The Horror! The Horror! Our Top Eight Retro Reasons to Go to DAYS OF THE DEAD 2015

Posted on: Feb 4th, 2015 By:

pinheadWhat are we doing this weekend?! We’re heading down to the fourth annual Days of the Dead at Sheraton Hotel Atlanta, Friday-Sunday Feb. 6-8.

1) HELLRAISER REUNION! The sinister Cenobites may be masters and mistresses of inflicting a puzzling kind of pain, but we’ve met the actors who play them and can attest they are nastily nice. See Pinhead himself Doug Bradley, Valentina Vargas, Barbie Wilde, Nicholas Vince and Simon Banford together on one stage at noon on Saturday and signing all weekend.

2) ANGUS SCRIMM! Yup, it’s PHANTASM‘s one and only Tall Man. Hear him talk at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

3) RIFF RANDELL! Don’t tell Principal Togar but the one and only P.J. SOLES is back. Yeah, she’s been in HALLOWEEN, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS and other screamin’ festures, but to us she will always the rebel with a Ramones of a cause of ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (1979). Oh, wait what the hell, Togar herself is going to be at Days of the Dead, too–yes, the amazing Mary Woronov. We are not worthy! Please send us to Detention now.

Rock_'n'_Roll_High_SchoolPoster4) THE DEVIL’S REJECTS!  Sid Haig, one of those rare B-movie icons and character actors whose career spans the decades from Jack Hill’s blaxploitation films of the 1970s to the chaotic, creepy Captain Spaulding. Quite frankly you and Bill Moseley scared the sh-t out of us in Rob Zombie‘s best neo-exploitation flick THE DEVIL’s REJECTS and since we’re not easily scared, for that we salute you both! Together again with fellow REJECTS William Forsythe, Leslie Easterbrook, Ginjer Lynn, PJ Soles, Mary Woronov, Duane Whitaker, Dave Sheridan and in his first son appearance Michael Alcott all on one stage at 1 p.m. on Saturday and signing all weekend.

5) BUTCH PATRICK 50Th ANNIVERSARY APPEARANCE. Yes, it’s really been 50 years since THE MUNSTERS debuted on American TV. Little Eddy Wolfgang Munster himself is back.

6) DAVID NAUGHTON! KANE HODDER! TONY TODD! COREY FELDMAN! JAMISON NEWLANDER! JOHN DUGAN! JOHN KASSIR! MORE! The guest list just seems to go on and on with Retro-horror goodness including the original AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, our favorite Jason Voorhees, the man who mixes it with love and makes the world taste scary, the Frog Brothers that sucked it up to THE LOST BOYS, a certain “Granpa” with a Texas chainsaw, and the man whose voice creeped us out so many times hosting TV’s TALES FROM THE CRYPT, and more stars of horror now and then.

6) SPOOKTACULAR SHOPPING  Horror cons are the perfect place to stock up on both macabre movie memorabilia, cult classics on DVD and creepy clothing, costumes and accessories. Vendors include Kool Kat Kyle Yaklin, master of the Creature From the Black Lagoon mask and suit.

the_devil__s_rejects_clown_by_emomickeymouse-d33m0007) MACABRE MAKE-UP, CREEPY COSTUMES, CREEPY CARNEY ACTS AND PHANTAMAGORIC PARTIES!! Check the schedule for make-up demonstrations, VIP parties, Monsters Among You Wicked Costume Showdown Saturday night at 10 pm followed by the Monster Ball. On Friday night, learn SFX make-up and costuming from elite level costumers at the 9 p.m. Monsters Among You: Origins panel, followed by a frightening Friday Night Party featuring Circus Envy and the Deadly Sins, the sideshow antics of Captain and Maybelle, karoake with celebrity guests Felissa Rose (SLEEPAWAY CAMP) and prolific scream queen Tiffany Shepis, who also recently starred in ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER, made by Kool Kats Jayson Palmer and Chris Ethridge.

8) FRIGHTENING FILMS! Lead actor Dave Sheridan hosts an exclusive sneak preview of zombie comedy THE WALKING DECEASED with cast & director Q&A and free giveaways at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Throughout the weekend from 5 p.m. Friday through 4 p.m. Sunday, the JABB 48-hour film festival  ranges from a shorts block on Friday to 1980s Saturday morning cartoon favorites to acclaimed, hard-to-see indie horror features such as Ryan Lieske‘s ABED (Sun. 3 p.m.), awarded 2013 Best Feature at Atlanta’s Buried Alive Film Festival and based on the Elizabeth Massie zombie short story.

Days of the Dead main con hours are Fri. Feb. 7 from 5 to 11 p.m.; Sat. Feb. 8 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sun. Feb. 9 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with parties going late into the night on Friday and Saturday. For more info, visit http://www.daysofthedead.net/atlanta/.

 

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RETRO REVIEW: Splatter Cinema and the Plaza Theatre Camp It Up at SLEEPAWAY CAMP!

Posted on: Jun 9th, 2014 By:

Splatter Cinema presents SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983); Dir. Robert Hiltzik; Starring Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten; Tuesday, June 10 @ 9:30 p.m. (free photos in a recreation of a scene from the film start @ 9:00 p.m.); Plaza Atlanta; Trailer here.

By Aleck Bennett
Contributing Writer

Friday the 13th is upon us this week, and Splatter Cinema has taken the bold step of avoiding Crystal Lake altogether. Instead, they and the Plaza Theatre bring you a blood-soaked classic from another camp: Robert Hiltzik’s SLEEPAWAY CAMP!

Horror movies are disreputable. If you have any doubts about that, ask yourself how many horror films have won Oscars versus, say, movies from any other genre. Ask yourself how many times a horror movie has been handicapped right out of the gate by critics for simply being a horror film. Ask yourself how many times a great horror film has received only qualified praise (“it’s good…for a horror movie”).

So, yeah. Disreputable. Marginalized. Ostracized.

But slasher flicks? Doubly so. At least.

Sure, they’re typically formulaic. Then again, so are gangster pictures. So are westerns. So are films noir. (Nobody walks into DOUBLE INDEMNITY and thinks, “I’m sure Fred MacMurray is going to get out of this just fine.”) But limitations sometimes produce great art. John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN? Great art. Hitchcock’s PSYCHO? Great art. Tobe Hooper’s THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE? Great art.

SLEEPAWAY CAMP? Well, not even I am going to argue that this is great, much less art. But it’s fascinating. Sure, it was obviously designed to capitalize on the whole “people are getting slaughtered at a summer camp” trend that was raking in bucketloads of cash in the 1980s, and as a knockoff of an already-critically-maligned series, it’s automatically more disreputable than most.  But it’s visceral and pulpy in a way that 90% of FRIDAY THE 13TH films most definitely aren’t. It constantly teeters on the brink of ridiculousness, has a definite and palpable sense of danger, and pulls off the most insane climax of any entry in the slasher movie subgenre.

The plot is paper-thin, seeming to be merely a hook upon which to hang multiple corpses. Introverted Angela and her protective cousin Ricky are sent to Camp Arawak for the summer. There, she is bullied and attacked by a series of people, all of whom wind up dead at the hand of an unseen killer stalking the campgrounds. Superficially, this doesn’t appear that different from most entries in the FRIDAY series. But one thing that sets SLEEPAWAY CAMP apart is whom the film targets.

Typically, in FRIDAY THE 13TH movies, most of the victims are the camp’s counselors and staff, generally vulnerable women (and the occasional vulnerable guy). Their deaths are all the more likely if they have just had sex, are contemplating having sex in the near future, or have a passing interest in potentially having sex at some point in their lives. But in SLEEPAWAY CAMP, most of the people who get killed are the campers themselves. In slasher cinema, this is generally not done. It’s out of bounds. Kids are innocents, and our killers’ knives are out for those who have transgressed some kind of warped code of adult morality. But not here. At Camp Arawak, the kids and adults are jerks and bullies, and nobody is safe. This alone would make the movie one of the more morally questionable entries in the slasher field. Add in the increasingly bizarre ways in which people are slaughtered (beehive? curling iron?) and you’ve got reprehensibility writ large.

