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Nov. 13th, 2009

Skeeter

The 2009 Vendetta Movie Marathon Review, Part 2

Part 4: TITS! IN! SPAAAAAAAAAACE!
Saturday, 21:00-FORBIDDEN WORLD


As you may have gleaned from that “Tits in Space” line, we’re into the pretentious art-house section of the show with this subtitled Belgian slice-of-life drama…

Wait, scratch that. We’re actually into the section where Ant tossed us a piece of jaw-droppingly cheap sci-fi that recognises that the cheaper your special effects are, the sooner you better get some underpaid, though attractive actress to get her kit off. The credits didn’t show up until about five minutes into the flick, but I was hardly surprised to see the name “Roger Corman” appear. Mainly due to the opening space battle, recycled (as per usual) from BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS. The second name that leapt off the screen at me was “Story by Jim Wynorski”. Oh boy, the director of RAPTOR and the writer of such gems as CLEAVEAGEFIELD and THE BARE WENCH PROJECT. This flick should be a peach, folks.

I actually did a little research on this flick a few days later. It’s also known as MUTANT, and was one of Wynorskis very first writing gigs in Hollywood. A Google search led me to a trash films website, where Jim himself is a member. He seems extremely self-aware of the quality of his work, and apparently still has a framed MUTANT poster hanging in his den. His only complaint was that the soundtrack wasn’t recorded in stereo… but as he said, even then he knew that asking Corman for extra money for the soundtrack was the pinnacle of pointless ideas.

But back to the movie. It kicks off with the aforementioned space battle. The first sign that this flick was going to be something special was the “Red Alert” noise of our Futuristically Square-Jawed Hero. Instead of blaring sirens and flashing red lights, his spacecraft was filled with soothing classical music and the most mellow reading of the word “Emergency” I’ve heard in years. Presumably this is a future where hearing Yanni playing his pan-pipes means the shit has REALLY hit the fan.

The spaceship is crewed by the most likeable cast member. No, not Square-Jawed Space Hero. S.A.M, his squeaky-voiced Budgetbot, whose head is pretty obviously a Star Wars character mask spray painted beige. S.A.M is efficient, helpful and good with a laser cannon. Predictably this means all the human characters treat her like dirt, continually switch her off in the middle of sentences and leave her standing in corridors for hours on end. By the end of the flick I was hoping she’s go T-1000 on their asses. Her only grating habit was calling Captain Square-Jaw “Sir” all the time. My notes refer to her as the “Marcy-Bot” to Captain Peppermint Patty.

She rouses Captain Square-Jaw from his Suspended Animation chamber to fight off whoever it is that attacked him. (My guess? Space Mormons.) As he comes too, we were treated to a bizarrely Battlestar Galactica-like montage of things we’re about to see as the film progressed. This directorial flourish confused me. I mean, sure it showed that the next ninety minutes would be something along the lines of Boobs/gore/alien/boob/sex scene/gore/boobs/shower scene/gore/boobs/explosions, but let’s face it. Surely if this played in cinemas then the punters had already plonked down their cash for the ticket. Did we really need a “Coming Attractions” montage to keep them in their seats?

If I was confused there, imagine my face when they ended the movie with THE EXACT SAME MONTAGE!

I guess the director just liked montages.

Post-credits, Captain Square-Jaw gets summoned to a Genetic Research base on the ass-end of the Universe. This is staffed by one of the most generic band of Space Misfits you’re going to find. I could look up their names on the IMDB, but really, who cares? They’re written as character types, so let’s list them as such.

INEFFICIENT SPACE STATION COMMANDER

BLOND, CONSTANTLY HORNY WOMAN

BRUNETTE, PIXIE-LIKE, EQUALLY HORNY WOMAN

CHAIN-SMOKING SCIENTIST WITH TOM WAITS HAIRCUT

VOYUERISTIC HEAD OF SECURITY

THE SAXOPHONE-PLAYING BLACK GUY

THE REALLY STUPID SPACE-SURFER DUDE WHO’S OBVIOUSLY GOING TO BE THE FIRST CHARACTER TURNED INTO ALIEN CHOW.

The really sad thing about that list is that if it wasn’t for his futuristic plastic
saxophone, one of those guys would have simply been “The Black Guy” Even in space, the brother is always being held down by the Man. And the Man’s underwritten characters.

Captain Square-Jaw and S.A.M are welcomed to the base (which is apparently constructed from egg-cartons and plastic. It’s a low-budget Universe, after all.) with open legs. Uh, arms. I meant arms. Okay, legs. Apparently Horny Blond Space Chick has a real thing for average-looking white guys. If her Commander wasn’t part of the welcoming committee, I’m pretty certain she’d have had Square-Jaws pants around his ankles before the airlock door was half-way open.

But affairs of the state must come before affairs of the state. So, with S.A.M doing her life-sized paperweight impression in a hallway, the humes whisk Square-Jaw off to a room full of exploded bunnies. You only wish I was making this up. It appears the crews experiment in Genetic Fuckery has created a lifeform that turns small, fluffy animals into small, fluffy piñatas. The Interstellar Idiots have helpfully left the bloody corpses dangling from their cages so Captain Square-Jaw can see the results. What, they don’t have no cameras in the future?

The alien/genetic freak/recycled prop has now formed a slimy little cocoon in the lab. It’s all contained, but as the job of scraping Thumper off the wall gets delegated to Dumbshit Alien-Chow-In-Waiting Dude, we were all pretty sure the big Breakout Scene was coming up. We weren’t disappointed, as the bozo immediately opens up the glass case to get a look at the now-emerging critter. This is probably step 321 on the “What To Do With Hazardous Creatures” checklist. Right after step 320, “Stab Self in Neck With Sharpened Chopsticks to Avoid Your Idiocy Dooming the Human Race”.

Once the Alien is happily eating Dumbshit Kids face we discover that the bases’ Security missed seeing the whole thing on his mammoth one-monitor security bank. Geez, Chad! We give you one job on the Space Station and you pooched even that! Meanwhile, we’re quickly discovering that Wild-Haired (Probably Mad) Scientist Guy is almost certainly the biggest overacter of the night. His major character trait is his ever-present cigarette, which should probably get a Supporting Actor Credit. (I’m pretty sure it got more screen time than the Security Chief.) Science Guy even manages to break all sorts of social mores by puffing away on a butt at a shared breakfast table!

Post-attack, Dumbass Kid proceeds to liquefy into a pleasantly pink goo, causing Science Guy to spout technobabble and smoke even more furiously. This turn of events is unfortunate for Dumbass Kid, but good for the audience, as Cute-a-Button Girl was his main squeeze. Freed from having to date the terminally stupid, she celebrates with an unmotivated nude scene. Your sacrifice is appreciated, Dumbass Kid.

Meanwhile, Jims script pencils in a long sequence involving the cheapest special effects money can buy. Yes, T and A! This gets kind of squicky, as Security Chief Peeping Tom keeps a close eye on Captain Square-Jaw and Blond Chick as they make the Alien With Two Backs in her quarters. He also keeps his hands busy. Not like that, perv-o. He’s playing with an extraordinarily low-tech spinning toy. Geez, A.C is 13 months old and has more sci-fi looking shit than that in his toybox.

Thankfully, Token Black Guy adds a perfect note of hilarity by providing the scenes Make-Out Music on his Perspex sax. Maybe he should have busted out “Yakkety Sax” during the later “running away from the drooling alien” scenes?

Security Perv finally gets off his ass and heads out to investigate the aliens whereabouts. This involves him wandering around darkened hallways for a while. Not wanting us to get bored, the director keeps cutting back to the sex scene in progress. A lot. This near-subliminal nookie was to become a minor running theme, with a couple of other flicks using the same technique.

At length, the Security Chief gets to meet up with the rapidly expanding and somewhat toothy alien. Hooray, two useless characters down! And somehow the Black Guy still survives! That’s refreshing.

As you can tell, it’s a thinly-veiled ALIEN rip-off in progress. With some of the hundreds of other ALIEN rip-offs churned out through the 80’s, it’d be a paint-by-numbers stalk-and-eviscerate plot from here on in. But not FORBIDDEN WORLD, no sir. With a couple of colleagues already horribly slaughtered, Cute-as-a-Button Girl wakes up and decides it’s the prefect time to hit the sauna. Yes, there’s a sauna on a Research Station. This is not only fairly illogical, but obviously nothing more than a cheap, cynical ploy to get an attractive actress nekkid for an extended scene that adds nothing to the plot.

Call me Mr. Misogynist, but I thought it was the best scene in the movie.

Possibly a tie with the two-girl sonic shower scene a half-hour later, though.

Anyhoo, the flick rolls on, getting more and more ludicrous as it does. To save my sanity (and another thousand words or so) I’ll just list a few of the more memorable plot devices.

**Strawberry Instant Pudding IS PEOPLE!
**S.A.M: ”How long have you had cancer, Doctor?” *CLICK* *Power Down*
**The alien is eating the cast. Maybe you should send in S.A.M, who’s the only non-huma..? *CLICK* *Skeeter Powers Down*
**Hey, it’s a Doctor Who gravel pit world!
**Kinda-Zombie Guy Attacks!
**The alien liquefies humans for food, yet has evolved massive fuck-off teeth? Seems like a waste of DNA, somehow.
**Technobabble Level 4 and Rising!
**”I have a great idea! Let’s discuss it at length in the shower!”
**I know how to destroy the monster! With the healing power of CANCER!
**Wait, he’s going to kill it with Cancer?
**His Cancer?
**Seriously?
**Blonde Chick has realised she can communicate with the alien! So let’s do it in a skimpy bathrobe! This may not end well.
**”Please Stand By”. What is this creature, an Intergalactic Phone Operator?
**Ewww. That didn’t end well. Still, she died as she lived. With someone else’s’ appendage buried in her.
**Cute-as-a-Button is in peril! If she gets kacked then the movie has no further interest for me.
**”I’ve just been torn in half, Sir. Don’t bother to power me down, I think I can reach the button with my severed leg.”
**”Quick, cut out my liver. Don’t worry, I’ll talk you through it!”. Anyone else think there’s a flaw in his logic?
**Whoa, must have had that Five-Minutes-To-Live Cancer!
**Now we’re just blowing the budget on fake spew.
**MONTAGE! We need a Montage!
**Cute-as-a-Button Chick Lives! I guess I get a happy ending from this flick.

Good Guys Smoking!: If the alien ate the scientist, it might have died of nicotine poisoning before the halfway point.
Sexism: From the scriptwriter, director and me, I guess.
Sweaty People: Sweaty, sticky and melty.
Cool Hats: No, but a great head on S.A.M.
Betrayal: Nope, but as the alien was more cunning than the cast it’s not surprising.
Cracking Dialogue: “Cracking” means “hilarious”, yeah?
Horrific Leg Injuries: Horrific, yes. And it was CLOSE to her legs. Ick
Mistreatment of the Differently Abled?: Call C.L.I.T.O.R.I.S, that alien is being severely repressed.

CARDIO?: The cast wandered up and down the same corridor enough times for a good workout.
DOUBLE-TAP?: The survival instincts of these bozos means you could give them each a bazooka and I’d still lay odds against them.
CHECK THE BACK SEAT?: The alien puppet was so immobile, it’s better to check around the corner to see where he’s been propped up.

Skeeters’ Summary: A rare delve into sci-fi, and a welcome one. I’ll have fond memories of this turkey for a good while to come.


By now I’d run into most of the regulars, knocked back my first two cans of V and realised my video camera was going to be dead weight, just like my campchair. The place was too full and the breaks were too short to get any decent footage this year. I figured I might get some shots at the breakfast break, but even that was not to be. Oh well, not like I was going to do anything useful with the footage anyway.

It was also the first show in years in which I’d stayed in the same seat for this long. Steve Chow had said he was planning on popping out for a few hours around 3AM, so I could steal his beanbag for a few hours. By the way my back was already starting to complain, I’d probably need it.

Part 5: We Have Reached the Underbelly and We’re Starting to Dig
Saturday, 22:20-VICE SQUAD


Audio Glitch #2 occurred early, as this started as a Silent Flick. I of course tried dubbing in the POLICE SQUAD theme as a substitute. (“Vice Squad: In Color!”) The actual theme was much more 70’s funky, of course. (If somewhat discordant.)

This film took the nights’ “Gritty Drama” slot, being one of the toughest, sleaziest dramas since FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE. Since the ‘Thon, Ant has let us know that this in fact provoked a walkout by one of our female attendees due to it’s constant barrage of violent misogyny. Most of this came from “Ramrod”, played by Wings Hauser. He’s not only a NYC pimp, he pretty much takes the title of Biggest Cockbag in Marathon History from Jesse Lee Kane by a long margin. (Mainly because, unlike Jesse’s all-encompassing racism, Ramrod is a full-time abuser of the fair sex only.) He’s a total sleazebag bastard, handing out beatings and sexual molestations to his ladies of the night like he’s getting a commission on every woman he abuses.

Personally, I can see where some people would find this flick worthy of a walkout, but in truth, all the violence (even the really nasty stuff involving coat hangers) occurs off-screen. Put it side by side with something like HOSTEL and you’ll see a lot more flesh-rending violence in the latter. Someone getting their head blown off at the Marathon usually gets a huge round of hooting and applause. The problem here is the context. This is no camp-fest. Bar one scene, this is done dead serious. This is a flick that says “The world is full of complete bastards, and we’ve found the biggest one in New York City. Enjoy!”

There’s no point trying to describe the plot. It’s just one night (I think… there was a LOT of action in one night if it was) in some of NYC’s less salubrious suburbs. Our main characters are a trick-turning mother, a tough-guy (but constantly apologetically-looking) cop who uses tactics right out of the 50s and our aforementioned Pusbag Pimp. There’s a ton of working girl-type sleaze, a nasty revenge plot and a balls-to-the-walls shoot-‘em-up climax.

There’s also one of the most batfuck crazy setups for nookie I’ve ever seen. I’m still in awe of it now. And unless Skankybridesforolddeadguys.com has been taken, it involves the only fetish NOT to be on the Internet. Trust me, I’m too afraid to Google it to make sure.

It was one of those films that’s a tough watch, but you stick with it just to see someone get their comeuppance. And it’s well worth the ride.

It’s also a nice companion to 2004’s PAPARAZZI, an at-times nasty revenge flick starring Wing’s chip off the ol’ block, Cole. He’s lucky he got off easy on the face department looking at Wings. Man, that guy had a lot of face. It looked like someone melted Ted Danson and carefully ironed him out a little on each side.

That observation had nothing to do with the film, of course. I just wanted to share.

Good Guys Smoking!: Yep. Even in restaurants. That’d get you shot today.
Sexism: The high-water mark for misogyny tonight.
Sweaty People: Every 70’s flick in NYC looked humid as hell. Must be all the polyester.
Cool Hats: A pimp ain’t worth shit without his feathered fedora.
Betrayal: Time to scratch this Theme, perhaps.
Cracking Dialogue: A combo of hard-boiled and jive, suckas!
Horrific Leg Injuries: Once again, CLOSE to her legs. And once again, Ick. And Double Ick.
Mistreatment of the Differently Abled?: Actually, the wheelchair-bound John seemed to have had a great time.

CARDIO?: I’d hope our heroine had stamina with the amount of tricks she had to turn.
DOUBLE-TAP?: Yep, vehicular follow by high calibre.
CHECK THE BACK SEAT?: I’m sure something would go down in the back seat of a car, if you get my drift.

Skeeters’ Summary: Ant had hinted we’d be seeing a Children’s Film during the Marathon. This sure as hell wasn’t it. Nihilistically compelling viewing.

Part 6: Casperfield?
Sunday, 00:00-PARANORMAL ACTIVITY


As it was now midnight on Halloween, Ant had the projectionists spool up our second premiere, a brand-new horror flick. And since it hasn’t come out yet, I’m going to say very little about it.

I will say that I went into the unannounced film completely cold. Hadn’t heard about it, hadn’t seen a preview, hadn’t read a review. It was pretty obvious right off the bat that it was a “PoV” flick, shot on handheld digital video, BLAIR WITCH style. What wasn’t obvious was its name, with the brief credits appearing 90 minutes later. (I honestly did call it “Casperfield” in my notes. )

In the next break some of the more informed crew filled me in on some details. It’s a microscopically-budgeted film, possibly no more than US$15, 000 all up. Since it’s currently the number one film in the States, someone’s getting extraordinarily rich right about now. It looks pretty good for the money, with some very competent performances from its tiny cast. Typically for no-budget flicks it’s all set in one location with much more emphasis on characters rather than effects. (Although what is on screen is at times much more effective than many an over-budgeted CGI-fest I’ve seen.)

This was one of our “Audience Splitters”, it seemed. Many people loved the films’ escalating, slow-burn eeriness, yet detested the final scenes. Others (and I’m in this camp) found it a film that spent too long between the creepy bits, yet leapt a foot out of their seat at the climax. Even more interestingly, Steve Chow informed us that the final scene in question was a studio-demanded re-shoot. God only knows how the reputed “Big Twist” original ending would have gone down. (Of course, after the reaction to the finale of THE DESCENT, I think it might have played very well indeed with this crowd.)

Not my favourite film of the night, but kudos to the film-makers for getting it done. Enjoy your piles of cash, guys. You earned it.

(To avoid spoilers, there will be no Running Themes for this one. Hey, it’s my review, I’ll do what I like.)

PART 7: If This Movie Gets Any More Downbeat, It’ll Start Cutting Itself.
Sunday 01:55-MAIDENS OF FETISH STREET


Well, here we go, folks. With 10, 000 words under my belt, we have reached the Long Haul. The four-film run that made this the toughest Marathon I’ve been to. The self-flagellating Sexploitation Flick seemingly designed by the Catholic Church to put me off sex for life. The film that shut down all but one of my senses. The most demented horror compilation of the day-glo 80’s. And the movie that made me sit up and watch every frame, despite its’ instance of tossing the concept of a “Coherent Narrative” off a very tall building ten seconds after the opening titles. Strap it in folks, this is going to get Wahoonie-shaped pretty damn quick.

We kicked off this quad-fecta of remarkable cinema with a quick dive into the realm of the Filthy Raincoat Brigade. It actually had an even longer title than MAIDENS OF FETISH STREET, but our efforts to decipher the attached “Inspired by..” credit was thwarted by the overly-festive Circus Poster font. I’m sure most of us assumed we were about to watch a skinflick about sadomasochistic clowns. And while the actual given title is probably one of the two best of the night, I had a more accurate (and much, MUCH cruder) alternative name.

“The Incredible Adventures of the Unfuckable Mr. Nick”.

Yep, this is a stag film in which the main character is unable to get off with anyone, Even though every other person in the film is either a burlesque dancer or a prostitute. When you can’t even get your rocks off with someone you paid for that express purpose, something is seriously wrong.

But that’s really only the tip of the Wrongness Iceberg which the film sent floating into the path of our Titanic of Belief. Our male lead is Nick, a sweaty, overweight putz the likes of which seemed to constantly populate 60’s sleaze flicks. We watch as he flicks through filthy book, pervs at pre-liposuction burlesque dancers and in an admirably creepy flashback, propositions a youthful streetwalker he’s “been watching since she was a schoolgirl”. Yep, that’s something we DIDN’T need to know, Nick. And seriously, neither did she.

That little gem was one of the few lines we managed to get intact at the start of the film due to the massive amounts of clipping the print had. (I think the film was shot in Skip-o-Vision) Luckily it improved as we went along, as the narration of this film is a highlight. We had figured out by the time Schoolgirl-Turned-Ho was rejecting sweaty ol’ Nick that this was a sex film that considered sex a horrible, filthy thing. But as things progress the voice-over guy seemed to crawl inside a bottle of depression and drink his way to the bottom. By the time we had made it half-way through the flick, with the Omnipresent Narrator constantly busting out florid monologues about the unfathomable depths of societies depravity, I’d scrawled “This movie hates us!” in my notes.

Things took a turn for the weird as Nick began flashing back to other peoples memories. There’s a long, surreally-dubbed section involving an EVIL lesbian, artfully seducing an innocent. (Said seducing is of course cleverly disguised as artful posing for a sculptress.) The soundtrack goes batshit insane in this segment, mixing in animal sounds and heavy bass notes, along with the heaviest rainfall Foley I’ve ever heard. (I think I blurted out “STAMPEDE!” once the hammering sound effects hit their crescendo.)

The “Icky Factor” rises as Nick starts hanging out with a sadistic Grandma, making anyone who stayed awake to watch this flick as masochistic as Nick. There’s catfighting tossed into the mix, three-way spankings, the works. I’m not making it sound coherent, but there’s a reason for that. It ain’t. The movie just tosses as much mildly titillating depravity at us as possible, all the while chiding us via the voice-over for being part of the twisted, perverted majority of society that likes that kind of thing.

The best way I could describe this flick would be to ask you to imagine a porn film that flashes the words “ARE YOU GETTING OFF ON THIS, YOU SICK FUCK? YOU DISGUST ME!” every time someone starts boinking.

A brief, but crowded 55 minutes later (Yes, it’s that short. Despite the Marathoners who thought they watched that film for at LEAST 90 minutes. And probably longer.) the film even has the gargantuan amount of ballsack needed to turn the entire film into an hour-long dream sequence.

It was a short, but memorable trip. I thanked Ant afterwards for screening the only film in existence that could make even the thought of bare breasts not only boring, but also slightly depressing.

Well, for a day or two anyway.

Good Guys Smoking!: Yes, and I’m sure the voice-over guy wanted to tell us off for liking smoking.
Sexism: Oh, good God, yes.
Sweaty People: Our hero looks like Newman from Seinfeld. I’d call that a big yes.
Cool Hats: Not that I can recall, but things get hazy from here on in.
Betrayal: Our skinflick made me feel dirty. I consider that a betrayal, all right.
Cracking Dialogue: Cringeworthy dialogue abounds.
Horrific Leg Injuries: Not unless Nick forgets his Safety Word.
Mistreatment of the Differently Abled?: If they paid enough for it, Grammy Spankyoulots will mistreat them all night long.

CARDIO?: CATFIGHT! CATFIGHT!
DOUBLE-TAP?: The Narrator sounded on the verge of self-harm, yeah.
CHECK THE BACK SEAT?: Nope, but the rule about “Beware of Bathrooms” would fit in the burlesque club.

Skeeters’ Summary: Did we just watch Catholic Porn? I feel so… guilty.

Part 8: Windmills? CHARRRRGE!
Sunday 03:00-MILL OF THE STONE WOMEN.


This was the film pulled from the MGM Archive at short notice to replace the MIA [REC 2]. It was in Technicolor. It appeared to be from the 60’s, looking incredibly similar in style to last years THE TIME MACHINE, if slightly more… Scandinavian. It had windmills in it. Lots of them. Possibly the same one each time. I’m not really sure.

Shit man, I’m not sure about anything more specific than “A film was projected on the screen. It lasted more than ninety minutes and less than two hours. And there were windmills.”

I had hit the Wall. In fact the combination of my early start and that unexpected outbreak of jogging meant I hit the Wall so hard I think it fell on me. I watched an indeterminate amount of this film in a warm, fuzzy haze, the dialogue heading straight to my brains Recycle Bin without ever making a damn bit of sense. The fact that the film had been dubbed into English from either German or Dutch made my sense of dislocation even worse. Pretty soon I was face down on the arm of my seat, unable to process the films endless shots of windmills, the internal machinery of windmills and the rotating Animatronic Joan of Arc.

I don’t think I actually fell asleep at any stage. This was probably due to the fact that I was contorted into a series of painful Yoga poses by my seat the whole time. But by the time the credits rolled I was in the strangest headspace that the ‘Thon has ever sent me. I wasn’t really sure what was real and what was something I’d just watched. Steve Chow had stuck around for an extra flick and my back was singing The Hallelujah Chorus with full orchestra accompaniment from my shoulders. And there was one of the first and ONLY bad experiences I’ve had at the Marathon.

Bear with me, this could turn into a minor controversy. It’s about the dreaded subject of Background Noise.

Now as you may have noticed from my past reviews, there’s been plenty of films in the past that have induced riffing, bad puns and plenty of hooting and hollering. But in the last few years, the crowds have become a lot quieter, a lot more respectful of the lineup. Even the worst films are watched with very little audience participation. There’s also a lack of the chatting/texting/general douchebaggery that plagues multiplexes every time I go to a film. (Although Alistair did have someone behind him this year who flipped him off after he politely asked her to stop yakking about nothing mid-film.)

My problem is that we appear to be going too far the other way. We are, in fact, turning into Noise Nazis.

Here’s what happened. In my row was a first-timer, attending solo. He was obviously suffering from a bad cold and by 3AM he was on a hiding to nothing. From what I can gather, he must have started to pack up his stuff to head home. Abruptly, a Marathoner from the center section appeared out of nowhere and VICIOUSLY chewed him out for the heinous crime of rustling a plastic bag. No polite request to tone it down, no “please”, just a verbal spray from out of the dark. I was deep in the Twilight Zone, barely conscious of my surroundings, so this basically scared the shit out of me. Bad Cold Newbie left a few minutes later, as quietly as possible.

I was fucking furious.

Sure, it was a dialogue-heavy movie that needed all the concentration you could muster at this stage of the night. Yes, 90% of the crowd was probably napping, magnifying the noise somewhat. But I was sitting right next to the guy and never ever registered the “noise” he was apparently making. There is ways and means of dealing with crowd noise, and that wasn’t fucking it. Do I think that guy will come back for another Marathon? I probably wouldn’t, if that had happened to me back in ’02.

Even worse, once the light came up after the film, I saw WHY he had been rustling… the floor was littered with used tissues, which he had been trying to clean up. Thanks to the dipwad from the middle section, guess who got to clean those up? Cherie had anti-bacterial hand cleanser, but I’m still battling a cold as I type this.

To compound this, as the next film kicked off, I heard Ant shush someone for rustling a chip packet.

Fuck me. Why don’t we just put on our black berets and hang about a coffee shop discussing the Nietzsche-esque themes of TROLL 2?

We’re in there for 24 hours. We’re tired, we’re hungry and yes, chip packets rustle. I love the Marathon, but I don’t want to have to stay statue-still for 24 hours in case I annoy someone with my ambient noise. When Cherie and I exchange our minor witticisms, we do it so quietly these days that I doubt even the row in front of us can hear a thing. If someone in the future barks “Do you have to rustle that chip packet?” at me, my answer will be the same no matter who asks the question. ”Yes, because I can’t get them to teleport to my stomach. Chill out, mofo.”

In short, be respectful of your fellow cinemagoers. Even if you think THEY’RE the ones being dickish.

Rant Over.

And so, as we got ready to roll into one of the Marathons’ “Holy Grail” films, I was disorientated, angry, tired and sore. All I wanted was to find a dark corner and curl up in it for a few days. This was going to take something serious to get me through the night.

Thank God the Hollywood snack bar serves Jelly-Tip Trumpets.

Part 9: Who Let the Editors of “Readers Digest” Make a Movie?
Sunday, 04:50-NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR


Steve had vacated the premises after STONE WOMEN finished, so I gratefully claimed his beanbag. Cherie had slept through the last flick, so I was pretty sure she wouldn’t miss any of my witty (and whispered) banter in the stalls. I pulled a blankie over me, certain I was going to crash out the moment the film started no matter how strange it was.

I underestimated how insane the film was going to be by a factor of about 10,000. NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR is the Bellvue Asylum of horror compilation flicks. I used the term “batshit insane” a lot, I know. This is an entire fertilizer warehouse full of guano, crammed into a tiny, tiny sack.

Basically, what we have here is three uncompleted (at the time, at least… I’ve been told two were eventually finished) horror flicks, chopped down enough to fit in one film. They’re book ended and separated by a joyously ridiculous concept. A train is racing through the Stock Footage countryside, and who should be on board but no less than God and Satan. The two are discussing who gets the passengers souls when the train derails itself in around eighty minutes time. And so, they’ll tell stories of the passengers, allowing the producers to splice in the cheaply-purchased footage.

But that wasn’t enough for whoever wrote this linking footage. They felt like they needed something else. Something like… an wildly out-of-left-field Musical Number! In fact, the most bizarrely misplaced number since we did the Rooster. (You remember, we moved our head like a Rooster. Back and forth like a Rooster!) It’s performed by a youthful dance troupe that’s so enthusiastic the cops would automatically drug test them if they arrived at a checkpoint these days. They’re decked out on eye-scarring 80’s Neon Fashions and are led by the whitest break-dancer in America. (Who was scarily close to being a Corey Haim look-alike, to boot.) Supposedly, they’re on the train as well. This is very believable. Because I firmly believe that Amtrack builds it’s railway carriages to resemble flimsy mock-ups of someone’s drawing room, you see.

They perform one musical number, the chorus of which is “Everybody’s got something to do/But you!”. (I’ll admit I heard it as “Everybody’s got something to do/So fuck you!” for quite some time. Blame it on the sleep deprivation, I guess.) Of course, because it’s such an awesome song and probably to extend the running time, they do something like four encores, singing that damn song after every story ends. The juxtaposition (Ooh, film-school words!) of the cut-down flicks graphic, bloody violence and the insanely upbeat musical numbers was friggin’ hilarious. God and Satan even bicker over who gets the “Rock Band”s souls once the train goes ka-boom. I’d have to give them to Satan. They could play that song for eternity and make all of the other Condemned Souls REALLY miserable.

The kicker is that AFTER the train explodes, (leading to hilarity as the group lies around the set in ridiculous “I’m dead” poses) they COME BACK for a final curtain call! I thought Jeff Healey was resilient, but even DEATH can’t stop these kids from rockin’ the fuck out!

The stories themselves are wildly diverse. The opening segment is a sadistic slasher set in a hospital, starring Richard “Bull from Night Court” Moll. (With hair, no less!) It must have been nearly completed, as the editing to get the “good bits” on the film is so rapid-fire it’s likely to cause seizures. We’re talking MOULIN ROUGE-like pacing, folks. In fact, in their haste to get every stabbing, molesting and lobotmising on screen, they only cut out two things. One, the plot and two, any indication of who any of the characters are.

The middle third was pretty brief, obviously only partially filmed and memorable only for having six people cheer for a character actor no-one else in the cinema recognised (me included) and lacking an ending. God even had to add narration to fill in the many missing gaps in the plot. Whatever it was.

The final, lengthiest segment “The Death Club” is campy as hell. And also has Richard Moll in it. I was starting to flake again, and spent most of this one giving myself Atomic Neck Snaps as I fought sleep. I think I’ll have to hunt this one down at some stage. It’ll probably make no more sense than it did at 5AM, but I’d kill to have that musical number on a Mixtape.


Good Guys Smoking!: The only good guys were God and the band. And the band was smoooook-in’!
Sexism: More like discrimination of the Criminally Suicidal.
Sweaty People: You dance for 9 hours in a railway carriage, you’ll raise a sweat, too.
Cool Hats: Yes. Well, funky headbands, really. Not to mention Electro-Death Caps!
Betrayal: Satan’s a main character. It’s what he does.
Cracking Dialogue: Cracking lyrics.
Horrific Leg Injuries: Horrific EVERYTHING injuries.
Mistreatment of the Differently Abled?: Lobotomised people count as “differently abled”, yeah? Then yes.

CARDIO?: “We’re in Nebraska! Yay! Now let’s sing this song and dance all the way to Chicago!”
DOUBLE-TAP?: More like “Double-Zap”.
CHECK THE BACK SEAT?: The back seat was edited out in the rush to show Richard Moll cutting someone’s arm off.

Skeeters’ Summary: This movie is gruesome, idiotic and as camp as a row of little pink tents. Stupidly fun flick.
Skeeter

The 2009 Vendetta Movie Marathon Review, Part 3

Part 10: THE INEVITABLE RETURN OF INTERSTELLAR JESUS!
Sunday, 0630-THE VISITOR


It was pretty much light outside, so Ant checked in with Café Whare Kai to see if they were ready for the nerd-slaught. They were not. We pressed on for one more film, most of us probably assuming the hard yards were over. My stomach, however, decided to protest its deplorable lack of hot food. To satiate the growling beast I unpacked my breakfast rations. Two Weet-bix, already sugared. A cleverly chilled container of milk. A… wait a second.

Damn it. Forgot the spoon.

One quick trip to the candy counter later and I was soon attempting to eat breakfast cereal with a fork. (Not a spoon to be found, of course.) Thank God I didn’t pack cornflakes, it would have gotten messy.

I remained in my buttock-saving Beanbag of Comfort for the next film. (Probably much to the relief of my row-mates in the stalls. My legendary hyper-activeness between films had already resulted in more than a few stepped-on feet.) I wasn’t sure how I might fare during this film. My mind-haze from STONE WOMEN was gone, but I had suffered a good case of the Atomic Neck Snaps during NIGHT TRAIN. Wake up, you frigging pussy!

The film started. Drifting clouds, 70’s special effects, a desert. Oh, man, an art film. I’ll never stay awake for this.

And then, the music kicked in.

And with that, I was wide awake.

Imagine an ear-splitting, bass-heavy fanfare suitable for the entrance of the worlds most over-the-top wrestler. Now imagine the composer going. “It’s good, but it needs a little disco!”. Whoa, baby… I guess I know what’s going to be the opening track of next years Mixtape!

I’m so glad that theme woke me right the hell up, because THE VISITOR was by far my favourite of the “old films” that screened in ’09. Which is pretty high praise, considering it doesn’t make a lick of sense from beginning to end. For a starter, it’s a 90-minute American version of an 104-minute Italian flick called STRIDULUM. Losing 15 minutes of a film means cutting a few non-important scenes, of course. The non-important scene they apparently sliced out was the pre-credits sequence which EXPLAINED THE PLOT!

Instead, we go from funky dreamlike desert, to thundering theme, to watching an evil child make a basketball hoop explode for no reason one second before the end of a game, all in about five minutes of screen-time. (Presumably the kid had bet the farm on the other team. Still seems a little public for an all-encompassing evil, though.) I’d like to go into deep details of the film, but I’m not even sure I could sum up the plot, especially a week after the screening. To try and get across the experience of watching this, I’d suggest getting a high fever, popping some extra-strength Codral and then having someone play a montage of scenes from THE OMEN, THE DARK HALF, THE BAD SEED, an NBA game and oh, what the hell, 2001: A SPACE ODDESY. While playing two CDs, one of disco, the other of a brass band.

Yep, it’s one of those types of films. One where I’ll just list things I remember from the film in a vague approximation of the order they occurred. Or that I remember that they occurred. Or that I think occurred, but could possibly have been a hallucination caused by too much sugar.

