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The Thrillville Beat

By Will ("The Thrill") Viharo


By Will "the Thrill" Viharo



Happy New Year and Peace on Earth, everybody!

Now that I have that pleasant little exclamation of fantasy out of the way:


Recently a Canadian politico, the Prime Minister's spokeswoman, was forced to resign for calling George W. Bush a "moron" Can't imagine what inspired this high-ranking official from our easy-going neighbor-land to the north to make such a controversial, seemingly insulting observation. Could it be, could it possibly be because:


There, I said it too. And I refuse to resign my position as Lounge Lizard King! Instead, I want the F.B.I. to start their file on me, if they haven't already, with this statement of opinion. That also goes for the CIA, Homeland Security, Klu Klux Klan, Christian Right, or whatever the hell fascist group is wasting their time monitoring me while some real and actually dangerous wackadoo is making plans to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge: YOU GOT THAT?! I WANT IT IN MY FILE UNDER "FREAKS, RADICALS, LIBERAL LOUNGE LIZARDS AND OTHER SUBVERSIVES"!

And while you're at it, add these following observations to the Thrill Files:

"Dick Cheney is a chronically Caucasian fascist!"

"John Ashcroft is a chronically constipated witch-hunting mannequin!"

"Condoleezza Rice is a shameless plantation hussy!"

"Harry Belafonte is right - Colin Powell is an ass-kissing house boy!" (So much for a moderate voice of reason.)

The way I see it, if the F.B.I, or somebody, doesn't have a file on you these days, you're doing something wrong, or just plain wasting your life. Maybe they're ignoring me altogether. Consider this a pre-emptive strike, which are very trendy these days.

Go ahead, search my site for bomb-making manifestos, you clueless Clydes. Knock yourselves out. The only bombshell you'll find here in Thrillville are the homemade pin-ups of my gorgeous wife - and her you can't touch. Feel the pain, and move on.

Fortunately, I'm no longer the only one willing to criticize the status quo, which is good, since no one listens to me anyway. Recently, both Bill Clinton and Al Gore have finally begun publicly railing against the Republican's mean-spirited machine, galvanizing their own party to respond to the right wing power-engine with contrary and conscientious conviction. Clinton - the only politician to ever openly speak out on one of the world's most enduringly significant issues, Elvis Presley - recently noted in a speech, "When people feel uncertain, they'd rather have someone strong and wrong than weak and right." God, how true. I'd vote for that brilliant, charismatic sax-playing hillbilly again anytime, but alas, he's out of the running. If Gore runs for re-election in 2004, I'll settle for him, happily. In the meantime, Nancy Pelosi's appointment was a positive statement and step in the right direction, or should I say left direction. Unlike the Tiki Goddess, I'm not really a diehard Democrat, but more of a default Democrat - a "Rat Pack Democrat", as I often say, only somewhat facetiously. But I am a pretty liberal guy who believes the democratic system is the best so far concocted for an eclectic society, and if it were currently functioning purely, I wouldn't be having all these beefs with the powers-that-be. A lot of fellow libs and leftists who want us to start over from scratch and overhaul the entire system, which will never happen, firmly believe Clinton and Gore are just as abominable as Bush and Cheney. Well, I say if you want an ideal voice to empower your cause, throw your own hat in the ring. Otherwise, all you have to choose from are the hats that are already there. I want the cowboy hats out of the ring, for the good of the whole country, and I support any hats that want to supplant them, even if it isn't a fez.


It may not be obvious after that little diatribe, but I'm at heart a very friendly, peace-loving guy. I mean, someone could respond to my comments by sending me an email and calling me a "short, near-sighted, frustrated failed novelist Frank Sinatra wannabe." But I beat them to it. There goes another pre-emptive strike.

The truth is, I don't really care what anyone thinks of me, any more than these other actually famous figures give a flying doughnut what I think about them. That's obvious. Hypocritical politicos will continue to oppress the underclass and wage war for money and power in the name of patriotism. Just like all the Steven Soderspeilbergs in Hollywood will continue to mine and rape the sacred drive-in past for fleeting, foolish ideas, and millions of duped citizens will continue to line all their pockets with cash.

Except here in Thrillville, guys and dolls.

One thing I really do not understand: why do so many people give a damn what other people do and think? Why do they feel so threatened by different cultures and opposing philosophies that they feel compelled - like our current administration - to suppress, shape and dictate the morals, ideals and values of others who simply choose an alternative lifestyle and adopt an independent viewpoint?

I mean, take the religious idiots who fly all the way the hell to San Francisco from some hick community just to protest a high school play on homosexuality. That reveals a serious insecurity and lack of faith in their own belief system. If they want to believe one guy corn-holing another is a sin that will send the perpetrators straight to ever-lasting Hell (which ironically is probably a lot like Kansas), then DON'T DO IT YOURSELF. How do you figure it's your place to condemn strangers by imposing your views on them by force? How the hell does it affect you if one guy wants to suck off another guy, or some guy wants to dress up like the Easter Bunny, or some chick wants to take control of her own future and decide to put off child-bearing till she can afford it?

Personally, I believe homosexuality is natural propagation control in action. Can you imagine if all those horny queers were actually able to get knocked up, with all that indiscriminate screwing going on? We have enough of an over- population crisis as it is. As proof of my theory, I offer the fact that there are homos even in the animal world. Are you going to try to tell me that this is learned behavior, a matter of personal choice? That one day a rooster just got fed up with all those constantly clucking hens and decided on his own to start sucking "cock"?

This is coming from a guy who flat-out worships Pussy, who can't think or speak rationally in the face of female cleavage, who finds Truth in a woman's heart-shaped ass, and who finds the male body about as sexually appealing as a mudhole frequented by dogs with weak bowels. Although I must admit, I think both Don Johnson and Robert Conrad are mighty cute, and Tom Jones has one sexy pair of...lungs. But hey, that's just me.

Live and let live, for Chrissake. That's my personal Golden Rule. I relentlessly criticize people like Bush and Cheney because they are trying to force their views and values on me via their political prowess, which I did not vote for and refuse to respect, much less acquiesce to. Otherwise, if they were just normal folks going about their own business, I'd simply accept them as fellow human beings with different backgrounds, attitudes and creeds - and ignore them entirely. I just wish these right wing bigots trying to shove their ultra-conservative doctrine and intrusive agenda on the rest of this diverse nation would offer us social misfits the same courtesy. No dice. I know that. But I will never shut up in my defense, even if all I'm really accomplishing is electronic steam relief.


I actually have little to gripe about outside the sad state of our society, racial unrest, religious hypocrisy, hate crimes, corporate scandals, economic chaos, environmental destruction, terrorist threats, power mad dictators, stupid presidents, worldwide doom and gloom, crappy Hollywood remakes, and generalized spiritual malaise. It's only because I have achieved personal contentment that I am able to focus my attention and passion on larger issues affecting humankind in general. Overall, I had a pretty fun year, Thrill-wise. Here are a few of the highlights:

