Fear & Loathing @ the 2012 Philadelphia Film Festival Part III: Boozie Movies sees things that can't be unseen, and then it sees ABCs OF DEATH
To read previous installments click here & here
CHAPTER 5: WELL, THIS IS HAPPENING
Ask any heterosexual male what's on their bucket list, and it's inevitable that having a threesome will appear on it at some point. Well, here's the thing about MFF threesomes, they generally suck for the M. Science has pretty much proven that everyone is at least a little gay. But comparatively, I'm sure most women are a lot more gay. If they could pro-create without us, they would. Most men who go into three-ways with women in a scenario without a monetary exchange are sure to be left disappointed. That is, unless they're into voyeuristic humiliation.
When you get two drunk, horny women who are attracted to each other together, the male is ultimately going to find himself in the role of bench warmer for the party.
Watching Lydia and "Gina" go at it during the cab ride back to the haunted hotel had my heart rate speeding like the Mach 5 around the race track. I periodically had to pinch my thigh not only to double check that I wasn't dreaming, but to keep myself from accidentally having a hands free climax prematurely.
And yet, two hours later back at the hotel room, I'm feeling bored and rejected. I can't even get so much as a glance over in my direction and every time I try to slip into the fun I'm immediately shooed away like a pesky dog begging for scraps at the dinner table.
There's two beautiful women having sex a few feet in front of me but I'm smoking a bowl in the corner and checking my email on the smart phone. I keep re-refreshing the first article to this series in order to gauge the reaction. Is this silly series worth putting my life and fake film career in jeopardy?
In between all of the screaming, and moaning, and wet gurgling sounds coming from the bed, every so often, I think I can hear a young child laughing. I think I can hear footsteps pacing around the room, I think I can hear something rumbling in the closet.
All the while, I'm scrolling through my face book news feed and feeling more and more tired. I contemplate leaving but worry that it would be rude. I don't want to hurt anyone's feeling or leave anyone feeling rejected so I decide to lie down on the ground and take a nap as if that rationale makes a lick of sense.
I have no idea how long I've slept. There's no light peaking through the hotel room blinds yet so I assume it's still early morning, too late for sex but too early to be awake.
I can still hear the faint sounds of a child giggling somewhere out in the hallway but the sex noises have definitely stopped. I look over at the bed and, well, this is now happening.
Lydia is gone, or at least, half of her is. I can only see her legs which are now protruding out from "Gina's" nether regions. She's nearly been swallowed whole by the black hole to another dimension in my craigslist girlfriend's body.
"Gina" is still awake, sitting up straight with the pillows propping her up as a makeshift back rest on the mattress, her legs spread wide apart like an expectant mother in a lamaze class. She's coolly smoking a cigarette while looking at me.
Her stomach is churning, rising up, down, and grumbling like a closed mouth that's in the middle of chewing. Just like six years ago with the python, I can only sit there dumbfounded like that stupid deer in headlights.
Again, like before, the idea of taping this with my cell phone comes to mind but I wouldn't want to do anything of the sort without "Gina's" consent. Then again, I bet there's a niche market for this kind of material. "David Cronenberg body horror porn with demons from another universe," I can see the fine folks of Anonymous adapting this as some new fetish to flood the 4Chan forums with. I'm pretty sure I'm on FBI watch lists having made the mistake of seeing what the fuss was about with that site. I wouldn't be surprised if this kind of stuff already exists in the adult video trade in Europe.
"Gina" shifts her body to the side at the edge of the bed and stands up; only, she's not standing with her own legs but Lydia's.
She sashays her way over to me in what I think is an attempt to seduce me. I wonder about the physics of this, how it is that Gina has control of Lydia's legs while her body is still actively consuming the rest of Lydia's torso.
The smell, it's vivid. The word doesn't even make sense when describing a stench. I don't even know what a vivid smell is, but it's all I think of. I don't know if it's from "Gina" coming or Lydia going.
"Gina" puts a hand on my cheek and I swear that I can make out Lydia's face and fingers fighting to push through "Gina's" chest. I can actually hear bones chomping and grinding as Lydia is being digested.
This... is just too weird. I can't handle it. I've finally reached my limit. I feel sick to my stomach. I wish had some sparkly red shoes I could snap together three times to somehow magically send me back to the comfort and safety of my own home.
"Gina" kneels down in front of me flashing her bedroom eyes, leaning in for a kiss.
I violently pull away and immediately register the hurt in her eyes. Dammit. I just rejected an all powerful supernatural manifestation. I'm such an asshole.
I tell her that I have an upset stomach, that I must have had some bad felafel for dinner and make my way to the bathroom leaving "Gina" alone in the bedroom.
