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The 2011 Fatso.co.nz 24-Hour Movie Marathon Report, Part 1

THE 2011 FATSO.CO.NZ 24-HOUR MOVIE MARATHON

 

V MIN.. Uh, wait.. FATSO MINUS 2 DAYS AND COUNTING

 

It’s that time of the year once more. In fact, it’s actually a bit AFTER “That time of the year” this year, as the 2011 24-Hour Movie Marathon is screening in mid-November for the first time in ages. (Clashes with the Armageddon Pop Culture Expo would have seen a Halloween showing somewhat light on it’s usual compliment of geeks.) I can’t speak for the other geeks, but Ants later scheduling has had one significant effect for me personally.

It means I can go.

You see, in the last week of October, I woke up with a bellyache I attributed to too much good food and excellent Pinot Noir over the weekend. (Yep, I’m still a wine-pusher by trade, with plenty of staff-buying privileges.) The next day it was still there. That night, my just-turned-three-and-gained-an-attitude son Aiden was having a case of the grumpies. As I tried to get him into his P.J’s, he kicked out, catching me right in the side.

I was down at White Cross Medical half an hour later. Fuck, that hurt.

By 9:30 I was in North Shore Hospital, and by 11am the next day I was lighter by one appendix. I spent a day in bed doing crossword puzzles and confirming that yes, hospital food sucks, the gowns are apparently designed for holding small circuses underneath, and the TV’s in the patients lounge are always 40 years old and show nothing by orange-tinted TV1. A week off work followed, although I felt fine by day three. I have a gnarly scar to show for it, after keyhole surgery evolved into a full-on belly-slicing to get the thing out. (3 centimetres long, with bruising that even impressed two surgeons… one of whom does full transplant operations.)

If Ant hadn’t pushed the show back, I potentially would have been the first Marathoneer (that I know of) to leave the Hollywood in an ambulance. Nice timing, dude.

Apart from that, the build-up has been smooth as butter. A new sponsor has come on board, with online DVD rental company Fatso.com.nz getting naming rights. (Making my CD’s mislabelled for the first time, as Ant had said Vendetta Films was naming rights sponsor for at least two years. Never mind, I’d never have fit the whole title on the disc.)

The show has once again sold out, with Ant instituting a tiered pricing structure so beanbag seats can go to those who want to pay a premium. As usual, I had to send the “No credit card, Ant HEEELLPPP!” e-mail off. (What can I say, I just honestly can’t trust myself with one for those things.) Ant has me covered, and is getting his usual wine bribe as a thank you. One of these days I need to find out if he actually DRINKS wine, methinks. I hope he does, it’s my 10th show, so he’s getting a six-pack of kickass vino, including a fifty-buck Chardonnay from my weekend job  at Matua Valley. (Hey, if the ticket prices keep going up, I have to up the booze to keep up!)

2011 also has the earliest kick-off time of any show to date, beginning at 2:30PM. While this gives a lot more sleep time before Monday rolls around, it is probably going to make the long haul to breakfast pretty challenging this year. As is only good and right. He’s also telling us to turn up at 2PM, no earlier. Hope his seating system is well-arranged, or his promised “record-breaking” line-up will be a SNAFU right from the get-go. To prevent the usual breakfast logjam, Ant has arranged for a new café, Salvation to do a breakfast AND dinner delivery run. This should prevent attendees from having to brave Avondale’s less-than-A-Rated takeaway joints for sustenance.

The usual B-Movie Crew suspects are all lined up to attend, and happily my former workmate and fellow soundtrack junkie Darren Waugh gets to make his first Marathon. (After having to pull out at the last minute in 2010). Darren and long-time Marathon attendee Glenn Blomfield have become regulars at my “Friday Flicks”, a bi-monthly themed movie night, which replaced my randomly scheduled “Bad Movie Afternoons” this year. On our last Friday Flicks before the show we ran 12 hours of previously-seen-at-the-‘Thon films, getting through six features and my first rewatch of THE LEMONGROVE KIDS MEET THE GREEN GRASSHOPPER AND THE VAMPIRE LADY since 2002. It’s still bonkers fun. I also subjected the Crew to EVILS OF THE NIGHT, proving that Bryan is still one of the least-effective Designated Heroes of all-time.

The semi-official Marathon Mixtape took shape by June, blowing out to the second double-disc set in a row. The first disc is my “Mature” mix, being less bombastic and cheesy than some years. (Despite the presence of “Snack Attack” from RAPPIN”.) The second disc is chock-full of 80’s cheese, from ST ELMO’S FIRE to XANADU. I finally found space to slot in “Cry Little Sister” from THE LOST BOYS after cutting in two years in a row due to timing issues. The disc came together perfectly after Steve Austin proved his soundtrack-fu by knowing the name of “Funky Fanfare”, which I only knew as the “Coming Attractions/And Now Our Feature Presentation” music from grindhouse history. It kicks off Disc 2 beautifully. A limited edition of just seventeen copies are currently in my bag, after giving a few of the Crew theirs in advance .

Also in the Tardis bag are my Geek-Shirts… I finally retired the V pyjamas, which are staring to show their age. (Much like myself, I suppose.) This year I have my 10th anniversary Marathon shirt, my bright red Incredible TV shirt and just for kicks, my beat-to-shit “Vote for Captain Spalding” shirt I had made in 2006. The transfer has flaked off in dozens of places, making Sid Haig look like a rejected character from SILENT HILL. I think it’ll get an airing around 2AM.

Apart from that, I’m packing light. A sandwich for dinner, perhaps some breakfast cereal for the 4AM munchies, notebook, pen, torch and a pack of mini Dark Chocolate Peppermint Slabs.  Okay, half a pack. A third. Damn you Whittakers, stop putting crack in these things. (Oh, you don’t? Not as addictive as your chocolate, you say? Gotcha.)

NOVEMBER 19th, 2011.

V DAY!

As usual with a pre-schooler, the ideal Marathon regime of an early night, a sleep-in and a leisurely morning was never going to happen. Instead I crashed at 1am the night before, not actually getting any shut-eye until close to 2 in the morning. A.C rolled out of bed at 7:15. It was going to be a long day. On the plus side, Aiden stumbled across one of his cousins old Teletubbies VHS tapes recently, and now wants to watch them the moment he wakes up. I fired it up and got 45 minutes extra kip while he happily watched those blobby little mutants fart around in Teletubbyland.

Darren W. showed up at my place around ten-ish. Being a Marathon newbie, I’d offered to let him park up at our house and hook a lift to Avondale. I’d also promised to show him MIRACLE MILE, the fantastic finale film from my first Marathon back in ’02 as a warm-up. He’s suddenly a fan, I have to report. Both being soundtrack junkies, I’m sure he liked the Tangerine Dream score as well. This soundtrack has been this years’ “Holy Grail” track on the disc, as I’ve been looking for it for NINE YEARS! Long out-of-print, the only CD copy I could find online was a Japanese edition, being sold on E-Bay for ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-NINE DOLLARS! U.S dollars, at that. Thankfully a I stumbled across a good quality rip a few months before the show. Yes, I’m a filthy criminal. And at US$149 for a  fucking CD, an unrepentant one.

We watched L.A go to hell in hand basket until mid-day before having our last decent meal for a day or so. Dawn had also trialled a new recipe for a “Cranberry and Date Breakfast Oat Loaf. I hacked off a lump of this to get me through the 3am Munchies. It did fine job of keeping me fed until breakfast. My mum arrived to look after Captain Whingypants at one, allowing us to stuff our gear into the back of the Nissan and hit the road. No texts were required, as I reminded myself that “IT’S THE MOTORWAY, STUPID!” as to the quickest route. Ant’s last e-mail had asked people in the beanbag section to turn up at 2pm, NO EARLIER! Somehow I knew this was going to get somewhat ignored by the regulars.

Sure enough, as we hit Avondale’s main drag at 1:30pm, the queue had already started to form. It was definitely shorter this year, and Darren and I joined it about 4 or 5 doors down from the Hollywood. Most of the beanbag ticket holders were up the front of the line, but being a comp I thought I may as well hang back, not being 100% sure if I was even IN the beanbag section. (Thanks to my workmate Tracey for the loan of the beanbag. Her cat will not be impressed, as it’s his favourite napping spot.)

I spotted Ant pretty quick, and confirmed that yes, he DID drink wine. My bribe was therefore gratefully accepted. (I also slipped a Marathon Mix CD into the box. Hope he found it.)  Long-time attendee Dave Brough found me in the line and snagged his CD’s straight away as always. Steve Chow showed up right afterwards. He though he’d have to bail early this year, due to family commitments on the Sunday. Al from the Motion Hybrid Pictures crew had returned this year as well.

Pretty soon, all of the crew (plus regulars Kirsten T, Darren G and David Stuckey, who actually remember my password… “Nilbog”) had their discs, along with Dave from Wellington who I chatted with in the line. He gave me a bit of an ego boost by recognising my nickname from these reviews, telling me he re-read them to “get into the Marathon mood” each year. Along with a couple of people saying the same things about my CD’s, I was pretty chuffed to get positive feedback on the gargantuan essays. I’m not just amusing myself, it seems.

The doors opened a little after 2, as promised. Ant’s system worked nicely, and I got shunted to the head of the line after the first wave of bean-baggers had been processed. Our “ticket” this year was an ice-cream stick, in varying shades and colours. Ant told us not to lose it, making us assume it was for a contest later in the night.

It wasn’t. I still have it on my desk. Mine was yellow.

As with 2010, I stowed my beanbag in a Skeeter-sized gap near the front. I was at Doug D’s feet, ensuring he’d spend half the night hearing whispered puns and hopefully-amusing observations. Next to me was a new face, Kirsty from the U.K. She’d been to an 18-hour marathon in Leeds, but was about to face her first 24-hour affair. And her first experience with my sense of humour. She coped admirably, and didn’t attempt to bottle me at any stage of the night.  I also made the acquaintance of two first-timers, who won their seats via Ant’s “Public Service Announcement” video-making contest. They handled being in Geek Central very well, making it all the way to the end of the show. See you two next year, I hope!

After securing the beanbag possie, I staked out the front row of the stalls for the seats-only Crew. (Cherie, Darren W, Ant T and Steve Chow, who now claims the last seats of the row for maximum legroom. Smart boy. I originally chose… poorly.) I distributed the final CD’s, making sure Andrew Todd and Steve Austin (Who works for Fatso) got copies. The last couple went to random people I met in the aisle, as always.

At 2:30, Margaret arose from the Wurlitzer it to perform her now-traditional pre-show mini-concert. (With the STAR WARS theme getting another airing to pop the crowd.) Ant was on stage at the stroke of 3pm to deliver a much-more… restrained intro than last year. (i.e. less threats of physical violence and cell-phone destruction.) The new Rule #1 seems to be “Respect Those Around You”, and I for one think that’s way it should be, cutting out the chatters and texters, while still allowing the private punslingers and gag-merchants a chance to rip on the true trash flicks without getting punched out. The result was pretty much perfect, with exactly one person being scolded for a cell phone-related infractions and a couple of well-placed public interjections during mid-movie contests and technical malfunctions.

We may have found our happy medium folks!

Ant announced that Fatso had provided a few DVD’s for giveaways… about 700 or so! As the night wore on, it became obvious that about 100 or so of those discs were THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, for reasons as yet unclear. I think a quarter of the people there ended up with a copy of the flick by the end of the night, making me wonder if Ken Russell had exploded in the auditorium while I wasn’t looking.

Some of the prize discs were distributed by Ant’s tried-and-tested method of “Flinging them into the audience” during the night. A new twist was seen this year, as at one stage, the lights went down for the upcoming flick in mid-fling. I guess we’ve graduated to “X-Treme DVD Giveaways” now. No head injuries were reported.

And so at 3:05 or thereabouts, the lights went out, the curtains swept aside, and the Longest Day began once more.

PART 1-Holy shit, meat really IS murder!

SATURDAY, 15:05-PRIME CUT

 

Cows?

We’ve got cows!

Yes, listen to the sound of happy little moo-cows on the soundtrack. Must be set on a farm or something... oh, crap, we just faded up in a slaughterhouse. Run, cows, run!

Mmm… hamburger!

Yes, for the first few fun-filled minutes of PRIME CUT, we get to watch a working abattoir turn steers into steak, sausage and prime rib. I’m now really glad I didn’t order the pulled pork sandwich Salvation was offering for dinner. A cast list followed, getting big pops from the crowd for the A-List 70’s trio of Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman and Sissy Spacek.

And then the audio went out.

It was back a minute or so later. It was pretty early for a technical glitch, but after the speaker-go-boom of last year, at least it was a minor flub. And for the rest of the show that’s about as bad as it got. Three or four more audio glitches, wobbles and patches of dead air were all we heard. And not a mis-placed reel in the whole night. (Although our pre-breakfast sure FELT like it was out of order to me at least. More on that later) Ant did imply that the same flick he wanted to break our brains with in 2010 died on the reels again this year, however. Third time’s the charm, Ant… bring that shit on in 2012!

But back to the movie in hand… PRIME CUT. This is a Lee Marvin/Gene Hackman/ gangster flick from 1972, featuring Sissy Spacek in her (credited) feature film debut. It sets the scene early as our opening credits also demonstrate the industry standard method for turning a rival mobster into a string of barbeque-ready snarlers, ready for delivery to the Mob Boss of your choice. Yep, don’t expect too many squealing-tyre car chases through Chicago or San Francisco in this flick… we’re heading to Americas home of  wheat, cattle and the white slave trade, Kansas!

Lee Marvin is Nick Devlin, the Chicago mobs semi-retired enforcer, mobilised to head out to the heartland of the U.S, recoup a half-million dollar debt and basically raise a little ruckus. On the other side of the coin is Gene Hackman, playing the oddly-named “Mary Ann”. Must be a Kansas thing. He’s a good ol’ boy, raising cattle, eatin’ offal-based dinners that look like someone’s already eaten them, and of course, drugging and selling nubile young ladies into slavery. Again, I think it’s a Kansas thing. (In fact, the elevating levels of wrongness in this film did lead me to scrawl the words “What the fuck is wrong with Kansas?” in my notes.)

Devlin and his trio of fellow mobsters (Including the chauffeur you REALLY don’t want to cut off in traffic) are of course Irish to the core, leading me to mentally dub them “The Mick Squad”. They quickly hunt down Mary Ann’s hulking brother Weenie, who lives in the scungiest-looking hotel ever put on film. Seriously, even the cockroaches living the walls of the house next door are petitioning the owners to have it bulldozed. Weenie is played by Gregory Walcott, who played the square-jawed male lead of PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE, yet somehow managed to still have a career in movies and TV all the way into the mid-90’s. Mainly playing cowboys and cops, according to him IMDB page.

Lee Marvin delivers a message to Weenie through the medium of Advanced Physical Violence,  proving pretty quickly that a near 50-year-old man can be a bad SOB. Doubly so when they’re.. well, Lee Marvin. Lee also pointedly refuses to carry a gun at the start of the flick, despite a briefcase full of armaments being in the Mick Squads possession. Hmm, I wonder if we’ll be seeing those again later in the film? (Or will Lee just bust out some inexplicable kung-fu… it is 1972, after all!)

Busting in on Mary Ann’s combined barbeque and slave auctions, Lee helps himself to a sample of the merchandise in the form of Poppy. Poppy is played by Sissy Spacek, at her youngest and most doe-eyed. She also appears naked in her first scene, which is kind of par for the course for 1970’s Sissy. The only other featured white slave is her friend Violet, who suffers from an unfortunate case of Elijah Woodface Syndrome. Seriously, if Frodo was a cross-dressing milkmaid, he’d be Violet.

