I lost a good friend this week, and the world lost a genuinely great human being. When I joined a gaming group back in 2000 at the invitation of a customer who frequented the video store where I worked, I hadn’t done any type of role-playing gaming in years. But the group was incredibly welcoming despite my confusion, and even invited me back after I dared inflict the “Challenge of the Super-Heroes Roast” on them.
For years, gaming was held in the top floor of Tre’s apartment building, and you couldn’t ask for a better host. Thoughtful, witty, smart, and kind to a fault, Tre was never less than a pleasure to be around, and was always more than willing to put an insane amount of effort into the games we played when he was in charge, which was often, as he had more initiative than any of us.
Even though the gaming group itself eventually splintered off, we were guaranteed to see Tre at least once a year, at Northwestern’s annual B-Fest, a 24-hour celebration of oddball movies that Tre had been attending since the late ’90s. While a good percentage of our barbs at the proceedings on screen were clunkers, Tre’s quick wit was always in evidence, and he was the only one of us whose sense of humor really lived up to the MST3K-level riffing to which we all aspired.
I wanted to memorialize him in the best way I could in my own little corner of the web — by using this column to list ten movies that were shown at B-Fest, and will always remind me of the great times we had with him.
I’ll miss the hell out of you, Tre. I’m honored to have had a chance to know you.
10. Godzilla (1998) (At B-Fest 2006)
Tre loved giant monster pics, and while B-Fest always had at least one each year, this is the only one available on streaming. (There are a number of others, however, that didn’t get the B-Fest treatment while we were there. May I suggest GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO?) The nicest thing I can say is that Harry Shearer’s in it, and there’s no sequel.
9. Blackenstein (1973) (At B-Fest 2011)
It’s pretty unfair that this gets lumped with BLACULA, which is an actually entertaining movie, in the limited listing of blaxploitation horror films. It’s a dull slog of a flick, the cinematic equivalent to being dragged through wet cement very slowly. This may actually be William Levey’s worst film, and that’s no small accomplishment. But hey, Liz Renay’s in it for a second.
8. Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973) (At B-Fest 2001)
Sexy aliens come to Earth to suck out the, er, “energies” from men in a movie that’s just campy enough to be fun, with William Smith and Anita Ford.
7. The Monkey Hustle (1976) (At B-Fest 2004)
Rudy Ray Moore’s prominently featured, but it’s Yaphet Kotto’s show, in Arthur Marks’s fun con game comedy that doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense, but it’s a great ride.
6. Message from Space (1978) (At B-Fest 2002)
5. Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986) (At B-Fest 2005)
You either like Troma films or you don’t — there’s not really an in-between — but their 1986 flick about a nuclear contamination that causes nice kids to become deranged punks is one of their most enjoyable.
4. Barbarella (1968) (At B-Fest 2008)
BARBARELLA should really only be seen on the big screen — it’s meant as a pop-art spectacle rather than something you actually pay attention to. Still, it’s got some astounding visuals and a great cast, including Jane Fonda (obviously), John PHillip Law, Marcel Marceau, Milo O’Shea (who reprised his role years later in a Duran Duran film) and David Hemmings.
3. Airport ’77 (1977) (At B-Fest 2004)
The most ridiculous of the AIRPORT sequels (the wonderfully batshit AIRPORT ’79, featuring Sylvia Kristel, Jimmy “JJ” Walker and Charo) isn’t on streaming, but this one, in which a plane ends up underwater and it turns into THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, was a hit at B-Fest thanks to the typically wild cast — check out the poster and tell me you’re not interested.
2. Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984) (At B-Fest 2005)
In 2002, B-Fest showed BREAKIN’, but it was three years before the sequel, made the same year, was appreciated by a wider audience more amenable to its charms.
1. The Apple (1980) (At B-Fest 2005)
Honestly, I think the most enjoyable time we had with a film our group sponsored was with SUPERGIRL, but as that’s not on streaming, I have to go with Menahem Golan’s THE APPLE, a disco/new wave monstrosity featuring Catherine Mary Stewart about the far-future age of 1994. It’s such an energetically jaw-dropping film that the audience couldn’t help but going along with the insanity on screen.
(Art at the top comes from the B-Fest poster created by the incredible Mitch O’Connell.)
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