I lock the bathroom door behind me, run over to the toilet, and throw up.
Shit. I'm having a panic attack. I'm immediately swallowed up in a hurricane of self doubt and self loathing anxiety.
Why the fuck am I doing this? Why do I seek this shit out? Is this who I am, or is this just an act? I've spent the majority of my life intentionally putting myself into dangerous situations, solely so that I'd have a good story to tell. I've always viewed my own life as some type of video game, my own body and flesh being nothing more than an avatar.
My actions rarely reflect my thoughts and feelings.
Gina is fun and all but I knew she was dangerous or maybe not. I really don't know if I'm making this up as I go along or not. What I do know is that I willingly put myself here and now I regret it and now I don't know how to get out.
I throw up once more before passing out.
CHAPTER 6: THE BEST BRUNCH IN PHILLY
I wake up the bathtub crouched tightly in the fetal position. I'm hung over and sore, everything hurts, everything feels broken, figuratively and literally.
The moment I stand up, I feel like I'm in one of those Gravitron rides at a cheap back lot carnival. Gravity punches me in the stomach and a false sense of inertia throws me against the wall. Everything around me is spinning.
For a moment, I think I might still be drunk, but then the skull splitting headache settles in and I know that I'm going to have a hangover that's going to ruin most of my day.
Sounds, images, and unsettling aromas from the previous night flash in my mind in a disturbing strobe light slide show. Fuck, sometimes, my life feels like a Gasper Noe film.
But then another feeling creeps in. I'm not sure if I can trust own memories. There are some flashbacks that conflict with others and I'm not sure which are correct.
Did any of it happen? Did I imagine it whole? Does it make a difference? When I open this bathroom door, just what the hell is waiting for me on the other side?
I think of Schrodinger's Cat. It could be "Gina", or it could Gina. There could be a fifty pound pile of shit with undigested remains of Lydia, there may be nothing. There may be some ghastly carnivorous hell hound beast from another dimension hungry for human meat. Or maybe there's just a hurt, hung over woman who now hates me.But I won't know until I open it.
I head out into the bedroom and dress myself. "Gina" is now Gina again. She's lying in bed but already dressed. Lydia is gone, assuming Lydia was ever there to begin with.
I gently wake Gina and ask if she'd like to grab some breakfast, although noon is late for breakfast.
We head to The Butchers Café down in the Italian Market in South Philly. They have the best brunch in town.
It's noon on a Friday and yet there's a line out the door around the corner. We have at least a 30 minute wait before we'll even be seated.
We stand in line in silence for 40.
I try to make light conversation over coffee but my attempts of engaging Gina are futile. I ask her about her festival schedule and what films she plans on catching over the next 9 days.
How many chances do I have to patch things up?
We eat our omelets and drink our coffee and nurse our hangovers but we don't make plans to see each other again.
CHAPTER 7: HERE'S A POWER POINT PRESENTATION ON JUST HOW FUCKING COOL YOU ARE
I arrive at the theater a half hour early for The ABCs of Death. I've been warned that the screening was close to sold out and that press would be turned away if there's any concern that there won't be enough seats for actual ticket buyers.
I still feel some traces of a hangover but I'm in much higher spirits than I was only a few hours ago. I have no idea what I should say or do if I see Gina if I happen to run into her.
Sure enough, I see her standing by the V.I.P. badge holder line talking to a big wig programmer and acquisitioner. I've known this fellow for a few years now but we're not close and I don't like him. I feel confident making the claim that almost no one in Philly does. He's a big shot New Yorker who comes into town once a year for the Philly Film Festival which is now organized by a motley crew of other New Yorkers, LAlites, and now some Austinites. This is a source of major resentment for nearly every programmer, curator, and passionate film fan here. We have a big identity issue here and I for one am not offended when Philly is referred to as the 6th Borough. We can only wish that we're more like New York.
I've always sort of been the over eager crazy man in the scene, desperate to make a connection, desperate to find a footing in the field, to find a place to fit in. And I was treated accordingly, as the sadly pathetic crazy guy. I've been thrown plenty of bones over the years, but there's never been any meat on them and if I can't eat, what fucking good is it?
I don't believe this programmer has ever shook my hand over the many times I've run into him at festivals all over the country. He's a lot taller than I, so I wonder if he thinks that I can't see him rolling his eyes when I say hello. He's even gone so far to pull directors away from me as I was trying to interview them for ScreenAnarchy. He's dismissed me in front of a group of esteemed producers, writers, and filmmakers another time that lead to a complete stranger asking me later what his problem with me was.
