Thrillville Beat


On This Month's Thrill-bill:


March 2nd   
  The Wild One (1954)
March 9th   
  Rebel Without a Cause (1955)  
March 16th   
  Blackboard Jungle (1955) 
March 23rd   
  The Misfits (1961)  

There aren't enough real rebels anymore.
Nowadays all kids wear backward baseball caps and baggy pants that hug the knees and consider themselves rebels. Against what? The real rebel out there will flip his cap around and pull up his pants. If what you are doing is just like what everyone else is doing, that is called conformity, not rebellion. And there is plenty to rebel against besides fashion. The towing racket, for one - an egregious example of which we all recently witnessed in the Grand Auto lot next door to The Parkway. Thanks to The Thrill making a few strategic phone calls to pallies in high places, The Big Kibosh has been put to it by now, with corporate apologies all around. Kragen, which recently took over Grand Auto, wasn't really the culprit here. Certain low-level managers and employees were dropping the dimes. The sleazy tactics of the towers pushed several of my alarm buttons. Fact is, the vultures were actually buzzing the lot at night, waiting to strike out at some poor hapless victim, rip off their car and charge them well over two hundred clams for its eventual return after a lot of bullshit runaround. The first night they started pulling this crap was January 6th, when John Stanley was in Thrillville to co-host Forbidden Planet. John had driven up from Pacifica with a load of his Creature Features movie guides in tow. He asked if he could park in the mostly vacant lot next door, and I said sure, there's never been a hassle, store's closed, what do they care? And then as soon as I finished my gig and the movie began, boom! Out of left field there was a towing raid, after years of inactivity.

Three Thrill seekers got hit - fortunately, thanks to a heads up from a neighbor who got nabbed, John Stanley wasn't one of them. My pallie Lisa was. Since the posted phone number gave them a lot of baloney, and they had no dough for excess cab fare to get to the lot where their cars were purportedly taken, I assumed the role of gallant escort and drove them to 105th and San Leandro, a dark and dangerous neighborhood. We froze for an hour getting cruised by gang-bangers before somebody showed up. There were a few victims from The Parkway Lounge there too, suitably pissed off. I got into a shouting match with the head towing moron, since I didn't appreciate his attitude or treatment of the victims. He was smug and arrogant, but also fat and ugly. How a slob like that manages to cop a superior attitude is one of life's mysteries. I told him he was fucking with the wrong lounge lizard. He just laughed. I wonder if he's still laughing now that's he's busted.

It went from bad to worse: After some chickenshit paperwork we were told to wait in their lot down the dim dirty road. The towyard looked like something out of The X-Files. Not even Mulder and Scully would poke around in this creepy spot. The zombies on duty gave us further yada yada, telling us after the already long cold wait that the cars were actually in another "secret" lot - back on Park Blvd where they got stolen in the first place! Two hours later they finally rolled up. Funny - it takes them two minutes to jack up and rip off your car, but when it comes to getting it back, it's zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-day all the way.

And the towing travesties went on unabated for weeks, night after night. One time a woman was standing there with some groceries and a small child, and they took her car right in front of her, leaving her stranded late at night. Another time a big black brother walked over and told them to put his car down. They refused. He asked again - slower. They complied. Cowards.

Anyway, like I said, it is over and they are busted. But the whole towing law should be amended. The punishment of leaving someone stranded without their wheels does not fit the so-called crime. Fine someone, but do not steal their transportation. What if their diabetic medicine is in the glove compartment? Or they get mugged wandering around the night? This is reckless endangerment of innocent citizens. If you or anyone you know in the community has been victimized by these dirtbag towing companies, call the DA's office at 272.6222 and file a formal complaint with the Consumer Fraud bureau.

Enough about that already. Another thing to rebel against is The Academy Awards, which will be telecast on our big screen live once again this month, hosted by Monica, Tiki Goddess. This ain't my idea. I think all awards ceremonies are bogus; Monica likes the glamour and pageantry of it all. Glamour shmamour. Glamour has been dead since Marilyn Monroe took her final chill pill and wound up cold. (Although I personally believe she was bumped off, and so does Marlon Brando.) Despite the fact that nothing or nobody in Hollywood these days is worth all that bother, I hate the idea of turning artistic expression into a sporting event. I don't even like sports, but that's another matter. I say be the best You you can be (and you don't have to join the god damn Marines to do it), because nobody else can, and screw other people's opinions, even mine. Recently The Parkway hosted a poetry slam in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. I thought it was a good idea and a creative way to use our venue. I'm all about personal expression. But I gotta say, I ain't into the competitive part of it. So what, this person was more sensitive or passionate or inspired than another? Whose call is that? (As a reluctant judge of the poetry slam, I just voted for the cutest). All of these comparisons are unnecessary and make winners feel like losers. I mean, there were actually some pretty decent flicks released in '99: American Beauty and The Insider were both very good, though my favorites were The Mummy, The Straight Story, and especially The Iron Giant. But no Best Picture has truly deserved that stupid little statue since The Godfather Part Two. Even then it was pointless. Why go up before the world and say this movie about gangsters is better than this movie about migrant farm workers or this movie about upper middle class neurotics in Manhattan? Whaddya mean, Best? That's like saying this banana is better at being a fruit than this peach. I think this nation's obsession with celebrity and competition is unhealthy. But I will be there, grudgingly and curmudgeonly, this time as Monica's lovely assistant, making caustic comments and slamming everyone on screen and maybe a few off. Be there and be square.

Now on to events that are actually worth attending: This month is Thrillville Theater I am showcasing some primo examples of wacky individuals bucking the system. These crazy cats and kittens did it with style, too.

First is Marlon Brando's revolutionary biker classic The Wild One (3/2), containing the immortal exchange: "What are you rebelling against, Johnny?" Brando: "Whaddya got?" (Bud, see above). Next is James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (3/9), a role and a movie that will be stirring restless souls as long as celluloid exists. Hopefully by now people have stopped looking for the "next" James Dean. Leo DiCapprio pretty much put a definite end to that tired little pipe dream. I mean, aren't you sick of every mumbling, moody actor out of the stable being touted by critics as the "new" Brando or Dean?! They don't make people or actors like that anymore, give it up and sadly settle for less - or just visit Thrillville and see the originals in their glory.

Blackboard Jungle (3/16) is a great drama starring Glenn Ford as a beleaguered schoolteacher in an urban war zone, sporting a surly, sassy Sidney Poitier in his first big starring role. Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" blares over the opening credits and over the objections of studio officials who didn't understand the youthful rebellion that was sweeping the country. This is a rarely screened masterpiece, beautifully directed and acted by the aforementioned plus Vic Morrow and many others, capturing the angst-ridden mood of the era with gritty documentary-style realism.

The last movie of both Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable was Arthur Miller's The Misfits (3/23), co-starring method rebel Montgomery Clift post-car accident. Clift was often cited along with Brando and Dean as being part of the Holy Trinity from the new school of cinematic emotional realism. Their work is still influential in acting classes today, though you wouldn't know it from many of the pathetic graduates. This movie is a heart-rending piece of work with poetic ironies laced throughout the melodramatic proceedings. It is another must-not-miss masterpiece of great ensemble acting and the kind of biting writing you don't get much in movies or anywhere else anymore.

Last I'm throwing in the crowd-pleasing cult gang classic The Warriors (3/30). This colorful, violent, fun and exciting modern makeover of classic Greek mythology was directed by Walter Hill and is set in New York City, in the kinds of neighborhoods where tow trucks fear to go.


  • 4/6: Ray Dennis Steckler'sTHE THRILL KILLERS
  • 4/20: SPIDER BABY
  • 4/27: PSYCHOTRONIC FILM SHOW  featuring vintage horror/sci-fi trailers, cartoons, 3D shorts, drive-in movie commercials, and many more surprises, co-hosted by JOHN STANLEY with live theremin music by ROBERT SILVERMAN!