Special Report: Mondo Movie Night 2 – By Jordan Garren

Up until Saturday, July 24th, I thought I truly knew Lucio Fulci’s “Zombie” (a.k.a. “Zombi 2″) by heart. Thanks to Mondo Movie Night 2, I now know that the version I’ve seen so many times isn’t the complete film, giving me even more reason to buy either “Zombie” (released by Blue Underground) or “Zombi 2″ (released by Shriek Show). Now as you may recall, my experience at the last Mondo Movie Night was extremely fun although I had a pretty haphazard day. This time around I was better prepared, and the keyword here is better. Despite my planning ahead, simple forgetfulness and time were both against me.

Learning from my last adventure, I made sure to get some rest this time around. After packing a change of clothes, my checkbook, and my digital camera for the next day, I went to sleep around two a.m. At 8:15, I hurriedly got ready and went to work Needless to say it turned out to be a pretty busy day, but I still had plenty of energy when I strolled out of there at 5:00 PM. Once I got home, all I had to do was change my shirt and grab my gear. The only thing I had to worry about was getting batteries for my handy little digital camera, but I could do that later. After lounging around for a bit, I left for Scranton and arrived on the outskirts of town at approximately 7:00 P.M. That gave me two hours to kill before I had to pick my girlfriend (Tara), and three hours to get to Endless Mountain Cinema for the show. What could possibly go wrong?!

To pass the time, I decided to visit some of my old friends, but sadly most of them had something better to do than sit at home. I did eventually luck out and managed to meet up with my old buddy Bruce Cavalotti, a best friend from my pre-highschool years. I think Bruce put it best when he said, “What do you say to someone who you haven’t seen in two years?” However this was the start of my problems as I sort of lost track of time while we both reminisced. After two hours or so, I realized that I had to pick up Tara so I bid my good friend a fond farewell and raced off. Of course I didn’t get there on time and apparently Tara only waited five minutes or so before calling for a ride and leaving! (And women always say that us men are stubborn and impatient! HA!) I was not privy to this information and waited a full twenty minutes before going to her house.

Once there, I didn’t receive a very warm welcome and a small argument started. Apparently Tara’s manager from work was going to Mondo Movie Night and Tara wanted to be there early to hang out. I countered with a “Why didn’t you just wait a few more minutes?!” but it was to no avail. In a fluster, we both left for the theater and I left my overnight-bag at her house… with the digital camera still in it! (DOH!) Not realizing this, I made my way to the K-Mart that’s right next to the theater, mere minutes before the store closed. I rushed to the electronics section and grabbed some batteries. The display clearly stated that said batteries were buy one get one free, so I grabbed two packs and ran to the only open register.

Long story short: I ended up paying full price for the batteries (actually I got fifty cents off I believe) rather than getting one pack for free. A note to all stores, make sure your employees know what they’re doing before you unleash them on an unsuspecting public! Afterwards, I ran outside with the batteries and then it dawned on me… I didn’t have the camera! Surely the fates were against me! Cutting our losses, Tara and I went over to the movie theater, met up with her manager and picked a damn good seat near the middle of the theater. And remember those snooty people who put a damper on my fun last time? They were back, but luckily had decided to sit away from us! Thankfully the section where I sat had a lot of hecklers, so I was in good company for the rest of the evening.

Having missed half the festivities last time, I’m happy to say that I didn’t miss a damned thing this time around. Doctor Zombie kicked things off with the Scream Queen Contest (back by popular demand) and the Zombie Make-up Contest. Tara and her boss joined the screaming contest and brought back cool reproduction posters of “Zombi 2″ complete with Fulci’s signature on it. (And no it wasn’t his actual signature as he’s been dead for some time now.) Once again, the winner of this screaming contest was smallest girl of the bunch. (The Mouse that Roared II!) After that, the dozen or so people who dressed as zombies stood in front of the packed theater. While half of them just had caked makeup and fake blood on their face, a few went all out. One guy dressed as a zombie girl with a fetus bursting from his belly!

After each “zombie” was introduced, they then had to do their best “zombie shamble.” Though several had the shamble down perfect, I’d have to say that the crowd favorite was the kid who ran up the isle as fast as he could, screaming, “28 Days Later!” The winners of the contest (zombie fetus parent, circus zombies, and the Fulci zombie) got their prizes and took their seats. This contest was followed up with a “seance” to resurrect the spirit of Lucio Fulci. As the lights when out, Doctor Zombie asked us all to concentrate and via the power of a small stereo system we made contact with Fulci: “It’sa me, Lucio Fulci!” What followed was one of the most hilarious and racially slurred seances ever! After Fulci’s spirit once again moved on to the other side, a strobe light came on and zombies shuffled up the aisle of the theater and mauled a “random” patron, spilling rubbery intestines everywhere! As his corpse was dragged away, the entire crowd cheered.

The cheers soon grew louder as “Zombie’s” opening titles blazed across the screen! Oddly enough, the print of the film that Doc Zombie secured was entitled “Zombies 2″ (an enigma that puzzled even the most hardcore horror fans). Despite the name confusion, this was indeed Fulci’s classic zombie opus and even better, it was fully uncut! Now I, and many others have a profound love of this zombie flick, but that didn’t stop any of us from heckling the movie. One of my favorite jokes revolved around Juan Valdez since there was a Hispanic character with a very stereotypical accent. (“Where’s his burro?! Did the zombies eat your burro Juan?!”) And when we weren’t making snide comments and silly jokes, we were all applauding certain scenes.

The real crowd-pleasing moments in the film were the underwater battle between a zombie and a shark, any scene with nudity (the majority of the moviegoers were men after all), and the infamous “splinter of wood through the eye” scene. The latter even had my girlfriend whooping, even though it really grossed her out. And every time the familiar synth beat of the movie’s main theme started playing, the entire audience would clap and stomp their feet to the rhythm. But alas, the fun was over once the end credits rolled. (“Honk if you love zombies!!”) As the house lights slowly undimmed, everyone made their way to the exit. As we all slowly left the theater, a very uppity blonde girl used her powers of rudeness against a zombie.

One of the zombie make-up contest winners was strolling along slowly (with his Fulci zombie mask and conquistador bust) much like the rest of us. Suddenly this extremely snooty blonde started complaining that she had to get to the bathroom and that he was walking too slow. Then she shoves past the guy and several other people and joins up with the snooty people from the “Blood Feast” show! (“Well that explains that!”). Is there a way we can ban these people from future events? It seems like they thrive on being rude and revel in ruining people’s fun! If you’ve just read that line and said, “Hey that’s me,” please do not show up at future Mondo Movie Nights. Your kind is not welcome there!

Anyway, once Tara and I got out into the lobby, we checked out the mini-store that Doc Zombie and company had set up. As the 2-Disc set of “Zombi 2″ was not available for a pre-street date sale (due to some alleged street date change from Media Blasters), I decided to purchase “Cemetery Man” and the “Phantasm II/Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead” double-feature DVD set. Tara, after some looking, picked up a mint condition “Dawn of the Dead” comic book that had Ken Foree’s signature on it! Despite my envy of this purchase, I was a bit upset that she didn’t even know who Ken Foree was until I told her. And now that I think of it, that comic book may come into my possession on August 14th, when I turn twenty-one! Woohoo!

Once again, Doctor Zombie put on a great show and everyone had a blast. One thing that was extremely noticeable this time out was the number of people gathered in the theater. For “Blood Feast” about half the theater was filled, but this time, there weren’t many empty seats in the house. There were cult movie fans from every walk of life there as well, from the hardcore fans dressed as zombies, to the average joe who was just plain curious. If things keep up like this, I think a bigger theater, or multiple shows are in order. Mondo Movie Night is clearly gaining popularity and is only going to get better. Not much has been said about the next event, but it’s been hinted that Lucio Fulci’s “The Beyond” may be the next film. Regardless of the movie, I’m definitely going to be in the audience for Mondo Movie Night #3 later this year!