Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Creepy KOFY Movie Time Viewing Party

Creepy  KOFY Movie Time Viewing Party. Balboa Theater. May 10, 2014. 
The historic Balboa Theater doesn’t have the grand architecture of the movie palaces of the past, but it’s a great little theater in the Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco. It looked like it might be forced to close, but a campaign raised over one hundred thousand dollars to get the now required digital projectors. It looks like the theater will survive. 
To celebrate the tenth season of the “Greatest TV show ever!” Creepy KOFY Movie Time held a viewing party at the Balboa Theater. It was “Season X.” 
The show airs at 11:00 on Saturday nights. It’s the witching hour. I can’t believe what they get away with on the show. It’s like the censors and station executives just gave up on that time slot and let them do whatever they want. I’m surprised some watchdog group hasn’t complained or tried to get them off the air. 
The host of Creepy KOFY Movie Time (CKMT) is a demon named Balrok. He lives in the CKMT cave. A dude named No Name wandered into the cave one day, and found it a very cool place to hang out, so he stayed. Balrok and No Name introduce a film each week, and comment on it during breaks. As the years have gone by Balro has looked more civilized and even a bit distinguished. He’s always in a suit and smokes a tobacco pipe. 
No Name has gotten wilder with each year. At first he wore a tee shirt and zombie makeup. Every time he changed his look, he got crazier. He wore Elvis suits and huge wigs. Now he wears a big silver wig and a ZZ Top stye, silver beard. No Name is certainly the louder of the two. He encourages the audience to continue whatever drug or alcohol excesses they’ve started. They have a savage sense of humor. These aren’t your usual late night horror hosts.   
Balrok and No Name are surrounded by the sexy Cave Girls. They certainly brighten up The Cave. Most of them are performance artists or dancers. They prance and tease behind the movie hosts.  
The show has its own pace, and there are usual weekly segments. There are educational presentations, including Creepy KOFY Science Time with Dr. Scott Weitze. The questionable science of the films is examined. Do zombies really exist? How would a brain transplant work? Webberley, The Fact Rat, checks facts on the movie. He sits quietly reading until something from the movie has to be verified. “Is that really true, Webberey? Slob on the Spot presents short films on the dark parts of Bay Area history. 
The Slob is a CKMT regular. He’s tall with dark, unruly braids. He wears what looks like a collection of brightly colored rags. He shows unique short films about the dark corners of Bay Area history. One clip explains the history of San Francisco’s cemetery situation. The site of the former Anton LaVey house is visited. We hear the strange story of Mammy Pleasant.
As the night goes on the show becomes more risque. Past atrocities include: Ask An Adult Film Star, mud wrestling and Sixty Seconds of Horniness. During Sixty Seconds of Horniness, one of the Cave Girls dances with little heed for local standards. Local comedians and music acts are presented with a chance to shine on television.
I’ve been watching for all ten years. Another attraction of the show when it started was that there were hardly any sponsors and very few commercials. Most of the commercials were Balrok and No Name pitching for the Kuvara Law firm, studio time at a Heavy Metal recording studio or e-cigarettes. The first e-cigarettes I remember seeing were being smoked by No Name on the show.  
There was a line outside the theater, so I retired to The Hockey Haven, a neighborhood bar across the street. Some CKMT fans were meeting before the show. The Stanley Cup playoffs were playing on a big screen. It is The Hockey Haven. Some of the fans wore costumes. Most of them just wore capes or hats, but one crazy looking redheaded guy wore clown makeup and a tutu. There were a few grizzled looking hard core regulars trying to pretend they didn’t notice the little bit of Halloween that had broken out in the inner Richmond. It is San Francisco.   
The line had gone in. It was time for Creepy KOFY Movie Time! The crowd was certainly older. I wondered how many of them were from the neighborhood. There were some young people out for a good time, but most of the crowd had gray hair and beer bellies. I had just finished working the Film Festival and I had thought that event drew some eccentric characters. 
There was a slight delay getting in. The Balboa does have great, vintage posters in the lobby area. Tables were set up in the lobby with merchandise. At the first table was former Creature Features TV host and author John Stanley. “You’re at all these things,” a fan said. 
Seeing the merchandise tables on the way in made it look like a mini comic book convention had broken out. A big seller tonight was the Creepy KOFY Movie Time comic book. I heard one guy say that “Yes, we are nerds,” but most of this crowd are nerds with edge. These were the bad kids. They weren’t the nerds of old wearing glasses and pocket protectors. These were more like biker nerds. It might be the rowdiest crowd of nerds I’ve seen since the glory days of Devo! 
  The line moved slowly and now we could see why. It was like a reception line. There was Balrok! In the flesh! He posed for pictures with excited fans. He’s a big guy and would have cut an imposing figure even without the huge Demon head and black gnarly horns running to the back of his head. He knew many of the fans by name. The woman in front of me was wearing long plastic talons. Balrok gave her a big hug. “Hi Liz!” Next on the receiving line was The Slob in full regalia. There were unique photo opportunities. 
