B-Fest 2001

Hoff! Hoff! Hoff! Hoff!


"Meesa Luv B-Fest!"

My appreciation of B-movies began in junior high when my family first got cable TV. Coming from a smallish town in western Illinois, we didn’t have many TV options or much access to some of the classic horror hosts. Monster movies came on late at nigJennie looks on as Skip expounds another nugget of wisdom.ht, and I was too young to stay up for those. Cable brought AMC, with its classic monster movies, and the USA network, which had “Up All Night.”

“Up All Night,” as most of you know, focused on bad, 80’s exploitation flicks. It was alternately hosted by Rhonda Shear and Gilbert Gottfried. In addition to the usual T&A aspects of the movies, when Rhonda hosted there were usually plenty of women lounging around in lingerie for no apparent reason (oh, they were Rhonda’s friends who just –happened- to be over for a slumber party…right). While most of the guys I know looked forward to the T&A elements of these shows, it’s a little different when you’re a 13-year-old girl. You see these women—and they’re the antithesis of everything you’re trying to be. They’re stupJennie, Skip and Georgeid, shallow, bullet-bosomed (or silicone-enhanced if post-70’) idiots. And in bad movies, they’re the norm. The smart and gutsy gals don’t fare too well by the end of the film. B-movies are frequently offensive, infuriating, and frustrating to the point of madness. This is probably why female bad movie lovers are harder to find—but we’re out there.  We’ve learned to laugh at (or laugh off) the stereotypes, co-opt the nasty names, love the ridiculous and bizarre, and yearn for the times the pattern is broken, But mostly, we’ve learned to mock it all with a vengeance.

I read all the recaps from B-Fest 2000, and I knew that I had to come for B-Fest 2001. Seeing hard to find movies on a big screen with other aficionados was something I couldn’t miss. I knew that 24 hours of bad movies would test my limits and my sense of humor, but I had to try it (and I’m glad I did).

Reform School Girl

A girl in a bad situation would rather go to reform school than rat out a car-thieving boy and stay home with a lecherous uncle.  A naïve shrink stirs up trouble at the school by trying to turn girls into stool pigeons (in a misguided attempt to save them).

It was with this movie that I learned that it’s not necessary to actually hear the movie to make fun of it. Everyone was so keyed up that comments flew non-stop and drowned out the majority of the dialogue (the line “I’m going to have a baby” made it through fine). Throughout B-Fest most of the comments, and certainly the funniest, were based on visual elements of the movies. For instance, we got a lot of mileage out of an “R” on the bulletin board of a classroom (say it with me, “Arrrrrr, matey!”). This movie also had the first appearance of a B-Fest player, who took the opportunity to turn an eagle paperweight on a desk into an archangel—to perfect scale. Most groan-worthy reference: when the hoodlum steals the car in the beginning of the film, there was a virtual chorus of “Dude, where’s my car?”

Greaser’s Palace

This surrealiGreaser's Palacest movie defies explanation. Jesus parachutes into the old West, meets the Father, the Holy Ghost, and Herve Villechaize, and heals a few people while trying to launch his song and dance career.

This was the movie that came back to haunt us all (but in a good way). The term surrealism really fits because so many bizarro images were thrown at us that it was impossible to come up with a cohesive plot that accommodated all the things we saw and heard. Why did God need a caged mariachi band playing when he went to the outhouse? Why was his mother caged too (and why was she so happy about it)?  Was the repeatedly tormented woman supposed to be Job or all humans? Why was she so ungrateful at the end? (Thanks, you healed me. Now let me give you a hand with those nails.) Did you know that Jesus’ agent is an alien that looks like Emo Philips? What was the rhinestone cowboy doing in that church? Also groan-worthy: from now on, all images of people eating around campfires are linked to Blazing Saddles.

The Blood of Dracula

A somewhat aloof girl is turned into a blood-sucking monster by a strange chemistry teacher through the use of hypnosis and a gaudy amulet (which just happens to come from the Carpathian mountains). Somehow this is supposed to benefit humanity.

This movie was most notable for “Puppy Love” (which I thought breathed a little life into the blandness), turning the female lead into Eddie Munster, and teaching me that hypnosis cures chemical burns and beats lie detectors. Thanks Blood of Dracula!

What is Communism?

We are treated to a Red Scare short teaching the basics of communism. I discover I might be a communist.  

Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold

A tough, but friendlyThe titular Cleopatra. special agent with a none-too-subtle sense of fashion breaks up a drug ring, saves two undercover agents, pulls Norman Fell’s finger, and destroys a swank casino. All in all, a good day’s work for Cleopatra Jones.

This was probably my favorite movie from B-Fest. Cleo must have an unlimited supply of ugly curtains at home because almost every outfit looked like a Scarlett O’ Hara special. Still, when you watch blaxploitation, you know you’ll see a lot of credibility stretching things: did the pseudo-dope peddlers really think cutting the money in half was a good idea? Is an arrow through the tongue really deadly? Is leaving the door open intentionally when you’re about to take a shower ever a good idea? Could Stella Stevens actually control a crime ring? Still, I was very happy to watch two strong women kick a lot of ass. Groan-worthy: the ring of swords—two go in, one come out.

The Wizard of Speed and Time

An excellent short movie that benefits from heavy (and loud) audience participation. A speedy wizard transports a fair maid to Hollywood (this is helping her?), transforms placards into stars, and sees the USA without a Chevrolet. He crashes into a film archive but revives himself through his control over time—and film canisters.

Plan 9 from Outer Space

Human-like aliens resurrect the dead—and Tor—in an effort to stop the people of Earth from creating a solanite bomb. If this is the plan they thought would work, I’d hate to see the other plans in that evil playbook.

This was my first experience with the Rocky Horror treatment of Plan 9. The heavy use of paper plates and the multimedia explanation of solanite really added to the experience.

GorgoTwo surly B-Fest organizers.

A Godzilla/Nessie knock-off named Gorgo is discovered when treasure-hungry Brits search the remains of a sunken ship for loot. Gorgo is brought back to London as a sideshow attraction, much to the dismay of an Irish Ken. Gorgo’s mommy isn’t so happy and comes to wreak havoc in London.

Before the fest began, a particular group of guys yelled out, “NO…SLEEP…TIL GORGO!” I agreed with the assessment and half dozed during this one. However, I did enjoy the tremendously funny diving bell monologue and watching the British forces try to destroy Gorgo’s mom by shooting through Big Ben. Doh! You guys have no one to blame but yourselves for that one.


A little person is figuratively kicked around by big people. He, in turn, literally pushes around another little person to hold onto a pillow and a place to sit.

War of the Colossal Beast

Col. Glen Manning goes insane but is ultimately brought back to his senses through the love and determination of his sister—just in time to commit suicide. Isn’t that sweet?

All I’ll say is, Glen Manning’s half-skull face is not the first thing I want to see when I wake up. Yikes!  

Sex Shorts

This is one time that it was really nice to not have penile equipment. The cactus, the biting…didn’t bother me one bit.

Invasion of the Bee Girls

The movie the backlash wrote. A government agent investigates the suspicious deaths of several men in an oversexed town. Instead oThe Wizard of Speed and Timef advising the male populace to keep it in their pants for awhile, the agent hunts down the Bee Girls at the source of the matter. They’re all about free love, baby—is that so wrong?

This is the one that pushed too far. How do you deal with a movie that warns against the evils of female independence and sexuality? This movie was so patently mean and sexist that it took some effort to sit through—and even more effort to keep the colorful language at bay. I could blame my short temper on lack of sleep, but I know if I were watching it at home under normal conditions I’d be yelling at the screen (and using those choice phrases liberally). That being said, this flick was never boring. The high production values, interesting plot, and campy goodness made this a movie I love to hate. The group had a lot of fun with every bee pun we could think of. And, as you might imagine, there was a lot of love for the honey-smearing scene—how can anyone not enjoy that? And for the record—yeah, that’s pretty much what we do when you guys aren’t around.


Futuristic, lacrosse-playing orphans in Flashdance cast-offs save the world through the guidance of a glowing ball. I’m not making this up, people.

If it weren’t for the fact that this movie came out 10 years prior, Solarbabies could’ve been pitched as the anti-Waterworld. Many people were asleep during this movie, so the comments were light. Just remember: “Bodhi will always be with us.”

Wild in the Streets

Youth culture runs amok whAtomic Submarineen a rock star and general pop icon decides that the world is run by people who are too old, man. He lowers the voting age by getting Congress to pass an amendment under the influence of LSD and makes sweeping social changes when he’s elected President. Mandatory retirement becomes 30, but a new generation wants to push matters further.

What’s not to like about this one? It had catchy songs (“14 or Fight” became a refrain for the rest of the fest), Greg Brady as the young Max Frost, Richard Pryor, and Shelley Winters at her freaky best. The audience additions to the voice-over intros to Max’s gang were hilarious (“Liquor stores robbed: 3”), as were all the far-out guesses about a youth culture future (“Teenage pregnancy on the rise!”). I can only imagine what could’ve been added to the second reel (which unfortunately was run backwards), but the Twin Peaks references the situation inspired were excellent.

She Creature

Blah, blah, hypnosis is evil, blah, blah. A hypnotist decides to con the public into buying his book by announcing sensational predictions that he can deliver on.  He effects these events by manipulating his easily-controlled assistant and her past lives.

From this movie we learned that you have to get really close to your subject to hypnotize her. And that’s about it. This seemed to be a good time to brush teeth, wash face, and generally freshen up (maybe a Lake Michigan plunge is in order next year. Or not.).

Undertaker and His Pals

An undertaker and two café owners kill people (usually women) and use their body parts to makWhat is Communism?e soylent green and defraud mourners. Hilarity ensues. A clueless detective doesn’t do much except put his secretaries in harm’s way, and the bad guys prove their own undoing.

This low-rent Sweeney Todd spent so much time spoofing itself, we didn’t have to do much work. The gross-out puns, trippy sound effects, and giant vat of acid (doesn’t every restaurant have one?) were amusing, but mostly the movie tried too hard to be wacky and sick. The woman in the meat grinder bit was especially ill-chosen. However, it did succeed at being relatively unique and managed to turn off a few of the most hard-core viewers.

Atomic Submarine

A special sub investigates the disappearances of numerous ships. They find an alien ship, piloted by a giant eye, lurking under the polar ice cap. Colonization is thwarted—for now.

I slept through part of this movie but did manage to see my share of face melting and one freaky alien eye. “You can’t get back without seeing, can you?” That’s military ingenuity. No, really.

Mystery of the Leaping Fish

I missed this short entirely. Coffee was a higher priority (isn’t it always?).

Assassin of Youth

A Good Girl’s reputation and inheritance are threatened when a pair of devious marijuana dealers attempt to wreck her good name through skinny dipping, alcohol, and the 1930’s version of Rohypnol. My word! The Wicked Witch of the West helps spread the gossip, but luckily, an undercover soda jerk saves the day.

Who doesn’t love a good drug movie? The best bit from this movie had to be the mass singing of the Wicked Witch theme whenever the Margaret Hamilton look-alike appeared on her motorscooter. It was also a good chance to haul out all the old-fashioned language we never get to use anymore. “He’s swell…”

Dracula Has Safe sex is taken to the extreme.Risen from the Grave

A well-meaning priest tries to cleanse a town of Dracula’s lingering menace—instead he pisses off Christopher Lee. Dracula seeks revenge by attempting to turn the priest’s niece. However, the atheist boyfriend is willing to cross many a rooftop for her and manages to take care of Dracula in spite of a Renfield clone and his own lack of faith.

No matter how hard I try, I don’t see how Dracula’s eyes could be that compelling to his victims when he needs Visine so badly. Maybe I was obsessed with it because I knew that my eyes were equally bloodshot at the time. Also, did you know that in Hammer’s Germany schnapps is considered the “hard stuff” and that the primary pathways of a town are over rooftops? Frommer’s never covered that…


The Mothra twins are kidnapped by a dastardly profiteer who wants to use them in a theatrical spectacle. Mothra comes to the rescue—and destroys several cities in the process. Hey, you gotta break a few eggs toMick Fleetwood makes a surprise appearance. save an omelette…

Everyone seemed to wake up for this one. The recent showing of Willy Wonka on TV may have prompted the references to Oompa Loompas and the impromptu “World of Imagination” serenade. My favorite bit was the creative on-stage mimicking of Mothra forming its cocoon—complete with Silly String.  Also excellent was the debate over which American city Mothra came to destroy. Was that New York? San Francisco? Does it matter? In any case, the Mothra twins stole the show as they always do—even when we couldn’t hear their songs.

And that was the end of B-Fest. Most of the clean-up had been accomplished during a break, so all that was left was setting up the next round of plans or saying goodbye. For me, it was time to go home and collapse. Immediately after B-Fest I wasn’t sure I could do it again—24 hours is a long time and a lot of movies. But within a day and after a brief rest, I was sure I wanted to come back. It’s the wonderful people I met and had a chance to joke around with that convinced me. That, and the promise flying paper plates, too many Twizzlers, and a Frapuccino drip.


-- Copyright © 2001 by Jennie Burroughs



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