SPECIAL EVENT: The 2006 V Movie Marathon
THE 2006 V MOVIE MARATHON
V Minus 24 Hours and Counting...
A few weeks ago, my wife referred to the 24-hour V Movie Marathon as my “social event of the year”. I find it hard to argue that point. Once the marathon was confirmed three months ago, I’ve been cranking up the Nerd-osterone levels to critical mass. In fact, I’m worried that this year, I may have gone a liittle too far. It’s not the fact that I requested a day off from my weekend job three months in advance, even guessing at the date of the Fest. (And getting it wrong by a week... luckily my boss at Matua Valley Wines is very accomodating.) It’s not the fact I bugged Ant for months to try and confirm the date, only to fall for his joking comment that he might have to cancel the show entirely. It’s not even the fact that I spent two months scouring soundtrack mp3 blogs to make up a compilation CD featuring tracks from past Marathon-shown films, just so I could give them away to people at the show. No, it’s none of those.
It’s the T-shirt.
You see, while talking with one of my Duty Managers at work, I discovered he made and sold his own funky T-shirts. (Designed for over-40’s who haven’t grown up yet. Ena Sharples by way of Andy Warhol, for instance.) And so, I traded off two decent bottles of Matua Valley merlot for a custom-printed T-shirt. The slogan on the front reads “Vote for Captain Spaulding”. The reverse has a large picture of Sid Haigs grinning face, in full clown makeup. (And considering I didn’t even really like The Devils Rejects that much makes me question my own sanity at times. Sid was pretty cool, though.)
One-off t-shirts to watch movies in. Maybe I’ve gone too far.
And so, one day out from the marathon, and it’s looking to be an interesting year. Cherie (of the Bad Movie Afternoon crew) has confirmed her attendance again, but Ben and Debs have had to pull out at the last minute. Andrea may be attending the first flicks, driving to Hamilton for a Guy Falwkes party, then coming back for the remainder of the films. That’s hardcore if she does it. (FUTURE SKEETER: Actually, she stuck around for the whole show in the end.) I’m assuming Leon is out for this year, as Tania is about three days from producing her first rugrat. Steve Henshaw, a workmate and projectionist was going to be coming for the first five or six hours, then heading home. Then with literally hours to showtime, his guests from Sydney arrived on his doorstep... 24 hours early. And poof, he’s out, too. Raven’s going to be attending the Wellington show, which is sensible on his pocket, though disappointing on the “Hey, it’s that guy again!” stakes. Boxdog, a local B-Movie fan who’s attended my “Bad Movie Afternoons” AND held a Friday the 13th horror movie double feature I skipped work for, is out too. (Un-dumpable work commitments suck.) And me? There for the long haul, baby. There’s always benifits to having no social life.
The lead-up to the Fest has been good to me so far. Some judicious tape-trading and Internet-buying-by-proxy has netted me the “Extra Weird Sampler” DVD, full of insane and sleazy trailers, and the first 8 “Lost and Found Video Night” DVDs, which are just as twisted as I recall from ‘04. Even more so, in fact. God I hope “Graham Cracker Cream Pie” is a MOCKumentary. I managed to find a copy of Fantasy Mission Force at a local video store, starring an only-in-it-becuase-the-director-saved-my-ass Jackie Chan. It was the perfect lead-in to the ‘Fest, being the type of weirdness that had my brain pounding on the inside of my skull, asking to be excused. And I’ve actually stuck to my goal of minimal snackage for change. Kind of.
The 2006 Snack List
1 Pack Allens Snakes Alive
1 Pack Allens Cool Fruits
1 Box Heards Glucose Fruit Refreshers
1 box Pams Apricot Grove Cereal Bars
1 5-pack of “Little Rippers” mini-salami sticks
1 block Mainland Vintage Chedder cheese
1 water bottle (frozen)
As you may note, I’m ditching a lot of the sugar and salt and packing some “real food” to try and stem the onset of the 3am Stomach Cramps of Doom. I’ll pick up a few bread rolls in Avondale pre-fest to complete my Midnight Matinee Picnic. Of course, being me, I also need a ton of sundries.
1 packet Mylanta antacid tablets
My lime-green V pyjamas
1 new notebook
My (hopefully fully-charged) torch
6 V Movie Marathon CDs (to give away)
Robocop Special Edition DVD (ditto)
Battlefield Earth DVD (Also to give away, wheter the winner wants it or not)
Everything packed down pretty well in my wifes university backpack. In fact it did such a good job of storing everything, while still remaining fairly light, that I’m dubbing it the Portable TARDIS. Right. It’s 2.30pm. Time to load up the last few supplies, break out the Nerdy T-Shirt of Doom, watch a few more trailers and Lost and Found weirdness... then to the bus-stop, and then... (fingers crossed pending the usually unreliable bus service) to the Hollywood!
Let’s get out geeks on!
Prologue: Here We Go Again, on Our Foam
I made it to the bus stop with plenty of time to spare, which let me experience some fresh air and sun for the last time that weekend. It also allowed me the interesting experience of being unexpectedly showered with flying fauna when the man next door arrived with a Weed-Eater. The bus showed up just three minutes past its scheduled arrival time, which was pretty good for a change. As the bus was only going as far as New Lynn, I asked the driver if I could get a transfer to Avondale. “No-this-bus-only-goes-to-New-Lynn” he replied. The sentance was delivered so slowly I think I made the bus drop even further behind schedule. Rather than trying to explain the concept of a “transfer’ to the Zombie Bus Driver, I just brought a ticket to New Lynn, figuring I could hop a bus from there, or walk it if neccesary. Oddly, the driver drove in inverse relationship to how he spoke, so we were soon making good time. Until we hit Henderson.
It was here that we picked up the Loud Family. Mum was a Jamican-sounding woman who spoke very little English, but spoke VERY LOUDLY when she tried to. And even more loudly when she spoke Jamican. Her daughter was translating for her... equally loudly. And her son was an ADD-affected spider monkey who spent half the journey in the schoolbag rack. We spent several minutes stalled in Henderson as she yelled instructions to her daughter, who told the driver, who-responded-at-glacial-speed, whereupon the kid had to translate back to Mum...
We were there so long I was able to spot a guy doing the most over-the-top “staunch walk” I’d ever seen. He was also talking to himself and swearing randomly, so I’d assume his tough-guy walk was directly related to whatever mental illness or P-addiction he had. Eventually we got moving again, only with the bus suddenly 12 times as noisy, despite only having picked up three people. We hit Kelston five minutes later, and suddenly all hell broke loose. Mum wanted the bus to literally go off-route, shouting about which was “her road”. The Zombie Driver got quite animated for him, leading to a brief , though rowdy Jamican-Fuijan shouting match, which only ended when the Zombie Bus Driver opened the doors at a set of traffic lights and threw the entire family off his bus. I could still hear Mrs. Loud shouting at him from outside the bus, so I think it was a ballsy move. She was not the time of Momma you messed with, I feel. Unless you like having someone chase you around the house with a shoe.
At least peace reigned, and I thought the most surreal part of the journey was over. Nope. Entering New Lynn the driver ran a red light... well, orangey-red, but he still left it WAY too late. In the process he nearly ran down a jaywalker, leading to a great Dopplered squawk of “wwwhOOOOOOaaaaah” as we zipped by him close enough to remove the top layer of his skin. In Handerson itself I spotted someone at a table at Starbucks doing what appeared to be a chicken impression for their friends. And, as I left Henderson on a nice, non-zombiefied Stagecoach bus, we drove past a girl of about ten wearing a pink Post-It note on her forehead, much to the amusement of HER friends. Man, I remember when I was young and stupid, too. I think it was last week.
That bus trip was pretty much the perfect lead-up to the ‘Thon. I couldn’t have planned it better myself.
But finally, we rolled into Avondale, home of the Hollywood. I glanced over as we passed through the roundabout, and was amazed to see three people already sitting in front of the theatre. It was probably a minute or two past 4pm, with the doors not scheduled to open until 5. I was both relieved to not be the first Nerd-in-Residence, and oddly disappointed, too. I grabbed a few plain rolls from a local bakery and wandered down to the theatre. To find I was now SEVENTH in line. At the head of the queue was... well, I should have guessed , really. It was regular contributor to the Filmhead Networks’ message board Dave, AKA Steelpotato . He’d not only flown up from Christchurch for the ‘Thon, but in a week would be attending the Wellington show as well. That’s Hardcore, baby! I traded him a Marathon Mix CD for a slightly-bootlegged copy of Confessions of a Young American Housewife. I feel no shame... besides, would that film EVER find wide-scale DVD release? I think not. Another early-arriver was Craig Parkes, the unlucky SOB who won The Incredible Petrified World off me last year. I think he’s forgiven me for that boring piece of shit. I made up for it with a Mixtape CD. (If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have gievn him Robocop as well.) We hung out for a while as the line grew behind us, with me taking the opportnity to shill my Bad Movie Afternoons and gain a few new e-mail contacts. I restrained myself to just the first few groups, figuring the early starters would be the most recptive. (One group of girls gave me a collective “Fuck off, weirdo” look, but a half-dozen others are now in my address book.)
Oh, and the size of some of the beanbags this year were insane. Was there a contest going on?
The dairy owner next door had gone into Parking Space Nazi mode before long, putting out signs offering a free tow-truck ride for any car daring to hog his curb-space. I brought a Royal Crown Draught cola from him, in a token effort to say ‘Hey, we’re customers too”. Are that many people really looking for carparks to buy his overpriced milk and bread, though? Next year, he can go fuck himself. Ant showed up a few minutes later, and I popped inside to have a word and thank him for the freebie again. Which I didn’t really implicatly say. So, thanks for the freebie, Ant! I hope this rambling, badly editied review shows how much I appreciate it. (2000 words so far, and I haven’t reached the first film. It’s J.R.R Tolkien Reviews!) I slipped him a sooundtrack CD, too.
I got a double bonus as Ant got me stamped and inside the theatre right away. Sorry for queue-jumping, Steelpatato... perks of the job, yeah? I did have to do a little usher-duty once the herd was let in, playing Beanbag Traffic Cop to give Ant a defined aisle so he wouldn’t injure himself in getting to the stage around 3am. A videographer was present this year, getting interviews with some of the audience. I got my turn, shilling the review page in the process. I hope he got my best side.
As always, I ran into a few Marathon Veterans, including Thomas the Serious Film Fan, and a guy who looked really familiar, but I couldn’t put a name to. It was of course Chris “Dog” Stott, who’d been part of the group last year. My fabulous memory for names and faces strikes again. I also ran into Doug AKA “Fallback”, another 48hours Messagebord-er and a one-time attendee of my Bad Movie Afternoons. (He’s still trying to forget the horror that is King Kong Lives.) His girlfriend (Wife? Significant Other?) was with him... I did get her name, then promptly forgot it. I should really write these things down.
The Wurlitzer was called into service again, with our organist John giving us a kind of “Hollywoods Greatest Hits” set. He’d been a last-minute stand-in according to Ant, so big props to John! I was kept busy for a while, with one over-sized beanbag causing a kink in my aisle. (Although its owner did bargain me into calling it a ‘chicane’ instead.) After I was satisfied that no-one was going to block the aisle, I headed outside, running into Andrea and Cherie in the lobby. They hooked up with Chris in the front right-hand corner as I went to retrieve my bag from a front-row seat I’d staked out earlier. Only to find it’d been moved aside by the same group of girls who’d given me the “Bet he’s never had a girlfriend” look outside. (Oddly I put even money on them not lasting out the full 24 hours. There were still there at the end, however. So all is forgiven, ladies. Like Henry the 5th, anyone who goes through these trials-by-celluloid is ever more my brother. Or sister, as the case may be.)
As John dropped out of sight playing “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, I grabbed a seat between Craig’s group and the BMA Crew, having not bothered to source a beanbag again. (Besides, I knew for a fact I’d be all over the place as usual.) Ant hit the stage after a Wurlitzer fanfare. He’d ditched the megaphone for an actual cordless mic this year, which was a great improvement. He seemed really up for it this year, not even giving us the usual “I’m never doing this again!” idle threat in his intro. (Which is a vaguely ominous sign for next year.) He let us know he was planning a phone interview with a Troll 2 cast member at some stage during the night and did his thank-yous so he wouldn’t forget people by trying to do them semi-coherantly at the end. And so the projector whirred into life... and we were off!
Part 1: Come With Me if You Want to Laugh Your Ass Off...
Saturday, 17:30-LADY TERMINATOR
And ten seconds later, the projector stopped whirring, and we came to an unexpectedly quick halt. Seriously, it was during the second shot of the flick. It was so fast the guy next to me was caught square in the middle of the first riff of the night. (A shot of a cheap pagoda inspired him to say “It’s only a model”, but the screen was dark by the time he was finished the sentance.) The crowd gave the film break a huge round of applause, which was quickly followed by a loud cry of “Ten seconds into the first fucking film!”. Stephen Grey is in the house, folks! The film sputtered back into life. It died again. And the third time was the charm!
By now the scene had changed, leaving me worried I’d missed the title. Thank God for the lengthy (and hilarious) pre-credits sequence this masterpiece has. We watched as a dark-haired woman quickly seduced a rather sweaty man, leading to the earliest Gratuitous Boob Shot since Evils of the Night back in ‘03. (And not by much... if it wasn’t for the establishing shot of the pagoda, it would have been a tie.) There’s some groping, some grunting and then... some spraying blood. Still not knowing what the flick was, I was searching my memory for a flick that involved guys getting boinked to death. (Having not had word one of dialogue, I didn’t realise this was a dubbed film. If I had, I might have picked it as some bizarre Aisian take on The Hidden.)
As her handmaidens drag off the remains of Exploding Crotch Man, the Chick With the Naughty Bits of Death moans “Is there no man who can satisfy me?”. Well, someone has good hearing as an Oily-Pec’d Warior wanders into her budoir one jerkily-edited shot later. Man, either he’s good impeccable timing, or she’s running some sort of Stud Farm. He proceeds to give her the business, and for once she doesn’t have to lie back and think of Indonesia. Things suddenly go from cheap and sleazy, to warped and crazy as Mr Studmuffin... well, how can I state this gently?
He retrieves an eel from the Holiest of Holys. Which turns into a kris knife in a blaze of zero-budget special effects.
I didn’t even know what this movie was, and I was instantly in love with it.
Slightly pissy at this turn of events, Evil-Snatch Chick gets stabbed with the Unhygenic Eel-Knife of Power and utters her terrible curse of revenge... that one one hundred years, something shitty is going to happen to his great-grandaughter. To his credit, this doesn’t really faze the dude. Let’s face it, why should it? You’re getting off scot free, and in one hundred years, you aren’t going to care what happens. Just leave the kid a note warning her to avoid any crazed chicks with eels up their jackseys and go have a beer to celebrate! After this lame threat, she wanders off into the ocean, and we finally got the title. Obviously I wasn’t the only one who’d heard of the flick as a decent-sized cheer went up. (I’d seen the trailer on Youtube a few weeks prior to the show.)
The next sequence was a delight, proving why you should never abbreviate your credits. The “Ass. Cameraman” got a great reaction, as did his “Ass. Director”. That’s specalisation at work, folks! Oddly, the makeup artist ‘Tetty” got a good laugh too.
And so we skip a century and arrive in the beautiful city of Who The Hell Knows, Indonesia. A caption would be nice, guys. (Although both the “dramatic” leads are Americans, so I guess this is kind of an Anyplace. Unless Yanks routinely run Indonesian homicide departments.) We’re swiftly introduced to a frizzy-haired young American lady, who once again proves that the Bride of Frankenstein look was very big in the 1980’s. She’s doing some research on the legend of the South Seas Queen. (Who had a hit with “Fat Bottom Hula Girls”, and “Honolulu Rhapsody”, I believe.) Her expositionary conversation with the worlds skinniest Indonesian senior citizen had the audience in stitches. (“I’m an ANTROPOLGIST!” she squeaks at one stage. Suddenly Denise Richards’ Christmas Jones character in The World is Not Enough no longer seems to be the worst portrayal of a scientist in movie history!)
Ms. I’m-An-Antropolgist heads out to sea with the Indonesian Captain Quint and his massive crew. Consisting of one guy called “Popeye”. To facilitate a bunch of laughable dialogue, Captain Boozehound orders Popeye to “Shut off the engine!”. Of course, I’m not the most nautical person in the world, but I did see two things wrong with that.
1) There’s no sound of an engine, due to the lousy dubbing.
2) It’s a sailboat.
There’s another great conversation about Gravity-Defying Hair Chicks anthropological prowess, before Popeye restarts the Stealth Engine and they sail off to some undefined area of the Pacific Ocean. One scene later she’s all SCUBA-ed up and takes the plunge. Captain Beer-For-Breakfast panics unexpectedly, shouting “What happened!”. Ummm, you pushed her off the boat, Cap. Try to keep up.
Actually, it turns out she’s dived in without checking to make sure Captain Bonehead turned on her oxygen. Yep, this is the guy I want leading my expidition. Finally she actually starts her dive. Technically speaking, that is, as we get to watch stock diving footage that never actually shows her underwater. CoughcoughCHEAPBASTARDScough. Back up topside, Cpatain Drunkard and Popeye the Mute get to marvel at Indonesias interesting sunsets... brilliant red on one side of the ship, plain white on the other. I seriously think we were looking at a shot of a postcard for a second there. And then came one of the moments B-Movie fans live for. The out-of-left-field “Tidal Wave” that takes out the ship.
It’s a low-angle close-up of a normal-sized wave in slow-mo. I nearly died. B-Movie Oscar clip right there!
Down below, they one-up the stupid level by suddenly have Ms. I’m-Not-A-Lady-I’m-An-Antropologist get into difficulties and ends up... tied to a bed. Buh? In a further attempt to make our brains explode, the Eel of Ickyness shows up again, and... you guessed it, shoots straight up Happyland. Snakey Bender must have LOVED this film. Later that night, or possibly some other night, or a week from Tuesday for all we know, she returns from the sea in a blaze of Full-Frontal Nudity to reveal she’s now... LADY TERMINATOR!
Or to define that better, she’s a blank-expressioned nekkid chick with a really bad attitude. This is quickly demonstrated as she takes a quick stroll along the promenade, probably followed by the Ass Cameraman. Somehow she summons a pair of white thong panties in the process. Man, even Arnie couldn’t materialize a pair of tighty-whites! This chick is GOOD! She stumbles on the local wildlife... namely a pair of Indonesian Howling Pissheads. We’re treated to the sight of one of the pair taking a whizz directly into the air, with enough force to knock small birdlife from the skies. (While the dubbing artists laugh like Hyenas on hash.) Of course the appearance of a semi-nekkid Yank is enough to turn them into drooling hornbags in three seconds. Cue not one, but two Death by Boinkings in the space of three minutes. Kudos to Power-Bladder Guy for being able to sponataneously fall out of a car AFTER he’s been killed. Good commitment to movie cliches, dude.
Lady T.’s next act of Horrible Revenge against some chick she’s never met is to whack a security guard. Who knew security guards in Indonesia were armed with Uzis?
About this time, or possibly before, (Yeah, I’m gonna mangle plot elements and timeframes as always. YOU try remembering the subtle nuances of 13 films in a row!) we meet our Desigated Hero, whose name was in no way interesting enough to recall at this stage. So for the sake of the review I’ll cheat and look it up. It’s Max. Let’s call him Max McWhitewuss. Max’s a tough, gritty homicide cop. Well, in comparison to the guys he works with, he’s tough and grittiy. In reality, he’s likely to get beaten up by a rampaging street gang... of Girl Scouts. He launches one of the lines of the night pretty early with:
“We’ve seen more dead bodies than you’ve eaten hot dogs!”.
Well, you’re obviously doing a great job at stemming the tide of crime there, Max. As stupid as this line is, he gets trumped by his partner mere minutes later. They’re checking out the corpses of three guys who’ve had their cocks bitten off. (That’s their succinct analyisis of the situation, you understand.) Max’s partner quips:
“I’ve heard of the ultimate blowjob, but this is ridiculous!”.
Well, quite. Max needs a little backup on the Case of the Missing Winkies, calling in a few of his buddies. Including crowd favourite Snake, AKA Giant Mullet Guy. Seriously, with his huge nose and gigantic mullet, I figured his mother must have been rogered by a rooster. These three bozos then vanish from the flick for about an hour. No real loss.
Finally we’re introduced to a couple of local chicks, one “Elaine” being an up-and-coming singer. (As evidenced by the worst TV interview since Giant Frizzy-Haired Reporter Lady in Street Wars.) She’s wearing the same necklace as Kill-’em-With-Nookie chick from the start of the film. PLOT POINT! (Actually, since continuity is a foreign word in Indonesia, she’s only wearing it when the plot demands.) Her friend buys a replica necklace, all the better to get herself killed with... and from then on, the movie turns into the Indonesian version of The Wild Bunch, and all sembelance of reality evaporates like morning mist. Every Arnie setpiece is dragged out and beaten within an inch of its life.
Gunfight in a shopping mall, ala Commando? Check, only with about eighty more innocent civilians gunned down in the process. Lady T chasing down cars like Robert Patrick. Check! Shootout in a disco, complete with “Come with me if you want to live!” line? Uber-check! In fact, so much Arnie-esque action occurs, I really can’t recall the exact order of rip-offs. It all just becomes one enormous rip-off blacmange. I did learn several important facts, though.
1) All Indonesian cars are fueled by highly-combustable propane, and will explode if you cough in the general vicinity.
2) Indonesain guns never, EVER run out of ammo.
3) Lady Terminators have terrible taste in cars.
4) Naked yoga is the true path to bloody revenge.
5) When confronted with a naked chick, hotel porters instanly disrobe.
6) Getting you pecker bitten off is apparently a pleasureble expericne for a chubby hotel porter.
7) There’s no such thing as an innocent bystander in Indonesia. You’re a “target”.
8) If Max had just let Lady T. shoot Elaine in the head in the first place, huindreds of civilains wouldn’t have needlessly died.
Seriously, the collateral damage level in this movie will never be surpassed until the video game Duck Hunt gets the feature-film treatment.
9) If you need a early bathroom break, make sure it’s during Elaines’ musical number. You’ll miss nothing you’ll regret later.
Anyhoo, eventually we get one of the greatest rip-off action sequences of all time, as Lady T. shoots up a police station. (Yes, just like in that OTHER movie.) Here I realised she was using an AK-47,000, the only gun capable of firing 96,000, 000 rounds before reloading. Yes, she reloaded her gun. Once. In the entire film. After the hilarious scene in shich she unloaded about ninty-five rounds into a guy, then kicked him in the nuts for good measure. Erica, the great-grandaughter of Oily Pec Warrior is only saved by her mysteriously magical (And yes, worlds skinniest) uncle. Briefly, until Lady T. shoots his nuts off with a machine gun. What is the problem this chick has with penises, man? Max and Elaine beat the feet into the woods, leading to a interesting discovery for me.
There is such a thing as Indonesian make-out music.
I picked up on it right away, but it was a hard sell to convince the others in the group. Luckily, once Max and Elaine started telling each other their backstories, we knew the Unmotivated Sex Scene was imminent. Max finally beats out the “Hotdog” line for most idiotic statement, following up his three sentence speech about his dead parents with “I havn’t talked so much in years!”. Brilliant stuff. (He’d actually talked more in the morgure than he did at the campsite, but that’s by the by.) Suffice it to say, at several times in the next 22 hours, any long monologue was treated to some variant on “I haven’t talked so much in years!”. It amused me, anyway.
During the shootout, Lady T. had taken a single wound. To the eye. You can all see where this is going, right? Yes, back at the hotel she takes to her eyeball with a scalpel. (And by the way, where the hell did she find said scapel?) And of course, pops the entire eye out into the sink. First off, Arnie could do that because he was a cyborg. She’s not, as far as I can tell. And secondly, when she puts it back in, it’s the WRONG FREAKIN’ EYEBALL! (Chris charitably suggested it was a shot looking into the bathroom mirror. Personally I’m blaming it on the Ass Director.)
Well, let’s skip to the end. The Heroicly Mullet-y Trio show up again, and along with a bunch of doomed police extras, get set for the final throwdown. Unfortunately for them, Lady T. suddenly discovers she has the ability to shoot laser beams from her eyes.
On any other film, that might be the weirdest thing you’d see. But since Snakes mullet is in the scene too, it ain’t even a fair contest.
And so the police open up on her with Instant-Indo-Ordinace. Guys suddenly have rocket-launchers appear in their hands in the space of one cutaway shot. Cars blow up. A helicopter gets done blown up by Lady T. More extras get zapped. And then Snake gets his big action scene, driving “The Panzer”! Okay, it’s only a cheap-looking armoured car, but Snake plays it to the hilt, screaming abuse and profanities as fast as he fires bullets at her. Indonesian military strategy proves to be interesting as Snake pins Lady T’s car with the Panzer, then gets another guy to blow BOTH vehicles up with a rocket launcher. That’s gotta blow out the budget for the department right there.
Not the films budget, though, as the “Panzer’ is now obviously a blazing campervan. God, I love this movie.
Now, if you guessed that Lady. T would emerge from the blazing wreckage and continue her rampage, give yourself a cookie. Actually, due to special effects limitations, she really emerges from somewhere in FRONT of the blazing wreck, as a melted-looking zombie chick. It was to be the SECOND-worst makeup job of the Marathon, oddly enough.
And so, more laser-beams from the eyeballs, Max proves to be a total creampuff at hand-to-hand fighting, and finally Elaine uses the Mystical Stabbing Device she’s been lugging around for most of the flick. And Lady T. kind of vanishes with a “Plink”sound. Well, that was a vague disappointment.
And it was over. The cheesiest action flick of the 1980’s has been found. Superb start, Ant!
Even better. It’s available on DVD. Yes!
Right, let’s kick off the 2006 Running themes list:
Wussy Male Lead?: Our choices were Max, Captain Bonehead or Wafer-Thin Aisian Guy. So yes, yes and yes.
Exploding Cars?: In droves, baby.
Overdancing Extras?: One guy briefly seen doing “The Flailing Spaz-Out” at the nightcub.
Strippers?: Oddly, no. But plenty of under-dressed dancers.
Sweaty People?: Hell, yes. Way too many, in fact.
Public Urination?: Public? He was imitating the Tivoli Fountains, dude! I’m surprised no-one tried to toss coins in him.
Gratuitous Testicular Abuse: Yes. Very gratuitous.
Skeeter’s Summary: Must. Buy. This. Film. Classic stuff.
Part 2: West Side Story. With Explosions.
Saturday 19:10-STREETS OF FIRE
The 2006 V Movie Marathons’ Salute to the 80’s rolled on with this oddity from 1984. It’s subtitled “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fable”, which was taken as a bad sign by Andrea. (My Ominous Sign was to come with a credit for the top-billed Michael Pare.) Basically, it’s a musical, set in every era of the last fifty years. 80’s new-wave pop rubs shoulders with 50’s doo-wop. Cops drive stylised 1930-s police cars. The production itself takes place on sets that are stright out of Little Shop of Horrors, and the cast includes Willam Defoe, Rick Moranis and a small part for Bill Paxton, sporting the a hair-do that looks like Chris Isaaks quiff on steriods.
The basic plot has Ellen, the lead singer of a new-wave group getting kidnapped during a gig by pyschotic gang leader Raven. Yes, Mr. Dafoe IS playing the pyscho... how did you guess? Tom Cody, a former soldier who just happens to be the ex-boyfrioend of Ellen returns home at just that minute, and thusly has to play the Gallant Knight to rescue her. He’s helped out by McCoy, a tough female ex-soldier, and Billy Fish, who’s... Rick Moranis. I think you can guess what his character traits are. (Being small, nerdy and white? Got it in one!)
I’m kind of torn on the film. For me it had a plot thin enough to slip under a door, with just enough meat on the script to hang the songs on. Which were for me, pretty forgettable. In fact, the only one that I can still remember is the Brain Setzer-ish “One Bad Stud”. Ry Cooders score is likewise just there in the background, never really leaping out for me. Once our heroes actually rescue Ellen, the movie turns into a musical version of After Hours. The cast drive around darkened city streets, avoiding gang members and police and kidnapping a bus-load of doo-wop singers. We get a number of motorcyles giving their lives for the production and a pick-axe duel at the end, but for me the movie was neither horribly bad, not exceptionally good. It was there, no more.
However, I now think Jim Steinmann deserves some sort of ecological award. He released a solo album soon after his falling-out with Meatloaf and basically, no-one brought it. (Well, I own a copy by that’s another story.) But he’s cut that thing up into pieces and re-used it over and over again. The opening to Bonnie Tylers “I Need a Hero” was a sped-up intro to “Stark Raving Love”. Bits of the album ended up on “Bat Out of Hell II”. And the opening numbers from Ellen Aim and the Attackers includes the “Godspeed!” chorus from “Bad For Good.”. In fact, I was able to pick up on Mr. Steinmanns contribution to the film, despite him not being listed in the credits until the end of the flick.
But anyhoo, let’s list the things I DO remember about the film. To the Bullet Points!
Okay, as you tell, I’m having all sorts of trouble re-capping this film. Firstly, it just didn’t stand out for me. Stuff happened, there was the occasional song, but it all fell a little flat for me. The second reason was a little more personal.
You see, about ten minutes in, I broke out the snacks. But without realising it, I accidently managed to gouge the side of my tongue with my in-need-of-dental work teeth. I hardly registered it at the time. But thirty minutes in, the side of my tongue had swollen up and was singing like a drunken Irishman. Chewing anything on that side became painful, and swallowing was twice as bad. I switched to chewing on the other side. Ten minutes later, a transient mouth ulcer I’d been nursing for a few days opened up, nicely equalising the pain, while simultaneously doubling it.
I spent the rest of the film nibbling salami like Bugs Bunny and pouring ice-cold water on my gums to try and numb the pain. It eased off within a few hours, but as you can guess I suffered a major lack of focus during the flick.
I was however surprised by two things that happened at the end of the film, though.
At the end of the flick, the Attackers show up for an encore, and we’re out. By midday on Sunday I could barely remember a damn thing about the film, save for my scribbled notes. Normally that would simply show the sad state of my short-term memory. This time, I have an excuse. Three of them in fact. Little did I know the worst was yet to come.
Wussy Male Lead?: It’s Michael Pare, folks. ‘Nuff said?
Exploding Cars?: No cars, but several Combustable Hondas bit the dust.
Overdancing Extras?: There was plenty of bad dancing, but the guy doing the Hand Jive during the last Attackers number really caught my eye.
Strippers?: Just the one. And she really only flashed us. PG-13 stripping.
Sweaty People?: Greased-up 50’s rockers in leather. And sweat.
Public Urination?: Not that I recall, but there’s a lot of blank spots in my memory for this flick.
Gratuitous Testicular Abuse: None springs to mind.
Skeeter’s Summary: Not that bad a film, despite my rather apathetic review. Just not one I’ll be hunting down on disc anytime soon.
We took a brief break after Streets of Fire. Ant had put out a call for compilation discs of remixed trailers and general Youtube weirdness on the 48 Hours board, but with only 48 hours notice, offerings were pretty sparse. (We in fact ran out by the 18th hour of the show. I KNEW I should have packed the Extra Weird Sampler disc.) However, Steelpotato came through big time in the first break, with the roof-raising trailer for Must Love Jaws. There were also the usual 35-mm trailers before each flick, but truth be told I missed quite a few this year. After having attended four of these shows, the social side is starting to really kick in. I spent a lot of time between films catching up with people I only see once or twice a year. (Including the little Irish guy who got my super-bastard question last year. In the same seat as last time. Traditions are being formed quickly, it seems.) I meant to get his e-mail address for the BMA Crew, but put it off too long, and he was gone before I packed up at the end. Maybe next year.
However, Slithis is now on my must-find list. That looked brilliant.
Around nine-ish, we had our first contest of the night, and a Lady Terminator Line-Off was the theme. I was ready to vote for whoever did the Antropolgist line. Sadly, the girl who tried it substituted “Archeologist” instead. And they’re just not as funny. And so, the guy who busted out his best “Ultimate Blowjob” was an easy winner.
Deciding to give the BMA crew a break from my puns, I headed into the stalls to where Fallback and Ms. Fallback were sitting, and we were away again!
Part 3: They’re Coming For You, Babara! (So Walk Slowly Away!)
Saturday, 21:05-BURIAL GROUND
People have been asking a question of Ant the last few years. “Why haven’t we had a really good Italian Zombie film yet?”. And this year, Ant answered the question. And guess what?
We’re STILL wating for a really GOOD Italian Zombie film.
Admittedly, there’s a chance that a “good Italian zombie film” is just an total oxymoron. But Ants’ sadistic sense of humour strikes again as he programmed the WORST Italian zombie movie he could find. And we thank him for it.
It kicked off with a heavily-bearded archeologist (See, not funny, right?) having a Eureka Moment. Which causes him to have a badly-dubbed panic attack. (In fact just mentally add “badly-dubbed” in front of random phrases in this review, and it’ll save me a lot of typing.) We have no idea what he’s found, as he quickly dashes off into a dusty catacomb that’s apparently on his property to begin digging around. We have no idea what he’s looking for, why it’s so important, or what he’ll do with whatever it is when he finds it. This serves us well for the remainder of the flick, as not one thing in the film is every really explained satisfactorily. In fact, if you cut this film up into ten minute blocks and then shuffled the footage into a random order, it’d probably make as much sense. Possibly more.
After scant seconds of watching Mr Beardy frig around in the dusty tomb, the walking dead suddenly start sloooooooowly popping out of their tombs. We have no idea why.
