Ain't It Cool News (
Movie News


Hey there folks. Man... I don’t even know where the hell to begin concerning coverage of BUTT-NUMB-A-THON.

I guess the first thing to answer is, “Was it a success?”

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 of Filmland.

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 impossible.

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 long.

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 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 of fun.

We had the Caffienated Peppermints, the Preparation H, The T-Shirts, The Posters, The Electrified Fly Swatters... everything but a really good 16mm scope lens.

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 SPACE.

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 obscure ways.

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 BEAUTY.

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 the year.

Me? I’ve just about given up ranking films this year. Apples and Oranges and Onions and Soufflés my friends. I’ll masturbate some sort of list after the New Year, but my heart will not be in it.

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....


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 Remus.

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 night.

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 on!

(Well Folks... I’m going to finish the second half of BUTT-NUMB-A-THON coverage Tomorrow! Till then.... adieu...)

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus