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September 24, 1980 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-09-24

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Gregory Peck, Jean Parker, Karl Maiden, in


The Michigan Daily

Wednesday, September 24, 1980

Page 5

7:00 & 4:04

Films so bad they re... bad?

Johnny Ringer is a gunslinger who wants to retire but a young upstart thinks
he's faster and wants to be able to say, "Yeah, I'm the guy who killed Johnny
Ringo," so he can get respect. There's always someone messing things up!
Johnny has to take care of it and keep his dignity and new way of life without
getting himself croaked. A great scene when the bad guy threatens a little
Shown at LORCHl HALL (Old A&D)

Camp has its undeniable pleasures,
along with a slew of limitations-and if
sitting through (nearly) all of last
weekend's World's Worst Films
Festival at the Michigan Theatre ten-
ded to emphasize the limitations after a
while, it was certainly time for
someone to stage the thing.
Plan 9 Productions, a group of young
Canadians in search of media attention
and presumably a few higher ideals,
has-been taking this best-of-the-N.Y.C.

"torrid passion in the icy north" with
Kay Francis) through all those gaudy-
awful Jacqueline Susann adaptions?
How about some samples of rabid
pretentiousness? (There must be a
goldmine in bad, old experimental
works of the I-saw-a-black-rider-in-my-
toast school waiting to be
rediscovered.) What about classic
kultur kitsch, like the giddy Busby
Berkeley Technicolor riot of The
Gang's All Here-Carmen Miranda
adrift in a sea of dancing girls carrying

fiascos was The Terror of Tiny Town,
the first and hopefully the last midget
musical western. Is was like Bugsy
Malone (1976, adorable children
dressed up as gangsters for a WHOLE
FILM) without the benefit of expensive
settings. How long can anyone watch
short people ride around the prairies on
Shetland ponies, anyway? Stunning
one-sentence ideas don't make great
camp-they make great hit-and-run
jokes in Monty Python movies.
STUNNING TITLES don't clinch the

and allows our hero, Glen, to wear the
cute cashmier sweater he's been dying
to take off her and put on himself for
ALSO SHOWN at the Michigan was
the formidable Robot Monster (pic-
tured here), and the memorable 1963
The Creeping Terror, in which a shag
carpet with a Mr. Potatohead face
(adorned with leaves and a vacuum-
cleaner nozzle) lands from Out There to
waddle around (manipulated by high
school students hired to crawl for the
occasion) and devour all the extras too
numbed with terror to move at a speed
beyond one foot per hour.
The organizers of the Worst Films
Festival deserve thanks for allowing us
all to finally get a look at the movies
behind those promisingly ludicrous
titles. But they haven't done nearly
enough, or- taken their ideas (99 per
cent of which have been swiped, ver-
batim, from the Medved brothers'
depressingly juvenile volumes The
Golden Turkey Awards and The 50
Worst Films) far enough. Intentional
camp hardly ever works-it takes a
James Whale, Brian De Palma, Russ
Meyer,, or a Ken Russell, an insane
original, to manage that trick-and it
certainly doesn't in Attack of the Killer
Tomatoes, which stretches its single-
snicker joke to mousy, amateur-night
tedium. The choices of short subjects
was also distressing. There was the
priceless Dating Do's and Don'ts, a vin-
tage Coronet instructional film instruc-
ting Woody and Ann upon their outing to
the Hi-Teen Carnival, with full info on
How To Say Good-bye and other such
things ("The important thing about a
date is to have a good time"). Aside
from that, no one had to contend with
the mildly funny, overextended.
spoofery of Hardware Wars, a
pixillated uncooked turkey dragging it-
self across a kitchen floor in
Thanksgiving, and the ultimate pseudo-
experimental mish-mash of Bitter
Grapes, which featured in-your-face
shots of regurgitation and flabby flesh.
Funny, huh? It's some kind of worst, to
be sure.
The Festival's definite worst,
however, was its admission fee-camp
does indeed have its charms, but even
the most dedicated among us squirm a
little at the thought of spending $3.50 on
a movie we fully expect (even fervently
hope) to be bad. Even if-it's I Changed
My Sex.

