Recap: “DISMEMBER THE ALAMO” at the Yonkers Drafthouse!Books/Art/Culture,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
When it comes to programming, no theater chain can compare to that of the Alamo Drafthouse. With an eye towards the fun and the off-beat, the Drafthouse presents theatrical engagements like no other, providing a full food-and-drink menu alongside films and decor that celebrate the wonder of cinema. And with Halloween around the corner, every Drafthouse location found themselves within the spirits of the season with their first annual “DISMEMBER THE ALAMO” event: a four-film marathon of mysterious and malevolent horror films.
While the programming at each Alamo location differed (with varied films such as THE BABADOOK, ROSEMARY’S BABY, OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN and ERNEST SCARED STUPID being among those that played elsewhere), FANGORIA was invited to partake in the event at the Yonkers Drafthouse, much to this writer’s excitement. Walking into a packed house, horror fans were out in style, with several partakers coming in costume while others adorned their most beloved horror merch. As we took our seats, the aura in the air was that of excitement: fans guessed which films were going to play as we awaited the arrival of our hosts.
When the pre-show came to an end, the lights dimmed and out came our hosts: Yonkers Drafthouse programmer Cristina Cacioppo, donned in full wig and dress regalia, and her cohort, “Dr. Rathbone.” After greeting the audience, they began with the aforementioned costume contest, which brought the likes of those of Green Man (from IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA), a female Freddy Krueger and even a man adorning the skeleton mask from HALLOWEEN III. After voting ended, we were warned that our first film would be the only one of the night presented digitally, but for good reason: the version shown would be the director’s cut, which is only available as a digital print. The audience braced themselves, and the screen lit up.
Following trailers for SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK and an ’80s CARRIE rip-off whose name escapes me, the first film was none other than Fred Dekker’s excellent genre bash (and this writer’s inaugural 30 for 31), NIGHT OF THE CREEPS. Most of the crowd was familiar with the film, cheering and laughing at every memorable moment; a few folks were even audibly choked up during the tragic tape recorder scene at the top of the third act. But most of all, the film was the perfect note to start this marathon on: something thrilling, something funny and something that will touch on the tastes of any horror fan.
After the film wrapped, a 10-minute intermission played, focusing on horror film’s all featuring “Don’t” in the title, such as DON’T GO NEAR THE PARK or DON’T LOOK IN THE WINDOW; of course, this wrapped with Edgar Wright’s “DON’T” faux trailer from GRINDHOUSE. Our hosts returned soon afterwards, with prizes in hand: a FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 Jason Voorhees figure from NECA, two tickets to the next Hudson Horror Show in December and a glorious FANGORIA prize pack, featuring three issues of FANGO, our America Haunts issue, the sold-out issue of GOREZONE #32, a copy of I’M NOT SAM from Lucky McKee & Jack Ketchum, and a vinyl record of horror-inspired songs. The winner, the female Freddy, chose the FANGORIA prize package, of course, while the runner-ups chose the latter prizes, respectively. Our hosts prefaced the second film by stating that the rest of the programming would be screened in 35mm, and this film was being shown with special permission from the director which made it one of the rare legal screenings of the film.
Following another pair of vintage trailers, the film rolled and to the roar of the crowd, the title appeared: BASKET CASE. Once again, the crowd seemed to be utterly familiar with the film, which allowed the gorier moments to receive huge reactions and the humor to land all-too-well. Following that film, a surprise guest arrived for a Q&A: BASKET CASE star and Frank Henenlotter regular Beverly Bonner. Bonner was enthusiastic and excited to see this crowd embracing BASKET CASE so many years later, even as she became emotional in remembrance of all the cast members who had passed since. It was a truly excellent Q&A by someone who loves BASKET CASE just as much as everyone in the crowd; in fact, Bonner still appears in her live stage show CASEY: 30 YEARS LATER, reprising her character from BASKET CASE.
With one more intermission behind us, featuring a pre-show of film clips mainly about satanism, the hosts returned to the stage to offer another costume contest for those who arrived after the first film, which included a pair of people dressed as Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, as well as a were-horse. Following that, the hosts left with a hint that the next film would not be an American production but rather an Italian film. After being prefaced by a pair of silly Italian grindhouse trailers (including one film proudly boasting Klaus Kinski), the film unfolded: Lamberto Bava’s DEMONS 2.
DEMONS 2 was definitely the odd-man-out of the films presented, with most of its charm coming from its special effects make-up and the ridiculous premise. In this regard, the unintentional humor rode high: elevator cable fights, inexplicably macho men and perhaps the most inept child character in history all earned laughs from the crowd. Yet still, the film did not disappoint, and the crowd was left puzzled in what could possibly follow such a strange genre offering.
After some parting words with the hosts, who warned not to eat during the next film’s final act, the last entry in Yonker’s “DISMEMBER THE ALAMO” unspooled, much to this writer’s delight. A film I had long needed to see, Brian Yuzna’s SOCIETY, began to play, to which most of the crowd was equally unfamiliar. Yet the movie played excellently: the gore effects stunned and incited some audible gasps, and the film led to some serious, profanity-laced crowd chatter following the film.
Despite personal issues with the frustrating food-and-drink service at the event, “DISMEMBER THE ALAMO” was an overall smash success of diverse horror programming and fun horror fan interaction. With a lively atmosphere and great films (most of which were on gorgeous 35mm prints), the event was definitely among the best film marathons that this writer has had the pleasure of attending. And with another year to wait until round two, the gauntlet has been thrown to see if the Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers can make 2015’s “DISMEMBER” event bigger and bolder.