Tag Archives: Sisters of No Mercy

Anti-Porn Thief and Inspiration for TUGM’s “Sisters of No Mercy”, Charles Keating Jr., Dies

Keating

Hated porn but LOVED your money. (Photo courtesy: gazette.com)

by Legendary Lew

Charles Keating Jr., the central figure in the Savings and Loans Scandal of the 1980s (basically a warm-up for the Bush Depression of 2008) died on 3/31/2014 at age 90. Although he is known as the guy who bilked thousands of people out of their cash on useless junk bonds (with the preferential help of 5 US Senators), I will forever prefer to remember him for another colossal failure.

Keating, as part of a group called Citizens for Decent Literature, Inc., funded and distributed an anti-porn short film narrated by “outstanding news reporter” George Putnam in 1961. “Perversion for Profit” has been accurately described

Illustrated scene from "Perversion for Profit"

Illustrated scene from “Perversion for Profit”

as the Reefer Madness of porn. It’s a hyperbolic, homophobic ranting screed that uses similar tactics used by some porn-fighting churches, namely, showing an enormous amount of the offending material (with eyes blacked out).  This 30-minute short has more male and female sleaze ‘n’ tease as can be found in a dozen feature-length sexploitation films, which means, of course, that’s it has found a home with me as one of the best, most hilarious propaganda films ever made.

No doubt, I crowed about this movie so much that we had to include a remixed version of it as part of our feature film, Sisters of No Mercy. So as a testament to the double-misfired life of Charles Keating, Jr., I include in this post the amazing Perversion for Profit, presented by the indispensible Prelinger Archives:

And here is our feature, Sisters of No Mercy:

 

 

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If You Want to Know What The Underground Multiplex is All About, Come to Our Series on Friday Nights in January

by Legendary Lew

Earlier Effort by Joe

Starting tomorrow night at Chicago Filmmakers, The Underground Multiplex will be presenting what will be, in fact, perhaps the most comprehensive overview of what we’ve been up to since our inception in November 2010.

Back then, director Joseph R. Lewis and I had this crazy notion that perhaps we should begin an internet media co-operative that focused on the greatness of independent underground entertainment. We further emphasized that Chicago had to be the main focus of our attention, as we believe (and still do) that the decentralization of entertainment, with the advent of the internet, can help bolster each different region’s importance in the arts. Spreading this idea could keep very talented Chicago artists home, instead of fleeing to NYC or LA for the temporary fix of finding work that immediately pays something.

Film genius Ernie Tarte will be there for Strike That Line! 1/24

Film genius Ernie Tarte will be there for Strike That Line! 1/24

Joe had already made a number of films for over a decade. One of those films, The Adventures of Miss Girl, gets its world premiere tomorrow night along with Sci Fi Sol, which makes its return to Chicago screens this year.

However, this Friday series–dubbed “Friday Night VOLUME“–will present a fuller menu of what TUGM has to offer. As we progressed over the years, we’ve learnedQUEEN B XOX to perfect (out of necessity) presenting a variety of experiences for little money. As will be the case with VOLUME, we’ll have films, vaudeville-type entertainment, a varied music soundtrack, live Q&A and live performances (including Dr. Dredd’s Wagon of Wonders and the first-ever live presentation of the radio comedy Strike That Line!

Please join us! Check this link for the entire line-up. Head over to Chicago Filmmakers to purchase pre-show tickets.

 

The Philosophy Behind My Approach to Facets Night School

FNS1This weekend marks the final shows of Night School presented at Facets Multimedia, which has served as the home of the most inventive midnight movie presentations in Chicago for 4.5 years. It’s been my pleasure to host a dozen film screenings during that time, including a feature-length film–Sisters of No Mercy— inspired by Night School.

Joe Lewis and Michael Smith have both written wonderful blog pieces about the demise of Night School at Facets. I’ve also read great comments from presenters Dominick Mayer and Joel Wicklund.

When Night School founder Phil Morehart brought forth the idea of having midnight movies at Facets, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. In the past, I had enjoyed thoughtful reviews of unusual rare films in such great magazines as Shock Cinema (to which I once contributed) and Psychotronic Magazine. I knew there was a great well of strange movie from which to draw.

