Cinemapocalypse vs. San Francisco!
The LA shows were so out of control and great that I admit I was worried about continuing the streak in San Francisco. The first show was at the approximately 700 Billion Dollar Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. We've worked with their film curator Joel Shepard on several occasions and I must admit I thought that the Yerba Buena Center was a tiny little place with a coffee pot and a popcorn machine. Turns out it's fancy-pants central and the crowd there was radically different from the usual band of derelicts and freakbots we're used to. They looked like the kind of people you'd see at a screening of Hungarian agriculture films.
So how did MR. SCARFACE and CHAINED HEAT go over with Mr. and Ms. Arty Doodles? Like a freight train full of cupcakes! We taught those uptight museum dudes how to have a good time and as we were leaving I heard one on the phone with his dad telling him he didn't really want to be an architect. Mission accomplished!
I love the Italian crime film MR. SCARFACE so much that I had a twinge of anxiety that my love for the movie wouldn't translate to normal people. Good news - thay laughed at all the right places and only a few of the wrong ones. After it was over they applauded lustily, not something they do very often I'm told.
But the capper was the Women In Prison classic CHAINED HEAT starring Linda Blair, John Vernon, Henry Silva and Sybil Danning. It's a brutally funny, mean-spirited as shit black comedy, and once again the funny eyeglass gang ate it up like free cheese cubes and apple slices at an art opening.
But the real capper was the next night's show at the historic Castro Theater. I used to live in San Francisco and some of my fondest memories are of the Castro. It's a huge theater with beautiful frescoes and a frightening chandelier arrangement. Before many of the shows an organ rises from the floor and a guy plays it until his fingers are about to fall off from awesomeness and then he descends into the floor while the audience goes berserk. We got a little of that.
As most people probably know, the Castro is the gay capital of the universe. As Justin and I were heading to the theater we saw a guy walking around naked. Justin said, "that dude is straight nude." And he was. Just walking down the street butt ass naked. People were waving to him like he was Mr. McFeeley. What?
At the Castro I finally met Jesse Hawthorn Ficks, who runs the Midnites For Maniacs series and is a great ally of ours. He brought us up on stage where I unleashed a joke I thought was going to go to work on the audience like an atom bomb - I said everybody in Texas told us to watch out because San Francisco was full of gays, but we'd been there for two days and hadn't seen any gays at all. As I stood back to shield my ears from the high-decibel impact of the audience's laughter I noticed that only 3 or 4 people of the 200 there were laughing at all, and they were in no danger of rupturing anything in the process. So chastened Zack and I introduced VIGILANTE. I said that I feel that William Lustig was like the Sam Fuller of the '80s and early '90s, and goddammit he was. The movie destroyed the audience. So great!
Afterwards a guy came up to us and said, "that's actually a good movie!" in surprise. This happens a lot. Some people can't believe we'd be showing a well made film. But VIGILANTE is as good as any action film of the '80s. Check it out.
There was little or no chance of anyone saying that the next film is well-made on any level. RAW FORCE is a mess. But what an incredibly entertaining mess. After seeing it again I was charged up with the desire to write an article titled "The 773 Best Things About RAW FORCE" but there's no time. Here's one though: the funny way the Hitler guy jumps into the Piranha infested water from the sea plane. Trust me, it's amusing. And the crowd had to be coaxed down from the ceiling. They were down with RAW FORCE in a big way. Many cried when it was over.
Next up was the movie the whole audience had at least heard of, if not seen already, John carpenter's ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. I like the movie but I've seen it deveral times so I took the time to go get dinner with my girlfriend. We had Mediterranean food at a sidewalk cafe while an endless parade of funny looking people with normal looking dogs went by. We were back in time for the last reel of ESCAPE FROM NY and I remembered what a fun movie it is.
But not quite as fun as the last film of the night, LADY TERMINATOR. Very few people there had seen LADY T. It's a pretty special movie. The extreme violence, comical dubbing and simultaneously exotic and derivative plotline makes it one of the most unpredictable and hilarious films ever made. If the comedy film makers of our world could make something half as funny as LADY TERMINATOR on a regular basis, they would all be rolling in money like wild hogs. Needless to say the audience blasted off on a one way trip to planet fun.
After a trip to El Farolito for Agua Frescas and Burritos and a quick stop at the Musee Mecanique to be thwarted by pinball games as old as my parents we were gone like a cool breeze. We had a rare couple of days off to catch up on work and hunt for rare VHS tapes. We did both, but the catching up on work isn't very interesting so I'll tell you about the video hunt. The first place we stopped was in a little Northern California town called Red Bluff. Zack, Justin and I found about 20 tapes total at a little Mom and Pop video store and the owner held out the promise of a stash of 17,000 videos he had stored at a house nearby. We connived and conspired to see the 17,000 videos and even stayed at a hotel nearby so we could arrange to see the tapes today. So this morning at the McDonalds near Red Bluff we halped the owner and his buddy unload a camper shell full of roughly 300 videos (not quite 17,000 as promised). The video guy had dollar signs in his eyes but we bought a total of three tapes. Grrr.
Our video adventure continued and had a happy ending but it's time for me to get my dainties out of the dryer, take a shower and go to bed where I'll dream about the big trailer war with Dan Halstead at the Hollywood Theater in Portland.
As they say in China - CHOW!