Hey everyone, Harry here and sorry for not updating alll regular like, but BNAT really took it out of me this year. Those 4 gals just wouldn't let me out of Tim's Pleasure-Cade at the Drafthouse.. You understand. Well, I've got to get through all this email... Enjoy!
Nordling's review of Butt-Numb-A-Thon 3
I'm not going to mince words. There are a few moments in my life that I put in a notebook in my head, that will last forever. My wedding. My daughter's birth. The night I performed on a live stage at my school's Talent Show.
BNAT 3 is in there now too. I can't express this enough. It may be the best weekend I've ever had. I'm going to talk about some of the experiences I've had (not all), and give a shoutout to reni, my Manchester pal, who shared this with me (and with any luck will do so again next year). But I cannot put into words how great this year's BNAT was.
First, I'm going to review THE MAJESTIC, Frank Darabont's latest film, starring Jim Carrey. It begins at a pitch meeting, as Peter Appleton (Carrey) sits and listens to Hollywood execs mangle his latest script, ASHES TO ASHES. Peter thinks that this is the one, the script that will propel him out of the B-movie dregs into legitimacy. Then the other show drops. Someone has named him to the Congressional committee of Un-American Activities. Frustrated that his career is over, Peter drinks too much and takes a drive. Swerving to miss an animal on the road, he skids off a bridge, and in the rain falls into the river. When he wakes up on the riverside, he has no memory of who he is. A local townsperson pulls him off the beach and walks him into town to see the doctor, and on the way, the owner of the local, but now closed movie theater, recognizes him as his own son, Luke, who went missing during World War II. The town rallies around Luke, who decides to help his "father" rebuild the Majestic.
To talk anymore about the film would be unfair, except to say this. THE MAJESTIC is a film in love with film, indeed, in love with film fans. It's one of the best of the year, and I hope it gets recognized at Oscar time. It's said that Hollywood doesn't get movies right anymore. That's not true. They just havenn't done it very much lately. THE MAJESTIC is Hollywood done right. It gives off the feeling of a great Capra, or a great Sturges film. And Jim Carrey is officially at the plate now. Nothing of his performance rang false. Also, Martin Landau is well on his way to another Oscar nomination. Don't miss it.
One of the films played was a movie called ROCK ALL NIGHT, a wonderful Roger Corman (no, that's not oxymoronic) film with Dick Miller, the old guy from GREMLINS. Except here, he's a bad motherfucker. If Dick Miller's Shorty got into a fight with Samuel L. Jackson's Jules from PULP FICTION, I honestly can't say who would win. Also noted for featuring the Professor from Gilligan's Island who folds like an origami competition to the manness that is Dick Miller. "Please Jigger I'm scared!" Shorty's favorite film of all time was KING KONG, which played immediately thereafter. A perfect print of the movie - beautiful, really. And the film still beats up all manner of competition in the thrills department. Once Fay Wray gets captured by Kong, the film simply does not stop. It's intense as any major Hollywood blockbuster. I have no problem with KING KONG being considered one of the greatest films of all time. Thanks much Harry for showing this one.
BLOOD FEAST 2: ALL U CAN EAT featured lesbianism, titty, and cannibalism. There is nothing more a film needs to be great except these 3 things. It's really fucking simple, Hollywood. Get on it.
I'm not entirely sure how to close this write-up, except to say that I loved every moment of BNAT this year, and STUNT ROCK! is simply the greatest trailer ever made, and in no way can it be as good as the film itself. STUNT ROCKERRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!! Thank you very much, Harry. You're a champ and a scholar. Those in Talkback who talk bad about you...well, I'm starting a contract service. All you got to do is play for plane tickets. And I'll take out EVERY ONE of those motherfuckers for you. I'll eat airplane food, sleep in cramped spaces, go to the bathroom in truly nasty airport bathrooms...all for you, baby. All for you. Just say the word, and I'll hunt some Talkbacker. This is going to sound incredibly sappy, but fuck it.
Harry, you're my hero.
