In case you haven’t been tipped off by the vampire who tapped on your window asking to be invited in last night at midnight, or the lumbering guy in a hockey mask who took a swing at you with a scythe while you were walking to your car this morning, today is Friday the 13th… an October Friday the 13th… a Shock-tober Friday the 13th. And what better way to kick off such an illustrious date than with part one of a three-part SLIFR Drive-In Trailer Park salute to that most ignominious, disreputable, and maligned of movie genres, the horror film? There’s plenty happening starting tonight, here on SLIFR and lots of other places, that will help pave the way for two weeks of celebrating the great monsters and chills and shocks to be found in the cinema’s great (and not-so-great) horror classics, leading straight up to Halloween night itself. So without further delay, let’s step right in it, shall we?
Tonight, on Turner Classic Movies, rock star/movie director Rob Zombie unveils a new Friday night series dedicated to cult classics called TCM: Underground. It looks, initially, anyway, that TCM may be behind expanding the library available to Zombie, as he hosts around eight hours of programming each Friday night populated by an intriguing mix of the usual suspects and some real sit-up-and-take-notice titles. Of course, Zombie’s palate runs toward horror films, especially this month, and tonight’s Friday the 13th selections definitely fill that bill. But even in October it’s not exclusively ghosts and monsters on tap, as you will see…
Tonight’s festivities start out at 5:00 p.m. (PST) with The Uninvited (1944), an entertaining, if wobbly yarn about a brother and sister who buy a house that harbors ghostly secrets. Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey head the cast for director Lewis Allen. Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963) follows at 7:00 p.m., a terrifying classic that will wipe The Uninvited right out of your consciousness. Director Tobe Hooper and producer Steven Spielberg up the unsettled-spirits ante by unleashing their Poltergeist (1982) at 9:00 p.m., with only fair-to-middling goose bump returns. Immediately following at 11:00 p.m., the future is where you and I will be spending at least the subsequent 79 minutes when Zombie showcases Ed Wood’s delirious Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), followed hot on its heels at 12:30 a.m. by Wood’s equally splendiferous Bride of the Monster (1955). And then, to reward you for staying up so late, a storm strands travelers in a house full of dangerous eccentrics in James Whale’s terrific, not-often-seen classic The Old Dark House (1932). Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas and Charles Laughton head an unbeatable cast. (Wagstaff has lots more to get you excited about seeing The Old Dark House in his thorough and thoroughly entertaining appreciation of the film over at The House Next Door.
Zombie’s line-up for next Friday night is, if anything, even more impressive, not only for its variety but its quality as well. Anytime you can leave your TV on one channel for eight hours and see screenings of essential vampire tales like Tod Browning’s Mark Of The Vampire (1935), Lew Landers’ The Return of the Vampire (1944), Carl Theodore Dreyer’s singularly nightmarish Vampyr (Der Traum des Allan Grey (1932), Dan Curtis’s House Of Dark Shadows (1970), followed by a Russ Meyer double feature of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) and Mudhoney (1965), well, you know you’re in good hands.
And then for the last Friday of October, Zombie pulls out all the stops for his nom-de-plume’s sake and lines up a very tasty (sorry) roster of what my old film professor used to call “the cinema of the walking dead.” (No, he didn’t, really—just some wishful 20/20 hindsight.) The Bela Lugosi classic from which our host derived the name of his very own rock and roll combo, Victor Halperin’s White Zombie (1932) kicks things off, followed by the near-perfection of Jacques Tourneur’s I Walked With A Zombie (1943), Michael Curtiz’s The Walking Dead (1936), Edward L. Chan’s Creature With the Atom Brain (1955), Ben Stoloff’s The Mysterious Doctor (1943), George Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead (1968), and then, again a very special treat for managing to keep your peepers peeled and polished at such a late hour, Romero’s much-respected but little-seen opus of irrational fear, The Crazies (1973).
It’s unclear from the TCM schedule whether the channel is turning Halloween over to Zombie as well, but whoever is in charge on October 31 is somebody who knows their horror. The TCM Halloween loving cup is filled to overflowing with treasures; most of them, however, will be much more familiar to regular TCM viewers or seriously collectors of horror films on DVD than some of Zombie’s offerings. Still, turning up your nose at this bill would be nothing less than churlish:
The Devil Doll (1936)
Cat People (1942)
The Leopard Man (1943)
Isle Of The Dead (1945)
Doctor X (1932)
The Mystery Of The Wax Museum (1933)
Mad Love (1935)
The Beast With Five Fingers, The (1946)
The Masque Of The Red Death (1964)
House Of Usher (1960)
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
Diary of a Madman (1963)
Village Of The Damned (1960)
Children Of The Damned (1964)
If you appreciate horror and cult films, it seems that TCM has definitely got a good thing started here. Let’s hope that in the coming months Rob Zombie continues to dredge up treasures worth watching and talking about from his very special, spectral Underground.
In honor of Friday the 13th, today’s drive-in ads, as always courtesy of Charles Bruss, highlight another example of the “if you don’t like one picture, you might like the other” philosophy of booking double features, followed by a horror bill the likes of which might very well have played my own hometown theater on this most frightening of non-trick-or-treating nights. (Both films did play at the venerable old Alger Theater in the Lakeview, Oregon of my youth, but, alas, not together.)
"New to the eyes of man." I love that.
(Image courtesy of Charles Bruss. Click on image to enlarge.)
What would a drive-in double feature ad be without the term "co-hit"? And in looking at this ad just now, I realize I have an irrational fondness for the "GP" rating...
(Image courtesy of Charles Bruss. Click on image to enlarge.)
And from the Trailer Park, one to titillate you and two to terrify you.
First, here’s some behind the scenes highlights from the 2006 Spike TV Scream Awards (click the “red carpet & highlights” bar) to see the likes of Sid Haig and Tobin Bell walk the red carpet. (The awards show itself airs again Sunday, October 15 and Tuesday, October 17 at 2:00 a.m.)
Next up, Piper Laurie, Fredric Forrest, James Russo, Asia Argento and the severed head of Brad Dourif in “Dario Argento’s maddening thriller” Trauma…
…and, with apologies to Bobby “Boris” Pickett, the greatest crypt-kicker of them all, Angus “Tall Man” Scrimm in Don Coscarelli’s original (and somewhat maddening) Phantasm…
Have a safe and insane Friday the 13th… BOYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYS!!!!!
(And you too, girrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrls!)