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Rated R: A Horror Speakeasy (review)

Rated R Horror Speakeasy Revew
A happy face at the Horror Speakeasy

Rated R: A Horror Speakeasy – a pop-up bar that made a one-night stand in StarMakers Costumes and Parties in Glendale on Friday – didn’t quite live up to its name (more on that later), but it did offer a sustaining dose of horror for fans enduring the long drought until next Halloween. The path through the racks of costumes formed a sort of mini-maze at the entrance, haunted by lurking monsters. In the main gathering area, ghoulish dancers writhed on stairways, and an agile vamp swung overhead like a trapeze artist. Macabre art was on view, along with sculpted masks of strange monsters. A facade created the illusion of a haunted house – actually an entrance to a more intimate gathering place for those avoiding the pulsing music (which mixed newer sounds with classics ranging from “Don’t Fear the Reaper” to “The Monster Mash”). An impressively sized screening room offered a high-def presentation of Stuart Gordon’s Castle Freak, interspersed with segments of Joe Bob Briggs interview the film’s star, Barbara Crampton, who is working on a remake.

Really, the only problem with Rated R: A Horror Speakeasy was the packed crowd, which made it difficult to maneuver through the environments or find a quiet place to socialize. The problem was exacerbated by some questionable layout choices: except for the screening room, seating was limited, and the vamp dangling from a bungee cord was a few feet from the bar, so that people crowded close for a drink had to take care lest they get kicked in the face by the entertainer’s overhead gyrations.

The term “speakeasy” refers to illegal bars during prohibition; the word derived from the necessity of remaining quiet in order to avoid detection. Today, “speakeasy” is used refers to small bars that maintain a low profile, making them difficult or impossible to find. In that regard, Rated R: A Horror Speakeasy did not quite live up to its name. The high-volume music leaked out into the night, echoing through the surrounding residential neighborhood, until the police were called and sent to shut the noise down after 10pm. Maybe next time (hopefully, there will be one) the horror speakeasy will live up to its name.

Note: The article has been updated to clarify that the police arrived to shut down the noise, not the event itself.

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Rated R : A Horror Speakeasy Rating

Bottom Line

Coming across like an enjoyable Halloween pop-up in March, Rated R : A Horror Speakeasy would have been improved by a more low-key atmosphere.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.