Before I continue, let me expound on Skeeters Theory of Public Humour. You see, at the ‘Thon I’ll always try not to annoy people I don’t know with my near-constant observations, quips and bad puns during these films. After all, sometimes they don’t work. Usually, you’d have to be sitting right next to me to hear the gags. But sometimes, you know the joke is going to kill, and will work on a wider scale than just the guy next to you. So when a man with a huge brown beard, dressed in brown tweed is suddenly (Okay, laboriously) threatened by zombies, I fired off one of just two public riffs that night. A loud shout of “RUN, GIMLI, RUN!”.
It went down well. Sometimes you have to know your audience.
Sadly, the Dwarven Archeologist didn’t heed my advice, and went down under the horde of zombies.
Three is a horde, right?
The zombie themselves were brilliant. Grey pancake makeup, copious amounts of live worms and maggots for that “Ick” factor, and… huge googly eyeballs. Add in the buck teeth on a couple of them, the one guy who seemed to have missed his makeup call and was just wearing a thin layer of grey paint, and you’ve got the most amusing Undead Army in decades.
But a zombie film isn’t complete without a house full of victims, right? So to the strains of an unexpectedly easy-listening theme we get a couple of car-loads of Italians with the collective IQ of a bowl of mushroom soup. Thjey’re heading to the Professors house for no readily-apparent reason. As they pull up at the house, I spotted an unusual presence in the back seat… an off-focus form that looked like the Mekon from the Dan Dare comic books. When we got a full look at him, Ant was ready with a perfectly-timed “UUGH!” sound. The “kid” playing the dude’s son is either a horrible genetic mutant, or, as I suspect, a midget. A midget who’s about 45 years old if he’s a day. The effect was that their kid had that horrible disease that makes them age too quickly. The topic of whispered conversation quickly turned to why the HELL you’d use a midget instead of a child.
Trust me, the reason for that became abundantly clear. And then we wished we’d never asked.
But once we had our cast assembled, we hd to find out about their character trats. Too bad they didn’t have one. The entire group was the human equivaent of the Professors tweed coat. Servicable, but dull as ditchwater. I dubbed one the Plaid Avenger for his fashion sense, but the Mutant Kids parents were as well-defined as shopkeepers dummies. The main purpose they gave us at the start of the flick was for a bit of gratuitous lingere modelling by Mum, and Dad’s charming assesment of “You look just like a little whore!” in response. Interestingly, he meant that as a compliment. They get down to a bit of boinking as the Zombie Hoard finally clears the tombs entrance, having travelled about ten feet in the last hour and a half.
Inside the house, Mom and Dad suffer a little Nooikius Interruptus as their door slooooowly creaks open. And then a shadow SLOOOOOOOOwly begins to emerge. So in other words, someone opened the door, then backed up twenty feet in order to walk toward the door in a slow, dramatic way. If you thought for one second it’s the zombies, currently doing 0.00005 kph toward the house, punch yourself in the face right now. It is of couse Michael, (AKA Mutant Kid) having a little Parental Perv. Pretty much everyone who’d seen Confessions of a Young American Housewife or Toys Are Not For Children knew where this was going, I think. And a lot of those who hadn’t, too. Ant, we really need to talk this problem over. Mom doesn’t help things by leaping out bed to cover herself up with a robe. You know, you were actually covered up, but thanks for the gratitous full-frontal there, Mom.
Meanwhile, the other characters go off into the garden for either some photography, or some making out. (Seriously, everyone decided to spontaneously boink or swap spit in this flick. What is it, a Swingers Weekend Getaway?) Zombies continue to creep through the garden, bar the one that burrows up out of a garden to menace a pair of Maker-Outers. Sorry, what? Did they bury this guy in the garden like he was a run-over kitten? Or is he some sort of Zombie Commando? (Another shows up later in a fountain-side raised crypt. Mob hit victim?) Kudos to the the makeup artist who plasted zombie makeup on the top of the actors hands, but left the bottom completely bare. The clean healthy skin really helps us suspend our disbelief. Not. Anyhoo, he gets a hold of an ankle and the chase is on!
Actually, since the zombies are slow enough to be outdistanced by one-legged man wearing a blindfold, it’s more a case of now the standing still is on. Stand still, scream, stand still, watch zombie approach, stand still, let them touch you and THEN run away. One of the female Zombie Niblets sets a new low in Botched Escape Attempts, however. Falling over and twisting your ankle? Nah, that’s for amateurs. She manages to run directly into a bear trap!
I’ll repeat that. She steps in a BEAR TRAP for Gods sake! On a country estate? What are they hoping to catch, the Italian Bigfoot? The Plaid Avenger tries to rescue her, quickly gaining the title of Least Effective Hero of the Night! He acheives this honour by managing to slam the trap shut on her ankle no less than FOUR TIMES! He follows that up by picking up a pitchfork that just happens to be lying around and gently tapping a zombie on the head with the flat part of it. The Moron Trifecta is completed as he siezes a zombie by the wrists and very deliberately guides its hands to his throat. Look, I want your character to die too, by you’re not getting out of the movie that easily, pal! He eventually had to be rescued by a chick. Hang your head, man. Lower!
Back at the house, Michael broke up the audience by picking up a piece of fabric and uttering the immortal line “This cloth smells like DEATH!”. I was moved to remark “If that’s his mothers’ panties, I’m out of here.”.
At this stage Stephen Grey returned to his seat in front of me. It may not be obvious when he does his thing on “Good Morning”, but that mofo is about six feet eighteen if he’s an inch. With half the screen now looking like the back of his head I got to do the usual Cinema Seat Yoga short bastards like me have to do on a regular basis. Of course, he was blocking fifty percent of the hideous 1980 fashions on show, so I guess I owe him a debt of thanks.
Back on-screen, the zombies had shuffled into the house at long last. Michaels dad proved to have the survival skills of chocolate donut, getting cornered and eaten in graphic, butcher-shop off-cut style. Notice how Italian zombies (and cannibals for that matter) always have to play with their food? Much liver-jiggling later the remaining Mobile Zombie Muchies congregate back at the main building, only to discover a bunch of zombie literally guarding their cars. Look, you’ve see how fast they move. Walk up, rifle around in your pocket for your keys, sing a couple of verses of “O Sole Mio” and they’ll still be raising their arms to attack you as you drive off.
Of course, then the film would be over, so everyone barricades themselves inside the house. The next half-hour or so lead us to one inescapable conclusion.
These zombies are far more intelligent than the humans in the movie.
Seriously! Firstly, the barricades include thin pieces of firewood nailed across doors. Yep, that’ll hold ‘em! Then the maid is sent off by herself on a pointless errand, only to discover that they’ve forgotten to close all the windows. (Which would seem a priority in the event of a zombie attack.) Thirdly, the zombies , despite being ancient, decaying creatures, turn out to be incredibly accurate knife-throwers, pinning the maids hand to the window. Maybe they were an ancient circus troupe, condemmed to walk the earth after their cruel treatment of the dancing bears?
The zombies also know how to use weapons, as evidenced by the scythe-related dispatching of the unlucky maid. You see? 1000-year-old cadavers can use a scythe for it’s intended purpose, but Wussdork Beigepants couldn’t work out how to use the pointy end of his pitchfork? Darwinism at work, folks!
Another strike against the homo sapien team? That after hearing the zombies using axes to chop through a door, one chick takes shelter BY HERSELF in the room they’re trying to cut their way into. What’s Italian for “DUHHHHHHHH!”?
Admittedly, most of were hoping that chick would get whacked. She was Foot-in-the-Beartrap Woman, and despite suffering some mild Makeup Bruising of the ankle, spends the next hour of screen-time whimpering like a wounded puppy. Sadly the movie decides she’s the most interesting character and thus she survives until the last scene of the film.
Next up, one guy suggests letting the zombies inside to “see what they want”. Nice plan, Chad.You moron.
Plus the capper on this little test of humans intelligence levels? Not one of them suggested tossing Mikey the Wonder Mutant out the window as a diversion.
Hey, it’s what I would have done. He was a freaky little dude.
As the zombies inevitably break in, Michael comes within an inch of becoming Bub-Chow, only to be saved by his mother. Damn it! And then came the moment that really made the film. Mikes’ mum takes him out into the hallway to confort him… and the freaky little bastard makes a move on her!
You only wish I’m joking.
After receiving a mild rebuke for his attempt to return to the breast (and grossing out 300 people in the process) Mike takes about fifteen more minutes to fulfill OUR dearest wish. The one where we wished to see the little bastard get his throat ripped out. We also get the traditional eyeball violence and the equally-tradional I’ll-approach-you-even-though-it’s-patently-obvious-you’re-a-zombie-now scene. I’d run this film through Gangrene Widescreens’ Zombie Cliche Checklist, but they’re reviewing it themselves fairly soon. I predict a 90% rating at least, with extra credit in the “Woman Falls Down” category. I mean, it was a BEAR TRAP!
My God, this review is getting long. I’ve hit 9000 words and I’m on the 3rd film. Of 13. Could someone hire me an editor for next year?
Let’s speed this one up. Professor Zombiedwarf returns, eating the butler in loving close-up. Thank you Jeeves, that will be all. Our Bumbling Human Quasi-Heroes make a break for it, burning down the house in the process. They run away, meaning they should be able to at a minimum safe distance from the Shambling Hordes of Sluggish Doom in about ten minutes. The next morning they arrive at a deserted monastry. Captain Beige goes off to look for help. By himself. Captain Beige is a complete fucking moron. Captain Beige finds a roomful of Zombie Monks. They eat him. The crowd, now firmly on the zombies side, cheer wildly.
The last three survivors hear his screams. They run TOWARD the noise. These three are ALSO complete fucking morons. They run away again. The zombie monks chase them. So does The Zombiefied Beige Avenger. They reach the “safety” of a model-makers house and barricade the door with a balsa-wood model so flimsy it moves when you breathe on it. Yep, that’ll hold them out. Good work.
The zombies have of course already made it there, including Mikey the Incredible Petrified Mutant Middle-Aged Teenage Zombie Boy. (On any other day, that would be the strangest thing you’d hope to see. Not even close, brothers and sisters. Not even close.)
Mum invites Mikey over for a nice cup of breasts. Mikey eats one. The crowd goes wild.
The zombies defeat the impregnable five-ounce barricade and eat the remaining cast. A badly-spelled proficy... sorry, prophecy appears on screen. The End.
And the crowd goes wild.
If I have made this film sound in any way exciting, coherant or well-paced, I apologise. I’ve apparently failed in my task.
Wussy Male Lead?: The wussiest. Ever. Also the Beige-est.
Exploding Cars?: On this films’ budget? You wish.
Overdancing Extras?: If a zombie had over-danced this would have been the greatest film ever. It’s not the greatest film ever.
Strippers?: I think Mikeys Mom used to be one, yeah.
Sweaty People?: Maggoty, yes. Sweaty, not so much.
Public Urination?: No, but that’s tricky to do when a zombie is eating your bladder.
Gratuitous Testicular Abuse: Sadly no-one took the chance to kick Mikey in the nuts.
Skeeter’s Summary: I learnt one important rule in this film. Never, EVER film zombies in slow-motion. Worth it for the weird-out factor that was Mikey, though.
PART 4: WHHHHHHHOOOOOOA, Baby!
Right up until the day of the Marathon Ant was telling us theat there would be a lack of new films this year. In fact, he even joked he’d have to cancel the show due to a lack of new films. But as we all saw with Anacondas, new doesn’t always mean “cool”. So when this New Zealand premiere (opening Nov. 30th) appeared in the lineup, I was both surprised and nervous. Was this the Saw of ‘06? Or the Emily Rose?
