Tuesday, May 3, 2016

April Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge 2016 - Final Days and Wrap Up

I last talked to you about the challenge on day 27 so this final post with the challenge could be a bit long so I apologize. I'll try to fill it with some interesting stuff for sticking with me.

I didn't watch anything on day 28. I was preparing for a weekend trip where I knew sleep was going to be at a minimum so instead of trying to squeeze in a random movie that night I went to bed a couple hours early. It was worth it for the weekend.

Days 29 and 30 took me to an area I had never been to - Vandergrift, Pennsylvania. This town was familiar to me in a way at least that a decade earlier I was a big fan of a metalcore band called From A Second Story Window and they were partially from that town. That random fact out of the way it was interesting to see this town all these years later. There's really nothing in Vandergrift - it's an old mountain river town about 30 miles north east of Pittsburgh that seems to have had it's better days decades ago. While there I noticed a couple of bars and beer stores but no liquor stores, a single Salvation Army thrift store and a dollar store. There was the small grocery store that kept batteries on a hidden ramp back by the bathrooms. Thankfully the lady graciously explained to me where this ramp was when I obviously had no fucking clue what the hell she meant by "batteries are on the ramp". Thank you Mrs. Ramp Lady, I'll never forget your kindness and next time I'll know exactly where they are and shoot you a wink.

At this point you're probably wondering why the hell I'm giving you this history lesson on Vandergrift - a town you really don't give a shit about. Well my friends, there's one thing in Vandergrift that you should give many shits about - The Riverside Drive-In.

The Riverside Drive-In was opened in 2005 - I'm assuming resurrecting the bones of an older drive-in theater but I'm not totally sure. Normally they're like any other drive-in theater in the country - They play first run films in double and triple features each week, they sell their concessions and give patrons a window into a bygone era all while defying the odds by surviving another season. Two weekends a year, once in April and once in September the Riverside separates itself from all the others by hosting their Drive-In Monster-Rama event. This event features 4 horror films each night plus all sorts of other vintage programming like cartoon shorts, trailers and intermission breaks.

Yeah yeah, a drive-in hosting a vintage horror revival, not that crazy, right? Well, it's only $10. The concession stand food is absolutely delicious and incredibly fresh including homemade soups, chili, tacos, burgers and more. And the kicker is that the prices are reasonable.

So what? Cheap food and cheap movies? Well, for an additional $10 you can camp overnight at the drive-in! Yes, set up your tents, your shanty town of tarps, sleep in your car, whatever you want - camping at the Riverside is an option and it really doesn't get more fun. They even set up a hillbilly shower in the bathroom and cook your breakfast in the morning for free. I'm talking eggs, pancake, sausage and bacon piled high along with free juice and coffee. Yeah, that's all included for the $10 camping ticket. And then you can hang out relaxing at the beautiful and scenic drive-in until the next night's films or head into town for whatever you may find. Hanging out at the theater is a great way to meet some new friends who also camped especially now that camping is becoming more popular among event attendees.

This was the most fun I've had in a long time dear readers. And if you're ever able to make it to one of the events I highly suggest you make the trip.

Now onto the films themselves which were all presented in 35mm...

The first night started with Tom Savini's remake of the timeless NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. What can I say that I haven't said about this one already? This movie is a big reason I love horror. I rented it over and over as a child and I've never grown tired of it in over 20 years of loving it. It was a great way to start the night after getting our tents and shanty town set up.

That was followed up by NIGHT OF THE CREEPS which was probably the hit of the night for our group. The folks that hadn't seen it loved how ridiculously cheesy Tom Atkins was and how self aware and fun the rest of the movie is. We laughed and had a blast through this one.

1984's NIGHT OF THE COMET was up 3rd and this one had more mixed reactions from our group but I love this one as well, but probably a bit less than CREEPS and definitely below NOTLD. It's still a fun one and I highly enjoyed seeing it on the big screen. I started to doze off a bit during this one from a long day of driving through the mountains and then drinking beers so it made an easy decision even easier and I skipped the final feature which was Bill Hinzman's FLESH EATER. That movie is a piece of shit.

The next morning after waking up and getting my delicious free breakfast and coffee and beginning to feel like a human again we killed some time by going to town for an hour or so and then back to the theater to relax and get ready for the night's features.... what a night it was.

Let's say that as soon as the opening previews for the features hit so did the booze. I was wasting no time and halfway through THE MONSTER SQUAD I already was feeling it. This was easily our group's favorite movie of the weekend. Fellow Celluloid Terror contributor Shawn Wolfe and I were the most familiar with it and were loving every second of it. (Creature stole my Twinkie!) The rest of the group who had varying levels of familiarity with it all loved it.

THE LOST BOYS was next and this one was also a blast to watch with the group and with an ever growing buzz. The great thing about watching movies you've seen a hundred times at an event like this is the ability to go a bit harder on the party aspect if you want. I sure did.

By the time FRIGHT NIGHT started I was hammered, coherent but I knew I'd be feeling it in the morning. And the sky had opened up with a heavy rain. Seeing this classic while the rain pounded down on our tents and tarps gave it a very cool atmosphere even if it meant that the temperature had dropped a bit and it was getting colder.

Word on the street is that I was awake during the final feature film NEAR DARK but you can't prove that by me. I had no recollection of that movie at all and I woke up without a hangover so the party was an absolute success and the movies were a fucking blast. Get another free breakfast, pack up the gear and we're on our way home until September. This was my first experience at the Riverside Drive-In but as long as they keep doing the Drive-In Monster-Rama it certainly won't be my last.

Now for a few fun stats about this month's challenge

Films Watched - 55 (Didn't count Flesh Eater or Near Dark from the drive-in)
First Time Viewings - 45
Blu-ray - 21
DVD - 25
Stream - 1
Theater - 6
VHS - 2
Average Score - 6.65/10
Best New Films - Wild Beasts, Over The Edge, Pigs, Wheels Of Fire, Blue Ice
Worst New Films - The Legend Of Bigfoot, A Knife For The Ladies, Nukie

No comments: