|Best of QT Fest (04.24.06 - 04.30.06, 20 movies)
|Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die
|So my notes on Best of QT Fest begin. Let me preface this whole thing by saying that both Blake at cinemastrikesback.com and Micah at dumbdistraction.com are doing much more complete reports than I am... in fact I am sort of relying on them to record all the trailers, plots, tarantino intros, etc. that I can go back and read later... In here I am just going to put what I thought was worth noting.
So I got downtown right at 5pm and found a class parking spot about as close to the Alamo as you can get without it being valet or a pay lot. I was psyched because I could make several trips to drop off t-shirts (yay for AFS making the shirts in XXL this year), posters (hell freakin yeah the Friday the 13th design is awesome. Actually, the bloody face design is such a huge poster that it really looks damn good as well and the Vanishing Point design, seeing it with the colors so vivid and loud, looked great as well. All three of them look a lot better in person than they did online. AFS also had their "official" best of QT fest logo on posters as well, but since I got it in t-shirt form (glow-in-the-dark t-shirt form no less), I still felt very comfortable in getting the Friday the 13th one), and sunglasses. Plus is gave me an opportunity to go outside even though I'm not cool enough to have to smoke with the RZA or whatever. Trips to the car are cool enough for me.
Oh, I also got a free QTquattro shirt with my BoQTF shirt, and for as cool as the Friday the 13th design is, I still wish they'd somehow get that guy a book of stills from the movies that will be shown at the fest so all of the cool characters and drawings in the poster can also act as reminders for all the films that show... but oh well. maybe if I ever get QT-level famous and put on a festival and posters are made for it I can do that. Until then, I will be happy with this poster.
So when I walked into the theater, the big thing was that about half the seats had reserved signs on them. Easily the largest reserved section I've ever seen at an Alamo. It wasn't all Quentin though... Like two rows for Ustudio (the Tipping Point of this year... let's hope they don't show up just long enough to applaud themselves like they did all through the last fest), a row for AFS board members, then several rows for who knows... it was reserved-crazy. No problems though... I was there, I had a badge, I was fine.
Blake had a whole table set up with stills and the posters on the walls were straight-up awesome; movies we'd be seeing tonight or later on in the week. Left and right I'm bumping into people I met at QT6, people I've befriended since QT6, and a few people I know who didn't go to QT6. I hope this week changes their lives like QT6 changed mine... "life" meaning at least as far as movies go (which, for those that know me, is pretty much all of it). I was just feeling giddy in my seat, man. good friends in a great place getting ready to see great movies. It was a real all-is-right-with-the-world moment.
There were so many reserved seats though that I didn't even bother to keep looking back at the theater looking for celebrities. Apparently Rodriguez was there (not with Rose McGowan) and RZA was there (I'd guess more for the second show than the first), but I wasn't nearly as curious as I was last September. I did hear Tarantino's laugh though and knew that he was in the house. Then Rebecca Campbell takes the stage and introduces Quentin.
QT... looking just as... well I don't want to say Haggard or Tired because as soon as he starts talking you see he's got plenty of energy. It's clear though that he's working on a movie. I'll put it that way. This is clearly not the only thing going on for him this week... and the first words out of his mouth are an affirmation that this is most definitely NOT QT7. QT7 will be new films, well not "new" films but films that haven't played here before. This is a Best-of festival, which he's been wanting to do for a while now but always felt like he'd be wasting his visit if he did that... so it made good sense since he's in town shooting this movie anyway to do this now. So immediately in my head I'm thinking "so when is QT7 and how can I make sure I get a badge?"
This first intro feels almost long but not in a bad way at all. Most of his intros toward the end of QT6 felt kind of short, like he felt we didn't want to hear him talk so he should just shut up and play the movie already... but I think it's really quite the opposite. That dude can school me for like 45 minutes before a movie if he wants to as far as I'm concerned. He can bring Elvis Mitchell up on stage and have some Inside the Actor's Studio thing for an hour and I'd be fine with it... as long as we did get to eventually watch the movie as well. So this first intro felt right on... He went off on tangents, threw in tidbits about Vidal Sassoon's kids, and even said that he really only knows Terry Thomas not so much from the Ealing comedies but from It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and... that's it. Immediately I said to Micah: Diabolik! and Lars right afterword yelled out "Danger: Diabolik" and Tarantino looked at Lars and said "YES!" and Micah elbowed me with a "awww yeah" look and like I said before, all was right with the world. The Diabolik trailer actually played before the movie. Don't believe me? Just ask Eva...
So Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die... an amazing title even with that Ashley Judd John Patterson mediocrity out in the world... an amazing title for any kind of movie other than a spy movie. As I watched this I kept stretching my mind to try and think of ways that this great title could connect to this movie at all. It just makes no sense, which actually, in its own way, makes perfect sense because the whole movie makes no sense at all so why should the title be the only thing making sense? that just wouldn't make sense. And before I go any farther in making it seem like I didn't like this movie, I should elaborate on my tastes when it comes to spy movies.
For whatever reason, I find that I really only truly like spy movies when they are both serious and non-actiony. I sort of get a kick out of the Flynt movies and Austin Powers is funny and all, but I wouldn't say I actually LIKE like those movies. 3 Days of the Condor I truly like. Spy Game, actually, for whatever reason, I like. Harry Palmer movies I like, James Bond movies (or at least recent Bond movies) I don't like.
So this movie, while it was filled with some funny gags and had a few moments, for the most part is just outside of my particular tastes when it comes to spy movies. It's just one of those un-geeky things about me I guess much like QT not liking The Goonies or whatever. The funny thing is I actually like spy movies more than Kung-fu movies but more on that in a bit.
So this movie is very 60s-funny. The plot is nonsensical and the heavy's dastardly plan is flat-out ludicrous, even after QT mentioning that an actual rocket scientist (Andy AKA Copernicus) says it's feasible. I just don't by it. If you've got a secret evil army developing shady technology and vying for world domination, why does it have to be through a means as absurd as a satellite that shoots down radiation that makes all men impotent. I mean, WHAT? They actually referred to it at one point as the "sterility apparatus." Come on, that's just dumb. The whole movie's dumb... and yeah yeah that's the charm of it, that wasn't missed by my eyes I did have a good time with it and I laughed at the funny parts like everyone else... but come on, a sterility apparatus?
So... now that I've explained why I didn't like it, how could I still have a good time with it? Well, Terry Thomas and the more flagrant Bond rips mostly. Thomas plays a chauffer/ass-kicker that helms a Bond-on-LSD tricked-out Rolls Royce. This car has a bullet-proof partition between the passenger- and drivers-side back seats (presumably for the fighting brother and sister during those long road trips... oh and in case someone feels like car-jacking you by climbing in the wrong side), a pyschadelic homing device, your standard turbocharged engine and things like that, automated tea service and wet bar, extending portable wardrobe, and an uncanny ability to transform itself into a billboard. Thomas plays the master of this automobilic awesomefest who can also beat entire gangs of hoods up, spray machine gun fire at evil armies, and he also sports a hat filled with deadly... shaving cream? He also has these pills that, when dropped into the radiator of a car, will actually make the car come apart. As in disassembled. as in disintegrated... not just like smoke coming from under the hood but a complete and total breakdown of the structure of an automobile. I guess the morale of this movie is Don't mess with Terry Thomas.
The spy gags in this movie are so funny... a lipstick cannister that blows poison bubbles, shoots that shoot tiny darts, a ring with hot poison needle action... it was a little child empowerment and a few hundred digital shots shy of being a Spy Kids movie. I guess you need all those gadgets when the main bad guy threatens you with death via piranha.
Oh, the one really cool thing about this movie - as in authentically cool and not in any sort of camp or comedic way - is that it's set in Rio and early on in the movie there's an action scene that takes place on the statue of Christ. Much like North By Northwest or Saboteur, except without all the process shots, there's some harrowing footage of these actors on the very top of this thing, shooting at each other and getting rescued by helicoptors. The scenery is pretty great. And by Scenery I also mean the line-up of scantily-clad Italian beauties that parade across the screen in the first few reels. So many bikinis to ogle, so little time. Unfortunately, after the beach scenes are over the main actress always has on some ludicrously outlandish 60s "style" dress. One such creation had her looking like a cross between a joke cigar that's just been blown up, one of those collars they put on dogs to keep them from chewing out stitches or licking their balls, and one of those wire brushes that jazz drummers use when they want to slow things down a bit. I mean really, should those kind of comparisons really be used with a piece of clothing? Diabolik's fashion was out there but also awesome. In this it's just inane.
So let's see. There are two more things worth mentioning here for me, both of which I got a real kick out of. The first is that the main spy guy has a real obsession with bananas. He has to take one and eat it every time he sees one (and that's like... 6 or 8 times throughout the movie) and I have to believe that particular personality quirk is only in there to lead up to an honest-to-goodness, i-shit-you-not banana peel gag toward the end of the movie where the main henchman's chasing the girl and slips on the banana peel into some random electronics and fries to death. You know the only other movie I've ever seen a banana peel gag in is Sherlock Jr. and that was made like 50 years before this one. just sayin...
The other classic moment that I really want to remember for years to come about this movie is that the final countdown to the rocket lift-off is actually manually counted down by the main bad guy. Over the loudspeaker you hear "final countdown. Rocket will lift of in 60 seconds starting... NOW!" then it's his voicing counting down from 60 as fast as he can. We cut to the evil console and see him sitting there talking into the mic with his finger on the button. I.... I mean..... well.... I guess I shouldn't even try to understand that, it's just so classic as it is now. to understand it would probably ruin it.
So that was the first movie of Best of QT Fest. Personally, I'm sort of glad tonight's movies are what they are because that means we get the Spy and Kung-fu genres out of the way quickly. I honestly think I'll have a much better time with biker, crime, comedy, gangster, gearhead, revenge, horror, and sexploitation movies than these two.
Moving on... next up was:
|Snake in the Monkey's Shadow
|Snake in Monkey's Shadow AKA Snake Fist vs. The Dragon. If you know Blake and talk to him at all or read Cinema Strikes Back, you'll know how crazy he is for this movie. For me personally, he's talked it up to the point where I was actually looking forward to it. I guess another geek confession is needed here.
