B-Fest 2004 | Festival | Chicago Reader

B-Fest 2004 

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Inaugurated in 1981, this annual 24-hour marathon of B (and Z) movies runs Friday through Saturday, January 30 through 31, at Northwestern Univ. Norris Center, 1999 Campus Dr., Evanston. There is no entry to the festival between 2:00 am and 8:00 am Saturday. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, and $10 after 8:00 am Saturday; for more information call 847-491-2305.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 30

The Brain From Planet Arous

John Agar stars as a scientist whose body is taken over by a giant cerebrum from outer space. Nathan Juran directed this 1957 sci-fi feature. 70 min. (6:05)

Robot Jox

Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) directed this 1990 sci-fi flick set in a postapocalyptic world where the surviving superpowers duke it out with huge, human-piloted robots. With Gary Graham and Anne Marie Johnson. 84 min. (7:15)

The Beatniks

Chicago native Paul Frees (1920-'86) was one of the most successful voice-over artists in the history of movies and also worked undercover for the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs; his only film as writer-director was this 1960 morality play about a pop singer led astray by his seedy friends. 78 min. (JJ) (8:40)

The Beast With Five Fingers

Italian villagers fear that the severed hand of a dead pianist is responsible for a series of murders in this 1946 horror feature from Warner Brothers. Robert Florey directed; with Robert Alda, Peter Lorre, and a score by Max Steiner. 88 min. (10:00)

The Wizard of Speed and Time

A trailer for Mike Jittlov's 1989 cult film. (11:45)

SATURDAY, JANUARY 31

Plan 9 From Outer Space

Bela Lugosi died during the making of this low-budget science fiction programmer, but that didn't faze director Edward Wood: the Lugosi footage, which consists of the actor skulking around a suburban garage, is replayed over and over, to highly surreal effect. Wood is notorious for his 1952 transvestite saga Glen or Glenda?, but for my money this 1959 effort is twice as strange and appealing in its undisguised incompetence. J. Hoberman of the Village Voice has made a case for Wood as an unconscious avant-gardist; there's no denying that his blunders are unusually creative and oddly expressive. With Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Joanna Lee, and, of course, Lyle Talbot. 79 min. (DK) (Midnight)

Monkey Hustle

A 1977 blaxploitation comedy shot in Chicago, with Yaphet Kotto, Rudy Ray Moore, Kirk Calloway, and Rosalind Cash. Arthur Marks directed. 90 min. (1:20 am)

Alice in Wonderland

Sleazy even by the standards of soft-core porn, Bill Osco's "X-rated musical comedy" (1976) is a wheezy series of locker-room gags, slightly tempered by some philosophizing from the do-your-own-thing school. A depressing experience for all but the most committed voyeurs. Bud Townsend directed. 78 min. (DK) (2:50 am)

Spawn of the Slithis

An atomic monster terrorizes Venice Beach in this 1978 shocker by Stephen Traxler. 86 min. (4:10 am)

Devil Girl From Mars

Low-budget British sci-fi (1954) about a leather-clad woman from the red planet who prowls around Scotland with her robot, searching for a human mate. David MacDonald directed. 77 min. (5:40 am)

Airport '77

First-rate schlock; overlong and incredibly stupid, but that's part of the formula by now. An executive jet, piloted by Jack Lemmon, is the victim of an incompetent hijacker who runs it into an offshore oil rig, sending a planeload of panic-stricken character actors to the bottom of the sea. As Darren McGavin says, "The depletion of the oxygen supply could become a crucial factor in survival." Albert Whitlock's special effects are a show in themselves. 113 min. (DK) (7:00 am)

The Forbidden Dance

A Brazilian princess journeys to LA to campaign for preservation of her native rain forest and becomes a TV dance star in this 1990 film directed by Greydon Clark. 97 min. (9:30 am)

The Beast of Yucca Flats

The hulking Tor Johnson (of Ed Wood fame) stars in this 1961 horror flick about a Russian scientist turned into an atomic monster. Coleman Francis directed. 60 min. (11:10 am)

Fortress

SF thriller about a couple in the near future (Christopher Lambert and Loryn Locklin) who run afoul of a law limiting a woman to one pregnancy and wind up trying to escape from a privately run high-tech prison. Directed by former Chicagoan Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) and scripted by Steve Feinberg, Troy Neighbors, and former Reader critic Terry Curtis Fox; with Kurtwood Smith and Tom Towles. 89 min. (12:15)

The H-Man

H-bomb tests in the Pacific create oozing radioactive creatures that attack and dissolve humans in this Japanese sci-fi flick from 1958, directed by Ishiro Honda (Godzilla). 79 min. (1:50)

The Big Brawl

Asian superstar Jackie Chan makes his English-language debut in this light, fast kung fu comedy (1980). His line readings aren't much, but Chan is a talented mime and a brilliant physical comic: his personality has a lot of the early, feisty Chaplin in it, and the film is designed to pit his speed, grace, and intelligence against a number of hulking villains--just as the Tramp took on Mack Swain in Chaplin's first simple two-reelers. Set in Chicago in the 30s, the plot is a cheerfully thin excuse for back-to-back action scenes. If you have any patience with the genre at all, go see it--I more or less loved every empty-headed minute. Robert Clouse (Enter the Dragon) directed, and the picture displays his usual felicities of action montage and intelligent 'Scope compositions. 95 min. (DK) (3:10)

The Magnetic Monster

SF paranoia from 1953, with a gang of hoodlums stealing a radioactive isotope that sucks the energy from everything around it. With Richard Carlson, the dull, sturdy axiom of the genre, and Jean Byron, King Donovan, and Byron Foulger; written and directed by Curt Siodmak. 76 min. (DK) (4:45)

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