The emergence of Night School came at a perfect time for FacetsNS2experimentation of how screenings could be formatted for independent theaters. Studios were changing to digital projection exclusively, leaving many theaters holding the bag with now outdated 35MM equipment and expensive digital changeovers. Netflix went through a nasty PR period of growing pains with the perception of unlimited streaming and the roll out, and then roll back, of Quixster, the video world’s version of New Coke. Blockbuster was evaporating from its video (and retail) dominance of the late 1980s and 1990s. All this was compounded by The Bush Depression of 2008, which threw hundreds of thousands of people out of work monthly.

From the outset, I knew that Night School had to be different from other movie series. Studios and movie chains could use their large wallets to entice viewers to theaters with larger spectacles, more advanced 3D capabilities, table-side food service and movie discount specials.

Courtesy Time Out Chicago

Courtesy: Time Out Chicago

This all seems fine for the bottom line, but the major point being missed by the chains and the studios was that they are not suited to cater to the needs of movie viewers at the community level. Sure, you can have chats online with people via Netflix about movies, but there’s also the probability you’ll never meet them in person. I used to joke about having film appreciation groups meet up at a local Redbox in the pouring rain.  And I’m very doubtful the studios will have cast members of new movies make dozens of public appearances across the country without them being paid lots of money for the trouble.

What Night School proved was that poverty-stricken creative folks can436 come up with a truly forward-thinking solution: engage with fans on a collective idea. Bring back variety with each show. Give viewers a spectacle without having to break a budget. Indeed, with a budget of exactly $0, you can actually accomplish a great deal. You can still jump out of a cake (Eat the Rich); have an interview with the mother of The Terminator and Lady Terminator (Lady Terminator); have Yor the Hunter from the Future show up for Q&A (Yor, The Hunter from the Future); have zombie whores dance and hand puppets sing (Sisters of No Mercy); uncover a lost Idi Amin toothpaste radio ad (Amin: The Rise and Fall); perform a live interactive radio skit (Wonder Women); have spectacular live music performances to such films as Haxan, The Fall of the House of Usher and A Page of Madness and more.

You can also meet and form a production partnership with an incredible talent named Joseph R. Lewis. Night School gave birth to The Underground Multiplex and the notion that you can rely on the genius of others here in Chicago to do great things. We have, thanks to the incredible presenters we’ve had over the years, the forethought of overseers Phil Morehart and Susan Doll and the hands-off policy of Facets Multimedia, which allowed the inmates to run the asylum one night per week. I’m grateful to Facets for allowing me the chance to change the way viewers experience movies.  Major unending thank yous to all the presenters, volunteers, projectionists and everyone who’s ever come out to see some craziness in action.

As our award-winning program moves on to different venues, The Underground Multiplex will continue its commitment to presenting great forgotten and underappreciated films with the ballyhoo, fun and zaniness the great city of Chicago deserves.

Lew Ojeda

RIP 2009-2013

RIP 2009-2013

TUGM Proudly Presents the World Premiere Online Release of “Sisters of No Mercy”!

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, we408 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.

409When 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.

Legendary Lew Ojeda

Ken Levine is Wrong: Zach Braff Should Be Forced to Use Kickstarter. Here’s Why…

Make him do it.

Make him do it.

Ken Levine wrote a blog post that went viral about how Zach Braff shouldn’t use Kickstarter, because he’s too well connected to use a fundraiser site meant for the starving artist. I understand the argument, but this notion that Kickstarter is cloaked in some golden glow of altruism is rather laughable.

Kickstarter is fundraising tool, not a shrine shut off to all but members only. Of course someone well off is going to eventually try his or her hand at it, if not Zach Braff, then someone else. Mr. Levine also has to remember that Kickstarter is not only used by struggling artists, but also by those who want investors for new products. Indeed, one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns is for an E-Paper Watch, which garnered over 10,000% of the original goal.  It’s ludicrous to believe that tech companies won’t take notice and, if they do, expect to be warded off by hordes of  “indie investors” or their supporters crying foul.

If Ken Levine is so incensed by a well-off Hollywood type asking for money, then the best advice is the one he’s already following: don’t give money.  There are Kickstarters that fail–I would introduce Ken to the wonderful and hilarious Shitstarter, which compiles truly awful Kickstarter campaigns. If starry-eyed people want to waste their hard-earned dollars on big name projects, because they naively hope, as Levine infers, that they’ll hobnob and dine with the Hollywood elites, let them. To quote Suzanne Finnemore, “Delusion detests focus and romance provides the veil.”

