If you made it to the Riverside Drive in this weekend you were very lucky since the weekend sold out and both nights people were turned away...though Saturday night they did manage to squeeze in a couple of extra cars.
My brother Joe and I have been going for three years now and we've had a blast each time. As I've said before we'd wanted to go for the 13 previous years, but life interfered. It was only because of covid opening things up that we went and discovered what we were missing.
What I love about the weekends at the Riverside is the sense of friendship and family- with one exception, one guy this weekend who seemed high strung, you fall into conversations with people as if you've known them for years.
This year we met George who started the festival and his wife and friends. What an absolute delight he is. It's funny because my brother and I fell into a conversation about things when they said there was a problem with the t-shirts we ordered. While I knew the George was from Long Island I didn't realize so many other people were as well.
The question of how does a guy from Long Island end up running a drive-in festival outside Pittsburgh is answered by the fact that Riverside was the only drive-in between here and there willing to give the Monsteramas a shot. The reality is they are so successful that other drive-ins have tried to copy them, even the ones that told George it would never work.
They are old home week for many people since its a meeting place for like minded people they only see at events like this. Joe and I were thrilled to meet up with Mike and Jake. These are two great guys who live locally to the drive in that we happened upon on our first time at the fest. The problem for us is that every time we go we end up falling into conversations with them as we or they are on the way somewhere and the next thing you end up losing 45 minutes to an hour. Nothing wrong with it, except that some times we end up with cold food since we stopped to talk and the food gets cold as we bullshit.
This year I finally met Bill Van Ryn. Bill is the mad mind behind Dive-In Asylum fanzine (get it here). He also does a weekly double feature of drive-in fare with talks before, between and after the films. (It's on Facebook here and YouTube here). I discovered the fanzine before I realized he was a regular at the Monsterama shows. Bill is a cool guy and his fanzine and weekly chats are a blast which you need to see.
This year the festival ran a short film called WASTE MAKES WASTED. It's 3 minute NYC lensed scifi short about an alien crash landing in NYC and eating trash. It's an absolute blast. I really hope that the film gets into more festivals because it's genuinely a good time. It got an drive in ovation of cheers, car horns and flashing lights, which is not something that every film gets.
This year Joe and I only made it through the first two films each night. This is typical, but we were hoping to make it through three on Saturday night (we wanted to see DR BUTCHER) but when we timed it out we realized that if we stayed we'd end up late for the Pirates game on Sunday if we tried to actually get more than a couple hours sleep.
Friday Night we saw HALLOWEEN 2 and TERROR TRAIN.
I really hadn't seen HALLOWEEN 2 in years. Certainly this was the first time I really sat down to watch it in decades. Seeing it again I realized what a mess of a film it is. Its not the plot but the execution which results in plot holes, logic gaps and a genuine lack of scares. Its fun on a night like this but nothing I need see again.
TERROR TRAIN was better than I remember it. Its been decades since I saw it so it was nice to see it again and realize that its better than I remember. Yes, its a mess and makes no sense. However at the same time, it moves along at a good enough clip that you don't mind. It was never supposed to be high art, just entertaining and on that level it succeeds.
After that we left. Partly because we were tired, but mostly because it was damn cold. If we left the windows open we'd freeze and if they were closed the windshield fogged.
Saturday night was EVIL DEAD 2 and REANIMATOR.
Full disclosure, I loved EVIL DEAD, but EVIL DEAD 2 never worked for me. Yea I loved the increased budget, but the essential remake of the first film with more humor never worked for me. Never mind that when I first saw it, on opening night ,I thought it was going to be the straight horror film the advertising promised, I never understood the need to remake it. Yes, the pieces are brilliant but the knowing attitude and need for a laugh makes it so it never hangs together in my mind. Yes it was nice to see it big again, but I don't need to do that again.
REANIMATOR was a blast. The first time in at least a decade where it wasn't on as background. Really seeing it for the first time n a while I see how it's both very much of its time and how it's timeless. You can see how it influenced a couple of generations of filmmakers, as well as how it stands above many that came after. y one take away is my realizing how its structured and how it seems to take a while to set up before racing to the end. I like this because it allows for real character development.
And we that we headed home...or the hotel.
We are looking forward to the September shows (September 23 and 24) because it's supposed to be a Christopher Lee weekend for his centenary.
(I will have a post soon on the Living Dead Museum at the Monroeville Mall- which is small but excellent.)