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The Thrillville Beat

By Will ("The Thrill") Viharo

THRILLVILLE BEAT

By Will "the Thrill" Viharo

THIS MONTH:

JUST SAY NO TO WAR!
B MOVIE POSTERITY?
BIG TITS KICK ASS!

BUSH-WHACKED AGAIN

As I write this, George W. Bush has announced that this coming Sunday (January 19, long gone by the time you read this) is “National Sanctity of Human Rights Day.” Whew! I guess that means a.) he won’t attack Iraq before this Monday or b.) he doesn’t consider the Iraqi people, or US troops, to be human, therefore undeserving of rights befitting creatures of that description. He called on us as a nation to “reaffirm our commitment to respecting the life and the dignity of every human being” – without qualification.

Hmm – so I guess this means blacks, Latinos, queers, liberals, tree-huggers, the unemployed, the homeless, Muslims being detained by Home Security, and fez-wearing lounge lizards apparently do not qualify for human rights sanctity, since our dignity is robbed by our own government on a routine basis. Or maybe we’re finally getting a day off?

Of course, I read this in an article about the declining abortion rate, widely attributed not to right wing rhetoric and religious scare tactics, but to the increasing availability and awareness of contraception, which is due to successful sex education, not force-fed ignorance perpetuated by conservative bullies. Sure, some pundits would like to be believe pregnancy can be prevented by simple abstinence, but in the end, the natural desires and dictates of one’s own body will always win out over political propaganda.

In this context, what Bush was apparently referring to by “sanctity of human rights” is the salvation of the fetus only. Once a kid is born, though, unless they vote Republican, all bets are off. If you’re not thinking on the right, you have no rights.

By the time you read this, National Sanctity for Human Rights Day will be ancient history, just another publicity sound bite, a hypocritical shout-out for the re-election campaign, and the bombs may be already falling on innocent Iraqi citizens, while our young bucks are being painfully poisoned to death on the nightmarish field of dubious battle.

The big question no one in our government seems to want to adequately answer is: WHY? Leaving me to draw my own conclusions.

North Korea is boldly flaunting their weapons of mass destruction, while the arms inspectors in Iraq have yet to find evidence of any in that targeted country – no “smoking gun,” as they like to say. Despite this, Bush is “sick and tired” of Iraq’s “defiance,” while he is willing to placate the North Koreans with diplomatic posturing, even though they are basically saying to the world, “We got your smoking gun right here, cowboy.”

Meantime, Osama bin Laden has embarked on a new international underground recruitment video campaign, and no one in the Oval Office can link him to their favorite Global Threat Poster Boy, Saddam Hussein. Bin Laden’s boys slaughtered thousands of Earth’s innocent citizens on our own turf and marred the national psyche, in the process deftly planting subversive psychological bombs that undermine our sense of security, justify hate crimes, destroy civil rights, and bolster a conservative agenda. Yet, you hardly ever hear bin Laden’s name even mentioned anymore. Plus our own economy continues to plummet, and some Republican lawmakers either openly pine for a return to segregation, or support the appointment of justices who once supported the concept.

Our government’s response? Attack Iraq. Distract the American people from their own reality. They don’t know where bin Laden is, but they know where Hussein is, so by virtue of visibility, and vulnerability, he becomes the Number One Bad Guy once again, effectively overshadowing one of the most vicious and ruthless terrorists in world history. The moral here: only pick fights you know you can win.

No one in the administration has offered any logical explanations for any of these glaring discrepancies in domestic and foreign policy, nor has the butt-kissing media had the guts to truly challenge them (yea, like they’re so liberal – they suck Bush’s tiny Texas wang much more flagrantly and gullibly than Monica Lewinsky sucked Clinton’s big ol’ po’ boy, and they swallow, too. The only newspaper I trust nowadays to tell the truth is The Onion.) Despite all this, Bush remains, as the media loves to remind us, enormously popular.

I’d like to know what for. Name one thing he’s done that’s good for this country as a whole. Point out one positive effect he’s had on our economy, our sense of well being, our confidence in the future, our standing in the eyes of the world, or the advancement of civil rights. One. All he’s accomplished since stealing the election is rampant fear-mongering, a petty and partisan government, an alarming increase in racial paranoia, isolationist policies that have produced intense and widespread hatred of America by most of the rest of the world, and the worst Christmas holiday shopping season in 32 years.

