Man of the Moment

Sean William Scott

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Countdown to Midnight: The Also Rans 

There's just something that feels...right about going to see a movie at midnight. On the one hand, it's because you know it's going to be fun. Oh sure, there are lots of movie theaters, usually near college campuses, that show deadly serious and oh so important films, because those are the kinds of films you're supposed to watch if you want to be taken seriously as an intellectual. Well, you know, I went the intellectual route. And while Alphaville is a good movie, I'll take Repo Man over it any day of the week. The whole point of going to a midnight movie is to have spent a good portion of the previous part of the evening boozing it up with your friends in the nearest dive bar, then swaning over to the theater in good spirits to hang out with all the other freaks, drunks and insomniacs to watch a film that, intellectually, you know isn't going to be any good. Because that's not why you're going. You're going because you want to be drunk and hang out with freaks.

Now, given that I'm generally gayer than a gay thing that's gay, it really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that my favorite midnight movies are actually of the musical variety. I just love coming home at 2AM with a buzz wearing off and humming a barely passable tune. And so, in that vein, here's the films that don't quite make the cut for "Favorite Midnight Movies." They may be good, they may be bad, and they're all worth your attention (if for no other reason than inflicting them on unsuspecting friends), but they just don't quite rise to the level of the three films I will be looking at in-depth.

Xanadu: Oh, how could a film starring Gene Kelly, Olivia Newton-John and the music of ELO go so deliriously wrong? Newton-John stars as a muse who comes to Earth in order to inspire a night-club owner and an artist to build a roller-derby disco. Now, you all know I like high-concept, and that should be brilliant. But no, it all comes crashing down. It's a shambles. Newton-John's career never really recovered (her next film would be a tepid remake of Faust costarring John Travolta called Two of a Kind...that didn't help either). The two most successful numbers are a merging of a 40's big band love song and dancers with a "punk" hard-rock ballad and dancers, and the big final number, with ELO dueting with Newton-John on a song about how great Xanadu is while all the other muses roller-disco in tight pants.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch: Now, this film really is good. And the songs are fantastic. It's the story of a botched transgender operation, rock stars, and revenge. It's simply fantastic, everything you could possibly want in a film. And, until recently, it was actually attracting regular midnight showings with full casts and a definte "RHPS"-esque ambience...than the distributors pulled the theatrical release rights in favor of cable rotations. Bastards.

Shock Treatment: The semi-sequel to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The songs are actually quite fun, and the story doesn't totally suck. But man, Cliff DeYoung and Jessica Harper don't quite have the charisma or appeal of Barry Bostwick or Susan Sarandon, and the loss of Tim Curry was devastating. There were just no other returning cast members with the ability to focus a film around. "Oh God...character actors" as the script itself notes. Still, it has its charms, despite being filmed entirely on unfinished sound stages and the many, many deliberate attempts to encourage audience participation.


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