Quint on the Final Night of QT Fest: SWINGIN' NIGHT, with Barmaids, Cheerleaders and Pussycats!!!
Published at: May 16, 2007, 11:02 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Since Harry departed I figured I’d take up the reins and cover the last night of the festival.
Ah, barmaids, pussycats and cheerleaders, all of ‘em swinging.
Tonight we have THE SWINGING BARMAIDS (aka EAGER BEAVERS), by Gus Trinkosis, SWINGIN’ PUSSYCATS, by Alexis Neve and SWINGING CHEERLEADERS, by the king of exploitation, Jack Hill.
Of these, I’ve seen two at previous QT Fests: EAGER BEAVERS and SWINGING CHEERLEADERS, but my memory is a little hazy on BEAVERS. I just remember it being surprisingly fucked up and giallo-like for a ‘70s sexploitation movie.
SWINGING BARMAIDS – Three Drops to Go
Tim took the stage again to introduce the night, but unlike the previous two nights he had a little pile on the stage with him. After refusing to let the sadness overtake him, that this would be the last QT series ever at the Downtown Alamo Drafthouse, he said he wanted to give something to Tarantino to thank him for his time and loyalty to the Drafthouse.
“You’re a wealthy man and can buy whatever the fuck you want… and probably have,” said Tim. Then he kicked the cardboard box on stage and said that being the case, he knows Tarantino doesn’t have this.
It was a 35mm print from the Alamo archives of a film that Tarantino mentioned on the Regional Hixploitation Night, a huge success on that drive-in/grindhouse circuit in the south called PREACHERMAN.
When Tim said the title, you could hear Tarantino, standing in the aisle go, “All right!”
But that wasn’t all. Tim had a few shirts printed up in honor of dare I say it the best film Tarantino has ever shown at any of his QT Fests, a little movie called THE DION BROTHERS (aka GRAVY TRAIN), that had an outline of Stacey Keach and Frederick Forrest on the front of the shirt and a line from the movie on the back “Name a fish plate after me.”
Accompanying this gift was a story about Kier-La at the Alamo seeing Terrence Malick, the famously reclusive genius director that lives in Austin, at one of the Alamo screenings and confronting him about this movie, which he wrote under an assumed name.
“The man must have not seen the movie or couldn’t remember it because he had it in his mind that it was a shitty movie,” said Tim, which elicited a bunch of “Booos” from the crowd.
Gift giving over, Tarantino took the stage.
“It is a little sad knowing that this will be the last time…this’ll be my last time here, in this venue. I was kinda ignoring it was in the last night and I couldn’t ignore it anymore…”
Speaking of the last movie he saw at the Drafthouse, the 2nd night’s final film, he said, “I kept looking at the ceiling – everyone look at the ceiling tonight,” noting the unique ceiling of the Alamo, giant black rectangles. Heh… I remember way back in the day when you’d look up and see nothing but a suspicious-looking asbestos-like substance, long before Tim installed the sharp looking paneling.
“I want to thank Tim and Karrie for creating this place and creating a home for us freaks,” said Tarantino as he raised his Schlitz to Tim.
Enough of the sad shit, here are the movies.
“All three of these movies kick fucking ass. – This is very much legitimately what you could find in any drive-in theater… and they all probably did play together.”
Tarantino went on, like a professor at university, talking about the habits of Drive-In theaters and Grindhouses of building double and triple bills of movies with similar titles, sometimes even going so far as to change the title of the movie to make it fit. In the confusion of distribution, the drive-ins and grindhouses would sometimes horde prints, letting them get lost and keeping them in the closet, especially blaxploitation and sexploitation flicks that they could play together.
Those well off enough would actually buy a few feet of new 35mm film with the different title. Those not so well off would just chop out the title altogether, which also meant that they never had to pay the distributor and had almost zero chance of getting caught, unless someone from the production or distribution company happened to be in the audience.
So, you’d have triple bills of all movies with “SWINGING” in the title or “DEAD” in the title, etc. The drive-ins loved that shit. Loved it. And these movies playing this night, according to Tarantino, were extremely popular and could be found playing as late as 1984.
“So you are actually seeing a classic staple of drive-in programming, but we didn’t fudge this one.”
He then gets to the first movie of the night.
