Jun 12, 2022

Catherine And Kelli Save The World

Catherine & Kelli Save The World
Night TwoNight Of The Comet / The Apple
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
I've been looking forward to this weekend since it was first announced.  The show was promoted with this incredible show poster from artist Matt Parton, who was on hand to sign copies of it in the snack bar.  The weekend included three of my favorite movies of the 1980's, and one movie that I've never seen before and would have the opportunity to see for the first time at the drive-in.  Each of the movies featured one or both of the special guests at the Mahoning this weekend: actresses Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney.

I had the privilege of meeting both actresses before the double feature on Friday.  Kelli Maroney (left) starred in Friday night's first feature, Chopping Mall.  She's also in several of my other favorite horror and comedy movies of the decade, including Fast Times At Ridgemont High and Transylvania TwistCatherine Mary Stewart (right) starred in the second half of Friday and Saturday night's double feature: The Last Starfighter and The Apple.  She's also in Nightflyers and Weekend At Bernie's.

Both women starred as sisters in one of my favorite movies of all time, the 1984 sci-fi/horror/comedy classic: Night Of The Comet.  This is a movie that I saw for the first time as a teenager when I worked for Blowout Video.  This was in the days before you could find any movie you wanted online, so I rented it and pretended to lose it as a way to purchase a copy (it was deducted from my check).  Perhaps it's not the most honest way to buy a movie, but it was so worth it!  I can't even begin to guess how many times I played that tape!

Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney were on the lot for both nights to meet fans, sign autographs and take pictures.  They also gave an introduction to each of the movies over the radio.  One of the things that I found especially awesome was that both of the actresses were as excited as we were to watch the movies at the drive in.  They mentioned that they hadn't seen them on a drive-in screen before, and knowing that they were relaxing and enjoying the movies right along with us is a pretty awesome feeling.  It felt like they were as in awe of the magic of this place as the rest of us are, and it made the night even more special.

We had beautiful warm weather on Friday and Saturday night.  There was cloud coverage on both nights, but no fog and not a drop of rain.  We couldn't have hoped for mother nature to be more cooperative.

The first movie on Friday night was the 1986 sci-fi/horror/comedy classic: Chopping Mall.  This is one of those movies that beckoned to me from the shelves of video rental stores for a few years before I ever got to see it.  I spent many weekends at my grandparents house when I was in elementary school, and my grandfather usually brought me to a video store to rent a movie for the weekend.  Unless there was something new that I wanted to see, I usually made a bee line to the horror section, and I swear that every store we went to had a copy of Chopping Mall, House, and Slaughter High on display.  Unfortunately, my grandfather had one rule and he wasn't bending on this rule for any reason - no Rated R movies allowed.  I did eventually get to see them as a teenager, whether it was from a rental store or a shows like MonsterVision or USA Up All Night.  Still, when I think of these movies, I still picture them as boxes on a shelf at a video rental store that I stared at longingly, week after week, hoping that I could finally sneak one past my grandfather when we brought home movies for the weekend.

If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend it to anyone who loves 80's horror flicks.  It's about a group of teenagers who work at a mall, and decide to stay after closing hours to have a party in a furniture store.  They had a great time... until three killer security robots go haywire and work together to hunt down and kill the intruders.

There was an extended intermission on both nights to give Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney time to meet all of the fans who wanted to meet them without missing any of the movie.  Rob screened 35mm prints of cartoon during the intermission.  The one that was shown on Friday is a Woody Woodpecker cartoon that I've never seen before: a short from 1968 called One Horse Town.

The second movie of the night was one that my grandfather did let me rent when I was very young - the 1984 science fiction hit: The Last Starfighter.  I would classify this as a true family film, because there's nothing in it that I could imagine any sensible parent objecting to their child seeing, but the plot and the action are engaging enough for an adult audience to enjoy without feeling like they're watching a kids movie.  It's a fun and charming sci-fi adventure that I would strongly recommend to anyone at any age.

Lance Guest stars as Alex Rogan, a teenager who lives in a trailer park in California called Starlight, Starbright.  This trailer park has a small store with a front porch that has an video arcade game called Starfighter.  This may seem strange to folks who didn't grow up in the 70's and 80's, but it wasn't at all uncommon to see arcade machines at just about every public place you can think of.  They were almost as common as soda machines, and were often found standing either outside or in the lobby of grocery stores and convenience stores, right alongside the pay phone and the snack machines.  Anyway, unknown to Alex, the Starfighter game was put there by a member of an alien race, and the game is being used as both a test to recruit Starfighters to join their war against an evil invading army.  One night, Alex gets the high score on the game, and he is found and brought into outer space to save the galaxy.

