From June 4th to the 10th, Phil Blankenship had a film explosion at the New Beverly Cinema. It was his second, so far. Who is Phil Blankenship? He’s a video-maniac extraordinaire and boy does he know his films. He programs the best selection of midnight movies that the revival house heavy city of Los Angeles has to offer. His choices are made up of many of the dusty, forgotten treasures you would often scan past on the shelves of your local video tape rental shop. Almost all of the films he programs are unavailable on DVD and include party favorites, cult movies and totally obscure b-movie gems. For one full week he put together a mind-blowing program of triple and double features that melted the faces of even the most avid film freaks right down to the bone.
It started on a Friday night with a testosterone and steroid drenched triple-bill of three of SYLVESTER STALLONE’S finest action films: the 1986 uber-cop madness of COBRA, followed by the over-the-top buddy-cop craziness of TANGO & CASH (costarring KURT RUSSELL) and the mountaintop action epic CLIFFHANGER (directed by RENNY HARLIN).
Saturday night was a triple-bill of b-movie auteur JIM WYNORSKI’S films: THE LOST EMPIRE, a highly entertaining and super-campy action/adventure flick about a big breasted blonde cop, who puts together a group of equally big breasted female mercenaries, so they can infiltrate a martial arts tournament on a secret island fortress and seek vengeance for the death of her brother from an undead wizard named Lee Chuck. It was wild! Then there was the incredible 80’s classic CHOPPING MALL (A.K.A. KILLBOTS), about a trio of mall security robots that go berserk and start killing off a group of partying teenagers. Lastly, there was a straight to video action movie starring COREY HAIM (who’s in his late twenties and playing a teenager) and ALAN THICKE (as HAIM’S cop father. Huh?) called DEMOLITION HIGH, which was like a combination of DIE HARD and THE BREAKFAST CLUB. Guests that night included JIM WYNORSKI and actors TONY O’DELL & KELLI MARONEY from CHOPPING MALL.
Sunday gave us a double dose of two truly disgusting kids movies: 1987’s THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS MOVIE, which was repulsive, grotesque and oddly surreal. Followed by the slimy puppet horror of GHOULIES II, which is considered by some to be the seventh best “carnival” movie ever made.
Monday was a double-bill of two classic 80’s slasher films: SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, which was written and directed by two feminist women, whom were clearly making a not-so-subtle satire of the genre. It was followed by SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE, a gory campus cut-up. DAVID MILLBERN, costar of SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE was a guest.
Tuesday was a really cool BRIAN DePALMA double feature of: BLOW OUT, which is one of my favorite films by the director and one helluva bad ass thriller. It was shown with his more recent sexy dream mystery FEMME FATALE. Acclaimed editor and DePALMA collaborator PAUL HIRSCH was in the house for a magnificent Q & A.
On Wednesday, it was Phil’s birthday, so he showed two of his favorites: the classic REVENGE OF THE NERDS (and everybody’s favorite nerd ROBERT CARRADINE showed up to talk about it), which was followed by the third annual screening of Phil’s favorite movie, the aerobicsploitation epic HEAVENLY BODIES.
Thursday was the final day of Phil’s festival and he showed two really awesome and obscure 80’s horror movies: PRISON (1988) starring VIGGO MORTENSEN as a convict in a prison haunted by a supernatural killer. Director RENNY HARLIN was on hand, along with the screenwriter C. COURTNEY JOYNER and veteran exploitation producer IRWIN YABLINS for a Q & A about the film. Next was THE HORROR SHOW (A.K.A HOUSE III) about a sadistic killer (played by BRION JAMES) who returns from the dead after being electrocuted for his crimes, so he can destroy the life of the cop (LANCE HENRIKSEN) who caught him. Both were very smart and well made exploitation films that are relatively unknown.
Phil’s got some great midnight movies coming up this month at the New Bev, including the underrated 80’s teen classic THE WILD LIFE, the CLINT EASTWOOD stalker-from-hell flick PLAY MISTY FOR ME and the summer camp sequel insanity of MEATBALLS PART II. Nerd out!