Sunday, February 03, 2008

B-Fest Wrap Up No. 2

Dracula's Daughter

The crowd's still pretty jazzed as "Dracula's Daughter" begins. That soon changes. Chad describes the Lugosi-less ode to conflicted vamparism as a cinematic punch to the crotch. I feel it's more like a cinematic time share seminar - dull and trying pointlessly to sell you on something you're never going to buy. The plot involves the aftermath of Drac going the trip, as one of his vampire ladies named Marya Zaleska seeks therapy to slake her bloodlust. It works about as well as therapy usually does, and soon she and her ghoulish sidekick are seeking pretty young things with healthy young veins.

It occurs to me that the type of creepy that Lugosi pioneered just doesn't fly when attempted by Gloria Holden. I knew she was in trouble when the crowd started yelling "BLINK!" at her during the scenes when she's supposed to be threatening.

It's also worth mentioning that at this point my group is in the middle of inside joke hell. There were three big inside jokes at this year's fest for me:
-The fact that I have "one job," which referrs to my frequent driving misadventures
-Hobos on fire. This stems from a conversation in Cloverfield and while it's dark, it's not nearly as mean as it sounds. Or maybe it is.
-Mimicking the guy who yelled at us, normally in the form of "I paid $35 to get in here and I want to watch" fill in the blank. And we got off some doozys, if memory serves.

The creepiest part of "Dracula's Daughter" was what came immediately after it - a nasty little short called "You Are What You Eat," where a gargantuan woman (Tim - That's a MAN...MAN!) bothers, irritates and otherwise molests a dude who looks like Harry Potter's skinny, dorky cousin. Time is sped up, time is slowed down, music screeches and everyone is thoroughly creeped out. Not fun.

Also not fun - the grouping of silent film shorts that begin just after "You Are What You Eat." I respect Chaplain as much as anyone, but you have to admit it takes a couple minutes to get into the rhythm of silent films. When the film is short and doesn't allow you that time, AND is packed with juvenile jokes straight from low-grade vaudeville, there's not only not much to make fun of but also not much to care about. Yawn. Which brings us to:


I've had hours of debates with people about what constitutes a B movie, and I believe in my bones "Barbarella" would apply had it not become a cultural touchstone. But, given Dino de Laurentis' ode to interstellar sex somehow tapped a nerve when it came out in 1968, it can look like a B-movie and walk like a B-movie, but probably isn't a B-movie. Still, there's plenty to make fun of.

Like when Barbarella has her first sexual experience with a Yetti-like man who removes his bear skin wrap...or does he? Or the pleasure-giving organ (like you see in church, Mr. or Mrs. Mind In The Gutter) or the blind angel love, man. Or Marcel Marceau in general. Personally, and maybe I'm underthinking this, but the movie seems to be about nothing but freak culture, with no attention to substance or character. Either that, or someone made the most almost-nudity free and expensive kink film of all time. Maybe that's the hidden meaning.

No hidden meaning in the short following "Barbarella," no sir. It's footage of a bunch of animals. What are they doing? Animal things. Ducks swim, monkeys swing (from trees, Mr. or Mrs. Mind In The Gutter) and at one point I think one Rhino mounts another. Maybe it was a "Barbarella" aftertaste, who knows. Just animals. It was pleasant enough, but allow me to pose the thoughtful and carefully pondered question, what the fuck? Seriously, I PAID $35 DOLLARS TO COME HERE AND WATCH ANIMALS?

One of three showings of The Wizard of Speed and Time follows, which leads me to think "how exactly did this strange ritual develop." Did one person come up with the moves to "Wizard" and folks just fell in line? It could have happened.

Plan 9 From Outer Space
Plan 9 is the last stand of the regular people. They have fun at the midnight movie, then unroll their sleeping bags or inflate their matresses and get 5 or 6 hours of sleep, free of visions of Sean Connery in a big red diaper. For the rest of us, it's the last known quantity bofre things get seriously freaky.

Tim starts off with a rather astute observation that "Plan 9" has been lying to us for decases. The title card beginning the show proclaims "Criswell Predicts." He doesn't predict. He pontificates, he bloviates, he runs off at the mouth, but there's not a shred of prediction in the whole grandiose affair. Just bad hair and big ideas. At the beginning of "Plan 9," several BMMBers decided to lay flowers on the grave of the "Old Woman," played by Vampira, as the inspiration for Elvira had died just a few days before. It went off OK, but lead to a couple funny stories involving fat men buying fake flowers. When I described the stunt to my wife, she shook her head and said "It must have been hard getting so many dorks in one place." Not really.

Black Samson

It's time to get it on.

By and large, Blaxpoitation films are part of B-Fest, usually during the overnight. They've run the gamete from Coffee (one of the best) to Monkey Hustle. "Black Samson," was probably my least favorite, which isn't to say it didn't go over well. It did lack both the social conscious and home made atmosphere that made the other films so fantastic. "Black Samson," is Blaxploitation after Blaxploitation died, IMO.

The plot involves a strip club owner who carries a prayer stick which doubles as a honkey stomper. His nemisis, a business man and part-time mysoginest whose bent on...what...gentrification, as near as I could tell. It has to do with developing and there's strikingly little action until the glorious final reel where the white hoods are pelted with kitchen appliances from the project windows, and a shirtless Samson beats the equally shirtless honkey mysogenist (best line...THIS ISN't SPARTA!)before reconciling with his undertaker brother who's ON CO-CAAAAAAINE!

I don't know. Either the sleeze wasn't sleezy or the party atmosphere wasn't party enough. When Rudy Ray Moore came out at the end of Monkey Hustle, the whole thing seemed like a block party. Black Samson never caught that wave. Also, you don't introduce a plot device like a lion and then leave it to languish. Bad form.


Films are largely an emotional media, which is why they're so feared. You can throw theory about WWII back and forth for an entire semester, but nothing connects you to the experience like watching "Band of Brothers." Suddenly, a lot of the theory kind of goes out the window.

"Zardoz" is a movie that's almost nothing but theory. There are ideas, possibly good ones, contained within. There's philosophy and sociology and psychology and other ologys that could keep the thinking man going for a while. After 3 Brawndos (they have what plants crave) and over 10 hours of viewing with the nerd funk rising around me, I'm not a thinking man. I'm quipping for my life at that point.

Given the circumstances, "Zardoz" was not well received by my chemically altered brain. The ideas skipped off, the psychology lost. Instead I saw the movie the way most educated people see NASCAR - as a big fat waste of time and energy. I stand by that assessment, though it may change in a different setting.

I did, however, put together a skit that I thought was crackerjack. During the first part of "Zardoz," a giant God-head (literally) descends from the sky to tell a group of red diaper-clad savages that The Gun Is Good and The Penis is Bad. My idea was to get two big pieces of posterboard and write "Gun" on one side, "Penis" on the other and then write "Yay" and "BOO" on the other piece. Folks would cheer the gun and boo the penis. No social commentary, no siree, just good B-Fest fun.

Chad, he who drew the beautiful cartoon letters, came up with me. He had a great routine worked out where we would get confused about what we were cheering or booing. I could see his plan was solid and had every intention of going with it, but I started too early and the joke was lost. I suck.