Wednesday, February 11, 2009

B-Fest Wrap Up No. 2

Mystery Short No. 1

Ever since it's height in 02 when "What is Communism" floated the entire auditorium on a cloud of irony, the mystery shorts have always been a take it or leave it proposition. Then last year, Sonny Bono showed up to give us a court-ordered lecture on drugs and my hope was restored. This year, we got a half-hour long all female Busby Berkly style musical in Chinese.

Well played, B-Fest.

The language barrier wasn't the only thing that made this indecipherable. The all-female cast caused a few heads to be scratched and the musical quality...ouch. Just ouch. You don't think "endurance test" when you hear the words "mystery short" but you also don't expect five minutes of screeching in a foreign tongue to seem like 4 hours in a dentist's chair, either.

Murder in the Air

I figured it would be a good five minutes before the fest crowd made an Alzheimer's joke. Nope. Inside the first minute, before the credits were done if I remember. It also took about a half hour to grasp onto the fact that "murder" wasn't where this plot was taking us, and that the "air" portion of the title was kind of incidental. It would be similar to "LA Confidential" taking place on Kominski Field with long grass that sort of resembled a labyrinth. And starring Jimmy Carter.

The movie was kind of dull, with Ronald Regan finding himself stuck as an undercover officer in a mob style noir. There's a moll, a bit of intrigue and planes, toward the end. No biggie.

Raffle, Wizard, Plan 9

Nothing new here. We were skunked, went to stomp and threw plates, in that order.

Scream Blackula Scream

Some negative buzz was floating around about William Marshall's second go round as the master of the slightly darker dark, as it were. In actuality, I enjoyed the film quite a bit. Yes, Pam Greer had nothing to do (though I did dig the voodoo ceremony toward the end) and yes, the plot moved a little slow and yes, the title character only does the reenacts the title in the final minutes out of the blue, but overall the thing had a great lead, decent atmosphere for a tiny budget and some kind of fun dialogue all the way across. And it was riffable.

My favorite bit involved Blackula crashing an antiquities party and sort of wooing everyone in the room, then going out the garage and turning into a bat for no reason. It fit the movie so well - great charm at the beginning with a bat on a string by the end.

By that point, I'm getting a big hazy. Onto:

Don't Knock the Rock

Pretty basic, really. The country loves rock. Musicians love rock. Old, powerful, sticks in the mud don't like rock. Musicians show up and put on a show to change people's minds. One slut ruins it for everyone. Then rock somehow wins and everyone falls in line. Somewhere in there, the main musician guy nabs the girl. Play us out.

And then Little Richard shows up and things get interesting.

Not really. Little Richard playing on the big screen in all his youthful, not quite flaming glory was a site to behold at 3 in the morning. The dude could play. Probably still can.

Woof. I ate too much junk and decided to sleep off Donovan's Brain and end up missing The Tingler, too. Ack!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

B-Fest 09 Wrap Up, Part 1

One thing I've noticed over my seven (god, seven!) years of going to B-fest is how many "normals" want to talk about it before and after. The idea interests them, captures their imagination somehow - the idea of pushing your body and your mind by cheesy movie after cheesy movie, each one more processed than the last.

What I tell them is it's glorious. And they would never make it. They seem to understand.

B-Fest 09 was glorious, let's get that out of the way first. The folks who attended have wits both sharp and quick and were friendly and great to be around as always. The trip was doable and the fest itself, one of my top three favorites. In short, good, good year. And normals wouldn't make it past Scream Blackula Scream. But we did.

The trip started off with Chad and I traveling to Omaha where we had dinner at the Dundee Del with the tall and friendly Mr. Lane Hickenbottom, then catching a screening of "The Wrestler" (if you've ever seen plastic surgery kill the face of an aging star - if you've ever seen a bad chin job then you've seen me) which was great and deeply sad in equal measure. Then it was off to the home of Matt and Pat Campbell where we all sang like girls during a spirited round of Rock Band, sampled some corn whiskey to offset the singing like girls, and hit the sack. It was up at 6, on the road by 7:30 and off we went.

Matt's an old pro at this, but Pat didn't know what he was getting into. Any trip with the three of us includes a stop in Iowa City (turn here, Mike) to visit He Who Walks Between The Arches at the Coralville McDonalds. Pat took it well, getting nervous upon the approach and reverent as we ate an early lunch in the coldest McDs in the free world. We considered the fryer as a source of warmth and could see our breath through the sips of sour water that passed for Diet Coke. HWWBTA was having a bad year, apparently.

