Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dawn of the Midnight Cinephile

Oh hello there!  Didn't see you come in....the lighting is a bit subdued.  Welcome! Welcome!  Welcome to Midnight Cinephile, where it's always past the Witching Hour.  As you can see, the renovations have been steadily coming along.  There was a lot to be done to the drafty old Castle Vestron.  The Wizard sends his regards from his secret lair somewhere in the tropics.  I imagine he's sipping on a Pina Colada  and watching his insane backlog of fright films.

As for me, well I've been pretty busy the past couple of days with the move and renovations and such, but there is a nifty review of Jesse T. Cook's monster mash-up Monster Brawl coming up soon!  Stay tuned!

Friday, March 30, 2012

New Name, New Content, New Everything!

As you may have surmised, The Wizard of Vestron moniker has vanished.  This is the first of many changes that will be taking place in the coming months.  Fear not though, The Midnight Cinephile will not only continue on the traditions set forth by the Wizard, but will also be making some intriguing changes, starting with a new domain name.....  will soon be your destination for a wide variety of multi-media content.

So a huge thank you to the supporters of The Wizard of Vestron!  I can't wait to share even more with you through The Midnight Cinephile.  Stay tuned for more updates!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

That's Entertainment - Worcester's Home of the Kaiju

If you grew up in the 80's and you're reading this, then I'm also willing to bet that you watched Creature Double Feature on Saturday afternoons.  Perhaps you had some friends come over or watched over a friends house.  Or perhaps you were like me and instead of going out and playing, you chose to spend the afternoon inside watching Godzilla, Gamera or any number of kaiju films that played as part of the regular rotation.  Sometimes you got lucky and got two kaiju films back to back, other times you got Godzilla followed by Dracula.  Part of the allure was you never knew what movies you'd get each week.  That's Entertainment has recreated that same excitement by not revealing what two films they are showing until Showtime!  Even during the first film, we had no idea what was coming our way next!

That's Entertainment!
As it so turned out, our first film was Terror of Mechagodzilla.  Known as Counterattack of Mechagodzilla or Mekagojira no Gyakushu in Japan, this film is the last in the Showa Era.  This film is the second appearance of Mechagodzilla and the first and only appearance of Titanosaurus.  The plot revolves around the group of aliens who built the original Mechagodzilla.  They are rebuilding the robot menace and hope to destroy the world for good this time so they can rebuild it to their alien dystopian liking.  This film really does have it all.  Interpol chases, aliens (wearing sunglasses and crazy helmets!) mad scientists and of course the monsters.  The sounds cut out in the last minute or so of the film, but that didn't deter the audience.  We all substituted our on sounds in to complete the film.

Cheers erupt as the movie begins

My lovely wife displays our tickets to Kaiju Heaven!
Which brings me to what makes this event so fun:  the audience.  If Mike Nelson and the Robots had a movie party on the Satellite of Love, it would be exactly like this.  It was a live, fully audience immersed Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, which people shouting at the screen, openly laughing at the sublimely ridiculous spectacles on display before them.  The audience truly had fun at the event.  They cheered when Godzilla showed up.  They mocked the mad scientists' overblown maniacal laughter, and as mentioned before when the sound failed they substituted their own soundtrack of monster roars and laser blasts (I was nearly in tears I was laughing so hard as an older gentleman to my right supplied the "PEW PEW PEW" of laser blasts!) right into the completion of the film, at which point the audience erupted into cheers and applause.

The Elm Draught House Cinema
After Mechagodzilla,  there was a quick intermission and then the crew of That's E raffled off some goodies, including the first issue of IDW's Godzilla comic Kingdom of Monsters, Godzilla toys and DVD's.  Even the raffle was hilarious, with each number being read out, the entire audience will say "YES!" until of course the number deviated from thier ticket, then you would start to get a mixture of "YES!" and "NOOOO!" until there was only one left to claim their prize.

Sadly prior obligations pulled me away before the second feature, which I'm told was Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidora:  Giant Monsters All Out Attack (also known simply as GMK).  This 2001 release is a strange entry in the series.  It is part of the Millenium series of films, which started with Godzilla 2000.  The plots involves Godzilla returning to wreak havoc once again on Japan.  In a twist, apparently Godzilla  has been reanimated by the souls lost in World War II who are angry because they believe that the country has forgotten their sacrifices.  Bet ya didn't see that one coming!

Godzilla vs The Smog Monster played silently as people showed up!

In ANOTHER twist the only way to stop Godzilla is to wake up the Guardian Monsters:  Mothera, Baragon and Ghidorah (who is not yet fully formed).  This is interesting because Ghidorah is usually the bad guy and working with aliens to destroy or take over the earth.  There is a lot of Spirituality in this film.  The aforementioned Lost Souls reanimating Big G, and also after Mothra is defeated, her spirit fuses with Ghidorah, transforming him in the powerful King Ghidorah form.