And yet, his ratings remain high, according to the “liberal” media. But so are the ratings for ridiculous “reality” TV shows like Survivor and Joe Millionaire. That doesn’t make them intelligent. The People’s Choice Awards named Julia Roberts Most Popular Actress for the ninth year in a row. To me, she has all the talent, charm, grace, poise, elegance, glamour and beauty of a discarded Popsicle stick. I just don’t get the mainstream’s tastes at all. It’s all a mystery to me. From what I can see, George W. Bush is a supremely ignorant, illiterate, and insensitive redneck, who happens to be rich, yet just because he wants to, our wealthy, arrogant, powerful nation is ready to wage all-out war on a small, impoverished country halfway around the world. Just like that.

Again, my question is: Why? For perspective, I look at it as I look at a lot of things: in terms of a movie.

Dig this: for Bush, attacking Iraq is “Gulf War 2,” finishing off the job his daddy started for the sake of his insidious family’s political posterity, even though we pretty much wiped ‘em out the first time around (which means we know we can win). Iraq also has a lot more oil than North Korea, so there’s more at stake fiscally – always an issue. But re-opening the Korean can of worms brings back too many memories of our first war with them in the ‘50s, which didn’t go so well. So, in effect, “Gulf War 2” is a big budget sequel to a popular hit, a surefire winner with popular mass appeal and a tried and true formula for success. Basically, it’ll be a retread of the original, but with bigger and better special effects. “Korean War 2” would be an expensive and very risky sequel to an infamous flop – no one wants to see it happen, on either side of the fence, exactly because the budget, and cast (casualties), would be so much higher in the high-tech sequel than in the relatively low-budget loser of the mid-20th Century.

Of course, I didn’t like “Gulf War 1,” brief as it was, so I have no desire to see or even hear about “Gulf War 2.” Likewise, I didn’t catch “Korean War 1,” so I have no interest in seeing a “Korean War 2.” In general, I don’t like war movies. Unless they’re directed by Stanley Kubrick. And he’s dead. Tom Cruise killed him. All the good war movies have been done. It’s time to think of something new. But Washington is no more original in its thinking than Hollywood is.

You want originality, you came to the right place.

TO “B” OR NOT TO “B”

Recently the Library of Congress National Film Registry released its latest list of films to be preserved forever (providing we don’t blow up the Earth). I was heartened to see offbeat titles like Endless Summer, This Is Spinal Tap and Stranger Than Paradise, along with true Hollywood classics like From Here to Eternity and In the Heat of the Night. But why the hell do relatively bland and useless movies like 1979’s tepid The Black Stallion and Disney’s mediocre Beauty and the Beast need to be saved for future generations? And why is the over-rated Alien on the list, but not the movie that directly inspired it, It! The Terror Beyond Space (1958), which, in my humble opinion, is a far superior film and worthier time capsule?

Which brings me to my real point: WHO’S GOING TO SAVE B MOVIES FOR POSTERITY?

Are TRUE classics and historically valuable, socially relevant icons like I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Invasion of the Saucer Men, Earth vs, the Flying Saucers, Attack of the Giant Leeches, The Amazing Colossal Man, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The She Creature, It Conquered the World, This Island Earth, Tarantula, Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!, The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies, The Creature Walks Among Us, The Atomic Submarine, Robot Monster, Catwomen of the Moon, Queen of Outer Space, The Hideous Sun Demon, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, Blast of Silence and countless other drive-in gems going to be lost forever? If so, do you realize how dull, colorless, boring, and uninformed future generations will be?

I’m doing what I can here in Thrillville, but the fact is, simply showing these films, or what’s left of them in 35mm, on the big screen is not preserving their posterity. I may be introducing them to new generations of fans, but will they be able to pass the torch if, in the future, these flicks are gone for good? Even cable TV is dropping the ball. AMC used to be a reliable source of B movie classics. Now they’re dedicated to resurrecting the worst of 80s and 90s cinema, edited, with commercials. TCM, which has retained its integrity, only has a small amount of genre films in their vast library. These films are no longer ubiquitous on TV, like they were when I was a kid, and horror hosts were rampant on the airwaves. If someone with deep pockets doesn’t step up soon, a unique and irreplaceable facet of priceless Americana will be lost forever.

Here’s hoping Mexico is doing something to preserve the cinematic legacy of Santo.

The saddest example of the decay of America’s pop cultural values is the tragic case of Forrest Ackerman, now relegated to his own guest house. His once grand collection of horror/sci fi memorabilia has been scattered to the four winds, and his once sacred Ackermansion, a Mecca for monster fans around the globe for decades, is doomed to destruction. Where the hell were the Hollywood bigwigs who claimed Forry as their chief source of inspiration? Why the hell didn’t Speilberg, Joe Dante, John Carpenter or any of these other hot-shots step up to preserve the Ackermansion and get it declared on the Registry of Historical Sites, like Graceland? Phony bastards.

Well, enough ranting about things I can do nothing about. On to what I am offering to save the planet in this tragic era:

THE RETURN OF RUSS MEYER’S WOMEN!