  1. The Return of Captain Cosmic and "Creature Features" at The Parkway and Copia - Bob Wilkins, 2T2, John Stanley, Doktor Goulfinger and Uncle Bill all contributed to yet another series of milestone Halloween extravaganzas.
  2. Hercules in the Haunted World of Captive Women, or Whatever - I was thrilled when Uncle Bill scored a beautiful 35mm print of my favorite sword, sandal 'n' sorcery flicks, Mario Bava's Hercules in the Haunted World - or so I thought. The day before its scheduled play date, I discovered the three middle reels were from a completely different movie, Hercules and the Captive Women. Fortunately, Reg Park plays Herc in both flicks, and the audience barely noticed the hybrid. In fact, it was a much funnier, and gayer, experience this way. One of the most absolutely hysterical nights in Thrillville ever. If you missed it, I feel sorry for you.
  3. Valentine's Day with Ray Dennis Steckler - over three nights, at the Fine Arts Cinema in Berkeley and The Parkway, I hosted the legendary Cash Flagg (Ray's acting alias) with all his most famous flicks, highlighted by me running around the audience in an original mummy outfit chasing Ray with a plastic hatchet. At the Parkway gig, my boys Mick and Roffy also dressed up as monsters - and right in the middle of us chasing Ray around the room, during a climactic scene of The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies, the film broke. One of the all-time classic moments in Thrillville. Ray returns to Thrillville this month, see below for details.
  4. Godzilla Invades Thrillville - during a screening of Godzilla vs Destoroyah. See Scenes link, pg. 9 for a photo of Big G in action. Gamera is the next scheduled special guest from Japan, see below.
  5. Cult Vegas Night - Sin City scribe Mike Weatherford, author of the terrific time capsule tome Cult Vegas, co-hosted screenings of the documentary Louis Prima: the Wildest and Viva Las Vegas?, the French documentary featuring Monica and me during the height of our Ocean's 11 remake protest last year.
  6. Thrillville Road Shows - Our first wedding anniversary on May 31 was celebrated at the classy Copia Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa, where I gave a lecture on scopitones and hosted Earth vs. the Spider with live theremin by Robert Silverman. In October we returned for a "Creature Features" gig with John Stanley, featuring The She Creature. Thanks to Scott Moon, Bob Ekman and Copia's savvy Richard Miami. In July we did our first road show at UC Berkeley's esteemed Pacific Film Archive, hosting, appropriately enough, Monster on the Campus. Thanks to swingin' Steve Seid.
  7. Tease-o-rama - Monica was the co-hostess along with our gal Connie Champagne and Luigi Babe at Bimbo's 365 club in SF. Atomic editor Leslie Rosenberg and writer Dixie Feldman joined us. This epic burlesque revue was produced by our pallys Alan Parowski and Baby Doe, and it was the cultural event of the new millennium.
  8. Palm Springs Tiki Fest - Monica and I joined Otto Von Stroheim, Shag and dozens of tattooed hipsters and punk rock parents at the Caliente Tropics for a tiki blowout weekend, topped by a poolside screening of Hawaiian Eye as we all bobbed in the water drinking our Mai Tais from plastic tiki cups. While down there I visited Frank Sinatra's gravesite in Cathedral City and got to pay my respects to The Chairman in person.
  9. The Parkway's Fourth Annual Film Noir Fest - co-hosted by my pally Eddie Muller, who is celebrating the release of his epic new film noir poster book, and who is programming and hosting his own noir fest at the Castro this month (January). My two faves of this year's fest were the excellent Chandler adaptation Murder, My Sweet, with Dick Powell as Marlowe, and Edmond O'Brien's atmospheric 711 Ocean Drive.
  10. Book release parties - for Trash: the Graphic Genius of Xploitation Movie Posters, by Jacques Boyreau, for which I screened the Werepad's print of the notorious sleazeploitation classic Poor White Trash; and Pink Think: Becoming a Woman in Many Uneasy Lessons, by Lynn Peril, for which I screened Uncle Bill's Cinecolor print of the duly obscure Western Outlaw Women.

Last month I already listed my top 12 or so movies of the year. At the time I hadn't yet even seen two of them: Comedian, the Jerry Seinfeld chronicle, and Bowling for Columbine. I've since seen both, and whole-heartedly stand by my choices. In fact, Bowling for Columbine should be required viewing in all classrooms from now on. Instead, it will no doubt be suppressed by the powers that be, since it is about much more than gun control: it is an incendiary indictment and sadly hilarious, ironic and accurate expose of our violent, xenophobic, consumerist society during this truly tragic era in American history. It captures the current Zeitgeist like no other film. See it while you can.

I also want to publicly lament the recent passing of the great James Coburn, who will probably be best remembered for his stylish portrayal of secret agent Derek Flint, the coolest cinematic spy this side of Connery's 007, in two '60s classics. Monica and I even named our Christmas Tree after him.


