Jul 31, 2023

That’s My Name. Don’t Wear It Out.

Paul Reubens
1952 - 2023
One of the most gifted comedians and children's entertainers has passed away after a long battle with cancer that none of his fans knew about until this message from Mr. Reubens was shared with the announcement of his death.

"Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years.  I have always felt a huge amount of love and respect from my friends, fans and supporters. I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you."

As a child of the 80's, I and every kid that I grew up with watched Pee Wee's Playhouse on Saturday mornings, and we loved watching his movies.  The Pee Wee Herman character that he brought to life continues to bring joy to millions to this day, as evident by the jam packed lot at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater for a screening of Pee Wee's Big Adventure less than two months ago.  The pure joy that we all had in watching his movie on the big screen was overwhelming as fans of all ages became children again as they laughed along with his adventures on the big screen.  I wish that he could have been there to see just how much his work is appreciated after all these years.

You don't owe anyone an apology, Mr. Reubens.  You lived this life on your own terms, and you brought smiles to faces and laughter to the air of everywhere that you went.  Thank you for being you.

Jul 30, 2023


My wife loves old 50's monster movies which she used to watch with her grandmother when she was a little girl.  For the second year in a row, the annual event at the Mahoning that's dedicated to these films has fallen on her birthday.  Here she is just a few minutes after midnight during the second intermission of Schlock-O-Rama VII.

Happy birthday, hun!

Jul 29, 2023

The Greatest Season Ever Played In MLB

Shohei Ohtani
Los Angeles Angels (2023)
The Angels defeated the Detroit Tigers in both halves of a double header on Thursday night.  They're considered long shots to make the playoffs, but these victories brought the Angels to five games over .500 and there's still enough time for the team to finish the season strong in their chase for a wild card spot.  However, that wasn't the story of Thursday night's double header.

The story was Shohei Ohtani, who shut out the Tigers by pitching a complete game one-hitter in the first game of the double header, and he propelled the Angels offense by going 2-3 with two home runs in the second game.  He is now 9-5 as a pitcher, and after going 2-4 with a home run against the Blue Jays last night, Ohtani brought his batting average over .300 and he leads all of baseball with 39 home runs.

Even if Shohei Ohtani didn't play another game for the rest of the season, what he has already done makes him the overwhelming favorite to win the 2023 AL MVP.  He's hitting home runs at a pace that may break the legitimate single season home run record of 62 currently held by Aaron Judge while simultaneously serving as the ace of his rotation and one of the best pitchers in baseball.

So far, this has been the greatest season ever played by a professional ballplayer.  Shohei Ohtani in 2023 has been greater than Babe Ruth... greater than Hank Aaron... greater than Cy Young... greater than Nolan Ryan... definitely greater than any of the steroid clowns whose statistics carry no weight or legitimacy whatsoever.  I don't care who you name or what they did, the best season of anyone else is literally half the player that Shohei Ohtani is in 2023.

If this pace keeps up, the question won't be if Shohei Ohtani wins the MVP.  The question will be if it's appropriate to rename the MVP to the Shohei Ohtani Award when he retires.

Jul 28, 2023

An RKO Outta Nowhere

This month's screening was an adventure movie from the mid 1950's.  It was an RKO production filmed in Superscope, and that's probably the only time you'll ever hear me use those terms for something that's not associated with professional wrestling or the Super Nintendo respectively.

Jul 27, 2023

No One Compared To Her

Sinéad O'Connor
1966 - 2023
One of the most gifted singer/songwriters, and a woman who I have the utmost love and respect for, passed away.  She was only 56 years old.

You're probably going to see and hear a lot about her mental health struggles and various conflicts and controversies from all of the usual suspects.  Instead of indulging in exploitative journalism and garbage on social media, lets honor her memory by reaching out to someone you care about who is fighting their own battles and let them know that you are a safe person for them to turn to, and lets remember this artist for the music that she shared with those who wanted to listen.
It seems like years since you held the baby
While I wrecked the bedroom
You said it was dangerous after Sunday
And I knew you loved me
He thinks I just became famous
And that's what messed me up
But he's wrong
How could I possibly know what I want
When I was only twenty-one?

There's millions of people
To offer advice and say how I should be
But they're twisted and they will never be
Any influence on me
But you will always be
You will always be

If I treated you mean
I really didn't mean to
But you know how it is
And how a pregnancy can change you

I see plenty of clothes that I like
But I won't go anywhere nice for a while
All I want to do is just sit here
And write it all down and rest for a while
I can't bear to be in another city
One where you are not
I would return to nothing without you
If I'm your girlfriend or not

Maybe I was mean
But I really don't think so
You asked if I'm scared
And I said so

Everyone can see what's going on
They laugh 'cause they know they're untouchable
Not because what I said was wrong
Whatever it may bring
I will live by my own policies
I will sleep with a clear conscience
I will sleep in peace

Maybe it sounds mean
But I really don't think so
You asked for the truth and I told you

Through their own words
They will be exposed
They've got a severe case of
The emperor's new clothes...

Jul 26, 2023

My Friends And Clients Call Them Uncle Rico's Nachos

Napoleon Dynamite
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
Most of the movies that the Mahoning shows that I've never gotten to see on the big screen before are films that were released when I was too young to see them in theaters, or movies that were released before I was born.

Show banner designed by Andrew Kern

Napoleon Dynamite is one of the exceptions.  It was released in the summer of 2004, less than a month before I turned 24 years old.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it in theaters, and my first experience watching it on home video was in the living room of my ex-girlfriend's aunt's house, which is just about the most unpleasant place on the planet that I've ever watched a movie for the first time.

I rented it later that week to watch by myself and it was love at first sight.  Well... love at second sight.  Whatever... the point is that I loved the flick, and I find that I love it more every time that I see it.  I think that Napoleon Dynamite is a modern classic that will be looked on by future film historians as one of the defining films of the transition from the 20th to the 21st century.

You can't watch Napoleon Dynamite without tater tots, so we each ordered a tray of them.  I also couldn't stop myself from including an order of Rico's Nachos in honor of the man who could throw a football over them mountains.

Tuesday nights at the Mahoning have been especially nice this season, but this may have been the best one yet.  There wasn't a drop of rain that fell onto the lot the whole time we were there despite the fact that we've had thunderstorms off and on for the past week.  It was warm with a very slight breeze, which is the perfect combination for a summer night at the drive-in.

I'm struggling to find the words to express how much I love Napoleon Dynamite.  It's one of my favorite movies ever made, and I think it's perfect from start to finish.  I'm extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to see it two decades later on the big screen.

Jul 25, 2023

Sports Memorabilia At Slatington

The Slatington Marketplace
Route 873 - Slatington, PA
The theme of this post is things that I probably would have bought ten or twenty years ago.  I'd like to think its because I've matured as I've gotten older, but in reality, it's a combination of the fact that I'm not rich and I don't have the room to put these things in my house.  Truth be told, if I ever hit Powerball, I'd give it ten years max before I'm featured on an episode of Hoarders.  I have way too many hobbies and interests, and if I had access to millions of dollars to buy this crap and to arrange for a place to put it, I have no doubt that things would get ridiculous pretty quickly.

This is a prime example of something that the younger me would have blown fifteen bucks on.  It's an empty Lehigh Valley Farms milk carton from the 80's.  The vast majority of people who ever had this in their home bought it from the grocery store, drank the milk, and threw the empty carton in the trash without a second thought.  The person who owned this carton was very likely a Phillies fan, and he or she washed out and saved the carton because there's a picture of Steve Carlton on the side.  I'm not gonna lie... I know that I have absolutely no place to display it and it would just get stuck in a box with other sports memorabilia, but I almost bought it anyway.

This Phillies Budweiser sign probably isn't something that I would have bought when I was a teenager, but I can't lie - I did think about what it would look like hanging in the garage.

This autographed Pete Rose newspaper from when he broke the all-time hit record is exactly the kind of thing I would have bought when I was younger.  In fact, the first thing I thought of when I saw it was the autographed and framed Nolan Ryan newspaper from when he reached 5,000 career strikeouts.  That Nolan Ryan newspaper was hanging on my bedroom wall when I was a teenager, but it's been kept in a box with a bunch of other miscellaneous sports memorabilia for most of the past 25 years.  As cool as I think this Pete Rose newspaper is, I know that it would very likely end up in the same box.  There's only so much wall space, ya know?

Speaking of wall space, this monstrosity would have definitely been coming home with me if I was a teenager.  In 1976, the Phillies partnered with Canada Dry Ginger Ale to release a series of cans with pictures of the members of the team.  I've seen the empty cans from this series at just about every flea market and antique store that I've ever been to in Northeast PA, and I even have a few of them in my collection, but I've never seen an uncut sheet with the entire set before.  The price was reasonable too, but where the hell would I put it?

There was also an uncut sheet of Dick Tracy trading cards that were released by Topps in 1990 in conjunction with the movie.  I'd like to think that I had enough sense even as a teenager to stop myself from buying this, but the ten year old me would've went wild for this and begged my family to let me hang it on the wall.

Another thing that was big when I was ten years old were trading cards that were released to commemorate the Gulf War.  As goofy as these are, they weren't the only ones that were on store shelves in the early 90's.  Topps released at least three different series of Desert Storm cards, and there was even an early set that was released for Operation Desert Shield before the conflict turned into a war that was renamed Operation Desert Storm.  I said it before and I'll say it again - Gen X kids in the United States grew up during a very weird time.

These little stuffed animals look very familiar.  I think that I might have had a Phillies one when I was a kid, but I can't say for sure.  The little coil between the baseball and the legs is a Slinky that's wrapped in fabric.

There were two Babe Ruth themed board games for sale at Slatington that I thought were pretty cool.  It's not the kind of thing I'd ever buy, but I love seeing things like this out in the wild.  I'm sure if they made a Richie Ashburn one, I'd be tempted to bring it home.

These plastic souvenir helmets were big when I was a kid in the 80's and 90's.  I remember that I used to win them from the pitching game when dad and I used to go see the West Palm Beach Expos play when I was a kid.  In fact, I still have that exact same Florida Marlins helmet in the bottom right of this picture.  I won it when I was 12 years old, and it's sitting in my garage right now.

There's also at least twenty pennants in a box in my attic right now.  They were hanging on my bedroom wall when I was a teenager, and have been in a box ever since.  I'm pretty sure that Nolan Ryan pennant is up there with them.

Sports memorabilia is probably cheaper than a drug habit, but I reckon it's closer than people think.  I still get a kick out of seeing things like this when we go out to the flea market, and I'll still buy the occasional baseball card or magazine, but thankfully, I've overcome my addiction.  These days, I'm just content to take pictures of the things that I find and write goofy blog posts about them.

Jul 24, 2023

Yippie Ki Yay, Mothe....honing Drive-In Theater

Die Hard
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
This season's Christmas In July feature at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater seems to be a topic of debate every year during the holiday season, with people arguing that Die Hard either is, or is not, a Christmas movie.  I was a hard no on this issue, but I've come around to accept that it is a Christmas movie.  It just isn't a Christmas/Comedy or Christmas/Family film as most of the classics tend to be, but there are other genres of holiday films.  For example, Gremlins is a Horror/Christmas movie, and Die Hard is an Action/Christmas movie.

The Mahoning are scheduling vendor markets on a select number of Sundays on their calendar.  I'm not opposed to the idea here.  The Halfway To Halloween market on opening weekend before Freaked was a lot of fun, and the Retro Toy Market before Pee Wee's Big Adventure last month was even better.  However, I think the way that these are handled leaves some room for improvement.

There are two issues I have with these.  First, unlike the flea markets at the other drive-in theaters that I've been to, the vendor markets at the Mahoning are tied to the movies.  Potential shoppers don't have access to any of the vendors unless they purchase a ticket to see the movie.  Right off the bat, they're eliminating any potential buyers who like to go to flea markets on a Sunday morning, but who might not necessarily have the time or interest to stay the night to see the movie.

The bigger issue for me personally is fact that they open the gates at 3:00 pm for a 9:00 pm showtime, which means that even if you don't really feel like going to the vendor market, we pretty much have to if we want to get our spot in the front row for the movie.  That wasn't too bad for the Halfway To Halloween market because it was the last weekend in April and the weather was still cool, and it wasn't as noticeable for Retro Toy Market because there were a ton of vendors who had some pretty cool things for sale.  Unfortunately, neither of those things were true for yesterday's Christmas In July market before Die Hard.

