The Traditional Back-to-School Crapfest

“Yeah, we’re goin’ to a Crapfest, la la la…”

I’ve been reading through my old stuff lately, and I discovered this actually is something of a tradition. Every year about this time, some of the people in the Show I do each weekend decide they need to have a life or something (Civilians! Bah!). I could mourn the loss of income for that weekend, or I could try to assemble a Crapfest on that Saturday. Thankfully, the response was good, and we gathered for the biggest convocation of self-flagellation since the Black Plague.

The good thing about a Saturday Crapfest is we don’t have that artificial curfew that comes with workaday Monday mornings, and we can get in more movies over a longer period. The bad thing about a Saturday Crapfest is we don’t have that artificial curfew that comes with workaday Monday mornings, and we can get in more movies over a longer period,

Dog_6It was Paul’s birthday, so I proclaimed that it being such, Paul should get to watch a Dogville short. These make Paul happy, but other Crapfest attendees don’t like them, because they have hateful, shriveled souls. Paul chose “The Big Dog House”, so off we went. (Dave even admitted he was interested in this one, as he was likely hoping for a Sid Haig dog to crop up and then possibly a Pam Grier dog so that oh my God I just creeped myself right the hell out)

In this epic, dogs drive cars, work in department stores, light cigarettes, commit cold blooded murder and frame other dogs for the crime, so they get sent to the hot seat in their stead. They break rocks and have prison riots. They even have machine guns to quell those riots. They also make deathbed confessions in the nick of time, so there can be a hairsbreadth rescue! Why do you monsters hate Dogville so?

Happy Birthday, Paul!

imagesThere was still some time needed to prep the dinner fixins, so I dropped Paul’s other birthday present: the 1967 NBC special, Movin’ With Nancy, starring Nancy Sinatra at the exact stage that would elicit throaty growls from her Crapfest audience.

There is no plot here, no comedy sketches, just Nancy in music video after music video, in a time before music videos. Obeying Rat Pack Law, Dean Martin sings a couple of songs and Sammy Davis Jr. comes in for a quickly-shot dance number that ends with an interracial kiss a full year before Star Trek‘s. Daddy eventually shows up and sings, and the Chairman of the Board is still in great voice, baby, lit cigarette in hand. This DVD was released in 2000, which means I’ve been sitting on it for 15 years.

Happy Birthday, Paul!

Whenever I break this out, I always find myself wondering what the hell happened to Lee Hazlewood. He wrote this song and several others on the special, not to mention Nancy’s big hit, Boots. (There was disappointment that Boots wasn’t in the special, but Nancy, in the commentary track,  said she had wanted to focus on her other songs. And break our hearts in 2015, also) Hazlewood decided to retire from the music biz in the 70s, came back in the 90s, and passed away just 8 years ago. Man, I loved his voice.

The 5.1 remix on the music is superb, and we really enjoyed ourselves. We even liked the commercials, which were included. Royal Crown Cola had bought the whole hour, and they were going to use it.

Yes, I am old enough to have seen this when it was first broadcast. Yes, I drank a lot of RC Cola, and that is all Nancy’s fault. Come on, it was the Mad, Mad, Mad Mad Cola.

“And now,” I said ominously, “Fun time’s over.”

I guess it depends on how you define fun, as we started with my entry for the evening, Roar. Which may not have been fun, but it was certainly not dull.

16830076469_b256969628_oRoar is currently making the rounds of the Alamo Drafthouse, who were at the forefront of resurrecting this cinematic freakshow. It is also possible to buy it on DVD from their website. But whichever method you take, you should make sure you see it with an audience. An audience that is not afraid to bellow “Holy shit!” and “What the actual fuck?!?!” at the events unspooling before them.

Do yourself a favor and after you finish reading this, go Google Roar 1981. You are going to find a lot of interesting reading. In the meantime, let’s see if I can boil this down: this is a passion project for Tippi Hedren and her then-husband, Noel Marshall. It comes from the best intentions – they were both animal activists, and had founded a preserve in Southern California (it’s still in operation, but right now I can’t get their website to work). The movie was shot there, though it supposedly takes place in Africa.

“Bad kitty! BAD KITTY!!! You love me TOO MUCH!”

Noel plays an insane man who lives with a bunch of lions, tigers, and other big cats. I think he’s supposed to be a zoologist or game warden, but you honestly lose track of such things while you’re watching a lion gnaw on his obviously bleeding hand while he tells his terrified friend that it’s just demonstrating its love for him. If this is not sufficient proof of his insanity, he regularly breaks up lion fights by throwing his body between them. It’s like somebody decided Grizzly Man didn’t go far enough and went back in time to solve that problem.


Some game officials or something motorboat up to his compound to complain that he’s exceeding the number of big cats for his deed restrictions, or – hell, for all I know they’re a bunch of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we were still drowning out the soundtrack with our screams of dismay. (A particular favorite was yelling “Cut!” whenever someone disappeared under a ball of fur and claws, because the director sure as hell wasn’t interested in doing it) While Noel is in the house bandaging his bleeding hand, some of the cats get frisky and start gnawing on the Witnesses’ heads, causing more screams from us.

The plot, such as it is, is that Noel’s family (and that really is his family, including Tippi and Melanie Griffith. It’s not like he could have convinced anyone else to be in this demented deathtrap) is coming to join him in this toothy paradise, but they got the arrival time wrong, meaning they hitch a ride to the compound while Dad is coming to get them, two ships passing in the night, as it were. And they come to a house full of animals wondering why these new arrivals are acting like prey, running around, screaming, hiding, that sort of thing.

I think the lion was a fan of The Haunting.

Perhaps the lion was a fan of the original The Haunting.

You see, this is supposed to be a family movie, and this section is supposed to be funny. This is like filming a slapstick comedy on a set made of razor wire and broken glass. The cats are rambunctious because there’s a rogue lion named Togar messing with them, so they’re acting out. In real life, the family knew some of these cats, but not all, and everybody wound up getting stitches at one point or another in its ten-year process. Melanie Griffith had to have facial reconstruction surgery. Jan de Bont, then merely a cameraman, had 120 stitches when a curious lion tore the scalp off the back of his head with one swipe.

Two of the vengeful Witnesses come back to shoot the lions, and supposedly manage to bag a few until Togar has enough of their shit and puts a massive hurt on them. I try not to think about how badly those guys were actually hurt. I’m sure at least some of that blood was fake, at least. Maybe. Hopefully. Anyway, it’s a pretty unnecessary addition to the movie, except that they needed to get some “Hunting is evil!” action in there. Animal activists, remember?

The family manages to survive their night of terror, and it turns out all everybody needed was a good night’s sleep! Even Togar is okay now that he’s had a Snickers and a hunter’s face! Yay, big cats! Yay, we no longer need cringe in terror for these poor fools getting mauled for a questionable idea of entertainment! Yay!

Happy Birthday, Paul!

So after this we were really through being nice, this time we meant it. Dave was being mysterious, as usual, as he put on something called Hell Squad. Judging from the Tweets I was getting back, I am the only person in the world who had never heard of Hell Squad. Well, and all the other people in the room with me. There is no information on this thing, anywhere.

Hell_Squad-960366835-largeThe first thing you have to realize is there is something called an Ultra Neutron Bomb.  Ay-rabs kidnap the son of an ambassador (after a chase scene that sets new levels for unexcitement) in order to force the ambassador to give them the formula for the Ultra Neutron Bomb!!! Should he call the cops? The Army? The CIA? No, his assistant has a better idea.

And hops on the next flight to Las Vegas.

There he meets with Jan (Bainbridge Scott), a showgirl who likes to beat the crap out of mashers. She calls a meeting of her bored showgirl troupe and they all board a bus to the desert, where a guy in a drill sergeant hat tells them, “We have ten days to turn you from Las Vegas showgirls to trained commandos.”

002e5f43_mediumThere is magic in that statement. Magic that will go largely unfulfilled, but welcome to the world of crap movies. After a training montage (while the ambassador’s son molders in the dungeon for ten days – these are remarkably patient terrorists) Hell Squad is ready to go, journeying to Fake-istan under the guise of a traveling troupe of showgirls.

Okay, that’s Act One. In Act Two, Hell Squad will check into their luxury hotel suite, discover a large bathtub, and because “I read there’s a water shortage,” will take group baths. There isn’t a bubble bath shortage, though. It seems only Bainbridge Scott got the extra nudity money. Their mysterious contact always calls with instructions right after Bainbridge gets in the tub. (I suspected Paul of being the contact.)

hqdefaultThe contact sends them on mission after mission in which they easily kill lots of Ay-rabs (why are we spending trillions on bombers when all we need is Las Vegas showgirls with ten day’s training?), and then return for a group bath. Literally: lather, rinse, repeat. Phone call, boobies. They commandeer a tank and drive it fifty feet. Mission accomplished! Bath time!

They finally run out of money for extras so two of the missions are just driving around in the desert. First at night, then during the day. I don’t think they got to take a bath between those two, because we were too busy bitching about the one-note-off-from-the-actual-A-Team-theme-song music that accompanied each. And every. Outing.

