Film Screening: Video Store Day screening of “Psychos In Love” with Gorman Bechard, Carmine Capobianco Sat., Oct. 21, 8 PM

Best Video Film & Cultural Center is pleased to present a International Independent Video Store Day screening of the 1986 cult classic horror comedy “Psychos In Love” on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, at 8 PM. Writer/director Gorman Bechard and lead actor and co-writer Carmine Capobianco will be on hand to discuss the film and take questions. Tickets are $10.

The movie was filmed in Waterbury and other locations in Connecticut. Bloody and hilarious, Gorman Bechard’s “Psychos In Love” is an absurd, home grown horror-comedy, which alternates between gratuitous killing scenes and self-aware parody of romantic comedies.

Bridgeport-based Vinegar Syndrome presents this lurid classic in a fresh 2k restoration from its 16mm original camera negative. Vinegar Syndrome specializes in the masterful restoration and distribution of cult, horror, and erotic films from the 1960s-90s.

Joe (Carmine Capobianco) runs a strip club and Kate (Debi Thibeault) is an attractive young manicurist. After bonding over their mutual dislike of grapes, they discover another commonality: both of them are bloodthirsty serial killers. As they begin to balance their obsession with murder and each other, they meet Herman (Frank Stewart), a cannibal who, upon discovering their bloodlust, attempts to lure them into killing as a means to satisfy his craving for human flesh!

From Brian Orndorf’s review on Blu-Ray.com:

1986’s “Psychos in Love” certainly has the external appearance of a horror extravaganza, with an eye-catching title and marketing materials that emphasize a ghoulish viewing experience to come. But the feature isn’t a nightmare machine, it merely wants to tell a plethora of corny jokes and showcase freshly chopped limbs. And if you happen to hate grapes, here’s a cinematic experience tailored directly to that phobia. Co-writer/director Gorman Bechard arranges a massacre with ‘Psychos in Love,’ but his heart belongs to comedy, pinching from the Marx Brothers and Monty Python as he sets up shop in Tromaville for this unexpectedly goofball take on “Annie Hall,” diluting the direct Woody Allen lifts with bloodshed and multiple maniacs. It’s a strange picture, but that’s the point.

“Psychos in Love” is a film obsessed with bad jokes. There are a lot of visceral things that happen in the movie, but Bechard always returns to his love of comedy, and not even the dark stuff, keeping the feature fairly silly for most of its run time. Sure, the effort opens with a montage of Joe’s daily habit, watching the creep chop and strangle his victims, and Kate eventually gets in on the action, displaying her abilities to murder doofy guys. But Bechard is more concerned with his tributes, setting up the tale as an ‘Annie Hall’-style riff on relationships, offering Joe and Kate interviews where they share their thoughts on the craziness of fate. Their meet cute is a mutual disdain for grapes, which part of the feature’s charm, going to extreme hatred of a fruit to help secure everlasting love, albeit warmth that’s challenged by daily cohabitational pressures and a dimming love for causing bodily harm. Their temporary replacement? The thrill of renting VHS tapes.

The AVC encoded image (1.33:1 aspect ratio) presentation is “Newly scanned and restored in 2K from the 16mm original camera negative.” It’s a BD upgrade for a crudely shot movie, but it works superbly, coming through with a bright, filmic handle on the feature’s limited visual needs. Clarity is strong during the viewing experience, delivering textures on skin and sets, and the picture’s appetite for violence is vivid, offering squishy gore zone visits that add to the gross-out factor. Colors are vibrant and secure, with more aggressive reds on blood balanced well with pink and blue costuming. Greenery is also appealing. Delineation is satisfactory. Source is in fine shape, lacking any major issues with damage.

Gorman Bechard, who lives in Hamden, is a director, screenwriter and novelist. Besides “Psychos In Love,” Bechard has directed other narrative films such as “Friends (With Benefits)” and a host of documentary films, including “A Dog Named Gucci,” “Color Me Obsessed” (about the rock band The Replacements), and “Every Everything” (about the late Husker Du drummer Grant Hart). In 2014, Bechard co-founded NHDocs: The New Haven Documentary Film Festival.

Carmine Capobianco’s film career began upon meeting Gorman Bechard and they raised money to shoot their first low-budget feature, “Disconnected” (1983). Shortly after making a video feature, Carmine and Gorman co-wrote the script and filmed “Psychos in Love” (1987). Charles Band, now of Full Moon Entertainment, purchased the rights and signed their film production company, Generic Films, to a four picture deal. They made two more before Charlie’s company went under and Generic Films disbanded: “Galactic Gigolo” (1987) and “Cemetery High” (1988). Carmine went off on his own and dabbled for the next few years with small parts working on or in One Life to Live, an MTV video, a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie, commercials (ESPN), award-winning host of his own cable show and some small independent films such as “Everything Moves Alone” (2001) and “The White Car.”

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see a beautifully restored cult classic and glean insights into the making of a B-movie classic from two of the principals.

UPCOMING EVENTS (Music events start at 8 PM unless otherwise noted; screenings start at 7 PM unless otherwise noted):

• Wednesday, Oct. 18. ANNIE LISA: PSYCH-K

• Thursday, Oct. 19. AFRO-FUNK FUSION: THE LOST TRIBE

• Friday, Oct. 20, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: MISSY RAINES & THE NEW HIP (GUITARTOWNCT PRODUCTIONS)

• Saturday, Oct. 21, 8 PM. VIDEO STORE DAY SCREENING OF “PSYCHOS IN LOVE” WITH WRITER/DIRECTOR GORMAN BECHARD & WRITER/LEAD ACTOR CARMINE CAPOBIANCO

• Monday, Oct. 23, 7:15 PM. FILM SCREENING: “THE VISITOR” (PART OF “WHITHER THOU GOEST—GREAT FILMS ON IMMIGRATION & REFUGEES” FILM SERIES)

• Wednesday, Oct. 25. NEW ORLEANS-STYLE FUNK: BAND OF DRUTHERS

• Thursday, Oct. 26. INDIE ROCK: SEAN HENRY, RYXNO

• Friday, Oct. 27. BRAZILIAN MUSIC: THE BOSSA NOVA PROJECT

• Saturday, Oct. 28. LIGHT UPON BLIGHT HALLOWEEN SHOW: “CARNIVAL OF SOULS” with LIVE IMPROVISED MUSICAL SCORE

• Monday, Oct. 30, 7:15 PM. FILM SCREENING: “A BETTER LIFE” (PART OF “WHITHER THOU GOEST—GREAT FILMS ON IMMIGRATION & REFUGEES” FILM SERIES)

• Wednesday, Nov. 1. OLD-TIMEY/BLUES: THE ZuZAZZ STRING ORKESTRA

• Thursday, Nov. 2. ROCK ‘N’ ROLL: JOE MILLER

• Friday, Nov. 3. AMERICANA: FYFE AND STONE

• Saturday, Nov. 4. SOLO MODERN PRIMITIVE GUITAR: SHAWN PERSINGER

• Sunday, Nov. 5, 2-5 PM. GUITARTOWNCT FREE SUNDAY AFTERNOON BLUEGRASS JAM

• Monday, Nov. 6, 7:15 PM. FILM SCREENING: “INTO THE ARMS OF STRANGERS” (PART OF “WHITHER THOU GOEST—GREAT FILMS ON IMMIGRATION & REFUGEES” FILM SERIES)

• Wednesday, Nov. 8, 7 PM. SECOND WEDNESDAY BEST VIDEO OPEN MIC

• Thursday, Nov. 9. GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK: RICH MORAN

• Friday, Nov. 10. MODERN ROCK: NALANI & SARINA, CHASER EIGHT NAKED (PRESENTED BY AIM PRODUCTIONS)

• Saturday, Nov. 11, 7-10 PM (at ORDINARY tavern in New Haven): ART OPENING: “CREEPSHOW”—A BENEFIT FOR BEST VIDEO FILM & CULTURAL CENTER with art by AUDREY NEFORES & NICK HURWITZ-GOODMAN

• Sunday, Nov. 12, 7 PM. FOLK: MINK, SOCK & LUTIE

• Monday, Nov. 13, 7:15 PM. FILM SCREENING: “WHAT’S COOKING” (PART OF “WHITHER THOU GOEST—GREAT FILMS ON IMMIGRATION & REFUGEES” FILM SERIES)

• Wednesday, Nov. 15, 7 PM. BLUEGRASS: TIM O’BRIEN

• Thursday, Nov. 16, 7 PM. BLUEGRASS: TIM O’BRIEN (SOLD OUT!)

