The Tale of Two 24-Hour Horror Movie Marathons…Part 2

Massacre 2016 sign.jpgThe very following Saturday, on the 22nd of October, was when the other 24-hour marathon, called simply The Massacre, was being held at the Patio Theater. This is another old Chicago theater that is just beautiful. The lobby is just incredible, like stepping back in time. It thrills me to no end  that someone is trying to keep this place open and alive. The theater itself is just huge, with plenty of seating for all the fans coming out to enjoy these movies. In the past, there had been issues with heat, either not having any or in the summer being just way too warm. Lucky for all of us, there weren’t any of those issues now, which was a great relief. Plus, I was not working this event, but was there just to sit back and enjoy the films, which was going to be a nice change of pace after the previous week. Since this time of year tends to be pretty busy for me, it’s tough for me to actually have time to sit and watch a flick every now and then. So this was going to be a great opportunity to do just that.

I arrived around 10:45am and after finding a parking spot on the side street to avoid the Chicago’s outrageous parking fees (bonus!), I headed towards the theater. As I rounded the corner, I was shocked to see there wasn’t a line outside, as there usually is at these events. I went into the front lobby and found about a dozen people waiting in there to get their tickets. There were also a few vendors in there as well, so at least we had something to do while we waited for ticket sales to start. It was only a few more minutes before the box office opens and we were let into the main lobby. As the day went on, more and more people started to show up. I know later in the evening, the theater was pretty full, making it harder to find a good seat. But that really is a good thing, since it shows how many crazy horror fans are out there.

Before we get to the films, I need to get on my soapbox a bit. For these type of marathons or film screenings, especially when we’re talking older and classic films, some of the fans want to know what the source of the titles being screen are from. I know I do. Are they from an actual film print, such as 35mm or even 16mm, from a DVD or Blu-ray that is being projected, or is it a new film in a digital format that is projected using something like a DCP system. Now, this DCP system can also be used to project a movie from DVD or Blu-ray, but that doesn’t change what the source is. It’s still from the same disc we most likely have at home. To the people paying money to come to these events, I think in all fairness, I think it should be stated how these movies are being presented. If they are from film prints, great. If not and are from a Blu-ray, then that’s fine too, but let the people know. Some might not care, hell, probably most of them don’t care, but some might, so just be up front and state the facts. Is that too much to ask?

Last year at the other marathon, they had announced they were going to screen a film print of Argento’s Deep Red, but it was the Deep Red Hatchet Murders version, which as most die-hard fans know is severely cut. While I wondered why they were going to screen a cut version of the film, I also had to give them kudos for at least being honest and telling people which version it was. That is what I’m talking about…being up front and honest to the people that are paying money to come to your event.

For this event though, I made a post on Facebook stating that the films were probably from a DVD. I was asked by one of people running the event to edit my comment because they were not from DVD and they didn’t want me to mislead people, which I can completely understand and agree with. But when I questioned them further, to make sure I got my information correct, asking them if they were from Blu-rays, I couldn’t get a yes or no answer. I talked to the both the people that actually run the Patio as well as the promoters, in what was actually used. The theater told me I’d have to ask the promoters because they ran the whole thing. But when I asked them, I couldn’t get an answer when it came to what the source was. They talk of being afraid of misleading people, but don’t want to give out information. And honestly, for the promoters running the show supposedly not knowing what format was used at their own event, even a week after it took place, just seems a bit odd.

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So….all I know is that a DCP system was used to project the films. I have no idea what the source was, but if I had to make a guess, and this is completely my opinion, I would say most of them, if not all, were right from a Blu-ray. And the reason for that assumption, and I may be wrong, but usually newer films are the only titles that come out in a digital format, since studios are no longer making actual film prints for new releases any more. So for an older film to be made in that format, the owners of it would have to have the film digitized and created in that format. Again I could be wrong, and I know there are some older films that do get that treatment, but I highly doubt a studio would put money into making a digital print for films Silver Bullet, Black Sunday, or Friday the 13th Part 6. But what do I know. The other reason for that assumption is because when I asked the question of which films were from Blu-ray, I couldn’t get an answer. Actually….I think that did answer my question.

