Shock-O-Rama: Exhumed Films Horror-Thon Recap (

By:Chuck Francisco
Date: Saturday, November 03, 2012

It takes a special kind of lunatic to commit to twenty-four straight hours in a theater among 350 like minded mad men (and mad ladies). The celluloid lineup assails your eyeballs unrelentingly, with a perfect boxer's combo of sub genres, mixed and matched to test your endurance. At any moment you brain could mutiny, and run screaming for the exit. Honestly, with the smell some of the other attendees emit, who could blame it? To this crazy fate I gleefully marched last weekend, attending the sold out, sixth annual Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horror-Thon. This event is the Butt Numb-a-Thon of the east, showcasing 35mm prints of rare or unique horror offerings, mixed in with classics packs of awesome trailers. 

There were so many worthy of note, in fact, that it would criminal not to share them with you. Before we get started, it's important to mention that the film line up is kept completely secret. Attendees don't actually know what they'll be watching until it begins to unspool before their eager eyes. The Exhumed Films crew distributes a schedule with vague clues as to what patrons can expect. I'm including that list first, so you can take a stab at guessing before the reveal. Good luck!

MOVIE #1 - An Appropriately demonic movie to kick off Horror-thon Part 666.
MOVIE #2 - Giant Monster movie, though not necessarily the type you might expect.
MOVIE #3 - Sleazy '70's Psychotic/sorta-slasher cinema.
MOVIE#4 - Well regarded, nasty little horror/sci-fi oddity.
MOVIE #5 - One of the most divisive horror films of all time--wait for the title screen, then either sit back  
                    and enjoy or take the opportunity to catch some dinner. 
MOVIE #6 - Euro-Horror Classic
MOVIE #7 - Cannibal movie, though not necessarily the type you might expect.
MOVIE #8 - Bizzaro horror/exploitation rarity directed by an infamously foreign filmmaker; screened here 
                    in an extended cut never seen before on video or DVD. 
MOVIE #9 - Sexy vampires having sexy sex.
MOVIE #10 - Fun, Underrated sci-fi/action movie
MOVIE #11 - A wonderful movie for children, provided that the children are all messed up on LSD.
MOVIE #12 - Loopy, surreal sequel to a bona fide horror classic.
MOVIE #13 - Schlocky "special effectsploitation" film that's really just an update of the 1950's style 
                      monster movie.
MOVIE #14 - Slasher movie that was a staple of late-night HBO programming in the early 80's.
MOVIE #15 - Zombie movie that is so ridiculously stupid, shamelessly derivative, and totally trashy...which is why we love it so much.

So, without further ado, and with no mores gilding the lilly, here is the madness we subjected ourselves to with reckless abandon the weekend before Halloween:

MOVIE #1 - The Gate (1987, Tibor Takacs)
Deep down in your 80's appareled soul, you yearned to be a young Stephen Dorff: growing up in the southern California suburban lifestyle; innocently launching model rockets at the side of the house, and unearthing a gate to hell in your back yard. The Gate is a movie I'm very fond of. It played in heavy rotation on Cinemax during my formative years, and boasts impressive stop motion demon work that still looked excellent last weekend, on the big screen. There is apparently a 3D remake in the works, directed by Alex Winter (Bogus!). Revisit this version instead, and leave the remade gimmicks to those not in the know.

MOVIE #2 - Q - The Winged Serpent (1982, Larry Cohen)
This incredibly underrated Larry Cohen film depicts the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, who is half reptile and half bird, nesting in the pinnacle of the Chrysler building (the internal scenes where actually shot on location! That's not a soundstage). From this perch, he swoops down upon unsuspecting New Yorkers, who die horrifically. It's up to cops David Carradine and Richard Roundtree to stop the monster. That's an amazing pair up, Shaft and Caine, but it's actually Michael Moriarty that steals the scene as a frustrated, two time loser, attempting to blackmail the city in exchange for Q's location. Q is a unique monster flick, which I solidly recommend.  


MOVIE #3 - The Driller Killer (1979, Abel Ferrara)
The life of an artist is never a straight path. In 70's era New York City, it's apparently a winding path of madness with stops at bad band practicing all night Boulevard, and impotent rejected fury road. The only thing direct about protagonist Reno Miller's life is the battery pack powered murder drill he drives into random victims. The Driller Killer bears similarities to Maniac, and is sleazy, scummy, and vicious. It should be watched with that fun frame of reference in mind.

MOVIE #4 - XTRO (1983, Harry Bromley Davenport)
XTRO has the distinction of being the only film I've ever seen where a character playing fetch with his dog, throws the stick too violently, causing reality to shatter in the sky above. This strange lapse in physics acclimates your brain pan to receive an interesting, smartly directed, alien curiosity. It leaves you always unsure of exactly what will come next, and mixes equal parts Lovecraftian and Cronenberg body horror. Two more sequels followed and, as of 2010, a fourth film is in the works.

MOVIE #5 - Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982, Tommy Lee Wallace)
Ten years ago, if this film screened, I firmly believe that a majority of the audience would have walked out. Perhaps it's true that time heals all wounds; we're far enough removed from it's release that fans can now analyze and enjoy this unconnected installment of the Halloween franchise on it's own. Instead of departing in droves, the people taking a smoke break outside came sprinting into the auditorium, unable to believe they where about to see Halloween III on the big screen (and they were elated!). There's been plenty of discussion about this flick here on Mania recently (see Fall of ‘82 and the Blu-ray Review). I urge you to give it another watch, if it's been some years since you've actually seen it.



