Monday, June 23, 2008

Shock And Awe - The Grindhouse Experience

On June 21, 2008 the Fox Theater in Toronto, Ontario presented the first Shock & Awe Grindhouse Experience movie festival, starting at 11:30 on Saturday and ending around 10:30 on Sunday morning. Folks came from all over to take in the craziness, and they weren't disappointed as the vast mix of different exploitation films kept things moving at a necessarily rapid pace throughout the night.

I'll admit that my own experiences were affected slightly from a near overdose of sudafed that I was taking to combat a nasty cold, but my zombie-like state was appropriate for a memorable night of rare exploitation on the big screen.

The Boogeyman (1980) - We began with a rough looking print for The Boogeyman, a pseudo-slasher film that spends its first half cribbing faithfully from Halloween, but takes a supernatural turn in the last half with a little of The Exorcist thrown in for good measure. A fun flick, with a welcome (but completely superfluous) turn from John Carradine in a brief role, and some inventive violence as a reward for patient viewers. The plot (about siblings haunted by the murder of their mother's abusive boyfriend) holds few surprises, but it's punchy and interesting to the end.

The Black Six (1974) - Things picked up considerably with the second feature: a blaxploitation biker fils about six Vietnam vets (played by a collection of 70s black football players) who cruise around the country looking for some peace and quiet, before the brother of one of the members is murdered by a group of racist motorcyclists. Featuring some comically awful performances, and some fight scenes right out of Dolemite, the film succeeds as a good natured document of a the time it was made. The opening scenes (featuring the gang doing chores on a farm for an elderly white woman) is amazing in its goofiness, but at least the film's heart was in the right place. Likely the second most entertaining film of the night.

Naughty New Orleans (1954) - A smutty, thankfully short burlesque collection featuring plenty of stripteasing and cringe-worthy comedy. The storyline (about a young woman trying to hide her burlesque dancing from her businessman boyfriend) is just an excuse to show some fine ladies showing off their skivvies. There was an impressive tassel twirling display from a *cough* full figured gal, and I'm a sucker for bad double-entendres so I got a few laughs from the skits, but this was a bit too much sizzle and not enough steak. Ones eyelids couldn't help but feel a little heavy.

Tintorera (1977) - However, sleep would be impossible as noise makers were distributed to the crowd to alert any sleepy neighbors about possible shark attacks (or three-way sex opportunities) in this smutty, bizarre Jaws rip-off. In fact, it's difficult to call it a Jaws rip, as it spends most of its (epic) run time following the sexual escapades of Esteban (Hugo Stiglitz) and Miquel (the unibrowed Andrés García, who according to IMDB has led one heck of a life). The two fuck everyone on the island while occasionally someone is eaten by some stock footage, much of which is Mondo-like in showing the Sharks really being killed in various bloody ways. It remains entertaining in it's own WTF-ness, but it drags painfully near the end before sputtering to a complete stop.

Danish Pastries (1972) - At six in the morning, what better way to keep tired hearts and minds awake than with some hardcore 70s porno action. We were treated to the ridiculous dubbed comedy about a girl's school and some magic sex powder and the orbit of the moon and.. um.. well, the plot provides ample opportunity for the gaggle of gals to show off everything they have. An early assault scene featuring an abundance of grape juice was more icky than sexy, but the climax (ha!) is neat as a jump into the town's reservoir results in an underwater screwfest. People were dozing off all over the place at this point, but just about everyone woke up for...

Dead/Alive (1992) (aka Braindead) - Peter Jackson's splatstick masterpiece is still the standard by which most gorefests are compared. The levels of violence still have the ability to astonish, and all of these years later the biggest accomplishment seems to be the fact that the film was ever even made. The attention to detail in the film's 50's New Zealand setting is amazing, and the Mother/Son relationship provides some welcome depth, but at its core it just wants to do anything to entertain. The ending, featuring a lawnmower massacre followed by a literal rebirth as a character escapes from the womb, might never be equaled with its excess. A monument in the history of violence, and a must-see for fans of genre cinema.

Between films there were prize giveaways, some neat treats at the concession stand (Danish Pastries!), and a few neat films for sale (I picked up a copy of the Turkish Wizard Of Oz for $2). As we wandered sleepily into the streets, blinded by the sunny day and probably looking a bit undead-like to the people stopping into the neighboring laundromat, the crowd sort of huddled near the entrance. We were battle-hardened.. having experienced an onslaught on our senses and a test of our wills. An experience not soon forgotten, and hopefully to be repeated in the future.


Ash said...

"The two fuck everyone on the island while occasionally someone is eaten by some stock footage..."

If only the Pulitzer people had an award for best blog writing, this line would make you a shoe-in.

Dion Conflict said...

Love the article Douglas! You earned your battle stripes well boss, and we're ironing out SHOCK AND AWE 2 soon! We're just trying to get our sleep clocks back in whack!

J.T. said...

Hey, Doug!

You know there was a sequel to The Boogeyman, right?

I think I am the only human being that has seen it.

Doug Tilley said...

I actually believe that there are *two* sequels to The Boogeyman, with Boogeyman II from 1983, and The Return Of The Boogeyman from 1994 (and consisting mostly of footage from the original). I believe the DVD version includes the original along with Return, but I don't believe the second one is available on DVD.

Ash said...

For a moment I thought you guys were talking about "Mr. Boogedy." No that's some scary shit.

Doug Tilley said...

I can't lie.. the first Mr. Boogedy movie scared the heck out of me when I was.. 6.

Though, that might have something to do with my childhood fear of Richard Masur.