As is my way with not-released flicks, I’m not going into major spoiler-y detail, but the premise is ludicrously simple. A mob hitman (Jason Statham) has been poisoned, with just our an hour to live. The drug is slowing down his system, and only one thing can stop him from checking out.
Strap it in folks, the ride is about to begin.
Basically it’s a 50-50 blend of D.O.A and Speed, shot in fast-forward, studded with some really black humour, enhanced with every trick in the Cool Editors Handbook, and delivered to you in uncompromising “Shut the fuck up and enjoy it” kind of way. Trust me, the only way to watch this flick is to ask that piece of your brain that controls logic... you know, the one screaming “This could never happen in real life” at you every ten minutes or so... to wait in the car for the next ninty minutes. It’ll be happier there. Crack a few beers, even if you have to smuggle them into the theatre. Ditch your bullshit film-school, arthouse pretensions at the door, don’t think about it too hard and just go with it. It’s a hell of a ride.
Oh, and hooray for REAL stuntmen doing REAL stunts! Welcome back guys, we missed you.
Wussy Male Lead?: Fuck, no. Flamingly gay co-star, though.
Exploding Cars?: Crashing cars, motorcyles and helicopters. Not nmay exploded, though. Realism!
Overdancing Extras?: Who had time to dance in this flick?
Strippers?: Well, she did. But she was pretty restrained.
Sweaty People?: At the speed the flick moves, pretty much everyone.
Public Urination?: Public SOMETHING. But they weren’t urinating. Trust me.
Gratuitous Testicular Abuse: Pretty much Gratuitous EVERYTHING Abuse.
Skeeter’s Summary: The best no-brainer action flick since Con Air. Sue me, I like Con Air. Also includes the REAL Ultimate Blowjob.
Another brief intermission followed, allowing us to chill out a little after that ampheteme-rush of a flick. I’ve always thought that the hardest thing about organising one of these things must be finalising the line-up. I know how much trouble I have choosing two flicks for a Bad Movie Afternoon. But Ant was picking them beautifully this year. One comment was that if you edited the glacial Burial Ground and Crank together, you’d actually have one very long, but perfectly paced-film. But next would be the tester, apparently. The one even I was worried about. The legend. Mr 1.9 out of 10 on the IMDB. Currently sitting at #9 on the Bottom 100 Films of All Time, after over a year at #1. Still rating two places lower than Manos, The Hands of Fate. The one now known as...
Part 5: The Worst Film Ever Made!
Sunday, 00:40-TROLL 2
Sorry to be blunt, but sometimes honesty is the best policy. The Worst Film Ever Made? Are you kidding me? Have people never seen White Chicks? Did Little Nicky never exist? Did Dolph Lungdren decide to become a chiropracter back in ‘84?Are you serious?
I’ve seen worse films that won Oscars, for fucks sake.
Let’s put this into perspective. I’m not saying this film is a world-beater. I’m not even saying it’s good. The script is weak, the acting ranges from “mediocre’ to “atrocious” and the directing is non-existant. The special effects suck. On the positive side the camera is aimed at the right thing most of the time, there’s enough unintentional laughs to keep the thing afloat, and there’s even one “jump scare” that actually worked on me. Sure, there’s no way the aforesaid “jump scare” would have been possible except for a dodgy edit, but it did actually make me jump. Worst film ever?
Not while Hulk Hogan is still getting acting roles, it’s not.
You know, folks. I usually don’t give a toss how accurate my review of the films are in these recaps. All I’m trying to do is remember the night itself, with the exact order of events in the films plots being a secondry concern. But Troll 2 is a special case. And so, I’m making the ultimate sacrifice. I’m cueing up my own MGM-taped copy of the film to ensure the following sarcastic summation of the Not-Worst Film Ever Made is somewhat more accurate than usual.
Or at least as accurate as I can be with a huge can of Speights to fortify myself before tackling this flick for the second time in three days. And two more in the fridge.
Let’s go to work.
be my breakthrough role! Sign me up!”
Well, we’re into the final 15 minutes of the film. To not spoil the ending for anyone who might want to see this film, I’ll stop recapping there. Suffice it to say it involves over-acting, Goblins being tossed down stairs, the Healing Power of Love, Exploding Googly Eyeballs and the Awesome Cosmic Power of a Baloney Sandwich.
Yes, I’m quite serious about the Baloney Sandwich.
Wussy Male Lead?: Hmm. Dad was less than manly. On the upside, he was bland and pasty white. And Josh was a squeaky little wussbag. So that’s a yes.
Exploding Cars?: There goes the clean sweep. But then again, that would have been a shade expensive. Especially after those million-dollar Goblin costumes.
Overdancing Extras?: OverACTING extras, yes. And Peter looked like he was doing an interpretive dance, but that might have been his running style.
Sweaty People?: Sweat, slime and exploding eyeballs. This movie gets Extra Credit.
Public Urination?: Off-screen, but it was a plot point. So that counts.
Gratuitous Testicular Abuse: It was Elliots testes, so the abuse was Mandatory, not Gratuitous.
Skeeter’s Summary: Did I mention this is NOT the Worst Movie Ever? Oh good. Just checking.
Interlude: A Brief Conversation With George
Once Troll 2 had come to its schocking(ly stupid) Twist Ending, Ant undertook the most technological callenge of any Marathon… a phone interview with George Hardy, AKA “Dad”. Surprisingly, the cellphone-connected-to-a-cordless-mic system actually worked perfectly first time. Even more surpisingly, after our first nine hours of films, at 2am, it was George who sounded like he hadn’t slept in weeks. Admittedly, it was 8am local time for him. Admittedly it ‘s got to be a weird experience to do an interview with 200 people half a world away, who are awake at 2am watching a film you made 16 years earlier. But my God, that man can talk.
Every question Ant asked was responded to with a breathless monologue, words not so much uttered as fighting to get out in the right order, huge run-on sentences hitting us with machine-gun pace, always sailing off on unprompted deviations, never coming within a mile of actually answering the question. My query as to whether the IMDB rating was manipulated was replied to with a frantic spiel about the cast screenings, Georges dentistry business and how good the skiing is in Utah. The only real bit of info we gleaned was that the director spoke no English, and the cast spoke no Italian. That answered more than a few questions about the production, I think.
It just raised a lot of questios about George.
After we managed to cut George off and let him go back to bed, (Or whatever nightclub he was partying the hell out of at) Ant promised us something rare for the “Thon. An INTENTIONAL comedy. And like The Thing, the moment it started, I knew what it was.
Part 6: Have We Not Met Before, Movie?
Sunday 02:30-TOP SECRET!
Here’s a blast from the past. I’ll admit, I’ve seen this film more times than I can count, but it’s been about 20 years since I saw it on the big screen. And so, once I spotted Omar Sharif climbing on top of a steam train, I was a happy man. As Ant said later, it’s a very hit-and-miss film at times. But when it his, it hits big time. During this film, as with Crank, Andrea had retreated to a seat to rest her back. I claimed her beanbag, settled in and just enjoyed the flick. I’m assuming my geeky laugh was heard all the way up in the balcony at times during the film. And I don’t give a toss.
If I made a list of everything I love about this film, I’d be here all day. And so I’ll just list a few of the things that made me giggle like a schoolgirl, even after six or seven viewings.
Wussy Male Lead?: Well, Val was a decent hero. But the man sure can’t hold his gasoline.
Exploding Cars?: PINTO!
Overdancing Extras?: By design, yes. See my comments on the Waltz.
Strippers?: Well this running theme petered out fast. But it picks up again later…
Sweaty People?: LATRINE!
Public Urination?: No. And it didn’t need it for the movie to be funny. Take THAT, Farrelly Brothers!
Gratuitous Testicular Abuse: The calf wasn’t really abusing him, but close.
Skeeter’s Summary: Steelpotato was a little disappointed, as this film played in Wellington last year. I’d have no complaints about waching it once a year. But if there’s a copy of Blazing Saddles hanging around, I’d be even happier.
Another break, another snack break, another belt of caffine. I headed into the centre of the floor and commadeered a vacant beanbag next to Steelpotato and a friend of his whose name predictably escapes me. I was jacked from Top Secret! And ready for the 4AM Sexploiation Feature! With the memory of Confessions… still fresh in my mind, I was ready for a lot a sleazy fun.
And then it all went horribly, horribly wrong.
Remind me why I do this every year, willya?
Part 7: Who Knew Birdwatching Could Be So Dull?
Sunday, 04:15-BEHIND LOCKED DOORS
A few months go I made up a mock poster for the Marathon, using my rudimentary Photoshopping skills. It was a take on the original Saw poster, with a dismembered hand clutching a badly-edited V can. I was pretty happy with my authentic-looking caption of “October 2006” (Out by a couple of weeks, I’ll admit.) and the slogan “You’ll gnaw your own arm off to avoid watching the 3am flick.”.
I was only out by an hour.
I knew we were in trouble right from the start. It wasn’t the title, which hinted at a vouyeristic expose of perverted sexual practices. It wasn’t the print, slightly orange but in pretty good shape. It was the dancing. Lots and lots of dancing.
I’ve watched quite a few Herschell Gordon Lewis flicks recently. And it taught me one important fact. If people dance for more than five minutes at the start of the film, fuck all is going to happen for the next eighty or so. And this was no exception. As in Just For the Hell of It, we watch (supposedly) American teens dance. (Bizarrely, this was shot in South Africa.) And dance. And dance some more. There’s no dialogue. There’s a startling array of musical styles used, but everyone just keeps on jitterbugging away in the same fashion. One couple sneak off and there’s a pair of bared breasts four minutes in. We ignore that as being too interesting and begin following a pudgy birdwatcher. He sneaks into the barn where the dancers are continuing to dance. There’s still no dialogue. There’s a hell of a lot of dancing, though.
Like I said, I knew we were in trouble.
Less than five minutes in, Steelpotato and I were already beginning to dissect the flick. After what felt like fifteen minutes of dancing two pairs of breasts had been bared, one during an attempted rape scene. I hate rape scenes. Even attempted ones. Doubly so when it’s used for titilation purposes. About now I remarked semi-publically “Well, this is a taught political thriller!”.
It’s possible I announced that a little too loudly. In fact, a few quips later, our group received a subtle, but obvious “tone it down” warning from Ant, who was seated a row behind us in his Gigantic Mobile Throne. Okay, I received the warning. But as an occasional stand-up comedian and a full-time sarcastic prick, I couldn’t help it. There’s some sex films that suck you in with their perceptive, witty script. There’s some sex flicks that ditch the pretentions and just go for the T and A. And then there’s sex films made in the 1960’s. Before even Playboy could show pubic hair was no time to make a sex film. An era where a minute of coy nudity was worth sitting through ten minutes of clothed people dancing to hot jazz. When a long dicussion about sex was apparently sexier than seeing anything that resembled actual sex. When the only perversion happens off-screen via sound effects. When people would pay money to watch a bloated birdwatcher cover himself in baby oil.
