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The 2009 Vendetta Movie Marathon Review, Part 1

MARATHON MINUS 8 DAYS AND COUNTING

Ever had one of those moments where you go from “YES!” to “God-dammit!” in mere seconds? Y’know, mis-read the lottery numbers and briefly thought you were a millionaire, only to realise you were still broke, and would have to face returning to work on Monday while desperately hoping your meagre paycheque would stretch to payday?

That’s how I felt when the first 24-Hour Marathon announcement of ’09 appeared. It was on! It was the tenth anniversary, and Ant was going to ensure it was the biggest, baddest, brain-melting-est of them all! Oh, and it was probably going to be the last one.

Fuck. I felt like someone had given me a kitten for Christmas, then casually mentioned that they were going to drown it on Boxing Day.

It turned out that V, the major sponsor for the last few years, had pulled their funding. (presumably citing the Global Economic Meltdown, as everyone else has been doing recently.) The show was to go on, but would be costing Ant a ton of moolah. And so, he was going to go out in a blaze of cinematic glory and pull the plug.

The reaction from the Filmheads on the 48 Hours message board was as predictable as it was swift. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, calls to boycott V’s delicious-but-ambiguously-flavoured beverage and calls to start looking for a new sponsor ASAP (I mooted Red Bull… if they can pay for Formula One cars, one little film show would be a drop in the bucket. And I can’t STAND Red Bull.) And then something appeared on the Marathon News page…

It was a still from Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland”. Alice and… a knight. A White Knight.

Ant had found a new sponsor.

And so, the V Movie Marathon was no more. From its ashes rose the Vendetta Movie Marathon, sponsored by Vendetta Films, an online DVD retailer. Even better, Vendetta had offered a two-year commitment, meaning that not only was this years show in the bag, I could already start planning for 2010! (Okay, I’ll give it a couple of months. All right, weeks.)

So with the nerd-herd placated, it was time to fire the big announcements out onto Facebook. The first premiere was to be [REC 2], sending me on a dash to find the original. I meant to watch it earlier this year, but it’s been a busy year for me. As mentioned in last years review, we have a new baby in the house. Who’s now a crawling, dribbling toddler who can go from a standing start to yanking the cats tail on the other side of the room in about 9/10ths of a second. For a while there, I was watching movies in 20 minute bursts, quite often finishing them 2 days after I first put the DVD in.

Secondly, my new job of wine telemarketing has taken the usual course for any telemarketing job. A few weeks of training, a few months of enjoying the new working environment, followed by a year of learning to hate pretty much every human being in the country. Silly me, expecting people who are in a telephone-based wine club to actually treat the telemarketers like anything more than a psychic, (“Don’t you know not to call during Coronation Street!”) gullible, (“I’m in a meeting!” Really, then why can I hear cows? Are they in the meeting too?) annoyance. (*CLICK* Yep, thanks for hanging up on me, asshole.) And so, the last few months before the Marathon has become a grind, leaving me updating my C.V and preparing to head out into a weak job market to find something less irritating.

It took me three days to watch [REC], too. Because I had to watch it alone. Dawn still refuses to watch horror movies at night, you see. I watched most of it in two short bursts, then held off what I thought was the much-talked about ultra-scary final fifteen minutes. It had been creepy enough as is. Doubly so after the neighbours cat took an unexpected stroll across the living room roof. At midnight, with the lights off. Furry bastard. The next day I flipped it back on, only to discover the flick was only 70 minutes long. Ninety seconds later, the credits were rolling.

Good film.

The other movie announced was ZOMBIELAND. (Two new zombie flicks in one year? I hope Ant spaces them out.) This one is apparently a zom-com, ala. SHAUN OF THE DEAD. I’m avoiding watching the trailer or reading any reviews of the film, wanting to go in cold.

After a slow start to ticket sales there was suddenly unexpected news. The Marathon had sold out for the first time ever! (Probably aided by the fact that Wellingtons’ show was once more a no-go, due to the capitals sluggish reaction at the box office.) The “House Full” sign caught one of the newer members of the Bad Movie Crew by surprise. Campbell Cooley, actor, director and holder of a DBA (Doctorate in Boob Appreciation) had joined the Crew this year. Luckily, a week later Ant announced that there were a last few precious tickets up for grabs. Campbell is now locked in for his first 24-Hour ‘Thon. Fresh meat! Fresh meat! One of us! Gobble, gobble, one of us! The regulars of the B-Movie Crew are well represented, with Dave “Steelpotato” Brough flying up from Wellington. Andrew “Entomocephalous” Todd is joining us from Christchurch, while Aucklanders (and honorary Aucklanders) Steve “Bionicmanenator”Austin, Doug “Fallback” Dillaman, and Cherie “Insert Witty Nickname Here” Nouwens are attending again. Alistair “ATS” Tye-Sampson, who I met for the first time last year is back again… probably a fan for life after getting to see KRULL on the big screen. I helped co-write a couple of shorts for him with Doug, making him an honorary BMC Member, despite not getting to a Bad Movie Afternoon yet. (Probably scared off by Doug’s less-than positive review of ZOMBIE LAKE.) Steve Chow is also set, along with a number of 48-hour film board members I hadn’t met before.

