Published at: Dec. 16, 1999, 4:13 a.m. CST by staff
Hey there folks. Man... I don’t even know where the
hell to begin concerning coverage of
I guess the first thing to answer is, “Was it a
Oh yeah! The purpose of the event was to raise
money for the SATURDAY MORNING FILM
CLUB for kids, and at early estimates, it looks like
the tally will top $8,000. Which far surpasses
expectations! And will mean the ability to screen,
pretty much any film we want to get our hands on,
AND... bring in some special guests to talk to the
kids! So YEAH!
As for the event itself?
So much went on, so many conversations, special
moments and when all was said and done... We had
done quite a bit of good... I think.
The whole adventure began about 2 months ago when
Tim League (owner of The Alamo
Drafthouse) and I sat down and said... “Ok...
Let’s do this thing.”
You see, we’d been hypothetically talking about the
concept of a 24 hour film festival, but did not have a
time frame, sponsor concepts, charity picked out...
Basically, we had never committed to it.
I’ve been wanting to start a Children’s Film Series
like the one that I grew up with here in Austin...
Called THE SATURDAY MORNING FILM CLUB.
It was thrown by a fella named Bob Magnusson and
the guy at the door was named Eric Lord. It was held
at the old Texas Union Theater, and they’d show
films like THE JUNGLE BOOK with Sabu, KING
KONG (1933), THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN
HOOD, 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, etc... Kids
would make paper airplanes and throw them. There
were art contests based on the films we saw. Story
contests. People told us how things were done, and
read behind the scenes stuff out of Famous Monsters
I wanted to do that again. It was one of the primary
starting points in my development to make me the
waste of skin I am today. So... Tim and I decided to
make the entire event be about raising funds for the
Children’s Film Series... which beginning at some
point next year... we’ll begin in earnest.
We needed advertising sponsors, so we hooked up
with the Austin Chronicle (the local Austin Weekly
Paper) and GSD&M (an advertising company of
immense talent). We also partnered with the local
radio station 101X and the Austin Film Society.
Then, I decided I wanted to bring in PENGUINS
CAFFIENATED PEPPERMINTS to keep
everyone alive and kicking. Tim worked on getting
PREPARATION H on board.
Then it became about getting the films. We decided
early on that we didn’t want anyone, besides Tim and
I, to know what was being shown. Noone should
know the future... even us. There were to be at least
two films in the evening that even I would not know
were showing. Good! Very Good.
I began contacting various studios to see if it was
possible to get some advance films. YEAH...
RIIIIIGHT... Surprisingly, DreamWorks almost gave
us GLADIATOR, and was all set to do so, but Ridley
Scott really wanted to come and present it himself...
watch it with the audience... but because we were in
such a rush, and his scheduling was full (he was
shooting 3 commercials this past weekend somewhere
far off...). So we missed that.
Then Roger Avary was set to come in and bring in
what I believed was to be a Directors Cut of
KILLING ZOE... but at the last minute... literally
the day before BUTT-NUMB-A-THON... some
important matters concerning his next film (a project
about the life of Dali) made his involvement
When Moriarty and I saw PITCH BLACK in L.A. a
month or so ago, we decided I had to have the film
for the BUTT-NUMB-A-THON. It was the sort of
gangbusters kickass visceral sci-fi that would electrify
an audience at 3am. So Moriarty contacted USA and
began work on them. USA FILMS was so
enthusiastic that they also wanted to give us the
premiere of the restored print of REAR WINDOW,
but that fell through. However, as luck would have it,
at THE GREEN MILE premiere party I ran into Vin
Diesel. Moriarty and I started chatting with him, then
suddenly Vin and I were talking for over an hour or
so about Dungeons & Dragons... How much we both
love to play. Lord of the Rings, he was busy shooting
KNOCKAROUND GUYS and couldn’t make any of
the auditions... though he knew whole sequences of
the books by memory.
And as I stood there looking at Vin, I realized that
this was a real geek. To give you an idea about him,
his dream is to pull down a big paycheck so he can
rent an old dilapidated Scottish castle for a weekend,
fly in a bunch of D&D players and play all weekend
That is a geek after my own heart. Soooo, I told him
about Butt-Numb-A-Thon and invited his ass down.
Moriarty and I left and we thought that was that.
Suddenly I hear that Vin ran down to USA FILMS
and began signing stuff to give away at
Butt-Numb-A-Thon... and that he really really wanted
to come... What time was the film showing? Etc etc
Well... hell... that’d rock if it happened.
Then there was Paul Thomas Anderson. You see, we
had a couple of really really awful reviews of
MAGNOLIA pop up on the site, and I got this letter
from PTA saying ‘OUCH!’.... ‘they would not hurt
so bad if I did not know I made a really good movie
here!’ So... I wrote Paul back and said basically,
“Well... if you made a really good movie, I’d love for
you to bring it down for Butt-Numb-A-Thon and
show it for everyone to see.”
He accepted. I was keeping everything on the QT.
Not even close friends were really kept up to date on
what was showing. Just Tim and I.
Robogeek was arranging for the Massage Therapist to
be in the Lobby. T-Shirts were being printed.
GSD&M were printing excellent posters. Overall... I
was getting very antsy and excited about the event.
Moriarty and an L.A. contingent of 14 were flying in.
Folks were coming in from New York, Florida,
Australia, Georgia, Washington, Chicago,
Minneapolis and so on. Over half the tickets sold to
out of state folks. Frankly, I was shocked.
Many of the other films were arranged for from
Private Collectors and we were set for one helluva lot
We had the Caffienated Peppermints, the Preparation
H, The T-Shirts, The Posters, The Electrified Fly
Swatters... everything but a really good 16mm scope
So I woke up at 9am. Began my whole Rambo-esque
stage of preparation. Nice, loose fitting clothes...
Comfy shoes... Loading up the last of the loot to give
out at the event, and away we went.
Picked up my sister and her fiancee. Then high tailed
it to the Alamo. Folks were already arriving. A
group that drove in from Atlanta had been there since
10am, having drove straight in from Atlanta (and
planned on getting back in time for work at 8am
Monday, hope you guys made it!)
There were still many in my group that did not yet
have their tickets. So I stood outside the theater...
breathing the fresh air... greeting the
Butt-Numb-A-Thoners as they arrived. Some came
baring gifts, others brought smiles and pillows and
blankets. Folks, kept asking... what are we going to
see.... And I would reply with... I don’t really know.
This was true. I hadn’t spoken with Tim about how
the print testing had gone, I assumed it had worked
out good. Tim and I had scheduled 12 films and 2
short subjects. This was a tight ship. Brief breaks for
bathroom and leg stretches. But overall... this was a
wall to waller.
I decided to start the whole shabang off with the only
film to start it all off with. PLAN 9 FROM OUTER
Since it seemed everyone in the local press was
expecting this to be a BAD MOVIE FEST, I wanted
to start right off meeting expectations. The film was
one that I hadn’t seen since before ED WOOD, Tim
Burton’s fantastic film, and I was curious how my
observations of the movie would be affected.
If you haven’t seen it since ED WOOD, I highly
recommend it. All of a sudden, there’s a strange
depth to all the characters and scenes... that prior to
seeing the ED WOOD, perhaps you didn’t know were
there. It’s a bit like watching BRIDE OF
FRANKENSTEIN after watching GODS AND
MONSTERS... except that BRIDE OF
FRANKENSTEIN is a great movie in every way, and
PLAN 9 is merely a great movie in some rather
The audience had alot of fun with this one.
Everytime Tor Johnson appeared on screen people
would scream out... “TOOOOOR!!!!” The entire
audience was filled with MST3K-ers and it showed.
Behind me, I could hear Moriarty making snide
remarks about... well just about everything in the
film. I think the part that really struck him was the
sheer brilliance of the alien’s plan to take over the
world. All you need do is animate the dead corpses
of 1 dead lady, 1 dead old man and 1 dead
ex-Swedish wrestler turned detective... and the world
will bow to your control. With all the living dead
studio heads in Hollywood, Moriarty as a veritable
army at his disposal.
To follow up PLAN 9, I decided to throw a curve ball
at the audience and play Paul Thomas Anderson’s
MAGNOLIA. I’m going to be writing a full review
of the film in the next couple of days, but to start off.
PTA is hilarious... He sent a video introduction to the
film of some guy claiming to be PTA introducing the
film to Butt-Numb-A-Thon. The audience almost
started crying in laughter, especially the professor
who grasped his heart in pain.
The film? Well, first off... it’s the perfect film to
follow PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, because
while P9 is all about the future, MAGNOLIA is all
about the past.
While Plan 9 is devoid of cinematic ability,
MAGNOLIA is over-flowing with cinematic verve.
PTA weaves 8 or 9 major characters in and out... all
over the place with such ease and momentum by the
end of the film, I felt as though I knew each character
better than any other character I’ve seen in film this
year, aside from Kevin Spacey in AMERICAN
The audience, fresh off of cat-calling PLAN 9 was
reverent and silent. Reacting only where the film
elicited a reaction. The film clicked their brains on,
forced them to analyze and feel.
After the screening, the Atlanteans turned to me and
said.... “Wow... I hope the rest of these films aren’t
that emotional... I’ll be a wreck!”
