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Drive-In Double Feature: PRACTICAL MAGIC & SUSPIRIA

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Alexa is a funny gal living in Los Angeles, doing comedy most nights and acting (“acting”) like a witch every so often on her podcast Witch Show, so it makes total sense that she would choose a couple fun, witchy flicks for her Drive-In Double Feature! Her reviews are succinct and to the point, but are still surprisingly spoiler-heavy so YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. Take it away, Alexa!
 
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I seriously haven’t seen Practical Magic since ’98 and maybe it’s better that way. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are WITCH SISTERS who MURDER Nicole Kidman’s boyfriend and then BRING HIM BACK TO FUCKING LIFE, but of course he comes back as a DEMON ZOMBIE MAN because they clearly never watched PET SEMATARY and then Sandra Bullock falls in love with the POLICEMAN who is investigating their case! THIS IS LABELED AS A ROMANTIC COMEDY! THIS SHIT IS BONKERS!

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Suspiria; ’nuff said. Take the feel good vibes you picked up from the first film and THROW THEM OUT THE FUCKING WINDOW CAUSE THESE BITCHES CRAY. This film has everything: Ominous arrivals! Questionable intentions! An epic soundtrack! Color! Fashion! Blood!
 
Classic Italian horror, Classic Sandy B. Witches being witches.
Alexa can currently be seen performing in several different shows on various comedy stages around L.A. She is also co-host of the podcast, Witch Show, which (witch?) can be found here on iTunes.

Drive-In Double Feature: THE LAST SLUMBER PARTY & OFFERINGS

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I met Barry when I was in high school. He lived in a town about 45 minutes away from mine. Though we weren’t close, we did share a group of friends so we would occasionally hang out together in a group setting, and sometimes we’d bump into each other at the mall. Eventually, we fell out of touch. Hell, everyone fell out of touch. Flash forward a decade, and somehow through the magic of the Internet we found each other on Facebook and started talking again. I discovered he was a huge gorehound, and his knowledge of the esoteric horrorstuffs put mine to shame. And whenever he’d post pics from his house, it always looked full of great art and good kitschy collectibles. I couldn’t believe it – someone from high school who I didn’t mind reuniting with! We’ve stayed in contact ever since. When I put this thing together I knew Barry had to contribute a piece, and I’m happy to say he did not disappoint. So without further ado, Barry’s Drive-In Double Feature!

There’s a fine line between homage and down right thievery.  The horror genre is notorious for squeezing every last penny out of a good idea and running respectable film franchises into the ground.  Some filmmakers find inspiration in mediocre ideas and expand them into a complex narrative, while other, less creative filmmakers see a good idea and change just enough to avoid a lawsuit.  No film in the horror genre has “inspired” filmmakers more than John Carpenter’s classic, Halloween.  In turn, we can argue that Halloween borrowed many elements from earlier films like Black Christmas and Peeping Tom, but it was Halloween that thrust the slasher genre into the mainstream.  The mold was cast and like an in demand bootleg, the copies of the copies of the copies kept coming.  With each new copy, the films got progressively worse.  This ultimately killed the slasher genre as audiences grew tired of the regurgitated plots and uninspired characters.  By the late 80’s/early 90’s, the slasher film was dying a slow painful death.  Many of the films released at this time were of the straight-to-video variety and offered little hope that the genre would survive.  While some of the films from this era have become rediscovered classics, many remain in obscurity.  The films I have chosen will NEVER be considered classics but somehow they managed to make a lasting impression on me.

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The Last Slumber Party is an underdog of a movie.  For all its faults and shortcomings (trust me, there are many), it’s the type of film that is almost too good to be true, and by that I mean absolutely dreadful.  This 1988 straight-to-video release from director Stephen Tyler (no, not that Steven Tyler) tells the story of a group of girls who throw a slumber party on the first night of summer vacation.  Wouldn’t you know it, a killer dressed as a scalpel-wielding surgeon has escaped from a nearby mental institution and is hacking his way to the party.  From the very beginning, it’s apparent that we are in low budget hell.  The whole film is a glorious catastrophe that would make Ed Wood proud.  The camera angles are awkward, the acting is ridiculous, the heavy metal soundtrack credited to Firstryke is laughable, and the special effects are non-existent, but for some reason all of these elements make me love The Last Slumber Party.