Though I was unable to stay for the second feature, I can say with no uncertainty that the audience had just as much fun with the second film as they did with the first.  Something that really adds to the fantastic atmosphere is the venue itself, The Elm Draught House, an old cinema sitting on Elm Street in Millbury, MA.  The Draught House doesn't come with your run of the mill concession stand, oh no.  Here you can get beer, soda, burgers, pizza, popcorn, you name it!  The walls of the theater are adorned with old movie posters for films such as Frankenstein, The Mummy, Dracula, Creature From The Black Lagoon and a curious one entitled Bank Dick....which I'm going to assume was about a guy who investigates a bank robbery.

Evan (right) and Kevin (left) the masterminds behind Godzilla Attacks Worcester

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Evan Scola, the brains behind this incredible Godzilla-thon and picked his brain for a while.  Check it out:

WoV:  So how did Godzilla Attacks Worcester get started?

Evan:  It started last year when the Godzilla comic came out [from IDW] and they had the cover variants where Godzilla was crushing our store.  So we got a bunch of those and we figured we'd make a big event out of it.  We'd always wanted to do events down at the Elm Draught House because they're such a cool theater and similar to us in a lot of ways.  We figured we'd show some Godzilla movies, give away the comic, and then we had so many people asking about it that we just decided to do it again this year  because it was so much fun and it appeals to kids and adults.

WoV:  So is this something we can expect to happen every year?

Evan:  Yeah, I foresee doing this at least once a year.  Hopefully we'll do more events at the Elm, not just Godzilla.  See, the thing with Godzilla, like I said is it just appeals to so many people that we always get a good crowd.  If we're to do other types of movies.....well we don't know, we'll see!

WoV:  What's your favorite Godzilla film?

Evan:  Oooh....hhmmm....probably one of the films that we showed last year, which is Godzilla vs Gigan.  I grew up with that one you know?  I had a VHS copy and wore it out.

WoV:  Which may answer the next question....who is your favorite nemesis?

Evan:   Probably King Ghidorah....I think he's everyone's favorite!

WoV:  The Godzilla Double Feature is such a cool event, are you planning on adding more to the roster of That's Entertainment events?

Evan:  Yes.  Well, we try to have events every month, like in April we're doing the Avengers/X-Men release.   We're doing Record Store Day, in May we're doing Free Comic Book Day and there will be video game fests during the summer...stuff like that, but hopefully we'll keep doing more at The Elm.  It's a matter of finding the right time to do it and finding the right titles too.  If we really wanted to we could have Horror Movie Night, but we really like finding stuff that everyone can watch.  I think out of everyone that was there, the kids were having the most fun because they were getting to watch these on the big screen and hang out with other people who like it.

WoV:  This was actually the first time I've gotten to see a classic Godzilla film on the big screen, so this was really like a boyhood fantasy come to life for me!  

Evan:  Yeah!  The Elm just got a new projector this year, so this was worlds above even last year, I was impressed by it.  Except for the sound cutting out at the very end of the first one...but it cut out in like the final minute so it couldn't have been any better!''

WoV:  Which brings me to my next point that watching these films at the Draught House is like watching a live Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode.  Everyone loves these movies, but they also know that they really are B-Movies....the acting is not exactly fantastic and they're great to make fun of.

Evan:  And sometimes the dubbing is so horrible and it seems they cared more about lining up something with their mouths that they didn't think about what they were saying sometimes.  It's like "Fire all the missiles!"  "You want me to fire ALL the missiles?"  "Fire ALL the missiles!"  Did they REALLY just say that?  You know....they're cheesy but that's the point.

WoV:  I brought my wife with me and she's really not a fan of these films, but she did have a lot of fun as well.

Evan:  I was a little worried because I love Terror of Mechagodzilla but starts off slower than other ones, but it's also one of the better ones where if you're actually just watching it, it's really funny what they're saying if you really listen to it.

WoV:  It has that awesome mad scientist subplot there too!

Evan:  Bwaaa-huaa-huaaaa [Evan's Mad Scientist laugh]!!!!  Ha ha...they're sitting there drinking the wine and you're just thinking "What IS this?"  We actually had someone dress up as that scientist last year.....this year he was dressed as the Smog Monster.

WoV:  How many staff members does it take to put this together from start to finish?

Evan:  Two.  Kevin and I are the ones who hand out the tickets and all that stuff.  After that we were pretty much just hanging out...we were just doing it on our own, but I'd say that Kevin and I are the ones who  got everything done for it.  

WoV:  Is everyone at That's Entertainment a Godzilla fan?

Evan:  I'd say the majority of the people here goes with alot of the stuff we almost have to know it.  

WoV:  Anything coming up that you'd like the patrons and fans of That's Entertainment to know about?

Evan:  Free Comic Book Day is coming up on May 5th.  Record Store Day is next month...and we'll have a bunch of events coming up in the summer but we'll know more as we get closer.

WoV:  I'm looking forward to more Godzilla and more events like this.  Are there any films in particular that you might like to show?

