Carl and I left for Morton Grove later in the afternoon on Thursday. We got into town around seven, checked in to the hotel, and walked to The Palace for supper. This year, I had the almond roasted duck, which Bryan had recommended. The texture was a bit odd, but the taste was great. Tim and the B-Fest group were sitting on the opposite side of the restaurant and Tim happened to come over and say hi. We've been a part of the group for a few years now, but we don't know everyone quite as well as everyone else does. Bryan and Tim are the only friends that we're really familiar with. I'm hoping next year that we can come a day or two earlier, so that we can do some sight seeing with everyone. I want to get to know everyone more and just to be able to have a bit more time on the trip. Next year will be our fifth year, so I think we should make a longer trip of it. We told Tim that we'd be missing the Hala Kahiki get together that night. I'd slept terribly the night before, so I wasn't up for it and Carl was feeling tired, too. Tim did show off his wonderfully tacky green suit that he was going to be wearing that night. I took my leftover food back to the hotel and ate it later. Included was this weird looking vegetable dish. I didn't think it looked very good, so Carl tried it and his reaction to it was one of the funniest moments of the trip for me. Before spitting it out, he asked if I was going to eat the other half. I said no and he spit it out back into the container. We then watched a little TV before turning in for the night.
Unfortunately, I had another rough night of getting to sleep on Thursday, too. I don't think I fell asleep until 4:30 in the morning. So we had to miss Omega with the group, because I slept until 1 pm the next day. I felt bad, but I had to rest up or I'd be slogging through the whole trip. Carl and I went to Omega and we both had omelettes. I had a Tex Mex one and it was fantastic. Aside from Portillo's, it was probably the best meal I had on the trip. They always give you a lot for your money's worth. We then went to a nearby Aldi and got some food for the Fest. By then, we decided to just go to Northwestern, because other members of our group were also going. It was nice to get there earlier than we usually do. It's fun to talk with friends before the marathon begins. We got our B-Fest Mix CDs from Tim and he let us look through the things that he'd be giving away to the raffle. He let Carl and I take things we were interested in. Carl took a DVD of Super Mario Bros. and I took The Jaws Log, a book I've been wanting to read. We live in the same city, but I hadn't seen Bryan for months, so I went over to talk with him. He'd just seen The Shape of Water a few nights earlier and like me, he loved it. Guillermo del Toro is someone we both highly admire. A little later, I went to my seat and just talked with Carl until the Fest started. The lights went down and we prepared ourselves for:
Double Trouble (1992): This is a film starring the Barbarian Brothers. One of them is a cop, the other is a cat burglar. They are forced to work together on a case and hi-jinks ensue. James Doohan and David Carradine both briefly show up in small roles. Carradine is only in one scene. Out of the four years Carl and I have gone to B-Fest, this takes the prize of best opener. What a delightful, insane, stupid movie this is. It's one of those movies that only gets more ridiculous with each passing scene, never losing its momentum. One of the brothers squeezes a piece of coal so hard, it makes a diamond, one throws a giant satellite dish at a car, both brothers barehanded turn over a car off-screen and then a small plane later; all of this happens and it's glorious. The crowd had an absolute blast with this one. Nothing topped this for Carl in the lineup. It was his favorite of the Fest. It was definitely up there for me.
She (1984): I am all for a post-apocalyptic movie, but this film was a baffling experience. It has a thinly outlined plot, but once you get to the half hour mark it just takes our heroes from scene to scene without a lot of coherence. I was mostly entertained with it, but the crowd seemed to be annoyed. The best scene involves a guard on a bridge who our heroes fight. They discover that when chopping off a body part of his, he spawns a clone of himself. I can see where it was frustrating, because the movie is just so random and it is almost two hours long. It's not a good movie, but I've seen worse.
Tremors (1990): This is one of my top twenty favorite movies, so it was a bit odd seeing it at B-Fest. I get where it's technically a B-movie, but at this point it's a classic. I adore this film. I kind of liken it to Jaws where it is a perfect monster movie. With this viewing, I really noticed just how well sound is used to build tension. I hadn't seen the movie in quite some time, so it was great to re-experience it in a theater with a fun crowd. It was awesome whenever a Graboid would die, because the whole crowd just went nuts. I love the characters, I love the effects, which still hold up flawlessly, I love the tension, I just love Tremors. This could be a possible movie that I feature in a My Favorite Movies review someday.
