Joe Dante’s The Movie Orgy

A mind-bending predecessor to the modern mash-up, The Movie Orgy (1968) is also the Rosetta Stone for Joe Dante’s oeuvre and a must-experience for movie fans and cinephiles alike.

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Movie Orgy Eventbrite

Before Gremlins, before The Howling, before he started his career cutting trailers for Roger Corman, Joe Dante hosted the 7.5 hour All Night Once In A Lifetime Atomic Movie Orgy. An ever-evolving edit, it was a communal experience – a mind-bending predecessor to the modern mash-up with no definitive version. Matchbox Cineclub programmer Sean Welsh charts the evolution of The Movie Orgy through five key dates.

October 9th 1965, The Playboy Theater, Chicago

The first screening of An Evening With Batman and Robin, one of two key inspirations for The Movie Orgy. The other was Susan Sontag’s Notes on “Camp” (1964), which popularised the term and inspired the repackaging of the 1943 Batman serial as a single 4.5-hour programme. Audiences laughed at its phony climaxes, marveled at its blatant xenophobia, and it began touring college towns. When Dante caught it, at the World Theater in Philadelphia, he was particularly struck by the camaraderie of the crowd, who “came out into the lobby as if they’d just gotten off a sinking ship.”

Early 1966, Philadelphia College of Art, Philadelphia

Inspired, Dante, a second year student but already a programmer at PCA, decided to host his own Camp Movie Night. The exact date is lost to history, but Dante and collaborator Jon Davison rented the only complete serial available on 16mm in Philadelphia, The Phantom Creeps (1939). They stretched it to seven hours with serials, clips, ads, industrial films and cartoons from their 16mm collections. Its success meant several follow-ups, each a step towards what would shortly become The Movie Orgy, then variously The Movie Orgy 2, The Movie Orgy Strikes Back, Son of the Movie Orgy, Escape to Movie Orgy and Son of Movie Orgy Rides Again.

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March 8th 1970, Filmore East, New York

Although 1968 is commonly held as the term “The Movie Orgy” was first used for Dante and Davison’s project, the performance that film archivist and Orgy expert David Neary describes as “the most important Movie Orgy of all” came in 1970. 1970 was peak Movie Orgy for the pair, who employed dueling projectors (tipping their hats to Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls). Davison’s would show various features – in lieu of new serials – and Dante’s would interject, drawing on his panoply of 16mm weirdness. They took their cues from the audience, so no two screenings were alike. Press coverage of the Filmore Orgy drew the attention of Schlitz Beer, who sponsored Orgies to tour colleges for years. But when the new material the Orgy drew upon to keep it alive began itself to be infected with self-referential camp, it was time to call it a day. Dante, already in Hollywood, sold syndication rights for “The Video Orgy” to be screened on college campuses’ closed circuit TV networks.

Dante's Inferno
Credit: Dennis Cozzalio

April 22nd 2008, New Beverly Cinema, Los Angeles

The grand finale of Dante’s Inferno, a two-week retrospective at LA’s legendary rep cinema. Joining the scores of curious film fans were Davison, Allan Arkush, Bill Hader, Edgar Wright and Quentin Tarantino. Dante enjoined the crowd to move about, go outside, have a smoke, grab a pizza and wander back in. The Movie Orgy was always intended as a movie to be walked out on. But the director was curious to if it would play – have any relevance – after years in his vault. It brought the house down.

September 9th 2018, The Old Hairdressers, Glasgow

We’re screening the digital version Dante made for the New Beverly (not the 90min “UK cut” previously screened in London). It’s 4.5 hours long, the official Movie Orgy, “distilled, recaptured and re-curated”, according to archivist David Neary. It’s not the full, wild 16mm experience, of course, but there’s also no Blu Ray coming. “It’s more like a concert in a way,” Dante says, “It’s something that you really have to be there for.”

Sean Welsh


Joe Dante’s The Movie Orgy screens at The Old Hairdressers, Sunday 9th September

Facebook event here. Tickets here.

