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 night,
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.”
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 stupid,
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
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).
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).
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?”
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.
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
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.
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!
are treated to a Red Scare short teaching the basics of communism. I
discover I might be a communist.
Jones and the Casino of Gold
tough, but friendly
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
I’ll say is, Glen Manning’s half-skull face is not the first thing I
want to see when I wake up. Yikes!
is one time that it was really nice to not have penile equipment. The
cactus, the biting…didn’t bother me one bit.
the Bee Girls
movie the backlash wrote. A government agent investigates the suspicious
deaths of several men in an oversexed town. Instead of
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?
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
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.
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
culture runs amok when
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.
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.
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.
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.).
and His Pals
undertaker and two café owners kill people (usually women) and use their
body parts to make
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.
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.
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.
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.
the Leaping Fish
missed this short entirely. Coffee was a higher priority (isn’t it
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.
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
Dracula Has Risen
from the Grave
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.
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…
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 to
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
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.
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
Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension