This year I knew what to expect but that still didn't protect me from the horrors of a 24 hour bad movie marathon.
It was my second to attend and drive and we were well prepared for the weekend but that didn't stop poor Tim from making an urgent last-minute doctor's appointment and turning our Friday afternoon plans on end. But we played by ear and all worked out well, starting that morning when I picked up Colin, Sarah B., Thea and Sarah L. and headed down to Arlington Heights for lunch and a munchie run at Mitsuwa.
The original plan was to drop by Tim's place to dump our sleeping bags and other personal gear not needed during the Fest and hit Mitsuwa on the way to Northwestern University. With him unavailable we had more time to browse the shops and then listen to Colin's mix of B-Fest type music while finding our way to campus. We arrived perhaps around three and found excellent seats where we would soon subject ourselves to mind-numbing horrors and witless voids of intelligence.
While settling in and milling around some of us were interviewed by a fellow from Movie Poop Shoot.com who was writing an article on B-Fest for his column. He asked how many of the movies I'd seen before but as I was going “stud” I could only admit to Plan 9. Colin however, had not only seen five on the list but admitted to purchasing Plan 9 twice. Thea got to provide her take on being a first-timer and I took down the dude's info to check the website later.
Telstar Man was there of course and this time with his past three B-Fest compilations along with the new 2005 addition. I bought them all and grinned evilly to myself for the oddities contained therein. The annual CD is a must-have for any fan of the fest and consists of tracks related to the previous year's movies and others like something you may find with Dr. Demento. Then there are those you wouldn't want to know where he found them.
Time passed. I became increasingly concerned about Tim who did finally contact Sarah (the other one) and said he would definitely be there. He wasn't there yet so we were all on the lookout. If he didn't show by showtime he'd have to call one of us so we could run his ticket out.
Everyone was kicked out of the theater at five so the event organizers could check tickets and let us back in. Getting there early early allows attendees to stake out good seats and ours were great at fourth row center. We stood in line still watching for Tim and met another Sarah (not related) whose carelessness revealed the conquest plans of Sarahs all over the world. However, my worries were soon distracted when I showed my ticket and purchased my official B-Fest t-shirt which is a godawful yellow but has a cool enlargement of the ticket artwork on the back. -- Note: if I can get a 2004 shirt somewhere I will.-- Free coasters and cups were also provided. The cups were not glow-in-the-dark this time but a bit larger.
One of the previous B-Fest CDs was playing over the sound system. I recall hearing a good cover of Science Fiction Double Feature and everyone sang along to The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati It was dark. The hands on the clock were almost vertical. Excitement was in the air.
The show kicked off with Earth vs the Flying Saucers which is pretty much what you would expect of a movie from 1956 with that title. I remember surprisingly little of this film despite how early it was but it was entertaining nonetheless. Saucers were attacking the Earth and humans were failing miserably in their defense. -- On stage someone kept track of the battle with hash marks on a crude scoreboard. -- Anyway, Our Heroes managed to board one of the saucers where they communicated with the aliens. They were reunited with a military officer who had been captured and zombified by use of their machine that could store his mind. (No, the aliens weren't Mi-Go) This revelation prompted my favourite quote of the entire Fest which was spoken by Colin, “The massive 16K of our machine can hold all your minds.” ... In the end, Earth won but the flying saucers had more points.
The Apple was a horrid British musical set in a future full of over-the-top glam, flash and glare of the late 70's. A cute and innocent couple try to make it in the music biz and are drawn into the world of corruption and decadence aided by Bugaloo International Music. Well, she is but he manages to stay clean. The title of course is a metaphor comparing this to eating of the apple of knowledge in Christian mythology. It also lends itself to a couple scary musical numbers wherein Mr. Bugaloo (the only character I actually liked) gets a one-horned wicked-cook devil outfit. The nice guy eventually wins the nice girl back and they hide out with a gang of hippies while the BIM police hunt her down for breaking contract. The movie ends in a final confrontation of “good” and bad where the king of the hippies, now washed, shaven and sporting a white tux, rides down from the sky in his magic ghost car. He has a few words with Mr. B. and then flies off again as all his unwashed kin walk up into the clouds. I only wish I was making this up.
Masculine or Feminine? Was a short from the late 60's or possibly early 70's about gender role in society. Should men be the breadwinners with doting wives behind them to cook, clean house and have babies, or is it ok for women to work and support their families and let husbands change diapers? We never did figure out which roles the film tried to promote but it made for good callbacks during the rest of the fest whenever someone's gender or preferences were in question. “Masculine or Feminine?”
The Swarm was a classic disaster film from the 70's about killer African bees. I seem to remember hearing about the threat of their deadly migration in grade school but in 2005 there still hasn't been anything significant. I don't have anything significant to say about the movie either except that before the show people in front were busy making “bees” from those balloon animal type balloons and used them during the show. I remember on particular scene where a boy was recovering in the hospital from having seen his parents killed by the bees. He was having hallucinations and a bee was superimposed over whomever was trying to talk to him. Someone laid on stage and another crept up and waved a beeloon in his face. He panicked and flailed off stage. The timing was perfect. Another scene showed the wheelchair bound Doctor testing a bee venom antidote on himself while a wheelchair bound audience member rolled on stage and acted out the scene along side of him. They tested, sickened, recovered and died together. I was moved. Anyway, the bees lost when they were lured out to see by a synthesized mating call and were all killed... I guess.