We hit Illinois with a little Kung-Fu Panda (screw you, it's a legitimate Kung-Fu movie on training wheels), the Edward Norton "Incredible Hulk" movie from this year and a few other novelties. It was onto the Eisenhower, onto the testicle tingle trestle and into the Best Western to meet up with the BMMB. Again, Pat was nervous upon the approach and reverent as we pulled up.

We all headed off to the Tiki Bar for a few drinks, a mammathon and dirty talk over cigarettes. Then to the hotel for the after party where my tech skills proved woefully inadequate but my foresight in bringing lots of booze made up for it. I went to bed early, but apparently a lot of drinking took place after I conked out, leading to the immortal line "puke, you'll feel better in the morning." And so it was.

Friday, we dicked around downtown, bought some books, drank some coffee and hit the auditorium for the fest. The energy level was a touch lower than in the past (the pixie serving as MC who couldn't project over the crowd didn't help) but that changed real quick with the appearance of Mr. Chuck Norris. Welcome to B-Fest 09.


People love Chuck. I think Chuck is a real life douchbag who made some fun flicks, but let's face it - the jokes are getting old. It would have been hard to sustain an entire movie with "Chuck Norris is so tough..." jokes, so I thanked the quipping Gods when the first scene sees Norris and his buddy Louis Gossett Jr. tied prostrate in a desert, with only a beer for company as an evil someone or other drives away, laughing. Chuck crushes the beer bottle, uses the glass to cut his ropes and "crotch cam" is mercifully ended.

What follows is the really, really poor man's Indiana Jones with half-assed treasure hunting, a villain who doesn't pay much attention to the plot except when it calls for him to break into the stereotypical Native American "hey ya ya ya hey ya ya ya" and a love interest who bears a striking resemblance to a french poodle. The highlight of the proceedings is a bar fight where Mr. Gossett Jr. sees a punch coming and yells "aaawww nooo!" before taking one to the big bald head. The phrase immediately stuck and became the Zeus yell of 09's fest.

Overall, "Firewalker" was a big "eh," the defining characteristic being a distinct lack of fire walking. Imagine, Chuck Norris turning in a half-assed performance in a half-serious action movie. Perfect cannon fodder. Feeling good. Onto...

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

Meets is kind of a strong word. It was more like a meeting where each side has something the other one wants. On the Wolfman's side, Dr. Frankenstein's science offers a way to finally die and end his suffering. For Frankie, I kind of forget what he was getting out of the deal. Given he ended up taking a dam to the face at the end of the picture, he probably got hosed.

This wasn't your typical "monster meets monster" movie for three big reasons: There was a musical number, some pretty famous names were involved (Bela Legosi played Frankie, of all people) and it actually reached a fairly good B-movie style crescendo. It was better than anything Aliens Vs. Predator was able to pull off.

My finest moment of the fest came during this movie. When the Wolf Man turned and started hunting a cop, Josh of the BMMB started making frantic "bacon bacon bacon" chants, like the dog on the commercial. When the Wolf Man finally attacked, I yelled "It's Bacon!" which worked on a couple letters. I got some scattered applause and my self-esteem was up for the year. Yay me.

When we return: bad special effects and even worse food.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Um...oh yeah...

Is anyone navigating? I don't think it's a good idea to let me figure out where we're going.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

B-Fest Update No. 4

My quick thoughts on the line up:

Firewalker - I don't know how wise it is leading off with Chuck Norris. I'm still lucid at that point and might not be able to separate the somewhat stale "isn't Chuck Norris a bad ass" jokes with the realization that he's actually a bigoted neo con who wants gays to go look on an island. Don't believe me? Read his blog on the National Review. This is the sort of thing I'm going to be thinking about, I don't care how much Lewis Gosset Jr. we're talking about. On the other hand, this is a particularly bad movie if I remember correctly - Norris as Indiana Jones which means it's just Chuck Norris. Color me skeptical.

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man - That's more like it.

Mystery Short 1 - Do I hear monkeys? Monkeys? How about "You Are What You Eat?" A woman looking at all-guy porn? A primer on why not to walk under a ladder? Midgets fighting over a chair? Sonny Bono talking about drugs (a personal favorite of mine). Animals doing animal stuff while I watch while I shake my head and wonder why I'm still watching?

Murder in the Air - Oh yes, it most certainly is.

Raffle - I'm thinking Chad's going to get skunked. Call it a hunch.

The Wizard of Speed and Time - I actually had a dream about being chased by the tri-pod a couple weeks ago.

Plan 9 From Outer Space - OK. Seriously, what else am I going to say?

Scream Blackula Scream - I hear it's dull. I don't much care, I think it looks fun.

