Location: New Bedford, MA

Carrier: NBTV-95 Public Access Cable


[Ed. Note: This is a favorite feature here at the Crypt, reviews of some of the Hosted Horror Film shows that are available around the country. I’ve spoken before of my love for this type of show, one of the few MonsterKid touchstones that my youth was lacking. I’m making up for it now, though, by watching as many of this type of program as I can.
If you happen to host such a program, and would like to see it reviewed here, please contact me at:
unimonster64@gmail.com.]


Nearly five years ago I reviewed this program for the Horror-Web, and as I recall, was quite impressed with it. Shilling Shockers was different, most notably in that the host was actually a hostess, Penny Dreadful XIII, a 600-year old witch; and while she wasn’t the first female horror-host, they are certainly few and far between. With her werewolf husband Garou, and a monster-hunter named Manfred von Bulow, she haunts televisions in the historic town of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

In that earlier review, I remarked upon the fact that, while the basic formula for the show is essentially the same that has existed since the Cool Ghoul himself first frightened viewers in the ‘50’s, the strengths of this show were found in where it deviated from the pack. Though some of what I enjoyed so much about those 1st Season episodes has been changed, overall the feel of the program hasn’t altered.

The three 4th Season episodes that I reviewed are Carnival of Dolts, featuring Herk Harvey’s 1962 low-budget chiller CARNIVAL OF SOULS; Dig it, Squarewolf, with the Roger Corman classic A BUCKET OF BLOOD; and Intangible Terror, with Mario Bava’s I TRE VOLTI DELLA PAURA ~aka~ BLACK SABBATH. As is the case with all such programs, the movies contained within are incidental to the interstitial segments, and are not a factor in my reviews.

One thing that stands out as having improved over time is the way the interstitial segments are more closely tailored to fit the episode’s feature. That was a weakness highlighted in the previous review, and the concept and execution of the host’s plotline is much tighter now.

Also, the style of the segments is subtly altered to work with the featured film. For the best of the three, Bava’s superb thriller BLACK SABBATH, Penny was alone in the attic, and the humor, though present, is more subdued, allowing the quality of the film to carry the episode. In contrast, for the episode featuring Corman’s A BUCKET OF BLOOD, the interstitials, featuring Penny, Garou, and series director Rebecca Pavia as a new-age Beatnik, are played much more broadly, imitating the plot of the movie. With Carnival of Dolts, we see yet another style employed, as the entire cast of regulars—Penny, Garou, and Manfred von Bulow—visit locations throughout the area, virtually and in person, as a creepy stranger stalks them silently in the background. Shot in black & white like the featured CARNIVAL OF SOULS, it captures perfectly the bleak despairing look of the film, while successfully injecting the trio’s morbid sense of humor.

The cast, led of course by Penny Dreadful, has definitely improved over time. Each seems more comfortable and assured in their roles, and the characters evince some pleasing development since the 1st Season. Garou, who had previously performed well in this difficult, non-speaking, role, has only improved in his ability to convey meaning using only grunts, growls, and howls. Dr. von Bulow, the erstwhile monster hunter of the group, was used sparingly, appearing in only one of the review episodes. Still, he too seems to have progressed somewhat as a character. And as for the leader of this motley crew… Penny is ‘Perfect’!

While Svengoolie is without a doubt my favorite Horror-Host, followed closely by Zacherley and Count Gore De Vol, I think it’s safe to say that none of them can compete with certain… attributes, which Penny Dreadful possesses. While it would be inaccurate to say that the reason I enjoy this program so much is that the host is an attractive woman, it would be untrue to say that it wasn’t a factor at all. As I said earlier, it is where this program departs from the norm that reveals it’s true strengths, and that is certainly a departure from the norm. It’s not the only reason I like this show; it is just part of the whole.

And the whole is a most entertaining program, one I can heartily recommend. The show can be seen in six states throughout New England, or you can purchase DVD’s from the show’s website at: http://www.shillingshockers.com/. Either way, if you enjoy curling up on a dreary evening with a good host and an often-bad movie, give Shilling Shockers a try. I think you’ll be glad you did.




















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Junkyardfilms.com’s Moldy Oldie Movie of the Month!: DRIVE-IN

Title: DRIVE-IN

Year of Release—Film: 1976



Orville Hennigson is a small-town Texan teen. His biggest problem is he's a virgin. This last fact fascinates his sexually curious younger brother, Little Bit, who watches Orville closely to see what he's doing wrong. Orville, however, isn't interested in one-night stands. He wants a meaningful relationship.

Glowie Hudson is a pretty small-town Texan teen girl who is far from being a virgin. She's the 'steady date' of Enoch, the head of a local gang, The Widow-Makers. However, Enoch treats Glowie as his personal property and is constantly threatening her that, should she leave him, he'd make her face look as if it had lost a fight with a chainsaw. With that threat firmly in mind, Glowie sets her sights on Orville and, while at the local skating rink, she tells Orville she'll be at the drive-in later that night...if he wants to hook up. Orville, in his first haze of puppy-love, accidentally hits and rips off Enoch's van door. Enoch's pissed!

