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Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Road Trip – Monster Bash at the Canton Palace August 2023

It has been a while since I’ve been to a proper event/screening. Sort of got out of the habit with COVID but I decided it was time to get back in the theater watching movies. Now as many of you may know most new movies just don’t do it for me or at least motivate me to hit a brick and mortar theater. Sure, I’ll go to the drive-in, but the setting is what gets me there and the movies are just icing on the cake. But when I realized I’d have the chance to check out a couple favorites on the big screen for the first time I had to check it out!

Before I start I thought I’d fill you guys in on where and what I was doing. First up the event was held at the Canton Palace Theater. If you have read some of my earlier Road Trip articles you will notice that this is a theater that I frequently (or at least in the past) have visited. This restored movie palace, and it really is, comes complete with a gentlemen’s lounge, the original pipe organ, and a classic atmosphere that adds to the experience of going to the movies that much cooler. The Palace Theater was built when going to the movies was an event and they manage to capture that magic even today.

Monster Bash is a cool convention held in Pittsburgh. Not only does their show kick ass but they have all sorts of neat merchandise for sale at their tables. You may see them as they frequently setup at other shows. The folks involved have a real love for the classics from the Universal flicks, the cheesy giant bug movies of the fifties, to the in your face fun of Hammer if you dig old school horror/sci-fi these guys have something for you. That is why the line up of movies for the Friday/Saturday show was so killer. While I didn’t go to the Friday screenings, I wasn’t going to miss Saturday. Now that I’m done rambling lets get to the day.

The Pipe Organ played between screenings
I met my brother-in-law Richard for some lunch. The usual suspects bailed on me, so he was going to be my wingman for part of the show. If it matters, and it really doesn’t but folks like to blog about food, I had a nice double cheeseburger and some tomato basil soup. Then we hit a local department store on the way and I found a nice Mego Hammer Frankenstein. It seemed on theme for the day’s events, so I thought I’d mention it. I collect all the Mego monsters and get a real kick out of them. As a child of the seventies I always felt bad that I missed out on them when they were new so that wasn’t going to happen to me again.

We finally arrived at the Palace before the first screening. Had a few minutes to wander around talking to the dealers. There weren’t a lot of vendors setup, mostly I think due to the lack of space. They only have the upper and lower lobbies for tables. But I did meet some nice people and scoped somethings out for later purchase. Then it was time for the first movie.

Target Earth (1954) is a fun little science fiction flick with some familiar names attached. I’ve always liked this one and have already reviewed it for the site, review link here. I was wondering how the admittedly goofy looking robot monsters were going to play for the audience and I wasn’t disappointed. There was some laughing, but not in a bad way. People were enjoying the movie I think… at least I hope so. I don’t feel the need to go much farther into this one as I’ve reviewed it and you can check that out at the link I’ve already mentioned.

Now this is a proper robot!
After the movie it was time to buy some stuff. I picked up some odds and ends like a cool button and patch. I like to deck my convention gear (jacket, bag) with some spooky themed accessories. I also finally upgraded my old snap case DVD of The Thing from Another World to a nice Blu-ray. If you don’t know what a snap case is it was one of the original cardboard cases for DVDs before they went to the current packaging we are used to now. Sort of a transition from the old cardboard sleeves on VHS and the later hard plastic cases for DVDs with it being a bit of each. Being one of my favorite fifties flicks it was time for this to happen.

There was also a boardgame that is billed as playing out like a movie. They have versions that lean into Aliens (Area 51) and Zombies (Pittsburgh ’68). It looks like a good time and I can’t wait to break them out and get a few sessions in. One other thing I grabbed was a t-shirt inspired by some of the animation in the credits for Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. I love that movie and you hardly ever find anything related to it. But then if anyone was going to have something it would be Monster Bash.

Richard called it a day before the second movie started so I was flying solo. The Thing from Another World (1951) is another favorite of mine. This was a big deal for me since it is the first time that I ever had the chance to watch it on the big screen in a proper theater. This is another movie that I’ve already covered for the site, which you can check out here. The short of it is an alien attacks an isolated research facility at the North Pole and it is up to Kenneth Tobey and friends to save the Earth! It was a blast and the crowd was a lot less silly with this movie. It still has the ability to be creepy and engaging to a modern audience used to explicit gore and violence.

Between this and the next screening I wandered around the vendors area again. Talked to some more attendees about nerdy movie stuff. That is a must for me since I don’t have people in my regular life that are into these like I am. It is always good to be amongst “my people”. I also found another t-shirt, this time a cool Bowery Boys themed Monster Bash shirt. I love those movies and do plan on covering all fifty plus of them someday for the site. Then it was time for the next movie to start.

Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957) is a movie that I have always loved. I remember distinctly catching it the first time on Superhost which was a local Saturday afternoon movie show here in Northeast Ohio. As a kid I loved the aliens, which even if you haven’t seen the movie (and many folks haven’t) are iconic enough that people recognize them even if they don’t know what movie they came from.

I realized as of the writing of this I’ve not covered the movie for the site. I need to do that sooner rather than later as again it is one of my favorites. Because of that I’ll go into a bit more detail with this movie. Here we have adults ignoring the teenagers, the army being incompetent, creepy little aliens, and a bull that loves to drink beer! Bullets don’t hurt them but headlights do and they will kill you by injecting you with alcohol… which mostly just makes people drunk. The movie plays out like a parody of the creature flicks of the era with a healthy bit of satire of authority figures. That last bit is very different from what I’d expect of a movie like this. The army and adults in general are incompetent and not to be trusted. As an adult I dig the subtlety of it though the younger me just liked the monsters.

There was another movie to be shown yet but I’ve already seen The Blob (1958) before in a theater. Hell, it was at the Canton Palace Theater (link to my write up here). It had been a long day and I’m not as young as I used to be so I decided to call it after Saucer Men ended. I consider this to be another successful day of nerding out and can’t wait for next year when I get to do it all again.

With that in mind I highly recommend you check out Monster Bash’s website. The show is shaping up to be a good time and I never need that much of an excuse to visit Pittsburgh! If you happen to be in the Canton Ohio area you should check out The Canton Palace Theater. They have some fun screenings coming up with Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Animal House. They haven’t put anything up for October yet, but they also normally have at least a Rocky Horror showing around the 31st. Oh and I must recommend their Three Stooges night that normally takes place in April. Check out their website here for more information and to see what they announce.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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