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Top, the girls from HALLOWEEN. Bottom, the girls from THE LAST SLUMBER PARTY.

Yes, it’s a shameless rip-off of Halloween and Slumber Party Massacre but you can’t ignore the earnest “let’s make a movie” attitude that Stephen Tyler and his crew must have felt.  They put themselves out there and tried to deliver a kick ass horror film, unfortunately they were 10 years late and $100,000 dollars short.

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The second film is not much better but must be seen to be believed.  If The Last Slumber Party “borrowed” bits and pieces from other films, then 1989’s Offerings is guilty of highway robbery.  The movie is shameless in its attempt to steal everything it can from Halloween right down to John Carpenter’s iconic theme.  In fact, I was so shocked by how similar it was, that I really wondered why John Carpenter never filed a lawsuit.  Offerings tells the story of mute killer named John Radley who escapes from a mental hospital (he literally walks out the front door and scales a fence) and returns to his hometown to murder a bunch of teenagers.   John Radley has all the characteristics of Michael Meyers; he’s mute, he’s omnipresent, he slowly chases his victims, he turns his head when he is confused, he possesses super human strength, and he lurks in the shadows.   In fact the only thing that sets them apart are their faces.  While Michael sports his Captain Kirk mask, John walks around showing off his disfigured face.  One by one, John kills his childhood tormentors and stalks his old friend Gretchen Peters (who sports an awesome pair of acid washed mom jeans and a wicked Oklahoma accent). Many death scenes resemble the deaths of the characters in Halloween.

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Top, Annie’s car murder in HALLOWEEN. Bottom, a similar car murder from OFFERINGS.

John Radley even has his own Dr. Loomis and Sheriff Bracket that are one step behind his carnage.  Just like Michael Meyers, John Radley steals a headstone, eats a wild animal (a duck instead of a dog), and sleeps in his vacant childhood home.  The only original element to the film is the explanation of the title.  To show is love for Gretchen, John Radley leaves random body parts on her doorstep as offerings.  This is the ONLY original thing in the movie and honestly, it doesn’t make much sense.  The last ten minutes of the film are so similar to Halloween that I really expected Gretchen to ask if he was the boogeyman.  The last line of the movie was so stupid and ridiculous I laughed out loud for 5 minutes.  Trust me, Offerings is the type of movie that should reward you with a badge of honor if you make it to the final credits.

Barry is a horror fanatic and collector of autographs.

Drive-In Double Feature: TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE & THE GIANT GILA MONSTER!

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Mr. D of Horror and Sons does not seem to discriminate when it comes to horror flicks. I’ve read his reviews, and they cover the spectrum: that modern junk, the 80s classics, the b-movie stuff, the so-bad-it’s-good-no-actually-it’s-plain-terrible, lost sci-fi stuff, all of it. But the one thing I appreciate that he covers (that I don’t see a lot of other popular and current horror sites covering) are the oldies. I’m talkin’ about the black and white goodies (and baddies) from the days of yore that seem to get overlooked — from Atomic Age cheese to the Karloff Klassics. The man has a wide taste, and it’s evident in his choices for this Drive-In Double Feature! And what a storyteller!
Your floor is yours, Mr. D.

“Saturday Night at the Starlite”

The sun is slowly sinking beneath the horizon. Cheap metal tiki torches are placed around the yard, the flames slowly flickering. They are as much for “atmosphere” as they are for warding off mosquitoes, neither “intention” very effective. The orange glow from the flames is washed out by the orange glow of Halloween string lights still wrapped around the house from the previous year.

The screen was once used for overhead projectors in an elementary school somewhere. It’s now secured to my wooden fence with only the finest of Velcro strips. Fighting for scraps of sunlight, I try to connect the speaker wires of a 20-year-old desktop stereo that will serve as my “drive-in” speakers. A bottom-line projector is shining its light out onto the screen as I obsesses over a “perfect image” that I’ll never achieve.

In our kitchen, my wife is setting out plates and cups. Some kind of tater tot casserole and a buffalo chicken dip are simmering in crock pots, still hot and ready for the evening. On the patio, a cooler sits filled with sodas on ice. A space has been saved for whatever our guests may bring for themselves. I fully expect then to have a few “adult beverages”, but I’ll probably not be joining them. I know the headache of taking all this stuff down later. I don’t drink much anyway.

The sky darkens & the stars have come out to shine. At least, I think they have. It’s hard to tell through the city lights. Headlights cut across the side of my lawn, fading minimally in the orange haze from the backyard. My friends get out of their cars, popping their trunk to produce 2 canvas backed folding chairs. Hey, I can’t provide everything.

My son is ecstatic to see them. Really, he’s happy to see anyone. Poor socially deprived kid. He hugs them, sporadically jumping up and down. They make their way to the kitchen. Everyone makes a plate to take with them outside. I eat last, having already made my way outside to turn everything on.

Everyone takes their seats. I unplug the Halloween lights, trying to simulate the dimming lights of the theater. This too is also amusingly ineffective. The evening in swing, everyone fills their guts preparing for a couple of hours of cinematic bliss under the stars.

Instead, I give them Teenagers From Outer Space. A dump bin version at that, playing on a Blu-ray player that’s jacked into an antiquated sound system and emanating from a projector incapable of HD. Welcome to “Starlite Theater”. Don’t make it something it ain’t.

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A man who looks like Satan says something. No one is listening, except me. I always listen to Satan. I’m also adjusting the volume, constantly walking away to judge just how loud is “too loud’. I finally get it “just right”, but it doesn’t really matter. No one ever complains. And the stereo doesn’t get that loud anyway.

Barney the dog is reduced to mere bones by a blast from a ray gun.  We are reduced to laughter louder than the volume that I’d spent all that time adjusting. Honestly, it’s an incredibly mean-spirited scene, but we still laugh. We’re awful people and we’re corrupting the children. The deaths of the 2 men vaporized at the gas station also seems pretty grim, but not to the same degree as Barney’s death. People love dogs. No one gives a shit about other people.

Enter Earthlings “Gramps” (Harvey B Dunn – Night of the Ghouls, Bride of the Monster) and his granddaughter, Betty. They invite Derek into their home before he even says a word. They even go so far as to offer him a room free of rent until he’s able to find a job. Who the hell are these people? Derek could be a serial killer, but they let him eat their food and wear Betty’s brother’s clothes. Pretty soon he’ll be wearing Betty, also free of charge. Betty actually seems down for that.  And Gramps is pimping that ass out to him on the daily. What was I talking about?

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Gramps, is the most dangerously, overly generous man in the world. When Thor, the film’s “bad guy”, arrives at his house looking for Derek, Gramps sees his uniform and assumes that he and Derek must be BFF’s. He tells Thor where Derek went, who he went with, the name of the resident, and even what the kids are going there to do. He stops just short of giving Thor a map. Nope, wait… he does that too, giving Thor detailed directions to the house.

The movie ends with its infamous confrontation with the “gorgon”, in actuality a lobster that has been super imposed over the film. By this time, it’s started to cool off outside. People are making their way back inside, refilling drinks and plates. My wife leaves to put our son to bed. I start the next movie.

My smile widens as the scratchy, black & white image of a giant, scaly claw slams down on the film’s first victims. Don Sullivan’s name is displayed on the screen. My smile widens more. My poor friends have no clue of my obsession with this movie, due mostly to Don’s upcoming musical numbers. “My baby, she rocks….. and rolls!!” You’re damn right, she does.

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We find our film’s teen populous dancing to the latest tunes at the local soda stand, having a swell ol’ time. Our hero, Chase, and his French girlfriend, Lisa, make the scene.  Chase is  “top dog” among the local teens. He’s a good kid, supporting his mother and sister since his father kicked the bucket. He’s immediately concerned about his missing friends. Meanwhile, I’m more concerned about whether or not there are more Frito’s Scoops for my dip.

Mr. Wheeler, father of the missing boy, has summoned the local Sheriff, Jeff, to his house. The sheriff thinks the kids may have run off to get hitched. Wheeler blames Chase for influencing the other kids to get in trouble. Sheriff Jeff is quite fond of Chase (and I’m quite fond of buffalo chicken) & defends the lad against Wheeler’s implications. Wheeler is an oil tycoon with some political pull. Using that, he threatens to take Sheriff Jeff’s badge if he can’t find his son.

I’ve always been a “monster kid” of sorts, even if that monster is just a normal animal running through a model of a town. Night of the Lepus was always a must watch back when TBS showed it every other weekend. (I believe it was TBS. I could be wrong. I don’t believe in research.) So, if you put a lizard, in this case actually a Mexican Bearded Lizard (again, no research), in a town full of Hot Wheels cars, I’m gonna watch every minute of it. I don’t think my friends really feel the same, but my wife loves this flick too, and she’s finally returning from inside.

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Now on the screen…..  A drunk crashes his ride into a fence post after seeing the Gila crossing the road. Presumably, to get to the other side. Chase The Omnipresent just happens to be passing by in the garage’s wrecker. The car is in no condition to drive, but the driver is willing to try. Gotta love that 1950’s determination. Chase tows the car to the garage,  the driver still behind the wheel. The man sleeps it off at the garage while Chase works on his fender damage, singing a song while he works. The man is revealed to be popular local disk jockey, “Steamroller Smith”. He digs Chase’s song & gives him his card. He also give him $40 for fixing his car. That’s 1950’s money, which by today’s currency is about $13,000. I could be wrong on that.

Sheriff Jeff’s skid mark photos are out of focus. He’s now in a corner. He’s also a pretty shitty photographer. It’s skid marks. It’s not like they are moving. You just walk up, click, and you’re done. Who can’t do that? Besides me.

We finally get to my favorite scene of the film. Chase finally goes home. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t been there the whole movie. To his surprise, Lisa has purchased leg braces for his little sister, Missy. She attempts to walk to her brother, but collapses after a few steps. She tries again, but her poor, weak, little legs just aren’t strong enough to support her.

I KNOW!!! That’s some sad shit, right? It’s pretty obvious that Chase loves his sister. You would think that he’d either cheer her on, or pick her up, or hug her, or something like that. PSSSH! Dat bitch breaks into a musical number. He sings “The Mushroom Song” Yeah, it’s a catchy little ditty with a positive Christian based message, but who the Hell just breaks into song like that? By this point, I realize that people are looking at me. I’ve started singing it too. “And the Lord said laugh, children, laugh.”

Ol’ Man Harris, the obligatory lovable town drunk…. well, the OTHER lovable town drunk is practicing his DUI skills, trying to race a train. Gila smashes a bridge, derailing the train, and killing all on-board. The screams of women are dubbed in as the train crashes, oddly louder than the crash itself.

Chase The Ubiquitous has organized a big dance for all the kids of the area. He has brought in Steamroller to DJ the event. Steamroller is a fantastic DJ. The type that will stop one song midway through and start another. He stops spinning records completely to let Chase sing “The Mushroom Song” (again) for the audience. No one hears me singing this time as I’ve already started extinguishing the torches and picking up any trash.

The Gila has been destroyed. The screen has been taken down and rolled up. The projector and stereo have been turned off. I’m disconnecting all the wires and carrying all the pieces back into my storage room. Our friends have said their goodbyes and have headed home. My wife is in the house getting ready for bed.

The show is over. The curtain has fallen. The stars are finally starting to peek through the dimming glow of a city going to sleep. I turn off the last of the lights, go inside, and lock the door. It’s been just another night at the movies.

More of Mr. D’s writing and movie reviews can be found on the Horror and Sons website, as well as the Horror and Sons Facebook page!

Drive-In Double Feature: THE FACULTY & 28 DAYS LATER!

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The whole point of this goofy little “Drive-In Double Feature” thing  brilliant, original, captivating, thought-provoking “Drive-In Double Feature” thing was a simple one: get people talking about horror movies. Possibly introduce others to films they’d never heard of. Get people excited. This includes people who don’t normally consider themselves “horror fans”, as in the case of Megan. While she admitted to me she “didn’t know a lot about horror” movies, she was still a good sport and submitted a piece anyway. And that makes this silly compelling Double-Feature thing all the more impressive: it’s bringing people together, uniting the hardcore gorehounds and the weekend-watchers as one. If there’s one thing I want to be remembered for long after I’m dead, it’s this month-long piece. Anyway, for not being a huge follower of horror, Megan was still somehow able to get to the root of why we watch horror movies in the first place: the Hotties. Take it away, Megan!

