Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Monsterpalooza 3

From 5 Years Ago... And Coming Next Weekend!

Over the weekend I went to Monsterpalooza 3, and every year it is *more crowded* than the last. This year, I looked outside at about 3pm and there was still a line *around the building*!

So, I was supposed to meet my friend Rod there, and looked all over for him... bumping in to other friends and talking with them along the way. As the day went on, I hadn't seen him, and decided to call. Should have done that earlier, but I figured we were in the same very crowded building and eventually would spot each other. Rod picks up - he's just left the venue. He was there - but it was so crowded we never even saw each other!

I went to a couple of panels - the guy who played Godzilla (in the suit) was speaking - a little old Japanese man who told amusing stories about being dressed in rubber and hanging from wires and sometimes being injured in a fight with some other stuntman in a rubber monster suit, but not telling anyone because it took so long to get the suit on and get hooked up to the wires that it was easier to work injured.

As a kid, GODZILLA movies were weekend afternoon TV movie staples. They were silly fun, and I've always been a fan of the big guy. Also Mothra. And Mothra's caterpillars. And those two little girls in the bird cage. I had a Godzilla plastic model and some Godzilla toys and a Godzilla movie poster. Mostly as a goof. Later I had a movie poster for Larry Cohen's IT'S ALIVE, a goofy movie that was actually about something...

The next panel was for THE HOWLING, which is one of my favorite movies. I fell in love with Belinda Balaski in PIRANHA and she and John Sayles and Joe Dante all went on to make HOWLING together. Also on the panel - Dee Wallace (who is in my INVISIBLE MOM movie) and Robert Picardo (this was his first film), and one of Rob Bottin's FX make up team. They had some good stories - one day Bottin took 13 hours putting the werewolf make up on Picardo... and by the time he was done they had run out of time to shoot! Other stories about the difficulties of acting opposite FX to be added later, and the stop motion scenes that were cut out of the film. Dante talked a lot about John Sayles contributions, and the decision to add humor - because audiences can find unintentional humor in an overly serious horror flick, so if you mix a little humor in they laugh at that instead and aren't trying to make fun of the real scares. The whole EST thing was Sayles' contribution, too. I know all of this stuff from reading every article on the film when it came out, but cool to see the real people talk about it. Belinda still looks great.

The next panel was American Grindhouse, and featured a bunch of great film makers - Joe Dante stuck around, but the highlights for me were the amazing Larry Cohen (IT'S ALIVE - and dozens of others, plus *hundreds* of screenplays from DADDY'S GONE A HUNTING (1969) to PHONE BOOTH and CELLULAR (a few years ago), plus Jack Harris (FOXY BROWN and THE BIG DOLL HOUSE) and Bill Lustig (MANIAC COP and RELENTLESS). All of that talent onstage, and the moderator (director of the doc AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE, which is great and a free view on Hulu if you are in the USA) screwed it up by not having any prepared questions and then asking a bunch of silly questions about experiences in 42 Street cinemas in the 70s. Huh? No real questions about making the films (though in the doc Larry Cohen tells some greats tories about shooting the end of BLACK CAESAR on the streets of New York with no permits and just people walking down the street as accidental extras. Fred Williamson (in my CROOKED movie) gets shot and staggers down the street bleeding and eventually falls over and dies - all with real New Yorkers as unknowing extras! I would have loved to have Lustig talk about making movies for grindhouses & drive ins... and then make similar movies for Cinetel like HIT LIST and RELENTLESS (great low budget flick) and then do direct to video stuff like UNCLE SAM. Nobody asked.

After that I did a final loop through the event and then went to the hotel bar and had me some beers on an empty stomach. Darin Scott and many from the Thursday Night Gang were there, plus Tyger Torres (was his birthday), and a bunch of others. I hung out, talked to Don about his DIY feature, and eventually realized I'd better get on the bike and pedal home while I could still balance. In previous blog entries I've talked about what the event is all about, so I'm linking those entries below:

Monsterpalooza #1 - 2009.

Monsterpalooza #2 - 2010.

- Bill


TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Is Your Screenplay Ready? - a few ways to figure out.
Dinner: McD's chicken club while in transit on the bike.
Pages: No. Well, actually a page - but that wasn't enough. Trying to dive back into this script after working on 2 others for a week.
Bicycle: Yes. I've been doing medium rides every day. I've also thrown the bike on the front of the Orange Line "bullet bus" to ride in far off lands west of here.

Movies: YOUR HIGHNESS - It was better than I was lead to expect from the reviews, and I liked it more than PINEAPPLE... but have no idea how this will ever show on network TV. It's seriously R rated. I laughed, and thought the elements of parody were fun (from the mechanical bird to the endless shots of them marching on mountain tops like in LOTR). I also thought the hand villain guy was a cool idea. Some of the gags didn't work, but it had a story that made sense. I think the problem with a film like PINEAPPLE is that you have this shaggy dog nonsense story, so when gags don't work - nothing works. At least here we had a story to fall back on when a gag fell flat with a splat. Not a great movie (may use one of the big flaws in a script tip - dude starts out as a whinny worthless slacker... and ends up as one, too... I could not understand why he's a hero at the end) but no reason for the critics to trash it to this extreme. I think all of the reviews I read hated it because it was raunchy... and that's what it was supposed to be - a raunchy comedy. Well, it's seriously raunchy, but that's kind of the point.

What's interesting to me about this film: it tested *really* well and everyone thought it was going to be a big hit... but it wasn't. Is that because McBride isn't a star? Because they didn't want to see a raunchy comedy this week? Because there's a difference between test screenings and when a film opens?

Seeing a (secret) movie Tuesday and may see HANNA on Wednesday.


Todd said...

They thought Arthur was going to be a big hit too, but hey what do they know anyway

Craig Blamer said...

I love Larry Cohen, although he's a dangerous influence on my writing. His voice is a highwire act (without the net) that balances horror with sly humor. Problem is, a lot of times folks just assume that it's unintentional humor...

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