Wednesday, July 13, 2011

You Know What I Did This Summer

Well folks, as you may have noticed, it’s been a while since my last post. Where have I been? What have I been up to? Well, I’m glad you asked. Shut up, you did too. I spent a week in Myrtle Beach. Then, I spent a weekend watching fireworks, getting various forms of intoxicated, and celebrating Independence Day with The Tribe. Then, I spent the next week and a half fighting with my damn computer. The less said about the debauchery of Explosives Day weekend the better on the grounds that I may incriminate myself. The less said about the the battle with technology the better on the grounds that my head may explode, but my beach week is fair game. I hear you now, saying, “Here we go with one of those boring ‘what I did on my summer vacation’ articles.” Not to worry folks; I’m not going to bore you with pointless vacation stories. This is a horror blog. You guys don’t want to hear about the outstanding soft-shell crab I had, why the city was engulfed in smoke, the black-light skeleton pirates, Pedro’s Pleasure Dome, or how I turned a random couple’s marriage proposal into a moment of terror they’ll tell their grandkids about. You’re not interested in that kind of stuff, so I’m just going to talk about the things that pertain to the topic at hand…horror movies.

First off, I have a little DVD buying tip for you guys. When you are looking for DVDs at bargain prices, one place that many people overlook but you should keep in mind is pawn shops. I’ve made a lot of good finds at pawn shops over the years. Sometimes their DVDs are as much as five bucks, but most often they’re in the three dollar range. If you catch them on a good day after some poor broke horror fan has had to sell off some of his collection, you can give those flicks a good home for a fraction of what they would normally cost. Those of you like me who love looking through bargain bins for that hidden, rare or obscure gem shouldn’t overlook the potential pawn shop goldmine.

As I was driving to the beach, I saw a sign that I was powerless to resist. Outside of a little pawn shop in Conway, South Carolina, I saw a sign that read “All DVDs $1.” I dare say that’s the most irresistible sign I’ve ever seen that didn’t contain the word “topless.” After raiding that store, I checked out a chain of pawn shops in Myrtle Beach called Dick’s Pawn that I always hit when I’m in town. They had their DVD’s 4 for $10. Did I find anything good? See for yourself…

Those 14 DVDs cost me a grand total of twenty bucks. That’s less than a buck and a half each! I’ve been looking for a copy of Kidnapped (aka Rabid Dogs) for a while now. My best find, though, was that 2 disc Cat in the Brain. I’ve been eyeing that very Grindhouse Releasing edition on Amazon for 20 bucks by itself. I paid $2.50 for it. Those are just the horror DVDs I got. I also snagged Shogun Assassin 1 and 2, Dazed and Confused, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, and SNL: Best of Christopher Walken and didn’t pay more than $2.50 for any of them. So, to sum it up, go raid your local pawn shops for movies. You’ll be glad you did. Trust me.

Another thing I got to do while I was there was visit a couple of haunted attractions. I went through Ripley’s Haunted Adventure and Nightmare Haunted House. You can click on their pics below to go to their respective websites. Both of them were very cool and well worth a visit if you find yourself in the area. What struck me about them is how they parallel various levels of horror movie budgets. Let me explain. The huge seasonal mega-haunts like Netherworld would be the huge budget Hollywood blockbusters. They can afford effects, actors, and a sheer size and scope that set them apart. Think I Am Legend in terms of budget or The Exorcist in terms of quality.

Ripleys is the medium sized studio picture. Something like, say, Hostel. Small budget by some standards (5 million in Hostel’s case), but definitely not chump change by any means. Ripleys has some very good special effects. Their space is quite large, incorporating three floors and including two elevators. Their cast was only about 10 people, but they did a good job too. How their makeup didn’t immediately melt off in that heat is beyond me. Definitely a good show.

Nightmare was analogous to a really good low budget indie flick. You could tell that they didn’t have as much money behind the haunt as Ripleys. But, like all good low budget productions, they emphasize style, passion, and ingenuity over flash and gloss. I won’t give any of their tricks away, but as I was walking through the thought that kept going through my mind was “The layout and design of this place is brilliant!” They had a fairly small space, about 3,000 square feet, but every inch was used to maximum effect. It felt claustrophobic, but the corridors seemed to stretch forever. The way it was designed for two or three actors to work the entire house was great. Their house told a very simple story, and sold it well.

I have a lot more to say about both houses, all of it good, but like I said, I don’t want to give anything away. What I loved about the experience was the reaffirmation that, just like in horror movies, there is room at all budget and production levels for good scares. If you can’t afford elaborate effects, focus on mood and atmosphere. You can be high tech or low-fi, glossy “holy crap did you see that” or down and dirty visceral, grand scale or scaled down; it doesn’t matter. If it’s executed skillfully, it can be something special. I draw the haunted attraction / horror flick comparison because I know people who have prejudices and preconceived notions about big or small haunts, just like I know some folks do about low budget direct to video and big budget Hollywood studio flicks. I like it all man, and I hope you’ll give it all a chance and check out everything that the horror spectrum has to offer.

One last thing and I’ll stop going on and on about my trip. On the way from Myrtle Beach to South of the Border (the world’s greatest cheesy tourist trap) I happened to see this while driving through Duford, South Carolina…

It looked to be long closed down, and was appropriately creepy. The “No Fear” sign in the window was beautifully ironic. Any business that takes its name from a Stephen King novel is cool in my book. See folks, when out cruising the byways and back roads, there’s no telling what kind of horrific stuff you might run across. You could find a cool sight like this. Then again, you could run across the Sawyer clan. Either way, get out there and explore. This has been a public service announcement from the Son of Celluloid.


Cash Wampum said...

Cash Wampum welcomes the return of The Son of Celluloid. I'm glad your XP problems are over. Your next blog better be something fantastic, we've been waiting since June 23rd!! Bring on the horror!!

Unknown said...

Um...i DO want to hear about the horror proposal damnit!

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