**Ooh, solarized desert scene! Is this a MAD MAX rip-off?
**Shouldn’t he be on a horse with no name?
**DAH! Dah-dah-dah-dah-DAH! DAH-DAH!! *wacka-chicka bass*
**Hold on, now it’s MAXIMUM HANGTIME: THE MOVIE!
**If that’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar then claim my God-given right to crack AIRPLANE jokes.
**We haven’t seen that family film yet. Maybe this is just a weird , arty Directors Cut of AIR BUD?
**Oh look, a cute pre-teen girl. There’s no way SHE could be evil.
**”He’s on fire!”. Almost literally, she made the damn hoop explode in his face!
**Oh, Lord, this movie is set in the Upper Polyester Era. Right after the Golden Age of Wood-Panelling.
**John Huston as Inter-dimensional Grandpa Seth!
**Fun Fact: Microsoft Word tried to auto correct my misspelling of the word “Inter-dimensional” as One-Dimensional. Everyone’s a critic.
**1970’s Architecture: We have seen the future and it’s blocky and made of slabs of concrete.
**The Visitor arrives on top of a huge office building. That’s one way to avoid the line at Customs.
**Also appearing at the top of the Skyscraper: Never-Introduced Man! I assume your speaking parts were deemed “time-consuming” and snipped from the film.
**He’s being assisted by a Modern Dance Troupe, from Spaaaaaaaace!
**Lance Henriksen! Yayy! *Kermit arms*
**Lance looks confused about something. He must have read the script.
**Actually, Lance looks confused about things for the entire movie. Much like the B-Movie Crew did.
**Hmm, Lance Henriksen boinking. Scratch another of the Things I Never Needed to See off the list. At least it’s arty and abstract.
**Lance tries to persuade Mrs. Lance to have another baby. Why, how many things do you have that need to be blown up, Lance?
**Cutesy-Evil-Moppet Kid (CEMK for short) plays Pong on a 50-inch screen. You can practically count the pixels.
**Lance gets summoned to the World Evilness Council. They too want Mrs. Lance to prep the oven for a bun. Geez, there won’t be a basketball hoop left in the country.
**Hey, there’s a smidgen of exposition happening! Too bad my brain is just turning it into a happy stream of soothing sounds. Oh well, I’m sure it’ll become clear soon.
**Or not.
**”Mrs. Lance won’t have another baby with which we can [take over/destroy/some other thing that was lost in the editing/] the world? I have a great idea! Let’s cripple her” Genius!
**Wait, what was that again?
**The Visitor mysteriously appears at CEMKs’ birthday party. It’s a sad reflection on today’s society that a kindly old gentleman hiding in the foliage and peering intently at a schoolgirl can elicit lecherous chuckles from a crowd.
**I just re-read that last sentence. The defence withdraws the statement.
**CEMK opens her birthday present. It used to be a ugly-as-sin ornamental bird, now it’s a handgun. Well, she does have a Texas accent, so I’m only surprised they waited until she was ten to give her her first piece..
**Mommy takes a slug to the spinal cord. I bet she’s just RARING to have a baby now!
**”You’re watching General(lly a bit confusing) Hospital!”
**Oddly, there’s a bit of a gap between CEMK popping a cap in Mommy Dearest and anyone actually commenting on it. Of course it is the 70’s, so maybe everyone needed their downers to wear off first.
**Back on the roof, The Visitor and his Mime Troupe from Beyond the Stars construct what appears to be a badly-aimed solar panel. Good to see our God Figure is environmentally conscious.
**Enter the Grizzled Cop character. He gets a funky Interrogation Montage. Visually, this movie is rocking. Plot-wise, my brain is doing the same thing.
**Grizzled Cop later tries to winkle some information out of CEMK. I can’t have been the only one hoping he’d slap her around like the 50’s cops in THE SECERET FOUR.
**Or grab her by the neck and scream “LOOK AT HER!” like the cops in VICE SQUAD.
**CEMK sasses the cop and implies he’s a kiddie-fiddler. You’re not helping endear yourself to this audience, movie.
**Mrs. Lance has had a chairlift installed on the stairs in her house. The stairs are typically stylish for the1970’s, meaning they are just stairs with no handrail. Gunshot or no gunshot, getting paralysed was probably inevitable in that household.
**Mrs. Lance needs a sensible, calming housemaid now. So why not hire Shelly Winters! (Because we’ve all seen her in THE POSIDEON ADVENTURE, right?)
**More shots of people playing Pong. Must have been before they invented those high-tech consoles that played Pong, Pong Hockey AND Tanks Warfare With Tanks That Kinda Look Like Pong Paddles. (I can’t really complain, I played the hell out of Atari Adventure… you know, the one where your character was a square holding an arrow.)
**Grizzled Cop hits the freeway. Only to be attacked by CEMKs’ pet falcon. Did I mention she had a bird of prey? I’m sure I did. Really? Must have been edited out of the final cut of this review.
**Grizzled Cop reacts to his unexpected brush with his Avian Assassin by slamming the gas pedal to the floor and playing dodgems with the traffic. As you do.
**Man, this highway looks very familiar. I expect to see Jake and Elwood going the other way any second now.
**Grizzled Cop almost crashes into a crowd of amateur sportsmen. What does this movie have against the physically fit?
**Exit Grizzled Cop in a fireball. These days someone would have captured that on a cell phone and sent it to “Worlds Scariest Police-Being-Attacked-By-Wildlife Chases”.
**Earlier, CEMK demonstrated her excellent gymnastics. Now she’s an expert Ice Skater. If she didn’t have the potential to destroy the world, she’d be on a Wheaties box by the time she was 16.
**CEMK runs afoul of Ice-Skating Bullies! Great, I’m getting flashbacks to BATMAN AND ROBIN. Bad movie!
**It’s rare that a movie can set a glass-smashing action scene in a shopping mall skating rink filled with children. But this is the best one I’ve ever seen.
**Well, she may cause mayhem, chaos and serves back trauma to everyone around her, but at least she’s happy and upbeat about the whole thing.
**Seriously, I’ve never seen anyone having that much fun while sending five people to the hospital. Of course, I’ve never met any L.A cops.
**The Visitor shows up at CEMK’s place, claiming to be from a babysitting agency. Let’s see that be a believable plot development these days.
**Wait, The Visitor and Shelly Winters know each other? Explain how, movie.
**Fine, don’t. Be that way.
**Mrs. Lance is possibly pregnant! I think. Everything’s starting to blur into one huge morass of plot that is failing to fire the correct neurons in my over-tired brain.
**Crap, now it’s just symbolism an meaningless words. I’m going back into STONE MILL state! Time to chug a V.
**Oh, nuts. That was a Black V. I just drank enough caffeine and sugar to reanimate the dead.
**It’s all gone pear-shaped for the Lance Family. Shelly Winters hits full-on Banshee Acting mode. The Visitor has finished his Inter-Dimensional Runway. Lance and CEMK are going to whack Mrs. Lance in the most convoluted way they can think of. (I knew that chairlift would come back to haunt her!) The Visitor to the rescue! Birds, birds, birds! Where are these fucking birds coming from? Most of the cast dies, world saved, Cutesy-Evil-Moppet-Kid becomes Bald-Happy-Kid as she’s welcomed into the loving arms of Interstellar Hippy Jesus, the end.
**Man, that Black V is good.

Good Guys Smoking!: This movie had good guys? I know grizzled cop was a Family-Sized Bucket of Bad Habits, however.
Sexism: “Women should be barefoot, pregnant AND paralysed from the waist down. Now wheel yourself into the kitchen and make me dinner, woman!”
Sweaty People: Not from memory, although by this stage of the night, who knows?
Cool Hats: Every cop needs his film-noir hat.
Betrayal: Thy name is Lance.
Cracking Dialogue: Mind-cracking.
Horrific Leg Injuries: Back-cracking.
Mistreatment of the Differently Abled?: You read the summary, right? Yes, yes and yes.

CARDIO?: She skates, she does gym, she’ll play Pong for days!
DOUBLE-TAP?: Eagle-attack to car crash to immolation. A Triple-tap!
CHECK THE BACK SEAT?: Where else did Evil the Eagle come from?

Interlude: Sunday, 0800-ish-BREAKFAST!


With everyone suitably messed up by THE VISITOR, we broke for breakfast. After last years “Last Guy in Line” trick that saw me miss part of DYING BREED, I hightailed it out across the road. I was still half-way back in the line. Damn, nerds can move FAST when they’re hungry! I hadn’t bother to bust out the camera, so I was able to have a good chat with an attendee who was up from Wellington. Mainly about how THE VISITOR and last years DESPERATE LIVING tried to break our brains.

Whare Kai’s tiny kitchen coped a little better this year, mainly due to their new super-express five-buck menu. Which I suspect was rolled out that morning on a one-hour trial period. Somewhat fortified by my cereal I took advantage of their al-fresco Sausage-inna-bun stall they’d also set up for us. $2.50 worth of pig parts wrapped in bread later and I was heading back to the Hollywood, set for the final push.

By this stage there had been no major breakdowns, just a number of minor ones. But by the B-Movie Crews calculations we were probably not going to break the 14-film record this year, even with the extra hour. But unless one of the final four films was an epic, we’d easily equal it.

I relinquished Steve’s beanbag as he’d returned during breakfast, reclaiming my stall seat. There had been no can-stacking/breakdancing/kung-fu contests this year, so we were straight back into it. Our last premiere was on the way!

Part 11: M-yatt Damon!
Sunday, 0900-ish-THE INFORMANT!


Can I just say right off the bat that I loved that exclamation mark in the title? It gave the film an air of confidence before we’d even watched any of it. It’s also the first title
like that we’ve seen since TOP SECRET! My notes actually call it “The Insider”, so I must have been still a little dopey at the start of the film. My torch once again stopped working at this point. I’ll have to replace it for next year.

THE INFORMANT! is a slow-burn comedy, based on true events from the 90’s. It stars Matt Damon, already a Marathon Hero after his appearance-by-proxy in TEAM AMERICA. It’s not a film full of constant laugh-out-loud hilarity, but there’s plenty to like about it. The dialogue sizzles away nicely, slowly ramping up the humour level through the running time. The performances are solid throughout, everyone seems to be having fun and Matt Damon rocks the bad moustache.

Did I like it? Yep, good watch.

Did I love it? Nah, felt like the type of flick I used to half-watch on Sky TV in the last few years. Only intelligently written and less likely to make me fall asleep. Hell, this was interesting enough to finally help me shake off the last of my lethargy and set me up for the rest of the day.

But as you can tell, I really have nothing interesting to say about THE INFORMANT! So go see it yourself, make your own opinion and let’s move along. That way I can stop padding this bloated, rambling review and do something important.

Running Themes? I’ll get back to you after the DVD comes out.

Part 12: Less Snacking, More Tracking!
Sunday 10:40-CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE


I headed over to the Beanbag section one last time. Squeezing through the assorted debris of the last twenty hours, I took my now-traditional one-film position in the side-on seats that had been pushed aside to make room for the floor-monkeys. I have no idea why, but those chairs are a lot softer and better on my back than the one in the stalls. There’s just no way I could watch the entire show from there these days. (I spent a good chunk of the ’07 show in a side-seat, but my neck bitched about it for days afterwards.)

By this stage it looked like the rumoured Family Film had been ditched. But from the opening scenes of marshland and woods, we were back in familiar territory here. Yes, it was the welcome return of the Bigfoot Flick.

Okay, kind of welcome. Ant loves programming them, and the crowd goes nuts once it starts, but long-timers like me always view them with a certain amount of trepidation. Just because of the fact that so many Bigfoot films (especially the 70;s documentaries) can be… well, pretty dull. LEGEND OF BIGFOOT was probably the worst culprit, but was of course made up for it by becoming one of the most-heckled films since the Marathon started. (If it had screened this year, the anti-noise brigade would have made it a soul-crushing chore to sit through.) The upside is that the non-boring ones can be goofy as all get out, doubly so if the Sasquatch costume is a little on the threadbare side. Which route was this example of the genre take?

Right down the middle, actually. It’s a drama, so we could expect a huge reduction in stock footage shots of startled-looking wildlife. Although I still wonder what happened to Squeaky the Mutilated Squirrel. Remarkably enough it was in Cinemascope, being our widest, lushest and due to its age, faded-to-green-est print of the night. The actors would never make the cover of “Beautiful People” magazine, but their acting is serviceable enough for their roles. Hell, it even has Jack Elam in the flick, bringing us full circle from his role as Googly-Eyed Pete in THE FOUR SECERETS. (Here I referred to him as Joe “Eyeballs” von Redneck.) The Bigfoot costume, while much, MUCH lankier than most Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) is well-made. There’s really only one flaw with the flick.

Fuck-all Bigfoot in this Bigfoot film.

Whoa, stop the presses. I’m typing this out in my living room with a trailer compilation playing in the background for atmosphere. I heard a familiar voice, looked up and did a double take. It was a super-short video promo for CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE. Thanks for the wacky coincidence, TRAILAMANIA!

But as I was saying, there is a serious lack of Bigfoot in CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE. After not one, but TWO lengthy scenes of the cast at mealtimes, I dubbed the film “Dinner at Black Lake”. Most of the film is spent following a couple of college kids (Well, pretty old “kids”, but we’ll roll with it.) as they wander around the backwoods of Yokelsville, annoying the natives with their wilful and persistent Damn Yankee-ness. Occasionally we’ll get a glimpse of a hairy paw or leg to keep us interested, but for the most past the big guy plays it pretty coy.

Afterwards, Andrew and I formulated a theory that there was a law in the 1970’s mandating that all Bigfoot movies could contain no more than 5% Bigfoot footage. Presumably so as to preserve the mystique of the fabled “Skunk-Ape”, as this movie rather unkindly dubbed him at one stage. Another example would be Charles B. Pierces’ BEAST OF BOGGY LAKE series. Lots of investigation, a few stories about Bigfoot attacks we don’t get to watch, and finally a guy in a fursuit getting a brief cameo before we end without learning a damn thing about Sasquatch.

But is it boring? Not really. Quite entertaining, really. Bigfoot may have been a sub-plot in his own movie, but watching our Heroes lock horns with the Redneck Sheriff and his Hot Daughter was pretty fun. I took a lot of notes on the film, but most seem fascinated with the films minor details. The included:

TARDIS TENT: A reference to the way four people could spread out in what appeared to be a two man tent. As if they were, I don’t know, just sitting outside with a tarpaulin stretched out behind them.
SILLY BEACH HAT: A jab at one of the Yankee college boys unfortunate choice in headgear.
SHO’NUFF!: This piece of home-spun Redneck-ese was cheered by one of last years attendees.
35-CENT APPLE PIES!: I had wondered why Jack Elam’s character got very accommodating for a $25 bribe earlier in the film. But who’s going to turn down 70 apple pies!
CHICKEN GUMP!: A reference to one characters unexpected listing of all the things you could do with chicken. Being many years before THE DEVILS REJECTS, fucking them wasn’t one of them.
QUICK-SAC: I’ll admit, I have no idea what this is in reference to. I must have thought it was important at the time.
THE GAY CROSSBOW ENSEMBLE: And then I went clinically insane, apparently.

Good Guys Smoking!: I honestly can’t recall. It was the 70’s, so it’s probable.
Sexism: Not overtly, although our College Boys were drooling hornbags.
Sweaty People: Redneck Sheriffs always look a little moist.
Cool Hats: See note about seriously un-cool fashions.
Betrayal: Not specifically, but never trust a Damn Yankee, y’hear?
Cracking Dialogue: More like Cracker Dialogue. I tell y’whut!
Horrific Leg Injuries: There was some lower-leg abuse near the end of the film.
Mistreatment of the Differently Abled?: Nada.

CARDIO?: Who needs good cardio when you just sit around, eat chicken and drink beer all night?
DOUBLE-TAP?: This film doesn’t have much of a body-count, so it’s never needed.
CHECK THE BACK SEAT?: Better to check the Backwoods.

Skeeters’ Summary: A solid if unremarkable Sasquatch flick. I’ll take that over “Tragically Dull”, frankly.

PART 13: The Movie NO-ONE Turns Off Before the Credits Stop Rolling!
Sunday, 1200-ish. (I think)-HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF.


As you can tell, my notes have gone a little screwy, time-wise. It was probably later than that, but who could tell by then. Ant had one of the Marathon Crew intro this film, as the guy inquestion had been bugging Ant to play it for the last ten shows. Having seen this once before, I’m just wondering why it took Ant so long to cave in. It’s an absolute classic of B-Grade Horror, salvaged from true turkey-hood by the ever-imposing presence of Christopher F’n Lee. He delivers his usual top-notch performance, never half-assing it despite the abject sillyness of the script. (The man can act, but man he’s chosen more than a few shitty flicks to appear in. A guys gotta eat, I suppose.)

Of course, Sir Chris’s ACT-ing is balanced out by our leading man, the huge slab of walking Man-Beef that is Reb Brown. I’m pretty sure Reb was an ex-football player, and he cuts an imposing figure, standing at least six-four. Amazingly, Christopher Lee is an inch taller than him, leaving our somewhat more diminutive leading lady looking like a girl playing “Actress” with her two rather disparate Uncles. Reb is also somewhat less a skilled thespian than Christopher Lee. I told Cherie to watch for the Reb Brown Acting Technique of “Acting with your chest” in this flick. (Although unlike SPACE MUTINY Reb doesn’t get to wear a tank-top. He instead acts with his massive jaw.)

The REAL star of this film is in fact Sybil Danning, however. She plays the centuries-old leader of the films werewolf pack. (Who are holed up in Transylvania. Hey, you got Vampire Mythology in my Werewolf Flick!) She’ll be a Marathon favourite for years to come, due to the long and ludicrous, Lycanthropic Three-way she initiates soon after her revival to the land of the living. Sybil got a good reaction for ripping off her top for the camera. That reaction was magnified exponentially at the end of the flick, as the credits show a few highlights of the film. And by “highlights” I mean “Hey, let’s replay Sybil ripping her top off SEVENTEEN TIMES!”. Trust me, our section was counting along with each jubbly-flash. You’re all class, Mr Director.

The film itself mixes the usual amounts of werewolf-ery with plenty of campy nonsense. (The sneaky-as-hell werewolf that manages to ambush Reb in a tiny compact car scores big Awesome Points for me.) There’s a heroic midget, which is always the sign of a good film and exploding eyeballs, which is the sign of a GREAT flick. The Eastern European location shooting adds an air of authenticity, while also ensuring that the film could be made for bugger all cash. (A trick now known as ‘The Sci-Fi Original Movie Approach.’)

This film is a delight for lovers of sub-par horrors, and is by all accounts far from being the worst Howling film. That dubious honour goes to HOWLING: NEW MOON RISING, which is apparently the only werewolf movie in which the creature has less screen-time than the non-acting, real-life inhabitants of the small town in which the film was shot.

NoT to mention that this was supposed to be the only print on existence, struck last year for the Alamo Drafthouse. Now, can anyone find HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS for 2010?

Good Guys Smoking!: Reb’s too much of a fitness freak to pollute his lungs.
Sexism: Relatively little, really.
Sweaty People: It’s too cold in Romania to sweat, surely.
Cool Hats: Plenty of funky Black Mass headgear.
Betrayal: This theme looked dead. Until the final film, that is.
Cracking Dialogue: Christopher Lee can make even the stupidest script sound good.
Horrific Leg Injuries: Legs, arms, jugulars, eyeballs…
Mistreatment of the Differently Abled?: The League For Equal Heights wants a word about the dwarf-mutilating. (Okay, no more Discworld references, I promise.)

CARDIO?: Reb probably pumps iron between takes.
DOUBLE-TAP?: Fun Fact: Some werewolves are dangerously unstable. BOOM!
CHECK THE BACK SEAT?: Probably should have, yeah.

We had one last break before Ant screened the finalists and Grand Prize winner of a “Marathon Trailer” contest he’d run this year. I made one, but practically begged Ant not to screen it. My total lack of filming or edit skills meant I simply filmed five clips of the TV with a behind-the-camera voiceover and pasted it together with Windows Moviemaker. You can actually pick the point where I realise how bad this was going to be by the way the voiceover suddenly sounds bored.

This reminds me, I’ll be deleting that piece of shit off of Youtube tomorrow morning.

And so, we were at the Big Finale. The Fan Favourite. And according to Ant, the most-requested film of the last ten years. Let me guess, BREAKIN’ 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO?

Nope. Then it must be…

PART 14: Enough Testosterone to Make the Organist Grow a Beard!
SUNDAY, 1500-ish-COMMANDO.