"Oh, you guys haven't met Greg Christie yet? Everyone in this city knows Greg Christie." There was no affection in his tone, the way he emphasized the pronunciation of my name, he was actually saying "Oh you guys haven't met our resident mad man. Yeah, we all know he's crazy here, but we've come to tolerate it, don't pay any mind to him."
Safe to say, I've wanted to pop him in the mouth for a long time. My brown nosing days are over, I couldn't give a flying fuck what anyone thinks of me, but one more wrong word out of this asshole's mouth and I'll turn his teeth to Chiclets. But that's just the West Philly Greek in me talking and I'm sure the Upstate New Yorker in him would sue me back to the Stone Age if I ever took to physical retaliation for his abhorrent rudeness.
And now here he is talking to Gina in the line for ABCs of Death. Three other festival goers are standing around them in a semi circle. They're all wearing T-shirts promoting Dragon Sound, the fictitious synth pop band in Miami Connection, a forgotten and now newly re-discovered cult item. I'm willing to wager that no one was familiar with that film until this past summer.
Overnight, it has become everyone's favorite 80's guilty pleasure B-movie, overnight; people have started talking about this thing as though they grew up watching it on VHS. It's all a façade though; we're now creating fake nostalgia for things that were never even part of our collective childhoods. Sure, the Miami Connection is a fun flick, but the only reason why everyone suddenly gives a shit about this is because Tim League and the Austin blogosphere says they should.
The programmer is showing Gina pictures on his cell phone. I eavesdrop and know he's telling her about this past Fantastic Fest. He's giving her a PowerPoint presentation on just how fucking cool he is.
"This is me with so and so. This is me leading the jury, this is me signing Karaoke at the HighBall, this is me at Sitges, This is me at Cannes with Lars Von Trier, this is me...."
I keep hoping he'll accidentally scroll through an inappropriate picture and I can cut in and finish his sentence with "...fucking my intern." Really, shouldn't he be out somewhere harassing one of the really cute 20 year old ushers?
Another prominent film writer joins the conversation; his Chinese girlfriend stands two feet behind the group looking bored. I'm pretty sure it's a requirement that all Film Geeks should have Asian girlfriends. Hell, I was even engaged to a Japanese woman I met overseas. Fuck, I'm just as much of an awful stereotype as these guys, there is nothing unique or special about me or my experiences. Again, I think of the song by Against Me, "I hope I'm not like them, but I'm not so sure."
Hey, we can all take our Asian Girlfriends to see Cloud Atlas and jerk off on David Mitchell, the new reigning king of Japanopphile orientalists.
I can tell that Gina isn't really impressed with the programmer. I'm hoping that she'll be handing him her business card, the one with illustrated instructions on how to jerk off. But with his ego, he might take that as a proposition.
But Gina is now ignoring me. I'm standing directly beside her, trying to get her attention, trying to get some type of verbal recognition of my presence but I'm drawing a blank. The programmer sees me and follows suit, pretending that I don't actually exist. I feel like some character from a turn of the century French novel going through existential milieu.
I'm not really here.
I say hello and extend my hand for a formal greeting. The programmer puts his phone back in his pocket but declines the hand shake.
I decide to get territorial, something that has never really been in my nature. I put my arm around Gina in a rather juvenile attempt of making a point. I feel like a dog pissing on a hydrant.
Gina shrugs me off. A shit eating grin forms on the programmer's face. I can smell the arrogant self entitlement and false pride on his breath.
He asks Gina, " Oh, you know Greg Christie?"
Again, the way he emphasizes the pronunciation of my name, stretching it out. He's really saying. " Oh, so you're familiar with this lunatic asshole. You know that he's just a piece of shit clinging to everyone else's toilet paper. He has no power here. We give him his press badge, let him run around and pretend he's some esteemed film critic so he doesn't make a scene."
Or maybe I'm just a paranoid, delusional, self loathing crazy.
I notice a small tattoo on his arm. It's a rudimentary illustration of a pair of glasses. I already know what it is and where it came from but I ask anyway.
He answers, "I got this at the Red Dawn closing night party at Fantastic Fest."
Gina's eyes widen. I continue to answer my own question.
"They threw a big Korean prison themed party and had tattoo artists on hand to provide small, prison tattoos on party goers."
Gina finally looks at me when she asks, "Drunk people were lining up to get ironic tattoos a party promoting the Red Dawn remake?"
I'm pretty sure I accomplished my goal in completely turning her off from the programmer.
That's right; this whole thing is slowly becoming more and more cult like. Soon enough, it's going to be like Arturo's amputee church from Geek Love.
