Q: What's a worse idea than sitting through a bad movie?I swear, that joke is funny at four o'clock in the morning, especially if you haven't slept in nearly 24 hours. Well, almost funny.
A: Sitting through sixteen consecutive bad movies and trying not to fall asleep!
Yes folks, it's time for the annual State of My Cinematic Masochism report. Every January I go down to B-Fest, and every January I come back wondering what on earth is wrong with me. B-Fest? Why, it's Northwestern University's annual 24-hour B-movie festival, where viewers are treated to a wide selection of horror, science fiction, and exploitation films which range from "delightfully offbeat" to "eye-gougingly bad." Lookit those phrases that I just put in quotes. You could slap those on the back of a DVD case.
Yes, B-Fest is an ordeal, and not for the faint of, well, anything, really, since you have to spend a whole day in what amounts basically to a campus lecture hall. The Fest begins at 6:00 PM on (usually) the last Friday in January, and lasts until the 6:00 the next evening. The seats are cramped and difficult to sleep in, and the buildings hygiene facilities leave a great deal to be desired. Starbucks isn't open half as long as you'd like, and some guy who smells like cigarette smoke and broccoli always insists on sitting in the seat in front of you. So why do we do it? Why, for the movies of course.
B-Fest has movies unlike any you've ever seen. Sometimes that's a bad thing, but not always. The films usually range in age from the 1940s to the 1980s, and though you'll remember some of them from the late-night cable TV of your youth, many of them will be too obscure to even find pirated copies online. Many of us go year after year after year, and get recognized by other attendees as regulars. It's a sobering moment when that happens.
Anyway, I have not grown out of it yet, which means that last Friday I headed down to the Northwestern campus with matt_william, his girlfriend Jynette, evil_jim, and henrietta1. We got off to an unusually early start and had to kill time at the Belvedere Oasis before heading down to Mitsuwa Marketplace for provisions.
Mitsuwa Marketplace is small a Japanese mall in Arlington Heights, Illinois. It has changed over the years that I've been there, but has always contained a grocery store and food court. We grab lunch, then pick up snacks. The first couple of times I attended B-Fest, I made the mistake of buying most of my food at Mitsuwa. However, twenty four hours is a long time to subsist on nothing but junk food, and I have learned that the best way for me to stay awake is to bring apples, cut up veggies, hummus, tabouli, string cheese, and other such relatively-healthy snacks. Protein is good for keeping me awake. Anything that is traditionally sold in individually wrapped portions or colored artificially? Not so much. I did buy plenty of junk food, however, and will be reviewing it on my website soon, so there's that.
We arrived at Northwestern around 4:00, which is the earliest you can park on Friday without expecting a ticket, and went inside to stake out seats and meet up with our friend Tim. Eventually we were met by devianttouch, and I caught up with a few other friends from Madison, but more on that later. We settled into our seats as the retching hour neared, and as the lights dimmed, we turned forward in anticipation and dread of the films we would shortly see...
6:00 PM - Best of the Best (1989)
Impressively-mulleted Eric Roberts is a widower, dad, and formerly-good martial artist is selected to represent the U.S. in a mixed martial arts tournament against Korea. Also on tap for the U.S.: two guys who I won't mention again until the end, Chris Pen (who is a real jerk), and some Asian guy whose brother was killed in a previous tournament by one of the Koreans. They are led by James Earl Jones (a hardass) and some blond lady who doesn't get any respect.
This is the kind of summary you expect from someone who didn't really watch the movie, and that's the case here. Oh, I was present for it, but the first couple of films at B-Fest are always impossible to hear over the shouting of the audience. At any rate, we get some contrived drama: Eric Roberts quits the tournament at the second-to-last minute to be with his son who's just been hit by a car, then rejoins that the very last minute. Chris Penn grows up a little, and we see a flashback in which the Asian guy -- as an ice cream cone-toting kid -- watches his brother roundhoused to death by the Koran team's one-eyed member. There's a joke in there somewhere. Anyway, the ice cream cone falls on the ground, prompting one of this year's memes: "ICE CREAM!", shouted loudly, whenever something dramatic pulls at the audience's heartstrings.