The Marathon is a strange beast. At times you sit there looking at your watch, saying to yourself “Man, there’s only ninteen hours to go! This’ll be over before I even get warmed up!”. Other times you also stare at your watch, wondering how the hell a digital can STOP. I swear to God time was running backwards for a while there. Flashbacks to Psychout to Murder came flooding back. I’d staved off the 3am Stomach Cramps with bread and salami, but this flick was going to make me break out the Mylanta in short order. There was a brief but memorable masturbation scene, enhanced tremendously by Steelpotato’s perfectly-timed “POP” sound effect. The film resumed its former lacksidasical pace. I was no longer at the Hollywood, but Satans own private theatre, the Hadesplex. My notes read “Tedium in 10 minutes or your money back!”. Below that was the succint analysis “This movie sucks!” I’d even underlined the word “sucks”. Twice. I closed my eyes and listened to the soundtrack, which I probably unfairly dismissed later as “Library Music”. Ant assures me it’s an original, and regarded as a classic amongst 60’s film scores. To me it was the soundtrack to Purgatory. I wanted to riff, I wanted to crack wise, I wanted to yell abuse at the screen! To steal a line from the B-Movie Messagebaord, I wanted to rip off my own penis and throw it at the screen in defeat. But Ant had spoken, and so I suffered in silence. Finally, I risked a look behind me.
He’d fallen asleep.
I think that might have been my breaking point.
For the rest of the flick Steelpotato and I quietly riffed the flick. But it was a forlorn effort. The film gave us nothing to work with, and even the double-whammy of unexplainable-barring-a-concussion ending and a I’ll-hook-up-with-the-NICE-rapist
coda was no help. The movie ended like it started, with a whimper. I think I was the one whimpering.
According to his blog, Raven has brought pretty much every film Ants’ screened at the last four marathons. If he even THINKS of buying Behind Locked Doors, I’ll fly to Christchurch and sign the commital papers myself.
Wussy Male Lead?: Pudgy is a synonym for Wussy, right?
Exploding Cars?: The most exciting vehicular stint was a Leaky Car. Thrills!
Overdancing Extras?: Only the entire cast.
Strippers?: In a coy, 60’s kind of way.
Sweaty People?: Oily, sweaty and pudgy. Why does Ant hate us?
Public Urination?: I’d like to take a whizz on the negative, yes.
Gratuitous Testicular Abuse: The movie sucker-punched me all right.
Skeeter’s Summary: Ant calls this film “hypnotic”. It sure made me very, very sleepy. Possibly the dullest study in peversity ever! (Until Body of Evidence premiered, that is.)
I returned to my seat with the BMA Crew, and prepared for the next film. As much as anyone could prepare for the assault on our senses that was to follow.
Part 8: What the Bloody Fuck?
You see that tagline between “Part 8” and “Sunday” up there? Twenty or thirty minutes into the flick, that line was shouted by some guy in the balcony. I concur, good sir. It became the running gag for the rest of the flick, and indeed, the rest of one other film before the night was out. In fact it became a kind of rallying cry, used to stop our brains exploding every twenty minutes or so from then on.
On the other hand, Ant finally found a solution for that tricky pre-breakfast slot that was the death of Breakin’ and Guyana: Cult of the Damned in the last two years. The solution is a borderline genius-slash-mental case called Ken Russell.
(An aside. While typing the last paragraph, I accidently pasted the contents of my clipboard into the sentence. Thus creating the film Guyana: Cult of the Gratuitous Testicular Abuse. I’d pay to see that.)
Anyhoo, when Ant announced that the next film would be from the works of Mr. Russell, Fallback said “Man, I hope it’s Lisztomania!” I’m now contemplating signing his commital papers as well. Because this film is as bonkers as only Ken Russell and a ton of now-broke investors money could make it. From the moment Roger Daltrey appeared on-screen, clad in only a diaper, accompanied by a naked woman and her affronted, sword-wielding husband, we knew we were in for the type of ride you’d have if you dropped a little acid before watching Crank.
Okay, a LOT of acid.
EXTREMELY loosely based on the life of composer Franz Liszt, this trippy flick comes off as a combination of a rock opera, a thinly-vieled (Okay, bloody obvious) political analogy and the over-blown fantasies of a then-hot director able to command massive sums to create his “art”. If gigantic penis-shaped columns, bum-saunas, wacky musical tributes to Charlin Chaplin and Roger Daltrey riding a ten-foot long mechanical erection are considered “art”. He fills the screen, packing it with insane, wall-to-wall visuals, pop culture references, naked people AND treats us to the sight of Ringo Starr as the Pope. The film melds period costumes and modern-day settings, lets Roger Daltrey play Franz Lizst as… well, Roger Daltrey, (While at times looking scarily like a young Triple-H) and tosses in every other compser you can think of in one incredibly crowded opening sequence.
The plot almost seems a secondary concern, and frankly I have no way of relating it without going batshit insane myself, but it finally gels around Liszts rivalry with Richard Wagner.(Who I’m almost certain is played by the same actor that was Cousin Kevin in Russells almost equally-bonkers version of Tommy. And yes, the IMDB confirms that.) Which in Russell demented vision culminates in a deranged Wagner raising an army of children dressed like members of the Mickey Hitler Club. (I did of course try to create a singalong theme song with Andrea. H-I-T, L-E-R! Oh, and I think of dressing like a Nazi Superkid next Halloween.) Wagner then creates a Robot Glam Rocker, starts World War II and becomes Giant Zombie Hitler, (I repeat… What the bloody fuck?) before being destroyed by Dead-Via-Voodoo-Liszt and his Angelic Air Force in their Pipe-Organ Starship.
And all that happens in the last fifteen minutes. I’m not even going into detail about the Ten-Foot Strap-On Penis scene.
On any other night, THAT might be the weirdest thing you’d see. Little did I know we were still three films away from topping everything in this film, and any three others you’d like to mention.
But I’ll give it this much. While the film is erratic, pretentious and makes your brain beg for mercy… it sure as hell isn’t boring.
Oh and did I mention it’s a musical?
Wussy Male Lead?: It’s Roger Daltrey. I’m not dissing Roger Daltrey.
Exploding Cars?: Nope. Exploding piano-shaped coffins. You read that right.
Overdancing Extras?: In a Ken Russell film? Yes. Naked ones.
Strippers?: Nope. He probably decided it was either the strippers of the smoke-belching buttocks. Good choice, Ken.
Sweaty People?: Fer sure.
Public Urination?: I think so, but in this film there could have been a pink elephant and a troupe of nude midgets on unicycles and I might not have noticed them. So don’t quote me.
Gratuitous Testicular Abuse: Well, if that was the size of Franzies’ winkie, his testicles were being abused by gravity at the very least.
Skeeter’s Summary: Boobs, Dracula, Chaplin and Zombie Hitler. God, I love classical music.
Sunday, 08:00-ish: BREAKFAST!
With everyone severley woken the hell up, it was time for breakfast. Ant and Stephen ran a quick giveaway at first, with some trivia. Until Stephen started a question with “In Behind Closed Doors…” and they both went blank. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one that movie brain-fucked. I was called upon to provide a question, which turned out to be the only one I used that night. (Despite writing up a dozen or so for my expected end-of-marathon quiz, which never eventuated. I never even had the chance to give away Robocop or Battlefield Earth, which are now back in my DVD cabinet. Luckily I like both, for completely different reasons.)
Had I known it’d be my only appearance on stage, I probably wouldn’t have asked my sexist and juvenile “How many pairs of boobs appeared in Behind Closed Doors?” question. And yes, I did count. Hey, I needed SOMETHING to do during that dreary fuck of a film.
It was seven, by the way.
And so we retired to the Bakehouse Café for breakfast. Learning from last years 200-covers-in-an-hour experience, they had put on a breakfast buffet this year. For seven-fifty a decent-enough feed of eggs, bacon , hash browns, sausage and toast was procurred, and eaten while working out exactly what the hell we had just watched in the last two hours. Most of the talk was about Lisztomana, of course. I even discovered Stephen Grey and the “Hey, It’s That Weird Bad Movie Afternoon Guy” chicks discussing the flick in front of a laundromat on my way back to the Hollywood. Mr. Grey did try to convince me that the film was actually pretty historically accurate. Oooo-kay.
Incidently, it’s somewhat of a testament to the suberb of Hollywood that several hundred people in pyjamas and dressing gowns didn’t raise an eyebrow amongst the “normal people” who were out and about at 8am on a Sunday. Gotta love West Aucklands’ “don’t look, don’t ask any silly questions, don’t make eye contact.” attitude to people like us. Appitites saited by our breakfast of salt, cholesterol and Watties Tomato Sauce, we returned to the theatre. And with the appearance of Gerry Andersons’ “Century 21” logo, we were into the Nostalgia section of the ‘fest.
Part 9: A Little More Adante in the String Section, Please!
Sunday, 08:40-THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO!
I’ll have to admit, once I saw the Centry 21 logo, I was mentally chanting “Captain Scarlet! Captain Scarlet!”. But deep down I knew what film we were about to see. (Mainly because Captain Scarlet only made a TV movie.) And yes, it did my heart good to hear people cheering for the intro to a 40-year-old kiddie flick starring huge-craniumed puppets. But internally, I was more than a little downbeat. For one thing, I had watched about 90% this movie on Sky TV probably less than eight months ago. I had even written a review of it, now lost to history in the Great 50Megs Page Erasing of ‘06. And I knew this movie has two major flaws.
One, it’s really aging badly. Aside from the dated dialogue, the slightly-racist charater of Tintin and the fashions that would make a blind man recoil, the appearance of the “Galxay’s Greatest Singing Star” turns the “sci-fi” into “oh, my”. Because it’s Cliff Richard.
yeah, I know the film calls him “Cliff Richard, Jr.” But seriously, what are the odds of Sir Cliff procreating? We all know it’s that near-immortal SOB gyrating his way through an insanely catchy, though ultimately meaningless pop ditty. In it’s entirety, while the plot grinds to a halt. And therein lies another, more serious problem with the flick.
It’s kind of dull.
Seriously, for the first fifteen minutes, there’s nary a Thunderbird to be seen. We’re shown every groovy and gimmicky set that Gerry and Slyvia could afford to build, from kitset interstellar craft to transforming hangers, to sets that prove that in the 21st Century nobody needs to walk anywhere if their desk can be mounted on rails and driven around like a golf cart. We see real hands turn knobs. This garned a cheer the first time around, and a much more muted one by the twent-third time the technique was used. We see the aborted forst attempt to send a spaceship to Mars. It gets sabotaged, crashes and explodes. And that’s pretty much all the action we’ll get to see for the next hour or so.
Even when the Thunderbirds do show up, the first thing they do is an escort mission, in which NOTHING goes wrong. That’s like having a Rambo movie where Stallone never runs into the enemy. After this rather long and dull opening act, they return to their private island and present us with the excruiciating second act. About half an hour spent in the pysche of Alan Tracey. Its almost unbelievable to me now that so much of the film was used to explore Alans’ severe case of Youngest Child syndrome, complete with his pouting, sulking and borderline erotic dreams about Lady Penelope. Who was the target audience for this film again? Ten-year old Thunderbird fans weren’t buying tickets for this lengthy melodrama. They were there for the cool spaceships, the funky gadgets, and above all the exploding minature sets.
Sadly, the film saves eveything in reserve for one huge, explosive finale. And by the time it gets to it, we’re already so numbed by the Alan Tracey Let’s-Wallow-in-Self-Pity Hour that it’s just too little, WAY too late. And so, knowing what the film had in store for me, I did the unthinkable. Something that I would ever even have contemplated in past shows. Something I thought I’d never, EVER do.
I curled up in a vacant seat and tried to catch some Z’s.
