Saturday, February 10, 2007

B-Fest Wrap Up 3

Back to it.

By this time, I'm getting my ass kicked. Savage Sisters caught me with a couple of jabs, but nothing I couldn't fight through. Then "Invasion of the Star Creatures" was a 750 lb. wrecking ball swing which caught me square in the head. I wasn't doing well.

Which brings us to Street Trash, a Troma movie without all that humor and basic goodwill. The premise: a bunch of hobos buy some toxic cheap booze which turns them into flourescent piles of goo in somewhat spectacular fashion. If it had been a cheap "who's going to melt next" movie, I could have bought the charm of what I saw. After the homeless gang rape followed by morbidly obese necrofelia, it kind of lost me.
Man, this movie was mean. I don't usually care if a movie has excessive amounts of swearing, sex or violence, but "Street Trash" just struck me as filthy, from the legitimately dirty people (not all of them, but the owner of the chop shop is a good example) to the bad taste in which every little moment was perpetuated. I left to sleep it off after about 2/3ds of the flick, and apparently I missed the best part where everyone explodes like the Fourth of July. If I watched it again, it might strike me differently, but I wished they would have stuck with the goo.
Final thought: If the point of "Street Trash" was to titilate, it failed with me. In fact, I'm pretty sure my primary and secondary sex characteristics retreated into my body after 20 minutes of this movie.
A piece of advice: Don't fall asleep during a movie which involves an elaborate strobe light effect.
After sleeping off "Street Trash" in the lobby, I dove back into the theater for the first part of "The Hypnotic Eye," and ended up bunking on the floor about the first time THE EYE made an appearance. The strobe seriosuly freaked me out, and strangely, by the time I woke up for the finale, I didn't feel like I had missed anything. Then again, I wouldn't have been surprised if I had robbed a bank or committed a murder under the terrible influence of The Hypnotic Eye.
Final Thought: If I were the hypnotist in this movie, I would have instructed my minions to lie better. Every time someone under hypnosis was asked to lie their stories unraveled like a cheap sweater. I lied better on the floor under three seats using a bag or Doritos as a pillow.
I'm convinced that, in years to come, Krull will become the stuff of B-Fest legend. Let me set the stage.
For about an hour, we're dealt line upon line of mystic mumbo jumo as to why the barely bearded model-looking guy has to rescue the princess from the Society For Creative Enacronisms. At one point, we're presented "Thunder Horses" or "Fire Horses" or some sort of horse that runs fast and creates flames like the Delorian from "Back to the Future." They run in and carry our heros to the final battle with the badly rendered baddie. But just as the scene in the fortress begins to ramp up, the movie breaks and cuts back about half an hour.
See, the Thunder Horses and the quest to find them was about 20 minutes of the movie. Now, Krull would have functioned fine without the 20 minute exposition on these particular equine, and easily could have lost the subplot about the old guy winding through a giant spider web to find the old blind woman who could lead him to the Fire Horses only to die right before he summoned them, but no, Krull included it. So we had to back up.
It was a singular joy to see the reels mixed up like that, and it was the only significant aspect of this otherwise ho hum entry. There were a couple of good jokes, but man, fantasy films can be tedious. This one felt like it went on forever, but there was nothing terribly wrong with it.
Final Thought: My favorite part in the movie was when our hero reached into molten lava to get the mystic five-sidded boomerang. No one bothered to explain why the hero could put his hand in molten lava with no ill effects, but whatever, look at the cool toy.
Now THIS is a B-Fest entry. John Agar, giant spiders, long extended patches of nothing followed by the whole sale slaughter of livestock. Yeah, this is what we like.
Again, Agar spends at least a third of the movie courting a girl who happens to be living with a scientist who pumps animals full of a serum that makes them huge. You hoot when the spider shows up, you blanch when Agar finally gets some lip action, you power through the dull parts with quips and it ends abruptly with a burning spider in the background. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning.
Final Thought: Agar's method involves wearing women down, which is why we get to see so much of his dating technique. It takes five or six encounters for them to even slightly warm to the big lug, and we're privy to every step.
Ahh, our movie. The movie we were responsible for. The one we co-paid for. The one two fo us had never seen. The one that really had no point. The one that included an increasingly strange father-daughter relationship, the woman who bore a striking resemblance to Olive Oil, chase scenes in high heels, a sort of rumble and a resolution worthy of a Hallmark Greeting Card.
I'll be the first to admit this movie wasn't cinematic dynamite, but as Chad put it half way through, "It's a Coreman film, you expected something to happen?" Basically a good girl gets in a cat fight and kills a member of an all-female gang who guns for her. She seeks solace in the arms of another street thug who goes on and on about thug philosophy like he's in an Ayn Rand novel. Then it ends.
Say what you will about this mediocre entry (Hot Rods to Hell would have been more fun, so I'm told) but it was a fantastic kick to see our logo up there. I swelled with pride.
Gotta go. I'll finish this up later.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

B-Fest Wrap Up 2

When you've come to B-Fest before, the routine kicks in pretty quick: You drop your stuff off in seats, wait for them to kick you out, stand in line, grab the swag, take your reserved seat and wait for the crap to begin. In this case, you wait, and then wait a little big more, but I'll get to that in a second.
Before I start, I want to make an admission: When talking about B-movies, I'm on the B team. I know a few actors and movies but most who come to B-Fest know a hell of a lot more about B-movies than I do. I'm about to put this on display.
In order to avoid stealing any sort of ratings system, I'm going to put a final thought on the bottom of each synopsis. I chalk it up to watching Jerry Springer for the first time in 5 years or so the morning before.

Before the flicks begin, Wyatt gets up and gives the best piece of news I've ever heard:
Wyatt: We are in the process of getting the heat turned down and the air conditioning turned up.
God bless you A&O. I've been in the isles during years where B-Fest seemed more like an experiment in olfactory overload because of the heat. Add yeast, some years, and you'd have they mystery booze from "Street Trash." Anyway, it's good news and the three of us put in a good natured chant of "murder, murder" before things get fired up.
The fest kicks off in inauspicious fashion as the lights go dark, the crowd lifts their voices and we're treated to the word BRAIN way to big on the screen. Then the familiar sound of a projector dying fills the auditorium, and the lights go back up.

