It was the end of September so it was time to trek to Vandergrift Pennsylvania for the semi annual Drive-In Super Monster-rama at the Riverside Drive in. And as always we had a good time.
As always we went out on Thursday. We got their early, did some shopping, hit up Pamanti Brothers before crashing into Monster-rama maven Gene at the Living Dead Museum. He was picking up fliers for the various upcoming events. We then ran into a series of people who saw the Monster-ram t-shirts my brother was wearing and asked if we knew Gene. Apparently everyone in the Pittsburgh area knows him.
Eventually we went back to the hotel exhausted and fell into bed much too early.
We were up Friday and out the door early. We hit up the National Aviary, which is so freaking cool. While small it is filled with birds and it’s gloriously interactive so that you can get really close to them in most of the rooms.
From there we went to the Duquesne Incline for a quick trip over Pittsburgh.
A stop for lunch and then we were off to the Drive-in.
As always we had a ball. We spent time talking to Mike both nights and Jake on Saturday. Jake had to work so our time together was limited,
The one thing that is abundantly clear after the first night of the Drive-in Monster-ram is that I really don’t like Hershell Gordon Lewis’ films. Actually outside of the over done gore I don’t full understand why he is held up as one of the grand masters of horror...except his sense of humor clicks with some people. Personally his films largely bore the hell out of me.
BLOOD FEAST was his first foray into gore and it’s a 25 minute stretched to three times the length. The film concerns an Egyptian caterer who is killing women to create a blood feat in horor of the goddess Ishtar. He is hired to cater a party for a young woman where his plans will be completed… until the police arrive.
Honestly outside of the overdone, and nor screamingly funny murders, there isn’t anything here, there is simply long stretches of boring crap punctuated by action. Sure much of it is tongue ripped from cheek, but it’s still boring.
During the first intermission they ran DUCK DODGERS IN THE 24th & ½ CENTURY, and it was a joy to see it on the big screen.
The second film was TWO THOUSAND MANIACS the story of a southern American town that was wiped out during the Civil War. They come back a hundred years later to kill Yankees who were passing by.
Better than BLOOD FEAST, and 100% purely comedic, the film is amusing in it’s over the top nature. This is southern redneck humor on steroids. On its own terms it’s okay.
The trouble with the film is that watching it in 2023 the over-the-top southern attitude plays kind of scary. The portrayal of the townsfolk in the age of MAGA and Trump is frightening. This is how many people see people in the Red States now and it’s no longer funny- but scary because you get a sense the blind love of Trump would have the MAGA people gladly killing people not in the cult.
Because we were nodding off, we bailed on IMPLUSE and SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED.
Saturday we did some shopping as well as spent some time at Vallhala Axe Throwing. We planned on a quick trip of a half an hour or so but it stretched out as we talked axe throwing and music with Jay who was working there. He is an absolute delight to talk to every time we go.
After dropping our goodies home we headed back to the drive in to hang out in the rain. Since we got there early we found a lot of people were sheltering in their cars Joe and I decided to put on a film I had to review for Fantastic Fest.
The evening was programmed to be all about nature attacks.
First up was HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP. Produced by Roger Corman’s company the film is legendary for fishmen raping women. Director Barbara Peeters shot the film to be a certain way and then the producers came in and had Jimmy T. Murakami film insert sequences where the monsters ripped the shirts off big breasted women and rape them. She was not happy and frankly you can feel the producers messing up the film.
The plot has small coastal town rocked by attacks from the sea. It seems efforts to make fast growing fish resulted in humanoid mutations that are raping women and eating men.
Despite a great cast including Doug McClure, Anne Turkel, Vic Morrow and other the film fails to generate much in the way of chills. While I liked the monsters and the attack sequences, the film as it stands doesn’t make sense and you’ll be shaking your head (I mean dozens of pictures are shot by Turkel’s camera despite never releading.) As I said above the studio messed with the film for the worse. I completely understood why I never went back to the film in 43 years.
The second film was GRIZZLY, Wiliam Girdler’s balls to the wall film about a Grizzly bear on the loose at a national park. Sure it makes no sense at times, but it moves like the wind so you don’t really care. Christopher George, Andrew Prine and Richard Jaeckel make a great team. It’s a lot of fun and you understand why the film was one of the biggest films of 1976.
With my brother sound asleep I suggested we head back to the hotel. Joe agreed since while we wanted to see both PIRANHA and DAY OF THE ANIMALS we just didn’t have it in us.
As we left we were thrilled that we know that we had the dates for the April Ghouls show (April 26 and 27)
Thanks again to Gene and George and everyone at the Riverside for making it a great weekend.
(Group photos were from the Drive-in Super Monsterama Facebook Page)