Once again, there’s a worldwide pandemic, you love movies, and it’s definitely not safe to go to movie theatres no matter how many videos Tom Cruise posts about going to see Tenet. Yeah, okay Tom, you’re in London, not the USA. WE GET IT YOU’RE SUPER COOL RUNNING GUY. MAYBE YOU CAN RUN FASTER THAN COVID 19? I DOUBT IT, BUT ARE YOU COMPLETELY LOSING YOUR GODDAMN MIND? I mean, you’re in a movie theatre full of unmasked people and you’re wearing a vented mask, so whatever argument you are making here is invalid. With Cinematic Void’s Cinemadness movie, you can enjoy cinema at home. Where it’s safe.
When the stay at home order was issued in California on March 19th and the great panic hit Costco, many were sitting at home, wondering what was going to happen. People were scared and really bored, not actually being used to spending that much time in their home or with their loved ones. All the pets were really confused.
Just then, like phoenix from the flames, the Cinemadness movie appeared.
Cinematic Void, the cult film series at American Cinematheque and Beyond Fest, answered the call. James Branscome started with a modest online screening on Friday, March 27th in the style of Cinematic Void’s Cinemadness Midnight’s screenings. I have written previously about The Void’s superb January Giallo series before and I am still mad that I didn’t get to go this year. The online screening was a hit, even at 11:30 at night, and The Void started doing a weekly series every Friday night where they showed a mystery movie with vintage commercials at 8:30 p.m. Sometimes we get a double or triple feature, like when they brought Camp Void back. They always keep things interesting.
It evolved into more of a show, with the intensely catchy theme song Astros by DCTV aka Death Hags in the opening sequence. If you’ve ever been to a Cinemadness screening at the American Cinematheque, you’ll recognize it.
Taking suggestions from their viewing audience, they started doing hosted segments where James Branscome shared his film knowledge about the movies being shown that evening. There are always interesting and hilarious bits of history in them. One of my favorites was during the screening of Great White aka The Last Shark where Branscome recounted the rise and fall of Film Ventures International In that story, after the success of Great White, which was ruined by Universal’s plagiarism suit against the film, a divorce, and several box office bombs, the owner Edward Montoro stole a million dollars from his company and vanished. Never to be seen again. Yes, people do that sometimes. For real.
The film is wildly entertaining, with a ridiculous performance by Vic Morrow doing his best Robert Shaw impression and a completely fake looking shark eating windsurfers and local government officials. Some of these incredible moments happen at the windsurfing regatta. I am being so sincere right now. A windsurfing regatta. Great White is superior to it’s obvious “inspiration” Jaws in one important way. Some of the villains in the movie get a bloody comeuppance from the shark itself while the officious Islanders of Jaws made it to the next movie. I call that getting your money’s worth.
Like a lot of low budget films that have to substitute wild ideas and creativity for a budget, many of these films are goofy fun. There’s also some brutally serious films among these dusty jewels. Just what a bunch of bored and scared people need. It’s a bit like a cinematic education in exploitation and low budget genre cinema. Another one of my favorite films screened as part of the series was Sergio Martino’s Silent Action an excellent Poliziotteschi or Italian crime film based on a real political incident and assassination. In the case of Silent Action, it is about the Golpe Borghese which was an attempted fascist coup d’etat.
Like I’ve mentioned before in the previous Cinematic Void article, Sergio Martino is really an unsung master of Italian genre cinema. While a director like Dario Argento gets most of the adulation, cinemaniacs would do well to explore the films of genre maestros like Martino and Lucio Fulci to start. They are both incredibly versatile and talented directors who deserve more credit for their achievements and Martino is still alive to appreciate the love.
But it’s not all Italian films, there was also Neon Maniacs, that managed to fit in mutated monsters, badass skateboarding teen heroines, and punks giving people the finger in a film that is set in San Francisco, but was clearly filmed in Los Angeles.
There’s also Breaking All The Rules, a teenage sex and crime film set in a amusement park that quite possibly has the greatest Zamboni scenes of all time in it. Branscome has argued for the inclusion of this scene into the hallowed halls of film schools along with the Odessa Steps sequence in The Battleship Potemkin for sheer film artistry and to be honest, I can’t disagree with him.
Every week, Cinemadness fans tweeted along with the show and I believe there was a Discord channel dedicated to a watch party. The Cinemania briefly came to a halt when the Beyond Fest and American Cinematheque drive in series got under way and Branscome started creating the trailer reel for the weekly show at the Mission Tiki Drive In. However, not all is lost: Cinemadness Fridays will return today, August 28 at 8:30 p.m. This return will actually be a special show done in conjunction with Severin Films that genre distributor who brings back some of the wildest films from horror and cult cinema. In the words of the Void itself.
We will be screening a secret movie from Severin’s vast library of horror, sleaze, cult and exploitation films.
There will also be a musical performance of “I Was A Ghost” from Pentagram Home Video Here’s a teaser video of the new song. There was late confirmation that there will also be a mystery guest for tonight’s screening.
The Void has a very strong connection to music and has previously hosted a video premiere for the band, you guessed it, Death Hags. With Severin and PHV involved, this is going to be good.
You can check out the reel for the upcoming show here:
But remember, this is actually free. Of course, if you really like it and you would like to support the creators and ensure its future, you can always tip the Void or join their Patreon. Either way, you can freely enter in the Cinemadness here: https://www.cinematicvoid.com/midnight
It’s an event put on with a lot of film love, hard work, and humor. It’s a way to briefly put the monotonous grind of the pandemic away for a couple of hours. Yes, you can again fall into the Void.