One of the great pleasures of working as hard as I do at my day job* is that it provides me with the means to indulge in all of the ridiculous, juvenile, base delights that fuel the Tenebrous Soul. I am full to brimming with dorkery from this past weekend, and I cannot contain my glee--please share in my delight, won't you, interpals?
*Being a grown-up sucks, but it pays well.
Friday's entry into the ongoing saga of Kevin Geeks Out presentations at 92YTribeca featured several "All Stars" who have contributed to past shows, and as such, it was a terrific blend of thought-provoking academia and intense fanboy (fan-person, really) love. One of the highlights of the evening was Heather Hendershot's essay on "Don Knotts: Reluctant Sex Object." It sounds silly, perhaps even (dare-I-say-it) "hipster"-ish, but Ms. Hendershot's presentation was filled with a genuine affection for her subject, and her thesis was quite insightful. The presentation was quirky and funny, but she managed to get across something very incisive about the way Knotts' comedy worked. I encourage everyone to hop over to FlowTV to read Ms. Hendershot's essay when you have a free moment--I guarantee it'll make you smile *and* think. Imagine that! Another high point found the inimitable Geoff Klock presenting a hilariously rapid-fire talk on superhero films and the odd connections between the actors in these beloved genre flicks. I never knew Gorilla Grodd campaigned for John McCain before hearing this presentation, but lo and behold--actor Powers Booth voiced both a megalomaniacal ape as well as television ads for a... no, I won't make that joke, but you can.
I approach the Chiller Theatre convention with what I'll politely call "a sense of trepidation." There have been some Significant Fuck-Ups in the way that con has run in the past that have left me not-so-much wanting to return. And yet, being a Jersey Girl with lots of horror-nerd friends, I get sucked back in year after year. I can honestly say that, for the second time in a row, I attended a totally-not-fucked-up* Chiller Theatre convention--on a Saturday afternoon no less!
*"Totally-not-fucked-up" in terms of logistics. One does not go to Chiller Theatre expecting anything less than a brainfuckling social and aesthetic experience--that's part of the glee.
One of the reasons I was pulled into the lurid orbit of Chiller again was the fact that the Italian Invasion Panel was making a return, which also meant that several of my nerds would be in attendance. Socializing AND shaking hands with Sergio Martino? SIGN ME UP. For the record, it seemed like Mr. Martino was more than a bit puzzled at the depth of my fan-love. I really do derive an extraordinary amount of joy from his thrillers--I think they've become my fave Italo-thrillers in point o' fact-o.
L to R: Unkown Panel Host (please ID yourself if you're reading!), Irene Miracle, Art Ettinger from UV, Geretta Geretta, Francesca Ciardi, Camille Keaton, Barbara Magnolfi
The Italian Actresses Panel was fascinating, and I was glad that the women weren't hesitant to address issues of feminism and politics in the films they'd starred in. Francesca Ciardi was adamant in her defense of "Cannibal Holocaust" and supported Ruggero Deodato's controversial film whole-heartedly. Irene Miracle ("Inferno") and Barbara Magnolfi ("Suspiria") spoke fondly of Dario Argento, and Geretta Geretta ("Demons" and "Murder Rock") displayed an almost-overwhelming love of genre films. Camille Keaton was charming and soft-spoken, even when talking about her iconic role as a revenge-seeking woman in "I Spit on Your Grave." While there was a general sense that these actresses enjoyed working in genre films, the consensus was that they were horrified by insert scenes. It's one thing to be a party to weird exploitive on-screen action, but it's another to have one's face co-opted into scenes that weren't even in the original script. I know I've joked (as have many fans of Eurotrash cinema) about the spliced-in scenes of explicit sex that appear in these movies, but hearing Magnlofi talk about the disgust she felt about the inserts in "Sister of Ursula" gave me pause. There's a whole lot that happens in these movies between concept, filming, editing, and marketing, and while I do derive no small measure of delight from their sometimes-literally balls-out madness, it was interesting to hear about the movie-making process from the perspective of women.
And can I just have a moment to gush over how universally bright, insightful, passionate and creative these women are? Because--yeah. It's refreshing to hear from women who have first-hand knowledge with the more--shall we say--outre avenues of the genre film world who own and celebrate the majority of their experiences. It doesn't hurt matters that Geretta Geretta is one of the coolest women I've ever met, and that Barbara Magnolfi lit up when Baron XIII and I told her how we always favored Olga in "Suspiria" and were rooting for her character throughout.
I'm taking a moment to shout-out (as the kids call it) to Art from Ultra Violent (who strong-armed me into writing another article for him), Mark from Film Fanaddict (who also has a Diabolik tattoo, as well as a Devo tattoo, thus making him the one person in the building with better ink than me--damn you, Mark), B-Sol from The Vault of Horror (whose kids are BEYOND charming, and whose daughter has more fiction-writing chops than *I* do), and the Abominable Dr. Gregg and his crew (a finer bunch of tiki companions, I'd be hard-pressed to identify). I'm very much looking forward to seeing what weirdness the October entry into the Chiller Theatre saga will have in store...!