In the end, the first two American fighters are totally outclassed, Chris Penn can't break quite as many bricks as his opponent, and Eric Roberts wipes the floor with his. Then the asian guy faces the eye-patched Korean who killed his bro. Just as the American is about to deliver the final -- and likely fatal -- blow, his teammates implore him to be a bigger person, and he forfeits the fight. The Americans lose, but the brother-killing Korean hobbles up to the American Asian Guy, and in broken English spouts an honest and tearful apology for... well, it was so loud that I couldn't tell whether he was sorry for killing the guy, or for ruining the ice cream. Either way, the Koreans give up their medals and everybody cries, and it's still a better ending than the usual "America! Eff Yeah!" wankery that usually ends these movies. Another meme suggested by Best of the Best is the word "TEAM!" shouted whenever appropriate. It is rarely appropriate to shout the word "TEAM!", but that didn't stop anybody.
7:50 PM - Astro Zombies (1968)
Directed by Ted Mikels, featuring John Carradine and Tura Satana, which is a mixed pedigree. I like Carradine. Satana has done some interesting (though not good) stuff. Mikels... Well, he directed The Corpse Grinders. You ever see The Corpse Grinders? No? 's fine. I've been wanting to see this movie for ages because it's infamous. However, after seeing it I'm not really sure why.
The film opens with a woman driving... and driving... and driving some more. Just as you begin to worry that you've been suckered into another viewing of Manos: The Hands of Fate, she turns into her garage and parks the car, only to be attacked by the Astro Zombie, whose skull/alien face looks like a Halloween mask. Cut to opening credits, which are played over cheesy footage of toy robots shooting each other. Total cost of movie so far, adjusted for inflation: $11.
Cut to a government meeting. Oily government guys are investigating the recent rash of violent murders, and hey, incidentally, we've been working on a project to create a synthetic astronaut who can be controlled by radio signals sent received directly by his brain. At least, we were working on it, until we had to fire our top scientist, Dr. Demarco.
Demarco is, of course, John Carradine, because John Carradine always plays mad scientists. Carradine is carrying out his experiments without government help, and yes, the murderous Astro Zombie is his. Unfortunately, the only brain available to him at the time had formerly belonged to a psychopath. Shades of Young Frankenstein ("Abby someone.").
Tura Satana shows up. She's a spy working for another country which would love to get its hands on the Astro Zombie, which has taken to stomping around while holding a flashlight to its head. I'm sorry, but people were still yelling, and it was difficult to make out the plot. Not that it matters; the general consensus online is that this movie has a serious storytelling problem, which is not improved by the insanely bad day/night continuity issues. But hey, this is a Ted V. Mikels film. You don't expect high class from the guy who wrote and directed The Worm Eaters. You ever see The Worm Eaters? No? 's fine.
Tura Satana eventually confronts Carradine to steal his secret, but Flashlight Zombie crashes the party. Everybody dies. No big loss. There is nudity, incidentally, which is normal for Ted V. Mikels, but surprising for 1968.
9:30 PM - To Catch a Yeti (1995)
Remember the Bumble from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? I always thought that was a yeti. Turns out that a yeti is actually a small animal who looks like a cross between Mac from Mac & Me and Gizmo from Gremlins. They're also vegetarians and sometimes they stow away in your luggage and end up following you home from Nepal.
This is the opening of To Catch a Yeti, the first really bad film of the fest. It's a made-for-TV production from 1995 and was made by and for people who have no standards. It's dumb.
So the yeti comes home with a guy and becomes his daughter's new best friend. Unbeknownst to them, an expert hunter, played by Meat Loaf, has been hired by a rich couple to get a pet yeti for their kid. Meat Loaf's character has a name, but I'm just going to call him Meat Loaf. He also has a sidekick named Brain for Brains or something like that. He's a midget.
Anyway, Meat & the Midget track the yeti down, steal it, and deliver it to the rich little bastard who, we've just been informed, has a history of electrocuting nannies. Meanwhilst, the other family shows up to rescue the poor little devil (the yeti, not the kid). Oh, and the yeti's name is Hank.
High speed chases and hijinks ensue. The bratty rich kid demands that he be allowed to make the final capture of the yeti, and he leaves with Meat and the Midget, his parents move to Greece without telling anyone. Meat Loaf, sick of the kid's guff, smacks him with a shovel and leaves him stranded in a snowbank. In the end, the yeti is delivered safely to Nepal, and Meat Loaf and the Midget get arrested by TSA. Final shot of the movie: The beastly rich kid buried in a snowbank with his feet sticking out, completely unaware that he will never see his parents again. That's comedy.
11:06 PM - The Raffle (2012)
A late '70s exploitation classic about-- wait, no. This was just the annual raffle. I didn't win anything (as per usual), but Sarah got a nice Del Tenney box set, the novelization of Robot Jox (more like Robot Jerx...) and a DVD of Road House. Not bad. The organizers did a poor job of handling it, though. In the past we've been given sequentially numbered tickets. You know, the kind where they rip off half and keep it for the drawing later. This year, we all drew numbers out of a bag. Many prizes went unclaimed and the numbers had to be redrawn. Possibly this was due to the announcer's lack of amplification, but I think they were drawing numbers whose mates were still in the bag.
11:45 PM - The Wizard of Speed and Time (1979)
Serious technical difficulties. The film started very late, and was shown backwards and upside down. Then it was shown forwards and right-side up. Then backwards and upside down again.
12:00 AM - Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
I have discussed Plan 9 too many times to do it again. The distributor who usually furnishes the film had lost their print, so we had to watch a projected DVD. However, the Norris Center Auditorium has a very nice projector, and it looked and sounded great. Which is a big plus, in light of the fact that the film looks and sounds like someone unrolled it on the pavement outside.
As stated in years past, paper plates -- some with messages written on them -- are thrown whenever a flying saucer appears onscreen. I kept every plate with writing that came my way, and walked off with almost 400 of them, which you can see here. Now I have to figure out how to store these for a year.
1:25 AM - Avenging Disco Godfather (1979)
Angel dust is totally wacking out our kids! But don't worry... Disco Godfather is on the scene!
I slept through a bit of this one, but don't appear to have missed anything important. Essentially, angel dust is destroying the youth of America, so Disco Godfather (an ex-cop turned nightclub owner/DJ) is organizing a movement to get rid of it. "Attack the wack," he says. At one point evil_jim turned to me and said, "were we supposed to attack the smack or smack the wack? I lost track."
Anyway, there's not much story here, other than that it's an anti-drug movie. As far as I can tell, those damned crooked cops are behind it all. That might be wrong, though, thanks to my little nap. Eventually, the Avenging Disco Godfather (ADG) is forced to inhale some PCP, and the movie has a non-ending where he fights and raves during his drug trip, and... ROLL CREDITS!
The drug trips are pretty weird, and I think that's probably why this one has a cult following.
Oh, one particularly entertaining scene: The ADG is busting up punks in front of an angel dust factory when some random jogger stops to ask if something is wrong. "This is an angel dust factory, man." "Angel dust? I hate that stuff! Let's kick some ass."
And listen, I have a wife and Internet access, so you know I'm not asking out of frustration, but when was the last time you saw a blaxploitation movie with no nudity?
3:00 AM - Deathbed: The Bed that Eats (1977)
A guy trapped inside a painting narrates for us the story of the DEATHBED, an exploitation movie trapped inside an honest-to-goodness art film. We start with a guy and his girlfriend who've trespassed in a deserted mansion to eat apples and fried chicken, drink wine, and mess around. Lovemaking takes precedence, however, and they barely notice when the food disappears into the bed and is later returned eaten. Soon the couple faces the same fate as their lunch: THE BED EATS THEM. And when I say the bed eats, I mean that anytime something is placed on the bed, it is sucked into a pool of yellow liquid where it is consumed. Possibly the liquid is stomach acid. More likely I'm reading too much into it.
We get a history lesson told in newspaper headlines: Thousands disappear! Strange munching sounds heard at night! Mayor demands action! Mayor disappears!