Even on a cloudy night when you can't see very many stars, there's something incredible about seeing a space movie projected against the night sky at the drive-in.  I fully realize that I have a tendency to get overly sentimental about things, but moments like this make me truly appreciate life.  Out of the billions of people on this planet, and the countless number of people who have existed since human life began, I am fortunate enough to be here, now, safe and sound, surrounded by a bunch of good folks who have gathered together to enjoy a movie from our childhood on the big screen on a warm summer night.  

Last night's double feature started off with the movie I was most looking forward to this weekend, and the movie that stars both Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney: Night Of The Comet.

We brought Little Harvey with us on Saturday.  I was hoping to bring him on Sunday so I could take a photo of him in the Batmobile to go along with the one with him in the DeLorean from Back To The Future, but they're calling for rain tonight and I wanted to make sure that he had the chance to go to the drive-in at least once this weekend.  The little guy gets so excited when I tell him that we're going, and he loves to walk around the lot and meet everybody.

There are repairs being made to the staging area outside of the concession building where the photo ops are usually set up, but they still made sure to do something special to mark the occasion.  These red dust remains of comet enthusiasts were laying on the ground leading up to the entrance.

Night Of The Comet has been one of my favorite movies ever made since the first time I watched it as a teenager.  I enjoy most post-apocalyptic fiction, but this is more than just another end of the world story.  The stars are two independent, empowered young women (Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney as sisters Reggie and Sam Belmont) who are in control throughout the movie.  Unlike many of the movies today, this isn't done in a way that makes it feel like the director is beating you over the head with an agenda.  It's just plain, matter-of-fact, and in your face.  These women can take care of themselves... period.  They're not unstoppable, but they know how to fight, they know how to shoot, and they aren't damsels in distress who cower in the corner waiting to be rescued.  They're bad ass without trying to convince you that they're bad ass, and that's what makes them such incredible characters.  Joss Whedon cited this movie and the Belmont sisters as his inspiration for a similarly strong and independent woman in sci-fi/horror: Buffy Summers from Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

The opening of Night Of The Comet feels more authentically 80's than any movie scene I can think of.  It's a couple of weeks before Christmas in Southern California, and everyone is gathering together to see a large comet that is on course to pass by the earth that night.  Little do they know that this comet will be the end of the human race as we know it.  It doesn't strike the earth, but its proximity reduced everyone on the planet to a pile of red calcium dust, or starts the process which first causes memory loss and confusion before turning its victims into an aggressive zombie-like creature who can still talk and think, but who are driven to madness.  Ultimately, they also become nothing more than a pile of red dust.  The only survivors are those who are protected by a steel structure, which both of our heroines are (one in a steel-lined projection booth at the theater, and the other in a garden shed where she spends the night after fighting with her stepmother).

In the hours before the comet passes, Reggie Belmont (Catherine Mary Stewart) is working at a movie theater and playing Tempest on an arcade machine in the lobby, and the movie goes back and forth between her playing the game and folks who are partying and preparing for the comet.  While this is happening, an infectious 80's pop song by Chris Farren is playing.  It's called The Whole World Is Celebrating.  I've never heard it on the radio or anywhere else outside of this movie, but it makes for an absolutely flawless opening to Night Of The Comet.

There were two cartoons shown during the intermission last night.  The first one was a 1956 Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd Loony Tunes short called Wideo Wabbit.  The second one was a 2002 Blue Sky Studios short called Gone Nutty, starring Scrat from the Ice Age movies.

Finally the Catherine & Kelli Save The World weekend ended with a screening of a musical science fiction flick from 1980 called The Apple.  It's set in the futuristic year of 1994 and stars Catherine Mary Stewart as a singer named Bibi.  She and her boyfriend Alphie are the most talented act who are competing in the Worldvision Song Festival, but the contest is won by an evil organization called Boogalow International Music (the BIM).  For a time, they brainwash Bibi into signing with them, but Alphie manages to rescue her and they run off to live at a hippie commune in the caves.  The BIM track them down and attempt to abduct Bibi, but an old man rides down in a ghostly Rolls Royce from the clouds to take Bibi, Alpha and the rest of the hippies to another planet where evil does not exist.

I've never heard of this movie before last night.  It's pretty weird and it's not for everybody, but if you enjoy sitting through what I can only describe as a disco acid trip set to film, it's worth checking out.

This has been one of the best weekends I've ever spent at the Mahoning, and the summer is just getting started!