As strange as it sounds, there are cliques among horror (&sci-fi&exploitation&et. al.) blogs. Not in the mean-spirited high school sense of the word, but simply peers who made their entry into the blogosphere at the same time as you. People who began with zero followers and slowly built an audience while you did the same. People who you chat with and share ideas and pointers with. I spot other longer running horror cliques on Twitter and Facebook all the time. And yes, believe it or not, Camera Viscera has many contemporaries, too.
One of them is Horror and Sons. I can’t recall the exact moment we landed on each others radar, but I’ve kept them in my Rolodex ever since. (I’ll probably be adding them to my list of Emergency Contacts soon.) They submitted a great piece for my Drive-In Double Feature last summer, and I am thrilled that they decided to participate in this year’s whatever this is. Check out their piece from last year; I think you’ll notice a theme.
I love Halloween.
I know what some of you are already thinking. “Dude, this is supposed to be a piece on summer movie viewing. Why are you talking about Halloween? That’s still 3 months away.”
Bitch, it’s never too early for Halloween. Maybe if you’d shut the Hell up for 4 and a half minutes I can get to my damned point.
Now, where was I? Oh, yeah…
I love Halloween. It is the one holiday that both my wife and I anxiously await each year, even though the day itself is usually over before we’re fully prepared for it to begin. The month of October always tends to be an event for us as we not only celebrate the anniversary of our Halloween themed wedding, but also attend the same annual horror convention at which we had our honeymoon years earlier. As we tend to meet up with countless friends at this show, it makes the celebration that much more special for us.
Presumably like most of you, we mark the days leading up to Halloween with viewings of as many horror films as we can watch. However, unlike most, our Halloween viewing starts on 4th of July weekend. You may ask, “what makes this any different from any other weekend watching?” Nothing. Nothing at all. Just let me finish this attempt to whore my thoughts onto other people’s audiences.
Each year, usually sometime in late-May, we take turns picking a number of horror films that we will later watch on the upcoming weekends, gradually leading us closer to Halloween. When we first started this annual endeavor, our list would easily reach 60 movies. However, as we now have children, it gets harder to find the time needed to watch that many films as you might be dealing with homework, bedtimes, and making sure the little ones are bathed and fed and generally not attempting to accidentally kill themselves as children tend to do.
As might be expected, with younger eyes now a part of the audience, we can’t get away with watching whatever we want whenever we want, so picking and choosing the titles for our list has become more of a challenge. Then again, my 6 year old has already seen most of the Friday the 13th movies, albeit edited for TV. Hey, my questionable parenting is not the topic here.
As we usually start our viewings on 4th of July weekend, some may expect us to start with what are generally considered horror’s summertime staples. For some, these are aquatic-themed classics such as Jaws or maybe Piranha, while others include lesser-seen titles such as Blood Beach or Tentacles. For some, it’s the perfect time to break out those legendary camp slashers, usually the Friday the 13th films, but also Madman, The Burning, and the Sleepaway Camp series.
For me, the summer months usually mean one thing: The glorious days of black and white Sci-Fi!!!!
Naturally, as we progress closer to the fall months and the Halloween season, I want to watch films that help me feel in the spirit of the season. Films like Night of the Living Dead, Halloween, and The Legend of Hell House tend to get saved for the weekends closer to October and Halloween so that the viewing helps set a mood that blankets us in the “feel” of the season. The early weekends then tend to be reserved for the other films that we choose that, while enjoyable, don’t quite capture the atmosphere of Halloween as well as the films previously mentioned. In other words, nothing makes you think of jack o’lanterns, haunted houses, and other spooky delights like actually seeing them, even if it’s only on a screen in the safety of your home.
From assaults by everyday critters such as ants or Gila monsters mutated to gigantic proportion due to the effects of radiation, to deranged scientists working on transplanting their girlfriend’s severed head onto a body constructed from parts obtained from other women, to alien invaders crashing their saucers into national landmarks, the summer is usually my time to indulge in the Cold War inspired hysteria of yesteryear. Earth Vs The Spider and The Giant Gila Monster are 2 yearly staples on our list. Both of these films are exceptionally fun, and as both clock in just over an hour each, they make for a nice retro double feature that won’t take up the entire night.
As I write this, I can picture the teenagers of that era watching these films on the screens of their local drive-ins. Windows rolled down and convertible tops rolled back as a sea of stars spreads its infinite expanse above. If you read the piece that I wrote for last year’s Summer Drive-In Double Feature Series, you may remember my speaking of watching these films on a screen in my own backyard, a dreamer’s attempt to recreate his own fleeting whisper of those days long gone.
So, while you are watching Jaws munch his way through Amity or watching Jason hack his way through countless horny teenagers, consider adding some classic sci-fi to your viewing. Not only are there plenty of these entertaining gems to choose from, but it also serves as a nice refresher course (or introduction to some) on films that were made for the sole purpose of having fun. And isn’t that what the summer is for anyway?