foto by David Cirone
BEST OF QT FEST – 1
The crowd has filed in – Beers, food, ice creams, etc – It is an electric atmosphere. Old friends from across the continent have traveled long and hard to remember some of their fondest cinematic memories. The lobby is littered with posters for the event on sale, t-shirts and assorted memorabilia. Friends that can’t be here are calling friends they do know are here, making promises about attempting to quit their jobs and get here so they can have a chance to be here for the last few days. They had better show! That’s all I have to say.
Tonight we’re getting an odd double bill. Faves of past fests. First is KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE. A fave of noted Astrophysicist codenamed Copernicus – who believes that the film’s macguffin is actually scientifically plausible – although it deals with making the entire world’s male population infertile – save for the super-villain – who would become mankind’s only hope for a continuation of the species. Thus becoming the lone Stud-male of the world. This movie – RULES!
Right now – a ‘grindhouse’ line up of trailers plays – and in the back of the theater, I can hear Quentin’s familiar giggle. Rebecca Campbell of the Austin Film Society to introduce Quentin and tell us about the AFS’ great history (1500 films screened in their history and great film sponsors). Then she introduced “the man of the hour” – or basically “the man for the next 7 days and just about all the days that follows…”
Quentin strides past Lars and Tim League and bounded up the stairs to give Rebecca a nice hug – and more importantly seize the microphone and begin the first of many fantastic introductions for the next few days.
Now – unknown to the greater community at large – on the days off of the GRIND HOUSE shoot – Quentin has been holding private late night double feature bills for the crew and friends and family here in Austin. I haven’t been going to these underground screenings because… well, I have a new house I’m setting up with the sweetie – and whilst keeping tabs on what was screening – I found he was screening many of the films that he’s doing during this fest. Why double dip in close proximity, I feel. That said, I would have loved to have been there the night he introduced Brian DePalma’s CARRIE.
As is typical of my QT coverage, I describe what Quentin is wearing when he hits the stage. Today he was a bit understated. His usual red Nikes, black pants and black & white checkerboard button up shirt.
Right from the get go he wanted to make it clear that this was not QT7 and that he has not run out of ideas for new “old” films to screen. He’s got plenty of new stuff to screen at the Alamo Drafthouse for the next festival, but he felt that since he was in Austin working on GRINDHOUSE and that it was just 6 months since QT6 – why the hell not do a Best of? A sort of beginner’s catch-up course – and a connesoir’s buffet of past glories.
Another thing he wanted to make clear is that this isn’t a democracy where the audience voted on what the bests were… this is a subjective picking according the Quentin as to the films he felt got the best reaction in past QT fests. The films that made a cultural kick in the nuts and left a lingering mark on the consciousnesses of the attendees. That… and well… these are just his faves. The ones he wanted to see screened at the ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE. He also states that we, the audience, may not agree with all the choices he made, but they are HIS choices and this is HIS event. That said… I agree with him. If I ever did a BEST of BNAT, I guarantee there’d probably only be 2 or so “new” films – and I’d pick mostly the black & white and Technicolor films prior to 1960 – so just suffer bitch, it’s my party! Hmmm… a best of BNAT… hmmm…
Next Quentin went into how he feels that when he created the QT fests, that it has actually kind of formed a personality all it’s own that’s specific to the reactions he’s seen here in Austin to the various films. And he found himself acquiring films solely based on the conceit that it would play great in Austin. That being said, he would break that vibe and fuck around with that vibe, but recognized that he had to respect that vibe. Genre nights were formed, he then stated “Like, WOMEN IN PRISON night… actually, we’ve never had a Women in Prison night. Fuck. Listen man, we had a Lederhosen Night, anyone can have a fucking WOMEN IN PRISON night, ok?” Heh
He got into this, because essentially – other than Tuesday night’s hopefully Outdoor (it has been raining) event at the Glenn (Come on down!) – this isn’t necessarily “Genre nights” And he mentioned that tomorrow night is more of a tribute to the start of QT fests with a recreation of the very first QT fest night ever with THE SAVAGE SEVEN and HOLLYWOOD MAN – which he then began singing the excruciatingly awful, yet catchy tune… HOLLYWOOD MAN. All that have heard it, over 9 years ago, can still belt it out… exactly off-tune and flat… like in the film. Personally – I’m disappointed because that line up is only 2/3rds of that first night. The Midnight film was GLORY STOMPERS which personally was my fave film of that night, but more on that Tomorrow.