I pronounce, "I think the only way they'll be able to top themselves next year is if they hold a giant competitive gang bang where festival goers can have Instagram photos taken of themselves having their way with some B-film scream queen. Or maybe they can hire an Indonesian surgeon to create a real live Human Centipede using audience members"
The programmer sighs, "Why the fuck do you have to say shit like that?"
I shrug my shoulders. Judging by the look on Gina's face now, I think I probably crossed a line. She hands the programmer her business card, her real business card. Damn.
The programmer's grin is back.
He tells her, "I'll call you around 2 on Sunday, the party starts at 3."
I have to ask, "What party?"
"The Philadelphia Film Office annual anniversary party."
Our local film office throws a huge bash every year for all of their members and pretty much everyone who's involved with the industry in this city. I've gone nearly every year for the last decade. I usually get an E-vite every September for their big November ball. I didn't get one this year.
To Gina, the programmer says, "It's invite only but I can get you in. Plan on me picking you up around 2:30, wear something nice, it's pretty formal."
To me, he says, "Did you get the invite this year?"
I think he already knows the answer so I don't feel the need to give it to him.
Check and mate.
The usher opens the theater to the line of attendees, the programmer leaves; Gina heads in to sit by herself away from me. I pull out my flask.
I'm already pissed and disgruntled before the film starts. I decide that I already dislike it before the opening credits start to roll.
After the house lights come back up two hours later, I find myself chain smoking and talking with a group of peers. Now that the first part of my Fear and Loathing at festival series has gone live, it's become a hot topic with the locals.
They ask about whats going to be happen next. I don't want to spoil the surprises but give some hints as what lies ahead although I fear I won't have a grand finale. We talk about Philadelphia, everything that's happened, happening, and supposedly going to happen.
"You're out of your mind, Greg."
"Yeah, yeah, I know."
"It's awesome, but no one is ever going to take you seriously in this town again."
"They never did. I'm just having some fun. Everyone has been patting themselves on the back and congratulating each other long enough, it's boring, if they can't take a joke, fuck em'."
And then I notice an absolutely radiant young woman who's been standing beside us in silence during the time it takes to smoke to cigarettes.
I introduce myself. She smiles and tells me her name but I'll just refer to her as "M" since it's probably for the best that she's not associated with me in any way.
She's dressed like a character from a Tim Burton film, but she wears it well. She has plenty of flash in her appearance but there's something natural about it. I sense no forced sense of contrived fashion. I'm immediately drawn to her. But I have to play the role of the inadvertent asshole, cause it just seems that's what I do. I'd like to think it's my sincerity. But first, I ask her if she'll be seeing John Dies at the End.
She's never heard of it. I tell her she'll like it.
"Because I can tell just by looking at you that it'll be your thing. I don't want to make any assumptions..."
One of my colleagues butts in. "Oh, here we go."
It's obvious she's into Tim Burton, and has infinity towards the weird and macabre, but she's not necessarily into blood and gore, she's not some Goth girl. I bet she has good taste.
She turns around and shows me a large tattoo taking up most of her shoulder; it's a tree but an obvious homage to the artistic style of Tim Burton.
She tells me that Tim Burton was her inspiration, her reason for pursuing film. It was the same for me.
And I'm the fuck head who responds "It's a shame he went to shit and became a hack. It's a shame he had to ruin Alice in Wonderland. Oh, I know everyone defends Big Fish, but it's just a shallow commercial demo reel demonstrating the Tim Burton look."
She stares at me silently for a minute.
I try to keep the conversation alive telling her, "I have a slight obsession with Alice in Wonderland, I have an entire library of first editions from around the world that I've been collecting, tons of Wonderland inspired art, animation cels, statuettes, and way more than I feel comfortable admitting right now. "
She shows me her Alice in Wonderland tattoo on her calf and tells me she'll probably come out for John Dies at the End but she needs to find a cab home.
Naturally, I offer her a ride. She accepts.
We hit bad traffic but I feel fortunate for it, it gives us time to talk. There's a natural chemistry. I already forget about Gina and the bad nightmare that took place the night before.
I know almost nothing about this woman but already feel smitten. When I drop her off, she tells me she works with the Film Office and asks if I'll be at the big party in two days.
COMING SOON: THE EPIC CONCLUSION, FEAR AND LOATHING AT THE PHILADELPHIA FILM FESTIVAL PART IV. BOOZIE MOVIES FATHERS THE ANTI-CHRIST AND OPENS THE GATES OF HELL.
ALSO: BOOZIE MOVIES ACTUALLY GETS AROUND TO REVIEWING SOME FILMS.