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PCR #416 (Vol. 9, No. 11) This edition is for the week of March 10--16, 2008.

by Chris Woods

"Horton Hears a Who" by Mike Smith
King of Strip Clubs and Gods of Gore: 2 Days at the Gasparilla Film Festival by Chris Woods
MegaCon 2008 by ED Tucker
I Feel Faint .... Passing On .... Movie Notes .... And The Oscar For 1985 Should Have Gone To... by Mike Smith
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The second annual Gasparilla Film Festival kicked off on the last days of February 2008. I only got to attend two days of the five day festival, but what a two days it was. For myself, two huge things made this year's festival very important; A screening of a 13-minute preview of Strip Club King: The Story of Joe Redner, a documentary directed by Shelby McIntyre and produced by myself and McIntyre as well. And a screening of the 1963 cult horror classic Blood Feast with the director of the film, Herschell Gordon Lewis and producer David Friedman making a special appearance. This made it a very exciting Gasparilla Film Fest.

I arrived at the festival around 9pm at Channelside cinemas in Downtown Tampa for the first showing of the Strip Club King preview, which was at 9:45. The preview was also shown on Saturday as well. It’s a good thing I left early for the fest, because traffic was terrible. With construction on I-275 and a Tampa Bay Lightning game going on, it was bumper to bumper at some moments and a line waiting to get into the parking garage, but I got to the fest with plenty of time. I ran into many familiar faces, actor Robert Elfstrom and wife, acting teacher Corinne Broskette, and fellow PCR writers Lisa Ciurro and Paul Guzzo. They wanted to check out the Redner preview as well. We were very lucky and thankful to Gasparilla Film Festival for letting us show a sneak peek of our documentary. Right now we are currently in post-production with the film and wouldn’t have the full feature done in time for this fest, so Gasparilla let us show this 13-minute preview.

There was a good number of people for this screening considering it was shown at a later hour. It was playing with The Job, which was a very funny short film and a feature documentary, Judy Toll: The Funniest Woman You’ve Never Heard Of. It was a very well done film about a comedian that really never hit the big time but came very close. She also wrote a few scripts for television shows like Sex in the City and one co-wrote the 1980’s comedy Casual Sex? that was originally a play that she also wrote. They were going to be Q & A with the mother of Judy Toll and myself after the showing, but everything ended so late, pretty much everyone left right after the films were over. After a screening, I attended a party thrown by Allison Adams, mother and manager to local actress Rachael Lee. It was a very fun party. Also there were Lisa Ciurro, actor, Rod Grant, producer Mike Compton, and many others.

Saturday would be a jam-packed day for me. That morning I got a phone call from PCR editor-in-chief, Nolan Canova, letting me know that the location of the lunch we had planned was being changed. Originally all the PCR writers were going to meet up at Chili’s in Tampa for lunch, now we were going to meet in Ybor City at Carmine’s Restaurant but with two special guests: Herschell Gordon Lewis and David Friedman, The Godfathers of Gore themselves. Fellow PCR writer Andy Lalino along with Andrew Allan were sponsoring the screening of Blood Feast at the film fest and Andy was able to get the two cult filmmakers to have lunch with us. I was really excited to meet the two of them, since I’ve been a fan of their films for many years.

This was a very memorable get together with a who’s who from PCR and the local film scene. At attendance, Nolan Canova, Terence Nuzum, Ed Tucker and his wife Cindy, Andy Lalino, Paul Guzzo, Lisa Ciurro, Lonnie Dohlan, F/X master Chris Polidioro, and of course Mr. Lewis and Mr. Friedman, along with Friedman’s niece Mica that accompanied them for the trip. It was truly an honor two have lunch with these two gentlemen. The two of them were very gracious. I never would've imaged twenty years ago when I first saw a Lewis/Friedman film that I would be sitting down next to them having lunch and discussing movies. Such topics discussed were their films, of course, and what was their personal favorite. Herschell’s was 2000 Maniacs, my favorite as well. I asked him about being mentioned in the film Juno and he went into the story of one of the producers of the film calling him up and asking if they could use a scene from The Wizard of Gore for Juno. Herschell said to them, “Who is she, who’s Juno?” Then they explained that was a name of the film. The screenwriter of Juno, Diablo Cody is said to be a fan of H.G. Lewis and also just won the Oscar for best original screenplay. I told Herschell she should give the Oscar over to him. He laughed at that. I also got a photo-op with Friedman and Lewis and their autographs. I had a great time and I was also glad I got to share it with such great friends as well. After lunch I headed over to the festival for day two.

