Good Midnight to You.
Being a psychotic monster, I love a good scare. Also, being an unholy abomination that has walked the earth for hundreds of years, I love things that are nostalgic. Believe me when I say that living as long as I have, there is much to be nostalgic about. However I am not a sentimental creature, so it would have to take something special for me to start pining over the good old days. Nonetheless, Monsters Crash the Pajama Party does a splendid job capturing the feel of my 20th Century nostalgia. The movie is an example of the types of flicks people would feature at the old spook shows in the 1960’s, but it was shot and edited to incorporate a live interactive performance during the screening. Various horror themed illusions were also performed, including decapitated head levitations, apparition manifestations, staged eviscerations and various other depictions of monstrous carnality (yes…mammarys were involved as well. But it was tasteful). The end result was a fantastic mix of a David Copperfield stage show, a William Castle film, and a deadly romp through Frankenstein’s Laboratory. To tell you the truth, I never understood why such performances ever became so extinct. Sure, you may find an obscure theatre company that gets their hands on an old public domain film and choreographs a fun interactive performance, but such things are fairly rare in this day and age (unless you wish to go to an Alice Cooper concert, but even those don’t really capture the essence of the Spook Shows of days of old).
Am I supposed to make a joke about this picture?
Because I don't think there's much to say.
This DVD is pumped with special features. In fact, I’m pretty sure anyone who bought it did so just to watch them. The total runtime for the title film is approximately 31 minutes and feels stripped (but is totally worth watching with both the commentaries). But this is to be expected because without a fully propped, paid and costumed interactive cast, the film is only a portion of a much bigger show. The film is about a group of thrill seeking “teenagers” who have taken refuge in an old (not so) abandoned mansion in hopes of getting laid…I mean, having a fun filled night of fright and adventure. I can’t say I blame them, as I tend to get my kicks by breaking into people’s houses at night myself. However, I do so to sketch the sleeping inhabitants and frame the drawings on my bathroom wall. Little do our sleepover party princesses know that the house is actually inhabited by a mad scientist, a ghoulish young woman and a cheeky bumbling fool of a gorilla . The film becomes particularly zany as the mad scientist kidnaps the girls to turn them all into gorillas (because…). As the girls are rounded up, their boyfriends run off to collect dollar store Halloween costumes to frighten them, completely oblivious to the kidnappings. Somewhere towards the end of the movie, a giant laser cannon blasts a hole through the screen, and this is where the real fun is supposed to begin. In a true live spook show presentation, this would be the part where costumed creeps step through the screen and attack the audience members, collecting them for the Doctor’s insane experiments (they'd all be actors, of course).
I know this all sounds silly and the production values are very poor, but this was clearly intentional. Everything about this film screams camp. If you’ve never had the whole Spook Show experience firsthand, you can only use your imaginations to comprehend the entertainment value of the true live performance. Thankfully the producers of this DVD have worked pretty hard to give you a simulated experience. The menu screens are all interactive, filled with Easter Eggs and video clips of obscure films and home movies. There is even another film tucked away in the recesses of the menus (a supernatural thriller called Tormented). The inside sleeve is actually a short bio on the Spook Show circuit, lovingly written by Jim “The Mad Doctor” Ridenour. There are also two old-fashioned 3D glasses provided for you to enjoy one of the Easter Egged segments with.
Though I do love this DVD, it leaves much to desire. The content is mostly a lot of fluff and I wish there were more films to watch; Spook Show related or otherwise. I also wish there was a little more information about where the mysterious Easter Egged segments came from. I suppose it really does not matter. It’s a great experience to watch and I would highly recommend purchasing it at your local DVD store. Though I understand that most stores probably would not hold it (being so obscure), you can purchase the DVD for $9.95 at the Something Weird Video website, here.
Part of the fun of this DVD is finding the hidden Easter Eggs yourself through persistent exploration (though I suppose it isn’t all that hard of an excursion). But if you just don’t care for treasure hunting, or are looking for a particular segment and don’t have much time to sift through Easter Eggs, I have taken the liberty of typing up a cheat sheet for you in order to get the full experience without missing anything.
The very beginning is a really nifty spiral, which actually does mess with my visual perception if I stare into it for a while. Some kooky narration plays over the spiral, warning us that we are about to become transported into the “dark sepultures of this mysterious night”.
1st DVD MENU
We begin immediately after being hypnotized; dropped into a cartoony graveyard in the middle of the night.
-By clicking the owl, we begin the title film, Monsters Crash the Pajama Party. A narration opens the film delivered by the Mad Doctor. He breaks the 4th wall, warning the audience that we must remain in our seats, despite the horrific things that may commence during the screening of the film.
-The large tombstone offers us two commentary tracks. One narrated by Harry “Dr. Jekyl” Wise and the other by Philip “Dr. Evil” Morris.
-By clicking the small tombstone to the right a slideshow begins of horror movie flyers while radio spots for horror shows of the decade play throughout. (19:34)
-The third tombstone to the right brings you to a new menu.
