Posts Tagged ‘the movie orgy’

The Return Of Dante’s Inferno!

August 14, 2009

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The great Joe Dante has returned to the world famous, New Beverly Cinema for another of his amazing festivals. I already reported extensively on the “second” in a lifetime screening of THE MOVIE ORGY, but that wasn’t the only cinematic chestnut to behold that evening. At midnight, after 5 hours of orgy, we all stayed in our seats and were treated to a rare “preview print” of one of my favorite Joe Dante movies, GREMLINS!

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It contained two scenes that were cut from the theatrical release. One scene shows Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates snooping in the bank head’s office and finding Miss Deagle’s sinister plan to take control of the entire town. In the other scene, Zach and Phoebe discover Judge Reinhold’s character has gone crazy and locked himself in the bank vault, where they leave him. It was cool to see these scenes, but I can understand why they were cut, since they don’t really add anything to the story.

GREMLINS is a lot of fun to watch with an audience. I’ve always regarded it as one of my favorite Christmas movies. It’s like, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE on acid and has a unique blend of horror and comedy. The scene where the Mom single-handedly fights off the evil gremlins is a great example. I love it when she nukes the little green fucker in the microwave. GREMLINS was an awesome “nightcap” to a great evening.

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The first night of the festival was a screening of Dante’s underrated, suburban-nightmare comedy, THE ‘BURBS, which was on a double bill with the Michael Ritchie satire, SMILE. Star BRUCE DERN was a special guest and he told some great stories about the industry and his days working with ROGER CORMAN. He also talked a little about how great it was to work again with Joe Dante on his upcoming, THE HOLE 3-D.

Joe Dante and Bruce Dern.

Joe Dante and Bruce Dern.

THE ‘BURBS is a very weird black comedy from 1989, that I had not seen since then. I remembered liking it the first time, but I was a lot more impressed with the suburban-paranoia satire this time around. Dante shot the film in sequence and a great deal of improvisation was thrown in. TOM HANK’S character really goes on a journey from normalcy to insanity that was a lot of fun to watch. I recommend picking it up on Net Flix if you haven’t seen it. Another great Joe Dante film to rediscover is the wonderful, MATINEE.

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This film somehow escaped me upon it’s initial release and I remember giving it an unfocused look on VHS, back in the day. I enjoyed this film so much more now and I think it’s at the top of my list of Dante’s best. Set in Key West, Florida in 1962 when America was gripped in the panic of the “Cuban missile crisis”, it tells the story of a movie producer/showman, Lawrence Woolsey (modeled after the great WILLIAM CASTLE), played perfectly by JOHN GOODMAN. He is bringing his latest gimmick-laden monster movie, MANT to the local movie house and creates an amazing amount of hoopla in the process. It’s a really fun and nostalgic look back at that time period and Dante nails it perfectly, as usual. MATINEE was on a special, “end of the world” double bill with the fantastic, MIRACLE MILE.

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The writer and director, STEVE DE JARNATT was there to tell us about how difficult it was to get such a “downer” of a movie made. The ending scared all the major studios away and the film was finally made independently. MIRACLE MILE is a tense, brilliant film that still somehow makes me feel really “anxious”, even though the threat of nuclear war is no longer as frightening as it was in 1988. Check it out if you’ve never seen it before. But the evening was not over yet….

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After MIRACLE MILE, we received a special “bonus” surprise for the night! Joe Dante showed us all the footage he had shot for MANT, the movie within a movie, that’s featured in MATINEE. It was hilarious stuff and reminded me of all the atomic-mutant-monster movies that were featured in THE MOVIE ORGY. It’s clear that Dante’s influences are always a big part of his style as a filmmaker. He said that when the studio saw the 25 minutes of MANT they suggested doing a feature length version, but Dante felt the parody would only go so far. He maybe right, but I think it would have been awesome if he had!

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I think it’s interesting the way Joe Dante is often regarded as a “horror” film director, when he’s actually one of the most original “satirists” working in film today. With the exceptions of PIRANHA and THE HOWLING (which are both filled with lots of humorous “inside” jokes) most all of Dante’s films are comedies with a great deal of social commentary. The last night of the festival I attended was a double bill of two scorching 70’s satires, COLD TURKEY and THE PRESIDENT’S ANALYST. I’d never seen them before and both films were equally funny and smart, just like the man who programmed them. I look forward to Dante’s upcoming return to horror with, THE HOLE 3-D. It’ll be nice to see him go back to his roots once again and make a genre film like only he can.

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I attended an orgy. THE MOVIE ORGY, that is!

August 11, 2009
New Bev presents Joe Dante's The Movie Orgy!

New Bev presents Joe Dante's The Movie Orgy!

In April of 2008, the New Beverly Cinema hosted a festival curated by one of my favorite all-time directors, Joe Dante. It was called DANTE’S INFERNO and one of the highlights was a screening of something suspiciously titled, THE MOVIE ORGY. It was one night only and free admission to the general public.

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Apparently, back in 1968 when Joe Dante and Jon Davison were in college, they compiled a huge collection of old film footage and edited it all together in a very clever and self referential way. The result was called THE MOVIE ORGY or 2001: A SPLICE ODYSSEY. It originally ran almost 7 hours long and toured college campuses around the country. The idea was that “baby boomers” could walk in and experience a steady wave of nostalgia wash over them as they view a seemingly random selection of 50’s and early 60’s pop culture. They were invited to have fun and to feel free to leave and come back at their leisure. How sixties, man!

On that night back in April ’08, the full house in attendance was treated to an edited down version that ran about 4 hours and 20 minutes long. It was shown on digital video, because the original film was in such old condition, the possibility of it burning up in the projector was high. When Joe Dante introduced the show he told the audience, “Feel free to leave whenever you’d like. You can go out and get a pizza.This thing was designed to walk out on.” Easier said then done, because for those of us lucky enough to see it that night, it instantly makes the list of ALL TIME COOLEST CINEMATIC EXPERIENCES EVER! It was something that my friends and I have talked about and quoted over and over again. That legendary screening has been whispered about in nerd circles everywhere. Geeks all over L.A. demanding an encore performance and on Saturday, August 8th 2009 they were given a second shot!

Joe Dante is back at the New Beverly with THE RETURN OF DANTE’S INFERNO from August 5th to the 13th. He’s curated another amazing program of films and I will be reporting on some of those later, but the highlight of course was another showing of the orgy. And this time we got an extra 45 minutes of stuff to watch. It was actually called in the title cards, SON OF THE MOVIE ORGY STRIKES AGAIN! Once again my friends all met up at the New Bev for 5 hours of fun.

First off, to make things even more awesome, the New Bev has NEW SEATS and they are a welcome addition to anyone who patrons there frequently. Sitting through a long event like this one was made much easier and I’m grateful for that. I grabbed a pizza and my brand spankin’ new seat and bunkered down for the onslaught of imagery.

How do I explain THE MOVIE ORGY? I guess, for me it’s an amazingly entertaining compilation of footage I’ve never seen before. Everything shown is from before I was born and yet I still get the sixties cynical humor that’s being juxtaposed here. The 5 hours virtually flew by and made me wish for more when it was over. What does it contain, you ask? Here’s a sample of some of my favorite things…

Don't crowd this guy!

Don't crowd this guy!

Andy Devine sings a chilling rendition of "Jesus loves me" to an audience of children...

Andy Devine sings a chilling rendition of "Jesus loves me" to an audience of children...

...while a cat plays the piano...

...while a "drugged" cat plays the piano...

...and a hamster plays the drum.

...and a hamster plays the drum.

A giant bird attacking the shit out of Washington D.C.

A giant bird attacking the shit out of Washington D.C.

Some of the “favorite” things in THE MOVIE ORGY include clips from a juvenile delinquent/road racer movie called, SPEED CRAZY! We meet a guy named Nick Barrow who likes to drive his car fast, love his ladies hard, and he doesn’t want anyone crowding him. He hates it! His intro monologue is SO AMAZING we instantly want to see more of him. He reappears throughout the course of the show and really creates a hilarious arc that truly builds a momentum.

I also love this segment from THE ANDY DEVINE SHOW, where the pedophile vibe-inducing Devine sings a rendition of JESUS LOVES ME to an audience full of children. It did an incredible job of creeping me out while making me howl with laughter simultaneously. In addition to Andy’s singing we watch a seemingly “drugged” looking cat play a piano and a hamster who appears to be “glued” to a small drum. It’s an incredible, “What the fuck?!” moment.

The Andy Divine Show for children. Good Christ!

The Andy Divine Show for children. Good Christ!

Other stuff includes TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE , ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN, bizarre BUFFERIN commercials “for sensitive people”, weird cigarette commercials (one featuring a surgeon performing an operation), EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS, ELVIS singing YOU AIN’T NOTHING BUT A HOUND DOG to an actual hound dog, a racist LONE RANGER segment, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO trying to sell hats, “monster movies” featuring giant GILA MONSTERS, TARANTULAS, and VULTURES attacking things, GROUCHO MARX interviewing a muscle head, THE ANIMALS performing “House of the Rising Sun”, THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN and much more.

It was once again, an amazing event for all in attendance and something no one will forget anytime soon. Coming up in future posts, I will be reporting on screenings of Dante’s THE ‘BURBS, MATINEE, and a “special preview print” of GREMLINS with six minutes of additional footage never seen before! Until then, DON’T CROWD ME!!!

My hero, Nick Barrow!

My hero, Nick Barrow!