We’re at the Glenn… a natural amphitheater here behind THE BACKYARD about 20 minutes away from the Alamo Downtown. This is a rarity in the history of QT fest… a recreation of the first QT Fest night, minus GLORY STOMPERS. BIKER NIGHT. How appropriate then, that it’s under the stars, quilted rain-stuffed clouds actually, and beer flowing like you wouldn’t believe.
You folks that have been reading AICN know about the ROLLING ROADSHOW – the Alamo Drafthouse with the roof lifted off and the seating capacity unlimited. Events in natural settings that recalls the greater glory of Drive-Ins… as well as the great Rock events of old… but all for the greater glory of cinema. This is my first Roadshow since HUD. And I can’t wait.
Right now – the lights in the sky are gone, the BADASS CINEMA logo is on the screen and the capacity audience is laid out on blankets and relaxing for the event to be at tonight.
It’s funny really, when
Louis Black comes out like a Greek God and patron of all things cool in Austin… to introduce the Film Society’s involvement. The night’s sponsor: Ustudio – the amazing food was provided by Guero’s food – one of the great Mexican food restaurants in Austin. Marc English design which is responsible for the look and feel of the AUSTIN FILM SOCIETY, the Chronicle – which sponsors most everything cool in Austin. Then there’s the Alamo Drafthouse – “the greatest theaters in the world,” and who am I to disagree with him. Next Louis decided to give folks an idea about where Biker Films played. That in the Urban areas – they played in theaters that smelled of Urine and where young boys could be picked up by grown men. And if you were young and didn’t want to be picked up, you came in large packs. But for the rest of the world, these movies played beneath the grand expanse of stars in DRIVE-Ins. Drive-In culture was extraordinary. Back in those days, people like Louis used to go driving off into other towns searching for Drive Ins just to see what was playing. There was no central information hub… you actually had to venture out into the night and try to find these Drive-Ins just to know what they were playing. Traveling the two lane black tops searching for well TWO LANE BLACK TOP at a Drive In. It was a rite for proto-film geeks of the seventies, like Louis Black and my father. Next – Louis brought up that when he was at the 10th Anniversary screening of Dazed & Confused. And Linklater came up to Louis and marveled at how great the outdoor Drafthouse screening was, cuz he sort of made the film for the Drive-Ins… only they aren’t the cultural force they once were… and that screening was the first time he felt he saw the film the way he had meant for it to be seen. “Your cars aren’t here, but you can imagine they are,” Louis said.
Then Quentin came out with a bit of an origin story for how he came to do these in Austin. He first brought PULP FICTION to Austin in 1995 to screen for Linklater’s Film Society thing. He had a really good time. The next time Quentin screened something here was the amazing Paramount screening of FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, which btw… at the after party – that was the first time I ever met Quentin. Now Quentin was at the proto-stages of film collection. Mostly 16mm prints, which he’d screen at his apartment for whoever he could talk into coming over. But he was basically the only one watching them and as a collector – that’s sort of depressing. You want your prints to be loved and watched.
So at some point in 1997, Quentin called up Rick (Linklater) and said that he was thinking of packing up around 30 film prints… all different genres, Biker films, Cheerleader flicks, Blaxploitation, Kung Fu… etc… He asked Rick, “Do you think anybody would be interested?” And Rick apparently responded in a really hick accent, “Suuuuure, come ON dowwwwn, it’ll be great!”
Now the next thing Quentin said was almost a piece of fiction it was so unbelievable. “The first QT fests didn’t take place at the Alamo Drafthouse, because it didn’t exist yet.”
For denizens of Austin… specially us that were born here, it’s nigh impossible to imagine this city without the Alamo Drafthouse. I remember those days, of course. I was born here in 1971. I had the vast majority of my life without the Alamo Drafthouse in my favorite city on the planet.
Filmmakers marvel at the Audiences that we have here in Austin for special events, but frankly – that wasn’t a product of the Drafthouse, so much as the amazing love for film that seems to grow every year in Austin… be it the old Austin Fantasy Film Fests of the seventies or SXSW and the Austin Film Festival or just the great Austin standard of the Austin Film Society.
I see the Alamo Drafthouse as the eventual reward for all the love this town gave cinema. Be it that great old University theater of HOGG AUDITORIUM and the Texas Union… or the old Varsity and Americana and Fox theaters. The Drafthouse was the gift this city was given. And Tim and Karrie League the miracles that made it happen. I know I get a bit sappy about this, but on this particular night – I had folks come up to me from Kansas City and Los Angeles and New York that were just flabbergasted by the energy and the love that this place has. Genuine excitement and passion and appreciation for what these events feel like. It’s great. Strangers arranging pre-film dinners with open invitations… Like today – prior to WIDEOUT and BROTHERHOOD OF DEATH – they’re hitting Spaghetti Warehouse. Italian pre Italian Crime. Heh.