My own ticket situation is a little less clear. Ant had decided to sell the tickets from the 48 Hours website, after finding Ticketek had been charging up to TWELVE DOLLARS as a “Booking Fee” last year. I clicked the link the same day it went live, only to discover it was Credit Card only. I’d cancelled my Visa (okay, VisaS. And the MasterCard.) some years back to curb my spendthrift ways. I quickly fired off an e-mail to Ant. He replied that it was no worries, my seat was assured. I sent back another a week later, asking if he wanted cash in advance, or if I should bring a briefcase full of money to the show. (The tickets are NZ$65 this year, so maybe a camera case would suffice.) Ants reply was exactly the same. I’ve saved you a seat, nothing to worry about. No mention of payment options. He’d comped me from 2003 to 2007 in exchange for these lengthy reviews, but I purchased my ticket in ‘08 after hearing that these days were eating into his pocket regardless of ticket sales. Now, a week out, I’m still unsure as to whether I’m getting a free pass or not.

This has been further complicated by a piece of breathtaking corporate BS from my place of employment, the net result of which was losing over $100 a fortnight in commission. (Which was then re-added to my bank account later, only to be consumed by mortgage payments. Don’t ask.) By the time the Marathon screens, I’ll be lucky to scrape up half of the ticket price. Oh well, if the bank account is dry, I’ll have to write a more-glowing review than usual. (“Ant was looking great… tanned, trim and terrific. Woman wanted him, men wanted to be him…”)

On second thoughts, I’ll just take him a bottle or two of good wine and hopefully we’ll call it even.

The 2009 Movie Marathon Mixtape was completed early, and 20 or so copies have been burnt. It’s been on high rotation for me already, being my favourite disc since the inaugural 2006 edition. I’ve even given it a “theme” this year… that being “A Night at the Hollywood”. The CD starts off with a Wurlitzer Intro (an old ragtime version of The Charleston I found on a very anorak-y Wurlitzer fan-site), rolls into a trailer right off the bat and even has an intermission. It’s “The Theme From A Summer Place”, which for me is the ultimate 1970’s intermission music. I’m also happy with some of the more obscure tracks I found. As well as an 80’s punk track used in THE HIDDEN, I managed to track the soundtrack to THE HOLY MOUNTAIN. My internal filtering system prevented me from using the more “avant-garde” (read “Batshit crazy”) tracks in favour of a more melodic one. A blaxploitation website also had a rip of the theme to THE BLACK GESTAPO. Took me six years to find it, but it’s on there.

Thankfully, a month or so before the show, Telecom (very quietly) announced that speed limits on uploads were being raised. (After the “Super-fast, UNLEASHED broadband!” fiasco that pretty much crashed the entire country’s Internet a few years back.) This meant I could at last put the 2006-2008 discs online for those who’d missed out. I also ran off a complete back-catalogue for regular attendee Glen Blomfield, who, despite missing out on them each year, referred to them as “legendary” on Facebook. I like flattery.

And so, I’m pretty set for the ‘thon. Seven days and change and counting. To quote BREAKIN’, there’s no stopping me!

MARATHON MINUS 5 DAYS AND COUNTING

I nearly stopped me.

Blame it my new-found Fatherhood Gene, which allows you to make stupid decisions pretty much at will. The Sunday before the show, both Dawn and I had the day off for Labour Weekend, letting us have some family time. Mid-morning, Aiden spontaneously started pressing the PLAY button on one of his musical toys and dancing along on his knees like a background extra in Fraggle Rock. “Get the video camera!” Dawn said. I bounded upstairs, grabbed the camcorder and shot back, vaulting the child safety gate at the bottom of the stairs in my haste to get the shot.

The ceiling ABOVE the child safety gate is a very solid wooden beam. At five-seven, I’ve never worried about it before. Do you see where this is leading?

The next thing I knew, I was sitting on the floor with blood dripping into my lap, while Dawn dashed for a towel and an ice-pack. I even did that clichéd head injury thing where I said “I’m fine, I’m fine!” and tried to stand up. The net result was a combination of a long cut, a good-sized scrape and a decent-sized lump on my melon. No concussion, thankfully. I have now resolved to STEP over the gate. Or hell, even open it instead.