What's great about the near-death of a movie so early on is it supplies us all with hope. To be honest, it was this hope that got me through a movie later on.
Anyway, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die," is a classic in the B-movie world. Jason Evers takes his fiancee on a drive, only to wreck the car for no particular reason, grab her (apparently) severed head from the ashes, stuff it in his coat and jog about three miles back to his lab where he proceeds to keep the head alive. He then begins trolling for a body while his fiancee gets more and more bitter, eventually scheming with a big monster behind a door of the lab.
The best part of this movie was the ending, where the monster finally, finally comes through the door only to have the film melt down again, at which point Josh asks "can you imagine how bad Hot Rods To Hell must have been?" He has an interesting point. Tim and a friend quickly re-enact the ending on stage to thunderous applause.
Final thought: Sitting through a movie for 80 minutes only to see have the film break just as the monster appears is the cinematic equivalent of blue balls. That, and it's really more "The Head That Wouldn't Die," which might have gotten more men in the theater.
Ladies and gentleman, let's get ready to MEAAAAANERRRRRRR!
Gawd this movie can't pick a tone, path or mission. Marc Singer, in all his oiled up glory, starts off as a villager who likes animals and ends up on top of a pyramid sacrificing a ferret in order to kill Rip Torn. In the meantime, he befriends fleshy creatures who deliver a hug that sucks all the flesh off of bones, has a sword fight with a guy in the middle of a forest fire, almost drowns in quick sand, runs around a dungeon and sort of kind of romances a boosemy Tonya Roberts.
In reality, this isn't a terrible movie and as a rule I like Don Coscerelli, but you know you're in trouble when ferrets get the biggest round of applause. It's also hard to take anyone seriously who spends 90 minutes shirtless and oiled up unless you're a stripper, and even then, 90 minutes is a little long.
Final Thought: Marc Singer controls birds, ferrets, a panther and that's about it. Only one of those animals I would even remotely classify as a beast, but I'll be the first to admit "The Animal Master" sounds dirty for some reason.
We were treated after to "Flip The Frog Buys A Car," which Chad lamented wasn't toon porn just about the time the anthropomorphic car put on lip stick and got drunk. From my digi:
Mike: The car is drunk
Chad: Now it's sober
Mike: Now it's drunk again.
Classic cartoons usually have this minorly subversive feel to them and "Flip" was no different.
This film is 82 minutes long, 70 or so of which is John Agar showing us all how he courts a lady. Agar and his girl go to dinner, the frolic in the water, they exchange awkward conversations in an aquarium hallway, and oh yeah the Creature From the Black Lagoon goes on a rampage. The 3-D was fantastic, which made the dating pop right off the screen. If there had been any sparks, we would have been singed.
I guess I've seen so many "nature gone wild" movies, it fails to even register anymore. Yeah yeah, man is paying for his insolence, is anything else on? Still, this movie has it's charm, most of which has to do with alcoholism jokes anytime Agar takes a sip of anything.
Final Thought: For the life of me, I can't remember how this movie ends. The last thing I remember is Agar swimming with his girlfriend.
I don't partake this year, for no particular reason. The sound doesn't work, which made the noise from the audience participation portion all the funnier.
I ducked for most of this one, but I have noticed how the audience participation has organically evolved over the years. Since I started coming to the fest, they've added "hot" whenever Vampira is on screen, started yelling "what" when Tor talks, and started making cautionary noises when the detectives wave their guns around.
Final Thought: Insert obligatory "for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives" joke here.
Govat involves two French little people fighting over a chair. From my digi
Chad: Govat is French, and lasts about 6 hours, and is French and I don't get it.
Matt: Um...uh
Chad: Yeah, that's about right.
The pain begins. "Savage Sisters" is the only film I can think of that somehow show horns multiple genital torture and mutilation with the slapstick sensibilities of an episode of Three's Company. It involves three woman, thrown together by a casual aquatinenship, who along with their hustler friend whose fond of bikini briefs, get revenge on Sid Haig in a sombrero and his sidekick Butt Crack.
I hated this movie so much. At one point I turned to Chad and said this was one of the top five worst movies I've ever seen at the fest, only to have it knocked out of the top five by one movie that takes up 30 of those places in about an hour. Savage Sisters makes three principal mistakes.
1) It assumes, incorrectly, that the female breast should be covered at all times under all circumstances which include, but are not limited to, showering, sex and topless beaches.
2) It also assumes, incorrectly, in place of naked breasts the principal audience is much more interested in men ham handedly seducing women while in their underwear. In fact, I saw more men in their underwear in this movie than I've seen in my actual life. This isn't an exaggeration.
3) Sid Haig is cool enough without talking like Frito Bandito, though without him I would have set fire to the screen or myself.
Or, as Chad put it, this is the first ambiguously gay women in prison movie ever made.
Final thought: You have to respect a man who has sex with three women, works out before and after each encounter and still has the ware with all to misuse almost every piece of slang popularized in the 70s.
Comedy is based on one of two things: a misdirection or other people's pain. Either the chicken crosses the road to get to the other side, or Johnny Knoxville gets hit in the nuts. All humor grows from those fertile trees.
Invasion of the Star Creatures, sweet Lord, is a 60s attempt at a goofball comedy. Every bit of humor, with only two exceptions I was able to identify, stem from typical comedic material. Basically it's 17 hours of two guys mugging. Painfully. And each time they mug for the camera, which is once a second or so, it adds to the unfunny. By the end, you have a pile of unfunny the size of Mt. Fiji, and pain I haven't felt since my wife backed over my foot with the car.
It seems straight forward why and how this movie earns its scorn, but I assure you, there is no way to accurately describe how much I despised this movie. In the first five minutes I wanted to hurt the two leads. After 10 minutes of their shtick, I wished ill on their families. The fifth time they pulled a gag where they ran through a series of caves like some Benny Hill from hell, I was physically nauseous. But the time the leads visited an Indian camp or some other sort of contrivance that allowed a white guy to don a head dress and go "hey ya ya ya hey ya ya ya," I needed to leave. Not wanted to, needed to.
Notice I didn't bother with the plot. Neither did the writers.
Final Thought: I'd rather rip my dick off and throw it in the river than ever watch that again.
And, on that note, STAY TUNED FOR PART 3

B-Fest Wrap Up, Part 1

I'll admit right off the bat to possessing no originality. Chad, the master B-movie man, will grace us all with his write up soon enough on his oh so aptly named "Inevitable Disasters" blog, but to share pictures and perspectives, I'll do my own wrap up in three parts: Getting there, the fest and getting back. Original, no. A chance for me to write with no one bitching at me? Probably.


This is my fifth fest, and as you can see from the entries below, I was a tad bit excited for the festivities this year. B-Fest has always saved me from the post-Christmas let-down. It's almost more fun looking forward to something than actually going, and B-Fest has consistently been one of those rare instances where whatever hype I can build in my head usually lives up to what happens in the oasis of Evanston.

Before we go much further, I'm going to steal a phrase from Telstar Man about B-Fest being "geek Christmas" and expound. For me, it's not just Geek Christmas, but a chance to let the geek out. You can dress oddly, throw professionalism to the wind, drink, make jokes at the aquarium, and cheer when "The Brain That Wouldn't Die" starts. Keeping this in mind, I didn't waste any time after waking up at 4 a.m., showering and hitting the road to Chad's place, a scant 12 blocks away.

Transcribed from my Digi:
Mike: I'm on my way to Chad's, and there's some sort of crunchy piano concerto on the radio. It's...OK, let's get the geek flowing here...I feel like a Star Ship captain. It's pitch black, the dark classical music is blasting and I feel like I'm going on an adventure.

See? Not just geeky, really really geeky. Comparing myself to a Star Trek character geeky. Welcome to the one time of the year where that feels gooooood.