The Man In the Painting (who, I'm told, is supposed to be the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley (?)) chides the bed for being greedy and stupid. Then three girls show up. The Man In the Painting says to them that even if they could hear him, they'd be too late. One of the three lays down for a nap and the bed undresses her, eats her flowers, and uses the chain of her crucifix to saw through her neck.
Somewhere around this time I fell asleep. I remember brief snatches of the rest of the movie, but not enough to piece together a coherent plot. Well, that and this movie famously lacks a coherent plot. But I WOULD like to finish it, and will be getting a copy from Netflix.
Side note: I thought I had a copy of this movie in a double-feature with Stuart Gordon's Castle Freak. As it turns out, I have John Strysik's 2002 film Deathbed, not this one made in 1977 by George Barry. Probably will never watch it.
4:25 AM - Tarkan vs. The Vikings (1971)
This absolutely amazing film was sponsored by Sad Kraken Attacks, another group from Madison comprised of nocturne152, fuzzyinthehead, hacky_mcsmacko, and a number of people I don't know as well. I did not recognize their name, or the name of this movie until I bumped into them while they were setting up their seats. When they started describing the movie they'd sponsored, I realized that this was one that Liz had recommended to me some time ago, and which I wanted very badly to see.
I was not disappointed.
Tarkan vs. The Vikings is a preposterous Turkish historical action film from 1971. The Turks are notorious on the Internet for taking American films, removing everything but the special effects, and building a new movie around them. For examples, look up Turkish Star Wars, Turkish Superman, or Turkish Anything Else You Can Think Of That Was An American Blockbuster.
Tarkan is not stolen from an American movie. It's a completely original historical story about a "Hun Turk" whose faithful wolf, Kurt is murdered by Viking marauders who kill quite a few of Tarkan's countrymen in order to kidnap a beautiful girl to be sacrificed to their octo-god. Tarkan responds to Kurt's death by taking his other wolf (also named Kurt) across the sea to slay the Vikings. ALL of the Vikings. And some Chinese people along the way. Continuity errors, inappropriately effeminate costumes, and cheapass production values ensue. You couldn't make a movie this bad after a taking a few swift kicks to the head.
At some point, somebody pointed out that Tarkan's entire vengeful rampage was sparked not by the deaths of his friends and family, but by the murder of his wolf. And I'd like to point out that the dog playing Dead Kurt was clearly panting while Kurt was supposed to be dead. But at least they didn't kill an actual dog for the sake of realism, which is the kind of thing Hollywood would have done without a second thought in 1971. On a five-star scale, this one gets .25 stars. And yet it's a must-see.
5:55 AM - Mutant Hunt (1987)
This one I skipped voluntarily. I was completely uninterested. Super low-budget, shot-on-video, 1980s-vintage cyberpunkery, with a little unexpected T&A, which, again, isn't much of a selling point now that I'm, you know, older than 13. I chose the last few minutes to leave the auditorium and change my shirt and socks, wash my face, and brush my teeth. A guy who'd just woken up was asking somebody else what was currently playing, and here's the summary he got, word for word:
"It's a $500 '80s movie shot on video. It's about a busty, busty chick who makes robot cyborgs and contaminates them so there's like, a cyberwar."
That sounds about right.
7:15 AM - Guru: The Mad Monk (1970)
I took notes throughout the Fest so that I'd be able to coherently summarize these movies (hard to believe, I know). Here's my first note for this one: "10 minutes in. Not sure what's going on." This, unfortunately, is a very common problem at B-Fest.
Anyway here's what I can tell you about the plot: Guru takes place sometime in the 19th century at the Lost Souls Church of Mortavia (wherever that is -- looks like New Jersey). The story opens on a Romeo & Juliet-esque plot in which two lovers in trouble go to Father Guru for advice. He prescribes a powder that will make the girl appear dead, and they'll bury her, exhume her when nobody's looking, and let her live in the tower for awhile. Oh, her name is Nadja, but the dude's name is unimportant. Cut to Guru branding sinners with a cross, just to show the audience that Guru isn't a good guy. Anyway, the plan is carried out, but the dude owes the monk a favor, so while he's out, Guru heavily implies to his hunchbacked assistant that Nadja needs a good rapin'. Luckily, he's the stereotypical Hunchback with a Heart of Gold (wait, is that a real stereotype?) and he keeps it in his leggings.