The major problem this posed for me was my usual pre-Marathon haircut. It’s currently on hold until my head heals up a little more. I’ll be a little more hirsute than normal this year.

MARATHON MINUS 2 DAYS AND COUNTING


A new announcement in the last few days. The start time, tentatively set at 4PM, has been pushed back to 3PM instead. The end time is possibly around 5PM. Our 24-hour filmfest just hit 26 hours. That’s a combination of awesome and intimidating. It also means anyone printing out this review will need to make it a hardcover.

My preparations have been less organised than usual this year. I’m in the BYO seating section, but haven’t managed to secure a beanbag yet. (And with my available funds bottoming out quickly, probably won’t.) At this stage it looks like I’ll be dragging my old campchair out of storage for the first time since the ’04 show and setting it up way the side of the stalls to avoid blocking peoples view. My biggest problem this year isn’t seating, though. It’s my torch. I spent a few hours trying to charge it up. Zippo. It’s dead. Useless. A paperweight. My second option was a Winnie-the-Pooh torch purchased as a gift for my niece. (Turned out she already had one.) This is ALSO not functioning. I think my notes are going to be even less readable than usual. (Not to mention that my watch battery died a few months back, and I never replaced it. Expect approximate times throughout the review.)

My “training regime” of genre films has been pretty good, however. I sourced a number of flicks screened in Marathons past, and ran through them over a fairly packed ten days or so. BOARDING HOUSE was somehow LESS coherent than it seemed at the ’02 show, despite watching it wide awake and not buzzed on too much sugar and caffeine. FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE was still great, but brutal in the cold light of day. And BONNIE’S KIDS was something of a chore to get through. One the other claw, THE BLACK GESTAPO is still a fantastic (if cheap) watch and GODZILLAS REVENGE is batshit crazy. (And refuses to end, to boot.)

And in an effort to make the last 7 years go full circle, I’ll be trying to fit in at least part of REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS the night before the show. Unless Hasselhofs dinky scares me off.

The Cooler Bag of Delights was originally going to be tossed aside for the Chilly Bin of Value Snacks this year. I’d planned on a sandwich or two, a bowl of cereal for the morning if I can work out the milk/sugar/utensils logistics, a few plain biscuits and two frozen water bottles. In the end, the whole lot fit comfortably into the Cooler Bag. Hopefully I’ll have a bit of pocket change for something hot on the Sunday morning. (Yes, I’m really THAT broke this year. I expect to be schmoozing sugary treats off the BMA Crew in exchange for their CD’s.)

I also put together a twin-pack of Matua Valley wine for Ant. (2007 Ararimu Chardonnay, a double-gold medal winner and 2007 Bullrush Merlot, which is excellent.) The Street Value of the wine was exactly the same as the Ticket Price. If it doesn’t get me in the door, at least I’ll have something good to drink while I wait for an opportunity to sneak in the back.

The video camera is charged up, even though I didn’t do anything with last years footage. I’m as good an editor as I am a cinematographer, it seems. Maybe I’ll send the lot to Andrew Todd afterwards and let him stitch it together.

MARATHON MINUS 15 HOURS AND COUNTING


Well, we’re pretty much as set as we can be. It’s time to check out a snippet of RotCheerleaders, crash out and get ready to have our minds blown.

Bring it on.

MARATHON DAY!


Prologue: The Long Walk and the Lamington of Deception


Saturday, the 31st of October, 2009. A nice spring day in Auckland. I was up at 8AM, thanks to Aidens new morning regime of an early start, followed by a morning nap. This gave me around seven hours sleep, thanks mainly in part to my classic inability to label my DVD boxes correctly. In other words, I couldn’t find REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS. I watched the last half of THE THING instead, having fallen asleep in front of the TV watching it a few night back. (1AM movies with toddlers in the house just don’t work, folks.)

My packing was completed the moment Dawn turned on my “broken” torch. It worked perfectly. Must have needed a womans touch. She also gave me a $20 bill from the “gas and essentials” fund with instructions to get a Lotto ticket and use a little for snacks. Not the whole lot, of course. Even though I’m pretty good at that.

I dressed for comfort, not fashion as always. T-shirt and shorts, with a pair of tracksuit pants and my still-hanging-in-there V Pyjama top in the backpack for warmth.

I had actually planned to meet up with the B-Movie Crew and 48-Hour Film Messageboard attendees around 1 in the afternoon. The doors weren’t due to open until 2:30, but this would give us plenty of time to shoot the shit, stack the front of the line with regulars, and maybe allow my to shoot some “pre-game” footage.

