The Bad Movie Report

B-FEST: 2002

or "Will Meganimus Lemur Ever Forget Message From Space And Find True Sanity?"

First and foremost, big thanks to all of those who made this year's B-Fest possible. This was the best B-Fest I've ever been to. Considering that I've only attended one other, that's not saying much, but by any standards, it was a humdinger. Definitely the most fun I've had all year (again, not saying much, but B-Fest 2001 still stands as one of the highlights of last year, and considering that this year was even better, well, you get the idea.) Though I could gush for hours, you're here to hear about the movies, the gags, the experience, not vague qualifiers, am I right? With that said, on to the reviews! Sit back and enjoy, as my turgid, unnecessarily verbose prose spins a tale of wonder and whimsy, the tale of a magical, mystical 24 hours known as B-Fest 2002.


  1. Screaming whenever a mountain was shown, originating with the mountain matte paintings in The Crawling Eye.
  2. Yelling, “Gymkata!” whenever A. A fight scene broke out, or B. Dumpy, sullen peasants appeared (“class after class of ugly, ugly children...).
  3. Variants of “The Roof is On Fire” when something is on fire. This gag petered out through the course of the night, though. When I tried to start a chorus of “The Lab is on Fire” during Tarantula, I just got shooshed.


You’ve probably all either seen or read reviews of this movie before, so instead, I present a musical synopsis to the tune of Dallas Frazier’s “Alley Oop.” Enjoy!

The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
There is a freaky cloud way up in...Trollenberg
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
It’s really cold up there, the heat’s less than an erg
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
There is a prescient girl, she reminds me of Bjork
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
The fat guy died real quick, in him you’d stick a fork
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye

Have they showed the monster yet? The answer’s nope.
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
What was that guy lookin’ at through the...telescope?
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye

They got a lot of mileage out of...matte paintings
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
Don’t go outside the hut when that telephone rings
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
Forrest Tucker looks like, 10 feet tall
Drank lots of booze, never used the stall
Headless corpses off cliffsides did fall

The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
Stupid girl don’t go back for your...stupid toy
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
‘Cause there’s a cyclops gnoshing on the...hoi polloi
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
Them Peepers can’t survive beneath the...thermocline
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
They look like they need Clear Eyes: “Awesome”, says Ben Stein
The Crawling Eye Eye...Eye...Eye Eye
Please make sure that the zombie’s dead
Two torso shots, then one in the head
THE CRAWLING EYE! Didn’t ya notice how he hadn’t bled? LOOK AT THAT EYEBALL GO!

There they go...
Look at them burnin’ retinas
They set him up the bomb
It’s too much
Burn, Crawly, burn
Get ‘em eye

THINGS I DIDN’T NEED TO HEAR: TelstarMan: “We need a prehensile vas deferens up here.”


The year is 1985, and America is building its Star Wars missile defense program. Establishing spheres of influence near the hated Soviet homeland is essential in this most daring of military exploits. Infiltrating the Eastern Bloc would be impossible for conventional covert officials. There can be only one answer...GYMKATA! What is Gymkata, you ask? Why, it’s the deadliest of fusions: gymnastics and karate! Thus, the hopes of the U.S. military-industrial complex are placed on the shoulders of one man: Jonathan Cabot (Kurt Thomas), America’s greatest gymnast! His mission: enter the tiny nation of Parmistan (why yes, I would like some parmistan on my eggplant), compete in its annual Death Game, and somehow parlay the winnings into a U.S. military base there.

To prepare for this, Cabot endures intense training at a top secret mountain hideaway. Aiding him in this is Parmistan’s own Princess Rubali (Tetchie Agbayani) (if she doesn’t look like your average Eastern European princess, it’s because her mother was Indonesian.) Gee, I wonder if you can guess what happens next. If you said: “Despite initial antagonism, through a series of tests of skill and humorous happenings, Cabot and Rubali grow to love each other”, you’d be correct. Watch for: ridiculous sword/whip/nunchuk wielding action both here and throughout the course of the movie.

With the training completed, Cabot and Rubali hop a tourist ship to Parmistan to meet with game insider Stork (or maybe he was The Crane...or The Heron...I can’t really recall...Jabiru?) As might be expected, there are double crosses, attempted assassinations, attacks by marauding Turks, and parallel bar battles in darkened alleyways. Okay, maybe the last one wasn’t expected. Somehow, Cabot has the miraculous luck of finding gymnastics equipment in the unlikeliest of places. In an unusually overt move, I helped TelstarMan with his “Olympic Judges” joke during scenes like this. We ran up on stage and held up scores after particularly out-of-place gymnastics scenes. The crowd seemed to like it—maybe I’ll come up with a “stage joke” of my own next year.

Back to the plot, Cabot eventually arrives at the alpine Parmistani capital, where he meets the freakishly Yakov Smirnov-like King and the evil general in charge of the Death Game. Surprise, surprise, the evil general is also Rubali’s betrothed. He also meets his personal idol, the beefy Nordic gymkatist Thorg. Defying audience expectations, Thorg completely disregards Cabot and proceeds to act like a jerk. Never saw that coming!

