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MUSIC BOX MASSACRE IV
October 25th, 2008

As I’ve said many times before, it sickens me that the horror film never seem to get the credit that it deserves, especially when it has such a strong following of dedicated fans.  And if anyone had any doubts, then they were not at this year’s Music Box Massacre IV.  For a die-hard horror fan, I can’t tell you how cool it was to see a huge crowd of people there right at the start of the marathon, ready to sit down to some of the staples of the genre, like the silent version of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1920).  Some may think that your average horror fan is fed a steady stream of Freddy and Jason.  That could be true to a degree.  But this showed me that horror fans are more than willing to see a silent film that is almost 90 years old, as well as other great films from its history.  You usually don’t see this kind of dedication to the other types of genres.

Back in 2005, Rusty Nails created this festival for those fans.  He didn’t choose the all normal or standard titles that were popular or even mainstream horror.  He hit a variety of titles, giving some fans the chance to see films that they might not have ever had the chance to see on the big screen before.  With each lineup, he was giving fans a pseudo-horror history lesson.  And for that, I am eternally grateful, as all horror fans that attend these events should be.

Helping me out this time at the table was the next generation of Kitley's Krypt, my son Nick and nephew Eric.  They were there to watch the table so I could actually sit and enjoy the movies this time.  Of course, that didn’t work out as originally planned.  At the past Massacres, usually when it got to the early evening, say around 5pm or 6pm, the lobby was pretty much empty when the movies were playing.  At the intermissions, the crowd would shuffle out (or stagger, depending on the time) and the break would quickly run out while we were talking friends, both old and new.  But this time, the lobby kept pretty busy throughout the night, up until around 5am.  So as much as we wanted to catch all these great movies, we ended up spending more time talking shop with the hundreds of other horror fans out there.  Not a bad thing, really.

The first film that we were able to catch most of was Eyes Without A Face.  We had missed it when it played at the Music Box some time ago, so we were excited to get to see it.  What an amazing film.  And how about those gore scenes from a movie released in 1959???  Not to mention that it’s truly a classic of the genre.

May was next up on the bill.  Director Lucky McKee was scheduled to be there, but wasn’t able to make it.  That was a shame since May is a pretty powerful piece of cinema and the fans there seemed to really enjoy it.

Our plans of catching the Midnight Meat Train was delayed while we went out to get some much needed nourishment.  But we were back in time for the Q&A with Clive Barker.  What can I say about Barker?  He’s an amazing artist in all mediums that he chooses.  But for your normal genre fans, he shows us that you can make it big, but still never lose your love of the genre.  I don’t think we’ll ever hear Barker say that he’s not going to do a horror movie because he wants to make a real film that means something. Unlike other directors that got started in the genre, Barker is a true fan of the genre and passes on that love and passion to his fans, inspiring them to continue their love of it as well.  He really is one of a kind.

Also, right before Barker's Q&A, they had an auction for a sketch that Barker had done of Pinhead earlier that day.  The proceeds were going to Vital Bridges, which is a charity that helps people with AIDS.  First of all, it's always great to see fans willing to help out these charities and those people much more unfortunate than us.  This was also a one of a kind piece of art, specifically made for this event.  So when the bidding started, it didn't take long for the price to rise, which is a great thing since it's going to a worthy cause.  The final bid was for $350 (a very cheap price for this piece of art) and was made by none other than our buddy Dan Kiggins.  So major kudos to him for not only snagging one hell of an investment, but also donating that money to people who need it.

After Barker’s Q&A, which is always quite entertaining, we did make sure that we were going to catch the screening of Joseph Zito’s entry in the Jason series with Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.  It had been years since we had seen this film so we were pretty excited, especially since this one has always been one of our favorites of the series.  I must say, that sitting there is a packed theater, filled with horror fans of all ages, when the opening title sequence came on and the famous hockey mask appeared, not only did the crowd go wild, but I actually got goose bumps.  What a great movie, and what a better way to experience it again than with a full house of other horror fans.  It was a lot of fun.