I was just never a big Kung-Fu guy. Maybe I just rented the stupid horror and action movies instead of the stupid kung-fu flicks or maybe I was busy watching cinemax late at night instead of wherever they played the kung-fu but really the most into martial arts that I ever got was during that whole American Ninja phase, and to tell you the truth most of that was just about the cool outfit and the throwing stars. So when I watch a kung-fu movie now... I'm dazzled by the fight choreography and the photography (if they're good), but am usually never really invested in any of the characters or plot or anything and usually get pretty bored with them in the non-fight scenes. I guess there are always exceptions and when a movie is great it's great no matter what the genre is, but it's just not my favorite. I haven't seen enough of them to know the stars or the different styles or any of that, and since knowing Blake it sounds like the best ones are only out on region 2 DVD so it'd be hard for me to play catch-up... but there you go, I am not a big fan of Kung-Fu movies.
That said, there are certain aspects that I think I love more since I'm kind of an outsider to the genre. For instance, I LOVE the formality and seeming clarity in the difference of styles. Like Tiger Claw is Tiger Claw and Snake Fist is Snake Fist and if you're gonna mix the two together, you will flat-out confuse your opponents. And not only that, but you'll feel compelled to stop the fight and tell them the name of your new style so they can tell you back whether it's very good or if it sucks. You'd think a clear winner or loser would say this on its own but apparently not. If you've just gotten your Mantis Claw ass handed to you by the drunken style, you are pretty much forced to spit some blood and dirt out of your mouth and say "his drunken style beat my mantis claw." It's almost like a more-complex version of rock-paper-sissors.
-Ahh, I see your monkey style beats my snake fist, but two snake fists is no match for you.
-shit, you're right.
I also get a kick out of watching the styles themselves, and I suppose that must be the main draw for most of the kung-fu fans out there, but mostly I like the rules of it.
So obviously the best part of this movie is the footage with a real cobra going up against a real (chained up) monkey. Yes there's fight scenes with guys who use either Snake Fist or Monkey (as well as most of the movie being about Drunken style), but the real action, the real "no animals were NOT harmed in the making of this movie" moment is watching the monkey fight the snake. There's some great slow-motion (and even freeze-frame) shots of this battle... ending with the monkey full-on getting the snake's head between his fanged teeth (i call the monkey a he because of his pretty big monkey balls). it's a pretty crazy battle that had way more tension for me than any of the choreographed actor stuff... although it also acted as cool inspiration for the main dude to learn the monkey technique while watching the fight and meld it with his drunken style to create... the hook style? I was hoping for a somewhat cooler name... maybe along the lines of Orangatang style or drunken baboon style but... oh well. Apparently it works even if it has a weak name like Hook style.
This leads me to the other thing I really love about kung-fu movies. Most of them that I've seen have a ridiculously long fight scene to end the movie but when that death blow comes, the movie is OVER. No coda, no denoument, no shrink spouting psycho-babble to a room full of cops... no nothing. There's the deathblow and that's it. FIN - END - get the hell out of the theater. After such a long build-up, it's a really celebratory moment of ecstasy... and it always ends like... too early... but not really because if it went on even one frame longer then it wouldn't be as cool.
So that's it for this movie. It's relatively simple. Even QT's intro was pretty short... he was like "I don't think there's anything else you need to know about it." Sort of like Snakes on a Plane in that respect. The movie's called Snake in Monkey's Shadow, there you go. This was definitely not a bad kung-fu movie... I just couldn't help myself to not be as into it as Blake. That's taste for ya...
So several lobby conversations later I'm home writing this up. Blake told me that not only did QT leave early but he was also spotted flat-out head-back mouth-open asleep during the movie. Hey, the guy's in full pre-production... I'm not suprised. Still though, I walked out to the lobby thinking if i refused to leave they might relent and play a random midnight movie... it felt like a Tarzoon-equivalent would've capped the night perfectly, but oh well. It's still freakin almost 4am right now so I guess it's late enough... plus there's tomorrow... and the next day... and on and on till Sunday. I freakin love QT fest, man... How am I gonna sleep now?
|The Savage Seven
|So the whole thing with today is that the air guitar stuff was going on at the downtown alamo tonight so QT fest had to be moved somewhere else. Yes, Tarantino was redirected because of air guitar. You might think that's ridiculous but once you go to one you will completely see the logic there. So instead of calling it off, they decided to make it an outdoor event. This way, they didn't have to worry about selling the venue out so anyone that wanted to come and experience the QTfest vibe could. The only problem is that a huge thunderstorm was due and the whole day was overcast and threatening rain. At 3:45, they took weather.com's 60% chance of rain to mean that we're dodging the storm and the show was on way the hell out in this place called The Glenn. The rain contingency was to play the movies at South Lamar, which would've been weird because they would have had to set up two theaters, but to be honest that didn't sound like such a bad idea... at least it would be in a theater... so anyway, since it's so far out of town lots of people who flew into town needed rides. I left my place at 6 and the sky to the north was black. Things did not look too good. I brought an umbrella along with my lawn chair.
So I picked up this guy Matt and we went out there and they wouldn't allow chairs in the place and I didn't bring a blanket or anything so I was pretty much screwed. The venue's actually pretty weird. It's similar to the Stubb's outdoor area except it's a sort-of grassy lawn instead of all dirt... and there are booths for drinks and stuff but it's in the middle of this shopping center, like we parked in the Best Buy lot which was right across the street... but inside the gate it's a lawn sloping down to a stage and for tonight the Alamo's rolling roadshow inflatable movie screen.
Pretty much as soon as we got there it began to sprinkle a bit and the wind picked up and they had to take down the screen. I was sure they were gonna cancel it right then and there but there was no official announcement or anything and more and more people started showing up. We staked out a series of rocks to sit on at the back of the field... this really wasn't ideal because the rocks were uncomfortable and we couldn't help but hear everyone walking and talking behind us... It also got downright chilly and me in my shorts was pretty much as unprepared as I could be. No blanket, no pants, no socks... it kinda sucked.
it still wasn't raining though so Louis Black got up and talked for a bit about how great we all are then introduced Quentin and he gave a rousing introduction to the first movie. Tonight's double feature is a recreation of the very first night of QT1... without the midnight feature. So it's like two thirds of the first ever night of QTfest... but also outside almost as if we were in a drive-in... and he showed this film on 16mm way back then and now has a pretty good 35mm print of it, so we've upgraded in that sense too.
And to also sort of top it off, the stunt coordinator for this movie was in attendance. He didn't get up or anything but I saw him come in. This is a pretty cool thing because in this movie, much like a lot (if not most or all) biker movies, at some point it becomes very clear that the stuntment take complete control of the movie. I don't think I've seen a biker movie with a massive end brawl that hasn't degenerated into one stunt after another, making almost no sense in relation to the movie but complete sense when you picture these guys trying to prove who's the craziest guy out there over and over. Guys jumping off buildings, falling off bikes, setting on fire... everything in the stuntman's handbook invariably gets thrown into every good biker movie. If it doesn't, then it's not a good biker movie.
So The Savage Seven is no exception to this rule. By the end it's total chaos... which I can dig. What's also cool about this movie is that Max Julien plays an Indian. During his intro, QT had a funny bit where he offhandedly remarked that every black man tries to say he's part Cherokee anyway... then he starts talking to someone in the audience (I have to believe it's Elvis Mitchell), saying "...yeah they do... and if they don't they're not cool." He also explained that even though there are some cool people in this film (Larry Bishop, Max Julien, Penny Marshall for like a second, Bud Cardos, Chuck Bail, and Duane Eddy!?), by far the best thing about it is Adam Roarke. According to QT, if William Smith is the king of biker movies, Adam Roarke is the crown prince. What's great about him in this movie is that he never quite lets you forget that he's not a good guy. Just when you're getting just enough empathy toward him he does some horrible thing that reminds you that these bikers are bums... not nice people.
Quentin also mentioned that this is sort of almost close to a retooling of The Magnificent Seven as a biker movie, but I spent the most part of the movie trying to figure out where that connection was and could never really find it. The plot seemed to be a biker gang rolls in on or close to an Indian reservation and... sort of hates them but then befriends them but then hates them again but for the wrong reason. There's also a huge dude who is sort of the real bad guy, but most of it is bikers vs. faux-indians. All the biker-movie staples are present (weed, rowdy carousing, rape, the psychopath biker who goes too far, etc.). One dude gorws his own herb in a little box he keeps on his bike. When asked about it, he answers "if people potted plants, then it'd be ok if i planted pot. I'm a horticulturist." Earlier, in the midst of a boozed-up party scene, one dude pukes on another dude's woman. "Hey!," he says, "You just barfed on my broad!" The first guy says sorry and the second responds "it's ok, you're my brother. If you want to barf on my broad then go right ahead." This kind of gentle - feminine almost - male bonding seems to happen a lot in biker movies... I'm sure there's an essay on homosexual undertones in the genre floating around somewhere, and if there's not I'm sure there soon will be.
Let's see, what else... the main bad guy's henchman yells out "care-atay!" as he starts using his psuedo judo on the bikers in one scene. After Snake in Monkey's Shadow last night, this scene is pretty laughable. In another scene, the horticulturist biker tries to woo a girl by grabbing her by the arm and saying "let's go in the back room and make love." When she rejects him he says "what's the matter, I said I liked your oatmeal."
These are the moments that make the movie memorable for me, although I have to say that the increasing briskness in the wind and everything else made it tough for me to really get into the movie. It seemed like an awfully long 94 minutes and by the end my ass was hurting from sitting on a rock the whole time. I ate a $3 taco in hopes that just the process of digestion would generate a little body heat and I hopped around for the short break in between movies while more than half the crowd left... I guess not a lot of people were interested in staying for the next movie which was...
|Hollywood Man was described by Quentin as being a Biker movie meets 8 1/2. It's about a movie stuntman trying to make a movie about a biker who becomes the object of harassment by a real biker gang. He's got his own problems with having to deal with shady Florida-scale mobsters to get financing, so when these bikers show up he kicks their ass and throws them off the set. Little does he realize that the leader of this biker gang is a full-on rapist psycho killer... even with a combover this guy is crazy. So the movie plays half straight and half as a movie about movies (complete with the self-aware scene where William Smith, the main dude, talks to a rural honky cop about how their conversation is like a scene right out of some cheap exploitation movie where the main dude talks to some honky cop). It's pretty interesting... I think I was more engaged by this than the first movie of the night... People were dropping like flies around us but Thomas in the back would clap at these random moments that he felt needed it, which made me laugh.
The big thing about this screening was that this huge lightning storm flared up in the sky behind the screen pretty much right after the movie started. By the midpoint the entire sky was flashing bright with strobes and flashes of lightning. At first I was sure that it would start raining any second and ruin the second movie, but pretty soon it became apparent that no thunder was accompanying the lightning so we just got an awesome silent fireworks show as a backdrop to the movie. There were even several scenes in the movie where lightning was supposed to be flashing (of course when you're on a budget a single white frame with a thunder sound effect after it is all you need), so a few moments mirrored very nicely between what was on screen and what was all around is. It kind of made the whole driving way out of town and freezing on a rock for three hours worth it for me... that's one thing you don't get in a theater.
