Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Team Fantasmo Vs. The Drive-In Super Monster-Rama

Hey Superfans!
Posts have been few the past week or so as your Team Fantasmo has been on an away mission. A Fantasmo delegation of myself, Rob, Fantasmo All-Star Craig, and original Superfan (and regular Fantasmo guest speaker) Tony Mercer ventured forth to the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama in Vandergrift, PA. It was an amazing experience and held several pleasant surprises. First off, we were blown away to find out that the drive-in was practically next door to Monroeville, PA. What’s the big deal you ask? Well the Monroeville Mall just happens to be where George A. Romero shot Dawn of the Dead! So of course we had to visit and check it out. Incredibly many of the familiar sites were still in existence (pictured below), including the elevator where Flyboy meets a bad end and the escalator Roger slides down (both in JC Penney’s). We ran into an employee at Penney’s who was a zombie extra in the film, and had a fun conversation. Also of interest was the fact that one of the stores had a zombie/Dawn of the Dead exhibit, featuring props and a replica of the mall layout as it was in 1978.
The Monroeville Mall

The Zombie Experience

Fantasmo All-Star Craig Vs. Roger's Burial Site At the Bridge

Fantasmo All-Star Craig Vs. Flyboy's Elevator

It was a great coincidence that we just happened to be staying in the town where Dawn of the Dead was shot, but things got better during our breakfast on the second morning of the trip. Our waitress asked us if we were in town to see Stan Lee. We exchanged surprised glances, and subsequently learned there was a comic convention in town with Stan Lee as guest of honor! Crazier still was the fact that The Last Dragon star Taimak (screened at our second Fantasmo anniversary) was also on hand!! Needless to say we checked the con out. Although I’m not an autograph seeking type of fellow, it was still very cool to be in the presence of the creator of Spider-Man and the man who defeated Sho Nuff via the power of the glow : )

Last but not least the Super Monster-Rama. In a word – amazing!! The first night we arrived it was drizzling, but we were still able to hang out under the protection of the concession stand awning and get the total outdoor experience. We were treated to Witchfinder General, Scream and Scream Again, and some great trailers and shorts (including the trailer for The House That Dripped Blood, on the Fantasmo September bill). Being a bit tired from our long drive, we opted out of the second two films The Crimson Cult and Terror Creatures From Beyond the Grave. We had seen neither, but Scream and Scream Again (a tough film to be fond of) depleted our reserves. In our hearts Friday was just a bonus to the main attraction, the Saturday night Hammer horror fest. The rain stopped and things kicked off with trailers for everything from Stripes to Escape From L.A., followed by a pristine restored print of The Vampire Lovers, The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula, Satanic Rites of Dracula, and Vampire Circus. Great stuff!

Rob Poses Before the Show

An Amazing Trailer!

Rob Vs. The Evel Knievel Pinball Game At the Snack Bar

Our hats are off to the fine folks who planned this event, and the drive-in staff who served up delicious treats all night long (particularly the insanity that was the deep fried Oreo : ) We’re looking forward to seeing what’s on the agenda for next year, and wish the Monster-Rama a long, long life . . . nothing beats the drive-in experience! And if you were unable to make it to Vandergrift not to worry. Don’t forget we’ll be doing our own drive-in night (by way of lawn chairs) in just under two weeks! See you there!


Daniel said...

Holy smokes!! The Monroeville Mall and Stan Lee! That is pretty sweet! I'm gonna have to get off my tail and hit this next year. At least I know the mall is nearby which would be a blast to visit. I like the fact that they have an exhibit there celebrating Romero's film and history. See ya at the drive-in!

Jim Blanton said...

Yeah it was an absolute blast! The mall also apparently hosts occasional after hours screenings of the film, and tours of the shooting spots (very cool : )

Daniel said...

Really? Ya know back in the early 2000's (weird to say that aint it?) I was hearing reports that the mall was very welcoming to tourists. It sounds like they have decided to really embrace the legacy and its impact on the genre. That is very very cool!

Jim Blanton said...

It was very welcoming, and you can tell they eat up the publicity (pun intended : ) Well worth the trip!

fantasmo all star craig said...

Good save near the end- I was about to say "treated to Scream and Scream Again?" Really?????

Jim Blanton said...

Indeed. On the positive side, if I had to see the movie the Monster-Rama was the best possible venue. And it also saved me the trouble of accidentally watching it at some future time : ) Man what a bad movie! 7 Bros. more than made up for it though!!

fantasmo all star craig said...


Dude, check it out!!!

Jim Blanton said...

Yeah, I saw Keith's review yesterday! On the one hand I'm intrigued that it was based on a Lovecraft story, but on the other (even though he liked it) it sounds like we made the right call to leave early : ) It's the type of movie I'd happily watch on a there's-nothing-else-on type of Saturday afternoon. Not to mention it features "venerated horror film icon Christopher Lee!"