This was first cross-posted at my old MySpace (remember MySpace?) site and on www.jabootu.net way back in 2008, it was one of my first attempts to get some movie impressions down in writing and I am still reasonably pleased with how it turned out. A little background here, I’d literally relocated to San Antonio from Virginia the week before for graduate school with the Army, leaving the rest of my family (including 2 kids) behind. I was dead broke from the move and knew not a soul in the state, but I’d been hearing about this little thing called T-Fest for a couple of years, and new I’d kick myself for the rest of my life if I didn’t go. So I hopped in my car, threw some snacks in a bag and drove 4 hours across an unfamiliar state to hang out with a bunch of total strangers who happened to share my strange hobby.
Note: I did add the screencaps, which were not in the original, but otherwise this is as the article first appeared in all its unedited (and yes, I am well aware it needed more editing) glory…
Drove to Dallas yesterday for T-Fest, a small B-Movie festival in Dallas. I had a fantastic time. I finally got to meet Ken Begg of www.jabootu.net, an outstanding b-movie site that I have followed for about 10 years now. (17 now – 2015 GJ.) I am sure he will post a detailed (and far more literate) report of the goings-on in the next few days, so I am just posting a general overview of my first T-Fest experience. I leave the actual movie reviewing to those who know what they are doing.
First, I must say that everyone went out of their way to make a lone newcomer feel welcome, which meant a lot. I get really intimidated going to group functions by myself, so it really helped when people reached out to introduce themselves. I spent my first three or four films more or less hiding out in the back of the theater, but by the end of the evening I had been dragged right down into the thick of things.
Also a very special “Thank you” to Sandy and Wendy for volunteering to put up a complete stranger so she could hang out until the bitter end.
I missed the first feature, Eternal Evil of Asia, but as I am not a gorehound, I suspect that I am happier having missed it. However the second film The Harrad Experiment introduced two themes that seemed to be present most of the day, an odd focus on trees and copious nudity/near nudity. More specifically, unattractive male nudity. All of the following is drawn from memory, so may be incomplete in its details. After a while, I suspect that my brain started to block stuff out in self defense.
The Harrad Experiment– I had heard of this one but never seen it. A group of middle-class hippie students go to college to learn to overcome sexual jealousy and develop new models of sexual behavior between consenting adults. Um, yeah, they go to sex college, apparently on their parents’ dimes. Surprisingly reactionary in its views on gender roles for a movie about “progressive” sexual attitudes.
Trees?- The movie begins with a shot of our heroine actually hugging a tree in a completely unironic way.
Unattractive male nudity?-Way, way too much. Nude yoga, nude swim parties and Don Johnson’s penis (which, BTW, isn’t all that impressive for those of you who spent the “Miami Vice” years drooling over him). Sadly, the about 19 year old Johnson, who weighs maybe 120 soaking wet here and resembles nothing so much as a heroin addict, is by far, the most attractive hunk of man-flesh on display.
I was possibly the sickest person in attendance, as this may have been my favorite film of the festival. People kept apologizing to me for it all day, so I am CLEARLY not in the majority. Yeah, it was talky and I spent 90 minutes waiting for the plot to start (Note: it never did), but I find few things in the world funnier than bad and hypocritical (the experiment is overseen by a traditionally married couple) sociology that takes itself completely and utterly seriously.
From Hell it Came– Even if you have never seen this movie, you have certainly seen clips of its iconic walking tree-monster. On a South Seas island radiation and local magic combine with irresponsible science to let loose a malignant walking tree on the native islanders, a team of scientists, and a woman with the worst Australian accent ever committed to celluloid (think EastEnders filtered through through Atlanta, while claiming to be from Sidney)
Unattractive male nudity?- Just some loinclothed anglo-natives running around the island. Only a technical qualification.
I was glad to finally see this one, I had meant to watch it for years, but never gotten around to it. Brief moments of gut-bustingly funny badness, separated by long stetches of boredom.
The Witches Curse– Wow, I’m not quite sure where to start with this one. I don’t think that there is any way to adequately describe the pure randomness of this film. Any description I gave would make the movie sound far more coherent than it was. Oddly, I had heard of this under it’s alternate title “Maciste in Hell”, but only realized that that was what I must be watching about an hour in, when the hero’s name is finally revealed for the first time. Who knew you could combine costume drama and peplum? Not well mind you.
Um…plot…um, let’s try this: 15th c. witch executed, 100 years later women go crazy and descendant of witch blamed. Maciste arrives in obligatory loincloth (yes, in 16th c. Scotland) and saves innocent girl from lynching, only to have her condemned to burn. Maciste lifts cursed tree, finds portal to Hell and enters to somehow prove girl’s innocence. He has many unrelated adventures and then kills dead witch again by kissing her. Obligatory happy ending. I can’t go on….
Trees? Yep, Maciste reaches Hell by uprooting a cursed tree.
Unattractive male nudity?- Oily Maciste spends the entire film in a loincloth straining his mighty thews as he carries out feats of great exertion and moderate strength.
This is the first movie that should have come with a SPCA warning. There is a scene of a cattle stampede (IN HELL!!!) where they had actual bulls running and falling down the side of a cliff. No animals were harmed in the making of this film, my ass!
Big Meat Eater – Really odd horror/sci-fi/musical form Canada. Tale of a not-particularly-heroic butcher, his giant Turkish cannibal assistant (the joke is that he’s played by a gigantic black actor), wind-up space aliens, temporary mutations, a genius teenager, a flying car and pirogis all held together by some of the strangest musical numbers this side of Cannibal-the Musical.
Trees? – Our butcher friend does end up regaining consciousness in a tree after the films climactic explosion.
Unattractive Male Nudity? – Nope, although we do get a cute female secretary in her underwear.
Not too much to say about this one. I wasn’t bored 🙂
The War in Space – A Toho production (the Godzilla folks), so you know that there was lots of good model work. Basically what you get when you get a script written in Japan by someone who had HEARD of Star Wars, but that’s all. Features a Wookie with bull horns. Venusians invade Earth forcing the revival of a discontinued space project and the collection of a team of crack Japanese (and the usual token Anglo) astronauts to fight the aliens on their home turf. “We must destroy the galaxy to save the earth.” Fortunately the galaxy consists of just the one planet they blow up. Would be better titled “The Skirmish on Venus”.
Trees? – No
Unattractive male nudity? – No, and we have gone a long stretch now. Fortunately? our next feature will more than make up for it.
This is pretty standard Toho fare, bigger budget than many, but you can still pull the story out of the Toho Plotomatic 2000, right down to the obligatory love triangle with the death of the man she doesn’t really love, but is committed to, freeing the heroine to marry the other man. That one goes all the way back to Godzilla.
Samurai Cop – No Samurai and the sort of cops that only exist in that alternate universe where cops can kill as many people as they like without any consequences as long as they are bad guys. About a cop CALLED Samurai who exists only to be a life-support system for his luxurious mane. If the cop thing doesn’t work out he has a lovely career ahead of him as the Breck girl. Seriously, there is more hair in this movie than there was at Woodstock. Plot? Don’t make me go there! Worst Lethal Weapon ripoff ever. Renegade cop and black partner kill scores of henchmen in their quest to destroy the Katana gang. Did you know that Katana is Japanese for “Japanese Sword”? No? Neither did I.
Trees? – Samurai and his partner spend a LOT of time “hiding” behind trees. In this universe stepping behind a 6″ trunk provides perfect cover and concealment to a full-grown man.
Unattractive male nudity? -The burning, the burning! Please sweet Lord, make it stop! Almost every single major character gets naked and gets down at some point. I am going to have nightmares about Robert Z’dar for a week. Also violates the never have sex with a man who has better hair and bigger tits that you do rule.
This may be one of the greatest bad movies ever committed to film. Inane dialogue, weapons that appear, disappear, then change into completely different weapons, sudden shifts in location in the middle of a scene, hair that is sometimes lovely and sometimes a bad wig, bad gay stereotyping, henchmen who die then appear again later.
To put it another way, if Ed Wood had made a Lethal Weapon ripoff and cast Robert Z’dar in the Tor Johnson role, Samurai Cop would have been the result. The only thing keeping this from bad-movie perfection is that it runs about 20 minutes too long. There is a point at which the bad fight scenes start to get tedious. Still this as a possible contender for this years Hallowversary slate (of course the fact that I won’t be there this year might be a factor in my willingness to inflict this one on others). All-in-all, my second favorite movie of the fest.
King Dinosaur – Two couples, one blonde, one brunette go on an expedition to a new planet that has appeared sharing Earth’s orbit. It turns out to be a lot like Earth, but “prehistoric” (the official geological age of the planet according to brunette female, and no, if the movie can’t be bothered to give anyone any character traits deeper than haircolor, damned if I am). They get lost, go to an island just because, find some dinosaurs (played by lizards) then a-bomb them to death for no particular reason.
Trees? – Appears to have been filmed in the redwood forest if that counts for anything.
Unattractive male nudity? – Brunette male takes his shirt off after being hurt wrestling a (small) alligator. After Robert Z’dar he looks pretty darn good.
The only film here I had seen before and the only one to feature a space kinkajou, I am stunned at the amount of boredom that can be crammed into only 58 minutes. The first 15 minutes or so are almost entirely stock footage of the earliest days of the space program. Unfortunately the real movie eventually starts and mind-numbing boredom sets in. If you like scenes of people walking back and forth through the fields, then this is the movie for you! For me this particular film doesn’t even work from a camp/humorous point of view, because when the boredom ends we have “dinosaur” fights that consist of various reptiles (specifically an alligator, monitor lizard and iguana) thrown together on a model set an made to actually fight. I am no PETA fan, but the fact that the animals were clearly being hurt and possibly killed to make this piece of shit movie sucked all the fun right out of it for me.
And that’s it for the features. A variety of shorts were interspersed throughout, the most interesting to me were several Soviet propaganda cartoons. I think I will have to hunt that collection down when I have some money again as I have always been fascinated (in a repulsed way) by Soviet history.
I really did have an amazing time and will plan better when I go up again next year. Again, thanks to Ken Begg of http://www.jabootu.net for publicizing this event and to Sandy for organizing it and providing the venue. Great to finally meet you both and I can’t wait for next year!
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