It’s finally here! After nearly three years and two hundred dollars, The Underground Multiplex presents the wild, avant-garde nunsploitation comedy Sisters of No Mercy: The Real 3D Midnight Movie Xperience. Combining exploitation, comedy, classic roadshow reels, politics, music and live performance, SONM is the completion of the first collaboration between Joseph R. Lewis and me.
This came about first as a 4-minute parody trailer for a then fake nunsploitation feature. With the help of some great talented friends, we were able to pull off this bit in three weeks, just before I was to give a lecture on nunsploitation at Facets Night School.
The trailer debuted on YouTube in October 2010 and gained an unexpected positive response in February 2011 from the French version of Slate Magazine, which hyperlinked the short and called it a successful parody (if the Google translation is correct). Emboldened by the responses, I casually mentioned to Joe that perhaps the nuns should go to Madison, WI during the height of protests against Governor Scott Walker and exorcise the Koch-funded “demon” from the state capitol.
The resulting short film was The Wisconsin Exorsisters, which brought back Sisters Amy and Angela, Mother Superior and the evil Father Neal from first trailer. That short went public in March 2011.
When June rolled around, we had decided to extended Sisters of No Mercy into a feature. To accomplish this, the film needed extra footage, which was provided by recording the third portion of the film live before a midnight movie audience attending each screening of Session 8 of Facets Night School. Each chapter was filmed in 5 minute pieces before that evening’s lecture and screening. The resulting portions were then uploaded weekly online.
On September 30, 2011, TUGM debuted Sisters of No Mercy 3D at Facets Night School in an edited version that included a live interactive experience with the audience. They were treated to live music, a theatrical performance, juggling and dancing for a unique approach in film entertainment. This version has not been duplicated since.
Which brings us finally to today– almost three years since the inception of the nunsploitation parody. The final product we hope you’ll find funny, informative and entertaining. It could not be done without the help of the following wonderful people:
Amy J. Boyd, Angela Yonke, Adrianna Montiel, Kenzie Kl, Bruce Neal, Joe Rubin, Jason Coffman, Jason Loeffler, Jonathan Leaf, Douglas Grew, Brian Kirst, Lielie Kaehn-Jarvis, Brian Jarvis, Chris Brake, Christa Koch, Nathan Boecker, Susan Doll, Phil Morehart, all the presenters of Facets Night School and, of course, the twisted genius of Joe Lewis.
The still gorgeous and wonderful Barbara Anne Constable, legendary star of the cult classic Lady Terminator celebrates a birthday today. TUGM wishes her a fantastic one and in celebration, reminds you of the awesomeness of that one-of-a-kind movie.
I had the first-ever interview with the star on my old blog, damnthatojeda! You can read that here.
Wonder Women was shown at Facets Multimedia on June 26, 2012. A live radio show introduced the film for the attendees.
I’m very excited to present the first episode of “Mediatrocities,” our newly expanded podcast (originally presented as “Cinematrocities”)! I have a collection of cool and weird recordings along with movies and will be presenting them with my special guests.
This episode of “Mediatrocities”–first presented as “Cinematrocities”–is a live radio show presentation that helped introduce a 35 MM screening of Wonder Women (1973) as part of Facets Summer Night School.
It was performed on midnight June 26, 2012 and starred Peter Damm, Andrew Francisco, Tyler Pistorius and me. Nate Wells was our production manager and did a great job with the engineering set up. He also provided the background music during the lecture. Special thanks to Victor Carreon for the equipment. Enjoy!
I’m a big fan of British horror anthology films of the 1960s and 70s, produced most famously by Amicus Films and directed usually by Roy Ward Baker or Freddie Francis. Some of these films had horror stalwarts like Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, but also included actors as diverse as Donald Sutherland, Joan Collins, Tom Baker, Britt Ekland, Margaret Leighton and Herbert Lom.
These films included Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1964), Torture Garden (1967), The House That Dripped Blood (1970), Tales from the Crypt (1972), Asylum (1972), Vault of Horror (1973), From Beyond the Grave (1974) and The Monster Club (1980).
Generally, these films involve 4 or 5 people gathered together by circumstance. Traveling together by train, stuck in a sub-basement or drifting off to secret cave, those persons are ordinary looking people who hide very dark secrets. One by one, the story of each attendee is told and eventually we find out they are terrible scumbags deserving of the horrible things that happen to them.
Francis, Baker and screenwriters Robert Bloch and Milton Subotsky knew how to make quick, compelling fun stories that sometimes had moving performances.
Such a good acting job was done by Peter Cushing in Tales from the Crypt , my personal favorite of these anthology films. In it, he plays a kindly old widower tormented by a nasty neighbor. My favorite story in this film, however, is the incredibly creepy “Blind Alleys” starring Nigel Patrick and Patrick Magee in a story warning you to never piss off the blind. And I’ll take the hooded Sir Ralph Richardson as Cryptkeeper asking Joan Collins menacingly “What are your plans when you leave here?” over a goofy animated skeleton. Any. day.
All the Amicus Productions listed above are pretty readily available for rental, purchase or download.
Indie Turkish filmmakers came up with wild movies and characters to match. One of the most popular from earlier days is the character “Kilink” (Killing), a super criminal out to conquer the world. Get more info on movies like this during my lecture, The Outta-Mind Empire: The Crazy World of Seytan and Turkish Exploitation, coming up tomorrow night at midnight at Facets Multi-Media. If you haven’t seen The Turkish Exorcist, you haven’t lived. Tell your friends!
I’ll be presenting the lecture and screening at:
1517 W Fullerton
Saturday night 9/29/2012 at midnight
Admission: $5, FREE for Facets members
Robert J. Kiss does an immense service to film fans everywhere by introducing much of the rest of the world to, not only this actress very famous in Egypt, but to a previously little seen world of exploitation films made in the Arab world. He has a jewel of a thread here with many films for you to scramble searching for. Happy hunting!
Dominick Mayer presents the story behind the notorious production of the notorious Hollywood failure. This film deserves more of a cult following than its received so far. Here’s hoping we can help!
This production was organized before the passing of the great Gore Vidal. Give a listen to the dramatic reading throwdown by members of the audience, “Vidal” and his nemesis “Norman Mailer” before the lecture.
Presented at Facets Multimedia on July 22, 2012
Produced by Lew Ojeda for The Underground Multiplex
Hosted by Lew Ojeda. With Joseph Lewis, Lew Ojeda and guest Dominick Mayer, contributor to HeaveMedia. Original music by Nate Wells.
NOTE: During the introduction of the podcast, I incorrectly stated the date of the event as August 12, 2012. The event actually took place on July 22, 2012. Oops, sorry.
I had been so busy during Pride Month with other projects (including preparing for a move to The Underground Multiplex Studios) that I had to put off this post originally intended for Pride Month. But what the hell, every month is Pride Month for me, so we can remember the accomplishments of the LGBT community and do some major celebrating anytime. Part of the festivities involves taking in movies to reflect on our lives or challenging us to think and grow in ways we hadn’t before.
But for every Brokeback Mountain and Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, there are plenty of other movies that get overlooked. After finding a list online of the best gay-themed movies (I’m figuring a lesbian film reviewer can come up with a good counterpart to my list), I decided to offer a list of terrific gay-themed movies that should impress your friends (and lose other ones).
1. Save Me
This was among my top ten films of 2007 and not only do I stand by this, the movie seems even better and more relevant today. Out actor Chad Allen plays a sex and drug addicted wild partier whose out-of-control life comes crashes down. His Christian brother enters him into a faith-based rehab house with the best intentions, but the recovering young man challenges what works and what doesn’t in the ex-gay production factory. Allen and Judith Light, who plays the operator of the ministry, give excellent performances (the latter giving an Oscar-caliber one) thanks in part to very good writing of Robert Desiderio, Craig Chester and Alan Hines. This film along with the better known Latter Days are probably the best films I’ve seen taking a fair-minded stance on the conflict between the gay community and its religious detractors.
2. Ben and Arthur
Swinging way over to the other side of why you should watch a movie, Ben and Arthur is a hilarious cinematic mega-disaster and a cultural phenomenon waiting to happen (just like The Room). Cracked Magazine practically begged its readers to make this the next great cult movie and with good reason. When a film is ballsy enough to have Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” as its opening theme and give the same person eleven credits, you know you’re in for something special. Sam Mraovich directs, writes and stars in (eight credits left) this dimly lit, atrociously edited VHS home movie about a gay couple longing to get married. Arthur (Mraovich) wants to marry Ben, but complications ensue when his Christian brother, the flamboyant Victor, is booted from his church over objections to the gay sibling. Because of the ongoing controversy of same-sex marriage, promoting this movie as a cult fav may seem a bit premature, but the gay community needs a time-tested beer and weed laugher for the midnight movie crowd. This is the one, folks!