Dolls (1987): Before this, I had no idea that Stuart Gordon had directed this. Though I had only seen Re-Animator and From Beyond before this, I think he's a solid director. While this movie does have the overused trope of a family having to spend a night in a creepy house, I think this film kind of elevates the material. It has solid effects, some good characters, great kills, and a sense of fun throughout. I had a great time with this one. Definitely one of the biggest surprises for me in this year's lineup.
Up next was the annual short, The Wizard of Speed and Time. We didn't go onstage and stomp this year, as is a tradition. It was fun to watch it from the seats this year.
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959): It's still fun. It's still one of my favorite B-movies. I still love the cues that we say. I still love throwing paper plates at the screen. I do enjoy that Tim has come up with a new cue since Doctor Strange came out. There is a shot that is used several times of Bela Legosi and Tim says, "Dormammu, I've come to bargain!" It's become one of my favorite cues for the movie. For the first time, I re-watched Ed Wood just days before re-watching this so I could have the Plan 9 filming scenes fresh in my head so I could compare them to the actual movie. Also, Ed Wood is one of my all time favorite movies, so any excuse to re-watch it is fine by me.
Night Train to Terror (1985): This is a horror anthology film which features God and Satan on a train discussing the fates of three individuals. What a crappy movie this was. Usually this slot is reserved for the blacksploitation film, but instead we got this stupid, at times sleazy, shitty horror movie. None of the individual segments have a satisfying conclusion. I was entertained by the stop-motion animation that they used in some scenes and Cameron Mitchell does show up in the third segment, but those can't save this uninteresting sit of a film. I also still can't get the featured rock song, 'Everybody But You' out of my head. Though I was entertained by the two guys who would get in front of the screen during each music segment and pretend to jam out on guitar video game controllers. I suppose if you want, watch it on Shudder, but otherwise don't bother. Although this film was more of a minor annoyance compared to other movies I've seen at B-Fest, it's the kind of movie you watch and forget about pretty quickly. It's almost two weeks later and I honestly couldn't tell you a plot summary of each segment.
Suffer with me.
Crippled Avengers (1978): This was more fucking like it. Our friend Melissa Kaercher sponsored the film. She was going to sponsor a film called The Astrologer which is a film that Cinefamily has the only existing print of and it's most likely never going to see a home video release due to music rights. Unfortunately, the tech that A&O used couldn't support the file so this movie was plan B. It's a shame because after watching the trailer, it was easily the film I was looking forward to the most. Luckily, Crippled Avengers was a perfect backup film. It has now been two years where a Shaw Brothers film has become my favorite in the lineup. Although Tremors is kind of the automatic best movie from this year, this was my favorite. It was shown a little after three in the morning and it kept me awake for the entire run-time. The choreography is outstanding with kick ass training montages. It has fun and memorable characters including a guy with metal arms that shoot darts. I saw the film that came before it, Five Deadly Venoms, just a little less than a week after and I think this is the superior film. The only connection between both movies is that they feature many of the same cast members. I think the characters are far more interesting and the fights are much more impressive. I loved this film. It's available on Amazon Prime or it's only five dollars on DVD as an add-on item. See this movie is you love kung-fu films. This is one of the top ten best martial arts movies I've ever seen.
The White Gorilla (1945): After the high of Crippled Avengers came this snooze-fest of a film. It was only an hour long, but I was bored for the entire run-time. The only thing that even remotely impressed me were the gorilla suits they used. Otherwise, I couldn't tell you what happened if I tried. There's plenty of wildlife stock footage and the film just slogs along. I almost fell asleep during this one.
The Wicker Man (2006): Speaking of films that slog along, I'd forgotten how dull this movie is between the infamous crazy moments. It does provide some bad movie entertainment, but it mostly just kind of sucks. Tim did lead a few of us in a 'Bohemian Rhapsody' riff during the "How'd it get burned?" scene and no one really responded to it, but I'm glad that I got to participate in it. Nicholas Cage is sleepwalking through this film and one thing that helped me get through it was Tim's Cage impression. I think I laughed at just about everything he said. Tim also pointed out that the insane moments really only happen in the opening and closing fifteen minutes of the film and it's true. If you are so inclined to see this so you can know how bad it is, at least watch it with Rifftrax. While you're at it, see the original film first. It's a masterpiece of horror and it has one of the most unsettling endings I've ever seen. This is just crap. It simply isn't entertaining enough to be a bad movie classic. I'm not sure if there is a worse remake than this one.