I really only had a few notes about this movie though. One was that William Smith's biker character in the movie within the movie wore a fake mustache that made him look just enough like Jack Palance to be cool, and also there is this really horrible theme song that plays 3 or 4 times throughout the movie, complete with a few verses of lyrics. Quentin actually sang a bit of it last night then had to stop himself until he could unleash it tonight, and unleash it he did. I think he knew most of the words and belted them out for us all to hear tonight... It's the kind of song that really sticks in your head... like 4 notes over and over again. According to quentin, when we're 80 and have alzheimer's and can't remember our mother's name, we'll still be able to sing this song. Hearing it in my head right now, I fear he's right.
An interesting side note: talking to Lars after the movie ended, he said that the movie itself was rumored to have some sort of mob involvement with the financing, making the line between reality, movie, and movie-within-a-movie blur even further. I guess I should mention that the movie has a surprise ending regarding these shady florida mob investors... it was a good ending.
So that was it for tonight... day 2... a double feature outside under the stars (hidden by clouds the entire time... except for one random light in the sky that popped up for a while and didn't move, then disappeared again. ufo! ufo!)... tomorrow night is back home at the alamo, and kicks off with a movie i've been dying to see ever since i saw Rulers of the City a few nights ago. Can't wait!!!
|Fernando Di Leo
|Day three of the fest started off with dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse... Poor saps who didn't get badges... we got to eat, drink, and be merry like 200 feet away while they hung out on the stairs for hours. I was seriously stressing that we would miss out on seats because we didn't get out of there till 6:30 but our row seems to be reserved for us now... and it doesn't look like there are enough badgeholders here to want these seats anyway. What's going on here? Did AFS only sell like 60 badges? I'd really like to get a complete total just to kinow. I seem to remember the frenzy to get a good seat for QT6 being much higher. It filled up by the time things go underway of course, but still... I mean we're talking about Wipeout here!
Ever since seeing Rulers of the City (AKA Mister Scarface), this movie has jumped to the top of the list of films I'm most excited to see this week. Tim gets up and tells us that Quentin's not here so he's gonna read a complicated paragraph about the fest's sponsor: Ustudio. True enough, the paragraph has phrases in it like "global revolution" and "highly distributed talent" and even manages to use "aggregates" as a verb. I picture 75% of the QTfest audience's eyes glaze over (the remaining 25% of course belonging to ustudio employees feeling good about themselves in their reserved seats and weirdo people like me and Roland who sort of have to know this language even though some of us (like me, for example) don't really want to). Luckily, mercifully, Quentin shows up and introduces the night in what I think may be the most energetic, excited, and informative intro to date (at least for QT6 and this one). He's explaining the roots of Italian gangster movies, the differences between romanticised American films and films that come from a place where everyday people actually have to deal with the mob in some way every day, and that Hong Kong's violece ain't got nothing on Italy. WHile what he's saying makes sense, I think it's also Italy's collective taste in film that makes things so brutal and raw. You see the same exact difference between American and Italian westerns and you know... there's no Tombstone or Boot Hill outside of Naples. Still though, for whatever reason, Italian films know how to kick some ass. Wipeout is no exception.
AKA The Boss ("Wipeout is like the best title ever but The Boss... Henry Silva and Richard Conte in The Boss... The Boss might be a better title"), this movie is about a hitman and a Don battling an evil Colabrian trying to bully his way into the family. Sounds familiar to I Kiss the Hand right? Well it sort of is, except where I Kiss the Hand is a pretty deliberate dramatic movie with splashes of action and violence, Wipeout is a mouth agape actiony violent-as-fuck movie with splashes of drama. You don't see Henry Silva crash into a car and break it clean in half as it falls off a bridge and blows up in I Kiss the Hand. You don't see Henry Silva launch three or four grenades into a movie theater just to make sure the bodies are charred beyond recognition there.... nope for that you have to see Wipeout. Wipeout ALSO plays similar to No Way Out (AKA Tony Arzenta, not the Kevin Costner flick) in that Richard Conte plays the Don but the star of the movie is a hitman ("In America you can never have the hitman be the start of the movie. You might get a movie where Henry Silva plays a hitman out to get the main star but you have to go to Italy to get movies where the hitman IS the star") who gets double crossed... but this is a Fernando Di Leo movie not a Duccio Tessari movie so there are all sorts of twists on genre convention and high-octane tough-guy dialogue thrown in too. Oh what's this? a scene where it looks like someone's gonna play a bit of soccer to establish their sypmathetic character's affinity for an annoying innocent child character? Nope, kick to the nuts. Scene over. Oh great, now they've kidnapped the Don's daughter (kidnapped by student radicals no less) and plan to gang rape her while she cries and gets all hurt and blah blah blah. nope, she loves it. she's too much for them. she wears them out. She's got a specialty that's freaky. She's hungry for more.
Wipeout, like Mister Scarface, is actually pretty slow in a few places. I don't want to make it seem like this movie is absolutely perfect and if only more people could see it then it would replace Citizen Kane on all those lists... but the thing with both movies is that there are so many cool moments padding the slow scenes that the occasional threat of boredom completely leaves your mind afterward. All that remains is the tons of cool shit that you just saw, not the scene where the already-established-as-angry Calabrian acts angry.
But you know, enough of that. let's get back to the cool stuff. Silva's relationship with the aforementioned nympho daughter is flat-out awesome. He takes apathy to an entirely new level. When asked if he'd bump her off once he gets tired of her, he simply states "honey, I'm tired of you NOW!" She talking to much? "Just screw, baby; don't think." At one point Silva realizes that he's "spent a week between her legs while all hell breaks loose" and slaps her around a bit. she seems to like it. I think, because this girl's such a nympho, this may be the only QTfest films that I see with no rape scene. I told you it was different.
Gianni Garko's also in this and I have to confess my ignorance here. Harry says he plays the Police inspector who talks more with his hands than his mouth, but I thought he played the police inspector on the Don's payroll. I remember him as being young in Five for Hell but he's got a mustache in this so I can't be sure. In either case, the dubbing on the guy who talks with his hands is truly excellent. You can tell that he's talking so fast and with so many body gestures that it must have been a real task to fit english dialogue in there. Who knows if what we heard was anywhere near what he said, but what we heard was pretty great. He manages to be the jaded experienced cop, the comic relief wise-cracker, and the jittery overstressed caffeine junkie all in one character.
And then we get to the music. Absolutely fantastic score by Bacalov. There's a riff with a sliding bass and distorted guitar that fit so well into the muddy sound mix that at some points I wasn't sure if something was exploding or it was just the music coming in. There were three or four recurring "themes" (if you can call a rising and falling 4/4 drum beat a theme) that builds the movie up and pays it off repeatedly. It's a pretty fine line with these films that use the music over and over... in the case of Who Saw Her Die I loved the music at the beginning and was really tired of it by the end but with this one it just works. Instead of getting tired of it I think it's burned into my brain forever. Awesome music... wonder if there's a score out there somewhere.
Also, Quentin played trailers for The Nickel Ride and The Don is Dead beforehand. Both of these trailers are absolutely phenomenal... who knows how good the movies actually are. Why they don't cut trailers like this nowadays is beyond me and a real shame. I guarantee that if a trailer came around that exhibited this level of creativity and design that it would sell tickets.
And I guess a few intro tidbits even though they're covered on AICN/Cinemastrikesback/dumbdistraction... Quentin has a new Texas drink that he calls Period on the Beach: Big Red and Malibu Rum ("for when you want to get that 14 year old girl drunk so you can..."). He also paid extreme compliment to Austin by saying that this is the epicenter. The Earthquake of film knowledge and appreciation starts here and ripples out to everywhere else (I imagine Harry Knowles has a lot to do with that but honestly feel the scene is getting more and more potent... we're about at critical mass here, do not be surprised if another big boom of Austin talent pops up soon), and of all the filmmaker's Quentin's introduced to us here for the first time, Italian crime Maestro Fernando Di Leo is the biggest success. He's right though... when I look back at the titles of previous QTfests, I see a lot of movies that are fairly commonplace now but were absolutely forgotten 5 or 6 years ago. All I can say is that if I ever move out of this city, it'll be to wherever Quentin opens his movie theater when he retires (Tim: "It's a moral imperitave that you watch exploitation cinema").
|Brotherhood of Death
|In Quentin's decidedly less-energetic intro to the second film of the night (I think something happens to him during the first film... this is the third night where the first intro has been incredible and the second has been drained and short), he describes this film as a regional blaxploitation classic, his favorite even. It's also, surprisingly enough, the only film to directly involve the KKK in a serious manner. You'd think black power movie after black power movie would involve KKK redneck beatdowns but I guess not... maybe it's because all the funding was up north or something... who knows. This movie really take it on though. Quentin's also pretty sure it had to be shot on the DL, saying "You thought Hollywood Man had problems getting his movie made, these guys'd have burning crosses on the set!" A few times in the film the camera lingers at a billboard saying "Support your local Clan" that looks too authentic to be art department. The redneck "actors" are all surprisingly method as well... one klan rally scene in particular cuts to each redneck and his own distinctive feature (lazy eye, missing teeth, overbite, etc.). Then there's a trio of ex-NFL players doing a pretty decent job of playing buddies. They go to 'Nam and learn special tactics that they then use on the whiteys at the end. I don't know where they found those rubber masks that they put on a few whiteman captives but man oh man they'd be Sharpton-bait today.
The movie is good to the point where I didn't bother to write down specific notes. It's got funny moments sure, but I was too engrossed to worry about jotting them down for later. Of course that makes this write-up pretty sucky but oh well. I think other people have recounted most of them... i'll just check their stuff to remember specifics. The main thing is that it's got some extremely justified violence in the end that had everyone cheering. That and there's this song called High Horse that's extremely catchy and now burned into my brain forever. The Wipeout music? nah, can't remember it anymore... my head's filled with this High Horse tune.
|Hump day for the best of QT fest! This week has gone by so insanely fast... It already makes me sad that I only have three days left although each day holds at least one movie that i'm dying to see. I'm quickly realizing that this "best of" concept works really really well for me since I've never seen the majority of these. Last night yeilded three absolutely fantastic films and tonight... well, two out of three ain't bad.
But first, Tim gets up and publicly apologizes for calling Brotherhood of Death a piece of shit. Everyone cheers, QT's satisfied.