My first big glitch occurred around 12. My mother, who was coming over to baby-sit Aiden, called me. She’d said she be around at 12:30, only to have an old friend call her that morning. I love my mother, but I’ll tell you thing… once she’s on the phone, there isn’t a force on Gods’ green Earth that’ll get her off. One 90-minute conversation later, she was running way behind. The boy was also taking an extended morning nap. My ETA was never going to happen. One o’clock rolled around. No mother, the boy was just stirring. I got him up and fed him. 1:30, he’s fed, I’m practically kicking the walls. 1:40, still no sign of Mum and so we packed the boy into our car and set off, meaning Dawn was going to have to boot it to Avondale and back in order to get ready for work.

Oh well, if you’re going to have a glitch, make it early, right? Nothing else could go wrong, surely.

Of course it could. And don’t call me Shirley.

I was in Avondale just before 2. Ant was outside, snapping photos for the website. The shot of me arriving will be dominated by my huge, nerdy grin. The nerd-herd was already trailing down the road from the theatre. Knowing my compadres, I skirted the queue to see who was right outside the door. Dave “Steelpotato” Brough was of course holding pole position, right up on the steps. (Along with his sister, whose name I always forget.) I said a brief “Hi”, dumped my gear next to him and set off in search of a Lotto shop.

I may have mentioned this before, but Avondale isn’t my favourite suburb. It’s very low-rent, with huge amounts of the stores devoted to money loans and takeaway foods. I headed to where I knew a Lotto shop used to be. It had closed. There was a stationery store further down the street. That had closed, too. Damn you, Global Recession! I kept walking. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Great. I needed local help.

The closest thing was a bakery. I popped in, purchased a cream-less Lamington and asked for directions. The nice lady didn’t think there was a Lotto shop on the main drag, so I’d have to head down Rosebank Road to the service station, and there was one there.

Rosebank Road is LONG, man. I just had to hope the place was close. I set off at a half-walk, half-jog. Nothing whatsoever. I ran out of shops and into houses. I stubbornly kept going. I hit the Avondale racecourse. Shit. I swung left onto Ash Street, hoping that the service station next to the racecourse was the one she meant. It wasn’t. I kept going, hoping I looked like a jogger to the traffic. (The shorts and shirts combo might have worked. The fact I was using a Lamington to boost my energy might have been a giveaway.) This seemed to be the first marathon I’d end with a suntan, however.

By now, I knew the nice lady with the middling English had sent me the wrong way. I was figuring I could always cut back down the next connecting street to Avondale, though.

I was assuming there WAS a connecting street, of course.

Fun fact. There isn’t. Pretty soon I wasn’t just in the wrong area, I was in the wrong SUBURB. Seriously, I was in New Lynn, running a massive, pointless circuit. On the day, I estimated I ran about 5 kilometres, and a quick check of a map this morning proves I was scarily accurate. Now, I don’t jog. I don’t play sport any more. By the time I was heading back up Great North Road to Avondale, I was in pain. My legs had more lactic acid in them than a cow. I could actually see the Lynmall Shopping Center in the distance, but wasn’t detouring any further to get my 1-in-eight-million chance to get rich. Screw it, I’ll get two next week.

And so, I finally made it back to the Hollywood. With 24+hours of sleep deprivation ahead of me, I was exhausted. This was going to be a tough year.

On the other hand, pretty good Lamington.

By this time, the line was all the way down the road. Dave was already inside, so I reclaimed my gear and joined the back of the line. My chance of unslinging the video camera was shot, so I got into a long conversation with a familiar-looking young lady whose name I either never got, or can’t remember. There were plenty of regulars around, and oddly people I recognised from my varied jobs. Andon, aka Red-Dyed Mohawk Guy from one of the North Shore Glengarry’s stores, for instance. (Someone I knew on sight, but had never really talked to. Since the show, I’ve had an animated conversation about the flicks with him and been invited to join his B-flick-loving friends for 70’s grindhouse trash at some stage. I love the Marathon.)

It turned out I was on the Guest List, but I dropped off my vino-related bribery anyway. Besides, it’s the Tenth Anniversary, the guy needs SOMETHING to toast the occasion. We were given wristbands this year in lieu of tickets. Excellent, from a distance I look like I’m being charitable about something. I made it into the auditorium, which was being filled with Wurlitzer music as always. (Apparently, my late entry meant I missed hearing a Wurlitzer version of the Battlestar Galactica theme. Damn.) I stopped to let my eyes adjust, trying to work out where the Crew was at. As I did, a voice from knee level said “Hey, Skeeter!”. It was Doug.

The majority of the Crew had claimed the first row of seating, along with the stage left section of floor space. Annette “Not Ms. Fallback” was there as well, plus David Stuckey (A long-time attendee whose name I finally locked down from Facebook photos after the show. I’m so bad at names.) and “Phil Baby” from the 48-Hour Board. (Admittedly, I only found out who was Phil Baby at the very end of the show.)

