Windber Coffeehouse Nights: 1 November, 2018 (and what followed on Saturday, the 3rd)

I’ve been crazy-busy on a number of fronts, as a result this report on doings at the Grand Midway Hotel (and in particular the weekly coffeehouse) is a shameful four days late. My apologies.

So anyway, the evening after Halloween night (when Syn and I donned costumes and gave out treats to passersby from the Midway’s porch) the Midway enjoyed one of best crowd’s of the year. Much coffee, hot tea, and cold drinks were enjoyed. As usual, an intrepid band of role players gathered around the dining room table for a fantasy quest. The news of the day (including some inevitable discussions of the forthcoming elections) was discussed.

Also mentioned was the kid-friendly after-Halloween haunted house tour that Blair was throwing at the last minute for the following Saturday afternoon. Amber even previewed the fancy gown she was to wear for this occasion.

On the film front, the evening featured a pair of movies from 1987 (though they were wildly different from each other in tone, intent and structure) as major studio bookends between a locally-produced, extremely low-budget monster movie with VERY local roots.

In the first film, Angel Heart,

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you’ve got Mickey Rourke as a (frequently beaten-up) Brooklyn private detective in the 1950s. He’s hired by mysterious Robert De Niro to find out if a missing WW 2 veteran is still alive. That brings him eventually to the bayou country of Louisiana, where voodoo-related danger and a sexy encounter with Lisa Bonet awaits.

I thought it was a pretty good blend of noirish PI stuff and horror-thriller/voodoo aspects. Syn and several others remarked at their amazement of seeing Rourke looking almost handsome, back in the day. Consulting the internet via smartphone confirmed it was the very same actor who in later years has been known for his increasingly grotesque appearance.

At the other end of the evening, we plugged a (mostly) fun horror anthology flick into the DVD player for the 2 wide-screen TVs behind the bar:

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“The Raft” is one of my favorite Stephen King short stories and, in my opinion, was the best of the three offerings presented here.

In between, we showed Cannibal Tick, a just-released 2018 throwback to monster movies of the 1950s. Produced in and around the Johnstown area (including a bar scene filmed right here in the Midway), it brings out that old chestnut of nuclear testing gone wrong. This time it’s humble ticks that get irradiated. Already natural bloodsuckers, these have been mutated into over-sized monsters. Mad scientist attempts to study them and (of course) they get loose and terrorize the cast. The murderous insects grow to about ‘only’ the size of house cats and can be killed by ordinary rifle fire, but they’re still big enough and mean enough to jump, mutilate and kill plenty of unwitting humans. Special effects are deliciously cheesy, the sound effects (particularly gunfire) are a bit over-the-top and the gore isn’t what you’d call realistic–but who cares?

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It’s a zero-budget romp–and we were honored to have William Long (who produced, directed, acted in and did all manner of other jobs in this epic) on hand for the screening. It was great talking to him about this and other projects he has in mind, as well as films he’s been impressed with/inspired by.

Since I took so long to get this written, I should also note that the kid-focused tours on the 3rd were enjoyable. With minimal advance notice, the numbers of kids and parents taking part weren’t large. But they had a good time and collected lots of extra candy (as if they needed more, mere days after the formal trick-or-treating). The ten volunteers who donned costumes (including myself) and served as guides enjoyed themselves as well. (Plus Blair rewarded our efforts afterward with 3 pizzas from Mimos –yum!)

 

 

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