PORTLAND, Ore., May 2 (UPI) -- The first Gore-o-rama A-go-go! film festival and weirdbeard performance art hoedown last weekend has restored my faith in the future of American sleaze.
It kicked off with a commercial for "The Puppet Porn Network" --- sock puppets getting nasty --- and concluded several alcohol-soaked hours later with the world premiere of "Last Girlfriend," a movie about what would happen if you decided to break up with your girlfriend at the precise moment your house was attacked by an army of ravening zombies.
The whole thing was put together by Miss Poontang A. Plenty (yes, that's what I said --- we're in the world of goth/punk/retro/glam/gogo here) and her partner, filmmaker J.L. Watkins, as a benefit for something called p:ear ("program:
education art recreation"), which is a charity that teaches the arts to homeless children. (Nope, I'd never heard of it either, but some of those kids can flat DRAW.)
Thank God none of the homeless youths could actually see what went on at Dante's, a downtown Portland club known for its burlesque nights and something called guerrilla wrestling, which on this particular evening involved a redneck named Cowboy Clyde sawing up a giant cat with a Weed-Eater.
At any rate, just a few highlights from the gore auteurs of the future:
The grossout champeen was a flick called "Zitlover" that's so disgusting I can't describe most of it here. As directed by Cyrus Helf and Charlie Grant, it tells the story of a zit-infested weirdo who lives on that liquid cheese they use for ballpark nachos and never passes up a chance to . . . let's just not go there, OK?
"Goodbye, Mr. Feingold" was probably the best movie, following two men and a woman as they plot the murder of a mysterious Mr. Feingold, fantasizing about various diabolical ways to terrorize, torture and kill him, each one adding to the scenario as we watch the Tarantinoesque schemes grow more and more elaborate. Mark Hemingway and James Spader directed some excellent actors and carried off a twist ending nicely.
"Them Damn Zombies" is, as you might imagine, a zombie comedy set in the Pacific Northwest, with a tabloid news reporter, two bimbos and three rednecks all trapped in a hunting shack as the undead take over the world. Andy Koontz and Scott Phillips directed with some great scary-woods effects and plenty of limb-chomping close-ups.
Brett Vail's "Recipe for Disaster" is a filmed version of the Internet urban myth about the $250 Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe --- I know you've read it --- and envisions an international Neiman-Marcus army so vast that they'll go to any lengths to punish recipe theft. Hysterically funny.
"Last Girlfriend," directed by J.L. Watkins, is a recreation of the house in "Night of the Living Dead," besieged by zombies, as the man and woman inside hash out their relationship issues while blowing the heads off the undead onslaught. Funny AND gory AND crisply written.
Isn't digital video great?
There were other films --- you can look 'em up on the Web sites at the end of this column --- but these were the best ones, and what was interesting to me is that they were all sorta based on the classics of the past. Young filmmakers not only know their gore history, they REVERE it, so that special effects that could get a film banned 30 years ago are now so commonplace that you can brew some up in the garage. An exploding head has almost become child's play. Flayed flesh is part of Film History 101. And zombies rule the film world.
They were GOOD zombies, too. Hungry zombies. Festering-open-sore zombies. Zombies with class. After it was over, I didn't wanna eat for three days. And that, of course, is my highest praise.
And that was only the FILMS. The time between flicks was filled in by a zombie chorus line called The Gore Whores, a performance by "Ukulele Guy" and his mechanical monkey, the aforementioned Portland Organic Wrestling, and, last but not least, Lilian Lust (the alert will recall that she takes her name from the Raquel Welch character in "Bedazzled"), an oversexed nurse who lap-dances her patients before ripping their hearts out (really). Live. Onstage. It's messy. I loved her.
Four stars. Joe Bob says check it out next year, because there's talk of making this an annual event.
Web site for "Red's Breakfast": home.earthlink.net/~calebemerson
Web site for "Recipe for Disaster": hell.com Website for "Them Damn Zombies":
Web site for "Zitlover": indiedvd.com/films/fusionone.html
Web site for "Goodbye, Mr. Fiengold": rolltwenty.com
Web site for "The Monongahala Mongoloid": mikejustice.tripod.com.
Web site for "The Hills Are Dead": filmwave.com
Web site for "The Testament of Tom Jacoby": petting-zoo.org
Web site for "Last Girlfriend": nexus6films.com
(To reach Joe Bob, go to joebob-briggs.com or e-mail him at JoeBob@upi.com. Snail-mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas, 75221.)