The next day, the competitors are given a tour of the game course, using a trio of black-suited prisoners as “test runners.” The three are released in the town square, and bolt off through the narrow alleyways pursued madly by the crowd and mounted warriors/ninjas. (I made several Hard Day’s Night quips at this point.) They run through a cornfield, climb up a cliff, and start to clamber across a gorge before being dispatched. It’s like Wild and Crazy Kids...OF DEATH! A big deal is made of playing fairly and adhering to the rules of the game—one of the ninjas is killed for shooting a runner too quickly. Come the morrow, however, when the game really gets going, any semblance of rule-maintenance is thrown out the window. The evil general cheats. The ninjas cheat. Thorg? You better believe he cheats. Seriously, Dastardly and Muttley were never this bad. I think some kind of a coup is being staged, because King Yakov’s protests for gentlemanly conduct are overruled by the ninja forces.

Meanwhile, Cabot must struggle to kill both the evil general and Thorg, and then, out of nowhere....BAM! Mountaintop village of the criminally insane! Yes, few things can salvage a lame movie better than a town of homicidal loonies. Especially when said loonies have backwards faces and are wielding rusty farm tools. There are a lot, and I mean A LOT, of people in the crazy village, even more than in the capital city. This leads me to believe that roughly 75% of the Parmistani population is criminally insane. As you might guess, these folks don’t take kindly to Cabot, and soon muster up a homicidal mob to surround him. (Why they don’t kill each other is left unanswered; perhaps they know who their true criminally insane road dogs are.) With blood-thirsty screwballs all around him, Cabot has only one hope...gymnastics! CONVENIENTLY, there happens to be a pommel horse in the village square (yep, that’s right...keep reading), and the insane assailants have the courtesy to attack one by one, giving Cabot the opportunity to fight them off. Even so, with so many crazies swarming in the streets, escape seems impossible. That is, until Cabot is rescued by his long-lost father. Then he proceeds to kill all the villains, marry the princess, and establish the U.S. Missile Defense base. The End. In almost any conceivable film festival, this would be the 80s-est darn movie around. This time around, it wasn’t. Why? Just one word...“Breakin’.”

THINGS I DIDN’T NEED TO SEE: That white-robed maniac turn around.


I still love it. Naysayers are no doubt lying, dirty, shrewd, godless, murderous, and determined international criminal conspirators.


Apparently, the seminal Star Wars spoof. Starring such intergalactic luminaries as Fluke Starbucker, Princess Anne-Droid, Augie “Ben” Doggie, Artie-Deco, and Ham Salad. Call me a heretic if you like, but I really didn’t find it funny. Sure, the giant space wafflemaker and Chewchilla the Wookie Monster are good for a few chuckles, but overall it was just lame. Why? Perhaps because I’ve seen so many eminently superior Star Wars parodies in the years since Hardware Wars was made. It’s like my thoughts on Crusader Rabbit: I know it and respect it as the progenitor of television animation, but in the grand scheme of things it pales in comparison with its descendents.

MESSAGE FROM SPACE (Uchu kara no messeji)

Ever wonder what would happen if Japan took Star Wars, put it in a blender, and added nuts, Vic Morrow, and a generous dollop of crap? Wonder no more, because the answer is Message From Space. This was one of the most incomprehensible movies I’ve ever seen, and so help me, I’ve seen Shaolin Dolemite. It was also the most painful movie I saw this year (many, if not all, other attendees with disagree with me on this one—see below.) At NO POINT in its hour and fifteen minute running time did I have even the slightest idea of what was going on. I will attempt to provide a story synopsis, but be warned, it’s an exercise in futility.

On an alien planet a race of ivy wreath-headed people are about to be conquered by a silver-skinned warrior race that looks straight out of Voltron. So, the wreath people get a bunch of glowing nuts and throw them into space. Things are only downhill from here. The nuts get stuck in the engines of assorted crazy characters, including a trio of kooky space goons (with Sonny Chiba! ) and some woman and her driver. A nut also lands in the drink of the perpetually boozy Vic Morrow, playing “General Garuda”, although you’d never know he was anything more than some random barfly who is occasionally summoned before the World Council. Morrow has as his sidekick a miniature android that looks a lot like Alpha from Power Rangers, and is about as annoying.

Chiba and his space homies agree to take the woman back into space to catch “space fireflies”, but they find the glowing nuts again. They are also pursued by a galactic cop who appears to be the movie’s comic relief, at least until he dies horribly in a crash. Meanwhile, the wreath-people have boarded their space-galleon (imagine the Santa Maria, complete with sails, with giant rocket boosters strapped to the stern), but it’s attacked by the silver warrior’s ship. The nut-bearers get into all sorts of nonsense, and somehow meet up with the wreath-person princess and her retainer. One of the thugs is constantly trying to kill the retainer for some reason, but it’s okay because he’s evil, but he’s really not, but then he changes, and then he gets a glowing nut of his own and....AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!! Sorry about that, I suffered a temporary cerebral meltdown. Curse you, Message From Space!