Devlin proceeds to make me question Kansas collective sanity once again by having his boys carry (Carry, Carrie… see what I did there? *crickets* Fine, please yourself.) a blanket-draped Poppy through the lobby of an upmarket K.C hotel. Not a lot of upraised eyebrow, although I guess discretion is the sign of a good hotel. Devlin proceeds to play the suave benefactor, getting Poppy well-dressed (if somehow neglecting to buy her a bra. This lead to the first of the Running Themes of the night, NIPPLES!) and  wining and dining her. He also got a great laugh by destroying the ego of a perving fellow diner by eye-boinking the dudes wife. (Lee’s eye acting spent most of the movie in a duel to the death with Mary Ann shit-eating grin. It was declared a draw.)

The wrongness levels start to elevate as Poppy fills in some back-story about Mary Ann White Chicks Emporium. She tells him the girls are farmed out (*rimshot*) from an orphanage, and goes into SLIGHTLY too much info about her relationship with Violet. Fortunately, the line I heard as “She was my sister” was actually “She was LIKE my sister”, meaning the implied incest was only in my head. This is where  I underlined the phrase “What the fuck is wrong with Kansas?”, I should add. Later as Weenie borrows a dress belonging to Mary Anns wife (and Devlins old flame) Clarabell, I had terrible visions of who (or WHAT) was going to wear it. I was somewhat relieved when his walk through the cowshed led him to Violet instead of  Daisy, you know what I mean?

Devlin and Poppy head out the ol’ Sate Fair, where Marty An is proving to be the biggest douche bag in three counties. Your pet cow just won the blue ribbon? Great kid, here’s some money, you’ll see her next week at $1.99/lb! Devlin meanwhile gets the only-in-Kansas please of sampling milk squirted out of the udders of a ceramic heifer. (Damn it, I just speed typed “Sampling Milf”. Paging Doctor Freud!)  I believe the current Kansas State Fair is working on a way of batter-dipping and deep-frying not only the milk, but the entire cow at present. Powdered sugar on that? A very public staredown-slash-smirkoff plays out, before Devlin attempts to wipe the grin off Mary Ann’s face with his fist. This quickly results in a foot chase and the nights first splatter scene as one of the Mick Squad gets on the wrong end of a shotgun blast.

Devlin (still sans firearms) uses his head instead, making a ballsy escape through the fairs “Turkey Shoot” contest and hiding out in a cornfield. This is a good move, as said cornfield is about the size of Huntly. And is much more interesting to look at. After the hired muscle gives up the chase, Devlin and Poppy walk through the cornfield as the director gives us some beauty shots to look at. Nice countryside… f\ields, clouds, a huge combine harvester bearing down on Devlin.

Wait, what the hell? A COMBINE HARVESTER! Shit, we’re actually witnessing a Redneck Drive-by!

This was quite an impressive scene, thanks to the sheer scale of the machinery our heroes were getting chased by. They stay ahead of it, thanks to it’s top speed of like, twelve and the fact it has a turning circle of an small moon. Unfortunately Poppy falls prey to the innate weakness of Hollywood female supporting characters, Weak Ankle Disease and takes a tumble. She’s saved from a fatal.. well, combining, I suppose… by the Mick Squads badass driver. He not only has enough balls to drive his car directly into the maw of a freakin’ combine harvester, he turns out to be a crack shot to boot. If Obama hired the guy, half the Secret Service could retire early.

The crowd loved the lingering shots of his car being efficiently demolished and baled, too.

From that moment on, the movie decides to take the gloves off and get down and dirty. Mary Ann ups the “Complete Bastard” levels to eleven, handing Violet over to the denizens of El Scungo Hotel as a nickel hooker. I guessed she’d be clutching a handful of coins when Devlin liberated her, but even I was a little shocked at how many she’d “earned”. Let’s just say that in 1972, she could have emptied half a Coke machine with the profits. Another of Devlins crew gets nine colours of shit beaten out of him, and Poppy gets kidnapped.

If Mary Ann was looking to piss off Devlin, he succeeds beautifully. So much so that the Briefcase of Shooty Bang-Bangs makes another appearance. And this time, Devlin tools up… with a snub-nose submachine gun. Flip the fan onto high, the shit is on it’s way!

The finale is well staged, with one of the prettier shootouts I’ve seen. (Being set in a field of sunflowers at first.) As is traditional, by the time the big confrontation looms, Devlin is working solo. He compensates with one hell of an entrance to Mary Ann’s massive greenhouse. A forty mile an hour entrance on a hijacked semi, to be exact. Renovations complete, Devlin faces off with Mary Ann and Weenie, leading to a hilarious piece of black comedy too good to spoil. (But it probably won’t spoil, those things are loaded with preservatives!)

A few loose ends are wrapped up, and we’re out. Yes, those last two paragraphs were a really quick way to sum up the last quarter-hour or so of the film. But it’s to whet you appetitie in case you haven’t seen the film. Hunt it down, it’s worth a watch.

Vegetarians are excused, of course.

Running Themes, ACTIVATE!

(Note: Due to the incredible diverse selection of films this year, the Running Themes list is likely to evolve rapidly.)

Nipples?: They were the focal point (pun intended) of one scene. (Please note this them involves nipples through clothing, not booby shots. That’s ALWAYS a running theme!)

Cruelty to Animals?: Weenie was a dab hand with a mallet. Not to mention the tragic shot gunning of a ceramic cow.

Ominous Thunderstorms?: Ominous AND picturesque!

Redneck Violence! : A whole heapin’ passle o’ whoopass!

Freaky Looking Extras?: Kansas dentistry needed work in 1972. Not to mention some folks with eyes by Picasso.

Amusing Boat Names?: Clarabell lives on a boat named “Clarabell”. I think that’s redneck humour.

 

Skeeters Summary:  A change from the usual Film Noir opener, but no less hard-boiled. A tight, gritty opener to kick us off for ’11. Good stuff.

I shot out to the bathroom as the credits rolled, hoping to avoid to many mid-movie breaks, with their associated trod-on toes. I came back to find the theatre in total blackness, with film two already starting to roll. Holy shit, we’re keeping it REAL tight this year! Could we make 15 films this year?

In all honesty, probably not. Unless we’re all prepared to forgo breakfast AND dinner one year.

I hadn’t taken my torch with me, and had moved my gear to a seat further down the row due to a lack of leg space. (Damn immobile beanbags) Cue the usual gymnastics needed to avoid a career-ending ankle injury as I regained my seat. I didn’t go anywhere without the torch for the rest of the show. 

Steve Austin and new face Ned were the new pair in front of me. Lucky for them, at 5’7”, I had enough legroom to avoid doing more than giving their beanbangs a few mild kicks during the night. Not so lucky was Ant T, who’s legs I had cannoned into in the dark. My apologies for that, buddy.

Part 2: If all of your favourite movie genres had a baby…

SATURDAY, 16:30-ELIMINATORS

 

This was an eye-opener for me. You see, I actually own a copy of this flick, grabbed at random this year. I’d actually seen the title and mixed it up in my head with fellow 80’s actioner MEGAFORCE. Discovering a distinct lack of Barry Bostwick in my new flick, I watched the first few minutes, then put it aside to spring on the B-Movie Crew one Friday night. I’m now so glad I didn’t. But having seen those first few minutes, I would have bet you a hundred dollars that ELIMINATORS was direct-to-video flick. I can practically visualise the oversized clamshell case it would have been packaged in. But here was a great-looking 35mm print, barely faded, with just the right amount of scratching at the reel changes.(Or whatever the thing is after the little circle appears… Ant told me the technical term, but it was in one ear on out the other, I’m afraid.)

ELIMINATORS is a 1986 action/sci-fi/martial arts/kinda Indiana Jones-y/add your favourite genre here movie, starring Andrew Prine and Denise Crosby. (A nice bonus for Darren and I, as she’s in MIRACLE MILE as well.) The basic premise is pretty basic all right… a low-rent (and kind of skinny) cybernetic warrior called “Mandroid” escape from his mad scientist creator, teams up with a scientist and her cute robot sidekick, a grizzled riverboat captain and an inexplicable ninja. Things blow up, kung-fu kicks are thrown, goofy comedy abounds, the world is saved and various plot twists nudge the ridiculousness gauge to Critical. Strap it in, we’re going a’recapping.

**Also starring… NOBODY!

**”Mayday, mayday! I’m flying through a credit sequence!”

**Superimposed flames have cost many a young pilot his life.

**”Charge, Legionnaires of Ancient Rome! This will all make sense in the final edit, by Jupiter!”

**Boy I hope I can find this soundtrack.

**Produced by trash-master Charles Band. I assume Richard did the bombastic score.

**Man, Doctor Who got OLD all of a sudden.

**“Activate the cartoon laser-bolt generator!”

**Hey, he created the opening credits for SAPPHIRE AND STEEL!

**Mandroid IS the Terminator of the Opera! (He kind of looks like Richard Dean Anderson after botched cranial surgery.)

**It’s alive! Now assume a blank expression and hold it for the next ninety minutes!

**Mandroid is helped out of the Cartoon Generator by Professor Crazyhair’s lab assistant, Old Japanese Guy. (I’d look up his name, but he’s the assistant of a Mad Scientist. He’s already outlived his life expectancy by surviving the credit sequence.)

**Mandroid has acquired an item: Roman Shield. Do you wish to equip item?

**Professor Crazyhair examines said shield. “Hmmm.. 1BC”. Are you telling me it’s DATED with a year that never existed, movie? I’ll assume that’s just one hell of a specific guess and move on.

**Professor Crazyhair is giving himself a transfusion of Orange Raro, and apparently enjoying it just a little too much. Should be watching this?

**Mandriod comes with interchangeable parts, I see. Though why he has an eggbeater for a left arm is anybody’s guess.

**“It works! My life’s work is successful! Now dismantle my construction, Assistant Deadmeat-san.”

**“What do you mean, what am I talking about? Just destroy the Mandroid and let’s go get a taco.”

**Assistant Deadman takes the news badly and decides to get Mandroid out of Dodge. Mandroid needs his Mobile Unit to make good his escape. Dude, you have “Mobile Units”. Us humans call them “Legs”.

**Oh, dear God. Mandroids Mobile Unit is a three-wheeled mini-tank in which he’s strapped at an unnatural angle. This got a big laugh from the peanut gallery.

**Old Japanese man with an assault rifle! That’s not something you see everyday!

**Geez, he sweats a lot for a Cyborg. Maybe he’s developed a coolant leak?

**Citadel guards jog into action. Yep, line up directly in front of the armoured killing machine boys. I’m sure nothing bad will happen to you.

** Mandroid shows some free will by disobeying an order to kill Assistant Redshirt-For-A-Labcoat. The guy gets cut down in the resulting crossfire anyway. Told ya!

**”I have been fatally wounded just badly enough to be able to advance the plot. Go see.. Colonel… Hunter.”” *dies*. Farewell, Obviously-Going-To-Be-Kacked Guy. You’ll be missed.

