Windber Coffeehouse Nights: 20 September, 2018

This was a comparatively slow night at the Grand Midway with fewer people coming out than in the recent past, though it still had its moments. Owner Blair Murphy was on the road for much of the evening, arriving after 9 PM. Accordingly, I did the set-up, opening as usual at 6 PM (must remind Blair he should change the window display, which still has the old 7 PM-11 PM operating hours listed). My partner Syn had had a very full, tiring day and, not wanting to risk her fragile health, limited her involvement for some of the evening. As is so often the case, Amber was the first one in the door and again in costume (as a Pikachu).

Blair had left a stack of mostly little-known horror or horror-related DVDs for me to choose from. He’d also replenished the selection of liquid creamers (we’d nearly exhausted each one last time). Little chance of that this evening, as attendance was off compared to recent weeks.

Anyway, the new stand-up coffin (positioned to be the first thing guests see when entering the coffee bar area) now had an inhabitant: A life-sized cutout of a very spooky older gentlemen of unknown origins (no, not me). It is worth noting, however, that Blair tells me a weird hotel bell-hop uniform is in my future, specifically for this year’s Dracula-Con event, October 13—watch the Grand Midway’s Facebook page for info and mark your calendars!

I picked the oldest, most offbeat and, it turned out, probably the least impressive of the lot to start with:hillbillys-in-a-haunted-house How do I describe this 1967 oddity? It’s a combination horror-comedy (with not one second of actual fear and hardly as many laughs). And it’s a musical (note Ferlin Husky as top-billed star and the batch of ’60’s country singers who make singing cameos). Oh, and it’s a takeoff on the cold war spy flicks of the time.

The plot: Husky, a girl singer called Boots (played by busty, blonde Joi Lansing) and their VERY nervous manager are driving the back-roads somewhere down south, bound for a gig in Nashville (and singing enthusiastically about this impending “Jamboree”) when they blunder into possibly the least-convincing shoot-out in movie history. Some State Troopers out-duel, wound and capture 2 jerks in black suits and sunglasses. They blithely explain that the jerks are spies then send our lead trio on their way (apparently these State Cops don’t believe in taking statements from witnesses or in keeping some kind of national security/espionage case quiet).

Looking for a place to spend the night before pushing on to the Music City, the trio enter a supposedly abandoned mansion they don’t know is reportedly haunted. Only it’s actually local headquarters for a squad of (yes) spies out to steal some secret formula from a nearby government lab. The spies use laughable period ‘high tech’ to further the haunting myth, keeping people away. The baddies here include Horror old-timers John Carradine, Basil Rathbone and Lon Chaney, Jr., plus a guy in a suitably absurd gorilla suit that Lon’s fond of but John hates, and this Chinese babe, who doesn’t merit a mention in the above poster yet is in charge of the whole operation.

There is much running around, unfunny jokes, lame ‘shocks’ and girlish screams (more of the latter by the manager guy than by Boots). All broken up by the occasional musical number. The spies utterly fail to get rid of our, uh, heroes. The nervous manager can’t sleep, turns on the TV (to a country music show, of course), thereby providing the excuse for Husky’s various fellow singers to perform. In the midst of these cameos, the scowling faces of the baddies appear intermittently on the screen–only Carradine puts much effort into making ‘threatening’ faces at his bemused audience of one).

A somber government agent arrives in the morning. The other evildoers are either shot or handcuffed, but the Asian babe gets the drop on everyone–until (surprise!) the mansion’s one REAL ghost (former owner in full Confederate Army Uniform) distracts her and she too is taken into custody.

Overall: the kind of lame movie one has to see to (dis)believe.

I grabbed myself a coffee, added sugar and Almond Joy creamer and used the free Wi-Fi to check my email. Then it was time for movie number 2:

watch out

During the Christmas season, a couple hires hot teen girl to watch their almost-teen son while they’re off partying. Yes, we are in store for another kind of dumb babysitter-in-peril epic.

The twist? The son (who she’s known forever) isn’t just secretly obsessed with her. He’s a full-blown homicidal maniac. Somehow nobody else has noticed this. When the girl rejects his clumsy advances, the kid begins terrorizing her–first using his stupidly obedient buddy to convince her there’s a crazed killer invading the house.

When she fails to fall into his arms despite the (supposed) imminent shared danger, he flies into a rage. The teen girl’s current boyfriend and an ex also show up, and psycho kid takes prisoners, tortures and in the end kills everybody else. It does take him several tries, since being a raving bloodthirsty lunatic doesn’t necessarily translate into into an efficient murderer. He tries to set things up in a ridiculous frame-job where he supposedly slept through an onslaught of mass-murder/suicides. But what if one of his victims is only badly wounded when help arrives?

My take: it’s a moderately amusing gore-fest in what Roger Ebert used to call “idiot plot movies.’ If anyone involved wasn’t a complete idiot, you wouldn’t have a story.

A few guests did come and go as time passed (several joined Syn and I in making mocking comments about this 2nd flick as we stared in wonderment at the blatant stupidities). Syn did a tarot card reading for one guest, as well.

We had an lady staying overnight in the Shakespeare Room. It seems to me that is the most favored suite among the renters Blair gets through the Air-BnB website (more artsy rather than spooky, as opposed to, for instance, the Vampire Room). She arrived and we gave her a rundown on the several nearby places for supper. She chose to checkout Bella’s and returned happy, not to mention impressed by the former museum building’s atmosphere.

Anyway, she seemed a nice lady and when Blair finally arrived, Syn and I were freed up to give her a guided tour of the building. By that time, the night’s final movie was beginning:

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I didn’t see enough of it to have a real opinion about this rural slasher movie, so no mini-review at this time.

 

 

 

 

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