END of PDXFilm

16 04 2009

I’m almost positive that this is the end of PDXFilm.  

I’ve been doing this blog or something similar to promote what an incredible town this is for foreign and repertory film programming, and I think I’d like to spend my Wednesdays doing something else.  I almost never see anyone at any of the screenings discussed here, even amongst the friends I know who read this blog, so I think I’m done.  Maybe I’ll spend my time making a new film, who knows?

In the meantime, I’d like to thank the handful of folks who read and followed the blog, even if they never really went to the films I mentioned.  One of the ways I’d like to thank folks is by giving away tickets to one of the most exciting cinema events of the year, which is THE GRINDHOUSE TRAILER WAR!

WEDNESDAY, April 22nd at 9:30pm stands to be one of the most exciting evenings of cinema with two hours of Grindhouse trailer curated by the programmers at Austin’s The Alamo Theatre. 

I’ve been promoting The Grindhouse Festival for about a year, and if you haven’t gone, GO.  It’s next Wednesday.  They are expecting it to sell out (which means some 450 people laughing and cheering, the way cinema ought to be).

Keith Mansfield’s “Funky Fanfare” accompanies an Astro Daters theatrical snipe produced by National Screen Service (circa late 1960’s)

You may think to yourself, well, there isn’t any program notes and I’ve heard grindhouse is violent or exploitive…Oh get a fuckin’ sense of humor!  Grindhouse was to Hollywood what punk rock was to rock music; a gob of spit in the eye of bourgeois tastes and morals.  Cinema is best when it captures our dreams and dreams are often surreal, violent, sexual and make no sense.  How gorgeous that there was a movement in film when films really reflected our most primal desires and fears.  But more than that, the contemporary Grindhouse screening is a film history class turned rock concert with the most passionate film students screaming their heads off at the visceral swirl of what cinema does best.


Listen, you’re never gonna brave these choppy waters of cinema, so why bother reading this?  But if you change your mind, email me at pdxfilm@mac.com and you tell me why you’re interested in Grindhouse and if I like your response, I’ll give you ONE FREE TICKET.  You must reply by APRIL 18th.

Anyway…for those of you who like what you experience at Grindhouse, THURSDAY APRIL 23rd for one night only at The Clinton St Theater, a Hicksploitation Double Feature!  Now I gotta admit, this is my least favorite subgenre of Grindhouse, but here’s the details…

First up is Gator Bait (1974) Picture yourself on a state highway in the rural south in 1974. In the distance an apparition flickers on a drive-in screen. It’s a beautiful woman with long red hair and skin the color of mother’s milk. She lifts a 12-gauge to eye level and squeezes the trigger. It’s not a hallucination. It’s Claudia Jennings, a common sight on drive-in screens throughout the country in the 70’s and that rarest of things, a genuine female action star. The movie is Gator Bait, a huge hit that kept drive-in audiences coming back again and again. Like most movies that made it big on the chitlin’ circuit, Gator Bait really delivers. 

The story of a sexy swamp rat named Desiree who’s half woman and half savage, it features the scariest inbred hillbillies outside of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and a revenge plot that builds to a thundering, foot-stomping climax. As an actress Claudia Jennings doesn’t have a great deal of range, but then neither does a sawed off shotgun. Under the right circumstances both can be devastating. Jennings, who was a Playboy Playmate of the year, had an outstanding career in low-budget exploitation films before dying in a car crash at age 29. There’s never been another one like her. Gator Bait is a true drive-in classic. Don’t miss it. 

Followed by Psycho From Texas (1981) Already a cult favorite among the most discriminating hicksploitation connoisseurs, this cheap, sleazy slice of lone-star low-life is finally poised to infect the rest of the country. All Texans are familiar with this film but the very mention of its title is oddly taboo. It’s a little like the mentally deficient cousin with the weird ears who lives in the basement and eats bugs. We just don’t talk about it. Well, maybe now’s the time to start because there’s a lot to love about this movie. 

The titular psycho, Wheeler, is one of the most memorable characters in regional filmdom. John King III deserved an Oscar for his performance as the mommy obsessed killer with the weird laugh and the unorthodox fried chicken eating technique. But it may be Tommy Lamey as Wheeler’s toothpick-worrying sidekick Slick who provides the most memorable moments in the film, notably a long foot chase that takes up probably a third of the run-time and provides laughs galore. 
Psycho From Texas features more scummy dialogue, K-mart fashions, mean rednecks, continuity lapses, incongruous BOING sound effects and country cuties than any film you can name.

The Hicksploitation Double Feature is one night, April 23rd at 8:30pm, tickets $8 (which is kinda high, I think).  But good news…The Clinton Street Theater now has a new sound system!  Yup!  Remember how crappy it used to sound?  Well, that’s because they didn’t have a center speaker!  Now they got one!

Moving right along…

I’ve been talking about HUNGER (Steve McQueen, U.K.) for months on this blog.  And it is finally coming to Cinema 21 starting Friday.  Last week, I talked about how art cinema is moving closer to becoming experiential and HUNGER exemplifies this.  The film isn’t interested in showing us a story but rather letting the audience experience what the characters experience.  HUNGER, along with last week’s Silent Light, is one of the best films of the year, if not an important film as well, and not to be missed.

Check Cinema 21’s website for showtimes.

Also at Cinema 21, through April 23rd, Monty Python and the Holy Grail…Now what I don’t understand is why Cinema 21 doesn’t have more faith in HUNGER which is only playing once a day.  Ah well.  Times are tough for great art.   BTW, Cinema 21 has starting serving beer and wine which means shows past 6pm are 21 and over only.

OR if you’re feeling a little campy this Saturday, you can go see Olivia Newton John in XANADU (Robert Greenwald, U.S. 1980), which plays one night only at The Bagdad at 9PM.  WARNING:  Remember, you can NEVER trust The Bagdad to show a film print, so call in advance!!!  


That’s it.  ERASERHEAD plays one more night at Clinton St., HUNGER begins Friday and plays for one week (SEEEE IT!), GRINDHOUSE TRAILER WAR is Wednesday at 9:30pm (FREE TICKET TO THOSE INTERESTED!), and then on Saturday is XANADU.

And that’s all I have to say.  Hope you’ve enjoyed PDXFilm.   You can always email me at pdxfilm@mac.com and I’m happy to tell you about what’s worth seeing. 

I’m gonna make a movie now.