Now, where were we? Oh yes, the kooky trio meets some hag who wants the princess to marry her son, who looks like the love child of Greedo and a Sleestak. But then, the silver conquerors bust in, kill the hag, and take people hostage. They use a “memory projector” to see the thoughts of the dead hag, but it only shows them sunsets and seagulls around the Arctic Circle, presumably the hag’s memories of her Eskimo childhood (I’m just guessing randomly here, I really have absolutely no idea what any of this was about. Really! ) The Silver Conquerors fly their moon-ship (It’s a moon. It’s a ship. It’s a moon-ship! ) to Earth with plans of conquest. The Earth armies lose badly, but Vic Morrow duels with a top Silver general, who cheats, but gets blasted, and, I don’t know what the whole duel thing was about. The kooky space trio has a bunch of bizarre dream sequences, and one of them throws away his nut, forcing a half-hour foray to get it back. Somehow, all the nut-bearers get together (Insert “Fellowship of the Nut” joke here) and put their nuts in the water (stop snickering! ) This does something, but then they get captured again, and there’s a big fight, and the moon-ship explodes, and everybody lives happily ever after.

As you might expect, the glowing nuts (they appeared to be walnuts) were the main source of entertainment here. Rarely did a minute go by without some nut-based testicle joke, most of the time in poor taste (admittedly, I share some of the guilt for my “He really dropped the ball on this one” comment.) There were a few gems, however: Hats off to the wag who commented, “Teste, teste, 1-2-3. Teste, 1-2-3” when the space trio’s nuts glowed in unison for the first time. Also prevalent were Voltron-based riffs: any time the evil, ancient, wheelchair-bound queen of the silver conquerors appeared, someone would scream “WITCH HAGAR!” (Amazingly, this character seems to have been played by noted character actor Eisei Amamoto in drag! ) There came a time in this movie when the entire audience began chanting “END!” in unison. But the movie just wouldn’t listen. This was the first, but by no means last, time that this would occur over the course of the night.

THINGS I DIDN’T NEED TO SEE: Vic Morrow nearly swallowing the nut in his liquor.


It just gets better and better with each showing! Also, while it may push me into the realm of uber-geekdom, I have a strong inclination to show up next year dressed in the Wizard’s green and gold cloak. “So look for the Wizard in the hood of green...”

THINGS I DIDN’T NEED TO SEE: There’s nothing here that I didn’t want to see.


The bad movie. For me to comment on it critically would be pointless: the definitive reviews have already been written. I can, however, comment on the experience that is watching Plan 9 at B-Fest. There are jaded others who have seen this movie and its accompanying shenanigans so many times as to forsake its annual appearance. Not I, however...not yet. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed innocent that I am, I still greet it with a rush of heady glee. The shouts! The plates! The endless wicker v. rattan debate! Tor! Yes, when Plan 9 comes on, everything seems right with the world. Even so, there was some decided plate-related nastiness this year that I cannot condone. Andrew Borntreger was wounded by an unnecessarily strong plate. TelstarMan was mocked for his distinctive camouflage trousers. And someone threw a plate that used to have food on it, resulting in a gob of tomato sauce getting in my hair! Evil plate-throwers’s only a matter of time before you are hunted down and subjected to the unimaginable tortures you deserve! OK, maybe they never will be hunted down, but please folks, a warning for the future: Keep it friendly—ruining a person’s viewing of Plan 9 at B-Fest is a terrible crime.



Coffy is her name, and coffee is the color of her skin. So states the opening theme of Coffy, a rightful classic of the blaxploitation genre. Befitting its classic status, it stars ultra-foxy Pam Grier as the titular nurse Coffy. Her little sister has become a vegetable thanks to overdosing on the smack (that’s heroin, for you fellow squares out there), and Coffy is going to make those responsible pay dearly. What follows is an hour and a half of righteous vigilante butt-kickin’, and let me tell you, when Coffy messes someone up, she does it but good. Broken bottles, blades, sawed-off shotguns: all are skillfully employed in the war on drugs. Not to be missed is the scene where Coffy tracks down Priscilla, the spaced-out former woman of a drug kingpin, only to face the wrath of her keeper, the monstrous she-male Harriet. Then there are the zany pimps and pushers that form Coffy’s hit list, including local crime lord King George and misogynistic Italian Arturo Vitroni (played by Christ himself, Allan Arbus! “I’m on my way to Jerusalem to become a dealer...”)

