Black Sunday 3
Special Event: Miracle Mile 30th Anniversary screening
June 8th 2019, Rex Cinema, Wilmslow
Well, completely out of the blue I get an email from the original Black Sunday organiser Dave Bryan to let me know that he is running one last event, a screening of the classic Miracle Mile with a Q&A by director Steve De Jarnatt, which was originally shown at Black Sunday 3 back in June 1990.
It's showing on Saturday June 8th 2019 at 22:30 at the Rex Cinema in Wilmslow. Think there might also be a meetup at a local pub beforehand too. Sadly I don't think I will be able to attend as it's just that bit too far away and money is a bit tight, but that doesn't mean that anyone else a bit closer to the Manchester area can pop along to see this hidden gem of late 80s cinema on the big screen with an audience. And if you don't know anything about it, all the better; Go in knowing nothing (or as little as posible) and you'll be rewarded even more!
There was also another Black Sunday 3 event held in Edinburgh a few weeks after this one, with a slightly different selection of films.
- The Boneyard
- Black Rainbow
- Basket Case 2
- Halloween 5
- Mircale Mile
- Bride of the Reanimator
- Never Cry Devil
- + ????
Arthur's Review of Black Sunday 3
Black Sunday 3 was Arthur's first proper film festival and had learnt about it through the pages of the popular British horror fanzine Samhain. The format had already been established in 2 earlier Black Sunday events: 10 films shown pretty much back to back (a 10 - 15 minute break between each one and a 1/3 hour break right in the middle) starting at around 11:30pm on a Saturday night and finishing sometime around 6pm on Sunday evening. 18 hours in a cinema. It was the ultimate in sleep deprivation.
It was right at the end of his first year at University which was rather handy as going to an all night film festival during exams was not a good idea (although Arthur failed ****** stupid first year Physics anyway so it probably wouldn't have made any difference).
He went with Michael (or Mick as he liked to be called) from his University Halls of residence flat. Not knowing quite what to expect, the two of them just grabbed a train and headed over to Ashton on the outskirts of Manchester. They turned up to find a long queue of people all kitted out with cushions, pillows, bags of food and drink etc. Arthur and Mick had nothing apart from a packet of Pro-Plus caffeine pills they picked up on the way. Hmmmm.... it looked like it could be a rough night.
Once the doors opened it was a rush to grab decent seats. The cinema was a proper oldy-woldy place with a balcony and stalls. Arthur and Mick made for the Balcony and got pretty good seats. Once seat ownership (which would remain established for the entire night) had been completed, it was off to see what goodies were on sale.
Being a proper old cinema, there was a lounge area upstairs. As well as accommodating the queues for the toilets, this also had numerous traders selling their wares from atop wallpaper pasting tables. There was the official Black Sunday merchandise stall selling programs, posters and T-Shirts (scans fo the program are shown below), along with several companies selling general horror film merchandise such as posters, books, magazines, T-Shirts etc. Surprisingly, there were also a number of people laying out tables full of hundreds of pirate videos, mostly of banned or uncut horror films (remember this was back in the days when a large number of horror films were unavailable in this country and the only way to see them was to get copies from foreign tapes). Nobody at the cinema seemed to take any notice of this blatant trade in pirate videos. Perhaps they were making too much money from the event to care.
Arthur bought a Black Sunday program and T-Shirt and then settled down to watch the first film. The organisers of the festival, Dave Bryan and Malcolm Daglish, came on and did their introduction speech, gave out some goodies (very few made it up to the people in the balcony but at least they had a good view of the screen) and set off some pyrotechnics which filled the cinema with smoke. It is probably also worth noting at this point that only a handful of the films to be shown had been advertised. Most of the line up was completely unknown, so Dave and Malcolm gave a few hints of what was to come before introducing the first film, The Boneyard.
Arthur isn't going to go into loads of detail reviewing each film as most are quite old now and the chances are that you, the reader, have already seen them. There are plenty of obscure films that you may not even have heard of and the chances are that there's a very good reason for that (they are crap) but some films are worth discussing, so Arthur will review the line up as a whole and comment on individual films as appropriate
The Boneyard was a dumb zombie film set in a hospital (as Arthur recalls). The only reason it is vaguely memorable was for the giant zombie poodle. Crap but fun. Black Rainbow was a slow, psychological type horror film and a bit tedious. Basket Case 2, Halloween 5 and Communion were all enjoyable enough (Communion was particularly creepy and any film with Christopher Walken automatically gets a few extra point just because it's him). That brings things to film number 6.
All evening Dave the organiser had been hinting about an amazing surprise film. He'd built it up a lot and everyone was all excited. When he announced the film as Miracle Mile he was greeted with stunned silence followed by muted whispers from the audience along the lines of "Miracle what?" ,and "What's that?". A handful of people admitted they'd heard of it but Dave made a hasty exit looking rather concerned as the lights dimmed.
The film itself is about a group of people at a diner on Miracle Mile (a famous road in Los Angeles as Arthur recalls). Whilst waiting for his girlfriend to show up, one of them answers a ringing phone outside and the voice on the other end tells him that nuclear missiles have been launched, World War 3 has begun and LA will be glowing within the next 90 minutes. The big question is, is it real or is at a hoax? The film then pretty much unfolds in real time as the people in the diner decide it is real and try to escape the city. Despite their intentions not to let anyone else know the news spreads and by the end of the film the entire city is trying to escape. In fact it's only in the last scene that you find out whether it's true or not. When the film ended there was stunned silence for a few moments followed by the most amazing standing ovation/round of applause Arthur has ever heard. When the lights went up virtually everyone in the cinema was in tears (all the goths had black eyeliner running down their faces). It was an amazing film and, seeing it at 7am in the morning in a packed cinema ,an amazing experience the likes of which Arthur had never had before nor has ever had since. It was an incredibly memorable moment. When Dave came back to introduce the next film he had very smug grin on his face and was very relieved that Miracle Mile had more than lived up to the hype he had lavished upon it all night
The rest of the evening was made of up enjoyable fare such as Bride of Reanimator and Frankenhooker (this was the final film and was slightly disappointing but still a good gory crowd pleaser). The only real stinker of the night was Never Cry Devil. It must have been bad because Arthur can remember nothing about it at all. Arthur is sure there was another film as well (10 in total) but cannot for the life of him recall what it could be.
It was a good night/day. Arthur and Mick had consumed vast quantities of cinema chocolate and hot dogs and had learnt that Pro-Plus really do work (although if you get the dosage wrong you can go a bit twitchy and hyper). They caught the first train of the day back to Leeds and walked back from the station to the university. Thinking back Arthur cannot imagine how he managed to stay awake on the journey home. The highlight of the event had definitely been Miracle Mile. In fact the film was shown at numerous other festivals on the strength of its reception at Black Sunday 3. It even got a cinema release as well because it did so well and Arthur is happy to have been there at the showing that stared it all. It is worth noting though that whilst the film is good, it doesn't have quite the same impact watching it at home. It is available on DVD in America although, shamefully, it is a full screen 4:3 transfer and not wide screen as it should be.