Steelpotato and his sis had taken up position in the middle of the floor at Ants feet. Andrew Todd and forum member Cardinal (attending his first show) were front and center at the foot of the screen. The floor was packed, meaning my campchair idea was dead in the water. However, not having seen Cherie, I scanned the usual row in the stalls. And yep, there she was, sitting next to two unfamiliar faces. They turned out to be first-timers, I never got their names, but I can report they performed with distinction, lasting out the entire show.

I distributed CD’s out to the Crew, the 2 newbies in my row and a couple of random people in Alistair’s row. This turned out to be the first year I ran out of discs, so apologies to the Forum member who ran into me at the end of the show. Maybe I’ll make a few more next year.

I joined Cherie in the cheap seats as Margaret finished her set and descended gracefully out of sight. Ants’ entrance was less than graceful, however. He arrived, ducked into the wings and emerged again after a few seconds of muffled banging. (And probably some muffled cursing, too.) Apparently, the stage door was still locked. He scoped out any alternative routes to the stage, but no go. Eventually he announced “Show’s over, thanks for coming!” and headed off to find a key. Like I said, better to get your glitches out the way early, right?

And so, after a minor delay, Ant hit the stage. He told us that some of the flicks tonight were very personal to him, presumably films that really kicked off his collecting bug. But there was one more glitch to tell us about. A pretty major one. For the first time in the decade-long history of the Marathon, a print hadn’t turned up. Not arrived in unplayable shape. Not disintegrated on the reels, as occurred twice last year. Just never made it to the show on time. Which flick?

[REC 2].

I was emotionally torn. On one hand, I really wanted to see [REC 2]. Tempering my disappointment was the knowledge that I no longer had the possibility of screaming like a little girl in public, or being crushed if it turned out to be a lesser effort than the original. And in the back of mind, the frustration that [REC 2] had been lost, but ANACONDA 2 had shown up safe and sound.

It was now just after twenty past three. Time to get the show officially on the road with our now-traditional Film Classic. The lights dimmed, the curtains opened (which I say every time, even though the Hollywood, unlike the Civic, doesn’t HAVE curtains!) and once more, we were a’marathoning!

Part 1: Never Fuck With a Florist
Saturday 15:25-THE SECRET FOUR


I’d like to thank Cherie for the (fairly) accurate start times in this review… she loaned me her watch before the show, thinking she’d stay awake longer if she didn’t know how late/early it was. I repaid her kindness by making dickwad comments like “Wow, it’s not even midnight yet!” for half the show.

We kicked off the long day ahead with a brilliant short film made specially for the occasion. Done in the style of a Russkie propaganda film, it outlined the guidelines for enjoying the show while not making the people around you miserable. The most important rule. Wear Deodorant! (I had. Not long before my 40-minute run. Sorry about that, folks.)

The line up proper began with a piece of Film Noir I’d never heard of. (Bogart’s not in it, you see. Although its alternative title of KANAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL was more than a little familiar.) It’s a tightly plotted Heist/50’s Revenge Flick that made me wonder how many times Quentin Tarrantino had watched it before putting pen to paper. Because the central characters are four career criminals brought together for a job, during which they keep their identities secret via some rather Michael Myers-like masks. Several recognisable names show up, including Lee van Cleef as (no surprise) a villain and Jack Elam, whose lazy eye made me refer to him as “Googly Eye” Pete in my notes.

Things get complicated (as this things tend to do) after the flower delivery man the group sets up as a patsy decides he wants what’s owed to him. And as he’s a former military man and all-around squared-jawed badass, things get ugly pretty damn quick. Throw in a love interest who’s unknowingly connected to the bad guys, a shitload of snappy dialogue and some of the most regular face-punching and bitchslapping of a non-kung-fu-themed Marathon flick and you’re in for a Monochromatically good time.

While some people seemed to prefer last years opener LADY IN A CAGE (probably due to the eye-gouging grittiness of the film) I though this was an excellent opener. You can always tell if a Marathon film is working by the audiences’ reaction. Normally it’s moments of graphic violence or idiotically gratuitous nudity that get the biggest cheers. For this one, it was the excellent dialogue that got us to make some noise. One of the lines was a classic piece of Hayes Code era double entendre directed to the films’ only ‘Woman of Dubious Virtues’, Teresa. She makes some cash on the side at the Tijuana resort selling “souvenirs” for eleven U.S dollars. (A pretty hefty price for earrings in 1952, I’d wager.) When she offers them to our hero, Joe, his ultra-cool reply of “Everyone’s entitled to a few souvenirs” brought the house down. Right up there with Joe Sarnos’ “Vibrations” line from AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE, and probably second only to Bogart and Bacalls “Horse” exchange in THE BIG SLEEP. (“But I like to see them workout a little first, see if they're front runners or come from behind…”) Joes’ sure-fire cure for a nosebleed was a killer, too.