Other highlights include Coffy working undercover as Jamaican prostitute Mystique (Grier’s attempt at a Jamaican accent alone is priceless) and the subsequent hooker catfight at King George’s party. In a fit of brilliance, Coffy loaded her sizable afro with razor blades, so when the opposing strumpets start clawing and grabbing, hilarity ensues. This fight doesn’t really add anything to the plot, and seems to exist for one reason and one reason only: to rip off the shirts and dresses of almost the entire female cast of the movie. Seeing as last year had Invasion of the Bee Girls, I didn’t think this year’s B-Fest could exceed it in number of exposed breasts. How wrong I was. The mega-topless trio of Coffy, Heironymus Merkin, and The Lonely Lady blew last year’s total out of the water. Not that that’s necessarily a good thing, mind you. I’m still trying desperately to expunge any memory of a naked Zadora from my mind.

THINGS I DIDN’T NEED TO SEE: Jesus spitting on Coffy. Man, that’s just not right.


This was this year’s Greaser’s Palace. Both are incredibly bizarre, pretentious, “artsy” films from the trippy decades that for the most part take place at a single, extremely sandy location. With Greaser’s Palace, I was in tears at less than 15 minutes in. However, I really didn’t think that Heironymus was that bad. Mind you, this opinion is in a distinct minority. In fact, based on crowd response, I may have been the only conscious person in the theater who wasn’t actively harmed by this movie. By the third of fourth musical number, there were vast cries from tortured souls begging for the sweet embrace of death. Primal screams and noises approaching the yowls of the damned could be heard with some frequency. Especially notable in this regard was Andrew Borntreger, who spent the entire movie either cursing it out or screaming for his own end.

How can it be that such an experienced B-movie veteran could be hurt so deeply while I remained unscathed? Especially considering that he was having a grand old time throughout Greaser’s Palace while I was about ready to claw my eyes out of their sockets. I think the answer lies in a little relationship I call the “Lemur’s Law of Midget Distribution.” This law provides the relative amount of Borntregerian movie endurance based on the ratio of “Midget Scenes” to “Brain-Smushing Insanity Scenes.” For Greaser’s Palace, this ratio was about 1:5. Heironymus, on the other hand, was a mere 1:100. This fails to explain my own immunity to it, however.

The answer here is that, like Heironymus in bed, I was able to separate myself from my immediate surroundings and view the experience as a whole (I can’t believe I just compared myself to Anthony Newley....ugh! ) The thing is, when you just accept that everything about the movie is simply, absolutely wrong, it isn’t painful anymore, it’s just funny. It’s just so darned ridiculous, you can’t help but laugh. And laugh at the fact that this one ill-conceived cinematic exploit could bring so much pain to your fellow man. Maybe it’s the sadist in me, but the collective moans whenever Heironymus burst into song brought me only joy. And you know what? I’d watch it again in a heartbeat! Perhaps I’m just deeply disturbed, but simply experiencing that musical Newley extravaganza was probably the highlight of my night.

Now, I’m a bit of a prude, so I could’ve done without all that “erotic content”, but the rest is pure gold! The music? Toe-tappin’! The jokes? Sub-Peabody! And the story? Not much worth mentioning! Of course, I’ll mention it anyway. Anthony Newley is Heironymus Merkin, a 40-year old artiste channeling a mid-life crisis into a cinematic retrospective. He started out as a freakish man-child-clown-puppet at the heel of his vaudevillian Uncle Limelight, from whom he learned “Picadilly Lilly”, the song that would later propel him to stardom. Along the way, he is introduced to the ways of flesh by the Devil (using the name of “Goodtime Eddie Filth” and played by none other than Milton Berle! ). And let me tell you, Heironymus is a playa-fo-real. Then the pregnancies start up, necessitating his marriage to Filigree Fondle. Happily, the baby is stillborn, Filigree leaves him, and Heironymus is free to return to bedding various strumpets, harlots, and robotic rabbit women (I’ll never see Nighty Night, Bugs the same way again! ) That is, until his second marriage, to Polly Esther Poontang (yes, they all have names like that), played by Joan Collins.

Of course, Uncle Milty won’t have Heironymus submitting to a life of monogamy so readily, so he continues meeting (in the strict Biblical sense) with Mercy Humppe, the decidedly underage love of his life. He first encounters Humppe riding a choerine carousel, and the relationship only gets weirder from there on in (choerine, adj., of or relating to pigs—sorry about bandying about the ten-dollar words, but I can’t resist a good bit of alliteration.) Apparently, he signs her report cards. Ewwwww. After two children by Polly Esther, however, even Heironymus’ Filth-fueled libido seems to be on the wane. Though he is no longer the star actor in the world of carnal sin, that doesn’t mean he can’t go on to direct. And direct he does, with his movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie, The Princess and the Donkey, starring Trampolina Whambang. Now, even I will admit, this sequence was completely unnecessary. Really, the only thing it added to the film was Catherine the Great-esque bestiality and a midget. Actually, since the latter was probably the only thing keeping SSgt. Borntreger from running up to the projection booth, grabbing the film reels, and leaping to his and the movie’s mutual doom, perhaps it wasn’t completely unnecessary.