First of all, as much as I like the idea of celebrating Christmas In July at the drive-in, I'm not exactly looking to buy holiday decorations this time of year.  However even if I was, there were only three vendors on the lot.  It was also about 90 degrees with no clouds and no shade, so you're stuck there under the hot sun for over six hours before the start of the movie.  If it wasn't for the fact that our friends were there and that we all had umbrellas to block out the sun, this would have been a pretty miserable experience.

I'm hoping that maybe next year, they shift things up a little bit by having the vendor markets available to the public earlier in the day - maybe from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.  Then, any vendors who want to stick around for the next three hours before the start of the film would be welcome to stay.  Three hours is more than enough time to sell merchandise to the fans, especially if they're open to the general public prior to the Mahoning ticket holders showing up.  It's just an idea, but as a regular on the lot, I can say that if I'm on the fence about a movie that's showing on a Sunday in the middle of the summer, the announcement of a vendors market would be enough to sway me to stay home that night.

Show banner designed by Andrew Kern

Despite suffering from a bit of heat exhaustion before showtime, it was still a great night on the lot.  We got to hang out with our friends for a while, and I got to check another 80's classic off of my bucket list.  Die Hard premiered in theaters just a couple of weeks after my 8th birthday, and my grandfather flat out refused to ever take me to a movie that was Rated R, so I never got to see it in theaters.  As always, the Mahoning brought a classic to life on the big screen from an original 35mm print.

Jul 23, 2023

The Next Thing Will Be Amazing

The Letting It Go ShowCulture Club / Howard Jones / Berlin
Bethel Woods Center For The Arts - Bethel, NY
The cost of going to a concert has gone through the roof in recent years, so we've decided to scale back this summer to two big shows, and maybe a few smaller shows if our budget allows.  The first big show for us this year was The Cure, who I had never gotten to see perform live before.  The second was another band that I've always wanted to see and finally had the opportunity to do so last night when Culture Club headlined a show at my favorite concert venue.

The Bethel Woods Center For The Arts is the most beautiful place that I've ever seen a concert.  It's on the grounds where the original Woodstock festival was held in 1969.  There are a few different areas where live music performances are held, but the main stage is an amphitheater which has a massive general admission lawn that can accommodate over 10,000 fans.  There's also a very nice museum dedicated to Woodstock which we first visited ten years ago, and they have a lot of special events on the grounds throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

The experience of visiting this place has a special feel to it before you even get there.  The drive from Northeast PA to Bethel takes you through wooded areas and small towns with places to stop for a bite to eat.  There's a very large area between the front gates and the amphitheater.  There are plenty of spaces for food trucks and vendors, but there are also a lot of quiet spaces with rocks, fountains, streams, trees, and other plant life that would make a wonderful place to relax with a good book.

The screens at the main stage had a slideshow with these "Did You Know" facts about Woodstock interspersed with various advertisements for upcoming shows at the venue.  I'm a nerd for fun facts, so here are four of them.

Berlin was the first band to take the stage.  We saw them once before in Philadelphia when they opened for The B-52's just a few months before the start of the pandemic.  They were incredible on that night, and they were every bit as amazing last night in Bethel.

Terri Nunn belted out an eight song setlist with many of my favorite Berlin songs, including Masquerade, No More WordsThe Metro, Take My Breath Away, and Sex.  They also performed an amazing cover of one of my favorite songs by The Cult, the 1985 hit single She Sells Sanctuary.  She sounds exactly the same as she always has.

Howard Jones took the stage next.  We saw him for the first time six years ago in New Jersey on the Retro Futura tourTwo years later, we got to see him in Jim Thorpe on the Transform tour, and again just last summer at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre where he performed as his own opening act when Midge Ure was unable to perform due to his contracting Covid.

With all due respect to Mr. Jones, who is one of my favorite performers, I enjoyed his set last night the least out of the four times that I've been in attendance for his shows.  He's always been big on audience participation for his shows.  It's a magical feeling when the crowd is so loud and enthusiastic that the entire venue sings out with one voice along with the band.  However, it really is the kind of thing that has to happen organically.  When artists try to force it, or when they overdo the schtick where they hold the microphone out to a crowd that isn't especially loud or enthusiastic, it can begin to feel like we're being cheated.  Unfortunately, that's what happened last night, at least for the beginning of his set.  I'm pretty sure that he didn't sing the entire chorus at any point during his performance of Like To Get To Know You Well, Everlasting Love, or New Song.

