Mayor’s Cup Movie Night is back as the annual regatta and festival’s only nod to “Champ,” the blanket nickname for what many believe is a colony of saurian cryptids inhabiting Lake Champlain. Having been movie-night emcee since its humble beginnings in 2014, I’m pleased to announce that my choice for this summer’s main attraction was informed by last summer’s experience accompanying Katy Elizabeth (pictured), founder of Champ Search, on safari one weekend in August.
I say safari because unlike the waterborne exploration dominating Katy Elizabeth’s Champ-searching endeavors, the expedition I participated in was entirely beachbound. Based largely on eyewitness reports she’s logged over the years, the world’s leading Champ expert believes these animals occasionally venture up on land, prompting her use of intriguing techniques seeking evidence of Champ on terra firma which I witnessed first-hand (the techniques, that is). Per Katy Elizabeth’s theory, I’ve selected the 1956 cult classic “The She-Creature” to headline Mayor’s Cup Movie Night 2017 partly because the titular prehistoric sea beast is a part-time landlubber.
“The She-Creature” and I go back to my childhood, and my affection for it has only grown across the decades since first discovering the film on TV courtesy of WVNY-22’s “Shock Theater” (out of Burlington, Vt.) in the early 1970s. Today I’m the proud owner of a pristine (reel-to-reel) 16mm print spoiling to grace the Mayors Cup Movie Night marquee. So be it. Highlights include vintage Hollywood makeup master Paul Blaisdell’s unforgettably flamboyant monster-suit design and a big climactic question mark superimposed on a twilight seaside shot immediately preceding the final fade-out. For me this indelible closing image does double duty, additionally capturing the sense of wonder attendant to the mystery of Champ and firing my imagination’s capacity to embrace the plausibility of Champ’s existence.
Oh, and do stick around for a special bonus attraction on the evening’s viewing menu, 1957’s “Voodoo Woman,” sporting some of the same cast, crew and even recycled props from “The She-Creature” including the latter’s entire monster costume except for the head (replaced by an outrageous fright mask you won’t believe). What happened to it? Glad you asked! It turned up as part of a movie-memorabilia display in 1958’s “How To Make a Monster,” from the same company behind all three films, American International Pictures (AIP). I’ll bring along my 16mm print of that cult classic as well in case remaining attendance contains any seasoned movie marathon-runners willing to go the triple-deckered distance with me. If not, then we’ll just watch the clip in question along with a scene from 1959’s “The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow” (AIP again) in which the original “She-Creature” head and body were finally reunited after three years of presumed separation anxiety.
Mayor’s Cup Movie Night 2017 gets underway at 7:00 pm on Friday, July 7th at the Newman Center, 90 Broad St. across from SUNY Plattsburgh’s Myers Fine Arts building…..on classic reel-to-reel FILM! Free (including complimentary intermission snacks galore).
P.S. – Happy 40th birthday to Sandra Mansi’s world-reknowned photograph of Champ (pictured) taken from the Vermont side of Lake Champlain in 1977. Katy Elizabeth has suggested that the magnificent specimen clearly evident in Mansi’s historic photo might still be thriving out there somewhere. Will the wonders of Champ never cease?