MOVIE #6 - Suspiria (1977, Dario Argento)
Easily the most acclaimed film showcased at the event, Suspiria boasts a soundtrack which could frighten in the absence of the movie. It plucks the chords of your terror strings with unremitting hostility. Accompanying this masterful score is a color palate on LSD, jacked straight into your front lobe. Suspiria is widely popular, and is made to be viewed with hammeringly loud sound, on an enormous screen. Seek out a local theater showing of it near you; it will not disappoint.

MOVIE # 7 - C.H.U.D. (1984, Douglas Cheek)
With 80's tongue firmly planted in cheek, and the graphical violence meter cranked all the way to eleven, C.H.U.D. promises the kind of schlocky fun which only an acronym short for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers can truly deliver on. Some folks might consider this a guilty pleasure, but I suggest you wear it as a badge of pride, reveling in it's imaginative filth.

MOVIE #8 - The Night of a Thousand Cats (1972, Rene Cardona Jr.)
Famed film badass Hugo Stiglitz channels the uncreated specter of Ron Burgundy, in this mad cap murder machination. You'll see him nonchalantly stalk sunbathing beauties, from ten yards away, in his private helicopter. You'll be amazed as he smokes an absurdly enormous pipe, while beating his bald, mute servant at chess. You'll guffaw as he murders these seduced beauties, then feeds them to his army of pent up cats. This crazy film pulls no punches, spares no oddity, and absolutely has to be experienced. You are incomplete without it.



MOVIE #9 - The Vampires' Night Orgy (1974, Leon Klimovsky)
This is a decently made, interesting film, that became the biggest disappointment of the evening for the congregated crowd. Why? The clue, "Sexy vampires having sexy sex", could not at all have been more disingenuous. None of the on screen blood suckers could be even loosely considered sexy (appearing more like Romanian peasant villagers cast off from a Hammer film);  there's also absolutely no sexy sex to be seen. When a film starts at 1:50am, and promises lurid imagery to keep you awake, anything less than that is going to make for a sad 90 minutes.

MOVIE #10 - The Hidden (1987, Jack Sholder)
The Hidden really is an unsung sci-fi gem. It works hard at getting a murderously gleeful performance from a number of actors portraying the same body jacking alien, on the run and looking for a good time. Kyle MacLaughlan gives us a career performance, and a very young Claudia Christian bares almost all (rrrrrr!) as a stripper who gets body jacked. This is the kind of film you can brag to your friends to have seen.

MOVIE #11 - Tom Thumb and Little Red Riding Hood (1965, Roberto Rodriguez)
Aka: Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters
This nightmare inducing fever dream is a product of the same LSD madness that spawned 1959's Santa Claus (A holiday tradition in Mexico. But why?). There are musical numbers cementing together fractured fairy tales, in a kind of insanity mosaic. The experience is funny for the first ten minutes, then rapidly cartwheels downhill into tedium. If you really want to experience the insanity, the whole film is available right here on YouTube. For the full effect, stay up until five in the morning, then commenceviewing.

MOVIE #12 - Son of the Blob (1972, Larry Hagman)
Aka: Beware! the Blob
This sequel is absolutely inferior in every way to both the 1958 original AND the 80's remake. There really isn't any reason I can think of to suggest subjecting yourself to it, except for completion's sake. There are several scenes where one of the characters is actually watching the original film on TV; I found myself desperately wishing this was an Ah-Ha video, where we're sucked in and get to watch the first film instead.



MOVIE #13 - The Incredible Melting Man (1977, William Sachs)
Rick Baker created the amazingly gruesome liquifying flesh effects, which are the main reason to give this  otherwise ponderously slow plodder a look. The effects famously inspired the toxic waste dousing effects from Robocop. Beyond that, this flick is brutally slow, especially after you've been awake for more than a day. If you really want to watch it, I suggest the riffed treatment of it from season seven of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

MOVIE #14 - Humongous (1982, Paul Lynch)
Humongous boasts a fantastic trailer with one of the best tag lines in 80's horror; "Humongous is among us, God help us". What does that mean? What is a "humongous"? Why do we need assistance from the sky wizard? These are all the burning questions that may have kept you up at night, itching at the corners of your sanity, like a cluster of insatiable mosquito bites, begging to be scratched. Watch the trailer and seek it out:


MOVIE #15 - Zombie Holocaust (1980, Marino Girolami)
Aka: Doctor Butcher MD
This incredibly derivative zombie flick is exactly what you'd expect in an Italian undead flick from the end of the 70's. Those familiar with the sub genre can easily slip this film on, like a comfortable pair of shoes, and get plenty of mileage from the gore, desperation, and hopelessness. However the glacially slow pacing these films are renown for makes this and endurance slog at 11am (meaning you've been awake for around thirty hours and in your seat for twenty-four). 

So, as it is likely evident by this point, the Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horror-thon is a one of a kind chance to view incredibly rare gems, in their original format. Some of these films are so rare that we witnessed their only known existing print, which in some cases were so brittle that they broke several times (Red Riding Hood). If this sounds like the kind of special, unique event you'd dig more than Jack Burton does story telling, then make sure to follow Exhumed Films on Facebook, so you don't miss tickets for next year's event going on sale (typically in July and they sell out in less than a week). I made it through one more year, and am eagerly awaiting their twelve hour exploitation festival in the spring. I hope you had as interesting a Halloween!

See you at the movies.

Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Saturday Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a horror co-host of two monthly film series at the world famousColonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA (home of 1958's 'The Blob'): First Friday Fright Nights andColonial Cult Cinema. You can hear him on awesome podcast You've Got Geek or follow him out onTwitter.