“Dude, we have a blind man at this screening. That’s how bad-ass this film is.” – Fatboy Roberts, Friday 11/7/08 before the special showing of Army of DarknessI can vouch for that. I saw the guy leaving the Bagdad Theater and Pub after the film. Army of Darkness is fun enough in its dialogue, sound effects and music to be enjoyed with the non-sight senses! Take that, Silent Movie!
The one way the screening could’ve been more bad-ass was if Bruce Campbell had been able to attend, but he’s touring the country with his latest film My Name Is Bruce so he was simply there in spirit, and of course on the big Bagdad screen. By slightly after 11 that night the theater was packed. Cort and Fatboy, done with their usual live remote early (they’d record a segment, start playing it, and record the next segment immediately while the earlier bit, some songs and the ads played; is it like time travel on the radio? Kind of), then floated around visiting people.
(The radio show included Mike “Culture Pulp” Russell reviewing the new film Role Models, Aaron “Geek in the City” Duran reviewing a new comic book adaptation of the original Evil Dead, and David “Bad Azz Mofo” Walker reviewing Troma Films’s Poultrygeist. It’s good listening, I tells ya, and not just because I’m name-checked in the first segment. I got quoted! There, I’m done bragging on myself.)
A little after 9:30, same as last time before Ghostbusters, Fatboy and I deployed to the line outside (me at the front, him at the end) and started offering tater tots to the crowd. We ran out. Apologies to the people in the line’s very middle who may not have had the chance for free tots. (And slight befuddlement at the guy who tried paying me a buck for letting him have a tot! “That’s wrong in all sorts of ways,” I told him, and didn’t take it. He was cool with that.)
The lobby mood, what I saw of it before getting into the theater, was eager and non-tense. There was a good energy to the crowd. The screening room was pretty rambunctious pre-film, as in leading to me briefly worrying Is someone going to drop something off the balcony? Is someone going to drop themselves off the balcony? Then it got less scary and just rambunctious.
The audience lost it even before the movie. The pre-movie stuff that Fatboy chose included not only the trailer for From Dusk Till Dawn, but also Don Hertzfeldt’s animated short Rejected. Hertzfeldt is a lovely, gentle man who can blow your mind with disturbingly hilarious films, all hand-drawn with deceptive simplicity so that they look cute and ridiculously childlike and then ever-creepier stuff happens. “Sweet Jesus and all that is holy: my anus is bleeding!!!” is actual dialogue in Rejected. The people near me had never seen it before, and were wide-eyed and laughing gasping laughs like they couldn’t get enough breath to yell Oh my God! (I heard later that someone looked shell-shocked after seeing Rejected and said, “Dude, that’s Kafka.” See? Disturbing.)
Then the film! Fifteen years after its release and still as blissfully ridiculous as ever. Bruce Campbell is Ash, big-box department store toiler-turned-hella-reluctant-fighter-of-e
(More Bruce Campbell love! Mike Russell did a Culture Pulp comic about him in 2005, when he showed his directorial debut Man With the Screaming Brain at Portland’s Hollywood Theatre; he saved the transcript of the Q&A, too, including where Campbell mentions the film he was planning to direct next, which was – ta daa! – My Name Is Bruce (which he talks about in this much more recent interview).)
Next month for the KUFO Late-Night Movie: more disturbing hilariousness. That time it’ll be Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Gene Wilder. Roald Dahl. Druglike imagery. The singing voice of Sammy Davis, Jr. Kid death. Orange midgets. That will be my first time ever seeing Willy Wonka on the big screen. Want to be there? Of course you do…