All of this doesn’t turn up the Ambassador’s son, and their extraction plane is going to leave with or without them. Luckily, they are captured by a Sheikh (Marvin Miller in his last screen appearance), who, in keeping with the evening’s festivities, gets chewed on by a tiger until he reveals where the son is being held. So it’s time to go take a bath.

CUE THAT A-TEAM MUSIC as the girls drive to a lake and swim thirty feet to the opposite shore where a castle from somebody’s aquarium awaits (thus rendering the bikinis they’re wearing totally justified). They rescue the son, kill some more guys (“Tee hee! Murder is fun!”), and somehow blow up the castle with a trail of gasoline. Lit by an ordinary book of matches that somehow stayed dry in her bathing suit (see below). Then they have to make it home to reveal there’s a mole in the organization.

Who’s the mole? I need to leave you something to find out for yourself. (PROTIP: it ain’t worth the effort) (However, it totally should have been the Boom Mike Operator. That boom mike appears in so many scenes it probably had to get a SAG card.)

Dave presented this in apology for the May Fest’s Galaxy Destroyer, which had neither galaxies or destruction or entertainment. Hell Squad was entertaining, give it that. Dave also provided the one piece of trivia related on the IMDb: Donald F. Glut wrote the script, but held off giving the director the final third until he was paid. So the director, Kenneth Hartford, came up with his own third act, and Glut never got paid anyway. Which explains the lack of dramatic tension and logic and stuff.

Did you know Kenneth Hartford directed three other movies?


Erik spotted a great line in the end credits, “Special thanks to the PLO members who played themselves as terrorists.”  Uh….

Well spotted, dude.

And that, alas, is the last time I will be able to say anything nice about Erik.

Because he brought the next movie.

And without even a “You remember when we said we were through being nice? This time we absolutely mean it, hand to God.”

And we put in Roller Boogie.


“It’s love on wheels” she said. “You’ve got to watch it” she said.

It was a year ago that, in a similar Crapfest, we partook of and enjoyed Skatetown USA. It was bizarre and madcap, and while most of the humor was, um, not that funny, if you didn’t like what was going on at any point, you could be sure it would switch to something else in a minute or so.

Roller Boogie does not do this.

Linda Blair is Terry Barkley, a rich kid we are told is a musical genius and about to go to Julliard. But since she is rich, she does not possess the Life Force, and must seek it among the poors of the local Roller Disco. Luckily, Jim Bray, winner of 275 roller skating trophies, is there to provide such for her.

Oh, but it’s not just a love story, you know. Some gangster types (led by Mark Goddard, who Dave pointed out is still pissed off about not getting to kill Dr. Smith) want to take over the Roller Disco, causing the owner to shut it down the night before the all-important Roller Boogie Competition, rather than endanger the kids. Thanks to roller skater “Phones” (Stoney Jackson), there is an accidental tape recording of the gangsters threatening the owner, and somehow the gangsters find out about it. I’m not really sure how, because I was being amused by Paul’s soul-rattling sighs from the back of the room, frequently punctuated by painful groans.

Roller-Boogie-2The closest analog I can come up with is when we finally decided to watch Can’t Stop the Music, and discovered that, rather than a non-stop parade of fabulousness, what we had was a fairly tepid update of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland putting on a show at the old barn. Roller Boogie is much the same thing, an old story dressed up in garish new clothes, hoping against hope that this new craze would last long enough for the movie to get out the door. It’s entertaining enough, it’s just not particularly interesting. Especially not after the madness of Skatetown USA, and it’s probably a very good thing that we put a year between those two movies, or Paul’s sighs might have been louder.

There are some good things about the movie. Uhhhhh… like the club’s DJ wasn’t Jeff Altman, as we had feared. The ending is sort of refreshingly downbeat, since Terry quits the Roller Life to go to Julliard, enjoy your 276th trophy, Jim Bray. And really, no one can deny that a certain Earth Wind & Fire song was very welcome.

Erik claimed the disc had been lent to him by someone named “Anita”, and that “Anita” was checking on our progress throughout the night via text. I’m not even sure there really was an “Anita”, that this wasn’t some sort of clever subterfuge. You see, Crapfest isn’t a democracy; you can’t even say it’s a benevolent dictatorship. We run it like a gulag, really, and somehow “Anita”, as Rick aptly put it, “acting as an external agent… managed to completely circumvent all council protocols and infiltrate the agenda with a highly weaponized Roller Disco device, leaving in its wake incomprehensible catatonic agony.”

This “Anita”, if she indeed exists, is highly dangerous. We should alert Matt Helm, Derek Flint, and see if that Bond dude is doing anything at the moment.

I could really go for a

I could really go for a “Bike Cop” movie, though.

As it stands, Erik was banned from suggesting movies for a year. This punishment has only been doled out once before, to Rick for the whole Garbage Pail Kids thing. Which happened after he got out of parole for Evilspeak, come to think of it. In any case, we shall mention Roller Boogie no more. If we must mention it, it shall be known instead as “Erik’s Shame“.

Which is complete bullshit because the next thing we put on was Supersoul Brother, a selection from both Rick and myself. I have written about this earlier, so I’ll be brief here: Rudy Ray Moore wannabe Wildman Steve (we are informed it is pronounced Wi-i-i-i-ldman Steve) is a wino who is cleaned up and injected with a formula that will give him super strength, so he can steal a cardboard safe. Trouble is, the formula will kill him in seven days. Hilarity ensues.

supersoul6bigNo, it doesn’t, this is a terrible, terrible movie, made for one one-thousandth, if not one-millionth, the budget of Erik’s Shame, and at least as entertaining, if not more. It is also almost a half-hour shorter. Just enough enough time to realize that no, that wasn’t surround sound, that was Paul’s moans and sighs echoing every one of the put-upon Wi-i-i-i-ldman Steve’s.


At this point, it was midnight. Paul, feeling his birthday was over, took his leave. Happy birthday, Paul, thanks for spending it with us. Your judgement is questionable.

But we were not finished.

“No, children, it isn’t over yet.”

Hell Squad had not been Dave’s first choice for the evening. And now that we were heading into what we knew was going to be the last movie of the fest, he revived that choice. And although I had seen the American dub again around a year ago, I had never seen the original, Danish version of Reptilicus.

This version had no subtitles, causing Dave to run into his computer room while we provided Ingmar Bergmanesque translations of our own. The plucky oil prospectors at the beginning were plenty concerned about the silence of God in an uncaring universe, you bet you.

Dave returned with some fan subtitles and we got down to business. If you didn’t know, Denmark’s only daikaiju movie discovers the frozen tail of a previously unknown dinosaur while drilling for oil. Like an earthworm, the accidentally thawed tail starts growing a whole new dinosaur, which escapes and proceeds to spread puppet terror across the countryside.

Cgav0UyThere’s a bunch of stuff that got cut from this for the American dub, and it’s mainly character-driven romance stuff, but there are two really infamous cuts: the first concerns the Odious Comic Relief janitor, played by Dirch Passer, who was a incredibly successful Danish comedian. AIP, for some reason, felt the need to cut a song he sings with some children about Reptilicus:

The other concerns the monster’s bat wings, which in the American dub are never referenced. Not so in the Danish version. I tweeted, “You’ll believe a puppet can fly.”

You won’t, really. I was just being nice.

So all this was excised, most in the cause of getting to the monster scenes sooner. Counterintuitively, this resulted in the travelogue segment in the American version leading up to “Tivoli Nights” to make up for lost time, and the addition of the monster’s acid spit.

Also missing from the Danish cut, which makes me sad.

Also missing from the Danish cut, which makes me sad.

“Tivoli Nights” does bring up something else. The fan subtitles did a wonderful job of translating the Reptilicus Song, even making it rhyme in English, but had little patience with “Tivoli Nights”, interjecting pleas that someone shoot the translator to stop the pain. Then, when Reptilicus makes his first appearance, his roar is translated as “Rar! I’m a monsta!” which made me so happy.

It still ends the same, though.

At 2am, we wearily went back out into The World, satisfied that there was nothing out there that could possibly hurt us as much as what we had just done to ourselves. Five movies! Five movies and a TV special. Five movies, a TV special, and Dogville.

Can’t wait to do it again.

Crapfest: The Redemption

There is no doubt that the last Crapfest was scarring, the gom jabbar of the bad movie experience. So when I had an unexpected weekend off, we quickly pulled together. We had to get back on that horse, or we might never get back on it again. This time, we would explore the non-painful world of crap, we would enjoy ourselves.

Nice plan. Too bad they never survive reality.

We started out with a collection of blaxploitation trailers while foodstuffs were arranged and prepared. Turns out nearly two hours of blaxploitation trailers is too much for delicate sensibilities, so I put on something else to soothe the complainers, which naturally produced more outrage: an episode of the Dogville series from 1930, or as the whiners like to call it, “Vintage animal torture shorts”.

