CopperCon Revolution's Movies
By Hal C F Astell
PLAN 2001 FROM OUTER SPACE
Film programming at this year's CopperCon Revolution begins a week ahead of the event with a quirky one off screening at Tempe Pollack Cinema on Thursday, 1st August.
'It was the best of films, it was the worst of films...' quips Michael Fett, this year's CopperCon chairman, who is presenting what he believes is the best science fiction feature of all time alongside what history has been recording as the worst.
You won't be too surprised to find that the main attraction is Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey, which stunned unprepared audiences on original release in 1968 and is still doing that 45 years later. The long, psychedelic ending remains one of the great visual treats of the cinema, only one of the reasons why this is the epitome of the film that you ought to see before you die and the film that you ought to see on the big screen.
Fett has an additional tie to this film. His home town is Urbana, IL, at which 2001's psychotic computer, HAL 9000, was initially brought to life in Arthur C Clarke's original story. Another Urbana native was the late critic, Roger Ebert, who celebrated HAL by screening 2001 at the time and place of his birth in 1997.
On the other end of the cinematic spectrum is Plan 9 from Outer Space, made eight years earlier by outsider genius, Edward D Wood Jr. Plan 9 reached abiding fame when Michael and Harry Medved voted it 'the worst movie ever made' in their book, The Golden Turkey Awards. It kept that title for decades until the Mystery Science Theater 3000 folk discovered and riffed Manos: The Hands of Fate, the bizarre horror movie that most experts now cite in its stead. I had a lot of fun comparing these two films earlier this year in my first book, Huh? An A-Z of Why Classic Bad Movies Were Made.
Plan 9 deserves to be seen on the big screen too but for a different reason. 2001 benefits from the full cinematic experience because of its epic nature. Plan 9 is a film best seen in a communal setting, where the unintentional humour works best. While it is certainly a terrible movie, it offers a considerable amount of fun to fans of the 'so bad that it's good' genre. Manos, on the hand, is pretty painful and is clearly 'so bad that it's bad'.
However bad Plan 9 is, it'll look good on the Tempe Pollack screen, projected through their new digital projector in high definition. You may have seen a poor DVD transfer of this film before, but the version being screened is the pristine remastered version. Fett also chose to screen it in its colorised form rather than the traditional black and white one, and I can personally vouch for that decision, having seen the colorised version at Chandler Cinemas a few years ago. Purists who usually despise colorised films tend to enjoy two such examples: Reefer Madness and Plan 9 from Outer Space.
This Plan 2001 from Outer Space event is open to the public with a ticket price of $10, with a $5 discount for those who have already bought memberships to CopperCon. For those who intend to but haven't yet, memberships can also be bought at the screening. Showing your ticket stub for the films will get you a $5 discount from the regular $45 membership price.
COPPERCON FILM FESTIVAL
Most of the film programming at CopperCon proper will take place on opening night: Thursday, 8th August.
Kicking things off will be the ever-popular local convention attraction known as Barry Bard's At the Movies, with its neverending supply of swag and free posters. I'll be following that with a mini-film festival similar to the one I programmed for LepreCon 39 back in May. Both At the Movies and the film festival are free of charge and open to the public. For those whose interest is piqued by these events, CopperCon memberships will be available to purchase during them at the regular price.
My film festival will begin at 8.00pm and include a ninety minute set of short films and a feature. As I did at LepreCon, I've programmed a varied selection that showcases the different aspects of the science fiction genre without sacrificing quality. There's a vague theme of revolution to fit with the con, so expect lots of rebellious characters and situations, whether they're rebelling against their overlords, their captors or simply their lot in life. One notable character is surely rebelling against reality itself; you aren't likely to forget him in a hurry.
Even with those thematic restrictions, I managed to mix it up to the degree that one film is animated, while another is a musical and a third is clearly wrapped around a graphics demo to show just how much can be achieved with CGI without spending a fortune. All films are in English, though one is a German production, and the oldest film dates back only as far as 2009.
This year's CopperCon is primarily focused around authors and artists, without much else in the way of film programming. The one major exception is a special screening on Saturday evening at 7.00pm of the documentary, Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines, after which I'll be doing a Q&A with Trina Robbins, who's prominently interviewed in the film.
Wonder Women! takes a look at the women who did their part for truth, justice and the American way in a very male oriented field, whether you're counting writers, artists or characters. In and amongst the macho male superheroes whom we all recognise, there were female equivalents who could also be counted on to save the day. The catch is that, Wonder Woman aside, few of them are household names.
Robbins is a perfect interview subject for this film, as she's one of the most prominent women to work in the comic book industry. She founded It Ain't Me, Babe Comix in 1970, the first title to be produced entirely by women. At that point, she'd already been prominent in underground comics and had contributed to the creation of the long running character, Vampirella. Her importance only increased across the decades and, as she's CopperCon's Historian Guest of Honour, you'll have plenty of opportunity to talk with her throughout the con.
Hal C F Astell writes reviews of films from the 1900s to the 2010s at Apocalypse Later, with a focus on what most critics don't cover. He is the author of two books, Huh? An A-Z of Why Classic American Bad Movies Were Made and Velvet Glove Cast in Iron: The Films of Tura Satana. Both are available at Amazon.