I’m rather late on reporting this but this past weekend (October 15 till the 16th) was the yearly Music Box Massacre at Chicago’s own Music Box Theater. This year, unlike the past two years that I went, was different for me because I slept through half of the 24-hour marathon. I have no idea why I was suddenly tired all of a sudden but I missed out on some movies that I’ve wanted to see for a long time. Regardless, I was fortunate to experience three films on 35mm print one of which is a must for the Halloween season. So, without further ado, I’ll give you a short rundown and musings of the films I was able to catch.
The marathon started off with the silent film…
This fantasy film is considered horror but I’m not sure why. I feel it’s more action adventure than anything although I guess it’s because there are some elements of horror that must have been shocking for people back when it was first released. Personally, I felt it was a little boring but what I have to applaud was the live organ player who had to sit there the entire time.
Burn Witch Burn (1962)
After his wife confesses to being a witch, a college professor must find out whether or not she was telling the truth but time is running out because dark forces are descending upon him and the only way to stop them is by sacrifice. Also known as Night of the Eagle for some reason. This was a fun movie and a perfect candidate for MST3K or any other type of Riffing. Hammy acting, sexist dialogue and some really cheap but strangely effective special effects laden this film. I personally loved the part when you hear something howling, screaming and bellowing outside the door but never end up seeing it.
Hour of the Wolf (1968)
I slept through this movie.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
I loved this movie but calling it horror is a bit much even if the final revealing of Phibes is shocking, then again I guess it could be considered a Slasher movie. Oh whatever, either way I liked it a lot. Price plays yet another interesting, stylish and charismatic killer that sort of reminded me of Theater of Blood. This time he plays Dr. Phibes, a doctor of music, who seeks murderous revenge on all the doctors who were unable to save his wife from a tragic accident. Dark British humor and the 12 plagues of Egypt make this movie work seeing and it’s even funnier watching it with a live audience.
Wizard of Gore
With special guest Herschell Gordon Lewis
I broke away for dinner.
No party that takes place during October is complete without a 35mm screening of Carpenter’s infamous slasher movie. The print we saw was reddening, scratch and dust filled with horrendous jump cuts… everything I wanted to see to give me that authentic “grindhouse” feel. This time around, because I saw the movie so damn much, I began to notice the small things that gave away the film’s actual location of California. Not just the ridiculous foothills but also the palm trees in the background and the cactus looking plants in some people’s yard. If only Illinois had palm trees.
Upon watching this for the first time in years, I was suddenly reminded just how much I love this film. It’s such a touching and sad story of how the parents of a little girl are willing to travel to another plane of existence to save their daughter. Unfortunately, in reality, Heather O’Rourke died young and went towards the bright light anyway. The subtle humor, the nods to childhood fears and the chilling yet uplifting score by the famous Jerry Goldsmith gave me this warm feeling as I sat in those uncomfortable chairs.
After releasing an ancient demon to seek revenge on the youths that accidentally killed his little boy, a farmer must stop what he unleashed before it ends up killing him as well. I saw this movie only once before and I hated it. Upon watching it again, I enjoyed it and I loved the special effects (of course I would because it was directed by Stan Winston) but I feel that it was a little unjustified to release such a horrid monster after the teens apologized for the fatal accident. The climax is anticlimactic but then again we are talking about the 80’s.
Gates of Hell
I broke away to grab a quick snack.
The Vampire Lovers
I fell asleep to.
Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things
I drifted in and out of sleep to. I was awoken by the excruciatingly loud ending.
The Sentinel (1977)
“What do you do for a living?” “We fondle each other.” Indeed, The Sentinel is one of those 70’s movies too fucked up to describe but very simple when you get right down to it. Basically it’s about a haunted apartment complex that’s being investigated by one of the new tenants who claims to have been invited to an birthday party by the tenants. However, there are no tenants in the apartment except for a reclusive priest. Now the young woman must find out why the apartment is being haunted, why is she being plagued with unsettling visions and what is the priest guarding on the third floor. Naked fat women eating people’s brains, a cat in a hat, loud noises, non sequitur scenes and an ending that’s reminiscent of Browning’s Freaks makes this film a worthwhile acid trip.
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
What a perfect movie to end a noon-to-noon, 24-hour horror marathon. I’ve always loved this movie and it’s a roller-coaster ride to see it with sleep deprived horror fanatics. Whoever thought that vampires would evolve from charismatic, caped villains (Lugosi) to ancient Mexican strippers (Hayek)?
The Massacre survivors (12:00pm)
Try and spot me in this picture. Here’s a clue: I’m the one who is holding the brown pillow. Also, I was smart to bring a pillow and blanket to this.
Thus concludes yet another Music Box Massacre and although I didn’t meet anybody there like I would have, probably because this year seemed more packed then usual, I had a blast with all the films. I will close out this piece with one of my favorite quotes of the night (aside from Sentinel).
“Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them! I don’t give a fuck how crazy they are!”