• Friday, Nov. 17. ROCK: HAPPY ENDING

• Saturday, Nov. 18. BVFCC ANNIVERSARY GALA AT THE BALLROOM AT THE OUTER SPACE: 5 IN THE CHAMBER, OLIVE TIGER, NU HAVEN KAPELYE, THE TET OFFENSIVE

• Sunday, Nov. 19, 3 PM. JAZZ: TRIO 149

• Monday, Nov. 20, 7 PM. FILM SCREENING: “SON OF SAUL” (WITH TALK BY PROF. CHRISTOPHER SHARRETT)

• Thursday, Nov. 30. BLUEGRASS: EAST ROCK RAMBLERS

• Friday, Dec. 1. JAZZ: JEFF FULLER & TONY PURRONE

• Sunday, Dec. 3, 2-5 PM. GUITARTOWNCT FREE SUNDAY AFTERNOON BLUEGRASS JAM

• Thursday, Dec. 7.ART SONG/SINGER-SONGWRITERS: OLIVE TIGER (SOLO), AN HISTORIC

• Friday, Dec. 8. BLUEGRASS: TWISTED PINE (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Wednesday, Dec. 13, 7 PM. SECOND WEDNESDAY BEST VIDEO OPEN MIC

• Thursday, Dec. 14, 8 PM. JAZZ: PAUL SHANLEY

• Friday, Dec. 22. HOLIDAY ROCK ‘N’ ROLL SHOW: DUST HAT, BRONSON ROCK

• Friday, Jan. 12, 7:30 PM. BLUEGRASS: BEPPE GAMBETTA (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

• Friday, Feb. 9. BLUEGRASS: JOE WALSH & SWEET LOAM

• Friday, Mar. 16. BLUEGRASS: ZOE & CLOYD (A GUITARTOWNCT CONCERT)

 

Rob Harmon’s Picks 5/10/16: “The Apple”

Rob_photo_031715_WebTHE APPLE (dir. Menahem Golan, 1980)

Have you ever had an experience so galvanizing that it seemed to drive a wedge into your existence, dividing it, so to speak, between “before” and “after?”

In my mid-twenties, I was living in New York City and my friends and I became fascinated by a trailer being played at a local theater for a largely forgotten midnight movie called THE APPLE, made in 1980. Seemingly no one that I spoke to had ever seen or even heard of the picture. I was intrigued.

When its long-awaited weekend engagement arrived, a large group of us congregated at the theater, took our seats, and waited for the lights to go down. There was a definite hush in the theater that night: though we had found out little about the movie in advance, we expected something very good, and, by that, I mean that we expected something very bad.

As you know, sometimes movies disappoint; other times they meet or exceed our expectations; and still other times — that rarest of rare occurrences — they smash all of our expectations to pieces. THE APPLE, it turned out, was one of the latter.

The movie begins disorientingly enough, hurling the viewer into the action: Screaming teenagers fill a concert hall where thumping percussion and smoke heralds the entrance of a duo of gold and silver lamé-clad pop stars named Dandi and Pandi and a veritable army of spangly and sparkly dancers. Almost before I was aware, the music exploded in a near cacophony, Dandi and Pandi chanting lyrics like “BIM is the power,” the band chugging away at full steam, and the droning chorus “Hey, hey, hey, BIM’s your way!” boring into my head with the subtlety of a jackhammer.

The_Apple_1980_film_WebThis was an all-out assault on the senses which I had not anticipated: while the music pummels the viewer from all directions with its pile-driving rhythms, dancers aggressively flail about and fly at the viewer, lights glare, horns blare, and voices soar. Not even three minutes in, I felt as though my brain were on fire, as though I had entered a strange alternate dimension where the production values of third-rate disco were merged with some sort of banal industrial advertisement: what the heck is the BIM, anyway?

As it turns out, the year is 1994 and an evil, totalitarian corporation — the BIM (it’s IBM scrambled, get it?), controlled by the nefarious Mr. Boogalow (played by Vladek Sheybal, of the original RED DAWN, with devilish charm) — controls all musical entertainment in the known world as a form of mass mind control. This is ably demonstrated in that headache-inducing opening number — appropriately called “The BIM” — where Dandi (Allan Love) and Pandi (Grace Kennedy) gyrate about in pseudo-fascistic fashion to the delight of the crowd of mesmerized youths, who – not realizing what synthetic dreck this is – lap it all up like kittens to milk.

It seems that Dandi and Pandi – pawns of the aforementioned Boogalow – are rolling out their new “BIM” anthem at an international song competition as another calculated move in Boogalow’s plans to mire the world in wide-spread and mindless consumerism (gee, that could never happen, could it?). Indeed, as the chorus pronounces in the eye-popping set-piece “Disco 2000,” “Life is nothing but show business in 1994,” while another of Boogalow’s minions, Shake (Ray Shell), croons “Like the bleary-eyed baboon to an organ-grinder’s tune, mankind screamies for whatever bits of dreamies he might treat them to.”

That is, until the idealistic folk duo Alfie (George Gilmour) and Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart, THE LAST STARFIGHTER, NIGHT OF THE COMET) take the stage, strumming away on the acoustic guitar and belting out “Love, The Universal Melody.” To Mr. Boogalow and his loyal henchmen, the oily Shake and the ditzy Ashley (Leslie Meadows), these hicks “from Moose Jaw” are a joke until it becomes clear that the crowd is taking this lovey-dovey, hand-holding stuff quite seriously.

Something will have to be done….

I will not divulge what follows. Suffice it to say that it involves, among other things: betrayals aplenty; dancing nuns; the unveiling of various BIM merchandise, including BIM marks and BIM t-shirts; hallucinogenic drugs; lots and lots of glitter; a musical number which re-stages the Garden of Eden story in Hell with Adam, Eve, a snake, an apple (obviously), and vampires (yes, I said vampires); a randomly-inserted Jewish landlady; a gang of hippies (actually, to be correct, they are “refugees from the 60s”); and a PG-rated orgy – choreographed in Busby Berkeley-fashion to the best beats this side of Donna Summer – that simply has to be seen to be believed! From pop to folk to disco and from power ballads to reggae, the film’s soundtrack buzz saws its way through one genre after another. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll lose your mind.

Filmed in West Germany and directed by Menahem Golan (of Cannon Films infamy, responsible for producing assorted 80’s Chuck Norris and Chuck Bronson schlock, as well as “classy” productions such as Cassavetes’s LOVE STREAMS) with enough gusto for ten films, THE APPLE is far and away the best glam-disco-utopian-luddite-pro-Zionist-Creation-allegory musical ever produced; it’s really one hell of a movie.

I won’t attempt to make overt value judgments about a film like THE APPLE: I could say that it’s terrible, tasteless, and nonsensical in the extreme, its direction ham-fisted, and — in a certain sense — that would be correct. Yes, the film suffers from trying to reinvent the midnight movie on a shoestring, over-extending itself in almost every direction. But that would be missing the point. THE APPLE scores direct hits because of the purity of its ambition and its naïveté; in other words, it succeeds precisely because it fails and does so with such incredible abandon, going so far beyond reason that it cannot, in the end, be anything but utterly charming.

THE APPLE is a movie from another time and place: nothing like it, unfortunately, will ever be made again. It’s 100% amazing, but, more than anything, it’s a social experience, a film that demands to be seen with an audience. That night years ago when my friends and I sat aghast and amazed? It was only the first of many such nights over the years, the film becoming as much a communal ritual for us as anything.

Luckily, THE APPLE screens this Wednesday night, May 11, at 7 at Best Video: why not take a bite? Admission is $5.

Rob Harmon’s Recommendations 07/16/13

Rob_Harmon_image_for_picksRepo Man (dir. Alex Cox, 1984)

Best Video, as you well know, is a rental business, which means that customers rent our property—DVDs, Blu-Rays, and, yes, even VHS tapes—and then return them. Or, at least, that is the idea; when the contract is broken and an item is not returned we, first, benignly attempt to retrieve it (some of you *ahem* are familiar with our “courtesy” phone calls about overdue movies) and then, if that fails, we seek restitution in order to replace it. Generally, the system works well: either people get their rented items back on time or, even better, they bring it back late and pay us a fee.

Of course, things do not always run smoothly. Recently, for example, we recovered a VHS tape from a scofflaw (who shall remain nameless) that was 3,325 days—or 9 years, 1 month, and 10 days (excluding two leap days)—overdue! This particular item had been at the top of our late list for as long as I have worked at Best Video and, among staff, it was regarded as the Holy Grail—nay, the Saddam Hussein/ace of spades—of all overdue movies and I, for one, did not think that I would ever see it returned.

This incident got me to thinking about our system of free market capitalism and how much in it relies upon credit… which, of course, eventually led me to that great satire on the subject, Alex Cox’s REPO MAN, which was, incidentally, recently re-released in a gorgeous new edition by the Criterion Collection.

“Credit is a sacred trust. It’s what our free society is founded on,” proudly states veteran repo man Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), in a movie whose DNA is wound up with the unwritten laws of frontier justice and property.  In Repo Man, released in 1984 at the height of Reaganomics, a bunch of hard-bitten Los Angeles repossession agents—somewhat like your friendly Best Video staff—are in pursuit of a rarefied object of great worth, a sort of “great whatsit,” which, in this case, is a 1964 Chevy Malibu carrying a spectacular bounty for whoever manages to bring it in.

I have seen Repo Man at least a dozen times in my life but I still cannot quite tell you what it is about.  Here is an attempt at a summary: Otto (Emilio Estevez), a self-centered young punk with a massive chip on his shoulder, is one day tricked by Bud into helping him “repossess”—or steal—a car, whose owner has defaulted on payments. In desperate need of money in order to gain some separation from his dead-end existence Otto overcomes his initial revulsion and follows Bud into this vaguely unsavory line of work. Besides the characters who populate the repo company’s office, there also the Rodriguez brothers, a persistent thorn-in-the-side for Otto and his cohorts, constantly stealing, as they do, some of the best cars on the street; some punks with guns, former friends of Otto’s, who spend most of the movie holding up stores; Otto’s girlfriend Leila (Olivia Barash) who works for an agency dedicated to revealing the existence of extraterrestrials; some mysterious government agents, including one with a metal hand, snooping around in the background; and, of course, there is the aforementioned ’64 Chevy Malibu, which has recently arrived in town from Area 51 with a mysterious, glowing something-or-other in the trunk, driven by a half-mad atomic scientist.

If all of this sounds a little wacky to you it is certainly forgivable since Repo Man is a burlesque of the highest order: the “story” here is like some sort of a slippery, anarchic mash-up of countless ideas, narratives, and genres—pureed in a blender to a hilariously disconnected (Molotov) cocktail, flung out at the height of the Reagan years (an imposingly apocalyptic moment if ever there was one!). Yet the film is less an angry howl and more of an absurdly deadpan disintegration of filmic form: the film somehow manages the almost-impossible feat of being all things at the same time, both sweet-natured, 80’s-style coming-of-age comedy and scathing satire of American capitalism, both a buddy picture, social-commentary, acerbic attack on conformity, sensitive evocation of teen angst, work-place comedy, action movie, police procedural, punk rock music video, Western, and a send-up of new-age-y, sci-fi-style transcendentalism!

What more can be said about this film?  It has been said, correctly, that Repo Man is a cult film par excellence, that almost its entirety is “quotable” to an extreme, with off-the-wall dialogue and sequences galore.  But what is missing from our discussion of the film? It is perhaps this, that it is time we freed Repo Man from the basement designation of “cult movie” and recognized it for what it is: inspired madness of the highest order; a comedic balancing act which is well-acted, -written, -directed, -edited, etc.; and exactly the kind of silly, razor-sharp satire which our topsy-turvy American way of life both demands and deserves. Though the film may have its shabby edges and may have stumbled at the box office, initially – only to be later saved by word-of-mouth as well as sales of its soundtrack – it is no fluke or accident but, in fact, a great film.

So, remember this, and we would appreciate it if you got your movies back to us on time….