Cinema II
Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned
z To Stop Worrying And Love The
Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)*
Dr. Strangelove, ex-Nazi and now a high-level American military 0
Z advisor, counsels President Merton Muffley on how to avoid the
impending destruction of the world. A wonderful Cold War black
O comedy of sexual insecurity, nuclear deterrance, and the holocaust.
With PETER SELLERS (in multiple roles), GEORGE C. SCOTT, STER-
7:00 and 9:00 -
NORMA RAE (Martin Ritt, 1979)
Q Based on a true story of one woman's fight against worker
exploitation by a southern textile firm, this moving film tells Norma
Rae's story. SALLY FIELD gives an Academy Award winning per-
formance as the young divorced mother who teams up with a
Jewish New York union organizer to rally the community behind
them in their fight for justice. With RON LEIBMAN and BEAU
BRIDGES. (114 min.) 7:00 and 9:00
All shows $2.00-Series tickets 10 shows $15.00

A thrilling moment from 'Robot Monster,' one of the ten films screened last weekend at the Michigan Theatre as part of
the World's Worst Films Festival. Here, the evil Ro-Man (in the gorilla suit and deep-sea diving helmet, with antennae)
attempts to abduct our heroine, despite her fiancee's objections. The Ro-Man has just finished destroying the rest of
humanity with his "calcinator death ray," and communicates with his otherworldly leader via a dresser with a mirror-
screen and a mysterious bubble-blowing machine. 'Robot Monster' was released in 1953, which doesn't excuse it.

festival (27 films, as opposed to ten at
the Michigan) around the country. The
edition that stopped in Ann Arbor was
disappointing in its slapdash choices
and lack of real eccentricity, but at
least they went out and did it.
WHAT CAN BE said about this
festival that hasn't already been stated
with maximum cuteness in People and
Us? The ideal setting for watching
movies of an enjoyably terrible nature
is in your own living room, slouched in
front of that infernal box. Surrounded
by Home, you don't have to watch or
think about the damned things unflin-
chingly, and their inanity seems all the
more blissful for being ignorable as
The Michigan Theatre, cavernous
and ornate, is halfway to being a camp
object in itself, though with the lights
out and nothing in front of you but They
Saved Hitler's Brain, the comfortable
take-it-or-leave-it distance of TV is
removed and it's easier to get bored or
The festival ,schedule was a
somewhat unimaginative selection of
monstrosities: seven of them science-
fiction/horror mellers, all poverty-
program productions, with one possible
exception. Where were all the fluffily
overproduced sob stories that have
been jerking tears from jerks and
eliciting hoots from the rest of us for
decades, from The Virtuous Sin (1930

ten-foot bananas-or Frank Sinatra as
The Kissing Bandit?
THE FILMS screened did their
limited subgenre-that flying-hubcap-
against-black-canvas brand of fantasy
epic-fair justice. The major exception
was High School Confidential!, a jaunty
1958 M-G-M F Cinemascope tale of
reckless, feckless teens; first-rate
studio gloss lavished on a tenth-rate
script. Santa Bello High is invaded by
the new kid in town, cocky Tony (Russ
Tamblyn of Tom Thumb fame), who is
entering his seventh year as a high
school "student" and makes his rude
intentions clear with lines like "Take it
from the stud, eh?"
While some fellow students go
through intermittent "marijuana
withdrawal" ("Please blast me, Tony!
Turn me on!"), this fast-paced
melodrama amusingly kills time with
verbal ciphers like "She don't bake, she
don't get dusted;" an unforgettable
beatnik poetry recitation ("Tomorrow
is Dragsville, kids" intones a stunning
brunette); and the acting efforts of a
bizarre cast including Michael Landon,
Jerry Lee Lewis, and the sons of
Charles Chaplin, William Wellman, and
John Barrymore. High School Con-
fidential! had something else,
too-Mamie Van Doren, arguably the
most lewd actress ever to precede her-
self onto the screen.
A minor exception from the S-F

dilemma either, though Dennis Ray
Stecker's The Incredibly Strange
Creatures Who Stopped Living and
Became Crazy Mixed-Up Zombies
(retitled, as if that wasn't enough,
Teenage Psycho Meets Bloody Mary)
tried hard enough in other areas as
well. Nothing else at the Festival could
quite equal, for sheer gaudiness,
Strange Creatures' horrendous musical
numbers at the "Hungry Mouth Night
Club," or its-help me-"ballet"
nightmare-fantasy sequence. This gem
was filmed in Hallucinogenic
Hypovision (a spinning on-screen disc
designed to cue frighteningly-masked
ushers to run up and down the
aisles-alas, no one at the Michigan
played along), Terrorama (?) and
glorious Eastmancolor.
The celebrated, oblivious and late
camp maestro Edward D. Wood, Jr.
was represented with no less than three
pasteboard epics: the accepted mater-
piece Plan Nine from Outer Space, the
lesser-known 1953 Bride op the Monster
(featuring Bela Lugosi's eyebrows and
a large, limp plastic octopus), and the
extraordinary I Changed My Sex, also
known as Glen or Glenda? This
remarkable, and remarkably wrong-
headed, plea for understanding for the
transexual (punctuated by wildly
disruptive horror-movie narration by
Lugosi) reaches its emotional climax
when girlfriend Barbara finally relents


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