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.

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.

The Crazy Family | Weird Weekend

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

The Crazy Family 1

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.

 

Weird Weekend brochure online

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The brochure for Weird Weekend 2018 is not online over at Issuu. You can also pick up a print copy across Glasgow this weekend.

Tickets are on sale now from £5, day and weekend passes are available. All tickets available from CCA’s box office, 0141 352 4900, or online: bit.ly/weirdweekend.

The Astrologer pins hopes on lucky stars

A 1976 UPI article by Vernon Scott on Craig Denney’s The Astrologer, as it appeared in The Ottawa Journal (14/01/1976)

The Astrologer 1

If you are Aquarian with Uranus in the third house, the sun in Capricorn, bestride Scorpio with Virgo ascending and the moon over Miami, you are probably in deep trouble or at least about to meet a tall dark stranger. Devotees of the zodiac will be hit with that sort of thing in The Astrologer, a new movie starring Craig Denny [sic] who also directed the film. Until now, astrology has been ignored by moviemakers. But Denny, 31, is founder of Moonhouse International, a computerized horoscope service which, for a price, whips out detailed astrological forecasts for individuals and corporations.

Astrology has made Denny a rich man. He says Moonhouse grossed $31 million last year with corporations paying as much as $20,000 for the service. “There’s never been a movie based on astrology,” said Denny, a handsome and intelligent man who is steeped in the lore of the zodiac. “Surprising, isn’t it? Especially when you consider there are 33 million individuals in the United States alone who are interested in astrology and buy astrological books, magazines and horoscopes.”

“So there is a huge audience waiting to see a picture based on astrology. The concept has been ignored all these years because it was new and different and didn’t follow any trends or patterns. Our story is about a gypsy fortune teller – me – and what happens to him as he predicts the future. We don’t preach astrology in the movie. There are five different story lines and plots. There’s a great deal of fantasy. The picture is visual. Even though it includes some heavy knowledge about astrology, the film is entertaining. We aren’t trying to make converts. This is a contemporary story with a great many optical special effects. I’m sure the picture has a basic appeal for everyone, including non-believers.”

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Webster’s defines astrology as: “A pseudo science claiming to foretell the future by studying the supposed Influence of the relative positions of the moon, sun and stars on human affairs. Primitive astronomy.” Denny, of course, views astrology as the mother of all sciences. “It is 5,000 years old,” he said. “I’ve been involved in astrology for 10 years. I don’t try to influence skeptics. Either you believe in it or you don’t. I have all the proof in the world that astrology is a true science.”

Denny embarked on a discourse of dates, planets and stars in a terminology which defies analysis by laymen. He holds theories which would shock other astrologers. His eyes gleam with teal. One is well advised not to take issue with him on the subject. A former radio broadcaster, Denny began The Astrologer in 1972 with a budget of $1.5 million. Three years later and at a total cost of $10 million, the picture was completed.

“Astrology has had a tough time with radio and television,” be said. “The government has a law that all astrological information must have a disclaimer before and after any programs dealing with the subject. It can’t be promoted on the air. The National Association of Broadcasters and the Federal Communications Commission have ruled that astrology is not a true science.” Denny’s disdain for the patented foolhardiness of the NAB and FCC was clearly reflected in the expression on his face. The Astrologer will open in prime American cities’ theatres Jan. 14, a date not selected at random. “The astrological aspects for the picture’s release were considered,” Denny admitted. According to the stars, the timing couldn’t be better.

Vernon Scott


The Astrologer screens at Matchbox Cineclub’s Weird Weekend on Sunday 03/06/18. Tickets from CCA’s box office, 0141 352 4900, or online here.

Keep up-to-date on Facebook here.

Newspaper ad images: Temple of Schlock.

Graham Humphreys poster for Turkish Star Wars 2K restoration

Legendary illustrator produces brand-new poster for Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam, the holy grail of remakesploitation

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Poster for Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam (Çetin İnanç, 1982) by Graham Humphreys

Legendary poster artist Graham Humphreys has produced a brand-new quad poster for Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam (AKA Turkish Star Wars, Çetin İnanç, 1982), to celebrate the world premiere of a new 2K restoration. Limited edition prints will be available for sale at two simultaneous screenings on May 4th 2018 – Star Wars Day.

