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2013 RONDO AWARD
BOX MASSACRE 7
There were two firsts at this Massacre. Well, sort of. For the first time since the very first Massacre, back in 2005, we actually did not set up as a vendor this time out. There were a few reasons for this, but the main one that every year that we had been set up, there was a big part of us that really wanted to be in the theater watching these great titles on the big screen. Sure, it was always a fun time being able to talk to so many different fans that would come up to our table, but the problem with working an event like this is that you might be slammed for 5-10 minutes in between movies, and then it would be dead for the next 90 minutes while everyone is watching the movie. And this would on for whole marathon. So we decided that this year we were going to take a break from being a dealer for a bit from all these local marathons and festivals and just go and enjoy the show as a fan.
The second "first" here was my wife Dawn joining me for the grueling hours of fun. After years of hearing about the marathon from me, she decided she wanted to experience it for herself. Even a die-hard fan (or being married to one) might only be able to last so long during these kind of marathons before they start to go stir crazy. Was she ready for this seemingly never ending onslaught of cinematic horror? Let's find out! Of course, shortly after hitting the road to Chicago, I realized that I had left our camera at home. So no photos this time out, which bummed me out. Granted, I had met and got photos of the special guest H.G. Lewis plenty of times before, so it wasn't that big of a lost. But we were able to grab a couple of shots with our phone.
As usual, they had gotten one hell of a line up for this year's event. There were quite a few that I was really anxious to see on the big screen. And a few titles...not so much. But we'll get to them in a bit. First up was a German silent film called WAXWORKS and was actually an anthology film. Calling it a horror film would be a tough stretch, but it did have a few horror elements to it. While it was interesting and cool, especially with the live organ accompaniment, I'd have to say not the best film to represent the German horror film. Granted, I'm sure they have been running low on silent films after 7 years. But either way it is always cool to see something like this, with the live organ, and with a theater full of fans.
Next up was the one film that I wanted to see the most. I have seen it several times and it is one of my favorites, BURN WITCH BURN. The print had the original title of NIGHT OF THE EAGLE, but is one classic that not too many people seem to have seen before. It probably hasn't help that it has never gotten a good release on video or DVD for that matter. It is available on one of those made-to-order DVD places, but that is about as good as you'll get. So knowing that a ton of fans where going to be watching it for the first time was pretty damn cool. If you have not seen this movie, you really need to seek it out. A modern tale of witchcraft and the supernatural, with a husband getting caught up in the middle of all the superstitions with his wife that he discovers is a witch.
The next film was the only one that I hadn't seen before, HOUR OF THE WOLF, starring Max Von Sydow and directed by Ingmar Bergman. I had heard that this was a borderline horror film and may be too "artsy" for me. But none the less, I was very interested in seeing it. But sad to say, it only took a short time before I had no idea what was going on. It might have something to do with the fact that I dozed off at some point in the film, maybe after the part where I realized I had no way in hell of understanding what the hell was going on. Never to be a big fan of some of these art house films (my buddy Joe Wallace can attest to that!), it probably wasn't the perfect time and place to witness such a film. Maybe some day I'll revisit it. Maybe.
The next film was THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES. As much as I love this movie, we had just seen this film the previous month at a drive-in in Pittsburgh (see our Vacation report HERE) and we were getting hungry. So we decided to grab some food while we could. Our plan was to hit this awesome hot dog place down the street from the Music Box. While out in the lobby, praising the joy of this place, we came across our buddy Adam Rockoff, which quickly told us that place had closed down a very short time ago. So while our spirits were immediately crushed, the hunger pains were not. So, along with Joe Wallace, we strolled down to find a quick replacement, where we met up with another die-hard film fan, Gavin Schmidt and his girlfriend. The food was okay, but couldn't replace of dreams I had been having about chili dogs that didn't come to pass. But that is just me.
