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The 2010 Vendetta Movie Marathon, Prologue

THE 2010 VENDETTA MOVIE MARATHON

V MINUS 11 DAYS AND COUNTING


And so it begins. Again. The lead up to the 2010 Marathon has been one of the smoothest build-ups in several years. (For us, anyway. Ant is apparently still changing the line-up on a hourly basis. Just go with your gut, dude.) No sponsorship hassles has been forthcoming. There were polls on the Marathon Forum checking as to what the best dates for the show would be some months in advance, putting us salivating regulars in a much more relaxed mood than usual. (When Ant made a brief joke about cancelling the entire show a few year back, the howls of anguish were pitiful to see.)

In some ways, this has been the story of my year. At the time of the 2009 Marathon, I was trapped in a frustrating, go-nowhere job selling wine over the phone, broke as hell, with a one-year-old to feed. This year? Well, I’m in a fantastic, rewarding job selling wine over the phone. Yes, it’s the same job, but after months of pleading and being threatened with termination for failing to reach sales targets, I was transferred from the Outbound Sales Team to the Inbound Customer Services Team.

And what a difference it made. Suddenly I was no longer the scum of the earth, calling people at odd hours to shill Shiraz at them. Now I’m that nice young(okay, -ish) man at the other end of the line, sorting out courier hassles, sharing my Wine-Nerd knowledge and yes, selling a lot of good wine. My sale figures skyrocketed, my pay packet increased and my stress levels evaporated.

Of course, A.C is now a two-year-old, so I still have no money some weeks. But that’s a small price to pay for having a kid whose idea of “Helping Daddy get ready for work” means I unexpectedly find a Captain Scarlet DVD boxset in my bag at work. I guess he thought I might get bored.

Preparations have been coming along nicely, too. The 2010 Marathon Mixtape was assembled nice and early, with one twist on the last few editions. This year, my CD resembles my Reviews in needing an editor… the thing blew out to the first 2-Disc set I’ve ever created, due in part to a wealth of “Personal Holy Grail” tracks I’d acquired this year. Stan Busch’s “The Touch” from the animated Transformers movie, “Running Away With You (Restless Heart)” from THE RUNNING MAN, and a bad-quality, cobbled-together Youtube rip of the “Everybody’s Got Something to Do (But You)” earworm from last years mind-boggling NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR all made the cut.

So did a Leonard Nimoy song. No-one’s going to thank me for that.

I’ve been told I’m in the coveted Beanbag Section this year, and for the first time I’ll be able to take up the offer properly. A new workmate at the winery offered me a “Quite large” beanbag, so long as I didn’t mind one with a little cat hair attached. Since Sasha, the long-haired Psycho-Kitty sadly headed to the Big Ball o’ Wool in the Sky a few months after last year’s Marathon, I’ll probably find that quite comforting. R.I.P, you yowling, biting furball.

My non-functional torches have been replaced with a brand-spanking new pocket-sized one just this week. Cherie has still bet me a dollar it putts out half-way through the show.

Speaking of which, most of the regulars look like they’ll be in attendance this year. The B-Movie Crew are looking to be in near full attendance, with regulars Doug Dillaman, the two Steves (Austin and Chow), Cherie and new B-Movie Crewbie Glenn all booked in. Glenn has been a Marathon regular as long as I recall, but just started turning up at Chez Skeeter this year. Oddly, he was able to watch just the last few episodes of the 15-chapter Batman and Robin serial we’d plowed through and work out the gist of the story quite easily. Let’s just say its final twist wasn’t the 1940’s equivalent to THE USUAL SUSPECTS. Another new face, Darryn Waugh. also looks likely to be there. (Who marked his entry to the Crew by treating us to the mind-bending BLUE SUNSHINE.) And Al, new to the Crew and director of a 48-Hours short film I helped make last year with Hybrid Films is back for his second show.

Since I helped write the short, it would be a little self-centred of me to link to it, right? But hey, we won Best Cinematography and Best Use of the Required Line, so what the hell.