But beyond the victims being targeted and the means of their destruction, what also makes this film stand out from its competitors is its relentlessly odd tone. There are tons of slashers that attempt to inject some humor into the mix, but few do it with as straight a face as this movie. Other films, for instance, might play up the character of camp owner Mel Costic as an over-the-top bit of comic relief, as he constantly tries to spin the series of outlandish murders as simple accidents. But while he’s obviously something of a caricature, he’s no more or less overtly comic than any other adult in the picture. He’s the equivalent of Paul Bartel in Joe Dante’s PIRANHA: a comic authority figure, but not a jokey figure. He is, at least, more relatable than Angela’s aunt Martha, who seems to exist in some weird state of hyper-eccentricity that feels like it’s been borrowed from some other movie altogether. The presence of renowned character actors like Mike Kellin (as the aforementioned Mel Costic) and Robert Earl Jones (father of James) lends a level of credence and gravity to these roles that would otherwise be ham-handedly played for comedic effect. As a whole, the character work in the movie seems to work on an almost delirious TWIN PEAKS-ish level, where we’re thrown off because what we’re seeing is funny, but it’s not parodic or written as explicit comedy. And when it combines with the horror of the film’s content, it’s…off-puttingly humorous.

And that’s not even getting into the whole psychosexual aspect of the movie that just traipses giddily all over the line dividing “sympathetic” and “offensive” and builds up to a twist ending that has left jaws firmly planted on floors since 1983.

Upon release, the movie was generally ignored as just another kids-at-camp-getting-killed flick. But even then, there were rumblings of this being something bigger than that. I remember, after first seeing it as a VHS rental, talking with friends of mine about how mind-blowingly nuts the movie was. How inventive the kills were. THAT ENDING. And in the years since, a sizable cult has grown up around this movie as tales of its oddball charms have circulated among horror fans. Today, the movie holds an impressive 82% favorable rating at RottenTomatoes.com. From critics who really ought to know better.

So here we have one of the more disreputable entries in arguably the most disreputable subgenre of an already disreputable genre. And it has developed a large following and overwhelmingly favorable critical consensus. It has traveled the full circle of sleaze all the way back around to ultimate acceptance, like someone made a John Waters movie completely by accident.

So take some time out of your busy mid-week schedule to visit the kids at camp. No, not Crystal Lake. The other one.

Aleck Bennett is a writer, blogger, pug warden, pop culture enthusiast, raconteur and bon vivant from the greater Atlanta area. Visit his blog at doctorsardonicus.wordpress.com

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Walker Stalker Convention Shambles Into Atlanta To Eat Your Brains!

Posted on: Oct 30th, 2013 By:

By Anthony Taylor
Contributing Writer

Fans of AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD, rejoice; most of the show’s cast descends on Atlanta’s Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel and America’s Mart this weekend for the Walker Stalker Convention. The highly rated show based on Robert Kirkman’s award winning comic book series of the same name lenses just down the road in Senoia, Georgia.

Cast members Andrew Lincoln, who plays series hero Rick Grimes, and Norman Reedus – breakout post-apocalyptic heartthrob Daryl Dixon – will appear to meet fans, sign autographs and pose for photos (the last two for an additional fee). Also appearing are THE WALKING DEAD producer and makeup effects supervisor Greg Nicotero, and series stars Laurie Holden, Lauren Cohan, Melissa McBride, Danai Gurira, Steven Yuen, Chandler Riggs, Sonequa Martin-Green, Sarah Wayne Callies, Scott Wilson, Irone Singleton, Chad L. Coleman and Emily Kinney, who is also performing in concert Saturday night. Other cast members are also scheduled to appear, see the website for a full listing.

In addition, actors from BREAKING BAD, GREMLINS, FRIDAY THE 13TH and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, and makeup effects artists from the Syfy Channel’s FACE OFF will be on hand. The convention ALSO features a large vendor’s room as well as panels and talks given by the guests, and evening activities including a Zombie Bash Party Saturday night.

Founded by Eric Nordhoff and James Frazier of the Walker Stalker podcast, the convention began life in a Kickstarter funding campaign in June, which raised $16,782.00.  Though the podcasters are based in Nashville, Atlanta was the only city where the convention could take place; the availability of the actors to appear depended on their proximity to the venue. With almost everyone in town for production of the shows’ fourth season, Walker Stalker Convention was go. The pair has said that they expect as many as 10,000 attendees for the convention.

Cable television’s AMC network recently announced plans for a spin-off series for 2015 and renewed THE WALKING DEAD for its fifth season.

