On Saturday, June 23rd I attended one of the coolest events in the world ever! A B-movie, Grindhouse, Exploitation…whatever you prefer…film festival, which ran from 11:30 pm to 10 am the following day, showcasing five films (and one mystery film) in a row. It was called Shock and Awe (link to the Facebook page) The experience was…amazing. Why?
Every single one of these films were off-beat (for many reasons). For instance:
- The Groove Tube was the first spoof on television, complete with gross gags on advertising, a TV show about drug dealers that turns into a cautionary tale produced by the Catholic church, and spontaneous gratuitous nudity among many other great and strangely timeless takes on television in the 70s
- What Waits Below, a movie that wasn’t sure what it wanted to be, moving unsmoothly from adventure film to explorer film to underground creature film to ‘Can’t We All Just Get Along’ film. It has one of the best ‘Fade to picture within picture’ scenes I’ve ever seen
- Horror Hospital, with some of the most blatantly bad but genius lines (I’m not going to rape you!, , and a plot involving automoton creation and a rock star trying to escape the relaxing weekend he had hoped to experience
- ‘The Mystery Film’ …was amazing…one of the best of the night…and sorry, you had to be there, so I can’t tell you what it was.
- Rappin’…a hip hop musical…so bad that the rap about the fat kid who loves food was probably the best of the bunch
- Sleepaway Camp, often considered a Friday the 13th rip off, but a genius flick with guys in short shorts and halter tops, amazing synth pop soundtrack, and a twist that actually shocked me the first time I saw it
I didn’t yawn once. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity. Mainly thanks to:
Dion Conflict curated the night, and you could feel his love for the crowd and the movies in each introduction. An avid film collector, a collector of the rarities and off-beat gems that might otherwise be lost (apparently his copy of Horror Hospital was on the way to the trash heap when he rescued it!). This man does exactly what I wish I could, so there’s loads of respect for him and what he does.
The Revue Cinema in Toronto was an amazing setting. It reminded me of the Bookshelf in Guelph (and to a strange extent, the old 3 Star Cinemas in Guelph as well). A small theatre, one screen, no long hallways or massive lobbies. It felt like there was history there, a love of film, and a respect for the film goers.
When I watch these kinds of movies among friends I’m usually the one laughing loudest, commenting the most, and noticing the subtle quirks that everyone else ignores.
So being among like-minded movie goers was life-affirming. Highlights included:
- The laughing! We all seemed to laugh at the same times, and they were times normal people wouldn’t laugh! During What Waits Below, some RIDICULOUS moments transpire, and we all caught them
- The clapping! We applauded exceptionally bad lines that were delivered well. We applauded exceptionally bad scenes that were crafted with (misplaced) care!
- The interation! During Rappin’ we regularly clapped with the rap…during the Mystery Film we had been assigned a series of reactions to specific triggers on film, and not only did we join in, we altered them to make them even more amusing…
- The mutual love! At the end of each movie…we applauded…because we appreciated the movie
How can you not be happy to be surrounded by people who are there for the same reason as you are, watching the movies you love to watch at home, but on the big screen!
I will never miss another Shock and Awe. It was invigorating. And I highly suggest that if you’re in Toronto, and love the beauty of low-budgetand off-mainstream film, you shouldn’t either.
You can follow me on Twitter here: @Potoroo
And a big thanks to @Doug_Tilley for first turning me on to this fest!
Do you have any favourite low-budget, b- or exploitation flicks? What are they??