If you don't enjoy sitting outside and watching classic horror films while pushing overly buttered popcorn and Twizzlers into your face, you aren't a true American, OK?
Timothy Sweeten wants you to be a true American. That's why he started Horror on the Boulevard in 2011.
This year's installment of Boulevard Drive-In's blood-and-guts extravaganza might just be the best yet. Sweeten is screening two horror-hound staples — Night of the Creeps and Child's Play — and premiering two new independent films.
Friday night, the Boulevard serves up Dawn of Dracula, a tribute to the legendary Englishmen-in-bloody-fangs films of the old Hammer studio. Writer-director Blake Powell's movie stars horror host Marlena Midnite and her sidekick, Robyn Graves — familiar to fans of Clinton, Iowa's Midnite Mausoleum.
The next night, local filmmaker Todd Sheets brings The House of Forbidden Secrets. You'll see thriller regulars Lew Temple (The Devil's Rejects, The Walking Dead) and Dyanne Thorne (Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS).
The visiting star power at this year's event includes Alex Vincent (Child's Play, see sidebar) and Jason Lively (Night of the Creeps, European Vacation). Sweeten was able to book the beloved actors after connecting with them at Crypticon, Kansas City's big horror convention.
"That first year [of Crypticon], our table was across from Alex Vincent, and I got to know him," Sweeten says. "Last year, Jason Lively was at Crypticon, and we bonded almost instantly."
In addition to meeting Vincent and Lively, you'll be able to participate in a scream-queen contest, and there are costume competitions for adults and children Saturday night. "We get some really awesome costumes," Sweeten says. "People just go all out for this event."
Since Sweeten started the event, drive-ins have faced a scary specter: elimination for those that don't install digital projection. But he had picked the right institution. "The Boulevard Drive-In is the world's first 4K digital drive-in theater," he says. "It gives us the capability to show all the contestants up on the big screen. People honk and cheer for their favorites."
Sweeten's love of classic horror blossomed when he was a kid. "Our neighbor would baby-sit, and we would stay up late," Sweeten says. "I loved watching Crematia Mortem's Creature Feature. And, of course, Friday Fright Night — Hugh Bowen's voice always sent chills down my spine."
In that spirit, Sweeten has created his own horror-host late-night show: Drive-In Movie Maniacs. The idea, he says, is "to show the good stuff that I was raised on." It airs at 10 p.m. Saturdays on Cryptic TV (cryptictv.net) and moves to local cable access soon. The second season premieres in January.
Night of the Creeps and Child's Play screen both nights, and gates open at 4 p.m. ($20 buys admission for a full car). Other festivities include a Troma Table with Ari Bavel (Zombiegeddon) and Blade Braxton (Return to Nuke 'Em High), and music on Saturday night by the Secret Post and Haunted Creepys.
Unlike the rest of us who emerged from a dark theater after watching Child's Play, Alex Vincent — the film's child star — isn't scarred for life.
"I'm certainly not afraid of dolls, and nothing about filming was creepy," Vincent tells The Pitch. "I had a really good acting coach for Child's Play. She helped me understand the role and portray the character more effectively. And I had a great time working on it. I was very lucky to get the part."
See? He still says he was lucky.
Vincent's most recent work is HouseGuest (available on demand). He wrote the film, acts in it and handled the audio mixing and the music.
It's a slasher pic, but the real shock is that Vincent isn't much of a horror fan. Even so, he admits that one film did creep him out when he was a child. "The one I remember freaking me out as a kid was The People Under the Stairs."
Good choice, Alex. That one still does the job.