A couple of weeks ago, my friend Kelvin and I went to B-Fest, a 24-hour film festival dedicated to B-movies. That’s right: when you attend B-Fest, you sit in a theater and watch gloriously cheesy films for 24 hours straight.
Quality of films aside, B-Fest also differs from other film festivals I do in that there is zero requirement to be reverent in the Church of Theater. At B-Fest, attendees whoop, holler, chant, sing, and otherwise interact with the films. At midnight, when Plan 9 from Outer Space always plays, it is expected that everyone will fling paper plates whenever a UFO appears. As soon as a dangling, shiny disk appears on the screen, the entire auditorium erupts with paper plates. This tradition is so beloved that people have even taken to decorating all their plates beforehand.
Besides the Rocky Horror-style treatment of Plan 9 from Outer Space, I ate lots junk food, hung out with a bunch of people from the B Movie Message Board, and watched a ton of delightfully trashy filmmaking. The full list of films shown is listed on the web site, but I figured I’d highlight a couple of my favorites.
Black Belt Jones: There are few things in this world that are as satisfying as a great kung-fu 70s blaxploitation flick, and Black Belt Jones is one of the best. Jim Kelly, king of this particular genre, is one hell of a lot of fun to watch. The film overall is joyously silly, ending in a final boss fight that takes place in a over-soaped car wash. As my friend Meghan said over Twitter, the film probably has the cleanest final fight sequence in history.
Rhinestone: Only the 1980s would remake My Fair Lady with Sylvester Stallone in the Eliza Doolittle role, and then pair him up with Dolly Parton. You read that right. In this film, Dolly Parton bets that she can turn a New York cabbie into a country singer in two weeks. Not only does this result in a film more packed with spangles than Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, it also results in Sylvester Stallone singing a song called “Drunkenstein” while wearing this:
The Barbarians: I knew this was going to be good as soon as I saw the Cannon Films logo appear on the screen (and I knew I was with the best audience when the same logo caused the whole place to erupt with screams of joy). Imagine a 1980s fantasy film starring twin bodybuilder brothers as barbarians who go out and do good deeds and stuff. One of them has a victory cheer that sounds like a horny sea lion. At one point, they find themselves inside a dragon, and they run through the critter’s body cavity like it were a subway tunnel. This is a world where royalty is chosen by navel inspection (not naval, navel) and you can escape from a hangman’s noose by flexing your neck. Seriously, I loved the hell out of this movie.
I was also pleased that the audience was strangely charmed by Beach Blanket Bingo, which I’d seen before but most others hadn’t. Someday, I need to inflict Hot Summer on these folks.
If you have a love of trashy film and can tolerate outspoken audiences, I heartily recommend B-Fest. Don’t forget your paper plates!