An edited version of this article originally appeared in the Scalarama 2018 newspaper.

Turkish Star Wars 2K Tour

Matchbox Cineclub team with Remakesploitation and Neon Harbor to tour Turkish Star Wars 2K around the UK for Scalarama 2018.

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Graham Humphreys poster for Turkish Star Wars 2K (on sale here)

When you become a fan of cult film, or maybe a person for whom films naturally become a cult, three things happen – first, you go deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole looking for stranger and more unusual films. Second, your affinity multiplies with curiosity to make you want to find out as much as you can about them. Thirdly, you want to share what you’ve found with as many people as possible.

Turkish Star Wars is the perfect film in that regard. Most people know it from terribly subtitled clips drawn from fourth generation VHS dubs. Its strangeness and its audacity, coupled with the absurdity of the supposed dialogue, will hook anyone’s attention. That version of Turkish Star Wars was one of the first films Matchbox Cineclub screened, and Turkish Remakesploitation one of the first topics I wrote about seriously – because I wanted to know just what the fuck was going on with these films.

Meanwhile, Ed Glaser and Iain Robert Smith separately pursued their passion for cult film inexorably toward Turkish Star Wars. It makes me very happy that our curiosity about incredibly strange films has brought us to the point that we can share the best possible version of Turkish Star Wars and tell people the incredible story behind it.

Notorious for the ways in which director Çetin İnanç edited footage from Star Wars into his own film, along with music from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Flash Gordon, Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam (1982) is the “holy grail” of remakesploitation cinema. The Man Who Saves the World revolves around two Turkish space pilots who crash-land on a desert planet enslaved by an evil wizard. Memorable sequences involve the heroes battling robots inspired by Battlestar Galactica and Forbidden Planet – plus mummies, skeletons, and multi-coloured yetis. Another sees them in starfighter “cockpits,” wearing motorcycle helmets, as footage from the Star Wars Death Star battle is projected behind them.

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For many years, the film circulated only in those low-resolution bootleg copies, but in 2016 a 35mm print of the film was discovered, and a 2K digital scan has been made so that the world can finally see the film the way it was intended. Because of the obvious rights issues around the film, there are currently no plans for a home DVD/Blu-Ray release so this Scalarama tour is the only way to see this new 2K version of Turkish Star Wars. Get yr tickets before they sell out!

Sean Welsh


Turkish Star Wars 2K UK tour dates:

14/09 Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh | Tickets

15/09 Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax | Tickets

19/09 Phoenix, Leicester | Tickets

22/09 Rio Cinema, London | Tickets

24/09 Connaught Cinema, Worthing | Tickets

28/09 Cube Microplex, Bristol (with Bristol Bad Film Club & Hellfire Video Club) | Tickets

The Mask – in 3D!

The Mask eventbrite

The World’s Greatest 3D Film Club returns to Nice N Sleazy on Saturday 4th August with The Mask (Julian Roffman, 1961) – in classic red/blue 3D!

A psychiatrist enters a dream world of horror when he experiments with an ancient Aztec mask sent to him by a patient! This surrealist masterpiece was Canada’s first horror film, and its first shot in 3D. Its pioneering electronic soundtrack was recorded in “ELECTRO MAGIC SOUND”. It’s been described as “truly bizarre, full of unsettling and grotesque images, and with a nightmarish stream-of-consciousness technique.” YES!

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Now you can see it as it was always meant to be seen – on a summer’s night in the basement of Nice N Sleazy, through flimsy cardboard glasses.

Tickets £3 (3D glasses included)


The Mask (1961) – in 3D! screens at Nice N Sleazy, Saturday 4th August

Facebook event here. Tickets here.

Sad KeanuCon

sad CCA

It’s with a very heavy heart that we have to announce the postponement of KeanuCon 2018 until 27th +28th April 2019.

Due to the GSA fire and CCA Glasgow‘s subsequent closure, it’s not possible for us to hold KeanuCon on the original dates, and the next workable dates for CCA (and for us, due to Cage-a-rama 2 in January) are in 2019, which we are glad to confirm.