What Quentin wanted for his film collection was more eyes, more heartbeats, more souls and more ears to hear them, see them, digest them and feel them. To appreciate the jewels he loves.. To create a following, not of him, but of the films he loves. So suddenly on Earth there would be a community of folks that had a common cinematic short hand for film appreciation. Not to say that many of us were not well on our way, it’s just in a way – QT fest gathered us. The Tim Leagues, Harry Knowles’, Anthony Timpsons came… but so did folks that became all of our friends for life. Those that this event is like a big flaming 4 in the sky… we assemble from wherever on this globe we may be. Jobs are quit, schedules rearranged, sacrifices of ancient demons are made and vacations cut short. Because – well because of nights like this.
I remember that first night of the first QT fest all those years ago. I wasn’t used to writing coverage of events in those days. In fact – QT fest was sort of the first one. I was honestly attending to see the films. At that point in my life – Quentin seemed like some mad film egotist that I’d see on television and wonder what the fuck was so hot about him. Sure, I liked PULP FICTION, RESERVOIR DOGS and TRUE ROMANCE – just like everyone else on the planet. But honestly… I knew most of what he was drawing upon to make those films.
To me, I just wanted to see movies I hadn’t yet seen… and at that point in my life – there hadn’t been a great many amazing film introductions. Usually they were stuffy lectures that spoiled the films before they were even shown. I hate that. But I believe I hadn’t seen a single one of the films that QT was screening that first fest. That was a lot of films that I hadn’t seen. My father was thinking the films were the dregs – mainly because he hadn’t seen many of them. He’d sold the one-sheets, but the ticket price was so expensive that it just didn’t seem worth it to him… But as I was coming off my first back injury he entertained my curiosity.
That first night of THE SAVAGE SEVEN, HOLLYWOOD MAN and GLORY STOMPERS kinda changed me forever. First off – I had been doing screenings of my own 16mm films for tiny groups of friends. This festival expanded that group of friends. That old 16mm print of THE SAVAGE SEVEN that Quentin showed was a beaten to hell, red as bloody shit print – that he introduced that night.. scratches and all – like a proud papa. This was his print – and the packed Dobie was there to see it. This was the first event that Quint and I attended together. At that point – Quint was just a young teenage fanboy that bought old movie posters from Father Geek and I at various events about town. Also – this was the first major event in my life after being laid up paralyzed for over half a year. The first time I had something to leave the house for every day and be excited about. Then there was Quentin’s fevered introductions. Unlike anything I’d seen before. He was a naked completely exposed film geek that was eating up the attention. The films and the audience was feeding him, and just watching him during that first QT fest… it made me want to present films, to program festivals of movies. It’s an amazing feeling, let me tell you. When you program an event and you see the audience love it – all that love hits you like … well like nothing else.
This setting was incredibly different from the old Egyptian Themed room at the Dobie where I last saw these two films… and this time they were 35mm!
Quentin was in fine form tonight. Energy through the… well, there was no roof here. His introduction of the film began with talking about Richard Rush, who is no stranger to QT fests… His fantastic FREEBIE AND THE BEAN was fantastic – also checking out his film THE STUNT MAN would be a good idea. He was the veteran director of HELLS ANGELS ON WHEELS. Back when AIP was making these films, they’d hire a director like Richard Rush or Jonathan Demme and they would take a classic film and rework it to the genre. That said – THE SAVAGE SEVEN isn’t really a remake of SEVEN SAMURAI or THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. First… I think there’s a lot more bikers than seven. Two – the bikers are not really here to help the Indians. And it all turns up radically different from those two films.
Next – Quentin began talking about Joanna Frank, an actress whose films he’ll always give his utmost attention to. Apparently she, “Looks like an old girlfriend of mine,” Quentin said. Go Quentin! Joanna is a hottie! You’d probably best know her as Mrs. Kerwin from SAY ANYTHING.
