Facets Night School, the long-running series of midnight lectures, screenings and general craziness, is back and The Underground Multiplex has got the early word! They have a great line-up coming, so you’ll definitely want to hear from these master presenters as they host screenings of some of the craziest and most diverse entertainment this side of the galaxy. Talking chimps on 35mm! Drug crazed beauties! Cannibals! Warring beauty queens and battling sweaty strongmen! Vicious hungry cats and insanely overwrought same-sex melodrama! You want it, you got it at this hearty session of Facets Night School.
Here’s the series:
Saturday, March 30
Jason Coffman presents:
Carnival Magic in 35mm!
“This long-forgotten classic of the chimp-sploitation genre is probably the weirdest, most inappropriate kids film ever made.” -Brisbane International Film Festival
Al Adamson was a legend of low-budget filmmaking. From 1961 to 1983, Adamson cranked out B (and often C-Z) movies like Satan’s Sadists, Dracula Vs. Frankenstein, Naughty Stewardesses, Black Samurai, Nurse Sherri, and Cinderella 2000. After a career making pictures for grindhouses and drive-ins, Adamson’s last two films were “kids’ movies.” One of these, Carnival Magic, disappeared shortly after its initial release. Long thought lost, a print of Carnival Magic was discovered in 2009, some 14 years after Adamson’s death. At long last, paracinephiles could get a look at Adamson’s legendarily bizarre attempt to make a movie for children. Unsurprisingly, it’s immediately obvious that Adamson had no idea how to do that. In the film, Markov the Magnificent (Don Stewart) is a small-time magician with a secret: he actually has magical powers. He also has a sidekick named Alex, a talking chimp. Markov reluctantly joins a struggling circus, and together he and Alex become the show’s biggest stars. At first it seems like Markov and Alex may save the circus from bankruptcy, but the show’s alcoholic lion tamer–angry at having his spotlight stolen by a talking monkey–cooks up a scheme to sell Alex to an animal research laboratory. Jason Coffman will present Carnival Magic from a 35mm print courtesy of the Chicago Cinema Society Film Archive, along with a discussion of Adamson’s career and trailers for the director’s other films.
Jason Coffman is a programmer and co-director of the Chicago Cinema Society. He is also a film writer, sometime filmmaker, and a regular contributor to FilmMonthly.com and Fine Print Magazine. His writing has also appeared in Horrorhound magazine and Cashiers du Cinemart. Coffman previously presented Spider Baby and The Sleeper at Facets Night School.
Saturday, April 6
Jef Burnham presents:
Puritanical Peplum Panic: Hercules, Samson & Ulysses as Religious Battle Crossover
“Do you think it easy to fight against someone who believes he was sent here by his God?” -Aldo Giuffre as Seren, the Philistine King
By 1963, when he filmed Hercules, Samson & Ulysses (1963), director Pietro Francisci was no stranger to sword-and-sandal pictures, otherwise known as peplum. He also helmed 1958’s Hercules and 1959’s Hercules Unchained, both of which featured memorable performances by Steve Reeves as the Greek demigod. Although Reeves did not reprise his role in Hercules, Samson & Ulysses, Francisci compensates for the legendary muscleman’s absence by pitting Hercules’s greased-up Grecian girth against Samson’s bronzed biblical biceps! Join Jef Burnham as he explores the film’s relationship to the concept of the film franchise “battle crossover,” dating back to Universal’s classic horror films like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943). He will also tease out the ramifications of depicting two muscle-bound representatives of ancient religions battling it out for theological supremacy.
Jef Burnham is a media scholar and film critic. He holds a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, where he currently serves as a member of the Adjunct Faculty in Cinema Studies. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com. In addition to his film criticism, Jef authored a chapter of Open Court’s Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy and has co-authored a chapter of Scarecrow Press’s forthcoming collection of essays entitled, Reading Mystery Science Theater 3000. He previously presented Yor, The Hunter From the Future and Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare at Facets Night School.
Saturday, April 13
Dominick Mayer presents:
Knockoff Henchmen, Helicopter Seduction, and a Night of a 1000 Cats
“I would like to keep you forever…in a crystal cage.” -Hugo
In 1972, exploitation filmmaker Rene Cardona Jr. cranked out a cheapie horror film about Hugo (Hugo Stiglitz), a billionaire playboy who uses his suave charms, stalker-ish manners, and opulent wealth to seduce women into his home, where unspeakable, cat-related horrors await them. Somewhere along the line, a full half hour disappeared from the Spanish version before it reached the U.S. as Blood Feast (not to be confused with the Herschell Gordon Lewis cult classic). However, purists know the film’s true name: Night of a Thousand Cats (La Noche de los Mil Gatos). Dominick Mayer will examine the film’s shadowy origins, its place in the pantheon of Mexploitation cinema, and how this little-known bargain-bin curio may be deserving of a cult following of its own.
Dominick Mayer is a graduate student in Media & Cinema studies at DePaul University. He is also the features editor and head film critic for HEAVEmedia, a Chicago-based music and culture website. He is (as the session name would suggest) a regular at Facets Night School, having previously presented on Black Dynamite, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, and Myra Breckinridge, among others. You can commonly find him at various movie theaters or professional wrestling events in the greater Chicagoland area.
Saturday, April 20
Chris Damen presents:
Who’s Bad: Lila Leeds’s One Bad Career Move In She Shoulda Said No!
“The story of a good girl gone very, very bad.” -Poster tagline
Sam Newfield’s 1949 anti-marijuana film She Shoulda Said ‘No’! is your typical drug exploitation piece with all the warnings and dangers, but has a very unique backstory. Lead actress Lila Leeds was actually arrested with Robert Mitchum for smoking marijuana. While Mitchum got off almost scot-free, Leeds was forced to make this career-killer. This lecture will cover the sad career of Lila Leeds, and will provide a short survey of the anti-marijuana film genre.
Chris Damen is an avid traveler and a local stand-up comic. In October of 2012, he became the head producer of Facets Night School. He has previously presented eight films a Facets Night School, including Pulgasari, Barfly, and Nekromantik.
Saturday, April 27
Michael Smith presents:
Eat the Rich: Manoel de Oliveira’s Unlikely Cannibals Musical
Imagine an unholy mash-up of Luis Bunuel’s The Exterminating Angel and Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and you will have some idea of what is in store at this rare screening of one of the all-time great Portuguese films.
The Cannibals (Os Canibais) is one of the best but unfortunately least-known feature films by the prolific Portuguese master Manoel de Oliveira. Made in 1988 when the still-active writer/director was a comparatively youthful 79 years old, this delightful work of anti-bourgeois Surrealism is a kind of freakish filmed opera in which every line of savage satire is sung. Adapted from a novel by Álvaro Carvalhal, the plot concerns Marguerite (Oliveira’s favorite leading lady Leonor Silveira), a high-society woman who marries a wealthy Viscount (Oliveira’s favorite leading man Luis Miguel Cintra) over the objections of her jealous ex-lover, Don Juan (Diogo Doria). On their wedding night, the Viscount reveals to Marguerite his darkest secret, which leads to a devilish, uproariously funny climax that must be seen to be believed. Adding a layer of self-reflexive fun is an omniscient, singing narrator (Oliveira Lopes); at one point, he hilariously complains about the protagonists’ use of the “sententious language of poor melodrama” in the previous scene. This rare screening of The Cannibals will be shown via digital projection of a European import DVD. The film has never received an official home video release in North America.
Michael Smith is an independent filmmaker whose most recent short films, At Last, Okemah!! (2009) and The Catastrophe (2011), have won multiple awards at film festivals across the United States. Since 2009, he has taught film history and aesthetics at Chicago-area colleges including Oakton Community College, the College of Lake County, and Harold Washington College. His first book, Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry, a non-fiction account of early film production in Chicago, will be released by KWS Publishers, Inc. in late 2013. He is also the creator and sole author of the film studies blog WhiteCityCinema.com. He has previously taught many Facets Night School sessions including, most recently, “Drilling Into The Slumber Party Massacre.”
Saturday, May 4
Lauren Whalen presents:
Girls, Guns and Glitter, Don’cha Know: Drop Dead Gorgeous and the Wild World of Mock Doc
“I shoved your tap shoes in my panties before I was blown out of the house. You go find the guy who cut ‘em off.” –Annette Atkins (Ellen Barkin)
Before Kirsten Dunst met Sam Raimi and Denise Richards met Charlie Sheen, they went head-to-head in this darkly funny mockumentary. In Mount Rose, Minnesota, boys go to prison and girls compete in the American Teen Princess pageant. Sweet Amber (Dunst) dreams of escaping her trailer park and becoming the next Diane Sawyer, while nasty Becky Ann (Richards) has perfect teeth and the stage mother from hell (Kirstie Alley), a firearm-toting former American Teen Princess who’ll knock down (or knock off) anyone in her baby’s way. Directed by Michael Patrick Jann (of comedy collective The State), Drop Dead Gorgeous mixes slapstick and satire, straddles the fine line between irreverent and offensive, and has a killer supporting cast (Allison Janney, Ellen Barkin, Brittany Murphy, and Amy Adams in her film debut). Join Lauren Whalen as she explores the mockumentary subgenre, the art of parody, and Drop Dead Gorgeous’ premonition of a Toddlers & Tiaras-saturated culture. High heels optional.
Lauren Whalen spent ten years with Facets as an intern, volunteer, and full-time employee. She writes for Chicago Theater Beat and The Film Yap. Lauren’s previous Night School presentations involved destructive bunnies (Donnie Darko), messed-up lesbian dreams (Mulholland Dr.), and teenage drug rings (Brick). She is also a burlesque enthusiast, who unapologetically loves glitter, and is eternally grateful to her mother for never letting her do pageants.
Saturday, May 11
Legendary Lew (!) presents:
The Ben & Arthur Interactive Cinematic Experience, or Can a Cult Movie Sensation Be Created?
“I don’t make sense, you don’t make sense. I make sense. That’s who makes sense!” — Tammy Sheets (Julie Belknap) in Ben & Arthur
“If Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is the over-wrought, melodramatic and self-pitying heterosexual camp classic of choice, then Sam Mraovich’s Ben & Arthur is its gay equivalent…This is a cult sensation waiting to be born.” -Rotten Tomatoes
In recent years, the internet and social media have helped create massive, rabid followings for cinematic “failures,” such as Troll 2 and The Room. Both films hovered in obscurity for years at the nadir of IMDb’s worst-film list until enthusiastic audiences resuscitated them with interaction styles first adopted by Rocky Horror Picture Show viewers. It’s high time the incredible film Ben & Arthur gets its second chance. Disappearing characters, horrendously mixed audio, palm trees in Vermont, passenger flights on FedEx planes, on-screen lighting tripods, cardboard crucifixes, card table “desks,” and cell phones, cell phones ,and more cell phones—Ben and Arthur has it all, including a blatant rip-off of a crucial scene in De Palma’s Scarface. Discovered by a film producer while working in a Pennsylvania Burger King, the multi-talented Sam Mraovich hails from Steubenville, OH. At age 22, Mraovich made the move to Hollywood and began production, direction, etc. on his gay marriage rights magnum opus, Ben & Arthur. Today, he is double-licensed as real estate agent and hair stylist in California. To date, this much-discussed cult film is his only directorial release. Lew Ojeda will discuss the history of these interactive films and how newly-discovered ones can help independent theaters attract moviegoers in current tough economic times.
Note: For the interactive screening experience of Ben & Arthur, you’ll want to remember to bring your cell phone, a newspaper, sugar packets and a stuffed toy cat or dog.
Special guest, film auteurd extraordinaire Ernie Tarté, will be on hand to help introduce the film and launch the evening with handheld mirrors and lilac kisses.
Lew Ojeda is the co-founder of The Underground Multiplex and host of the podcast Mediatrocities, celebrating weirdness in movies, music, and television. His production/direction credits include Rochester, NY’s landmark LGBT television show, The Word is Out, and his film reviews have appeared in The Empty Closet and Shock Cinema. As part of Facets for over a decade, Ojeda has previously presented Lady Terminator, Fuego, The Story of Riki-Oh, Seytan, Eat the Rich, Sisters of No Mercy 3D, and many others at Facets Night School.
Screenings will be on Saturdays nights at midnight from March 30-May 11
1517 W Fullerton
Admission: $5, FREE for Facets members.
Check out Facets Multimedia: www.facets.org