3. The Gay Deceivers
If this 1969 gaysploitation movie from Fanfare Films seems familiar, it’s because Adam Sandler stole the basic idea for the dismal I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Despite being made four decades earlier–when homosexuality was still technically treated as a mental illness–Bruce Kessler’s comedy still holds up as one of the most gay-positive comedies of the era. Kevin Coughlin and Larry Casey play two straight friends desperate to stay out of the Vietnam War draft, so they play gay to attempt avoiding combat. Tailed by suspicious military officers, they deepen the charade to the consternation of their family, friends and fiancees. The gay ghetto actually looks like a neat place to live and the neighbors, if not stereotyped, are at least a lot more pleasant and lovable than the boring straight ones.
4. The Meatrack
The Meat Rack is a sort of more downbeat version of Midnight Cowboy (as if that movie weren’t a bummer enough). With its seamy underground 16mm grainy look, you can almost smell the poppers. A bisexual hustler named J.C. goes through the daily/nightly grind of male and female tricks for bucks in the seedy parts of San Fran. When he saves a girl from an old coot photographer’s lecherous fate, they partner up in a low-rent love affair. Director Michael Thomas lays on parent bashing flashbacks and a long scene involving violent transvestites armed with a camera. If you’re an admirer of Jim Jarmusch’s early work, you should see this.
5. Best Friends
Not once during this entire film are the words “gay,” “homosexual,” “queer” or even “faggot” ever mentioned, but rest assured this is definitely a gay film. In fact, this might be the most closeted gay film made before Top Gun. Richard Hatch (“Battlestar Galactica”) plays Jesse, a once carefree single man now engaged to his sweetheart. His best friend Pat (Doug Chapin) returns from a stint in Vietnam ready to resume the wild days of boozing, barring and balling chicks with his old buddy. With Jesse’s fiancee and Pat’s latest conquest in tow, the guys decide to cruise California in a Winnebago. The friction between Jesse and Pat, however, intensifies as the latter seems determined to have Jesse dump the future ball and chain and get back to the business of casual fucking. Despite the tagline “She Became the Ravaged Victim of a Century of Revenge!”, this entire movie has nothing to do with a ‘she.’ Best Friends is about a homoerotic obsession based on Pat’s deeply ingrained need for Jesse’s sexual satisfaction, but under Pat’s terms. It makes for a truly unusual 70’s road movie.
6. Raging Hormones
Dedicated to Divine and Edith Massey, this low-budget Florida lensed comedy is one of the very few John Waters’ inspired films that looks as though it could have been made by the master himself. Della Hobby stars as Bev Broadhurst, the trailer-park dwelling queen of the local supermarket. Her greatest wish is to get her son Peter (Topher Hopkins) into state college by urging him to save up money through summer employment. Unfortunately, her neighbor Sally (Darlene Demko) is a cougar on the prowl and latches onto the horny Peter for kinky games. Meanwhile, Bev’s daughter gets the eye of a douche bag with a penchant for gals below the legal age limit. It’s a giddy blast of bad taste fun for the whole dysfunctional family.
Far out, man. John Rubenstein and a very young Don Johnson star in this psychedelic western that’s basically a rock musical with some cowboys and horses running around. Zachariah (Rubenstein) tells Matthew (Johnson) he’s looking for “a friend” and brags about his shiny new gun received in “a plain brown wrapper.” They join a gang of bumbling outlaws (the 60’s rock group Country Joe and the Fish) before deciding to cut out on their own. Facing troublemakers quick to call them “faggots,” listening to Elvin Jones and Doug Kershaw perform, and having a fling with Belle Starr (Pat Quinn) make for subplots in this whacked-out movie. However, the main story is the handsome duo’s friendship gone sour. These guys are the least rugged Western heroes in film history and the closing scenes sealed the deal on its homoeroticism for me. Besides, Zachariah was co-written by The Firesign Theatre, who were masters of subtext in audio comedy recordings. To believe they did not intend a gay tone to this movie would be folly.
8. Whole New Thing
There have been gay-themed coming-of-age movies created by the truckload, but I assure you, this terrific Canadian feature (which made my Top 10 in 2005) is like no other you’ve ever seen. Aaron Webber plays Emerson, a home-schooled teenager who’s brilliant when it comes to English studies and Humanities, but is lagging far behind in math. Aggravating the problem is his dad’s descent into depression, so Emerson is enrolled in a local public school where he becomes infatuated with a sympathetic teacher. Whole New Thing is one of the few movies I’ve seen where the balance of a truly gifted, intelligent student’s knowledge and the confusion of his sexual attraction is given the introspective respect it deserves.
The next four words are going to lose some readers: I hateFight Club. In fact, it’s one of the few movies I’ve ever walked out of, and I did so before a single punch was thrown. Thirty minutes in, I couldn’t take any more of the incredibly stupid, self-indulgent irritating characters. (And, btw, if the cancer joke towards the beginning of the movie was directed towards women with breast cancer instead of men with testicular cancer, that movie would have boycotted). Whew! Okay, now that I’m finished with that, I can direct you to Shiner, which intertwines a few stories revolving about the fetish of punching the hell out of each other for sexual gratification. Yes, this movie comes out and declares it. None of this coy subtext bullshit, these characters blow their loads over body blows. It’s intentionally unfocused, cheap, seedy, funny and raunchy just as it should be with this topic. It’s another film that pissed off the gay community which completely overreacted to this movie as it did to my final choice…
Many people walked out of festivals disgusted with Todd Verow’s strange masterful film based on a dark gay novel by Dennis Cooper. A young gay man named Dennis grows up with kinky fantasies that grow darker as he gets older. He writes fantasy letters to Kevin, a former lover, implying he may have committed murders, but has he or is he just stringing Kevin along for more twisted visions and a receptive reader? Verow, who also directed Little Shots of Happiness and Vacationland, remains one of the most underrated gay filmmakers working today, in part because he has the audacity to remain outside the Here!/Logo world of tepid swill.
If you want to know more about gay-themed movies you should see but haven’t, check out Facets Night School’s lecture on Myra Breckinridge presented by Dominick Mayer and The Underground Multiplex with plenty of fun and frolics. If you’re not in Chicago, you’ll be able to tune in to “Cinematrocities” for the lecture soon after.
Between 1949 and 1957, images of Bettie Page could be found everywhere from postcards to magazines to record covers. She was graced with a radiant personality which seemed to make the camera her devoted lover. That relationship helped to make her a legend with her likeness being one of the most popular in American culture–even though a number of photos and films delved into the fetish/S&M world.
In 1959, Bettie turned her back on modeling, believing she was getting too old and following a calling by God to become a missionary. Although she did not succeed in becoming an African missionary (because of a divorce), she did work for Billy Graham Ministries for a while.
For decades after her abandoned modeling career, Page had sought family stability (through a few failed marriages) and an ongoing commitment to spreading the gospel. After moving to Southern California in 1979, Bettie seemed to have completely disappeared with rumors of mental illnesses and breakdowns, along with her entry into a state mental hospital.
Somewhere between 1970 and 1982, Page may have entered a “faith healing” stage as part of her religious outreach. Any of these sessions would probably have been done in secret as she never obtained the status of “minister.”
The idea of Bettie Page as faith healer during these years seems not an unlikely scenario, given her devotion to God. What is unusual, however, is that she may have donned fetish gear one final time for a parishioner who recognized her from her modeling days.
Harold G. Slinger, a horse trainer from Boca Raton, FL, supposedly met with Page desperate to kick a heroin addiction plaguing him for more than 20 years. Finding state-funded treatments ineffective, Slinger was at his wit’s end. Through a friend, he had learned of a “woman of God” who had at one point changed her life completely through “the love of Jesus Christ.” Slinger went to see Page, who, he claims, at first refused to help Slinger, as she did not consider herself a healer, but simply a communicator of God’s word. However, after Slinger broke down in tears, Page relented and granted his request.
Slinger claimed to have only one meeting with Page, but that meeting completely cured him of any desire for drugs. From that point on, Slinger was drug free and servicing for the Lord, as he became born again and lived a devout Christian life until he passed away in 1990.
In return for this favor, Page insisted the newly-cured man never tell anyone she had performed any faith healing. Although Slinger was mystified as to why she would never pursue this avenue of spreading The Word, he kept his promise until the day he died.
He did, however, want to keep a record of what had transpired as proof of his life-changing event. So on a blank-labeled recording (with a date of May 20, 1973–two years after supposedly meeting with Page), Slinger left details of the faith healing session. The Underground Multiplex, given a hot tip by a fan, recently obtained the recording by the late Mr. Slinger.
For the first time ever, you can now hear the story, as told by Mr. Harold G. Slinger, of how Bettie Page cured him of his drug addiction and did so, in part, by returning to S&M one final time:
TUGM is a community-arts organization dedicated to locally-produced transmedia.
What is transmedia? We like to think of it as:
VIDZ PIX TXT TRAX.
We advocate for independent artists and content creators. We produce live events to strengthen the local arts community. We also organize our own original transmedia productions.
Based in Chicago.
Shy, Ill 4EVA