P.S. my friends that I met through BNAT 3 this year and my friends in chat,
notice I took a shitload of pictures. Get with me personally and I'll see
what I can do to get them to you. No group photo this year, sadly, but
maybe next year. You can probably find me in the chat room, or get with
someone there who has my e-mail address. Stay safe until next year and I
hope to see you all then.
Here's a rather long look at BNAT 3 by those mof the folks that attended. Nordling kicked it off, now here ya go... Go frolic and enjoy!!!!
BNAT 3: Shower and brush before you attend, you pigs!
Actually, everyone was well groomed and polite. THANK GOD. I will skip the preamble and cut to the chase: Here's what we saw, as filtered through my perceptions of the experience:
Right off the bat, Harry told the assembled audience, "Look, everyone and their mother is positive that I'm going to show Fellowship of the Rings. I'm not." He explained why, and what happened to prevent that from happening. I'm glad he said so right up front, because it allowed the event to remain what it was supposed to be, "twenty four hours of cinema". If everyone thought that they were going to see Fellowship at some point during the event, it could have easily become "Twenty one hours of who cares and LORD OF THE FRICKIN' RINGS!!!" So, with that disclaimer, we set out on our butt-numbing cinematic odyssey.
In order of appearance:
- Cartuna intro
We start with Cartuna's second BNAT intro. It depicts an alternate BNAT reality in which Harry screens some of the lesser work from Moriarty's early days in film. Moriarty is mortified, and much carnage ensues. Stills from this epic are featured at the top of BNAT pages on AICN. The cartoons with the AICN cast in the audience are all pulled from this short. (Incidentally, those stills of the audience were remarkably realistic. That's pretty much a snapshot of the theater last weekend.)
- Freaky snippet of 3-D "erotic" piece, played as a birthday gift for Harry. Only Harry was given 3-D glasses, so the audience saw fuzzy, freaky porn that looked like the women had four breasts each. "C'mon in, George!" Weird. Creepy.
- LOTS of trailers. I can't even remember what they were at this point. We saw SO MANY trailers over the entire event...
- FIEND WITHOUT A FACE
A 50's "something is scaring the cows!" type of picture. You know the routine: Atomic power. Mysterious murders. Drama, mystery and suspense. Sort of. The film really comes alive when the culprits are finally revealed: HUMAN BRAINS, pulled from victims (spinal cords attached), are scooting around with complete freedom of movement. Christopher Reeves probably sees this film and weeps at the mockery they make of the sturdiness of the spinal column. "THEY CAN'T REALLY **DO** THAT!!" he shouts! The creatures are taken out in true 50's monster movie fashion: A hail of gunfire and the destruction of the offending source of atomic energy, which was -of course- behind the whole affair. The brains look pretty cool as they get shot.
Then on to some thematically-linked short animated films: One featuring a young boy named Hubert and his adventures in multiple brain transplants, as instigated by the voice of Jonathan "Dr. Smith" Harris. Harris plays a disembodied brain in search of a body. Fun! The next was a Mickey/Mini mouse short, which also featured brain transplants, but was most notable for the sight of Mini Mouse in a skimpy green bikini. WHAT WOULD UNCLE WALT THINK???
- THE MAJESTIC
Featured a very nice intro by director Frank Darabont on the lot of the studio where he filmed it and the Green Mile. He was quite a friendly chap, and it was nice of him to take time to send us a greeting. As for the film itself, "Capra-seque" is definitely going to bandied about describing it. To be honest, it didn't do too much for me, but lots of people were saying things like "A love letter to film fans" and "it's about how we experience movies"... I can see what they're saying, but I won't bore you with my opinion. There are plenty of film critics in the world right now that are fighting to tell you why you should or should not go see this film. I'll let you take their words for it instead of mine. They're more eloquent.
There was usually a good fifteen-minute break between each film, during which the fine Alamo Drafthouse staff put on random videos throughout the day. The one shown after the Majestic was a disturbing little bit of anime that seemed to be a pornographic Naked Gun-style parody, featuring lots and lots of horrific anime sex. It disturbs me greatly to consider that someone somewhere has been turned on by this. Interestingly, it seemed to be loosely following the plot of the original Star Wars, though Chewy had a face for some reason, and Han and Leia's relationship was considerably less chaste than in the original film. Some of you will be happy to know that there was a scene in which Jar Jar Binks was violated repeatedly by some well-endowed robots. That doesn't change the fact that I want these images removed from my brain.
- ROCK ALL NIGHT
A Corman picture. It opens underwhemingly with twenty minutes of some bands from yesteryear lip-synching to their greatest hits (plus a few that were definitely not hits). At this point, my group began shifting in our seats. Mercifully, things picked up once the story finally got underway, which featured a guy with Wolverine's attitude inexplicably taunting absolutely everyone in the joint for no real reason. His observations are astute, well-phrased, and ultra-sullen, but there was really no reason for him to be lashing out so much, except that he was a bit short in the legs. Eventually, the professor from Gilligan's Island enters the picture, along with a crony. Turns out that they had just pulled a heist, and they take everyone the bar hostage. The day is saved when they're ultimately driven into the arms of the police waiting outside, not by the boxer, not by the tough guy in leather, and not by the mobster, but instead by the unarmed, un-clawed Logan/Wolverine clone, who has the professor close to tears from his well-landed verbal barbs. As an afterthought, he takes also takes a shot at the fat, 40-ish beatnik that had been annoying the audience from the first scene in the film. "Men your age got no business dressing and talkin' like they're in high school." This was met with great applause from the crowd. Then he takes the virginal singer-that-can't-sing out to see a movie about another "little guy who takes down a giant"... King Kong.
This cue then lead us logically to...
- KING KONG
The original. I was delighted. I probably haven't seen this version since I in grade school. I think it holds up quite nicely. I had forgotten just how tough poor Kong has it. Even on his island, where he is clearly king, everyone is out to get him. Pterodactyls, brachiosaurs (eating meat, slightly out of character), sea creatures, etc... They ALL want a piece of Kong. Still, he takes them down, and makes a good show of it too. He's also always very conscientious about remembering to beat his chest triumphantly each time he disposes of a foe. (I particularly liked how he plays with the Tyrannosaur's mouth after it dies by curiously opening and closing it a few times.) Even when he's shaking our heroes off of a log to fall to their doom (as seen in the background image of the AICN site), you still can't consider him a bad guy. And no one applauds when he meets his final doom.
I don't notice this sort of thing often, but this was a really really nice print. Very cool to see on the big screen.
After KONG, was a selection of trailers for a ton of monster movies. There were a LOT of irradiated beasts from beyond running around back in the 50's. Thank goodness we live in simpler times.
At some point around here, we saw a claymation short called "Mountain Music". In it, an idyllic little mountain scene is accented by some 70's folky types playing an instrumental tune on piano, acoustic guitar, and snare drum. The animals of the region (a wolf, some birds and some frogs) approve to the point that they actually start singing along. Then the folkies start evolving their set up a bit... the piano turns into an organ, the acoustic goes electric. Soon there is a wall of amplifiers, apparently powered by a nuclear plant, and the music increases in tempo and volume. The animals don't like this and head for cover. The people don't care, and continue rocking hard. The whole thing is put to an end, however, when the mountain in the background reveals itself to be a volcano. It erupts and pours hot claymation lava all over the "stage" area. Peace and quiet is restored, as the great rock-n-roll menace is neutralized. What was the point of this little tale? Perhaps it was an allegory about our trespasses against nature? Perhaps it was a scathing statement about the bloated excesses of 70's rock? Perhaps it was revenge by a folksinger that was still bitter about Bob Dylan going electric in the 60's? I don't know, but it apparently won an Academy Award back in the day. So kudos to those responsible.
(Our next feature, we're not supposed to talk about "for about 36 hours", so I will assign it a codename of "CITIZEN DILDO".)
A new film, and one that I enjoyed quite a bit. I think this brought us into the halfway mark, and it was a nice shot in the arm as far as getting the crowd buzzing. A note: Moriarty was apparently the one person to break a stunned silence following a particularly shocking scene by muttering "Oh shit!" and earning the wrath of the audience and the director when he called in after the film. Harry chastised him accordingly. In his defense, he said what everyone in the audience had to be thinking at that moment.