We are also introduced to a woman who, by divers means (IMDB), I have ascertained to be the church's resident apothecary and Guru's mistress. OH, AND SHE'S A VAMPIRE. This is the point at which this movie lost all its credibility, and I really don't know why that is. I mean, I didn't bat an eye when all the 19th-century Europeans spoke with American accents, or when Guru soliloquized in front of a very visible light switch. Hell, I didn't even mind terribly when a motor scooter was prominently shoved into the background.
Upon further reflection, I think this movie really needed to end like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You know, police show up, sirens blazing, to lock everybody up. Oh, well. Speaking of reflections, Guru just had a conversation with his own reflection in a mirror, and threatened to kill it. So clearly he's a radiant bastion of sanity.
Sooner or later Holy Mama Church sends a couple of representatives to take over the Lost Souls Chuch because the Pope is none-too-happy about the way things are being run. It's a moot point, however, as the replacement priest is immediately eaten by the Vampire Superior who sets her sights on Nadja. Nadja is rescued just in time by the hunchback, and she's beginning to get wise about the church not being a safe place anymore. I have in my notes that Guru gets into a fight with the vampire who stabs herself to death, but I was practically running on empty by this point and have no memory of that incident. In the end, the hunchback and Nadja's boyfriend end up in fight with Guru, who is strangled as he is going down the stairs. They literally throw a rope down and he gets caught in it.
Oh, my notes say the unimportant boyfriend's name is Carl. So there's that.
8:25 AM - The Brain from Planet Arous (1957)
This is an old favorite of mine, possibly because it's one of the few blind DVD purchases I've made that didn't disappoint. So. Steve (played by Mr. Shirley Temple himself, John Agar) is a scientist who goes spelunking on a hot day, and comes back possessed by a scary alien brain The brain, whose name, apparently, is Gor, is excited by Steve's fiance, Sally, and tries to Have His Way With her. In a tremendous leap of illogic, Sally and her father go out to the same caves to see if they can get to the bottom of Steve's changed personality, and there they meet Vol, another holographic brain. Vol explains that Gor is a terrorist from the planet Arous, and he offers to bring Gor in to justice -- with their help. He'll need a body of his own to possess, however. Would Sally or her father like to volunteer? The answer is no. Vol gets to control the dog.
Vol is only able to do so much with the dog's body. Meanwhile, Gor flexes his muscles a bit by blowing a passenger jet out of the sky. He worms his way into a top-secret meeting on atomic energy, and demonstrates his powers by causing a nuclear explosion using nothing but his mind. The message is clear: the world must make Steve its supreme ruler, or face certain destruction. He blows up another plane, just to make his point.
Just as things look pretty hopeless for everybody, Vol informs Sally that Gor's Achilles Heel is his Rolando's Fissure. So Sally and Vol manage to take Gor out, and the two alien brains ride off into the sunset, presumably to Arousan Brain Prison. Which is too bad for Steve. He's smiling as the picture fades out, but sooner or later he's going to remember that he took credit for the destruction of two planes and an unauthorized nuclear explosion. Who do you suppose is going to stand trial for all that stuff?
9:40 AM - Stunt Rock (1980)
Should've slept through this one. Really. I think Stunt Rock will prove to be a very divisive movie; some of us really loved it, and some of us really hated it.
Stunt Rock is a psuedo-documentary, in that we're witnessing real people paying themselves, with a little contrived drama thrown in. We follow Grant Page, a professional stuntman from Autralia who comes to Los Angeles to work with a rock band called Sorcery, which performs
This is all real outside of the movie. Sorcery was a real band, and Grant Page is still working, though it's been thirty two years since Stunt Rock's release, so I doubt that he takes a fall in a flaming car as well as he used to.
Anyway, the movie alternates between Sorcery's recording sessions, Page's stunts, Sorcery's live shows, and more stunts. Eventually Page works out a plan to spice up the live show. Sadly, it does not help the movie. All the stunts are variations on the long fall, guy on fire, high wire walk, or vehicle accident, and whatever enjoyment I got out of each stunt the first time I saw it was completely gone by the sixth. On top of that, the music was completely unlistenable, and I have a hard time imagining Sorcery's fans watching the live show with a straight face. Actually, you know what this makes me really want to watch? All of Gob's scenes from Arrested Development.
Anyway, I got bored with Stunt Rock pretty early on, and I was too awake to sleep through it. And dammit, I paid $35 for my ticket, so I sat through it to get my $2.19 worth, which is the average cost of seeing a film at B-Fest. The last note in my Moleskine about this movie says, "Okay. Eff this."
11:40 AM - Road House (1989)
You have not seen Road House, apparently, until you've seen it with a crowd. Patrick Swayze's other iconic role, outside of Frank the Bunny and Filthy Flamenco and Jerry Zucker Sells Out. This time he's James Dalton, a professional cooler, which (I guess) is the guy who oversees the bouncers and crowd control at a nightclub. This, evidently, is the practical application of his philosophy degree.
Dalton is hired by Frank Tilghman (the similarly-named Kevin Tighe, who you know as every angry father not played by Kurtwood Smith), the owner of the Double Deuce, a nightclub in Jasper, Missouri. It's a pretty rough place, not least because the town patriarch, Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara, who you know as That Guy From That Show They Used To Rerun When You Were A Kid) is a bully who throws his weight around simply because he can. Dalton cleans the place up, runs afoul of Mr. Wesley, and falls in lust with a doctor played by Kelly Lynch, who may or may not be attractive; I'm still trying to figure that out.
Wesley makes life hard for Dalton, so he calls in his legendary mentor, played by Sam Elliott, who will always be a cowboy to me. Things ramp up until Dalton wages a one-man war, vigilante style, against Wesley's henchmen on his palatial estate.
This is a crazily over-the-top film presented with a stone face, which is why it's so much fun with this crowd, and it was nicely scheduled to wake us up a bit. Wikipedia tells me that Roger Ebert said "Road House exists right on the edge between the 'good-bad movie' and the merely bad. I hesitate to recommend it, because so much depends on the ironic vision of the viewer. This is not a good movie. But viewed in the right frame of mind, it is not a boring one, either." I am inclined to agree.
Oh, as a side note, in one post-coital scene, Swayze is sitting naked on his roof, looking at the stars. As Lynch joins him, a guy behind me shouts "no! You'll get shingles!" Well played, sir.
1:40 PM - Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory (1962)
The titular dormitory is in a reformatory, and creepy stuff is happening! Wolves roam the grounds! The new teacher's history is shrouded in mystery! A girl is murdered and it looks like she's been blackmailing somebody! Is it the new teacher? Is it the wolves? Can you blackmail a wolf? These are the kind of questions that get asked in Italian movies, apparently. People were saying that it's German, but I just looked it up, and it's Italian.
I'll be honest. I wasn't much into this one, and not a lot of other people were, either. At left at one point to get a bit to eat so I missed a little, but what I got out of it was that it's a fairly twisty little (but not well-executed) thriller where tensions are high, suspicions are cast, philanderers philander, and one of the actors looks like the love child of Orson Welles and Peter Lorre. You don't care, do you? You do? Well in that case, hit up Archive.org to download your own copy.
3:05 PM - The Galaxy Invader (1985)
This movie was made in Baltimore in 1985, shot on video and released directly to the same. I'd never heard of it before, but the Internet says it has a cult following, which is amazing because I found it interminably boring.
Not that I didn't follow the plot, mind you. Essentially, an alien spacecraft lands in what appears to be scenic backwoods Fond du Lac, and the locals grab shotguns and pitchforks under the assumption that they can make some money off it if they capture it. Meanwhile, a science professor and one of his former students are out trying to learn more about the alien, and eventually rescue it.
Mutant Hunt probably cost more than the aforementioned $500 to make, but this one might have been made on that budget. My notes on The Galaxy Invader actually run several pages, but the movie was so bad that I don't care enough to assemble them into a coherent narrative. Here are the highlights:
- The professor, upon being awakened by his student's phone call, tells the kid to wait in a field for him for six hours. Seriously, he said "I'll be there in six hours."Dumb. Not recommended.
