4 AM to 12:30 PM
At approximately 4 AM, Mother’s Day (1980) was unleashed on the rapidly diminishing crowd. Produced at the tail-end of the slasher craze over 30 years ago, this stands as one of the most violent movies from that period. But for all of its mean-spirit, it begins as a comedy. An elderly lady is finishing her “EGO” training at a seminar obviously designed to resemble Werner Earhart’s EST training. When a young couple palms a ride back with her, you think they’re going to do her in. But two masked killers show up and wax the young couple instead. All done at the urging of their elderly mom. The action then moves to a group of women getting together for their annual weekend getaway. The trio make the mistake of heading to the woods where the murderous family lives, with predictable results. What isn’t so predictable is how the women rally together and go after their captors. Still, a viscous film.
The audience chuckled over the next selection, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2 (1987). The print was in good shape and it was a lot of fun seeing yet another slasher film from the 80’s I’d missed on the first go around. Speaking of 80’s this movie was soaked in the Valley Girl decade. Plenty of big hair, new wave fashion, and boppy dance music to go around. I kept expecting Flock of Seagulls to make an appearance, but no such luck.
Released the same year as Prom Night 2, Nightmare in Shadow Woods (AKA Blood Rage) the next film, was actually produced in 1983. I was a little surprised at seeing Mary Hartman Mary Hartman Louise Lasser in a heavy role, but, hey, we all have bills to pay. Can’t be a lot of roles out there which call for the ex-wife of Woody Allen. In any event this was another slasher movie, but centering on the residents of a condo in Florida. It featured a set of identical twins and the most memorable line was “I’m not Tod!”
Coming in to the final stretch was Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) with Captain Kirk himself. The print shown had gone pretty red, but by this time, few people were going to complain. It all begins when rancher Woody Strode and Ms. Sammy Davis Jr. discover a hill of killer tarantulas on their property. The spiders begin eating every thing in sight, these being some deadly mutant tarantulas. Before long the entire town is covered in cobwebs and Bill Shatner and crew are making a last stand in a lodge. Pretty standard fare for summer Drive-Ins in the decade which gave the world leisure suites and pet rocks.
I did hear the upper reaches of the auditorium were intolerable due to heat kicking on. Fortunately, I had a nice front row seat where it was cool.
The Horrorthon concluded with easily the best movie of the entire show: 1986’s Night of the Creeps. This was one I had managed to see when it first came out, so having the opportunity to see it on a big screen was a real treat. Alien brain worms invade a college campus and reanimate dead bodies who go on a zombie rampage. Tough copper Tom Atkins figures out the plague in the nick of time. Featuring a hilarious nerds vs jocks subplot. Best lines: “I got good news and bad news, girls. The good news is your dates are here.” “What’s the bad news?” “They’re dead.”
Right before the final film was lensed, the promoters of the Horrorthon gave out some prizes. These were based on the “guesses” from the hints given out at the beginning of the marathon. Most were videos and posters, but they surprised me by handing out a rare Concord soundtrack vinyl album. Hard to believe, but vinyl is now a very sought-after item. The winners staggered down the aisle and graciously accepted their prizes.
At the end of the Horrorthon, I staggered out of the auditorium and found my car, safe and sound, still int he same parking garage where I’d left it. The promoters had made arrangements with the garage only to charge $10.00 for the show parking, providing you could present a validated ticket. This was all good and fine until I discovered there was no attendant on duty. I had to buzz the garage office and wait for an attendant to come and take my validated ticket and fee. Thank Gawd no one else was in line.
And then, fighting sleep deprivation, I had to make the drive through the backed-up Philly traffic until I could get home. One thing you can always be assured of in Philly: the traffic will be a nightmare.
I was greatly impressed by the Horrorthon’s promoters in making the event run so smoothly. Other than one projector malfunction early in the show, there were no technical mishaps. The audience was polite and respectful. No cat calls at the screen or obnoxious behavior from anyone as far as I could see. And the trash cans were emptied as soon as they filled up.
My only suggestion would be to add a food vendor so you don’t have to leave the building to eat. I noted many of the attendees took their own coolers, but I like to travel light. It wasn’t a long walk to local convenience store, but I hate to miss anything when going to these shows. The ice cream man and bakery was a good idea. Wish the cafe had stayed open all night. A coffee urn at 4 AM is a very nice thing to have.
Sitting through 15 horror movies in one 24-hour stretch is something I’m glad to have accomplished. Eventually you become calm and relaxed, able to watch any film without moving. You become one with the screen.