Newsflash. I am an enormous Geek.

The film started, A garbage truck rolls over the horizon. There was a murmur from some parts of the crowd, but I was the one who screamed “IT’S COMMANDO! AWESOME!” about 12 seconds in.

Hardly surprising, seeing as I watch this film at least once a year, probably twice, and have done since I was about 16. In fact, I recall watching it with the same Church Youth Group that saw VIDEODROME thanks to me. (At a Video Night sleepover, where I was the last one left awake by 4AM. I started this shit young, folks.) Much like THE THING, this is just like having an old friend pop in to see us at the end of a long day. Only this one’s packing a bazooka.

The crowd dug it big-time. We laughed, we hooted, we gave one of the biggest collective cheers I’ve ever heard for Arnies’ “tooled-up” movie-poster pose. Nutzoid villain Bennett was applauded every time he got off a good line, and induced the only public crack of the night. (A beautifully timed “Chopper” reference from the middle section. If that was Red-Haired Grumpy Dude, you’re partially forgiven.)

The volume was high, but better balanced this year, more bassy than the ear-shattering audio of ’08. Our eardrums were driven back into our skulls in the final few reels, Arnies’ one-man assault a deafening, pulse-pounding, thrill ride.

I found out afterwards that Steve Austin slept through the film. Dude, you are SO on my shit-list for that. Next time you’re over for a Bad Movie Afternoon, I’m busting out a Stephen Seagal film. You’ve been warned.

Good Guys Smoking!: Arnie don’t smoke. He does eat ice-cream and kick ass.
Sexism: Yes, which is tough seeing as there’s only two females with major speaking roles in the whole film.
Sweaty People: Everywhere.
Cool Hats: Military caps abound.
Betrayal: Bennett is THE best exponent of betrayal in the 80’s.
Cracking Dialogue: I think most of us could quote this film from memory.
Horrific Leg Injuries: What do YOU think?
Mistreatment of the Differently Abled?: Unless they were part of the collateral damage, I didn’t see any.

CARDIO?: It’s an Arnie movie, take a guess.
DOUBLE-TAP?: It’s an Arnie movie, take a guess.
CHECK THE BACK SEAT?: You could, but Arnie would probably rip it out anyway.

Skeeters’ Summary: Arnie will be back. In my VCR at least once before the ’10 Marathon. Superb.

And so, after an action-packed 80-odd minutes, we were all done for another year. It was a little after twenty-past four as we emerged into the daylight for a 48-Hours Forum group photo on the steps of the Hollywood. Cherie had stayed for the final film this year and offered me a lift. Not being able to raise Dawn (Mum had taken her and Aiden to an art show my aunt was exhibiting it) I chose to stick around with the slowly dissipating crowd. This did allow me to snag a couple of leftover cans of V off Ant while “helping” him pack them away. They got me through work the next day. But only just.

Right at that stage though, I was wired. The testosterone overdose of COMMANDO had woken me up good and proper, making me want to stop at a video store on the way home to try and find THE RUNNING MAN for a “warm-down” flick. In the end it’s lucky I didn’t. I was awake enough to order Chinese food on the way home, (but mindfucked enough to mess up my bankcards PIN twice in the process) and stayed awke long enough to try to get the kid to bed, but I was starting to flag badly. Then, as I watched, Aiden faceplanted in his cot, did a powerlifter squat and stood up unassisted for the first time. (Or what I thought was the first time… Dawn said he was doing it the night before.) This little toddler-triumph proceeded to wake me back up again. (A couple of days later I also managed to trick a super-tired A.C into taking his first two wobbly steps by holding his sippy-cup just out of reach.)

But that was the last hurrah as far as my stamina went. I could only manage to watch a single episode of TOP GEAR, and even that was occasionally interrupted by my eyelids, before aiming my face in the general direction of my pillow at 8:30PM.

It had been a long 36 hours. That I’d gladly do again.

Well, except for that hour with all the jogging.

THE FINAL THOUGHTS


Tough year for me this time. It felt like a strong, diverse line-up of the familiar and the obscure, but that 2AM-breakfast stretch turned my brain into tapioca pudding. I was physically and mentally off-kilter for most of the show, didn’t bring enough solid food to stave off the 4AM munchies and had to roll out of bed at 7am to work 12 consecutive hours over two jobs the next day. I’ve spent a frustrating fortnight(!) trying to find enough hours in the day to write this review, sometimes staring at the screen for minutes at a time trying to remember what the hell happened in what order. Like I said, tough year.

I had a great time.

Let’s face it, if it was easy, what’d be the point in going? I’ve told dozens of people about the marathon over the years. Not one of them thought they could do it. I wear the fact that I’ve spent the last eight years getting royally brain-raped by Ants bottomless wealth of cinematic mayhem as a badge of Filmhead honour. And long may it continue.

Now, let’s get ready to start the next decade, shall we?

THE THANK YOUS


To all the usual suspects, Ant and his crew, the Hollywood, our three-man projection team and Margaret the Queen of the Wurlitzer, I thank you. To my family, thanks for letting me indulge my nerdity once again. And to the directionally-challenged Bakery Lady, let me just say… thanks for a pretty good lamington.

Nov. 1st, 2009

Skeeter

The 2009 Vendetta Marathon Mixtape Tracklist.

The 2009 Vendetta Marathon Mix-Mixed by Skeeter.
1) Wurlitzer Intro
2) Superfly TNT-Radio Spot
3) The Hell Raisers-(“Something Weird”Theme)
4) The Last Dragon
5) Children of Dune-Summon the Worms
6) They Live-Coming to L.A
7) Love Gun-KISS-(From “Role Models”)
8) Nurses For Sale-Radio Spot
9) Grindhouse-Main Theme
10) Come What May (Remix)-(From “Moulin Rouge”)
11) The Black Gestapo-Main Titles
12) Hell Up in Harlem-Radio Spot
13) Speed-Main Titles
14) Still in Hollywood-(From “The Hidden”)
15) Intermission
16) Transformers-Autobots
17) Underground-(From “Labyrinth”)
18) Hang ‘em High-Main Titles
19) 1408-Waking Up in L.A
20) We Live to Rock (Let’s Tune Our Weapons)-(From “Rock & Roll Nightmare”)
21) The Holy Mountain-Eye of the Beholder
22) The Green Slime-Main Theme
23) Hot Shots!-Main Titles
24) The Crawling Thing/Creature of Evil-Radio Spot
25) Mad Max 2-End Titles
26) Togther in Electric Dreams-(From “Electric Dreams”)
27) Requiem For a Dream-Theme (Remix)

Aug. 13th, 2009

Skeeter

The V Movie Marathon Review Collection.

The 2002 V Movie Marathon: 9 Hours, 5 films, no sleep.

The 2003 V Movie Marathon: 8 Hours, 5 and-a-half Films, No Hasslehof.

The 2004 V Movie Marathon, Part 1: 24 Hours, 13 Films and the best Puppet Sex Scene ever.
The 2004 V Movie Marathon, Part 2: These reviews are going to get really long, huh?

The 2005 V Movie Marathon, Part 1: 24 Hours, 12 Films, 1 Flipped Reel.
The 2005 V Movie Marathon, Part 2: BREAKIN'!


The 2006 V Movie Marathon, Part 1: 24 Hours, 13 Films and a long talk with George Hardy
The 2006 V Movie Marathon, Part 2: Featuring The WORST MOVIE EVER MADE. Only, not really that bad.
The 2006 V Movie Marathon, Part 3: Hi, George!

The 2007 V Movie Marathon, Part 1
: 24 Hours, 12 Films and a Maimed Squirrel
The 2007 V Movie Marathon, Part 2
: Movie 3 Does Not Exist. Move Along.
The 2007 V Movie Marathon, Part 3: EXTREME MIDGET F-----G!

The 2008 V Movie Marathon, The Prologue: 24 Hours, 14 Films and very few bathroom breaks.
The 2008 V Movie Marathon, Part 1
: SHO'NUFF!
The 2008 V Movie Marathon, Part 2
: Pump DOWN the Volume.
The 2008 V Movie Marathon, Part 3
: Inbreds, Claymation and an extended breakfast. Mmm, breakfast.
The 2008 V Movie Marathon, Part 4
: The biggest contrast between penultimate film and final film yet.

The 2009 Vendetta Movie Marathon, Part 1: 24 Hours, 14 Films and the Brain-Breaking Quadrology.
The 2009 Vendetta Movie Marathon, Part 2: Tits, Cancer and What-the-fuck-just-happened?
The 2009 Vendetta Movie Marathon, Part 3: Disco Awesomeness, Awesome boob-shot overdose and the awesomeness of the Arnold!

Dec. 13th, 2008

Skeeter

THE 2008 V MOVIE MARATHON: The Prologue

I love it when it seems like Christmas has come early. In 2008, it happened twice. The first time being when my wife asked me to bring in some shopping from the car recently. I complied, muttering under my breath about why I needed to hump my ass out there to collect what I thought would be some baby clothes. I instead found a home theatre system and the cabinet for a 40-inch Sony Bravia TV that was being delivered the next day. (A screen so sweet it can make even the worst movie look awesome. Okay, maybe not Black Devil Doll From Hell, but there are still limits to our human technology.) I’m in love all over again. With my wife, not the TV. Okay, both.

 

My second early Christmas present arrived when the 2008 V movie Marathon  was announced as showing on December the 6th, at least a month later that ever before. This was a bonafide stroke of luck for me.You see, if the Marathon had been scheduled at the end of September as is had last year, the chances of me attending would have been near zero. For one very special reason.

 

Aiden Conner Skeet (aka “A.C”, “Dribbly Dan” or “Senor Stinky” depending on his mood or nappy status) was born September 25th by emergency C-section. A nine-pounder at birth, he’s currently sucking down a lot of milk, playing happily with his babygym and whizzing on his Dad at every possible opportunity.  Of course, if the ‘Fest was playing while he was only a few weeks old, I wouldn’t have had the energy to show up, let alone stay awake for enough of the show to make it worthwhile.

 

By December, however, he was an entire TEN weeks old, and had slept through the night for the first time a week or so before. And so I was given a 24-hour baby furlough to go get my geek on for another year. My mother also stayed overnight with Dawn and A.C, needing only the slenderest excuse to hang with her grandson.

 

I had secured my ticket some months before the arrival, having decided that Ant (who admitted to constantly losing money on these things) had comped me more than enough shows to make up for the 2002 double-pay fiasco. Besides, my lack of time and sleep right now could make this review a) Disjointed or b) Shorter and less meticulously anal this year. (Or possibly not… I started this review at 8:30pm on Sunday the 7th, just four and a half hours after the end of the show. I’ve had 40 minutes sleep in the last 36 hours. We’re going to need a bigger spellchecker.) The ticket price had climbed to NZ$50 this year, plus a couple of dollars booking fee as for the first time pre-sales were being made through Ticketek.

 

I prepped for the day with my usual “training regime” of genre films and previous Marathon picks, showing AC his first Godzilla flick in the process. He was fascinated by the large moving images, but the subtleties of Godzilla 2000’s plot were probably lost on him. Maybe next year. I also managed to track down Abigail Leslie is Back in Town, another Joe Sarno skinflick featuring pretty much the entire cast of Confessions of a Young American Housewife. Put the kid to bed, we’ve got filth and sleaze to watch! (And yes, “Mom” from Confessions plays the main characters swinger auntie this time. Joe has issues.)

 

As usual, I had made up a selection of CD Mixtapes for the event. Thanks to the wonderful diversity of people on the Internet, I had managed to drag out some obscurities including tracks from Toys Are Not For Children and the “I Feel Good” number from Revenge of the Cheerleaders. I only made up 15 or so, but was helped out by a find of Red Seal CD-ROMs. (5 discs for three bucks at The Warehouse! And not one defective disc. I love a bargain.) I tried to pack lightly as far as snackage went this time. As usual, I brought a few leftovers home, but I think I judged it pretty well for a change. In fact I would probably have had nothing left except for the usual B-Movie generosity when it came to snacks. I was offered everything from potato chips to home-made cupcakes to bizarre sherbet-studded Easter Eggs. The 2008 Survival Checklist ran as follows:

 

1 pkt Iced Animal biscuits

1 Jumbo pack Allens Party Mix confectionary

1 10-pack Little Rippers mild salami sticks

2 bananas

1 frozen water bottle

 

1 pillow

My blankie

1 spare t-shirt in case of snack-food related spills

1 sweatshirt

1 fully charged torch

Notebook and 2 pens

1 pencil in case I lost my pens. (I promptly lost the pencil and haven’t seen since.)

1 bootleg CD-ROM of Abigail Leslie

My video camera

 

Most of the B-Movie Crew were attending this year. (Apart from Steve Austin, who was hitting the Wellington show instead.) Regulars included Andrea, Andrew Todd, Steve Chow and Doug “Fallback” Dillaman, who was even flying up from his current digs in Dunedin for the weekend. Dave Brough flew up from Wellington as always. And is set to attending the Wellington show a week later. Dude, you’re insane. In a good way. One returning marathoner was Ben, aka Cosmo, who last attended the eight-hour Marathon in 2003. This would be his first 24-hour show… hey, everyone! New fish! New fish! (Man, I have to re-watch The Shawshank Redemption soon.)

 

I was ready to roll for the Hollywood before 3pm. Aiden was ready a bit after. Wanna guess when we left? Well, he’s the boss…

 

V-DAY

 

Prologue: Holy Crap, Where is Everyone?

 

We rolled into Avondale about  3:30PM, which was definitely the closest to showtime I’ve ever arrived. Not only was the usual street-long nerd-line not there this time, I could only see two people just inside the doorway. I guess the pre-ticketing system sped things up immensely this year. Dawn parked in the Towaway Zone of Death (Otherwise know as the space in front of the Surly Dairy Owners store… which I am still boycotting until he learns to stop being a dipwad.) and saw me off with a loving “Go have fun… nerd.”.

 

Inside I found Ant and his usual Marathon offsiders manning the ticket desk. Oddly, he seemed relieved I’d made it. Presumably because I hadn’t been hanging around the theatre like a lost puppy for an hour or so. Trust me, dude, I could have been set on fire and I’d still show up for this event. I immediately ran into Annette, whom I shall not refer to as “Ms. Fallback” this year. She’d joined the B-Movie crew this year, proving near-invulnerable to the kind of weirdness and sleaze we’ve been subjecting ourselves to. (Although Death Bed: The Bed That Eats nearly finished us once and for all.) Doug showed up seconds later from inside the theatre. B-Movie Crew, assemble!

 

Once I found my way inside, I discovered that my optimistic thoughts of not bouncing around the theatre as usual were not to be. Doug and his friends were staked out in the beanbag section to the left of the stage. Andrea and Ben (And Ben’s awesome serial-killer teddy bear) were in the second row of fixed seating to the right. Having not gone for the beanbag option once again, I decided to preserve my back by packing into the stalls with Andrea and Ben. Kudos to the full row behind us, who not only put up with my joke cracking and bad puns during a couple of cheese-fests late in the ‘Thon, but were also just terrifically nice folks in the bargain.

 

By the time I had shown up, the Wurlitzer was already belting out the show tunes. It was a return engagement for Margaret, who played in 2005. She worked in the Star Wars theme again, for a good crowd reaction. Gotta play to your target audience. I grabbed some establishing shots of the place and shot out to get opening remarks on camera from Ant. He jokingly threatened to screen Mama Mia: The Sing-along Edition this year. In retrospect, that would have hurt less that the 2am flick.

 

Finally, Margaret dropped out of sight and Ant hit the stage. (Eventually… it sounded like he got snagged on something trying to make his appearance.) He promised the most diverse line-up yet, having turned off his internal filtering system that would have rejected films if they might not have wide appeal to the nerd-herd. He also ran through the house rules, causing amusement in my section for rule 3: No Recording Devices of Any Kind. I was of course videotaping the intro. Reviewing the footage, there a few seconds of “Blair Witch-cam” as I lower the camera into a less obvious position. But Ant knows I’m not bringing that to bootleg new films. Besides, it’s a DVD camera that shoots 30 minutes of footage per disc. Somehow, international DVD Piracy isn’t high on my list of get-rich-quick schemes.

 

I was extremely surprised to be name checked in the “Thank Yous” section, along with Austin and Dave, for “Keeping the dream alive”. You’re welcome, Ant. You keep programming them, we’ll keep showing up.

 

And so, at ten minutes past the hour, we were ready to roll. With a promised fourteen movies on offer (A record for Auckland and record-equalling with the 2004 Wellington show) we were going to have to keep things tight and pray for as few film breaks as possible. The light dimmed, the curtains opened.

 

Bring it on.

Skeeter

THE 2008 V MOVIE MARATHON: It Begins

Part 1: Can I Give You a Lift?

Saturday, 16:10-LADY IN A CAGE

 

For the second year in a row, Ant pulls something for the archives that’s older than most of the audience. (Do I sense a new tradition starting?) Like last years Kitten With a  Whip which we treated to a pristine black-and-white print of this 1963 drama starring Olivia de Havilland and James Caan. (Looking incredibly young, he actually was billed with the “Introducing…” credit.) It was obviously made at the time when the post-war optimism was giving way to the more cynical Vietnam years of the 70’s. There’s a gritty realism to its underlying message that most peoples field of concern is pretty narrow. It’s always someone else’s problem, yeah?

 

The plot revolves around the plight of a lady in her senior years who, through a combination of circumstances becomes trapped in her personal elevator on a busy holiday weekend. A broken hip prevents her from the obvious ways of escape, and even when she can open the doors, she’s unable to drop to the floor without risking serious injury. (The crowd murmuring was along the lines of “I can jump from that’, but then again, no-one in the crowd was a retiree with brittle bones as far as I could tell.)

 

To make matters worse, her overly-mothered (and possibly closeted gay) son has left for the weekend… and unbeknownst to her is planning suicide. Complications mount as the house is discovered by a local alcoholic and thief, then continue to snowball as he’s spotted by the most evil man of 1963… James Caan.

 

Seriously, James Caan plays Randall, a complete and utter bastard in this film. Doug thought he was doing his best Marlon Brando, but frankly, it works. His character really has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and by the end of the flick you’re itching for him to get the sort of comeuppance dished out to Jesse Lee Kane in Fight For Your Life. (Who was equally evil, but at least TRIED to explain his nasty streak with a sob story about his childhood.) Randall is so nasty that Olivia’s summing-up of him not only scored Line of the Night honours, but also popped the crowd big-time.