- The Lead Hick wears only one shirt for the duration of the film. Normally I wouldn't notice, but this is a ratty white T-shirt with a very prominent hole in the chest. Obviously this was intended to establish him as poor and disinterested in his personal appearance, but it's too conspicuous.
- Apparently the Lead Hick chases daughter with a shotgun any time they have a disagreement. She's 25. I'd have moved out by now.
- The alien carries some kinda light/egg/orb which glows and sparks when the hicks poke it with a stick. At one point it is referred to as an energy source. I cannot fathom how they reached that conclusion.
- The alien eventually starts shooting back at the hicks, but not until they've already attacked it several times. It's not very violent, and there's only one alien, so I'm not sure if it could be fairly called an invader.
- Most of the budget must have gone toward the alien suit, which actually looks pretty good.
- If you ever end up on the ground in a life-and-death struggle, make sure there's not a ridiculously high cliff right next to you. The Lead Hick was almost as surprised as the audience when he fell to his death.
4:30 PM - It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)
We were at least a third of the way through this one before I recognized it. It's still a welcome change from the Kaiju movie which was originally scheduled as the last film on the list, because I really don't care for Kaiju (literally "strange beast," but the word generally refers to Japanese giant monster movies). It Came from Beneath the Sea is certainly a giant monster movie, but it's also American, which, for whatever reason, I find more palatable.
So. We open on a submarine which has picked up a very unusual radioactive mass via sonar. After docking, it is found to have been jammed by some kinda weird matter which is eventually identified as animal tissue. Golly, it sure is a mystery all right! Turns out there's a big ol' octopus which has picked up radiation thanks to the recent H-bomb testing. The military ignores this explanation until swimmers start disappearing, and boats start being pulled under. The explanation concocted by the movie is that fish have a built-in Geiger counter, and their newly-radioactive predator acts as its own early-warning system. So the octopus has been searching for another food source, i.e., us.
There's some drama and some romance and some feminism, and the romantic lead looks a lot like Ernest P. Worrell to me, though nobody else seems to think so. The government doesn't bother taking the issue seriously until the octopus starts wreaking havoc on SoCal with its long tentacles, and eventually they scare it off with flame throwers and detonate a torpedo in its eye. Mostly, I felt bad for the octopus, but we did get some very nice stop-motion tentacle effects, courtesy of Ray Harryhausen.
Not really recommended, but not a waste of time, either. We've all willingly sat through worse.
After the Fest we blearily gathered up our belongings threw away our garbage, and I -- as mentioned above -- walked off with almost 400 paper plates. I call that a win, but I've always had an unconventional understanding of that word.
We checked into our hotel, and left on foot in search of a good meal. First we came upon a small cafe which looked fantastic to me, but which my companions deemed "pretentious" (it was the hummus wrap, as far as I can tell). Next we found an Italian restaurant where the wait was expected to be around twenty minutes. Finally, we settled on a little bar & grill which had been recommended by the guy working the front desk at our hotel, and which had been our original destination. The food was good, if a little expensive, and the service was, well, lousy. Not that it mattered. Our goals on Saturday night were to eat, and crash. Which is exactly what happened, although I was actually pretty wide awake after returning to the hotel. This is a post-B-Fest sensation which I have only felt since I started eating properly at the Fest.
Sunday morning is not an interesting story. We skipped the hotel's continental breakfast in favor of finding a Denny's somewhere, missed an exit on the interstate, and had to backtrack for half an hour. Everybody was dropped off one by one, and when I got home, I unpacked immediately, put everything away, walked the dog, and sat down to decompress. That never happens. I don't know why I was more awake this year than usual, but I have no complaints about it.
Then I waited a good three days before deciding to type up my notes, which, by the way, look amazing. Last year I brought a booklight and filled maybe ten pages of my Moleskine with crabbed, tiny handwriting. This year? Wrote in the dark. The words are gigantic and barely legible. Used up about 45 pages.
So anyway, that uh, was what I did last weekend... How 'bout you?