Monday, January 14, 2008

Adam's Last Marathon

For those of you who knew Adam, you would know how much he loved the Sci-Fi and the Horror Marathons hosted by the Drexel and organized by Joe Neff and Bruce Bartoo. Adam's final marathon was the Two-Headed Horror Marathon held at the Drexel Grandview theater this past October.

I recently, literally five minutes ago, stumbled upon a version of his 'play-by-play account' of that night he had sent me to check out. I am not sure why it was never posted but I thought all might like to see this. It is not nearly so lengthy as some of his former accounts of the goings-on of the marathons but, damn it, it is Adam and it helps me to remember him.

Please post comments or thoughts or shoot me a message, I love hearing from folk who knew Adam. I miss you, Edwards-loving Jerk! :)

written on the night of the Two-Headed Marathon IV, Drexel Grandview, Columbus, OH by Adam Bicsanszky

" Marathon time is always a special event for me. As long as I've lived in Cbus, I've tried to get time off to see the sci-and horror marathons.
The horror marathons have always been worth my time, starting at an unnamed competitor with Joe Neff at the helm. After said theater gave Neff the heave-ho, fans were presented with a choice. Go back to Brand X with new folks running the show or remain loyal to Joe and attend the Drexel Grandview with Neff and Bruce Bartoo of Ohio Sci-Fi Marathon fame.
I chose right. But, I'm a sucker for the personal touch. And Neff and Bartoo do that better than anyone in the Midwest.
The Two-Headed Marathon is now on its fourth year. While it still isn't a full 24 hours, I think that works to its credit. The tighter schedule forces out any films that might be weak or perceived as padding. The 13 hour marathon is lean, mean and straight to the point.
Considering how beat to heck I already am today, I can appreciate a less-is-more approach. But enough about me, let's talk movies.

11:16 pm
Finally underway. Trailers trailers trailers. MANIAC. NEAR DARK. Goodness, goodness me. I'm one of a handful of people who saw that one in the th eater. TWINS. PAN'S LABYRINTH. Good schtuff, that one. Dunno if it's horror, b ut it's certainly better than THE LOVE BUG for this audience.
CRONOS. Love that one. Ron Perlman was soooo good in it.
THE SHE-BEAST! Yes. Classic cheese.
SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM! Yes yes yes. Love the two Blacula movies.
Ringo Starr? What the hell? Whoa. I haven't seen this one. SON OF DRACULA. I'm making a note on that one.

FREAKS starts to applause. Why? It's a substitute for ZOMBIE (aka ZOMBI 2, etc etc), the Lucio Fulci semi-classic. Frankly, we made out on that deal. It's a true classic.
Todd Browning was always fascinated by carnival culture (see his early films like THE UNKNOWN and THE UNHOLY THREE). FREAKS was the culmination of that love affair. He cast real sideshow performers in the film -- people the normal world would classify as freaks -- creating true poignance and pathos in a film most directors could only make as crass exploitation. That the films sympathetic characters are almost entirely the deformed and unusual is testament to Browning's affinity for his sideshow brethren. The so-called "normal" people are the deceivers and betrayers.
When the freaks band together to wreak vengeance on those that have wronged them, it's truly chilling. But it's also just desserts for the villains.

I have the urge to beat down Joe Neff for being a black-hearted Red Sox fan. But, he hates the Yankess. He's not all bad, right?

12:30 am
Out in the lobby networking with the folks behind the marathon, Drexel alum Anna Biszaha showed up (in town from her new digs in Pittsburgh), and folks from the Drexel staff. These folk are the backbone of the film community and Columbus and I'm gladdened and lucky to know them.

12:59 am
Almost 1 am. Things are semi-on schedule. The lobby is filled with people grabbing grub and re-connecting. The marathon is a family affair, and we're glad to have this yearly reunion.

1:15 am
Trailers again. DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE. DON'T GO INTO THE BASEMENT. DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE. All very appropriate selections for out next film, THEM (aka ILS), a French-Romanian thriller that really doesn't make me eager to visit my relatives in Eastern Europe.
A French couple are attacked in their new Romanian home by assailants they barely see and most definitely hear. That's all you need to know about the plot of THEM. Who They are and what motivates them is something not revealed until well into the film.
I'm not about to give the lil' secret of ILS away. It's not especially shocking if you think about it, but it's creepy. It certainly doesn't work on everyone, particularly the folk of puffed-up bravado and over-confidence that Americans are braver than all foreigners.
Frankly, were that the case, crime wouldn't exist in America. We all know that's not the case. We're conditioned to think of our country as being unsafe. I don't necessarily believe the hype on that, either.
The film works as a thriller, keeping things out of sight as often as possible. The unknown is scarier than the known. Simple math, there. As long as you don't see Them clearly, They can scare the bejeepers out of you.

3:21 am
I'm out in the lobby, writing away while the trailers play. The only film I haven't seen in the lineup is coming up next, TO THE DEVIL, A DAUGHTER. Gotta watch that.

4:52 am
Wow. Freaky deaky. TO THE DEVIL, A DAUGHTER is over. And the print we had was...unique. Certain things were missing (some 20 seconds of full-frontal nudity) and certain things were added (footage from a handful of movies including Sponge Bob's butt). Yes, indeedy, the power of Satan was in full effect on that one.
The last of the Hammer films (at least for now -- there's allegedly a new one on its way), it stars Richard Widmark as an author and expert on Satanic groups who runs afoul of Father Michael Rayner (Christopher Lee) and his cult.
Rayner and his followers have been raising Catherine (Nastassja Kinski) for some nefarious purpose until her father Henry Beddows (Denholm Elliot) places her in the care of Widmark and his friends. The rest of it is a confusing mess, but the mishmash craziness at the end definitely made it worthwhile.
PS...Christopher Lee is The Man. That is all.

5:15 am
BLACK SHEEP. Gotta sit in for this one just 'cause it's fun.

6:38 am
People liked BLACK SHEEP. It's goofy, which is always a plus at a marathon of any kind. Keeping it light and fun never disappoints at a group outing like a movie marathon.
Killer sheep. Were-sheep. Do I really need to say more?
If you're not signed up on that premise alone, BLACK SHEEP is not for you.

6:56 am
As I've said before, the marathon is a family reunion. So, the breaks are full of animated discussions and exchanges of information. New generations of marathoids are introduced (We even have an attendee this year who's nine months pregnant. No. Really. We could have a new movie freak any moment.), life stories are updated. Fans and freaks network. It's a great thing, and it's half the reason to be here.

8:30 am
TOURIST TRAP is over. What a wonderful piece of schlock. Chuck Conners is uber-wonderful as the telekinetic, drag-dressing freak of a villain. The film is so no-budget that the best special effect is a pre-CHARLIE'S ANGELS Tanya Roberts in a tube top (That's Production Values, folks!).
Trust me. This is NOT a good movie. But it's really fun with the right audience at the right time. This was the right time and the right people to see it with. We're all too worn out to worry about how bad it is. It's easier to lean back in our seats and enjoy it.
I'm tired. I'm worn out. But we're not done, folks. We've got two films left, and I shall be there for both of 'em.

10:26 am
Yeah, MANIAC is a minor classic of the genre, but let's face it -- Joe Spinell's performance is a little over the top. Okay, it's somewhere beyond Shatner. But the movie's still great fun to watch. William Lustig's always been stuck in low-budget purgatory. But he can do things with a handful of pocket change that most directors need a huge budget to accomplish.

10:29 am
LOST BOYS trailer. A fine precursor to our final feature, NEAR DARK.
The film snaps right after the GINGER SNAPS trailer (how appropriate), necessitating a quickie splice before we can proceed (and we were doing really well on time...).
NEAR DARK is apparently getting the remake treatment from the same folks who have done the remakes to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, AMITYVILLE HORROR and THE HITCHER. Looks-wise, they're not going to have to deviate much from their formula. Katherine Bigelow helped establish the visual dictionary that Michael Bay and his cronies follow.
Cast-wise, though, the remake can't match the original. Adrian Pasdar puts in a fine performance, two decades before HEROES' Nathan Petrelli. The best parts of the ALIENS supporting cast (Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton and Jeanette Goldstein) are the baddies, a group of Southern vampires who roam the open spaces of Texas. Jenny Wright (who pretty much disappeared after THE LAWNMOWER MAN) is the vampires' honey trap, May.
NEAR DARK relies on the culture of the frontier South just as much as the modern world. It's almost a vampire Western, but our hero dwells more in the gray areas of morality than your stock white hat. He's a good man, but flawed enough that he ends up travelling with a group of homicidal bloodsuckers.
These aren't your Universal-era vampires, though. The infection can be cured. When Pasdar's Caleb manages to save himself, he also tries to rescue May, incurring the wrath of the rest of her clan.
The only part of the film that doesn't absolutely hold up is the very, very 80s soundtrack. I'm so glad we've abandoned cheesy synthesizers. That age rightfully died two decades ago, and good riddance.

Not everyone finishes a movie marathon, but that's not really a terrible thing. Not everyone is hardcore enough to stay up all night watching flicks. Those of us who do, well, we're a rare breed. And we're glad to have people like Bruce Bartoo, Joe Neff and Jeff Frank around to make our marathon dreams a reality.
Sure, I'm exhausted. My reflexes are shot. I'm not thinking straight. And when I look at sunlight, I think I'm going to burst into flames. But, I wouldn't trade a Drexel marathon for anything."

1 comment:

Morgan Hughes said...

miss you adam...

...even if you were a dirty bastard.