Friday, October 17, 2014

Wicked Lives

I didn't go for scary, I went to increase my literacy. And dance a little.

FilmRoasters, the crew who shows bad movies and comments all the way through a la "Mystery Science Theater" was showing the 1978 horror classic "Halloween" tonight. Needless to say, I'd never seen it.

Which is not to say I'd never been to a FilmRoasters' event because I had. Three times. I knew the drill.

The bludgeoning of the cheesy film was taking place at Bottoms Up so I arrived in time to order a monstrous slice of their famous "Karen combo" pizza (no, it really is named that), featuring all kinds of my favorite things: Italian sausage, onions, spinach and Ricotta.

I don't know what Karen it's named for, but she had great taste.

While I ate, the Roasters got warmed up with a bad '80s TV show called "The Master" about a ninja and his pupil, notable mainly for big '80s hair, a Trump-less Las Vegas and a soundtrack by Bill Conti of "Rocky" fame.

By the time that corniness ended, there were eight people in the audience and five of them were gabbing loudly because they hadn't come to see the movie.

After more than a few pointed barbs in their direction, they got the hint and moved out on the patio so that the remaining three of us could hear the movie's bad dialog and the roasters' pithy improvisation.

They asked how recently the audience had seen the movie (um, never) and said, "If the last time you saw "Halloween" it was scary, it's been too long." The event invitation had warned that, "Only really old people still think it's scary."

The only thing I already knew about "Halloween" was its soundtrack and that's because local musician Scott Burton was a huge fan of director John Carpenter's soundtrack and had transposed it from piano to guitar and I'd heard him play it on several occasions near Halloween.

The first thing I learned about "Halloween" tonight was that the virginal Laurie character was Jamie Lee Curtis' first film (the credits "introduce" her).

Then the Roasters set about mocking it at every turn.

When the first babysitter has her nude scene, someone cracked, "Seventies boobs were different." You mean high and firm without being fake? Yea, they sure were.

They made fun of the nurse in her cap and cape. The turned the murder's voice into Darth Vader imitations and said things such as, "I hate a guy with a car and no sense of humor" about one of the teen-aged victims.

And like with previous screenings, the Roasters were profoundly impatient with the '70s style of film making, making frequent comments about long shots, extended takes and showing the viewer everything.

"Film it all, film her walking up the whole street!" one guy shouted when she took five steps on camera.

Call me old school, but I found it refreshing to see a film that allowed scenes to unfold and wasn't just a non-stop montage of quick cuts for the ADD set.

But the '70s details were on point: Laurie doesn't date because all the guys think she's too smart. Don't feel bad, Laurie, I didn't get asked to prom, either.

When she and her girlfriend take off in the enormous '70s car (not wearing seat belts, natch) for their babysitting jobs, they share a joint in the car on the way, her friend saying,"Come on, we have just enough time" and the Roasters retorting, "There's always time for marijuana!"

At her babysitting job, Laurie dons a full apron to make popcorn for her charges and carve a jack-o-lantern ("Remember when we used to say jack-o-lantern?"). Really, an apron?

As the murderer stalks them in his car, someone quipped, "Is anyone concerned that the killer is driving a station wagon?"

Not in the '70s, baby.

When a character says he thinks the murderer's former house is haunted, the Roasters said, "Haunted by eight bad sequels! And number three made no sense!" I wouldn't know.

Once all the sexually active babysitters have been murdered and Laurie thinks she's killed the killer, she sits sobbing on the floor in relief and post-terror. "She's sobbing because there's going to be a sequel."

So now, ladies and gentlemen, I can say I've seen "Halloween," the film credited with beginning a long line of slasher films based on Hitchcock's "Psycho" and a reminder that boobs were better in the '70s.

Or something.

Having upped my cultural literacy over a slice, I opted to finish out the night at Balliceaux to see Red Light Rodeo.

Walking up the alley, I saw a small crowd near the door and just as I came up behind them, one guy reared back with his leg and kicked my hand with his shoe. When he realized what had happened, he joked, "Don't sneak up on a brother like that, girl!" and then apologized. I chalked it up to my quiet shoes on the cobblestones.

Inside, I found a small but exuberant crowd in the back room, many of the women dancing already to Red Light Rodeo's take on bluegrass honky tonk, including two who finished "Sitting on Top of the World" by falling on the beer-slicked floor laughing their faces off.

The band was bigger than I expected with drums/percussion, acoustic guitar, upright bass, mandolin/electric fiddle and electric guitar/pedal steel and all dapperly dressed in bolo ties, western style shirts and a couple with cowboy hats on.

When the band took a break, a woman decided to talk to me, commenting on how I'd been observing the room as I sipped my tequila. I found out she left Richmond for the West Coast only to return and wonder why she'd ever left. In other words, a familiar tale.

The band scored big with a country version of "Louie, Louie" that got just about everyone in the room dancing before it was over. From there, they sang about about liquor and whores, wicked lives and mentioned how their favorite song subject was whiskey ("You and me and whiskey makes three").

Only really old people wouldn't appreciate that kind of music.

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