Rated R, a horror-themed pop-up bar, popped up last Friday night at an undisclosed location in L.A. Spooky! The event was a huge hit, jam-packed with horror fans and filmmakers, mingling at the bar, screening room, and side rooms decorated with creepy masks, old school televisions, and collectible issues of Fangoria.

Rated R is produced by Graham Skipper, an actor/writer/director/producer, who originated the character Herbert West in Re-Animator: The Musical. In addition to providing a free, horror-themed hang-out for the film community, Rated R also donates a percentage of the proceeds to ARTISTIC EVOLUCION, a non-profit that supports artists.

The event featured horror-themed drinks, tacos, go-go dancers, scare-actors, a fright zone, an art gallery, aerialist bartenders, and a screening room playing The Last Drive-In — it was literally heaven.

I checked in at the front door, at what appeared to be an old costume shop, but in order to get to the bar in the back, you had to pass — through a FRIGHT ZONE — just like Halloween Horror Nights. The maze entrance was created out of clothing racks with puppets, black lights, and monsters in the dark.

I LOVE to be scared so I was thrilled when a ghoul jumped out from behind a clothing rack and scared the living shit out of me in front of a Punch and Judy puppet display.

When I finally made it to the bar, I heard the opening song to Dario Argento’s Tenebrae playing and saw comedian Jonah Ray Rodrigues seated with his laptop in control as DJ. There was a massive blue lit alien against a black wall, horror pinball machines, a hovering black bat art piece, and a bunch of scare-actors wandering through the melee.

Photo Courtesy of Salpy Talian

My first thought was — holy shit, I’ve died and entered the simulation. Seriously, what if I died and this is my Black Mirror: San Junipero episode? BUT IT GETS BETTER.

Scary Hour was just starting, the horror happy hour with a number of drink specials to choose from…but I went with my heart — and selected the Joe Bob Briggs special. Because Joe Bob Briggs is back! The Drive-In has returned to Shudder and is streaming live on Friday nights, from March 29 to May 24, 2019.

I recently read an old True Romance review by Roger Ebert (from 1993!) where Ebert writes of the film, a movie he really liked: “It is the kind of film that will make the best 10 lists of such supporters of the decline of civilization as Joe Bob Briggs.” — which I believe is the ultimate compliment!  

After that, I headed to the food cart catered by KitchenGangstas, who offered tacos and quesadillas, including zucchini tacos, a rare but highly appreciated offering for vegetarians and low carb junkies.

The line for food was next to the horror art gallery, so you could check out cool drawings and paintings while waiting, plus monsters would come up, every now and then, and mess with you for fun. I like to scream!

After getting our food on, the horror go-go dancers came out: an eerie clown and a male dancer with a Jason hockey mask. Then an aerialist bartender appeared like a flying goddess, flipped upside down, and started pouring drinks, at five dollars a pop. I’ve seen a lot of things in my life, but never an aerialist bartender — it was awe-inspiring. I love dancers and aerialist performers but adding horror makes it even more incredible.

Finally, we headed to the screening room, which was filled with comfy chairs where The Last Drive-In was live-streamed on Shudder. For the debut of the new weekly show, Briggs hosted C.H.U.D. and Castle Freak. We caught the beginning of the wonderfully fun Castle Freak but I hate the part where the cute cat dies!

Rated R was a raving success — I hope it becomes a new home for the horror community. Horror fans, do yourself a favor and watch Graham Skipper’s film, Sequence Break on Shudder, while waiting for the next speakeasy. Follow Rated R on twitter for information about upcoming events, the next pop-up is on June 1, 2019. See you there, mate!

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Tiffany Aleman
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