When I was a teen girl, my film criticism hinged on one important question: Where the Hotties at? My best friends each had their favorite Hollywood dudes, which meant that I had to see every movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Orlando Bloom, Paul Walker (RIP!), Elijah Wood (my baby!) etc. (Turns out having a Regulation Hottie in your movie does not guarantee it will be any good. The heart wants what it wants.)

You can see these at the Camera Viscera drive-in, but my recommendation for watching these movies is to go to my friend Althea’s parent’s house in Aurora and watch them on her dad’s projection wall. That is the way these films are meant to be viewed. It should also be past 3 a.m., and you should be eating Little Casear’s pizza, and you should be surrounded by 3-5 teenage girls. When discussing the film’s Hotties, feel free to reference the emo boys of West Aurora High School. It should be 2006. You, yourself, should be a teenage girl.

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In Robert Rodriguez’s high school spoof on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a ragtag group of teens discover that their teachers have all been taken over by malevolent aliens. It’s a pretty standard Breakfast Club ensemble—the popular girl, the outcast, the druggy. Most importantly, ELIJAH WOOD is the nerdy school newspaper photographer, which is ideal because I also worked on The Red and Blue, West Aurora High’s premier student publication, which we assembled on Microsoft Publisher every month.

An important thing to know about me at this time is that my AIM screenname was “crazee4elijah.” I had many, many pictures of him taped to my locker. Every weekend, I forced my friends to watch an Elijah Wood movie. The Faculty is pretty much his only non-Frodo role we still hold in any regard.

This movie has a lot of Hotties. It has Usher, pop star Hottie, and Jon Stewart, dad-aged Hottie. It has Josh Hartnett as a burn-out drug dealer, who I grudgingly accepted as a Hottie because the teen mags told me to.

The Faculty is really hokey and self-aware. It has a lot of one-liners that are fun to scream at each other in the cafeteria. In a pivotal scene (spoilers?) Josh Hartnett stabs an alien with a ballpoint pen full of ILLICIT DRUGS. Right before he plows that sucker in, he gets smarmy and says “Guaranteed to jack you up,” which is what he always smarms when he sells his ILLICIT DRUGS. Anyway, it turns out “Guaranteed to jack you up” is a fun thing to yell when you are a teenage girl shotgunning pixie sticks or diet cokes or Bosco Sticks or just for no reason at all.

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When I first laid eyes on Cillian Murphy’s weird face, I thought, “Hmmm, yes, here is a man whose picture I could haphazardly glue to my chemistry binder.” Cillian is a scruffy, snake-faced Hottie with piercing, sociopathic blue eyes. (My teenage M.O.)

He plays Jim, who wakes up in a hospital to find London abandoned. In the 28 days since he went into a coma, a rage virus has spread through the city and beyond; infected humans are angry, violent and most importantly, fast. When Jim wakes up in the hospital bed, there is a moment where the camera pans over his naked body from above and you can see his penis. This split-second shot of a far-off, flaccid dick SCANDALIZED 16 year old me.

The infected are zombies, sure, but they aren’t the archetypal stumbling, rotting flesh version. In a way, they’re more human, stripped down to their most predatory form. Jim finds a group of survivors who are looking for a military outpost, a promised safe haven where society will be reborn. It’s not just a movie about survival; it’s a movie about humanity’s ultimate insignificance. It’s a movie about what it means to keep living when everything around you dies.

“Do you know I was thinking?” Jim asks in one scene.

“You were thinking that you’ll never hear another piece of original music ever again. You’ll never read a book that hasn’t already been written or see a film that hasn’t already been shot,” bad-ass co-survivor Selena responds.

This dystopia really stuck with teen me. The repercussions, I knew, were dire. You’ll never read another Teen Beat. You’ll never hear another Fall Out Boy album. You’ll never get to casually run into Elijah Wood after his DJ set and tell him about the dream you had in 2005 that he got hit by a car in front of your parents’ house and you had to nurse him back to health. What a grim future, indeed.

Megan Kirby lives and writes in Chicago. You can find her on twitter at @megankirb, tweeting to @woodelijah in vain.

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

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!