After this was about 25 minutes of Betty Boop cartoons. I liked the cartoons, and I enjoy seeing the animation of that era, but I can't stand the Betty Boop character! So this was a good time to wander around the Drafthouse, stretching legs and fighting off fatigue.
Right after the Boop cartoons was the cartoon short "Goin' to Heaven on a Mule." It's the cartoon version of a scene from "Wonderbar" (screened at BNAT 2) in which racial stereotypes run rampant. But it's all in good fun, folks! Right? Right?? Nope. It's pretty offensive. I'm glad to have seen it, lest we all forget.
- CABIN IN THE SKY
Oh god... This is a little black and white morality tale. Little Joe is a no-good, gambling layabout, and Petunia is his long suffering, god-loving wife. On the day that she finally convinces him to get saved and repent, his old gambling buddies sneak him out of the church for one last throw of the dice... This leads to Little Joe getting a bullet in his gut, and a deathbed visit by a devil, ready to ship him off to hell. Luckily, Petunia prays hard for him, and some angels agree to give him another shot. This thing just goes on and on. I'm pretty sure it was about 12 hours long. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't BAD, but at 2:00 AM, it was a lot to take. Did I mention that it was a musical? It was a musical. I'll tell you how it ends: The Jazz club (as everyone knows, jazz clubs are nothing but dens of sin) is destroyed by a tornado that comes out of nowhere. Petunia AND Little Joe are killed, and they barter for his soul. Little Joe eventually gets into heaven (on a technicality) where I assume he is miserable for the remainder of existence, since he's still a fan of gambling, drinking, and ladies. This movie plays like the prequel to the Jeffersons.
At this point, it was right about 3:00 AM, and I was a bit woozy. This made our next feature even more bizarre to me...
Our third premier of the evening:
BLOOD FEAST 2: ALL YOU CAN EAT
This is gore. Pure gore. Campy gore. REAL gore. I spent this movie watching it for about five minutes at a time, then sleeping an additional three minutes, then waking up and starting over. Nevertheless, I was able to follow the film pretty well. The star of this film is the guts, and there are a lot of them. They're very vivid. Hopefully others will review it more thoroughly. The people in my group liked it. At one point, a victim's eyes are scooped out with a melon baller. Perhaps more disturbing than that is a cameo by John Waters, playing a priest that hits on a couple guys, and has a chat with two little kids. Nice.
The crew of the film was in attendance, and they spoke with us a bit about the film. Nice people. They dealt with a lot of rancid meat on the picture, and looked none the worse for wear.
I peaked up a bit for a trailer for a movie called STUNT ROCK, which featured concert footage of some Spinal Tap-esque band playing alongside stunt-after-breath-taking-stunt. Dune buggies flipping over... people jumping off cliffs... in short, STUNT ROCK. "STUNT ROCKER!!" If this doesn't play at BNAT 4, Harry will have hell to pay.
Next was Shirley Temple in KID IN AFRICA.
Freaky as all can be at sleep-deprived 4 or 5 AM. Shirley runs around trying to civilize a tribe of little kid cannibals. She is saved by a little kid dressed as Tarzan. Weird. If this plays again at BNAT 4, Harry will have hell to pay.
Then on to some sci-fi trailers: REVENGE of the Jedi trailer! This was cool, and you rarely see it, but I would have been a little more impressed if they had come up with the BLUE HARVEST trailer. "TERROR BEYOND IMAGINATION!" Sure, it's non-existent, but they really would have pulled off quite a coup to have found it. Other trailers were for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Logan's Run, Star Wars, Forbidden Planet, This Island Earth, 2001, Destination Moon, and a few others that I can't remember.
Then a few more shorts:
MIGHTY THOR in "My god, this animation is terrible!": Marvel's Thor stars in a "cartoon" that had about 1 frame of movement every six seconds. I think I both fell asleep and made a trip to the bathroom. Possibly at the same time.
HARDWARE WARS: The classic. I thought everyone had seen this, but the people in my group were unfamiliar with it. The Chewbacca muppet always cracks me up.
50% GRAY: An odd little tale of suicide and the afterlife. Sort of. Weird. Cool.
After the breakfast buffet (and 40-minute break) we were into the home stretch...
JED BUELL'S MIDGETS IN THE TERROR OF TINY TOWN
A western featuring an all midget cast. That's right. All midgets. This movie yields more questions than can possibly be answered by the surviving cast and crew. What was the pitch meeting for this film like? "Hey! I've got an idea for a picture...!" The film provokes mystery in terms of the setting and the story itself: Why is there a town populated exclusively of midgets? Is this a parallel universe where EVERYONE is a midget? Then why are all the buildings full-size? Why do the saloon doors open at the foreheads of the townsfolk? If this IS just a town full of midgets, then how did it get that way?? Did they settle the town as a group? Did they set out to create a little midget colony in the far out west? Or did they run the "normals" out of town? If THEY built it, then I ask again, WHY would all the buildings be normal size? Why were there normal size horses in town if no one could do anything with them (everyone rode ponies in the film)? Perhaps the most important question: Why was there a shot of a penguin standing in the barbershop, with no explanation whatsoever??? Seriously! The characters enter a barbershop, sing a little song, and for no reason at all, there is a penguin standing in the room with them! If ever a movie cried out for a prequel, this is it. BIZARRE.
We were promised that Peter Jackson would call in at the end, to show us SOMETHING. He had wanted to show us Fellowship of the Rings, but it couldn't be worked out. So he wanted to throw us a bone. Well, lo and behold and as promised, Peter appeared on screen to introduce our last movie. He was very cool and friendly. People were geeked out that he was speaking to us and wearing a BNAT t shirt. In lieu of Fellowship, he introduced our final picture. The film was a classic silent called Salome (sp?). It was epic, and LONG, but I wasn't that impressed with it. It was cool to see the wacky old Roman guards bumbling around, and the film was so old the image was a CIRCLE on the screen! No rectangle, no squares. A CIRCLE. You aspect ratio people would have gone nuts. Spotty print... different tones of color throughout... Overall, very spotty. And looooong... It wasn't the best film to end a festival with, but it allowed us to come down a bit as a group and to reflect on what we had seen that night. And it's a film I NEVER would have seen otherwise, so that was cool... But... if you left early or fell asleep, well... you really didn't miss too much...
Perhaps it goes without saying, but this was a really really really fun event. I can't tell you how electric it is to see films in an audience as film-friendly and amped up as the Alamo crowd was. It really makes film-going a totally different experience. There was consistent applause and cheering during the entire 24-hour event. I had a great time.
Oh, and ladies, this is the perfect event for you. The ratio of men to women is SO far off, that guys had to wait in line for twenty minutes to go to the bathroom, while gals could breezily go in and out as they pleased. And you don't have to worry about being hit on, because these were all film geeks with movies on their minds. It's a win-win situation for you!
Good luck getting tickets for next year though!
Next is Capone's top thug in Chicago, known in alley ways and hideouts as Chi-Town Charlie's impressions of the night...
I love you. Seriously. When I flew back to Chicago with Capone Sunday night all I could think about was the great films I'd had the honor in viewing with the two-hundred plus colleagues, comrades, friends, and family in Austin. Of course, I had no physical family there, and I only had time to befriend a few fellow audience members, but . . . the bond there, the absolute love for film, the pure joy of the experience in how it entertains, opens our spirit, and at times reminds us that we are human. Your programming tied me to everyone there. As witnesses to magic.
There were some things that made the experience particularly memorable. Hercules had women dancing around him, and even when he went to the restroom and fell asleep standing against the wall, his hot-cat sun-glasses made him one cool mo-fo. Moriarty, disrespectful of Harry's general request for silence during the movies, kept yelling out things like "Holy shit!" during key moments of some of the films and the occasional loud requests to show "Stunt Rock!" which was one of the trailers show between featured presentations. (STUNT ROCK is a 1978 freak film that showed rockers performing stunts. Quite cunning stunts at that.)
Some of the great things shown between features included the original theatrical trailers for STAR WARS and REVENGE OF THE JEDI (yes, REVENGE). The LOGAN'S RUN trailer was shown for a second year in a row (if memory serves correct and it isn't some sort of false-memory vivid dream thingy), but all is forgiven as it is a tip of the hat for Harry's 30th b-day.
