Monday, May 03, 2004

Adam's Ohio Sci-Fi Marathon Diary!

7:47 am
It’s too damn early to be awake, and I’m cranky. Cheap ass beer sucks nuts, and never fails to make me feel like crap in the morning, even when I only have a few of them. I had an awful night’s sleep and it’s gonna be a challenge making it through the day, let alone the marathon.

8:57 am
All packed and ready to go. Well, as ready as I can ever be. Just got a call from my buddy DDP, who’s supposedly gonna head up and drag me down there in 45 minutes.

10:11 am
Still waiting for DDP to show. Gonna take some garbage out.

10:20 am
Just tried his house. No answer. Where the fuck is – speak of the minor demon, there he is. We zip down to the theater and get in line outside. I press the flesh, get to know my neighbors in line and chat up the crowd. DDP turns up his iPod and tunes the throng of fanboys out. Some people person he is.

11:46 am
Seated and ready to go. Found good seats smack dab in the middle of the freaks, fourth row center on the floor. Being amongst the geek squad is the only way to go.
Random overheard geek chatter: Marcon is in 4 weeks. Yippee. They’re going to have a Firefly room, though, so that’s nice.

11:57 am
I’m feeling hyperactive and kinda crazy already. Gonna go and look at refreshments.

12:06 pm
Got my first beer (YUM). And a lemonade. Ran into the guys I was behind in line up at the bar. In the words of Homer Simpson, “Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer.”

12:14 pm
Yeah, we’re behind schedule already. Fuck it. It’s all about the freaks. I’m soaking in the atmosphere.

12:15 pm
Bruce Bartoo, MC exraordinaire, finally makes an appearance. The countdown begins and we’re into the marathon.
The first trailer is for The Empire Strikes Back. Of course, this elicits a round of applause. After that, we get trailers for Dragonslayer, Robocop and Jurassic Park…all of which Phil Tippett, the upcoming guest of honor, worked on.
After that, we get a CGI test for Starship Troopers (which can be seen on the DVD). Paul Verhoeven is insane. That is all.
We then get a taste of what is to come movie-wise, with trailers for Mutiny in Outer Space, The Omega Man, 28 Days Later, Total Recall and The Road Warrior. Man, I’m sooooo looking forward to seeing the second Mad Max film on the big screen again.

12:45 pm
Duck Dodger in the 24 ½ Century starts to cheers.
Nice looking print. Too bad the sound is terrible. It sounds like an 8th grade health class instructional film.

12:52 pm
Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack is, for your entertainment dollar, one of the most entertaining Godzilla movies thus far.
Godzilla’s no friend to mankind in this one. He’s possessed by the restless spirits of the dead from the Pacific Theater in WW2, and he’s out to destroy Japan.
Thankfully, three Guardian Monsters exist to oppose the forces that would threaten Japan: Baragon, Mothra and King Ghidorah.
In any case, you know that since the movie’s directed by Shusuke Kaneko, it will have some of the wild action that made the recent Gamera movies must sees.
By the way, did I mention that GMK was subbed? Yeah, eat it, bitches. We get spoiled here. It’s always a treat to see the newer kaiju movies on the big screen. The sound is infuckingcredible.
Of course, since it’s a giant monster movie with Man In Suit effects, the call-outs have begun. But, there’s still mad applause for each monster entrance. People love their kaiju, even if they like to slag it.
Only one G movie matters this year, folks (sorry, Jacob). That’s Godzilla: Final Wars, unless you’re lucky enough to get the rerelease of the restored 1954 version. I cannot wait for that, but I don’t know if it’s coming to C-Bus.

2:44 pm
Got my hall of fame ballot filled out. Once again, I voted for John Agar. Fuck all you haters. Sooner or later, you people will see the light.
Out in the lobby, I run into my friend Brian Burke, who’s wearing a NO W t-shirt. It takes me five minutes to get the joke. Apparently, I’m sharp as a tack today.
Brian brought his 10 year-old son and hopes to introduce him to many of the films that are playing. A geek-to-be has to get his start somewhere…
After Kevin S O’Brien introduces his very brief short film, Sandwich (the fourth in his Bread Quadrilogy), we take off from the marathon for a little while to attend a cookout at our friend Kaveman’s house. Yeah, I’m missing the Amazing Transparent Man. Sue me.
Kave was supposed to come to the marathon, but cancelled for two reasons: his girlfriend was in town (they were doing that long distance thang) and he was throwing a barbecue. Valid enough reasons, but he’s missing out.
Kavey’s moving out of Columbus, so I figure I gotta send him off in style. Warning to the city of Houston, Texas. Hide your women, beer and trees. And don’t ask me about the trees.

5:47 pm
Back to the theater, well-fed and ready for Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3-D. It’s a new print and the 3-D effect is amazing.
Without the glasses on, it looks like a black and white film with tints of green, yellow and red. With the glasses, the movie is striking. The 3-D fish in the underwater scenes are just cool as hell.
I’ve seen a few of the newer 3-D films in the theater (Spacehunter, Freddy's Dead, etc), but never been very impressed with how the 3-D looks. I withdraw all previous criticism of the format.
I was wrong.
This kicks serious ass.
I wonder if they could so something this nice for a video release?

6:34 pm
DDP is snoring. He didn’t last too long.
I’m still awestruck by how great this 3-D looks. I know it’s a gimmick, but if they could make more 3-D movies like that, I’d go see ‘em.

7:20 pm
Bruce Bartoo introduces Phil Tippett’s demo reel. We see footage of Evolution, Starship Troopers, Hellboy, Cats and Dogs, Men in Black 2, Matrix Revolutions, and those Blockbuster commercials with the Hamster and the Rabbit (I hate those, by the way. HATE ‘EM!).
Phil Tippett comes out immediately afterward and asks how many people liked the original Starship Troopers.
After a rousing round of clapping, he shrugs. “Here’s a disclaimer…This movie’s nothing like that.”
If you haven’t seen the sequel on Encore Action, you really should go into it knowing that there’s only a mild resemblence between the two movies. Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation cost less that 1/20th of the original’s $140 million budget.
Since the movie can’t be anywhere near the scale of the original, Tippett focuses on tight close-ups and dark, smoky backgrounds. He eschews massive Bug charges in favor of a story which takes place for the most part in an enclosed outpost without seeing the face of the enemy too often.
The titular hero is a disgraced captain named Dax, played by Richard Burgi. Dax is tired of the Federation’s callous disregard for the lives of its soldiers. He wears the dogtags of all of his fallen comrades, and he killed a colonel for wasting the lives of his troopers.
Colleen Porch is the other lead, a semi-psychic private named Sahara. What’s left of her unit, including General J.G. Shepherd (Ed Lauter), takes refuge in the abandoned guard tower in which Dax has been left for dead.
Add a new type of bug that can enter a human and take them over into the mix and you could have had a tense whodunit where no one trusts anyone else. No such luck. The movie tells you who the bad guys are and doesn’t even make an attempt to hide who’s been taken over.
The satire element that so endeared the original Starship Troopers to me isn’t there at all. The company psychic doesn’t wear an SS uniform any more, because they’re apparently now kinder, gentler fascists.
Ed Lauter is, of course, great. And Richard Burgi is a passable badass. If you’re looking for quality performances, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
There’s some decent gore, and they really do stretch every penny of the film’s $5 million budget across the screen, but I just can’t say that film was better than the first. To the guy to the right of me who loudly announced that to the crowd after the movie was completed…you’re wrong. Dead wrong.
After an ass-kissing standing O, Tippett answered a few questions from the audience. He said that coming from the Roger Corman school of filmmaking was the only way that he, writer Ed Neumeier and producer Jon Davidson could make the sequel for a paltry $5 million. ”Everything was retro-engineered storywise by the limitations of the budget.”
“One of the cool things about not having money is…not having money. One of my theories is that’s the way it works. Not having a budget forces you to be creative.”
Sony had originally wanted to market both an R rated film that Tippett’s studio was contractually obliged to provide and an NC-17 director’s cut with more nudity and violence that he hadn’t even shot during the movie’s 26 day shoot.

9:27 pm
Sandy Collora appears to introduce his shot, Batman:Dead End. After a brief glossing over the background of the movie, they attempt to project the short and run into several brick walls.