**Props to the stuntman who drove the Mobile Unit down a set of stairs. That could have gone all sorts of wrong.

**Man, remember when even bad movies had stuntmen?

**Expendable Goons, ASSEMBLE!

**Whoops, someone forgot to add a laser bolt effect. Apparently one guy just short-circuited.

**Holy crap, it’s the Redneck Brian Blessed!

**Was I the only one mentally adding “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP” noises every time the Mobile Unit reversed?

**Mandroid takes a high-calibre round to the back of his head. It can’t even make him change expression.

**Mandroid, you were confronted by a standard-looking wooden gate set in a thick rock wall. Blowing up the wall to escape kind of makes you look cocky. 

 **Mandroid ditches his sweet ride behind a scraggly tree. Someone wasn’t programmed with the Art of Not Being Seen, I see.

**Denise Richards, playing Colonel Hunter. Yes, the movie gives us the usual “I AM Colonel Hunter” Meet Cute later on.

**Hunters working on the must-have kids toy of 1986, a cutesy spinning-headed robot called Spot. Or S.P.O.T. Or possibly Spod. Or Spock. Or Spud. Her line read wasn’t overly clear.

**Hunters crack security guards monitor a power surge. Head Security Guard thinks it’s probably a cat. Or something. Man, we give you ONE thing to monitor, George! Lazy prick.

**S.P.O.T turns into a one-man Laser Floyd show, right before Mandroid turns up. In disguise.

**Yes, in disguise. A poncho and a Fedora. Apparently Mandroid was trying to blend in with Prince and the New Power Generation.

** KARATE CHOP! The first of many, MANY bad karate chops of the night.

**DRAMATIC UNVEILING! Whoa, he’s a Cyborg! Oh wait, we already knew that. It doesn’t stop the movie having him dramatically whip off his poncho three times in the film. WE GET IT!

**Exposition Alert!

**Whoops, Mandroid is experiencing technical difficulties. Time for Hunter to bust out a Phillips-head screwdriver and go brain-delving.

 **Man, all that technology and he has as many slots for memory as my old 486. Hunter will have to format his brain if he reads too long a novel.

**Whoops, she tripped the Flashback Switch, and it’s set in Third-Person Perspective Mode.

**Either he really hates that Legionnaire he’s firing at, or they’re reusing the same shots.

**We have confirmation of S.P.O.Ts name! “Search, Patrol and Operational Tactician”.  (A line lost in the second laugh garnered by Mandoid’s headwear.) I’d have named it “Search, Patrol, and Operational Reconnaissance Computer” myself. Who doesn’t go adventuring without a S.P.O.R.C?

**Ahh, random muggers. As essential to low-budget actioners as disused power plants.

**More kung-fu from Colonel Hunter. Don’t bother explaining why a robotics engineer is trained in martial arts, movie. It’s more fun to guess.

**”Looks like you who needs some bodywork!” *car explodes. Somewhere, Arnie is shaking his head sadly.

**S.P.O.T gets a camouflage paintjob for jungle action. He’s now so much of a spitting image for the helmets in the game Halo I refuse to believe it’s a coincidence.

**Hunter and Mandroid are heading upriver to find Professor Crazyhair’s secret lair. Y’know, the one with the massive satellite dish sticking out of the roof. I guess being Supervillain was easier before the creation of Google Earth.

**Enter our mildly-grizzled river guide and comic relief, Harry. He’s first seen being menaced by a huge, butch woman, giving me flashbacks to FANGS. Sure enough, both Harry and her give Hunter an admiring glance. Well, this is awkward.

**Hunter offers to hire the toughest river guide in the bar. This causes a brawl to break out. Good plan, lady.

**Harry gets the job by the simple expedient of staying the hell out of the brawl. In most films, Huge Butch Chicks role would be over. ELIMINATORS is not most films.

**Sure enough,  she rounds up the troops and comes after Harry, guns a’blazing. Man, I wish Auckland taxi drivers were this passionate about their jobs.

**Mandroid’s disguise has now expanded to include a bandage over his eyepiece. He doesn’t bother to explain this to Harry. I guess hideous ocular injuries are pretty common in this part of the world.

**Speaking of which, why is Huge Butch Chicks comic relief guy an effeminate Frenchman? Why the hell is he hanging out in Los Nowhere, Latin America?

**Harry drops a gas can overboard and shoots it. The fireball indicates his boat runs on fuel powerful enough to put Richard Branson into orbit.

**Harry blows out the engine, Hunter offers to fix it. A brief, if hilariously badly-timed discussion on Womans Lib breaks out. Dude, people trying to shoot you, yeah?

**Hunter fixes the boat engine, due to her… extensive knowledge of robotics. Sure, I’ll buy that. I mean, I can program my MySky to tape “7 Days”, so that makes me eminently qualified to pop into the edit suite and cut together a season of the show, right? It’s the same principle!

**Huge Butch Chick is on their tails again. So Mandroid takes out her boat with his attached miniature arm-torpedoes. I ain’t making this shit up, folks.

**DRAMATIC UNVEILING!

**Redneck Brian Blessed and his Raul Julia-ish looking sidekick return to the flick! Yayy! Too bad the guys voice is about two octaves too high to really be Brian Blessed.

**Okay, three octaves.

**Harry and Hunter part company, allowing S.P.O.T to be put to work. S.P.O.T’s communication interface, an device worn in the ear, is no only being used sporadically. By the end of the flick, Hunter just understands his blips and bloops perfectly. I guess she’s just a quick learner.

