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.

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