9:34 pm
Finally, they get Dead End to work without problems. The digital projection is off of an HD tape, and it’s as big as it’s ever been shown. Unfortunately, the projector isn’t quite bright enough and even though it looks remarkably good, it’s still a bit darker than Collora is totally happy with.
The giant projection is a treat, though the short still suffers from the hokiness of its subject matter. The The Making of Batman: Dead End is just as good or better than the film itself. You really get a feel for how dedicated the participants were making the short, as well as how cold, dark and wet it was on the set (They repeat “cold, dark and wet” enough times to pound it into your head.).
I never noticed the white contact lenses that Clark Bartram was wearing as Batman. Nice touch that makes the cowl look more menacing without you even noticing. Bartram was Collora’s personal trainer, so he seemed a good fit to fill out the cape and cowl. And, of course, they finally got a Batman who looks like he can kick the hell out of someone.
Collora did a brief Q&A afterwards and revealed that he’s working on a new short for premiere at Comic-Con in San Diego this year.
In addition, he’s also hoping to officially announce his first feature this year at Comic-Con. According to him, it’s called The Circle and it’s gonna be something similar to “Gladiator with monsters”. If you see him in San Diego, press him for details, guys. Just don’t “punish” him when you find out who’s supposed to star in it.

10:15 pm
Time for a quick break. Then the Chubb-Chubbs. And then the horror that is…The Giant Claw.

10:24 pm
Mission accomplished. I snuck out and said hello to Sandy Collora for Moriarty from Ain't It Cool News. His eyes lit up when I mentioned his name. I'm wondering if they have a “thing”?
I’m now listening to a guy in a t-shirt that says “I’ve turned to the Dork Side” expound on the virtues of the five second rule. The room is beginning to become ripe with the whiff of fanboy, as well.

10:30 pm
Howard the Duck teaser. Ugh. Then, the Chubb-Chubbs! If you haven’t seen this short, get out and find it. It’s a cute little thing with about 200 little in jokes for fans. And karaoke. Love it.
More trailers next: Reign of Fire, Q, The Winged Serpent (gotta love David Carradine) and another Howard the Duck trailer…followed up by a commercial for croutons that opens up with a stuffed bird. I was beginning to get afraid here…
Just before the next feature starts, we get a trailer for The Vulture. The Giant Claw starts out out of frame and with almost no sound. Then again, how are you supposed to hear the movie over a ton of people screaming “FRAME!” over and over?
However…considering the movie…do we really need to hear the dialogue?
The geek army finally quiets down once the framing is corrected so that we can hear the movie. Speaking of geeks…someone nearby smells like 2 week old unwiped ass. Yuck.
I’m considering stealing a can of Va-Poo-Rize from the bar.
The first sighting of the bird is accompanied by rousing applause and strangely, the call outs fade away into respectful silence…during the worst movie of the day.

11:58 pm
Robot Stories in 10 minutes. No trailers, too. I need a break.

2:01 am
Robot Stories is over, and I watched about 10 minutes of it total (I was loaned a screener of it before, so I've seen it all before). I watched a bit of SNL and South Park up at the bar and talked the rest of the time with Jeff Frank, the owner of the Drexel Theaters about film fests.
I’m surprised the film didn’t go over better with the crowd. Seemed like a good fit for them. It’s simple and sweet and has a bit of humor to it.
Oh, well. We get back into the trailer thang with a spot for Silent Running, and then the trailer for Moon Zero Two, the “first moon Western”. All I have to say is, “No sex in space? Funk dat, I’m staying on earth!” After that, we’re treated to a trailer for Wild, Wild Planet in fabulous Pink-O-Scope (I wonder if anyone remasters movie trailers?) and the oddball, incomprehensible sci-fi tone poem/trip film Spaceboy with Florence Marly. It…torments me.

2:18 am
After a final trailer for The Human Duplicators, we jump into Hugo Grimaldi’s Mutiny in Outer Space. Maybe I’m just tired, but there seems to be a bit of kinky subtext to this movie.
Between that, and the hero’s pit stains, it’s a hell of a B-movie ride.

3:38 am
Well, that’s over. Thank the gods. Next, we’re treated to trailers for Day of the Triffids (in Spanish, no less) and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Then, for some reason (I’m hoping for purely artistic reasons), we are shown upside down spots running backwards for the Toyota Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix and the Matrix Powerade (which ends up being the most Lynchian one of the bunch).
Then, running correctly, we watch Final Flight of the Osiris, which I never got a chance to see in the theater (I showed up late for Dreamcatcher, oddly enough. Lucky me.).

4:11 am
The Omega Man rolls. Ol’ Charlton toting guns and being a badass. The movie’s sorta slow start is fucking with people. I can see more of ‘em dropping off. It’s a damn near pristine print, though.
I am still waiting for a good adaptation of I Am Legend. Someday…someday…
I’m getting a little tired, but nothing too bad, really.

5:07 am
It occurs to me that the now-snoring guy behind me was right about this movie. It’s really not as good as Planet of the Apes or Soylent Green. Still, I stand by the Heston Trifecta. I love the 70s style and raw machismo. You can pry my Heston movies from my cold, dead fingers.

5:45 am
Omega Man is finished. Not sleepy, yet.

6:03 am
Just scored a free Hellboy hat (I’m a lucky boy).
The projectionist mistakenly puts on the wrong platter (for the showing of Envy after the marathon is over) and the trailer for Laws of Attraction starts up. A brief What the Fuck moment…
By the way, I’ve been scribbling notes so often, I’ve given myself a blister on my index finger. The perils of being your humble chronicler…
The marathon is back on program quickly with trailers for the new Dawn of the Dead, the original Night of the Living Dead, Last Man on Earth, The Astro-Zombies, The Day the Earth Caught Fire and The Order (which has more framing difficulties).

6:20 am
Things are stalled again as they fix the framing. The crowd is wildly unsympathetic, even if it’s rather unavoidable with all the equipment changes and weirdness,

6:21 am
The framing problems fixed, 28 Days Later begins. I never saw this movie as a brilliant social commentary, but it’s still a damn fine pseudo-zombie movie.
I don’t mind the alternate ending, either.

6:45 am
DDP is full-bore snoring. Still not sleepy, myself.

8:05 am
Credits and the alternate ending.
Four hours left! And I’m not sleepy in the slightest. Yessir, this is gonna be easy.

8:16 am
Back into the mix. Trailers for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Mindhunters, Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (which played the marathon 2 years ago – long before this year’s theatrical release), Happy Accidents, Top of the Food Chain, The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb,Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Robinson Crusoe on Mars.

8:40 AM
Total Recall begins. I love the opening theme. Love it, love it, love it. Every time I see this movie, I switch my position on whether or not it’s a dream. This time, I’m leaning towards reality. Thing is, there’s plenty of evidence for both sides of the debate.

9:05 am
Big yawn, and it’s not from seeing Sharon Stone in that aerobics outfit. I’m finally starting to get tired. I was beginning to be worried.

9:46 am
Snuck out of the theater for a donut. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Donuts.

10:26 am
The credits are rolling on Total Recall. We should segue almost immediately into The Road Warrior. We’re gonna finish before 1 pm, I think.

10:30 am
Secrets to surviving a movie marathon:
1) Don’t have any caffeine until after midnight/the halfway point. Then, load up.
2) Walk around in between movies. It keeps the blood flowing.
3) Laugh. Laughter wakes you up.

10:35 am
Bruce pops up one last time to thank the sponsors, guests and marathon attendees.

10:40 am
About ¼ of the audience that started this thing is still here. Weak fuckers.
I know I will crash hard later today.

10:42 am
Mad Max 2 commences. Whooooooooooooooo! Apparently, this isn’t an American print, because it doesn’t have the US title on it.
Bruce Spence is the greatest geek actor of all time. Name a genre franchise he hasn’t been in yet…the guy’s in everything. I’m looking forward to the Extended Edition of Return of the King to see him as the Mouth of Sauron.

12:11 pm
The marathon finishes more or less on time. The sleep-deprived zombies file out and grab our free schwag – Certificates of Marathoid behavior, movie posters and various goods and sundries.
It’s been a long 24 hours and I’m beat.

If you’re interested in seeing Batman: Dead End or another Sandy Collora short, Archangel, check it out on
If you want to keep up to date on the latest info for next year’s marathon, pay attention to