If it turns out that he had a sore throat or something and that he was just trying to pace himself, I apologize, but the first three songs were kind of a bummer.  New Song is one of my favorites and getting to hear him sing the word "don't" and then hold the mic out to a crowd whose voices didn't come close to carrying back to our section for the rest of the chorus was disappointing.  Thankfully, he dialed the forced audience participation back a bit by the middle of his set, and he gave an excellent performance of Too Shy with Kajagoogoo bassist Nick Beggs playing and singing background vocals on the hit single that he made famous in 1983.  Mr. Jones also gave a wonderful performance of one of my favorite songs of all time, No One Is To Blame before finishing strong with What Is Love and Things Can Only Get Better, which the crowd did enthusiastically sing along with.

Culture Club was the headliner, and if you're not familiar with their incredible body of work, I suggest that you change that as soon as possible.  Their fusion of pop, rock, reggae, funk, and rhythm & blues was decades ahead of its time.  I still don't think that music has caught up to the genius of Boy George, who has a stronger command of the stage and his audience than anyone who I've ever seen.

The band took the stage with a new song called The Next Thing Will Be Amazing, and it is, in fact, amazing.  Click above to listen to it (credit to @MichaelNJBeatlefest for recording and sharing it).  I don't think it's been included on an album or released as a single yet, but I hope that it's coming soon.

The rest of their set was equally amazing.  I'm far from an expert on Culture Club's catalog, but I recognized most of the songs, and I loved the ones that I heard last night for the first time every bit as much as the ones that I grew up with.  The main setlist included It's A MiracleI'll Tumble 4 YaEverything I OwnDo You Really Want To Hurt Me, a seamless mashup of Church Of The Poison Mind with Wham's 1985 hit single I'm Your Man, Time, and Miss Me Blind.

They came out for a three song encore, and I've never been so thankful that I didn't look at the setlists for a tour ahead of time as I was last night, because the first song of the encore was one of the best surprises I've ever had at a concert.  It felt a little bit like that game show Name That Tune, because after the first few notes of music filled the air, I looked at Angie and said "are they going to do Sympathy For The Devil?!".  Sure enough, they did, and it was freaking PHENOMENAL!  They followed this up by blowing the roof off the venue with Karma Chameleon before closing the night out with a cover of Bang A Gong (Get It On) that sent everybody home happy.  From start to finish, this was one of the most fun sets that I've ever seen!

And that's a wrap.  This is a top ten show for me even with my grouchiness about the beginning of Howard Jones' set.  I kind of feel bad for even mentioning it, but I felt it would be disingenuous if I didn't, but nevermind that.  We had great weather, great seats, and a great show with a great crowd.  There's moments during nights like this where I try to take in everything around me and remind myself of just how damn lucky I am to be able to enjoy a night like this.

Here are the setlists for Berlin, Howard Jones, and Culture Club:

Jul 22, 2023

The Return Of The Triple Ripper

The AGFA Triple Ripper II
Haunted TalesRed Spell Spells Red / Devil Fetus / The Magic BMX
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
The inaugural Triple Ripper last August at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater was one of my favorite nights of the season.  The event was brought back last night with three more oddities from the AGFA vault, all of which were shown from 35mm prints.

Show banner designed by Andrew Kern

Triple Ripper last year was a triple feature of three obscure action and horror flicks.  The movies this year were equally bizarre and obscure, but the theme of the night was Asian subtitled films from the 1980's.  AGFA also upped the ante by making it a quadruple feature, or at least a triple-and-a-half feature, but I have to talk about the trailers for a bit before we even get to the movies.

The Mahoning always shows original trailers from vintage films before their features, but the ones that are shown during the Triple Ripper are a very different experience.  They're so bizarre that they're worth the price of admission all by themselves.  The ones shown this year included Erotic Nightmare, Sex Beyond The Grave, Dial D For Demons, Return Of The Demon, Bewitched, The Fatal Flying Guillotine, Mission Thunderbolt, and Robotrix.  There were at least ten others that I'm forgetting, but there are a few things that deserve a moment of special attention.