**Mini-Raul and Redneck Brian Blessed run across Harry. Yay, another boat chase with an obligatory Boat Explody! Can’t have too many of those in your film.

**Mandroids crashed fighter plane is found, allowing us to get a chance to give Mandroid some backstory later in the flick. I’m not sure we ever did, but the thought was there.

**Harry returns to play hero after Hunter gets trapped in Mandroids semi-submerged plane. Mandroid’s Arm of Many Things manages to produces a cable-shooting device that attaches onto things perfectly, even if you in no way aim it in the right direction. (Seriously, he fired it at such a steep angle, I initially though he was letting off a distress flare.)

**Oh, and S.P.O.T has now taken to sitting on Mandroids shoulder like a parrot in the 2145 production of “Treasure Island”. Pieces of eight-bits?

**Denise Richards Sideboob!

**

**Sorry, I got distracted there. Where was I?

**Harry’s “casual” whistle as Denise doffed her top was a crowd-pleaser.

**Our trio boat off down the river. A few minutes of painful comedy later, real hilarity as Mandroid FALLS OVERBOARD! Sadly he didn’t have go-go-gadget water wings attached, and vanishes into the muddy depths.

**Back at Professor Crazyhair’s digs, Brian and Raul report in. Their lack of progress earns Brian a disciplinary meeting with the Professor. In which he get repeatedly tortured with cartoon laser bolts to the face. I assume that qualifies as “First Verbal Warning” as far as Supervillains go.

** Professor Crazyhair has gained some excellent facial scarring at this point of the movie. Don’t ask me why. (He did have a munted eye at the start of the flick, but the scars are somewhat more… menacing.)

**Last-second laser bolt to the ballsack! Now we know why Redneck Brian Blessed voice is so high.

**Mandroid walks out of the river and meets a ninja, fishing by magic! (It’s magice when you drop a fish into a river and then reverse the film, right?). I should stress we’re now an hour into the flick and we just introduced a major character. Well played, ELIMINATORS.

**The ninjas name is “Kuji”. I so hope his full name is “Kuji Kuji Ku”. (I nicknamed him “Fishninja”)

**Oh, and his father was working with Reeves (AKA Professor Crazyhair) on a  “secret project”. We’re now 1 hour and 2 minutes into the flick. Kuji takes the prize for simplest backstory of the night.

**Meanwhile, Hunter and Harry have been captured by cavemen.

**Yes, actual cavemen. Time-travelling cyborg, remember?

**Look, just nod and smile. It’ll make the last 20 minutes easier if you send you suspension of disbelief out for a lunch break.

**KOMEDY! Lots and lots of KOMEDY! (Okay, some of it’s pretty funny, especially when Harry weasels his way into a sneaky lip lock on Hunter.)

** Welcome to Biking with Brian Blessed!

**Mandroid retrieves his “Mobile Unit” and rumbles jerkily into action.

**Man fall down, bike goes BOOM!

**Mandroid drives his Mobile Unit too close to a rock and proceeds to slowly tip over. Huge laugh.

**Fun Fact: A thin metal mesh screen is 100% protective against laser bolts.

**Another Fun Fact: Lasers bounce of shiny pieces of metal.

**Awww, Brian Blessed fall down, go boom!

**Oh no, S.P.O.T has turned to the Dark Side!

**Fishninja turns S.P.O.T into S.A.S.H.I.M.I. But by the power of SCIENCE, Hunter finds out the location of Professor Crazyhairs base.

**Mandroid pops open a ventilation shaft to gain access to the Prof’s lair. Great, millions of dollars of technology and he could be replaced with a crowbar.

**”Oh, no… a rapidly-spinning industrial fan! We’re trapped! I sure hope Fishninja can leap through it!” (Fan slows down to a crawl in the slo-mo “stunt” scene”) YAY!

The last ten minutes are a smorgasbord of crazy, which I’m loathe to spoil. Let’s just say this: AIR-KICK! SHURKIEN vs. ION DISRUPTOR! BYE-BYE BRIAN! PROFESSOR CRAZYBORG! (When did he become Rene Auberjonis?) CARTOON DEATHRAP! “HE’S DEAD, I ASSUME BY LOOKING AT HIM!”. VICTORY THROUGH VIOLENCE AGAINST A COMMODORE 64! RULER OF NOTHING!

And we finish on a well-received “Laughing Freeze-Frame”.

As is only good and right.

Nipples?: Cold water + white t-shirt + Denise Richards=A big yes.

Cruelty to Animals?: Gratuitous violence against S.P.O.T. And that trout never stood a chance.

Ominous Thunderstorms?: Nope, but lots of cartoon lightning bolts.

Redneck Violence! : REDNECKS, DIVVVVVE!

Freaky Looking Extras?:

Amusing Boat Names?: Harry’s boat was called the “No Questions”. This led directly to a bad joke. It got a sympathy laugh. Brian and Raul’s boat was the “Quo Vadis”. It goes boom.

Skeeters Summary:  Fantastic action-trash! And amazingly, not the best example of that we’d see in ’11. This flick isn’t too hard to hunt down, and if you’re a fan of 80’s cheesefests, it’s worth the hunt.

We took a quick break after ELIMINATORS. And I mean quick as in “Smoke faster, man HURRY!”. In five minutes or so, we the curtains were open again for the first of our two premieres. Grab your hoodie and get ready to violate your ASBO, it’s time to get Chav-y!

Part 3-Apart from the monsters, it’s practically a documentary.

