The Hollywood Theatre wants you to pay $8 to watch 70 minutes of commercials. And you definitely should. But these aren’t the kinds of ads that scold you for squeezing the Charmin. They’re ads for movies that feature pimps in a roller disco, chainsaws, meat hooks, sexy women seeking erotic fulfillment among cannibals, blood, guts, ninjas, samurai and everything in between.
Before Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez took their love of trash cinema to the masses with Grindhouse, supergeek-turned-Hollywood head programmer Dan Halsted was collecting the real deal. Since launching the Grindhouse Trailer Spectacular in 2008, Halsted has transformed a one-off showcase of grindhouse, exploitation, horror and kung fu trailers from the ’70s and ’80s into perhaps the rowdiest, booziest, most batshit night of cinematic chaos of the year. When this man lets loose his reels, it’s cause for celebration—a raucous love letter to the most morally depraved, violent, psychosexual and downright bizarre offerings from a time before Sharknado, when shitty theaters were dominated by the likes of Dr. Butcher and Truck Turner.
The showcase allows us to peer into the history of trash cinema without diving headlong into hours of disappointing curiosity. The movies on display may look glorious, but in reality, they’re not just trash because they’re trashy. They’re trash because they suck.
At my Trailer Spectacular deflowering five years ago, my favorite film was Dr. Butcher, M.D. (Medical Deviate) (sic). Over footage of the titular “deviate” hacking and slashing through bodies, the voice-over promised, “See him mutilate patients with his murderous scapple [sic]…Dr. Butcher loves New York; there are so many attractive patients to operate on.” Sold! I rushed immediately to Movie Madness. But enduring the entire film proved a slog, a fairly boring and kitschy combo of medical horror, cannibal flicks and Lucio Fulci zombie pictures. You’d be better off watching the trailer on repeat for 90 minutes.
That’s the beauty of the insanity Halsted brings to the fore. Since most of the trailers give away the whole film, you walk away from each two-minute clip feeling like you’ve seen the movie, yet you don’t have to endure the boring exposition and hackneyed acting. It cuts to the chainsaws, boobs, monsters, roundhouses, explosions and ridiculously self-serious speeches. And Halsted doesn’t need to polish these turds to make them appealing. Presented in their original glory (missing reels, scratches and all), he transports you to a seedy ’70s theater, where the only sounds louder than the screams of Dr. Butcher’s victims are the stereophonic sounds of hands connecting endlessly above head. And the occasionally loosed beer burp. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Tuesday, Sept. 24.
Meanwhile, at the Clinton Street Theater, the second mysterious, low-profile film fest in a month hits Portland in the form of the Oregon Independent Film Festival. It sounds deceptively like a festival featuring nothing but local filmmakers but instead is like a miniature version of the Portland International Film Festival, minus the old people in berets.
Most exciting on the bill is A Beautiful Fucking Experience, a doc about the Flaming Lips’ epic 23-hour multicity rampage that landed them in Guinness World Records. Along with Wayne Coyne being a freak, there are docs about Peruvian landfill-pickers, a fantasy by the dude who made the Myst computer game, horror shorts, animated films and other works from around the globe. Clinton Street Theater. Friday-Sunday, Sept. 20-22. See oregonindependentfilmfest.com for schedule.
- Book out to Camas, Wash., for a rare screening of Beer Hunter: The Movie, a new documentary about legendary beer writer Michael Jackson. Liberty Theater. Through Sept. 29.
- Catch Morrissey 25 Live, a film that allows you to witness last spring’s Staples Center concert without being scolded for eating meat. Clinton Street Theater. 7 pm Thursday, Sept. 19.
- In Barbarella, Jane Fonda fucks and fights across the galaxy in a skimpy bikini, perhaps as a protest against the Vietnam War…but probably not. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Thursday, Sept. 19.
- The Academy’s Back to School series ends with Clueless, starring hot up-and-comer Alicia Silverstone. That girl’s gonna be HUGE! Academy. Sept. 20-26.
- It’s not Grindhouse, but Tarantino’s Jackie Brown stars Samuel L. Jackson as the Crypt Keeper. Laurelhurst. Sept 20-26.