We stroll back to the theater in time for the start of H.G. Lewis WIZARD OF GORE. H.G. himself was there to introduce the film. While not one of my favorites of Lewis' work, but just the fact that we are able to witness Lewis' work, in all its gory glory, on the big screen with a full house, makes being a horror fan all worth while. After the film, Lewis was there for a Q&A that was pretty unique. Big Gay Horror Fan host Brian Kirst was the one running the questions and as always does a great job. As they talk about the old days of real low budget filmmaking, the subject of TWO THOUSAND MANIACS came up and how they couldn't find a singer for the theme song that Lewis had written. So he stepped in. And to make the story even better, Lewis sang the song for the audience. It was pretty damn cool, especially hearing the crowd participating on the "Yeee-Haaww" chorus. For someone at Lewis' age, to come to a theater in Chicago to see a ton of horror fans that still love his work shows just how cool this guy is. We've met him a few times and he's always such a great guy.
The next film up was Carpenter's HALLOWEEN. Now as much of a classic this film is, we decided to take a little break and go have a little drink with Mr. Rockoff, being joined by Chicago artists Putrid and Christina Casperson. I think that is the real key to these 24 hour marathons, or any kind for that matter, is taking a little break every now and then. Of course, sitting in a bar with these guys, eating some over priced and under pleasurable food, is also one of things that makes these events so memorable. Always a good time when you get a bunch of horror nerds together.
We got back to the theater for the next film, POLTERGEIST. I don't think I've ever seen this in the theater since its original release. I have always really liked this film, no matter who directed it (though we all really know who, don't we?). I think it is a great film that is funny, scary, suspenseful, with a great story and a great cast. So seeing it again on the big screen was just great. The next film was PUMPKINHEAD, which I do really like too. But because I wanted to make sure that I was awake for the next two films, I tried to take a little nap during this. But I think I only dozed off for about 20 or 30 minutes since I awake for most of the time the title monster was on screen. Another incredible creation from Stan Winston, a man this industry sadly misses. By the time this movie ended, Dawn was getting pretty tired and decided to go take a little nap in the van...."just for a bit". I've heard that many times before over the years from my son Nick when he has come with me. And I myself have done the same thing. It really means "I'm done for the night." So she went to crash and I was excited for the next two features.
The next feature was Lucio Fulci's GATES OF HELL, also know as CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD. This is another Fulci classic that I was too young to see on the big screen when they first came out. But thanks to the Music Box and Movieside, I have now been able to see this one, along with ZOMBIE and HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY the way they should be, on a theater screen with a theater full of horror fans! Great stuff. Hearing the cheers from the crowd (along with plenty of moans) when Daniela Doria starts to spit up her guts is something that just can't be described. One of those moments that all horror fans need to be able to check off their To-Do list.
The last film up that I truly wanted to see was Roy Ward Baker's VAMPIRE LOVERS, staring the incredible and immortal Ingrid Pitt. This was the Hammer film that really got me hooked on their movies as well as their stars. Seeing Ingrid Pitt on the big screen...in all her glory...Wow. For a young horror fan, its not hard to understand how this (and her) can entrance a young viewer. This was the 2nd time I've had the chance to see this on the big screen and it was incredible. Getting to see any of the classic Hammer films in the theater is something that nobody should pass up.
After the film ended, while the sun still hadn't peaked its ugly head up yet, I started to think it was time to call it a night. As much as I wanted to see CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD things on the big screen (only to see if I hated it as much as I did the first I'd seen it), I knew that I if I sat down to watch it, I would be asleep in no time. Plus, we had an hour drive home that I needed to make sure I stayed awake for. I was able to make it through the films that I really wanted to see, so I think I did pretty good. And while Dawn had been sleeping in the van for the last 3 hours, she endured a lot more than I thought she would. And she seemed to have a lot of fun in the process.
So I said our goodbyes to any of our friends that were still awake, headed to the van to wake up my wife and start the drive home. I have to say that I didn't seem to be as tired throughout the marathon as I usually am when we're set up there as a dealer. It was so cool to be able to sit and watch all of these great movies back to back to back. Sure, there were times when those chairs can become so uncomfortable, it is like battle scars that us die hard horror fans wear with pride. Thanks again for the Music Box Theatre and Movieside for making our Octobers even more special!