All in all, a nice revisit to the time when men were men, smokes were smoked by everyone, and dames could be sexy, intelligent and not bat an eyelid when you accidentally drop your revolver in front of her. Although I learnt one very important lesson from the flick, too.

Never. EVER. Let the insurance agent comfort the bereaved relatives after a shooting. They’re terribly bad at it.

Running Theme Time!

Good Guys Smoking!: It’s 1952. I think they handed out Lucky Strikes in kindergarten.
Sexism: There was a bit of eyebrow-raising that one female character was a law student. But the other was eye-candy and suggestive. Call it a draw.
Sweaty People: Bug-eyed Pete was pretty moist throughout.
Cool Hats: God, I wish I had more chances to wear my fedora. Awesome headgear.
Betrayal: Multiple. As you’d expect from this genre.
Cracking Dialogue: Hell yes. See above.

Skeeters’ Summary: Another good chance to see something with excellent writing, at a time when we’re awake enough to understand it.

I hit up the Candy Bar for a pack of Wine Gums in the break. Props to the Hollywood for not following the major movie chains “You’re Going to Need a Second Mortgage to Afford an Ice-Cream” approach to pricing its snacks.

Part 2: GORESOME!
Saturday, 17:00-ZOMBIELAND


The break between flicks was short, as Ant was aiming for a record-breaking fifteen movies this year. (An ambition that was probably overly-ambitious, and would probably be stymied by any major technical difficulties. Yes, this is foreshadowing.) We cracked straight into the second (and as mentioned, only one that showed) of our Big Two. It’s set for release December 3rd, so I won’t tell you much about the plot.

But trust me, I really, REALLY want to.

It’s a ton of fun, doubly so for zombie flick fans. The basic concept is that The Night/Day/Mid-Afternoon of the Living Dead has come and gone. We’re in the aftermath stage, following one of the least likely survivors across country. He meets up with Woody Harrelson as one of the MOST-likely survivors of a Zombpocolyse. And from then on, it’s laugh-out-loud dialogue, inventive mayhem and one of the best celebrity pisstakes on film.

Sadly, the emergence of the celebrity in question led to our first major technical glitch. I’d popped out to use the facilities after rehydrating excessively following the Long Walk, only to find the theatre in darkness on my return. The sound had gone out, and the projectionist was having to clean the sound heads. This had the unfortunate side-effect of ruining one of the best kills in the film. It also led to the shout of “Rewind it!” from the crowd. To paraphrase Morbo: FILM DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY! This was the start of a number of audio problems throughout the night. Which made a change from the usual film breakages of years past.

But, that minor annoyance aside, the film went down like a house on fire. The crowd ate it up big time. Like DAWN OF THE DEAD, the zombie carnage is contained mainly in the first and last thirds of the film. The middle section is well-written and character-driven… with the occasional bout of gut-munching and zombie-squishing. The whole is fantastically watchable… hopefully multiple times. (Unlike, for me anyway, TEAM AMERICA, which was “The Best Movie EVER!’ at ’04, and is now a flick that barely raises a chuckle. I watch it occasionally, but mainly for the plot and action sequences instead of the gags. That’s fucking odd.)

The film also has the excellent device of THE RULES. There’s a lot of them, designed to help you avoid becoming a Romero-esque Human Niblet, but 3 stood out. (And were quoted endlessly throughout the ‘Thon.) And so, a new Feature will be instituted for the remaining flicks. Did they use the following?

CARDIO?:
DOUBLE-TAP?:
CHECK THE BACK SEAT?:

This flick had the lot, of course

Good Guys Smoking!: Nope, but if Twinkies were ciggies, one characters a major addict.
Sexism: Minor, but Tallahassee is like that to everyone.
Sweaty People: Yes, thanks to Rule 1: CARDIO!
Cool Hats: Ten-gallons of awesomeness.
Betrayal: Several times. You just can’t trust some people.
Cracking Dialogue: 45% power? “You wanna see how hard…?” Yep.

And the return of a long, LONG-running theme:

Horrific Leg Injuries: To the undead, at least. But plenty of other horrific injuries in general.

Skeeters’ Summary: Gore+Awesome=GORESOME! Best flick of the year so far.

