Friday, April 22, 2016

Spider-Man (2002)

Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
James Franco as Harry Osborn
Rosemary Harris as May Parker
Cliff Robertson as Ben Parker
J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson

Written by David Koepp

Directed by Sam Raimi

If you were to ask me who my favorite character in fiction was, my immediate answer would be Peter Parker aka the amazing Spider-Man. He and Godzilla were the two most vital characters of my childhood that have carried into adulthood. I remember being nine years old, sitting in a theater with my grandparents and we got the teaser for Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, where he stops a robbery by trapping the criminals' getaway helicopter between the Twin Towers.. I was absolutely enthralled. I had been somewhat familiar with superheroes at the time. I knew who Superman and Batman were, but I had never seen anything of Superman and I had only seen a few episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. I did see X-Men in the theater, but I wouldn't say that it quite has the feel of a superhero film. Jump to May of 2002. I remember sitting in my seat in the Marcus Theaters Ultrascreen auditorium and I was so excited that the day had finally arrived. I was finally seeing the movie that I had obsessed over for over half of a year, which, in ten year old time, feels a lot longer. The Columbia Pictures and Marvel logos appeared and Danny Elfman's score began. I think Danny Elfman's theme is one of the best superhero film themes ever composed. Whenever I hear it, I immediately think of Spider-Man. For the next two hours, I was filled with absolute delight and excitement. Walking out of the theater, I knew what I had just watched was life changing for me. Spider-Man was the movie that started my lifelong love affair for superheroes and comic books.

Most people at the time knew Sam Raimi for The Evil Dead films, but I first knew him as the director of this film and its two sequels. Rewatching the film earlier this week, I've picked up on a lot of his trademarks. He did an excellent job directing this movie. You can easily tell that Raimi knows how a comic book film should look, because he's obviously a fan of them. The action is incredibly well choreographed and thrilling. Rewatching the film for the first time in years, I noticed how much of the effects are practical. Sure, there's CGI in there, but most of it still holds up pretty well. I remember getting Spider-Man on DVD for my birthday and that was the first film I'd ever gotten on DVD. I spent that weekend watching the movie and all of the special features and I thought Sam Raimi was such a cool guy to listen to talk about comics and movies. Ever since then, he's been one of my favorite directors.

As for the film's cast, it's fantastic. Each of the main actors fit their roles and they develop the characters very well. Tobey Maguire does a really solid job. He's an excellent Peter Parker and Spider-Man. He fits both parts greatly. A lot of people think he should have been more quippy in the movie, but even as someone who loves the comic book version of the character, I think this worked for the film portrayal. I'm sure Tom Holland will be a great Spider-Man for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Maguire will be the onscreen version of the character I'll remember fondly.

Willem Dafoe is equally great as Norman Osborn. He really sells the character's descent into madness. I think the film does a fine job of showing the changes that he and Peter are going through. Peter goes through the film learning how to be a hero, while things are basically going to shit for Norman and while he does become the villain, you understand where he's coming from. As the Green Goblin, he's menacing and even though the costume looks kind of silly, I think it works for this movie. I like the feature of his eyes on his mask opening up, so that we see Norman's eyes inside the mask and with that feature, he looks even more threatening.

Kirsten Dunst is really good as Mary Jane. She was one of the first film stars that I had a crush on and even today, I still think she's very pretty. She fits the role well and her relationship with Peter is portrayed spot on. The film really gets what it's like to have a crush on someone when you're that age and you just don't know what to say to them. I'm glad that they give her character something to do other than being a damsel in distress. We see early on that she has a rough home life, but as soon as she's with her friends or going out with Flash Thompson, she turns on that fun girl persona and I think that's a great addition to her character. She and Tobey Maguire also have really good chemistry together.

Rosemary Harris and Cliff Robertson are very well cast as Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Harris really gets the warmth and wisdom of the character right. Cliff Robertson plays Uncle Ben perfectly. We're given enough screen time with him, that when he dies, it's heartbreaking. The last scene between him and Peter in the car is a gut punch. Even after all this time, his death scene still gets me emotional. His famous phrase, "With great power, comes great responsibility," has stuck with me ever since seeing the film for the first time and I'm glad the film used it well. I even have a Spider-Man shirt with the famous phrase on it.