There were several 35mm clips of old commercials that were shown.  One of them was a 7 Up ad that was so aggressively seventies that I had to look it up online just to prove to myself that my popcorn wasn't dusted with a hallucinogen.  Click play above, and try to imagine seeing this pop up on a massive screen at a drive-in theater at midnight on a day when you had to wake up for work at 6:00 am.   

There was also a fun short film from 1985 about a movie theater snack bar.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find a video, or even a reference to this anywhere online, but I know it was real because I snapped a picture of the screen at the end of the credits.  It was called Snacks, and it was produced, written, and directed by Chuck Martinez and Paul Harris.  There's a logo at the end that suggests that you check out their upcoming film, Nice Girls Don't Explode.  It's about a young woman who suffers from spontaneous combustion when she gets turned on, and according to Box Office Mojo, it grossed $65 thousand dollars worldwide when it was released to theaters in 1987.  I haven't heard of it before last night, but I've got to see this.  It's available to stream for free on Tubi, so I'm definitely going to have to check it out.

I was hoping that they'd show the same remixed Jaws 2 trailer that played during last year's Triple Ripper.  They did, and I'm very glad because I have no words to describe it.  You're just going to have to see it for yourself.  Apparently, a rogue projectionist got their hands on a Jaws 2 trailer at some point and they spliced and edited it to create a bizarre, one-of-a-kind piece of film.  Enjoy.

Speaking of Jaws, the last trailer I want to talk about was for an adult film from 1976 called Gums, which was apparently a parody that was released just one year after the Spielberg classic.  I'm not going to link to it on here, but you can find it for free pretty easily on Google.  I didn't watch any of them and I can't vouch for their security, so stream at your own risk.  I didn't even know that adult films had trailers, but I've got to admit that this one was pretty damn funny.  The trailer was mostly a guy standing outside of a theater interviewing people on the street who had seen the film, including King Kong, with a few clips from the movie in between each person who talked about it.

The first film to hit the screen was one half of the Shaw Brothers 1980 movie Haunted Tales.  The movie that this story was taken from is described as an anthology film, so I was expecting a relatively short story like the segments in Creepshow or Twilight Zone: The Movie, however that isn't the case.  It'd be more accurate to call Haunted Tales a double feature of short films because it's made up of two separate, unnamed stories.  The first of these two stories was screened for us, and its 55 minute runtime made it only about a half hour shorter than the shortest full-length feature of the night.

The story that we saw was about a newlywed couple who were moving in to their new home which felt like it was a blend of modern art, futuristic, alien and 70's style.  It reminded me a bit of some of the interior shots that you see in A Clockwork Orange.  The wife begins to notice strange things going on, including neighbors who seem to behave as though it's daytime at night (and vice versa), and ghostly children.  These strange occurrences continue to ramp up until it becomes undeniable that her world isn't what it seems.

It's pretty good, but it's a difficult movie to describe.  You can watch the entire movie on YouTube, and if you enjoy horror mysteries and aren't turned off by subtitles, I'd recommend it (though I can't vouch for the second story which I have not seen yet).

This first full movie of Triple Ripper II was a 1983 film from Hong Kong called Red Spell Spells Red.  The version of the film we got to see was edited to remove the scenes that include cruelty to animals.  I wouldn't have bought a ticket to this event at all if this wasn't the case, which is why I didn't go to see the Mahoning screening of Cannibal Holocaust or Make Them Die Slowly earlier this year.  I'm sorry, if you can't tell your story without hurting animals, you're not an artist or a filmmaker.  You're a hack, and even that is giving them far more credit than they deserve.

Red Spell Spells Red is the story of a documentary filmmaker named Steven and his girlfriend and show hostess, Stella, who travel to Malaysia to sneak into the crypt of the evil Red Dwarf Sorcerer and shoot footage of his remains.  Steven returns home afterward, but he sends Stella and the rest of the crew to Borneo to shoot footage of a longhouse tribe, and this is where chaos ensues.  It turns out that the film crew unleashed the spirit of the evil sorcerer when they broke into his crypt, which leads to the members of the crew dying in horrific ways one by one as the spirit of the sorcerer attempt to reincarnate on earth as the devil.  Additionally, by an astonishing coincidence, Stella just so happens to be the victim of a scorpion curse that was placed on her family by the sorcerer of the tribe in Borneo with whom she and the film crew are staying.

I'm not gonna lie, this really isn't my cup of tea.  I didn't absolutely hate it or anything because there are are some interesting plot devices used here, but I wouldn't say that I enjoyed it either.  The overall story is all over the place, and seems to exist only as a loose framework to hold together scenes that are mostly just shock for the sake of shock.  These kind of movies can sometimes be amusing for the sheer absurdity of it, but it fell flat for me.  It had such a Vince Russo feel to it that I half expected to see two of the characters break out into a fight over an object suspended from a pole over their heads.

The second full-length feature was another 1983 film from Hong Kong called Devil Fetus, but that is where the similarities to Red Spell Spells Red end.

Devil Fetus is an absolute banger from start to finish!  It starts off with a woman named Suk Jing whose husband has been away in Japan.  She overbid to purchase a jade vase at an antiques auction after she saw a little green demon clinging from its side.  She soon discovers that when she lays in bed with the vase on her belly, the little green demon becomes a very large green demon who has his way with her.  Unfortunately for everyone involved, her husband returns home and discovers her in bed with the green demon.  By the time he rushed into the room, the demon turned back into a vase... or maybe it was both at the same time... I'm not sure.  In either case, the husband smashed the green vase in a fit of anger.  The demon then infected his body, which caused his face to melt off and led to him jumping out of a window to his death.  Suk Jing is called by spirits to her death soon afterward, but it is clear that she has been impregnated by the demon.

The story gets a little confusing from here, but jist of it is that the couple have become floating ghosts because they died before their time.  They will commit evil acts for the next twelve years until they are able to reincarnate, but they can be kept under control by a charm that is placed on their memorial tablet.  As long as the charm is not moved for twelve years, this time will pass without incident and the couple will be free to move on to their next lives.  Well, it wouldn't be much of a movie if that happened, so after a number of years in which time Suk Jing's young nephews have grown up to become young men, the charm is accidentally moved, the demon possesses the body of the youngest nephew, and chaos ensues.

This film was absolutely wild and worth the price of admission by itself.  I wasn't able to find it on any streaming platforms, but you definitely should check it out if you're able to find it somewhere.

The night closed out with an extremely rare 35mm screening of a 1983 Taiwanese family film called The Magic BMX.  It was billed as an E.T. knockoff because it involves a young boy with a bicycle who meets a space alien, but the similarities between the two films end there.

The movie follows the life of a young boy whose name I have forgotten, so I'll be referring to him as "young boy".  His parents love him, but they're a bit overbearing and force him into hobbies that he has little to no interest in.  He wants to race on his bike, but he's not very good at it.  Luckily for him, he discovers an alien from other space who looks, and behaves, like a toddler with super powers.  The alien, who the young boy calls "Magic Brother", helps him to join a team of bike-racing children, but this alien is also very mischievous and gets him into trouble.  Unfortunately, this toddler space alien is also invincible to everyone except for the young boy, so most of the trouble is blamed on him.  The story that plays out pretty much like this:

Note the E.T. poster on the wall in the first screenshot.

The young boy's "Magic Brother" is eventually called back to the spaceship by his parents, and after a very long and drawn out farewell scene, the young boy is left alone to decide whether or not he is able to participate in the big race without the help of the alien.  Ultimately, he does decide to race, and he ends up being the hero who leads his team to victory.

The Magic BMX reminded me of the kind of made-for-tv films that were shown as afterschool specials in the 70's and 80's.  It was a stark contrast from the other films shown at Triple Ripper II, and a decent palate cleanser after the debauchery of Red Spell Spells Red and Devil Fetus.

And that's a wrap on Triple Ripper II.  If I'm being totally honest, I enjoyed the first Triple Ripper from 2022 a lot more, but that doesn't mean that I didn't have a good time at this year's edition.  I hope that it comes back next year, but I'm also hoping that the lineup in 2024 is a little closer to what it was in 2022.