SATURDAY 18:25-ATTACK THE BLOCK

 

This was the Big Announcement Flick, name-dropped in advance to help ensure a sell-out. And one I’d been eagerly awaiting since SFX magazines glowing five-star review some months ago. The premise was irresistible. Anti-social inner-city yoof vs VERY anti-social aliens in a London council estate. Could it live up to my expectations?

Yes. Yes, it did.

This flick scores big in pretty much all of the important areas. It’s got great performances from the cast, doubly so when the core group is all in their early-to-mid teens. Nick Frost is as hilarious as usual as thick-as-a-brick, off-his-face drug dealer Ron. The script is tight as drum, with realistic dialogue and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. The effects are ridiculously good to look at,  and the jump scares are extremely effective according to the amount of times Cherie and Darren made the seats in our row shudder.

It also breaks out from being a horror-comedy to make a few pertinent points about the state of England’s youth, without sledge hammering a message down our throats. It’s very complete film, with no dead spots to speak of.

In fact, the only problem was hearing that realistic dialogue. The Chav slang, coupled with the muffling effects of hoodies and bandannas has seen the film getting subtitled in America. While I wouldn’t say we need to go that far in this art of the colonies, the Hollywood’s sound mix was very bass-heavy for this flick. Add that to a soundtrack that occasionally dips into U.K Garage, and some of the dialogue just vanished into a booming void. Suffice it to say, I will be grabbing this film once it comes out on DVD, and making sure the bass is kept in check while I rewatch it.

Either that, or I’ll flick the subtitles on.

What? I didn’t recap the plot? Hey, the movie will be out in the cinemas pretty soon. Go see it. It’s worth every one of the five stars SFX awarded it.

And then some.

Nipples?: You’d never see them under the hoodies.

Cruelty to Animals?:  If aliens count as animals, then yes.

Ominous Thunderstorms?:  Bonfire Night made it SOUND like a thunderstorm.

Redneck Violence! : Chavs are the rednecks of North London.

Freaky Looking Extras?: Small casts don’t leave a lot of room for this theme.

Amusing Boat Names?: Not in a council estate, unless it had been stolen and dumped there.

Skeeters Summary:  Top-notch horror-comedy, with some of the best-designed aliens this year. Troof!

We took a quick dinner break, testing our Salvation Cafes new “feed the masses” delivery system. It passed with flying colours, I’m happy to report. I scarfed a sandwich and grabbed my usual pack of Wine Gums to keep the sugar levels up. Back inside the theatre, Ant ran the first game of the night, “What Happened Next?”

This game involved Ant screening a movie clip, then soliciting guesses on where the scene went. With most of the flicks being kind of obscure, wild guesses were the order of the day. I took a stab at a scene of a cat climbing a staircase of books towards a budgies cage. My suggestion of “Cat-sized guillotine out of shot” was well-received, but sadly somewhat off the mark. I also blanked on GYMKATA, which I actually own.

Once we were all back in the cheap seats, Ant pushed on with one of his personal favourites. He described it as one of the top ten comedies of all time. Darryn perked up quickly, hoping for BLAZING SADDLES. I could have handled that. But we were wrong again.

 

Part 4: We got us a gopher!

SATURDAY, 20:30-CADDYSHACK

Comedy is a very subjective thing. What one person finds hilarious, others find lame. One of my friends brought me THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN for Christmas, telling me I had to see it! Greatest comedy ever! Hilarious!

He then sat aghast as I watched that chunk of shit without getting more that a mild chuckle. One mild chuckle. It’s personal taste, after all.

Why am I saying this? Because I’d seen CADDYSHACK maybe twice, the last time well over ten years ago.

I never really found it funny.

It had always seemed kind of disjointed… a two-way comedy jam as Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield  jousted for scene-stealing, wildly-mugging honours. (Even though Bill Murray felt then, and now, as if he was in a totally separate movie for a huge chuck of the flick.) Chevy Chase had never really even registered for me.

But time had passed, and I was watching it in the environment it should be seen. A big crowd of movie freaks, many of my age-group. Would it be any different this time?

Refreshingly, yes. It still feels to me like a collection of loosely-related sketches Frankensteined into a feature, Bill Murray still feels like he’s wandered onto the set and just started goofing off for the cameras, and Rodney is as frenetic and googly-eyed as ever. But after all this time, Chevy Chase’s understated performance really stands out for me as the best thing about the flick. He’s never flashy, he doesn’t overact, but every line out of his mouth was hilarious and delivered with impeccable timing.

It was good to see Chevy Chase being funny again.

It’s still a film that’ll never make my personal Top Ten Comedies list. But then again, JOE’S APARTMENT will probably never make your list, either. And I’m happy with that.

Just don’t tell me DODGEBALL was comedy genius, or you’re off my Christmas card list.

Nipples?: Most certainly.

Cruelty to Animals?: Attempted Rodentacide.

Ominous Thunderstorms?: More like an ominous Hurricane.

Redneck Violence! : No Rednecks allowed in the Country Club.

Freaky Looking Extras?: Not really, bar Rodney’s hired Golf-Goons.

Amusing Boat Names?: Yep, the “Seafood”. Yes, it’s Rodney’s.

I abandoned the stalls for the first time, settling into my beanbag. Unlike last year, said beanbag refused to turn into a comfortable doughnut. Have I put on weight? Or lost some? By the time I’d pummelled it into a suitable shape to support my neck, the lights were back down and we were right back in “What the fuck is wrong with America” territory.

Time to get grimy.

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