Door prizes were raffled off at 11:30. I didn't win any but there were enough that about 10 percent of the audience would walk away with something. Sarah (yes, that one) took home a DVD which makes two years in a row that someone in my group won something. Strangely enough it was the other Sarah last year... The conspiracy becomes all the more apparent.
Plan 9 From Outer Space is another favourites and I was well prepared with my own stack of plates that I wrote on before the show and during the earlier movies. The experience was a little different this time around. Since we sat in front we were showered with all the plates thrown from all the rows behind and never wonted for ammo. Thea particularly enjoyed this but eventually attained the fetal position whenever a flying saucer appeared on screen as the barrage was so intense. She pointed out a couple things that I hadn't noticed before like when people were reading cue cards and that Tor's hands shook from old age. Oh yes, the movie was entertaining as always, but I missed the antics from last year where a couple people on stage dressed in lab coats used colour drawings to illustrate Eros' explanation of the dangers of Solonite and why Earth must be destroyed before they discover it. We never learn, do we.
Black Caesar was this year's blacksploitation feature. I'm beginning to notice a pattern with the fests like these films, running the Wizard backward and the filthy, filthy porn. This one was pretty much a black version of Scarface tho' mercifully shorter. I ended up hating everyone in this film and delighted when the main character finally died. Tho' this didn't happen until he staggered across half the city with a bullet (or perhaps knife) wound before collapsing in a pile of garbage in the ghetto. How poetic.
I barely remember the ancient, black & white Syphillis Short but I seem to recall the disease could be caught and spread by any fresh young girl by doing pretty much anything. It was quite funny and I only hope stuff like this didn't mess up my parents too much. It messed me up a little when the narrator claimed the short was a prelude to a full-length film illustrating the warnings given and ended up going into...
Beauty and the Robot was the first film I allowed myself to sleep through. I was excited to see Jackie Coogan in the credits but his character, as well as the movie itself, was so painfully stupid that I gave up and napped. -- I say “allowed myself” because last year I iron-manned it and stayed awake through the entire marathon. This time I didn't know how much driving I would have to do afterward so I deemed the rest more important than my pride and dozed through about 20 minutes of every other film after Black Caesar
I woke to strange music midway through the movie and could couple it neither to whatever dazed dreams I was having nor the segment of movie I remembered before falling asleep. There was no dialog and I struggled to comprehend what was going on. Eventually I opened my eyes and struggled to comprehend what was going on. It was a black and white silent film of... of... I really don't think I need to explain the depths of horrific depravity animators can reach when left to their own devices. I only caught part of one but apparently two short pornographic cartoons were slipped in between reels of Beauty and the Robot. Even after I realized what it was it still took me a minute to realize that it wasn't part of the movie and another minute to convince myself that it had no connection to the Syphilis short either. Call me sick but traumatic as it was, I want to find these somewhere just to affirm that it wasn't some mass hallucination.
Death Wish 3 I never would have watched anywhere else but I'm glad I saw it here! Charles Bronson (looking surprisingly like my uncle) visits a friend in the city to find him dead! The police naturally discover them as he's examining the body and decide he's the killer. He manages to talk his way out of it but only after agreeing to take care of some hoodlums in the area that are causing trouble. Bronson moves into his buddy's place and calmly goes about his business and retaliates as the thugs and gangs hassle him and his new neighbours. During the movie someone brought out a “Bronson-O-Meter” which showed Bronson's face next to a bar coloured green, yellow and red. Whenever he did something cool they would raise his picture up on the meter. It rose throughout the film (except for a brief romantic scene where it dropped below far below green) until it exploded when the violence escalated into a final bloodbath where he takes a military two-man machine gun (one of many firearms conveniently shipped to him from unknown friends) to the streets to wipe out the last remnants of those durn kids!
I'm sure I would have enjoyed mocking Project Moonbase if I remembered more of it or woke up sooner. I could check the IMDB or something to refresh my swiss-cheesed memory but that wouldn't be fun now, would it? I'd try to describe what I do remember but I'd probably just confuse it with It! The Terror From Beyond Space.
Three Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain Christ! Why don't the villians ever invest in firearms in these crappy martial arts movies?? That would have made the whole ordeal much shorter. Ten minutes into the film I wanted to beat the crap out of the three little brats who starred as the heroes. Not just the characters mind you, but the actors themselves. This is the only film I actively disliked. I dozed through as much of it as I could.
Robot Monster is what B-movies are all about. It features a man in an ape suit wearing a space helmet trying to wipe out the last of the human race. It's alone or with a crowd and I'll have to find my own copy along with Plan 9.
