scarecrows don't vote on custom car shows

because they have no brains.

when, upon our arrival, i saw a zombie enjoying a lunchable i knew that day two of texas frightmare weekend would be a significant improvement over day one.

it had its share of pleasant surprises, the most notable of which was the panel discussion of the new remake of i spit on your grave (2009). after the first night of barely literate "filmmakers" having their way with us, imagine my shock at finding the cast and director of this remake (which i am still skeptical of, don't misunderstand me) to be intelligent, thoughtful and articulate about the work they had done on this project. it must have been a daunting task to take on this much-maligned source material. people have been talking about it for thirty-two years now and it is no less controversial today than when it first screened. if you haven't seen the original, i recommend it but be warned, it is a grueling experience. they showed two clips from the new version and, while it is impossible to tell much from a total of about seven minutes of footage, the tension they created was palpable. sarah butler, who is cast as jennifer in this version, seems like a worthy heir to camille keaton and spoke at length about the dichotomy of just how difficult it was to go to such dark places as an actor and the elation that follows from so thoroughly and freely exploring those parts of yourself. in the end, it may not be worth a damn but, at the very least, it was nice to see that the principals were operating with the intent of honoring the original, put a lot of thought and all of their energy into the work, are obviously knowledgeable about the horror genre (and film in general) and appreciate the fans.

the john carpenter panel was marred by audio problems, at least from where we were sitting. that time would have probably been better spent at the movie prop auction taking place just outside. zelda rubinstein's necklace from the poltergeist series of films sold for $1150. chris rock's suit from death at a funeral (2010) sold for $75.

owned, chris rock! from beyond the grave! this auction is clean.

the films were a mixed bag. first up there was an anthology of three short films called curious stories, crooked symbols (2009) made by rodrigo gudino, the brains(!) behind rue morgue magazine (which all horror fans should read. it is head and shoulders above its contemporaries). these shorts were a good deal better than anything we saw yesterday but they were still amateur productions. in their favor, at least their antecedents were hitchcock, cronenberg and lynch. after the first night of slasher/torture retreads with zero personality these were like a palette cleanser. each film was unique, psychological rather than gore-oriented and succeeded on at least some minor level. in a nutshell, i can see what he's going for and eventually he will get there. currently, he is working on a feature length remake of cut throats nine/condenados a vivir (1972) with harvey keitel. i will adopt a wait and see position on that one. sidenote, the table that rue morgue magazine set up had a number of illustrations by "ghoulish" gary pullin that were pretty good and sort of an update of the basil gogos tradition. this was my favorite:

spirit camp (2009) was next. "friday the 13th meets bring it on". how could this go wrong? well, to start with you mixed friday the 13th with bring it on. this was another local entry made with the help of some of the same pool of "talent" largely responsible for everything we saw on the debacle that was night one. it was marginally better than those but still nothing you would rate as more than just fair. there were two different ten minute stretches where they sort of hit a stride and i wasn't hating myself for being there. that feeling quickly faded when the lights came up and i was subjected to director kerry beyer's frosted tips during the q & a. i don't have anything good to say about that.

the highlight of the evening was, without a doubt, the screening of the restored, remastered dark night of the scarecrow (1981). i hadn't seen this since its original cbs airdate and i was not certain how it was going to hold up but, in general, it did not disappoint. even without the obvious commercial breaks it certainly plays like a made-for-tv movie. the shorthand they use and the speed at which they (sometimes ham-handedly) establish their premise are distracting but the scene where they execute bubba (a riff on the angry villagers/misunderstood monster trope) is still shocking. in 1981 on cbs on saturday prime time you simply didn't see a bunch of ignorant rabble unloading shotguns into a sweetly retarded manchild. in 2010 it is still sad to see his terror in the face of their hatred. charles durning is the real star of this show and he digs into his first leading role after a life of character work with relish. he is sweaty, frantic, hateful, ugly and desperate. and boy does he get his. the dvd release is slated for 9.28.10 and you can pre-order now. it's like a li'l gift to ten year old me.

day three is going to be all panels, it would appear. albert pyun is going to be here and i would imagine he has some interesting stories to tell. we shall see. wrap-up will be posted tomorrow. see you then.


  1. Albert is so sorry he didn't make it to Texas Frightmare Weekend. He's been working night and day to finish "Tales of an Ancient Empire; worked through chills and fever but he wouldn't have lasted through Texas Frightmare Weekend..

    We hope Loyd Cryer forgives us and let us come next year.
    Cynthia Curnan

  2. it was a pretty good time, overall, cynthia. definitely worth the trip.