Next he went into how… he discovered that by playing these various films in Austin – and the ripple effect that was caused by folks writing about the films and the event online, that some of the titles he has chosen have literally become new classics of their genre or sub-genre. This time, with the BEST OF – he’s hoping to kinda focus on what he feels are the very best of these various genres and sub-genres and who knows what may or may not happen with these titles.
That said, instead of having a “Spy Night” he has picked a single badass spy film. In particular – KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE, which was the middle film on the very first Secret Agent Night he ever did which began with the fantastic HAMMERHEAD, then KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE and then the mostly forgotten LIGHTNING BOLT, which he remembers people not sticking around for, but which I remember as being pretty damn cool, but I agree with Quentin… it didn’t top KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE. A film which he says couldn’t have a worse reputation. I disagree with that, simply because… well it was featured in a QT fest and raved about as a result of kicking our mutual asses.
However, the night of August 25th, 2000 at QT QUATTRO when Quentin first introduced KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE… I have to say – he undersold the film quite a bit to the audience. Other than a little bit of Mike Connors / MANNIX hyping, he didn’t really sell this or give us the history of the project. That said, KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE became one of the Sleeper Hits of QT 4, and this time out… Quentin didn’t undersell the film… in fact… He went on for quite some time, with tons of enthusiasm.
He started of with director Henry Levin, “not an Italian”, whom Dino DeLaurentis hired based on his work on Matt Helm movies. He then said that they weren’t really the best ones, but then stated that there really were no “best” Matt Helm movies, that you had to be into Dean Martin, and even then they were just good. “They make the Beach Party films look like Voltaire.” -- Now – I don’t mean to be calling “bullshit” on Quentin, but I believe Henry Levin actually directed KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE, prior to him working on MURDERERS’ ROW and THE AMBUSHERS. As this flick was released into international theaters prior to either of those by months. Instead, I think it may be more likely that the word on this film was so hot, that he got promoted to MATT HELM, which was actually a demotion, because KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE is the fucking shit! That said, Quentin gave props to Levin’s JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (which played a Kid’s Club QT screening) and GENGHIS KHAN with Omar Sharif, which he apparently has a gorgeous print of and could be talked into programming on a future QT Fest’s ADVENTURE night! I say “YES!” as it has Stephen Boyd, James Mason, Eli Wallach, Telly Savalas, Robert Morley as the fucking Emperor of China, Woody Strode and many others. That’s a fascinating film to see big. Though I’d kill to see Levin’s THE PETTY GIRL on a big screen, I’ve had the one sheet for years, and have never been able to see the film.
Next he went on to talk about Mike Connors briefly and how this was basically the last thing he did before he exploded on television with MANNIX. Next he mentioned that the great Dorothy Provine, who became forever celebrated within the QT fest community for her awesome performance in THE BONNIE PARKER STORY for which she was awarded best Actress of QT QUATTRO!
This reminded him of how of all the James Bond off shoots, he really wished they’d done more with this character. You see, they’re secret agents with a chauffeur. “Like fucking Richie Rich with a Man Servant, who is actually helpful!” Now the Chauffeur/James was played by Terry Thomas… aka Lt. Col. Algernon Hawthorne from IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD and Levin’s own THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM (god I love that flick!) And more importantly – possibly my fave Terry Thomas flick is DON’T LOOK NOW – WE’RE BEING SHOT AT! Personally this is my favorite French Comedy of all time – and it absolutely fucking holds up. That said, Terry’s pretty fucking great as this Chauffeur.