I did my part in questioning someone who helped run the event, even spending several days going back and forth with this person in a  thread on Facebook, trying to get the details, but never getting a direct answer to a very simple question. Even stranger when a couple of days after my last comment, that all of their replies were now deleted from the thread, almost like they didn’t want any record of what they had said. Seems a little nefarious, if you ask me. So there you have it. Take it however you want it. It’s amazing how much time and effort was wasted just trying to get a simple answer, but then never to have gotten one. I guess that really speaks more to this than if I had gotten an answer right up front.

Okay…off the soapbox.

I was chatting with some of the dealers set up there that I knew such as Chris and Lori Kuchta, Rafael Diaz, and Barry Kaufman from House of Movie Monsters (formally of just House of Monsters), so I missed the most of the silent short called Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride (1925), starring Stan Laurel. This was a comedic take-off on the Jekyll and Hyde theme that was just played for laughs. But the first feature film was one of the ones I was excited for, Universal’s 1944 monster-rama House of Frankenstein! With a cast consisting of Boris Karloff, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., George Zucco, and Lionel Atwill, how could this not be a great time? Anytime you have the chance to see one of those old Universal monster classics on the big screen, you really need to do it. So much fun. Sure, by this time out, Universal was grasping at straws for plots and stories, but they are still a great trip of nostalgia. The sequence where Dracula is racing to his coffin before the sun rises is just amazing and such a beautiful piece of cinema. So well set up and shot, that it shows that there were some talented people working on these B-pictures.

house-of-frankenstein

Next up was Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960), which I don’t believe I had seen on the big screen before either. Being a real sucker for black and white films, watching Bava’s official debut as a director, it is incredible to see how he painted the screen with light and dark. Introducing this film, as well as the first feature, was Barry Kaufman from House of Movie Monsters. I’ve known Barry for quite some time, since he’s been in the monster business for longer than I can even remember. He always has some of the best merchandise, but also at some of the best prices. When you tell him how low his prices are, he’ll just say “no, they are the right prices.” When you see Barry set up at a show, you’ll see and find stuff that you’ve probably never come across before. I’ve been collecting for a couple of decades and I still find ghoulish goodies from him that blows me away. Add to the fact that not only is Barry an extremely knowledgeable about the genre, but is also one of the nicest guys you can meet.

black-sunday

The third feature was House by the Cemetery. Even though I’d seen this a couple of months ago at the drive-in, I really enjoy this movie, even if it is just bat-shit crazy. Don’t try and understand or explain it, just enjoy the insanity! Not sure why, this version being screen had the Italian dialogue track with subtitles. Not that it was big deal and honestly, not having to hear that incredibly annoying dub job for poor little Bob really was a godsend! Maybe they did that because Giovanni Frezza, little Bob himself, was a guest at the marathon.  He came out after the film ended and gave a little Q&A with Big Gay Horror Fan’s Brian Kirst. He had some wonderful and funny stories about his little film career.

house-by-cemetery-freudenstein

I also wanted to give a shout out to Mr. Kirst. We’ve known Brian for quite a few years and is one of the staples of the Chicago horror crowd, not to mention a very knowledge fan as well as one of the nicest you could meet. Anytime I’ve seen him run one of the Q&A’s at an event like this, he does an awesome job. He’s so friendly and really seems to put the guest at ease, not to mention coming up with some great questions for them. I’ve been to more than a few Q&A sessions where the person running it either barely knows who they are interviewing or comes up with some stupid questions. So kudos once again to Mr. Kirst. Well done!

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This photo was blatantly stolen from Mr. Kirst’s Facebook page!

art-of-ruffWe took a break during the short films that came up next, hanging out in the lobby with our other friends and dealers. It was nice to see Bryan Ruff and his wife Kirsten set up at the show. Bryan has just started vending, showing off his artwork. If you like cartoonish adaptations of famous horror characters, check out his stuff on his Facebook page HERE.

The next film on the schedule was David Cronenberg’s first feature film, Shivers, also known as They Came From Within. This little tale is about a sexual disease gone crazy. There is even a sign in one of the doctor’s office that says “Sex is the invention of a clever venereal disease.” Featuring a few cult stars like Barbara Steele and Lynn Lowry, this is a story of an apartment complex on in Canada that gets taken over by a virus that puts its victims in a sexual and murderous rage. A great start for this young director, showing audiences the pleasures of body horror.

After the film was over, Kirst was back on stage with Lynn Lowry for another entertaining Q&A. Lowry has worked quite a bit in the horror genre and has always made a lasting impression with her performances. In real life, she couldn’t be sweeter, especially compared to some of her characters on screen!

Since the next film was Friday the 13th Part 6, which I have to admit is not one of my favorites, my buddy Brian Fukala and I decided to head out of the theater for a little food break. Even with director Tommy McLoughlin there, it wasn’t enough to keep from wanting to get some food into my stomach. After Friday was The Lost Boys, which as much I as I like the film, I knew it would be a perfect time for a little nap, especially after eating! My plan was to take a short nap during the rest of Friday and Lost Boys, then be up for the next three films: Evil Dead 2, Inferno, and then Jean Rollin’s Grapes of Death. Again…that was the plan, which almost worked!

homer-sleeping_opt

After we ate, we headed back to the theater, where Friday was about half over. I wandered the lobby for a bit and decided it was now or never to try and take that nap. I had brought my van, so the plan was to curl up in the back with some sleeping bags and blankets and knock off for 2 hours. One thing I forgot was to bring my contact case so I ended up having to sleep with my contacts in. If you where contacts, you know how this can sometimes be a problem when you first wake up. This is also when you realize just how old you are, when your body starts to question what the hell are you doing. Plus, I had moved my van and parked on Irving Park so it were pretty close to being right across from the theater. The problem was that there was some hair salon that had a constantly flashing sign, which could be a tad bit annoying when you’re trying to fall asleep. But I finally did. We actually woke up a little while later, even before our alarm went off.  I sat there for a few minutes trying to get my eyes to open up and adjust to being so dry. But I finally managed to stagger out of the van towards the theater.

When I walked in, Evil Dead 2 had just started. Perfect timing. I found a seat and enjoyed this wacky comedic tale of horror’s biggest buffoon. It had been a while since I’d seen this one so it was a nice re-visit, especially with a crowd like this.

evil dead 2.jpg

Speaking of the crowd, I have to say that I was pretty impressed this time out. The last time I came to the Patio for one of these marathons, I had to move several times throughout the event because of people either talking, on their phones, or just being obnoxious. But I never saw any of that the times I was in the theater. It was a pleasant change.

By the time Inferno started, I thought I would be more than awake for Argento’s tale of witches. But as the movie played on though, I was finding it harder and harder to stay awake. Even though these seats had started to become extremely uncomfortable, it wasn’t helping to keep me from wanting to pass out. I did manage to stay awake  through the film. Getting to see an Argento picture on the big screen, in all those glorious colors, truly is something that needs to be experienced. It really is incredible. No matter what the source it is coming from, seeing his work displayed on a huge screen in front of you is something that fans need to take advantage of anytime they have that chance.

inferno.jpg

Jean Rollin’s The Grapes of Death was up next and was the last film that I really wanted to see. But by that time, it was around 4am and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to stay awake for it. So folks, here is that same old debate again. Do I stay in the theater and most likely sleep through the next feature, which really defeats the purpose of staying, or do I just call it a night and make my way home while I’m still somewhat awake, at least enough to make the 45 minute drive home? As much as I wanted to see this film on the big screen, I figured I wouldn’t get to really see it anyway since I knew I would pass out. So I called it a night and left.

One of the things that I missed, that I do regret was the Monster Breakfas Cereal line that was done in the morning. This was again, brought to the fans by Barry from House of Movie Monsters. He had acquired several boxes of Frankenberry, Boo Berry, and Count Chocula, and was giving away free bowls of cereal to the fans that were still there. For free! It’s this kind of good old fashion ballyhoo, the old silly gimmicks to get kids to the theater, that is sadly missed with today’s movies. So a huge monster kudos to Mr. Kaufman for helping to keep that monster spirit alive.

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The drive home was a lot easier than I expected and before I knew it I was pulling into my driveway while it was still dark. So I knew I could pass out before the sun popped up, which tends to wake me up.

Okay…so while I only managed to watch six of the features being screened this time, I did get to see some amazing movies on the big screen, which is always a plus. Overall, it was a lot of fun hanging out with our other like minded horror friends and fiends, as well as getting to see some fun flicks. This was our last weekend of events since the beginning of September, so it was a fitting end. Until next October…when we get to do it all over again!

 

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