GRINDHOUSE! It’s not for everyone.

“Grindhouse” (noun): A cinema specializing in violent or exploitative films such as martial arts movies from Japan and Hong Kong. [definition from dictionary.com]

I like grindhouse films. That’s not to say that I literally enjoy watching some of them, but I enjoy the DIY and indie vibe to the films, the era they were made in, and the gritty rawness of most of the films.  For instance I like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, I think it’s an interesting film and I love the history behind the film.  Do I feel better after watching the movie?  Not so much; I feel like I need a shower afterwards.

And, so, on the weekend of September 30th-October 1st, I found myself in the passenger seat of my girlfriend, April’s, car heading to the Mahoning Drive-In Theater in Lehigton, PA for their Weekend of Terror lineup which featured:

Sept. 30th:

TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (aka A BAY OF BLOOD)

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE

DEATH WEEKEND

Oct. 1st:

THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE

THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE

I DISMEMBER MAMA

This was a weekend that I was really looking forward to this year. Because of a lot of personal issues going on, I hadn’t been able to attend any Mahoning events in 2016.  It was heartbreaking to miss out on Camp Blood 2.  Also, this was a big deal for April who has stated her dislike of horror movies, even though I think she’s starting to appreciate some of them, especially slasher flicks where she laughs maniacally at particularly gory dismemberment scenes.

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(does the above shot look familiar?)

I didn’t know exactly what we would be getting into this weekend. Of course I am very familiar with TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and I had seen the original I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, but it’s been many years since I had watched it.  I knew A BAY OF BLOOD is a Mario Bava movie, and I’m down for Bava flicks.  The others were films I hadn’t heard of.

First night started out well, despite a continual mist of rain coming down. April and I both liked A BAY OF BLOOD, and she particularly enjoyed a decapitation scene near the end of the movie.  Things started good.  We had corn dogs, our popcorn and drinks and getting into the vibe of the night.  The turnout was good the first night.

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Then I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE came on. I had forgotten how long the gang rape scene goes on, and on, and on, and on.  It’s an endurance to get through the entire thing.  The attack goes on for, I believe, 20-30 minutes.  For someone who has not watched these exploitation movies before, it is a chore to view and the culminating revenge scenes do not soften the blow of watching the extended rape.

April didn’t like the movie, she didn’t appreciate the graphic raping and said that it didn’t matter that they showed the revenge afterwards. April asked me to never bring her to a movie like that again, which I agreed, and then came DEATH WEEKEND.

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Shortly into DEATH WEEKEND, April turned to me and asked if this was another rape/revenge movie. I honestly didn’t know, but the story seemed to be leaning that way.  A quick look at IMDB showed that DEATH WEEKEND was indeed a rape/revenge movie.  Sighing, April asked if we could please leave, and we did.

The next day was gloomy all day but the rain held off, until we got to the drive-in of course. It started off misty during TEXAS CHAIN SAW, then became a deluge of rain near the end.  We stayed through the movie, but left right after.  Without some coverage to sit outside the car and watch the movie, it’s nearly impossible to watch from inside without running the motor for the next 4 hours.

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April liked TEXAS CHAIN SAW, and I was happy to finally see it on a large movie screen with fans all around. The second night, the drive-in was packed.  It’s something special to see a beloved film with fans of the movie and genre, it gives the night a special energy and feeling of community.  That’s why I love going to Mahoning Drive-In; they show movies I love and there’s a great community of fans who turn out to celebrate cinema.

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It’s unfortunate we couldn’t stay for the last two movies due to the weather, but it was a fun weekend and I can’t wait for the 2017 season to start at Mahoning Drive-In. I’m sure April will join me for some of the nights, but not when they are showing grindhouse classics.  If there’s a Wes Craven night, she will probably bow out if they show LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.

As we get closer to Halloween and the end of 2016, I am trying to hit up more events. I will be making my first visit to Terror Behind The Walls haunted attraction in Philadelphia, very shortly, and in November attending the New York City Horror Film Festival, now in its 14th year.  Be on the lookout for more event reports!

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The Exorcist TV show…it’s good!

exorcist-title-1200x545_cExpectation is a funny thing. When we hear a new Marvel project is coming out (movies or Netflix show), fan expectation is high.  When Stephen King announced a sequel to “The Shining” that involved psychic vampires, fan expectation was pretty low.

That expectation of the quality of a product can greatly affect how we perceive if something will be good or bad before it even hits the market, and sometimes those preconceived conceptions cloud our judgments.

Fox Network premiered their new TV show, The Exorcist, on September 25th.  Its name taken from one of the most popular and lauded horror movies of all time.  Certainly the name brings attention to the show, but also burdens it with expectations of being of a quality to honor the movie that the show is named for.  Smartly, the producers are not remaking the story of the MacNeil family and the two priests who helped them against the demon who had invaded their family.

ex-s1_103-bts-sc8_jw-0055_hires1Having watched the first three episodes, there is no one more surprised than me that The Exorcist TV show is actually quite good. My greatest worry was that the show would fall onto tired possession tropes that were highlighted in the show trailer, such as the possessed contouring her body into strange angles while running in the attic and the general look of a possessed person.  What they have done successfully, so far, is take those tropes that we are accustomed too and even expecting and turned them slightly against us.  For instance, in the premier episode, a possessed boy begins to turn his head a la Regan and the audience expects the head to turn all the way around and mock the priest.  But defying expectation, the neck snaps and kills the possessed boy.  The priest loses to the demon.

ex-s1_103-sc-9-jw_0195_hires1The Exorcist is blazing forward with excellent writing paired with an amazing cast of actors. The show is setting up a big showdown between the church, our exorcists and the demon(s).  I’m eager to see how this all plays out and what the end of the season will bring us.

I never thought I’d say this about this franchise again, but I’m looking forward to what comes next in the world of The Exorcist.

The Exorcist airs on Fox TV on Friday nights at 9 p.m.

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