There is, of course, much more to Heironymus than the bare-bones summary above: elaborate framing devices, incomprehensible meta-references, and many things that simply can’t be described on the written page. Just watch it, I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed. Tormented, perhaps, but not disappointed. Who knows, you might even enjoy it as much as I did—and so help me, give me a Picadilly Lilly of my own (yes sir! ) any day.

THINGS I DIDN’T NEED TO SEE: Anthony Nude-ley! Icky!!!


Rape ape, rape ape. Rape ape, rape ape. This was the “Mystery Short” shown when one of the Heironymus reels ended. I was heartbroken at the thought of not seeing the end of the movie, but the rest of the crowd could not have been more elated. This was all soon to change, though. Suffice it to say that I was not the only one cheering when Heironymus came back. It seems that the B-Fest organizers have a thing for showing this kind of short late at night (witness last year’s “Buried Treasure”), just when it will hurt you the most. Even the most painful movies usually have some entertainment value, but these shorts were just irredeemably vile. I know that B-Fest is supposed to assault you with cinematic anguish you never thought possible, but this was uncalled for. Maybe it’s my punishment for laughing at the suffering of others during Heironymus. On that note, later on, rather than showing The Slime People, those imps up in the projection booth started showing Heironymus AGAIN. And I laughed and laughed and laughed.



...and on the seventh feature, he rested...” Try as I might, I can only fight the Sandman for so long. I was fearful heading in...I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night prior, and I was already feeling really tired by Plan 9. Never a good sign, especially considering that my plans to periodically perk myself up with Water Joe were thwarted by an understocked Walgreens. Even so, I was able to hold out throughout Coffy and Heironymus]. Come 4:45, however, there was no more fighting it. My brain wracked with cinematic garbage and my body running on the tiny fraction of caffeine gleaned from a bag of Peppermint Patties, I fell victim to sleep around 20 minutes into The Slime People. Here then is what I can tell you about The Slime People: They are fishy humanoids covered in slime, hence their name. I think they wanted to take over the surface world, and their sliminess protected them against conventional human weapons. (Zzzzzzz.) Then sodium killed them all, and humanity reigned supreme once again. Yes, almost as if I had some sort of biological alarm clock for incredibly bad movies, I woke up after less than an hour of sleep, just in time for The Lonely Lady...



Pia, Pia, Pia. What in heaven’s name were you thinking? There are bad movies, and then there are abominations unto God. The Lonely Lady falls squarely in the latter category. Now, I think I’m generally a good person—what then did I do to deserve seeing Pia Zadora hose-raped by Ray Liotta? This incident was probably the most disturbing, but by no means only, sexual dalliance that Pia gets embroiled in over the course of the movie. If I had to describe this movie in one word, it would be “icky.”

Basically, it’s the story of a woman sleeping her way to the top in the cutthroat world of Hollywood writing. Well, actually, it’s more like sleeping her way to a plateau, then falling, then going back up, then falling again, then falling some more, then sleeping her way to the top. At any rate, I wish I had still been sleeping when this movie came on. Watching The Lonely Lady boils down to guessing which sleazy character Pia will sleep with for showbiz favors next. First, it’s the sleazy, middle-aged bigshot writer, whom she marries straight out of high school (good career move there, Pia.) Then, it’s the sleazy agent. And the sleazy Fonz-lookalike. And the creepy old lady. The list goes on and on! It’s quite scarring, really.

Nowadays, I can’t even read a neurology textbook without shuddering when I come across the pia mater. As a side note, too often the scifi and horror genres are singled out as being factories for bad cinema. This is true to an extent, but The Lonely Lady is proof that sometimes the most horrifying films are born out of plain old drama.

FUN FACT: I was at a trivia competition in Michigan the week before B-Fest, and one of the answers was The Lonely Lady. I think I was the only person there who knew what it was.



The Bennetts are your average, loving married couple. But they have a problem. They want babies, but it seems Mr. Bennett is loaded with blanks. Whatever will they do? Divorce? It was considered. Adoption? Out of the question! There can be only one answer...TEST TUBE BABIES! Ah, artificial insemination. In our modern world of electric toaster ovens and space-age dacron fabrics, artificial insemination is taken for granted. Every day, countless semi-idiot Deltas are churned out of the Embryo Facilities to perform menial labor in our factories. Spina bifida rates are down. Inferior losers like Ethan Hawke are kept out of our nation’s top space researchy thingies. But back in 1953, the world was unenlightened and superstitious. Communists roamed the country and tried to poison us all with their deadly “fluoride treatment.” Most medicine relied on leeches. And artificial insemination was downright scandalous. Such is the dark, dystopian world of Test Tube Babies. Marvel at the Bennett’s struggle for parenthood in a world without reason! SEE! Social strife! Bizarre medical practice! Inexplicable orgies! And almost as much blouse-tearin’ action as Coffy! Come to think of it, there sure were a lot of catfights this year. I wonder why that might be?

