Keeping Halloween Alive at the Beat: Dismember the Alamo 2017

by Louis Otero

I, like many of the other movie geeks at Purchase, am a huge fan of the Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers. It’s about as good as a movie-going experience can get. They have an almost militaristic no texting or talking policy and serve alcohol as well as bar food. Nothing is better than sitting in a room full of silent people and watching some old flicks, while slowly getting drunk over the course of a few hours. Since I discovered the theater, there was always one thing I was dying to do: attend the “Dismember the Alamo” movie marathon.

“Dismember the Alamo” is an annual event in which the Alamo Drafthouse teams up with the American Genre Film Archive to screen five horror films from the 70s, 80s and 90s. The word “film” here is used quite literally, as all the movies are projected from 35mm prints. However, there is a catch: you don’t find out what movies you’re seeing until their titles come up during the screenings.

I wanted to attend the event not only as a movie buff, but as someone who genuinely loves cheesy horror B-movies. So this year I shelled out the forty bucks and went with my roommate.  While it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, it was easily the most fun I’ve ever had in a theater.

This year they screened “The People Under the Stairs,” “Sisters,” “Dead People,” (or as it is now titled “Messiah of Evil”) “Maximum Overdrive,” and then capped things off with “Slumber Party Massacre.” Out of these five films, I’d say three of them are exactly the kind of films I was hoping for. Sadly, sitting through “Sisters” and “Maximum Overdrive” was no easy task. Herein lies my only gripe with the marathon. Those two movies don’t really function as horror movies, and honestly they’re both pretty boring. Sure, they both have classic horror set-ups, but after the first half-hour they each turn into your run-of -the-mill genre flicks.

Still, as painful as it was sitting through those two, the other three more than made up for it. “People Under the Stairs” is a fun, fast-paced, and grounded thriller that is toned-down for children, but still creepy enough to stand toe-to-toe with Wes Craven’s more popular works. “Dead People,” which was shown on a print in very rough condition, was more of a slow-burn. It takes its time to develop its characters before unleashing the gore and scares, and the result is a film that has so clearly influenced everything that came after it. The final and easily my favorite film of the night, “Slumber Party Massacre,” is a parody of slasher flicks that somehow manages to serve as a great slasher itself. If you like the “Scream” series I can’t recommend this enough as it was just as tongue-in-cheek and simultaneously scary.

Although they weren’t all for me, the experience is not something you want to miss. Aside from the cool movies, sitting around some great people, talking about horror between screenings, and seeing some awesome 35mm trailers is more than worth the price of admission. I cannot wait for next year’s marathon.