First off, they started giving us stuff in line early this year. First a fellow with the Atomic Fireballs came down the line while we were outside waiting to get in. Following him was someone else handing out literature. Official Marathon stuff, we thought, and eagerly took one with a thank-you. Turned out it was some dude's homemade religious tract. Brilliant freako stuff, honestly. R Jo has it in her collection now, so maybe she'll transcribe it if we're all good and eat our veggies.
Balcony seat as usual, and this year I'm back in the center area that I like so much. We're up at the front of the second tier, so there's leg-dangling room and nobody immediately sitting in front. Good place. Trailers before the proceedings, and R Jo tells me I must definitely see EVIL ALIENS or NAUGHTY ALIENS or REALLY BAD ALIENS WHAT DO BAD THINGS or whatever the film's name is. I put all three titles on my mental checklist.
Blast-off and away. ALIEN TRESPASS is the first film. A new film with the ol' chestnut that this is "discovered material" from a 1950s sci-fi movie that never saw the light of day. Usually these things are a 15-minute joke stretched out to 90 minutes, but this one was really well done. It gave me hope, after NAKED MONSTER and TRAIL OF THE SCREAMING FOREHEAD (and movies I've seen outside the Marathon like MONARCH OF THE MOON) that there still exist people who can fulfill a mission to make a parody-homage of a genre without completely disrespecting the source material. It was a fun movie because it didn't just trash all its characters in non-stop slapstick buffoonery. It was very dryly done and I was impressed. The Blob scene was meta-referential to the point of hilarity.
And then I didn't realize exactly how much the movie was a piss-take of IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE until we actually got to watch the source. Wow. I was quite impressed. And the 3D effect worked most of the time! How great was that? Sometimes all it took was a well-placed piece of brush in the foreground to bring it out. Other times, it required FX technicians to pitch rocks into the shot. Even so, the buildup was great until the very end. Silly Earth rubes. If they hear an explosion, gosh, all must have turned out well. Nothing more to see here!
Bruce outdid himself this year, by the way, what with that Albert Brooks 3D trailer and all the other goodies (like the robot ad man cartoon in the dead of early morning, which was just bizarre). And I'm glad we're continuing the trailers-before-the-event, because even when we had THE GREEN SLIME trailer on silently while Major Tom read the rules, it was well worth seeing. Good idea!
DIMITRI MARTIN SKETCHES: The first one was quite amusing and timed just right. The second one was a total stoner concept which tried hard to stay on target but didn't quite make it all the way (though anyone who's ever watched someone get angrily 86ed from a bar knows the the "Tell it to my face! TELL IT TO MY FACE!" "We are telling it to your face!" exchange was spot-on.) The third was going really well, in that "oh lord this is just wrong sense", all up until the last gag. Er, sorry guys, we forgot to put on a real punchline here, so we'll just make a testicle joke. Tip your waitress!
CHRYSALIS. Oh man. I believe my opinion was formed in the first few minutes of the movie: "Third in a row with a bleak southwestern desert setting? I think it is time for an early dinner." Mind so strongly made up, I went to Mr. Crepe and enjoyed my dinner, and I also took a break for a very strong cup of delicious mountain grown coffee. (The coffee that the Somerville had, by the way, was Very Good Indeed.) When I returned, I was informed that my decision to leave at that point was a very good one, and the film really wasn't so great. Last year I made this decision during IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON and that didn't work out as well as I'd hoped.
LOGAN'S RUN. I love this movie. I love this movie for all its cheese, its pacing, its acting, and its awesome Food Court setting (how many "That kid is back on the escalator again!" jokes can you make during this movie, anyway?) Carousel is a beautiful and disturbing sequence. Peter Ustinov's one-man performance of Cats is brilliant, and Box is one of the best insane robots ever. I agree with Neil on the ending, though. Once the Utopian Trust Fund kids realize that oops, their civilization has just been blowed up, the future is not going to be pretty. But all that is forgotten in a happy hazy veil of nostalgia and, well, Jenny Agutter. Also, I've been to the Fort Worth Water Gardens (where the outdoor scenes near the end were filmed) so that kind of concrete modernism is pretty cool in my eyes and fills me with even more nostalgia.
RUNAWAY. Every frame of this film has been burned into my memory thanks to our first VHS player so many years ago. Instead of "the scene where Gene Simmons stabs Kirstie Alley", I think "the scene with that neon sushi chef" and stuff. What I really liked about this film was that the setting was "futurized" only slightly. It looked like a servicable alternate reality, you know. A view of the 80s where, in the 70s, there were some serious advances in robotics. Nothing was arbitrarily futurized -- no crazy chrome, no zany hairstyles (exceptin' the 80s stuff) and no Future Disco. Perhaps this was all budgetary, but that kind of economy really helped. Still, the film was cheesy, and not everything was perfect, but man! Those "bullet POV" shots were nicely done and the chase sequence with homing drones was pretty awesome, too. And keeping with the 80s, we got the One Incongruous Topless Scene and One Use of The F-Word to keep the rating right in the PG-13 set. Excellent.
What intrigued me was that the voice of Lois the houserobot sounded quite a lot like S.A.R.A.H., the smart house AI from the Sci-Fi channel series "Eureka". I went to check up on the actress behind the voice and found that Lois' voice died in 1988, and that the voice of S.A.R.A.H. is provided by the actor who plays Fargo. Whoa. Color my mind blown.
ALIEN RAIDERS. Mixed feelings about this movie. On the one hand, it was well shot and nicely done and didn't pull any punches. It took me out of my film-watching comfort zone in several ways (no character is "safe", people gonna get hurt) and for that I gotta give Ben Rock some respect there. I didn't catch the QA afterwards so I'm not sure if anybody made any questions about the finger-cutting and any Present-Day Allusions, but it was certainly noticable. The gore was really well done.
On the other hand, I don't know if I'd watch it again sometime soon. Once I realized "oh, we're not gonna leave the supermarket, are we?" I got used to it, but it was a bit of a disappointment. I started making too many The Thing/The Mist/Alien connections and the "You're never gonna guess who
THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. Hadn't seen this one in like forever. Forgot how snappy and fast the dialogue was! Snappy, fast, and smart for the most part, though the reporter guy got on my nerves right quick. The entire film was smart all over, though, and I liked that a lot.
REPO MAN. I love this film. The soundtrack kicks all sorts of ass (Iggy Pop, the Circle Jerks and Jonathan Richman? Yes, please) and the nihilism meshes so well with the sci-fi. And here we go, the fifth film so far to have a bleak desert setting, and the second with a supermarket to boot. The film exists in its own little world with its own rules and I like just watching it all.
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. I took a nap. And woke up feeling like a whole new person!
Actually, I slept through KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE as well, much to my dismay. I was kind of hoping to watch that one. I felt kind of glum upon awaking, as my phone batteries had also died so I warn't about to keep up with the whole Twitter thing. I'm not sure how I enjoyed that experiment, by the way. The message length requirements kept annoying me, and I continually felt like I was editing my no-doubt snappy and hilarious comments into short bland bursts. BUT IS THAT NOT THE INTERNET?
TRANSFORMERS. I don't care that it out-Michael Bayed our pal Michael Bay. If I had watched the film with an awake head, I probably would have cared. But as it was, I was in the right state -- half-asleep, groggy, itchin' for visual stimulation -- to take the film for the Fighting Robots Beating Each Other Up And Smashing Stuff While They Were At It film it should be, and was able to ignore the Crappy Actin Shia LeBoeuf Militarygasm Oh Whatever I Don't Even Care That The Robot Is Peeing Oil On The Dude Now stuff. And you know, if you watch it just for the fighting robots, it's fun! Plus I had a Monster Energy Drink about halfway thru so I was suddenly Kinda Awake For It.
I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE. Or, "I Married A Cat-Killin Jerkwad From Outer Space." I shoulda napped during this one. Oh, man. This one killed all the brain cells I had left working the Marathon detail. By this time we'd seen enough Invasion plots that I didn't even want to sit through another bunch of people saying "Let's piece this mystery together!" while others go "There's no mystery, you're all a bunch of crazy people! I'm the policeman and I'll arrest you now!" or whatever. I had to keep my brain from leaking out of my ears in the torpor. Yes, there was torpor.