 

“I see. You’re one of those pieces of offal produced by the welfare system!:.

 

Full marks for character assessment, love, minus several million for making friends and influencing psychopathic people.

 

Along for the ride are a out-of-her depth hustler, Randall’s uber-sexed and spaced-out girlfriend and their slightly-sociopath friend, the Worlds Skinniest Latino. Turn the fan up to high, because the shit is on the way.

 

I’m not going into depth about the plot twists, but rest assured, it’s a compelling watch. I was fooled right off the bat by the intense credit sequence, thinking for a few seconds Ant was throwing a curve ball and screening Psycho due to the black-and-white footage and the marching vertical lines at the start. The performances are excellent all round and one stunt had me cringing. It’s been 45 years, but if the stuntman is still alive, he’s probably still feeling the effects of that fall every morning. It’s also surprisingly brutal, doubly so for the time period. In fact, there are two phrases in my notebook I never thought I’d write about one movie.

 

“Olivia de Havilland”

“Eyeball Violence”

 

I’m not kidding.

 

So, a good start with an underrated classic being shown to the masses. Let’s kick of the Running Themes List!

 

OCD or Religious Nuts?: Repent! Sin! Repent! Dude, make up your mind!

Horrific Leg Injury?: If the broken hip counts, yes.

Women of Dubious Morals?: Randall’s girlfriend kick-started this category. Which was originally called “Trampy Sexpots” before I got PC.

Pointy Metal Violence?: Twice, once comedic, once cringe-worthy.

Scrawny Supporting Actor?: Yo homes, get esse there a sandwich, eh?

Hairy Chests?: Religious Drunkard had hairy everything. Ew.

 

Skeeters Summary: If this is going to be the “Film Classix” spot, could we get a Bogart flick next year?

 

We were joined at this time by Esther, a co-worker from one of my current three jobs. (Yeah, I’m still a full-time part-timer.) Her boyfriend and her had switched rows after discovering someone in their section was either suffering a gastric upset, or was just proving the James Caan wasn’t the only person who could belch on cue. Repeatedly.

 

PART 2: NERD-GASM!

Sunday, 17:50-KRULL

 

Newsflash. I am an enormous geek.

 

I know, it came as a shock to me too. It probably shouldn’t have, what with the three bags full of Dungeons and Dragons books and the box of 2000AD comics in the shed, the constant bullying at school and serious Sci-Fi Novel addiction I suffered from in my teens. But frankly, put me and Napoleon Dynamite in the same room and I can’t even compete. I’ve never worn a pocket protector. I’ve attended exactly ONE Live-Action Roleplay and found it fun, yet slightly embarrassing. I don’t program anything more high-tech than a VCR, and then it’s usually got a 20% chance of failing to save the right show.

 

But Movie #2 was the start of a trifecta of films that would conclusively prove my film geek credentials. Ant intro’ed it as one of the hundreds of post Star Wars flicks “Inspired” by Old Beardface’s magnum opus. Many were terrible, he said, and for one glorious second I thought we were going to see a poofy-haired David Hasslehof in Star Crash. Others were overly-ambitious., he continued, and we were going to see one of those. The film started, a starscape was seen and then…

 

Remember how I managed to identify The Thing in 2004 by the production companies name and the title font? Same here. Only this time it was the music. Two notes in I sat bolt upright and blurted “Oh my God, it’s Krull!” I think this display of uber-geekery impressed even members of the B-Movie Crew.

 

I was pretty psyched, though. Yes, I know the special effects are dated. The blue-screen work is particularly ropey these days. (One remark from the stalls was that bluescreens were so named because the results made you cry.) Yes, it’s episodic enough that there should be chapter headings and near the end the words “The Princess is in another Black Fortress” should flash on screen. Some of the acting is a little broad and the stets are… well, obvious sets. But frankly, I loved this film when I was eleven and I love it now. This is the movie that changed the storyline of the sci-fi space opera my best friend Gavin and I played out every time we dragged out my TORO building blocks. Pre-Kull, it was a rip-off of the Star Force TV series. Post-Krull, our “Earth Defense Federation” was suddenly under constant attack from Slayers. It was truly the coolest thing I’d ever seen on a movie screen. In fact, I basically had a major nerd-spasm the moment I realised I was about to re-watch it on the big screen for the first time in over twenty years.

 

Think this is going to be a POSITIVE review? Am I that transparent?

 

For those that haven’t seen it, it’s a British sci-fi/fantasy that does takes the same classic adventure template Mr. Lucas used and transports it to a galaxy… well, you know where. An Uber-evil force from beyond arrives, cries havoc and unleashes the dogs of war before kidnapping a beautiful woman with what Ben referred to as “Sarah Brightman Hair” . A young and strangely American-accented warrior prince (All the better to sell the flick in the territories, wot what?) sets out to rescue his beloved accompanied by a aging sage. Our proto-Skywaker  seeks out an ancient weapon that’s controlled by the Force… of his will. He joins forces with the Rebel…ious bandits. (All right, enough obvious correlations. I’m finding my own lack of faith disturbing.) It culminates in a rip-roaring storming of the Big Bads lair where the Power of True Love helps save the day.

 

Yeah, that’s your plot summary. Trust me, going into details would be like dissecting a favourite pet.

 

Looking at it all these years later, the movies flaws are much more obvious, and yet they lend the production a certain charm. The prothstetics used on Rell the Cyclops still look quite good, but adult eyes can see poor Bernard Bresslaw scrabbling blindly to pick up his spear in several scenes. You can see several UK thespians making obvious transitions from the stage to the screen. Comic relief wizard Ergo the Magnificent is the most glaring, appearing to think he’s doing a panto at Brighton-on-Sea. Several of the older actors treat their part as if they were playing King Lear, projecting the hell out of their lines. An early role for Liam Neeson is fun today, as his more naturalistic delivery steals many a scene. 

 

 

The effects are a mixed bag these days. The aforementioned rear projection sequence drew a lot of laughs, and I have to admit the thick black outlines were pretty distracting. The Slayers interesting habit of having their brains erupt from their skulls on the moment of death holds up pretty well, and is almost as cool now as it was when I was a kid. The costumes for the white-suited “Snow Slayers” are still pretty sweet and spark-spitting swordfights never lose their appeal. In fact, the only really ugly effects now are the horribly primitive morphing used to change Ergo into space geese and cosmic tigers. But hey, in 1983 I had a Commodore VIC-20, so who am I to complain about their computer graphics?

 

But for me, the film rises above its technical limitations and less than cutting-edge effects. It’s a two-hour long journey down Memory Lane with a diversion down This Is Awesome Street. In fact, there’s only one way to get a subjective take on this film.

 

Someone find me an eleven-year-old boy.

 

OCD or Religious Nuts?: Not really.

Horrific Leg Injury?: Horrific torso injury… Hey, remember when “kids films” could still feature impalements?

Women of Dubious Morals?: More like a changeling of confused morals.

Pointy Metal Violence?: The Glaive is still the coolest weapon in the universe. It’d still be a bitchkitty to catch, though.

Scrawny Supporting Actor?: There’s a character called “Titch”, so yeah.

Hairy Chests?: Swarthy bandits abound.

 

Skeeters Summary: Yeah, I kinda like this film. Can you tell?

 

We took our first break, although the packed schedule meant they were pretty brief this year. (Suck it down quick, smokers!) The major result of the shortened breaks… no trailers or Youtube weirdness this year. We’re all about the features in ’08 baby! I was so buzzed from Krull that I gifted all bar one of my remaining Mixtape CD’s to the row behind me. (I passed the last one to Ant later to hand off to whoever he thought would appreciate it.) Kudos to the young lady who also accepted my bootleg Joe Sarno skinflick. Enjoy your sleaze!

 

Time for our first premiere, and the only one of the three new flicks to not be a horror. It was in fact a comedy. Could it break the trend of most modern comedies and actually be, well… funny?

 

Part 3: Dude, Where’s My Broadsword?

Saturday, 20:00-ROLE MODELS

 

I’ve had a real problem with Hollywoods idea of “funny” these days. In the last few years I’ve been assured by friends and co-workers of the abject hilarity of such flicks as Dodgeball, (I laughed once) Blades of Glory, (You’re not funny, Will Ferrell) and Wedding Crashers. (Well, this is mildly amusing… hey, fuck off Will Ferrell, you’re not funny in this one either!) I forced myself to sit through a SKY TV screening of Epic Movie, the anti-matter of comedy which made Schindlers List look like Blazing Saddles by comparison. Hollywood has lost the plot. Comedy ain’t funny anymore.

 

That being said, Role Models is fucking hilarious.

 

It’s a buddy/slacker/nerd comedy directed by David Wain, whose first feature Wet Hot American Summer has been on my “should watch” list for a while. (And is now on my “Must watch” list) It’s got some cracking dialogue, a hilarious-but-not-odious foul-mouth black kid, a realistic teenage Renaissance Dweeb and dozens of excellent supporting players. It’s by turns funny as hell, heart-warming, profane and uplifting. Oh, and while it doesn’t feature any extending pooping-or-puking gags, (Thank Christ!) it does feature several gorgeous starlets who are willing to doff their tops for the camera. I think that’s a really sensible trade-off.

 

Sure, maybe we were the target audience. But judging by the audience reaction, it was the perfect choice of flick.

 

It’s coming soon to a theatre near you. Go see it, or I’ll go completely KISS Demon on your ass.

 

OCD or Religious Nuts?: With the amount of nerds, geeks and dweebs on screen, I’d say that the chance of someone with OCD is a safe bet.

Horrific Leg Injury?: One of the few films this year NOT to have graphic leg trauma.

Women of Dubious Morals?: Yep. Hellllo, boobs!

Pointy Metal Violence?: In a strictly foamy, non-lethal sense.

Scrawny Supporting Actor?: [Ogre]NERRRRRRDDDDS![/Ogre]

Hairy Chests?: See above.

 

Skeeters Summary: You see, Ben Stiller? Now THAT’S funny!

 

We were three films in and all three had been good. This made us a shade nervous. Was Ant setting us up for a sudden plummet to the depth of craptitude? Well, yes. Just not yet.

 

Part 4: Sho-NUFF!

Saturday, 22:00-THE LAST DRAGON

 

I am an enormous geek.

 

For the second time in four movies, I identified the flick from the soundtrack. The scary thing about that is… I’ve never seen The Last Dragon. I had simply listened to the theme tune some months back while collecting tracks for the Mixtape. It starts with a distinctive synthesizer sting that I’m sure was sampled for a video game back in the 80’s. That first note was enough for me to pick the flick. Yes, behold the King of the Movie Soundtrack Nerds! Bow, peasants! Lower!

 

The Last Dragon is an odd beastie of a film. Produced by Berry Gordon and Motown Records, it’s a glorious mash-up of kung-fu, breakdancing, unexpected music videos and batshit insanity. Ben had remarked earlier that Krull seemed unsure of what genre it wanted to be. The Last Dragon puts that into perspective. One moment you’re watching an entire Debarge video, then abruptly there’s a man spouting faux-Oriental philosophy, followed by an unexpected kung-fu fight. While watching it, I kept picturing a group of Motown executives sitting in a boardroom with a massive tray of cocaine, trying to work out how to best blow a few million of Berry Gordon’s money.

 

I think they made a great choice.

 

Let’s get to the bullet points with what I recall. (Plot mangling ahoy!)

 

  • Yeah, I’m sure that sting was heard when you dropped a 20-cent piece into an arcade machine. What the hell was it?
  • The Last Dragon? This one has screened at B-Fest, the 24-hour marathon held in Chicago each year. I knew we’d start synching up eventually.
  • Holy crap, our hero looks like David Allen Grier! Is this a lost episode of In Living Colour?
  • You know, Mythbusters proved that no matter how good a martial artist you are, ain’t no man that can catch an arrow.
  • Incidentally, does OSHA know about this guys training techniques? Someone’s going to lose an eye.
  • Our Hero… Bruce Leroy! (Yes, he’s actually referred to as that at least once. We’ll just call him Leroy.)
  • Leroy has completed his training and only requires to achieve “The Glow” to be a master. So long as it not Natural Glow, with its thousands of luminous spheres. That shit’s expensive.
  • Meanwhile in a crappy dollar theatre, we get to watch a snippet of Enter the Dragon. This film just improved immensely.
  • Oh, it’s one of those universes where EVERYONE knows kung-fu! The usher will probably break your nose if you put your feet on the seats.
  • Nice editing to get reaction shots from Bruce Lee…
  • Enter the… HOLY CRAP!
  • That was the crowd reaction to “SHO-NUFF!”, possibly the greatest kung-fu villain in movie history. The Shogun of Harlem delivers one of the most over-the-top performances in Marathon history. And that just his afro.
  • Speaking of which, one of his posse may not have had Bette Davis Eyes, but she sure as hell had massive Cindy Lauper hair.
  • I wish I had a group of people to shout a personalised chant based on my name whenever I went to the movies. This guy earns the honour of ALWAYS having his name written in capitals.
  • FIGHT SCENE! That’ll teach him to talk during the movie.
  • Seriously, haven’t you ever wanted to go Jet Li on some schmuck who forgets to switch off his cellphone at the multiplex?
  • Leroy calmly eats popcorn during the chaos… with chopsticks. I guess that’s the first sign this is an INTENTIONAL comedy.
  • “I will not fight you, and I will also speak without ever using contractions. I do not think you will find this unusual.
  • Enter 80’s vee-jay Vanity playing… a vee-jay. There’s a stretch.
  • We pause for a lengthy music video. This was of course the movie that ensured the superstardom of Debarge that continues even today!
  • Yes, that was mild sarcasm.
  • Enter our villain, Eddie Arcadium, video game magnate. Boy, that last name was a lucky coincidence, huh?
  • Lucky he wasn’t a villainous pimp. A character named Wally Whoremasterus would have never made it past the censors.
  • Also enter one of the Sopranos and the worlds oldest potential pop princess.
  • Actually, despite her shrill voice and terrible dancing, the song probably could have stood up as a single in the mid 80’s. If it had been given to Tiffany.
  • Eddies Henchgoon has some sort of carnivorous fish in a tank. Would have been nice if they’d ever told us what it was.
  • Eddies evil plans involve kidnapping Vanity’s character until she agrees to play his girlfriends music video. Did he not think of doing what most producers do and just drive a truck of money and drugs around all the TV and radio stations in town?
  • Seriously, how influential IS Vanity’s TV show? This plot is as sensible as kidnapping David Letterman until he lets you do a stand-up spot on his show.
  • Vanity gets a musical number. We’re on the Soooooooul Train. To Hell.
  • Post-show, Leroy starts a minor running trend of being able to magically appear at the scene of any potential confrontation. Fight Scenes via Coincidence rule!
  • I guess they couldn’t afford a windscreen to put that guy through.
  • Maybe Leroy would be a master sooner if he didn’t lose the Mystical Amulet of Awesomeness his teacher gave him the first time he leaves the house with it.
  • Meet Leroy’s family, and our second sassy black kid in two movies. He looked about ten, but had the cynicism and attitude of a 40-year-old. I liked him.
  • Leroy’s little bro has one white friend, the Obligatory Fat Kid who looks like a midget Meatloaf. I dubbed this trio “The Urban Goonies”.
  • Meanwhile, Leroy’s kung-fu class has equally-obligatory Asian Kid who can imitate Bruce Lee. They do make him the worst kung-fu guy, so I forgive them for this.
  • Chop-socky slapstick ahoy!
  • Hey Leroy, real ninjas don’t let people steal their masks.
  • We kind of bounce around a few different plots for a while. Eddie is evil, SHO’NUFF! wants to fight Leroy, Vanity and Leroy have a couple of awkward romantic moments, Berry Gordon makes sure we get to hear tons of 80’s Motown tracks and Coca-Cola gets in as many blatant product plugs as possible.
  • Comic Relief Urban Asian Guys!
  • Man, the casual racism is kind of jarring in this flick. Not to mention geographically challenged. Jokes about sushi to a Chinese guy? Close, but no fortune cookie.
  • On the other hand, Leroy’s line while disguised about “we all just look the same” did get a good laugh from our row.
  • During the flick, SHO’NUFF! and his goons trash Leroy’s’ dad’s pizza parlour. I was mesmerised by the prices. Come back, 1980’s!
  • There’s always one guy in the gang who’s just has to smash something on the way out in order to be a dick.
  • This movie messes with your head. I can remember a lot of the scenes, but have no idea what order they go in. Luckily Ants got this scheduled for an MGM screening as part of the Incredibly Strange TV season soon.
  • Eddies girlfriend gets decked out in used car parts for a music video. Even for the 80’s, that’s pushing it.
  • The whole middle third of the film is a blur of neon and mind-bending dialogue. I told you this could be a disjointed review this year. Let’s skip to the end, soon after Leroy’s search for the master ended with the conclusion that “Hey, there WAS no master! What a gyp!”..
  • No wait, let’s have a rap number while Bruce Lee clips play instead. No padding in THIS film.
  • Eddie recruits a selection of badasses to take down Leroy. It’s the same scene from Blazing Saddles, only more… urban.
  • H.B Haggarty! Man, he gets to fight Jackie Chan AND Bruce Le…roy.
  • Eddie masterstroke is to kidnap Vanity (again) and Leroys’ little bro so he can… program music videos in an empty club. This plan needed a rethink.
  • Leroy traps Bad Kung-Fu Asian Guy in a closet so he  can’t join in the rescue and get hurt. Maybe it’s the same closet Debarge came out of.
  • Some little dude we’ve never met rescues Bad Kung-Fu Guy. By the end of the movie, I was wishing the kid was the star of the film.
  • CLIMACTIC ONE MAN vs. DOZENS OF BAD GUYS FIGHT!
  • CLIMACTIC KUNG-FU SCHOOL TO THE RESCUE RUMBLE
  • CLI… holy CRAP is that little kid good!
  • Man, this movie should have just been that eight-year-old kicking the crap out of people.
  • His late appearance led me to the conclusion that they discovered him during production and wrote him in. He probably gets more screen-time than Leroy during the big rumble. Not to mention dropping an Electric Boogaloo Elbow.
  • Time for the big showdown between SHO’NUFF! and Leroy. This is also time for the movie to hits us with scenes that made the film 80% awesome and 20% “What the fuck”?
  • He’s got The Glow. Literally. SHO’NUFF!’s hands are glowing? Did I drink too much V too fast?
  • Cartoon lightning bolts? Am I the only one seeing this?
  • “WHO’S THE MASTER! WHO’S THE MASTER?!”. *flashback* “Oh, I’M the Master. Got it!”
  • Cartoon Lightning Bolt Duel!
  • Feeling a little “Flat” SHO’NUFF?
  • Man, this is a weird ending. Never mind, crank some of Motowns least-requested and let’s get out of here.
  • SHO’NUFF!

