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This was sort of a shorter Summer time version of Rusty Nailsí Music Box Massacre.  The simple fact is, that anytime youíre going to have a bunch of horror films playing together, we donít care when it is, whereís itís at, and certainly not what itís called.  We just know that we will be there, along with other like-minded horror film fans coming out to support these types of events.

This time out, the marathon was held at the historic Portage Theater.  And as much as I like the Music Box Theatre, I liked this venue better.  The lobby was larger.  The theater was larger, with much more comfortable seats.  Even had a better snack bar.  We still love the Music Box as well, and will be doing our best to support both venues; since these types of theaters are a dying breed and they need our help and support.  So anytime you can, head out to one of these theaters and help keep them afloat, and allowing them to bring us the chances to see some of these great films on the big screen.

Okay, letís get back to the fun.  Out of the great lineup they had, there was only one film that I had to see.  That was Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story.  I had seen all the other films, but not this one.  Plus, being a huge Castle fan, I was really hoping that it did the icon justice.  And it did.  It shows Castle from the very beginning to the end, with all the ups and downs along the way.  It really paints a great picture of Castle and does a great job showing just how talented of a man he really was.  Weíre not sure if itís ever going to get a release, but if you get the chance to see it, I highly recommend it.  And you donít even need to wait and see the film to start seeking out Castleís body of work.  Films like 13 GhostsThe House on Haunted Hill. Mr. Sardonicus Homicidal.  And of course, The Tingler.

The Tingler was the first feature film that they screened.  Unfortunately, we were only able to sneak away from our table for a few minute here and there, popping our head into the theater during this movie.  What a fun movie.  Hearing everyone screaming at the end of the film all the way out in the lobby almost brought a tear to my eye.  It was also great to see horror fans of today being able to enjoy one of these older classics.

Adding to the Castle feel was the little tributes to this special director.  There was a special Cowardís Corner set up for any of the people that were too scared to watch any of the movies, just like Castle did for his film Homicidal.  There was also a nurse on hand, passing out Fright Insurance to everyone attending.  What a great idea, bringing back the hoopla of yesteryear.  As you can see by these two photos, our buddy John Pata (director of Better Off Undead, and the upcoming Among the Dead), who came all the way down from Wisconsin for this event, apparently needed a little help from the nurse after meeting up with the tingler.

After the films Slumber Party Massacre and the original Hills Have Eyes, they screened another film that I would have liked to have seen on the big screen.  That was The Deadly Spawn.  But such is the life of a dealer.  But at least my son was able to experience it in the theater.  And when he came out of the theater with a big smile on his face, it was if I had just watched it myself.  How can you go wrong with a monster that is basically just a bunch of mouths filled with teeth and an insatiable hunger for food?  If you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend you getting a hold of the DVD release and checking it out.  You will not be disappointed.

The other highlight was that the director of Spawn, Doug McKeown, was there for a Q&A and was basically hanging around throughout the day.  McKeown doesnít hold the same fondness for this film as many horror fans do.  But that is because he sees the technical flaws to the film.  But we horror fans tend to look past it, and see entertainment as big as the teeth-filled mouth of the alien creature.  During his Q&A, McKeown talked about his start, and how he became involved with the movie.  They even screened a short film that he had made as a kid that featured some stop animation dinosaurs.  Very cool.  He was out in the lobby signing autographs for the many fans that were there.  Although it was a little strange to find out that heís a little jumpy when it comes to being around our rubber Spawn puppet that we had brought.  But it made great photo ops for the fans.

But hereís where the day started to dip.  The feature they played after Spawn was the incredible realistic film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.  Weíve seen this film a few times and it never ceases to have a darkening effect on me.  The director of the film, John McNaughton was going to be there for a Q&A after the film, with our buddy Dr. AC running it.  When the first thing out of McNaughtonís mouth is ďIím sick of talking about this filmĒ, that doesnít bode well for the many horror fans that just happened to really like that film.  It seems that McNaughton has moved onto real films and doesnít care to talk about it anymore.   So I was already starting to get a little irritated with this guy, who doesnít seem to realize heís at a horror movie marathon.  It also didnít help when right after the Q&A was done, McNaughton quickly left the theater, seemingly not wanting to meet his fans and sign any autographs.  Real nice.

As a die-hard horror fan, if thereís one thing that really pisses me off is when some director or actor treats a film they did like itís an embarrassment because it was a horror film.  Now I do understand how a director may get sick of talking about a certain film over and over again.  But if youíre coming to a horror movie marathon, is it going to kill you to say a few things about the movie?  If it is, then donít bother coming!  Do you think George Romero has gotten tired of talking about Night of the Living Dead?  Iím sure he has over the last 40 years.  But he still does it.

Okay, enough with the negative waves.  Putting Mr. McDick aside, we still had a lot of fun during the marathon.  We had lots of friends there to chat with throughout the day, including Chicagoís own Adam Rockoff, writer of the slasher book, Going to Pieces.  The amazing artist Putrid was on hand with his Deadly Spawn tribute prints and T-shirts.  Members of the Chicago theater company WildClaw were also in attendance, spreading the word of their upcoming shows.  Head over to their website to check out more information about them.  Even if youíre not a fan of theater, if you like horror, then you should check it out.  Not to mention all the Chicago horror regulars that were there to partake in the fun, like Kristen, Glen, Alan, Kirsten, Coye, Dan, and the rest.  It's the support of them and the other local fans that keep these kind of events going.

So even though the day seemed to just fly by, we did have a lot of fun.  As always, major kudos goes out to Rusty Nails for making this stuff happen.  And of course, letís not forget the hard work of his co-host this time out, our buddy Dr. AC himself, Aaron Christensen.  Even if he still insists on wearing that silly hatÖ.


Doug McKeown
        

 

John McNaughton