Meanwhile, two bumbling crooks, one of them clearly an idiot, firm up their plans to rob the drive-in. While loudly arguing about this, Bill Hill approaches them to buy a hot engagement ring from them. Bill wants to ask his steady girl, Mary Louise, to marry him before he's knocks her up.
Orville, with brother in tow, goes to the drive-in. Glowie, along with two girlfriends, goes to the drive-in. The two bumbling crooks, the dumb one now armed, go to the drive-in. Enoch, finding out from Glowie's mother that Glowie is at the drive-in, rounds up his fellow Widow-Makers and they all go to the drive-in. Bill Hill and Mary Louise go to the drive-in, where Mary tried to explain to Bill why she won't marry him. She wants to go to college. Bill, who's not exactly the brightest bulb, promises her a small house with real grass...not "that Astro-turf stuff.”

Also at the drive-in are a weed-smoking local deputy and his nagging mother, a stressed-out black doctor and his wife, a gate-jumping pastor with a trunk-full of other clergy and a rival gang, the Gear-Grinders, who have a bone to pick with Enoch and his gang. The stage is set!

The Remember the Alamo drive-in is showing DISASTER '76, a rip-off of AIRPLANE before AIRPLANE was even made! DISASTER 76 pays homage to every disaster movie to date including AIRPORT, EARTHQUAKE, TOWERING INFERNO and JAWS. (I'd love to see this movie!)

As Little Bit plays on the swings and peeks into fogged-up car windows, hoping to see some action, Glowie, challenged by her girlfriends, seeks out Orville. However, despite her best efforts to seduce him, Orville remains resolute, explaining to Glowie that he'd sooner go with a girl with braces if only they could have a meaningful relationship first. Miffed at being rejected, Glowie leaves to find her girlfriends, who, because they were bored and drunk, have left to help the football team break spring training.

Little Bit finally peeks through the wrong car window and gets nabbed by the bumbling crooks who fear he's over-heard their plot to rob the drive-in. They decide to use Little Bit as a hostage should something go amiss with the robbery. Little Bit, excited by all the action, eagerly agrees to go along. The crooks don their ski-masks. The heist is on!

Meanwhile, Glowie who is wandering around still looking for her missing friends, is discovered by Enoch, who pulls her into the back of his van and demands to know who she came with and, when Glowie refuses to tell him, he slaps the snot out of her! Glowie finally tells Enoch that she's there with Orville. Enoch, still angered over his missing van door, instructs his gang to torch Orville's car. Glowie grabs Enoch's switchblade and stabs his waterbed, flooding the van and almost drowning Enoch! The other Widow-Makers try to torch Orville's car (with Orville still in it!) but are thwarted by a patrolling police car. A battered Glowie is discovered by Orville who, angered that any man would slap a defenseless girl, goes to even the score with Enoch.

The Widow-Makers, who now know of the rival gang's presence, meet the Gear-Grinders near the concession stand and prepare to do battle. However, they are frightened off by the still patrolling police car. As the movie-in-a-movie nears it's end and the manager counts up the nightly till, the bumbling crooks, with Little Bit in tow, announce that this is a stick-up! However, one of the employees recognizes stupid crook's voice and while stupid crook pauses to ponder what to do next, the lights go out and gun shots are heard. Frightened, the crooks flee, with the patrolling police car, the now totally baked deputy, and his equally stoned mother in hot pursuit. After an extremely hilarious pursuit, the crooks escape with Little Bit and the cash box. However, the experience has encouraged the crook to change their ways and go back to diesel engine school. They give Little Bit the cash drawer and leave. Little Bit reluctantly returns the cash.

Orville finds Enoch and challenges him to a fight. However, Enoch, having rescued his switchblade from the flood, pulls the weapon and Orville is grabbed by the other Widow-Makers. Orville, fueled by his anger, pulls away, beats down Enoch, takes his knife, and snaps it in half as Enoch cowers in fear. The Widow-Makers, disgusted by Enoch's cowardice, abandon him in the dust. Orville and Little Bit join up again and, as the credits roll, so do they. The end.

This is a charming look at a time long past, of the innocence of young love in a more innocent time and gang violence with no actual violence. But, more importantly, it's a very funny comedy with many snappy lines. Examples of this are when Glowie is asked if she needs a ride by an obviously interested man and she snaps back that she'd rather "have a non-specific infection," or when the smarter of the two crooks tells the dumber one "that to be a bigger idiot, you'd have to gain weight!" Much of it's humor is derived from DISASTER 76 showing on the big screen. Fans of country-western music will be pleased with it's sound track featuring Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ronny Millsap. The acting is decent and the convoluted plot isn't as confusing as this review may have made it sound.

Many of the extras used were locals, which gives this a nice homey feeling. Funded in part by the Texas Film Commission, this was a movie about a drive-in made for the drive-in crowd. This movie deserves...nay! Demands an official DVD release! It's just too bad that it can't be seen again as it was intended...at the drive-in!

MSTjunkie

Enjoy! And you will!




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