[The Week in Geek is a weekly Tuesday column that plunges headfirst into a deep pool of genre geekiness without ever coming up for air.]
Alamo owner Tim League took to the stage in wizard's robes and introduced Green, as well as stars Danny McBride and Justin Theroux, and led a team of five random audience members in a mead-swilling contest against League and the 'Your Highness' crew. Even with the unbalanced teams, the audience members handily defeated the "pros" (owing mainly to Green's inability to down a full tankard of mead like a MAN).
The first film of the night was Albert Pyun's best film (no argument) 'The Sword and the Sorcerer,' and we got to see a handful of vintage trailers to set the mood. Here's the list, accompanied by my immediate reactions ...
'Conan the Barbarian' -- Still a great trailer, especially in light of the recent 'Conan' teaser. Such a well-cut trailer in fact that it may oversell the movie, because I remember it being pretty awesome, but not THAT awesome.
'Dragonslayer' -- This actually played SXSW in Austin a couple of weeks ago, and got big applause because it was fresh in people's minds. The trailer really plays up Ralph Richardson more than Peter MacNicol.
'The Dark Crystal' -- Hearing Trevor Jones' memorable theme song blare over the theater speakers turned me into a seven-year-old again for approximately two minutes.
'The Beastmaster' -- Out of all the sword and sorcery B-movies, this is the one I've seen the most. Thanks, cable TV! Marc Singer is an unusual casting choice in retrospect, and, sadly, the movie had not aged very well the last time I caught it on DVD.
'The Sword and the Sorcerer' -- Forgive me, Albert Pyun, as I never knew that you'd actually made a thoroughly entertaining movie. This was my first time to see it, and I was shocked at how well the 1982 film played to the packed house. It has welcome moments of horror and humor, and, though its low budget shows through, Pyun makes up for it with energetic swashbuckling and memorable characters. It's too bad we never got that promised sequel, 'Tales of the Ancient Empire.' Like 'Your Highness,' it features a lead scoundrel, a virgin damsel, exciting fights, and a smattering of naked female flesh.
At this point, Wizard #2, author Zack Carlson, took to the stage and led three audience members in a "meatball" eating contest, only to reveal after the fact that the contestants were, indeed, eating deep-fried bull testicles. Wacky and delicious!
'Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time' -- Despite (or maybe because of) my fondness for 'Beastmaster,' I never saw the sequel. All it reminds me of is this montage from Everything Is Terrible.
'Excalibur' -- This trailer felt a little out-of-place; a little too high-falutin' for the kind of entertainment that 'Your Highness' was promising. There's plenty of shiny armor and swords, but a little too much class so soon on the heels of a 'Beastmaster 2' trailer.
'Kingdom In the Clouds' -- What the heck did I just see? I've never even heard of this one. Imagine 'Never-Ending Story' on a quarter of the budget, filmed in Romania, and imported by the Xerox Corporation (whose indicia was right underneath the Paramount logo). Frightening.
'Your Highness' -- Universal has cast an evil spell called "THE EMBARGO" that prevents me from saying anything on the record about the film until its release on April 8. A loophole of that particular spell is that I can talk about the audience in attendance, and most of them seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.
Green, McBride, and Theroux held a relaxed post-film Q&A at this point, answering basic questions about the film's mechanical bird and Natalie Portman's willingness to be called a whore. This led straight into a 'Krull' arcade game competition in which a lanky, long-haired 'Krull' pro tested his skills against a 10-year-old newbie. The kid actually held his own enough to impress his competitor into handing over his competitor's hard-won prize -- a glaive inspired by the weapon in the film 'Krull.'
'The Dungeonmaster' -- This trailer has everything one person could want from a trailer, including (but not limited to) samurai, wizards, post-apocalyptic dune buggies, zombies, and stop-motion stone idols. The movie is on Netflix Instant, so I'll be able to see if it lives up to all the hype.
'America 3000' -- This was the most out-of-place trailer of the night, as it's a futuristic comedy and not a fantasy, but it does look stupid enough to hold its own with 'Your Highness.'
'Yor: Hunter From the Future' -- As a kid, I always wanted to like this movie more than I actually did. In truth, even as a tyke, I thought it was deadly dull, and I've never given it a second look.
'Sorceress' -- Talk about a great trailer! The movie itself is actually terrible, but you might not know it from the amazing red-band preview, filled with fighting and satyrs and demons in the sky and bare breasts! Yes, the film stars twin warrior women, so, no, the film's title never makes a lick of sense.
'Krull' -- I wondered in advance what connection 'Krull' could possibly have to 'Your Highness' and was pleased when Green pointed out the specific inspirations. Both films feature twin moons and a bride kidnapped by evil forces on her wedding day, then held in a tower against her will. There's also a cyclops in both! 'Krull' wants to be a chocolate-and-peanut-butter pairing of 'Star Wars' and classic fairy tales, but it's more like Fritos and peanut butter -- still edible, but not quite right. The film is wooden in a uniquely off-kilter way that's hard to pin down. It's as if everyone is sharing the same dream -- one that includes an incredible "Widow of the Web" and an even more impossible young Liam Neeson.
The Drafthouse has gained its reputation through special events like this, and it was indeed a magical time throughout the land. Smoked turkey legs were eaten, laughs were had, and the city was saved from the Monday night doldrums by three gallant heroes who just happened to have a multi-million dollar film opening soon. I hope they all live happily ever after (or at least until next Monday's 'Your Highness' grosses come in).