It’s a tale as old as time: You’re watching an ancient public domain horror movie—maybe one of those Roger Corman flicks where Boris Karloff putters around a castle for 80 minutes—and you wish the thing would just get going already. Wouldn’t it be great to lose the endless exposition and skip to the good stuff? Sure, you could just fast-forward, but the remote is way over there…
Milwaukee filmmaker Andrew Swant feels your pain. Welcome to “Movies Under The Knife,” Swant’s monthly movie series at Cudahy’s X-Ray Arcade. Want to watch generously edited versions of classic B-movies? Now you can. It’s all killer, no filler in more ways than one.
“About ten years ago I bought a DVD fifty-pack of B horror movies at Best Buy and I watched about one movie a night for a whole summer,” Swant says. “Then I bought another fifty-pack, then another. Almost every movie was really bad, but they all had great parts. It seemed like about half the film was usually just filler or boring dialog. I thought, why not take out all the boring parts and just keep the good stuff?”
Swant, whose credits include everything from Samwell’s infamous “What What (In The Butt)” video (created with Bobby Ciraldo) to Mark Borchardt’s The Dundee Project (which he co-produced), put his idea into action by paring down those films and keeping “everything that was funny, weird, or necessary to understand the plot.” Now, he’s presenting these truncated films at “Movies Under The Knife.”
“I basically just trimmed the fat,” he says. “Most of them went from ninety minutes down to forty-five. They’re not heavily chopped up or experimental-feeling, and you might not even know anything was messed with. Some of the worst, clunkiest, WTF edits are in the original films themselves and I sometimes left those in.”
The all-ages, Lakefront Brewery-sponsored series boasts two films (a trial run featured that Boris-Karloff-puttering-around-a-castle flick, The Terror), popcorn, beer specials, and lawn chair recliner seating. And to top it off, the whole thing is free. (The series’ slogan: “Two half-movies for the price of none!”)
“The movies are free, the popcorn is free, BOGO cocktails and beer specials, big screen, and seats that recline!” Swant says. “I know Cudahy seems far away, but it’s only a fifteen-minute drive from Riverwest or a ten-minute drive from Bay View.”
Oh, and each installment of “Movies Under The Knife” comes complete with a pre-show PowerPoint presentation from Swant himself. It’s a natural fit for the gregarious filmmaker.
“I’ve always been a fan of B horror movies,” he says. “I was a member of the Elvira fan club when I was a kid, and I was voted ‘Most Likely to Host Mystery Science Theater 3000′ by my high school class.”
The next installment of “Movies Under The Knife”—featuring 1974’s Peopletoys (Swant: “The director was fired halfway through production and ended up in an insane asylum!”) and 1960’s The Little Shop Of Horrors (“Featuring one of Jack Nicholson’s first film appearances and a flower-eating Dick Miller!”) is set for Thursday, June 6 at X-Ray Arcade. The fun begins at 7:30 p.m.