He Watched It Sober.

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B-Fest 2003

It Came from the '80s

24-Hours! 17 Films! 67-Hours of No Sleep!

( Or We're Experiencing Technical Difficulties )

( Please Stand By )

 

     

B-Fest:

2003

 

The Line Up:

Kingdom of the Spiders

Cool as Ice

Flash Gordon

Wizard of Speed & Time

Plan 9 from Outer Space

The Happy Hooker

Flesh Gordon

A Language All My Own

Warlords of Atlantis

Dementia 13

No Holds Barred

Mac & Me

The Last Dragon

It Came from Beneath the Sea

What is Communism?

Supergirl

Godzilla 1985

 

 
Sights &
Sounds:
B-Fest 
2003
 Where:
  McCormick Auditorium
  Northwestern University
 When:
  Jan. 24-25
  6pm to 6pm
 A&O
 Films
 

The 2003

Mix Tracks:

A Second Year
of Tampering
in God's Domain

Courtesy of Tim Lehnerer

& The Unified Meek Theory

 "Godzilla King
  of the Monsters"

Akira Ifukube  

 "The Cockroach
  that Ate Cincinnati"

Rose & the Arrangement  

 "Love Theme
  from MST3k"

Joel Hodgson  

 "Scary Picture Show"

The Riot Squad   

 "The Devil"

Hoyt Axton  

 "Hang 'Em High"

Booker T & the MG's  

 "The Words Get
  Stuck in My Throat"

Devo  

 "Bilbo Baggins"

Leonard Nimoy  

 "Maxwell Silver Hammer"

Steve Martin  

 "Godzilla"

Blue Oyster Cult  

 "Attack of the
  Killer Tomatoes"

Lewis Lee  

 "Star Wars Theme"

Meco  

 "Partytime"

45 Grave  

 "One Tin Soldier
  Rides Away"

Coven  

 "Theme from Coffy"

Roy Ayers  

 "Mothra"

Those Darn Accordians  

 "Football Fight"

Queen  

 "Spider-Man"

The Ramones  

 "Nowhere Fast"

Fire, Inc.  

 "Kung-Fu Fighting"

Carl Douglas  

 "Nobody Does it Better"

Me First &   

 The Gimme Gimmes  

 "Attack of the Mole Men"

The Dickies  

 "Wizard of Speed & Time"

Mike Jittlov   

 "Science Fiction
  Double Feature"

Richard O'Brien  

 

B-Fest or Bust

(Here We Go Again...)

Ah, B-Fest. 24-straight hours of butt-numbing, sleep-depriving, and mind-melting cinematic cheese. 

Since I had so much fun last year, I penciled in my vacation request early and was pretty gung-ho about returning to the annual event for some sloppy seconds. But the enthusiasm lost a little thunder when I saw the line-up for 2003 -- and frankly, it just didn't have the same, stinky allure of last year's schedule, where I hadn't seen over half the films featured, which was a big selling point. This year was ripe with atrocities from the 1980's but I'd already seen them all save one -- Warlords of Atlantis. And, aside from Flesh Gordon, it also lacked the sleazy overnight punch of last year, too. 

And being perpetually broke, meaning another smash-n-grab weekend of driving 11-hours, watching 24-hours of films, and then another 11-hour drive right back to help keep costs down, I was even contemplating backing out. What it all boiled down to was simple: Was the trip worth it? The answer wasn't long in coming: Yeah. It is.

Plus, my good buddy, Paul Freeland, who attended with me last year, was ready and willing to go again, The BMMB promised to be well represented, and it was a golden opportunity to hang out with the whole Stomp Tokyo crew again. So, schedule be damned, I'm going. 

We also picked up another victim -- Mike Bockoven, a friend and co-worker, who is a fine connoisseur of cinematic cheese with a major in Troma releases. His lovely wife Sarah contemplated going with us, too, but a scheduling conflict prevented this. The plan was to leave Grand Island at the butt-crack of dawn the Friday morning of B-Fest, swing through Omaha and pick up Paul, then off to Chicago to hopefully arrive at the Northwestern University campus around 4pm. The weather for B-Fest weekend called for cold and snow in the windy city. The forecasted cold didn't bother us as our own current temperature hovered around minus-7 degrees. The snow wouldn't be a problem either as Sarah graciously offered her Jeep to transport us to the frozen tundra of Evanston. So it was all set.

The Butt-Crack of Dawn

(Sleep is Soooo Overrated.)

So, when B-Fest Eve finally arrived, having learned a valuable lesson at last year's B-Fest that No Food or Drink Allowed in McCormick Auditorium was a sign of suggestion only -- more like Just Try Not to Spill Anything -- I headed to the grocery store to stock up. This year, I would enter the colossal marathon more prepared with a bag full of chips, beef jerky, cookies, and a butt-load of caffeine-saturated drinks. Knowing Mike's going to be by to pick me up at 5am sharp, with a chuckle, I crawl into bed at 10pm and stare at the ceiling for awhile. I'm still staring at 2am when I have a funny thought: By this same time Sunday morning I'm going to be right back here in bed, and in between that time I'm going all the way to Chicago and back. This is insane.

I give up on the idea of sleep at 3am. Hungry, I cook a frozen pizza and eat. I recheck my bag of goodies and make sure I've got my maps and directions to Paul's house, then shower up and wait for Mike.

Mike's having the same thoughts I am. We're going to Chicago. And the early hour, the monumental stupidity of our plan, and lack of sleep has us giggling like a couple of kids sneaking into town on a learner's permit. Once we hit the road, he reveals the real reason why Sarah isn't going with us. They've just found out she's pregnant, and that scheduling conflict was a doctor's appointment. Giving Mike a hearty congratulations, I silently pray that I don't get him killed as we make our way to Omaha and pick up Paul with a minimum of wrong turns. And then we all said a prayer as we cross the river and head into Iowa, where I explained to Mike my theory on a little time and space anomaly called...

The Black Hole of Des Moines
(Iowa's Very Own Bermuda Triangle.)

I talked about this phenomenon in last year's memoir. To sum up: While driving through Iowa via I-80, right around Des Moines, you run into some kind of unnatural distortion in the space/time continuum that Iíve dubbed The  Black Hole of Des Moines. When it sucks you in, you drive around -- for like, ten hours -- until it spits you out in the exact same spot and at the exact same time you entered it. AND IT MOVES! When youíre traveling east itís on the east side of Des Moines, and while going west itís on the west side. I'll say it again: Be proud Iowa; you have youíre very own Bermuda Triangle.

We make it out of the anomaly relatively unscathed and stop in Iowa City for some gas and food. Keerist it's cold. Our schedule is holding up fine, and we should still hit the auditorium parking lot around 4pm, where we know it's safe to park -- unlike last year, when we wasted an hour trying to find a parking spot because we didn't read the fine print on the parking signs. At some point, Mike asked if we had tickets. When I said we didn't but we'd buy them at the door, Mike then asked what happens if they're sold out? Well, I said, that would suck. A lot.

Morale is high as we listen to several odd recordings, including Dr. Demento's 20th Anniversary collection, and a compilation of people reading the works of Edgar Allan Poe. This gets us all the way into Chicago proper, where we get on the Eisenhower Expressway that isn't really moving expressly. But, we're moving, and the traffic is actually less congested than last year. After we get into skyscraper territory, we do a little stair-stepping down to Lake Shore Drive, then follow the lake until it ends and dump off onto Sheridan Road. We follow it's twists and turns until we get to Evanston and the campus, where we pulled into the parking lot a little before 4pm. 

That was too easy, he thinks to himself. And we'll probably pay for it later. 

Yes, kids, that's called ominous foreshadowing.

Introductions

(Hello, My Name is Chad a/k/a 3Beerman)

Hiking from the parking lot to the Norris Center, our home for the next 24-hours, we enter and spy Chris Holland, my website's sponsor and half the brains behind Stomp Tokyo (alas, Scott Hamilton, the other half, couldn't make it this year), and the good Dr. Freex holding court at one of the tables. I also spot Telstar-Man from the B-Board, who comes over and greets us. Moseying on over to the table, I introduced Paul and Mike to everybody. There are some unfamiliar faces but not for long. I meet Marlowe, and Hen and Jen Grenade -- and who's that in the Wizard of Speed and Time costume? Could that be Megalemur. Yep, it sure is. What's with the strange names? Well, they're our tags from the Message Board we all hang out at, and for now, they're a lot easier to remember than our real names.