I pick up Chad and begin with my little experiment to ask folks what their first B-movie experience was and what they're looking forward to at the fest. Chad mentioned "Killdozer" as the movie that gently but firmly took him by the waist and introduced him to B-movie pleasures. We loaded up, which didn't take long and went off to Omaha, watching the MST3K episode of "The Pod People" on the way. Trumpy, you can do magic things!

Before we go further it's important to note we sponsored a movie this year, which was an adventure in and of itself. The event organizer, Wyatt Olestad, contacted me a week before the event and told us "Hot Rods To Hell," the movie we wanted, was "Unwatchable" (which I could have told you, but apparently it had something to do with the print), and we needed to sponsor another movie, the Roger Coreman snoozer "Teenage Doll."

IN order to sponsor a movie you should probably make a transparency of your "group," which I underwent many an odd look in order to obtain. So proud, was I, of these transparencies that when we hit Omaha I promptly left them in Matt's living room. We were 200 miles down the road and half way through a movie when I came to that realization.

On the way down, we watched what might be the greatest double feature accidentally conceived: Mike Judge's "Idiocracy" followed by "Jackass 2." We have a movie about the decline of civilization and the perils of not thinking followed by a movie that leads the way into that decline, yet still graphically illustrates the perils of not thinking. At one point, Chad thought he felt "the big one," in the form of stroke coming on, probably after the scene where the little guy and the big guy tie themselves to each end of a bungee chord and jump.

After forgetting the transparencies we devised a plan: Matt's mother would fax an image, and we would make a transparency there, which pretty much worked. Kind of. Back to the trip.

For the past three years we've stopped at a particular McDonalds in Iowa City (Coralville to be precise), with a god-awful piece of folk art on it. It's been overly described, but let's say it's taken on legendary status among the three of us. So we looked for the exit, and looked for the exit as Iowa City flew past our windows. When we were 20 miles outside of Iowa City, we figured we had missed it.

Now here's where the geek thing begins to manifest. There are at least three other McDonalds locations between Coralville and 20 miles outside of Iowa City, but we didn't want THOSE McDonalds, we wanted OUR McDonalds. What else could we do but turn around.

It took us three tries to find "He Who Walks Between The Arches" who we had convinced ourselves we had angered, probably by forgetting the transparencies (I had ONE JOB). To rectify things, Matt bought a cheeseburger and sacrificed it on the alter of the God of the Black Hole. The rest of the trip went without incident, unless you count the actual viewing of Mondo Carne when we hit Chicago proper.

Once in lovely Evanston we checked into the hotel, which has this odd time displacement phenomenon of its own. The second I set foot in the joint, it feels as if we've never left.

We checked in, freshened up as much as three large gentleman can freshen up after being in a car with each other for 12 hours, and went downstairs to check on the BMMB. Now, I always feel somewhat guilty for not posting on the BMMB more frequently, because in person each and every one of these guys and girls are a blast and a half. Josh welcomed us and we made plans. But first...the transparency.

Matt and I trek through the ball-shrinking Illinois cold to a Kinkos. Nice, friendly Kinkos. We went in and asked the clerk how to make a transparency. She was a nice lady. Clueless as a NASCAR fan at a Beckett play, but nice. We struggle with the machines, consulting instruction manuals and cursing like sailors until we give up. We then find another printing place a block down and 2 and a half minutes and $1.25 later, we have our transparency.

The BMMB, many of whom I don't know, hit the Seafood Buffet (Here's Microwave!) and then the Hali Kahiki where Matt and El Santo have a dispute about the jukebox and Chad has the unfortunate experience of being sucked into an argument about breastfeeding. He looked, at one point, as if a cat had jumped up onto the table and begun to sign opera.

We leave, pass on a party to watch bad movies, pop the NyQuil, stuff in the ear plugs and hit the sack.

Morning is quick, we do some shopping at Barnes and Noble where I, quite ironically, ask the clerk about a book called "MisSpeak" which he can't find. Later I found out the book I was looking for was actually called "Unspeak."

We then drove through a building to visit the Shedd Aquarium (construction made for some pretty awful detours) before the fest.

From my digi:

Mike: Matt, describe what's happening now.
Matt: Well, we're literally driving through a building, it's about 30 feet by 20 feet tall, and we're not entirely sure where we are.
Chad: We gave you ONE JOB, Mike!

We saw one fish (with a really long nose), two fish (dolphins doing flips), red fish (more orangish red, but whatever) and blue fish. Some were red, some were blue, some were old (like, the oldest in captivity) and some were new. Not one of them was like another. Don't ask me why, go ask your mother.

We arrived at the Norris Auditorium about three hours before the fest.