Class of Nuke 'Em High is a Troma film and that pretty much says it all. I'm not very familiar with their movies but strangely, I'd heard of it before. On a camping trip with Scouts years ago one of the leaders described the movie during a related conversation about something I can't remember. His description was vague and my hyperactive imagination worked on it enough that I found it difficult to sleep for the next couple nights. Seeing it for real was a major letdown and another brick in the wall keeping me from watching more Troma films.
The following short is best described (and better remembered) by sacredspud so I will
Short Film I Can't Remember The Name Of
Girl likes boy at church. Girl brings boy home. Girl seduces boy. Boy turns out to be a pastor. Boy and girl both die and (I'm assuming here since I couldn't hear the sound over the audience) are learn that they are sinners and must return to Earth as superheroes to save the human race or at least New York (where the film was made). It's anti-theist satire made by a bunch of college students, but most of the theater was too noisy to have picked up on that.
Lassie: The Adventures of Neeka Neeka, apparently, is an Indian boy adopted by friends of Lassie's owners. I paid attention to the first story arc where they had to stay in an abandoned town for the night but when the “ghost wolf” was revealed to be merely moonlight shining through two knotholes in a fence I gave up and played Castlevania under my blanket. I might say that this movie was as boring as 3 Ninjas was stupid except for the part where Neeka decides to drive Dad's truck. He crashes it twice: once going forward into a tree and again backing up over a rock, which ruptures the fuel tank, ignites and EXPLODES! Then it got boring again.
I'm sure I would have enjoyed The Ice Pirates at another time but I was tired and cranky and not in the mood for this kind of film. I remember seeing it years and years ago and liking it then so I was excited to see it at first but I poohed out early and napped through about 20 minutes after I gave up on trying to follow the story. I do, however, remember a particularly funny bit where everyone was aging fast. This was shortly after a love scene between the main hero and heroine and he suddenly discovers that she's three months pregnant. He races across the ship but when he finally finds her she's already holding a large and healthy baby. He looks at them, shrugs and says, “Sorry.”
There's another “Mystery Short” listed on the B-Fest Schedule but I can't for the life of me remember what it was and sacredspud's journal (which I admit to peeking at for notes) lists nothing. Did it really exist?
It! The Terror from Beyond Space was another black and white science fiction thriller for which I live at events like these. A rocket ship is sent to Mars to recover the sole survivor of the previous expedition who is primary suspect for the deaths or disappearances of his former crewmates. The second rocket acquires the monster that caused all the trouble in the first place and hilarity and misadventure ensues! Well, maybe not but you can probably write the rest of this one yourself.
Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo marked the beginning of the end. Lemme 'splain... No, is too much. I sum up: Guy in suit want to turn kids' dance center into shopping mall. Dancing ensues. Kids win. I actually like break dancing but most of this movie featured seizure dancing. Imagine a robot getting electrocuted and you're probably on the right track. The best part of this one is when some kids that couldn't have been more than four years old went down to the stage to dance around with the people in the movie. I hope someone brought their camera.
And that was it. B-Fest was finally over and those remaining began collecting their stuff and filing out of the theater. Tim finally arrived before the last movie and showed himself to be alive and well. We were relieved to see him and once we were reacquainted, decided on a place to have our first real meal in over a day. It was at a local pizza joint. I wasn't picky, I just wanted a place to rest, eat and regain my head. The food was good tho' the chairs were less comfortable than the theater seats (if that's possible.) Somehow I was elected to square up the check since the waitress didn't split it. Once everyone had paid in it was still six dollars short so I had to cover that as well. I was too tired to complain and relieved to be that much closer to a good night's sleep.
Tim's new apartment is quite nice where he shares with Robert. We claimed our spots to sleep for the night and somehow I ended up on the floor, even though I drove. Again, I didn't feel like complaining but I really must insist upon couch space next time.
Breakfast normally wouldn't have been remarkable except for the large mural behind our table at Grandma Sally's. We spend most of our meal staring in bafflement and pointing out all the things wrong with the painting which, let's face it, was pretty much everything. The artist had probably read something about the use of perspective at some point but completely failed when it came to putting it into practice. The result was more like something out of Lovecraft. None of us got food poisoning or anything so if that painting was the worst thing about breakfast I can rest well.
We stopped at Mitsuwa once again for munchies that wouldn't be hauled into a theater and packed my poor Evilmobevil's trunk fuller than it has ever been. We listened to more B-Fest type music on the way home but it was more subdued this time. I think everyone just wanted to rest. It was a full weekend and one I can look forward to for another year.
Must remember to look into Illinois' I-Pass for the tolls. The Fish DOUBLED their toll prices for vehicles that pay cash which screws out of state travelers. Goddamn bastards. Average tolls on this trip were 80¢ to $1 leaving me to pay close to ten dollars just in tolls. Considering how many times I've gone to Fibland this past year I-Pass would be a good idea since those prices stayed the same. But then, I've already driven to two B-Fests and two Acens, not to mention several trips to Mitsuwa. It's my turn to passenge for a while. You can drive next time.
And with that...
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