God, I love the New Beverly, LA's grungiest non-porn repertory theater. This year, as last year, they showed an all-night horror movie marathon in the lead-up to Halloween and I was there, here's the quick rundown:
Dog Soldiers (2002): I had seen Neil Marshall's directorial debut before on DVD; on a second viewing it's still a pretty kickass action/horror hybrid, but at the same time some of Marshall's inexperience felt more prominent, along with the screenplay's seams. Either way, still a fun, smart little movie. 7/10
The Burning (1981): This should be the title for a horror movie about a skin disease, but it's actually a Friday the 13th clone produced by Harvey Weinstein, and like a lot of other movies from very early in the slasher era, it actually has its own identity and some strong moments. Still, not much to write home about, beyond the presence of Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, and (somewhere in there) Holly Hunter. 6/10
The House by the Cemetery (1981): This was when things really kicked in for me because of my love for the films of Lucio Fulci, the weirdest and least rational Italian horror filmmaker of the era. Like all of his movies, this one is loaded full of bizarre images only connected by fleeting dream-logic: mannequins losing their heads and bleeding, little girls appearing out of nowhere to give cryptic warnings, monsters that bleed maggots. Good stuff! The former owner of the titular house was a - get this - Dr. Freudstein. 7/10
At this point, the organizers showed three Tales from the Crypt episodes, and while they were fun, I think it would have made more sense to just show a single episode as a palate-cleanser. Three in a row was a bit much.
Superstition (1982): Probably the weakest movie of the night, and one that didn't actually involve 'superstition' per se but rather the vengeful spirit of a witch haunting a house and causing peoples' heads to wind up in microwaves and saw blades to fly across the room and kill people. I nodded off during the second half of this rather slow-moving movie and missed some of the explanatory stuff, but I don't think I missed much. 4/10
Fight For Your Life (1977): I had also seen this one before at the New Bev, basically a Last House on the Left variant with a vicious white racist (William Sanderson, in a great performance) holding an African-American family hostage and spewing the most amazingly awful torrent of hate-speech at them for an hour and a half. Of course it all ends with the family rising up and striking back at their oppressor. I wonder if, at the New Beverly, there was a single African-American person watching it last night or if it was all complacent white hipsters like myself. 7/10
Galaxy of Terror (1981): Probably not the best idea to put another very slow movie at the very end of the night, and this Alien-ripoff is pretty incomprehensible, but it still has Sid Haig chopping off one of his own arms, Grace Zabriskie captaining a spaceship and somehow ending up barbequed, and an attractive blonde actress basically getting raped and killed by a gigantic maggot. When you can't really tell if what you're watching is actually on the screen or just a product of your own movie-addled mind, you've had a good night. 6/10
Overall, a very fun night, although I wish that the programmers would range out a little further - a slew of '70s-'80s grindhouse movies is fine, but I'd love it if they could mix it up with maybe some '50s Hammer or something modern from France or Japan or maybe something more mainstream and classic in there - tossing in a John Carpenter or Wes Craven film alongside the no-name slashers. Anyway, 52 weeks to Horrorthon 2010!