The Bad Movie Report

The Tenth Annual New Orleans  Worst Film Festival

How could you not like this place?

Most American 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.

But enough of the brooding travelogue - we're here to talk about bad movies. Specifically, at the Tenth Annual New Orleans Film Festival.


June 9, 2000

It never 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.

This actually 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


The assembled 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 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.

We trekked 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' hot action

We managed 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.

In fact, 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'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.


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.

Attack 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.

You would 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 Safety Dance (Andrew has an excellent MPEG of this at that link).

Speaking 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.

Plan 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 fighting Oddjob.

After 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.

The return 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

Apostic claims 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 or another.

We finally 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.

After the 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 the Quarter.

Yes, this was there 23 years ago. And it was world famous then.

Well, we 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.

But anyway. 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 my ass.

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.

It should 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.

Hurricanes. And lots of them.

Filmboy's 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 the street.

Not to imply that sort of thing doesn't happen all the time in New Orleans....

After the 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)

  1. 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 little difficulty.
  2. I do not miss high school.
  3. 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)
  4. Never call a Marine "Sarge".
  5. Midgets = COMEDY!
  6. Seat cushion? Next time I'm bringing a frickin' futon.
  7. If I ever have a Magic Super Laboratory, you can rest assured it will be dwarf-proof.
  8. We do have our limits: no matter how bad it got, none of us even considered using Deanzilla as a seat cushion.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 for divorce.



Stomp Tokyo