“Starcrash” hasn’t aged well, but last Wednesday, the 1978 Italian sci-fi romp graced the screen of the Trylon Microcinema, where B-movie fans gather each week to embrace the forgotten pop-culture refuse of the past.
When the Emperor of the known universe once again initiated yet another bout of handholding with the protagonists, a man in Trylon’s tiny, 50-person audience suddenly sang “Kumbaya.”
“I think that’s the cool thing about watching films like this —you don’t need to be super quiet and pay close attention,” said Theresa Kay. As the founder of Trash Film Debauchery, Kay encourages jeers from her audiences.
Kay started the group on the University of Minnesota campus in 2003 and has since moved the scorn-filled screenings to the Turf Club, the Trylon and soon Club JÃ¤ger. “Starcrash” represents a long line of “trash” films she’s spread.
“The first series I did was a double feature of the best cinematic head explosions of all-time,” she said. “So I showed ‘Scanners’ and ‘Maniac.’”***
Although her taste ranges from sci-fi to slasher and horror, Kay combs for rare gems among the bargain bins of thrift stores like Discount Village. For “Starcrash,” she says the perverse appeal to the campy “Star Wars” rip-off lies in the film’s principal actors.
“It’s a really low-budget Roger Corman sci-fi movie, but it has a bunch of well-known [actors] now, unknowns then,” she said.
Halfway through Stella Star’s (Caroline Munro) scantily clad cosmic adventure, she encounters the Emperor’s son, Simon. The golden nest of frizz emerges underneath Simon’s helmet, revealing a young David Hasselhoff.
“It’s always hilarious to see well-known actors who were successful and made a name for themselves being bad,” Kay said.
The future “Bay Watch” star can’t quite make up for the schlock of “Starcrash,” but the cult audience of Trash Film feeds off the base filmmaking. An impromptu martial arts scene pits Akton (Marjoe Gortner) against a nemesis, a cheap display of missed punches and overacting.
“A huge aspect of a lot of the things I show is sort of the unintentional comedy,” Kay said. “The filmmakers are really putting a lot into what they’re making and trying so hard to make something good. And it’s successful, but not in the way it’s intended to be.”
Trash Film Debauchery gives a social setting to enjoy the unintentional humor of “Starcrash,” full of shoddy special effects, but Kay still requires a movie to be entertaining. Perhaps she treads a fine line between pop entertainment and sheer boredom, but her eclectic selections often surprise the audience. During her days at the University, Kay remembers a disgruntled viewer of “Zardoz,” a particularly strange fantasy featuring Sean Connery.
When the film’s hero wandered around a giant crystal toward the conclusion, the onscreen inaction resulted in one girl’s dramatic exit.
“It’s really disorienting and strange. There’s nothing happening, and it goes on for five minutes, at least,” Kay said. “So this girl in the back of the room just screamed, ‘What is happening?’ She got up and stormed out because she’d had enough.”
“That was a successful moment for me.”
Hurl insults with Trash Film Debauchery at the following locations this summer:
The Trylon Microcinema
3258 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis
The Turf Club
1601 W. University Ave., St Paul
923 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis
Visit TrashFilmDebauchery.com for complete program list.
More chances to talk trash at the movies:
Midnight showings at the Uptown Theater (2906 Hennepin Ave.). Each month, Uptown screens “The Room” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show” for audiences to mock and/or enjoy. Bring a bag of plastic spoons or a football with you for “The Room,” and be sure to dress in drag for one of the best interactive cinematic experiences. The local cast, Transvestite Soup, perform alongside the movie each month.
The Defenders series at the Trylon (3258 Minnehaha Ave.). A local luminary screens a mystery movie for this monthly series at the Trylon. If you don’t like the surprise cinema, be prepared to mount your case against the local film expert. After the movie, the defenders must proudly profess the reasons for their particular pick. Guilty pleasures, rare and forgotten films form most of the past film picks. Upcoming defenders: Theresa Kay, Blake Iverson, Jim Brunzell.