“It’s a movie about a guy who is killin’ barmaids… the first victim of the movie is noneother than Dyanne Thorne, Ms. Ilsa She-Wolf of the SS herself! One of the big heroes of the Alamo drafthouse is Big Bill Smith, who is also in the movie! But the film is stolen completely by the killer, the guy playing the killer, Bruce Watson. I knew him from Bucktown… you notice him in that because he’s the worst actor ever. But in this he fuckin’ rules.”
When this first screened at an early QT Fest, Watson actually won the audience award for best supporting actor. And yes, watching the movie again he totally earned it.
The director, Gus Trikonis, starred as one of the Jets from WEST SIDE STORY and ended up marrying Goldie Hawn (“He didn’t just marry Goldie Hawn, he married Laugh-In Goldie Hawn!” Tarantino said.) and directing NASHVILLE GIRL (another QT Fest staple) and THE EVIL.
Tarantino lets the movie play, dropping the mic with a loud thud. This has become a tradition at QT Fests… don’t know which one it started at… definitely not the Dobie, but maybe QT 3 or 4. Anyway…
GINGER – “The picture that gets down to bedrock.” This trailer ruled. Had a scene with a female junkie going up to a dealer. “Here’s your 25 bucks, you bastard!” “It ain’t money I want, white girl. I want yo’ ass.”
POLICE WOMEN – QT Fest classic, starring Angie Dickinson.
NIGHT CALL NURSES – My favorite trailer in this batch, featuring a sleazy dude going up to a hot nurse, pointing at her nametag and asking, “Is that your name or the name of your left titty?” “It’s my name. The name of my left titty is Irene.” Awesome.
PRIVATE DUTY NURSE – “It’s what they do off duty that’s really private.”
Then the flick.
There is a reason Bruce Watson won that QT Fest award so long ago. This flick is kind of bizarre. It’s a serial killer flick that’s not really high on the gore or suspense. It’s a sexploitation flick without much titillation. It’s a William Smith movie where he’s kind of unthreatening (until the end when he’s as badass as you want him to be).
None of that means it’s a lame movie. Not at all. It’s one of the most entertaining movies they’ve shown at this mini-QT Fest so far… barring REDNECK MILLER last night, of course.
Watson is kind of the main character, a baby-faced nutter who is easily offended. But he’s also kind of a nice guy, a likable guy. However, if you insult him, even by accident, his face changes, this really great mixture of puzzlement and anger, and that night he’ll go after you.
He starts off at this bar (wearing the most incredibly fake beard ever) where Dyanne Thorne waits on him and is kind of bitchy towards him when he orders a Virgin Mary. His face changes. She’s fucked.
He follows her home, surprises her and they tussle for a bit before he finally takes her down. As he’s taking pictures of her topless corpse, a few other barmaids walk in. He chases them, but they get away.
That’s the beauty of this flick… he’s not a killer going after random women. The rest of the movie is the killer just covering his ass, going after the witnesses.
He changes his appearances, shaves his fake beard off, cuts and dyes his hair and then, and this is the genius part, he gets a job as a bouncer/dishwasher at the bar where the girls work. Nobody recognizes him.
A funny sidenote, when shaved and cut Bruce Watson resembled the killer from another QT Fest classic, TWISTED NERVE, the flick he took the theme song from and put on Daryl Hannah’s lips in KILL BILL. I couldn’t help but keep thinking of Georgie (Hywel Bennett) from that flick.
So, the barmaids and other employees are completely comfortable including him in the plans to catch the sicko that’s still knocking off the maids. The line of the movie, the scene that makes this absolutely worth watching if you ever get the chance, is when they’re planning a trap.
He starts off the scene saying how smart this killer is, obviously very content with himself, only to have one of the barmaids come back saying that he’s not that smart, but he’s got one of those “calculating faggot minds.”
Watson’s face drops immediately. “What!?” and the conversation goes on, completely ignoring him. He just keeps getting more and more pissed as they go on. Classic.
THE SWINGING PUSSYCATS – Two Drops to Go
Tim League once again takes the stage and tells us all to proceed with caution. The next film is a German Lederhosen Film, which is a genre he’s not a fan of. I’m not either, to tell the truth, but when else would I ever see this film, especially on the big screen? I was still looking forward to it.
The (dented) mic was handed to Tarantino.
“Wasn’t Bruce Watson the man with his calculating faggot mind? I was name dropping people in (SWINGING BARMAIDS), but I completely forgot Charles B. Griffith one of my favorite screenwriters… I dedicated my script, DEATHPROOF, to Charles B. Griffith. He wrote LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, BUCKET OF BLOOD…”
He also wrote DEATHRACE 200, ROCK ALL NIGHT and THE WILD ANGELS.
Tarantino said THE SWINGING PUSSYCATS isn’t really a Lederhosen Film, it’s something… else. He wouldn’t go into it any more than that, but he did say he loved the first 10 minutes of the movie to death.
“I was going to bring it here before, but I planned on ripping off the beginning and I didn’t want Ain’t It Cool News to know I did it,” he said with a laugh looking in my general direction. He was probably looking for Harry, but since Harry was on a plane to Europe at that point, he found the second fattest guy in the audience with a laptop open, typing notes.
Tarantino said he was going to rip off the beginning specifically in his planned GRINDHOUSE trailer that never came to fruition due to the intensive and time consuming shooting of the car chase sequences in DEATHPROOF. He just ran out of time. His trailer was to be called COWGIRLS IN SWEDEN.
He then let the mic fall and the movie roll.
-DAGMAR HOTPANTS, INC – “She’s Number One Because She Tries Harder.”
-HELGA – “The Intimate Story of A Young Girl” Kind of documentary-like as a trailer, with a guy going around with a microphone asking “man on the street” type questions about birth control and sex ed. There was one old dude who answered the sex ed. question saying something about how the only education needed in sex is what it’s like to raise 6 kids.
-CANDY – My God, this trailer was magnificent. How come I’ve never heard of this movie? Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, James Coburn, John Astin, Ringo Starr, John Huston, Sugar Ray Robinson and Walter Matthau… Based on a novel by Terry Southern… With Matthau saying this: “Some of us haven’t had enough Dolces in our Vitas.” Good tagline as well… “Is Candy faithful? Only to the book…”
SWINGING PUSSYCATS was completely bizarre. It was almost like WHAT’S UP TIGER, LILLY? except without the comic genius of Woody Allen at the helm.
It’s pretty obvious some US mini-distributor got the rights to this German film really cheap, didn’t want to hire a translator to tell them the plot and just hired somebody to fill in the story and characters.
That’s not to say it was completely unenjoyable. The girls were all hot and the dialogue had moments of hilarity… and there was this random sequence when the sexed up chauffer finds a sleazy old man trying to force a maid to do him in a small barn, so he fights him… and you see the little barn in a static shot as it explodes, piece by piece. After the roof has blown off, you see the sleazy old man being thrown into the air multiple times (obviously on some sort of trampoline), before the Chauffer walks out, wiping his hands.
It’s my least favorite of the night and probably the least popular movie of the Fest as a whole judging from the talk afterwards, but there’s something just in seeing a movie that should not exist unspooling in front of your eyes that makes even the misses worth watching.
The opening he was talking about loving so much was a woman laid out on a couch, talking to the camera about learning the joys of sex. Then it cuts to the actual story that is narrated by a kind of happy go lucky type, introducing each of the bizarre and sex-obsessed characters on this farm.
THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS – One Drop Left
“I’m drinking my Cocaine… I would recommend ice with it, though…”
Okay, we need to put that statement into context. Yes, Tarantino did say it, but he was preceded once more by Tim League, who announced they found a case of Cocaine left over from BNAT. Cocaine, of course, is not the illegal drug… but it is the outlawed energy drink. I tasted a little bit of one at BNAT and it burned. I did not put any more in my body. It’s not the drug, but if I’ve learned anything from the overweight cast of SNL it’s that I will never put anything called Cocaine into my body.
I love Jack Hill’s movies and I was first turned on to them at the Tarantino Film Fests. It could have been this movie specifically that got me addicted, but I don’t remember if I saw SWINGING CHEERLEADERS or SWITCHBLADE SISTERS first.
Tarantino had some really nice things to say about the man, especially concerning his origins. He said it was a damn shame that we never got to see what Jack Hill really would have been able to do if he was able to get the budgets and time Francis Ford Coppola or Martin Scorsese got (both started in the same genres Hill did). In fact, there’s an even deeper connection there.
“Jack Hill and Francis Ford Coppola were roommates at UCLA, alright. They did nudie movies together.”
Also, Hill did a short film called THE HOST starring Sid Haig and he said that once you see that short you realize the last bit with Brando in APOCALYPSE NOW was lifted pretty much straight up from the short.
“One thing that’s really kinda cool about this movie… in most cheerleader movies, and I’m a big fan of cheerleader movies, most are about kinda sluts, but this one’s different. There’s a lot of politics running around in this film,” Tarantino said.
Of course, he gave some love to the cast, including Roseanne Katon (THE MUTHERS, MOTEL HELL), Colleen Camp and a very special shout out to Rainbeaux Smith, an icon of these films. She was a lovely lady, almost angelic, especially in this film. She also starred in REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS, but this one in particular she’s radiant. (These are my thoughts, not Tarantino’s, but I doubt he’d disagree).
With that, the mic fell for the very last time at the Alamo Drafthouse Downtown as I’ve known it for 10 years.
PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW – This is in my top three films I’ve seen at a QT Fest, and I’m speaking as someone who has been to every single one since the very first night in 1996. Roger Vadim directed, Gene Roddenberry scripted teenage sex comedy, starring Rock Hudson, Angie Dickinson, Roddy McDowall and Telly Savalas. Fantastic and funny movie if you can ever track down a copy.
THE TEACHER – “Voted most popular by her students.” “Her best lessons were taught after class." Jay North (yes, Dennis the Menace Jay North) does his hot teacher. Crazy…
THE POM POM GIRLS – “It’s funny, it’s sexy, it’s the craziest motion picture you’ve ever seen!”
CHEERLEADER’S BEACH PARTY – “The cheerleaders take off at the hottest beach party ever!”
The movie lived up to my memory of it. The basic plot is a radical feminist working at the college newspaper decides to do a big expose on cheerleaders and jocks. She tries out for the team, gets on and takes lots of notes, although she soon comes to realize that these people aren’t as shallow as she expected them to be.
The twist is that the cheerleaders and football players are the heroes of the story, not the jokes. There’s surprising depth to this T&A movie. The characters are sometimes outrageous, but aren’t really painted in broad strokes… at least the cheerleaders and jocks. The villain of the movie, an alumni who wants to rig the football games so he can gamble on the spread, is about as one-dimensional a character as you get in the film.
There’s a scene in the movie between the gorgeous Roseanne Katon and Mae Mercer that is just dynamite. It’s shocking, actually. Mercer is the wife of the professor Katon is fooling around with. At one point, she just shows up… she only has one scene, but she corners Katon and gives her an amazing speech at knifepoint, threatening to carve her name into the cheerleader’s titty so the next time she flops it out for her husband, he’ll see it.
Mercer is so damn good in this scene, so threatening, strong, but sad. It’s a very powerful scene, one that you’d never in a million years expect to see in a movie like this.
I’ve seen this movie a few times now and it gets better each time, truly deserving its cult status.
That about wraps it up. I know you’ve gotten a lot of “Woe is us, the Alamo’s closing!” recently and I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but the Drafthouse is very special for us here in Austin. There is hope, there is a new theater downtown, but it will never be the same. It might be just as good or even better in the long term, but it won’t be the same.
I’ve been going to the Drafthouse since I was 16 years old and have even been privileged enough to help with the programming, handing over my personal film collection for its use and arranging screenings. Not to the extent Harry has, of course, but I’ve gotten to present screenings of some of my favorite cult films, including SLEEPAWAY CAMP with the cast and director there, CRITTERS with just me there and MONSTER SQUAD with the cast and director.
I’m sure we’ll be seeing a new round of QT Fests once the Ritz is opened. It won’t be the same, but it will be good. It’ll help break in the Ritz, ease the transition.
I owe a big debt of thanks to the Tarantino fest as well. It was at the very first QT Fest at the Dobie theater here on the UT Campus where I first started hanging out with Harry. I was all of 15 years old and for some reason he took a shine to me at this fest. In the years afterwards I took a large role in the development in this site and as a result have had an amazing time and a unique opportunity to see some of the best filmmakers in the world work.
So, thanks to Quentin. Thanks to Tim and Karrie at the Alamo… I have about 6 more weeks to enjoy the Downtown before that last night, which I’m sure will be filled with much sadness and nostalgia.
Okay, I’ve blabbered on for way too long now. This is getting ridiculous. I’m just going to log off, with the promise of a ton of stuff coming soon. I have the results to all my contests picked and at the ready and am about 80% of the way through my final BROTHERS BLOOM set report. Lots of stuff on the horizon squirts, so stay tuned.