Long-distance attendees include Andrew Todd and members of his “Battle Shark 2: Urban Jaws” film crew from Christchurch, and Dave Brough and friends who are road-tripping up from Wellington.

And happily, one of the Crew, Campbell Cooley, (Who shall always be known as “BATTLESHARK!” to me after a tiny piece of cameo acting I did with him last year.) is returning for his second annual 24-hour brainrape. Last year’ 5 KM Non-fun Run meant by the time I got set up there was no way to elbow my way to his proximity during the show. Since Campbell and I share a strong interest in the most important facet of Exploitation Film-making, (That being the number and quality of gratuitous boob shots in the production) I’m really looking forward to hanging with him during anything that looks even remotely sleazy.

Speaking of which, Ant is promising to shake up the “traditional” Marathon line-up this time out. Possibly more newer films are on the cards. I have no problem with this, although he also hinted at the possibility of an 80’s-free affair for the first time. But then how will I get my yearly dose of awesome mullets and day-glo? He also contemplated a film that went to the fabled “LEVEL SEVEN” of Audience-Hurtyness, then retracted this. I’m hoping he still plays it. Hell, if I can sit through BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL and nearly HALF of THE MANIPULATOR, he can’t have anything to hurt me, can he?

Actually, knowing Ant, I bet he does.

My usual “Training regime” has begun anew, with a selection of previous Marathon flicks getting an airing. Or half an airing in the case of BURIAL GROUND. Man, that thing is deliberately paced when you watch it solo. It also amazes me that the director managed to shoot an entire movie where practically everything is the same shade of beige. I’ve also collected a bunch of Youtube weirdness, and if time permits I’ll slap it on a disc in case Ant needs mid-movie filler.

Three weeks out from the show, Ant once again announced a Marathon Trailer contest. Twenty days to shoot/edit/half-ass your best 30-second trailer for the ‘Fest. With a thousand dollars worth of DVD’s up for grabs, I first fired a script idea to Al and the Hybrid guys, knowing I’d have no time to join them for a shoot. They’re making a trailer, but I have no idea if my ideas were used at all. Afterward I grabbed the trusty camcorder, Aidens 13-inch Godzilla plush and shot one of the worst-lit trailers ever to grace the silver screen. It was a four-take affair, with two whole shots that had to be edited together. My technical skills suck and I use Windows Movie Maker (Extra-Crashy Edition), so it’s about as good as you’d expect.

My second trailer, featuring various items from my pantry re-enacting classic movie roles isn’t much better. Sadly, several performances had to be snipped for time constraints. (Including a toothpick-studded orange complete with drawn on face who did a pretty decent Pinhead.) My last effort was a simple still picture mashup of Marathon-screened movie posters set to the music from NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR. I don’t think any will win, but I’m quite fond of my full-length “Directors Cut” of the poster trailer.

V MINUS 4 DAYS AND COUNTING.

Plenty of trailers have been posted on the Marathon Facebook page, further solidifying my three as “Amateur Hour” productions. Dave Brough also posted a home-made effort, involving him gyrating naked save for a strategically-placed movie poster. I shall never sleep again.

The beanbag has been secured and de-furred with the help of plenty of packing tape. My winery co-workers have had to put up with my now traditional “Playing of the Marathon Discs” weekend. (Which now takes about 75% of BOTH the Saturday and Sunday shifts to accomplish, due to the 6 full CD’s in the mix.) Interestingly, only one American tourist remarked on the “non-traditional winery music”. And that was during an AC/DC number. In West Auckland.

Hybrids trailer (a nicely shot slasher homage) hit the Facebook page today. I’m now hoping my trailer gets a sympathy clap and maybe a cheap laugh or two.

My other creative effort, a spur-of-the-moment “Survival Guide” was good enough to warrant a spot on the official homepage. (Multiple mis-spellings and all.) Considering it was just an excuse to warm-up my typing fingers again after a years lay-off, and get a few bad jokes on paper, I’m quietly pleased with that fact. Ant’s even added one of my tips (Noisy snacks OUT of bags and into nice, quiet containers) to the Official Marathon Codes of Conduct.

V MINUS 18 HOURS AND COUNTING

One sleep to go. I’m getting worried about my distinct LACK of preparation this year. Sure, the CD’s are stowed away, the clothing is packed and the water bottle (singular, as one appears to have gone walkabout this year) is chilling out in the freezer. And yet I’ve got no snacks in the house (I figure I’ll just raid the Hollywoods snack bar all night), am still undecided on whether I should sneak the camcorder in again (despite a new “NO CAMERAS!” rule I’ll almost certainly ignore to get some stills at least) and haven’t even made up that inter-movie Disc o’ Weirdness yet. Oh well. I think I’ve done this enough times to just stick some cash in my pocket and go with the flow.

Kid-on-Christmas-Eve Syndrome is kicking in. Time to give the house a cursory tidy and play GTA until my thumbs fall off. Big day on the morrow…

V-DAY!

Prologue: Nerds In Paradise


The morning of the 11TH Annual Marathon dawned… well, overcast and gloomy to tell the truth. Yep, for the first time since moving to the Hollywood it looked like we’d be lining up in the drizzle. I’d crashed out around midnight, hoping A.C’s current trend of waking up around 8:30 and playing happily with his toys for half an hour or before waking us up would continue. As you can probably guess, this Saturday he woke up before 8AM, ignored his trucks and just rattled his gate until I crawled grumpily out of bed. Awesome. Some movie was going to turn into a random, meaningless series of images in the wee small hours. Again.

A last-minute e-mail came through from Darren Waugh, disappointingly signalling his no-show. He’s appearing in a stage adaptation of FOOTLOOSE and was committed to a double dress-rehearsal. It’s a pity, but he does have the juicy role of the uptight preacher, making him the Stage Adaptation John Lithgow, which is pretty cool no matter how you slice it.

After last years Running Man fiasco and my last-second appearance at the ’08 show, I was determined to arrive fairly early this time out. With a 3PM start time, the doors were opening at 2:15 to let in the Beanbag Army. I was aiming to set out around 1:30 for the 15-minute long trip.

With my recent history of stuff-ups, I’m sure you can guess how well that went to plan. Cue Aiden waking up late for his lunch, a rolling block of slow-as-molasses Saturday Traffic and our usual “Is the get-on-the-motorway-and-backtrack or the direct-down-Great-North-Road route faster?” debate. Next year, someone text the phrase “IT’S THE MOTORWAY, STUPID!” the day before, yeah?

We hit Avondale right on the dot of 2:15 in the end, and thankfully the threatened rain hadn’t eventuated. The Big Line o’ Geeks was extending the length of the block and around the corner. Dawn did a quick stop-and-drop across the road. Between my backpack, cooler bag, triple pack of wine and half-filled beanbag, I must have looked like one of those weird bag-lady creatures from the end of LABYRINTH. I quickly skirted the queue, avoiding eye-contact with the Balcony and Stalls Brigade until I reached the tail-end of the beanbaggers. I immediately ran into Campbell, thanks to his eye-scarringly red Incredibly Strange TV T-shirt. I’d gone with my faded Ramones t-shirt, but had packed the exact same shirt as Campbell for my halftime change of ensemble. (Trust me, even the least sweaty persons shirt gets RANK at a Movie Marathon.)

Doug caught up with us a minute or two later, allowing me to start handing out the Marathon CD’s while we waited to head indoors. (I had put a ‘secret phrase’ of “Michael Bay make Big Boom” online as a code to claim a disc, but on the day not one person could remember it.) I also slipped Glenn a couple of Joe Sarno flicks he wanted, along with REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS. (Which he may NOT thank me for after Hoff gets his tackle out.) I had also secured a copy of FANGS for Marathon regular Dave Stuckey after finding an average-quality VHS-rip of this out-of-print flick at long last. I was told he had something to give me in exchange. Expecting a copy of some obscure flick, I was blown away when he arrived, bearing a full-sized one-sheet of GUYANA, CULT OF THE DAMNED. (Which in a beautiful touch features a topless woman wearing a hastily over-printed bikini top.) Thanks a million, dude. Although I have no idea where I can hang the thing. Might be time to rearrange my Bogart prints a little.

Ant and crew had the doors open soon after my arrival and we packed in with military precision. (Well, one of those low-budget militaries that Arnie mowed his way through in the 80’s, but military nonetheless.) I found Cherie, who been assigned a beanbag spot, but had instead taken a seat in the first row of the stalls, directly behind the B-Movie Crew. For the first time, we now took up the entire left-hand section of the auditorium. Regulars Annette, Kirsten and Sarah, Steve Austin’s’ partner were in the mix here, along with Andrew’s leading man from GHOST SHARK, Johnny Hall.

I dumped my beanbag in the middle of the crew and stashed my gear in the front row, along with Campbell, Steve Chow, Anthony Towler (Hybrids Continuity Guy for Chicane) and a new face from the GHOST SHARK crew whose name escapes me at the moment. (FUTURE SKEETER: An excellent group photo posted a day after the event allowed my to identify him as Anatol Bogun. Also in our group was 48-Hours Forum regular Darryn Goble, AKA “Dazzle”, Hybrids superb 1st AD, Ellie and Nicole, who I just found out is one of my Facebook friends, although I doubt we’ve met more than twice.) I figured I could switch between seat and beanbag as the night demanded it, and let Steve and Johnny use it as a footrest between times. When it became abundantly clear that even my fun-sized legs would never fit in that space without a lethal case of thigh cramps, I stashed in a convenient corner of the stalls for the first few films.

I distributed CDs at random, somehow managing to forget to give one to fellow soundtrack junkie Andrew Todd. By the time he caught up with me, I’d handed the last couple to a regular in the balcony I knew by face, but not by name. Apologies, A.T. I’ll send it to you electronically once this stupidly huge review gets done.

Our regular organist Margaret made her yearly appearance, giving the Mighty Wurlitzer a half-hour workout to a brilliantly random Video Mixtape. Cherie and I were glad she was focused on her keyboard, and didn’t realise her rendition of “Lullaby of Broadway” was accompanying the caption “TEN WAYS TO A STRONGER ERECTION” at one stage.

I settled in and did a quick stock take of my bag to work out what I’d left behind this year. Because there’s always something, right? My breakfast cereal was there, complete with the spoon I left behind in ’09. I found out 12 hours later I’d left the milk at home, of course. I had both my pen and my emergency pencil in case I lost the pen. I lost the pencil, instead. (Again. I’m nothing if not consistent.) Change of shirt, trackpants, sweatshirt, check. Spare socks? Nope.

All in all, pretty much my sloppiest survival kit ever.

At a little after 3PM, Margaret launched into the STAR WARS theme (to the usual excellent reception) and dropped out of sight. Ant was on stage seconds later, managing not to snag himself on anything this year. He gave one of the most awesomely disjointed intros I’ve ever heard him deliver, threatening to destroy iPads on sight and dish out physical pain to chip-packet rustlers. To sum it up, he had a lot of new films to screen, some of the usual brain-breaking 3AM flicks and, if all went according to plan, he was aiming to set a new record this year. Which by my count meant cramming FIFTEEN films into the next 24-Hours. So once again, there would be very short breaks (if any at all), and everything in the projection booth would have to run like clockwork to keep things on schedule. Right after he also mentioned one of the projectionists worked so hard he had a heart attack the past year.

I’m sure you hear the deep bass rumbling of Ominous Foreshadowing, right?

Or is that just the Air Conditioning?

Read on, and find out!

And so, at 10 after the hour, the lights dimmed, the curtains swept aside and we headed back into the Heart of Darkness once again.

Comments

(Anonymous)

painter 11

Cool article. No surprises that Google was number 1…
Skeeter

November 2011

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