GREG BELLAVIA VS SHOCK-A-GO-GO

“Rock and Roll High School” – Written by Richard Whitley, Russ Dvonch and Joseph McBride – Directed by Allan Arkush

What It’s Like: Remember high school? It’s just like that only with the Ramones…and giant mice.

What’s It About: High school rebel Riff Randell (P.J. Soles) and her favorite band the Ramones help to stick it to uptight school principal Miss Evelyn Togar (Mary Woronov).

Money Shot: Riff fantasizes about the Ramones singing to her in her house, including in the shower.

Verdict: Are you crazy? Great flick! On paper this idea might sound disastrous but using the Ramones to comedic effects plays out perfectly. The real beauty behind “Rock and Roll High School” is that the Ramones were the real deal. Instead of being a vehicle for a one hit wonder or some pop band that only had 70s appeal, the Ramones music is still popular and their identity as punk icons adds to the zany absurdity of the film. The scattershot humor of giant mice, Woronov’s straight-laced principal (“Do your parents know you’re Ramones?”), Paul Bartel’s uptight but good hearted music teacher mixed in with the great soundtrack makes this a truly memorable cult classic.

“Me and The Ramones” – Directed by Rusty Nails

This is a five minute Ramones appreciation documentary. The sound kept cutting in and out thanks to technical difficulties but the images, including previously unseen Ramones concert footage, speak for themselves. Since the purpose of the film is that the Ramones rock then who am I to argue?

“The Raven” – Written by Richard Matheson, based on the writings of Poe – Directed by Roger Corman

What It’s Like: A fairy tale as told by Roger Corman.

What’s It About: Dr. Erasmus Craven (Vincent Price) is lead to believe by fellow wizard Dr. Bedlo (Peter Lorre) that his dead wife Lenore’s (Hazel Court) spirit has been captured by evil sorcerer Dr. Scarabus (Boris Karloff), and along with his daughter Estelle (Olive Sturgess), Bedlo and his son Rexford (Jack Nicholson) goes to get her back.

Money Shot: The magic duel between Price and Karloff.

Verdict: A cute, lighter weight film from Corman and company. The most notable part of the film is the range of talent on display (Price, Lorre, Karloff and Nicholson all appearing in the film with Corman and famed horror novelist Richard Matheson behind the scenes). While all of the legends do a great job, it is Lorre who steals the show as the cowardly Dr. Bedlo.

Following “The Raven”, the man, the myth, the legend – Roger Corman took center stage and fielded questions from an audience full of fans. As with Fredman and Woronov, the Q & A with Corman was both informative and entertaining with the “King of the B’s” tackling subjects ranging from his take on modern horror to the possible release of his “Fantastic Four” on DVD.

Up next was “Masque of the Red Death” also directed by Corman followed by a small shorts festival, two horror rock bands (TFMU & Mucus), a punk act (The Gabba Gabba Heys, a Ramones tribute band) and then finally to close the evening Paul Bartel’s “Death Race 2000”. Sadly, after Corman’s speech I had to bid Shock-A-Go-Go a good night, with an early call time the next morning and having seen several of the short films and “Death Race 2000” (a classic), I decided it was time to go home.

Summation: Awesome! I mean, any festival filled with offbeat, lost films that also showcases new talent, some great panelists, live music, raffles held after nearly every film and members of a female roller derby team (The Derby Dolls) hanging out in the lobby how could this fail? Shock-A-Go-Go was a complete success and should be attended by any fan of horror films, B-Grade cinema aficionados or lovers of the strange and unusual.

For more info, visit the Anxiety Films website.




Posted on December 8, 2004 in Festivals by
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