All our efforts to find a suitable alternative location have sadly failed. Although we did come extremely close, trust that we worked very hard to exhaust all the possibilities.

We hope you’ll accept our apologies and realise we are as gutted as anyone to have to postpone KeanuCon. We had the line-up and a lot of the supporting programme locked-in and we were so excited to share it with you. The date change *does* have some positive implications for the programming and for other aspects of the weekend, but that will become clear in due course – ASAP. KeanuCon will be even more awesome for the date change, we promise.

On a more positive note, we still be taking part in the Scalarama Glasgow 2018 programme this September, with these events and at least one more TBA:

09/09 Joe Dante’s The Movie Orgy
27/09 Images of Apartheid + Q&A

Pity Party Film Club will now host the Scalarama Glasgow Opening Party – Hedwig & The Angry Inch – now on sale!

We’re sincerely very sorry for the disappointment, but watch this space for news of KeanuCon (and Cage-a-rama 2!)


KeanuCon was originally scheduled for 1st and 2nd September, 2018. It will now take place 27th + 28th April, at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow.

 

Friday 13th Part III – in 3D!

Friday 13th_evenbrite

We had such a great time with Jaws 3D at Nice N Sleazy that we’re returning with Friday 13th Part III – in 3D! What will henceforth be known as the World’s Greatest 3D Film Club presents the second sequel to the horror classic, in classic red/blue 3D, on Wednesday 25th July.

Jason Voorhees dons the hockey mask for the first time in this classic sequel. Time Magazine’s review said, “The way the eyeball of one of Jason’s victims pops out of his skull and seems to sail over the audience’s head is alone worth buying a ticket and putting on funny glasses.” YES.

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Now you can see Friday 13th Part III (Steve Miner, 1982) as it was always meant to be seen – on a summer’s night in the basement of NICE N SLEAZY, through flimsy cardboard glasses. Our £3 ticket price includes a free pair of red/blue anaglyph 3D glasses.


Friday 13th Part III – in 3D! screens at Nice N Sleazy, Wednesday 25th July

Facebook event here. Tickets here.

Jaws 3D – in 3D!

Jaws-3D

Filmed at a landlocked water park, it’s been described as “a terrible, stupid movie that is easily the lowest point in the Jaws series and arguably one of the worst atrocities mankind has ever visited upon itself.”

The second Jaws sequel started life as a parody, to be directed by Joe Dante (Piranha), with a script entitled Jaws 3, People 0. The studio ultimately decided a spoof was the wrong way to go, and Jaws 3D was…the right way to go? Ultimately, they recruited Manimal himself, Simon MacCorkindale, Marty McFly’s mom, Lea Thompson, the mom from My So-Called Life, Bess Armstrong and Dennis Quaid, by all accounts the highest he’s ever been (off his tits on coke in “every frame”), for what may be the worst film in the franchise.

And now you can see it as it was always meant to be seen – on a summer’s night in the basement of NICE N SLEAZY, through flimsy cardboard glasses.


Jaws 3D – in 3D! screens at Nice N Sleazy, Saturday 7th July.

Facebook event here. Tickets here.

The Crazy Family | Weird Weekend

The Crazy Family, Sogo Ishii’s provocative, oddball satire, hasn’t screened in Scotland for 30 years

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Having just relocated to a comfortable new home in suburbia, the Kobayashi family – Katsuhiko, his wife, Saeko, and their two children, Masaki and Erika – appear to be the picture of middle-class success. But the family’s comfortable bourgeois veneer begins disintegrating when grandfather Yasukuni and white ants infest their home, eating away at the woodwork. As the Kobayashis’ house begins to crumble, so does the sanity of its inhabitants. Katsuhiko takes it upon himself to keep them from the asylum…at any cost.