Let’s put this into perspective. In ‘04 my head nodded a couple of times during Pychout to Murder. Call it twenty seconds shut-eye, tops. In ‘05, I was fighting to stay awake during Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, which was in no way due to the film itself. I drifted into my own little world during Emily Rose, but never actually fell asleep. And here I was actually TRYING to fall asleep.
And failing. My foot was pressed firmly up against the back of Chris’s beanbag, and everytime I did drop off, my ankle cramped up, waking me right the hell back up. And everytime I did wake up and looked at the screen, there was a human hand turning a knob.
Eventually I gave up sleep as a bad idea. I’d probably notched up 15 minutes naptime in the laste hour. On the big screen, Alan was involved in some heroic wire-twiddling that would save the lives of three men and help cause the destruction of an entire town. It was a suitably explosive finale to a rather pedestrian film. But all I could think was that at this stage of the film, Captain Scarlett would have been taking names and kicking ass.
Martian ass, of course.
Wussy Male Lead?: Alan was the male lead for the most part. So for the most part, that’s a yes.
Exploding Cars?: And houses, and oil refineries and schools. But only in the last five minutes.
Overdancing Extras?: As much as a semi-mobile puppet can overdance, yes.
Strippers?: It’s a kids flick, dude. Don’t get your hopes up.
Sweaty People?: Sweaty puppets. In bed. Not like that, you perverts!
Public Urination?: No, that was Team America’s deleted scenes...
Gratuitous Testicular Abuse: What testicles?
Skeeter’s Summary: Man, half of all the IMDB comments on this film make it sound brilliant! There’s something to be said for the blinding power of nostalgia. Stick to the TV series.
Part 10: Action Grissom!
Sunday, 10:40-TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A
I returned to the Fallbacks row in the stalls as Ant shiffled the line-up, not wanting to hit us with a trippy 70’s flick right after the T-birds. He instead gave us an action film to wake us up a little. Sadly, Crank had already done that 12 hours earlier, and this gritty 80’s crime drama just wasn’t going to be a fair comparison. It had a lot of interesting elements, such as a young (and thin. And athletic) William Petersen, AKA Gil Grissom of C.S.I in the leading role. It featured the second appearance of Willam Defoe in the Marathon, making him the first Martathon Repeat Offender. (Doug offered to bet me that Mr. Dafoe would be playing the villan. I declined the wager. It saved me money.) It has a hell of a twist ending that had me go from semi-drowsing to wide awake in two seconds.
Right about the time proto-Grissoms partner mentioned he was just three days from retirement, I knew we were on the Action Cliche Express. And that the partner was a dead man walking. The script gamely dragged out every Cop Movie Convention you can name, dusted them down and ran thme past us. Visit to a strip club as part of the investigation? Yep. Cop goes outside the law to solve his partners murder? Uh-huh. Car chase breaks out in L.A and ends up in the sewer system, getting passed by both Arnold Schwarzenegger on a Harley and the giant ants from Them going the other way? Well, apart from Arnie and the ants, yes.
And frankly this isn’t an actioner. It’s a long crime drama, with much more plot than action. After near on seventeen hours of movies, and twenty-four hours since I last slept properly, I just didn’t have anywhere near the attention span the film required to enjoy it properly. I was missing chunks of the flick, not so much sleeping as just staring blankly at the screen, unable to work out what was happening. The car chase scene woke me up a little, because let’s face it, car chases are ALWAYS cool. But even that seemed a little tacked-on. I added some caffine into my system in the shape of a Coke, but it was probably a lost cause by then, as the film just failed to grab my attention until that remarkable finale. It probably didn’t help that William Petersen’s character was a bit of a prick, either.
Several people I talked to really enjoyed the film, though. Maybe they had slept through Behind Closed Doors. Lucky bastards.
Wussy Male Lead?: Skinny, but not wussy.
Exploding Cars?: I can’t really recall.
Overdancing Extras?: Huh? Is the movie over yet?
Strippers?: Yep… in the background only, though.
Sweaty People?: *snort* I’m awake! I’m awake!
Public Urination?: No idea. Need sleep.
Gratuitous Testicular Abuse: Almost certainly.
Skeeter’s Summary: Might have been better served with an earlier spot. But that would have pushed Behind Closed Doors into a slot that would have forced me to stab myself in the face with a ballpoint pen. So it’s for the best, really.
We were running behind schedule by now, so the breaks were just the few minutes needed to change reels. Which meant there was no time to brace for impact as Film Eleven kicked into life. A film that will probably never be equalled in its ability to mind-rape an entire audience, even if the V runs annually for the next fifty years.
Part 10: How Many Surrealists Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb? Blue Lemon Pixies!
Did Everything Just Taste Purple There For a Second?
Sunday, 12:45-THE HOLY MOUNTAIN
So here we are. The moment I’ve been dreading. The un-recappable film rears its ugly head. This is possibly the reason my review has blown out so wildly this year, in an unconcious attempt to delay the inevitable. (Either that, or I’m just a blabbermouth in deperate need of some self-editing skills.) But here goes. Let’s commune with the Universe, contemplate our navels and try to determine what the bloody fuck was going on. Which is a task equivalent to describing the smell of the number 3.
The Holy Mountain is the work of one Alexandro Jodorowsky, film-maker and surrealist. Possibly not in that order, either. This film, his follow-up to equally surreal western El Topo is one of the rarest films ever to appear at the V, with only a few prints still in existance. (Oddly, it gets beaten out by Troll 2, which became the first flick to be shown via a DVD since Street Wars. Ant even hunted down the director, and was unable to source a print. I’ve been trying to hunt down Jamaa Fanakaa, director of Street Wars, but only because I think he owes me two hours of my life back.)
Reading up on Jodorowsky post-‘Thon I found a quote where he states his intention to “do with films what Americans attempt to do with hallucinogenic drugs”. All I can say is, mission well and truly accomplished, dude. I once had such a high fever I hallucinated that Michael Caine had put a bomb under my bed, and it was STILL a weirder experience to be sitting in the Hollywood stone-cold sober watching The Holy Mountain. If my underpants had gained sentintince half-way through the film and discussed Euclidian Geometry with my last remaining salami stick, I would have ignored it, since something stranger was almost assuredly happening on-screen. I discovered I’ve used the phrase “and then my brain exploded” too lightly, as this time I’m sure I FELT it go Kablooie… three or four times to be precise! Twice during the film there was a sharp CRACK sound from the front of the theatre. That was me, smacking myself in the face with my notebook to ensure I hadn’t fallen asleep during Thunderbirds Are Go and was simply having a vivid, caffine-induced dream.
Folks, I’ve never done drugs. But now I know what they’re like. From the moment the film kicked off, with Jodorowsky, appearing as a cross between a Shaolin Monk and Gandalf the White, shaving the heads of two naked woman, to the moment he turned the entire flick into a shaggy-dog story two hours later, was perhaps the most deranged and trippy experience of my life. To even try to desribe the plot would be an exercise in futility, but before long we had seen a sweat-stained Jesus impersonator lying in a puddle of his own urine, a stunted dwaf rescuing him from a mob of rock-throwing naked boys, tourists happily photographing soldiers gunning down and shagging innocent civilians, Jesus making duck noises while costumed frogs re-enact the conquest of Mexico, and more unexplained animals than a petting zoo. We would go on to meet people representing the planets, including the poor bastard “from Uranus”, witness the Mechanical Orgasm Machine, hear copius amounts of Peru-bashing and look at more sweaty male butt-cracks than should be allowed by law.
The entire film is a series of visuals, some obvious, (The Jesus-ish Dude surrounded by false wax images of himself, for instance. Most of which reminded me of “Buddy Jesus”, I have to admit.) some unexplainable, (Turning Not-Really Jesus’s shit into gold comes to mind.) some repugnant (The armless, enraged dwarf) and some a combination of all three. (The old guy lovingly handing his glass eye to a seven-year-old prostitue.) It all seems to revolve around a (possibly metaphorical) journey for Jesus Guy and his (also possibly metaphorical) dwarf friend, along with a bunch of kind-of-disciples, to the Holy Mountain, where the Cosmic Truth is revealed to be “There really is no Cosmic Truth, you know.”
Does any of this recap make sense? I can’t tell anymore. My notes are no help, as only two sentences make any more sense than the film. One reads “He’s not the Messiah, and I have no fucking clue what’s going on!”. The other syas “My brain hurts”. The only other thing I wrote is a long sequence of words like “Buh? Th’ Hell? Whaaa? Huh? Monkey!”.
When a film reduces you to writing down your confused sounds, you know it’s a brain-snapper.
I did like the monkey, though.
About twenty minutes in, I tore my eyes away from thescreen and looked back toward the projection booth. From my position near the front of the house, I noticed an amazing thing. Each and every person in the theatre was sitting bolt upright, eyes fixed on the screen. Not one single motherhumper in the house was asleep, wheras at this time last year the place looked like a triage ward. Everyone had the same expression, too… a mixture of concentration, confusion and mild amusement. By the end of the film, a few people had dropped off, but most were still wide awake, compelled to keep watching for the same reason I did. Namely, just to see what else the movie had left to throw at us. We kept watching, it kept throwing.
Finally it faded to white, and I had a huge revelation.
I finally realised what Lizstomania was trying to say.
I still have no clue what The Holy Mountain was all about, though.
Interestingly, when discussing the film afterwards, everyone seemed to have a different perception of how long the film ran. Some people thought the film was well over two hours, some didn’t think it was even nintey minutes. It was about 1:50-ish by my watch. I had to double-check my notes to make sure.
It sure didn’t feel like it.
Wussy Male Lead?: Which one, Jesus or the Stumpy Dwarf?
Exploding Cars?: No, but plenty of exploding brains.
Overdancing Extras?: I’ll have to watch the film about eighty more times and get back to you.
Strippers?: Nekkid people galore, but no pole dancing.
Sweaty People?: Yes. Mainly their butt-cracks in glorious close-up..
Public Urination?: Right off the bat.
Gratuitous Testicular Abuse: Brain hurts. Ooh, monkeys!
Skeeter’s Summary: Can I get back to you once my brain processes this film properly? Say in 200 years, give or take?
Part 12: Who’s the Black Screenwriter Who’s a Bit of a Dick to All the Chicks?
Sunday, 14:50-BLACK AGENT LUCKY KING
With our brains well and truly scrambled, we took another mini-break and then raced right back to the 1970’s. Specifically, the week where Ugly 70’s Fashions actually hit their offical high-point of Ugliness. This was one of the few prints that was really showing its age, and frankly it was a blessing. Fading this print to orange-purple actually managed to DEcrease the films eye-blistering colour scheme by a factor of ten, at least.
It was patently obvious from the pre-credits sequnce that we were in for some Blaxplo-tainment. Huge flares, giant afro, 70’s muscle car. Hit the wacka-chicka guitars and make with the funk!
Then the title appeared. I loved it… both descriptive and nonsensical in the extreme. It was such a jumbled phrase I suddenly became convinced we were about to be hit with a bad-ass kung-fu flick starring some guy who thought he was Jim Kelly. I was to be somewhat disappointed as the expected martial arts action and badly-dubbed dialogue failed to materialise. Because that title is more than a bit misleading. In fact it’s a (very) alternate title to Solomon King, and its star Sal Watts doesn’t think he’s Jim Kelly.
On the contrary, he thinks he’s Richard Roundtree.
Yes, from the soundtrack to the style to the ‘tude, this is an out-and-out loveletter to Shaft. In fact, it’s less of a loveletter than an obscene phonecall, so blantant is the ripping-off at times. How blatant? I haven’t even SEEN Shaft, but after having Youtubed (Yerah, it’s a verb now. Live with it.) the opening credits sequence of the film, I was able to recognise a high-angle shot as a direct steal. And Solomon King, our hero, really does go out of his way to be a sex-machine to ALL the chicks. In L.A.
But there’s a reason that Mr. King apparently has the sexual magnetism of Hugh Hefner, Cassanova and Gene Simmons of KISS combined. And the answer lay in the credits. A Sal/Wa Production? Co-starring “Little Jamie” Watts? With several other Watts’es in the crew? Hoo-boy. It’s a vanity project.
Having just sat through a double-feature of R.O.T.O.R (produced, written, directed and just about everything elsed by Cullen Blaine) and Battlefield Earth (More maniacal laughter, Mr. Travolta!) I can spot ‘em a mile off. And since a vanity project allows you to be exactly the type of cool mofo you want to be, Mr Watts becomes the baddest brother on the West Coast, bustin’ heads and bonking babes with a bit of bad private dick-ing thrown in for good measure.
So it’s a bad rip-off of Shaft, you say. Well, that’s tue for a certain value of “bad”. Personally, I’m a sucker for blaxploitation flicks, and even the worst I’ve seen are usually pretty good. This one’s a little talky, the early action scenes are pretty random, with the unexpected punch-up and shootuout in the diner being the most obvious time-filler. But Sal makes for a decent enough badass and has enough charisma to carry off the role. There’s a great cameo for a guy playing a pastor who probably WAS one. (He sure wasn’t much of an actor, and I’m sure Sal enlisted all his friends and neighbours in the making of the flick.) MAN could that guy talk up a storm. In fact, he talked so much his dialogue literally over-ran into the next scene, either by design, bad editing or a jump in the aging print. Damn, I wished he’d come back into the film… he was the Afro-American version of George Hardy! Put those two in a room together and they’d still be talking at each other come Doomsday.
But the film isn’t without it’s flaws, too. The plot (and no, I haven’t mentioned the ploot yet. There’s a reason for that. Stay tuned.) was pretty basic, with Solomon King having to protect a possibly-Middle Eastern princess from her evil uncle. Which he does pretty badly in the end, letting her get taken out by a snipers’ Magic Bullet. (Which manges to hit her at a nintey-degree angle to which it was fired.) There’s a number of over-long scenes that add nothing to the plot and are used mainly to put Sal’s family in the flick. (Including one I termed the “Fabulous Chicken-Eating Scene” that showcases all of Sal’s sons, while making the film grind to a halt for five minutes.) The film is really inconsistant in it’s treatment of action scenes. The first shooting is totally bloodless, making me speculate that the budget for squibs and blood bags ran out. The diner-fight is an out-and-out bloodbath in comparison.
But the biggest flaw was one particular scene that nearly caused my physical pain. It started so innocently… Solomon heads to the Kings Row Club for a few drinks and a little man-whoring. (Hey, he’s not the type of guy to spend Friday night sleeping alone!) Sadly, it seems that the entire sequence is an attempt to kick-start a singing career. For the next few, terrifying minutes, we’re “treated” to a jazzy number by a woman I assume was Sals’ main squeeze at the time. It would have been pretty forgettable… except for the chorus. Dear God, what a chorus.
Imagine you’ve used the Brudlefly Machine to fuse together Yoko Ono and Bjork. Now take the creature you’ve created, get it drunk and feed it’s ass slowly into the spinning blades of a bacon slicer. Tape the noise it makes.
That’s a hell of an anaolgy, huh? But trust me, it’s not even HALF as annoying as the sound this chick coud muster up from the depth of her diaphram.
As she hit the forth chorus, I let loose my second public comment of the night. A heart-felt shriek of “OH, SHUT UP!”.
It made me feel better. Doulbly so because she did a few seconds later. Worst musical number since Ant made us Do the Rooster.
But frankly, even this couldn’t make me hate the film. I stayed awake, gamely trying to folow the plot. As it turned out, I shouldn’t have bothered. I’d been checking my watch, concered at how far behind schedule we were. At this rate, Dawn would be sitting outside waiting for me for an hour or so. And suddenly, it happened.
Solomon King and his brother chased a suspect into an alley on a hot-looking Los Angeles afternoon. And abrubtly, it was the middle of a hot-looking night. Solomon and his bro were in camoflague fatigues, accompanied by a tubby Mexican-looking dude we’d never seen before. And together they were assaulting the outskirts of a palace owned by an evil Middle Eastern prince, which in no way looks like a sewer outlet in Hollywood. Okay, yes it does. Someone got shot, but no-one was really sure who. (I assume it was Solomons brother, but I loved the comment from I-Think-His-Name-is-Andrew of “Oh, no! They shot the Random Guy!”.)
Yes, we’d suddenly skipped about three reels, and were right at the end of the film. Not quite the upside-down, running-in-reverse finale of Girly from last year, but pretty close. Solomon had his big throwdown with Evil Uncle Prince, who sportingly left his palace to do battle with Mr. King. (Thus saving a huge budget blowout caused by having to build palace sets.) Solomon kicked some Royal Ass, of course. And we were done.
At least we were back on schedule.
Wussy Male Lead?: You calling Solomon King a wuss? Prepare for an ass-whupping!
Exploding Cars?: Mucsle cars, yes. Exploding? Nah.
Overdancing Extras?: Yes. OverSINGING, VERY yes.
Strippers?: None that I can think of.
Sweaty People?: The seventies always look sweaty in blaxoploitation films. I have no idea why.
Public Urination?: Maybe that happened in the missing reels.
Gratuitous Testicular Abuse: If Solomon wanted too, he would. I don’t think he did, though.
Skeeter’s Summary: I just realised I used the term “man-whoring” in assOciation with Solomon King. If Sal Watts hadn’t passed on, he’d probably find me and kick my honky ass. But what I saw, I liked. Blaxpo rules!
And we were down to the final film. Ant and Stephen gave out the last of the door prizes with a Thunderbird Walk Contest. Meanwhile I bounced up and down in my seat, waiting for Ant to call me up for the final quiz. Which he never did, of course. Fuck it, there’s always next year. And next year I’m bringing copies of Eegah! and Raptor to really make some “winner” hate me. But it was nearly over. The last film. The Traditional Fan Favourite/End of The World flick. And once again I recognised it pretty quickly. Not as fast as I recognised The Thing, but before the credits stopped rolling at least.
Part 13: For Gods’ Sake Skeeter, Don’t Fall Asleep! Skeeter? Well, he’s Toast.
Sunday, 16:15-INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
And so we finished up with a film I’ve seen quite a few times over the years. (Although I discovered I’ve never actually seen it right from the start. I always seem to run across it playing on MGM, coming in a few minutes after it has started.) It’s the mid-seventies version, starring Donald Sutherland, with a supporting role by Donald Sutherlands Huge Moustache. (Bookending the Marathon nicely, as many horrendous ‘taches featured in Lady Terminator.) Having seen this so often, I didn’t have to concentate on the plot, and with it not being as big a film-geek buzz as The Thing, I kind of drifted through the film in a hazy pink brain-cloud. I’d perched myself on the ass-end of Chris’s beanbag, and I’m sure I had a few moments of sitting-up sleep during the film. Still, as wiped-out as I was, it was strangley comforting to be watching Body Snatchers… like I was hanging out with an old friend after a few beers. And that final scene still gives me goosebumps.
Oh, none of the Recurring Themes seemed to recurr. So let’s just skip them, shall we? We’d better, I just checked my watch and found it’s Tuesday. I think I’ve spent enough time on this review for one year.
Skeeter’s Summary: Classic paranoia-filled ‘70s sci-fi. With Leonard Nimoy! Excellent choice, dude.
And so we’d come to the end of another one. We cleaned up after ourselves, doing a fairly decent job as far as I could tell. I bade farewell to the BMA Crew, the Fallbacks and Ant. I mentioned to Ant that these things get tougher every year. On reflection, I’m probably just getting older and wussier every year. Sleeping during a Marathon. I ought to be ashamed of myself.
Steelpotato and his mate needed a lift back to Kingsland, so I found where Dawn had parked and carefully broached the question. I’m glad to report that she graciously agreed to having three Film Geeks and two huge beanbags crammed into out Nissan for the next fifteen minutes or so. Although she did have to roll down the window due to our combined Nerd Reek of sweat, junk-food and stale V. The three of us spent the journey dissecting the films and trying to work out what wouldn’t be screened in Wellington. In the end, Steelpotato did get a second viewing of both The Holy Mountain and Behind Closed Doors. I can’t say I evny him THAT much.
Once we’d dropped the pair of them off, Dawn and I grabbed the traditional Thai take-out and headed home. Normally I’d have crashed ten minutes after finishing my last spring roll, but this year turned out a little different. I first hooked up the 48Hours board to discover a Team America-inspired lament by the not-in-Auckland Raven, and the first apres-Thon post by Fallback, then Dawn convinced me to stay up a little longer and watch Top Gear. And since the World Series of Poker was coming on an hour after that, I dozed on the couch during a documentary on an Amazonian tribe, then watched people play cards for two hours, having somehow having gained my forteenth wind.
By the time I hit the sack it was 1AM. I’d been (mostly) awake for 38 hours straight. That much sleep deprivation does funny things to your mind, man.
I could almost figure out what The Holy Mountain was all about, for instance.
Almost… but not quite.
The Final Thoughts
The following day, I actually had a Movie Hangover. Headache, raw throat, dodgy stomach, the works. I was slightly depressed, due to the fact that it’d be a year before I did that again. But frankly, it was worthy it. An amazing line-up of obscure, challenging films, coupled with crowd-pleasing, entertaining crap, and sweetened with some old favourites I’d never expected to see on a big screen again. There were a few dead spots for me, and one somebody-shoot-me-this-film-hurts flick, but they were pretty minor in comparison to the high-spots. The lack of new-school films didn’t hurt one little bit… and Crank was an inspired choice. People still thnk I’m crazy for going to these things.
I say, you’re crazy if you miss it.
The Thank Yous
As always, thanks to Ant for being the B-Movie Puppeteer pulling the strings. We always forget to thank him on the day, but I seriously intend to next year, even if I have have to storm the stage and yank that microphone out of his hand. Thank you Dawn, for not divorcing me on an annual basis… that’s now five nights we’ve spent apart in eleven years. All of which have been due to the ‘Thon. Thanks to the Hollywood once again. If I ever win Lotto, I’m writing you a cheque to keep that place running. And to every single one of you crazy Marathoners who showed up, cheered, booed, laughed at lousy Italian Zombies and managed to keep a relatively straight face during George’s intervew, I salute you. You guys and girls rock.
See you next year.
At the movies.
ADDENDUM\ERRATA: A couple of things were brought to my attention after making this review public. One, Steelpotato is from Wellington, not Christchurch. Which means he flew up from a city that was actually showing the Marathon, watched, then went home and watched it again. The word 'hardcore' becomes an understatement. Ant apparently made the "POP" sound effect, not Steel. Well played, good sir. (He also denies sleeping during Behind Closed Doors, but I know what I saw, dude.) And I forgot to give props to BMM-Board regular Tim "Telstarman" Lehrener, whose B-Fest CDs were the obvious inspiration for my Maraton Mix CDs. Rock on, man.