Monday, June 11, 2012

Rock & Roll MonsterBash 2012!

Offensive punk rock, horror memorabilia, pro wrestling, chicks painted green and a 35mm screening of “Return of the Living Dead” - does life really get any better than this? 

Every now and then, you stumble across a flyer that you absolutely cannot turn away from. Case in point; this one for this year’s Rock & Roll MonsterBash.

You know, just seeing the Tar-Man’s face on anything is enough to get me to open up my wallet, but there are just so many keywords on the poster that just scream “awesome event happening soon, and you need to be there.” Planet of the Apes, Dead Elvis, Monster Championship Wrestling…as just standalone terms, every one of these would most likely pique my interests, but when you lob all of them together on one broadsheet? Yeah, you’ve got my money, easy.

Any long term reader of this blog knows about my adulation for Atlanta’s Starlight Six Drive-In, and if you live in the area and haven’t been there - for whatever stupid reason - you really need to visit it the first chance you get. The atmosphere there is so utterly fantastic that, personally, I have a hard time going to indoor movies now. Yeah, yeah, all you youngsters may think it’s “cool” and “with it” to shell out 40 bucks to watch a movie in IMAX, but for just half that price, you and your best girl could go to the Starlight Six and see TWO movies AND order three tofu dogs a piece…and hell, since it’s a drive-in, you can even take off your pants, if you feel like you have to. Try doing that at an AMC Theater, amigos.

Now, you may be wondering what a “Rock & Roll MonsterBash” is, exactly. Well, other than simply labeling the entire thing, as a collective idea, as “effing awesome,” it’s a Halloween-in-June type festival featuring just about everything you can think of that’s great in existence. You’ve got monster movies in 35mm on a jumbo screen, live music from underground bands that are generally pretty entertaining, about ten bajillion tents set up with all sorts of wacky miscellanea for sale, barbecued soy dogs for $2 a pop, and tons of Georgia State coeds running around in the trashiest outfits this side of  a Rob Liefeld comic. Like I said earlier - it’s pretty much the best idea for anything ever in history.

Since I arrived at the event around late evening, I actually managed to see what the environment looks like - funnily, I have a hard time making out black inscriptions on grey buildings at 1 in the morning. The attention to detail, as you will soon see, is absolutely amazing - not only are the projection houses covered in some of the dopest looking B-movie murals you’ll ever see, the screens THEMSELVES are emblazoned with artwork dedicated to Mecha-Godzilla and “Robot Monster.” It’s the sort of small touches that make the drive-in one of the coolest damn places in Atlanta…if not the entire US of A.

The snack bar, as you can see, was decorated to the hilt for the festivities, complete with a crucified skeleton greeting guests in search of some extra-chili doused nachos. Despite the rather risqué atmosphere, there were a ton of kids present for this year’s event - so yeah, those eight-year-olds either have the best parents in metro Atlanta, or the absolute worst.

As one of the movies being screened that evening was the legendary 1985 horror comedy masterpiece “Return of the Living Dead,” there was a TON of zombie-related shenanigans going on. If you ever wanted to see a bunch of nose-ringed twenty-year olds running around in fake-blood-soaked school girl uniforms, well, it looks like you’ll have to wait your turn until next year, Holmes. Oh, and this tent gets bonus points times five for keeping things canonical, obviously.

As far as the demographical makeup of the event goes, well…let’s just say, you get some very interesting people in attendance. From camera-wielding lookie-loos to costumed wallflowers to shirtless dudes that are clearly inebriated, there’s a pretty vast cross-section of people you’ll find at events of the like. And yes, I’d accept Friend Requests from all of you, if you just so happen to be reading this.

Ever the kitsch enthusiast, I was pleasantly surprised by the vast array of niche memorabilia (read: worthless crap) for sale at the event. Never has there been so much purposeless, tacky junk congregated into such a compact space before; and incidentally, never have I had the urge to just fling open my wallet and just start throwing twenty dollar bills at people for random knickknacks.

Action figures, out of print CDs, jigsaw puzzles, VHS boxes, mini-posters some dude just printed off his computer and asked fifteen bucks for; you name it, and it was probably available for purchase at MonsterBash. I guess my absolute favorite items on display where these mini pumpkin tins - and in case you were wondering, I did in fact end up purchasing that really tall one.

I guess the most ingenious item to be found were these laminated “security badges” featuring the likeness of practically every single fictitious character ever. Whether you’re into “Buffy” or “Phantasm,” there was bound to be at least one or two ID cards on display that you at least thought about picking up…and that one “S-Mart” tag featuring Bruce Campbell almost ended up becoming a permanent part of my wardrobe.

“Obscure,” I think, was the name of the game at the MonsterBash wares section. And if there’s one thing out there more off-kilter than an action figure in the likeness of one of continental Europe’s greatest composers…

…it has to be a children’s board game based upon a soap opera where adultery constitutes 98 percent of the show’s plotlines. If this thing is on Etsy, expect a full review sometime before the summer’s over.

Prior to the screenings, event-goers were treated to the one-two combo of monster-themed professional wrestling and a concert featuring North Carolina shock-punk legends Dead Elvis. The wrestling main event - featuring stars from Atlanta’s very own Platinum Championship Wrestling - just so happened to feature the resurrected corpses of the Von Erich family taking on an up-and-coming young tag-team called “The Washington Bullets.” And yes, I did manage to get the complete match recorded, as if you even needed to ask.

Granted, outdoing a tag team bout featuring undead WWA legends is a tough task, but I think we can all agree that Dead Elvis - one of the few truly iconic punk outfits from the southland - put on a truly spectacular performance that evening. Indeed, just one song from the night’s festivities will not do, so here are multiple videos featuring the band doing what they do best. And in advance: yeah, you’re probably going to be offended.

And of course, the night was capped off by a double bill of “Planet of the Apes” and “Return of the Living Dead.” For some reason, there was a twenty minute documentary about the 1970s version of “The Island of Dr. Moreau” played before the first feature, primarily because…uh, they had it on hand? Yeah, that’s probably why.

Believe it or not, this was my first time seeing “Planet of the Apes” the whole way through, and I really liked it. I always sort of thought the movie was a thinly veiled allegory for racism, but after actually watching it, I am 110 percent convinced that the entire thing is the literalization of the Scopes Monkey Trial. Seriously, watch the movie back to back with “Inherit the Wind,” and then tell me they’re not the same damn story. And at this point, I don’t think there’s really anything more I can add to the reverence behind “Return of the Living Dead,” outside of saying that it may very well be the absolute best zombie movie of the 1980s - in my book, it’s easily on par with “Re-Animator” and “The Beyond,” if not better than both pictures. So yeah, if you haven’t seen it before…what the hell are you waiting for, man?

Although it really goes without saying, I had an absolute blast at MonsterBash 2012, and can’t wait until next year’s festivities. Thankfully, there is a similar event - the world-famous Drive-Invasion all night movie-thon - this Labor Day weekend, so if you’re an able bodied Atlantan, you really have no excuse to not be at the Starlight Six come early September.

But uh, just remember one thing; BRING A SET OF JUMPER CABLES. I mean, seriously, folks. Seriously…


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