There are a few characters in comic book films, that when I see them, I feel that they've jumped right off the pages of the comics. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle, Ron Perlman as Hellboy, Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson and this movie has J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. Talk about perfect casting. He is so wonderful in this role, that I hope they don't try to recast him in the upcoming MCU films.

As for the plot, this was all new to me when I first saw it. I had seen film with heroes and villains, but not like this. Peter Parker was just a regular teenager who lived with his aunt and uncle, who gained superpowers. I think they did the origin story flawlessly. It doesn't even take fifteen minutes for him to get bit by the spider and from there, the movie keeps on moving, but each scene further develops the characters and sets up the story, all while being a really fun time. Unlike the 2012 reboot, this movie knows that Spider-Man is a fun, exciting character. It's a good representation of Spider-Man and his world. What's nice about this movie coming out back in the early 2000s, is that it wasn't made in the golden age of comic book films. When you would go to a comic book film back then, they were a gamble. Luckily, Sam Raimi and company knew what they were doing. They weren't concerned about building a movie universe or setting up multiple sequels. Spider-Man is how a proper comic book origin film should be made. Sam Raimi plants a few seeds to set up the second film, but that isn't a major focus. The main two moments that set up what's to come next are in the final minutes, where Harry wants revenge on Spider-Man, because he thinks he murdered his father. There's also the moment where Peter can't tell Mary Jane how much he loves her, because he's protecting her and she has that small moment of realization after she kisses him that he may be Spider-Man. Otherwise the film has told its story well.

Spider-Man has all of the strengths of a great comic book film. It establishes the characters well, the action feels straight out of a comic book and fourteen years later, the movie holds up tremendously well. I watched the film with the critical side of my brain for the first time and the only elements that I may have problems with are so minor, that they really don't affect my overall enjoyment of the film. I'm really happy to say that this is still one of my favorite comic book films, but I can't wait to see where the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes Spider-Man. He's finally home, but I think the first two Sam Raimi films should not be overlooked. I also don't have the seething hatred for the third film that so many other people have. It may not be as good as the first two movies, but I'd much rather watch it again instead of the dull reboot or something awful like Batman and Robin.

I've never related to a character the way I have to Peter Parker. Like him, I'm a huge nerd, I was bullied in school, I could barely make any verbal communication with girls, I have a similar relationship to my grandparents to the way he does to his aunt and uncle, as in we're very close and they've been very important people in my life. I related to him throughout a lot of my school years, especially middle school. But he inspired me. Because of him, I'm proud to be a nerd and to be passionate about what I love. I was made fun of for liking movies and comic books, but I didn't let it get to me, because I would never want to be like the popular kids. I'm a nerd and proud of it. Excelsior!

This was part of the Celluloid Zeroes' roundtable of genre films for kids. The other reviews are linked below.

Checkpoint Telstar: Time Bandits

The Terrible Claw Reviews: Gamera vs. Viras

Micro-Brewed Reviews: The Magic Serpent

Psychoplasmics: The Gate

Web of the Big Damn Spider: The 5,000 Fingers of Doctor T.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Gymkata (1985)

Kurt Thomas as Jonathan Cabot
Tetchie Agbayani as Princess Rubali
Richard Norton as Zamir
Buck Kartalian as The Kahn

Screenplay by Charles Robert Carner
Story by Dan Tyler Moore

Directed by Robert Clouse

For as long as I can remember, I've always thought that martial arts films were fun pieces of entertainment. I rented almost every Jackie Chan film from my local video store. He was one of my idols as a kid. I loved his mixture of humor with his fighting style. I've also seen a few Bruce Lee films over the years and some kung fu movies. So Gymkata sounded like a movie I would really enjoy. I put it on my Amazon wishlist and got it for Christmas last year. The night before B-fest this year, our group watched some movies that Tim had brought in the lobby. We started with Tarkan Versus the Vikings and once we had finished it, most of us went back to our hotel rooms for bed, but the few who stayed in the lobby started Gymkata and I saw a bit of the opening and was excited to finally review it.

Gymkata is a big load of dumb fun. I think male gymnastics must have been big in the 80s, because the star of this movie is Kurt Thomas, who was an Olympic gymnast at the time, and I feel like some producer saw him on TV and thought that he'd make a good movie star.

