|ATTENTION FELLOW FORMER FANS OF KABL
960AM: FIGHT THE AWFUL NEW FORMAT!
Join Will the Thrill and Monica, Tiki Goddess in protesting the horrendous change from classic Standards, Swing & Big Bands to creepy "Adult Contemporary" - if you prefer Louis and Keely to the Captain and Tennille, or if you know Dean Martin is way cooler than Ricky Martin, write to the clueless Corporate clucks who think only old people like great music, email@example.com, and demand they bring back our music that no one else plays! Don't let the eternally cool sounds of Sinatra disappear from the Bay Area airwaves - or die altogether in the 21st Century!
On This Month's Thrill-bill:
BOND, JAMES BOND - 007 in 7/00
SPECIAL MONDAY NIGHT THRILLVILLE, MONDAY JULY 3RD AT 9:15PM: The West Coast Premiere of JOHN MICHAEL McCARTHY'S ELVIS MEETS THE BEATLES AND SUPERSTARLET A.D. - JMM IN PERSON! (Co-sponsored by GEARHEAD MAGAZINE)
AND ON AUGUST 4TH: A ROXIE CINEMA/THRILLVILLE THEATER CO-PRODUCTION - WILL THE THRILL HOSTS AN EVENING WITH RAY DENNIS STECKLER, who will appear in person at the Roxie with his incredibly strange films "BLOOD SHACK," "RAT PFINK A BOO BOO," and "LEMON GROVE KIDS MEET THE MONSTERS"!
nquiring minds want to know: what is up with this Thrillville Nursery thing? Well, like the saying goes: if you can't beat 'em, stick a pacifier in their puss and rock 'em to snoozeville. The Monday night Baby Brigades are our most popular media attraction - every week it seems there is a camera crew and/or reporters from National Public Radio, Inside Edition, Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times, World News Tonight, Later Today, etc, all goin' goo-goo ga-ga over the fact that we allow parents with infants under one year of age to attend the regular second run movies on Mondays. Originally we only tried this because Monday nights were so slow and we were desperate for ideas to boost business. Baby Brigade was the brain-child of Julie Coffin, sister of Parkway chief Catherine Fischer, who suggested a cry room but without the designated glass-encased playground - just make the whole damn theater a cry room. Ironically, when The Parkway opened circa 1925, it had the first cry room in the Bay Area and maybe the world. So now, ironically, our adult-oriented theater has become nationally famous as an infants' nightclub. Go figure. Even Time Magazine mentioned it recently. And every time I try to work in a little plug for Thrillville, they're like, "Oh yea? That's nice." But without the babies in the audience, I can't get arrested, media-wise. So: Miles Goodrich, who designed the newsletter which you are reading, and who recently became a big daddy himself to little Calen (mama Aimee did most of the hard work, though), had the big bright idea to beef up attendance on the deadly slow Tuesday nights by combining Thrillville Theater with the Baby Brigade. See, Miles was getting pissed because he's been missing all my cool movies due to his diaper-changing duties. I also heard from some other parental film buffs who wished they didn't have to settle for second-run mainstream Hollywood fare, and longed for the cult classics I showcase every Thursday. And since every other gimmick we tried for Tuesdays has bombed - remember Hong Kong Tuesdays and Tapless Tuesdays? didn't think so - I figured, what the hell, let the crying games begin. The rule of thumb, so to speak, is that parents with babes-in-arms are welcome to Thrillville every Tuesday at 6:30, but not on Thursdays - that remains a refuge for the non-breeding portion of our audience, which seems to be shrinking all the time. Will the Thrill says be fruitful and multiply (not on our sofas, though): you can bring your date to Thrillville Theater and then eventually bring the biological by-product of your romance to the Thrillville Nursery, so you won't miss anything - at least till the kid begins to walk and talk, then it's gotta wait till it's 21 (and you gotta hire a baby-sitter or stick to videos and cable). It's all for you, our procreating patrons.
Anyway, I want to thank Nate and Barely Legal Productions for kicking some serious booty last month when they substitute-hosted the late show of Enter the Dragon, allowing Monica, Tiki Goddess and me to take a rare Thursday night off so we could go see the one and only Keely Smith at Bimbo's. The show was stupendous - Keely looks and sounds as sensational as ever, thumbing her nose at Daddy Time and laughing. She did ballads, standards, some selections from her stunning new album, Swing, Swing, Swing, and for a finale went out amongst the sold-out crowd in true lounge diva fashion and asked people to sing a few lines of "When the Saints Go Marching In." One of the folks in the audience who got tapped was none other than legendary Eddie Fisher, who strained out a few notes to thundering applause. Then she came around to our side of the room I jumped up with Monica and our pal Lisa right behind me. (Her beau Paul the Thrall remained on the sidelines.) Keely put the mike up to my kisser and I almost froze, as my singing voice is not something I normally lay on a crowd except for punishment purposes, so I did a half-assed impression of her dead ex-hubbie, the great Louie Prima, scooby-dooby-doin' my way through the words, and I actually pulled it off somewhat. They don't call me Lounge Lizard King for nothin'. Or rather, I don't call myself Lounge Lizard King for nothin'.
On July 3rd at 9:15 I am throwing a special Monday night Thrillville so I can host the West Coast premiere of John Michael McCarthy's short film Elvis Meets the Beatles plus the feature Superstarlet A.D. (both on video as we don't have 16mm). JMM is a maverick underground filmmaker from Memphis whose other cult classics include Damselvis, Daughter of Elvis (I ordered this from a monster magazine, which is how we became acquainted, back in like '93); Teenage Tupelo, with a soundtrack by the great defunct Memphis Delta-surf band Impala; and most recently, his most outrageous hit The Sore Losers. Elvis Meets the Beatles is a fantasy inspired by the real meeting of these rock icons in Graceland back in '65, and it's a surreal gem. Superstarlet AD is his most ambitious work to date, all about post-holocaust bands of beauty queens searching for lost stag films while warding off the rude advances of post-nuclear cavemen, the only brand of male homo-sapiens left. JMM's idiosyncratic flicks are always erotic, filled with curvaceous, scantily-clad cheesecake, but they are also from a decidedly feminist POV, combining the aesthetic qualities of 60s sexploitation with a retro/garage rock sensibility, filtered through a working knowledge and reverence for All Things Elvis. He is the finest filmmaker to come out of the South in decades, a contemporary collision of Russ Meyer, David Friedman and Roger Corman. On top of all this, he is an accomplished graphic designer (he illustrated several Something Weird catalogues and video covers), and comic book artist (he is currently at work adapting to film his own horror/ satire comic book classic Cadavera). He is a very colorful character in person, too. Mad musician Poly Sci Clone will be in the house as well. Come on down and experience this uniquely eccentric Renaissance Man in person, and join the cult.
I also want to take this opportunity to plug a special Thrillville Theater happening over at the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco on Friday August 4th: An Evening with Ray Dennis Steckler. I showed two of his far-out flicks in April as part of my Incredibly Strange Film series, co-hosted by V. Vale of Re/Search Publications. Well, the Roxie's hip head honcho, the esteemed Elliot Lavine and I have put together a tribute to Ray and rockabilly legend Ron Haydock, who appears (either physically or musically) in each of the three Steckler classics being screened that evening: Blood Shack, Rat Pfink a Boo Boo, and Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters. The theater, in case you don't know, is located in the heart of the Mission District at 3117 16th St. near Valencia. The start time is probably 7:30PM but that could change slightly. For further details check out their web site, www.roxie.com
Now there is something I must get off my chest, simply because I do get to write a column which I also edit, and so I can say anything about any subject I damn well please. It has nothing to do with any movies I am showing this month or any month. It has to do with something almost as important: the fate of our nation. Let me state for the record here and now: GEORGE W. BUSH IS A DIMWIT!
At this point the pollsters and pundits predict this Son of a Gun Rights Supporter will be our next Leader. This is preposterous beyond relief. I mean, forget political persuasions - I don't despise him because he's Republican, though that's a good place to start. I never worked up any hatred for McCain, because he at least seemed like someone I could carry on a half-assed conversation with, however briefly. The problem with George Jr. is simple: HE'S AN IDIOT. The man has NO drive, NO ambition, NO vision, NO wit, NO intelligence, NO passion, NO nothing except a lame duck ex-prez for a daddy. He was hand-picked by his party because he's young and even more of a puppet than their Great White Hope, Ronald Reagan, from whom Little G is separated by only two degrees and about as many brain cells. Hell, at least Ronnie had a point of view, however fucked up. George W is an empty-headed frat boy zombie. He can't finish a coherent thought, or make an intelligent statement, or take a firm stand on an issue, or evoke any sense of unifying pride. I mean, sure, Bill Clinton is stupid in a horny dog kinda way - yep, gettin' blown by a bimbo in your office while on duty was just plain dumb, Bill. I mean, as a World Leader, you are Tops: extremely smart from the waist up, able to comment intelligently on a wide variety of topics (including movies), an Elvis fan, a sax man (ahem), very persuasive, personable, witty, fair-minded, and the most open-minded person to ever hold that office. Unfortunately you had the Most Open Fly too (next to JFK, who at least had the class to disgrace his office with the likes of Marilyn Monroe - Bill, you could've done better). So now poor Al Gore, who I think would carry on excellently in Bill's wake, has to contend with voter backlash against Bill's indiscretions. WAKE UP PEOPLE. I'd rather have a president that steps out on his wife but who knows where all the countries are, than one who blinks blankly and stammers whenever asked about any topic other than baseball. Sure, Gore is short on personality, but like the more dynamic Clinton he has an easy-going approachability and an articulate way of carrying himself with dignity. He looks and acts and talks like a World Leader. George W. looks and acts and talks like a World Class Moron. FBI: ARE YOU LISTENING? PUT THIS IN MY FILE! Only the coolest people have FBI files on their subversive thoughts and activities - I want to be in that esteemed historical company, along with Sinatra, Abby Hoffman, and Herb Caen. To me, having a FBI file on you proves you're doing something right with your life - even if you're Al Capone. I want people in the future to know exactly what Will the Thrill thinks of George W. Bush, the Tom Cruise of Politics. (And anyone who reads this column knows exactly where I stand on that mega-star mannequin). They are both tragically bland but flash the most annoyingly smug smirks on the planet. Message from Thrillville to George and Tom: FIND ANOTHER COUNTRY TO EMBARRASS. After a decade of Garth Brooks, we've had all we can take.
Whew! Okay, now enough of that - on to the theme of this month's Thrill-bill: Bond, James Bond. Now, I don't know about you, but when I hear that name, it's in only one inimitable voice, that of Sean Connery. Despite the stubborn efforts of his successors, Connery is synonymous with Agent 007, the definitive screen embodiment of this character, in the same way Christopher Lee owned Dracula (apologies to Lugosi purists - Bela only played Drac twice, but Chris not only did it more often, but sexier and scarier, in my humble opinion). Along with Paul Newman, Sean is the Last Great Old School Movie Star still at work today. The only actor from the next generation who can even hold a candle to Connery's coolness is Chow Yun Fat, and Hollywood still can't figure out what to do with him (TEAM HIM BACK UP WITH JOHN WOO YOU CLUELESS CLUCKS!). Connery only made six Bonds (not counting the lackluster Never Say Never Again from '83 - he should've said never again and stuck to it). With the exception of the final one, '71's Diamonds Are Forever, they are all spy cinema masterpieces. Diamonds had a great theme song (by Shirley Bassey, who also sang Goldfinger) and Jill St. John and Las Vegas pre-Disneyification, but it was sooooo tired, poorly shot, lazily edited, and Connery pretty much walked through it, a 60s icon coming off as a 70s relic. Still, I'd rather watch Connery snoring than Roger Moore wide awake any day. See, this is how it breaks down: Connery had the two main ingredients required for Bond: The Edge, and The Charm. Moore had some Charm, absolutely no Edge (remember, 007 is a killer as well as a lover, and the actor must make both equally credible). George Lazenby, who took over the role when Connery retired the first time in '69's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, had some Edge, but no Charm. He was just a handsome stiff. Too bad - if Connery had just stuck it out and done OHMSS - which I couldn't get a print of for this fest - it would've been THE greatest Bond flick ever. As it is, OHMSS is the most interesting, wherein Bond actually gets hitched (Diana Rigg of The Avengers plays his wife), however briefly - and tragically. Connery did come back for one more, Diamonds, and then, feeling his age, gave it up. Moore took over for a long silly reign beginning with Live and Let Die, his best, but it was steadily downhill from there. Then came Timothy Dalton, who definitely had The Edge, but zero Charm. He only lasted for two movies. Now we're stuck with the pansy everyone keeps calling Connery's successor: Pierce Brosnan. The latest Bond movie, The World Is Not Enough, should've been called Pierce Brosnan Is Not Enough. He has a teeny bit of Edge, and a teeny bit of Charm, just enough to pull off Remington Steele, and that's about it. Bond requires a Man with Edge and Charm to burn, and Connery had - has - both in spades, as you Gen Xers who only know these films from their references in the over-rated Austin Powers flicks can now witness in their epic, landmark, trend-setting, genre-smashing splendor:
I'm skipping the premiere Bond, '62's Dr. No, even though I love the villain, the repetitive use of the theme song, and near-naked Ursula Andress, because it isn't as well defined as '63's From Russia With Love; (7/6: Nursery 7/4), co-starring the great Robert Shaw. Many purists consider this the finest Bond, and it is the last one author/creator Ian Fleming lived to see. Next comes the quintessential Bond, '64's Goldfinger (7/13; Nursery 6/11), with Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore, Gert Frobe (a German star who couldn't speak English and was totally dubbed!) as the titular villain, and of course Oddjob, famously lampooned in Austin Powers. '65's Thunderball (6/20; Nursery 6/18) is a very close second, and features the greatest Bond theme, sung with ear-splitting charisma by Tom Jones. This is also the one that started going overboard with the gadgets. Connery, already threatening to quit the series, fearful of typecasting (too late), took '66 off, but came back with a bang in '67's You Only Live Twice (6/27; Nursery 6/25), with more gadgets than ever, a Japanese locale, and a theme song by Nancy Sinatra. This one also features Donald Pleasance as bald bad guy Blofeld, head of SPECTRE, the model for Mike Myers' Dr. Evil. (I keep making this reference because I know how old I am now, and some kiddies in the audience are not as aware of the original classics as us geezers). Next up was On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the one Sean skipped but shouldn't have, then Diamonds Are Forever, the one he should have. That's okay - his legacy is solid gold, as gold as Shirley Eaton in that Miami hotel room.
As Lounge Lizard King, I love Connery's Bond, for all his gentlemanly misogyny and blasé violence, because he did it all with such Style, whether makin' love, bombs or martinis. Monica, Tiki Goddess is not so thrilled with these movies, but that's okay, she has me, and I'm a pussycat. The original Bond movies are credited with beginning the now endless cycle of Summer Blockbuster Movies/Events, a dubious honor. Connery has made several of these recently, but even with his still-commanding presence, they won't stand the test of time like his Bonds, which I will serve to you shaken, not stirred, here in the Thrillville Cocktail Lounge of Cool.