Thursday, September 29, 2011

B-Movie Weekend

My review of the B-Movie Celebration in 2010 was a rather whitewashed piece. I had fun while I was there, yes, but often in spite of the event itself. With expectations lowered appropriately, I kind of dreaded going back down to Franklin, Indiana in 2011 for another round of abuse.

The festival isn't all that bad. It's just that there's a lot of untapped potential there that I wanted to see come to fruition. If Cashiers du Cinemart writer Rich Osmond hadn't have been there, I would have skipped this year's event especially after so many of the announced guests and films ended up off the docket.

One of the biggest problems I have with the fest is the way that titles are trotted out and never happen. On the B-Movie Celebration Facebook group, there were three groups of films announced:

  • Out of the 89 35mm films from March 30, zero are on the final list.
  • Out of the 50 films from July 19, only 23 made the final cut (with two additional films not on any of the aforementioned lists).
  • Out of the 25 scheduled films, only eight were shown in 35mm.

Seeing movies on film is a big deal to me. As it was, the projection in the main theater--the ArtCraft--wasn't too bad, even the digital stuff.

Over Friday and Saturday we saw seven films. The first night we caught the new Jim Wynorski film, Camel Spiders, shot partially in Franklin, IN. The main creatures don't look like camels nor do they seem like they're spiders (it's called out at least twice in the film that they only have six legs). That aside, the movie would feel right at home on the SyFy channel with the cheesy special effects. It was good to see C. Thomas Howell in the film as the local sheriff, though I wish he'd had a little more to work with.

The second feature on Friday, Fred Olen Ray's Dino Wolf, proved to be most enjoyable. Maxwell Caulfield as the sheriff in this one was a real treat and really helped set the movie apart.

We started the next day with Varan: The Unbelievable, a Japanese film (Daikaijû Baran) that had been re-cut and padded out with American footage. The film really defies the viewer to pay attention to it. And, being shown at 10AM, several folks in the audience nodded off (including yours truly).

At noon we headed over to the (not so) Secret Theater. I'm not sure what purpose the building serves usually but two of its rooms had been turned into screening areas. We only went into the first one where it looked like paper had been tacked up onto the wall for a screen. The movie we caught, Tony Randel's Ticks, was terrific despite being marred by technical difficulties. It was shown in the wrong aspect ratio (making a lot of the female actresses' behinds look really big) and with the center sound channel completely missing. This rendered the music and sound effects perfectly audible with the dialogue completely muffled.

Despite this, I still enjoyed the film but we swore off going back to the Secret Theater for the rest of our time.

We headed back to the ArtCraft for the 1966 Batman movie. I'd never seen it before I it was quite a treat. I don't remember laughing so much at a movie in a long time.

I also did a lot of laughing at Roy Ward Baker's Legend of Seven Golden Vampires which was unintentionally hilarious, especially as some of the same sequences of film were used repeatedly; the movie seeming to start three times before finally moving forward.

Up next at the ArtCraft were the Golden Cob Awards. Knowing that I hadn't won anything, Rich and I adjourned to dinner for a while.

We came back for the festival's main attraction, a screening of Killer Klowns from Outer Space on 35mm with the Chiodo brothers as guests and a post-screening Q&A done by Joe Bob Briggs. I'd never seen KKFOS before so this was the ideal way to do it.

With the Secret Theater out and the fare at the ArtCraft not appealing we headed back to the hotel to talk about truck driving music.

When all was said and done, B-Movie Celebration was fine. Could have been better but it wasn't too bad. I'll probably be skipping out on BMC from now on, looking for an event that caters more to cinephiles.

They have tournaments for that?


Cynthia Curnan said...

Albert Pyun and I had planned to attend the B-Movie Celebration and we really looked forward to it. Our movie "Tales of an Ancient Empire" was banned from the main venue because of brief bare breasts. We were shocked this could happen at a B-Movie Festival.

What are B-Movies if not in poor taste?

Still, we're sad we didn't go.

Cynthia Curnan

Mike White said...

Not having you and Albert there was a major minus for me in terms of going to the festival. I really wanted to see Tales and Captain America on the big screen.

The whole idea of a breast-free B-Movie Celebration definitely chafes me. It seems that if there was a second venue better than the "cinematic crack house" of the Secret Theater where breasts could be bared would be smart... or just forgoing the primary theater and its breast-free policy.

Plus, there were some bare boobs in films shown at the ArtCraft. The Seven Golden Vampires was lousy with them.

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