TFO: Totally Friggin Owesome
We at the Sacramento Press have already spent several hundred words poking and prodding you readers to imbibe in the blood-soaked, cleavage-filled, heavy-metal hilarity that is the Trash Film Orgy. Now, we have escalated to drastic measures and must insist that you attend the last TFO screening of the season Saturday at the Crest Theatre — at the stroke of midnight.
If you have ever yelled at your television, scoffed at overacting, jeered at cornball love scenes, marveled at excessive violence and explosions or shrieked with laughter at super low-budget special effects, the TFO is for you. For the last nine summers, TFO has shared its impressive collection of exploitation, grindhouse and horror films with punky, belligerent, 18+ audiences exclusively at the Crest.
TFO selects its films not simply for being ‘bad,’ but for their overlooked potential for cult status. TFO member Amy Slockbower said she thinks ‘bad,’ is a misnomer anyway.
"I don’t think any of these movies are sub-par by any means," Slockbower said. "They’re great in their own way, and not ‘so bad it’s good,’ like a lot of people say. These movies are under-appreciated and misunderstood."
TFO films can be monster movies, zombie films, survival horrors, imported action films, or ‘butts in seats’ classics like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Movie production companies actually give their OK to these screenings and provide for-real movie reels.
"We’re the Trash Film Orgy, so we keep it on celluloid every time we can," Slockbower said. Sometimes this means scratchy prints that are dissolving with time – for classic and authentic ‘technical difficulties.’
Behind TFO is a vast collaborative of local comedians, DJs, artists, models and midnight movie buffs who share their campy energies to bring Sacramento residents a night of pure rock-and-roll entertainment. While at the ‘straight’ movie theater, customers will buy their tickets, sit quietly, watch the feature and leave, TFO is a completely different organism. For the $10 ticket price, you’ll be entertained from the moment you get in line until the drive home, when you’ll still be smirking, joking and laughing at the whole experience.
The TFO audience is, suffice to say, quite colorful. Attendees range from TFO virgins to nine-year veterans, and you’re sure to spot a plethora of punk-rockers, zombies, schoolgirls, metalheads and goth kids as you buy tickets and enter the lobby. The Crest’s posh lobby gets renovated/vandalized every week into ‘Trashville,’ a carnival-esque series of painted wooden booths where you can try your luck to win kitschy toys, take snapshots with TFO’s friendly and foxy group of costumed models or listen to a rousing sermon from Lucifer himself.
"Interactivity is a big part of TFO. We like to keep things involving and fun," Slockbower said.
Crest’s main theater becomes a nifty meet-and-greet lounge before the show where you can mingle with your TFO peers to the beat of awesome live DJ’ing, courtesy of TFO’s long list of musically-talented friends. Occasionally, TFO will play host to cult celebrities, and famously drew Bruce Campbell to the theater for a 2001 screening of "Evil Dead 2."
Before the film starts, you’ll be introduced to your emcee deity, the Great Tiki God, who will shout out some context for the night’s movie and work the crowd. Stage shows generally follow. Improv comedians and friends of TFO will perform hilarious skit-comedy — last week’s sketch was ‘Cannibal Cowboys,’ a dramatic tale of people-wrangling zombies filled with heartbreak, betrayal and new beginnings – and some slapstick cap-gun duels.
An intermission brings another chance for audience participation with some form of contest. Last week saw a hot dog-eating competition that ended with more wieners stolen or thrown than digested.
Every week’s movie brings a different theme, but the audience tradition of yelling out riffs, jokes or profanity never changes. As soon as the movie begins, the shouting starts. Last week’s feature, ‘Lady Terminator’ was an import film that blended traditional Indonesian mythology with modern Hollywood themes of boobies, pop music and gunplay. The result was a train-wreck, brain-dead bloodbath that had the crowd howling.
The film starts and ends with shouting. As the projectionist sets up, the crowd chants "Gary! Gary!" As the opening credits roll, the crowd mocks silly-sounding names and production companies. Terminator’s ‘Chuchu Productions’ brought a flurry of train noises.
When a character gets eaten, gets naked or gets blown apart, the audience chimes in or cheers. As the movie ends, watchers share closing thoughts.
The sole surviving male protagonist in the Indonesian ‘Terminator’ was a blonde Caucasian, who stood triumphant with his new love interest. The crowd shouted: "Man, it sure is great being white!"
If you’re already a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 or the Rocky Horror Picture Show, this will sound endearingly familiar.
Walking from the theater into the K Street Mall at 3 a.m., (don’t worry, you’ll be fine,) you may get a warm fuzzy feeling from participating in a truly unique and community-driven experience. For those with a strong stomach and a campy sense of humor, I give the Trash Film Orgy my highest recommendation.
Go next week for Black Belt Jones, the kung-fu asswhoopin’ finale of this year’s TFO!