The experience was even better knowing that director Zito was sitting there in the audience, hearing the reaction that his film was getting.  When the film was done, it was preceded with the Q&A with Zito, co-hosted by Adam Rockoff, author of the great book on slasher films, Going to Pieces, where Zito talked about his Friday movie, the fact that it really was suppose to be the last Friday film, working with Crispen Glover, and also his other films like The Prowler.  And of course, working with Chuck Norris.  We had several chances to talk to Zito throughout the evening, who was one of the nicest guys you could meet.  Very friendly and really seemed to enjoy talking to his fans. 

After Friday, they were screening Dead Alive.  This was the one film that my son Nick said he had to see on the big screen.  So we stayed behind our table and spent the time talking to some of the fans still wandering the lobby.

Next up was The Phantom of the Paradise, then Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath.  As much as we wanted to see the Bava flick, we figured that if we intended to stay away through the new Grindhouse Releasing print of Pieces, then we needed to get a little shut-eye before the 6am start time.  So we snuck off to our van to get a couple of hours of downtime, which seemed like I barely laid down before it was time to get back up.

By that time, the crowds in the lobby had pretty much succumbed to either sleeping in the theater, or they were just too tired to come out.  So we thought it would be a great time to pack up our table, that way we could sit and watch Pieces and not have to worry about it, since Nick decided he needed to go crash as well.

We ended up missing the first few minutes to Pieces, but that was okay.  First of all, the print looked great.  Thanks Grindhouse Releasing.  And if you’ve never seen this movie, you are really missing out on one of the best bad movies out there.  It has some crazy-funny dialog, even crazier acting, some most excellent gore sequences, and a nice who’s who cast from the early 80’s of exploitation films.  But the real highlight of the film is when Linda Day’s character screams out “Bastard” three times in a row, only to have the whole theater screaming it out as well.  It’s times like this that makes you happy to be alive and a horror fan.

We had all intention of leaving after Pieces, but found ourselves pretty much wide awake.  Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer was up next, so we figured we’d give it a chance and see if it could keep us awake and entertained.  The movie wasn’t anything new or special, but was entertaining.  The best two parts of the film were Robert Englund, who must have just been having a ball with his role; and the fact that all the monsters were done by the good old fashion rubber monster-suited way.  The monsters looked pretty cool.  Great effects, and all around a good time.  It wasn’t as funny as I had expected, but still got a chuckle out of me a few times.

The last film to be screening at the Massacre was the uber-classic The Exorcist.  Unfortunately, it was the “Where’s Waldo” print.  And by that, I mean it’s the re-issue print that has the added effects in there, with tons of different glances of the Captain Howdy face throughout the film.  So it almost becomes a game of “Where’s Waldo”, or Captain Howdy for that matter.  The producers called it the “Version You’ve Never Seen”….I call it the Version I’ll Never Watch Again.

So as we staggered out into the street, in the morning daylight, our gluttonous horror appetite well-sated over the last 24 hours, we really dreaded the drive back home.  But thinking back over the last 24 hours, it’s yet another experience that we will never forget.  Getting the opportunity to hang out with other horror friends and talk about movies, sitting and watching these movies, is just a great time.  It makes even better when all the our horror gang shows up to show their support at as well.  From Dan & Nora, Kristin, Kirsten & Coye (who were doing amazing makeup jobs for any willing participates), Joe Wallace, Brian, Dave, Walter, Ryan, Adam Rockoff, John & Drew, yet another Brian, and our favorite T-shirt vendor, Jill from Lix, what better way to spend 24 hours than with bunch of friends.

So even with this tough drive, and the rest of the day being a blur since we were in a constant state of half-awake / half asleep, when it comes right down to it, we still had a great time.  Yes, it really is an endurance test.  We even tend to regret doing it that next day.  But I do know that next year, I will be ready and willing to do it all over again.  If you were one that attended, make sure you let the Music Box Theatre know that you had a great time and thank them for holding these types of events.  We want to make sure they know that we appreciate it.  And not to mention sending a thanks to Rusty Nails for making it all happen, time and time again.

CLIVE BARKER
              

 

JOSEPH ZITO