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  Hoff! Hoff! Hoff! Hoff!  


First off, let me start by saying that all events accounted for in this piece are derived strictly from memory. So if there are any inaccuracies, allow me to apologize in advance. I do not intend to mislead you, Fair Reader. And in that respect, I do not intend to step on any toes of fellow B-Fest attendees I happened to meet during my travels.

I arrived at Chicago O’Hare in the early evening. Quaking with anticipation, I immediately called my host, Ken Begg, to come and pick me up. Ken was quick to crush my enthusiasm by asking me to hang out at the airport an hour longer to await Apostic’s arrival (so Ken would only have to make one trip, you see). Sure Ken, I spent all this money to fly to Chicago and loiter about the airport. Sounds grand, buddy. ***  

I carefully researched Apostic’s arrival gate (turned out to be at the other end of the airport, naturally) and made my way down there. Seated comfortably, I began to get a little nervous when the plane finally pulled into the terminal. What if Apostic’s appearance had changed dramatically since last year? What if I didn’t recognize him, and he, in turn, didn’t recognize me?! What if we walked right by each other?! What if we all got lost in the bustling metropolis that is Chicago?! I got even more nervous when it seemed that everyone had deboarded, yet still no sign of Apostic! I knew it! He walked right by me!

But, alas, Apostic did eventually appear, and I did, in fact, recognize him. We greeted each other (“Er….umm….John? No…no..it’s Joe, right?”), chatted a bit, then I called our host once again and requested he bring the chariot along. Ken then had the audacity to ask that we stay the night at the airport. You see, Chris “Stomp Tokyo” Holland and Chris “Diary of a Tuber” Magyar were to arrive early Friday morning and, once again, imagine the petrol that could be spared! ***

The line had to be drawn somewhere. I put my foot down and demanded that Ken pick us up tonight. No ifs, ands, or buts. And if he didn’t, well then, I would be forced to…uh…well…become very annoyed. ***

So, after my stern insistence, Ken finally picked us up and we were off to Chez Begg. Upon arrival, Apostic and I dropped off our bags, and then we immediately set off to grab some dinner – Ken’s treat! Though “Big Stan’s Oil Change and Salad Bar” will never be at the top of my list for fine dining, surprisingly, their selection proved quite diverse. Unfortunately, Ken would only let us order off the 99 cent Super Value Menu. *** Nevertheless, the food was great.

The company, however, proved even better than the food. I always enjoy interacting with those with cinematic tastes similar to my own. What made it even better was the fact that both Apostic and Ken are living, breathing, bad film encyclopedias. It would’ve been quite easy to feel ashamed about my lack of b-movie knowledge in comparison with those two, but I found myself more awed than embarrassed.

After dinner and dessert, we returned to Ken’s and chatted some more. Naturally, it didn’t take long before we popped in a movie. Since Apostic had yet to see Manos: The Hands of Fate (Well, you know, “Manos”), our first choice was a no-brainer. Fortunately, I happened to have the MST3K version. Heaven forbid we watch this piece of trash in its original form.

After Manos, it was Ken’s turn to pick a movie. Being that both Apostic and I had manipulated Ken into forsaking much-needed sleep, he decided that in retribution we were going to watch Fabio: A Time For Romance. I honestly can’t add anything that wasn’t already thoroughly discussed by Ken. After Fabio’s bare-chested exploits, it was Apostic’s turn to drive the VCR.

Although Fabio was good (dammit, you know what I mean!), Apostic has my vote for most inspired film of the evening – perhaps of my entire stay. His selection? Vampire Men of the Lost Planet. I cannot recommend this movie enough. Ken knocked off about halfway through Vampires, but Apostic and I decided to go the extra mile and watch “just one more movie.” It was my turn, so I tossed in my 30th anniversary edition of the “Ultraman” TV show. I love Ultraman, but Apostic seemed merely to tolerate it.

Around 2:30 in the morning we finally decided to call it a night. Andrew Borntreger, of Badmovies.org, had called earlier and warned us of his impending arrival, but sleep deprivation was taking over, and we decided to catch some winks before his imminent arrival. Being that it was Andrew, we would have to sleep with one eye open.

It was approximately four-thirty when the inevitable knock of Ssgt. Borntreger awoke me from my slumber. Blurry-eyed and frazzled, I opened the door to the blistering cold air outside and let the road-weary Marine in. I was still half-asleep (with “anime hair," apparently) but managed to catch the main points of Andrew’s bizarre and incredible journey from Atlanta to Chicago – a tale of incest, hillbillies, and a lack of transmission fluid. What made the anecdote even stranger was Andrew’s hypothesis that said hillbillies might have, in fact, been related to our host. Somewhere during this timeframe both Ken and Apostic roused from their respective sleeping chambers to greet Andrew as well. But being that it is was five in the morning, everyone soon turned back in.

8 a.m. came mighty damn fast. Ken, dependable as the dawn, was up and out to the airport to pick up the next batch of arrivals. I felt pretty bad about Ken’s lack of sleep.***

The Kenmobile soon returned with Kurt vonRoeschlaub and his pal, Mike “Don’t Call Me Bakula” Burke. I met Kurt the previous year  along with his wife, Diana. Diana was pregnant, so by the time BF2K1 swung around they had a healthy baby girl named Claire. Babies and movie theaters usually don’t mix. Babies and movie theaters that run 24 hours of cinematic slop never mix, so Diana stayed home to play the responsible parent. Not that Kurt isn’t responsible. Mike struck me as a fairly responsible guy as well, but I don’t think he has a baby.

Now where was I?

Ah yes, Kurt and Mike. After dispensing with the pleasantries, Andrew had to leave and run around town in search of medicaments for his ailing automobile. Kurt, Mike, Apostic and I remained at the ranch. Movies were inevitable.

Now this is the part where things get a little hazy. Almost everything you’ve read preceding this was written weeks ago, when the events were still fresh in my mind. It’s now been quite a while, and I’m struggling to remember the exact details. Again, to those in attendance, bear with me regarding any inconsistencies that might be brought forth.

If memory serves, we watched the last episode of my “Ultraman” cassette, MST3K’s Space Mutiny, and an old black and white film which featured midgets, zombies, and a well-greased Mexican wrestler who liked to show up unexpectedly at night in the bedrooms of strange men. I also subjected Mike to the “Love Will Keep Us Together” number from Sextette. Ken asked that we turn it off when Andrew was around. Apparently, they struck a deal that if Andrew didn’t have to see Mae West, Ken wouldn’t be tortured by the amorous Jar-Jar Binks. You don’t want to know.

Soon thereafter, we packed all the cars with the wide variety of junk food Ken had bought. We then packed ourselves into said cars and headed for Superdawg. It was there we – you guessed it – ate hot dogs. Some of us ate tamales and were disappointed because of it. Helpful hint: The restaurant isn’t called “Supertamale” for a reason. After our exquisite meal - and a chance meeting with that guy from A Christmas Story (“I like The Wizard of Oz!”) - we were off to B-Fest!

We arrived on campus, unpacked our stuff (believe you me, there was a lot of stuff), then Andrew and I went to find a parking spot. We had to drive around for quite a while, finally settling for a space where we may or may not be towed. (I bet that added a sprinkling of excitement to Andrew’s B-Fest experience.)

Anyway, we parked, made our way back to the world-famous Norris University Center, and were immediately greeted inside by none other than Jar Jar Binks! Well, a life-size cutout of Jar Jar Binks; complete with a balloon caption which read: “Meesa love B-Fest!” This was quite funny, considering Andrew’s affection for the loveable Star Wars comic relief. Ironically, none of the other Cabal members were responsible for Jar Jar’s attendance.

After Jar Jar, we soon met up with the rest of our party:

Skip Mitchell: Wildly popular OTF contributor whose fighting technique, apparently, is unbeatable. Until this momentous occasion, Skip and I had only corresponded via e-mail. Upon meeting him in person, I must admit that he was nothing like I imagined. As a matter of fact, I don’t know how I imagined him. He was just this intangible personality who wrote lengthy movie reviews for the site. Now that I can put a face with the persona, well, I guess nothing has changed; beside the fact that I now know what he looks like. What’s my damn point here?

Jennie: Skip’s pal and a fellow bad movie aficionado. Both intelligent and funny, I pondered the notion as to why she hung around with the likes of Skip. Kidding! Though out interaction was brief, I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with her over a cup of coffee. And she was sporting a cool T-shirt, too.

George: Skip’s wife. To be honest, I didn’t get to talk to George very much. This was unfortunate for she seemed quite swell. In retrospect, I’m willing to bet my limited interaction was intentional on Skip’s part, for he didn’t want anyone catching on to the Haitian Love Spell he had her under:

With all the introductions out of the way, two surly girls welcomed us to B-Fest and we were off!

Reform School Girl: A young teen is wrongfully incarcerated and  forced to deal with unruly inmates. At one point, one of the more psychotic jailbirds chirped: “I’m having a baby!” which thus became the battle cry for the remainder of the weekend.

Greaser’s Palace: Jesus, in the form of a Vaudevillian, comes to the Old West to break into showbiz. No, I didn’t get it either. Weird, pretentious and hilarious – both intentionally and inadvertently. Reminded me of Jodorowsky’s El Topo. Directed by Robert Downey, Sr. and starring Herve Villechaize! Lots of fun.

