This past weekend at the Dryden Theater in Rochester, New York, the horror t-shirt powerhouse Fright Rags put on a two day double feature. Friday the 16th was a screening of John Carpenter’s THE FOG and HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH, with actor Tom Atkins in attendance. Saturday the 17th showcased THE MONSTER SQUAD and NIGHT OF THE CREEPS with director Fred Dekker.
Tom Atkins was joyful and bounding in his appreciation for the audience. He regaled the crowd with the fact that he didn’t recall THE FOG taking place in Antonio Bay and how being friends with Adrienne Barbeau and attending a screening of HALLOWEEN led John Carpenter to cast him opposite Jamie Lee Curtis. His love scene with this emerging starlet came into question, but Tom played super cool, informing all that even at such a young age, Jamie was a constant professional. He laughed at the memory of the special effects crew trying their damnedest to make the fog look menacing only with a few box fans and propellers.
Tom’s riotous laughter filled the theater at the screening of the Michael Myers-less HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH. The audience truly enjoyed the merits of killer Halloween masks and Tom felt perfectly at ease with revisiting his efforts. Climbing around, running, and fighting, he performed his stunts for the film without complaint despite having pneumonia during shooting, only to see a majority of those scenes left on the editing floor. I asked about his love scene that included his bare backside and he recalled that it was the natural thing to do, it’s what he would’ve done in real life. Ironically, it’s also his real-life wife at the time that gets her face lazer blasted just on the opposite side of wall from Tom’s famous sex scene.
Saturday night was personally quite epic. To see the Monster Squad on the big screen in 35mm with all the cracks, pops and cigarette burns instantly teleported me back to the simpler times of my youth. Fred Dekker discussed the planned remake of this seminal film and predicted the troubles that lay ahead for their production. At the time of his film, Universal Studios didn’t believe in the commercial appeal of their black & white monsters and gave Fred the go ahead as long as the creatures were tweaked enough to not look exactly like their original counterparts. He really relied on the teams assigned to each monster to deliver the vision of FX master Stan Winston. The current remakes of THE WOLFMAN and THE MUMMY trilogy make for difficult times to assemble the villains again, especially with THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON lurking in development hell.
NIGHT OF THE CREEPS reunited Tom Atkins with Fred Dekker in the Director’s Cut of the film that included the ending not theatrically released. Oddly enough, if you ever saw this film on television you saw the closest version of this ending outside of the recent DVD release. Dekker revealed that as part of his contract he was held accountable for delivering an edited version of his film for TV audiences. He used all the original cast to voice record ADR for any instances of vulgarity, so there’s no unseemly jump in dialogue. While trimming some of the gore, it also cut into the running time. The network stipulated that his film must run a certain amount of time and this resulted in the inclusion of the “original” ending. I won’t spoil it for those uninitiated in this 80s awesomeness, but it makes worlds of difference.
Fred Dekker thanked the fans for the DVD release of THE MONSTER SQUAD and NIGHT OF THE CREEPS. It was the initial clamor voiced on the Internet that perked Sony’s ears into realizing there was a home theater market for these films. Fred revealed that his next project could possibly be a sequel to Sly Stallone’s rock climbing action flick CLIFF HANGER, possibly done with some of the team responsible for FAST & THE FURIOUS. Other possible project deals with television are still in infancy stages.
Both Tom Atkins and Fred Dekker were more than gracious, signing autographs, taking photographs, and glad-handing everyone that wanted to meet them. They made this event worthy of trekking across any tundra to relive some of the most fun, wacky, and endearing horror films to ever scar my pysche.
Click here to snag one or both of these posters especially designed for the event. Wiggle that mouse quickly though, only a limited number remain and for damn good reason. Each one is numbered and signed accordingly by Tom Atkins and Fred Dekker!
Elegant is not a strong enough word to describe these beauties and their reserve is dwindling fast. The poster “Monster Creeps” was designed by ultra-talented Jason Edmiston, a Jedi that wields a paintbrush instead of a light-saber.
Be sure to check out the rest of the Dryden Theater’s “Back to the 80’s” Film Series as it winds throught the summer. It showcases some amazing movies and fan favorites. The recent documentary BEST WORST MOVIE screens as a double feature followed with TROLL 2 on Saturday, July 24th at 8pm. Be sure to catch Sam Raimi’s THE EVIL DEAD! A 35mm print is screening Saturday, August 28, at 8 pm, and Sunday August 29, at 7 pm. Click here for a full schedule of the Dryden’s other movies showcased in this film series. In comparison to larger multi-plex theaters, the Dryden wins above and beyond for its charm and originality, offering more stimulationg programming and competitive prices for admission and refreshments.
I met some amazing people this past weekend from the world of horror and cyberspace. I had the pleasure of traveling with John Squires of Freddy in Space and his partner in crime Jennifer Carroll. And yes, his beard is that more majestic in person. I met Bill Adcock of Radiation Scarred Reviews, Chris Tanski, Jordan Garren of B-Movie Film Vault, and Jeff Konopka of Fear of the Dark. Even Justin Erikson and Gary Pullin of Rue Morgue Magazine traveled down from the Great White North to partake in the festivities.
The talented artist Terry Callen of Screaming Brain Studio is quite the cut up and Jes Karakashian is an absolute sweetheart that makes amazing artwork. Sean of the VHS Preservation Society schooled me on trashy 80s films I didn’t even knew existed.
Best of all was meeting Kristy Jett, who somehow wrangled us all like skittish kittens from the far reaches of the eastern seaboard. I was introduced to Tim Kilmer and Ben Scrivens of Fright Rags, and got to see where all the magic happens at one of my favorite t-shirt companies. They were the very definition of hospitality. It was amazing to see how well planned and put together this event was, but also at the same time the feeling of intimacy. It was almost like a down home sit down with two of my childhood heroes as I listened to Tom Atkins and Fred Dekker speak on their work. It was touching to see the Internet relationships built off Face Book, instant messages, and emails translate into the real world as many of these writers and artists met for the first time and shared this unique experience.
All of this was my first parlay into the world of the horror blog-osphere. I’m honestly glad it didn’t end with Chris Hansen telling me to take a seat. I am hoping this trip introduced new friends that will generate new and exciting content for the Blood Sprayer through collaborations and a free-flowing exchange of all things horror. I would like to offer a big, personal thank you to Tim Kilmer, and Ben Scrivens and particularly Kristy Jett for an amazing weekend and for all they shared.
Now is your chance to get in on the action too. Fright Rag Artist Zornow delivers the goods in a Monster Squad VS Night of the Creeps battle you can wear! This shirt is available only to Members of the Fright Rags Newsletter, so sign up already! Stay tuned as we’ll have more news on future screenings from Fright Rags and other special guests.
Tags: Fred Dekker, Freddy In Space, Fright Rags, Halloween, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Jason Edmiston, Night of the Creeps, Radiation Scarred Reviews, The Fog, The Monster Squad, Tom Atkins, VHS Preservation Society