How could you not like this
cities have been moving toward a more-or-less homogenized whole over
the last quarter of the century. Oh, some have carved out an identifiable
niche - New York has theater, Los Angeles the movie trade, Seattle
has rain and coffee - but by and large, if you were set down unceremoniously
in a part of any city devoid of easily identifiable landmarks, you
would hard-pressed to immediately figure out your location. But such
is not the case with New Orleans.
I mean, the
Big Easy has its homogenous sections, but so much of it is determinedly
old, with crowded architecture and narrow streets, that one gets the
impression that one has stumbled upon a European town; adding to the
Old World vibe is the riot of smells, and not all of them good. Blending
with the aroma of beignets and coffee laced with chicory is
the odor of stale beer and urine, both of humans and the various quadrupeds
shuffling tourists to and fro. Most Chambers of Commerce across the
land would suffer a seizure if told their city smelled; but New Orleans
seems to embrace life, period; not only the good, but the darker,
baser aspects - the philosophy being that these, too, are part of
our Life Sentence, and should not be ignored.
of the brooding travelogue - we're here to talk about bad movies.
Specifically, at the Tenth Annual New Orleans Film Festival.
June 9, 2000
ceases to amaze me, the stuff that I forget. The stuff that seems
so obvious in retrospect. For instance, my favorite airport parking
garage. Reasonably priced, easily accessible... and incredibly crowded
on a Friday evening. Well, we had allotted plenty of time, so Lisa
(aka Mrs. Freex) and I spent some of that spare time driving around
in circles until an empty space presented itself. Then there are the
things you don't count on, like the remains of the first Tropical
Depression of the year washing over the coast, and delaying our plane.
First by an hour. Then two. Then three. Finally, when it looked like
we weren't going to be hitting New Orleans until 2AM, Southwest managed
to move most of us on board another plane.
worked out quite well, as I found myself sitting next to a chap who
had been on the jury for some film festival in North Carolina, and
we spent the hour-long flight talking about movies. Dan, you were
the most interesting single-serving friend I've had.
So we arrived
in the Big N.O. only an hour and a half late, and found the rest of
the Stomp Tokyo crew - Chris, Scott, and Jeff the Filmboy, still waiting
faithfully by our intended gate. We wrangled a rental car eventually
(curse thee, o proud and mighty Hertz) and set out for the chosen
den of the B-Masters, the Comfort Inn Downtown. I had called for directions
the night before, Chris had a map - and had received dire foreshadowings
earlier the evening by Apostic, who had returned to the airport to
pick up Ken Begg and Andrew M. (the Andrew with a blazer). The route
is not as cut-and-dried as it might seem, said Apostic (living up
to his Enigmatic monicker) but we managed to find the hotel with only
a few instances of doubling back (streets change names with alarming
frequency in the Big Easy).
June 10, 2000
might of the B-Masters gathered in the lobby, frightening tourists
and clogging traffic as they exchanged greetings. There was Ken Begg
of Jabootu, along with Andrew
in a Blazer (I almost didn't recognize him without a tie); B-Notes'
Enigmatic Apostic, and his wife, Jo, with her irresistible New Zealand
accent; and everybody's favorite Marine, Andrew Badmovies.org
Borntreger and his wife, Katie, who had driven in from Georgia late
the night before and revealed to us that "Alabama is a long state,"
to which we could only say "Amen"; Oh
the Humanity's Rob and Alan, nonconformists to the end, stayed
at another hotel, and would meet us at the fest.
en masse down the street to a breakfast diner which had been
found on the Internet, only to discover that it was not open on weekends;
in fact, eyeballing the posted hours, Ken estimated that the diner
was open "24 hours a week". So back we trekked to the hotel
and partook of their breakfast buffet, which was reasonably priced,
even if every tray on the steam table seemed to be made of the same
substance, some formed into patties, some into strips, but most in
a disturbingly colloidal state. Ask Apostic: he ladled oatmeal onto
his biscuit, thinking it was gravy.
Andrew attempts to horn in on Chris'
to distribute our number among several cars (we B-Masters are a portly
lot, except for the Marine contingent); Lisa and I rode with Andrew
and Katie, mainly because I genuinely enjoy Andrew's company. Katie
navigated, map in hand, and we saw a more... interesting...
side of New Orleans than usual ("Look!" I cried, "The
Funky Butt! I wanna go to The Funky Butt!"), but the Borntregers
had been through there at 2AM, and knew this to be a viable route
to the freeway. In truth, they got us there in great time, although
Andrew had to endure Lisa and I singing the theme to "Live and
Let Die" a few times.
to show what a "can-do" kinda guy is our Andrew, he and
his wife volunteered to do the grocery shopping for the B-Masters
(admission to NOWFF was $7 and a bag of groceries to benefit the Second
Harvester's Food Bank); he then proceeded to load the multiple bags
into one box, stack Badmovie.org's ten pounds of Spam on top,
and carry the box all the way to the auditorium of Benjamin Franklin
High School (Go Falcons!). Sometimes I think he just likes to lord
it over us mere mortals.
B-WIVES RULE OK!
Rob and Alan
joined us, and we had a few minutes to stake out our territory (at
the front, where the pain would be undiminished) and took photos.
Chris inflated the 4 ft. Deanzilla to announce Stomp Tokyo's presence,
and naturally had to endure all manner of supposedly risible remarks;
the B-Masters assembled for a pic, as did the B-Wives (Lisa preferred
B-Wives, whereas Jo liked B-Widows; if Katie professed a preference,
it was lost in the bellowing of the fellow in the back who kept us
abreast of how many minutes 'till the fest began. I dubbed him Scary
German Guy, just 'cuz I'm hankering to do a review of Monster Squad).
As it is
New Orleans, the fest began with a Dixieland band, The Tumblers, marching
down the aisle, pursued in slow motion by The Creeping Terror. Andrew
pointed out that it more closely resembled The
Unknown Terror, and I averred that this may the case, as I understand
Unknown works much more cheaply; eventually the beast was ceremonially
beaten to death, and the pain began in earnest:
Serpent Island claims to be
directed by Bert I. Gordon, but we know this is bullpoop*;
if B.I.G. had directed it, there would be
giant snakes, or little shrunken people; instead what we get is
an alarmingly sweaty Sonny Tufts Hasselhoffing mightily, even during
fight scenes. Whenever Mary Munday sits down, you know it is time
for five minutes of character semi-development and useless exposition.
Add a heaping helping of stock footage (boats, an amazingly unexciting
storm, and a lengthy voodoo ritual) and you have an audience actively
rooting for the Serpent of the title. Yes, singular. One snake.
Has the whole island named after him. Small wonder, as it is a python
that can hiss, leap, and bite. This is the sort of film that B-Fest
has the common decency to show at 3:30AM, when everybody is asleep,
and the casualties will be few; served up to you first thing, I
guess to separate the men from the boys, or something.
My Son the Vampire, aka Old
Mother Riley Meets The Vampire, is the last of the Old Mother
Riley films, a drag act that went from the British Music Halls to
the movies. Bela Lugosi plays, not a vampire, but some super villain
who is called The Vampire, probably because he is played
by Bela Lugosi. The Vampire wants.... something or other, and is
interested in Old Mother Riley for.... some reason or other. There's
a robot, and a small-statured assistant who Andrew became convinced
was a midget. Hey, I was desperately searching for some way to enjoy
the movie myself. The truly amazing thing is that the Brits couldn't
seem to get enough of these.
Aaaa. The Creeping Terror. Eeek.
At some point
(approximately here) we were shown a short film which NOWFF President
Alfred J. Richard described as "rescued from the bowels of the
New Orleans Public School System." In it, a marionette named
Sneaky infects the other denizens of his model (literally) community
with his brand of Puppet Anarchy, resulting in all sorts of vandalism,
thievery, and general lowering of the standard of living. In a Rod
Serling-esque denouement, Sneaky finds that his beloved bicycle
has been destroyed by the very anarchic forces which he himself has
unleashed. They don't make them like this anymore; it is a brilliant,
Nietschzean diatribe. It is Fight Club without the underlying
morality; it is The Intruder without William Shatner. Why isn't
this on DVD?
Hillbillys (sic) in
a Haunted House concerns two country singers and their
manager (who is named Jeepers) staying in a supposedly haunted house
to get out of a storm. Well, it's haunted by Basil Rathbone, John
Carradine and Lon Chaney Jr., who are enemy spies convinced that
our heroes are agents of M.O.T.H.E.R. This plot takes up half an
hour; the other fifty-eight minutes are country-western songs! Intended
as a cornpone answer to the Beach Party movies, this flick
was inciting fist fights in the audience during its endless closing
number. And I've got it slated for a review! Dear God!
I think it
was at this point - between movies - that Andrew came up with the
single most quotable line of the evening: "I CAN'T... FEEL...
MY ASS!!!" This was a high school auditorium, you see, and those
are never designed for comfort. In this case, the chairs are
wood. I had brought my Contoured neck pillow to sit on, but
trust me: Andrew spoke for all of us.
of the Crab Monsters is a Roger Corman specialty about giant
crabs with soulful eyes eating people. At least I think that was
what it was, because Stomp Tokyo escaped to go find food during
this picture. So did the Borntregers, as Andrew had just seen it
for review purposes.
think, with a high school nestled closely to a college campus, there
would be bounteous amounts of food emporiums. You would be wrong.
We finally settled for a Chinese restaurant (with mercifully padded
chairs) because we wanted to be back for:
Seven Dwarves to the Rescue
- Prince Charming is off fighting a war, and the Princess (who is
Snow White, I guess), gets suckered into a trap by the Prince of
Darkness, who hopes Snow White will marry him. Of course, it is
up to the plucky Dwarves to overcome deathtrap after deathtrap to
rescue the princess. It is claimed that NOWFF received death threats
if they ever showed this movie again, but tell you what: You can
show Seven Dwarves eight times in a row if you want to, but
show Serpent Island again and we'll have to explore the nuclear
option. Andrew was in heaven because there was a plenitude of midgets
on hand; I just shook my head with the sad realization that Krull
totally ripped off this movie.
Chris and Scott introduced Godzilla
vs. Monster Zero (Stomp Tokyo was a sponsor), which is one
of my favorite Godzilla movies, not least for the Big G doing the
Dance (Andrew has an excellent MPEG of this at that link).
of Andrew, he still could not feel his ass.
Navy vs. The Night Monsters
- Yawn. Carnivorous trees. Great cast though. And any movie that
ends with napalm and stock footage of Viet Nam going up in flames
allows us to chant "USA! USA! USA!", which is cool.
9 from Outer Space - Okay. I admit it. I am now officially
sick of Plan
9. If I go a couple of years without seeing Plan
9 again, I will be a happy man. Wood directed other, equally
bad movies, for God's sake. It didn't help that once again, I found
myself on Ground Zero for hurled paper plates, with the nasty cheap
things whizzing past my ear more than once. I felt like James Bond
a screening of Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century, it was over,
and none of us could feel our asses (Mrs. Freex spent the last two
movies standing at the back of the auditorium. Standing. What
bliss!). The B-Masters policed their area, and retired to the lobby.
Katie, Lisa and myself spent a few moments waiting for Andrew. I eventually
went back into the auditorium and found him, true to form, cleaning
up messes other people had left. You know, except for bellowing things
like "I CAN'T... FEEL... MY ASS!!!!" in crowded auditoriums,
this guy will make a great role model.
to the hotel was uneventful - nary a reprise of "Live and Let
Die" - I think we were all gingerly checking our asses, because
we couldn't be sure if they were still back there or not. The two
Andrews - with Blazer and Borntreger - went out drinking. The rest
of us crashed. I lowered myself into a lukewarm tub, somewhat short
of the near-scalding temperature I really needed to resurrect my ass.
Then I slept the sleep of the dead, except the dead don't have nightmares
about a country-singing Bela Lugosi gluing your ass to a wooden chair.
June 11, 2000
that it was his plan to call everyone at 8:00AM to get breakfast,
but his wife kicked his ass (not that he would have been able to feel
that). In any case, God bless you, Jo. When he called us at a far
more reasonable 9:15AM, he was a bit worried that he wasn't able to
rouse Ken - our immediate conclusion-leaping led us to believe that
he was downtown bailing out the Two Andrews. This wasn't the case,
however, and we set out walking, determined to find food of one sort
settled on The Court of
Two Sisters - there was some dismay at the cost of the brunch
buffet, but we also determined that this would be our Big Meal for
the trip. We all gathered about the table, drinking mimosas (or just
orange juice, or really good coffee) and chatting. It was, finally,
the chance many of us didn't really have during B-Fest to just visit.
Andrew was determined to eat $22 worth of mudbugs, and may have succeeded.
Those which did not immediately meet their fate were used to reenact
scenes from Teenagers from Outer Space.
meal, we lost the Borntregers -Andrew had to be on duty the next morning.
Then Ken, Apostic, and Andrew with a Blazer split to besiege the spanking
new D-Day Museum before Ken and AwaB's flight back to Chicago, leaving
Stomp Tokyo and two-thirds of the B-Wives (Lisa and Jo) to explore
Yes, this was there 23 years ago.
And it was world famous then.
visited places like Rev. Zombie's House of Voodoo (and Marie LeVeau's,
so as to not show favoritism) - which is where Rob and Alan caught
up with us; the flea market at Jackson Square (no hoped-for bonanza
of crap films, though); ate beignets and drank coffee at the
Cafe du Monde (great beignets, so-so coffee, angry service);
and finally walked down one of the seedier portions of Bourbon Street
to catch the St. Charles trolley.
It had been
twenty-three years since I had last been in New Orleans, and on that
occasion, in my younger days, I walked from one end of Bourbon Street
to the other, just drinking in the debauchery, ambiance, atmosphere,
whatever you want to call it. And it hasn't changed. It was
late afternoon, and by and large, people seemed to be scurrying about,
attempting to get things done before nightfall. The horse and mule
carts were already shuttling tourists about, bars were in raucous
full swing - I almost expected some guy to run down the street, clanging
on manhole covers, like in Escape from New York.
We were on the trolley, going ooh and aah at various
pieces of property, Lisa choosing which ones she'd like to live in.
Eventually, we got out, when we discovered a round trip could take
close to two hours, and picked up a street car going the other way.
It was at this point that Scott deduced that an important part of
testing street car drivers is the determination of whether or not
they are "Characters"; That one's trolley drivers must be
"characters" seems almost as integral to the identity of
New Orleans as are bipedal animals to Disneyworld (pray that is not
a sentence you find in your SAT). Oh, and I should mention that the
seats in the trolleys are made of wood. And I still couldn't feel
After a shower,
we once more went searching for food, and once more were confounded,
and settled for Chinese. Scott, Lisa
Scott and Chris realize
that the trolley seats ...perhaps every single chair in New
Orleans... is wooden!!!!
and I Journeyed back to the hotel, while Chris, Jeff, Jo and Apostic
split for Pat O'Brien's. My body was not very happy with me for all
the hiking we had done that day, but fortunately I still could not
feel my ass.
also be mentioned, that during the hiking expedition, Jo offered to
carry my bag, which contained my Father's Day present - a large soapstone
dragon - when it became apparent that I was having trouble. And she
continued to carry it, despite my offers to take the load back, over
the next two hours. That, and the whole early-morning-ass-kicking
thing, qualifies the lady for sainthood in my book.
In any case,
I gobbled down my bottle of Ibuprofen and tried to coax hot
water into the tub while the rest journeyed to the dark heart of Bourbon
Street.... and that is a tale for another to tell, cuz I went to sleep.
I was too tired for Bela to sing an encore. Thank God.
Rev. Zombie's Bayou Voodoo
House- Blessin' Cross. Proudly displayed at Castle Freex.
June 12, 2000
When I came
to the lobby that morning, Chris had a terrible look on his face.
Being the sort of person I am, I immediately wondered what it was
I had done wrong. As the morning wore on, and we sat in the hotel's
Congealed Grease Buffet, I finally realized what was wrong.
And lots of them.
plane left at 11:00AM, but not wishing to hang at the airport for
three hours, Lisa and I instead hung with the Apostics. We revisited
the infamous flea market (this time we DROVE THERE - parking is much
easier during the weekdays) and got cheap souvenirs for unsuspecting
family members, and my own copy of a T-Shirt that Filmboy had, just
the night before, discovered was a powerful babe magnet. We
ate at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. Yes, we split a Cheeseburger
in Paradise. I really don't think I could work there; the constant
blur of Hawaiian shirts and din of parrothead music would force my
skeleton to eventually rip free of my body and run shrieking down
Not to imply
that sort of thing doesn't happen all the time in New Orleans....
Apostics dropped us off, we boarded our plane - which, in accordance
of the rest of the trip, was late - and headed home. You know, the
trips back are never as fun as the original leg of The Journey. I
really could have used Dan's company just one more time.
(with apologies to Andrew)
- The Comfort Inn Downtown is fine for cost-conscious businessmen
who have business downtown during the week. During the weekend,
however, you could film a post-apoc movie downtown, with very
- I do not miss high school.
- Horror hosts follow a grand old tradition of not seeing the
movie (an exception is fellow Texan Professor Griffen, whose intro
to Crab Monsters was a high point of the evening)
- Never call a Marine "Sarge".
- Midgets = COMEDY!
- Seat cushion? Next time I'm bringing a frickin' futon.
- If I ever have a Magic Super Laboratory, you can rest assured
it will be dwarf-proof.
- We do have our limits: no matter how bad it got, none of us
even considered using Deanzilla as a seat cushion.
- Ken Begg is not mortal, as he sat through the whole damned thing;
in fact, he may be all we can perceive of a multi-dimensional
being of great power.
- I think Rob, Alan and Apostic may have also sat through the
whole grueling thing, simply by basking in the glory that is Ken
Begg. (Ken later discounted this estimation, as the Apostics and
the OTH boyos each split for din-din during some point in the
festivities. Only Andrew with a Blazer shared that magic quality
with Ken that we have come to call "ass stamina")
June 13, 2000
My ass files