Next he went into the Bad Guy played by Raf Vallone. But what got Quentin giddy is what he learned after this played at QT Quattro via AICN’s own “rocket scientist” Copernicus. Now – contrary to recent rumors – Copernicus is not a rocket scientist. In reality he’s one of the fore-most astrophysicists in the world that’s field of expertise is Super Novas. In fact – he’s having to leave after KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE – to give a speech in Dallas this morning to an audience of over 1000 astrophysicists regarding the Dark Matter in the Universe and Einstein’s Universal constant at which the universe is expanding… oh, and how Gravity is not leaking into the 5th Dimension. OK – anyways – after QT QUATTRO – I told Quentin about how Copernicus freaked out because the bad guy’s plot… and the specific kind of radiation that he planned to bombard the Earth with to reduce all of mankind, save for him, impotent for life… was actually scientifically sound. I know, I know – it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Quentin then went into Copernicus’ Theory of Watching Science Fiction Films. The first type is like STAR TREK – where it is so far in the future that maybe, by that point, we’ve figured out the science to make impossible things right now, possible. Then there’s the FLASH GORDON / STAR WARS science fiction fantasy where… the brakes are off and they can do whatever they want because they’re totally out of touch with any sort of science reality or plausibility, but it has its own internal logic and works. Lastly there’s the third type of science fiction – which Copernicus puts ARMAGEDDON in – which is the totally fucking lame fucked up Sci-fi – where they disobey any and all logic, yet try to claim it is real.
That said, on Sunday night at my house – Copernicus, Johnny Wad, Yoko and I just went at it – where I argued with Copernicus about how now… of the two Asteroid heading to Earth movies… NASA is actually kinda headed in the direction of the ARMAGEDDON option. – He then went apeshit on my ass for Space Shuttles that can fly like Airplanes and Asteroids with bullshit stalagmites and shit. Heh. Admittedly – I was doing it to piss him off. Heh.
Lastly, Quentin mentioned the bevy of international babes led by Margaret Lee (of SLAUGHTER HOTEL and Jess Franco’s VENUS IN FURS) and Beverly Adams, who later married Vidal Sassoon.
With that – he got us ready for KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE – and went off stage… and I don’t seem to remember him throwing the microphone up in the air.
The trailers that played before were for: SOL MADRID, THE WRECKING CREW, DANGER DIABOLIK and GAMBIT - the last two are two of the best films that you may not have seen btw.
Ok – Now – I’m not going into big reviews of these films – as I’ve already written them up at the previous fests – I will reprint my original review – and add comments of the film as to how it has aged on second viewing. So here’s a 6 year old review of KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE:
Now, the next flick... I so can’t remember Quentin’s intro.... All I remember is that it wasn’t too jazzing. I felt like he was trying to not oversell the film.... The movie was called KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE... It stars Mike Connors, who you might be familiar with as being MANNIX... a tough cool TV show from the late sixties... but all of you know as being one of the Amalekite Herders trying to steal water for their animals in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS... In reality... he’s the first one that gets his ass kicked by an ANGRY Moses....
Now... folks... NONE OF YOU WILL BELIEVE ME... But KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE is one of the hands down coooooooolest fucking SPY films you’ll ever NOT see.
First off... I’ve never seen a spy film where the spies soooooo were in love with being SPIES... I mean... folks... they were soooooo into it. All the gadgets... they just were used to them... it wasn’t new... They knew exactly how all the toys work, when to use them and how to look cool while doing it. You’ve never seen BOND this home with his toys... BOND is always like getting used to the shit Q gives him.... Here... it’s second nature. I mean there is nothing more natural in the world than to use their toys...
The other thing is... These spies are like Comic Book Super Heroes... On top of the toys... they have this driver that just kicks ass... He’s played by Terry-Thomas... and he comes equipped with a Rolls Royce that just RULES! This car is just rules... and his use of it... whether it be converting it into a billboard... or making a Scotch on the Rocks... or letting the lady’s change of clothes out... FANTASTIC... The cavalier way he fights and takes care of the car... The perfect chauffeur.... wonderful.
Now the babes are hot... as usual for a spy film... but the thing you have to realize is... THE EVIL BASTARD of the film... his plan is to launch a satellite into orbit that will kill the sex drive of every MAN on the planet... so that he will become the last STUD on the planet... So every girl every where will have to fuck him or go without. His eyes are so damn electric... his smile so evil.... His plan.... SO COOL... I mean, dudes... what a plan.... The Ultimate Cock Blocker!
This wasn’t a so bad it is good film... this was a FANTASTIC MOVIE that I would put on par with any BOND film and any spy film around.... A GREAT MOVIE... Absolutely marvelous.
To read the original night in it’s whole context – Click Here!
Now – as effusive and raving as that review is… I can tell you, it’s even better on a second viewing. This flick just blew this audience away anew, only about a third of the crowd had seen it before, but KISS THE GIRLS AND MAKE THEM DIE is just a fantastic undeniably enjoyable film. This time, I was just exceptionally delighted by all the Rolls Royce gags like the Headrest Punches, the Scotch instead of double malt whiskey, tea and tea set, the awesome and quasi possible Billboard Cloaking Device, the interior Bullet Proof passenger divider. And so many more. Like the Chauffeur hat gag.
Also – Raf Vallone’s Mr Ardonian is such an awesomely lecherous fuck – I mean, the first time you see this film, you don’t really know his plan till the end… but having previously seen the film, I was noticing how incredibly knowing and lascivious that Raf was. I mean, he’s practically drooling and giddy with glee over his evil plan. Not only that… but I now believe that the “cheating whores” in his life were driving him to take away every possible extra cock in the world. That way they could only crave him. He’s a damn genius!
Now – When we hit the break, folks were just buzzing about the film. It really is that good. And there was a giddiness for SNAKE FIST IN THE MONKEY’S SHADOW.
I got an email from Tom Joad saying his flight was confirmed – he’d be hitting that last hurrah of the QT Best of on Saturday/Sunday. Razzing of others that couldn’t attend because of one reason or another commenced. Mori – I’m talking about you! And as the audience settled in – Rebecca from the Film Society again introduced Quentin… but before Tarantino could hit the stage, the lights went out and a film was getting set to come on. Luckily… Tim League shouted out to the awesome projectionist, Sean, that we had a special guest… remember… and then Quentin hit the stage with a, “Yeah Sean, turn them lights back on!”
Neat little snafu, but quickly fixed. Elvis Mitchell was laughing loudly and Quentin said into the microphone, “Shut up Elvis!” Quentin then went into his intro for SNAKE FIST IN THE MONKEY’S SHADOW or DRAGON VS SNAKEFIST as his print is titled.
Quentin brought this film to QT Quattro – which was the festival right after he had finished writing KILL BILL and any thought he had that good martial arts films couldn’t entertain an audience was put to rest… with that night of films. This was – btw – the first triple bill of Kung Fu films he ever did. The first Kung Fu flick he screened for us was SEVEN BLOWS OF THE DRAGON – a film I fucking love to death, and I actually own Quentin’s old print that he screened at QT1 – he apparently upgraded to a 35mm scope. Chiga Chiga Chaaaaaa! But he calls SNAKE FIST IN THE MONKEY’S SHADOW one of the greatest martial arts films that he’s ever seen – and that this print may in fact be the most screened print in his collection – as he whips it out all the time.
That said… Quentin’s energies seemed low with his oh too short intro of this one. Of course – 6 years have passed… it’s possible that Quentin couldn’t perform the intro at the energy level of 2000 – when he did a kung fu demonstration of all the known Animal Styles that he knew (from watching Kung fu movies). You see – When this film first played it was the first of a triple bill. DRAGON VS SNAKEFIST, DRAGON VS NEEDLES OF DEATH and SNAKE FIST IN EAGLE SHADOW! It was… an amazing night. That said – sometimes it’s impossible to bottle lightning.
The trailers were for DUEL OF THE IRON FIST, ONE ARMED BOXER VS THE FLYING GUILLOTINE, SISTER STREET FIGHTER and 7 BLOWS OF THE DRAGON!!!
Don’t get me wrong – this movie still kicks ass, but… read about the original screening in 2000:
Quentin took the stage and the theater erupted into applause... the crowd packed to the sides of the theater. Literally... the aisles were packed with extra seats... filled. There were no empty seats... and there was standing going on.
There was a fire in Quentin’s eye when he stood on that stage... you could tell... he was ready for this night. He was saving the best for last. He grabbed the mike... swung it around briefly, and then went into an excited rap about how THIS WAS THE NIGHT HE WAS WAITING FOR.
Quentin’s favorite type of kung fu films are the animal style flicks... the kung fu where you move like an animal... and then... Quentin dazzled the audience with his full grasp of animal style kung fu.
Suddenly the microphone was on the ground... Quentin assumed the position of a nearly kneeling man... one arm cocked like an Egyptian... and the other way above his head with the hand at a pointed right angle to the arm.... He began swaying to and fro... as though studying his prey... hissing as his flat serpentine claws struck out as his invisible opponent striking them dead. He screams out... SNAKE STYLE...
He begins to stand like an exhausted man... tired and stumbling... his neck muscles loose.. head swirling around like a carousel... as he shuffled to his right while striking to his left, he suddenly switched direction in a drunken stupor... the noises escaping him.. like those of a belching god.... DRUNKEN STYLE he proclaims...
He crouches down... arms waving above his head as he waddles back and forth... He scratches an arm pit and the underside of a leg that juts out, as the fist flies down upon the head of his invisible opponent... the entire time he gives the impression of a passive aggressive Cheetah (Tarzan’s best friend) and as he begins making simian sounds, you can tell... it’s MONKEY STYLE...
He strikes the classic Crane stances... flying whooping style kicks, arms for balance out to the side... striking on the way back down.... picking his transparent opponent apart like a fish in a stagnant bay. He decrees.... CRANE STYLE...
As he grabs the mike back, the audience erupts into applause.... Watching Quentin go about the classic animal style martial arts... making all the appropriate noises.. and fighting in a precise facsimile and studied fervor of a Kung Fu Flick Fan....
Quentin is already in a gleeful state.
He tells us that the film we were about to see was called DRAGON VS SNAKEFIST, but... it’s real title is SNAKE FIST IN THE MONKEY’S SHADOW... In the seventies... everybody was throwing DRAGON in the titles of Kung Fu films because of ENTER THE DRAGON...
Now... I can’t tell you much about this film. Not because I don’t want to... but in a credit style... I just do not know the names. It stars John Cheung and was directed by Sum Cheung. According to IMDB... this movie is available on Video..... BUY IT NOW!
I’m serious... Go and take the money out of your wallet and buy this fucking movie now. When it arrives... don’t watch it. Gather together 3 of your friends (at least) put on your two favorite kung fu flicks and then put this thing on third.... IT WILL KICK YOU IN THE NOSE AND LEAVE YOU BLEEDING WITH A BLOOD RED SMILE.
By the time you get to... what you will get... ah fuck it... the last hour is simply some of the best balletic animal style kung fu you’ll ever see. Each fighter stays in their style, and fights... you will see one scene that I guarantee will keep you shitting bricks for a week afterwards. This movie should be a treasure in every kung fu fans’ collection.
This is a pure jewel. At least 5 times during the movie, the film’s soundtrack didn’t exist to my ears because of the applause in the room... and as this film moves it begins to pick up a momentum that... is just stunning... The movie thrilled the audience.... sending them into an orgiastic gleeful lobby state where EVERYONE was bearing a crescent moon of shining ivories.
Quentin hit the lobby... and was making the tours soaking up the buzz...
When we returned to the theater.... and he hit the stage... Quentin brought me to tears.
“You know, I get asked in interviews... ‘Quentin, why do you do this festival every year?’ And that reaction... that charge you just gave me while watching this movie... That’s why. I’ve seen that last film 3 times at home... with one or two others. And ya know... at home with friends, it seems like a pretty good movie, but you can sometimes fool yourself into thinking something is great in close company... but can go on to see it fall flat in front of an audience. Well... what just happened... that feeling I just got from watching this movie with you... That’s rare... If I’m lucky... I’ll get that just once a year.... The last time was at THE MATRIX. You could just feel the audience completely hand themselves over to that movie. And it became something bigger than the theater. And you just gave me that feeling for the first time in a year and a half. That was a great screening... one of the very best I’ve experienced... and that was all you folks reacting to this great film and just being here and feeling that... that’s what film is about... it’s about going on a journey with a whole audience and just going with it. Thank you. Thank you.”
Now... You all know me, I get... decidedly weepy eyed at a flag being raised and such.... But Quentin was quite emotionally charged... you could see it on his face... this wasn’t Quentin being cool... or being on show.... This was the movie fan that loves the theatrical experience talking... and if you are a movie fan.... then you know this feeling.
Next weekend, you’ll get a chance to see EXORCIST on the big screen for the first time... many of you. When you see that film.... whoever you go with.. however you see it... You’ll realize... THIS IS HOW I’M SUPPOSED TO SEE IT... and for Quentin... on this print... THIS WAS HOW YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO WATCH THIS FILM... and it was a perfect experience for all involved.