Among those in costume wandering the lobby were an ominous looking tall guy dressed as Svengoolie, and a Bob Wilkins imitator. (Wilkins was the legendary, iconic original Creature Feature TV host. Another incarnation of Svengoolie has returned to late night television.) I had seen the Wilkins imitator at events before, including a memorial for Wilkins at the Maison theater on Alameda Island. He wears a suit and waves an omnipresent cigar. With John Stanley there, it was a continuation of the tradition of the TV horror host. What would the low key Wilkins have thought of Balrok and No Name? 
I grabbed an aisle seat. The Bob Wilkins imitator and Svengoolie settled down into the row behind me. Across the aisle were a row of fraternity boys  who looked they were definitely out for a good old drunken night in a movie theater. 
It wasn’t a huge crowd. I’d guesstimate about two hundred. This was a little surprising, considering the power of television. Maybe it really was an underground event. It wasn’t a taping of the show. General admission was ten dollars, a great deal for a unique event like this. When I came in nobody was bothering to check tickets. They planned to make more money on the “adult beverages” offered that night. 
Balrok and other cast members were gathering at the back of the theater. Balrok yelled, “Let’s hear it,” and they came up the aisle. The place exploded in applause and cheers. Yeah! Balrok, The Slob and some of The Cave Girls marched to the front of the theater and stood under the screen. 
There were no microphones, so it took a while to hear them. People had kept yelling, but then they realized that they’d have to cool it if they wanted to hear anything that was said. Balrok announced that this was a special celebration of their tenth year. He can’t believe the show has made it to this milestone. He thanked us for coming out to The Balboa Theater for the celebration. “Season X ... I can’t believe we’ve made it to ten years.”  
Webberley, The Fact Rat is hanging at the back of the theater. He’s acting shy, and Balrok calls him up. His mask does look life like. He really does look like a human rat! 
Balrok says that he, “Personally doesn’t care for the TV station we’re on right now.” This gets some audience reaction. Every year they have to survive rumors that they’re being cancelled. Balrok assures us that the show will continue in some incarnation. In fairness to KOFY, the station has a history of showing controversial programming. They were the first to show the Gay Pride Parade on television. Creepy KOFY Movie Time is a wild show.   
But, there’s no No Name. People yelled, “Where’s No Name?” With no microphones, it was hard to hear Balrok’s answer, but it sounded like, “He’s having a rough weekend.” 
There will be two showings. The Balboa did have to split the theater long ago. So, there is a showing at 9 in one theater with another showing starting at 9:20. “These are the real fans!” Balrok shouts, “This is the pre-order crowd.” Balrok says that, “Maybe we should fight” the crowd in the other theater. It’s a bit uncharacteristic for the usually peace loving demon.   
Balrok thanks the crowd again and they come back up the aisle high-fiving the crowd. From my aisle seat it’s easy to high five Balrok, The Slob and the rest of the cast!  
A disclaimer was shown onscreen. This movie has graphic scenes. Because of TV regulations some scenes in this movie will be blurred and some will be bleeped. The crowd at the Balboa movie theater booed and groaned. Then another message came onscreen, “But this isn’t TV ... This is the mother fucking Balboa Theater!” The place went wild again. There would be no censorship for us tonight! Onscreen the house band, the Deadlies started playing the CKMT theme song. The Deadlies have a great rocking surf punk sound. Cans of beer were popped in the audience. The CKMT announcer, Gina Seragina, struggles through the introductions in her heavy accent. It sounds like she doesn’t really know how to speak English. 
At least No Name was on the screen. He and Balrok gave a big shout out to The Balboa Theater! The crowd erupts and cheers itself again. Balrok and No Name talk about how amazed they are that they’re celebrating ten years of the show.  
No Name tells us several times that the movie becomes more depressing as it goes on. Sometimes films they show get better, but not this one. The farther you get in, the worse it will be. Usually there’s a drinking word. When viewers hear it, they’re supposed to drink. There will be no drinking word tonight. The movie is so bad that you have to just start drinking and don’t stop. It’s the only way to watch this movie.
This audience was the opposite of a film festival crowd. At the film festival the patrons are usually quiet and obsessed with watching the film with as few distractions as possible. For the CKMT viewing party there was a constant stream of cynical, humorous comments. No one shushed. It was part of the fun.
The film is “Naked Massacre.” “This is based on a true story.” It’s the Richard Speck story. Balrok tells us, “You can Google or Wiki him.” This struck me. I was a kid when the crimes were discovered. It was one of the first mass murders that the media went nuts on. People were shocked. What was the world coming to? Now there’s at least a generation who never heard of him.  
Richard Speck was a down on his luck sailor. He was a suspect in murders in other parts of Illinois, but he had eluded arrest. He wandered to Chicago trying to find a ship to work on. Near his maritime union he saw a townhouse apartment full of nurses. Speck figured it was easy pickings. Maybe he did intend to just rob the women. He told the nurses he just wanted money and scared them into letting him tie them up. One by one he took the nurses into another room and killed them. One of them escaped by hiding under the bed. Speck had lost track or never knew there were nine women in the apartment. 