Surf Ninjas (1993): I finally dozed off around this time, so I only saw a little bit of this one. From what I saw, it was a perfectly harmless kid's movie. I really don't have anything to say about it, because I saw maybe twenty minutes of it.
The Villain (1979): I was kind of dreading this one because one person in our B-Fest Facebook group called the film "turgid". I didn't think it was that bad and was kind of entertained by it. It's basically a live action Wile E Coyote/Road Runner movie. Kirk Douglas is the titular villain, Cactus Jack, who is trying to steal money from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ann-Margret. He sets up various traps and each one fails. The only big problem I had with it was the incredibly racist depiction of Native Americans in the film, but they maybe take up fifteen minutes total of the run-time. While it does have a star as talented as Kirk Douglas, Ott the horse, who plays Cactus Jack's horse Whiskey, is easily the best actor in this film. People started chanting his name when it popped up in the credits. The film also has one of the most abrupt, 'what the fuck' endings I've seen in quite some time.
Troll 2 (1990): Surprisingly, I had never seen this movie before. I knew of its famous bad movie cult classic status and it was everything I had expected it to be. It is highly entertaining and it played pretty well to the B-Fest crowd. I had a lot of fun with it. Carl and I were glad that our first viewing of the film was at B-Fest. No way is it the worst movie ever made, just like Plan 9 From Outer Space isn't. They're the fun kind of bad. Get some friends together and check this one out for your next bad movie night if you've never seen it.
The lunch break and the raffle happened next. Neither Carl or I won anything. I do hope Carl gets something one of these years, because I was lucky enough to win something the first year we went.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978): Holy. Fucking. Shit. This was absolutely abysmal. There are the bad movies like Troll 2, where you're entertained the whole time at how incompetent and bizarre the movie is and then there are bad movies like this that are just unbearable to sit through. This movie stars the Bee Gees and is literally an hour and fifty three minutes of Beatles song covers. The only dialogue provided is through the film's narrator, otherwise it is all singing. I will give the film credit that it does have a couple of decent covers by Earth, Wind and Fire, Aerosmith and even Steve Martin, but those do nothing to help this piece of garbage film. I hated this movie. I'll even go so far as to say that it is one of the worst films I have ever seen. There is a scene towards the end where one of the main characters is going to commit suicide and we were all cheering for them to do it. That is how bad this movie is. The best part was when Tim lead a group of people onstage to dance in front of the screen and then turn around and give the movie the finger. Fuck this movie so hard.
The Mummy's Ghost (1944): This was a pretty average Universal monster sequel. I thought the characters were pretty forgettable and the plot was weak. The Mummy once again returns and goes on a murderous rampage. Not much else happens. The movie is perfectly serviceable and short.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984): What a lame fucking choice for the closing film this year. I was excited to watch it since the Movie Sign with the Mads episode on it, so I decided to seek it out and watch it just a few months earlier. I did not get the love for this movie. It's trying way too hard to be a cult film and it annoys me how it acts as if it's from an established universe. If you're going to show a cult 80s sci-fi movie, just show Flash Gordon. That film at least has a personality and a sense of fun to it. Peter Weller, Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Lloyd can't even save this movie. It's not that it's bad, it's just really lame. I had no patience to sit through it again, especially after the previous two movies, so I was glad I convinced Carl to leave early and go back to the hotel so we could get ready for the annual Portillo's meal. Could we please have the traditional kaiju movie be the closing film from now on? I've only gotten one in my four years of going and they're easily the best choice to close the Fest.
We returned to the hotel and I showered the 24 hours of nerd funk off of me. We relaxed for a bit and then went to the lobby to meet up with everyone. Josh Shepherd was nice enough to drive us to Portillo's. This was great, because we had never really had a chance to talk with him in past years. It was nice to get to know him a bit. We sat with some people we weren't as familiar with, but we had some nice conversations and delicious food. We said goodbye to everyone and then went back to the hotel for sleep.
This trip always goes by so quick and I hope that next year we come up a day or two earlier just so we can spend more time with the group. To Carl, Bryan and Tim, you are three people I'm very glad to call my friends and I always enjoy getting to experience this trip with you guys. To the rest of the group, I am happy to be a part of it with you.