My response to all the haters was to point to Paul and say, “But look how happy Paul is!” Paul was indeed very happy with his all-talking all-singing and all-sorta-dancing doggies. Jeez, it’s only ten minutes long. You guys are a bunch of wusses.

The Other David finally arrived, and I had been saving something for him. He had just finished playing Macbeth in the play of that name; one night, in an after-show question-and-answer session, he had pish-toshed the superstitions surrounding that play.

The next day his car was totalled in a freeway crash. He was, thankfully, unharmed. But what came of this was he had never seen the episode of Blackadder the Third – nor any episode of Blackadder, seemingly – involving actors and Macbeth. This was what we refer to in the trade as A Mandate.

Well, that was enough quality. It was time to get underway.

Several weeks before, I had watched the delirious, incoherent, but undeniably exploitive movie Raw Force, aka Kung Fu Cannibals, for the Daily Grindhouse Podcast. That link will take you to that particular episode (with bonus whining from me about the last Crapfest). I found it perfect fodder for a Crapfest.

Raw Force 2Basically: the three guys that form the Burbank Karate Club seem to be booked as entertainment on a cheapass cruise liner. The big attraction seems to be some place called Warrior’s Island, where disgraced fighters are buried and some mysterious monks are rumored to be able to raise the dead. To hear the passengers talk, this must be cooler than Disney World. Unfortunately for all involved. Fake Hitler and his gang of Village People rejects are dealing with the monks, trading kidnapped prostitutes for raw jade, and they don’t want anybody messing with their operation.

That is a far more coherent synopsis than the movie ever bothers to give you. Once more, this is a movie where  you can quote Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure – “Great movie, Pee-Wee! Action packed!” But the response here went more like “What the hell is going on?” every ten minutes. Among the many one-movie johnnies are a couple of faces you might recognize – Jillian Kesner from Firecracker (aka Naked Fist) or most certainly Cameron Mitchell, who I swear to God is improvising his lines. The mighty Vic Diaz is one of the monks, which immediately makes my evening.

At the end, one of our heroes – the one who can fly a sea plane because he flew a Huey Cobra in the ‘Nam – smiles at the camera, and instead of “The End”, we get a super stating “To Be Continued…” My fellow Crapfesters did not disappoint me, bellowing, “FUCK you!” in chorus.

After that many boobs, fight scenes and Village People jokes, a break was called for while Host Dave fiddled with the technology, setting up his choice for the evening.  During this, I found out an interesting thing: you see, I could have gotten Dave to stream Raw Force from YouTube (as far as I know, it’s still there – you can do it, too. I actually recommend it), but I’m all too aware of how such things can turn on us. This is why we had to put off Jaws: The Revenge for several months. So I had bought the Grindhouse Experience movie set from the Amazon Marketplace to get a hard copy, for that is how I roll. (The fact that in a 20 movie set I had only heard of two also intrigued me)

Totally forgot to mention Mexican Nazi Rapist.

Totally forgot to mention Mexican Nazi Rapist.

The set is a bunch of flipper discs, two movies on each side. It turns out that at the end of each movie, the disc does not go back to the menu, no, it simply goes on to the next movie, which was the Italian mondo movie Savage Man/Savage Beast. I was in the kitchen scooping up delicious spinach dip when screams summoned me back to the viewing room. Something about snakes eating monkeys. “It was hippies wrapped in plastic at fake Cape Cod when I left,” I said  “Snake! Monkey! The horror!” was the response. Wusses. I figured out how to turn it off, so I could at least go back to the spinach dip.

Well, at the end of the break, I finally had to go to the bathroom, and while I was in there, I once more heard muffled screams from the viewing room. Perhaps Dave had mischievously returned to the snake-eating-a-monkey footage, I thought. Wusses.

Then I returned to the viewing room. I needed only one line and one frame to identify why people were howling. “You son of a bitch,” I said.

He had put on Highlander II: The Quickening.

downloadI paid money to see this movie. On opening dayThat was how much I loved Highlander. Suffice to say this is one of those sequels that takes the original behind the barn, kills it, peels off its skin, wears that skin like a dress and tries to convince you it’s the original, but it did a really bad job of it.

Yep, everything you know about the original is wrong so that the now-mortal Connor MacLeod can be made young again (and Christopher Lambert can stop doing his Marlon Brando in The Godfather imitation), bring back Sean Connery as the world’s only Scottish Spaniard, and give Michael Ironside the chance to act with his teeth. Also: did you know subway trains can go 400 miles per hour?

I literally ran out of curse words to call Dave.

Then we got to something I had mercifully blotted out: Jeff Altman’s cameo. The screams were incredible.

You see, what our newbies did not know, was that earlier in Crapfest history, we had sat through all but one episode of Pink Lady & Jeff. That is the sort of thing that leaves a scar that never really heals, like a morghul blade. We fully expected Pink Lady to step out from behind a curtain and do some painfully phonetic English “joke”. Fortunately, Altman delivered his cheap laugh and left the story within a minute.

Here’s how quickly things go wrong in this movie: “I know! Let’s mix our movie with Dune!

There is a disc I carry with me. It is my Mutually Assured Destruction Disc. It contains such horror, no one will survive its unleashing. I started carrying it after Dave unleashed Nukie. I almost hauled it out, but there was a mitigating factor: Dave had never seen Highlander II. I could not kill everyone just for sheer ignorance. I had to be satisfied with sitting in the dark, my arms crossed, occasionally huffing, “My movie had boobies.”

So I let Mark deliver the death blow instead.

SkyscraperUKDVDMark had begun crowing that he had found a disc that would totally redeem Crapfest, and, to paraphrase The Princess Bride, I do not think that word means what he thinks it means. Because the movie he brought was SkyscraperPM Entertainment made a lot of straight-to-video action movies, and most of them are not terrible. Not amazing, but not terrible, either. Then they had the brilliant idea to make Anna Nicole Smith an action hero.

Let me repeat that. Anna Nicole Smith. Action hero.

He attempted to sell this with an outtake reel of Smith mangling her lines. I find such stuff painful, and couldn’t get through more than a minute of it.

So Anna Nicole is a helicopter pilot who shuttles her clients around the city; she picks up the wrong clients, a couple of guys who are putting together a suitcase of electronic equipment that must do bad things, but I never could get up the interest to find out what. vlcsnap-2014-03-23-02h06m14s115The leader, Fairfax (Charles Huber) likes to spout inappropriate Shakespeare and end all his conversations by shooting whoever he’s talking to – seriously, I have no idea how he got people to work with him. Anna Nicole has the briefcase, there are hostages, when the cops show up Fairfax pretends to be a terrorist. (Maybe they are  terrorists. I can’t say as I really care.) At least, that gives him a chance to do some Michael Ironside teeth acting.

Any attempt to be ironic and say, “So this is like Die Hard, except in a skyscraper,” is met with “Anna Nicole Smith!”

The fact that she’s ridiculously good with a gun is explained away by the fact she’s from Texas (as if her terminally twangy whines to her husband that “I want a BAY-BEE” were not enough to clench her regionalism). There are, as I recall, three sex scenes with La Smith and her storebought wares, one of which brings the main story to a dead halt while Smith has a flashback to happier, sexier times while hiding in one of the offices.

I think the real star of this is the editor, who (judging from those outtakes) worked many late nights and probably burned out two Avids to make the movie as good as it is. Which it isn’t. Which is to say, at least it’s not terrible. I should have sat there with my arms crossed and huffed, “My movie had real boobies,” but I totally blew that opportunity.

The-Mystery-of-the-Leaping-Fish1We decompressed with the classic 1916 Douglas Fairbanks comedy. The Mystery of the Leaping Fish. That’s the one where Fairbanks plays Coke Ennyday, the Holmes parody who is constantly injecting cocaine, when he is not consuming evidence in the form of entire cans of opium. Johnny Depp or Robert Downey, Jr. are shoo-ins for the remake.

So did we redeem Crapfest? Not totally, but at least this time I didn’t feel like driving off a bridge on the way home. That’s progress.





Crapsgiving 2013

Thanksgiving interrupted my steady diet of Zatoichi movies long enough to realize that we had gone a significant amount of time without a Crapfest. Heeeey, we’d been busy! And as it is almost impossible to put one together over the Christmas holidays, it was Thanksgiving or nothing, Thanksgiving being one of the few weekends I can actually wrangle a Saturday off.

But my experience is not the same as others. Alan and Mark both had their weekends stolen away by the dreaded 10-Out-Of-12 tech rehearsals for shows they were in. I wondered aloud who would be so cruel as to schedule 10-Out-Of-12s on Thanksgiving weekend. Darth Vader? Atomic Hitler? Anne Coulter? Perhaps it is best that in large part, I am no longer part of the theatrical world.

Because here I was at Dave’s house, with Rick, Erik and Paul. The room did not feel particularly crowded, and there was a genial ease about the whole thing. A rejuvenating experience I desperately needed. Also, Erik allowed me check off an item on my Bucket List by bringing a bottle of Absinthe, along with the necessary spoon. I admit I had my doubts since I hate licorice, but the Green Fairy won me over. I quite enjoyed it, and promised the Twitterverse that I would let it know immediately if it drove any of us mad. Of course, considering what we usually watch at these things, many felt the “driving” part was a little too late.

StarshipWhile everyone got settled in, Dave started things off with Starship Invasions. If you’ve ever seen Starship Invasions, you know that ignoring most of it is the best course of action. I recall this getting wide release after the success of Star Wars; it’s made by Canadians trying to make an Italian movie – at least it always seemed that way to me. The bad guy is Christopher Lee (of course), who is part of a coalition of alien races who sabotages and murders all the other representatives (and when he guns down the Space Strippers, you know he’s evil), so he can exterminate all Earthlings with his Suicide Ray and repopulate it with his leotarded minions. Luckily, one good guy saucer escapes and enlists UFOlogist Robert Vaughn’s help.

L to R: Space Stripper, Christopher Lee, Egghead

L to R: Space Stripper, Christopher Lee, Egghead

The ships and alien designs were taken from eyewitness reports of close encounters. That’s a cool touch in a movie that seems a lot like The Terrornauts with a slightly better budget.

Really, the best part was Dave reminiscing about how this was yet another movie his father refused to take him to see.

Some time was taken up by going through my Bag of Tricks©, which I curate throughout the year, tossing in discs which I deem Crapfest-worthy. Dave triaged out the candidates he thought best, and Rick howled “No way in hell are we watching Black Devil Doll from Hell!”. He would then return to his periodic pointed mentions of his new “Unedited, Unexpurgated cut of Evilspeak“, which we were pretty certain only meant it was a solid 90 minutes of Clint Howard’s naked ass. We were all pretty laid back that evening, which is the primary reason every one of Rick’s mentions of Evilspeak wasn’t met with, “You know what I hear is pretty cool? Black Devil Doll from Hell!”

dogvilleOver Dave’s misgivings, I convinced him to start with one of the Dogville shorts, which is high-grade, hallucinatory, what-the-hell-did-I-just-watch material. A series of movie parodies starring dogs in costumes, made from 1929-1931, from the guys who would later direct the Three Stooges shorts. Paul immediately felt this was super-awesome and insured that we would be watching one of these each fest for the foreseeable future. This is what we did with Pink Lady & Jeff, which is a comparison which made Paul re-think this course of action.

What we watched was “Who Killed Rover?” a “Phido Vance” mystery that I appreciate for its refreshingly downbeat ending, but everyone else – save Paul – claimed to be scarred for life by the experience. Paul wanted to immediately continue on to “The Dogway Melody”, but was booed down. In deference to Paul, here is an excerpt from it:

large_dvd_colorspacev1I had brought a metric ton of sausage for our evening meal, and Dave, grillmeister that he is, has an elaborate process for getting the coals just so, which is time-consuming, but I cannot fault the results. So while the charcoal was doing its combustible thing, I put in a disc I had gotten from Diabolik, ModCinema’s ColorScape, Volume One, which is a compilation of movie trailers, commercials, and proto-music videos from the late 60s to early 70s. Or what I like to refer to as “Making the young punks regret they grew up in the 80s”.

Paul and I had a major discussion about how we were lied to as children, and we were certain that adult life was exactly like the scenes unfolding before us: all the grown-ups were swinging (except our parents, who were too old to swing), and every night ended with an orgy. Blake Edwards’ The Party, starring Peter Sellers? That was only a typical Tuesday night. Past that, the experience was mostly wondering why we weren’t watching the movies excerpted in the trailers.

I love damn near all the music on the ColorScape disc, though this was not shared by my compatriots, the heathens. So ha, compatriots! Here’s this one again! Heathens!

After two hours of reveling in 60s hedonism and psychedelic music, the sausages were ready, and so were we – ready for Weng Weng. But we were wrong. Nobody is ready for Weng Weng.

For Your Height Only press book coverThe movie, of course, is the infamous For Y’ur Height Only (why the dropped “o”? I have no idea), starring Weng Weng (actually Ernesto de la Cruz) as “Agent 00”. Weng Weng, at 2′ 9″, is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest man to ever have a lead role in a movie.

In the movie, Dr. Kohler is kidnapped because crimelord Mr. Giant wants his “N-bomb”. What exactly the N-bomb does is never explained, and that doesn’t really matter, because Dr. Kohler is going to vanish for the next 80 minutes, and when he returns at the end, you’re going to ask, “Who’s the Anglo?”, because those 80 minutes are going to be jam-packed with Weng Weng kicking ass and using scaled-down James Bond gadgetry.

weng-weng-kissWeng Weng was apparently an accomplished martial artist, and is at the correct height to A) be below your peripheral vision, and B) punch you in the nuts. Repeatedly. And when that doesn’t work, his pretty assistant will just pick him up and throw him at you. Weng Weng eventually faces off with Mr. Giant, who is, to no one’s surprise, a dwarf (oh come on, that’s a given!). This fight scene gave rise to one of the better lines of the night, “My kung fu is smaller than yours!” Although I also give props to Dave, who, while watching Weng Weng leap about and traumatize gonads, entoned, “That’s some X-Men shit, right there.”

Look, there are simply not words in the English language to adequately describe how awesome is the mighty Weng Weng. He never made any movies with Chuck Norris or Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger because they knew they would be completely upstaged. And, by God, Weng Weng does all his own stunts, because face it: There are not a lot of 2′ 9″ stunt men out there.

super_ninjas_poster_01Weng Weng’s amazing kung fu skills put us in the mood for more chop-sockey, and what I had in the Bag was Five Element Ninjas, which is not the best of the Chang Cheh/Venom collaborations, but is still pretty great.

There is one of those acrimonious competitions between two clans in the World of Martial Arts, and the current Lord of the World of Martial Arts brings in a ringer – a samurai, who, when he loses his second match, commits hara-kiri, but sends a note to his pal the Ninja Lord, who proceeds to challenge the victorious clan to another contest, but kills all the best fighters using Evil Ninja Tricks.

The Five Elements come in with the various groups of Ninjas and their specialties, Earth, Water, Fire, Wood and Metal. The Metal Ninjas are the least stealthy ninjas ever, dressed in dazzling gold lamé. But the ones we really hated were the Earth Ninjas, who burrow underground and stab upward with nasty hooked spears, which is a trick that even Weng Weng finds too dirty.

(This also leads to the movie’s most infamous scene, where one good guy soldiers on against the Head Ninja, even through multiple Earth Ninja stabbings; in fact, his internal organs are hanging down through his trouser leg. He does pretty well, too, until he trips over his own guts.)

five-element-ninja-1The ninjas attack the fortified Good Guy compound (thanks to Sinji, the cute ninja, masquerading as an orphan waif), leaving just one good guy intact – who escapes, meets up with an old master who knows the ninja arts (which, we are told, originated in China). Then the survivor and the master’s other three students take on the Five Element Ninjas and take them down with spectacularly bloody results. This is good, because the treacherous ninjas had taken over The World of Martial Arts, and we can’t have that.

Sinji (that minx!) in her Ninja Negligee

Sinji (that minx!) in her Ninja Negligee

Five Element Ninjas has a bang-up beginning and end, but a very talky middle, while Sinji works her wiles.  Perhaps not ideal Crapfest material, but we did really enjoy seeing the Earth Ninjas get their gory comeuppance.

The Ultimate Bait-and-Switch: a Boris Vallejo poster!

The Ultimate Bait-and-Switch: a Boris Vallejo poster!

Paul fulfilled his wuss duty at this point and went home, which meant it was time to play the R-rated Titty movie (take that, wuss!), and Dave chose Barbarian Queen.

Barbarian Queen is likely best known for its ill-fated star, Lana Clarkson, who didn’t survive a close encounter with Phil Spector. It’s also fairly infamous for its number of rape scenes. (I may be wrong, but I think Deathstalker beats it in that category. In any case, “Rape scene! Take a drink!” is a dangerous game to play with either one)

Lana’s village is kidnapped by slave traders (the synopsis says “Romans”, but they couldn’t afford Roman costumes), and Clarkson tracks them to the big city where the menfolk are turned into gladiators and the womenfolk into sex slaves for the gladiators. With a setup like that, it’s unsurprising that they plan an uprising while Clarkson basically kegels a torturer to death (since it looks like he has eyebrows glued to his glasses, he pretty much deserved that).

I really miss the days when Roger Corman had Joe Dante and Allan Arkush editing his trailers, you know?

It was late, and though I was still full of caffeinated vim, the hour was getting to most of us. Erik, Rick and I packed our bags and thanked Dave for once again allowing us to pollute the atmosphere in his home. Then we privately met in the front yard, discussing the possibility of a Christmas Crapfest, because, after all, Rick had this fabulous new disc of Evilspeak with all the gore that had previously been cut out intact!

PS. No, Rick!!!! Though I hear Black Devil Doll from Hell is pretty cool…