The B-Fest Diaries, Part Two

So after unloading two vans worth of food and sleeping supplies, it was decided to leave “The Gimp” (ie, me) in charge of guard duty while the vans were put away, bathrooms were visited, and it was determined if the downstairs cafeteria still had that same damned Tekken 4 machine. Before too long, my little supply depot was beset by the hordes from the B-Movie Message Board; I greeted familiar faces and met some new ones, like another B-Master whom I’d not yet met in fleshspace, Scott Ashlin, aka El Santo of 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting. I knew it was Scott before he even spoke up; Somehow I knew the fella in black leather and spikes was him. I should also mention his companion, Elizabeth, a young lady who, upon hearing about last year’s B-Fest asked, “Why didn’t you take me?” Gibble-gobble, one of us.

I also wound up signing several copies of the new Forever Evil DVD. Chad Plambeck of 3-B(eer) Theater had to outdo everyone by producing an old rental copy of the VHS – looked like the original 1987 edition, too.

We were allowed to packmule the stuff into the auditorium and stake out claims on our seat and a half (Nameless Ray Schaff of the BMMB and I shared a chair between us for our incidental crap – it’s spacing like that which makes the ordeal liveable and practical). Then we took over an ever-broadening swath of the downstairs commons to chat while waiting for the doors to officially open.

The location of this table was purely accidental – I had been polluting my coffee, only recently purchased from Willie’s Too in the basement, chatting with… someone. More people joined us, we sat at the table nearest the condiment station, and it just sort of grew from there. This grouping was also underneath a TV, and I think people started to resent our talking over their episode of Pokemon. You think I’m kidding? I watched one of the student workers, pushing a cart around and cleaning the tables, stop in her duties to watch Pikachu kick some Team Rocket butt.

The doors eventually opened, and we filed in. Wonder of wonders, this year the Powers That Be had ordered ten – ten – t-shirts in XXL, which meant that I could actually get one to wear (I usually buy one for my wife, who is small enough to fit in the usual student-sized shirts on display). Luckily Ken Begg was further along in line than myself and glommed an extra huge shirt for me, so I wouldn’t miss out. I’m wearing it now, and may not ever take it off.

Time for go to B!

EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS

Moved up in the order, when the original opener, Island of Terror, proved to be unavailable, which is fine – I may not have gotten to use my “boneless ham” line, but it is one of my favorite monster movies, and the first movie is never heard, as a geek pecking order is established by dint of shouted bon mots. EVFS is perfect, then, because the visuals are pretty strong, and it’s a movie most of us could write in our sleep. The plot? The plot’s all in the title, baby!

Oh yeah, Earth wins.

What I Learned: Aliens communicate with lesser beings by means of an enormous disco cauliflower.

THE APPLE

I’d never seen The Apple; all my life, it seems, I’ve been told how direly bad it is. Apparently, opening weekend audiences were given complimentary copies of the soundtrack album, and the movie screens were damaged by the records being hurled at it. I can now say that each and every negative review I’ve ever read of the movie (and some not-so-negative) was likely written by some poor soul who was watching this thing alone in his or her own home, and yes, under those circumstances, this is a recipe for a dark night of the soul.

But in an auditorium full of people buzzed on caffeine and their own creativity, and a taste, if not a positive thirst, for the absurd, this was a terrifically fun experience. This is also the second movie I wound up buying upon my return. Sponsored by the Soylent Green Party, they distributed lyric sheets throughout the experience.

The plot? It’s a biblical allegory taking place in the far-flung future of 1994, done up in glam rock and production numbers only slightly more tasteful than the ones in Cafe Flesh. That’s all you need to know. Oh, and Joss Ackland is God. And he drives a flying gold Cadillac.

What I Learned: Matronly Jewish landladies don’t mind if you come up behind them and fondle their breasts.

MASCULINE OR FEMININE: YOUR ROLE IN SOCIETY

A short film from the early 60s about genderism, as male and female alike hold forth on what they consider to be each sex’s place in the scheme of things. Keep in mind this is the early 60s we’re talking about – there’s some proto-feminism on display here, but not much. A poster behind an interviewed pastor references 2 Timothy 2:15, which turns out to be “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” Symbolism… or synchronicity?

What I Learned: a female voice from behind me: “What we really need to watch out for is the anti-feminist rhetoric from women.” Tru dat.

THE SWARM

A swarm of killer bees, whipped up to a lather by a punk kid, go on a killing rampage. The star power in this disaster flick, which definitely shows Irwin Allen on the wane, is considerable. Most puzzling, in a puzzling movie, is the love triangle between Ben Johnson, Fred MacMurray, and Olivia de Havilland; Disaster Movie Formula demands that she die in the resulting train wreck (I’m talking about a literal train wreck, not just the movie), leaving the two men to stew in their tragic regret, or one man to give his life that the other two might live in equally tragic regret. But no, the script is tired of them, so they all die. Bye bye, tiresome subplot! Sorry we spent so much screen time on you!

There is so much here, I can only direct you to Ken’s review, linked above. Houston gets it in the neck again, but this time we don’t get nuked, just burned with flamethrowers. The Swarm is actually like a Rosetta Stone of b-movies – the isolation-suited soldiers in the beginning echoes The Crazies, Henry Fonda’s recording of symptoms as he injects himself with a new anti-bee toxin is straight from The Killer Shrews, and if you’ve seen Beginning of the End, there’s no need to watch the end of The Swarm. Unless you’re Nameless Ray, in which case at the end of The Swarm, you run up on the stage with a rubber chicken to roast it in the fireball that consumes the title menace.

What I Learned: there’s a mountain range seventy miles northwest of Houston. I had no idea.

To Be Continued.

6 Comments

  1. Yeah. Howz’ come Houston always gets nuked in these disaster movies? What sin could a city commit in a single lifetime?

  2. “Island of Terror”? They were going to mock “Island of Terror”? But…but that’s a GOOD movie.

  3. Well, let’s not forget – the “B” in B-Fest doesn’t necessarily stand for “Bad”. But yes, they would have mocked it. Especially that endless putting on the condom suits scene.

    “Boneless ham”. Heh.

  4. It was actually CHEW that sponsored The Swarm. Jabootu sponsored Death Wish III.

  5. Bloody hell. Now to change it so future readers will think you’re insane.

  6. Ooo, yeah, the Condom scene. Forgot about that one. Interesting how I could forget that ridiculous scene, but the noise those creatures made is just right there, in memory.


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Comments RSS