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Reel Trash 

A festival of films so bad they've become classics

Wednesday, Jul 11 2001
If your THC-inspired forays into cinema's bargain basement extend no further than Plan 9 From Outer Space and Pink Flamingos, you've got some major catching up to do. Two Thousand Maniacs! and The Flesh Eaters, to name a couple, are no-budget masterpieces of bad taste -- a dying breed thanks to the demise of drive-in theaters, the dwindling of midnight-movie houses, and the Blockbustering of video stores.

Riding to the rescue, the unexpectedly irreverent Pacific Film Archive serves up "Born to Be Bad: Trash Cinema From the '60s and '70s," a cornucopia of cheesy, creepy dementia. Kiss Me Quick (July 18) uses a preposterous science-fiction plot line as a transparent excuse to show attractive young women with their tops off (an unusually creative exploitation strategy that, alas, was emphatically trumped just three years later by the art porn of I Am Curious (Yellow)). If horror's your medicine, Jack Hill's Spider Baby (July 25) is a lovingly twisted saga of a decrepit family that starts out disturbingly daft and wastes no time veering into the transcendently gross.

The series overflows with weird science and ludicrous special effects, from the insane, shipwrecked marine biologist with the dastardly plan in The Flesh Eaters (July 18) to the twisted, lab-locked Dr. Frankenstein-ish scientist who devises The Atomic Brain (July 11). While those flicks offer rich insight into American fears of technology 30 and 40 years ago, Cold War/fallout shelter paranoia clearly inspired the radioactive monster who emerges from the sea to make his name as The Horror of Party Beach (Aug. 29). And a decade before Deliverance curtailed Southbound vacation outings, the legendary auteur Herschell Gordon Lewis (now a top consultant in the direct-mail industry) made Two Thousand Maniacs! (Aug. 1), a gruesome gorefest in which a half-dozen Yankees run horribly, horribly afoul of some ordinary folks below the Mason-Dixon Line. How can Jurassic Park III compare with that?

About The Author

Michael Fox


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