Kool Kat of the Week: Rockin’, Rollin’ and Raisin’ Japanese Monsters with Shane Morton at the Starlight Drive-In

What’s more Retro than watching a classic horror movie at the drive-in? Lucky Atlantans will get that rare opportunity this Sunday June 5 when the annual ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MONSTER BASH invades the Starlight Six Drive-In, one of the country’s last remaining drive-in movie theaters. Even better, the eerie all-day extravaganza also features a frightening fantastic line-up of bands, a Miss Monster Bash contest, vendors of spooky merchandise, custom hearses and not just one but three Japanese horror classics, GODZILLA 2000 (1999), HOUSE (1977) and RINGU (1998). Gates open at 10 AM, live performances start at 2 PM, the movies roll from dusk into the wee hours of the morning, and for those who want to party all weekend, there’s even a Monster Bash Pre-Party on Saturday night (June 4) at the Star Bar with even more bands.

ATLRetro caught up with Shane Morton, the Silver Scream Spookshow‘s Ghost Host with the Most Professor Morte, musician (Super X-13/Gargantua/etc.), painter, tattoo artist, SFX artist, actor, all-around horror Renaissance man, and one of the mad masterminds behind ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MONSTER BASH for a scary sneak preview…

How did the ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MONSTER BASH get started?

Billy Messina, Ben Armstrong and Tim Dolph of Netherworld fame were the original mad scientists that brought this thing to life.  Atlanta’s horror community deserves its own horror-themed DRIVE INVASION! they would always contact me for help in the rock ‘n’ roll dept. Billy and Ben are just too busy with netherworld—in my opinion, the greatest haunted house attraction in the world—so Tim, Jim Stacy [Starlight manager/ Palookaville mastermind/Greasepaint/AM Gold/etc.) and I took it over four years ago.

Professor Morte sings with the Silver Scream Spookshow band at Monster Bash 2009.

What’s the band line-up this year, and why should we be excited about it?

This is a great rockin’ line up this year with something for everybody! Spooky Partridge is a fun family band—[as in] Addams Family, ha!—that play a lot of punk covers along

LUST. Photo courtesy of Barb Hays.

with cute originals. The drummer is just a li’l kid, but he’s already one of the best in the city with all the stick spins and showmanship kicking already. It’s amazing to watch! Radio Cult is also a very visual band—almost like a fem-fronted ‘80s Van Halen! Big fun and way over the top! LUST needs no intro as they put on legendary and hilarious shows! [see ATLRetro’s Kool Kat interview with Barb Hays for more about LUST]. I love these gals like sisters, so it’s always a pleasure to have them on the bill. The Brimstones are New York City’s greatest spooky garage band. Trust me, when you see Justin’s Farfisa [organ] solos while in a headstand, you’ll know why they are so famous! Super X-13, ‘nuff said. This line-up of music is gonna tear your face off and rip up the pavement!

In past years, there have also been fun contests such as a Miss Monster Bash beauty(ugly?)/talent contest, monster Midway games and a hearse line-up. What crazy stuff do you have planned this year?

Well, the Miss Monster Bash contest is always a crowd favorite, and trust me, Prof. Morte has some great magic tricks and fun stuff planned. You’ll have to see for yourself as I don’t want to give away any big surprises! Netherworld is bringing some amazing stuff this year, too! We are trying to make this the biggest bash yet!

OK, let’s get to the movies. First on the bill is GODZILLA 2000. For Godzilla purists, is it the 98-minute US version or were you able to get the longer 107-min. Japanese one? Toho Kingdom actually reviewed the US version as tighter and better.

GODZILLA 2000 is the American print, and it is the superior one to show at this event. We always try to make the first movie good for the kiddies, so it is dubbed and moves along faster.

In the past, you’ve typically picked older Big G movies, but this one has some great fight scenes and an added appeal because Godzilla gets to slam down a nemesis [Orga] that resembles that travesty from the so-called American GODZILLA movie. Is that what you like about GODZILLA 2000, too, or something else?

