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Kickin’ it Old School, ’Cause Summer School Sucks

Cult Pics and Midnight Madness from Across the 8th Dimension

Greetings and salutations* from the luxurious Penthouse Suite on the 130th floor of the Stardust Hotel & Resort on Alpha Centauri’s outer salt rim. Rebel Jedis with a Dark Side call it “Vegas without the Evil Empire”; Commander MRF and his Cinephiliac Alien Posse call it sublime sanctuary from the Summer Blockbuster Tractor Beam that’s currently attracting the wallets of MoviePlex victims everywhere.

To all members of The Rebellion trapped in SF in Empire-owned cubicles, take mental note: Early May’s a perfect time to holiday in another galaxy if you want to avoid that all-too-familiar pre-summer funk coming from your local theater chain. Granted, every potential summer blockbuster germinating from the garden of the Hollywood Death Star needs some spring manure on its roots to flower, but this year, Studios piled the s**t on thick with hopes of simultaneously sprouting (count ’em) three colossal Mega-Money Trees, all in May: Spider-Man 3, Shrek 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean 3.

Leading off: Spider-Man … 3! Opening this Friday everywhere … except Alpha Centauri.


courtesy of Sony Pictures

Spider-Man 3 Bites May Fester in the Shade

Sony Studio Execs and their engorged saliva glands are licking their chops in anticipation of the return of their favorite web slinger, Tobey Maguire, but the buzz from the Counterculture Collective is that once film nerds get a shot at reading the leaves of this mega-spectacle, they’ll leave licking their Spidey wounds.

Why? In case you missed it, this is the THIRD installment of the franchise, and instead of fighting crime the past two summers, Tubby, once a fine Indy actor in his own right (The Ice Storm, Wonder Boys, The Cider House Rules) took it on himself to singlehandedly rid the world of the evils of peanut butter and whiskey. Thankfully, for all Marvel Comic fans, before accomplishing his goal, our hero voluntarily removed his cape (and honorary bib from Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles) long enough to squeeze back into his super suit like a svelte summer sausage. So the world is saved, right? Hooray, right? Wrong.

What if you’re a cinephile and don’t dig on swine* or third helpings of Spider Stew? What’s left at the buffet for Arachnophobes? Well, unless you’re a Professional Wrestling fan (see The Condemned), this week’s steaming pile of salted cinema fertilizer ain’t goin’ down smooth anytime.*

Intelligent moviegoers may (officially) be outraged to see film distributors waste millions of dollars to essentially line their garden (i.e. 9,000 theaters) with movie manure topsoil (Fracture, Vacancy, The Condemned, The Invisible, Kickin it Old Skool, Next), hoping to fool some poor schlubs into forking over $11.50 BEFORE the global unveiling of the Spider-Man 3 Spectacle. That’s like filling up on stale bread before the main course …

Poppa H. says F the Bread and the Main Course. Unless you’re “jonesin’” for another hit from the Spider Bong this Friday and Saturday, try ziggin’ when everyone else is zaggin’ and invite your insane friends to check out a midnight showing of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension at the Clay Theater (Fillmore and Clay).


courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension


If you’re a Metreon or AMC Van Ness mega-movieholic, you should know there are still plenty of alternative movie houses in the Bay Area to occupy your cine-mad mind. And as I recounted in my Clockwork Orange experience circa 1983, there’s something about a midnight movie that brings out the wacky in all humanoids.

Maybe it’s the cult status of the flick flickering on the big screen or the bottles of MD 20/20 surreptitiously snuck into the theater, but there’s an electricity about 200 to 400 deranged individuals showing up to see an out-of-print movie at the witchiest of witching hours.

Perhaps you’ve seen a midnight show of A Clockwork Orange or The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but I’d wager one space buck you’ve never borne witness to a midnight showing of Buckaroo Banzai. Now is your golden opportunity, film nerdistas. Fasten your aluminum helmets and order tickets now.

Starring native Texan Peter Weller (Robocop, Naked Lunch), Banzai is the bizarro version of Spider-Man 3. As a comic book anti-hero, the Buckaroo puts Peter Parker’s two-bit shutterbuggin’ gig to shame as a time-traveling, neurosurgeon, rock star adventurer who just-so-happens to save the world from Evil Invaders from the 8th Dimension.

I encouraged my Pops to take me to see Buckaroo Banzai when it was released in 1984. To the surprise of no one in the half-empty theater, the original “old boot” hadn’t a clue as to “what in the hell was going on” onscreen—but trust me people … that’s a good thing. Any flick featuring Peter Weller, Jeff Goldblum, John Lithgow and Christopher Lloyd in their schlocky serio-comedic primes is a must-see for anyone with a love for the low-budget and a bizarre sense of humor.

So there you have it on this fair Tuesday. If I’m able to time-travel back from Alpha Centauri in time perhaps MRF will see you there. Until we meet again, be bad and get into trouble, baby.*

“Hip Happenings” Round Town
•    Tuesday (5/1) – Dirty Dancing 20th Anniversary (1987), Dir. Ardolino – Jack London
•    Through Thursday (5/3) – Year of the Dog (2007), Dir. White – Embarcadero Cinema
•    Thursday (5/3) – Mommie Dearest (1981), Dir. Perry – Parkway Speakeasy
•    Thursday (5/3) – Pulp Fiction (1994), Dir. Tarantino – UA Berkeley 7
•    Thursday (4/26 to 5/10) – 2007 SF International Film Festival – Castro Theater
•    Friday (5/4), Saturday (5/5) – Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984), Dir. Richter – Clay Theater (Midnight Shows!)

Volume 5 Footnotes

•    “Greetings and salutations.” – Heathers (1991): Christian Slater to Winona Ryder.
•      “I don’t dig on swine…” – Pulp Fiction (1994): Sam Jackson to John Travolta over a pork-infused breakfast platter at a L.A. greasy spoon.
•    “It goes down smooth, every time…” – Anchorman (2004): Will Ferrell (as Ron Burgundy) to Christina Applegate by the pale moonlight.
•     “Let’s get into trouble, baby.” – Tapeheads (1988): Soul Train host Don Cornelius (as Hollywood Producer Mo Fuzz) to upstart filmmakers Tim Robbins and John Cusack.