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Now in our eighth calendar year!
PCR #397 (Vol. 8, No. 44) This edition is for the week of October 29--November 4, 2007.

"American Gangster"  by Mike Smith
Halloween & Horrors Overload Pt. II: Beach Theatre Terrorthon and Cult-O-Ween  by Andy Lalino
Halloween Potpourri part 2 -- a Casanegra Halloween.  by Terence Nuzum
I Went To Cult-O-Ween And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt  by Lisa Ciurro
Retro-Ween  by ED Tucker
Grow or Die: Art and the Review  by Corey Castellano
The Nominees Are .... Passing On .... Movie Notes .... .... .... .... .... .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 32: Charles Durning by Mike Smith
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Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Halloween & Horrors Overload Pt. II: Beach Theatre Terrorthon and Cult-O-Ween

After barely surviving a weekend loaded with the Halloween Horror Picture Show '07, Dreadwood, and Screamfest, the nightmare continued as I prepared to experience another horror night at the in celebration of the 2007 Beach Theatre Terrorthon.

Beach Theatre Terrorthon
For lovers of older horror films, the Terrorthon can't be beat. What other Halloween event can boast two nights of films based on the works of Richard Matheson? On this particular Thursday night, however, Matheson was not featured; instead, fright fans received an early Halloween treat: William Castle's House on Haunted Hill, starring Vincent Price - in Emergo!

For those in the dark (heh-heh) about Emergo, it was an in-theater gimmick back in the '50s (when HOHH was originally released) that scared the hell out of audiences, using a "live" skeleton floating overhead on a suspended wire at the film's climax. Actually, both my parents enjoyed the Emergo experience when they saw House on Haunted Hill back in 1958, and vividly remember the flying skeleton! The Beach Theatre promised to faithfully re-create Emergo for a new generation, in addition to other Castle-style gimmicks for this special screening.

I arrived about an hour early for an 8pm showing, and got the chance to chat with the Beach Theatre staff, who are veteran Rocky Horror Picture Show performers. They explained that Rocky Horror has been performed live at the Beach for eight years now, often to large and wildly enthusiastic crowds. Inside the theatre, I could hear blood-curdling shrieks that rattled the bones of decorative skulls and skeletons haunting the lobby. I knew I was in for a treat. Just in case I didn't make it, there was a nurse (in full uniform) standing by in the lobby to treat those who may die of fright.

Finally, it was showtime, and I made my way into the auditorium, awaiting all the fun gimmick spells to be cast on the audience. House on Haunted Hill began, and about 1/3 of the way through, I hear a kid SCREAM! Immediately a spotlight shines on the poor, trembling boy who just couldn't take the intense shock - and was sent to the "COWARD'S CORNER" at the front of the stage! No, it wasn't humiliating, the boy seemed to have a great time as he marched downward toward the corner amidst the laughs of audience members who delighted in the first gimmick of the night.

Then, about halfway in, another SHRIEK! This time, it was a young woman. She just couldn't take it, and she too was banished to the COWARD'S CORNER. Boy, they're dropping like flies! Was I next?

It was getting near the picture's conclusion when I wondered when the skeletons were to materialize. I didn't have to wait long. In the film as the skeleton rose from the acid vat, TWO skeletons flew across the aisles, their bones horrifically clicking together like chattering teeth or trembling knees. The skeletons swooped up and down, at times coming frighteningly close to the overjoyed patrons, happy at the big payoff.

Finally, THE END, and the lights went up. I walked away digging that I had the rare privilege of experiencing House on Haunted Hill very similar to the way audiences did in 1958 when the Castle gimmicks were in full swing. Thanks to the staff of the Beach for making it a memorable, cherished experience for all the patrons (of which there were many at both screenings), and having a theatre owner who really cares about preserving these great films and recreating a screening experience so true to the original.

CULT-O-WEEN Event at Unique Video
The Halloween happenings continued the following day, as Crazed Fanboy fans and columnists teamed up with the loyal patrons of Tampa's Unique Video for the intimate Cult-O-Ween event. Never intended to be a large-scale gathering, what Cult-O-Ween lacked in size it made up for in quality. Crazed Fanboy and Unique Video all-stars were present and accounted for, led by a fully-costumed Frank Granda Jr. (Unique Video's owner) and the suspendered one himself.

I arrived fifteen minutes early for the 7pm start time, and immediately ran into Dr. Paul Bearer superfan Lonnie Dohlen, who drove up from Bradenton(!) for the gathering. Lonnie did not attend this year's Screamfest, and was hankerin' to get out and talk some cult film with fellow fanatics. He couldn't have picked a more perfect place.

Soon after Lonnie arrived, Frank Granda Sr. opened the doors and welcomed us all in the store. Now, if you've never been to Unique Video, you'll be amazed at the rental selections. The shop features mostly horror, cult, and exploitation, in addition to art films, mondo, alternative lifestyles, and other intriguing categories. Then, Frank Jr. appeared, costumed as a wizard (perhaps the "Wizard Video" spellcaster?) who next welcomed us with a supernatural flair. Frank Jr. showed us the snacks table, where he had laid out popcorn, cupcakes, soda and other goodies for the attendees. Incidentally, Cult-O-Ween was the very first time I had met Frank Jr. in person.

As Frank Jr., Lonnie and I were deep in conversation about our favorite cult films, in walks the other powerhouse, Mr. Canova himself and fellow PCR columnist Terence "Tez" Nuzum ("The Enlightenment"). This was quite a monumental event in that this marked the first time Nolan had been inside Unique Video. I immediately introduced the two titans, Frank and Nolan, to each other, and they got along swimmingly. Having both grown up in Tampa, they shared similar theatrical experienced when recalling their favorite cult movies.

Also had the unique pleasure of meeting horror's brightest hope, JMiller from the Crazed Fanboy message boards. Originally I thought he wouldn't be able to make it due to work commitments, but I guess he was able to swing an appearance. It's comforting knowing that there are some young people out there who still have a reverence for Grindhouse-style features. Rock on, JMiller!

In the background, cult movie trailers (Wizard of Gore; Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS; I Drink Your Blood) delighted the attendees, but after about an hour into the event, Frank Jr. had shown to us portions of the incredible Paul Lynde 1975 Halloween Special, featuring Margaret Hamilton, Witchie-Poo, Florence Henderson (who sings!), and the first TV appearance of Kiss! Needless to say, the show was beyond belief, and I was impressed with the production value and staged musical numbers! Frank Jr. knows his audience - I have it on good authority that one attendee purchased the Paul Lynde DVD due to Frank Jr.'s enthusiasm!

Making a fashionably late entrance, Fangrrl Lisa Ciurro finally arrived. She didn't seem to recall, but we met (I think Nole introduced us...) at one of the Tampa Comicons this past year. Lisa's a true rarity - a girl who can handily talk shop with male cult fans of similar interest. Most other femmes would be at home watching soap operas, but not Lisa - she's committed to the cause.

Well, there we were; an almost complete mash-up of Crazed Fanboy and Unique Video. The bulk of the conversation - of course - dealt with cult films, especially those of the '60s, '70s, and early '80s. Frank had a tremendous knowledge base to pull hilarious stories and anecdotes (D'Amato, Roberta Findlay) from, and it's always fun hearing about the midnight and drive-in movies Nolan attended back in the early '70s (my personal fave: Andy Warhol's Frankenstein in 3D!).

This was the very first Cult-O-Ween experiment, and I hope each Halloween season brings more!

"Oddservations" is ©2007 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.