Tuesday, May 24, 2011

(A LITTLE TASTE OF) JOE DANTE'S MOVIE ORGY!


"The Movie Orgy isn’t really a movie. It’s more like a hallucinatory party for the certifiably movie mad. What began in 1968 as a lark instigated by two creative movie fans (Dante and his close friend, future producer Jon Davison) soon became an event, an explosion of movie geek love that morphed into a small cult phenomenon-- the one existing print toured college campuses in the dark shadows of the Democratic Convention in Chicago, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War before being retired in the early ‘70s. Dante says before transferring it to DVD just before last Tuesday’s screening that he hadn’t seen it himself in nearly 30 years. And for years those who remember seeing it back in the day would recount their experiences with it to fans of Dante’s work who could only imagine the anarchic sensibility of the Orgy, the best evidence of it being the myriad ways it seemed to have informed Dante’s subsequent movies and his identity as a director... In addition to being as spasmodically, recklessly entertaining as any four and a half-hour-long movie marathon I’ve ever seen (hmm, have I seen any others?), The Movie Orgy (is) remarkable as an opportunity to peek inside the brain of a brilliant movie director and see the nascent manifestation of a comic sensibility, political worldview and all-encompassing passion for low-fi moving images all rolled up and twisted together in an untamed package that can be directly correlated to the films he would spend the next 40 years bringing to life."

So I opined back in 2008 when The Movie Orgy was unveiled for an audience for the first time in 30 years or so, as the keynote presentation in Joe Dante's first Dante's Inferno series at the New Beverly Cinema. Those of us who were lucky enough to pack the New Beverly that night back in June three years ago knew we were in for something magical and insane, and it was a thrill unlike any other theatrical experience I've ever had to be there with so many other genuine movie geeks to see it in the presence of Dante himself. But as much mainlined fun as TMO was to see, its images jutting and cascading and hurling themselves out to a roomful of the most receptive possible eyeballs, it was even more fun to try to write about, to attempt to describe the methods behind its madness, to try to convey the experience of seeing it without turning the account into a blow-by-blow regurgitation of all the best bits. I figured out early on that such an exercise would be the epitome of futility, because The Movie Orgy is so much about the sum of its many fragmented parts and the cumulative effect its aural/visual attack that any such attempt to approach recounting it in this way would come up pitifully short.


After years of existing primarily as a legend whispered about in film geek circles, the relative few who have actually seen it at the two New Beverly screenings and, most recently, at the Venice Film Festival brag on the experience as one of the movies' great Holy Grail-type experiences. (I know I have!) And now, through the auspices of Trailers from Hell, Joe Dante has premiered a juicy four and a half-minute chunk of The Movie Orgy online at Trailers from Hell just to further whet the appetite of those who have yet gone without and tantalize those of us who have seen it with the prospect of a second helping. The clip, introduced by a generous portion of my original review, gives but a surreal taste of the Orgy's grand design, but it's a tasty taste. Dante hints that Los Angeles viewers who have yet to experience the Orgy for themselves, including one of TV's most genuinely bizarre broadcasts courtesy of Andy Devine, will get their chance sometime this summer courtesy of the Cinefamily. For now, click on over to Trailers from Hell for their exclusive clip from one of the great movie geek treasures ever assembled, Joe Dante's The Movie Orgy.

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