Don't Knock the Rock - I might have opened or closed with this one. It's hard to know how excited folks will be for dancing and merriment at 3 a.m. Little Richard in the middle of the night might be enough to send me to the hallway, and I'll be thinking violence if Bill Haley and the Comets play Rock Around the Clock more than once.

Donovan's Brain - I don't know much about this movie, but it's during the traditionally hard time to stay awake for me. I'm interested (unless the Donovan in question is the folk singer or the rather milquetoast actor Tate Donovan), but we'll see if I can slam a Brawndo and make it happen.

The Tingler - There we go. I can't wait for this one as - ghasp - I've never seen it. It sounds fantastic.

Captive Wild Women - Nothing like a good, old fashion contradiction in your title. If you're captive, you can't damn well be wild and vice versa. Come on movie. Then again, the title has me interested.

Mystery Short 2 - Does anyone actually believe this will be the second mystery short? I call at least five other shorts and another showing of The Wizard of Speed and Time before we get to the second scheduled short.

American Ninja 2: The Confrontation - When I say Golan, you say Globus. GOLAN! GOLAN! B-Fest gold each and every time their names appear on the screen and I'm expecting nothing different.

The Terror of Tiny Town - I'm actually kind of torn on this one. Yes, we're having fun and cracking jokes at this terrible movie but isn't this the worst kind of exploitation on display here? Isn't this completely undignif...I'm just kidding. Look! They're little! HAHAHAHAHHAH!

Mystery Short 3 - See Mystery Short 2.

The Incredible Two Headed Transplant - I don't know what's so incredible about it. You take one head, you put it on another head, viola. Now taking a woman's head off after a car accident and keeping it alive, there's something.

Megaforce - SQUEEEEEEL! I can not wait for Megaforce. This one's going to kill and I remember, the good guys always win. Even in the 80s.

Gozilla Versus Megalon - Eh. Go Godzilla.

Onto logistics.

Chad and I are leaving about 1 p.m. on Wednesday, we'll catch some flicks, eat some dinner and make it over to the Campbell household around 9:30, if that's OK with the Campbells. A little Rock Band, a little drinky poo, a little OMG on the Internet and we're off to bed. I say we make it a point to be out the door by 6:30 if we can. That won't be too bad for us day walkers (sorry Plambeck) and we can hit the road.

Speaking of which, I've got a few surprises for the car I'll keep for now. I'm also bringing an Executaine, an elegant traveling case for booze, and a projector.

And, that's it. The hotel is reserved (they sent me confirmation letters and everything), the van is en route and we're set. Be careful out there and I just wanted to say Good Luck, we're all counting on you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

B-Fest Update Number 3

Top 10 Things A&O Films Is Doing Instead of Putting Out The B-Fest 09 Schedule:

10) Trying to find a film starring William Shatner that hasn't been shown.

9) Laughing hysterically at monkeys in diapers.

8) Trying desperately to repair the print of "Wizard of Speed and Time" so it can make it just one more year.

7) Trying to find a projectionist who'll sit through a Roger Coreman snooze fest AND Plan 9 in one sitting.

6) Hooking up and smoking weed while all the while being watched by that creepy guy in the bushes with a fixation on blunt instruments...

5) Laughing at "The Adventures of Superscrew."

4) Wretching and shaking their head at "The Adventures of Superscrew."

3) Plotting which films will make Mike drowsey so he'll miss "The Adventures of Superscrew."

2) Trying to find a host more personable and good with a crowd than last year's host (it's going to be difficult!)

1) Probably learning stuff.

Well screw that. I want my B-Fest list. Now. It's gotten to the point where I'm refreshing my e-mail once every couple hours, at work or at home. I need to know, man. You can't go stag with this level of pain, you need to prepare and guard yourself if at all possible. This is psychological warfare and I'm not getting caught with a right hook of "Gassssssss" and a left hook of "Invasion of the Star Creatures" again.

Chad is off to the magic kingdom and won't return until Sunday, so no decision can be made at this time concerning when we'll leave GI. If I had to guess, I'd say Wednesday but it kind of depends on his schedule.

Apparently some on the BMMB are looking at a trip to mini-golf. I can't decide if I want a road type adventure that mini-golf would provide or if I'm more comfortable catching a flick and staying in the general vicinity of the fest. A decision probably should be considered.

You ever notice how B-Fest comes at just the right time? I've got relatives getting laid off and friends seperating from their wives, troubles at work that are keeping me up nights and persistent health problems. This seems like the time to go away for a while and do nothing but laugh with friends, drink out of coconut husks and generally have some fun. Now, if they'd only POST THE FREAKING LIST!!

Everything else is OK Go. Post predictions and preferences and we'll be back next week.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

B-Fest Update Number 2

Realizations always come at the worst time.

