Ginger Nuts of Horror
Cameo Cinema Edinburgh March 21st 2015
So, what on earth is this you might ask? Let me tell you...
All Night Horror Madness is an event that takes place in both Edinburgh and Glasgow (I attended the Edinburgh night, at the Cameo Cinema, which precedes the Glasgow event), where five 'classic' horror films are shown from roughly eleven pm until the next morning. In between the films (many of which are original 35mm prints) are 'lost' trailers and a raffle with some very sweet prizes. It is the brainchild of Matthew Palmer and he compères the early half of the event with the ever entertaining Ian Hoey. This was only my second time attending one of these events, but it won't be my last. But, without further ado, on to the films...
Oh, I also need to mention that three of these films were chosen after the last event by audience vote. The Thing was top by a long way, then Slugs and Halloween III (if I remember correctly); so blame those that voted :-P
JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING
John Carpenter's bleak remake, which far surpasses the original black and white film, is up first, and was also the first 35mm print shown. The film is one of my all-time favourites and I was greatly anticipating seeing it on the big screen (in fact, it was the one I was there for). Well, I was not disappointed. What fantastic experience. Despite the expected 'cigarette burns' (little in-joke for those fans of Carpenter), scratching and occasional brief jump in sound/edit (a couple of seconds here and there), this was a wonderful thing (haha) to see on the big screen. All the excitement is there, but although I know every twist and turn of this film, the blaring audio ensured I still jumped at the appropriate parts (and that score - awesome). It was also fun to witness a few people in the audience gasping, screaming and looking a bit queasy at certain scenes. A great start to the event.
SLUGS :THE MOVIE
Based on the Shaun Hutson book of the same name (which I've read and liked), we have the movie version which transposes the action to America and was the only non-35mm print here. I had not seen this film before, so I wasn't sure what to expect (although I was prepared for something pretty bad). What I didn't expect was how bloody funny this flick is, although whether that is intentional or not on the maker's part remains a mystery. From the bad acting, the highly inappropriate music (often, it felt like the 'score' for some daytime soap), the ludicrous set pieces and the terrible effects (witness a slug open its mouth and bite someone - yes, I know...), to the absolutely terrible, yet immensely quotable dialogue ("You don't have the authority to declare Happy Birthday!", "After I've dealt with these slugs, what do you say to we get naked and crazy?" and "Now maybe, just maybe, we're dealing with a mutant form of slug here, a kind that eats meat!"), this film skates right up to the border where the likes of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace exists. The scientist guy looks like Lloyd Grossman and sounds like Austin Powers, there's an utterly random and late minute stalker/assault scene and the tone changes inexplicably (one scene has two characters distraught over the death of some friendly neighbours, then the next second he's asking in a jolly way about her gardening). It's one of those rare films that actually deserves the overused moniker 'so bad it's good'. Definitely one to watch in a group, especially if the alcohol is flowing.
SUPER SECRET FILM
Okay, because the Glasgow lot haven't had their event yet, I can't mention this flick, but suffice it to say it's a great movie and one I've wanted to see for a while (I actually own the Blu-Ray but haven't managed to find the right time to watch). Stylish, suspenseful and brutal, any discerning horror fan will know of it and it should provide entertainment for most. Another great 35mm print.
Now to the original Chucky film. I hadn't seen this one in a while, though I thought I was pretty familiar with it not to worry about dozing off (it was getting into the early hours of the morning and I dropped off for about 30 mins). Yet, it was clear I didn't remember it all that well. For a start, it's surprising how fast paced it is. I recall a film that spent a large part of the first half building up the tension by not showing you the Chucky doll clearly as he makes his murderous way about. Yet before long, we have the first kill by dummy and soon, everyone is cottoning on to the fact that something is really, really wrong with Andy's new toy. It's also funnier than I remember and owes as much to action and crime films as it does to horror (with even a couple of nods to The Terminator). It was a great experience to see it on the big screen (as much as I did see anyway) and another sound choice.
Now here's an interesting one. Much maligned for years by a hell of a lot of people, this was another film I'd not seen before, though I had seen a number of clips down through the years. I'm also a huge fan of the soundtrack, written by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth. I knew it wasn't part of the Michael Myers story (indeed, clips of the first Halloween film are shown throughout on TV) and had something to do with masks and a Halloween plot. What I found was a weird little film that mixes robotics, Hollywood ideas of Celtic and pagan mythologies and an attempt at some sort of cultural philosophy involving sacrifice and the like. It's not a terrible film, but it does suffer from a weak story that seems to change its mind as it goes. There are a couple of effective shocks and a nice Carpenter-esque vibe (he didn't write or direct), but ultimately it lacks something (or a lot). It does have a nice bleak ending that's reminiscent of old Twilight Zone episodes but I doubt I'd watch this again (in fact, it would have worked much better as a TV episode). I was also a bit disappointed in the obligatory yet shoehorned in brief soft (the softest) core sex scene - kind of pointless and a little incongruous. Never mind, it was still an interesting watch.
In between were trailers for obscure horror (and other films) including Bugs! (fire creating cockroaches, and I'm sure I've seen this one), Curtains (yes, a horror film involving curtains...) and my personal favourite, Inframan, a Chinese flick with a guy that looks like a power ranger and has 'Thunderbolt Fists!' (yes, you read that right...) and is 'six million light-years beyond believability'...you know what, don't listen to me, here's the trailer we watched:
There were also a lot of great prizes won by some lucky, lucky people and the hosts were entertaining, informative and very enthusiastic.
All in all, another great night and I'm definitely going to the next one. I had a chance to chat briefly to Matt outside at the smoking area and he promises number 10 will be something special. I already have a little insight into some of the plans, but I'm keeping quiet - you'll just have to go. Believe me, you won't regret it...you won't believe your eyes - you won't believe your ears - you won't believe your brain! Its six million light-years beyond believability!