I am, in fact, completely in favor of more transparency with investment monies given to movies. I want Zach Braff, Harvey Weinstein or any other Kickstarter recipient to answer from groups of investors when he makes a shitty movie. Having Kickstarter investors actually feel the loss of a bad investment I think is a good thing. Hollywood films are so divorced from your own artistic hunger and are so perfectly and systematically distanced from you personally that your only recourse for bad cinema is badmouthing it to your friends, skewering it publicly on blogs or asking for your money back from the cinema (good luck with that).

You shouldn’t have to hound the theater for your $12 back. You and other fellow investors should be able to follow the producer in every public appearance and ask why he took your investments and turned them in dogshit. Turn his next PR appearance into a townhall meeting shitstorm demanding your investment back. You probably won’t get it, but the headlines will certainly bite the producer in the ass. Let those producers know that if they invest via Kickstarter, they’ll be playing a different game. Not one which checks are written in closed rooms without a second thought given to the outcome, but instead one where the producers will be quite intimidated by average Joes to whom they’ll have to answer.

Levine is right about helping out independent filmmakers whenever possible. It’s a great idea. But even here, he misses the point on how to best do this.

Just as you can do for your produce, for the best arts results–go local.

Here in Chicago, I know two filmmakers who made feature length films for very little money. They, instead, used the time, energy and geniuses of other talents to make great looking films like The Pink Hotel and Sci Fi Sol (disclosure: the latter film is a production of this site, The Underground Multiplex).  Chris Hefner, the director of The Pink Hotel and the upcoming The Poisoner, told me in an interview that he made both features for practically nothing. Instead of a lot of cash, he bartered goods and services and even gained the assistance of an alderman who knows the value of having great art created locally.

The biggest mistake we can keep telling future filmmakers is that the only way to make feature films is to chase money. Don’t get me wrong, Kickstarter and other online fundraisers are great. But convincing artists that this method, or pitching movies with the big boys via festivals are the only ways to get your movie made is being disingenuous.  With technology and resources available to make movies very cheaply (we made Sisters of No Mercy 3D, a feature-length film for less than $200), this endeavor is open to more people with more ideas and more stories to tell than ever before. The real trick is to get the audience deeply engaged and the best way to do that is to find your local artists and filmmakers, meet them and support them and your local indie theaters.

Lew Ojeda
(I’ll be presenting a wild show on Saturday night, May 11th in Chicago, “The Ben & Arthur Interactive Cinematic Experience, or Can a Cult Movie Sensation Be Created?” Click on this link for more details and to attend. Click on this link for the promo video.)

TUGM’s New “Sh#!house Cinema Circus” Trailer for Facets Summer Night School

Trailer created by our very own Joe Lewis, director of the upcoming Scumbabies!

For more details on the entire program, click here. To become a member of Facets, click here.

Open Letter to Disney re: John Carter’s $200 Million Loss

Dear Mickey,

Congratulations!

Read about the bad news the other day concerning the projected $200 million loss for the sci-fi epic John Carter. It may very well be the largest box office bomb in Hollywood history.

You really pinched off a Moby Dick-sized loaf with that one, didn’t you?  Normally, I would have some sympathy for this grand a failure. I mean, some careers might be affected. Perhaps, there’ll be some sort of PR circular firing squad as there was between Michael Bay, the producers and the actors of The Island when that movie went kablooey.

But while you continue to back incredibly stupid “anti-piracy” legislation, you get no boo hoos from my peepers.  Instead, you can be reminded that with your projected losses, you could have produced one million versions of Sisters of No Mercy 3D.

However, let me cease guffawing long enough to give you a suggestion based on something that will be a certainty:

You will get a Razzie Nomination for worst picture (and most certainly more) next year for John Carter.

So what to do? I say, release it online for free immediately and completely ride the PR line that this is the “worst movie ever made,” regardless of whether you actually believe that to be the case or not. Just push that meme. If viewers think this movie is garbage, agree with them! Scream it from the top of Hollywood Hills. Go on every talk show you can think of and wear it like a badge of (dis)honor. Rake in every last penny you possibly can from those looking for the worst in cinema.

Really, you’ve got nothing to lose but $200,000,000.

Best wishes,

Lew Ojeda

UPDATE: One of my online pals wrote to me saying that John Carter was actually a good film. That may be the case. I’ve not seen it. But my prediction of a Worst Picture Razzie nom comes with the understanding that bad money woes for a movie do get taken into account when voting for these awards–just as excellent box-office can be positive for the Oscars. If this movie becomes a meme through the butt of jokes and late-night stand up monologues, it’ll be tough for Razzie voters to resist.