THINGS I DIDN’T NEED TO SEE: House Party Episode I: The Degeneration


Just from watching the credits for Corpse Grinders, you know you’re in for a treat. It was directed by the legendary Ted V. Mikels (The Astro-Zombies, Dr. Sex) and written by Joseph Cranston (The Crawling Hand) and Arch Hall, Jr. (Eegah.) This was this year’s answer to The Undertaker and His Pals. Both are dark, grainy, low budget flicks about human corpses being processed into food. But The Corpse Grinders takes this idea a step further. Rather than being used for human consumption, the ground-up corpses in this movie are made into cat food. The cats fed on this food develop a taste for human flesh, becoming killer kitties!

This sort of skullduggery does not go unpunished, however. As the Mares of Diomedes had their Heracles, so does Corpse Grinders have its hero, the boozy doctor Howard Glass (Running Themes in This Year’s B-Fest: 1. Catfights. 2. Boozy protagonists. 3. GYMKATA! ) To his credit, he is slightly more effectual than his boozy detective counterpart from The Undertaker and His Pals. Not that the criminal’s scheme is that hard to figure out, of course. Essentially, it involves loopy cemetary keeper Caleb (who bears a frightening resemblance to director Peter Jackson) selling the corpses in his care to the shady Maltby and Landau of the Lotus Cat Food Corporation. Since it’s just cat food, it doesn’t matter if the corpses are already rotting. Keep an eye out for Caleb’s crazy wife Cleo and their daughter, who is a doll. All the characters are either over-the-top or non-acting, and it makes the movie a hoot. Even more fun is the corpse grinding machine itself. It looks like something that might be built for a high school production of Snidely Whiplash-Mania!—a conveyor belt leading to what appears to be a dishwater box with a tube at the end. Whenever someone gets “ground”, we see the same stock footage of meat coming out of the tube. That is one doozy of a meat-processing cardboard contraption: no matter what goes in (bones, clothing), perfect ground beef comes out.

This movie taught me a lot about the meat-processing industry. Just as slaughterhouses have a “Judas Cow” that they bring out alive to show the other cows that it’s okay to go inside, cat food companies have “Judas Corpses” that calm the other corpses and attract the attention of meddling medical professionals. This movie also taught me that FDA officials and domestic cats are mortal enemies. Remember that next time your human corpse-fueled greasy spoon is under investigation.

THINGS I DIDN’T NEED TO SEE: “I like noses, I like fingers, Meow Mix, Meow Mix—death that lingers!”


By this point, my capacity for rational thought and articulate speech was pretty much shot. I grabbed a danish and looked around for some Stomp Tokyonians, hoping to describe my thoughts on Heironymus, but none were to be found in the Norris basement food pavilion. So, I packed it back upstairs and took in an episode of Digimon on one of the wall-mounted TVs. It was time well spent.


The much-heralded “Midget Short (not Gavotte).” Imagine if you will a silent midget short starring a midget Charlie Chaplin (The Little Little Tramp as someone [TelstarMan? Was that you?] pointed out). Then, grant him superhuman powers over the fabric of the universe. The result is something that was universally referred to as The Midget of Speed and Time.



When asked, “What is the definitive dance movie of the 1980s”, most people respond with Footloose, Dirty Dancing, or Flashdance. They’re all wrong. The answer, my friends, is Breakin’.

How can I even begin to describe the magic that is Breakin’? To begin with, two of the main actors are listed in the credits as “Boogaloo Shrimp” and “Shabadoo.” No, those aren’t their characters’ names, those are their real names. Also, this is the movie that spawned Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, the quintessentially named sequel. Nothing else even comes close (Pirahna II: The Spawning being a distant second.) Or the fact that it features a scene in which break boy Turbo employs dance magic to make a broom levitate for him (I would tell Fred Astaire to eat your heart out, if this hadn’t already been accomplished by worms and saprophytic fungi.) Furthermore, it has the tagline “Rock it to lock it!” What the heck does that mean? Really, does anyone have even the slightest clue what that means? “Lock it”? Lock what?

Finally, there’s the star, Lucinda Dickey. Ah, Lucinda, latter-day Terpsichore that you are, how you’ve danced your way into our hearts and put the boogie-woogie in our souls. In Breakin’, Lucinda plays Kelly, a waitress who wants to be a dancer. To accomplish this, she is enrolled in the class of swarthy foreign dancer Franco. However, her buttoned-down world is exploded when one of her classmates (who looked more than a little like David Alan Grier) introduces her to street dancing. In traditional dance, you dance for the crowd. Out on the street, you dance for, um, different reasons. What they are, I’m still not sure. But it somehow gets you “street cred.”