As master music alchemist Telstarman gives us all a coveted and much appreciated B-Fest 2003 mix CD, we ask if we can get tickets yet. Told the box-office doesn't open till five but we can go ahead and stash our stuff in the theater, we made our way up the stairs and into McCormick Auditorium, where a few people were already milling around. Paul, Mike and I talk it over, and after deciding to commandeer the back row again, we leave our stuff and head back out to get more acquainted with everyone. Pulling up some chairs by the others, Paul is the smart one and hits the cafeteria for some food. Future Self: What was I thinking? Then Hecubus showed up, and I'm disappointed to find out that Cliffie isn't going to make it. As more luminaries arrive, I spot Ken from Jabootu and Nathan from Cold Fusion and was about to go and introduce myself when they were swarmed over by others, so I decided to wait and do it later -- but then regretfully never got around to it. My bad, fellas.

At five, we wandered back to the auditorium and got our tickets, programs, poster and official Stomp Tokyo B-Fest cup. Freex and Chris give us hell for sitting in the back again, but I joked I had to have the head start to beat Freex to the donuts in the morning, who responded by shaking his cane at me. He also revealed that this was finally the year when Forever Evil, a film he helped put together, would be released on DVD. I can't wait for that. He also has a present for me ... We had shared some e-mail correspondence when I reviewed some Spanish Loony Tunes a while back and he gave me a tape of some more that were dubbed in Chinese that he helped put together, plus some bonus oddities. Can't wait to take a look at this when I get home, too. Thanks, Doc. 

It was almost movie time, so we settled into our seats. Looking around, the theater was filled to almost capacity. (Around 200 was the unofficial tally.) Iím told B-Fest gets bigger every year and I make a mental note to pre-order tickets next year or face the possibility of driving all the way to Chicago for nothing. We'd pretty much commandeered an entire row, but did allow a couple in to occupy the back corner of the theater. Then, doing her best to hush the buzzing crowd, the emcee welcomed and thanked us all for coming. She also gave a quick rehash of the rules for audience behavior and apologized beforehand for any technical glitches that might occur. With that, as the lights dimmed and the first feature spooled up, Mike asked if I had any last words of advice as he broke open a bag of Oreos. I just told him to go with the flow and follow the audience's lead.

At this point, I had already been up for almost 30 hours. I will try to sum up each film that follows in one or two paragraphs from what I can recall from a sleep-deprived brain that was buzzing on too much soda, body funk, and sugar. So please bear with me, because B-Fest is about to kick my ass again.

Now lets get to it. C'mon! You wanna live forever?

Kingdom of the Spiders
("She's a Black Widow.")

Our first film opens with a Trekie's wet dream: Captain William Tiberius Shatner, riding on a noble steed, in slow motion even, thundering onto the scene to save us all, much to the audience's delight. Here, wild Bill plays a veterinarian whose town is inexplicably overrun with rogue, low-angle POV-shots until the little bastard arachnids finally reveal themselves. And as they work their murderous rampage up the food chain, no one pays attention until poor Woody Strode is killed. As in all ecological disaster flicks there's the obligatory female expert warning of danger who no one believes, the usual hemming and hawing over closing the beaches (-- and we're in the desert!), and there's an evil land developer, an ineffective sheriff, and all that leads to the "We learned too late the true danger of the situation" scene. Then follows the big attack sequence as the town is assaulted with much cocooning, mayhem and panic, while our heroes hole up for the final tarantula siege. And then, as the final insult, with no idea how to end the movie, the tarantulas just disappear.

Two reasons you need to see this movie. First, Strode's widow fighting off a spider assault with a pistol -- including blowing one off her own hand, and second, when Shatner, in a brief fit of stupidity, can't figure out what the noise in the air-vent is so, being a genius, opens up the vent. Instant spider-shower!

The audience is already in fine form. From here on out there is a running gag of every found object in the movies being "of the spiders." For example: The power-pastie of the spiders (-- that will make more sense in a minute). We also sang the JAWS theme whenever a tarantula was stalking a victim, and squirmed whenever Shatner did anything remotely *ahem* "inappropriate" with his young co-star who wasn't wearing any pants and whose name escapes me. And as Mike and I debated over how many socks Shatner stuffed in his polyester pants, we steeled ourselves for the next feature. Gack! God help us all and deliver us from Rob Van Winkle...

Cool as Ice

(Go Ninja! Go Ninja! Go!)

Rob Van who? Well, he's the artist formerly known as Vanilla Ice, and this is his movie. Basically, a rhyming stick-boy with a bad haircut delivers pasty-white fists of fury while dispensing justice from his Chiquita Banana-Mobile. Go ninja! Go ninja! Go! ... Okay, that may be oversimplifying things just a tad -- but not by much. Vanilla falls for the daughter of Michael Gross, who just happens to be in the witness protection program. Mistaking Vanilla for one of the mafia hoods who are looking for him and some missing money, he forbids Vanilla from seeing her. Will true love survive? How many "cool" felonies can our hero commit before getting arrested? And who won the Tecmo Bowl game? Watch and find out. I dare you.

Yo-yo-yo, keep it real to my peeps. I've been zeroed and hit with the hero, Dawg. Dig it: part of this film plays out like a commercial for some pharmaceuticals -- or one of those new car ads. You know; the ones where people just kind of run around and pose, music blares, and you have no idea what the advertisement's for. As the hero of the picture, Mr. Ice is very brave. Not many people can pull off wearing yellow pants like that. Hehehehehe. And what's this? A musical extravaganza tacked onto the end? Wow. Never saw that coming. Break it down, yo! Yeah, booyeee...

EEEEENNNNNNDDDD!

Which it did. Thank you, and you're welcome.

Flash Gordon

(Flash! AaaAAAARGH! Seriously! My Eyes!)

Okay, enough with the camera flashes already during the opening credits. You see, every time Freddy Mercury sang the word Flash, a dozen cameras would pop-off -- all aimed back toward us. Thank you, I'm friggin' blind. Anyways, eye-trauma aside, this movie kills me and is an absolute riot to watch. We all know the story, right? Dr. Zarkov kidnaps Flash and Dale and they rocket off to Mongo to save the Earth. There, they try to unite the various kingdoms into rebelling against the tyrannical Ming, who is rumored to be Merciless. Through some trickery, timely subterfuge, and a little old fashioned butt-kicking, the universe, and Dale, are saved.

Dino de Laurentiis stopped making JAWS rip-offs long enough to try and cash in on Star Wars by using some left over sets and costumes from Barbarella and Diabolik with some truly hilarious results. Actually, the retro sci-fi set designs, costumes and props are one of the biggest plusses of the film. And with such an outstanding supporting cast, where in the hell did they dig up Sam Jones for the lead? I enjoy Sam's performance, but he is kind of a dope. The movie also contains one of my favorite battle sequences of all time: 

 

While playing King Vultan, what keeps the excitable Brian Blessed's head from exploding is one of life's great mysteries. That guy is the awesome. Being his first time through, Mike was amazed that Topol was in the movie, and was subsequently gob-smacked when I told him to wait and see who they got to play Ming. In return, I had some soda come out my nose during Flash's execution scene, when we get a close up of his rear in those leather shorts and Mike blurts out, in tune, "ASS! AAaaAAUUGGHH!" 

Great. Now everything smells like Diet Dew. Thanks, Mike.

Raffle Break

(Skunked Again.)

Only three films in and my head is already in such a crackling fog that I determine, much to my regret, that I'll never be able to stay awake for the entire festival. So, while the emcees called out ticket numbers, that were nowhere near mine, I consulted the schedule and determined that Dementia 13 would be the shut-off point. Hoping to at least make it that far, I cracked open another soda to add to my caffeine buzz. I also take the opportunity to wander down the aisle and sheepishly ask Mitch O'Connell, B-Fest artist extraordinaire, to autograph my program, which he graciously does and even doodles a Tor for me. Thank you, sir! 

Upon returning to my seat, as the raffle wound down, a nice gentlemen handed me a stack of paper plates to be used later during Plan 9. Knowing what was up next, I told Mike to get his tape recorder out, 'cuz he'd definitely want to get this next bit of insanity recorded for posterity.

What Am I Referring To?
Click on over to Part II and find out!!

Originally Posted: 01/29/03 :: Rehashed: 11/25/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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