 

OCD or Religious Nuts?: Eddie was pretty obsessive. And bald.

Horrific Leg Injury?: There’s no permanent injuries in the Kung-Fu Universe. Just a lot of ballsack abuse.

Women of Dubious Morals?: She’s called “Vanity” You’re thinking of the wrong sin.

Pointy Metal Violence?: Japanese ninja weapons. Wielded by a Chinese guy. *sigh*

Scrawny Supporting Actor?: Some of Leroy’s class needed a few more push-up, yeah.

Hairy Chests?: I was too distracted by Tower of Hair Girl to notice.

 

Skeeters Summary: Worth it for Kung-Fu Tyke alone. The camp value is just a bonus.

 

We had the briefest of reel-changing breaks and were off again. It seemed like everything was going silky-smooth in the projection booth. Apparently, by halfway through the night all fucking hell was actually breaking loose in there. HUGE props to the projectionists, because we would never have know if Ant hadn’t told us.

 

Our Featured Premiere was up next. Being a horror movie, I grabbed my security blankie and joined Doug’s crew in the beanbag section, figuring the hard wooden floor would keep me awake for longer this year.

Skeeter

THE 2008 V MOVIE MARATHON: PART 0

Part 5: Vegetable Rights and PeOHGODNOTMYFACEEEEEE!

Saturday, 23:35-THE RUINS

 

So here it was. The only advertised movie. A film that had been released as Direct-to-DVD just a few days earlier. The Team America of 2008. A film that would prove to be the most divisive of the year. Some people loved it. Others thought it was okay. One person was heard to refer to it as “A load of fossilised Mayan zombie shit.”

 

Sadly, that last person was me.

 

On reflection, that was probably a little harsh. The trouble wasn’t that the film was terribly bad. I can handle bad. It was just a little too pedestrian for my taste. The film makers had an excellent concept for a horror film, but just couldn’t seem to find anything to do with it. Eventually they bit the bullet and sent the flick veering firmly into the Torture Porn genre that’s been all the rage since Saw was made.

 

But let’s run down the plot a little. Normally I don’t recap the premieres, but since it’s out on DVD already, why not? Just skip the next three paragraphs if you’re not reading this in 2009. The flick revolves around four oversexed, heavy drinking, hard partying American tourists in Mexico. (Okay, bonus points for a realistic portrayal of the average backpacker.) With just a couple of days left in their vacation, they meet up with a young German man who’s heading into the jungle to meet up with his brother, an archaeologist.(Along with a friend who’s not named. Hello, cannon fodder!) One of the Yanks decides the group needs to do something a little more cultural that drink tequila and boink like bunnies. Which is true, but if you don’t surf, what else is there to do in Mexico?

 

The early scenes are actually pretty decent. The chemistry between the actors is good, there’s a few genuine laughs to be had, and pretty much everyone is easy on the eye. (Not that I’m any judge of the blokes, but they did seem to be the usual buffed Hollywood leading men.) There’s also one of the quickest nude scenes I’ve ever seen… that young lady knew that the quicker she dressed, the less screencaps would be plastered all over the Internet, I guess.

 

Our intrepid foursome pack up and ship out into the wilderness with the Germans, and the first problem I had with the flick emerged. The film makers seem to subscribe to a very Travel Channel “Getting there is half the fun” attitude. And as anyone who’s travelled recently knows, no it ain’t. We get to see pretty much every step of their journey out to the old Mayan pyramid, and while it does let us get to know the group, it just left me wanting something to happen. Besides, like in most horror movies, the characters aren’t really given too many personality traits to share with us. One’s the sensible one, one of the girls is the party animal, one guys the slightly annoying joker, etc.

 

Eventually they do reach their destination… an ancient step pyramid festooned with lush vegetation. Before they can do much more than take a few photos, however, members of the local tribe show up armed to the teeth with bows and rifles. There’s some rather tense diplomatic negotiations, which are hampered by the fact that no-one speaks the same lingo. Things degenerate until…

 

Well, I won’t spoil it. Suffice it to say none of us saw it coming, and it got a good reaction even from us jaded, desensitized horror fans.

 

The Americans and the one remaining German (Bye, cannon fodder!) scamper up the pyramid to escape as the Mayans lay siege below. Once at the top they discover a few things. One, the Germans brother is missing, leaving behind his tent and possessions. Two, they’re well out of range for any cell phone reception. And three, they’re not alone.

 

And that’s where it all went wrong for me.

 

To unleash the spoilers, the pyramid is covered with living, carnivorous plants. The type that can infect you with a touch, filling your body with living, squirming tendrils. The Mayans showed up not to protect their sacred pyramid, but to prevent a bunch of stupid tourists from spreading this parasite into a populated area and causing the end of the world. It’s a great concept, but there’s one big problem with it.

 

The stupid plants don’t do jack shit.

 

For the majority of the movie, they’re completely passive, occasionally sending out a tendril to gently menace an already helpless human. For the most part you can stand in the middle of a plot of these Demonic Poppies and have them sit there, happily photosynthesising away. You die, and three seconds later, they carrying away your body like leafy vultures. If I was a carnivorous plant who was being denied regular meals by those pesky Indians, I’d be treating the group as a mobile buffet. And the first person that make a pun on “being stalked” would end up as fertilizer.

 

Sadly, it’s not to be. The final score is Plants 1, Mayans 2 and Common Sense -3. I was in a mild stage of rage at some of the idiotic decisions made by the group. One member of your group has been injured in a badly thought-out escape plan? Why not send someone else into the same dangerous situation  to rescue them? Because then you end up with TWO injured people, that’s why! One of them suffering the grisliest leg injury since The Descent.

 

The center part of the film is also taken up by that staple of horror films, endless bickering and in-fighting. A long and irritating verbal battle develops as one character flips out and decides two of her friends are having sex outside her tent. (Which considering both are fully clothed when she confronts them ten seconds later is somewhat of a stretch.) This quickly degenerates into a who’s-boffing-who shouting match. Um, guys? You’re surrounded by hostile natives and South American Triffids. If I was in that situation, I could discover my wife giving my best friend a blowjob while humming “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, and my reaction would still be “We’ll talk about this later, now let’s work on how we get the hell out of here.”

 

Eventually we get the big money shot, as the groups medical student (There’s always one, huh?) performs a couple of emergency amputations with a rock and a small fruit knife. According to Dave Brough, this scene ran much longer in the unrated DVD edition, but even in the truncated form, it’s not for the squeamish. Wigged-Out Chick ups the gore factor by going Hellraiser on herself with the same knife, leading to a sequence that made me decide the plants were actually a LOT smarter that the tourists in this flick. (Because if one of your friends gets stabbed trying to disarm a knife-wielding girl, the best course of action is to try the same thing yourself rather than, I don’t know, winding up and popping the crazy hosebeast in the face. Not very PC, I know, but sometimes, needs must…)

 

 The film ended on one of the weakest stingers I’ve witnessed in a while. I believe I used the phrase “Was that it?” as the credits rolled.

 

If there’s ever a sequel made, I’m rooting for the plants.

 

Heh. Root. See what I did there?

 

Oh, please yourself.

 

OCD or Religious Nuts?: More a case of being the most extreme eco-warriors on the planet.

Horrific Leg Injury?: Yes, yes, and HELL yes.

Women of Dubious Morals?: No more so than most backpackers. So, yes.

Pointy Metal Violence?: Arrows are pointy.

Scrawny Supporting Actor?: Not as much as the other films. Hollywood loves its gym-addicted leading men.

Hairy Chests?: Backpacker stubble yes, but these guy had man-waxes, torso-wise.

 

Skeeters Summary: Not a giant pile of fossilised Mayan zombie shit. But mediocre at best.

 

I returned to the cheap seats for the next flick. We’re five films in, and by my count four have been either excellent or at least high-camp fun. Man, when Ant decides to bring out the brutal stuff, we’re going to suffer.

 

Part 6-Screaming: The Motion Picture

Sunday, 01:40-DESPERATE LIVING

 

Gentlemen, start your suffering! Ant finally brings a John Waters flick to the ‘Thon. Waters is a director I’ve never had a lot of experience with, with a single viewing of Pecker the only flick of his I’ve ever watched. But the next time someone (i.e. You, Steve Austin) tells me I should watch Pink Flamingos, I have the perfect comeback.

 

It’ll be the words “Fuck you”.

 

Not too eloquent, I’ll admit, but they’ll be heartfelt. Because Mr. Walters gave me the most painful 90 minutes at a “V” since the slow brain-death of Psychout to Murder way back in 2004. And we’re talking real, physical pain.

 

I wasn’t all his fault. You see, prior to The Last Dragon Ant had instructed the projectionist to “Crank It!”. Which they did. Unfortunately, he neglected to tell them to de-crank the volume at the end of the flick. So anything said above a normal speaking voice was up at the threshold of pain. Which is a bad thing in a flick where EVERYBODY SHOUTS EVERY FUCKING LINE!

 

It started so innocently… if you disregard the credit sequence that shows a cooked rat being eaten. (Off-camera, which would be the last ounce of restraint in the film) The opening dialogue gives no hint to the insanity to come. Then, after thirty or forty seconds of conventionality, we’re introduced to our leading lady, the brilliantly-named Mink Stole. She’s playing Mrs Gravel, who’s having something of a mental breakdown. And how do we know that? Mainly because of the fact that she’s screaming her tits off. And how do people react to Mrs. Gravel screaming her tits off? By screaming THEIR tits off back at her! And if they’re not screaming, they’re yelling. And shrieking. And occasionally caterwauling.

 

Remarkably, the only character in the whole flick who didn’t yell his lines was one playing a royal page. I’m assuming there was some warped sense of irony at work.

 

Within five minutes Esther had ducked out to the lobby to see if the staff could drop the volume a few million decibels. Apparently not. The aural assault continued as we took in the wafer-thin plot. Mrs. Gravel and her huge nurse Griselda accidentally kill Mr Gravel during one of Mrs. Gravels bad days. They go on the lam, ending up in a bizarre town of freaks, dykes and nudists, ruled over by a nasally-voiced queen with more sexual deviations than the entire British Conservative Party.

 

It’s basically an excuse to film as much twisted shit as possible. I remarked later that if I was going to list the acts of perversity in the film, I would have needed an extra notebook. Some scenes, such as the bit where Mrs. Gravel discovers one of her children in the refrigerator, were appreciated by the audience. Others, such as the morbidly obese lesbian sex scene ,didn’t fly quite so well.

 

In fact, this movie was a classic example of “Be careful what you wish for”. One of the things we long-time marathoners expect, look forward to and if you’re me, demand, is gratuitous full-frontal nudity. Most years, it’s been in the first flick, if not in a trailer during the pre-game show. This year, we had to wait a long time. There was some coy and brief backal nudity in The Ruins. The were some perky boobs in Role Models. But the first glimpse of the Holy Triangle (if you get my drift) of the show came in this flick. During an extended scene where a police officer parades around in womens underwear in a state of shrieking transvestite ecstasy. The first full-on full frontal arrives soon after. It’s male frontal nudity. Later there’s a 300-pound woman screaming at Mrs. Gravel during the aforementioned ugly-as-fuck lesbian scene. Hells bells, John even manages to work in an obviously gay man giving the overweight queen of Freaksville a lapdance in exchange for a spanking. And did I mention that an early scene involved the melting down Mrs. Gravel discovering her son and daughter playing doctor? (Literally, stethoscope and all.) We were one botched camera angle away from either having to collectively turn ourselves into the cops or join the Catholic priesthood. Mrs. Gravels reaction to them (“SODOMITES!”) was one of the more laugh-out-loud moments, however,

 

Thanks bundles, Ant. I it wasn’t for the late-night screening of Bobby Joe and the Outlaw that’s showing on MGM as I write this, I’d never want to see nude people ever again. Bless your heart, Lynda Carter. You may continue skinny-dipping.

 

There was some breakfast time discussion about the way the film switched focus half-way through. Mrs. Gravel and Griselda faded into the background as a couple of (constantly hollering) lesbians took center stage. Presumably John just decided they were the more interesting characters. Their storylines involved fatal outbreaks of pro wrestling, badly-realised sex-change operations via Papier Mache and a lot of impromptu surgery. It also did garner another good laugh after the towns resident princess is infected with rabies (Don’t ask.) leading to Bubble-headed Lesbian Hotties great line of “In the circumstances, we’ll have to ask you not to use our cultlery.”

 

The film climaxed (noisily) with homicide, regicide and a cannibalistic wrap party. Well, we made it. We have spent ninety minutes inside the head of John Waters. We have seen things that can not be unseen. My ears are bleeding and my only note reads “What the bleeding fuck?”.  It’s time like this that makes me question my own sanity in turning up for the Marathon each year.

 

Of course, it’s also times like these that KEEP me turning up each year!

 

OCD or Religious Nuts?: Definite mental illness in effect, but more a generalised drooling insanity.

Horrific Leg Injury?: That wasn’t her LEG she cut off, no.

Women of Dubious Morals?: Pretty much all of them.

Pointy Metal Violence?: There’s a form of violence for every taste, really.

Scrawny Supporting Actor?: There wasn’t a single example of Hollywoods ideal body shape as far as I could see.

Hairy Chests?: Yes, but the frontal nudity distracts you from their torsos.

 

Skeeters Summary: Well, if there’s a movie screening tonight that provides a worse aural experience, I’ll eat my shorts. (Foreshadowing, foreshadowing…)

 

Part 7-U.S.A! U.S.A! U…BOOM!

Sunday, 03:25-KING DINOSAUR

 

With fourteen movies to burn through, they weren’t all going to be epics. This 50’s sci-fi flick from the king of super-cheap Giant Monster flick Bert I Gordon runs a scant 63 minutes. Ironically, about fifteen minutes of it are stock footage, and most of that is right off the bat. The first 10 minutes alone is about 80% recycled footage of  spinning radar dishes, rocket tests and scientists peering intently at oscilloscopes and analogue readouts. After I while I remarked that if they was any more stock footage, a Bigfoot movie was liable to break out.

 

Now you might think that a somewhat talky, stock footage-filled  quickie at 3.30am would be a quick ticket to Sleepyville. Not likely. Sure, the two cans of V and the cup of strong coffee probably helped. (Screw my caffeine intake, I’m not planning on another kid anytime soon.) But for us in the stalls, this was a fun flick to watch. And yes, mock. From B.I.G’s reduced-budget special effects to the goofy space costumes, the portentous narration to the goofy plot, we cracked wise throughout most of the flick. (I did start to hear some snores near the end, though… Time to break out the cattle prod, Ant!)

 

For those wanting a detailed recap, head over to jabootu.net and read the scene-by-scene account penned by B-Movie doyen Ken Begg. To sum it up in a few lines, a new planet wanders into our solar system and sets up shop right next door. (The devastating effects on our tidal system is helpfully not addressed.) America rolls a space program into action. Lots of rockets explode via stock footage. Apparently this was back when NASA was more suited to making fireworks than interplanetary vessels. After lots of booms, we send mice into space. Then humans. And finally, we blast off for the newly christened Planet Nova. And blast off they do, keeping the main engine on full burn all the way from Earth to Nova. This caused a wave of laughter as Bert tacked footage of the rocket travelling horizontally, engine spouting flame, over a pine forest. Might want to switch the engine off in the atmosphere, Captain. Unless you’re intending to park that thing in the planets core.

 

Of course, they manage to land via the perfectly-realised technique of reversing the takeoff footage and superimposing it over footage of a field. Wait, did I say “Perfectly-realised”? That was probably a typo. I meant “laughable”. Two members of the crew don deep-sea diving outfits… spacesuits! I meant space suits. That’s what they are, all right. Heading out, they subject the atmosphere to a battery of tests to see if it’s breathable. All of which seem less than necessary once they point out the stock footage deers and bearcubs frolicking nearby.

 

The science scenes garnered a lot of laughs, none more so when one of the crew tries to peer into a microscope. She’s still wearing her titanic fishbowl helmet, of course. (“Houston, we have a problem. Everyone’s an idiot and I can’t see a frickin’ thing!”). They also proved conclusively what the U.S.A considered essential equipment for an interplanetary journey… a microscope, a tape recorder the size of coffee table, a selection of rifles and an A-Bomb. (Gee, I wonder if that’ll come in handy?) More amusement stemmed from some wild intuitive leaps. “We have no idea of the planets daily cycle. So let’s say it’s 3 in the afternoon!”. Sure, Captain. And while we’re about it, let’s say it’s Christmas Day, too! 

 

One of the featured players turned up mid-way through the flick. Little Joe the Honey Bear (Sorry, SPACE Honey Bear, I guess) did his fuzzy level best to steal the show. Which is pretty easy to do when you spend half the flick being swung around by your tail. Could we get a representative of the Humane Society on-set, stat? He also had the ability to vanish from scenes at will, thanks to Bert primitives grasp of continuity. In fact, for a roving planet of Mystery, Planet Nova was well-stocked with suspiciously familiar flora and fauna. Of course, Bert can’t resist tossing in a giant insect to menace the crew  part-way through the flick. (The initials “B.I.G” became a trademark as Bert’s career advanced. Giant grasshoppers, Amazing Colossal Men, oversized rodents and titanic ants were all part of his future films.) The special effects on this are less than awe-inspiring, seeing as how the matting make it somewhat transparent. Okay, REALLY transparent.

 

Speaking of primitive, did you see that word “Dinosaur” in the titles? Well, if you’re expecting some 50’s Jurassic Park action, you have to be prepared to wait. Throughout the flick one character constantly  wants to go check out an island which is (depending on the line of dialogue you choose to believe) is either covered in strange vegetation or barren as all get out. Once on the Mysterious Island of Mystery, our all-American heroes (finally) encounter a terrifying selection of… well, lizards with spikes and horns glued on. (Hey, Humane Society? We’re really sorry, yeah?) For our entertainment we get long, painful scenes of an iguana (Playing a T-Rex… um, sure.) and a small alligator fighting while the humans hide in a cave. The manly space captain does get injured during the tussle, but only because he runs to save Little Joe. Dude, there’s only a choice of four, but you’re officially the biggest idiot on the planet.