Sadly no porn was shown as it has in the past. FLESH GORDON was knocked from the program as things went over schedule a bit, but that was okay as we were shown bits of a pornime star wars clip between flicks. There is nothing like seeing Chewy banging a droid while using a blaster to shoot Stormtroopers, all in Japanese cartoon glory. Or the dildo compactor. Man, that ruled.
Things I will never forget: meeting one of the last remaining little people from the Wizard of Oz. The dude was 84 years of age and still quite a healthy and mobile shorty. Seeing a pristine print of King Kong. Harry mentioned that it is being used in a new King Kong DVD project. Later in the day a trailer was shown of the 1976 Kong flick. Damn does it look horrible by comparison to the original. Lots of musicals. My favorite was CABIN IN THE SKY. It had an all-star cast of black musicians that would blow your mind. ROCK ALL NIGHT had the memorable line, "JIGGER PLEASE!" Of course, as it is with all things in life, you had to be there to experience the REAL magic.
Thanks Harry for pulling off one of the most memorable experiences I've had in my life. Amen.
And now we have the man some call Vegas... Why? Well when you meet him, your wallet gets lighter... That's all I'll say about that....
First of all, I have to say that this BNAT was just absolutely wonderful. As much fun as I had last year, the choices for the films this year blew BNAT 2000 away.
The sequencing was perfect, the introductions were the best I've ever seen for any films ever, and the way Harry just played the audience like an instrument...brilliant Harry. You would have made William Castle proud.
Anyways, the festival started off with FIEND WITHOUT A FACE, a wonderfully hokey 50s sci-fi flick about killer brains, the kind that only come from coal-burning "atomic" plants on United States Air Force bases in Manitoba. Noted for the character name of Major Cummings.
This was followed up by THE MAJESTIC, easily far and away my favorite film of the night. Frank Darabont made us all cry, and it was the perfect film to get everyone into the spirit of just loving movies, as if they weren't already.
This was followed by the little-known gem entitled ROCK ALL NIGHT, starring a young Dick Miller (the old guy in GREMLINS) as the coolest motherfucker on earth. Dick Miller's favorite movie, it turns out, is KING KONG, a beautiful print of which was shown immediately thereafter. Again Harry, your gift for sequencing these films is above all comparison. After we watched King Kong, we all took a nap, and I personally dreamt about old Beatles albums. Then we all woke up.
After waking up, we watched CABIN IN THE SKY, an old musical that although very good, was my least favorite showing of the night.
CABIN IN THE SKY was followed by BLOOD FEAST 2: ALL U CAN EAT, directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis (sp?), his first effort in a quarter of a century. Seriously, I cannot recommend this film highly enough. The subtle plotting evoked an atmosphere of creeping malevolence, quite like that in Chinatown, and the characterization was so rich yet so gradual that each person was renedered indelibly in the mind and ranked with such screen luminaries as Charles Foster Kane, Vito Corleone, and Max Fischer.
We then had a contest for free dvds in which people had to re-enact scenes from Cameron Crowe films. This contest was indisputably won by Cpt. Muffy, whose bravery and confessional courage must be applauded.
We then watched THE TERROR OF TINY-TOWN, an all midget western. I repeat, this was an all midget western.
The festival concluded with what I believe is the greatest film of all time. One that blew all of my expectations away, and judging from the trailer, how could it not? The action in the trailer was so astounding, so explosive, that one could have absolutely no doubts that the film itself would deliver.
After much deliberation, I can say the hype was warranted. STUNT ROCK is indeed the best film ever made. It had stunts. It had rock. It was...STUNT ROCK. Harry, wherever you got this film needs to put this fucker out on dvd, NOW. And that dvd had better have that trailer. What a way to end the festival, by making STUNT ROCKERS!!! out of all of us. Harry, I salute you and your festival, I had a blast, and I cannot thank you enough for putting my Saffy on the list. I don't get to see her nearly enough, and that was just the best gift I think I have ever gotten, and all I can say is THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
Now, if you will all excuse me, I am going to begin a letter-writing campaign to the makers of STUNT ROCK!