Turkish Star Wars is notorious for the ways in which director Çetin İnanç edited stolen footage from Star Wars (1977) into his own film, along with music from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Flash Gordon. Low-resolution and poorly-subtitled bootleg copies of Turkish Star Wars have circulated for years, leading to its unfair reputation as one of the worst movies ever made.

In 2016, Glaser rescued the sole surviving 35mm print of the film after it was discovered in the collection of a retired movie projectionist in northwestern Turkey. Now, a new 2K digital scan has been made so that the world can finally see the film the way it was intended – and with all-new translated subtitles.

Matchbox Cineclub programmer Sean Welsh says: “People know Turkish Star Wars from internet clips of VHS bootlegs with terrible subtitles, presented with nonsense about how the film was critically savaged when it was released. The truth is Turkey then had a film business with no money, an audience thirsty for daft fantasy films and no copyright law. With this new restoration, you can enjoy Turkish Star Wars for what it is – a wild fever dream of a movie from the Roger Corman of Turkey.”

Matchbox Cineclub’s Glasgow screening is sold out (follow the Facebook event page for unwanted tickets), but tickets for the simultaneous London event, which also boasts a Q&A with Ed Glaser, are still available here.


Turkish Star Wars (2K Restoration) premieres at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow and The Cinema Museum, London on May 4th, 2018.

Nic Cage’s stand-in joins CAGE-A-RAMA 2018 line-up

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We’re delighted to announce that Marco Kyris, Nicolas Cage’s official stand-in for over 10 years, through his iconic Action trilogy and almost 20 films, will be joining us for a live Skype Q&A on Saturday at Cage-A-Rama 2018

Marco Kyris was born and raised in Toronto, Canada on Oct 14, 1961 [Nee Evrimahos Kyriakakis] to Greek immigrant parents. Growing up in a non English speaking house in Greektown with two siblings proved difficult for Marco, who was challenged academically and never kept up with school or family ties.

He was more of talker, like a TV show host, and worked that naturally into retail and restaurant skills over his teens and twenties.

Moved to Paris at 21 to soak in the culture and learn French while waitering, then to Los Angeles to try his skills in acting while working as a maitre’d, and meeting the stars of that era. Taking acting classes and getting bit parts that came and went, Marco was disillusioned by LA and not succeeding, so after several years he moved back home to Toronto to start over again.

While settling back, he had an audition to be Nicolas Cage’s stand-in for a winter theme film there. He got the gig, and ended up befriending Cage. Nic thought Marco was just right to be his permanent stand-in, as Cage was becoming an A list actor and was building a traveling team of hair, make-up, wardrobe, stunt, and stand-in. This turned into a 10-year-long career of almost 20 films with Mr Cage and his entourage.

All on buddy terms, they travelled many cities, states, and countries over those years, working on Cage’s most iconic and memorable films to date, including his trio of action films. Hard working and well respected as all of Cage’s team was, it was time to move on as the biz was changing,  and Cage seemed like he needed a fresh start, as he masterfully re-invents himself when necessary.

Marco and the team were also ready to retire into a more calming life. It was a welcome halt from movie madness travel in the Cage Wage World.

Marco has been living in Toronto ever since, and bought into real estate holdings as a long term retirement, but travels back to LA yearly to enjoy winter with film friends.

He is currently working on his memoirs of that time, and has a podcast with guests of his film past (Babble B.S. And Beyond). Check out his website at www.mkyris.com for more fun photos from behind the scenes of your favourite Cage flicks.

Marco is recording a special introduction to the action trilogy and will be joining us live from Toronto after the screening of Con Air.

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Tickets from CCA: Book online, 0141 352 4900.

Keep up-to-date with the CAGE-A-RAMA 2018 Facebook event page here.

£4 (+£1 booking fee) per film
Day pass: £9 (+£1 booking fee)
Weekend pass: £18 (+£1 booking fee)