Black Sunday 3

June 1990,
Ashton-under-Lyme, Manchester

“Manchester? That’s North London, isn’t it?”
— Phoebe Legere

Miss Legere, star of the Toxic Avenger sequels, wasn’t a guest at Black Sunday 3, tho’ whether she wasn’t invited or was wandering around London looking for it is not known. Making ‘Back to the Future 3’ look positively slow, Malcolm and Dave put the next show on the road just 3 months after BS2. Thanks to the GPO, however, I only found out three WEEKS beforehand. No matter, the tickets were bought (I must be the only ‘zine editor who actually PAYS!) and we sat and drank in a nearby pub, meeting all the people we’d not seen since last time. When we got in, the place was mostly empty, probably due to the relatively short notice given to most people, which meant a pleasing amount of space to sprawl out in.

We began with ‘The Boneyard‘, a world premiere, and quite possibly the last time anyone will see it at the cinema. Spam-in-a-morgue, with rabid grannies (well, a rabid granny – Phyllis Diller, of all people!), rabid kiddies and a rabid, fifteen-foot high poodle. Tacky and not quite unwatchable. ‘Bride of the Re-Animator’ followed, now called ‘Re-Animator 2’ (see TC5 – improved slightly on a second viewing).

I confess to having slept through ‘Black Rainbow‘; but those that watched it enjoyed it. So far no running order had been given (as it turned out we never did get one), which left us annoyingly uncertain when to snooze so as to be wide awake for the best films. I woke up for most of ‘Halloween 5‘ and liked it far more than I expected to. The final 30 minutes with Michael stalking his young niece are very tense, thanks to Danielle Harris as said 8-year old girl. I’m a little worried about her – she’s either one hell of an actress or is now totally traumatised! Otherwise, standard fare, slightly lacking in the flesh department (teenage female). The first half ended with ‘Never Cry Devil‘, the first Society clone I’ve seen, had a boy convinced that his history teacher was a Satanist – the teacher and his retarded brother (nicely played by Michael J. Pollard) were a lot more interesting than the plyboard hero & heroine. The film was unremarkably average save some unsubtle editing – it seemed that the BBFC provided a list of frames to remove and the company removed them, regardless of how rough the result looked.

Overall, a disappointing first half. None of the new films would merit a second look from me, with the possible exception of ‘Halloween 5’, though at 1.75 a shot they were passable. For me, the second half didn’t get off to a much better start… I missed half the promo reel for ‘Revenge of Billy the Kid‘, because the promised interval was halved in length while I was out! What I saw of the promo looked interesting, however. ‘Communion‘, based on the ‘true story’ by Whitley Streiber, opened the second half and took too long to get to the I-was-kidnapped-by-aliens bits. I remain unimpressed with his tale.

Six films in, still nothing memorable – fortunately, this was all about to change. Next up was ‘Basket Case 2‘, a worthy successor to one of the classic low-budget films of all time. Hennenlotter places his hero Duane (played again by Kevin van Heytenrynck) and Belial, his mutant half-brother (in the literal sense!) in a sanctuary for freaks and then throws in a muck-raking journalist in order to get things going. Surprisingly passed uncut by the BBFC+, it is a stream of vicious inventiveness from beginning to (typically twisted) end.

After much fanfare, David Bryan announced one of their star films; ‘Miracle Mile‘. Mass audience response: “Miracle what?”. Despite having no ‘names’ connected with it (save a Tangerine Dream soundtrack), being gore-free and only borderline genre, it was almost unanimously voted THE hit of the festival. After a quiet opening, it becomes an astonishingly powerful film about… well, I suggest the less you know about it the greater the impact it’ll have, so avoid the reviews but SEE IT. No film in the past dozen years has had me closer to tears. Bloody brilliant and worth the cost of the weekend on it’s own. Following this anything would have been a let-down, so it was surprising that ‘Fear‘, another world premiere, was still well worth watching. It stars Ally Sheedy as a psychic who helps the police track down serial killers – things go fine until she comes across a psychotic psychic. Some lovely set pieces but spoiled for me by a weak ending.

To finish off, they gave us the second surprise film. A cunning double bluff – showing the trailer earlier on – fooled everyone so no-one really guessed it would be ‘Frankenhooker‘, the other new Hennenlotter film. More sleaze as you’d expect from the man. ‘Frankenhooker’ is about a guy who decides to rebuild his girlfriend, after she has an accident with a lawnmower, using local hookers to supply the missing pieces. Tongue totally in cheek, we have sex, violence, drug abuse, surgery and exploding bimbos. Lovely.

That’s as much of a review as the deadline permits – very much a festival of two halves, Saint. If the second half had been like the first, I’d be very wary of returning – however, if all the films had been as good as the last four, it would have been the best weekend I’ve had in a long time. The organisation is improving each time (although a running order would have helped!) and they’re beginning to worry the organisers of (the hideously priced) Shock Around the Clock, which has to be a good sign. Roll on BS4, and go see ‘Miracle Mile’!!