This is all a very long-winded way of saying that Chris' wife Christina and "Filmboy" Jeff's girlfriend Loren decided to come along to NOWFF this year and see what a b-movie festival was like. Should the experience prove too difficult to take, they had the convenient escape hatch of New Orleans and its tourist attractions to keep them occupied. Better yet, a number of other "B-Girls" (B-Gals? B-Chicks? Queen Bs? B-Widows?) had plans to attend, so there was the promise of commiseration with women who understood the plight of being in love with a man who loves bad movies.
Although the presence of Andrew, Apostic, and their spouses was sorely missed, it did mean that the B-Master presence this year was overwhelmingly stacked in Stomp Tokyo's favor. With Joe "Opposable Thumb Films" Bannerman rounding out the ST group, Ken "Jabootu" Begg was the only representative from another site.
Also joining us was Jennie Burroughs. Jennie is an extraordinary woman by any measure, but most especially in our estimate because of her deep love for schlock cinema. We met Jennie in January at B-Fest and her appearance at NOWFF was a pleasant reminder that there are people who love b-movies without feeling the need to catalog them extensively on web sites. She indicated that the festival's location might have had some small part in her decision to attend, but we know the truth: she was drawn to the company of other b-movie fans like a moth to a flame. Just a little advice for Jennie and her plans to do a B-Movie website that may feature a "trophy husband of the month" - Trophy husbands are supposed to prove how successful you are. If you were married to Billy Drago, people would not think you were successful, but rather desperate and possibly vision impaired.
With the cast thus assembled, NOWFF 2001 was certain to be another good time.
June 8 - Friday
Loren and Jeff are good friends who live a couple of hours away. We've known Jeff since college, and Loren more recently through Jeff. Loren has been perfect for Jeff's film education. An avowed lover of schlock horror flicks, she has guided her man of gentler film tastes head-on into such classics as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Exorcist.
Ken's eyes are glued to a nearby television as he tries to determine the scores of that night's Cubs-Sox game. Chris punches it up on his cell phone web browser (no technological solution is too complicated) and we are free to make our way to the hotel via rental car. Although renting a car makes certain aspects of NOWFF more convenient (getting to the festival itself, and to dinner during the fest), the relative expense of cars, gas, and parking ($19 a night!) was probably more than we should have spent for the time we actually used the vehicles. Live and learn.
After checking in, Chris, Christina, Jeff, and Loren escape to Pat O'Brien's for a hurricane or two before retiring to bed like the more sensible folks.
June 9 - Saturday
The group convenes at 9:30 in the hotel's "restaurant," which is actually just a meeting room with some tables. Laid out along a wall are some tables with coffee and donuts, presumably the "continental breakfast" we were promised. Our plans to visit Cafe du Monde for breakfast are stymied by a huge line outside its covered seating area. It seems that no one wants to sit in the rain to eat beignets, so seating has been cut significantly. We end up across the street at The River's Edge Cafe, which serves up a mean pain perdu (French toast) and biscuits to match.
Another strike in favor of taking a cab to the Fest: none of us can read a map. Our Yahoo directions turn us the wrong direction from the outset, and thus we end up at the Fest fifteen minutes late, our cargo of precious plastic cups included. Still, our mood is unspoiled, and we deliver the goods before sitting down in front of the last half of the first film:
This movie is sponsored by beer. Several fine domestic brands are featured, planted firmly in the hands of the various actors. We're pretty sure they provided motivation as well as atmosphere.
This is followed by a stop-motion animated short involving toys and the alphabet. Someone at NOWFF has access to a school's library of leftover 16mm films from a few decades back.
The film cuts off within 30 seconds of its end, which was a bit disappointing, but completely understandable. In fact, it's much preferable to the reel of Wild in the Streets that was shown at B-Fest -- upside-down and backwards! The NOWFF staff goes to great lengths to assure us that they will have words with the distributor, and we believe them.
Sponsored by Bruce Campbell, who in some odd way owes his career to this film.
Equinox is followed up by one of the lamest 1960's shorts ever -- Freeway Driving Tactics. Thrill! to the accidents that occur when people drive too fast! Stomp! your feet on the floor as you test your braking reflexes! Snore! as the film goes on too long!
Night of the Lepus
Lepus is also a surprisingly violent film, with plenty of shots of people having been mauled by <snicker> giant rabbits. And much like Food of the Gods, once the tables get turned and it's time for the rabbits to be on the receiving end of some hurting, the results involve gallons of blood. Still, you've got to love the police announcing to a drive-in full of people "Attention! Attention! Ladies and gentlemen, attention! There is a herd of killer rabbits headed this way and we desperately need your help!" Oh well, we guess that the fact that the rabbits are 12 feet long really isn't that important.
The most entertaining short of the evening follows, as it is bookended by the appearance of William Shatner and a glowing orb. The Mysteries of Getting Sick and Getting Well depicts the war of germs vs white blood cells inside a young boy's body. Thankfully, it is also stop-motion animated and thus highly stylistic. Show this one late at night to your friends for some guaranteed nightmares.
This 1953 comedy is a pretty hard movie to find, so it was nice to see it. Too bad it isn't very interesting. Based on a short story by Henry Kuttner, The Twonky is about a college professor who receives a new-fangled TV from his fiancé. The TV, however, isn't actually a TV but a robot from the future that tries to serve the professor and keep him safe. It helps to keep in mind that this was the fifties... even though the Twonky won't let Professor West drink coffee, it will light any poisonous smoking material with which West chooses to fill his lungs. The Twonky even has the power to hypnotize people, which is accompanied by the catch-phrase "I have no complaints."
This move is sponsored by the British, who refuse to accept that we ever declared independence from their crumpet-eating butts.
Although we are all fairly hungry by this point, we are held to our seats by the presentation of some comedy skits by horror host Zomboo (pronounced "zomb-oh"). Most entertaining was the faux commercial for a sunblock with an extremely high SPF, but the rest of the material gives us the impression that Zomboo is the reanimated corpse of vaudeville. (Look it up, kids.)
Village of the Giants
Journey to the 7th Planet
The seventh planet of our solar system is, of course, Uranus. This simple fact leads to one and a half hours of absolutely immature and scatologically inclined jokes... much like these.
In the year 2001 (much laughter follows), a space ship with an international crew lands on Uranus. ("I'm ready to explore Uranus!") There's a surprising amount of life on Uranus, and the astronauts find a cold barrier in the middle of a forest. ("Don't eat strange berries you find on Uranus!") Deciding that they must probe the center of Uranus, the astronaut trick up their full size condom suits and find a giant glowing brain that can conjure up their greatest fears. ("Word has it that Uranus is dangerous!") Apparently one of the nauts is afraid of bad stop-motion, because that's what best describes the rat monster that attacks them in the underground caverns. ("There's a one-eyed monster in Uranus!") Ghostbusters so ripped this movie off. The astronauts somehow determine that the muffler from a 1956 Corvette with a couple of bits added on will kill the brain, and despite the fact that the muffler turns out be imaginary, they're right. Written and directed by Sid Pink, featuring a goofy monster, and inexplicably set in Denmark, this can't help but bring up memories of Pink's Reptilicus.
Sponsored by the planet between Saturn and Neptune.
The illustrious Dr. Freex introduces our next film by giving away a truckload of door prizes, including a Stomp Tokyo t-shirt and mug. His research provides much insight on the movie at hand:
Finally we get to Pufnstuf, the prequel to the (ahem) well regarded TV series H.R. Pufnstuf. Set before the series, the movie seeks to explain how Jimmy came to live on the Living Island. The explanation turns out to be, he just did. Really, there isn't much here that wasn't in the opening of the TV series. Once on the island, Jimmy is subjected to a series of increasingly bizarre and surreal vignettes having to do with Mayor Pufnstuf's ongoing war with Witchiepoo.
Pufnstuf is sponsored by us, the guys at Stomp Tokyo. Think of us when you think of Nazi puppets.
The tradition at NOWFF is to close with a showing of Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2th Century, which is a pretty darn good tradition. It definitely ends things on an up note. We get pretty tickled when Porky Pig says "Happy b-b-birthday, you Thing From Another World, you."
There were some comments that this year's event was jinxed. If one were to judge solely by the incessant rain, constant plan changes, and missing friends, that sentiment might be accurate. But when sitting around a table at The Court of Two Sisters, sharing a lovely brunch with some of our favorite people, the only disappointment was that we couldn't stay longer.
Always a pleasure, ladies and gents. We hope to see you in 7 months at B-Fest 2002.
Chris Holland & Scott Hamilton
Other folks who have posted their memories of this event: