Sadly, I did not get out Tuesday to see the double bill of Prince of Darkness and The Fog. I love the latter quite a lot, and think the opening scene with John Houseman is possible the greatest opening for any horror movie ever, certainly for a ghost story. However, we had a really weird day at work that day, and I was just too beat to venture out that night.
On Monday, though, I did behoove myself down to the Portage Theater for the week’s first horror double bill, The Car and Duel. I had seen The Car as a kid at the Pickwick Theater (about fifty yards across the street from where I now work), but then had not seen it again until I showed it at our annual movie group Halloween party last year. I noticed it was a Universal film, and knew the guys at the Portage had a deal with Universal, so I mentioned the film and they indeed showed it. (Sadly few people showed up. Hopefully it was because it was a Monday and not because of the movie.)
It was great to see the movie in a theater again, and The Car really offers that perfect mix of ludicrous and awesome that we all love so much. A knock-off of Jaws with a Satanic car in place of the shark, the film takes it’s laughably outlandish premise and then just runs with it. The kill scenes manage to be brutal without being graphic, there’s some prime stunt work, and star James Brolin is exactly the sort of bad actor you want starring in this sort of thing. Most of the time he just doesn’t act and is fine, but once in a while he attempts to Act! a bit, and then his charming lack of chops reveals itself. The Car itself, designed by George Barris (who made the Adam West Batmobile) is quite cool. Erlt made a great looking Car model, but it was a very limited production and now costs a tidy sum to get one when they occasionally surface on eBay. Anyway, great stuff.
Duel was a TV movie famously directed by a pre-Jaws Steven Spielberg, although we watched the European theatrical cut with a couple of light swears tossed in. It’s pretty decent, and obviously made for a logical double bill with The Car, although I’ll admit I enjoyed the former’s gaudy charms more than Duel’s technical proficiency. Still, Spielberg’s stripped down tale of a man (Dennis Weaver, aka McCloud) who finds himself preyed upon by a sadistic and probably homicidal semi-truck driver—always unseen, so that you almost think of the truck itself as the bad guy—is pretty great stuff.
For this second movie I was joined by my work friend Tony (part of the movie group I’m in here at work). Since he’s a comic book fan too, we started discussing who was stronger, Duel or The Car? (The Car) Duel or Killdozer. (Killdozer) Duel or Speed. (Speed, but only because it was packed with explosives.)
Anyway, for $7, plus parking, it was a pretty great deal. Still sorry I missed PoD and The Fog, though. On the other hand, their November show is actually on my birthday, and will include Beast of Hollow Mountain and (yay!) The Land Unknown, one of my very very favorite ‘50s monster movies, which is saying a lot. I intend to make some of my friends come down to the theater and treat me to the show. So there’s that.
BOO-HOO UPDATE: I just learned that the show won’t be on my birthday, but on the following Saturday, which is right after Thanksgiving. I’m hoping I can still get people to go to that, and that they won’t have family get-togethers and such to attend instead.