Posts Tagged ‘planet of the nerds’

I’m a guest on THE POPCORN MAFIA this week!

November 17, 2009

Your very own PLANET OF THE NERDS (a.k.a. Michael Monterastelli) is the guest reviewer on the hilarious movie-review podcast, THE POPCORN MAFIA this week! I join co-hosts GRAE DRAKE and GARIANA ABEYTA to discuss the new films, THE FOURTH KIND and THE BOX. This is the second time I’ve been on the show and we all really cut loose on this episode, which is called DOUBLE KNOT NAMEPOCALYPSE. You can listen to me talk about why aliens don’t like giving oral at www.popcornmafia.com and you can also download the show on iTunes. If you’ve never heard the ladies before, they’ve got themselves one helluva funny program and it just got nominated for best movie podcast of the year! Good luck girls!

The 5 Minute Game and Labor Day BBQ @ The Cinefamily

September 9, 2009

One of my favorite places to watch rare and forgotten movies with a bunch of really well educated geeks is the “nerd clubhouse” that is, The Cinefamily.  Every so often they host an event that is called, “The 5 Minute Game” that involves an audience watching the first 5 minutes of 15 different movies (all shown on good old VHS) and voting on which one they want to watch in its entirety. The selections are always movies you’ve either never heard of or something you’ve seen staring back at you on the video shelf, but you’ve never taken the risk of renting it before. In past 5 minute games the audience voted on and watched a 70’s kung fu-revenge flick called DEATH PROMISE, an insane European action-sex movie called MAD FOXES, and a crazy 80’s horror film about a killer pussycat loose on a yacht called UNINVITED.

For this evening’s choices we were shown the first 5 minutes of the following movies:

1. RETRIBUTION – Cheesy 80’s horror.

2. BROTHER ENEMY – Gang of teenagers learn about art.

3. FRAZIER, THE SENSUAL LION (a.k.a. FRAZIER, THE LOVABLE LION) – Everybody loves Frazier the lion in this “family” film.

4. HAMBURGER: THE MOTION PICTURE – An 80’s sex comedy about hamburgers. AWESOME!

5. LEGENDARY PANTY MASK – Trippy Japanese movie that baffled the whole crowd.

6. PARDON MY BLOOPER – Vintage gags and mistakes from the past.

7. IF YOU COULD SEE WHAT I HEAR – Starts out with a blind guy making a new friend in a public shower when he drops his soap and needs help finding it. Not gay porn.

8. GHOST WARRIOR – ?

9. RUNNING OUT OF LUCK – Julien Temple directed and co-wrote this weird looking 80’s movie with Mick Jagger (who plays himself) and also stars Jerry Hall (who plays herself), Dennis Hopper and Rae Dawn Chong. It’s about Mick getting kidnapped in Rio. Bananerz!

10. ANARCHY U.S.A. – A documentary that blames the Watts riots on communism. Wow.

11. VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUMS – A romantic “gay” Christmas story. I hope the “sugar plums” aren’t a metaphor.

12. NINJA: SILENT ASSASSIN – Ninjas doing their thing.

13. JOEY – Not the kangaroo movie.

14. WILD GYPSIES – Just as the title says.

15. THE HIJACKING OF STUDIO 4 – Ultra-low budget DIE HARD rip-off shot on a VHS camcorder about terrorists taking over a local cable station. I must see this!

After viewing all the clips, the audience voted for their top two choices on ballots and handed them in for tallying. I voted for RETRIBUTION and the one I really wanted to see HAMBURGER: THE MOTION PICTURE (the crowd favorite), which simply had the best opening 5 minutes of any of the movies shown and ya know, that’s the name of the game. Check out the opening for yourself HERE and tell me how awesome the title song “Hamburgers for America” is! It had the whole audience joyously singing and clapping along with it.

While the votes were being counted we hit the back patio and grilled up some food on the big gas grill. I cooked and ate a gigantic cheeseburger to prepare myself for what I was certain would be the winner. I’ve had a knack for picking all the previous 5 minute game winners and I felt this one was a lock. After the break it was official: HAMBURGER: THE MOTION PICTURE had won in the biggest landslide victory ever in 5 minute game history! We took our seats and sank our teeth into the grease and ketchup covered madness that is…

222660.1020.AThere were a lot of zany sex comedies in the 80’s that did not achieve the same status as say an ANIMAL HOUSE, CADDYSHACK, BACHELOR PARTY or even a PORKY’S. I’m talking about little T and A epics like JOYSTICKS, FRATERNITY VACATION, BEER, HOT DOG: THE MOVIE and of course, HAMBURGER: THE MOTION PICTURE. Who says fast food and sex jokes don’t work? I remember seeing the VHS box for HAMBURGER in the video stores for years and years, but I always turned up a snooty cinema-brat nose to it and never once considered it for home viewing. Like a bottle of fine wine, I’ve been waiting for just the right moment to uncork this gem and introduce it to my senses and now finally, here I was about to consume it with an enthusiastic crowd of movie-maniacs in the best environment possible! Ok, in every single way imaginable this is a totally cheesy and bad comedy from the late night cable scene. The script, acting and direction are really low grade, but there is a weird charm to it in a post modern ironic kind of way that was a lot of fun to watch.

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The plot of HAMBURGER: THE MOTION PICTURE concerns a young college student named Russell (played by an actor in his 30’s) who keeps getting kicked out of one college after another for “crude, lewd and nude behavior”. Even the hot chick expelling him tries to fuck him. In desperation he applies to Busterburger University to train to become a Busterburger restaurant manager. It’s not as easy as you’d think, because BU is run like an army recruit center under the supervision of the racist, homophobic drill instructer Drootin (played by the acting challenged ex-Chicago Bear, Dick Butkus). The new recruits aren’t that great either. You’ve got a nerd, a couple of hot chicks, a fat guy who violently shocks himself to keep from over-eating, a Prince impersonator, a sexy Latina armed with an uzi who comes from a country called Guacamole (OH!), and a horny cougar.

Dick Butkus as the racist, homophobic fast food drill instructor, Drootin!

Dick Butkus as the racist, homophobic fast food drill instructor, Drootin!

A nerd falls asleep in one of the hamburger beds at Burgerbuster University.

A nerd falls asleep in one of the hamburger beds at Burgerbuster University.

There is a scene where the new recruits are “tested” on how well they can handle a big rush of customers when an “eating club” is let loose in a Burgerbuster restaurant and the obese members go completely crazy ordering enormous amounts of food, farting uncontrollably and eventually attacking customers and stealing their burgers. It is a scene that degenerates from mildly amusing to nauseatingly disgusting to oddly surreal. There’s also a scene where a group of students shout at a little girl to, “Put the cookies back MOTHERFUCKER!” and another head scratching moment in a club where the lead actor wears a pink sweater covered in what appears to be a bunch of purple swastikas. Those crazy 80’s fashions.

One of the things I really admired about HAMBURGER: THE MOTION PICTURE is how it joyously celebrates America’s love affair with burgers, fries, and fast food. In a way, this movie is like a greasy fat chili-burger for the brain with a pair of big tits on the side! It was also the perfect film to follow a Labor Day BBQ and another great time with The Cinefamily! This one’s not available on DVD (a crime!) so you’re gonna have to hunt for it. Bon appetite!

“TALENT” – the (so far) unreleased movie debut of Matt Walsh, Matt Besser, Mike Coleman, Brook Kerr, Jim Zulevic, Mick Napier, Mike Monterastelli, Eric Hoffman, and others.

September 8, 2009

by Eric Hoffman

Hi, it’s Mike Monterastelli (a.k.a. The Planet of the Nerds). The following article is a “special guest blog” from my very good friend and collaborator, Eric Hoffman. I first met Eric at Columbia College in Chicago Ill. and we wrote and performed together a lot at THE ANNOYANCE THEATRE back then. He made this movie called TALENT that I and a group of others acted in back in ’96.  Eric Hoffman was a writer and performer on the amazing MR. SHOW WITH BOB AND DAVE and is one of the stars of the parody film MY BIG FAT INDEPENDENT MOVIE. He is also the co-author (along with Gary Rudoren) of the hilarious COMEDY BY THE NUMBERS book and audio CD.

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SPOILER ALERT!  If you haven’t seen the movie “Talent” – and I’m guessing most of you haven’t because it’s never been released – then be warned: this article was written with spoiler ink.

Hi.  As you may already know from the introduction to this introduction, some years ago Mike Monterastelli and I were involved with a small independent movie called “Talent”.  It had a lot of funny people in it, which helped as it was a comedy.  Unfortunately, it was never released.  The end.   …That’s pretty much the story.  But now that so many people involved with it are famous, it just made good horse sense to publish some documentation of the experience.  People see it on imdb and want to know what it is.  And there are some folks out there who have actually viewed it and they ask a bout it from time to time (my mother).  Well, I don’t know about you but MY day to day life can’t be bothered with such infuriating questions…so I wanted a simple “link” I could direct people to.  “You want to know about Talent?  Here’s the link.”  In the future I hope allof my conversations can be handled by such links.  “You want to know if I want fries with that?  Here’s the link.”  But enough riffing.  Honestly, I really just wanted to make a semi official record of a moment when some of the funniest people I know were just starting to dabble in film and television, after having spent many years in the humor houses of Chicago.  I wanted to let people know about this great unseen movie my friends were in, because frankly they weren’t paid “squat”.  And, with Mike being involved with the production, Planet of the Nerds seemed like the logical place to make that happen.  So here goes.

It all went down in 1996 in a small town in Indianapolis called Indiana.  My good buddy Joe Lamirand called one day to say he had a small fortune to spend on me, what would I like?  Hair plugs?  Expensive sockery?  A summer at Chablis camp?  I told him I’d like to watch myself act like a big shot in a movie, and the result is a film so precious the title was originally all in lower case.  At the time, myself and several future cast memebers were living in Chicago, writing and performing alternative comedy shows at the notorious Annoyance Theatre (others were at Second City and Improv Olympic).  Mike and I collaborated on many of these shows, including Goombahs!, Abe Lincoln: Sex Alien, and Brainwarp the Baby Eater.

GOOMBAHS! was a very popular show at The Annoyance Theatre, Chicago. It was written by Eric Hoffman and Mike Monterastelli.

GOOMBAHS! was a very popular show at The Annoyance Theatre, Chicago. It was written by Eric Hoffman and Mike Monterastelli.

In fact, we’d just returned from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where we slayed ’em with our show The Idiotic Death of Two Fools, which was directed and co-written by Comedy By The Numbers(c) co-author Gary Rudoren, who was known as Gary Ruderman at the time.  (He may be a secret agent.)

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The Idiotic Death of Two Fools was written and performed by Eric and Mike at The Annoyance Theatre in Chicago.

Joe and I wrote the Talent script in a month.  I had relocated to Indianapolis, to my new digs within the Lamirand compound, to what Joe had hyped as “the world’s most comfortable 3-foot-long couch.”  Purging our backgrounds for material, we spent the days and nights drinking and writing (usually in that precise order).  Here’s what the party produced:

“TALENT” – The story of Derek Anderson, an actor who must move back to the Mid-West after failing to “make it big” in Hollywood.  Paranoid and broke, he sneaks back into his hometown, avoiding delusional friends and old enemies.

Eat your heart out QUADROPHENIA!

Eat your heart out QUADROPHENIA!

The premise was pretty simple, but one that we hadn’t heard before, and one that had actually happened to Joe and myself in the mid 1980s. Plenty of stories focused on people going to Hollywood and failing; few started the story at that point.  And when you think about it, why would they?  It’s a fairly depressing jumping off point for a movie.  Which probably explains why Joe and I fondly refer to the film as “a hate letter to ourselves”.

Contrary to what you may have heard, there are several fun aspects to making movies.  Casting is one of them.  With some assistance from the great Sheldon Patinkin, we were able to assemble a top notch acting team:  Matt Besser and Matt Walsh (who had just opened the UCB Theatre in NY); Mike Coleman, Pat Walsh, and Mick Napier (from the Annoyance); Audrey Kissel and Erin Philyaw (who we knew from Columbia College Chicago); Brook Kerr (who was about to land a major recurring role on the daytime soap Passions); Jim Zulevic (from Second City); Jerry Blues and Gene Deer (Indiana guitar legends); and of course Mike Monterastelli (your ruler of the Planet of the Nerds).  Even Jay Johnston (Sarah Silverman Program) was called upon for service; but he was busy shooting the second season of Mr. Show (a fairly good excuse).

Matt Besser of UCB fame in TALENT.

Matt Besser of UCB fame in TALENT.

Matt Walsh (UCB, SEMI-PRO, THE HANGOVER, and ROLE MODELS) in TALENT.

Matt Walsh (UCB, SEMI-PRO, THE HANGOVER, and ROLE MODELS) in TALENT.

Mike Coleman and a few friends in TALENT.