 

A skink turns up (Me: “Look! A triceratops!”) to join in the battle. Our heroes beat a hasty retreat, running into a mammoth. A MAMMOTH mammoth, seeing as how it’s been superimposed into the shot with little regard for that whole “scale” thing. We’re talking Kong-sized, folks. Once they’re safely out of harms way, the Astroyanks take the usual U.S Foreign Relations approach. Hey, they’ve hauled that A-bomb all the way from Earth, so why NOT make like a planet-killing comet, huh? I led a brief “U.S.A! U.S.A!” chant as the mushroom cloud went up. The narrator capped things off perfectly with the phrase “Civilization had been brought to Planet Nova”. And the irradiated honey bears thank you, Earthlings. You maniacs! You blew it all to hell, didn’t you?! MANIACS!!!!

 

At the next break we made much sport of Doug for his country’s’ approach to scientific discovery. My take was that the movie proved that what took nature and Darwinism 200 million years to achieve took four Americans less than 24 hours. On the other hand, not once did either of the two female crewmembers have to make coffee for their male shipmates. Strike one minor blow for womans liberation, I suppose.

 

OCD or Religious Nuts?: Nope, but two fully paid-up members of the NRA, one feels.

Horrific Leg Injury?: The amount of times one woman fell down, I figured her ankles were made of balsa wood.

Women of Dubious Morals?: How dare you, sir! These are both clean-living, soon-to-be married American women!

Pointy Metal Violence?: Screw that! This is the U.S of A, son. We got the Bomb!

Scrawny Supporting Actor?: Only in the stock footage.

Hairy Chests?: Hairy back, front and tail. I meant Joe, not Captain Manly.

 

Skeeters Summary: Not much for scientific accuracy, but a nice little nostalgic time-waster.

 

I rejoined Doug’s group, grabbing one of the pushed-to-the-side seats in deference to my already-complaining back. I was now sitting at a 90-degree angle to the screen, but that only add a note of strangeness to what was about to unfold.

Skeeter

THE 2008 V MOVIE MARATHON: PART 1

Part 8a-Play-d’oh!

Sunday, 04:35-GET WELL SOON, MR. BILL

 

The flick we were about the see was, according to Ant, the only existing print left in the world. And it even started with a Short Subject. Get Well Soon, Mr. Bill is a five-minute long piece of surrealism, concerning the title character (a plasticine model) and our Narrator, Mr. Hand. (Played by someone’s hand, of course.) Mr Hand is visiting Mr. Bill in hospital. Since Mr. Bill can’t remember what happened to him, Mr. Hand takes us on a five-minute long summary of Mr. Bills life. It’s also a five-minute examination of how many ways you can fold, spindle or mutilate a plasticine puppet. Every line of the script leads to another pun-related mangling. Bill is run over, decapitated, blended, flattened and flambéed for our amusement.

 

It amused me, anyway.

 

As soon as the film-makers ran out of ideas for nasty shit to do to Mr. Bill, it was over. Nice to see a one-joke film that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.

 

Part 8b-Kentucky Fried Amazon Women on the Groove Tube.

Sunday, 04:40-MR. MIKE’S MONDO VIDEO

 

We rolled into the main feature. It’s a sketch-comedy compilation, filmed as a Saturday Night Live special that was rejected by the networks, then picked up as a feature film. It apparently tanked at the box office, appeared on home video for a time, then vanished into obscurity. (But guess what… at least bits of it are on Youtube. Along with every other piece of video footage every shot by man.)

 

Some time ago I watched the Canadian sketch comedy compilation The Groove Tube. It hadn’t aged well, getting one laugh from me. A recent re-screening of The Kentucky Fried Movie fared better, although there were still some segments that went on too long with a decent punchline. So could this piece of comedy surrealism be funny after all this time?

 

In a word, yes. A spoof of the 70’s “Mondo” shockumentaries, it holds up pretty well. An early segment showing a swimming school for cats does go on too long, but it’s pretty obviously deliberately planned that way. A musical number seems unnecessary, and the “Church of Jack Lord” sketch may baffle anyone too young to remember “Hawaii 5-0”. But on the whole, I found a lot to laugh about. The best crowd reactions were to the one-liner “Coming Up Next” gags. (The brilliant “Christmas on Other Planets” being the stand-out favourite. “Nazi Potholders” was another great visual.)

 

But I did mention the film was pretty surreal, yeah? How surreal? Get this… the projection booth accidentally switched two reels… and it still made sense! Sure, the Church of Jack Lord Sketch was cleaved in twain, the “Laser Bra 2000” bit was thrown out of sequence, but it wasn’t as jarring as say, the reversed reel of Girly back in ’05. In fact, the only reason we knew what had happened was that the print still had “Insert Commercial #...” markers. They suddenly jumped from commercial 2 to commercial 5. Well, if you’re going to splice a film together wrong, it’s best to do it to either this one, or Pulp Fiction. Who’s going to know the difference?

 

Finally, there was one part of the film that was a surreal experience for me. When the “Mondo Video” theme tune started up, I could swear I knew the melody they were singing the lyrics over. A minute later it dawned on me. They were using “Telstar”, originally recorded by the Tornadoes, produced by Joe Meek. During the flick, three more versions of “Telstar” were played. And why was this surreal to me? Because my inspiration for creating the V Marathon Mixtape comes from Chigago-ite Tim “Telsterman” Lehnerer. Not only does Tim create a mixtape for the B-Fest 24-hour Marathon every year, he’s also clinically obsessed with Joe Meek. To the point where he’s collected nearly TWO HUNDRED cover versions of “Telstar”. I e-mailed him about the four he may have missed.. I’m guessing he’ll be hunting down a VHS tape of this flick on E-bay sometime soon.

 

I also already know one track that’s going on next years CD.

 

OCD or Religious Nuts?: ”Go in the name of Jack Lord. Book ‘em, Dan-o!”

Horrific Leg Injury?: Kitty hang-gliding takes no prisoners.

Women of Dubious Morals?: No, the vintage full-frontal nudity was very tasteful and morally upright.

Pointy Metal Violence?: More like cartoon laser violence. Via lingerie.

Scrawny Supporting Actor?: More than likely with large cast. Hey, it’s Bill Murray!

Hairy Chests?: See above. Hey, it’s Dan Ackroyd!

 

Skeeters Summary: Some people bagged this film at breakfast, I defended it. It was the anti-Ruins.

 

One film left to breakfast. And as in ’07, we’re going into the MGM archives for a Sci-Fi Classic!

 

Part 9-Guy Pearce Not Included

Sunday, 06:00-THE TIME MACHINE

 

I was pretty relieved to see this film appear on the bill. Partially because it’s a great flick, but more importantly this year, because it’s one I’ve seen a half-dozen times before. And interestingly, one I’ve only watched all the way through once. Since it plays a lot on MGM, I’m constant stumbling across it while channel-surfing. In the last few years I’ve gotten into an odd habit with it. I watch the first half, from the opening, the rapid-fire journey to World War III, to the year 800,000 and change. And then I zone out, flip channels or fall asleep. The middle third with our blissed-out hippy descendants the Eloi just doesn’t hold my attention for some reason. The finale, where the anti-war Traveller is forced to return the concept of violence to the world wakes me up again.

 

This time was no exception. I’d been going pretty well, having a couple of yawns during Mr. Mike. But with ten hours to go, the baby-related lack of sleep was catching up. And so I settled into the stalls, watched the Travellers long, gloriously Technicolored journey through three wars and a lot of stop-motion, then propped my pillow on the armrest and caught some Z’s.

 

I got about twenty minutes sleep. I probably could have kipped on to breakfast, by the angle of my body was putting pressure on my right foot. By the time the Morlocks showed up, I had the worst case of pins and needles in many the year. Much quiet cursing ensued. Oh well, it ensured I got to see Rod Taylor kicking some righteous Morlock ass, at least.

 

OCD or Religious Nuts?: Futuristic Flower Children, mainly.

Horrific Leg Injury?: No, but a stuntman gives us a great full-body burn at the climax.

Women of Dubious Morals?: Quite the opposite.

Pointy Metal Violence?: A little metal violence and a hell of a lot of good old-fashioned fisticuffs.

Scrawny Supporting Actor?: The Eloi live off fruits and vegetables. Skinny bastards.

Hairy Chests?: The Philishave was extinct long before the Morlocks evolved…

 

Skeeters Summary: Still an excellent film. But sleep is excellent, too. Mmm, sleep.

 

Sunday, 7:45AM-BREAKFAST!

 

We stumbled out into the bright natural light of Sunday morning. (“It burrrns!”) The Espresso Café that had accommodated us the last few years had either closed or declined to host 100 sweaty nerds this year. Instead, we headed to Café Whare Kai. (For the non-Kiwis reading this, that’s Café “House of Food”. It sounds better non-translated.)

 

I dragged out the video camera again, getting some reactions to the nights festivities. I also discovered later that my camera over-exposes like a bastard when you film in bright sunlight. One interview looks like the guy is standing in a supernova. Catching up with Andrew Todd in the chow line, we made the decision to drop to the back to catch up with some of the other regulars. This would prove to be a mis-step, as Café Whare Kai’s kitchen produces excellent food, but is in no way set up for speedy service. By the time Andrew and I received our bacon and eggs on home-made bread (Which was friggin’ delicious) it was maybe ten minutes to 9. We’d been told they’d be kicking off again at 8:45 with some giveaways and the last premiere. Our breakfast companions had already scarfed their breakfast and dashed back to the Hollywood.

 

Andrew was bouncing up and down in his seat until I reminded him he was attending the Wellington marathon as well. The chances were good that he’d see this flick again. As for me, I had made the decision that I could miss the start of a film this one time. I’d arrived too late before the show to secure any solid bakery-style food for midnight snacking, and the 20-minute dinner break had been too short for me to dash out for anything without missing the start of Role Models. Breakfast for once had priority.

 

And breakfast was good.

 

Part 10-Where The Bloody Hell Are Your Entrails?

Sunday, 09:00(ish)-DYING BREED

 

“What did I miss? What film is this?”

 

Okay, I missed the start, but I was brought up to speed pretty quickly. It’s a new Australian horror set in Tasmania. (Although apparently filmed in Victoria.) The core cast and set-up had echoes of The Ruins, featuring two couples heading out into the wilderness. Also like The Ruins, they’re bound for the back of beyond for scientific reasons, with one of the girls on the trail of the thought-to-be extinct Tasmanian Tiger. And there’s also a plot thread with her missing sister. Like in… that other film.

 

 

Once again, we spend a while tracing their steps into the wop wops, allowing some character building. A little too much in the case of one character, who becomes the films’ Shelly (AKA the Obnoxious Joker/Aussie Larrikin you want to punch) very quickly. After a short time you’re left wondering why anyone would want to spend any more than a few hours with this guy, let alone a week in the wilderness. About the time he beats the shit out of a guy on suspicion of vandalising his truck, you kind of lose much sympathy for him. Gee, I wonder if he might be getting a painful lesson at some stage in the film.

 

There’s also a bit of Exposition by Flashback in this section, which threw me a bit. Mainly because people seemed to be flashing back to things they didn’t see. Either I missed some early bit that inferred telepathy or someone was indulging in crass flashspeculation.

 

Being a horror film, we also get some nudity to tide us over until the gore starts. As is only good and right.

 

To avoid giving away too much of the plot, I’ll just list a few question the film raised.

 

  • Wouldn’t film about a family of Tasmanian Tiger Werewolves be cool? This isn’t that film.
  • If our group really wanted to antagonise the small-town locals , shouldn’t they have brought an oversexed transvestite or two?
  • Is there a factory somewhere churning out creepy little girls? They’re everywhere these days!
  • When a group of creepy local yokels start insisting you try their meat pies, shouldn’t you be mildly hesitant?
  • Even if the town is called “Pieman”?
  • If small-town Aussie locals get overly-friendly, shouldn’t you shout “WOLF CREEK! WOLF CREEK!” and make a break for it?
  • If you’re going to suddenly and spontaneously decide to bone the hell out of you significant other, shouldn’t you at least check to make sure you’re alone?
  • Or turn the lights on the benefit of the viewing public? (Yes, I meant me. Sue me, I’m male.)
  • Should people be surprised that their cell phones no longer work in the wilderness? In fact, should they be surprised they work at all in Tassie?
  • Can Annoying Joker Guy get any more annoying? (Answer: Yes, he could.)
  • If someone claims you’re in an area of wilderness that no-one’s ever set foot in and you instantly find a beer bottle, is it too late to elect a new guide?
  • Do Creepy Little Girls have teleporting abilities? They’re ALWAYS appearing just when you think you’re alone!
  • If you’ve spent a whole day trekking into the wilderness only to have a creepy little girls appear in the same cave as you, do you think you walked one humongous fucking circle or something?
  • Maybe she’s some sort of reverse leprechaun, appearing whenever you’re not looking?
  • Is it a little creepy that EVERYONE in the town seems to be a blood relative? (strums banjo nervously)
  • Where’s the horror movie character that responds to an order to spread out or split up in the dark, scary woods with “Blow that out your ass, pal”?
  • Or “You want to split up? Sure, you go that way and the other four of us will go this way…”?
  • Is this POV stalker a Voorhees or a Myers?
  • If your boyfriend TWICE tells you to “stay here!” before running off and leaving you in the woods with a killer, is it time to get a new boyfriend?
  • Did this film just turn into “The Tassie Chainsaw Massacre”?
  • Or “Bruce: Portrait of a Serial Killer”?
  • Man, lots of mines and massive dams in this uncharted wilderness. Should you have researched this trip a little more?
  • Do post-mortem horrific leg injuries count in the Running Themes List?
  • Did our Obnoxious Aussie Larrikin deserve THAT? Icky.
  • Are they using the 1970’s Doctor Who trick of running down the same tunnels from different angles?
  • Could you stop flashing back to someone else’s’ POV. It’s really distracting.
  • Is there a dentist in the house?
  • Is anyone getting out of here alive?
  • Is it over?
  • Well, is it over now?
  • Seriously, how many endings do you need?
  • Look, you’ve faded to black and put up a few factual captions. Do you think we really need another ending?

 

Apparently they did.

 

OCD or Religious Nuts?: These guys worship at the Church of the Backwoods Loony, all right.

Horrific Leg Injury?: Horrific EVERYTHING injuries.

Women of Dubious Morals?: Yes, the prepubescent version. Not like that, you perv.

Pointy Metal Violence?: You betcha.

Scrawny Supporting Actor?: Scrawny, hairy and drooling. I love small towns.

Hairy Chests?: Who could tell under the beards. It’s a Gimli-village!

 

Skeeters Summary: A decent watch.. and look, I made it through the post-breakfast movie without falling asleep! Go me!

 

Ants right-hand man Geoff hit the stage afterwards to lets us know that the lineup was being re-programmed on the fly. Apparently some older films had practically disintegrated on the reels, sending Ant hauling ass back to the Filmhead Archive for replacements. Talking to him at the end of the night, Ant revealed the two that didn’t make the night in one piece were Heads, a German expressionist horror from the 50’s and The Conqueror. That’s the Genghis Khan bio-pic starring no less than John Wayne! Disappointing, but considering how strong the lineup was, subs and all, we can’t complain.

 

We moved on. Four films to go. And we were heading back to the day-glo, synthesized world of the 80’s!


Skeeter

THE 2008 V MOVIE MARATHON: PART 2

Part 11-David Strassman: Kung-Fu Master!

Sunday, 10:30-NINJA TURF

 

Seeing a movie like Ninja Turf on the big screen is an interesting experience. It looks like one of the countless action flicks relaesed direct to video during the VHS boom. It’s amazing that there even WAS a print struck of this film.But this is more than just a run-of-the-mill 80’s actioner. There’s a few elements to this film that elevates it from “average” to a movie I want to marry and have babies with. Things that made this one of the funniest things I’ve seen on screen this year.

 

Number one was the dubbing. Or to be precise, the lack of it. There’s a reason I made a less-than-topical David Strassman reference about this flick. Ninja Turf is seemingly populated entirely by ventriloquists. And this is me talking. I’ve watched my fair share of badly-dubbed knung-fu. And your share and half of that guys share, too. Trust me, I’ve seen a LOT of badly-dubbed kung-fu. But I’ve never seen a PARTIALLY-dubbed kung-fu flick.

 

I’m not kidding. In most scenes of this movie and in EVERY group scene, the crack voice-over artists only bother to dub in half the dialogue. There were constant shots of peoples lips opening and closing in complete silence. Extras would lean into shots and deliver their one line of dialogue in mime. The main characters father was almost reduced to a mute, his few lines of dialogue being dubbed into random patches of dead air. If the dubbing was any more wretched his voice would have been heard in other peoples scenes.

 

The next thing that endeared the film to me was our two male leads. We met the first at a typical American high school. He gets menaced by a gang of toughs. Our second male lead, a much older man, presumably his teacher, comes to his aid. For a second it appears to be a kung-fu version of Stand By Me. Until the next scene, when the “teacher” is seated in class, getting chastisted by his ACTUAL teacher. That’s right, this movie seriously cast an actor in his late thirties (at the very least) as a high schooler. This led to a kind of rolling wave of laughter as his character, visible frown lines and all, tried to convince us he was a fresh-faced teen. By the time he started called a slightly-young woman “Mommy”, it was both hilarious and slightly disturbing. I got off my line of the night as he blurted “Mom, I have a problem!”. “I have an aging disease!” was my response. The folks in the back row seemed to appreciate that one.

 

There was also a minor thread of homoeroticsm running through the film. Ok, not so much a thread as a cable. The type used to tie up a battleship. By the time Bruce Senior Citizen had handed a banana to a naked guy in the worlds only Open-Plan Living Room Shower with Attached Jungle Foliage (Look, I’m just reporting what I saw, okay?) the whole flick was beginning to resemble a failed pilot for “Graham Norton: Ninja Warrior”. Another of my notes mentions “Homoerotic-fu!”. Four days later, I have no idea what that looked like. I’m assuming it was amusing.

 

And finally, there was the complex and tightly plotted storyline. I’d better write this down… does anyone have a postage stamp? Basically, the worlds two oldest students wander around, magically managing to run into every kung-fu fighter in the Continental United States. A trip to the local liqour store turns into a group beatdown. Thugs attack them for the heinous crime of being Asian. (Gleefully mangling their racial abuse once more. Perhaps the dubbers just didn’t know any offensive terms for Koreans?) A face-off with a Latino gang turns into a car chase I dubbed “The Illegal Immigrant Rally”. Brilliant kung-fu lines were uttered, such as the brilliantly specific “I’ll break your ball!”. Eventually I decided to play the geek card with my comment of “I find your lack of plot disturbing.” I probably owe Big George royalties for that one.