The we start with The Outfit, a tough-as-nails crime film starring Robert Duvall, Joe Don Baker, and Karen Black (and Robert Ryan). As explained by QT in his great intro, this movie is adapted from a Donal Westlake-cum-Richard Stark Parker book, and that Westlake has no problems optioning the rights to this incredibly popular series of books, but has a protective clause in the contract prohibiting moviemakers from calling the character Parker. That way, if the movie sucks, it doesn't taint the book. According to Quentin, Point Blank (and therefore Payback), Slayground, The Split, and even Godard's Made in USA are all adapted from these books, with a wide array of badasses filling the role of Parker (under different names). He also goes on to insist that unofficially but still just as much, the role of Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs is Parker and DeNiro's character in Heat is also Parker. Furthermore, the events that take place in The Outfit directly follow events that take place in Point Blank, so you can even see connections where Lee Marvin becomes Robert Duvall and Angie Dickinson becomes Karen Black. It made for a really interesting context in which to put the film...
So what's it about? Well, Duvall gets out of prison and finds himself a wanted man. Apparently the titular outfit wants some payback for either a bank job where he accidentally stole the wrong money (if you believe The Outfit) or for raising bloody hell in a cooly-executed revenge spree (if you saw Point Blank). It's funny actually, Micah noted that the background given in this movie is actually very similar to a Don Siegel movie called Charlie Varrick starring Walter Matthau and Joe Don Baker. Quentin himself had mentioned Varrick in his intro as Baker's other best performance along with his turn as Duvall's buddy in this. Connections like this is what being a film geek is all about.
So Duvall confronts the outfit (headed by an aging but still steel-trap Robert Ryan) and picks an arbitrary amount that he figures he's owed: 250 grand. Until they pay up, he tells them, he'll be robbing them blind. All that stuff he considers "extra." He then proceeds to figuritively spit in the Outfit's face over and over again until finally he has to kill Ryan in his home. Duvall's performance is incredibly awesome, tipping the badass scale until it breaks. I'd say he's truly a worthy successor over Marvin, which says a hell of a lot. Joe Don Baker's also great in this though.. a very understated performance considering what he's known for, but rock solid nonetheless. He has a great scene where a couple goons come into his Diner and try to intimidate him. man... i don't even want to explain it because i know it wont sound as cool if i type it out. just trust me when I tell you that it's a great scene and well worth watching. Actually pretty much every scene is jaw-droppingly great. At the tail end of his intro, QT spoke to himself "hmmm what else is there to say about this movie, uuuhhhHHhhhHHHhhHHH" he went on as he fanned the mic in front of his mouth for a second, then exploded with "OH FUCKING DIALOGUE!" He's right. Each word is either a straight razor or a sledge hammer.. each line cuts or bruises. As far as badasses in films go, this one's up there.
Even Karen Black, who I usually don't really like (I'm surprised I'm so not alone on this) is pretty minimal in this and really only has one scene where she says more than one or two lines at a time. I squinted my eyes and imagined Angie Dickinson anyway.
So yeah, man. This was truly out of the blue for me and it kicked my ass with its awesomality. Great great flick.
A random note or two: at one point Baker knocks a goon down the stairs and actually shoots him as he's falling/rolling. Such a great bit! I mean, what better time to shoot him is there? Duvall also has a line I thought to write down... he's asking a bartender to get his boss and the bartender says "anything you gotta say to him you say to me" and Duvall sits down and says "I don't talk to a guy wearing an apron, get your boss."
|The Gravy Train
|I didn't write any notable lines down for this next film however. If i did I'd have spent the entire movie looking down at my notebook. Actually that's not true, I did write down one line: "I want my pants I gotta go see my mom!" Oops, I wrote down one more: "Can you warble?"
Basically, The Gravy Train (AKA The Dion Brothers) is the best movie ever made. Need a little more detail? OK. Stacy Keach and Frederic Forrest play brothers from West Virginia who quit their jobs (Keach quits shovelling dog food in an agitated fury, calling it busy work that don't mean nothing and that he could be Kirk Douglas. Flexing his biceps he yells "KIRK FUCKIN' DOUGLAS!" Forrest... well, he throws his miner's helmet through the foreman's window) and move to DC with dreams of opening up a seafood joint called The Blue Grotto. Such items to be featured on the menu are octopus on ice, oysters casino, and eel. Unfortunately, they need to pull an armored car job to raise the capital for the place so they put on their best criminal face and successfully steal some loot with an Italian named Tony, a Puerto Rican named Carlo, and a body builder family man named Rex. Tony and Carlo pull a double cross and the Dion boys find themselves in some hot water.
No kidding, every single line of dialogue in this movie is funny. It's backwood West Virginia hick humor done perfectly. The dynamic between Keach and Forrest is completely natural and kinetic... scene after scene they 100% live up on that screen and they are hilarious together. Scene after scene, gag after gag, laugh after laugh, it's all good. At this point I'm not even sure if I should go on... I can already tell I'm not doing the film justice and too lazy to even try.
Toward the end though, there's a chicken dude that just sort of pops up, absolutely kills in the dozen or so lines that he has, then disappears. Afterward, Eric said that the sequel that he's got in his mind has Keach and the chicken dude partnering for a chicken and seafood restaraunt. I would pay to see that movie.
Also, the film ends with an action sequence that takes place in a building being torn down with a wrecking ball. Seriously, there are some shots showing a wrecking ball knocking walls, supports, bricks, and mortar apart, crushing them to dust and debris, while actors or stuntment or gullible fools who'll do anything for ten bucks pretend to fight each other. I'm watching this scene and can't help but be blown away by this. I mean, they are TEARING THIS BUILDING DOWN. TO THE GROUND. and they are shooting in it. Now I know a lot of the inserts must be rigged with fake debris or even a light-weight stunt wrecking ball but still, there are some shots in this sequence that show people feet away from the wrecking ball doing its job. that's just... that's just crazy.
So yeah... oh, Quentin told us that Terrence Malick wrote the script... he took his name off of it but who knows why. It's hands down the best mix of comedy and action I've ever seen.
|Cirio H. Santiago
|I forgot. Quentin mentioned one other thing before Dion Brothers. Somehow or another he got on the topic of Race with the Devil (I think he was talking about director Jack Starrett's other films) and said that he can never talk about that movie without reciting its tagline which he thinks is the best tagline to a movie ever and I have to agree. "When you race with the devil, you'd better be faster than hell." He then said that he's been trying to work that into dialogue for every one of his movies but it's never worked... someday though, we will hear a QT character utter that phrase. You heard it here (and AICN (and Dumb Distraction (and Cinema Strikes Back (and probably a few other sites I don't know about)))) first!
So for the midnight movie tonight... The Muthers... A blaxploitation/Women in Prison/Fillipino Action movie starring four foxy soul sisters who all shoot guns without bras on. i only have one note in my notebook about this movie: yay for pirates.
See, the day job of these ebony vixens is being pirates... They loot from rich yachts and have little feuds with rival pirates... but they there's something about looking for a missing sister (as in relative, but probably also in the soul way too) and they volunteer to go to this work farm/prison place then they have to escape but that's hard.
Quentin said that he's played this print so much that he thinks it might actually be one of his favorite films now. I can sort of believe that but also can't considering the two films that played before this. Granted they are completely different and this movie is really a pure grade-Z exploitation flick whereas the first two of the night were studio pictures with actual budgets. But still...
I think this felt more like a Weird Wednesday movie than Joy House did. It's kind of slow, pretty cheap... but there are occasional small gems to be found and a few scenes that are genuinely rewarding. After the first two though... it just couldn't compare for me. Sorry women in prison... better luck next time.
And so ends day.... what, 4? something like that. All three intros tonight were great... Quentin really in top form. It also seems like the celebrity spotting is not as high-profile as QT6, but RZA's seemed to be here every night and Eli Roth popped up tonight; word has it he's here for the rest of the festival which is sweet because I want to meet him and ask him to be in my doc. Tomorrow night looks like a mixed bag but they showed a trailer for Rolling Thunder tonight that has me eagerly salivating to see it tomorrow... so until then...
|So it's already 4:30am and I'll probably have to be up at around noon so I have no time to mess around. I'll just get down to it. To start tonight off, Louis Black took stage and said that tonight was the best triple feature of all time. You could maybe program a triple feature as good as this, but never better.
This was surprising.
All freakin week, whenever Billy Jack came up people groaned. This was easily the least anticipated film of the entire fest, so much so that I was completely primed to hate it even though I've never seen it. For real, people were talking about deliberately missing it or going in just to hear QT's intro then take a nap for two hours, completely dismissing the movie as long and boring and stupid and a waste of time and anyone who likes it is a loser, quentin included if quentin's not just pretending to like it in order to look cool. So for Black to say that this is one of his favorite movies and he's seen it over and over again... well that makes him a loser, right?
I don't think I'll answer that... instead I'll just flip forward really quick and say that for people alive and old enough to know what was going on in 1971, I can totally see how they love this movie. It's got all of the freedom of expression and human rights and all that other dainty idealistic hippy crap that never actually took over the nation even though a lot of people really wanted it to. I think this is what informs all of the scenes that Micah can't stomach... it's a lot like Cartman who has absolutely zero time for dirty hippy propaganda. All those scenes of Laughlin's woman talking about pacifism and whatnot... right up a whole generation of young people's alley. It's no surprise it was so popular and it's no surprise that all of the then-young,now-old people have a soft spot in their dirty hippy hearts for it. Or maybe I just think that because I wasn't born until 1978 and all I got was Michael Jackson and Transformers.
Anyway, Billy Jack actually wasn't that bad. Of course it wasn't as good as Quentin said it would be either, but oh well. He talked a lot about Indian religious explanations, Laughlin's love for his woman, Pauline Kael calling it the best post-rape scene ever put on film, and regaled us with... talking about his recitation of the best scene when it played at QT5. Yeah, like I need another reason to hate that I wasn't at QT5.
There are a few good scenes though... Actually, for whatever reason, there's a few improv comedy scenes that really work well. They feature a pre WKRP Howard Hessman and are pretty entertaining. There's a too-long scene where kids try to stop some sort of town mandate to close a school or something plot-ish like that and one of the guys who speaks is named O.K. Corrales. When the old dude insists that he give his real name, O.K. responds "My real name is O.K. Corrales. Do you have something against mexicans!?" Also, whenever Billy Jack has to kick some ass, it's extremely enjoyable. Of course, in between you have lots of hippy politics... That I also enjoyed on a much different level. I loved how everyone treated pacifism as a very specific thing... like it was almost a style of kung-fu. lines like "Not a bad idea for a pacifist" and "Damn your pacifism!" made me chuckle. QT also mentioned that he mentioned in his first intro that it was sort of funny that all of these pacifist message movies seemed to solve all their problems with violence. I guess that was the struggle of Billy Jack's character... but it also says something when the violent ass-kicking scenes are the funnest in the movie. I doubt many people watch this movie JUST for the teenager singing folk songs or to study the rite of snake brotherhood or whatever it was called when Billy Jack let a snake bite him then passed out for a while. I'm put my money on them seeing it for the ice cream shop scene where Billy Jack monologues the living shit out of the town rich guy's spoiled rotten son, or the scene directly following when he takes off his boots ("watch out for his feet, his feet'll kill ya") and puts the beatdown on a half dozen redneck goons.
I do have to say one more thing about this, specifically in comparison to Billy Jack knock-off Johnny Firecloud which played at QT6. At least Johnny Firecloud was MUTHAFUCKIN NATIVE AMERICAN! Where's Tom Laughlin get off judging "the white man" with his quiet calm indian-esque voice when he's got Irish freckles all over him. Sure, he probably claims some fraction of native american blood but does that come across on-screen? I guess maybe he's supposed to be a honky in reform or something... but come on. I'd hate to be a Native American back then and have my only role models be a white guy who kicks ass and an old dude who cries when people litter. I guess it's better than nowadays though...
Oh, and Louis Black had one other line that he threw out in his intro that really struck home to me, since I'd at least seen Vanishing Point before. he said that all three of these films have politics that they shove right in your face, but they're like Sam Fuller politics where you know you're seeing it but you're not quite sure what it means. The entire triple feature would prove that statement true for me... and I think that's what made this triple feature work so well together.
|Richard C. Sarafian
|In the break I got Aaron to introduce me to Eli Roth. Aaron intro'd me very well and Eli immediately got what was up. I got about five words out of my mouth before he said "yeah sure just get in contact with me" and started talking to Harry. I stood there for a second thinking "hmm... should i wait and try to chat more?" before realizing "shit, he said yes. I guess that's all I need." and walking away to track down Tim. Tim did me a huge favor and talked to Julie, the woman who manages to keep Quentin's schedule, and tell her about my doc project. The only problem is he asked for an interview with him this week, which I was both not expecting and not ready for... So at the end of the night I straightened that out with him as well and he said he'd get me in communication with her so that's cool too. Progress!
A lot of people who saw Vanishing Point a few weeks ago with me decided to ditch this screening and play pool instead. Eric stayed but I'm not sure if it was because he liked the movie or because he didn't want to miss another screening that Harry can hold over him forever. Either way, he earns extra cool points with me because I seem to be the only guy I know who likes this movie.
Actually, I liked this more the second time around. Maybe it was knowing how it ended or having Billy Jack to really prime my hippy vibe, but for whatever reason this movie really clicked with me this time around. I still think Cleavon Little's radio DJ gets a bit too much toward the end (there's a scene where he and Kowalski sort of talk to each other through the radio... and at the end there are a couple needless cuts to Super Soul sitting in his booth fearing for Kowalski... eh), but for the most part I really dig this movie. The first half is just a balls-out chase movie with shot after shot of the Dodge Charger going fast. Matt actually pointed out that a beginning sequence where Kowalski's driving on a road that follows a rushing stream was actually shot on the highway between Boulder, CO and Estes Park. Estes Park is home to The Stanley Hotel, where Stephen King got the inspiration for The Shining (and later shot the TV movie version there)... so if a miracle happens and I'm able to follow the Rolling Roadshow Tour this August, chances are we will tool down the same road that Kowalski did! Awesome!
The second half of this movie becomes severe existential hippy soul journey through the desert, complete with meeting random characters, losing track of time and space, and some sort of vague spiritual awakening. I don't know what to say except I dug it... Part of me wishes the whole movie was like the first half with Kowalski literally saying less than 5 lines of dialogue in an hour and hijacking that car to Cuba but I can't fault the movie for going where it went.
In his intro, QT said that the deeper you dig into the stories behind Vanishing Point, the more stuff you'll dig up. Instead, he opted to let the film speak for itself. Aside from reading a bit about it on IMDb, I know close to nothing about this movie so that comment really piqued my curiosity. I hear there's a director commentary on the DVD; definitely have to check that out now. Quentin also mentioned the soundtrack (which is indeed awesome), and how it was one of the first movies to use songs instead of score - something he's tried to do with all of his films (pretty successfully too I might add). A QT intro that definitely left me wanting, but a movie that really grew on me the second time. awesome!
|The night ended with Rolling Thunder. Let me just get it out of the way and say that while I loved all three films played Wednesday, I think this is the best night of programming so far. All three of these movies fit together in such an interesting way that I really think they built on each other to make my enjoyment of the movies greater than the sum of its parts. ALl three were pretty serious in tone and much more deliberate in pace and each was also much different than what's played the fest so far. I really have to marvel at how they work together... I have no clue how to guage or think about something like that so you go, QT!
OK... so anyone that reads this that isn't actually at the fest (AKA Grant), I think it's pretty clear that a lot of these movies that play are good on completely different levels than others. Some are really cheap exploitation flicks that I basically like for small little gems hidden somewhere in the movie or because certain characters or actors are unintentionally funny or just bizarre... but every once in a while (and I really only include The Dion Brothers in this list... so far), QT plays a movie that is great no matter how you look at it. It's good in a way that you just can't deny. You can't pass it off as cheaply made or full of cheesy dialogue or a genre favorite or whatever... it's just GOOD. it's as good as any movie out in first-run theaters today, and it's as good as many award-winning movies that get written about all the time. In fact, it's so good that the overriding thought that you have after the movie's over is "why isn't this movie known!?" like in a pissed off way, like it makes you mad that this movie is not thrust on film students along with Kurosawa and Hitchcock or whatever. And I can take guesses at the reasons why they're not better known but I'll probably never know the answers. All I really know is that this movie is fucking amazing on any scale and it's a goddamn shame that all film lovers everywhere hasn't seen it.
That is the case with Rolling Thunder.
William Devane, man... OK, so it's a Paul Schrader story about a Vietnam vet who's just returned after seven years in a POW camp. He comes home to a parade and fanfare... Yay! he's home! But then he goes home. His son doesn't remember him. His wife's getting married to some other dude. The world's moved on and he can't even sleep at night because there's no one there to administer a daily beating... a daily beating that he's gotten for SEVEN YEARS and grown to sort of love in a messed up coping-mechanism way... The movie is a fantastic post-war character study that easily rivals The Deer Hunter. Devane's performance is ice cold but every so often you get a peek behind his pilot's glasses at just how messed up and tormented he is inside. It's really nuanced and great.
...And then he has his home invaded by a crew of robbers out for some War Hero loot. They think they can make him give up the location of his money stash (laughs from the audience). They grind his hand off in the garbage disposal. They kill his son and soon-to-be-ex-wife. From this point forward, the movie becomes a hardcore revenge tale that... delivers.
Devane gets a prostetic hook. There's a great sequence where it shows him practicing putting cigarettes in their pack. "Oh," you think, "he's learning to use his hook. that's cool." Then, two scenes later, you see him perfectly pick up bullets and load them into a gun with his hook. Then, as he's SHARPENING his hook on a spinning whetstone or whatever you call it, you make the bullets/cigarettes connection and realize that he is now a revenge machine. this turned into a revenge movie the second those guys came into his house and there is no going back.
Tommy Lee Jones has a supporting role in this and with the maybe 10 minutes of screentime he has you can tell he's going to become a huge star even though his neck is thicker than his head. He's trapped in a suburban hell and shows it in one quick shot of a static look. A slow death in his eyes. When Devane comes for his help in killing the poeple who killed his family, Jones doesn't even think. "I'll just get my gear... Let's clean em up."
Jones, Devane, and actress Linda Haynes all absolutely kick ass in this film. Quentin actually spent the majority of his intro talking about Linda Haynes. Aside from dedicating the screening to her, he also said that the only thing that's held him back from remaking this movie is that he could never find someone to compare to Linda Haynes. "Everyone would just be a SAG actress. Nobody could inhabit that character like Linda Haynes did." I guess he's right... I think he's a much better acting observer than I am... I mean she was good but I didn't flip out any more over her performance than Jones' or Devane's... Then again I think Tarantino has seen this movie a few more times than I have. But anyway, he really flips for her in this movie (he also mentioned that after being in this and a few other roles she quit the business. He's tried to get her for stuff several times and always gets a message saying that she's flattered that he likes her work and even remembers that she had a career but she doesn't act anymore)... and to tell you the truth I don't remember what else he said.
So even though i didn't LOVE Billy Jack, I didn't dislike it and all three movies worked so well together, plus the fact that Rolling Thunder will probably be my favorite film of a festival filled with favorites, made this night really extraordinary. Plus, after Rolling Thunder ended, the passing storm overhead let loose some rolling thunder of its own, which was pretty sweet.
|The Blood Spattered Bride
|Saturday night during a QTfest means an all night marathon! Actually (as Quentin related to us something Linklater said: "yeah I remember when these things started we'd get out at five, six AM. Now they're not so much all nighters as all nighters and half of next day-ers... Like we get out and go grab some lunch."), in doing the math with the running times and the average breaks in between movies it was already pretty apparent that we wouldn't be getting out of the Drafthouse until well into Sunday morning. Fine by us!
The night started with an assistant to the city mayor presenting Quentin with an official proclamation that today, April 29, 2006, was Quentin Tarantino Festival Day. The verbage written on the official parchment was pretty funny, with such terms as "lederhosen films" and "kung-fu epics" appearing under official City of Austin letterhead. QT took stage and informed us that it was also Uma Thurman's birthday today! Yay for Uma and Yay for Quentin and Yay for us because we now get to see six movies in a row!
Quentin first started out by asking us who would be here at the end of this thing. I remember for QT6 a much larger response (and, ironically enough, a much smaller audience at the end of the night than what we had tonight). Quentin then laid out the rules for marathon viewing. He said that as the night goes on and you get a little looser, a little more delirious, you may find yourself becoming a bit more vocal. And that's ok, he said, as long as it's in the right direction. With that, he turned around and motioned that it was ok to be talking TOWARD the film, then turned around again and motioned the other way, saying it wasn't ok to go in this direction. This is the movie's job, let it go this way and you go that way. Then he ended the bit by slapping his ass and it was funny.
Also, he said, if you're hear to see one or two movies then go home that's fine... no harm in that you won't be ridiculed or anything like that... you just can't say you went to the marathon. You went out tonight and saw a few movies, you didn't go to the marathon. And some people are big nazis about sleeping in these things... Quentin is not. He thinks sleeping is perfectly OK because you know if you fall asleep during one of these, you will wake up at some point with some completely context-free gross obscenity going on and in that moment between sleep and conscioussness when you're not even sure of where you are, the movie will create a memory that will live with you forever.
Quentin introduced Blood Spattered Bride as a stick of dynamite tied to your crotch with a fuse so long that you forget it's burning. "You stop hearing the fizzle, you get comfortable, then BAM! your balls are blown off!" He likes this movie so much that he named a chapter of Kill Bill after it. He said it's his favorite lesbian vampire movie and when the chuckles started he had to educate: "No, this isn't one of these QTfest-only subgenres, it's an actual taught-in-schools established subgenre (lars nods in silent approval). Jean Rollin had a whole career with these movies, although this isn't directed by him but still." He then talked about when it played in QT2 and how he really made a mistake with it by making it the last film of the second marathon of the fest... people just weren't up for it, so this time around he's pulling it back in to give it the proper screening... right at the beginning of the night to set the pace.
He also dedicated the screening to Unruly Julie (Quentin's longtime assistant and basically the person responsible for putting this whole thing on) and Rie Rasmussen (a very tall, very skinny hot model type that's also a director and is starring in Luc Besson's next movie... she's been in the audience for the past few nights). And with that, the movie started.
So, I guess the story is this young girl is married to this dude and she finds out that his sexual appetites really border on rape. She goes along for a bit but at the same time there's some sort of thing about either a family ancestor or a haunted painting or maybe both. For whatever reason, this lesbian vampire makes night visits to the wife urging her to kill her husband and les out with her for eternity. She has her repeat mantras like "He pissed on my flesh to humiliate me, he spat inside my body to enslave me." and gives her a suitably wicked blade that leads to a sequence where she stabs her hubby to death and detaches his manhood. Of course this has to be a fantasy because it's against the rules to have a scene that awesome so early in a movie like this... so you have to wait another hour to see the same scene happen again. Although I can't say I didn't like the lesbian vampire stuff, I have to admit that the husband was my favorite character in the movie. He's such a pervert... so fixated with breasts and sex that it's really funny. He find a hand sticking out of the sand on a beach and a small tube nearby. He digs a bit to uncover a girl's face wearing a diving mask and snorkel. So i guess just to make sure, he digs a little more and perfectly exposes her breats but nothing else. very close to the oddly specific fantasies i had when i was like 13. At the end of the film, after he finally accepts that his wife's been turned into both a lesbian and a vampire, he cuts directly into a breast. Sure the papers say "heart cut out of two women" but they have to say that, don't they? They can't say "breasts cut off, heart also maybe removed." There's also a scene where the vampire is silently seducing the wife and the hubby has the most brilliantly inane babble going on in the background, talking to himself about how he has no vocation and he's quite happy. His time is perfectly occupied. he goes on like that for about three minutes until the scene ends.
There are plenty of moments in Blood Spattered Bride to like, like the doctor character spying on some lesbo vampire getting-it-on and the smash cut to him asking the hubby "how well do you know your wife?" These moments are spread out through a pretty long and slow movie though... You really need to have patience with it or spend some time concocting your own lesbian vampire stories in your head in between the good parts on screen. I wouldn't say it's the perfect movie to lead off a marathon with but I will say I'm damn glad it didn't play last.
|So after Bride ended and we all stretched our legs a bit (pacing is important), Quentin got back up on stage to introduce the next movie: Twisted Nerve. Pretty much the whole audience was familiar with the whistled theme to this movie since QT used it to great effect in Kill Bill. He even asked for all of us to give him a recital and for a few moments the theater was filled with whistling fools. Quentin ate it up. In fact he said that not only was it OK to whistle along with the movie, it was encouraged.
Twisted Nerve is sort of half a Psycho knock-off and half a Peeping Tom knock-off, fitting in nicely with a whole wave of British psychological thrillers that came out in the 60s. The basic plot is that this young guy pretends to be a simpleton to get into Haley Mills' pants. Oh, he also kills his dad. The title comes from a quote from... someone... and the explanation behind the main dude's actions get into DNA and mongrelism, so there's a semi-scientific approach there with is kind of creepy and funny at the same time. Having the crazy guy whistle the theme while he stalks women is an awesome bit (perhaps taken from Lang's M?) that, along with Bernard Herrman's constant variations on that theme all throughout the movie's score, ensure that it's the single most catching melody of all time. Quentin said that in lots of places but especially eastern Europe that melody is really popular as a cell phone ringtone.
It's really the characters that make this movie good though. Hayley Mills' character stays in a boarding house with a couple great supporting roles. The guy who played the killer in Frenzy is getting it on with the house matron but when she takes pity on faux-simpleton Georgie and lets him sleep in her bed and wont answer when Frenzy guy comes a calling, he gets miffed. Another tenant is an Indian (dot not feather) medical student... When Frenzy guy accuses him of seducing his sugar momma, he replies "We Hindus are forbidden to eat cow." Scorching line. 1968!
Other noted notables is a scene where a doctor's doing rounds with his student and they talk to an elderly lady sitting in her bed with a really strange relaxed look on her face. They start interviewing her until they find out that she's currently on a bedpan. They all leave pretty quickly. And toward the end when Georgie's been exposed as sociopath father-killer Martin, one guard tells another to "watch yourself, this one's a nutter." The dry delivery with the heavy accent really made me crack up.
Overall, even though I enjoyed Twisted Nerve, it didn't blow me away. Quentin went on at some length in one of these introductions about the general unavailability of a lot of these films. Stuff like Dion Brothers and The Outfit is nowhere to be found on DVD and VHS shelves... and he kind of thinks that's OK. Sometimes, it's good to remind yourself of the way things used to be before video or cable TV so when they left theaters you could not see them anymore. You had to remember them. You held onto memories of the films you loved and that made it all the better when a revival run came into town or something like that because couldn't see it any time you want so it made you excited about it. That said, After Twisted Nerve finished I thought about how tough it'd be to not be able to see this movie for years to come... and I wasn't that broken up about it. Dion Brothers I'm broken up about, Rolling Thunder not being on DVD i'm downright pissed off about, but not seeing Twisted Nerve again? eh... I'll live.
|Don't Go in the House
|Next up was a movie that I'd rented when it got a DVD release. It'd been extremely built up by Harry Knowles, him claiming that this is the one movie that broke him and sent him running to cower naked in the corner and cry. When I saw it alone in my apartment, I thought there was one great scene, a good idea behind it, but otherwise it was pretty slow. So I was extremely curious to see this play with a QTfest crowd and see if I was wrong or what.
First though, Quentin introduced the only new thing to ever play at QTfest. It's a short directed and starring Rie Rasmussen (in attendance, sitting with Quentin and Eli Roth). Um... I think others liked it more than I did. Basically, this woman comes home and there's someone there who ties her up and he's like a serial killer that's killing innocent people in the name of satan... like a blind kid, a deaf girl, really no-harm innocents like that. so he strips naked and is about to get to the torture and killing when the girl basically says she's satan and her quest to poison the bloodline of humans is through diseases and afflictions such as blindness and deafness so in effect he was killing off the wrong people... or something. then she kills him the end. Now, I did like how the girl's blond hair, when it gets mussed up, strongly resembles devil horns and like... those chinese devil spirit flames that come off their faces... and I have to respect a woman who will put an upskirt panty shot of herself in her own movie so that's cool too... but I dunno... I guess I have a problem when things get 100% representational or clever... something in my mind chews away saying "what are the odds that this guy picks satan..." A couple friends of mine made a short where a vampire hunter gets hooked up with a vampire on a blind date, but I actually didn't get that feeling there because there's enough hinting and suggestions that the hunter knows all along... but this short didn't give anything like that out... just a satanic cult murderer guy picking a random innocent girl that turns out to be the devil herself. Well shot, superhot lady, but it didn't do anything for me.
So Don't Go in the House.
You've been warned.
The movie played pretty well with the crowd. I know I enjoyed it more that way... but still it's one great scene, a good idea, and a mostly slow movie. I think a lot of the problem comes with the great scene coming about 15 minutes into the movie. Everything after that feels like the director had no idea what to do after that scene so he just threw random things that don't really go anywhere in for the rest of the movie. Still though, that one great scene is enough to call this film a good freakin time. Actually, shortly after said scene transpires, there's like a follow-up scene that had Quentin yelling out in the theater "Best cut in cinema history!" to a rowsing round of laughs and applause.
The other redeeming factor in the majority of this film is the supporting cast. The main guy is... not great. But there's a friend part that's great and a priest who must've went to some special school to get his eyebrows to move like that and a archetypal guido Jersy disco dancer toward the end that beats the main guy up.. they don't hold up to this one scene but, you know, if you're watching the rest of the movie anyway then these are guys to look out for.
I made a reference to this while we were eating fantastic bbq at The Salt Lick (nothing like filling your gut with meat immediately before a 13-hour marathon) to Micah, saying "Once you put a steel room in your house, there's no going back." Apparently he thought i was quoting a line from the movie because it's so badass. Nope, it's all me. Expect it in one of my scripts or movies... if i ever do anything with my life, that is.
So I was warned and not only did I go in the house but i went BACK in the house and had a mostly good time watching it again because i was at freakin QTfest with a still-sold-out audience. Some people were still waiting in the stand-by line at 3am, man... that's hardcore. Even at the very end the theater was still more than half-full... I was really surprised.
After the movie, I headed out to the lobby to relieve myself and passed Dennis Quaid on the side of the theater. I walked past him then had to do a quick double take like "is that Dennis Quaid? Did he just watch DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE!?" I don't think he did though... I think he just popped in to meet Quentin, take a piss, then head back out into the Austin nightlife. Still though, random dennis quaid spotting, I'm sure my mom will be excited.
|Next up was a little change of pace. When I saw this on the schedule I was all but sure it would be a secret movie and rather than wanting to advertise that it was a secret movie (that would only fuel people to try and find out to ruin the surprise) he put in a title for a film that he had no intentions of playing. Well, I was wrong. On all accounts actually (I thought the same thing about Billy Jack). He actually showed Policewomen. It made more sense when he introduced it though. I guess since QT2 had two marathons one was an all sleazy exploitation marathon and not horror, so it was still a fave from a past marathon and he really loved it so it's here, smack dab in the middle of all these horror movies.
QT started by saying how big of a fan QTfest was of Wes Bishop and Lee Frost movies. Yet another pair of names I've never heard of before. That's good though... more things to look up later. My list of films offhandedly-mentioned by Quentin that I felt I needed to see is much smaller this time around than last. In the past 6 months or so, I've really dived into this whole area of film and feel like, although I'm still very much the rookie, I at least know what game I'm a rookie in.
