Monday, October 1, 2012

Another Thing That’s Doing Better Than the Browns: Cinema Wasteland (October 5th, 6th, and 7th at the Strongsville Holiday Inn Select)

[Cinema Wasteland takes place Friday October 5th, Saturday October 6th, and Sunday October 7th at the Strongsville Holiday Inn Select.]

Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.

As if the Obama-Romney presidential race isn't getting sleazy and horrific enough, be in Strongsville for Cinema Wasteland this weekend.

In the spirit of such fan `cons' (conventions) as the Monster Bash in Pittsburgh and DragonCon in Atlanta, Cinema Wasteland is a gathering and memorabilia expo devoted to "the drive-in era" of horror, fantasy, kung-fu action, spaghetti westerns, pro-wrestling and all other forms of louche "grindhouse" media.

Fans turn out to meet and greet both veteran movie stars and backyard filmmakers offering homebrew zombie sagas; watch late-nite TV horror hosts cavort live; and
buy, sell, trade and enjoy all that's dodgy and oddball in music, TV, comics and movies

The Dr. Frankenstein behind Cinema Wasteland's creation is Ken
Kish, of Berea, who for years now has operated a mail-order
business along similar lines called Video Wasteland. Kish has arranged
for three days of films and fun in the runup to elections/Halloween. And Quentin Tarentino approves this message.

Be there, for example, for a film-appreciation like none you've attended at University Circle, starring the one and only "42nd Street Pete." "He's a grindhouse historian from NYC," said Kish. Pete's recollections bring back the old days when Times Square was a jungle of disreputable Italian horror, Cantonese chopsocky and X-rated flicks, not the sales floor for Disney's LION KING or LITTLE MERMAID Broadway adaptations that it is today.

Kish puts on Cinema Wasteland twice a year, in spring and in fall. He prides himself on gathering different guests, including some rare to the nostalgia circuit, and cramming in as many films, panels, talks and events as he can.

VIP visitors this year, for instance, include some veteran B-movie “Scream Queens” who put the sizzle into VHS, Michelle Bauer, Belinda Balasky and Linnea Quigley (Quigley is so identified with sex appeal and horror blended together she put out a horror-themed workout/fitness video, an angle that has yet to occur to Jillian Michaels).

Actress Dyanne Thorne, whose appearances in S&M heavy productions like ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE S.S. and WANDA THE WICKED WARDEN made such an impact that they’ve even made fans forget she was on classic Star Trek, will be there, with her actor/musician-husband Howard Maurer.

Fred Olen Ray is a low-budget producer-director whose affection for Roger Corman and pulp/grindhouse culture shows in his plentiful programmers and his pro-wrestling and publishing ventures (including a very readable and useful history of the exploitation-cinema biz, The New Poverty Row). Bert I. Gordon is a name known to just about every creature-feature viewer and Famous Monsters of Filmland reader for his many giant- or mini-creature B-pictures, based on simple optical tricks, such as the genre classic THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN and the giant-grasshopper saga THE BEGINNING OF THE END.
Just a few of the cinematic attractions, in two different auditoriums (unspooling on 16mm as well as projected video) at the latest CW include the 1979 TV-movie Marvel comics adaptation CAPTAIN AMERICA, whose star, actor Reb Brown, is on the guest roster. DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE is all-new sleaze-schlock from a latter-day grindhouse filmmaker who calls himself Bill Zebub. MANIAC, from 1980, about a serial killer/scalper of women, was an especially notorious and divisive entry in the splatter-film genre.

Were Siskel & Ebert right to be so upset about MANIAC? You can ask one of the supporting actresses, Sharon Mitchell, who is a CW guest. Ms. Mitchell also spent considerable time in the adult-film industry and subsequently earned a PhD in Advanced Human Sexuality, making her potentially the last person we know of who went to a college-level institution and actually got employment.

There will also be a few Bert I. Gordon features and a tribute to drive-in moviegoing with THE WILD WOMEN OF WONGO hosted by Gunga Jim. A Saturday-morning Three Stooges mini-festival is emceed by the Akron-Canton horror host Son of Ghoul.

Devotees of the horror and exploitation-movie genre drive from thousands of miles and hours away to attend, Kish said proudly, even when gas prices are harsher than the torture scenes you saw (though you'll never admit it to your parents, or children) in ILSA, HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS (which is screening).

And, of course, a perennial attraction is the dealer room, full of tapes and discs, posters, books, soundtracks, fashion accessories and Halloween-ish and Goth wares and collectibles.

Cinema Wasteland takes place at the Holiday Inn Select of
Strongsville (15471 Royalton Rd.), Friday from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission at the door
is $20 per day, or you can buy at three-day $45 VIP pass, or a bargain $15 pass for Sunday only. For more info check out Ken Kish's website

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