Have you ever thought a movie was so bad, it was actually kind of good? If so, you’re not alone. Recent Hobart graduate David Stalfa ’10, who now works at the Smith Opera House, thought there would be community-wide interest in seeing and discussing films that fit that description. His idea has grown (perhaps like a giant ant from outer space?) into the Geneva Underground Cinema’s “Best of the Worst Film Festival.” The first of what organizers hope will be an annual event takes place at the Smith Opera House, from Thursday, Feb. 17 to Saturday, Feb. 19. It will feature three cult classics which are each, in their own way, terrible. A guest speaker from the Colleges’ faculty will accompany each showing.
“I wanted to create a program that more students would be interested in,” Stalfa says. Each film will be shown to a walled-off section of seats in order to create a smaller, art house type of setting so that students can hear one another’s reactions to the films.
Thursday night will feature the comically bad “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” a 1959 science fiction/horror film dubbed in 1980 as the “Worst Movie Ever Made,” by author Michael Medved. It focuses on extraterrestrial beings who are seeking to stop humans from creating a doomsday weapon that would destroy the universe.
Rob Carson, assistant professor of English, will give the opening lecture to Plan 9 and poses the question: What is it about bad artwork that attracts us? “Maybe there is something even beautiful, maybe even glorious, in ineptitude. These are three terrible movies, but I think they’re terrible (and also worthwhile) in different ways.”
On Friday, the film “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” will be shown, accompanied by a lecture from Assistant Professor of Media and Society Leah Shafer. “Birdemic” is a modern day spin on the Alfred Hitchcock classic “The Birds.” This time, however, the terrifying attacks from birds are actually the result of human impact on the environment.
The Best of the Worst Film Festival concludes with the 2003 movie, “The Room,” a black comedy about love, passion, betrayal and lies. Much like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” before it, “The Room” has built up a cult following in Los Angeles. Assistant Professor of History Colby Ristow became fascinated with the film from its spoofs on popular television shows like “Tim and Eric.”
“First, the stilted acting and the way the characters interact seem to be what an alien might think was a close approximation of how humans behave-the general forms are more-or-less correct, but all of the details are completely off, and everyone is unnatural all the time. Secondly, the film generates so many more questions than it answers,” he says. “Screenings of The Room have become cultural events in L.A, replete with costumes and rituals. I would like for the people of Geneva to get just a small taste of fun hipster, L.A. irony at its worst/best.”