So Policewomen (note the plural) has some hot girls in it. Some cool female kung-fu stuff and a scene with William Smith as a karate instructor or something... He's pretty funny in the one scene... mostly the movie's just about hot girls acting bad though. The policewoman goes ondercover... actually the title is a bit of a spoiler because for 75% of the movie there's only one policewoman so you have to wonder about the title until another one shows up and then it's ok. This movie does a great job of picking the right angles to photograph the hot women in tight clothing. Actually between this and The Muthers and... pretty much every movie shown this week I have to say I appreciate the whole no-bra thing that was going on in the 70s. I'm sure it made for some sore backs but oh freakin well.
The real stars of this movie though are the bad guys. This gang of female robbers is headed up by this old lady in her 70s named Maude (heh) and her 30 year old bodybuilder beau named Doc. Beau plays his character like John Wayne with brain damage and scenes between the two of them are fantastic. One shot in particular when they're flying in a plane and Maude it looking at Doc with love in her eyes is pretty classic. She's this short little wrinkled old woman with bad teeth giving out expert mastermind heist instructions... I have no clue how they found that actress or who had guts enough to ask her to be in this movie but whoever they are deserves some props. It's like asking your grandmother to talk about sex in front of you... it couldn't have been pleasant.
This movie... like the main policewoman's love interest slash co-worker tells her, "your style takes a lot of getting used to." Especially the beginning of this film... it's very low-budget exploitation type stuff. Pretty slow. The closest I got to sleep the whole night was the first half of this movie. I never dozed (did much better than BNAT and QT6's marathon actually) but i got pretty uninterested and contemplating trying to sleep for a little while until I sat up and looked around and saw Micah awake on my right, Eric and Jarrette awake on my left, and way the hell down at the end of the row Harry awake. Everyone else in the entire row was passed out. Blake? dead to the world. Jay? head back, jerking himself awake with his snores, Roland and Martha? collapsed all over one another in complete unconscioussness. Further down the line I could sort of see other people sleeping but... just seeing that like 70% of this supposedly most-hardcore-of-all row was out like a light actually energized me. I was fine after that until the last movie.
There's one scene toward the end where the policewoman has activated a super secret spy lighter that's actually a homing beacon. Unfortunately the signal shows up on the walkie talkies that Maude and Doc are using. There's a great shot of like... arm-cam Doc's POV as he holds out his walkie talkie like a metal detector and walks around as the signal gets stronger and stronger, finally ending up right at the policewoman's crotch (ok, front pocket). Just seeing that arm sticking straight out holding the walkie talkie and the camera locked onto it as it moves around is... well it's pretty awesome.
Unfortunately, when they showed the trailer for this the night before ("TOMORROW!" became a common expletive that QT would throw out every night as trailers for the scheduled films would play), there was a pretty good line about the cop dude saying he wanted to make love to the policewoman but was afraid of getting hurt (something like that), and the policewoman saying "I'll make you a deal. I'll make love to you, and I'll be gentle" followed by some footage of a love scene. Said love scene was nowhere to be found in the actual movie! What kind of exploitation movie actually takes OUT the love scene??? Quentin needs a new print of this movie now.
|So Apparently director Tom DeSimone directed some gay porn. Quentin told us the whole story... it wasn't just a just-breaking-in, stepping-stone type of deal... it was like 10 years, 25 movies, Tom DeSimone: Gay Porn Director. I guess he did them well enough though that somehow he got a chance to make a slasher movie and this is what came about.
To tell you the truth, QT's intros are all melding together for me now. As the night went on, I stayed awake less and less out of actual interest in the films and more and more out of sheer caffeination. In fact, I didn't even write the title of this movie down in my notebook... all that's there are two small notes, one of which is "AKA The Movie That Wouldn't Die."
First though... Quentin announced that they'd show the first reel of Silent Night, Deadly Night! "If Vanishing Point has one of the best last reels of any movie, Silent Night, Deadly Night has one of the best first reels... and we're showing it to you tonight!"
Now, in my humble opinion, I think they should've made Sunday night a triple feature and shown Policewomen to open that night so they could play all of Silent Night, Deadly Night tonight. It would've fit perfectly and for as good as the first reel is, the rest of the movie's pretty damn good as well. Plus it would've represented QT6 which didn't have any other films playing this best-of festival. I'm mostly ok with that because it meant that I got to see more movies I've never seen before, but still.. Silent Night, Deadly Night, Tarzoon, and No Way Out were clear audience faves (although we did get a Tarzoon trailer that drew mega-applause).
But oh well, I can live with just the first reel, which ended in a pretty great cut between a nun's concerned face and college girls in beer-drenched t-shirts. Something about that time of night and the rush of redbull going through my system created perfect conditions for the famed Grandpa speech in that first reel though. As soon as grandpa started moving his eyes to look at poor young Billy, I completely cracked up. I tried to keep my laughter silent but i was shaking... SHAKING with laughter through the entire speech. Every little movement and nuance that the grandpa made, the inflection on every word coming out of his mouth, was like the funniest thing in the world to me. It's such a perfect monologue... perfectly written, perfectly executed... at the very end I finally gave in and threw my head back and laughed like a madman so I could release all that energy and get to the job of wiping my eyes dry and catching my breath... but that first reel of Silent Night, Deadly Night would prove to be my favorite movie of the whole marathon. He really should have played the whole thing.
Hell Night is about a fraternity initiation ritual where rushes have to spend a night in a supposedly haunted mansion. I guess this film is notable for having Linda Blair in it... I dunno, it seemed like a pretty run-of-the-mill slasher movie to me. I don't understand how they could use this haunted mansion as a house so much that they've rigged it with speakers for playing random screams and rope ladders to the roof so they can rig fake bodies hanging outside the windows and they know all about all the secret passages and NOT seeing the evil deformed mongoloid children of the house's haunted history before this particular night. Were they on vacation or something? Is that why they're killing all the co-eds? "We get back from Boca to find you punk kids squatting in our house, you're gonna pay, mongoloid style!"
The majority of the movie is shots of kids walking down hallways or passageways, then finding dead bodies. I mean I guess that could be said about all slasher movies... maybe it was the time of day (or, in this case, morning... already) or whatever but I didn't really get into this movie at all. I think Quentin talked about some guy having a long monologue to do and pulling it off or whatever and nah... don't care. Actually there's only one character in this movie that I did care about, and that's Vincent Van Patten's part. Apparently, when it was first showed at QT3, he was voted by Rick Linklater (who showed up earlier, stopping by on his way to Cannes) as the festival's biggest Weenie. I can believe that... he's a pretty massive weenie in this... but hey, he can't help it. He's young, he's in college, and he's out to get his love on. After he finally nails the clearly-a-slut girl he's been chasing since the beginning of the movie, he says to himself "Score another one for the good guys." So him, along with a halfway decent end to the mongoloid killer (spoiler: he hotcurls her to death... actually i'm kidding. he's actually impaled on a knocked-over gate), are really the only things I got out of this movie. Mostly, it was people slowly walking down hallways and passageways and running into dead bodies.
|The Legend of the Wolf Woman
|Rino Di Silvestro
|To end the night (it's like 8AM, is it still last night?), Quentin played the infamous Legend of Wolf Woman. He explained how way back in QT1 they had a few spots on the last night for encore presentations of the most popular movies and this was one of the encores simply because people wanted to make sure they actually saw what they think they saw. Since this played last at the first QTfest marathon, people could not be 100% sure if it was demensia or bad dreams or what so they had to watch it again.
Also, Quentin said one of the good things about this movie is instead of having to wait like an hour for the good stuff to start happening like in those old 50s sci-fi movies, we get the woman-to-wolf transformation during the beginning titles. No messing around here, we get right into it... Naked girl writhing on the ground and sporting furry tittles not even five minutes into the movie! He then thanked everyone for staying and with that the movie started.
Now, for anybody who's been through an all-night marathon type situation.. you know that unique headspace that you can pretty much only get into by seeing more than 5 movies in a row. Double features.. yeah they are fun.. triple features are a full night of movie-watching... but once you get past five in a row, it's like a trip to the desert while on opiates or a weekend spent in a sweat lodge type situation. One of my highlights for QT6 was seeing R. Kelly's Urban Opera before the last movie at that marathon... and seeing what I think I saw last July when Devil Fetus flashed in front of my dazed and confused eyes. So the slot of the last movie in a marathon like this is very specific and very important. If it's a movie like Blood Spattered Bride, it won't work. People will fall asleep. If it's a movie like Twisted Nerve where you have to think more than just a tiny little bit, it won't work. People are too tired to sleep. In my limited experience, I hold Devil Fetus as standard. Nothing takes advantage of that uniquely cinematic altered state like a flat-out crazy-ass movie that you have a hard time believing it even exists. People ask you about it after you've slept and you almost don't want to describe it because you know they won't get it. You can't tell them to track it down and watch it on their own either because there's no way it could be the same. It has to be a brotherhood allegiance type deal where if you were there all you have to do is say the title and nod and if you weren't there then tough luck.
Legend of Wolf Woman is one of these movies.
Although I don't think it's as good as Devil Fetus (and I'm using the word "good" in its loosest possible meaning), it was that kind of movie and I don't think I would've liked it in any other situation.
The whole movie made no sense. I don't know if it was me (I wasn't tired due to the caffeine but i felt myself staring at the screen and having no idea what I was looking at several times) or the film itself, but I got next to no actual point or sense to the movie. Thinking back, all I can make out is that this girl thinks she's a werewolf but really she's just crazy. I think. Thank goodness I made some illegible notes in my notebook, writing in darkness.
About halfway through the movie, the girl meets a stuntman and falls in love. I think there was a whole montage sequence where he'd perform a stunt (which I guess would make her really hot), she'd run up and start making out with him, they'd have sex, then run on the beach. Over and over like three times this happened: stunt/sex/beach, stunt/sex/beach, stunt/sex/beach. But then a group of rapists bust in (saying things like "I heard you're a great LAY!" and "Now I'm gonna lay ya!" and the stuntman gets killed in the most casual stabbing every. I mean... the rapist isn't even looking at him.. he's just standing there with one hand on his hip and the other holding his knife out and the stuntman is stuck onto it... like either it happened by accident or this racist is SUCH a good knifer that he can't be bothered to even look to see where he stabbed him. This may have never happened though... it could all be in my mind.
I also seem to remember there being some of the worst small talk ever in a couple scenes, and use of really queer phrases like "that's somewhat fascinating." How can something be somewhat fascinating? Isn't that like saying it's somewhat very interesting? I don't get it. I do know I saw hairy titties though... that was funny. the make-up in the wolf woman scenes (which I guess are either flashbacks or fantasies or... something, because she's not actually a wolf woman but just crazy) is basically little patches of fur glued onto her skin with green make-up everywhere else. I think there's also a scene where she wakes up and a huge lizard is laying on her... i think... and I've also written down a memory that someone gets his head smashed into a steering wheel and inadvertantly honks the horn every time... and it happens over and over again so it's funny. I don't remember that at all but if I wrote it down it must've happened... right?
So all in all I think that's exactly what my memory of the last movie of a marathon should be. I think others were more lucid (Micah said it was his favorite movie of the night... I think mine is Policewomen (if you don't count Silent Night, Deadly Night)), but this isn't their movie journal it's mine and mine is better than yours.
So I think we got out of there at 9:30... Drove Jarrette home then went back to my place and Micah crashed on my couch and we set the alarm for 4:30pm and slept pretty much until then.
|Pretty Maids All in a Row
|No pre-fest dinner tonight. The habit formed over the week came to an abrupt end when people realized the movies started at 7 tonight instead of 8. Apparently we were not the only ones taken aback by this... Quentin totally thought it started at 8 as well and went out for a burger until someone got in touch with him and got him back here. In the meantime, Rebecca Campbell from AFS asked for a show of hands who made it to every screening in the fest. There was about 30 of us that cheered in hardcore pride... Then she said that Quentin and Unruly Julie had graciously bought everyone with real dedication a free t-shirt and drink. Since I had already bought a t-shirt and wasn't planning to drink tonight, I opted out of standing in line. Instead I revelled in secret glory of seeing every instant of two QTfests... not even leaving for bathroom breaks during the films. Am I the most hardcore in the land? well I'm too modest to answer... but yes.
Stalling for time, Tim started up the first reel of Psycho From Texas... As soon as he mentioned the title, all the weird wednesday regulars burst into loud raucas appreciation. If you're a fan of exploitation cinema and haven't seen this movie then you really need to, man. no excuses. It gave me another chance to see the ridiculously children-in-peril flashback sequences and hear the amazing "yesterday... was a long time ago" song about how Wheeler learned to rape and murder and mess his mind up with sweet wine. Almost unfortunately, Quention showed up about 8 minutes in and they stopped the movie (to numerous Boos). Tim smiled and said "I just realized that that's probably the most evil thing I could do to you all." and gave us some info about how apparently when this movie first came out it was only 64 minutes long and rated PG. So, in an effort to boost ticket sales, they went back and shot some sex and violence in the form of the numerous flashback sequences that pepper the entire film. I think in a perfect world, Quentin would've come in, seen that Psycho from Texas was playing, and decided to make the night a triple feature and just let it play. Oh well.
Also, during the beginning titles I heard this little clicking sound that repeated nearby. I looked around a bit and saw that Lars was snapping his fingers along to the music. Not looking for attention or anything like that, just enjoying the hell out of the movie and music. When the "yesterday" song started in a looked over and saw him mouthing the words to it, not just the chorus either... verses too. What can I say, it is a great song.
So instead of watching all of Psycho from Texas, Quentin came up and apologized for being late ("Not being a rock star or anything, I just thought it started at eight") and introduced Pretty Maids All in a Row.
OK, so... if you don't know anything about this film, try to imagine this. Roger Vadim, the dirty Frenchman who married and slept with Brigitte Bardot (he directed ...And God Created Woman), married and slept with Jane Fonda (he direct Barbarella), and slept with (don't think she married her) Catherine Deneuve, came to America and made this movie about highschool cheerleaders. In Quentin's words, "if I'm gonna watch a movie about highschool cheerleaders, I don't want some sensitive decent man making it, I want an old French lech making it!" (as he makes a hand gesture suggesting an upskirt shot)... He is very true. He then went on to list the cavalcade of 70s sexploitation starlets that appear as the pretty maids in this film (including one named Joy Bang, how apt), and then goes into an extended dissertation on why everybody in this movie is amazing. He says he actually likes the young virgin guy in this (he usually doesn't, thinks they're always wimps), that he "has a hard part and he pulls it off" (snickers build to outright laughter as Quentin waits and waits and it never quiets down so finally he cracks up and sayd "he had a difficult role, and he succeeded"), Angie Dickinson in the sexiest role she's ever done - a truly pre-MILF-terminology MILF (although she's not a mom ("There are other sex scenes that ring my bell and boil my oil but there are no other seduction scenes that ring my bell and boil my oil like Angie's in this")) - Telly Savales honing his awesomality in preparation for Kojak and most notably Rock Hudson as Tiger, the gym coach/guidance counselor who's sleeping with all the cheerleaders. He says he anticipates... maybe seven and a half minutes of snickering before we forget that while he's kissing the girls he's actually thinking about the football players and just believe that he is this womanizing dude. Oh, and it's also a murder mystery! Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek fame wrote and produced this (Quentin said it's the only post-Star Trek thing he put out) and they even have Scotty himself James Doohan in a small role as a cop in this! So it's really basically the best movie ever made and we're all in for such a treat.
He's pretty much right. The movie's really well-made but also just dirty and lecherous... like any time he could Vadim put in shots of really hot young women doing handstands or wearing miniskirts and shot from low angles or whatever. Everything Quentin said was true.. the young virgin guy kid did a great job... even with Angie Dickinson's breast in his eye socket, Rock Hudson is sporting a mustache and some hippy garb during the scenes with him at home and comes off completely as the type who likes to sleep with underage girls, Angie Dickinson... well... let's just leave that unsaid. Telly Savalas rocks his sunglasses perched on top of his bald head for the whole movie and other actors like Roddy McDowel, Keenan Wynn, and James Doohan all fill their supporting roles really well.
The murder mystery's not really so much a mystery, but it's enough of a story to keep the movie moving and make all of us feel like dirty old men for seeing so much panty-clad ass that it almost gets old (almost)... There's also some really great lines like Rock Husdson asking a cheerleader (as he's undressing her in his car) "Did you ever want to say to the world, 'I Defy You'?" The young virgin guy gets so mixed up when he's trying to talk to Angie Dickinson that he says his dad's rich, then corrects himself "oh wait, my mom's rich, my dad's dead." At one point so many bodies are showing up that he says (can't remember exactly) "we never have gym on days where people are murdered." It's just a really fun really great really sexy (in a lecherous way) movie... Afterward Quentin mentioned that at several points he stopped and thunk to himself "is this the best movie ever made!?" and thought that for all those stuck up intelligencia film snob types, making a movie that makes you wonder if it's the best movie ever made is pretty good in his book. He also mentioned before the movie that the women who he sees this movie with usually get catty while talking about Angie Dickinson. They're all like "yeah, but she's old... not looking so great... blah blah blah" and Quentin's like NO! So afterward he said a lot of women came up to him and said "I don't know what kind of bitches you're watching this film with, Angie Dickinson was HOT!" True feeling or just an excuse to talk to Quentin? Either way, they are absolutely right.
|The Girl from Starship Venus
|Quentin on stage: "It's really hard for a film to follow Pretty Maids all in a Row... near impossible. I have one though." He proceeds to go into another fantastic intro about The Girl from Starship Venus, sort of half what he said when it played a month ago and half more in-depth explanation on where he saw it it's unavailability and the way exploitation film exhibition worked back then and what it's like to sit through so many bad movies and finally see a good one, but having to keep that happy memory to yourself for 13 years because absolutely nobody else has seen it and it's pointless to bring it up because all that'll happen is they'll want to see it and not be able to. He talked again about holding onto memories in leiu of DVD or video... and also said that he's got some pretty brag-worthy prints in his collection but this print of Starship Venus is up there as far as he's concerned. It's nearly impossible to find and he's happy to share it with us again, the first time in 9 years since QT1.
Then he told us that, in this festival of so much great movie music and catchy theme songs, all of them (Hollywood Man included) PALE in comparison to the these song to this movie. He fully expected each and every one of us to be singing along by the end and even went so far as to tell us the lyrics to the chorus ahead of time so we wouldn't mess them up. Then the lights went down and for the last time we saw a Best of QT fest movie.
Just to add to my notes from the first time I saw this, I just love the lines "I'm in need of refueling" and "pleasure is my intent... presently." The supporting male cast is great in this... the theater lech and the wedding lech are fantastic... unbelievably so. The actual star? well who knows.. she doesn't actually do that much acting. They managed to structure the film in such a way that she never really needs to emote or even say lines. It's a really great trick actually, because with so much voice over telling the story they can get away with long drawn out sex scenes over and over again. Like the last 15 minutes of the movie is one superlong softcore sex scene with pages and pages of voice over laid on top of it. It's like a Reservoir Dogs level of what kind of movie is feasible on a tiny budget, except sex instead of crime.
I also have to give it up again for the bushy stripper. her scene goes on forever too but the faces she gives as she vibrated her ass or contorts her body is classic. also, the baloon scene went over well and I still contend it's the best scene in the movie, but I also got a real kick out of some of the porno titles that cover all the windows and walls in poster form all around Soho. I have no clue if these are real movies or not but with names like Let's Get Laid, Sex of their Bodies, Love-Hungry Girls, and (my favorite) Sore Throat... they are hilarious, intentional or no.
So the crowd ate it up and when the music started coming in at the end of the movie people started clapping along with it. The chorus kicked in and I could hear people singing around us "Cuz she's the... Girl from starship Venus and she came from outer space! And she came down to our planet to observe the human race! She's got turned on to permissiveness now she keeps up with the pace! She's the interstellar traveller of love!"
The movie ended. The lights came up. The crowd didn't stop clapping. Instead, people hopped up out of their chairs and turned to face Quentin, not cheering the movie anymore but the man who's nice enough to keep bringing them back here and showing them to us. For a while he sat there sort of letting it happen, probably thinking of something to say... then he stands up and yells "see you at QT7!!!"
After some chatting in the lobby and on the street, we all felt the buzz still buzzing even though it was 12:30 already. So we went to Eric's house to watch some random 16mm stuff and I got to ogle all of his amazing film geek artifacts and memorabilia. He had this truly bizarre educational film about handicapped people in the workplace starring a young Michael Keaton with a huge list of cameos and some truly un-PC things going on like a Busby Berkely musical number with people in wheelchairs... Some Clash of the Titans TV Spots... some cool trailers and little snippets of film, hanging out until late night then doing early breakfast at Jim's until 5:30... I ended up having another all-nighter just to come down off the high QTfest put me on. It seemed a lot shorter this time around and even though it's only 7 days instead of 9, there were only 20 films shown this time versus 30 so it's definitely got me looking forward to QT7 already.