I was able to catch a short documentary before the screening of the Redner doc preview. The documentary was Ten at the Top in Tampa Bay and it was about ten women that hold high public office positions in the city and make a huge impact. Some of the women that were interviewed were Tampa mayor Pam Iorio, Clerk of the Court, 13th Judicial Circuit Pat Frank, County Administrator Pat Bean, and many others. It talked about how each ten came to be in their top positions and some history from each one. It was a very well done documentary and very interesting. Actually the woman that made the film, Renee Warmack, contacted me a few times through e-mails and phone calls a few years ago asking me advice on how to get started in making a film. I was very happy to finally met Renee in person and I was very impressed with her film.

Now, on to the showing for Strip Club King. For this screening there would be a special guest, Joe Redner himself. I waited for Joe by the lobby when he arrived around 6:30pm. Both of us went over to the theater and waited for it to open. The preview was playing with the feature film, The Flock starring Richard Gere and Clair Danes. Once we got in the place was a sell-out. There were so many people they had to bring in extra chairs to accommodate the people still standing. The festival attached us to a great feature that had an awesome crowd and got the preview great exposure. It’s always exciting watching something you worked on in front of an audience. It’s also a little nervous as well, wondering what kind of reaction you’re going to get back from the people. This one was big because it was to a sell-out crowd. Our preview played first and it got a great reaction. They laughed where they were supposed to laugh and cheered where they were supposed to cheer. At the end it got a big round of applause. Joe was very pleased with the preview and the turn out, I was too.

I stuck around for the feature, The Flock, which was about an investigator (Gere) tracking down sex offenders. He breaks in a new investigator (Danes) who is eventually going to replace Gere. The two of them stumble into a case of a missing girl and reopens old wounds for Gere with an old case that haunts him to this day. The film was very well done and had kind of a Seven vibe, but not as dark and stylish as that film. Both Gere and Danes gave great performances and the story was well told. At the end of the movie, they did Q & A with the executive producer of the film, Philippe Martinez and then it was my turn after him. The Q & A was very quick, since most of the people left after the movies were finished, but there was a lot of good feedback from the crowd, so I was very happy.

I then quickly darted over to the Blood Feast screening. It was already after nine and I had missed half of the film. Even though I own it on DVD, but I had to see it on the big screen. Luckily I got in there at the half-way mark. At first I figured they would just be showing the DVD of the film on a digital projector, but I was wrong. It was the 35mm print of the film, with film scratches and all. It was great, pure grindhouse. There was a good crowd for it, too. Tons of laughs and some gasps as well. After the showing, Lewis and Friedman did a Q & A, most of the questions asked were ones similar that we asked and the luncheon, “How Blood Feast came to be.”, “How they got started doing splatter films.”, etc. Then there was a great moment, when Herschell got up and sang the song, “The South’s Gonna Rise Again” from 2000 Maniacs. The crowd joined in with Herschell during the “Yee Haw” part. It was an unforgettable moment. Then at the closing moments of the Q & A, the host of the event, Steve Persall started reading horrible reviews when Blood Feast was first released. Herschell then approached Steve and told him he didn’t care what critics think and pulled a knife on him and went to slit his throat. It was a great gag at the end. Only thing was the blood from the tub that was on Persall squirted on the big screen and had to be cleaned up very quickly for the next film playing.

Outside, I got to talk to Herschell and David a little bit more before they left. I also saw Krista Grotte, who was there dressed as a nurse, just in case anyone fainted during Blood Feast, a great touch to the event. I also got to talk more with Ed Tucker before he left and chatted a little with Andy Lalino and Andrew Allan. The two of them did a great job of getting both Lewis and Friedman at the festival. I decided to catch the last movie playing for the night, 100 Tears and then left after that, ending a very long but eventful day.

Gasparilla Film Festival 2008 was truly an awesome event. Having lunch with Herschell Gordon Lewis and David Friedman was a highlight moment. The two screenings of the preview to the Joe Redner documentary, Strip Club King, with one showing playing to a packed crowd and having Joe there as guest was just great. Being a part of the 45th anniversary screening of Blood Feast, hanging out with good friends, and catching some great movies. Good times!


All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.

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