However – the film was just filled with talent that Quentin and genre fans love… Like John ‘Bud’ Cardos, Penny Marshall (in a small but important part), John Garwood, Chuck Bail – who was one of Richard Rush’s stunt men and went on to direct CLEOPATRA JONES AND THE CASINO OF GOLD and THE GUMBALL RALLY – along with episodes of Knight Rider, Manimal, ChiPs and Baywatch Nights!. Then there was Max Julien – which caused Quentin to begin screaming out THE MACK dialogue at the top of his lungs. He tells the audience that Max is playing an Indian in the film, “every black guy says they’re part Cherokee anyways.” Then, I believe he got heckled by Elvis Mitchell, to which Quentin hit back, “Yeah you are, if you’re not, you’re not cool!” Then Quentin screamed out…
“BUUUUT, All those motherfuckers fucking pale in comparison to Adam Roarke.” This began Quentin’s obsessive man-love for Adam Roarke. The first conversation that Quentin and I had at a QT fest was about how I didn’t write that he had dedicated that first QT fest night to Adam Roarke… and that I had not mentioned him at all. This time, Quentin said that if WILLIAM SMITH was the king of Biker films, that Adam Roarke was the Crown Prince. And they even did a Biker film together. The glorious… and dear God I hope he gets a 35mm print and brings it to Austin someday of THE LOSERS, where it’s Bikers versus the Viet Cong. You’ve no idea how awesome that film is. It’s my personal fave Biker film. With Quentin – it is tied with SAVAGE SEVEN in his heart.
Now – why the man-love for Adam Roarke? Well – you see… Adam plays his bikers with a charisma and a charm that makes you want to love him. That deceives you into thinking that he’s a biker with a heart of gold. But there’s no such thing. His KISUM in SAVAGE SEVEN might lead you to believe he has a Heart of Gold… but he never quite gives you that. Just when you think that pyrite heart gleams of gold – he turns and does something shitty. And you realize he’s just as sociopathic as the rest of the bikers. And then Quentin again dedicated the night to Adam Roarke.
He then mentioned that Gary Kent – member of the Savage Seven was actually in the audience with us that night. That’s right – Gary Kent of SCHOOLGIRLS IN CHAINS, FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, THE INCREDIBLE 2-HEADED TRANSPLANT, SATAN’S BLOODY FREAKS, TARGETS, THE BLACK KLANSMAN, THE THRILL KILLERS and LEGION OF THE DOOMED! Also the Stunt Coordinator on BUBBA HO-TEP!!!! And the UNIT MANAGER on the greatest fucking movie of all time… PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE!!!!
The trailers kicked off with a AUSTIN FILM SOCIETY ad that was really nice. That was followed by the George Hamilton’s EVEL KNIEVAL – then CHOPPER OUTLAWS with the battle cry, “Kill The Pigs!!!” – then ANGELS DIE HARD with Tom Baker and William Smith. Then SIDEWINDER about dirt bike racing I think. Then VIVA KNIEVAL starring the real Evel Knieval & GENE KELLY!!! Lastly we got THE GLORY STOMPERS trailer!
Now – last night – I published the original reviews of the films… I kinda can’t do that this time – because on that first night – 9 years ago – I didn’t write very much… more… impressions at the time, not full on blow by blows like I’ve come to write. Here’s what I wrote about both THE SAVAGE SEVEN and HOLLYWOOD MAN:
Quentin came out tonight dressed all in black with a Madman comic character shirt. "People ask me why I am doing this festival and I say WHY NOT. You know. When you collect prints of films, their like your babies, you show em to your 3 or 4 friends then its like I want more people to see them. To ewe and ahh over them. And this is my chance to show them off... ...Basically what you are going to be watching for the next 10 nights is a bunch of sleazy genre films." Richard Linklater introduced him and he took over. His electric enthusiasm charged the room as he threw out fact after fact about these three films and he dedicated the night to Adam Roarke, who passed away recently. Adam was the star of this first film, which Quentin was quite literally boiling over with pride over. In regards to The Savage Seven, Tarantino said this, "There are people that compare THE SAVAGE SEVEN to THE MAGNIFICIENT SEVEN plot wise, and they are waaaaay off base. The Savage Seven is much more complex." The second film HOLLYWOOD MAN stars William Smith, Conan's Dad in Conan the Barbarian. It was directed by the Gabby Hayes drunk guy from Blazzing Saddles, and Quentin did an impression that was dead on, "The Sheeer iffs a gettin neeear, The Sheer iff is a niggggg...BONG you know" Really fun. Then he began to sing the theme song to Hollywood Man, it goes like this, "Hollllllywooooooood Maaaaaaaaaan, the Hollllllywwwoooooodddd Maaaaaaaaaaan, that all he was, the Hollllllywwoooood Man." Tarantino cursed the song upon us all as being one of those songs to drift in your head. Tony Chance, the man who sung it ummm really caused alot of laughter. This film is worth buying if you see it for the last shot, that's all I'm saying. A Classic terrible film.