Mike Coleman and a few friends in TALENT.

The incredibly gifted Mike Monterastelli steals the show in TALENT.

Mike Monterastelli as Ingracia the pizza shop owner in TALENT.

The movie was shot in just twelve days on 35mm film.  I can never remember the actual budget (I’m not a numbers and figures man), but it was cheap.  And extremely hot (not the good kind).  If actors were paid to sweat I’d be a paid actor.  (lol)  But it was a fun set, and Joe had formed a crack production team, which made everything easier.  Thanks out to Dan Bickle, J.D. Sievertson, and Jim Timperman.

Eric Hoffman and Mike Monterastelli making movie-magic in Indianapolis.

Eric Hoffman and Mike Monterastelli making movie-magic in Indianapolis.

Behind the scenes with Eric, Matt Besser, Audrey Kissel and Brooke Kerr.

Behind the scenes with Eric, Matt Besser, Audrey Kissel and Brook Kerr.

With limited funds, we knew we had to make a “talking heads” film.  There would be no big budget dinosaur fights.  Save that for the sequel. We drew influence from Albert BrooksHal Hartley, and Gene Wilder films – so Talent has a dry tone which can sometimes border on wacky – my favorite combination. Oh man, so many funny things I remember from the movie: Matt Besser’s English accent; Matt Walsh’s tormented relationship with his water bed; Jim Zulevic’s priceless facial expressions; Mike Coleman’s cheesy television spots for hot tubs and sexy chat lines; the bad improv team of Matt and Pat Walsh; Mike Monterastelli’s abusrd cussing; Erin Philyaw’s heartfelt monologue about the actor’s life; Mick Napier’s crazy theatre guru character; anything with Audrey Kissel and Miki Mathioudakis; to name but a few.  And there are a lot more great performances.

The late Jim Zulevic in TALENT. A very gifted comic actor and friend that we all miss very much.

The late Jim Zulevic in TALENT. A very gifted comic actor and friend that we all miss very much.

The lovely Brook Kerr with the Ska-scooter.

The lovely Brook Kerr with the Ska-scooter.

Matt Besser’s clothing shop in the film was actually owned by David ‘Tufty’ Clough, of the famed punk bands Zero Boys and Toxic Reasons.  The soundtrack was provided by the band Eyeclops, replacing more expensive groups The SkatalitesThe SpecialsThe Clash, and After The Fire, which were all on our original, “dream” soundtrack.  You can hear a couple of Talent songs here: http://myspace.com/eyeclopsmusic

After completion, Talent screened in various festivals around the country – Chicago, Breckenridge, Muncie; and it won the Breakthrough Feature Award 1998 at the Saguaro Film Festival.

And that’s about it.  I could go on but there’s really no point since you have no access to the film.  Hopefully one of these days we’ll get around to releasing it.  We had a 10th anniversary screening at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre Hollywood(http://losangeles.ucbtheatre.com/) which was sponsored by Park Avenue Pictures, UCBTLA, and Comedy By The Numbers(c).  All proceeds went to Second City’s JIM ZULEVIC ARTS AWARD.  (Read more about that here:http://secondcity.com/?id=training-education/foundation/zulevic )  Some of the cast and crew showed up.  It was a fun night and everyone commented on how old I look.

Anniversary screening of TALENT at the UCB theatre, L.A.

Anniversary screening of TALENT at the UCB theatre, L.A.

I’m proud of this early endeavor.  It has an amazing cast, lots of funny scenes, and it still makes me laugh today (especially at my rather stagebound performance).  If you ever get a chance to see Talent let me just say this: with scooters, jokes about ska and bad improv teams, AND a telephone booth we blow up, I don’t think you’ll ever look at Indianapolis the same way again.

See you at the Grammys,

Eric Hoffman

Check out the trailer for TALENT right HERE!

Welcome to the Planet of the Nerds!!!

July 22, 2009
I am honored to have my picture taken with the O.G. of nerds, the great Eddie Deezen!!!

I am honored to have my picture taken with the O.G. of nerds, the great Eddie Deezen!!!

There was a time, not too long ago, when nerds were hunted by the elite and the athletic for sport. These “dark ages” have been well documented in many of the teen sex comedies from the eighties. But today, with the invention of the internet, nerds now have the upper hand in society. It is our time for global domination! Welcome to the Planet of the Nerds!!! Stay tuned for future blogs concerning nerd related activities. Nerd.