by Ben Sachs
This commitment to film history (in both selection and presentation) may be the most winning quality of both events. In the case of Music Box of Horrors, it was longtime attendees, rather than the programmers, who insisted on seeing more classics in the lineup. "When we released our initial batch of titles this year, several folks commented that our program was too 80s-heavy," Music Box programmer and projectionist Doug McLaren told me in a recent e-mail, "and they were absolutely right. This forced us to work harder on refining the program . . . [and] going through that process led us to this gorgeous Technicolor print of Dr. Terror's House of Horrors. I don't know if we would have come across that print if we weren't searching high and low to satisfy audience demand."
Mary Wolfe, an organizer of the Massacre and other Movieside events like the Sci-Fi Spectacular, expressed similar gratitude for audiences when I corresponded with her. "People have come from all over North America for our shows [at the Portage]. If they're going to put the effort and energy into coming, that means we have to put as much energy as possible into giving them a good show." This year their efforts resulted in a guest appearance from Jack Hill, director of such exploitation classics as The Big Bird Cage, Foxy Brown, and Switchblade Sisters. He'll introduce his Spider Baby, or the Maddest Story Ever Told (1965) and sign autographs in the lobby. In one of the more exciting legs of the Portage marathon, Spider Baby will play after the Vincent Price vehicle The Witchfinder General (aka The Conqueror Worm) and the Cronenberg short.