~Successful Spooking in 10 Easy Lessons is a step by step manual to creating your own interactive Spook Show illusions. You can navigate through the pages using your DVD remote.
~The Man Buried Alive teaches how to promote a specific spook show act, where you bury a man alive. It helps you with your level of theatricality and your ability to promote yourself.
~Girl Frozen Alive teaches the same lesson learned in The Man Buried Alive, but for a different publicity stunt.
-By clicking the sky in the top right corner, a ghost appears. You are taken to a short video of spooky faces and masks from decades past to horrific organ music. (1:12)
-By clicking the treetops, a bat that appears. You see a video clip of a man in a gorilla suit grimacing at the camera. (0:18)
-By clicking the bottom left hand corner of the screen, an arrow appears. It takes you to a new DVD Menu.
2nd DVD MENU
We are still in the graveyard, but are now facing a crooked old house with windows like eyes, and a front door like a gaping mouth. The moon rises high in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
-By clicking the bottom right hand corner of the screen, an arrow appears. It takes you back to the 1st DVD Menu.
-Clicking in the top right hand corner of the screen, in the moon, a flash of lightning appears and a PSA for Free Television plays. (0:52)
-Clicking the front door of the house will take you inside, and the 3rd DVD menu screen.
-By clicking the bottom left hand corner of the screen, an arrow appears. It takes you to the 4th DVD Menu.
3rd DVD MENU
We are inside the threshold of the crooked house. A black silhouette hangs by its neck in the right hand corner of the screen. A bat dangles next to a lamp hanging from the ceiling. A black cat sits in the doorway to the living room and a skull hangs menacingly from the wall.
-By clicking the face of the hanging man, you see a series of music videos made by “Horror Home Productions" set to original music by the Dead Elvi. The music videos are all homemade micro budget scenes of famous golden age horror monsters, such as the Vampire from London After Midnight, The Mummy and Mr. Hyde. There is also some home movie footage of suburban Halloween decorations from the 1950’s. (16:20)
-By clicking the Hangman’s feet, a creepy hand pops up and a quick clip from the movie Tormented plays. (0:04)
-By clicking the Bat, a 3-D homemade video plays. It’s time to pull out those glasses! (6:22)
Ok, let me get this out in the open. Crappy 3-d does work, ok? It might look like shit, but putting on those 3-D glasses does create the illusion of a third dimension. If you really want it to work though, watch it in the dark, not in the light. Otherwise, you might not get the desired effect
-By clicking the cat, a few old music videos play. One is of the Brian Sisters, singing the Boogie Woogieman. Witchy silhouettes and grinning pumpkins surround the three girls as they huddle together to sing. The next song is the Delta Rhythm Boys performing Them Bones. The video is of the singers performing the song in a room standing around a piano as a dancing skeleton harasses a janitor outside. The last song is a rare recording of Anita O’Day singing The Walls Keep Talking. The video is of a black couple entering a haunted house, then bolting the moment they realize the place is swarming with ghosts. (7:58)
-By clicking the skull, you get the delight of watching a PSA about fear, called “Don’t Be Afraid”. It teaches you the basics of fear, how and why the natural stimulus is caused and what the human body goes through while experiencing it. It’s aimed for kids in the 1950’s so it’s not as fascinating as it sounds. (11:19)
-By clicking the bottom left hand corner of the screen, an arrow appears. It takes you back to the 2nd DVD Menu
4th DVD MENU
You enter a mausoleum. Once inside, you see a corpse lying in a coffin with a bat flying above. A cartoon figure with a Jack-O-Lantern for a head tries to scamper up the stairs, back outside. There is a giant face of a woman screaming on the right hand side of the screen.
-By clicking on the pumpkinhead figure a clip plays of a man struggling through a spider web with a woman mouthing words of warning, and shape shifting into various monsters. The man touches the woman’s face, and blood pours out of her skin as he makes contact. If anyone knows where this clip is from, please let me know in the comments. (3:38)
-By clicking on the eyeball of the face a video plays of a werewolf encounter at a drive-In. (3:26)
-By clicking on the bat, the film Tormented by Bert I. Gordon plays. It’s a 1960’s supernatural horror movie. (01:15:00)
-By clicking under the coffin, a skeleton appears and another clip from the mysterious movie plays. The man is harassed by the woman (who appears to be supernatural). (:12)
-By clicking on the head of the corpse, a clip plays. We see through the perspective of a customer riding through an old-fashioned spook house, with a woman screaming in reaction to the monsters attacking the camera. (1:09)
-By clicking under the coffin, a spider appears and a list of credits for the music and some of the Easter Eggs pops up.
-By clicking next to the head of the corpse, a candle appears and a slideshow of spooky pictures begins with an audio recording that says “girls, do not come alone, bring your boyfriend to protect you when the lights go out”. (0:05)
-By clicking next to the pumpkinhead cartoon, an arrow appears that takes you back to the 2rd DVD menu.