It is here that Kelly meets Ozone (Adolfo “Shabadoo” Quinones) and Turbo (Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers), who instantly enthrall her with their break dancing powers. Kelly is torn: part of her yearns for this new life of wild and free-spirited break dance, while the other knows that her aspirations can only be fulfilled through more traditional routes. However, after an altercation at class and an attempt by Franco to put the moves on her, she decides to take it to the streets. Meanwhile, Ozone and Turbo are under attack, having been challenged to a dance-off by the theoretically threatening Electro Rock break dance gang. Ozone tells Turbo that they shouldn’t waste their time on bullies like that, but since a time was set, the challenge must be met. (If any of this sounds ridiculous, it should. The whole concept is so incredibly goofy. Come now, “break dance bullies”?) Early in the battle, Turbo and Ozone do well, but then Team Electro Rock literally throws out a small, hyperactive dance chick that somehow ensures them victory. (Rapping in the background of this battle is none other than Ice-T, yet another reason why this movie rules.)

So, to review, Kelly needs to dance, and Ozone and Turbo need a secret weapon to use against Team Electro Rock. The common solution to their respective problems is realized, and a new team of unparalleled break dancing might is formed: T.K.O (Or T.O.K. for you I.B.ers out there). That’s Turbo, Special K (Kelly’s new “street name.” I has nothing to do with drug abuse, I swear.), and Ozone. Following the defeat of Team Electro Rock, Kelly, ahem, “Special K” begins her plan to take T.K.O. into the big leagues. With the help of her agent, the trio gets a dance audition. But their plans seem thwarted by Franco, who orders the judges bar to T.K.O. from competition. Heedless of such decrees, they start dancing on the judges’ table, to the delight of the stuffed-shirts seated there. When all is said and done, T.K.O. is starring in a new break dance musical, Street Jazz! (Eh, it’s still better than Rent.)

It’s good to know that Turbo doesn’t hold a grudge—the members of Electro Rock can be seen among the cast. And thus ends this chapter of the Breakin’ saga...but be warned. There will be a time when the world of justice, freedom, and all-American street dancing will be imperiled once again, and only one team of break dancing superstars will be able to save it. That period of glory will be Electric Boogaloo.

THINGS I DIDN’T NEED TO SEE: Any of Ozone’s outfits. Guh!


Foolish man-animal, you must be out of your skull-bone if you haven’t already seen this movie. It’s that rarest of occurrences—a true instant classic. I don’t know enough about B-Fest history to say for sure, but I’d bet it’s the relatively newest movie they’ve ever shown. And yet, despite its recent vintage and impressive special effects budget, it instantly takes a place with the likes of Plan 9 and Robot Monster. It has everything one could possibly want in a bad scifi epic: incredibly hammy overacting, utterly nonsensical plot developments, improbable futuristic lingo, and John Travolta as a 9-foot tall scenery-devouring monster.

Rest assured that I was very excited to finally see this on the big screen. I’ve seen it 9 times now, and I get something new out of every viewing. The first time, it was just mouth-gaping stupor at the very existence of such a movie. The second time and third times, it was screaming at the screen at every illogical scene (I got quite hoarse.) The fourth time, it was as a seasoned veteran, inflicting the movie on friends. By the ninth time, in a crowded theater, it’s just pure enjoyment—anticipating the lines, tallying up the Terlisms, and watching the occasional Battlefield neophyte gasp in awe and horror as they see the movie for the first time. Even those hardest hit by a night of Heironymus and The Lonely Lady couldn’t help but be rejuvenated by the delicious combination of Breakin’ and Battlefield Earth. Bless you, Travolta, for bringing so much happiness into this world. Truly, you were born to conquer galaxies of cinematic dreadfulness long thought unreachable in the mainstream cinema.


Number of times the word “man-animal” is used: 26
Number of side-wipes used for a scene transition: 28
Number of times a picto-cam is used, accompanied by an incredibly obvious noise: 7
Number of times the word “leverage” is used: 11
Number of times a character hatches a plan that could even come close to working in real life: 0

THINGS I DIDN’T NEED TO SEE: Kelly Preston’s tongue. I don’t care if you are going to make me as happy as a baby Psychlo on a straight diet of Kerbango, put that freaky thing away!


After Them, perhaps the definitive giant bug movie of the 1950s. It has all the hallmarks of the genre: fears of the atomic age, science gone awry, John Agar, and a female lead with a deceptively male name. Leo G. Carroll (TV’s Topper! ) plays Professor Gerald Deemer, who has developed a new “atomic nutrient” that causes massive, rapid growth. Unfortunately, it causes acromelagy in humans. As a result of his experiments, Deemer has a lab filled with giant mice, rabbits, a tarantula, and two freakishly deformed research associates. The former just sort of wanders through the desert and dies, while the latter goes on a rampage, sets the lab on fire, and injects Deemer with the nutrient. All of the test animals are killed, except of course for the eponymous tarantula, which escapes into the desert.

Agar (playing local doctor Matt Hastings) suspects something is afoot when he examines the body of one of professor’s associates. Acromegaly normally takes years to develop, but this case seems to have come about over the course of four days. Hoping to find out what’s going on, and no doubt to put on some of that patented Agar charm, he drives the Professor’s new student (Stephanie “Steve” Clayton, played by Mara Corday) up to the isolated research station, only to have Deemer less than eager to discuss his research. With only a single medical oddity to go on, Agar leaves Deemer alone for the time being. But things being as they are, the situation soon gets out of control, with Deemer developing acromegaly himself and a 100-foot tall spider devouring cattle and causing landslides throughout the desert. Oh, yeah, the spider grew quite a bit once it escaped the lab. I guess arthropods are especially sensitive to being fed atomic nutrients.

The monstrous mygalomorph continues to spread terror across the empty highways of the American Southwest, sneaking up on people with a frequency that is truly impressive considering its gigantic size and thunderous footfall. Eventually, Agar and the townsfolk try to blow up the tarantula with dynamite, but are unsuccessful. Thus, it is up to the U.S. Military to dispense with the beast, which expires after a couple dozen bombs are dropped on it.

This marks yet another running theme in this year’s B-Fest: seemingly invincible enemies dispatched with ease by a deus ex machina Air Force. This same situation had already occurred in The Crawling Eye and to a lesser extent in Battlefield Earth. And what fun it is to see something whose deadly power has been emphasized through the entire movie destroyed in the space of seconds! Classic stuff. This movie also had several classic “science” moments: Prof. Deemer’s explanation of ions and why the nutrient must be carried on an “atomic isotope”; the predictions of world population growth (“Why, by the year 2000 there will be 3.5 billion people on Earth!”); and of course, the way that when Agar sees puddles of foamy liquid by the skeletonized cattle, his first impulse is to taste it. And let me tell you, I couldn’t have been happier when the movie scientists determined the substance to be “some sort of insect venom”, only to have much of the audience scream out “Spiders aren’t insects! They’re arachnids!” It’s been said before, I’ll say it again: B-movie peoples is good peoples.

THINGS I DIDN’T NEED TO SEE: Leo G. Carroll IS The Toxic Avenger IN “The "Sloth" from Goonies Story”!


A little boy named Presley found a secret out this year. He used to be a pharaoh, back when Egyptians ruled the world, and now a sorcerer named Scarab tries to get him day and night. But Presley has four guardians to protect his very life. They are the mummies! From 1525 B.C.! They are the mummies! Defenders of the new Rapses! They are the mummies! They’re hanging by the Western Gate! They are the mummies! They’re going to save the world today the Egyptian way, they’re MUMMIES ALIVE! Sorry about that, but I had that song running through my head for the entirety of this movie, and I repeat it here because there really isn’t much to say about The Mummy. It’s one of the weaker Hammer retellings of the classic Universal monsters, and even the tried-and-true antagonism between Peter Cushing (here, the subject of the Mummy’s wrath) and Christopher Lee (the titular bandage-bearer) comes up a little flat. Also, it employs flashbacks in a way that is guaranteed to make you confused and somewhat queasy. The upshot? You have many opportunities to make “Johnny Carson as the Great Karnak” jokes. Even so, if you’re in need of a movie called The Mummy, Karloff still can’t be beat.

THINGS I DIDN’T NEED TO SEE: Christopher Lee, as the High Priest of Karnak, attempting to raise a dead princess from the grave for, um, “personal reasons.”


The movie that, after the debacle that was Centropolis’ Godzilla, showed us all what the Big G is supposed to be. Sure, this movie had its flaws. For one, there was a definite Kenny—actually a Kennina, since it was female (Kennette? Kennianne?) A lot of the CGI effects didn’t blend in that well. “Regenerator G-1” is a really lame name for one of the most important discoveries in the history of restorative medicine. And the relief segments with various random drunks were probably unnecessary. But these little piddling things don’t matter, the fact is that this movie rocked. Admittedly, there isn’t much kaiju battling as far as quantity is concerned, but quality is another matter altogether. The fight between Godzilla and the alien-spawned Orga at the very end is awesome, and it shows that Godzilla isn’t King of the Monsters based on sheer strength alone—he’s a wily one he is! Godzilla himself has rarely looked better, maintaining the appearance of natural ferocity made flesh. Also, while space aliens and their flying saucers are decidedly old hat in the Godzilla series, the villains in this movie were actually rather neat and innovative, especially with the asymmetrical design of their ship. I was actually somewhat disappointed when I first found out that this was going to be the final movie of the day, as I had seen it not long before the Fest. But when it finally came on, I realized that my disappointment was misplaced. Godzilla 2000 is always worth a watch, if only for the ending. “We keep trying to kill him, and he keeps protecting us...”

THINGS I DIDN’T NEED TO HEAR: Regarding the Kennina: “Look! It’s La Blue Girl!” Don’t go there, man.

And with that, it was over. And despite the pain and lack of sleep, it seemed to have gone by so fast. Hope as I might that there might be a final showing of Wizard of Speed and Time, B-Fest had ended. There was nothing left to do but clean up around me, pack up, and vamoose, wishing goodbyes to those whom I encountered on the way out (namely TelstarMan and DrFreex.) And as I boarded that train to return to my South Side lair, I knew that one day I would return to this magical place, this “Evanston”, a land forgotten by time and overlooked by taste. And next time I’m bringing Surge.