One time years ago my buddies and I at Movie Image in Berkeley made up T-shirts that read, TURA SATANA FOR PRESIDENT! Our friend at the copy store next door designed an image of Tura in her Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! persona wrestling Bill Clinton and Bob Dole to the ground, with her foot on their necks. I still voted for Clinton, but nowadays, I wish we had someone with the guts, resolve, stamina, integrity and, face it, BIG TITS of Tura Satana kicking ass in Congress.

I would love to show Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! in Thrillville (hey, that rhymes!), but unfortunately, the mad maestro Russ Meyer charges exorbitant rental rates for prints of his busty masterpieces, and my limited Thrill-budget can’t handle it. BUT…

For those who want to see Tura Satana as she is today, in all her ageless glory, don’t miss THE VALENTINE’S DAY DOUBLE D DOUBLE FEATURE (Parkway, February 13)!! On this very special double thrill-bill is Ted V, Mikels’ long awaited sequel to his 60s cult classic, MARK OF THE ASTRO ZOMBIES, shot in the town of his residence, Las Vegas, and replete with ray guns, rampaging aliens, spaceships, spies and all the ingredients you’ve come to know and love in drive-in cinema of yore. Only this is brand new! That’s right, cats and kittens - B MOVIES LIVE IN THE 21ST CENTURY!!

Monica, Tiki Goddess and I visited Ted in the Fall of 2001 in Vegas, while appearing in the French documentary Viva Las Vegas?, and he showed us around the spaceship “set” – all cardboard, Christmas lights, eviscerated household appliances, rubber work gloves with green gook glued to them so they could resemble alien hands, rubber hatchets – I’m telling you, it was like being on the set of an Ed Wood movie circa 1954. It was beautiful, and gave me hope for the future of mankind. A little, anyway.

But the local premiere of this classic B movie, 21st century style isn’t all you get to see on this very special evening. MOTAZ is actually the second half a bill that is topped by William Winckler’s truly titillating comedy-action-thriller THE DOUBLE D AVENGER, a sassy, silly, sexy super-heroine spoof that offers a cure for breast cancer! Dig this crazy cast of Russ Meyer veterans: Raven De La Croix (Up!, my personal favorite of Meyer’s ‘70s work),Kitten Natividad (Beneath the Valley of the Ultravxens), and Haji (Faster Pussycat) plus Forry Ackerman! This fast ‘n’ funny flick is a throwback to the great feminist cinema of the ‘60s, and all these ladies are in super shape, as you’ll get to see for yourself, since RAVEN DE LA CROIX WILL BE APPEARING IN PERSON! That’s right, for all of you who thrilled to Raven in Up! (and in fact I’ll be a little embarrassed to meet her, considering how many times I’ve rewound her nude scenes….) you can come get an autographed photo of this legendary lady and shake her…hand. Also in person: the wily and witty director Mr. Winckler, co-stars G. Larry Butler and Mimma Mariucci (mama mia!), and from Mark of the Astro Zombies, Scott Blacksher. Both movies will be projected in Double DVD. It’s technically the day before Valentine’s day, but this is one date you won’t want to pass up. This epic event is a righteous rebuff of all the skinny girl propaganda campaigns out there trying to starve our precious female population into mindless models. They just wanna save money on material! Fight the Corporate Evil! Burn the bras constricting your brain and let it all hang out here in Thrillville, baby!! And above all - keep it real.

Since it’s also Black History Month, later on I’m proud to host Samuel L. Jackson’s favorite ‘70s blaxploitation flick CANDY TANGERINE MAN (Parkway, February 27,) starring John Daniels as “the Black Baron,” a flashy pimp who splits his time and life between the ‘burbs and the Sunset Strip. Hookers, junkies, mobsters, violence, nudity, bell bottoms, afros and wah-wah pedals make up the mad mix in this terrifically trashy time capsule, in a rare 35mm print from the voodoo vaults of The Werepad. Incidentally, Daniels co-starred in another flick that same year I’d love to show sometime, called Bare Knuckles. He plays the sidekick of a bounty hunter. His name in this flick? “Black.” The bounty hunter’s name is Zachary Kane – portrayed by my father, Robert Viharo. It’s a classic.

Bare Knuckles is another memorable movie not on the Library of Congress National Film Registry, though, and I somehow doubt it will ever make the grade. Ditto for Candy Tangerine Man. This may be your only chance to see it. Ever.

Dig it.

NEXT MONTH:

ALIEN BRAINS AND SEA MONSTERS!



Bookcover
Order a copy of
"Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me,"
a novel featuring Vic Valentine, Private Eye
by William Viharo from Wild Card Press:

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