The Blood of Dracula: Much too similar to Reform School Girl, except this time the heroine falls victim to a spell that turns her into a vampire. Alas, the vampire action was few and far between. As a matter of fact, anything resembling action was few and far between. However, the musical number, “Puppy Love,” was a big hit. It featured choreography similar to that in Flashdance, except the dancers bounced couch cushions off one another. OK, so it was nothing like Flashdance.

Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold: A classic example of blaxploitation at its finest. The titular Jones battles a drug cartel in Hong Kong. Though the movie itself was a riot, the most fun came from anticipating what Cleopatra was going to wear next. Her choice of apparel, at times, truly defined courageous fashion. And what would blaxploitation be without Norman Fell?

What is Communism?: Just as scary as last year.

The Wizard of Speed and Time: Just as scary as last year.

Plan 9 from Outer Space: Just as dull as last year. Fear of being decapitated by a paper plate added a little excitement, though.

Gavotte: Blah, blah, blah…last year.

Gorgo: A big lizard runs amok in England. Seen it before, and didn’t like it then. Since it was almost two in the morning, I decided to catch some winks. Review available here.

War of the Colossal Beast: Replace big, crazy lizard with big, crazy man. Replace England with the States. Mmmm…sleep…

I awoke to some rather surreal pornographic cartoons. Funny for a minute or two, but got rather old rather quick.

Invasion of the Bee Girls: This was a good one. Psychotic bee women kill unsuspecting men during intercourse. All right, so it doesn’t make a damn lick of sense. The movie was great anyway. Lots of gratuitous nudity for those who are into that kinda stuff.

Solarbabies: I had never seen this, and had every intention of checking it out. Sadly, I passed out about a quarter of the way in. Think Mad Max on roller skates. Oh, and add a glowing ball of some sort. The strangest part, however, was my sleeping. Normal people drift off to sleep. Normally, this is how I do it as well. This time my brain decided to shut down instantly, thus causing my head to drop and bang violently against the back of the chair. Ouch.

Wild in the Streets: The rebellious youth of the ‘60’s take a stand against The Man. They sing. They dance. They go wild in the streets. Unfortunately, the projectionists went a little wild themselves. The film was inadvertently shown upside-down, backwards, and in Swahili. Chris Holland and I decided it was a good time to grab a little breakfast.

The She-Creature: Hypnotism! Blood-curdling monsters from the deep! Delicious chicken of the sea! I think I slept through this one too. Jeez! Next year I need to go to bed early the day before.

Undertaker & His Pals: Reminiscent of Blood Diner, but gorier and with even less of a budget. A couple of kooky cooks knock off their patrons (amongst others) and serve them as the special of the day. OK, but nothing to get too excited over.

Atomic Submarine: I was told that I really needed to pay attention to this movie, and dammit, I tried. But, once again, I dozed back off. I did catch an ominous voiceover and something about a giant eye. Or did I dream that?

Assassin of Youth: So let me get this straight: Marijuana and communism are bad? I guess Marxist hippies are basically screwed.

Dracula Has Risen From the Grave: Stop! Hammer time! Pretty standard fare. Christopher Lee wreaks havoc as the legendary vampire. Hammer films really aren’t my cup of tea, especially when I’m dog-tired. Not exactly a thrill-a-minute.

Mothra: There’s an island full of monsters. One of said monsters is, of course, a giant moth. Said moth is friends with two pint-sized women who speak in high-pitch unison. Capitalist swine abduct said women and take them back to the Big City. Mothra soon follows, kicking all sorts of ass along the way. I have yet to understand what the big deal is in regard to giant monster movies. They just don’t do it for me. Being sponsored by Stomp Tokyo, this is probably sacrilege.

Soon after Mothra flew off into the sunset, the curtains closed and the lights came up revealing an auditorium full of bewildered people with that “deer caught in the headlights” look about them.

We all pitched in to help clean up the mess of paper plates and half-dead bodies strewn randomly about the floor. Once everything was neat and tidy, everybody packed into cars and headed either to House of Ken or House of Ken’s Mom. I opted Ken’s house, for then I could scrummage through the couch cushions for loose change with little to no guilt involved. ***

Since the day of my arrival to Chicago, I had been slowly getting sick. By the time we got back from B-Fest I felt pretty much like shit. The next couple days were a blur of conversation, a few movies, and an unhealthy smattering of snack food. I eat more Hostess at B-Fest than I do the whole year combined. 

After all was said and done, Ken was gracious enough to drive me back to the airport. Another B-Fest down in the history books. Despite feeling like crap, I had a great time. The festival itself is always a blast, but nothing compares to hanging out with my fellow geeks.

And I mean “geek” in the most affectionate way possible.

 *** denotes a blatant lie, or a series of them.


-- Copyright © 2001 by J. Bannerman




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