The movie starts with a shot of our main character, Jonathan Cabot, doing gymnastics, while it cuts to footage of horses galloping on a beach. It's a weird opening, but the movie then wastes no time as a SIA, Special Intelligence Agency, agent comes to Cabot to recruit him to play in "the Game", which is a competition in the fictional country of Parmistan. All foreigners are forced to play the game. It's basically a race across obstacles of endurance while the competitors are chased by local warriors. If anyone wins, they are granted their life and a wish. The SIA agent tells Cabot that no one has won the game in 900 years, but Cabot has incentive to go, because his father played in the game and went missing. They also want him to compete in it, because if he wins, they want him to use his wish to install a US satellite monitoring station that can act as an early warning system for a nuclear attack. Cabot begins his training and we get a montage, of course.

Cabot meets Princess Rubali and after probably not even after two minutes of screen time together, they're in love and they start kissing. The movie wastes no time in these first fifteen minutes. They trim the fat and for this movie, it works, because you want it to just get to the action, because Kurt Thomas is not a very charismatic actor. He's at his best when he's showing off his gymnastic skills. At almost exactly fifteen minutes in, Cabot is in Parmistan. However, the actual plot doesn't kick in for another fifteen minutes.

While Cabot and Rubali are visiting a local market, they are attacked by some terrorists and Cabot must use his "gymkata" to fight them and save the princess. He comes across a random pole on his way to where the princess is being held and he does gymnastics on it, while kicking every person in the face who comes after him. I like that his hands are chalked up already when he gets onto the pole. Although I can accept that the pole would be there, maybe it's a pipe or a laundry line. Cabot saves the princess and a chase scene happens. There are terrorists with guns around almost every corner they turn, but they still get away.

They escape in a raft that they take down the river, but they are stopped by Parmistan warriors and Cabot is brought back to the king's palace. The king, known as the Khan, is played by Buck Kartalian, who looks like an actor who belongs in a comedy. He's Rubali's father and these two look like that they could not be any less related. The actress playing Rubali is of Asian descent, while Kartalian is a white man with a poor comb over. The Khan shows the contestants a map of the course and it looks like a diorama that someone made for their school project. It doesn't look too bad, actually. While waiting for the game to begin, Cabot learns from Rubali that Zamir, the Khan's right hand man and the manager of the game, is planning a coup against the Khan and that he will sell the satellite rights to the enemy. He also intends to marry Rubali. I like how much they make Zamir look like a total asshole. They give him a braid in his hair, so that he looks dickish and at the feast that takes place the night before, he takes off his shirt and shows off his skills with sais and tells Cabot, "She's mine." This guy could not be a more cliched villain if they gave him a mustache to twirl. He doesn't really ham it up, but he's definitely appropriate for the part.

The game begins and the contestants have to go through a few trials. For the first one, they have to climb a rope while outrunning Zamir and his warrirors on horses. A few of them make it, but those who don't are shot down by arrows. Zamir doesn't play fair and he constantly breaks the rules of the game, just so he can kill Cabot. The Khan's forces have been overpowered by Zamir's army and the Khan is pretty much oblivious. For the second trial, the contestants must go across ropes that are over a chasm. Zamir and his men catch up and they kill one of the contestants. He falls to his death and he becomes a dummy as he hits the rocks and the dummy's foot flies off.

After everyone else has died, Cabot is the only contestant left. He ends up in a village of crazy people who try to kill him. This is where things get really bizarre. One villager tries to attack Cabot and then just chops off his own hand and walks away. Another has a fake second face attached to the back of his head and another is almost completely dressed, but his entire backside is exposed. Cabot comes across a pommel horse and uses it to kick the elderly village people in the face and it makes for the most entertaining action scene in the film. The pole from earlier in the film was plausible for being there, but there is no reason for the pommel horse to be there other than to have Cabot do gymnastics on it.

Cabot is saved by one of the Parmistan warriors, who turns out to be his father. His father gives him some exposition on how he was injured in the game, but allowed to live and then he's shot in the back with an arrow. I was amazed at how useless the father was after he was revealed to be alive. He gives some exposition to his son and is shot almost immediately after that. Zamir catches up with Cabot and they fight until Cabot pins Zamir and breaks his neck with his thighs.

Rubali finally convinces the Khan that Zamir is plotting against him, so they then fight their way out of the palace and the Khan has the citizens go after the rest of Zamir's army. Cabot returns victorious, with his father, who still has an arrow in his back. The movie ends on a freeze frame with text revealing that the satellite station was installed.