For the past couple of years, I've started the new year with a Japanese monster movie, for no particular reason other than I've felt like it. This year is no exception - I'm proud to bring the 1995 monster epicGAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE GAMERA: GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE (January 2, Parkway) to Thrillville. If you only know Gamera as the big goofy turtle from those cheesy, adolescent '60s flicks (which I admit, I love), then you're in for a major shock. This is one kickass giant monster stompfest, fast-paced, sincere, with excellent special effects. Word is Gamera might finally meet Godzilla over in Japan soon, since their formerly competing representative studios have merged or something, but meantime, I'll be showing this revisionist masterpiece and later in the year, it's two equally masterful sequels. For this show, Gamera himself will appear in person, along with Japanese film experts Bob Johnson and August Ragone ( Also on the bill: a 16mm episode of the classic TV series Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot. According to Buzz Bob Ekman, this one has something to do with a two-headed monster. Don't miss.

Continuing my theme of over-sized beasts justifiably terrorizing small hairless apes with opposable thumbs, I am happy to continue my occasional tribute to the greatest special effects genius of all time, Ray Harryhausen, with the 1961 Jules Verne inspired classic MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (January 16, Parkway), sort of a sequel to Verne's (but not Disney's) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Herbert Lom plays Captain Nemo. The cast also includes dancer Michael Callan, whom I met a couple of years ago and interviewed for Filmfax. Michael and I share a very close mutual friend in the late Deborah Walley, with whom he co-starred in Gidget Goes Hawaiian. I still miss her deeply, and I know he does, too. But even Michael would acknowledge the real stars of this movie are Harryhausen's amazing and timelessly influential stop motion creations, including a giant crab, chicken, squid, and bees. One of his best, don't miss this show either.

And of course, you definitely, absolutely, positively do not want to miss my two-night birthday tribute to the God of Independent Cult Cinema, Ray Dennis Steckler, who turns 65 this month (on January 25). Ray will appear in person at both gigs, along with his longtime pal and co-star, the hilarious and colorful Herb Robbins, of Thrill Killers and Worm Eaters fame. The first show is at the Fine Arts Cinema in Berkeley (, and this is the penultimate program there for the next year and a half or so, as Keith and Josephine are getting set to go on hiatus from their Fine Arts festivities while the whole block goes under reconstruction. They'll be returning in 2004 in a brand new entertainment complex. This is your chance to give them a suitable send-off, as they are true champions of quality and alternative cinema. For this WILD NIGHT WITH RAY DENNIS STECKLER, dig this drive-in double bill on Wednesday, January 29: Ray's directorial debut WILD GUITAR (1962), the crazy cult classic featuring the pouty, pompadoured Arch Hall Jr. as a rockabilly rebel getting ripped off by Hollywood hot shots (including Cash Flagg); then it's off to the desert for hell-raising hot-rodders in Cash Flagg's screen debut, WILD ONES ON WHEELS (1961), co-starring sultry, voluptuous Francine York. Ray will have plenty of lobby cards, videos, posters and more for sale, cheap.

This is not only the Fine Arts temporary farewell, but also quite possibly Ray's final Bay Area public appearance. Well, after the following night, Thursday, January 30, when he returns to The Parkway to host his legendary superhero satire RAT PFINK A BOO BOO (1966), which features his gorgeous ex-wife Carolyn Brandt, who has two of the greatest gams in show biz history. I showed this one the first time Ray visited the Parkway a few years ago, part of a tribute to rockabilly madman Ron Haydock, who stars (as "Vin Saxon") in the title role opposite Titus Moede. The cast also includes an appearance by that other '60s icon Kogar, the Swinging Ape - and to pay tribute to him, I've asked famous local simian superstar Gorilla X, Gorilla to the Stars to join the party! Also on the bill: Ray's classic debut short film GOOFS ON THE LOOSE (1960), and the "lost" episode of his Bowery Boys inspired films, THE LEMON GROVE KIDS GO HOLLYWOOD!

All in all, I'm kicking off 2003 with a bang. And I'm doing it without firing a single shot. Give peace a chance this year. Meantime, you have a sanctuary from the insanity of the outside world here in Thrillville.


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: