Well, this past Saturday concluded what was a great edition to the Sci-Fi Spectacular event that’s held at the Music Box. Though I ran into a few buddies, I sort of did a ‘lone wolf’ thing this year… I’m not sure why but I guess it’s partly due to the fact that I had had a severe headache that morning. I almost didn’t make it but luckily I came in just as they were showing the first movie. I had to attend for two reasons, director Mick Garris was suppose to be there… the man who brought me the emotionally charged adaptation of The Stand. The other person who was going to be there was Chuck Russell who single-handedly gave me insomnia for a good 5 years of my life. I couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to meet both of them.
Day the World Ended (1955)
This was incorrectly titled It Conquered the World on the roster. I fell asleep halfway into the film because of a bad headache but I saw a majority of the film and I enjoyed it. It’s really cheesy and the audience knew it; the dialogue, the effects and the plot were all just really bad but what do you expect from Corman? I think that this movie could fare well as a remake because it could give the film a chance to really show the characters and how they cope with the end of the world. It could take the film somewhere where the 50s version couldn’t have gone.
Ah yes, for years this movie avoided me and now that I finally saw it on the big screen I can honestly say that it was okay. It’s very cheesy and the dialogue and performances are ridiculously tacky. However, despite all this… what made me enjoy it were the practical effects and set design. It’s a movie that really puts the whole idea of physical special effects being better than CGI. There were two kids (to my surprise) that sat behind me almost the entire time and apparently they think that Krull is one of the best movies of all time. I guess it’s the action that won them over but for me it was the special effects. Look for Liam Neeson in this because it might be one of his first movies.
Critters 2 (1988)
I forgot how much I love the Critters franchise and I had only seen Critters 2 about twice, ironically enough, up until recently. Our library has it but it’s so badly damaged that it’s virtually unplayable so it was a treat for me to watch a movie I use to rent out on VHS. What sold me was the Crite ball and how absurdly funny it was. Though, as I watched it I couldn’t help but notice the similarities the Crites had with the Gremlins and I think it would be really fun to explore that eventually. However, you know what made this experience even better? Mick Garris was there in person to answer a few Q&A’s about the film and his career.
He mainly elaborated on how it was like to shoot on one of the coldest days in California and how the girl, who played the model, had to walk around half-naked in icy temperatures. He told us how he had a truck pull the Critter ball down the road and how you could see, for a split second, the legs of the effects people rolling the Critter ball down the street. It was really fun to listen to him talk about Stephen King and his relationship with him and he discussed how he created Masters of Horror and how he opted for total directorial control over the series.
I obviously couldn’t pass up an opportunity for him to sign my copy of The Stand, which is still one of my all-time favorite King adaptations. Like a total nerd, I had him sign it by saying, “M-O-O-N, that spells Mick Garris.” He had a good laugh.
Side note: Is it just me or does Garris sort of have that younger James Cameron face? I think it might be the hair that makes me think this.
Naked Lunch (1991)
After the Mick Garris encounter I had a late lunch while the rest of the patrons watched Naked Lunch. I heard about it but never really saw it so you can understand how surprising it was to walk into the theater, while it was almost over, and see somebody sucking on the head-tentacles of some type of alien. Now, I must do whatever it takes to hunt this movie down because I can’t believe I had never seen it… especially since it was David Cronenberg.
This was the Midwest theatrical premiere of the (probably) soon to-be cult classic about a car tire that goes around exploding people’s heads by means of telepathy. Yeah, and if that’s not strange and random enough… there are a group of spectators watching the whole thing night and day as though they were a live audience. It was so random that the comedy was hit or miss. I initially didn’t like it because I didn’t understand it, but as it progressed I realized that it was meant to be random and stupid and I slowly warmed up to it. Viewers beware, leave your brain at the door wit this one and if you don’t like randomness, don’t see it. I fear that many people would not like it and I’m surprise that I didn’t.
There was also this nice little interview with the star of the movie… the tire. Which is black, and my not have a specific brand. I wasn’t really paying attention to it that much because my camera cramped up on me after I took the picture.
The Blob (1988)
This is what it all boiled down to. For those of you who don’t know me, this version of The Blob is a childhood favorite because when I was 7 I saw this for the first time and it gave me nightmares subsequently for 5 years. (I thought I was macho enough to get through it but I turned the video off when the Blob began eating Paul in the office). So you can see why it was one of the best experiences I had watching it on the big screen on an actual film print. It had the grain, the scratches and the occasional audio blip that made this a very nostalgia moment for me. I still can’t believe how good the effects are and how the CGI today can’t even compare to the gritty realism that Russell and his effects team brought to the movie. But you want to know the real treat for me was? This…
Good ‘ol Chuck Russell was there answering a few Q&A’s. He was a really nice but overly excited guy. I don’t blame him, really. He elaborated on how much of a pain it was to make sure all the special effects worked and how nail biting it was since they initially thought it wouldn’t be so difficult. He talked about his relationship with Darabont and how Kevin Dillon’s performance in Platoon influenced Russell’s decision to cast him as Flagg. He talked about how he was very interested in see what Zombie would have done if they did the remake of The Blob and how he was sort of sad at the similarities between Inception and Dreamscape.
I had to have him sign it by saying one of the creepiest quotes in a horror film, “Remember Rick, the Lord will give us a sign. – Chuck Russell.” He was a good sport about it. If you want, you could read my interview I had with one of the special effects guys for the movie, right here.
Event Horizon (1997)
This was another one that always seemed to have eluded me mainly because at first I thought it looked dumb but as I begin to hear more and more about it, my interested began raising. I really enjoyed it and this was a movie that came from Paul W.S. Anderson too. I really enjoyed the set design and the idea of a haunted house in space. It was really unique in that regard because it seems like space-horror always needs an alien but this movie says, “hey, we can make a horror movie in space and have something more complex” and it succeeded.
Overall, I thought it was a great night. I saw my second favorite horror movie of all time on the big screen, I saw my Chicago horror buddies and I met two kids who have an appreciation for classic horror. I can’t wait to see what they have lined up for next time. I can cross my fingers in hopes that it would be The Thing.