Monday, November 30, 2009


When I saw the Chinese American Film Festival at the 4 Star, I noticed they had some Thrillville postcard advertisements.

I've never been to a Thrillville show. They used to put on shows at the now defunct Speakeasy Theaters. Quoting from their homepage:

Thrillville is a City of B Movie Dreams in a State of Culture Shock, where Time stands still and aesthetics supercede politics; where monsters, babes, hipsters and swingers mingle and mate over Martinis and Mai Tais; where Style rules over Fashion, Elvis is King, the Rat Pack rules, and Will the Thrill, a beatnik lounge lizard, is Mayor. Mr. Thrill and his lovely assistant and bride, Monica, Tiki Goddess, host a live cult movie cabaret celebrating Classic Retro Pop Culture, from the Atomic Age to Zombies.

I notice that they are producing shows at three theaters that I frequent to varying degrees - 4 Star, Balboa and Camera Cinemas in San Jose.

Their schedule looks interesting. On December 3, they are screening Black Christmas (1974) at the 4 Star. Perhaps the original sorority house slasher film, Black Christmas has achieved cult status in the last 35 years. I don't think I've ever seen the unedited version. I've seen it on network or cable TV but those sanitized for broadcast.

On January 21 (during Noir City), they are screening Shanty Tramp (1967) at the 4 Star. I don't believe I've ever seen this film in any version. Certainly, it's title does not sound familiar but how can you not be intrigued by a title like that. A one star rating in TV Guide only whets my appetite. It looks to be an insightful treatise on death, racism, rape and religion.

Another quickly made movie from the South (shot on location in Florida) designed for the drive-in crowd. This one involves a young woman of loose morals who tries to seduce an evangelist. She then gets involved with a motorcycle gang, which only leads to trouble. She is saved by a black youth who is accused by the girl's sharecropper father of raping his daughter, and a sheriff's posse is sent out after him. The boy is forced to steal a car (from a moonshiner, no less) but dies when the vehicle crashes. The daughter has it out with her father, stabbing him to death, and heads off to her evangelist in hopes of leaving town.

On February 25, they are showing a Mamie Van Doren double feature at the Camera 3. The two films are Untamed Youth (1957) and Sex Kittens Go To College (1960). I didn't think I've ever seen a Mamie Van Doren film. Looking at her IMDB filmography, I notice Francis Joins the WACS (1954). I watched quite of the Talking Mule films and Francis Joins the WACS actually registers in my memory.

At this year's Hole in the Head Film Festival, they screened Sex Galaxy which consisted exclusively of footage from a Mamie Van Doren film called Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968) with new voice over that didn't match the original film (a la Mystery Science Theater 3000). Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, incredibly, was Peter Bogdanovich's first feature film credit as a director (under the Alan Smithee of "Derek Thomas"). I think the film was so bad that it's copyrights lapsed so it's in the public domain.

Mamie Van Doren is oft referred to as "the poor man's Jayne Mansfield." Of course, Mansfield was referred to as "the poor man's Marilyn Monroe." I guess that makes her the bankrupted man's Marilyn Monroe. To my surprise, Maime Van Doren is not just alive but has her own website, still makes appearances and photographs incredibly well for a 78 year old woman.

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