I’m a big fan of this movie as it harkens back to the late ‘60s classics that dealt with alien invasion but still delivered a kick ass kaiju battle! Orga is one of the coolest of the new nemeses. I love his transformations. They remind me of the Smog Monster, one of my favorite Big G foes.

You’ve screened multiple Godzilla movies at the Silver Scream Spookshow and previous Monster Bashes, and your house is a virtual shrine to kaiju eiga. When did your love affair with Big G get started and what is it about Japanese giant monsters that rocks your socks so much?

I’ve been obsessed with Godzilla ever since I was 4 years old and watched GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS [1956]. Yes, it’s true; my home has been referred to as the Church of God…zilla! Haha! I’m crazy about this stuff, I have many kaiju tattoos, and I even flew to Tokyo to see the GODZILLA: FINAL WARS [2004] premiere!

This year is an all-Japanese triple-feature with RINGU, which really kicked off the recent  J-horror trend, and HOUSE (1977), a classic which may be the most insane Japanese horror movie ever. Why should audiences want to see these two and what about seeing them at the Drive-In is going to make them even better/crazier?

I love Japan! I think I was Japanese in a past life! When I watched the earthquake footage, it really upset me. I called Jim Stacy, and we decided to make this year’s bash a tribute to Japanese horror and sci fi/fantasy films. He hooked us up with ShelterBox Japan, and we are going to send some of the proceeds from this year’s show to them to help out with the ongoing crisis over there.

OK, this might sound like sacrilege, but I am most excited about screening HAUSU [HOUSE] this year. It is without a doubt the most insane movie I have ever seen! Impossible to describe, it’s a haunted house movie involving pretty Japanese babes, satanic cats and some wonderful animated death scenes! No need for added hallucinogens as this movie will put you on a ”reel” bad trip! Unbelievable!!! And for the true horror bad-asses, we are going run a third movie this year, RINGU, which is one of the scariest movies ever made. The first time I saw it I almost pulled my eyeballs outta my head to try to make it stop! Ha!

Anything else you’d like to add about this year’s ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MONSTER BASH?

Well, I just want to say that I really appreciate all the great people that come out to this insane party—the vendors who bring all the crazy stuff, the artists that are showing off all their amazing new work, the photographers, the models, the hearse clubs, the Netherspawn, the Silver Scream Spookshow gang, the great team of people that Jim has put together that keep the Starlight Drive-In running so smoothly. It really is an incredible feat! There is nothing like this ANYWHERE in the world! It’s the biggest rock n roll monster party ever, and I’m just glad to be a part of all the madness! Ha!

Finally, can you give us a little teaser about what’s upcoming with the next SILVER SCREAM SPOOKSHOW and anything else you’re up to?

The Spookshow is still running strong after over five years. Our next show is  Sat. June 25, and we are showing ROBOT MONSTER in 3D!!!  It’s awful, I know, but a lot of fun. We try to balance it all out, y’know? We give ya’ll a classic like THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD with one of the biggest and scariest illusions I’ve ever performed, and the crowd is respectful of the [Ray] Harryhausen masterpiece. Then,we give ya’ll something like INFRAMAN or ROBOT MONSTER and the place goes wild!!! It’s always a great time at the Plaza Theatre!!!

[Plaza Co-Owner] Johnny Rej and I also are already hard at work “’reanimating’ the ATLANTA ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, and that show is going to be almost twice as big, and 10 times as scary—is that even possible?—this year! Also, keep a lookout for the new Mastodon video on Adult Swim. It’s got some of my best work in it. We are all very proud of this video! In February, I was the production designer for [part one of] Rob Thompson‘s HAUS VON DRACUL rock opera [read ATLRetro’s review here], and we just snared a National Endowment for the Arts grant which will give 7 Stages the ability to stage the full show! Also, our feature film, DEAR GOD NO! is coming out this year. It’s all very exciting! The Internet buzz over the trailer has been immense! It’s a very extreme horror movie that I did a lot of special effects work on, and I even acted, did my own stunts, and got to kill alotta people—and get mutilated myself, too!!! But, of course, all in good fun! Whew! This has been the busiest 10 months of my life, and I’m really excited about all of the spooky stuff I’m unleashing on the world this year!!!


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