The crime was shocking. The nurses lived in a neighborhood with little crime. It did cause some panic in Chicago before Speck was arrested. It was a sign of the decline of civilization. Speck was captured and convicted. He later gained more notoriety for flaunting the prison system. There is bizarre footage of him partying in prison and bragging about it. He claims he’s just had one long party in jail. 
“Naked Massacre” was made in 1976, and is set in Belfast. An American sailor, Cain Adamson, (played by Mathieu Carriere) lands in Belfast. He’s barely on dry land and a military guard is on him. “Let me see your papers.” “Rolling papers?” someone in the Balboa crowd quips. He wanders into a gun battle between the IRA and British soldiers. It’s just another day in Northern Ireland.   
Cain is wandering around some industrial wasteland. An older looking prostitute is running from three men. She falls near Cain. He pulls out a switchblade and menaces the three thugs with it. He rescues her. “You don’t have to pay,” she tells him. There’s a quick cut to a hotel room. The old girl is sagging a bit here and there, and there are cruel groans in the Balboa audience. Creepy KOFY Movie Time is not a bastion of political correctness.  
He makes her dance while he plays the harmonica. She’s puzzled at first, but she lets Cain humiliate her. Although nothing graphic happens, it’s a disturbing scene. During the next break No Name comments on Cain’s great harmonica playing. It is savage humor.   
I love old horrible horror movies, but I had a hard time getting through this one. I didn’t really consider leaving. I did want to see how Balrok and No Name would end the show. The thing about CKMT is that you hold on and keep watching no matter how bad the film is, because you know something crazy is going to happen at the break. Besides, things were hopping at the Balboa Theater. 
As the movie went on more people hung out in the lobby with tonight’s celebrities. It was a strange crowd milling about and socializing. Scattered around the lobby were the Science Guy, a Fact Rat, The Slob and a Demon talking to fans. Many of the fans were in costume. How often do you get to hang out with a crowd like that?    Back onscreen, No Name does a plug for the Big Wow! Comicfest that is coming to San Jose next week. “We know you’ll be there!” He says that if you haven’t been to a comic book convention in a while they’re different. Women go now! They have women in costume! It’s called cosplay, and No Name guarantees that it’s worth the price of admission. Hot babes go to comic book conventions now!  
Every week they plug local writers. One of the regular features is on what Balrok is reading lately. No Name usually gives him a hard time for  wasting time reading, even if it is just a comic book or graphic novel.  
Back to the movie. The Speck character, Cain, lets loose and urinates on the side of a tenement building in broad daylight. In the immortal words of Bill Wyman: “We piss anywhere, man!”  
Two of the nurses are getting very close. “You have beautiful lips,” one says. They draw closer and Cain comes crashing in, ruining the party. At the next break No Name chastises Cain for ruining the best scene in the movie! No Name thinks Cain is too uptight, “He needs some heroin, man!” 
There will be no commercials at the screening so to fill those time slots there are short clips explaining little known aspects of CKMT. How did Balrok and No Name meet? Some say it was a nightclub. “I heard they were lovers.” Most say that No Name just wandered into the Cave one day. Balrok says that, “Some of what these people are saying is true.”  
Just as Speck did, Cain convinces the nurses that he’s only there for money and will not harm them. He talks the nurses into letting him tie them up. He has this creepy way of saying, “If you don’t mind.” (He says the line enough that members of the audience at the Balboa repeat the phrase after he says it.) One of the nurses says the Our Father over and over. He starts taking the nurses into another room where they meet a grisly demise. Just like the real life case, one of the girls hides under the bed and escapes death.
Cain learns that two of the nurses will be coming home late, and they’ll be getting a ride home from the police! The nurses are dropped off, but the police just leave without checking. Everything seemed all right. At the break, Balrok uses this to plug the Kuvara law firm. The Garda didn’t even check to make sure they got in all right. It’s time to sue! 
Cain finally leaves and goes to a pub he has been hanging out in. He still owes a tab and pays it with some of the money he got from the nurses. He hears reports on the TV that describe him very well, especially his tattoo. He knows it’s only a matter of time before they catch him. In a gratuitous, bloody scene he tries to cut the tattoo off. He’s taken to the hospital. There he is recognized and captured. All of this very true to the Speck story. Speck had a tattoo, “Born To Raise Hell.” He tried to kill himself and was recognized in the hospital.   
The movie is finally over and it’s time for the last segment from the Cave. “Now this is the important thing,” No Name says. Cain knows it’s only a matter of time before they catch him. So, what does he do? “He pays his bar tab, man! That’s the important thing!” 
Every week a local comedian is presented. They usually have this in the middle of the show. Tonight’s guest comedian will be, “Creepy KOFY Movie Time’s own,” Gina Seragina! Gina tells some weak jokes in her halting Eastern European accent. 
Her stand up act is awful and suddenly a guy in a blue jacket comes on the set and yells. “You’ve really done it this time! No one move! It’s Immigration!” They’re going to deport Gina! She’s wrestled to the ground and handcuffed. She begs not to be sent back to the Ukraine! Was this just a good way to get her off the show?
I beat the crowd out the door. The Slob was standing by the door, getting ready to wish the guests good night. We shook hands. “Thanks for coming out to see that horrible movie!”