Part 3: Badasses, Who Tap Asses.
Saturday, 18:40-ROADHOUSE


We were promised a “tribute film” to a fallen star. I think we all guessed it was going to be Swayze-riffic pretty quickly. I know I was chanting “Please be ROADHOUSE, please be ROADHOUSE” under my breath as Ant left the stage. I mean, would have really hit us with DIRTY DANCING or TO WONG FOO…? (Of course, RED DAWN, POINT BREAK or STEEL DAWN would have been acceptable choices.) But frankly, what better film to salute the Sway-ster with? It’s cartoonishly violent, has some excellent over-the-top villainy, a great blues soundtrack and a monster truck. Yes, the villain owns a monster truck. For no reason whatsoever. Can you hate a movie with an inexplicable monster truck? I can’t. It’s also a Double Tribute film, featuring the late Jeff Healey as… well, Jeff Healey. Sure, his character is called “Cody”, but that’s obviously just a pseudonym to explain how a biker bar in Podunk City, Assend of Nowhere, America can afford to have The Jeff Healey Band playing five nights a week.

And from pretty much frame one, the whole shebang is cloaked in some of the most unexpected homoeroticism ever seen in a testosterone-fuelled beat-em-up. Everyone from the bar staff to the bad guys to the local wildlife seem to have a raging bone-on for our Zen-like Hero. It culminates in one of the best-received Idiotically Badass Line of the 80’s. (The truly awe-inspiring “I used to fuck guys like you in prison!”. Yeah, thanks for sharing, dude.) I’ve seen the film before, and trust me, it’s just as funny the second time around.

Now for those who’ve not seen the film, here’s a brief plot summary. The worlds’ best bouncer (or “Cooler”) is poached to help turn a bar full of brawling rednecks and bikers into neon-lit Meat Market full of over-dressed Yuppies who dance badly to Jeff Healey’s Blind White Boy Blues. The towns resident Evil Capitalist takes an instant and inexplicable dislike to our mullet-topped, Tai Chi-doing “cooler”, people get beat the hell up, things get blown the hell up, Swayze does an ass-shot and there’s a violent finale including a plummeting Polar Bear. Oh, and Sam Elliot turns up, playing… well, Sam Elliot.

Yeah, that’s your lot. For a much better plot summary, go to http://jabootu.net/?p=605
and read the exhaustive write-up there. I’ll just stick to some Burning Questions the flick raised.

