Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Found Footage Festival’s Bad Movie Night

Last weekend I was in downtown Manhattan for the Found Footage Festival’s Bad Movie Night. I talked about the Found Footage Festival in a previous post. This particular event is a little different; it involves screening movies that were found at yard sales, thrift stores, etc., as opposed to watching short films like training videos, exercise videos, and such.

First, a word about the venue. The 92nd Street Y has opened up a space in Tribeca, near the Holland Tunnel. It’s a very nice space, with an open café when you walk in. That evening, my friends and I had the misfortune to be waiting in/near the café while they were having their improv night—poetry, spoken word, what I think was supposed to be comedy—all backed by a band playing what I think was supposed to be jazz. With apologies to the performers, I’m sorry to say it was horrible—my friends and I could not stop laughing it was so horrible. The music was frequently out of tune. Singers with the band kept trying to create vocal sound effects , but they were just as bad as the band. Most of the time I thought they were either suffering from intestinal distress or perhaps this was the get-together night of the melodramatic actors guild. In any case—I know we were not alone in our opinion of the sets. Frequently, members of the café staff would come out from the back to watch the band; the looks on their faces suggested it was giving THEM intestinal distress. And more than once I heard the ticket office staff apologizing to those coming for other performances “about that noise out there”.

So, I suppose bad music and poetry was a great set-up for a bad movie. We had a late start, but eventually we got into the theater at about 10:15. Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett were both there, along with the two guys who found this particular bad movie at a thrift store in Ohio. They divided the movie into 3 parts. Nick and Joe kept offering Mystery Science Theater 3000-style commentary, and at the end of each “part” they would get up to offer comments, and what little background information they could find about the actors in the movie. (The female lead in the movie is now a Kung Fu black belt). They even had a quiz at one point, during which they gave away copies of the movie for correct answers. My friend Liz ended up winning one of the copies.

The movie itself—it was—CONFUSING. The movie was called “Computer Beach Party”. It was clearly made in the 1980s, and apparently did have some level of wide distribution. However, the Internet Movie Database doesn’t have any listing for it, and neither does anyone else. The director was someone who made two films in his career—the first one was bad, and I think he gave up after this one. I certainly wouldn’t admit to being involved with this one.

The plot—was there a plot? Something about a pirate ship; treasure found on a beach, where these two geeky guys live; some kind of sailing races on the beach; a mayor’s daughter who is inexplicably in love with one of the geeky guys who really has no acting ability or personality ; a mayor who wants to secretly buy the beach and kick out everyone who lives there so he can search for buried treasure; a stupid lifeguard and his friend; and beach parties where everyone is invited by computer prior to social network sites, and always featuring the band Panther, a bad 80s hair metal band who also did the crappy soundtrack for this movie. And there was a chicken car (seriously--a car with a large chicken on it) that always appeared when the idiot police officer character wanted to arrest teenagers for having sex on the beach. Yes, there was nudity, mostly boobs. Nick theorized that this was how the movie got any distribution at all.

Here is a clip for your viewing pleasure:

Besides the obvious lack of a plot or any sort of real character development, the dialogue was all dubbed—the characters often had different voices in different scenes. The editing was really terrible—there were scenes that just show characters staring into space for several minutes, that clearly should have been cut. So—no plot, bad acting, lukewarm characters, and poor editing—all of the elements of what might be one of the worst movies ever committed to tape. Besides the Creeping Terror, of course.

Like Mystery Science Theater 3000, some movies are totally unwatchable without the benefit of snide commentary, and it looks like Bad Movie Night promises to fill that void in upcoming events as well. Be sure to look out for the next Bad Movie Night, featuring the film “Kindergarten Ninja”. It ought to be spectacular.

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