dir. Gary Troy
When my writing partner was still living in New York some years ago he often complained that the city rarely had the sort of special screenings of exploitation/drive-in movies that frequently occurred back in Austin. Sure, we have the retrospectives of films by such directors as Sidney Lumet, Woody Allen, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, but what about the cinematic dog-poo? Who's showing that? As is evident in my blog, I am also quite the fan of such short bus riding movies. Suffice it to say, I try to seek out and attend venues for these lesser loved flicks whenever possible. Of course, what with the combination of the economy sitting in a warm bath and opening its veins and my wallet being in the middle of a crash diet of bennies and vomiting, I haven't gone to cool movie events of any kind for quite some time. It takes something really special to get me to shell out some of my hard earned cash. But where could I go to find an especially awesome shit movie? Last night the answer was 92Y Tribeca.
92Y Tribeca is a cool little venue which, much in the vein of BAM and other such places, has movie screenings, live music, live comedy, and other such events. [I sure like saying other such today.] Last night, incidentally, was the first time I had been to this place. When my roommate and I arrived, I was initially confused, as the area just outside of the screening room had a definite art gallery vibe, what with them elitist East-Coast intellectual types sipping wine and beer while surrounded by a sterile white environment full of art pieces. When I ordered a PBR, the plastic cup it was served in, seemed far classier a container than this Blue Ribbon winning beer has ever deserved. It didn't seem an appropriate environment for a shitty movie night. The place certainly has a much different vibe than my beloved UCB Theater, or even my hometown's independent movie theater the Railroad Square Cinema.
Another stark difference between such a New York venue as 92Y Tribeca and the ol' Railroad Square is the number of people who attend screenings. Back when I was in Maine one of my greatest joys was going to see whatever the hell was showing at the Railroad Square (I worried less about money back then), knowing full well that I would probably be the only person in the theater (because I'm cool like that). Although it is definitely a cool experience to have an entire theater to yourself, it certainly doesn't match the the joyous feeling of having an entire theater full of like-minded types soaking in the joys of cinematic dreck. [I am digressing like a motherfucker today.]
Such was the experience I had last night at 92Y Tribeca's Bad Movie Night. [How's that for a segue, motherfuckers.] Thanks to the folks at the Found Footage Festival, I was granted the ability to see the, probably released straight to video, shitty 80s non-classic Computer Beach Party. For those who are unfamiliar, the folks at the Found Footage Festival gather numerous videos they find at garage sales, flea markets and the like and screen them for audiences. The stuff they screen is usually of the old workout tape, instructional video, and just plain bizarre variety. Computer Beach Party marked the first event in which they screened an actual "movie". Although I have been aware of their work for some time, I hadn't previously been to one of the Found Footage Festival screenings. Dear God, what an event it was. A Found Footage Festival screening is basically a live version of "MST3K", as the two hosts comment on the movie as it unfolds. They even, at some points rewind certain awesomatastical scenes so that the audience can watch them again. Although my critique of this picture will not match the humor that they brought to it, I feel that I should write about it anyways, so as to educate the masses on the glories of Computer Beach Party.
Where to begin, oh where to begin? Computer Beach Party functions more or less as an extended ad for 80s glam metal band Panther. The film's badly dubbed dialogue is frequently drowned out by the totally rad sounds of this quintessentially inessential hair band. Treating the viewers to such tunes as "Hotpocket Beach party", "Drag-A-Racing", and "The Mirror on Marie's Ceiling", who would even care that a movie exists beneath the white noise of the Panther soundtrack.
Of course, the filmmakers did have to tack on some sort of story to fill out this band's promotional video. And tack on a story, they did. Although my description of Computer Beach Party will seem lazy and fractured, you will have to believe me when I say that I put more thought into it than the screenwriters did while doing tequila shots, listening to Jimmy Buffet and puking their words onto the page.
Our heroes, Andy (Hank Amico) and Dennis (Andre Chimene), are two beach bums who fight the mayor and his plans to buy their beloved beach, bring in lifeguards and open the area to the general public. Wow, that mayor is one world class douche-nozzle. The mayor's henchman is Turk, a man who, aside from looking like the villain in The Karate Kid, exhibits no other evil characteristics than that he is Andy and Dennis' sail-buggy and car racing rival. How do our intrepid heroes beat the non-villain in their stakes-less races? Through lots o' cheating using Andy's superpowerful computer technology.
[Beach car race:]
Thrown into the mix is a deeply affecting, poignant love story. Using his anti-charisma, the emotionless Andy woos the Mayor's daughter, Allison (Stacey Nemour). To seal the deal, Andy uses his computer yet again to create beautiful computer animation of hearts to trick Allison into falling for him. Computers, is there anything they can't do? More than anything, this film is an ode to the computer's ability to help people cheat at whatever tasks life throws their way.
[Andy courts Allison:]
Once he has won her over, Andy must convince Allison to use her connection to her daddy mayor to get him to reverse his beach buying plan. Because he has fallen for her, Andy can't let it seem that he is using Allison simply for his own personal gain. The jaded Allison, meanwhile, must let down her guard and accept that Andy actually loves her and is not simply using her because of her all powerful Galveston, TX mayor connections as so many before him have. This love story adds important complex subtext to the already multi-layered film. Either that or it functions an excuse for inclusion of an ineptly staged, awkwardly filmed sex scene between the two low-rent leads.
Unrelated to anything in the movie, a comic relief cop frequently finds boning beach-goers and attempts to arrest them, only to be thrown off track by his arch-rival, a speeding chicken shaped vehicle. Yep, that happens. A backstory of sunken pirate treasure also exists here, as well as a visit to NASA to unearth information about said treasure. And, of course, lots and lots of beach party Panther performances.
Because, when it comes to this movie, seeing is believing I have included below another set of randomatastically awesome clips from this masterpiece.
I realize of course that many of you, though you would like to see this film, will not have access to it. Fear not, for IMDB has come to your rescue. Luckily, they have a group of suggestions for similar movies if you are unable to get your Computer Beach Party on: Little Miss Sunshine, The Woodsman, Mission: Impossible II, The Net, and Nim's Island. Wow, I couldn't think of a group of movies more similar to both Computer Beach Party and each other. Of course, these random-ass related movie suggestions make about as much sense as anything else in the beach party masterpiece. I couldn't think of any more appropriate counterparts to Computer Beach Party.