Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fantasmo By the Numbers: Volume 2

Hey Superfans!

I just received exciting personal news today that I made the annual Movers & Shakers list in Library Journal. LJ is one of the major publications in the library world, and this annual list highlights folks who are doing interesting things in libraries on various fronts. The Fantasmo site made an appearance in the write up, so I’d like to welcome all newcomers to the House of Fantasmo who may head this way from the article. Breifly put, Fantasmo is a monthly program co-founder Rob Floyd and I started up at Chesapeake Central Library seven years ago. Each month we show a double-feature of mostly outrageous cult movies, frequently accompanied by all manner of ballyhoo, gimmickry, guest speakers, etc. Here on the blog I talk about Fantasmo, related yearly events, and cult movies in general. In order to provide a proper introduction, I think it only appropriate to give new arrivals a sampling of what typically gets written about here beyond our programs and events.

With this in mind I have once again taken a hard-hitting look at the site stats to identify the top 10 most viewed articles of all time here on the blog. You longtime readers may recall the last time I did this this, the top ranking item was none other than my review of Smokey and the Bandit 3: Smokey is the Bandit. I know for many readers this revelation shook your faith in humanity to the very core (truly sorry about that : ) The good news, depending on your point of view, is that this year SATB3 has been dethroned! The bad news is that the new champ isn’t exactly Citizen Kane either . . . but then this wouldn’t be Fantasmo if Orson Welles appeared on the list (unless you count the time he lent his vocal talents to Transformers: The Movie). Not to let the cat out of the bag, but (spoiler) the image at the top has something to do with the top spot on the list. You have been warned.

So without any further ado, I give you the Fantasmo Top 10 . . .

#10: Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze: Rob and I screened this at last year’s Schlock-O-Thon Anniversary special to a delighted crowd. Some call this a dreadful adaptation of a classic pulp hero, but we found it to be an entertaining 1970’s cousin to the much-heralded cult classic The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.

#9: The Keep: One of the rare critical misfires from celebrated director Michael Mann. The Keep is a surreal adaptation of the F. Paul Wilson novel of the same name, which bears little resemblance to the source material and one of the most questionable rubber suited monsters of the 80’s.

#8: The Cinema of Joe Don Baker: After getting a terrific response to a survey of the cinematic works of the incomparable Lee Majors (see #4), I thought I’d take a closer look at the canon of Walking Tall megastar Joe Don Baker. Apparently there are hordes of Baker groupies out there, skyrocketing this article to #8 on the all-time list.

#7: The Henriksen Principle of Elevation: Early last summer I participated in author John Kenneth Muir’s blog-a-thon celebrating the release of the official biography of character actor Lance Henriksen. In my contribution I discussed the phenomenon in which Henriksen, by investing himself completely in every role he accepts, elevates otherwise not so fantastic films to a higher level through his mere presence.

#6: The Island: I was really happy to see this one still made the list. One of the craziest bombs from the 80’s, and most certainly one of the most fun reviews I’ve posted.

#5: Smokey is the Bandit 3: Oh how the mighty have fallen, but at least it still made the list!

#4: The Cinema of Lee Majors: I posted this after seeing a Lee Majors Viking film on Netflix. This led me to ask two important questions, which readers also found equally intriguing. First: There was a Viking film starring Lee Majors? Second: Lee Majors actually starred in theatrical films? The answer to both was a surprising, and resounding yes!

#3: Highlander II: The Quickening: Rob will not even acknowledge the existence of this film, but I find it far preferable to the later sequels and television series. The filmmakers sought to answer the mystery behind the immortals, and the answer they supplied was one of the most infamous missteps in the history of cult cinema. Fascinatingly awful.

#2: Up the Academy: Possibly the worst movie ever made. So bad MAD Magazine had their name officially removed from the credits. Yes, that bad.

#1: Cool As Ice: The Internet searchers have once again done themselves proud by putting one of the most notorious films in Fantasmo history at the top of the list. Vanilla Ice’s stab at becoming a leading man. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

So there you have it blog visitors new and seasoned, a slice of the most statistically beloved Fantasmo postings. This will either serve as a reminder of why you love Fantasmo so much, or a cold bucket of water style wake-up call that you’re spending way too much time contemplating the cinematic importance of Joe Don Baker. Enjoy!

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