 

A token attempt at an actual plot is offered as our Geriatric Youth Gone Wild head to a wine-and-giant-pile-of-blow party to rip off a drug gealers stash. Said dealer is somewhat distracted, getting busy in the hot tub with a lady of questionable morals. This is so integral to the plot that we keep cutting back to the sex scene, even after our hereos have left the building. In fact, we keep cutting back to the sex scene as the lads are drinking beers back home. I think it was about this time that I announced how great I thought this movie was. After all, you can’t spell “Great” without 5/13th’s of “Gratuitous Sex”, can you?

 

Let’s face it, at this stage of the proceedings, it was good to have a near-plotless film. Every flimsy excuse for a scrap was used to ensure a regular flow of fight scenes, much cliched romance blossomed and the final tragic ending was the new benchmark for overwrought melodrama. I’m not sure if this was one of the substitute films, but if so, the other films gave their lives for a noble cause. A badly-dubbed and laughable cause, but a noble one nevertheless.

 

OCD or Religious Nuts?: I think this Running Theme may have run out of steam.

Horrific Leg Injury?: It’s an 80’s kung-fu film. Take a guess.

Women of Dubious Morals?: The drug dealer is probably STILL having hot-tub nookie as we speak.

Pointy Metal Violence?: It’s an 80’s kung-fu film. Take a guess.

Scrawny Supporting Actor?: Badly-dubbed scrawny supporting actor ahoy!

Hairy Chests?: It’s an 80’s kung-fu film. Take a… oh, you know.

 

Skeeters Summary: If that guys was a teenager, I’m King Ludwig II of Bavaria. And I’m not.

 

Part 12-Well, It’s Still Better Than “Glitter”, at Least.

Sunday, 12:00-MOONSHINE WOMAN

 

If I was to take a guess, I would have to say that this was a substitute film. Not because it was out of place, or because of the quality of the flick. I just get the feeling that if Ant had to grab a replacement film in a hurry, he would have gone for this one as a prefect late-marathon choice. It had all the classic elements of the sexploitation flicks we’ve seen beofre… the terrible dialogue. The cliched-as-hell plot used to wrap some tawdry near-nudity and extended cheesecake shots. The stock footage used to pad out the film. (After all, you can’t be expected to film ALL the scenes for your sixty minute epic, can you? And don’t all sexploitation fans enjoy ten minutes of motorcycle racing footage?)

 

But, like our previous flick, this movie was not content to be an everyday T & A quickie. There was to be no wallowing in mediocrity for Moonshine Woman. This movie graced itself by being one of the most ineptly-made films I’ve ever watched. And I’ve seen Black Devil Doll From Hell!

 

Let’s go to work.

 

·        Moonshine Women, from the people that brought you Honey Britches. Would it surprise you to know I’ve seen Honey Britches? It’s no masterpiece, but it’s about 500 tiumes better-made than this film.

·        Hmm, black-and-white sexploitation. Bang goes the chance of frontal nudity.

·        There was a movie-long glitch on the print in the form of two pulsating oil stain-like blobs. Whenever someone had a close-up, it was like they were being attacked by sentient acne.

·        It’s the longest walk-in-the-woods scene since The Curse of Bigfoot. Or was it The Legend of Bigfoot?

·        Every cast and crew member gets their credit up front. And meanwhile our leading lady continues her excruciatingly long hike through the woods.

·        Lucky it’s a small crew or the movie would be over before she reaches her house.

·        Hooray, she made it! Let’s make with the hootin’, hollering, feuding and fighting! Oh, and the sleaze, of course.

·        Holy crap, the men in black just arrived.

·        It’s like a scene from Pulp Fiction if Quentin Tarrentino was a talentless hillbilly with a six-dollar budget.

·        I hope everyone is enjoying this dialogue, it’ll be the last for a while.

·        They’re threatening to make her a Moonshine Widow!

·        What the hell? Did they seriously scratch the negative to simulate a muzzle flash?

·        They DID! They did scratch the negative!

·        Moonshine Hubby appears to have been shot with a chocolate sauce gun.

·        Enter Mr. Narrator. We’ll be treated to his dulcet tones for the rest of the flick.

·        “Sorry about killing your husband, Ma’am! C’mon, let’s make you a star!”

·        Moonshine Woman really got over that whole “dead husband” thing pretty quick.

·        Dialogue becomes optional for the second movie in a row. Are we meant to be improvising the plot like some sort of “Whose Line is it Anyway” game?

·        “Hi, I’m the sleazy mobster who killed your husband. Wanna parade around in your underwear for me. It’s a modelling thing. Honest.”

·        I bet even he was surprised she fell for that.

·        Umm, hubba hubba, I guess.

·        I guess a woman in her granny panties was considered “hot” back in the day.

·        This is the most inappropriate musical accompaniment for a sexual assault I’ve ever seen.

·        Really, if they use any more perky library music, a 1950’s newsreel about America’s car industry is going to start up.

·        It’s Cleavage-Cam!

·         Look, knee him in the balls or something? Don’t get all complient! Lady, you’re not helping liberated woman like the one that helped nuke the crap out of Planet Nova a few years back.

·        Well, your husbands dead and his murderer just about date-raped you. Let’s go to Daytona Beach to celebrate!

·        “Look at at the neat things we’re narrating, audience! Try not to notice that we’re never in the same shot! No, we’ve never heard of this ‘stock footage’ you speak of.”

·        Geez, this has turned into a travelogue with tits!

·        Well, one brief flash of tits. It’s the early 60’s, after all.

·        Yes, I’m convinced that balcony is part of a high-class Daytona Beach hotel and not some run-down building in the low-rent section of the directors home town.

·        Ahh, the fallback of any low-budget film-maker. Taking the camera to some public event for free crowd shots.

·        And they couldn’t even do that right. Instead we get an endless series of static shots from the infield of the Daytona Motorcycle GP, intercut with blurry shots of Moonshine Woman and Sleazy Gangster watching the race. Gosh, how exciting.

·        A rider fell down! Too bad we missed seeing it.

·        And again!

·        I think this is a 500-lap race, because we’ve seen about  485 of them.

·        What is this, ESPN: The Movie?

·        Hooray, it’s over. I wonder who won?

·        We now show you what the boardroom scene from The Untouchables would have been like is DeNiro was played by Marcel Marceau.

·        Well, there’s a half-dozen mobsters in the room. Better get the Narrator to introduce each one as if he’s a bachelor on The Love Connection.

·        The inappropriately perky score is back!

·        Wait, is that polka music? For mobsters?

·        Hold the f’n phone, is that a polka version of can-can music?

·        Now it’s “Frere Jacques”. This is so fucking surreal.

·        And gut-bustingly funny.

·        Jesus, that was a snatch of “La Marseilles”. You have got to be kidding me!

·        And to prove I wasn’t hallucinating, the scene is so long they LOOP the linrary music and we get to hear the French Polka Medley again. It’s even funnier the second time around.

·        “Well, you’ve listened to me narrate this scene long enough… let’s listen to the Sleazy Mobster for a while!”

·        Hmm, either he missed his cue or I’ve gone deaf.

·        DIALOGUE!

·        Shit, did they record the script using two tin cans on a string?

·        And people call Troll 2 the worst movie ever made. At least the sound recordist on that flick knew which end of the mic the actors were supposed to talk into.

·        There’s a weird bassy distortion during the scenes with dialogue, too.

·        Hi, Narrator! We enjoyed that three minutes when this WASN’T a silent movie.

·        It’s the zero-budget 60’s David Blain!

·        Well, that magic trick SEEMED pointless, but I’m sure it’ll pay off in the end.

·        Sleazy Mobster whacks Moonshine Womans’ boyfriend. Maybe she might think about NOT sleeping with the multiple murderer now?

·        Sleazy Mobsters’ making Moonshine Woman a drink, and he has something important to say. Let’s listen!

·        For the second time, the phrase “Let’s listen!” was followed by two minutes of silence and stage business. I was sorely tempted to yell “Oh shit, I’ve gone deaf!”, but it was late and people sleeping through this travesty might not appreciate being woken.

·        Sleazy Mobster drops two ice cubes into a glass. Thanks to the audio levels in Bizzaro-World, this sounds like the end of the world. Screw the sleeping people. My very public comment of “Geez, those could have sunk the Titanic!” was probably the only real theatre-wide comment of the night. The line-up wasn’t conducive to public heckling, I guess. Either that or we were afraid Ant would spank us.

·        Finally, Sleazy Mobster speaks. Hey, that bass distortion is back.

·        Wait, that’s not bass distortion. That’s… HOLY SHIT! That’s his motherfucking HEARTBEAT!

·        My jaw is on the floor. Somehow, someone managed to recreate that gag from Singin’ in the Rain in real life through sheer incompetence.

·        Brilliantly, everytime the guy speaks, his heartrate increases. Acting is a full-body workout.

·        Either that woman is dead, or she’s wearing her microphone in an uncomfortable place.

·        Hello, Mrs. Sleazy Mobster, can I fix you a… CATFIGHT! CATFIGHT!

·        Y’know, we haven’t really seen much of Moonshine Womans’ fabulous stardom that the Narrator was talking about at the start of the film.

·        Remember what I said about NOT sleeping with your husband and boyfriends killer?  Oh, please yourself.

·        We’ve got full backal nudity! In the 60’s, this was hardcore porn!

·        Well, we’re into the exciting conclusion. Let the smallest, cheapest Mexican Standoff in the last 40 years begin!

·        So, you couldn’t afford blanks and yet you shoot a scene where four men pretend to fire about 30 times each? Ooooo-kay.

·        DEADLY NEGATIVE SCRATCHES!

·        Man, this is a relxing gunfight. Just keep gently shaking your guns at each other, gentlemen.

·        “Oh man, I’m sleepy. I might just lie down slowly and take a nap…”

·        Sleazy Mobster Guy makes one final bad call and is horribly David Copperfield-ed to death. Here’s hoping the next trick is to make this movie vanish.

·        Is she seriously thinking of walking off into the sunset?

·        Narrator Guy starts going off-script. Just let it die, pal. No, I don’t care what your mother used to tell you as a kid! Why are you implying you’re a character in this film? Are  you trying to get a part in the sequel? SHUT UP!

·        And we’re done. Unbelieveable.

 

 

OCD or Religious Nuts?: Yep, this one’s history.

Horrific Leg Injury?: Nope, and his heart sounded fine, too.

Women of Dubious Morals?: Depending on the random character motivation the scene called for, yes, no or maybe.

Pointy Metal Violence?: Only if it could be realised by negative scratches.

Scrawny Supporting Actor?: Possibly. Look, I’ve been typing for four days. My brain hurts.

Hairy Chests?: Oh, yeah.

 

Skeeters Summary: Worse aural levels than Desperate Living, better dubbing than Ninja Turf. But only just. Brilliant stuff.

 

I’d watched Moonshine Woman with Annette in the right-hand side seats. With two films to go, my energy levels were starting to bottom out. I was going to need something action-packed to keep me awke during the penultimate film.

Skeeter

THE 2008 V MOVIE MARATHON: PART 3

I’d watched Moonshine Woman with Annette in the right-hand side seats. With two films to go, my energy levels were starting to bottom out. I was going to need something action-packed to keep me awke during the penultimate film.

 

Part 13-Not Exactly a Women in Prison Flick

Sunday 13:10-SHORT EYES

 

Okay, it’s a prison flick. A Men in Prison flick. This is different. Whoa, Curtis Mayfield is acting in this! Early Bruce Davison film, too. Oh shit, 70’s prison slang. I’m never going to follow this. Man, this is a lot of dialogue to cope with twenty-one hours into the show. People’s lips are moving, but I don’t have clue one as to what the words mean. Is this taking place in real-time?

 

Wait a minute.

 

Oh, fuck. This is an adaption of a play, isn’t it?

 

I checked the IMDB later that night. Yes it was. Ten minutes in and I was lost. Topo much dialogue, too few working braincells to process it. I put my pillow back on the armrest and closed my eyes, turning the film into a radio play for a while. It didn’t help.

 

Man, this pillow is comfy.

 

When I woke up twenty mintues or so later, I was a little more focused. I was able to get the gist of the film through a long monolgue from Christopher George, playing an accused child molester fearing for his life after being tossed into the general population of a tough prison.

 

This is some heavy shit to hit us with, Ant.

 

This was a real departure from the norm. So much so that I’ll dispense with any attempted plot summary or Running Themes. Suffice it to say, it’s worth a watch. Just be warned, it makes for some very uncomfortable viewing.

 

Ballsy choice, dude.

 

Time for the big finale. There was just time for the last few giveaways. Doug and Andrew did the B-Movie Crew proud by entering the Who Can Fake the Best Kung-Fu Routine Contest. Both did well, but were trumped by joint winners Casio (With his perfectly-pitched Bruce Lee screams) and Shane. (Who risked injury with his forward rolls. I’ve breakdanced on that stage and those boards are HARD!) And so, the Fan Favourite Flick was upon us. Ant called it “The Greatest Kinetic Action Flick Ever”. I could have used this film 2 hours ago. Hmm, I wonder if it’s…

 

Part 14-Been Raiding my DVD Cabinet, Ant?

Sunday 14:45-MAD MAX 2 (THE ROAD WARRIOR)

 

Did I mention that I am an enormous geek?

 

The moment the film (faded to a beautifully nostalgic sepia) started, I knew what it was. Not by music this time. No, it was the caption “A Kennedy Miller Production”. That was all it took. Fuck, I even knew it was Mad Max 2, rather than the not-so action orientated original.

 

I think my shout of “AWEEEEESOMME!” was the last  burst of energy I had. I was wide awake for the whole film, but basically just watched it in a state of happy solitude. Passing comments would have been pointless, any way. The volume was WAY the fuck back up, and at times this is a LOUD flick. The action scenes were fine, but the extreme volume sometimes made the score slightly painful. Part-way through, I sudeenly noticed Esther putting something on. Somehow, she had managed to acquire a pair of industrial earmuffs during the show. I’m still not sure if she had those in her car, or whether the Hollywood staff found them for her.

 

Do I even need to talk about this film? No, no I don’t. If you’ve sen it, you know why I love it. (I was in fact going to watch it the day before the show as a rev-up. At the last minute, I changed my mind and watched Death Race 2000 instead. My Movie-Sense must have tingled.) If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. Right now. What are you waiting for? GO!

 

OCD or Religious Nuts?: Nope, but a great Ranting Villain.

Horrific Leg Injury?: Hell yeah, but the horrific forhead injury topped it.

Women of Dubious Morals?: Despite what Esthers boyfriend thought, that WASN’T a women playing Wes’s bitch..

Pointy Metal Violence?: Lots.

Scrawny Supporting Actor?: I’m dressing Aiden as Feral Kid for Halloween as soon as he’s walking.

Hairy Chests?: Encased in leather in a desert summer. The future must STINK!

 

Skeeters Summary: Are you still here? GO WATCH THIS FILM!

 

And so, after the greatest final twenty minutes in action movie history, (Okay, maybe it’s a tie with Commando) it was all over for another year. As usual, Cherie had already headed off early, having seen Mad Max 2 ten or so times before. Me too, but I wasn’t going anywhere. We cleaned up our squalor pretty quickly, packed up our remaining supplies and stumbled out into the light. Dawn had left my mother to look after Aiden, so we had enough room to give Ben a ride home. A five-minute journey to his place took a little over twice that after his sleep-deprived state left him less than accurate in remembering directions. Still, he had made it through his first 24-hour V and lived to talk about. Incoherently, most probably, at least for the next day or so.

 

I was home around half-past five or threreabouts. As had happened in’07, I somehow gained my 26th wind, and was awake enough to change Aiden without putting the nappy on his head. The little guy had a bit of wind-relaed crabbyness afterwards, so by the time I was able to eat it was past 8pm, a full 12 hours after my last main meal. It could have been a lightly braised Converse sneaker, and it still would have been delicious at that stage.

 

I was running on fumes by this stage, which made my decison to start this write-up seem perfectly logical. I also out on the tape of Little Girl, Big Tease that had screened on the previous night’s “Incredibly Strange TV” slot. Mini-review: Should have been renamed “Little Girl, Huge Skanky Ho”. And I thought the Moonshine Woman had the moral compass of a Taiwanese hooker.

 

By the time I had reached the Prologue, I was writing indecipherable crap. I shut it down, aimed for my bed and let Mr Sandman do what he does best.

 

Thank God A.C is sleeping through the night.

 

The Final Thoughts

 

Ridiculously good line-up this year. A fifty-year span of the awesome and the awesomely awful. We never doubted you for a second, Ant.

 

Unless you bust out that third Jordowosky film, that is.

 

Well, so much for a shorter review this year. Pre-revisions, this is clocking in 15,000+ words, about the same as ’07. (But far shorter than the 22,000-word novella that was ’06.) It has, however, been the longest to write. I’ve been typing away in between work, baby time and sleep for six days. (And that “sleep” thing has only been clocking in at about six and a half hours a night, max. It’s now late Friday night. The Wellington Marathon is now only 17 hours away. I’m hoping they’re going to have just as good a time as we did. Because no matter how wiped out we feel on Monday, no matter how long it takes me to write this monster review, no matter how much we complained about Desperate Living, (and we complained a LOT!) we know that we’ve be back next year, come hell or high water.

 

Fuck Christmas. Marathon night is the REAL happiest time of the year.

 

The Thank Yous

 

Thanks as always to Ant, Geoff, Charlotte and the staff of the Hollywod for all the usual reasons.

 

Thanks to the staff of Café Whare Kai. Considering the line, to serve that many people in less than an hour was a great acheivement. And if you can make a simple plate of scarambled eggs taste that good with whatever herbs you added, I’m coming back for brunch ASAP.

 

And thanks to the nerd-herd, 90% of which went the distance. Fucking impressive stamina this year.

 

Next year is the tenth anniversary of the ‘Thon. It’s a long way off, but I’m already looking forward to it.

 

See you there.

Errate/Addendum: Thanks to Dave Brough for pointing out my original brainfart, citing Christopher George as the star of Short Eyes, not Bruce Davison. That'll teach me to type until midnight and then post withour re-reading what I chruned out.


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