Like Terror in the Aisles, the Sci-Fi Spectacular is sort of a younger sibling to the Music Box Massacre. Despite the name, the Spectacular isn’t entirely a horror-free zone; I’ve seen stuff like the Cronenberg remake of The Fly running at past Spectaculars.

The sixth Spectacular was held at the Portage Theater on Saturday, April 28, 2012 and the lineup was:

  • The Little Shop of Horrors (Original Corman classic!)
  • The Last Starfighter (’80s awesomeness!)
  • Brazil (The ultimate dystopian future!)
  • Night of the Comet (Star Kelli Maroney in person!)
  • Twelve Monkeys (Gilliam’s modern masterpiece!)
  • Attack the Block (Monster mayhem!)
  • The Theater Bizarre (Midwest premiere!)

The other guest was filmmaker Larry Cohen, who didn’t have a film on the lineup.

* * *

Trailer Trash

There were a lot of trailers this time. In fact, I think this is the largest number of trailers I’ve ever seen as part of Trailer Trash. They were arranged thematically:

Martial arts movies. Sudden Death; The One-Armed Executioner; Jaguar Lives; Enter the Ninja; Lightning Swords of Death; Five Fingers of Death; The Stranger and the Gunfighter.

Religious horror. Beyond the Door; Demonoid; The Night Child; Devil Times Five.

Movies named after the lead character. Patrick; Jennifer.

Killer fauna. Phase IV; Bug (the 1975 William Castle film); The Uncanny.

* * *

The Little Shop of Horrors (Roger Corman, 1960)

My love for the musical is on record. Yet, while I’m not going to try to make the claim that Corman’s version is superior, it does have a lot of charm (for example, Jonathan Haze’s apparent impersonation of Jerry Lewis) and wit (pretty much anything that comes out of Mushnick’s mouth) that the musical doesn’t have. And I did miss the gaggle of supporting characters who didn’t make it into the musical, such as the Dragnet-parodying cops, the high school students buying flowers for their homecoming float, and the old lady whose relatives keep dying.

It’s also a vitally important cultural document as it constitutes evidence that, yes, Jack Nicholson has always been pulling that shit.

* * *

Funny or Die video: Don Cheadle is Captain Planet

I didn’t really find this funny, but in my defense, Captain Planet is a bit after my time (it débuted the year I turned 17).

* * *

The Last Starfighter (Nick Castle, 1984)

I’m not going to go into this much here, because I don’t really think there’s a justification for Starfighter as horror that I’d be willing to buy (I could, if I really wanted to, make those arguments for Brazil and Twelve Monkeys).

What I will say is that I didn’t really care for it, and that (as with The Goonies, Labyrinth, Legend, Willow, The Black Hole, The Gate, Clash of the Titans, Krull, Night of the Comet…) my problem is that it was made in the ’80s and is aimed at adolescents; but I’m seeing it for the first time now, when I’m in my 30s, and I’m either unable or unwilling to put myself in the 12-year-old mindset required to really appreciate it.

* * *


Ernest Scared Stupid (this trailer also ran at last year’s Massacre); Face/Off; and Dead Heat.

* * *

Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985)

I’m a huge fan of Gilliam and this is one of my favorites of his, and I was really excited to finally get a chance to see it on a big screen. Every time I see it I notice something new (for example, during this viewing I finally noticed that Sam seems to have a sexual fixation with his mother). I love the design, love the cast (as much as I love A Fish Called Wanda, this is undoubtedly Michael Palin’s finest hour) and love the story.

Yet…honestly, I think at somewhere between two-hours-fifteen and two-and-a-half hours (I am not sure which cut was screened), I think it’s a bit too long for a marathon setting. There were also technical problems–I guess whoever had the print before Movieside rewound one of the reels in the wrong direction, causing what felt like a 20-minute delay in the middle of the picture, and as a result the second half of the movie dragged a bit more, at least to me.

* * *

Guest: Kelli Maroney

I wasn’t around for the interview we did with her at Flashback (I think Jason conducted it on Saturday while Jori and I were at Lance Henriksen’s Q&A, but it might have been on Sunday, when I didn’t attend), so this was the first time I’ve ever heard her speak. Apparently she was in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and most of what she talked about was that.

One thing she did say about Night of the Comet was that apparently there was a disagreement between the producers over the tone of the film: one felt it should be comedic and the other felt it should be more serious. There’s this one scene about halfway through where Sam tells Reg about this one guy who she heard was going to ask her out (and she’s crying); Maroney was surprised that the scene made it into the final cut, because at the time, it seemed like most of the production staff agreed with the “comedic” producer. (Another interesting thing: these two producers also produced one of my least favorite early-’80s films, Valley Girl.)

She also briefly discussed a new project: SyFy made a remake of The Giant Gila Monster.

Sadly, none of my photos of her came out.

* * *

The Night of the Comet (Thom Eberhardt, 1984)

I didn’t like this any more the second time round. My problems with Comet have already been entered into the record and I don’t really feel the need to repeat myself.

The reels were mislabeled (a scene at the radio station cut to the scene where the think tank scientist offers Reg his condolences over Sam’s death) which resulted in another ten-minute break during which there was a merch auction. I didn’t get anything. The funniest bit of the auction was when Rusty mispronounced “Dalek” (he pronounced it with a long “a,” as in “DAY-lek”).

* * *

More merch

I scored a couple of admit-two tickets for the Music Box.

* * *

Roger Corman tribute shorts

Rusty introduced three quickie shorts which were apparently intended as a tribute to Roger Corman. I didn’t catch the title of the first one, which involved time-traveling cats. The second was called Blast of Doom and I’m pretty sure I saw Heather Dorff in it. (It could just be that, as a result of the Indie Horror Film Fest, I now see Heather Dorff everywhere.) The third one was called Insane from Infinity. They were all really, really funny, but I think Insane was my favorite.

* * *

Twelve Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1995)

This is another strong Gilliam entry and it bookends with Brazil for some pretty obvious reasons. I don’t think it’s as strong as Brazil: I think Brad Pitt should have toned his performance down a bit, I’m still not clear what’s going on with David Morse’s character, and there’s a bit too much coincidence in the plot setup, but overall I like this one a lot. Plus, I always forget Simon Jones is in it, so I always get a rush when Willis goes before the future scientist panel for the first time and Jones speaks I’m all like, “Fuck yeah! Arthur Dent is in this!” So it gets points for that.

* * *

Guests: Larry Cohen and Paul Glickman

Larry Cohen is pretty obvious: the guy who directed Q, It’s Alive, and The Stuff. Glickman is his longtime DP. Cohen is a really funny guy (Glickman at one point quipped that he should have been a stand-up comedian) and had some great stories about making The Stuff and working with Bernard Hermann.

My favorite: Cohen wanted Hermann to score It’s Alive, but Hermann was already committed to The Exorcist. After showing The Exorcist to Hermann, Friedkin asked him to give him a score better than the one he did for Citizen Kane. Hermann responded that if he wanted that, he should have made a better film than Citizen Kane. The next day, Hermann was available to score It’s Alive.

Words of wisdom: the best thing about being a screenwriter is that if your movie sucks, you do not have to give the money back.

As with the pictures of Kelli Maroney, none of the photos of Cohen and Glickman came out.

* * *

After Cohen spoke, I left. I was really tired and didn’t want to stay out too late; it was about 11:15pm, and it looked to me like the whole event might not end until almost 3. Unfortunately that meant missing Attack the Block and The Theater Bizarre, the two films I’d most wanted to see, but life’s like that sometimes. I’ll try to get to them sometime in the future.

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