After taking a couple months off for improvements, Windber, Pennsylvania’s haunted hotel, The Grand Midway, has re-launched its weekly coffeehouse. The re-opening was last night, Saturday, September 7. We’ll be open each Saturday evening, 6 till (at least) 10 PM through Halloween. And since this coming Friday is the 13th, we’ll be doing a bonus night then!
All that means I’ve revived my day-after blog reports on the doings at my favorite wonderfully weird hang-out. So how did things go?
Well, first of all, Synthia and I had spent most of the day helping the Midway’s owner cleaning and doing last minute prep for the renewed venture. It was not all toil, though. We took a substantial break to watch the concluding 2 episodes of I, Zombie on Netflix
and enjoy a typically tasty takeout lunch from the Windber Wok (just a couple blocks up the street).
In addition to the usual hot coffee (Starbucks, this evening), various teas and hot cocoa were available. There were cold drinks for those so inclined and freshly popped popcorn. Rather than the usual DVD movies on moderate sized screens over the bar area, Blair set up a screen on the stage and used a projection system for the night’s 2 movies.
First up was a classic: The Bride of Frankenstein.
At the last moment Blair was briefly called away, delaying the expected 6 PM start (Neither Syn nor I could quite figure out how to work the projector!). But he was back in minutes and the movie lived up to its billing as an excellent Golden Age of Movie Horror effort.
After a mildly slow beginning a steady stream of guests now began to filter in with both pleasant and profitable results. One of the major advantages of opening on Saturdays is that our Glorious Leader, Midway owner Blair Murphy, was on hand for the entire night. His weekday ‘day job’ requires extensive daily driving, meaning that I have to fill in running the show much of the time. I concentrated on chatting up the customers, including mini-tours of the 1st floor rooms for newcomers and chatting about the building’s history, plus plans for the Dracula-Con Ball the Saturday before Halloween.
The 2nd feature of the evening was supposed to Dracula’s Daughter, but a technical glitch resulted in shifting to The House of Dracula as a default/fallback.
This somewhat odd but entertaining 1940s flick mashes up a whole list of Universal monster characters. John Carradine as Dracula is supposedly seeking medical researchers help in ending his ‘curse’ of immortality. But then he decides he’d rather seduce Dr. Lionel Atwill’s hot nurse and turn her into his vampire slave/bride. The other nurse is also cute, except for being a hunchback. Atwill also hopes to cure her and soon has 2 additional unnatural patients. Lon Chaney, Jr is again playing his iconic tortured Wolfman character, in search of a cure to his full moon affliction and they even stumble across Frankenstein’s monster (one of several films where Glenn Strange portrays the big guy).
Atwill saves the hot nurse from Dracula’s hypnotic spell, but exposure to the vamp’s blood turns him from a merely obsessed scientist into an outright mad and murderous one. A climactic battle wrecks the lab with Chaney’s sympathetic (and newly cured) Larry Talbot, plus the 2 nurses the only survivors among the important characters.
Not a classic on the scale of Bride, yet a fun movie.
Several of those attending tonight were members of local bands that are slated to lend their talents to the pre-Halloween Ball come late October. This is shaping up to be a major event, indeed, and will be held in a previously-abandoned church a few blocks up the street from the Midway.
Besides the entry fees (a mere $3 per person for unlimited hot drinks), this evening saw a good deal of secondary merchandise sold: Voodoo dolls, necklaces, a copy of Blair’s Zombie Dream DVD, and a couple cold sodas all added to the take. Even yours truly kicked in some extra cash for a bottle of ginger ale and a DVD I till then had no idea existed: a TV-movie based on Ursula K. LeGuin’s glorious Earthsea fantasy novels!
I’m very much looking forward to seeing this one (and reviewing it on this blog site). Just as I’m looking forward to more evenings to report on at the coffeehouse!