Jun 9, 2024

Double Remake Double Take

Remake Double Take
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
This has been a one-night annual event since we started coming to the Mahoning Drive-In Theater, but they've doubled the offering in 2024 with a William Castle film kicking off both nights, followed by their Dark Castle Entertainment remakes from the late 90's and early 2000's.

Show banner designed by Andrew Kern
Poster designed by Tom Bifulco

Friday night's double feature was the original and remake of House On Haunted Hill.  Saturday night was the 1960 film 13 Ghosts along with its 2001 remake, Thir13en Ghosts.  These screenings were originally scheduled for May 3rd and 4th, but were rescheduled for this weekend.

This weekend also included the first in-person meeting of the Mahoning Book Club for the 2024 season.  My wife and I are in the book club... not that you could really tell that from the group photo (thanks Louie!  :p).  The book we read was the 1976 memoirs of director/producer/screenwriter William Castle called Step Right Up.  I didn't have time to finish all of it before we met, but I'm definitely going to read the rest of it this week.  The stories of his career and early experiences make me think that Mr. Castle was to movies what Paul Heyman is to professional wrestling - renegades whose creativity reinvented the industries where they made their living.

The first movie of Friday night was the 1959 Vincent Price classic House On Haunted Hill.  Price plays a millionaire named Frederick who, along with his wife Annabelle, invites five guests to his haunted mansion with the promise that he will pay $10,000 to any of them who can remain in the house for one night.  If you enjoy classic horror films, this is one that you really shouldn't miss.  The movie is in the public domain, so you can stream it for free on YouTube.

I wish that I could tell you more about the 1999 remake of House On Haunted Hill, but it ended up being this season's first victim of the Friday Night Curse.  I wake up early for work on Friday, so I'm usually pretty tired by the time a second or third movie hits the screen at the Mahoning on Friday nights.  I've been able to stay awake so far for all of the Friday night movies this year, but I was out like a light about five minutes in to this film, and I didn't wake up until the credits rolled.  I've been told that it's pretty terrible, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's not fun.  I'm kind of bummed to have snoozed my way through it.

13 Ghosts is a fun horror flick from 1960 that is filmed in what William Castle called "Illusion-O".  It was filmed in black and white, but any scene involving the ghosts was given a blue filter, with the ghosts appearing in red on an otherwise all-blue background.

The filming style tied into a gimmick that was used in theaters during the initial screenings of 13 Ghosts.  Fans were given a Ghost Viewer when they went to see it in theaters.  It's similar to the red/blue 3-D glasses that were used by some films at the time, but instead of being designed to place a red filter over one eye and a blue filter over the other, the Ghost Viewer was designed for you to look through one color if you wanted to see the ghosts and the other color if you didn't want to see them.  The Mahoning gave 3-D glasses to fans in attendance so they could experience the effect, but I thought the effects looked much cooler on the screen without it.

The second half of Saturday night's double feature was the 2001 remake Thir13en Ghosts.  This movie was slammed by critics and fans alike when it was first released, and it doesn't seem like public perception has improved too much over the past 23 years.  Holy crap... this movie is 23 years old?!  I still can't wrap my head around how fast time has flown in my adult life.

I've only seen bits and pieces of this movie before Saturday night.  I'm not going to say that it's a must-see modern classic or even that it's as good as the original, but it isn't nearly as bad as popular opinion led me to believe.  At the risk of damning it with faint praise, I'd say that if you go into this movie with tempered expectations, there is fun to be had here.

And that's a wrap for Remake Double-Take 2024.