The Crazy Family (逆噴射家族, Gyakufunsha Kazoku) Sogo Ishii’s provocative, oddball satire, hasn’t screened in Scotland for at least 30 years. Born Toshihiro Ishii, now known as Gakuryū Ishii, the avant garde filmmaker spearheaded the Japanese New Wave with his early punk features Panic In High School (1978), Crazy Thunder Road (1980) and Burst City (1982). Ishii’s reputation arguably rests on these early films, although he’s still active and his influence can been seen in the filmmakers whose international success has surpassed his own.

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Described as “one of the most genuinely demented movies to ever emerge from Japan,” The Crazy Family‘s original title (literally “The Back-Jet Family”) was a reference to an incident at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in the early 1980s. The pilot of a short, internal flight fired the plane’s back-jet just before landing, crashing the plane and killing many of its passengers. Pressure of work was blamed for the pilot’s action. “With Crazy Family,” Ishii later claimed, “I wanted to show the Japanese family as I saw it.” Co-writer and manga artist Yoshinori Kobayashi, now a controversial, conservative figure in Japan, told Monthly Film Bulletin in 1986:

Kramer vs Kramer, Ordinary People and The Family Game are all admirable films dealing with family problems. They are serious films, much praised by critics, and some people regard them as masterpieces. But some of us think differently. We consider them timid films, more or less like the TV family dramas made for middle-aged audiences, and the critics like them more than we do. And so Sogo Ishii and I decided to make a more radical  film on the same subject. We wanted film about the family that would be filled with fun and poison… There are four things that traditionally frighten the Japanese: earthquakes, thunder, fire and fathers. This list is as valid now as it ever was.

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Though it didn’t lose money, The Crazy Family was, perhaps unsurprisingly, not hugely popular domestically. “Everyone in Japan just complained that they didn’t understand my films,” Ishii later reflected. Though the film made a bigger impact abroad, according to writer David Cairns, “Most western critics found it wearisome and baffling”. As related by Shock Cinema’s Steven Puchalski, “its New York City engagement consisted of a one-week run at an upscale arthouse theatre, and a sparse, thoroughly confused audience of blue-haired Upper West Siders.”

In the UK, however, critic Tony Rayns saw its value immediately, noting “a major step forward for Sogo Ishii”. Writing in early 1986, Rayns observed that The Crazy Family “is a live action comic strip, each sequence shattered into component images like panels on a page and edited to rock rhythms.” Rayns continued:

The stylistic attack is matched, blow by blow, by the ruthlessness and cruelty of the humour: satire, slapstick, pain and black comedy are primary elements, but the film goes beyond them all into an area harder and more vicious than anything seen on screen since the early days of Monty Python. Its triumph is that it is (a) consistently funny, and (b) sustained as a narrative, rather than collapsing into a series of sketches.

if…. director Lindsay Anderson was also a fan. As recorded in Michael Palin’s diaries, Anderson preferred it to the then-recent A Room With A ViewAn Englishman Abroad, and even the Python’s own Private Function. Ishii’s film was the only one he’d liked recently, Anderson told Palin, since “the violence is so productive!”

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Though it’s never been released on DVD in the UK, The Crazy Family is a landmark in Ishii’s ouevre and Japanese cinema. It was his first commercial work, following the trio of dystopian punk films that made his name, but was immediately followed by an almost 10-year gap before his next feature, the thriller Angel Dust (1994). Thwarted from making the films he wanted to make, Ishii concentrated on experimental short films,  music documentaries (notably Half Human, with Einstuerzende Neubauten) and TV movies. The next phase of his work would be his self-proclaimed psychedelic years, before a slight return to his roots with Electric Dragon 80.000 V (2000). In 2010, he announced his “artistic rebirth”, Bowie-style, as Gakuryū Ishii, before returning to features once more with 2012’s Isn’t Anyone Alive? With his latest, Punk Samurai Slash Down, due this year, it’s the perfect time to (re)discover his weirdest.

Sean Welsh


The Crazy Family screens at Matchbox Cineclub’s Weird Weekend on Sunday 3rd June. Tickets from £5, day and weekend passes are available. All tickets available from CCA’s box office, 0141 352 4900, or online: bit.ly/weirdweekend.