Walker Stalker Con takes place Fri-Sun, November 1-3, at Americas Mart at 240 Peachtree St NW #2200, Atlanta. Hours are 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm Friday, 10:00 am to 7:00 pm Saturday, and 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Sunday. Tickets are available online or at the door.

Anthony Taylor is a writer and an expert on retro-futurism, classic science fiction and horror films and television, and genre collectibles. He is the author of ARCTIC ADVENTURE!, an official Thunderbirds™ novel based on the iconic British television series by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. His website is http://Taylorcosm.com.

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Retro Review: It’s Simply CHILD’S PLAY: Splatter Cinema and the Plaza Theatre Throw a 25th Birthday Bash for Chucky!

Posted on: Jan 7th, 2013 By:

Splatter Cinema present CHILD’S PLAY (1987); Dir: Tom Holland; Starring: Brad Dourif, Chris Sarandon and Catherine Hicks; Tue. Jan. 8 @ 9:30 p.m. and Fri. Jan. 10 at 11:30 p.m.; Plaza Theatre; Trailer here.

By Aleck Bennett
Contributing Writer

Who could have predicted that a child’s doll would boast a career of evil spanning 25 years?

By 1988, the slasher film had seen its peak. The A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise delivered a fourth movie that fell far short of 1987’s well-received third entry. The FRIDAY THE 13TH series offered up a lackluster seventh film that attempted to pit Jason Voorhees against a distaff CARRIE knockoff. Producer Moustapha Akkad attempted to revive Michael Myers in an ineffective fourth HALLOWEEN film without the participation of John Carpenter. Meanwhile, the horror film world was looking across the pond for its new icons of terror: the Cenobites of Clive Barker’s groundbreaking HELLRAISER.

It might have seemed laughable on its face to combat this by saying, “well, what about a serial killing doll?” It’s not like the premise of a killer doll had never been done before. From the ventriloquist dummy with a mind of its own of 1948’s DEAD OF NIGHT to THE TWILIGHT ZONE’s Talky Tina, and from the possessed clown of 1982’s POLTERGEIST to the Zuni fetish doll of 1975’s TRILOGY OF TERROR, the killing machine posing as an innocuous inanimate figure was a familiar face on the horror landscape. But resting a relatively big-budgeted slasher film on the stuffed shoulders of a Good Guy doll must have seemed a risky proposition.

And in the wrong hands, it could have been. Thankfully, the screenplay was tightly executed, displaying a surprising intelligence and wit. The film finds serial killer Charles “Chucky” Lee Ray (Brad Dourif of ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, WISE BLOOD and the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy) mortally wounded and pursued by Chicago homicide detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon of FRIGHT NIGHT and THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS). On the verge of death, Chucky takes refuge in a toy store and uses a voodoo ritual to pass his soul into a handy Good Guy doll. The doll finds its way into the Barclay family home, where the now-sentient doll seeks to continue the mortal Chucky’s killing spree…and find a way to get out of his molded plastic and rubber holding cell.

The film was helmed by veteran horror writer-director Tom Holland (CLASS OF 1984, PSYCHO II, FRIGHT NIGHT) with a seriousness that served as a perfect counterweight to the cartoonish possibilities that an ersatz Cabbage Patch Kid slaughtering Chicagoans might pose. And his cast of familiar faces (and voices) helped sell that premise. In particular, the sardonic performance of Brad Dourif as Chucky walked the tightrope between threatening and humorous deftly, simultaneously communicating Chucky’s thirst for violence and his recognition that being stuck in a doll’s body is almost some kind of cosmic joke at his expense.

The novel concept, combined with the effects of the incredible Kevin Yagher and Dourif’s indelible voice work, quickly established Chucky as a most unlikely horror icon, and the film spawned several sequels in a franchise that continues to this day. Filming on the most recent installment, CURSE OF CHUCKY, was completed in Fall 2012.

Wanna play? Come out to the Plaza Theatre and celebrate Chucky’s quarter-century of slaughter with a special presentation of CHILD’S PLAY from Splatter Cinema. It’s not every day a doll turns 25.

Aleck Bennett is a writer, blogger, pug warden, pop culture enthusiast, raconteur and bon vivant from the greater Atlanta area. Visit his blog at doctorsardonicus.wordpress.com

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