Evan:  That's a good question...nothing comes immediately to mind right now, but we've been asking people to let us know if there's anything they'd like to see.  Godzilla seems to be universally liked by yound and old people, so we're trying to find something else that fits in that spot that's not necessarily Godzilla.  We haven't found it yet, but we'll see.

Godzilla is loose!  Nyaggggh!  RUUUUUN!!!!!!!!

Evan is also working with the Worcester Film Board for this summer's Movies on the Common series.  Free films that will be shown in the park will include The Princess Bride, Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark!  That's Entertainment will not be hosting these films but expect them to have a presence there!


Jet Jaguar!!!!!!!!
So if you are in the Worcester area, do yourself a favor and stop by That's Entertainment at 244 Park Ave.  Browse the store for comics, toys, movies, video games, board games, trading card games, records and just about anything else you can possibly imagine!  The staff are all friendly and helpful and would love to see ya!

Need Godzilla DVD's?  That's E has got you covered!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

In Space, No One Can Eat Ice Cream!!!!!

My younger sister is permanently damaged because of this movie.  Well, okay maybe it's really more my fault for letting her watch it when she was only 4, but hey, let's not split hairs here!  The Chiodo Brother's quintessential 80's sci-fi schlock classic is one of my all time favorite films.

I was first introduced to the magic that is Killer Klowns one summer evening when I was in 7th Grade.  I had just recently gotten my parents old UHF Zenith TV in my bedroom, which I had hooked my Nintendo up to.  It was a Saturday night and I had finally tired of playing Castlevania (my all time favorite NES game.....).  I flipped through my available UHF stations (the TV even had bunny ears....though we had cable downstairs...) and came across the Klowns for the first time on Channel 68....which was an odd station that used to show old reruns of stuff like The Andy Griffith Show, I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched during the daytime hours and at night they show old reruns of The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Lost in Space as well as the odd movie here or there.  That night the 8o'clock movie was Killer Klowns.  Of course, this was a UHF station, so the film was edited for time and content.  I thought it was absolutely hilarious and a bit creepy at the same time.

Not long after seeing it on Channel 68, it aired on the Sci-Fi Channel on their Sunday afternoon Moonlight Matinee.  Probably not the best idea to put it on with my young sister in the room.  She watched about 10 minutes of the movie and ran out screaming and crying.  To this day when she see's a clown, she almost cries.  Heh, heh, heh.

If you are unfamiliar with this's just as the title explains.  Aliens from outer space that resemble evil clowns come to earth to collect humans in cotton candy cocoons.  Once your enveloped in the cotton candy,  you start to liquify and the Klowns will drink drink you with a giant crazy straw.  When I say crazy straw, I mean CUH-RAZY STRAW!  The thing is nuts!  I wanted one in the worst way.

The film starts with Ol' Farmer Green sittin' out on his porch reading about Haley's Comet just as a fireball passes overhead and crashes in the woods.  Well, Ol' Farmer Green decides that he's gonna git himself rich!  He grabs Pooh-Bear (his dog) and sets out to go get himself the comet.  Well, instead of finding paydirt, he comes across a circus tent....hhhmmm...suspicious!  Farmer Green and Pooh-Bear are the first Kasualties.  Heh, heh....see what I did there?

Mike and Debbie are up at lovers land, enjoying the evening in the back of Mike's an inflatable raft...with...champagne.  Sure, why not, right?  Anywhoo....the Terrenzi Brother's come up to Lover's Lane in their ice cream truck with a giant clown head on it.  Gee....could that come into play later?  I wonder.....
Anyway, Debbie wants to go check out the "Shooting Star" that they saw and convinces Mike to go.  They also come across the tent and we get our first glance of the inside.  It ain't no normal funhouse kids!

Well Mike and Debbie escape and go to town to warn the police.  As it just so happens, Debbie's ex, Dave,  is a cop and he's on duty that night with Officer Mooney (The always incredible John Vernon), a burnt out hard ass who treats everyone like a hostile suspect.  Dave agrees to follow them back to the Tent/UFO and when they get there....lo and behold, it's gone and there's just a hole in the ground.

The Klowns start their invasion of suburbia, capturing humans and spinning them into the cotton candy cocoons.  There are some truly creepy moments in the film, such as a scene in which a little girl is having her birthday party at a local burger joint.  A rather nasty Klown lurks outside, beckoning to her.  She slips away from the table, eager to play with the Klown....but we see what really is about to happen.  Behind the Klowns back is a giant sledgehammer (painted like an easter egg, natch.).  The little girls is pulled away from the door and told to eat her dinner before she plays, her mother narrowly saving her life and not even knowing it.
Another fantastic scene involves a group of people waiting at a bus stop and a Klown entertaining them with some shadow puppets before Kollecting (I did it again!) them in a very unique way!

Apparently Killer Klowns 2 is coming down the pike this year as well, so keep checking back for more info on that!

If you haven't seen this movie then run, don't walk to your nearest DVD/Blu Ray/VHS/Betamax retailer and get yourself a copy of this film!  Do it now, the Mighty JoJo commands you!