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Schlock Alert! B-Fest Film Festival Returns Next Week

By Joel Wicklund in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 12, 2016 5:37PM

Scene from "Caltiki, The Immortal Monster."

B-Fest, the upcoming 24-hour marathon of B-movies at Northwestern University, is definitely not for respectful film fans. It's tradition, dating back 35 years, for attendees to loudly opine, wisecrack, and sleep-babble as they gorge on a full day of low-budget escapism and pure schlock.

This year's schedule was announced last week, which means tickets could be gone soon, as many regulars buy their tickets long before the lineup is unveiled. For those still on the fence, however, here are some potential highlights of the Jan. 22-23 event.

Caltiki, The Immortal Monster (1959): Italy's answer to The Blob was co-directed by an uncredited Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Blood and Black Lace). Considered pretty grisly for its era, this may actually be a bit too good for B-Fest belittlement.

Americathon (1979): Critically reviled and a box office bomb, this comedy about a TV telethon to save an economically crippled USA (in the future of 1998!) does boast an amazingly offbeat cast: John Ritter, Harvey Korman, Fred Willard, George Carlin (who narrates), Jay Leno, Elvis Costello, Meat Loaf, Cybill Shepherd, legendary L.A. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, and game show host Peter Marshall, among others. Plus, it's based on a play by members of The Firesign Theatre, so could it really be that bad?

Calling Dr. Death (1943): This is one of six Universal horror cheapies released under the Inner Sanctum Mysteries banner to piggyback on the popular radio series of the same name. It's not the best nor the worst in the series, but the overacting grandeur of star Lon Chaney, Jr. is always a force to be reckoned with.

The Human Tornado (1976):
Foul-mouthed, rhyming comedian and blaxploitation film legend Rudy Ray Moore reprises his Dolemite character in a movie with sleaze and ludicrous martial arts action to spare.

Roar (1981): Anyone who caught this during its midnight showings at the Music Box last spring has probably been talking about its insanity ever since. Director-writer-star Noel Marshall put himself and his family (including wife Tippi Hedren and stepdaughter Melanie Griffith) at risk in this attempt at a Born Free-styled salute to the wonders of the wild. Instead it became an unintentionally harrowing document of man's stupidity. As the tagline for the re-release noted: "No animals were harmed in the making of this movie. 70 members of the cast and crew were."

Not enough onscreen oddities for you? Well, there's also sword-and-sandal cinema (The Adventures of Hercules), some '60s sci-fi from Hammer Films (Moon Zero Two), obscure '80s action fare (Low Blow), a bargain-budget literary spinoff (The Fifth Musketeer), Raquel Welch as a roller derby queen (Kansas City Bomber), and some Hong Kong kiddie superhero fun (The Super Inframan).

And yes, die-hards, Ed Wood's bad movie masterpiece Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) and the wacky, musical short The Wizard of Speed and Time (1979) will return for their annual showings.

Newcomers should be advised that if you don't plan to stay for the whole 24 hours, be sure to exit before 2 a.m. or you'll be locked in until 8 a.m., per regulations to comply with Evanston's curfew laws.

All movies will be shown in the McCormick Auditorium of the Norris University Center on the Northwestern campus (1999 South Campus Drive) in Evanston. Tickets are $35 or $25 for NU students. Info on protocol (be nice to your fellow viewers and bring a toothbrush or at least some mints), parking, and ordering tickets is available on the B-Fest website.