Gymkata is a unique take on the martial arts genre. The combination of gymnastics and karate make for some fun action scenes. At 90 minutes, the movie wastes no time on drawn out scenes or overused exposition. It's a movie that does exactly what it sets out to do and that is to be entertaining.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Zaat (1971)

Marshall Grauer as Dr. Kurt Leopold
Wade Popwell as The Monster
Paul Galloway as Sheriff Lou Krantz
Gerald Cruse as Marine Biologist Rex
Sanna Ringhaver as INPIT Agent Martha Walsh
Dave Dickerson as INPIT Agent Walker Stevens

Story by Ron Kivett and Lee Larew 
Screenplay by Don Barton and Arnold Stevens

Directed by Don Barton and Arnold Stevens 

Lots of people who know me are aware that Mystery Science Theater 3000 helped shape my sense of humor and my love of B-movies. A few years ago, I first saw their episode of this movie, under the title of Blood Waters of Dr. Z and it became one of my favorite episodes. Produced by the Barton Film Company, who did a lot of commercials and industrial films, which is definitely noticeable with this movie, in Jacksonville, FL, Zaat is a creature feature that director Don Barton decided would be easy to make on a tight budget and still get into theaters. Lee Larew and Ron Kivett came up with the sci fi/horror plot after reading an article in a Florida wildlife magazine about the environmental threat of walking catfish. 

I got the Blu ray of Zaat for Christmas last year and I thought it'd be a perfect film to start off this blog with and holy shit, did it not disappoint. For those who watch MST3K, you know that they had to cut down the movies featured on the show for time, so I finally got to experience the full, uncut film. Without Mike and the bots, it's pretty jarring, because this movie is full of long stretches of silence, mainly the scenes of the monster walking around.

The movie starts off with stock footage of sea creatures and we hear our main character, ex-Nazi scientist Dr. Kurt Leopold's inner monologue about how he plans to use his formula, Zaat, to transform people into walking catfish people. The first twenty minutes are a bit slow, because while we do get some of that sweet inner monologue, these scenes of Leopold in his lab are mainly him walking around with a dead-eyed, miserable look on his face. It's revealed that he was laughed at by his colleagues and that they wanted nothing to do with the Zaat formula. He has drawn a chronological wheel and in each month, there are his further plans to conquer the world. He starts off by using Zaat on himself, spraying some red liquid into his tank and then lowering himself into it by using a gurney and he is then transformed into a catfish monster. I'd like to point out that the monster suit has no articulation in the face. He just has a stone look on his face for the rest of the movie.

Wade Popwell plays Leopold in his monster form for the remainder of the movie. Popwell is the MVP of the film, because as we see in several shots, he visibly trips on something or momentarily loses his footing. I assume Popwell couldn't see very well in the suit, if at all. If you watch the bootleg version of the film on Youtube, which is of the laserdisc transfer, you can see some shots of Popwell in the full monster suit, but with tennis shoes on, because the film was shot on open matte. Little details like that and the slow pacing add to the bizarre charm of this film.

He just wanted to be comfortable.

After transforming himself, Leopold's acts of revenge begin when he goes to a river and releases some of the smaller walking catfish into it and then he takes a spray bottle of Zaat and squirts some of it underwater. Anytime Leopold accomplishes a task on his wheel, he crosses it out and after this particular one, he crosses off the state of Florida as if he's saying that after releasing a few catfish into a river and a few squirts of Zaat, he's conquered Florida. It's one of the biggest laughs I got out of the film. 

We are then introduced to Lou, the town's sheriff and Rex, the town's marine biologist, who are getting calls about people who have seen a fish-like monster walking around town. Lou is your typical monster movie sheriff, where he thinks the weird things going on in the town are just made up until towards the end of the film when he randomly reveals that Leopold had wanted to experiment on people. So they call in some scientists from INPIT, Martha Walsh and Walker Stevens. They begin to investigate and find some contaminate in the river, so they analyze it. 

Leopold then decides to murder a couple of his former colleagues, who we see pictures of on his wheel. Leopold finds his first colleague out fishing. He overturns his boat and kills him and just so that we know it's the colleague, the film flashes back and forth between the picture of him and as he's being murdered by Leopold. The same thing happens again when Leopold murders his second colleague, this time the victim is in his home, reeling his fishing pole. So I guess this is the film saying that the sea creature loving Leopold also wants to kill them, because they're both fisherman as well.

The monster decides he wants a mate, as he spies on a bikini-clad girl on a shore. The movie doesn't explain much of what the monster's motives are, so you have to piece together what's going on. But we see another flash to Leopold's wheel and this time it's a drawing of a lady catfish monster. So he kidnaps the girl and takes her back to his lab. He injects her with Zaat and lowers her into the tank and she dies partially transformed. A couple of noticeable things in this scene are that the actress plugs her nose before going underwater and then, after she is brought up from underwater, her eyes are closed, but are then open in the very next shot. Leopold then dissolves her body in some sort of liquid.

Rex and the INPIT agents set up a net near a location that Leopold has been spotted at and they capture him, which leads to a fight scene between the monster and Stevens. You can audibly hear Wade Popwell's grunts and growls from inside the monster suit during this scene. Both the monster and Stevens are injured and Leopold gets away. He returns to his lab and decides that his next attempt at a mate will be agent Walsh, which he draws a sketch of and the film once again flashes back and forth to shots of the sketch and the character.

Then we get to my favorite scene in the film. Leopold goes into town and breaks into a pharmacy. There are long shots of him walking down the street. At one point, he stops, holds his side where he was injured, while his inner monologue says, "UNNNGH, THE PAIN!" Instead of setting up different or clever angles to show the monster, there's just long, wide shots of him walking around. The industrial filmmaking definitely shines brightest in these types of scenes. He breaks into the pharmacy, opens a couple of cabinets, drinks some medicine, angrily trashes the place and then leaves.

It's such an odd little scene that doesn't really accomplish anything other than being entertaining to watch. Well, I guess that can be said for a lot of scenes in this movie, especially the one that follows just a few minutes later.

On his way back to the lab, the monster comes across a random teenage couple and he kills the boy. We then cut to Sheriff Lou in his vehicle as he hears a scream. We think that he's going to drive over to the couple that was terrorized, but he drives over to a building and finds a group of hippies playing religious music. He sits down and listens to them play, nodding approvingly, not to the beat, though. The hippie playing the acoustic guitar is Jamie DeFrantes, who wrote the songs for the film and with that discovery, it makes sense why this scene is even  in the film. It has to be because the filmmakers knew DeFrantes could play guitar and they wanted a scene of him playing it. The scene then gets weirder, as Lou leads all of the hippies down the street, while DeFrantes is still playing and singing and someone is playing the flute. Lou leads them to the jail and has them all go into a cell, saying they'll be safe there. Is the movie saying something about society in the 70s? Is the flute player the pied piper and the hippies are the rats that are being lead into the jail? Or is it just because they knew DeFrantes could play guitar and this was the only scene they could think of to have him in? The scene comes out of nowhere and we never see these hippies again.

It's at this point, that the film just goes off the rails. Lou reveals that Leopold is probably the one behind all of this. The way he tells Rex and Stevens this is baffling. It'd be like if I said, "You know, I saw my neighbor digging a hole in his backyard and he had a bunch of bags full of body parts that he threw in there. I think he might be a serial killer." And before you decked me in the face for not telling you sooner after there being months of missing person cases, I'd say, "Well, I just hadn't thought of it until now."

Leopold kidnaps Walsh. Lou, Stevens and Rex go after Leopold. Stevens finds a random buggy that can  travel on land and water and I love the action music playing whenever it cuts to Stevens in the buggy going incredibly slow in the water. He decides to then ditch it and go across some water with a gun. He's attacked by a snake and his leg is injured, so he slowly makes his way to Leopold's lab. Lou fights Leopold as he returns and is killed. Leopold injects Walsh with the serum, but the experiment fails, because Rex saves her as Leopold flees to the ocean. But Walsh seems like she's mentally transformed, because she follows Leopold and Stevens can't get her out of her trance. So after this hour and a half of low budget schlock, they attempt to end it ambiguously. 

Zaat is pure B-movie bliss. Its lack of proper filmmaking, style and substance is what makes it such a fascinating film to watch. The longer the film goes on, the more bizarre and stupid it gets. After a certain point in the film, nothing really matters in the plot anymore and your're just along for the rest of it, hopefully having an enjoyable time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

B-Fest 2016: Back For A Second Year of B-Movie Valhalla

Before I begin, I'll introduce myself to those who don't personally know me. I'm Jacob McLaughlin. I love movies of all kinds and this blog will be focusing on B-movies and occasionally mainstream films I love as well. I'm from Madison, WI, but I currently reside in Mason City, IA.

Also, here are the friends that I will be mentioning in this article.

Carl Messer-My best friend since middle school.

Bryan Clark-A good friend from Mason City, who's been going to the fest for over a decade.

Tim Lehnerer-A friend that I met through B-Fest, who makes an awesome mix CD for the fest every year.

Eric "Hungie" Hungerford-Another friend from Iowa, who hadn't been to the fest since 2002.

Carl and I arrived at Northwestern University around four, two hours before the fest began. We had just come from a couple of awesome shops and they left us in the right mind set for the fest, especially Horrorbles, a horror themed collectibles shop. We registered, got our posters and t-shirts, and got seated in the auditorium. We managed to get the same seats that we sat in last year, second row from the top, two seats in from the right side. We discussed what movies we were looking forward to and talked a little bit with the man in the row behind us. Then we saw Jay Bauman and Josh Lewis from Red Letter Media, our favorite online movie reviewers, arrive and get seated. We had briefly gotten to talk to Josh last year, but it was right between movies, so we didn't have a lot of time. So we decided if we were going to talk with Jay, it was going to be now. So we walked over and I just happened to have worn my Best of the Worst shirt to the fest, so that was a nice coincidence. We told him how we love their work and that Half in Bag's B-Fest 2012 recap was the whole reason we found out about B-Fest in the first place. We got a picture with him and returned to our seats, ecstatic that not only had we met one of our favorite online entertainers, but that he was a really nice and cool guy to talk with.

Jay, myself and Carl.

Bryan, Hungie and another friend from Iowa, Matt, shortly arrived after and managed to find three seats together. The fest was about to begin, but then, one of my favorite memories from this year happened: Bryan, Tim, Matt and a friend of theirs all went onstage, sprayed their mouths with chrome cake spray and yelled, "WITNESS ME!" It set the mood very well for what we were about to endure.

The Adventures of Hercules (1985): This is the sequel to Cannon's Hercules starring Lou Ferrigno. Carl and I had seen the first film about a year ago and we highly enjoyed it. And I must say, this movie was even more entertaining than the first movie. It's cheaper looking, sure, but the film makers just decided to go even goofier this time and it made for a great movie to kick off the fest with. One of the running jokes of the fest started with this film, where William Berger's King Minos talks about science, so whenever science was brought up in another film, the crowd would yell, "SCIENCE!" Also, my favorite interactions with the screen were during this movie. There's a couple of scenes with these twins who look very similar to the Mothra twins, so someone had a huge sheet of paper with Mothra drawn on it and they had it move across the screen during those scenes. Then, during the fight scenes, instead of having words like "Bam" or "Pow" written on giant pieces of paper, they had written Greek symbols.

Caltiki, The Immortal Monster (1959): This wasn't exactly the best kind of movie for B-Fest, it's very talky and there's not really any monster action until the third act, but I grew up on monster movies, so I really enjoyed this film. The monster looks like a giant loaf of bread dough rising. The acting is fine for 50s B-movie standards. The movie is only an hour and sixteen minutes and it flew by pretty quick, at least for me.

Americathon (1979): This was easily one of the biggest surprises of the fest in a very good way. The further the movie goes on, the more insane and delightful it gets. Taking place in the future of 1998, our country is in financial trouble, so it's decided that there will be a telethon for a whole month to raise 4 billion dollars. It's surprising how a lot of the topics in the movie are relevant today. The movie has a great cast, including John Ritter as the president, Harvey Corman as the telethon's host, Mounty Rushmore, George Carlin as the narrator and Fred Willard. I think even for someone is not a fan of B-movies, this would be an enjoyable sit.

Calling Dr. Death (1943): This was off to a bit of a slow start, but as this murder mystery progressed, I enjoyed it more. Lon Chaney plays a doctor who is accused of murdering his wife. He has a lot of inner monologue, which was a bit hard to hear with the crowd talking a lot through the movie, but he did give a decent performance. J. Carrol Nash steals the film as Inspector Gregg. He comes off as kind of an asshole, but I liked him.

The Wizard of Speed and Time (1979): Last year, Carl and I weren't aware of what we had to do onstage during this fantastic short, but we were prepared this year. We stomped our feet and I will admit, this looks easy, but your legs get worn out a lot faster than you'd expect while doing this. There was no sound during this showing, but the people onstage still stomped their way through it and during the Wizard's song, someone started to sing it and we all stomped in time to it. It was a moment of B-Fest magic.