My sister was riveted. Tom Joad, was left staring at
the screen dumbstruck. It is now his favorite film of
I was disappointed in BOOGIE NIGHTS when I saw
it, only because I felt missing pieces in some of the
characters’ stories. Here... the stories are complete
and erupting with emotion.
Having read the script, I knew where this film would
leave the audience... and because of the theme of
Frogs in the film, I decided to use that as my thread to
tie it into the next film which....
SONG OF THE SOUTH
This is the film that DISNEY has buried through this
period of cultural elimination. OF erasing history and
behavior. Rewriting the histories of studios and
filmmakers. Which as of yesterday culminated with
the renaming of the D.W. GRIFFITH award from the
Director’s Guild due to Griffith’s BIRTH OF THE
NATION.... one of the most historically important
works of American Cinema ever... which is now
being judged with a modern eye. The same is true of
SONG OF THE SOUTH...
In the theater you could feel cheeks being dented by
smiles. The entire room’s mean age dropped to 9
years old. And Uncle Remus had each of us listening
to his stories and songs and enraptured.
The funny thing about the film is this... if there is
racism going on in the film, it is anti-White folks,
cause every white character in the film is either
stupid, a bitch, reactionary or impotent. While every
Black character is a HUMAN BEING without all the
posing and attitude.
If there is a perfect cinematic human... it is Uncle
After this film, I had around 30 people come up to me
to thank me for showing them this movie, and
throughout the night, others continued with that same
adoration for the film. It is a scandal that this film is
not on every video shelf, in every home film
collection. Rumor has it that Disney is going to
finally open access to the film with an introduction by
James Earl Jones... fine... just get the film out!
Then I decided to show the film that it seems most
folks seem to think SONG OF THE SOUTH is, and
that’s FRITZ THE CAT. A film that shouldn’t be in
every family household.
Some may feel that FRITZ THE CAT is dated...
well.. yeah... it is... I mean, Fritz is only Tyler Durden
and Ed Norton wrapped up into one character. At
one point the conscience of White early to late twenty
year old American males, suddenly flipped on it’s ear
to be it’s demonized id monster.
He wants to bring down the establishment, set people
free... All the same arguments made in FIGHT
CLUB... Strange how most noone noticed.
Some in the audience stared in horror at the screen
having never seen cartoons do the things the cartoons
were doing. And some where simply aghast that the
film was following SONG OF THE SOUTH.
This film was meant to mess with the flow of the
evening... sort of throw everyone a bit off balance. I
think it did that a bit. This is also the first film that
Tom Joad was activated into SHOCKER mode. Back
in row 9 we had our first sleeper. Joad snuck up on
them with the Electrified Fly Swatter that can kill a
fly or a mosquito with it’s deadly electric ray... and
stun the shit out of a wasp. He quietly made his way
up to the slumberous one... pressed the button to
activate the charge... a nearly imperceptible electronic
hum hissed to life followed by a loud “ZAP” sound as
the person jerked to an awakened state staring at Fritz
biting a black crow’s tit.
Others that witnessed the shock... steeled themselves
against the Sandman’s influence... knowing now that
we were not joking about SHOCKING SLEEPERS!
The Shock mechanism would also be used if pagers,
celphones or other electric noise making devices were
used. Also, if you were just randomly talking during
the film and annoying your neighbor... ZAP! As a
result... these transgressions DID NOT OCCUR.
Pavlov was onto something I tell ya!
Next up came Richard Linklater’s pick for the night.
I was not in on this film. I had no idea what had been
chosen... only that it involved death and humor,
which I needed as to know where to program it in the
A giant Linklater head appeared on the screen,
apparently recorded either outside his home or office
or randomly somewhere in the Austin vicinity. He
apologizes profusely for having to take a stupid
meeting up in New York instead of being at
BUTT-NUMB-A-THON, but went onto announce
that the film he was screening here would be....
FADE TO BLACK!
Now, this is kinda funny in a way. Both Tim and
Rick kinda felt like this might be a movie that I was
unfamiliar with. Au Contraire mon capitan! I’ve
seen FADE TO BLACK like 20 times on tv, though
never on film. The movie is one of those required
viewings for extreme film geeks.
It contains a bit of a warning for how far one may go
in their geekdom. This geek... has gone too far.
My sister was supposed to leave before this movie, as
she had work at 6am Sunday (damn slave drivers!),
but she stayed for the opening titles... and was stuck
for the rest of the film. While panning around his
room, it was as if panning around my room. The
room of a sick and twisted cinema fan.
I’m not real sure what all the room thought of this
film, as we moved almost instantly into opening
presents, a weird lottery thing and finally the next
film. And in that time, I was not able to talk with my
fellow Butt-Numb-A-Thoners.... so... alas, we moved
(Well Folks... I’m going to finish the second half of
BUTT-NUMB-A-THON coverage Tomorrow! Till