**Why is Dalton known as a “cooler”? Is it just cooler to be a Cooler than a Head Bouncer?
**How much money were bars making in small redneck towns if they could afford to pay Dalton five gees in advance, plus US$500/night? In 1980-frickin’-9! Add in to account the three hundred dollars of broken furniture the bar racks up a night, and I’d have to assume they’re selling piss-warm Coors at eighty-five bucks a bottle just to break even.
**Does everyone in this film know Dalton? Sure, he’s a good bouncer, but people in other STATES seem to be in awe of him. I worked at a comedy bar for eighteen months, and didn’t know OUR bouncers’ name. (Other than “The Guy You Don’t Fuck With”.)
**I know stitching up your own knife wounds makes you look badass, but isn’t it frustratingly awkward to get the angle right?
**Are we getting old when a shot of a cassette player being used gets a round of cheering. At least it wasn’t in the 8-track era.
**Doesn’t that huge bouncer look a lot like wrestler Terry Funk? (Answer to my scribbled notes: Yes. It is wrestler Terry Funk. I would have recognised him quicker if he’d been bleeding from a self-inflicted forehead wound.)
**Did Terry Funks character remind anyone else of “Ogre” from Revenge of the Nerds?
**Shouldn’t the Good Old Blues Brothers Boys Band be playing behind the chicken wire cage?
**Can anything stop Jeff Healey from finishing a song once he’s started? (Answer: No. He even plays throughout an entire bar brawl scene without missing a note at one stage.)
**Is Jeff Healey such a good guitar player he can take his hands off the strings, play three chords and puts his hands back, or are they just overdubbing the fuck out of this film?
**If Dalton gets any more cool, calm and relaxed in the midst of this bar fight, is he just going to fall asleep?
**If you’re going to deal drugs to your punters, would it be a better idea to do it on your break like Shag the Customer Guy?
**Instead of paying the Gross Domestic Product of Angola to Dalton, wouldn’t it have made more sense for the bar owner to fire all his obviously useless bouncers and hire two guys who knew what they were meant to be doing?
**Do you think Over-Dressed Slutty Chick could become a plot element later? (And by “Plot Element” I mean “Flash Her Boobs”)
**Is that Bigfoot? Oh wait, no, it’s wearing overalls. Must be a farmer.
**Has “Celebrity Look-alike” become a Running theme? THE SECRET FOUR had a Baldwin-alike, now we have Phoebe Cates Lite as a barmaid.
**If you’re a well-toned, Zen-like bouncer, should your breakfast be a Marlboro Lite and a coffee?
**In fact, is seeing character smoke indoors in older flicks almost as jarring as seeing the Twin Towers in NYC-set movies?
**I’m sure the ladies in the crowd were happy to see it, but did we really need the lingering shot of Patricks rock-hard man-cheeks?
**Was the ass-shot a ‘make-up for all the gratuitous boob-and-muff-shots we’ve had in Marathons past?
**And if so, do we owe the ladies Mel Gibson in LETHAL WEPON for the movie that played right AFTER this one?
**”Be Nice” is the secret mantra of bouncers? I thought it was “Don’t Let the Boss See You Put the Boot In.”?
**Could Crucifix-Wearing Henchman look any gayer without wearing a pair of assless leather chaps?
**Is Not Phoebe Cates going to be the love interest, or just another minor character getting multiple orgasms simply by being in the same room as Dalton?
**Is there anyone that can make wearing a cravat look threatening, not ludicrous. Even when paired with a cool fedora?
**If you’re a villainous Bad Guy with a monster truck, wouldn’t you drive the monster truck around just to justify how much cash you spent on it? Personally, I’d take that thing to the corner dairy to get the milk in the morning.
**How the hell do you manage to renovate an entire bar in three days without any sign of the construction?
**And how did all these Yuppies hear about it so fast? The place should still be full of confused bikers pissing on the neon signs.
**In fact, how the hell does a dustball town like Jasper find enough Yuppies to not only fill the bar, but form a line outside? Did they bus them all down from another state?
**Did anyone else think the bar lost all its character once the chicken wire cage was removed?
**Is there some rule that one extra ALWAYS has to over-dance? I thought one guys arms were going to be launched into space.
**Could the head Bad Guy be LESS subtle about his evil-doing? Not unless he decided to stab a prostitute in the middle of Times Square at mid-day, really.
**Is there such a place as the Silververse? That’s the Joel Silver-run dimension where EVERYTHING has the ability to explode in a humongous fireball if you so much as glance at it. Amish buggies probably go ka-boom if you rear-end them in that place.
**Is this sex scene with the REAL love interest some weird rip on DIRTY DANCING? Or is Pat just acting to the beat of his own drummer right about now.
**Is driving your monster truck through a car dealership in front of 100 spectators a new low in “Unsubtle Villainy”?
**If you own enough explosives to destroy the forest moon of Endor, wouldn’t it be a better idea to blow up your enemy with them? Not his landlord?
**If your explosives can level half a house and yet not even singe the huge, beardy occupant of said house, should you hire a more competent explosive-setting Goon?
**Is Sam Elliot any less than brilliant in any role he plays? (All of which he plays in EXACTLY the same way, no matter who he’s playing or what era the film is set.)
**Has anyone else lost count of the number of fistfights in this flick? (And yet the body count is remarkably low until the last few minutes of the film.)
**Does inferring you’re going to buttrape your opponent in a fistfight count as a “Psychout” or just “Ruining the Mood”?
**In a film this filled with homoeroticism, should you tell Dalton that the only thing missing from your Trophy Room is “his ass”?
**Was I the only one who made the obvious “mounting his ass” joke?
**Are they seriously inferring the bad guy hunted himself a Polar Bear? What did he do, load his monster truck full of shotguns and head to the Zoo?
**In fact, has he shot EVERYTHING that walks the Earth? I swear to God there’s a Woolly Mammoth with an ass-full of buckshot in that room.
**Was Dalton just saved by the Flimsy Excuse Vigilantes?
**Is there such a thing as too much Jeff Healey in a film? (Answer: No.)
**Did I just spend 1,500 words dissecting the plot of ROADHOUSE? I’d like to say I have too much time on my hands, but it just ain’t true these days. I might finish this review in time for next years show. Just.

Good Guys Smoking!: At the breakfast table. Classy.
Sexism: Quite a bit, but only to the Downtrodden Slutty Chick. And the barmaids. And 90% of the women in the flick.
Sweaty People: Fistfights in the Missouri sun can get you a little damp, yeah.
Cool Hats: A variety of Redneck Haberdashery.
Betrayal: Not really, the Good/Evil line in this film is more like a four-lane Highway.
Cracking Dialogue: Unforgettable, if not cracking.
Horrific Leg Injuries: Lower leg damage is practically a plot point.

New Theme!

Mistreatment of the Differently Abled?: Slutty Chick does a striptease in front of Jeff Healey. He’s blind. That’s just mean.

CARDIO?: With all the biffo Dalton gets in, he’s got to be in shape.
DOUBLE-TAP?: To the throat, baby!
CHECK THE BACK SEAT?: Better to check the back room. There’s probably someone boinking in there.

Skeeters’ Summary: All is forgiven for making my sister watch DIRTY DANCING 8,000 times, Mr. Swayze. Rest in Peace.

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Skeeter

November 2011

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