I just realized I'm going 90 after I passed that cop.

I just realized I left the lid off the milk last night as my toddler daughter screams for her morning fix.

I just realized Frank Miller made me hate Sam Jackson AND boobs with one movie.

You know, stuff like that. I had one of those moments yesterday when I realized that my B-Fest ticket rested on the peddling skills of a bald, bespeckled, approaching middle-aged guy I had met maybe 5 times who I wouldn't put money on to make it across Chicago on his bike in January.

Yet, here we are - four guys with four tickets to B-Fest. So let's all raise whatever we're drinking to Skip, the man with the tickets. A good guy, a strong guy, a guy who went through urban hell on two wheels so we could sit in cinematic hell for 24 hours. What a guy, I repeat




Now that we're clear of that, onto the update.

Not only is "The Van" set, but I have an appointment the week before B-Fest to take it in to Wal-Mart's auto center for an oil change, tire pressure test and a few more diagnostic procedures to make sure we make it there and back. Both are important. Which brings me to the question, when do we want to leave? I am off of work at noon on Wednesday the 28th, meaning I could bop down to Omaha at a reasonable freaking hour the night before we're due to leave. Chad, if you're up for that, let me know. If not, we'll hop on the road at 4 a.m. Thursday morning and we're off.

I'll bring my lap top, Matt, bring your big screen portable DVD player, and we'll all bring a bunch of movies, throw them in the middle and see what sounds good. Personally, I'm searching for Chicago films, with a few other "must brings" on the list.

Thursday, once we're there, it's the typical "meet up in the lobby, go clean up then off to food and the Hali Kahiki" type of thing. Groovy. The morning before the fest, Chad and I talked about maybe catching "My Bloody Valentine" in 3-D. Is it wrong that's my most anticipated movie right now? If that's not the consensus, I'd also like to catch "The Wrestler." Cinematic steak before a gorging of cinematic Vienna Sausage from a can.

And, that's about it for now. Next week, we'll talk more about how dreamy Skip is.


Friday, December 26, 2008

B-Fest 09 Update No. 1

You're a little slow on the uptake this year, Bockoven.

I know.

What the hell have you been doing?

Nothing terribly productive.

So there's something more important, something more splendid you have on the horizon, something more nerd-funk-tastic-orama-ding dong-eriffic on your itenerary that you've laxed actually planning for B-Fest 09? What the hell, man?

Look, I was off for a while but I'm on it now.

Forgive me for not feeling great about that.

Can I go over the specifics now?

Go to hell, slacker.

OK, let's start.

Who's Coming: Mike, Chad, Matt and first time newb b-fest virgin and soon-to-be-in-over-his-head Pat, brother of Matt, son of Mike (not that Mike) and...wait...this is getting confusing. Pat's coming too.

Transport: Remember the Windstar that brought us to and from the Windy City, the City of Big Shoulders, The Home of Boss Tweed, the home of the president-elect, and then through the Black Hole past the shitty rest stops of Des Moines back to the plains of Nebraska? Yeah, we're taking that car again. It's roomy, the sound system is a solid B+ and I'm told it will get us there. I'm told.

Lodging: I have reservations for one room at the University Plaza again for the evenings of the 29th and 31st of January. The rooms are $119 a night and I have a request from my wife: We're willing to pick up one night and put the whole thing on our credit card. Is there any chance the three of you could chip in $40 or so a piece to cover the other night? If need be we can kick it down to $30 and I could throw $30 in the pot for the one night. Either way, I've got one night. If this really does get to be too much of a burden, please let me know and I'll see what I can swing, but any help would be appreciated.

The Cool Stuff: I've got movies. You've got movies. We've all got movies and half the fun of driving 1/4 of the way across the country to watch a bunch of lousy movies is WATCHING MORE MOVIES!! I'm also planning a trip to the Hali Kahiki (no expensive outings this year) but I have a capper - Sarah bought me a projector that we can hook up to anything with an AV cable. We can watch MORE MOVIES in our hotel room with a sheet and some tape. We can have others come over and watch movies and enjoy them as a group. Cool!

Tickets: I hear Matt's on that one. Or at least Matt's on top of Skip who's on top of that one. Wait...ah shit, I did it again. Let's just move on. Nothing to see. No jokes about Matt on top of Skip, no images of their two bodies writing together by candlelight as "Take My Breath Away" plays in the background, no fantasizing about the giggles each of their goatees would make on the other's foreheads...ah shit.

Misc: They could show "Baby Geniuses 3" and I'd go 'cause I love the trip, I love the travel and I love being with you guys. w00t!

More next week.