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959): The official midnight movie of the fest. It was just as fun to watch with the crowd as our first year. This is the grand master of B-Movies and there's a good reason for that. It's one of those movies that has such a likable charm to it, that you can't help but enjoy it.

The Human Tornado (1976): I haven't seen the first Dolemite film, but after seeing the sequel, I don't think that really mattered. This was one of the most batshit crazy and entertaining movies of the entire fest for me. Rudy Ray Moore is so damn likable as Dolemite. I was in awe of how insane the film continued to get as it went on. It's definitely one of my favorite blacksploitation movies now.

I was getting pretty tired at this point and knowing what was coming next, I decided it was a great time to catch some sleep. So I leaned over and balled up my coat and dozed off.

The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987): I slept for almost the whole movie, but I'd wake up every once in awhile to hear how angry the crowd was at this piece of shit. I looked over and asked Carl how it was. He said it was worse than Alien From L.A., which was shown at last year's fest and one of my most hated movies of all time, but I wasn't too surprised that he thought this was worse. I was awake for about the last ten minutes and thought of how happy I was that I wasn't awake for the entire movie. Usually after each movie, the crowd applauds, but everyone booed after this was over, so take that for what it's worth.

Blood Mania (1970): I caught about the first fifteen minutes of this before I dozed off again. It was off to a pretty dull start and apparently that's how it was for the entire film. I woke up for the "twist" ending and it was pretty stupid, so once again, I'm glad I chose sleep over a shitty movie.

Moon Zero Two (1969): I have seen the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode twice and I still couldn't tell you what this movie was about or what happens in it. It has a fun animated opening credits sequence and song, but that's all I can remember from it. It's a good looking movie, though. The costumes and sets are kind of cool. So I slept through it and woke up towards the end feeling better with the sleep that I got through what were probably the three most skippable movies of the fest. It was pretty convenient that they were all right in a row.

Low Blow (1986): This was featured on Red Letter Media's Best of the Worst not too long ago and I remember them enjoying it. I was still kind of tired at this point, so I had kind of a hard time keeping my eyes open, but the movie picked up about half way through and it was alright for what it was. Although it is one of those movies that I feel like I'll forget about soon. 

The Fifth Musketeer (1979): This was a nice surprise, but it didn't feel like it belonged at the fest. It's not a great movie, but it's absolutely not a bad one. The acting is solid, the costumes and sets look great and the plot is fine for this kind of movie.

Roar (1981): Holy fucking shit, this movie is amazing. The backstory behind it is that Tippi Hedren and Noel Marshall bought a wildlife preserve in Africa and then they made a movie there, in which 70 cast and crew members were injured while making it. The actors get mauled onscreen and they play it off as if the lions and tigers are just playing. It made for one of the most fun experiences I've ever had in a theater. It's really tense and you're left wondering just how much these actors went through. It's a movie that I enjoyed so much that I'll be buying it.

Kansas City Bomber (1972): So after the spike in energy that the crowd had after Roar, it was almost obliterated with this dull, boring film. A movie about roller-derbys starring Raquel Welch should not be boring. I was starting to get tired about half way through, so I got up and went to talk with Bryan, Tim and Hungie. It was definitely a good choice. A random Calling Dr. Death poster shows up in Welch's kitchen, so that was a weird connection. Since I slept through what were apparently the two worst films of B-Fest, this was my least favorite of the movies shown. Luckily, they were saving the best movie for last.

The Super Infra-Man (1975): Tim sponsored this movie and warned us that the first thirty seconds were a bit slow, but then a dinosaur crashes into Earth and causes an earthquake. From then on, this movie is one of the most delightful movies of its kind that I've ever seen. I had a big smile on my face for the majority of it, so much that my cheeks started to hurt. The energy of the crowd shot right back up after the snooze fest that was Kansas City Bomber. Kaiju and Godzilla films are some of the biggest childhood movie memories I cherish and I still love them today, maybe even more than I did when I was a kid and this movie delivered on every level. For ninety minutes, it is a full blown fun time. I can't think of a single dull moment in this entire movie. It was a grand finale for this year's B-Fest and I can't wait to watch it again. Something tells me that this and Roar will be in my next Amazon order.