Category Archives: Zombies

Drive-In Double Feature: The Fog & Sleepaway Camp!

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Jason and I have known each other since 2008. We’ve been co-workers at two different jobs, bummed around New York Comic Con one frozen weekend in February, and somehow have never so much as once shared a single common word about horror flicks between ourselves. How we avoided the topic so long, I don’t know. But when I saw him write this review of It Follows recently, I knew he’d be a perfect contributor for the Drive-In Double Feature. Without further ado… 

SPOILERS ABOUND!

The drive-in was already outdated by the time I was old enough to go to the movies without parental supervision but they came with the air of nostalgia that seems to complement each new generation as they come to age. The first thought that came to mind when I was trying to come up with a good drive-in double feature was horror movies. Horror encompassed a large part of the viewing habits in my youth and still does today.

The challenge of what to watch didn’t come as easily. After wracking my brain trying to come up with two flicks, I came up with four requirements I wanted to follow:

  1. The film wasn’t a super obvious choice.
  2. The film wasn’t ‘so bad it’s good’.
  3. The film wasn’t something I had seen multiple times in the past five years.

There isn’t anything wrong with picking any films that might fall into the above criteria, it’s just what I wanted to follow (my fourth requirement will come into play a little later).

After many moons (or maybe a few hours), I finally settled on the 1980 version of The Fog and the 1983 classic Sleepaway Camp. ‘Now, wait a minute!’ horror aficionados around the globe scream in agony. Yes, The Fog was directed by John Carpenter, one of the most famous horror directors around and Sleepaway Camp is infamous in its own right.

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The reason I picked The Fog as an opener was mainly because while the director and cast are famous in horror, not a lot of people I know have actually seen it. I thought it might ring familiar with folks who knew Carpenter and his work but never got around the watching this one. It’s not as iconic as They Live, Halloween, Escape From New York, and a bevy of others but I think it still holds up as pretty damn creepy, especially by today’s standards. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Adrienne Barbeau (along with horror favorites Tom Atkins and Janet Leigh), it sets up with the classic horror trope of a large anniversary celebration in a quaint town. The pacing, music (a classic Carpenter score intercut with the usually wonderful plot device of a radio DJ broadcasting songs), and even the ghost sailors that show up at the end effectively make this 35-year old tribute to the ungraspable horror a solid choice that everyone should see.

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For similar reasons, I thought Sleepaway Camp was pretty well-known but not many have watched it. Sleepaway Camp begins as a normal summer camp horror with kids slowly getting picked off but there are strange flashbacks and an undertone that tells you something weird is coming. It’s the best of both worlds in terms of horror movie plots. Simple, classic set-up with a ‘twist’ of an ending. I won’t spoil it here but I hesitate to call it a twist as it bears no weight on the previous actions of the film after it is revealed. Shock value was a common theme in a lot of 80’s horror and this one might be the most famous. The film also leaves you with more questions than any kind of resolution and doesn’t exactly scream for a sequel (though there are several).

I believe the masterful Carpenter execution of his lesser known work in The Fog and the ‘camp’ of the summer shocker Sleepaway Camp easily make for a fun double feature. Both films complement each other in interesting ways with lots left to talk about after viewing.

My last and fourth requirement for choosing the right double feature was that you should be able to have fun while watching it. Going to the drive-in or watching movies on a friend’s roof with a projector usually means a lot of people. People that you want to hang out with, have drinks with, and not have to worry about missing any crucial plot points. The Fog and Sleepaway Camp accomplish this by not being very complicated yet still entertaining. Drive-ins are a great place to catch a classic movie and double features make it more fun. Even if it’s mostly people getting murdered.

Jason Fabeck is a writer living in Chicago. He enjoys camping, cooking, and never putting away his laundry. He sometimes writes about movies and TV for The Addison Recorder

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Drive-In Double Feature: Scream 4 & Evil Dead (2013)!

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Anthony is a friend from Chicago whom I have had many talks about horror with; the ones that immediately come to mind seem to circle around Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects if memory serves correctly — but there’s a very good chance it doesn’t.

Now Anthony claims he had never written anything for a site before, but he did such a stellar job with this write up that I think he may have just been pulling my leg. He knocked this one out of the park! And I’m not afraid to pay him the compliment, even if he is a fan of modern horror remakes. But enough of my yammerin’: take it away, Anthony!

I have a confession to make, and it’s something which will probably take away any sort of credit I may ever hope to have as a horror fan: I absolutely love remakes of classic horror movies.  Whether it’s 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, or the modern takes on Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a remake done with input by the original creators, hoping to realize their vision more clearly after a few decades of technology improvements or if it’s a remake by an entirely new crew, attempting to put a new spin on a beloved movie.  I just really like seeing brand new takes on a movie that I already know and love, for better or for worse!

With this in mind, there’s a very specific sub-section of remakes that holds a special place in my heart, and one that I think would make a really fun focus for a drive-in double feature.  That is, of course, the remakequel.  A movie which manages to both retell key elements of the original film, but also takes place in a universe where the original story did, in fact, happen!  It’s an interesting slice of movie-making which can serve to magnify the themes of the original film, while also paying due respects by not wiping the old story out of continuity to make room for the new story.

My two favorite remakequels in recent memory are Scream 4, from 2011, and Evil Dead from 2013.  Both of these films simultaneously serve as the fourth movie in their respective series, while also acting as a remake/reboot of the original film.  It’s hard to talk about these two movies without first going a bit into the original versions!  Both of these film franchises are widely known and loved, and for similar reasons.  Throughout the ‘80s and early ‘90s, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy managed to combine over-the-top campy gore with slapstick comedy, to create a unique blend of horror and dark comedy.  This combination resonated throughout the horror film industry, and the influences can be seen in countless movies released afterwards.  Similarly, the Wes Craven created Scream films took a more light-hearted approach that managed to bring campy slasher flicks back from the dead in the mid-to- late ‘90s.  While I think many people going to see this double feature would be familiar with the original franchises, I don’t think that quite as many people went and saw the fourth movies in these series, and that is why I would love to attend a double-feature playing both films!

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The first movie played would have to be Scream 4, as that movie not only came out first, but thematically sets up the idea of a remakequel in the classic self-aware style which made the first movie so entertaining!  Taking place 15 years to the day after the original Scream film, this movie sees the town of Woodsboro dealing with what appears to be a copycat killer, mirroring the acts of the infamous Ghostface.  The two main characters that this film looks at are Neve Campbell, reprising her role as Sidney from the first three films, and newcomer Emma Roberts playing Sidney’s younger cousin, Jill.  In examining the relationship between the “final girl” from the original film, and her family member who is set up to fill that archetype in this one, Scream 4 provides a really fun and twist-filled analysis of the slasher film sub-genre, and of the craze of remaking classic horror films in general.  The movie plays with our expectations by giving the audience a mix of exactly what they expect in some instances and exactly the opposite of what they expect in others, keeping this tension high and never letting the viewer have a moment to feel comfortable!  Scream 4 serves as both a great example of a remakequel done right, and also as a fourth-wall breaking explanation of exactly what it means to have a reboot take place in the same universe as the original films.  Opening with Scream 4 will surely delight the crowd attending this double feature, and will also help set the scene for the second movie.

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Next up, we have Evil Dead!  This movie is a bit vaguer in its relationship to the original trilogy than Scream was, but if you pay attention it definitely can be viewed as “Evil Dead 4.”  I think this is awesome, because Evil Dead 2 was actually one of the earliest examples of a remakequel!  Taking place some 20 years after the original, this Evil Dead introduces us to a brand new set of 20-somethings who end up spending the week in the exact same cabin in the woods featured in the original trilogy.  Our two main characters are Jane Levy and Shiloh Fernandez as Mia and David Allen.  The brother-and-sister duo breaks the audience’s perception on how this remake is going to run, both immediately and in unexpected ways throughout the film!  At first, it appears that David might be this movie’s “Ash.”  They wear practically the same outfit, and both are accompanied by a sister, a girlfriend, and a few other friends.  But as the film goes on, we start to see elements of Ash appear in nearly every main character, but mostly Mia.  This switch-up serves to remind us that, despite the events being very similar to the first movie, this is more than just a remake.  Furthering this idea, it’s worth noting that the theme of cycles being both broken and re-entered runs throughout the entire film.  From the main purpose of the trip being Mia trying to break her drug habit, to the climactic reveal that (despite what we were shown previously in the series) the Necronomicon won’t go away just because it’s been set on fire.  This movie manages to pay homage to the best parts of the original Evil Dead trilogy, without ever feeling like a rehash!  Also, by going a bit lighter on the comedy and a bit heavier on the atmosphere, at times it manages to do something that the originals themselves never really did: scare the audience.  The use of practical effects and having a full cast of really believable actors, this film accomplishes everything that an Evil Dead movie should accomplish, and is a must-see for any fans of the series.

With that, the double feature will end, hopefully giving anyone who sat through the whole thing a lot to think about, and a couple of modern remakes that aren’t so bad after all.  Scream 4 and Evil Dead are two of my favorite modern horror films, and movies that I fear many people skipped due to the concern of them being creatively bankrupt unoriginal rehashes of old movies.  Were these two movies to ever actually get shown together, my biggest hope would be to show the world of horror fans that you can do a reboot right!  Some stories are so good that they’re worth telling again.

Anthony is void of any major forms of social media or public blogs, but any praise and/or criticisms can be left here and I’ll be glad to pass it along to him!

“Night of the Creeps” (1986) REVIEW

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Ho-lee shit this movie is great. It’s so perfect, it’s not even funny. It somehow manages to blend three styles of horror film into one. It takes the 50s B-movie genre, the zombie genre, and the space alien genre and mashes it together into this beautiful, funny, cohesive gem. This is yet another late-80s classic that is very ‘punk rock’ in its execution and isn’t afraid to be funny. That’s the main problem with horror films today — they lack humor.

As I mentioned above, this film somehow manages to bring together three of the most opposite genres perfectly. The first third of the film is in black and white. A couple sits on lovers lane. Over the radio they hear an announcement: a maniac has escaped a hospital for the criminally insane. The girl, scared, wants to go home, but the guy isn’t having it. He leaves to take a leak, and while he’s gone she ends up being slaughtered by the escaped maniac. However, the boyfriend isn’t so safe either, as he discovers a weird canister on the ground from which a leech-like alien jumps out of and into his mouth.

Years later, a young college student falls in love with a girl on campus and decides in order to win her over he must join a frat. As part of his pledge, the young guy has to steal a cadaver from the university medical center cryogenics lab. He and his buddy do so, but little do they know the body they attempt to steal is the corpse of the young man who ate the alien leech many years ago.

You can see where this is going: upon defrosting the body, the leeches reanimate and cause the body to come back to life. The leeches also multiple and spread from person to person, usually by flying from the infected’s mouth into the victim’s mouth. Hell breaks loose on campus and it’s great.

This was directed by Fred “The Monster Squad” Dekker and stars genre staple Tom Atkins. What’s not to love?

“Demons” (1985) REVIEW

dI may lose some friends over this, but I was never huge Argento fan. In fact, I think Suspiria is a tad overrated. The only movie of his that really did it for me was Tenebrae. And while, perhaps not as well-known or prolific, I much preferred stuff by his Italian peers such as Lucio Fulci, and Ruggero Deodato, and Lamberto Bava. Demons was actually written by Argento and Bava with great results. Another 80s punk rock horror film, this one combines some of my favorite things: punk rock fashion, cinema, and zombies.

A group of strangers are invited to see a mysterious movie at a theater. While the movie is playing, one of the patrons goes to the lobby and sees a mask on display — a mask that is featured in the film everyone is watching. She scratches her face on it and soon becomes a bloodthirsty demon. She attacks the filmgoers, who then turn into demons themselves one by one. All hell breaks loose — and it’s awesome.

The movie is super enjoyable, with goopy, gory effects. The soundtrack is chock full of heavy metal, and even features Billy Idol and Accept! This was followed by an equally enjoyable sequel, this one opting to go with a new wave soundtrack (rather than metal), featuring The Smiths, The Cult, Peter Murphy, and Love and Rockets. Don’t be a dummy — see these movies!